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Atheists on Morality: Jumping out of the Bottomless Pit

Atheists have a problem.  Ok, they have lots of problems.  🙂  But this one is a big one:  how to explain morality.

Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue.   It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be moral.”

Indeed, the professional atheists have been churning out attempts to show that they can be moral without God.   This seriously misses the point.   The argument is not, “You are an immoral and evil clout because you reject theism.”  Nor is the theistic argument, “I am moral because God bosses me around.”  Rather, the argument is, “Hey, you’re moral, I’m moral, we’re all moral- now how are we to explain that?”

Thus, the main thrust of the theistic argument is not to say that atheists are evil on account of the fact that they don’t believe in God… but rather that they are decidedly not evil.

Indeed, the question is not that hard to understand.  If one says that there is no such thing as an objective good, then a five year old understands that there are no limits on behavior.  It doesn’t require a high level of philosophical sophistication to grasp this.  That the five year old understands abstractly that there isn’t an objective basis for labeling this behavior ‘good’ and that behavior ‘bad’ and then proceeds to try to behave ‘goodly’ nonetheless gives the lie to the abstraction.

This is why the argument from morality still works, despite reductionist attempts to provide ‘scientific’ explanations for morality.  Let me rephrase:  the argument from morality will always work, because of the nature of the thing in question.

I would like you to imagine a man sitting on the bottom of a bottomless pit.  Realizing his desperate situation, he stands up, bends his knees, and leaps!  Ah, but now he senses the problem.  In order to stand up, bend one’s knees, and leap, one has to put their legs beneath them on something solid.  In order to make the jump, there must be something to push off from.  But the man is in a bottomless pit.  As such, he can’t be sitting on the bottom.   There can be no such thing as a bottom of a bottomless pit.  It is a logical absurdity.

Because of the nature of the thing in question, the argument that one cannot leap out of a bottomless pits still works, nay, it will always work, because of the terms of the argument.

Now, an atheist making a moral statement or giving a moral justification for his behavior is like the man attempting to jump out of a bottomless pit.  In order for the statement/justification to have any meaning at all, he must have something to push off from.  Here is the great inconsistency of atheism:  To a man, they jump out of the pit;  when they get to the top, they deny that the pit had a bottom.  They insist it was a bottomless pit all along.  Riiiiight.

If we speak about an ‘objective’ anything, we speak of something that exists outside and independent of our being.  It’s existence is not contingent on our mental or physical operations.

It is often pointed out that you cannot get an ought from an is.  That is, if two men are sitting around a fire, gazing at a rock, the rock is, but there is no way to get from the ‘is-ness’ of the rock to “I ought not use it to bash in my fellow’s skull and take his stew.”  The ‘ought’ is a moral assessment about what to do with a thing that is not actually a property of that thing.   If the fellow believes that ‘ought’ statements are not objective, he must believe that they are contingent to his mental or physical operations.  That is, they exist only in his mind or as necessities of the body (“If I try to bash in his skull, he may bash mine in first…”).  This is relative “ought-ness.’

But remember, they deny this pit has a bottom just at the same moment the stand at the edge and look down at what they just jumped out of.  So, what to do? Now they appeal to evolutionary mechanisms or social contracts and the like.  True, these things are objective in the sense that they would not cease existing if any individual died and went away, but on analysis we discover that this is merely a way to push the ‘bottom’ further back- while denying there is a bottom at all.

For on evolutionary mechanisms- or any atheistic framework- one ultimately must recognize that the two men sitting around the fire examining the rock are not qualitatively any different than the rock itself.  The rock is only a particular combination of molecules which themselves are composed of mere atoms of the universe.  So too the men and their brains.  And you cannot get an ought from an is.

This is the cold fact, yet atheists, like the rest of us, have visceral reactions to anyone who seizes on this cold fact and attempts to live by it. On atheistic grounds, this visceral reaction must be seen as it really is– a mere emotional reaction, and emotions are only certain hormones doing their things or what not in a system that in the final analysis is nothing more than a complicated rock.  Or… or, this emotional reaction puts the lie to the whole scheme:  there is a bottom, after all.

Why might someone keep trying to jump out of a bottomless pit and pride themselves when they succeed?   Well, no one likes to have their accepted worldview skewered.  That’s one thing.  Many atheists perceive that Christians (and all religionists) are just bumpkins.  That’s another thing- they don’t want to be like those people.  Most of all, though, it is fear.  The logical implications of accepting that there is an arbiter of ‘ought-ness’ that transcends the rock and the man, that cannot be regarded as being on the same plane as them…

Well, it opens up the very serious possibility that this Arbiter has some ideas on ‘ought-ness’ that will change our behavior, or require certain concessions.  It was all well and good when it was mere social contract- in a contract, the people involved usually all get something out of it to their mutual benefit.  You don’t bash in my skull and I won’t bash in your skull;  we will call this ‘good.’  The Arbiter will say, “Bashing in skulls is wrong,” and the atheist could tolerate that.  Other demands, however, could be quite unpleasant.

The atheistic approaches to the question of morality lay bare why it is so difficult to reason with them.  It isn’t a problem of reason, at all.  They make themselves out as the bastions of logic and rationality but the truth is that logic is just how their arguments are cloaked at a particular moment.  They claim to be about the evidence, but in point of fact, no evidence will do.  “Intelligent Design” is mocked not because of any evidence but because of the implications.  To admit a designer is to allow that there might be a Designer.  Who can regard the atheistic arguments on the topic with anything but laughter and derision?  They insist that science requires that we must exclusively apply naturalistic explanations to everything, a priori, and then come to the conclusion that there are naturalistic explanations for everything.  SHOCKER!  lol

I shall now assume that there is a God.  Upon examination, I have learned that there is a God.  Whooopee, look at me!  I’m thinking like an atheist!

Some consistency would be welcome, here.  If, as you say, there are naturalistic explanations for everything, then that goes all the way down.  On this view, in the final analysis, there can never be anything other than ‘is.’  There cannot be a bottom.

There is just one problem:  every person walks around with ‘oughts’ in their pocket.  They take them out throughout the day and consult them often and expect others to do the same.  Everyone, including the atheist, takes these ‘oughts’ seriously.  We all act as though there is a bottom, and indeed, are constantly pushing off of it.

This demands an explanation, but due to the nature of the thing in question, will never be explainable in atheistic terms, which by definition means there is no bottom.

That leaves on the table for consideration only those worldviews which have bottoms.

Sorry.  That’s just the simple truth.

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59 Responses to Atheists on Morality: Jumping out of the Bottomless Pit

  1. SJ, quick clarification please. Are you saying somewhere in there that Atheists are “moral” beings – as “moral” as Christians? If so, are you then saying that the only reason they don’t go to heaven is that they don’t/can’t believe in a god?

  2. Sorry for the double post:

    “I shall now assume that there is a God. Upon examination, I have learned that there is a God. Whooopee, look at me! I’m thinking like an atheist!”

    No, that is how a Christian thinks. None of us start with a completely blank slate over anything, let alone our ability to believe in a god. Feel free to insert yet again how you are the only person in the world who started with a completely open mind. You are also the only person in the world who will believe it.

    As far as your oft repeated “morality-can-only-exist-if-a-god-does” cherry, it is just vapid self fulfillment. If you believe there is no god, where do you believe “morality” comes from? If you believe there is no god, where do you believe the philosophies of the bible come from? In both cases, the answer is FROM HUMANS. The presence of “morality” doesn’t confirm the existence of a god any more than the presence of a bible does.

  3. Thanks for your question, Stathei.

    Yes, I would say that atheists are as moral as Christians. Christians have always said that all people share knowledge of the ‘natural law.’ There is a very important sense in which we are all moral. In order to answer your second question is a little difficult, as phrased.

    It isn’t precisely because they don’t/can’t believe in God, according to Christians. I mean its that, but not only that. The problem in answering further is that I’d have to get into the ‘back story.’ These are things that Christians take for granted that you will not, and this includes the notion that right now, God and Mankind are on the ‘outs.’ We’re in big trouble. Theoretically, we could make it up to God if we were moral enough. The big point is that not one of us could EVER be MORAL ENOUGH to make things right. So, it turns out to be a list of things that stand in the way of an atheist ‘getting right with God,’ not the least of which, of course, is the belief that he doesn’t exist. 🙂

    These other things would include the belief that Christians have that God requires perfect satisfaction- and we can never provide it.

    This is what drive C.S. Lewis in the first chapters of Mere Christianity. It’s the notion that we all sense this moral law, and need an explanation, yes, but also that we can’t live up to our own moral code… which is something that needs an explanation, too (that we would adopt a moral code that we can’t live up to… why not just lower our standards?)

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify.

  4. “None of us start with a completely blank slate over anything,”

    You’re missing the point. Blank slate or not, when we are adult enough to begin thinking clearly, we recognize that it is wrong to prejudge a matter. If you say “We will take only naturalistic explanations for all phenomena” then obviously that’s all you’ll discover.

    If that isn’t what you’re saying, great. But atheists that do are a dime a dozen.

    “As far as your oft repeated “morality-can-only-exist-if-a-god-does” cherry, it is just vapid self fulfillment.”

    There’s the word ‘vapid’ again. It’s everywhere lately. 🙂

    Here again, I think you miss the point. I did not say that morality can only exist if a God does. The question is whether or not that morality is ‘non-trivial.’ Is it all just one big discussion over our favorite flavor of ice cream, even if we’re talking about stealing a bank? We know intuitively that its more than that… we jump out of the pit… some of us recognize that this means the pit can’t be bottomless. You insist it is.

    “where do you believe the philosophies of the bible come from? In both cases, the answer is FROM HUMANS.”

    Obviously, I don’t share this, but it is still besides the point. You labor under the illusion that Christians think we get this list of principles and platitudes and this represents our morality. Nope. We are moral beings. This requires explanation.

    But if the answer is just Humans, then you’ve returned to the bottomless pit, and it is once again only a debate over one’s favorite ice cream.

  5. My question is about how God decides what is moral. If the things god says are good are that way because s/he says they are then how can god be anything but good? The “goodness” is self-defined.

    On the other hand, if something is good (don’t kill each other for example) outside of what god says, then how can god be any better than the rest of us? Except that apparently god is unconstrained by human abilities and is able to strike down entire populations.

    What if god’s voice told you to kill me? Would that be good?

  6. Those are good questions, Roxie, and of course a variation on the Euthypyhro Dilemma.” It is a good question, but it doesn’t go away if we take God out of the question. If you take God out of the question, we now have to decide how WE decide what is moral. (See link).

    There are answers to your question, though some are uncomfortable and unsatisfying. There are two issues that need to be pried out. First, you want to know how God decides what is moral. But then you want to know, basically, how WE know what God tells us is moral. Both are good questions.

    Like I said to Stathei, though, it is difficult to deal with the questions without going into the whole back story. You may disagree with the back story, and think it is nothing but fiction, but it will be hard to understand those answers if we don’t take that story for granted.

    High on the list is the notion that we were originally created perfect, with an entirely intact natural moral compass, and this has now become corrupted. Next on the list is the fact that at some point in the conversation we’d have to be willing to concede that one of the simplest ways to ‘know’ is for God himself to tell us. Obviously, that means preparing ourselves to evaluate revelatory claims- like, for example, if ‘God’s voice told me to kill you.’

  7. Sorry, SJ, but I am stunned into silence by your civility. Makes me nervous… 😉

  8. Come now, Stathei. You know me better than that. 🙂 Keep throwing legitimate questions or concerns at me and I’ll be happy to answer them as well as I possibly can.

  9. Now you’re calling my questions and concerns “legitimate”! Next you’ll be agreeing with me…

  10. heh heh heh here comes a creepy smiley, coming your way: 🙂

  11. Now you’re just scaring me.

  12. Are you saying i have to believe in god for the explanation to make sense? i did believe in god for a long time, until i started thinking about this question, among others.

    i am curious to know your answer. if god told you to do something that you found morally abhorrent, would it be moral b/c god told you to do it?

  13. No, Roxie. I’m not saying you have to believe in God to understand. I’m saying you have to take the whole ‘back story’ as a given in order to understand. The question cannot be understood in isolation from the back story.

    Before I answer your other question, let me ask you one: How do I know it’s God doing the asking?

  14. how do you know it’s not? god has asked people to kill on his behalf before.

  15. What does that have to do with it? Why should I accept your premise? It is a fine hypothetical: “What if God said such and such…” but I think I am within my rights to wonder why I think its God at all. After all, based on what you have said so far, YOU might be God. Go ahead, say, “I am God. Now, go kill someone.” Should I do it?

    I shouldn’t wonder about why I should consider your command credible? I should just throw up my hands and say, “Oh, well, God has asked people to kill on his behalf before. It must be God.”

    You see, before we can even begin to evaluate your question about the problem of God ‘asking people to kill people’ we’ve actually got a lot of ground to cover.

    But you still haven’t answered my original issue. Take God out of the picture. Now it’s just we humans. Now, how do we decide what is moral? If the things we say are good because we say they are, than how can humans be anything but good? The goodness is self-defined, no?

  16. human society has evolved in groups that agreed on what was considered moral. in primitive society if you didn’t agree, you were shunned or ostracized. if you cheated and didn’t reciprocate the sharing of resources, word got around and fellow members of your tribe wouldn’t share resources with you for example.

    fast forward to 6-7 million people on the planet. we still live in communities (huge) that by and large have a shared idea of what is moral. in the u.s. and europe you wait in line patiently for the most part. in the mid-east it’s everyone for themselves. most societies have modified their idea of morality so that it doesn’t for the most part include owning other people outright, altho in some societies women and girls are owned as a practical matter – a conversation for another day.

    the short answer is, humans make the rules as we go along. we change them as we see fit, sometimes dragging our bloody selves through a civil war to do so, sometimes waiting for generations to see the practical application of a great idea. things are right because we say they are right. if we make a mistake humans become extinct and the rats and roaches get their shot.

  17. God asks you to eat your kids

    Do you

    a. Insist that God will never say that? Why not? What is preventing God from saying that? Another law? Who invented that law?

    b. You disobey God? Well, there goes the idea that morality comes from God.

    c. Ask for the ketchup?

  18. Roxie,

    I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble getting my mind around your position here. In answer to the question, “Is something right because humans say it is right or is it intrinsically right and humans obey it” your answer is clearly the former. “the short answer is, humans make the rules as we go along.”

    So, now I’m trying to understand what your problem is if God did tell people to kill people. I mean, won’t you admit that people have told people to kill people? Isn’t this what you mean by, “dragging our bloody selves through a civil war”?

    If people make up the rules as we go along, and one of those rules is that we can kill people, precisely what is your objection? Let’s assume that you’re right- there is no God. Let’s assume you’re right- we make it up as we go along. One of the things we make up is that we can kill each other for a variety of reasons. You object why? How can this argument possibly jibe with your question, “if god told you to do something that you found morally abhorrent, would it be moral b/c god told you to do it?”

    On your view, there is no such thing as anything ‘morally abhorrent.’

  19. i confess i have not thought about this in a long time, what with living my life and all.

    there are things i find morally abhorrent. there are things we as a civilized group of people have decided are immoral. i won’t include a list, but would be happy to oblige if you want.

    this jibes with my question b/c god is supposed to be better than we are. i am not surprised in the least when i open the paper and see murder and mayhem. disappointed, yes.

    my takeaway from your essay above is that atheists have no basis for making moral judgements b/c there is no yardstick by which to measure whether something is moral. my objection is that god makes the rules, so whatever god says is good is just that. i would do the same thing if i were god.

    my problem is still with the question, is morality outside of god? or is something moral b/c god says it is?

    if we’re going to talk about people, then yes – people decide what is moral for good or ill. i think a reasonable observer would grant that those decisions are provisional and subject to revision.

  20. Hi Roxie, I’m afraid that I’m still struggling to get your question to work in my head.

    For example, you say:

    “there are things i find morally abhorrent. there are things we as a civilized group of people have decided are immoral.”

    This is obviously true, but ‘civilized people’ have changed their minds frequently throughout history and even today it isn’t like they all agree with each other. I find abortion morally abhorrent. Quite a few think differently. On your basis, both points of view are perfectly valid. Ok, keep this in mind.

    Now you say:

    “this jibes with my question b/c god is supposed to be better than we are.”

    Here you insert the word ‘better.’ Better than we humans? Here’s the problem. On your view, humans are making it up as we go along. You think that God telling us to kill someone is morally abhorrent. But there are plenty of humans past and present who would welcome a God saying that- depending on who it is that God is asking. Between a God who thought we should spend our life sipping tea and a God who thought we should wipe out the Jewish state, many Muslims would see the latter God as better.

    And on your grounds thus far submitted, we’d have to grant them their view. Moreover, since you don’t believe in God at all and believe it is just humans making it up as we go along, if they didn’t want to offer any justification at all, they wouldn’t have to. They could just say this is something they are making up.

    “my objection is that god makes the rules, so whatever god says is good is just that. i would do the same thing if i were god.”

    Yes, I understand that. But I have the same objection to your alternative. Since humans make the rules, whatever they say is good is just that. I would do the same thing if I were a human… which I happen to be! 🙂

    So to me it doesn’t make sense to ask me “Would you kill if God asked etc etc” because this assumes that this would be bad. But depending where I lived on this planet, and who exactly I was being asked to kill, I would actually think that shows that God is good.

    It is as though you are asking me, “Does #+@=5?”

    I say, “Well, I can’t answer it unless I know what # and @ are.”

    You say, “They don’t equal anything because what we assign those terms are relative. Whatever they happen to equal today isn’t necessarily what it equaled yesterday, or will tomorrow. I could tell you that # equals 2 and have you solve for @, but the second before you tell me what it is I am able to make it up as we go along and now pretend that #=8, making your answer WRONG!”

    Clearly, the equation can only be solved if we assign value to the terms and forbid them from changing during the course of the calculation. But your position is essentially that there never can be a value to the terms- and yet you still ask me to solve the equation. Do you see my problem?

  21. Come on Anthony – surely you can do better than dodgy straw men! If to knock us down you have to misrepresent us, you know you’ve failed before you start!

    I recognised myself nowhere, as an avowed atheist, anywhere in your very dodgy article. But ignoring that, surely it would be relevant not just to say that atheists can be moral, which you nearly manage, but actually – atheists are on average, deeply moral. In Europe and in the US, atheists are massively under-represented in the prison population, so I understand the evidence confirms.

    Isn’t that relevant here – even just a little bit?

    As to the argument that morality proves god – and your silly 5 year old point. Well…my 9 year old can see that your silly god is laughable. Is that evidence in the debate? Does that add anything? No it adds nothing because it’s not an argument.

    So why atheists are moral is one question. (I note that my morality only improved by the way when I dropped god). The answer is to do with empathy, that small and understated word. Empathy is a key part of the human experience. If you say god god put that empathy in me, you really have to produce the god that did so. It’s not a claim that can be made with credibility in the absence of evidence.

    There is a very obvious (to me) Darwinian answer to why we have empathy (and also why some don’t). I’d subject that to evidence based analysis, testing, evaluation and validation.

    Your straw man is to present morality as a fixed absolute. Clearly this is not the case. Christian morality is the most politically fluid thing imaginable! Look at how it has evolved over the past 100 years, never mind 2,000 years. The pieces that are more absolute (like not killing our children say), are largely common to humanity and predate judaistic traditions. But they are still not 100% absolute.

    I don’t know how much morality is learned, as opposed to inherited. But its existence does absolutely nothing to convince me that there is a god.

    Here’s your oh-so-moral god.

    Deutoronomy 7: 16 You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

    Sounds like genocide to me. Looked pretty much like genocide to the poor folks who were on the receiving end
    of this appallingly bloodthirsty instruction I wager. Men, women, children massacred because they believed in a different god? And you worship this creation of yours?

    Deuteronomy 13 6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    When Muslims act like this today, we react with horror. And rightly. But why do Christian’s object? This is your horrible god!

    I could obviously go on. And you could accuse me of picking and choosing. But this is in your bible and clearly there is no context where these thigns are acceptable.

    But your god did not inform you of this: our evolved morality did. And you updated your god’s rules (slowly – and recently dragged along by secularists) to coincide with popular morality.

    Just to finish: here’s your god allowing rape and ruin of foreign women. That’s not what he meant? Bet it was how it was interpreted.

    Deuteronomy 21 10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

  22. the thing I like about your example of the muslims preferring one god over another is that the arab/israeli conflict is fundamentally rooted in a belief in god. muslims would like to hear a god that agrees with them, wouldn’t we all? and coincidentally god tells them exactly what they want to hear.

    when i typed “god is supposed to be better than we are”, i meant as far as being the omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent creator of the universe. isn’t that better than humans? i no more want to hear people rejoice in killing each other than i want to hear people rejoice over killing each other at god’s instruction. and shouldn’t god do her own dirty work?

    i disagree that people don’t have to justify their views or actions. there are people on trial every day for acting on their own view of what is acceptable and moral. i also disagree that human rules are assumed to be by definition good. if that was the case there would be no need to change our minds about things but we do. we grow and evolve as a species and hopefully become more just in the way we deal with each other.

    i hope when you said you might consider killing on god’s instruction you were engaging in hyperbole. i going on the assumption that you are a decent person. i find it unsettling that you would listen to a burning bush or a still small voice and follow its directions, especially to commit a violent act like that.

    i do see the problem you’ve defined in your example about the equation, but I would not ask you to solve a problem like that without agreeing on the meaning of the terms. do we have a definition problem? i think we are talking (typing?) past each other.

  23. Hi Roxie,

    We are indeed talking past each other, but the definition problem is simple, I think. In order for your moral assessments to have weight with me, you are assuming that they are rooted in something objective, outside of both of us, that you are appealing to. At the exact same time, you state that morality is something that humans just make up as they go along. The latter you freely admit. The former I am trying to get you to realize. I shall now try again. 🙂

    “and coincidentally god tells them exactly what they want to hear.”

    Yes, that’s right. It is a cautionary word for all of us though, isn’t it? We all want a god who turns out to be just what we want- no demands on us outside our pleasures, etc, etc. More than that, setting aside the question of God, just as far as our view of the world goes, we will prefer that which makes us the most comfortable. I say: if a world view is comfortable, watch out! It is very possible, very probable, you are deceiving yourself! If the question is God, if the God you worship looks just like you, watch out!

    “when i typed “god is supposed to be better than we are”, i meant as far as being the omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent creator of the universe. isn’t that better than humans?”

    Well, sure, if that’s what you meant. And to these I would add omni-just, omni-patient, omni-etc. If a God so described asked us to do so, it would follow that what he was asking had fully taken into account the best interests of everyone involved, the justice of the question, and the charitable end one hopes to achieve. Likewise, being omniscient, he would know with absolute certainty that this were the case.

    Right?

    Thus my question: on what basis do I have to believe it is God asking me to do anything?

    “i disagree that people don’t have to justify their views or actions. there are people on trial every day for acting on their own view of what is acceptable and moral.”

    You misunderstand what I mean here. Imagine a person on trial who has just been convicted of something beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the person himself knows he really committed the crime. In real life, if such a person remains unrepentant to the end, no mercy is extended. Right? If he seeks to justify himself to the end, “If you only knew what kind of a witch she was you would have killed her too!” no mercy is extended. If he admits his crime and acknowledges his gross excess, mercy may be extended. (One must also take into account justice for the victim).

    For an example of the kind of thinking I’m talking about, read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 and Romans 3:9-31.

    “i also disagree that human rules are assumed to be by definition good. if that was the case there would be no need to change our minds about things but we do. we grow and evolve as a species and hopefully become more just in the way we deal with each other.”

    This is completely inconsistent with what you have already said, which is what I’m trying to say. People have changed their minds and ‘evolved as a species’ numerous times throughout history and in the present day there is a great amount of disagreement, no? If morality is wholly a manifestation of human sentiment, with no existence outside of our species, then it is no more than something that “humans make up as they go along.” (your argument).

    It appears to me that you are trying to judge God based on standard that could very well change in five years, or if you just moved to the West Bank would be accepted right now. You can’t have it both ways. Either there is a moral standard that exists outside of all humans by which we can appeal to in ‘changing our minds’, and evaluating the moral claims of others, including God, or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then there is no need to take someone’s moral protestations seriously. If there is, we must deal bravely with the fact that apparently there exists a standard that cannot be reduced to naturalistic terms.

    You are trying to have it both ways, and I’m trying to stop you. 🙂

    “i hope when you said you might consider killing on god’s instruction you were engaging in hyperbole.”

    I don’t recall saying that. Nonetheless, this is an emotional argument you are making, not a rational one. Once again, I ask: would you consider killing a person on another human’s instruction?

    “i going on the assumption that you are a decent person.”

    And I, you. How could a decent person consider killing another person based on another human’s instruction??!!? 😉

    “i find it unsettling that you would listen to a burning bush or a still small voice and follow its directions, especially to commit a violent act like that.”

    This is a great example of the emotionalism of your argument. First of all, on the question of facts, in the Scriptures when there was a ‘burning bush’ or a ‘still small voice’ there was no violent act requested from the person experiencing the event. That’s just a fact.

    Second of all, at the very beginning I asked you to tell me how I knew that it was God making the request, and you waved it off, “how do you know it’s not? god has asked people to kill on his behalf before.”

    And now, you return to the issue, assuming that a small voice or burning bush would do the trick for me! That’s pretty sly of you 😉 and I have to say not very fair. You are putting words in my mouth, assuming that this kind of verification would be enough for me, when I have previously and explicitly asked you what kind of verification your scenario provided.

    The problem is your scenario was entirely simplistic. It is an emotional argument not rooted in reason or real life. I have already explained some of this. If asked, “if a human asks you…” and you refused to kill on moral grounds, I could simply retort, “people have asked other people to kill before!” this should be enough for your to conclude that it is moral. If your reasoning is to be considered valid, you must carry it through consistently.

    Now, in response to this, you said that God was ‘better’, but this is only you jumping out of the pit and then turning around and declaring that the pit had no bottom. “On what,” I ask, “Did you then push off from to make your leap?”

    Your question, “Would you kill someone if God asked you” is entirely reactionary and cannot be answered in these terms, just as “Would you kill someone if a human asked you?” cannot be answered in these terms.

    If your job was as an executioner here in America, then obviously you would answer that in the affirmative. (Or you wouldn’t have the job!) But just as obvious is the fact that the morality of the question can be ascertained from the question posed without context. In America, a person is supposed to have been convicted by a jury of his peers beyond a reasonable doubt before he can be sentenced to death. Then he is to have full access to appeals, and other due process protections. Did the executioner attend the trial? Did he interview the person he is to execute? Did he sift the evidence? On what basis then does he carry out the act? Another person asked him, but the belief is that this person represents a system with significant checks and balances that are designed specifically to achieve a just outcome.

    In short, the person asking him to carry out the execution is a person who is ‘better’ in the sense that he has greater knowledge of the situation, understands the crime, understands the man is guilty of the crime, understands that the man had his day in court, etc, etc, etc, and then, and only then, asks the executioner, “will you kill this person?”

    If the executioner is a decent person, if the system/person shows consistently that it does not pursue justice, I would suggest he resign his position in protest. But if the executioner has observed a high level of knowledge, power, justice, and benevolence, out of those asking him to carry out this task, would it be wrong for him to carry it out?

    I would like you to answer that question. Given that the executioner has confidence that the system is consistently just and fair in its mechanisms, is he right or wrong to kill someone, just because a human asks him to?

    And of course, if you and I are standing in a crowded place and I ask you to walk over and kill some random person, this is nothing like the case of an American executioner. The question “Will you kill…” is the same but the context is entirely different. It isn’t that the question is not worth considering, but it can only be answered if the context is fleshed out a lot more.

    This you have so far refused to do, and in your latest compounded this by assuming something about me which I did not say (that a still small voice would drive me to kill someone) even after I specifically asked you to clarify to me just how I would know it is really God doing the asking. To be frank, I didn’t like that.

    Hope this explanation helps you understand more about why I think you’re asking me to solve an equation where the value of the variables change in the middle of the solution. If not, I can try again. 🙂

    /edited to make clarifications

  24. Hi Anthony,

    whew. i copied this into MS word and it is 3 pages!

    i am thinking that based on your first paragraph, our discussion is done. i do not believe there is a defined moral standard, i think morality or goodness or “rightness” is something decided by the consensus of a group of people. there is nothing outside of us – we are on our own to agree on what is right and wrong or drive ourselves to extinction fighting about it.

    i guess am fixated on the idea that god is somehow able to make something good because of who s/he is, the “something” itself is neutral, thus my question about what you would do if god asked you something you did not consider right. i cannot speak to what would convince you that god was speaking to you – hence my referencing the burning bush and small still voice. something convinced andrea yates that the voice of god was saying that her children would be better off in heaven, so she drowned them all. if god was indeed speaking to her, and she obeyed, are her actions moral? we may not think god gave her those instructions, but how can we know for sure?

    i agree this is an emotional issue for me, i will try to pull back on that a little. but my argument is emotional because i would hope that if you heard the voice of god (and something convinced you that it was the voice of god) telling you to do something like sacrifice your children (like Abraham with Isaac) you might give it more than passing consideration and not do so just because god says it.

    as far as how i would act if a person told me to kill someone, i don’t think I could do it, and i think that’s true of a lot of people no matter how macho they say they are – i’ve heard it is a uniquely anguishing experience to end someone’s life. just look at the toll it takes on war veterans.

    you are right about context tho – i don’t think i would hesitate to defend my children by whatever means necessary (the evolutionary desire to make sure one’s own genes are propogated?) i might even have the presence of mind to fight like that for myself – you never know ‘til you’re there, do you? that’s the great thing about being a person. we have a mind that can consider these things.

    i think your executioner example fits this scenario just fine. i personally could not “pull the switch on someone”, because i don’t think the state should be taking life. there are people for whom this is acceptable, and for now the law says it is allowed. our society has decided as a whole that it will be allowed. if i want to change the law, because i am lucky enough to live in a somewhat free society, i protest, write letters, and try to convince people that my opinion is the correct one.

    you’ll note that some states don’t have capital punishment, and some states are suspending it, and some states are going full-speed ahead with it – an instance of people questioning moral judgements and taking the time to reconsider them. maybe in the next generation we will stop state-sponsored killing – sorry for the sermon! the thing about the executioner is that s/he has made a judgement about what is acceptable to them AND our society condones her/his behaviour for the most part.

    i am not trying to judge god. my question is all about whether something is good b/c god says it, or whether god says it b/c it’s good. is god outside “goodness”, or is “goodness” outside god? it has to be one or the other.

  25. This is hilarious… 50 years ago theists were arguing exactly the opposite… it was noticed that some animals…like termites for example retained drne…the drones did not multiply or reproduce… they had no sex organs… yet they stll carried out altruistic actions… so any evolutionary biologist needed to explain this phenomena…

    Theists jumped all over it… it seemed that it demonstrated an animal that carried out moral behavior for no reward…thus confirming that morals were in no way hereditary and must have a supreme being as a source…

    Now heres this guy arguing exactly the opposite… that atheists need to EXPLAIN morals….

    Well which is it?

    as it turns out the termites were explained… by a young evolutionary biologist in the late 1960’s… his name was Richard Dawkins.

    So then the tables were turned…and now the question is reversed… please explain moral behavior is the question now… yet there are mountain, absolutely mountains of information on altruism and moral behavior… its even a separate study of evolutionary biology called Socio-evolutionary biology.

    So the answer is in any one of a few thousand books and papers pal…read up!

  26. EVOLUTION, HOW DOES IT WORK????

  27. Roxie,

    If God exists, nothing exists “outside” of God. So yes, something is good because God says it’s good, but what God says is good is derived from God’s nature, what God is like basically. So God IS good, or God IS goodness.

  28. the argument is, “Hey, you’re moral, I’m moral, we’re all moral- now how are we to explain that?”

    That’s a really pitiful question, and it’s no wonder only Fundamentalists are impressed by it.

    Morality is the rules we as a society have developed which allow our society to function. Perceptions of morality have blatantly changed over time. In ancient Greece, it was “immoral” for married women to leave their homes unaccompanied. It was “moral” in the past to beat slaves – and children.

    The notion that we could individually have our own “morality” to do what we please is bunkum – because that is not what morality is.

    Further, if morality is just what “god does”, the God is no subject to His own rules, and this proposed morality is not objective.

    If God is subject to his own rules – i.e. He wouldn’t torture babies for fun – then you would have objective morality, but we’d need an external standard for why torturing babies was not moral… And you would not need “God” to have that external standard.

    Why is torturing babies immoral? Do you really need me to tell you that?

  29. heh classic double speak.

    “Morality is the rules we as a society have developed which allow our society to function.”

    followed by,

    “Why is torturing babies immoral? Do you really need me to tell you that?”

    What? Are you saying that it is so intuitively obvious that torturing babies is immoral that it does not need to be said or stated? Why, didn’t you know that there were, and are, societies where infanticide is common and cruel? Why, those were just the moral values necessary for the society to function. Are you trying to tell me that it would have been wrong for the ancient Greeks to set their new babies outside in the elements to die, or the ancient Canaanites to slaughter them as a human sacrifice?

    On your own argument, you cannot say that they did anything wrong. And yet, you wish to end your post on the high ground, asserting that something is self-evidently ‘wrong.’

    Hello? McFly? Anybody home? 😉

  30. Hell Anthony

    As ever, you miss the point.

    Morality is relative to the time and place of a society. You are the one who claims morality is absolute and objective.

    According to the Old Testament, it’s unclean for women to sleep in the same location as everyone else when they are menstruating, homosexuals and fortune-tellers should be executed, pork should not be eaten, women should not have command over men, and it was genocide is perfectly fine as long as God commands it.

    I notice you completely ignored what I said about morality and God, so I’ll repeat it again for the hard of thinking.

    “The notion that we could individually have our own “morality” to do what we please is bunkum – because that is not what morality is.

    Further, if morality is just what “god does”, the God is no subject to His own rules, and this proposed morality is not objective.

    If God is subject to his own rules – i.e. He wouldn’t torture babies for fun – then you would have objective morality, but we’d need an external standard for why torturing babies was not moral… And you would not need “God” to have that external standard.”

  31. “I notice you completely ignored what I said about morality and God, so I’ll repeat it again for the hard of thinking.”

    Why shouldn’t he? You obviously completely ignore what you said ten seconds ago:

    “Morality is relative to the time and place of a society. You are the one who claims morality is absolute and objective.”

    Only to be followed by:

    “The notion that we could individually have our own “morality” to do what we please is bunkum – because that is not what morality is.”

    It’s like SJ said. You want morality to be relative, yet when we see morality actually being applied as if it were, you want to appeal to some objective standard as if things were self-evidently wrong.

  32. Hello End Bringer

    Individuals don’t get to decide morality – it comes from the society in which they live.

    How is that difficult is that to understand?

    If morality is “objective”, and God exists, then God is subject to the same objective rules, yes?

  33. “Individuals don’t get to decide morality – it comes from the society in which they live.

    How is that difficult is that to understand?”

    Hate to burst your bubble, but ‘societies’ don’t come about without ‘individuals’ to make it up. So ultimately it DOES come down to each person.

    Not that it matters an iota to the issue of you objecting to things like killing babies as plenty of ‘societies’ approve of such things even to this day. Seems a clear case of you as an individual deciding what’s “right” in the face of ‘society’s’ decisions, no?

    “If morality is “objective”, and God exists, then God is subject to the same objective rules, yes?”

    Sorry Socrates, that’s not how it works.

  34. “Hate to burst your bubble, but ‘societies’ don’t come about without ‘individuals’ to make it up. So ultimately it DOES come down to each person”

    In other words, although societies have to have a shared understanding of acceptable behaviour, this understanding is someone nebulous and not absolute.

    Thanks for making my point for me.

    “Not that it matters an iota to the issue of you objecting to things like killing babies as plenty of ‘societies’ approve of such things even to this day. Seems a clear case of you as an individual deciding what’s “right” in the face of ‘society’s’ decisions, no?”

    In other words, even if I have strong moral feelings about a certain issue, these feelings will not be applicable in all societies in all circumstances.

    Thanks for making my point for me.

    I wrote: ““If morality is “objective”, and God exists, then God is subject to the same objective rules…”

    If God is not subject to the same moral rules He lays down for everyone else, then this morality is not objective, it is subjective.

    “Sorry Socrates, that’s not how it works.”

    I love the way you guys are so absolutely certain, and so absolutely clueless at the same time.

  35. “In other words, although societies have to have a shared understanding of acceptable behaviour, this understanding is someone nebulous and not absolute.

    Thanks for making my point for me.”

    Thanks for proving no one’s home in there.

    “In other words, even if I have strong moral feelings about a certain issue, these feelings will not be applicable in all societies in all circumstances.

    Thanks for making my point for me.”

    You realize you’re “point” here is that what you say and feel is totally meaningless, and thus not worthy of being taken seriously, right?

    “I love the way you guys are so absolutely certain, and so absolutely clueless at the same time.”

    lol

  36. It’s meaningless that you can have morality without absolute morality? Or that the morality Fundamentalism claims isn’t objective at all?

    That skewers your entire discussion.

    Is it meaningless that the Universe is billions of years old? Or that mankind evolved from a common ancestor with the apes? Or that the Pentateuch is a collection of myths written down centuries after the supposed time of Moses? Or that the New Testament was not written by eye witnesses to the supposed life of Jesus?

    I’m reminded of a quote I read recently from a former Fundamentalist:

    “…Christianity has a way of making you feel like you already have all the knowledge you need, so you end up FEELING really smart without actually knowing much about ANYTHING!…”

  37. “It’s meaningless that you can have morality without absolute morality? Or that the morality Fundamentalism claims isn’t objective at all?”

    Unless morality is objective, then it’s simply based on your/”society’s” personal opinion, and therefore has no more meaning than the opinions of a mouse.

    “Is it meaningless that the Universe is billions of years old? Or that mankind evolved from a common ancestor with the apes? Or that the Pentateuch is a collection of myths written down centuries after the supposed time of Moses? Or that the New Testament was not written by eye witnesses to the supposed life of Jesus?”

    To the topic in this conversation? All those things are absolutely meaningless. As shown by the fact you don’t seem to make any effort to connect them with the topic.

    I wonder why you even bother coming to this forum, if you’re not really interested in talking beyond saying ‘XrisTIAnitY iz stoopid’. You might as well just talk to a rock, and at least then you’d have a conversation with an intellectual equal.

    “…Christianity has a way of making you feel like you already have all the knowledge you need, so you end up FEELING really smart without actually knowing much about ANYTHING!…”

    Coming from you this statement can only be met with laughter.

  38. “Unless morality is objective, then it’s simply based on your/”society’s” personal opinion, and therefore has no more meaning than the opinions of a mouse.”

    First, this morality is central to the existence of that given society. To say it’s “meaningless” is absurd. Second, if you are claiming objective morality exists (as even some atheists say), you are claiming there are rules which apply always in all circumstances… But you have already told me God is not subject to the rules He makes – and so yet again, for the umpteenth time, the morality you are claiming is not objective at all. If objective morality does exist, you have provided no basis for it.

    “To the topic in this conversation? All those things are absolutely meaningless. As shown by the fact you don’t seem to make any effort to connect them with the topic.”

    I was pointing that you reject all these commonly held (even by non-Fundamentalist Christian scholars) facts, due to your subjective opinion of what truth and facts are.

    In another thread I was talking to Anthony, who appears to be the main chap at this site. He tried to tell me that everything is meaningless without “God”. Do you believe that too?

    “I wonder why you even bother coming to this forum, if you’re not really interested in talking beyond saying ‘XrisTIAnitY iz stoopid’. You might as well just talk to a rock, and at least then you’d have a conversation with an intellectual equal.”

    I came to this forum to try to understand why you believe what you believe. Funnily enough, talking to you is like talking to a rock.

    “Coming from you this statement can only be met with laughter.”

    Your attitude is ‘atheism iz stoopid’. Don’t you think the same rules of behaviour should apply to you as you apply to me?

  39. “First, this morality is central to the existence of that given society.”

    If that’s so then that society is in itself meaningless.

    “Second, if you are claiming objective morality exists (as even some atheists say), you are claiming there are rules which apply always in all circumstances… ”

    This statement proves that you have no idea what objective morality even really is.

    Objective morality means that there are rules that apply to everyone equally; not that there are rules that apply always in all circumstances. I don’t believe it’s right to push an old woman on the ground just for fun, but if one is in a circumstance that she would be hit by a car, then that means eveeryone would then be obligated to do so to save her life. THAT is objective morality,as opposed to relatvisim which says it’s equally ok to let her die.

    “I was pointing that you reject all these commonly held (even by non-Fundamentalist Christian scholars) facts, due to your subjective opinion of what truth and facts are.”

    And I pointed out you are incredibly ignorant and uninterested in learning, since apparently we’re playing some kind of ‘state the obvious and irrelevant’ game. I’m very competitive by nature.

  40. If that’s so then that society is in itself meaningless.

    You saying that does not make it so. Ancient Sumeria had a different set of moral values than we have now (although some rules were the same). That does not make their society meaningless.

    This statement proves that you have no idea what objective morality even really is

    Are you about to tell me what you think it means?

    Objective morality means that there are rules that apply to everyone equally; not that there are rules that apply always in all circumstances.

    I have been saying all along that moral rules apply equally to everyone within a given society – we do not get to make up our own rules.

    You have just stated that the moral rules which do apply are subject to the circumstances of the moral question.

    Objectivity is something we strive for – not something we start with.

    And I pointed out you are incredibly ignorant and uninterested in learning, since apparently we’re playing some kind of ‘state the obvious and irrelevant’ game. I’m very competitive by nature.

    No, you have assumed that I am “incredibly ignorant and uninterested in learning”. You have made no attempt – until your last post – to actually engage me.

    Being competitive is fine. You don’t have to be such a dork about it.

    You just said under some circumstances, the moral thing to do is to push an old lady to the ground. I agree with that. You just said that normally it would be immoral to push an old lady to the ground. I agree with that too.

    Can we work out what it is we agree with and what it is we disagree with?

    I am genuinely interested. What do you mean by “objective morality” if you are telling me God is not subject His own moral rules?

  41. “You saying that does not make it so. Ancient Sumeria had a different set of moral values than we have now (although some rules were the same). That does not make their society meaningless.”

    heh. You saying differently doesn’t make it so either. And I got news for you – EVERYTHING is meaningless under atheism. Did Ancient Sumeria matter a (supposedly) billion years ago to the rest of the universe? Will it matter to the rest of the universe a billion years from now? Does it matter even now to the rest of the universe?

    Nope. Under atheism/relativism it doesn’t matter a wit more than an ant colony that existed a thousand years ago (or even today). Any feelings to the contrary are mere self-serving delusion.

    “I have been saying all along that moral rules apply equally to everyone within a given society – we do not get to make up our own rules.”

    You’ve been saying a lot of things. After you say a completely contradicting thing before that. Sadly for you, relativism inherently means ‘do whatever you personaly want and it’s ok’, thus moral rules aren’t in fact applied equally.

    “You have just stated that the moral rules which do apply are subject to the circumstances of the moral question.

    Objectivity is something we strive for – not something we start with.”

    About as much as we don’t start off with the rate of gravity, but “strive” for it.

    “No, you have assumed that I am “incredibly ignorant and uninterested in learning”. You have made no attempt – until your last post – to actually engage me.”

    No, it’s simply until recently that you’ve actually engaged what I’ve actually said, and not just post whatever thought flits through your head.

    “You just said under some circumstances, the moral thing to do is to push an old lady to the ground. I agree with that. You just said that normally it would be immoral to push an old lady to the ground. I agree with that too.”

    Then congradulations. You’ve adopted Moral Objectivism.

    “Can we work out what it is we agree with and what it is we disagree with?”

    Sure. When you can form your beliefs into something that resembles logical coherency. As of now you’re just all over the map.

    “I am genuinely interested. What do you mean by “objective morality” if you are telling me God is not subject His own moral rules?”

    He’s not so much “subject” as He’s the very embodiment of what is objectively “good”. I’d suggest reading Aquinas for a more in-depth answer to the issue.

  42. End Bringer

    It would help if you read what I or other atheists actually say, rather than what it tells you atheists say in your bumper junior apologetics coloring-in book. I think life and the universe is packed with meaning. I am overwhelmed at it’s wonders. Many atheists write very beautifully on that very subject. If you want to reduce arguments to absurdity, look at your own beliefs, where all of existence means nothing more than making “God” happy. (What’s lacking in God that he needs us to make him happy, anyway?)

    No, it’s simply until recently that you’ve actually engaged what I’ve actually said, and not just post whatever thought flits through your head

    Oh the irony. I’ve made a consistent argument for what I believe about morality. You just haven’t processed the words I’ve written because they’ve not followed the script you’ve been expecting. There are more understandings of morality than Moral Objectivism which, of course many atheists accept. You’d know all these things if you’d ever cracked open a book on basic philosophy.

    [God is] not so much “subject” as He’s the very embodiment of what is objectively “good”. I’d suggest reading Aquinas for a more in-depth answer to the issue.

    Aquinas wrote much that is very beautiful. He also wrote this:

    In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned. . .So that they may be urged the more to praise God. . .The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens. . .to the damned.

    Do you think it is the very embodiment of what is objectively “good” to gloat at billions of people suffering infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime?

  43. “It would help if you read what I or other atheists actually say, rather than what it tells you atheists say in your bumper junior apologetics coloring-in book. I think life and the universe is packed with meaning.”

    Heh. Which atheists? As we’ve seen with your response to SJ’s use of an atheist’s claim of us being all ‘meat-computers’ that have misfiring brains, you’re not exactly all in agreement.

    Difference being what ‘you think’ is tellingly different than what a-theism logically entails. It doesn’t matter what any a-theists say on the subject. I’m sure the ants think there’s meaning in their existence and their little colony too. Doesn’t change the fact that ultimately it’s all self-serving delusion.

    The only choice is a meaningless existence under a-theism, or if existence DOES have meaning then that necessitates the existence of God. Either/or. No middle ground.

    “If you want to reduce arguments to absurdity, look at your own beliefs, where all of existence means nothing more than making “God” happy.”

    Not quite, but even if this Sunday-school portrayal was true, it’d still be more meaning than what’s under atheism.

    “I’ve made a consistent argument for what I believe about morality. You just haven’t processed the words I’ve written because they’ve not followed the script you’ve been expecting. There are more understandings of morality than Moral Objectivism which, of course many atheists accept. You’d know all these things if you’d ever cracked open a book on basic philosophy.”

    heh. No you’ve just been spouting a whole lot of contradicting and irrelevant nonsense that amounts to ‘XrIStiaNti iz stoopid’, and trying to pat your ego, but generally coming off like a troll.

    And it’s exactly because atheists accept things that directly contradict atheism that this blog post addressess. It’s a sign that you’ve just blindly eaten whatever you’ve been spoon fed to think you can pick and choose whatever you want to believe and it will all fit under an atheistic belief.

    “Do you think it is the very embodiment of what is objectively “good” to gloat at billions of people suffering infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime?”

    I’m still wondering where you get the gall to object when you continuously leave it up to “society” and say your feelings are “not applical to all societies” and are “nebulous and not absolute” anyway. Seems under such a belief it’s ok either way to “gloat over billions of peopel suffering” when that ‘society’ says it’s ok.

    Not that I am conceeding this cut-and-paste use of the Summa Theologica you probably got from some atheistic site. As a reading of the WHOLE article reveals Aquinas was talking about the “rejoicing” being that good and justice has triumphed (those billions of people DO deserve it), rather than being happy suffering is being inflicted in itself. It’s akin to seeing a third-world impoverished person and being happy for how well off you are, rather than being happy for how poor off that person is.

  44. Heh. Which atheists? As we’ve seen with your response to SJ’s use of an atheist’s claim of us being all ‘meat-computers’ that have misfiring brains, you’re not exactly all in agreement.

    And yet post as if we all believe the same things.

    Important sidenote: our very generous host Anthony got the argument he was quoting embarrassingly wrong. Still no post or apology for him. Is he going to man up? Or is he just another liar for Jesus?

    I will skip over the next chink of your post, because it’s gibberish. There is ample evidence for the evolution and necessity of morality. But then we’re talking on a website which states in its “Faith Statement” that there’s “usually” no need to “actually defend our ‘YEC’ position because the primary alternative- macroevolution- is absurd on its own merits”. A deliberate or wishful ignorance of what scientists – including the vast majority of christian scientists – have to say about evolution and morality is what you guys do.

    “Seems under such a belief it’s ok either way to “gloat over billions of peopel suffering” when that ‘society’ says it’s ok.”

    Would *our* society wish to be burned eternally in hell? Then how can we say another society deserves to burn eternally in hell? You really have no idea what morality is.

    those billions of people DO deserve it

    There is your argument. That it *IS* is objectively “good” to gloat at billions of people suffering infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime.

    Infinite facepalm.

    You called me “incredibly ignorant and uninterested in learning”.

    You are the one ignoring practically everything humanity has learned since the time of Aquinas.

  45. “Important sidenote: our very generous host Anthony got the argument he was quoting embarrassingly wrong. Still no post or apology for him. Is he going to man up? Or is he just another liar for Jesus?”

    Says you. And seeing how your responses show you clearly don’t have a clue to the point of what’s being said, no one has to take your assesments seriously.

    “I will skip over the next chink of your post, because it’s gibberish. There is ample evidence for the evolution and necessity of morality.”

    Heh. Seeing how there’s not ample evidence for evolution in itself, I doubt it. As I can easily point to the general brutality and apathy displayed in the rest of the animal kingdom, I’d say such “evidence” is merely post hoc rationalization, because deep down not even atheists believe what’s a fundamental implication of A-theism.

    “But then we’re talking on a website which states in its “Faith Statement” that there’s “usually” no need to “actually defend our ‘YEC’ position because the primary alternative- macroevolution- is absurd on its own merits”. A deliberate or wishful ignorance of what scientists – including the vast majority of christian scientists – have to say about evolution and morality is what you guys do.”

    Like I said, you aren’t really interested in learning, but in making yourself look smart (while failing), by saying whatever denouncements flit through your head rather than sticking to the subject.

    “Would *our* society wish to be burned eternally in hell? Then how can we say another society deserves to burn eternally in hell? You really have no idea what morality is.”

    Who cares what *our* society wishes? It’s just one of many societies that are “nebulous and not absolute”, right? Another society says differently and under relativism it has just as much legitimacy. Not like there’s some objective standard saying one is absolutely “right” and the other “wrong”, is there? 😉

    Yet it’s telling how you act as if there is.

    “There is your argument. That it *IS* is objectively “good” to gloat at billions of people suffering infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime.”

    This is why no one needs to take your portrayal of SJ seriously. Because the reality of what’s ACTUALLY said is very very far removed from what you THINK is being said.

  46. Says you. And seeing how your responses show you clearly don’t have a clue to the point of what’s being said, no one has to take your assesments seriously.

    The creationist playbook. Say something mind-numbingly stupid. Double down when caught.

    Heh. Seeing how there’s not ample evidence for evolution in itself, I doubt it.

    And you know what about evolution or philosophy exactly? You get your information from people who insist that no evidence could ever contradict the Bible. And thus the cycle of mindless pig-ignorance continues.

    This is why no one needs to take your portrayal of SJ seriously. Because the reality of what’s ACTUALLY said is very very far removed from what you THINK is being said.

    I wrote: There is your argument. That it *IS* is objectively “good” to gloat at billions of people suffering infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime.

    You wrote: As a reading of the WHOLE article reveals Aquinas was talking about the “rejoicing” being that good and justice has triumphed (those billions of people DO deserve it), rather than being happy suffering is being inflicted in itself.

    The only word you are quibbling about is “gloat”.

  47. “And you know what about evolution or philosophy exactly? You get your information from people who insist that no evidence could ever contradict the Bible. And thus the cycle of mindless pig-ignorance continues.”

    Hehehehehe. The typical atheist playbook – act like you know so much about those you talk too, while proving you know so little. Seeing how I’ve been in these discussions and researching these topics for years, I’d say I know enough (I won’t presume I know everything though).

    “The only word you are quibbling about is “gloat”.”

    You need more lessons in basic english, as even a 6th grader could see I’m taking issue with your assesment of Aquinas’s words IN IT’S ENTIRETY. That he was saying it’s objectively good to be glad justice and righteousness have triumphed, rather than simply because people suffer. If people suffer BECAUSE justice and righteousness are triumphant than the only conclusion is that their punishment is earned.

    That’s a bit more than taking issue with one word, but clearly you don’t like accepting things that intrude on your little bubble of preconceptions.

  48. A 6th grade reading level? I had an 8th grade plus reading level when I was a pre-teen. I have a post-graduate qualification and I worked as a professional for twenty years. What have you got, moron?

    You have been “researching these topics” for years, and so you tell yourself that you know more than tens of thousands of scientists who work in biology day in and day out – including a great many christians. Infinite fail.

    You believe that it *IS* is objectively “good” that billions of people suffer infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime – because the “righteousness are triumphant. The only word you can argue with that I used is “gloat”. Infinite fail.

    When you get to your knees tonight to pray, Bell End, ask yourself why it is you have to lie to protect your faith. As yourself why you have to lie to protect our host Anthony. You, sir, are a liar for God.

  49. “A 6th grade reading level? I had an 8th grade plus reading level when I was a pre-teen. I have a post-graduate qualification and I worked as a professional for twenty years. What have you got, moron?”

    So your excuse is a-theism has made you progressively loose IQ points? Makes sense.

    “You have been “researching these topics” for years, and so you tell yourself that you know more than tens of thousands of scientists who work in biology day in and day out – including a great many christians. Infinite fail.”

    Nope. I tell myself I know what’s true and more important than tens of thousands of scientists, no matter what they call themselves. 😉

    “You believe that it *IS* is objectively “good” that billions of people suffer infinite, eternal torment for the sins of a human lifetime – because the “righteousness are triumphant. The only word you can argue with that I used is “gloat”. Infinite fail.”

    Nope. You think I/Christians take joy in people’s suffering, when what I said was we take joy in rightousness and being spared suffering even though we ourselves deserve it. Your problem with that is you think suffering is some kind of evil in itself (though apparantly not an absolute evil), when it’s actually not if it’s justly deserved.

    “When you get to your knees tonight to pray, Bell End, ask yourself why it is you have to lie to protect your faith. As yourself why you have to lie to protect our host Anthony. You, sir, are a liar for God.”

    Heh. I’ll be sleeping quite peacefully tonight. Because I’m no where near insecure enough to let the words of some faceless atheist who’s frothing at the mouth because he can’t hold his own in a conversation trouble me.

  50. Right. It couldn’t possibly be you who doesn’t understand evolutionary science – it must be the tens of thousands of people who actually work in biology every day. It couldn’t be you who has a reading and writing problem, it must be all those people with significantly more education than you. You think billions of people justly deserve to burn eternally in hell because they don’t believe what you believe. You feel no remorse for lying, you have a grandiose sense of self, you show callousness and a lack of empathy, a need for stimulation and an impulsive nature.

    Profile of a sociopath anyone?

  51. Not to imply any hope that a meaningful conversation is possible with you, ptet, but you have an extremely inaccurate concept of Christianity embodied in this statement:

    “You think billions of people justly deserve to burn eternally in hell because they don’t believe what you believe.”

    Actually, if you were really paying attention, you would know that Christians in fact believe that EVERYONE justly deserves to burn eternally in hell.

    That includes yours truly.

    Such a fact throws a mighty crimp into your indignation, and so will likely be dismissed out of hand, but that it is a fact nonetheless. The Christian Scriptures are clear about it. Presumably you’ve read them for yourself?

  52. “Right. It couldn’t possibly be you who doesn’t understand evolutionary science – it must be the tens of thousands of people who actually work in biology every day.”

    heh. Yeah, and those “tens of thousands of people” who worked in astronomy in Galieo’s day, couldn’t have poooossibly been wrong about the Earth being the center of the galaxy, right? 😉

    “It couldn’t be you who has a reading and writing problem, it must be all those people with significantly more education than you.”

    Actually for the moment the only one I think with a reading problem is you. Something you’d realize if not for the fact you have a reading (and general comprehention) problem.

    “You think billions of people justly deserve to burn eternally in hell because they don’t believe what you believe.”

    Actually according to Christianity holds everyone deserves to go to Hell because everyone has sinned. But as SJ has already indicated these things are simply Scriptural facts, which doubtlessly you aren’t very familiar with.

    “You feel no remorse for lying, you have a grandiose sense of self, you show callousness and a lack of empathy, a need for stimulation and an impulsive nature.

    Profile of a sociopath anyone?”

    Hmm, even if any of that was true, are you some how implying any of that is objectively “wrong”? 😉

  53. Yes, Anthony, everyone deserves to burn in hell – but only people who don’t tow the line and believe what you believe actually will.

    I’d ask if you were going to correct your amusing mis-reading of Jerry Coyne, or your absurd call for “intelligent design” to be taught in schools, but of course you won’t.

  54. “Yes, Anthony, everyone deserves to burn in hell – but only people who don’t tow the line and believe what you believe actually will.”

    *shrug* that’s not how the Scriptures characterize it. Everyone thrown off a ship will drown- unless they grab hold of the life preservers that are thrown to them. As the water fills your lungs, you can protest the unfairness of it all- “I prefer to cling to a set of iron barbells and curse your silly life vest!” but it isn’t a question of ‘toeing’ the line, it is about understanding the real situation. It seems silly to me to reject the Christian’s assertions about the real situation merely because you think it untoward, but that’s your call- having actual free will, and all.

    “I’d ask if you were going to correct your amusing mis-reading of Jerry Coyne, or your absurd call for “intelligent design” to be taught in schools, but of course you won’t.”

    Of course, you had to say it anyway, didn’t you? 😉

  55. Hello Anthony

    I trust we can have a civilised conversation.

    I’d ask if you were going to correct your amusing mis-reading of Jerry Coyne, or your absurd call for “intelligent design” to be taught in schools, but of course you won’t.

    Of course, you had to say it anyway, didn’t you?

    I didn’t bring it up, until your own personal Galileo falsely accused me of lying.

    Everyone thrown off a ship will drown- unless they grab hold of the life preservers that are thrown to them.

    But there aren’t enough life preservers, Anthony. Billions of people will die without being Christian. In the vast majority of cases, these people will follow the religion they were born with. This isn’t a question of fairness – it’s a cast-iron fact that billions of people are religious and try to follow “God” as their culture has taught them, but are doomed according to your religion.

    I am hugely aware that my atheism is a product of where and when I was born in history. If I had been born in Europe a century or more ago, I would have almost certainly been a Christian.

    What is your answer to that?

    William Lane Craig says that God arranges the location of people’s birth according to whether they would have accepted the Gospel if they had heard it.

    It seems silly to me to reject the Christian’s assertions about the real situation merely because you think it untoward, but that’s your call- having actual free will, and all.

    No, Anthony, I reject them because they are incoherent, contradictory, immoral and, in short, stupid.

    Moreover, the evidence is overwhelming that Christianity is a man-made construct. You would laugh at a Hindu Nationalist who insisted that science and history must be interpreted it the light of the Vedas, and yet that is exactly what you claim for the Bible.

    If there is a God, and that God created the Universe knowing in advance that billions of people would end their finite lives in eternal torment, that God is indistinguishable from the greatest moral monster imaginable. Such a God would not be worthy of worship.

    But you go on telling yourself that you are saved and billions of people are born to be damned. Shrug.

    It’s very simple, Anthony. If your religion was “true” you wouldn’t have to twist the truth to support it.

  56. “I trust we can have a civilised conversation.”

    You have already shown yourself to be incapable of such. Even this post illustrates as much.

    “I didn’t bring it up, until your own personal Galileo falsely accused me of lying.”

    Right. You had to. 🙂

    “But there aren’t enough life preservers, Anthony.”

    Unlike the Titanic, there are ample life preservers to go around.

    “What is your answer to that?”

    My answer is that I must conclude that your atheism is not the product of a well thought out philosophy, but instead just the world view derived from your personal context and upbringing, and what not. This is by your own admission. So, why should I bother answering your questions when you were born into your atheism?

    I trust you see the fallacy of your argument- if it is significant, it reduces even your own position to triviality.

    “No, Anthony, I reject them because they are incoherent, contradictory, immoral and, in short, stupid.”

    And there you go. Your notion of a ‘civilized conversation.’

    I will leave aside the incoherency and contradictory nature of calling something ‘immoral’ when you readily concede that morality is nothing more than whatever ‘society’ determines. It’s the exact same madness as chalking up the place of your birth as the reason why you believe something. Christianity is immoral- but only on society’s current rendition.

    This is like the very definition of incoherency. In seeing through everything, you’ve left nothing to look at.

    Anyway, I’m done here. I just wanted to set the record straight on your ‘twisting of the truth’ regarding what Christianity says about going to hell for ‘refusing to tow [sic] the line.’ I don’t have conversations with people who operate in bad faith as a matter of principle, and that, as was evident from your first contribution on my blog, is you.

    adios, dude.

  57. My atheism is a “product of history” because we live in a hugely scientific age. Centuries ago we did not. Science has allowed to to explain a multitude of things we previously explained with “God did it”. You are still preaching the “science” if the Iron Age, for heaven’s sake.

    You completely ignored what I wrote about non-Christian religious people.
    Wow – lying for Jesus, much?

    I did not say morality is whatever society determines – I said morality is the basis of all societies and different societies will have different interpretations of morality. Christianity immoral in societies current rendition because we know hugely more now about the world than we did centuries ago.

    That’s why you want to turn the scientific clock back to before the enlightenment.

  58. “Unless morality is objective, then it’s simply based on your/”society’s” personal opinion, and therefore has no more meaning than the opinions of a mouse.”

    Ta da, you got it. There is no meaning to morality other than what we give it. Much like the opinion of mice.

    Morality is the pseudo-science of the legal world. Where a moral is important enough it becomes a law.

  59. “Ta da, you got it. There is no meaning to morality other than what we give it. Much like the opinion of mice.”

    And how much value do you place on a mouse’s opinion?

    “Morality is the pseudo-science of the legal world. Where a moral is important enough it becomes a law.”

    In which case all laws are equally as meaningless, if there’s no objective standard saying we must obey them.

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