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10/28/2007                                                                                       View Comments

21 Unconvincing Arguments for God

August Berkshire, the public relations representative for Minnesota Atheists and Vice-President of Atheist Alliance International, has put together a simple, concise list of 21 Unconvincing Arguments for God (PDF).

Here's his list:

(1) Holy Books - Just because something is written down does not make it true. This goes for the Bible, the Qu’ran, and any other holy book. It is circular reasoning to try to prove the god of a holy book exists by using the holy book itself as “evidence.”

People who believe the holy book of one religion usually disbelieve the holy books of other religions.

(2) “Revelations” - All religions claim to be revealed, usually through people called “prophets.” But a revelation is a personal experience. Even if the revelations really did come from a god, there is no way we could prove it. As Thomas Paine said, it is a revelation only to the first person, after that it is hearsay. People of one religion usually disbelieve the revelations of other religions.

(3) Personal Testimony / Feelings - This is when you are personally having the revelation or feeling that a god exists. Though you may be sincere, and even if a god really does exist, a feeling is not proof, either for you or for someone else.

(4) The “God Part” of the Brain - Some religious people argue that a god must exist, or why else would we have a part of our brain that can “recognize” a god? What use would that part of our brain be otherwise?

However, imagination is important for us to be able to predict the future, and thus aids our survival. We can imagine all kinds of things that aren’t true. It is a byproduct of being able to imagine things that might be true.

As a matter of fact, scientists have begun to study why some people have religious beliefs and others don’t, from a biological perspective. They have identified certain naturally occurring chemicals in our brains that can give us religious experiences.

In studies of religion and the brain, a new field called neurotheology, they have identified the temporal lobe as a place in the brain that can generate religious experiences.

Another part of the brain that regulates a person’s sense of “self” can be consciously shut down during meditation, giving the meditator (who loses his or her sense of personal boundaries) a feeling of “oneness” with the universe.

(5) “Open Heart” - It will do no good to ask atheists to “open our hearts and accept Jesus” (or any other deity). If we were to set aside our skepticism, we might indeed have an inspirational experience. But this would be an emotional experience and, like a revelation, we’d have no way to verify if a god was really speaking to us or if we were just hallucinating.

(6) Unverifiable “Miracles” / Resurrection Stories - Many religions have miracle stories. And just as people who believe in one religion are usually skeptical towards miracle stories of other religions, atheists are skeptical toward all miracle stories.

Good magicians can perform acts that seem like miracles. Things can be mismeasured and misinterpreted. A “medical miracle” can simply be attributed to our lack of knowledge of how the human body works. Why are there never any indisputable miracles, such as an amputated arm regenerating?

Regarding resurrections, atheists will not find a story of someone resurrecting from the dead to be convincing. There are many such legends in ancient literature and, again, most religious people reject the resurrection stories of other religions.

Modern resurrection stories always seem to occur in Third World countries under unscientific conditions. However, there have been thousands of people in modern hospitals hooked up to machines that verified their deaths when they died. Why didn’t any of them ever resurrect?

(7) Fear of Death / “Heaven” - Atheists don’t like the fact that we’re all going to die any more than religious people do. However, this fear does not prove there is an afterlife – only that we wish there was an afterlife. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

There is no reason to believe our consciousness survives the death of our brains. The mind is not something separate from the body. Chemical alteration and physical damage to our brains can change our thoughts.

Some people get Alzheimer’s disease at the end of their lives. The irreversible damage to their brains can be detected by brain scans. These people lose their ability to think, yet they are still alive. How, one second after these people die, does their thinking return (in a “soul”)?

(8) Fear of Hell - The idea of hell strikes atheists as a scam – an attempt to get people to believe through fear what they cannot believe through reason and evidence.

The only way to approach this “logically” is to find the religion that punishes you the worst for disbelief, and then believe that religion. Okay, you will have saved yourself from the worst punishment that exists – if that religion is the “true” religion.

But if that religion (with its punishment) is not the true religion – if the religion that has the second or third worst punishment for disbelief is the true religion – then you have saved yourself nothing.

So, which religion’s hell is the true hell. Without evidence, we can never know.

(9) “Pascal’s Wager” / Faith - In short, Pascal’s Wager states that we have everything to gain (an eternity in heaven) and nothing to lose by believing in a god. On the other hand, disbelief can lead to a loss of heaven (i.e. hell).

We’ve already noted that heaven is wishful thinking and that hell is a scam, so let’s address the issue of faith.

Pascal’s Wager assumes a person can will himself or herself into having faith. This is simply not the case, at least not for an atheist. So atheists would have to pretend to believe. But according to most definitions of God, wouldn’t God know we were lying to hedge our bets? Would a god reward this?

Part of Pascal’s Wager states that you “lose nothing” by believing. But an atheist would disagree. By believing under these conditions, you’re acknowledging that you’re willing to accept some things on faith. In other words, you’re saying you’re willing to abandon evidence as your standard for judging reality. Faith doesn’t sound so appealing when it’s phrased that way, does it?

(10) Blaming the Victim - Many religions punish people for disbelief. However, belief requires faith, and some people, such as atheists, are incapable of faith. Their minds are only receptive to evidence. Therefore, are atheists to be blamed for not believing when “God” provides insufficient evidence?

(11) The End of the World - Like the concept of hell, this strikes atheists as a scare tactic to get people to believe through fear what they can’t believe through reason and evidence. There have been predictions that the world was going to end for centuries now. The question you might want to ask yourselves, if you’re basing your religious beliefs on this, is how long you’re willing to wait – what amount of time will convince you that the world is not going to end?

(12) Meaning in Life - This is the idea that, without belief in a god, life would be meaningless. Even if this were true, it would only prove we wanted a god to exist to give meaning to our lives, not that a god actually does exist. But the very fact that atheists can find meaning in their lives without a belief in a god shows that god belief is not necessary.

(13) “God is Intangible, Like Love” - Love is not intangible. We can define love both as a type of feeling and as demonstrated by certain types of actions.

Unlike “God,” love is a physical thing. We know the chemicals responsible for the feeling of love.

Also, love depends upon brain structure – a person with a lobotomy or other type of brain damage cannot feel love.

Furthermore, if love were not physical, it would not be confined to our physical brains. We would expect to be able to detect an entity or force called “love” floating around in the air.

(14) Morality/Ethics - This is the idea that without a god we’d have no basis for morality. However, a secular moral code existed before the Bible: the Code of Hammurabi.

In Plato’s dialogue called Euthyphro, Socrates asks a man named Euthyphro whether something is good because God says it is, or does God announce something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness?

If something is good because God says it is, then God might change his mind about what is good. Thus, there would be no absolute morality.

If God merely announces something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness, then we might be able to discover this intrinsic goodness ourselves, without the need for god belief.

Christians can’t even agree among themselves what’s moral when it comes to things like masturbation, premarital sex, homosexuality, divorce, contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and the death penalty.

Christians reject some of the moral laws found in the Bible, such as killing disobedient children or people who work on the sabbath. Therefore, Christians must be applying their own ethical standards from outside the Bible to be able to recognize that these commandments in the Bible are unethical.

Other animals exhibit kindness toward one another and a sense of justice. Morality is something that evolved from us being social beings. It’s based on the selfish advantage we get from cooperation, and on consequences.

(15) Altruism - People sometimes say that without a god there would be no altruism, that evolution only rewards selfish behavior.

However, it can be argued that there is no such thing as altruism, that people always do what they want to do. If they are only faced with bad choices, then people choose the thing they hate the least.

Our choices are based on what gives us (our genes) the best advantage for survival, including raising our reputation in society.

“Altruism” towards family members benefits people who share our genes. “Altruism” towards friends benefits people who may someday return the favor.

Even “altruism” towards strangers has a basis in evolution. This behavior first evolved in small tribes, where everyone knew each other and a good reputation enhanced one’s survival. It is now hard-wired in our brains as a general mode of conduct.

(16) Free Will - Some people argue that without a god there would be no free will, that we would live in a deterministic universe of cause and effect and that we would be mere “robots.”

Actually, there is far less free will than most people think there is. Our conditioning (our biological desire to survive and prosper, combined with our experiences) make certain “choices” far more likely than others. How else can we explain our ability, in many cases, to predict human behavior?

Experiments have shown that our brain makes a “decision” to take action before we become conscious of it!

Some believe that the only free will we have is to exercise a conscious veto over actions suggested by our thoughts.

Most atheists have no problem admitting that free will may be an illusion.

This issue also brings up a conundrum: If a god who created us knows the future, how can we have free will?

In the end, if we are enjoying our lives, does it matter if free will is real or an illusion? Isn’t it only our ego – our healthy self-esteem that is beneficial for survival – that has been conditioned to believe that real free will is somehow better than imaginary free will?

(17) Difficulties of Religion - It has sometimes been argued that because certain religious practices are difficult to follow, nobody would do them if a god didn’t exist. However, it is the belief in the existence of a god that is motivating people. A god doesn’t really have to exist for this to happen.

Difficulties can serve as an initiation rite of passage into being counted one of the “select few.” After all, if just anybody could be “saved,” there might be no point in having a religion.

Finally, the reward for obedience promised by most religions – a heaven – far outweighs any difficulties religion imposes.

(18) False Dichotomies - This is being presented with a false “either/or” proposition, where you’re only given two alternatives when, in fact, there are more possibilities.

Here’s one that many Christians are familiar with: “Either Jesus was insane or he was god. Since Jesus said some wise things, he wasn’t insane. Therefore, he must be God, like he said he was.” But those are not the only two possibilities.

A third option is that, yes, it is possible to say some wise things and be deluded that you are a god.

A fourth possibility is that Jesus didn’t say everything that is attributed to him in the Bible. Maybe he didn’t actually say all those wise things, but the writers of the Bible said he did. Or maybe he never claimed to be God, but the writers turned him into a god after he died.

A fifth possibility is that Jesus is a fictional character and so everything was invented by the authors.

Here’s another example of a false dichotomy: “No one would die for a lie. The early Christians died for Christianity. Therefore, Christianity must be true.”

What’s left out of this is that there is no evidence that anyone who ever personally knew Jesus (if he even existed) was ever martyred. We only have stories of martyrdom.

Another explanation is that the followers had been fooled, intentionally or unintentionally, into thinking Jesus was God, and so they were willing to die for a lie (that they thought was true.)

Another point is that if you believe you’ll end up in a heaven after to die, then martyrdom is no big deal.

Finally, does the fact that the 9/11 bombers were willing to die for their faith make Islam true?

(19) God-of-the-Gaps (Medicine, Life, Universe, etc.) - The god-of-the-gaps argument says that if we don’t currently know the scientific answer to something, then “God did it.”

God-of-the-gaps is used in many areas, but I’ll focus on the three main ones: medicine, life, and the universe. You’ll notice that God never has to prove himself in these arguments. It is always assumed that he gets to win by default.

Here’s a medical example: A person experiences a cure for a disease that science can’t explain. Therefore, “God did it.”

But this assumes we know everything about the human body, so that a natural explanation is impossible. But the fact is, we don’t have complete medical knowledge. Why don’t we ever see something that would be a true miracle, like an amputated arm instantaneously regenerating?

Several studies of prayer, where the patients didn’t know whether or not they were being prayed for, including a study by the Mayo Clinic, have shown prayer to have no effect on healing.

(This raises the question of why we would have to beg an all-powerful, all-loving god to be healed in the first place. It seems ironic, to say the least, to pray to a god to be cured from diseases and the effects of natural disasters that he himself created. It also raises the Problem of Evil: If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does evil exist in the first place?)

An example of god-of-the-gaps as it applies to life is creationism and “intelligent design.” It says we don’t know everything about evolution, therefore “God did it.” This ignores the fossil and genetic evidence and also fails to explain the many poor and sub-optimal “designs” we find in nature. Is “God” an incompetent or sloppy designer?

The final and most popular example of god-of-the-gaps is the universe. But to say we don’t know the origins of the universe – if the universe even had an ultimate beginning – does not mean that “God did it.”

And, of course, it begs the question: Who created God? If complex things need a creator to explain their existence, then “God,” who by the traditional definition is far more complex than the universe, and is even more in need of a creator.

(20) “Fine-tuning” of the Earth - Some religious people argue that the Earth is positioned “just right” in the solar system (not too hot, not too cold, etc.) for life to exist. Furthermore, the elements on Earth (carbon, oxygen, etc.) are also “just right.” These people claim that this couldn’t have happened “by accident,” so a god must exist to have done the positioning and chemistry.

We should be able to recognize a god-of-the-gaps argument here. But an even better rebuttal exists. If Earth was the only planet in the universe, then it would indeed be remarkable that our conditions turned out to be “just right.”

But most religious people acknowledge that there are probably thousands, if not millions, of other planets in the universe. (Our own solar system has eight planets.) Therefore, by chance, at least one of those planets will have conditions that will produce some kind of life.

We can imagine religious purple creatures with four eyes and breathing carbon dioxide on another planet also falsely believing that their planet is “fine-tuned” and that a creator god exists in their image.

(21)“Fine-tuning” of the Universe - Some religious people argue that the six physical constants of the universe (which control such things as the strength of gravity) can only exist within a very narrow range to produce a universe capable of sustaining life. Therefore, since this couldn’t have happened “by accident,” a god must have done it.

Again, this is a god-of-the-gaps argument. But beyond that, this argument assumes that we know everything about astrophysics – a field in which new discoveries are made on almost a daily basis. We may discover that our universe is not so “fine tuned” after all.

However, the best rebuttal is that there may exist multiple universes – either separately or as “bubble universes” within a single universe. Each of these universes could have its own set of constants. Given enough universes, by chance it is likely that at least one will produce and sustain life.

We know it is possible for at least one universe to exist – we are in it. If one can exist, why not many? On the other hand, we have no evidence that it is possible for even one god to exist.

Conclusion - Religious people have a tough, if not impossible task to try to prove a god exists, let alone that their particular religion is true. If any religion had objective standards, wouldn’t everyone be flocking to the same “true” religion? Instead we find that people tend to believe, to varying degrees, the religion in which they were indoctrinated. Or they are atheists.

109 comments:

brent s said...

Webmaster--

Excellently well thought-out and written essay. This covers most of the arguments I have ever had with my mother. I just hope that you haven't been left with the need for a drink, as is usually the case with me!

AtheistToothFairy said...

It's GREAT to see a well thought out summary of most of the arguments we land up having to use to explain to xtians why their evidence of their bible/god is greatly FLAWED!!

Brent S.
While I would like to 'ditto' you in handing out some well deserved kudos for this list, to our very own webmaster Dave, it's quite clear he borrowed this piece and posted it for everyone's benefit and hence, didn't spend countless hours writing all this; followed by "the need for a drink".. or two or three etc.. LOL

I'm pretty darn sure Dave's ethics would NEVER allow him to take credit for something he didn't write, nor is this even implied in his post.


ATF

.:webmaster:. said...

No, I didn't write this piece, as it clearly states in the first paragraph.

Jamie said...

Regarding the "fine-tuning" of the Earth...it has occurred to me that this is more of an argument for evolutionl...because we CAN live on this planet that is already here, we must have evolved in such a way that allowed us to live.

After all, God could have positioned the planet any damn way he pleased and just created us with the ability to live under those circumstances...

I realize the argument is virtually the same for both sides on this one....

AtheistToothFairy said...

Jamie wrote:
"Regarding the "fine-tuning" of the Earth......After all, God could have positioned the planet any damn way he pleased and just created us with the ability to live under those circumstances"
----
Jamie,

Yes it's true that a god could have put the earth in a place where life he created would thrive.
However, if there is a god who's main purpose was to create HUMANS for his pleasure (or torture!) then there is another begging question to his overkill methods.

What is the purpose of making more than just our sun and earth's moon and the other planets in our solar system?
If one speculates he wanted us to have some stars to behold at night, then creating the HUGE milky way galaxy for us to view would have been more than adequate for that job.

Alas, we have a bazillion huge galaxies out there, each one containing a bazillion stars.
To what end would such an over-design of a universe benefit humankind, especially if one believes spirits don't require planets and the 'second coming' of Jesus is right around the corner.

Also, if his intent was to create a universe to support human life forms, then why are the majority of planets we've studied out there, incapable of supporting human life, if any life at all.
Why wouldn't this all-powerful god arrange his planets around his stars in such a manner that most of them would have the ability to support life.

What god purpose does a planet like Mercury serve for mankind....it's nothing but a super hot rock orbiting the sun?

Why didn't he let Mars keep it's atmosphere so that earthlings could one day expand their existence from earth onto mars?

Other than Jupiter serving as an ancient 'god', what benefit to us is a planet made of gas and with a gravity that would crush flat any human attempting to enter it's realm?

Why did god place the nearest star at a distance of FOUR light years from our Earth?

Why did he create some stars in a manner, that when they die, their gamma ray burst could wipe out every life form on this earth, if those intense rays should happen in our direction?

There a MANY such questions one could ask about god's methods of creating our universe in a seemingly haphazard manner, but such questions never bother the faithful xtians.
To them, god has a purpose for all he does, but loves to hide his reasons from us lowly humans....YEAH RIGHT!!


ATF (who wonders if a gamma ray burst would turn him from tooth-fairy into The Hulk?)

Anonymous said...

To deny God is to deny the order in the nature. Our sciences are only busy finding out the laws of
the order inherent in nature. Or else what should they be looking for?
The order in nature can not have
created itself by coincidences. To expect that is to flip a coin trillions of times and expect that it will land always on the same side.
No order is possible without an external creator (or designer)which we call God.(Especially such a complicated order as the order in nature.)
God and sciences are not adverse
to one another - God is the creator
and the sciences explain the order
God has established.
---
As for miracles, we just need to look for them in the lives of the
humble individuals. So many of them are happening everyday.
---
Those which happened to me, thirty of them, I have collected in my book "SMALL MIRACLES" by Askin Ozcan , ISBN 1598001000 Outskirts Press .
They are true to the last word.
http://www.outskirtspress.com/smallmiracles
Who else but a superior power can have made them? Science can try to explain them, and can even succeed to do that one day, but it doesn't change the fact that a superior power has made them.

Best regards
Askin Ozcan
Author

SpaceMonk said...

re 12) Meaning in Life
The Catechism I learned as a child said that the purpose of life is to glorify god and enjoy him for ever.

Except it made me wonder, then what is his purpose?
He has no one higher to give meaning to his existence...

Which I suppose is just another twist on the old, 'If he created us then who created him?'

Brock said...

Regarding Meaning in Life: I have noted that apologists tend to assume as a given that the existence of god gives meaning to life. I thibk this assumption fails on examination. As far as the catechism quoted by Spacemonk, Samuel Beckett once asked if in the course of eons the contemplation of the Eternal Presence would not at last become an object of nausea. I like to think that my existence will never be reduced to the Hell of sitting on a cloud in my spotless robe, plucking a dulcimer and singing endless psalms of worship to my Eternal Owner.
As regards Altruism: Richard Dawkins has published an interesting essay entitled "Atheists for Jesus," available in the new anthology edited by Christopher Hitchens, in which he suggests that the strain of "superniceness" which has apparently recently (last few thusand years) manifested in humanity could never have developed in a primitive setting, since it is counter-productive in an evolutionary sense. He also suggests that we now have the ability to encourage the development of this strain in humanity.
The book is "An atheist Reader," and while it is a little light on documentation, it has material which has never been published anywhere else.

Jim Arvo said...

Askin said "To deny God is to deny the order in the nature."

That's true if you define "god" to be "order in nature". That's not the way most people define god, however, so I'm afraid you have some work to do to show that your god exists.

Askin said "The order in nature can not have created itself by coincidences."

The "order" that we see is partially explained by "symmetries" in nature--that is, order is almost synonymous with "simplicity". I don't think anybody claims that "order" created itself. If nothing else, that would be a bit of a causal conundrum (i.e. something creating itself). The issue would seem to be whether some invisible being created it (which is, presumably, what you are claiming). For that I see no credible evidence. Can you provide some?

Askin: "To expect that is to flip a coin trillions of times and expect that it will land always on the same side."

Absolutely not! Let's look at self-assembling molecules (such as DNA, RNA, and assorted long organic molecules). The docking of each atom or component is at some level helped along by the random buffeting of surrounding material. However, this does not make the process random! Far from it. The same is so for organisms. Organisms can evolve to more complex forms by mutation and selection. The latter is not random at all.

Askin: "No order is possible without an external creator..."

That's a bald assertion. Have you any evidence to support it? Also, do you consider such a creator (or at least her "mind") to be "ordered" or "chaotic"?

Askin: "As for miracles, we just need to look for them in the lives of the humble individuals. So many of them are happening everyday."

You'll need to be more specific.

Askin: "Those which happened to me, thirty of them, I have collected in my book..."

Why don't you pick out one or two that you think are most compelling, and let's discuss them. I expect that what we'll find is one or more of the following: 1) uncorroborated claims, 2) unsupported assertions that some event simply could not have occurred without the assistance of an invisible being, 3) wildly inaccurate claims about probabilities, or 4) irrational rejection of mundane explanations. But... if you think I'm wrong, just spell out several of your "miracles".

Askin: "Science can try to explain them, and can even succeed to do that one day, but it doesn't change the fact that a superior power has made them."

In other words, you will stick to your claim no matter what evidence surfaces. Is that correct, or did I read too much into what you just said?

Anonymous said...

Another rediculous article where the authors personal and shallow views are being offered as insight. The author cannot disprove the things he criticises.

Jim Arvo said...

Hello anonymous,

Allow me to make a suggestion. Pick one or two of the points made in the original posting, and address them directly. Your sweeping assessment of "personal" and "shallow" is not helpful in the least. Here is one of the points that I picked at random: "(14) Morality/Ethics - This is the idea that without a god we’d have no basis for morality. However, a secular moral code existed before the Bible: the Code of Hammurabi." That's not "personal" in that it offers an explicit moral code that predates Christianity. You can look it up and read it yourself. It's not "shallow" in that it directly addresses the frequent claim that moral codes somehow depend upon Christianity. The Code of Hammurabi predates even the OT, and it contains numerous well-articulated moral codes. Have you anything to say about that?

Ryan said...

Just a few observations, anonymous. What exactly you pursue in the way of religion is not clear. I think you are a garden-variety kook, but if you have the time, tell us about yourself. I could use a good laugh.

On the off chance that you adhere to a creed of some sort, and are not just being a pain in the ass, let me advise you that the proof you mentioned is your job, not ours. We here are called "freethinkers" and we live pretty much without creeds or doctrines. I myself deny any meaning at all in life. If you want me to abandon this way of thinking--which by the way pleases me to no end--then come up with proofs for your side.

About the author being shallow: Let me hear you rebut anything he said.

And no, the author was not simply being personal. He drew up a good and comprehensive list of objections. These are the same things that all deconverted people have faced. They are not merely "personal". The authors objections are sound, well-reasoned and impersonal.

Now try again. And by way of warning: do not debate jim arvo, unless you just enjoy humiliation.

Anonymous said...

jim arvo: are you being funny the code of hammarubi is based on an understanding of there being a God or gods as I believe hammarubi believed he was chosen by the Gods to deliver the laws. i dont believe you will find an athiests belief system in antiquity. i know you will try, good luck. hammarubi would tell you you are wrong there is a God or gods and he is the origin of morality. any other source is merely also a source of someones opinion and hardly binding on the whole. to be binding on the whole would require it to be objective and no matter how hard you try to believe any athiest source will always be subjective. end result is one persons opinion is just as valid as anothers difrent opinion. its best to not use the beliefs of people who believe in a higher being when trying to argue against there being one.

and that was more useful info than anything i read in the article above.

Anonymous said...

and Jim, Christians never claimed to be the first society. your personal grudge hardly addresses the point that any objective moral system must have its source in God. We will leave that God undefined for now, just be sure that the basis of morality is not found in man.

.:webmaster:. said...

For those interested, the Code of Hammurabi is quoted HERE and explained HERE.

Also of interest is the Code of Ur-Nammu.

Anonymous dogmatically asserted: "Just be sure that the basis of morality is not found in man."

Morality is strictly a human affair. Reading over these laws, I'm struck by the observation that the deities who supposedly handed down these primitive laws were a bit under-developed in their understanding of justice.

It seems to me that it's considerably more likely that as populations increased, a general need for some sort of "rule by law" was invented by the ruling human beings. I see no reason to assume activity by the supernatural in the codes of Hammurabi or Moses or any of them, regardless of the verbiage introducing these "laws." When dealing with an ignorantly superstitious population, "The God Said" is much more authoritative than "The human king said." Fortunately we've evolved a tad beyond those days. How far do you think today's leaders in the First World would get by telling voters that "God Said" when attempting to establish new laws? Hmm?

If the laws of Moses are handed down by a god, then it would seem appropriate to follow all those laws to the letter. Yet, we ignore nearly every law in the first five books of Moses. We don't even follow the Decalogue. Do you attend temple on Saturday? Do you go shopping on the Sabbath? Do you and your church buds go out to eat at commercial restaurants after church? You are profaning the Sabbath, and you don't care, because those laws are archaic.

"Of the people, by the people, and for the people" is a considerably better approach to law then "The God Said," wouldn't you agree?

Think about it.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name said "jim arvo: are you being funny the code of hammarubi is based on an understanding of there being a God or gods..."

Yes, that's correct. I was addressing Christian claims to morality, not general deistic claims. Sorry for not making that clear.

No-name: "i dont believe you will find an athiests belief system in antiquity...."

Not as such, no, and for a simple reason. It's uncommon to find anything that is labeled "atheist" such-and-such. For those of us who do not subscribe to religious doctrines, religion simply does not enter into important decisions or actions. There's no reason to mention it or its absence. For example, the ethical system of Confucius was not touted as "atheistic," although it is not rooted in supernatural beliefs. Many (most?) Buddhists also lack belief in an omnipotent supernatural being, and are therefore considered to be atheistic by many Christians. That is of no concern to the Buddhists.

No-name: "...any other source is merely also a source of someones opinion and hardly binding on the whole."

You overlook the central role of biology. As highly social creatures, we have a great deal of cognitive machinery that is responsible for empathy, emotional attachments, indignation, and our sense of "justice". When societies declare that rape, murder, theft, and mayhem are "wrong", they do not do so capriciously, but because those beliefs resonate with our innate social reasoning. So I strongly disagree that the laws we articulate as a society are either "god given" or arbitrary and non-binding. That is a false dichotomy that we hear frequently from visiting Christians. It ignores the huge middle ground occupied by biologically-rooted behaviors.

No-name: "...to be binding on the whole would require it to be objective and no matter how hard you try to believe any athiest source will always be subjective."

If by "objective" you mean originating outside of ourselves (e.g. handed down by god), then you need to explain how you reached this conclusion. I see countless man-made moral and ethical systems that appear to be "binding" in that the society as a whole follows them (save for an inevitable "criminal" element that is present in any society).

No-name: "...end result is one persons opinion is just as valid as anothers difrent opinion."

Absolutely false. If I claim that it is wrong to eat turnips, that is not on equal footing with those who claim that murder of humans is wrong. The reason is simple. We have empathy for our fellow humans, not for turnips. Hence, an injunction against cruelty to turnips has little chance of being adopted and enforced as a law of the land, while injunctions against murder are found in EVERY culture.

No-name: "...your personal grudge..."

My "personal grudge"? Do you know what an ad hominem attack is?

No-name: "...We will leave that God undefined for now, just be sure that the basis of morality is not found in man."

I'm not sure I follow that last bit. You wish to leave "god" undefined, yet you claim that "god" must be the basis of morality? Please explain.

By the way, can you PLEASE pick a pseudonym for yourself?

Jim Arvo said...

Oh, I almost forgot to point out something quite important (if somewhat obvious) to our as-yet-unnamed visitor. Just because it is claimed that a system or morality is handed down from god, it does not mean that it was handed down from god. Clearly, one way to impress upon one's neighbors the importance of some doctrine is to get him to believe that it came from a powerful source (e.g. from a god)--particularly if the doctrine is in line with our innate tendencies, which makes it feel "universal". Most societies seem to have learned that trick. Surely you agree that not all prophetic claims are legitimate.

Therefore, the larger task before you is to demonstrate that some moral system is indeed handed down from god; not merely that it claims to be. As far as I have been able to determine, they all spring from the minds of humans, all claims of divine authorship not withstanding.

Anonymous said...

jim arvo asks: My "personal grudge"? Do you know what an ad hominem attack is?

i know this of all the religions and multitudes of societies you could have named you chose to name only one that the code predated and I believe it is the one you hate the most.

Poltergoost said...

ANONYMOUS (Askin Ozcan) SAID:
"As for miracles, we just need to look for them in the lives of the
humble individuals. So many of them are happening everyday."

I've heard this same type of propaganda before. However, nobody ever seems to have any "REAL SOLD VISIBLE" proof of what they claim. Until then what you claim is all hear say.

ANONYMOUS (Askin Ozcan) SAID:
"Those which happened to me, thirty of them, I have collected in my book "SMALL MIRACLES" by Askin Ozcan , ISBN 1598001000 Outskirts Press."

Being the skeptic that I am, I have learned not to believe everything that I read. Why in the hell should I or anyone else believe you? Sounds like to me that you are trying to sell books, and make a buck or two. I'm not buying your bullshit. I think you are blowing smoke up everyone's asses. Me thinks that you are just another typical "Spiritual Con-Artist".

It's a shame that there are naive people who are stupid enough to believe what you claim. Your words are nothing without solid visible proof.

Poltergoost

Jim Arvo said...

You didn't answer the question: Do you know what an ad hominem attack is?

We discuss Christianity here on a daily basis, not Islam, not Buddhism, not Jainism, not Deism. The reasons are many. Your accusation of "hate" is totally unwarranted (not to mention unfounded).

Anonymous said...

ryan wants me to rebut something of that article well we will be sticking to number 14 its as good as any. So ryan you tell me from the subjective morality of atheism why was it wrong for Stalin to kill the millions of people he did. a hint dont try the biology approach Jim is trying because it doesnt account for what Stalin did being wrong. stalin has just as much evidence from nature to support his actions as Jim is trying to use to support his. who is to say whether stalin or jim is right or wrong or maybe they are both right or both wrong who is the final arbiter for the interpretation of science.

Anonymous said...

jim that explanation sounds very reasonble and I apologize. I was wrong.
the other answer may come tomorrow i am going home for today.

Anonymous said...

but as for ad hominem attack yes i do know what it is and was not engaging one just wanting to make sure we all know the argument for the existance of God based on morality as far as i know cant be used to prove whether that God is the Christian God only that there must be a God and keep everyone from dragging Christianity into the argument except maybe by way of example.

Jim Arvo said...

irritatingly-unnamed said "...dont try the biology approach Jim is trying because it doesnt account for what Stalin did being wrong."

Let me stop you there. Define for me what you mean by the action being "wrong" in this context. I can give a definition, but you are making a specific claim here (that biology doesn't account for something), so I want to hear YOUR definition so that I can fully understand what you are claiming.

irritatingly-unnamed said "...stalin has just as much evidence from nature to support his actions as Jim is trying to use to support his."

I don't follow you. What "evidence" are you referring to? What actions are you referring to?

irritating-unnamed said "...who is to say whether stalin or jim is right or wrong or maybe they are both right or both wrong who is the final arbiter for the interpretation of science."

Please be more specific. Your use of "right" and "wrong" here now seems different from your use above (i.e. not in the moral sense). Or is it? What specific claims are you talking about?

By the way, is there some reason you refuse to select a pseudonym for yourself?

Jim Arvo said...

By the way, Perpetually-Anonymous, I appreciate your desire to keep the specific claims of Christianity out of a more general discussion of "god". Fair enough. However, that had nothing to do with the ad hominem attacks I was referring to, so I'm still unconvinced that you understand my point. Simply put, if you direct criticisms toward me personally (e.g. having a "personal grudge") rather than toward the substance of my arguments, then your comments are ad hominem (to the person) and are irrelevant. I'll simply disregard those in the future, okay? They serve no purpose in the current discussion.

As a bit of a recap, let me state for your more clearly what I wish for you to show. As I think it's a bit of a red herring to debate your assertion that all morality must come from god, I'd like to focus on something far simpler: the assertion that SOME morality comes from god. Toward that end, please show me one principle, or commandment, or injunction (whatever terminology you wish to use) that is demonstrably absolute and/or of divine origin.

The reason for this is simple. I do not want to lose track of the fact that you are making a fantastic claim, and that however desirable an absolute morality might be, it's no substitute for demonstrating that such a thing actually EXISTS. That point often gets lost in these discussions.

liniasmax said...

Hey Anonymous - I've been beating a dead horse lately - but I believe it will stay dead. The part that I never, ever understood - when I believed or now that I don't - was why we have to "argue" at all? GOD is supposed to be GOD - but all we have is us and we talk for Him... He doesn't talk for himself - we "hear" from Him in a book that has stories in it (a bunch of short stories that is really one big story that leads to salvation...but no one can agree...because the writers of the short stories couldn't agree - so we have interpretations of the big story based on fragments of the short stories that have to "interpret one another"). Hello? The fact that we are having this disagreement is the A++, over the top, seems to be settled betond a reasonable doubt, argument that God does not exist - at least the Theistic "I care" type. ATF - thanks for responding.

Liniasmax

Dave8 said...

Anony: "So ryan you tell me from the subjective morality of atheism why was it wrong for Stalin to kill the millions of people he did."

"Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence. It commonly involves basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaping_to_a_conclusion

Anony uses a single atheist (presumably), to represent the extremely diverse category of atheism. Moreover, I know of no atheism manifesto or creed that establishes a common morality.

Anony uses their hasty generalization fallacy, to build an even stronger fallacy...

Complex Question Fallacy: "Many questions, also known as complex question, presupposition, loaded question, "trick question", or plurium interrogationum (Latin, "of many questions"), is an informal fallacy. It is committed when someone asks a question that presupposes something that has not been proven or accepted by all the people involved. This fallacy is often used rhetorically, so that the question limits direct replies to those that serve the questioner's agenda. An example of this is the question "Are you still beating your wife?"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_question

If anony, attempts to suggest that "all" people have subjective morality, through relativism, then, using the term "atheism" in the statement is "irrelevant", and "superfluous".

SpaceMonk said...

I don't know about the Law of Hammurabi, but in another article on this site it was shown that the Bible has no law against paedophilia ...yet it is commonly accepted as criminal.

Even one's conscience tells you it's wrong in the absence of instruction from 'God's Word' (which actually seems to encourage it).
So who needs it?

no-name said...

jim arvo said: Let me stop you there. Define for me what you mean by the action being "wrong" in this context. I can give a definition, but you are making a specific claim here (that biology doesn't account for something), so I want to hear YOUR definition so that I can fully understand what you are claiming.

i am making no such claim about biology. what i am claiming is that your interpretation of nature is no more valid than stalins interpretation or mine. so it hardly matters what way i define it. stalin could appeal to nature too. i dont even think that is an acceptable approach because everything we know we know from nature, try to imagine anything that is not derived from an understanding of the world you know, you cant do it noone can. so please dont go using nature to justify your beliefs. nature can reveal alot about the truth socrates concluded from nature that God must be diffrent than the pantheon of gods in his time and he worshipped the unknown god. they eventually killed him.

jim also quotes: No-name: "...end result is one persons opinion is just as valid as anothers difrent opinion."

jim then replies: Absolutely false. If I claim that it is wrong to eat turnips, that is not on equal footing with those who claim that murder of humans is wrong. The reason is simple. We have empathy for our fellow humans, not for turnips. Hence, an injunction against cruelty to turnips has little chance of being adopted and enforced as a law of the land, while injunctions against murder are found in EVERY culture.

and there you have it Jims appeal to a Universal Morality. Why do you think there is a universal morality? Where did it come from? and dont go with a circular argument that it is developed from society as a whole. first of all when that is grounded in history you find that because it was expediant to stalin he could arbitrarily devalue the human life of all those who disagreed with him and kill them. and you claim there is a human empathy guiding it all. well that sounds great until someone doesnt believe the human empathy philosophy for life. an atheist cant honestly claim there is anything wrong with what stalin did after all he was an atheist stalin would have known if there was. yet you try to appeal to and i quote you "our innate social reasoning". Innate? well how could that be? where could that have come from? do we have a conscience? is it possible there is an actual design? cs lewis would say now you stepped in it and i am just about to quote him exxtensively in the next post because he thinks its innate also but that can only result in one conclusion.
I will let you circle your wagons and work on damage control, because the atheist argument for morality is in jepordy. Confucius would appreciate it if you would stop using him or buddism to justify an athiest viewpoint he says they never believed that there was not some sort of higher power. He does appreciate your acknowledging that though.

Ryan said...

Okay, anonymous, I just sat down here in the library and I have not had time to read in detail any of the postings. However, I see the need to make myself clear.

As the Webmaster said, morality is a human affair. What was that you said......"be sure that the basis of morality is not found in man". Sorry, but the basis of morality is found in man--morality is made by man, for man, and man can change it as he wishes, whenever he wishes, for the reasons that he wishes. To rephrase your statement, I am sure that the basis of morality is found in man--in his needs; in his prejudices; in his caprices--and I do not have the responsibility of being sure of any other source.

I do not believe in your god, or your gods. I do not believe in your god, or Hammurabi's god, or any other god or gods. If you are insecure; if you must go crawling to your gods for comfort or guidance, than do so and leave us in peace.

And by the way, you are actually displaying a flicker of intelligence. You surprize me, you do, really. But you have not gotten past the same old shit about how we need to go outside ourselves to find a basis for our thinking and conduct, and for our laws. Look in the fucking mirror. There is your basis. It is all you have.

And I can safely predict that you will bring up Hitler. Go ahead. Oh my goodness, we have to have our gods, otherwise we will have Hitler. Some choice. My position enjoys, at least, the advantage of consistency. If atheism means the occasional Hitler, so be it.

Ryan said...

I also want to thank the WM for his quote from our Gettysburg Address, a government "by the people, for the people, of the people." Not "the father, son and holy ghost", and not "the god of abraham isaac and jacob".

In the past, many people got together and attempted self-regulation and self-determination. They were driven by self-interest as much as anything else, and were often full of shit. But if you know of any religion that provides an alternative, let me know. Let us all know. We as sentient beings need to get off our knees. god means servility.

And for your edification:

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of London

The Declaration of Paris

The Declaration of Rights

The Declaration of Rights and Grievances

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

The Declaration of Arbroath

See any good encyclopedia. If anyone is going to establish his own liberty, personal as well as political, he cannot chicken out and appeal to the gods. That will get him nowhere. Either take the responsibility on yourself, or go back to your church.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name, first of all, thank you for adopting a name, even if not very creative.

No-name: "...i am making no such claim about biology."

You claimed that biology cannot account for something. I'd like for you to articulate that claim more clearly. It appears you are declining to do so.

No-name: "...what i am claiming is that your interpretation of nature is no more valid than stalins interpretation or mine."

I presume what you mean by my "interpretation of nature" is that we have innate social tendencies (which I will elaborate as needed). What was Stalin's "interpretation of nature", or yours for that matter? Frankly I can't make much sense of many of your comments as they are too vague.

No-name: "...so it hardly matters what way i define it [the word 'wrong']."

Let me explain why it does matter. If your very definition of "wrong" is that it is counter to the wishes of some deity, or counter to some "absolute law", then arguing over what is "right" and "wrong" with you is pointless. We will constantly talk past one another. If that's how you define "right" and "wrong", then we must first start by determining whether there is ANYTHING that meets your definition, lest we commit the existential fallacy (arguing over attributes of something that does not even exist). Do you see my point? So, please, tell me what YOU mean by an action being "wrong".

No-name: "stalin could appeal to nature too."

Sure. And he might have darned socks too. Can you please make a concrete connection to what we're discussing here, and what such an "appeal" might consist in?

No-name: "...so please dont go using nature to justify your beliefs."

I will present my case as I like. In any case, you've given no indication that you even understand what my position is, so you are currently in no position to judge it. I am not using nature to "justify" my beliefs. My reference to nature thus far has been to explain the prevalence of certain moral principles across essentially all cultures. I see now that that discussion was a bit premature; we must first establish exactly what it is we are discussing. You would help that along tremendously if you would kindly define what you mean by an action being "wrong".

No-name: "...and there you have it Jims appeal to a Universal Morality. Why do you think there is a universal morality? Where did it come from?"

Please refrain from putting words in my mouth. I never suggested that there is such as thing as "Universal Morality"--that is entirely your construct. Again, I suggested that there are certain tendencies that we share by virtue of being organisms of the same species. That's a far cry from "Universal Morality".

No-name: "...and dont go with a circular argument that it is developed from society as a whole."

What circularity are you imagining? We, as organisms, evolved certain behavioral traits. Those traits influence the "laws" that we tend to codify as societies. We tend to make laws prohibiting violence against humans, not turnips, because the former leads to greater survival whereas the latter does not. However, as I've already pointed out--this point is premature in this discussion as we've not even pinned down what it is that we're discussing yet.

No-name: "...first of all when that is grounded in history you find that because it was expediant to stalin he could arbitrarily devalue the human life of all those who disagreed with him and kill them. and you claim there is a human empathy guiding it all."

I've consistently used the word "tendency". As a species, we strongly tend to abhor violence toward ourselves and toward our immediate "clan". There are certainly exceptions, especially when the circumstances are radically different from our distant ancestral environment (in which small clans were the norm). This is a huge topic, which includes the field known as Evolutionary Psychology. I'll be happy to walk you through some of it, and point you to some of the relevant literature. For now, suffice it to say that Stalin's behavior in no way undermines the universal human *tendency* to show empathy toward one's immediate associates, and to engage in highly structured social exchanges. Do you deny that the vast majority of the human race today finds the actions of Stalin and Hitler to be abhorrent? Do you deny that this abhorrence lead to their ultimate downfall?

No-name: "...well that sounds great until someone doesnt believe the human empathy philosophy for life."

Such individuals surface from time to time. One class of such people are the "sociopaths"--those whose cognitive processing lacks some of the patterns we find in "normal" social individuals. Such people are commonly separated from the others (e.g. put in prison).

No-name: "...an atheist cant honestly claim there is anything wrong with what stalin did..."

I'm an atheist, and I find it abhorrent to do unnecessary harm to others, and I share this attribute with large portions of society. This is partly the way I am "wired", partly a result of my upbringing, and partly a result of higher reasoning. I'm going to avoid using the word "wrong" for the moment because I want to hear your definition first; I will then supply mine (which will contain nothing I haven't already said). Once I give you my definition, you MAY then be in a position to judge whether I can "honestly" make any claims about it. Until then, you have no basis for such a judgment.

No-name: "...yet you try to appeal to and i quote you 'our innate social reasoning'."

Do you even understand what I mean by that phrase? If not, then you are in no position to critique what I've said, are you?

No-name: "Innate? well how could that be? where could that have come from?"

I'll gladly go into that later. Those are actually rather straightforward questions.

No-name: "do we have a conscience?"

Yes, if by "conscience" you mean a tendency to feel "guilt" or "shame" when we knowingly break a social rule, especially those instilled in us from an early age.

No-name: "...is it possible there is an actual design?"

Yes. Point to absolutely ANYTHING and ask, "Is it possible that it was designed?" I will answer the same way: Yes. That's because the attribute of being "designed" by some powerful being is unfalsifiable. There is no way to completely rule it out, even in principle. However, that is not to say that there is a shred of evidence for it.

No-name: "cs lewis would say now you stepped in it and i am just about to quote him exxtensively in the next post..."

I'm quite familiar with C. S. Lewis. Yes, he firmly believed that our moral sense was instilled in us by "god". Have you looked carefully at his arguments for why he believed this to be so?

No-name: "I will let you circle your wagons and work on damage control, because the atheist argument for morality is in jepordy."

Wow, what a load of arrogant BS you just spewed. Do you actually think that anything you've said here poses the slightest challenge to a naturalistic worldview? If you wish to even be taken seriously, start by understanding what is being said to you, and avoid setting up straw men.

Let me remind you of several simple requests that you've yet to respond to:

1) Please define what you mean by an action being "wrong".

2) Please exhibit ONE principle/commandment that is demonstrably ABSOLUTE, or divinely authored.

I'll refrain from the "circle your wagons" rhetoric. However, I'll point out that you have no argument whatsoever unless or until you can address those trivial requests.

no-name said...

ryan I have never mentioned hitler. I picked stalin because he was an atheist and you left his out but stalin also had a constitution so I ask again why was he wrong and you are right? or are neither one of you wrong? Who gets to decide again? You? you are silent on the answers thus far. because if the only criteria neccessary for morality is having a document well we all have documents but that really doesnt explain why stalin was wrong to kill the 10 to 20 million he killed. now does it. no for you to say he was wrong forces you to have to say there is a universal morality that binds us all just like Jim said. but ryan you should be very carefull about saying things like that because you cannot say that and say there is no God. stalin would not like it if you said that. be brave stand up to stalin and shout he is wrong and he is wrong because human life has value a value given it by its creator. you could even shout "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I learned that from the declaration of independence you wisely advised me to read. thankyou.

no-name said...

ryan you seem to like the gettysburg address so much and reading so much here is the whole thing please read to the end it gets real interesting

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


you should stop making the error of quoting people with a strong faith in God and interpreting there words as if they didnt believe in God. its not intellectually honest.

.:webmaster:. said...

Uhmm, no-name.

Please answer Jim Arvo's questions.

Thanks.

And you might want to read up a bit on Mr. Lincoln. You may change your mind about his religious devotion. Further, you will notice that regardless of Mr. Lincoln's mindset, he didn't say "of the god, by the god and for the god."

Laws are for people and society and are best when controlled by the people. Stalin was a ruthless dictator. If you want to compare apples to apples, then let's compare Stalin to the Czar of Russia, who was supposedly ordained by GOD to rule. Or we could peruse the lives of the French ordained-by-God royalty. Or better yet, let's see the results of rule by GOD through popes and clerics.

You don't honestly think a theocracy is a better form of government than our republic, do you? And if God's laws are absolute, I wonder if you honor the Sabbath as commanded. No buying or selling on the Sabbath. No going to McDonalds on the Sabbath. No shopping and no working.

Is honoring the Sabbath, one of the 10 Commandments, absolute or not?

no-name said...

jim arvo said: You claimed that biology cannot account for something. I'd like for you to articulate that claim more clearly. It appears you are declining to do so.

no im claiming the exact opposite that people can use it to account for everything they want. so why cant stalin claim survival of the fittest?

Jim arvo said: Let me explain why it does matter. If your very definition of "wrong" is that it is counter to the wishes of some deity, or counter to some "absolute law", then arguing over what is "right" and "wrong" with you is pointless.

i say something could be considered "wrong" from the standpoint of objective morality in that we are really obligated to that our duties arise from the way things are and not simply from our desires or subjective dispositions. any offense against that would be a wrong. such as the following.

1 real moral obligation is a fact. that is we are really truly objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.
2 either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the religous one
3 but the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation
4 therefore the religous view is correct.

"wrong" from a subjective i would say would have to be a matter of perspective. the one whose belief system was infringed by a differing one could by his system claim that was wrong from his system but could only judge whether or not the other person was wrong based upon that other persons differing system (and it is quite possible there may be nothing wrong with the other persons actions based on the other persons system). which is why i suggest based on a subjective morality stalin cannot be wrong in what he did because i am sure in his belief system what he was doing was quit justified. pick anything for me to believe and i will use all your humanists arguments to justify it and it will work but i will call you out when you play the objective morality card because that is the exclusive domain of the religous. i did claim your using an objective morality argument from your using the word innate (congenital, inborn, native) it just reeks of there being something designed in our being just like cs lewis thought and yes i have read him. he converted from atheism i do believe.

no-name said...

no-name wrote: i did claim your using an objective morality argument from your using the word innate

i meant to say "universal morality"

no-name said...

webmaster: you will notice he definitly didnt say there was not a God. and what do i care what he believed for #14 the argument is simple its basically "any and all religous vs. atheist" and that it is not honest for an to use the statements of someone who has a belief in any deity as if he had no belief in any. atheist should quote there own to support there arguments. if there are any worth quoting.

Ryan said...

About the Declaration of Independence: this document was put together by deists and unitarians, and formalized by Tom Jefferson. They trusted him to articulate their thoughts and feelings. If you will examine the life and work of Jefferson, you will find no evidence that he intended to write god's will into our laws. Ditto for any of the other founders. Except, of course, that it is god's will that we be free.

That is what this shit is about. You can believe what you bloody well please about your gods. Whether one god exists, or twenty million gods, is a matter of only the most profound indifference. But do not talk to me about your imaginary principles which come from the mind of your imaginary gods. I care nothing for your principles.

About the Gettysburg Address: Lincoln was indifferent about religion--any religion. He had no intention of saying that a nation under god could possibly mean under the authority of a deity or under the authority of any set of formal religious principles.

My favorite Jefferson quote: "I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

To set you straight: I do not share Jim's belief in a universal morality, as you seem to think. We are sophisticated animals on our hind legs, nothing more. I regret to say that I do not have any agreement with my fellow atheists who attempt to argue morality in the abscence of purpose or goal in the universe. Read my posts a little more carefully.I am being consistent.

About documents being my standards of morality: I said no such thing. You are not accustomed to debating people like me and you can't seem to understand what I am saying. You have been given a smatering of training, but not adequate. The documents simply represent our best attempts to govern ourselves. They are not binding. They are not "morals" or "truth". The Constitution itself is not sacred; it can be amended or even re-written any time. Are you suggesting that if the speed limit is 55MPH, that I am immoral for going 60? Laws are made by people; just people; that's all.

Okay, now, what deity is it that you believe in? What is his will? Do you want the will of your deity codified into law? Reinforced by what punishments? It does no goddamned good to sit there and preach about your objective moral principles unless you are actually serious about imposing them by force. Otherwise, what objectivity do they have? Does it make sense to say that your principles are objective, and then turn around and support freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, and freedom of thought? I think not.

Try again.

Ryan said...

I wanted to add a bit more to my last paragraph. Is your religion some variety of xianity? If so, what is your defense of the witch trials? the pograms? the torture and burning of heretics? Do you claim these things as part of your objective morality? There was a time when xians did just that. You should be glad that these things can be changed and that they are not carved into stone and revered.

no-one said...

webmaster said: If you want to compare apples to apples, then let's compare Stalin to the Czar of Russia, who was supposedly ordained by GOD to rule.

lets do just that because you dont seem to be following the real issue very well.

in a subjective morality system Stalin and the Czar can only be measured to their beliefs which would also have been influenced by the beliefs of the time. and whether either of them murdered could only be determined by their own understanding of murder and whether or not they violated that understanding. the societies they answered too may feel differently and may act on the concensus of there morality/safety but ultimately Stalin or the czar could stand bravely before their accusers justified in their own minds that they are martyrs for their own cause.

in a objective or universal morality. stalin and the czar are judged in some form by a higher power and answer for their obedience or disobedience to that standard that is set in their being. presumably by one of the various notions of god. they usually spend eternity somewhere or reincarnate til they get it right based on their obedience.

how are those apples?

no-name said...

webmaster: fyi the subjective morality would be the atheist position.

boomSLANG said...

No-name theist,

When you get done ignoring everyone elses questions, I wonder if you might like to change your "strategy" and actually answer these:

1) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to tell a lie?

2) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to kill another human being?

3) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to earn a living on the Sabbath?

4) Is your biblegod's "Word" intrinsically "good", and "just"?

5) If "yes" to question 4, then tell me, would you kill your own mother, and/or child, if you were absolutely 100% convinced that this was the wishes of "God"?

6) If "no" to question 5, why not?

I await your honest and straight-forward answers to these questions.

Ryan said...

I am presently reading "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. This play is about the Salem witch trials. It follows the known facts of history pretty well. I just wanted to point out that hanging a witch on the testimony of one witness was the practice of church and state. It was the moral thing to do. It was the godly thing to do. No-name, you have been very vague so far, dealing in generalities. Let me repeat from my last postings: who is this god you speak of, and what is his will? What are these principles you are upholding? I have told you pretty much what I believe. Your turn.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name: "...people can use it [biology] to account for everything they want."

Okay, let's say that is so. Does that mean that anyone can make a DEFENSIBLE argument for ANYTHING? No, it does not. So, please be specific. Appealing to the existence of myriad BAD arguments does not help your case.

No-name: "...so why cant stalin claim survival of the fittest?"

I think you are asking this: Why can't Stalin say that his killing of others was "right" because all that mattered was his own survival? Is that a fair statement? If so, my first question to you is, once again, what do you mean by "right" in this context? If you mean that Stalin liked the idea, then you have something close to a tautology. If you mean that it is in accord with what most people would deem acceptable behavior, then clearly Stalin's argument would be wrong. If you mean in accord with some god-given set of rules, I'll ask you to first produce those rules and show me that they are god-given. Did I leave some base uncovered?

As an aside, "survival of the fittest" is an informal description of what we observe; it's not a normative principle. In other words, it cannot be used to justify killing any more than the law of universal gravitation can be used to justify pushing someone out of a window.

No-name: "i say something could be considered 'wrong' from the standpoint of objective morality..."

You just substituted one undefined term for another. What is YOUR definition of "objective morality"? To save some time, let me take a crack at defining it for you. If you don't like my definition, then please go right ahead and modify it or supply your own.

Objective Morality: Rules of human conduct that are independent of what any human or collection of humans thinks or desires.

Is that close? Please amend and/or modify as you wish, but please try to avoid introducing more undefined terms in your definition, or we'll be going around and around for a very long time. Assuming for a moment that my definition suffices, then your definition of "wrong" is that it is counter to some such purported set of rules. Right?

I don't know if you will accept my definitions or not, but either way, please tell me whether the notions of "right" or "wrong" have any meaning with respect to the rules themselves. That is, are the rules constituting an "Objective Morality" arbitrary, or are some more "right" or "desirable" than others?

1 real moral obligation is a fact. that is we are really truly objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.

More undefined terms. What is the "moral obligation" you speak of. Yes, I can give it a meaningful definition, but I'm sure it's not the same as yours. What is YOUR definition for "moral obligation"? Claiming it to be a "fact" is silly if it's not even clear what you're talking about. And what do you mean by "obliged"? Do you mean that punishment will follow if the obligation is not met? If not, please clarify.

2 either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the religous one

There is more than one "religious" view. I can even imagine something of a continuum between the naturalistic view and the supernatural view. So this is a false dichotomy as stated.

3 but the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation

Define "moral obligation" first, then we can see whether your statement holds up. By my definition of "moral obligation" your statement is patently false. So the whole argument turns on that phrase. You need to not only define it, but show that your definition corresponds to something real.

4 therefore the religous view is correct.

Sorry, you're far from having a compelling argument. You've created a false dichotomy, and you've asserted something as a "fact" without defining what it is or showing that it exists.

No-name: "'wrong' from a subjective i would say would have to be a matter of perspective."

Okay, so you define something to be "subjectively wrong" if it's not to the liking of the person making the pronouncement. Do you agree? Okay. I'm curious to see what you intend to do with that definition.

No-name: "...which is why i suggest based on a subjective morality stalin cannot be wrong..."

Sure, if "subjective morality" means any rules that a particular person wishes to play by, what you said is essentially a tautology. If we were to ask Stalin whether his actions were "right" or "justifiable", he might well have answered "Da". Right? I agree. Both Stalin and Hitler probably thought they were "right" or "justified" in some sense. Where do you go with that?

No-name: "pick anything for me to believe and i will use all your humanists arguments to justify it..."

All *my* "humanist" arguments? Pardon me, but it seems you still don't have the foggiest idea of what my position is. And again, you seem to confuse the existence of any old argument with the existence of a SOUND argument. Yes, one can construct lousy arguments ad infinitum. What does that show?

No-name: "...i will call you out when you play the objective morality card because that is the exclusive domain of the religous."

DEFINE "OBJECTIVE MORALITY". If we go with what I think YOU mean by it, then you are quite welcome to it, and I'm delighted to leave it in the domain or religion, as it appears to be a fictitious entity. The meaning I would assign to it (although I might choose a different term for it) is operational, based on biology. It's observable, documentable, and explainable in wholly naturalistic terms. Please don't project your notions onto my arguments. If you do, they immediately turn into straw men.

I do not wish to attack a straw men myself, which is why I want YOU to define what you mean by the terms you use. If you claim that X is a fact, then you had better be clear about what X is, and why it exists. I honestly don't think you can clear both of those (minor) hurdles, but you're welcome to try.

No-name: "...i did claim your using an objective morality argument from your using the word innate (congenital, inborn, native)..."

You are making a huge leap from what I said. What is innate in all humans is some basic cognitive machinery for low-level social behaviors. This includes a predisposition toward empathy (at least among one's kin), a capacity for feeling "shame" and "indignation", etc. There are sound biological reasons for all of this. You are so very eager to inflate what I say into grand claims. Is there some reason you feel compelled to put words in my mouth? I urge you, once again, to try to grasp what I'm telling you before you jump to unfounded conclusions. (Note to self: get religious moralists to define their terms BEFORE broaching the topic of biology.)

No-name: "...it just reeks of there being something designed in our being just like cs lewis thought..."

Okay, your intuition cries out "design". Marvelous. Let's see if that intuition can garner any support in verifiable fact.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name: "fyi the subjective morality would be the atheist position."

Let me see if I understand. YOU are going to tell ME what my position is. Am I missing something here?

Jim Arvo said...

Hi Ryan,

I just wanted to clarify something, as I suspect that our views are not all that far apart. I categorically do NOT assert the existence of an "objective" or "universal" moral code that is even remotely similar to what religionists assert. I merely assert that the laws we adopt--at least the ones that endure--are not entirely arbitrary. Most have some impetus from the social thinking that allowed us to survive as a species. We are not beholden to any fixed set of rules: we are merely influenced by some low-level cognitive mechanisms (some of which are sadly out of place in the modern world, by the way).

Religionists are quick to put forth the false dichotomy that morality is either "god given" or arbitrary. My contention is that while there is a great deal of cultural arbitrariness, there is also a core set of cognitive mechanisms that make some "rules" feel universal, and those are the ones that societies throughout history commonly hit upon and codify into law. To the extent that they resonate with our common cognitive machinery, they are "objective" (with respect to the species--not in an absolute sense).

Jim Arvo said...

No-one said "...in a subjective morality system Stalin and the Czar can only be measured to their beliefs..."

That's a rather useless definition of "subjective morality" then, don't you think? What about the consensus of society as codified into law? Is there some reason you wish to ignore that?

Let's do a little experiment. Let's redefine "subjective morality" to mean the rules of conduct that enjoy broad consensus within the society in which one lives. I'm not sure that's the best definition, but it seems eminently more useful than the one you are using. According to that definition, my guess is that Stalin doesn't come out looking so good. What do you make of that?

Jim Arvo said...

No-name said "...you to have to say there is a universal morality that binds us all just like Jim said."

Please point to where I said that there is a universal morality that binds us all! Kindly refrain from putting words in my mouth. I suggest you use only direct quotes from now on, as you've been so recklessly irresponsible in your paraphrasing.

no-name said...

jim arvo suggests: Let's do a little experiment. Let's redefine "subjective morality" to mean the rules of conduct that enjoy broad consensus within the society in which one lives.

good idea. so stalin doesnt come out looking good based on your criteria for his actions. based on his criteria he was a hero (at least that would be my guess from someone that liked to have so manyheroic themed statues and pictures of himself all over the country). i also believe those who supported him may also view him as a hero after all it took the beliefs of a sociey to implament those ideas he didnt kill all those people by himself no he had many who shared his convictions and that could overpower those who didnt.

so what real difference is there if you move it from the realm of the individual to a general concensus from society. societies have all kinds of beliefs that other societies find atrocious. who is to say they are wrong its only the natural evolution of that society. your opinion is no more valid than stalins. democracy is just one way and communism another neither one can be wrong just different opinions of social organization.

no there seems to be only one of two choices either there is an absolute morality that we are all obliged to perform or there isnt and whatever happens happens.

Anonymous said...

innate jim innate

no-name said...

was that quote enough

boomSLANG said...

Repeat questionaire for any Christian who argues that morality is Divinely inspired:

1) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to tell a lie?

2) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to kill another human being?

3) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to earn a living on the Sabbath?

4) Is your biblegod's "Word" intrinsically "good", and "just"?

5) If "yes" to question 4, then tell me, would you kill your own mother, and/or child, if you were absolutely 100% convinced that this was the wishes of "God"?

6) If "no" to question 5, why not?

Waiting.

no-name said...

boomslang: try following along with the conversation and if you insist on trying to start a new conversation start another thread.

boomSLANG said...

Dear no-named Theist,

I most certainly am NOT starting a "new conversation". I believe it was you who stated that morality is either religiously based, or it is completely subjective. Is that a fair paraphrasing of your position here? Please correct me if not, and while you're at it, state precisely which religious doctrine is the one true morality, since there are many. If you state that it is in fact the Christian doctrine that we get our "morality", then please....... just answer the questions?...pretty please? Thanks.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name said "innate jim innate"

An then "was that quote enough".

No, not even close. Please quote the full sentence. I've got to wonder why you are behaving this way. If you have a solid case, then you should be able to address my questions and comments very directly, without garbling them in any way. So far you don't seem to be interested in doing that.

No-name: "so what real difference is there if you move it from the realm of the individual to a general concensus from society."

It seems you are asking what the difference is between anarchy and society. The latter is generally more stable, for the same reason that taking a vote is generally more stable than allowing a dictator to decide. Are all societies stable? No, of course not. But on the whole, history has shown that when ideas are evaluated on their merits, and debated, and voted on, the result is more durable than the whim of a dictator.

No-name: "societies have all kinds of beliefs that other societies find atrocious. who is to say they are wrong..."

Wrong in what sense? If you want to deem something "wrong" according to an absolute set of rules, for example, then I want to see those rules and why you think they are absolute. To deem something "wrong" according to my own sense of morality, which I share with most of my society, is quite straightforward. I deem it abhorrent to do unnecessary harm to others--that concise statement goes a long way (but, of course, it does not even hint at how one makes difficult tradeoffs).

No-name: "your opinion is no more valid than stalins."

Okay, let's say that's true. Tell us why YOUR opinion is better than Stalin's (if indeed you believe that it is).

No-name: "no there seems to be only one of two choices either there is an absolute morality that we are all obliged to perform or there isnt and whatever happens happens."

That's exceedingly over-simplified, but I will let that stand for now--let's suppose it's true. That still brings us back to this "objective" or "absolute" or "universal" morality you keep talking about. It's obviously the centerpiece of your argument, no? If so, WHAT IS IT? You've been asked this quite a few times now, by me and others. It's clearly very important to you. Why have you not jumped at the chance to spell it out?

Here, I'll remind you of some pending questions. You actually answered one (the one about an action being "wrong"), but in so doing you introduced several other terms that need defining. (I tried to provide several definitions that you might accept, but it's your call.) So...

1) Please define what you mean by "Objective Morality".

2) Please define what you mean by "moral obligation".

3) Please exhibit ONE principle/commandment that is demonstrably ABSOLUTE, or divinely authored.

I assure you, I'm not toying with you. If you do not have clear answers to these simple questions, I honestly don't see how you expect to construct a cogent argument.

(By the way, with regard to your comment to BoomSLANG, it's not your place to tell anybody here to start a new thread.)

Dave8 said...

no-name: "webmaster: fyi the subjective morality would be the atheist position."

You have no evidence for your claim. You are making a "universal" claim for "all" atheists without any evidence.

See the following logical fallacies...

Hasty Generalization:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasty_generalization

False Dilemna: "The informal fallacy of false dilemma—also known as false choice, false dichotomy, falsified dilemma, fallacy of the excluded middle, black and white thinking, false correlative, either/or fallacy, and bifurcation—involves a situation in which two alternative statements are held to be the only possible options, when in reality there exist one or more other options which have not been considered."

"The presentation of a false choice often reflects a deliberate attempt to eliminate the middle ground on an issue."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

Theism and atheism are extremely diverse categories. Only a "gross" stereotype and a lot of ignorance can argue for a "common" position for the entire domains of theism or atheism in terms of morality.

Undistributed Middle Fallacy: Makes an unjustified inference about some members of a group from information about some other members of the group. See the following for more.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undistributed_middle

Dicto Simpliceter Fallacy: Makes an assumption about all individuals in a group, overlooking pertinent differences. See the following for more.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicto_simpliciter

No single atheist represents the "entire" domain of atheists. However, convenience seems to outweigh critical thought at times.

No-name, you already have your homework cut out for you, but on the off-chance you actually are capable of finishing, here's something to think about.

Objectivity is the recognition of reality as the ultimate standard of evaluation. Do you understand this concept? In short, it is the evaluation of reality as it "Is", not as it "should be". Morality is the subjective evaluation of what "Is", in terms of what it "ought to be".

This morality/ethics problem of "is" and "ought" has been entertained by philosophers, and not "entire" categories of theism and atheism as if everybody on the planet got together from either domain to have a vote.

On Hume: "In other words, given our knowledge of the way the world is, how can we know the way the world ought to be? That question, prompted by Hume's small paragraph, has become one of the central questions of ethical theory, and Hume is usually assigned the position that such a derivation is impossible. This complete severing of "is" from "ought" has been given the graphic designation of "Hume's Guillotine".

A similar (though distinct) view is defended by G. E. Moore's 'open question argument', intended to refute any identification of moral properties with natural properties—the so-called 'naturalistic fallacy'."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_problem

Some have argued, like Hume that there must be a severance between "is" and "ought". However, there are others who have offered other solutions to the "is/ought" problem.

"The philosopher Ayn Rand claimed to have solved the 'is-ought problem' posed by David Hume,[7] writing, "The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do. So much for the relation between 'is' and 'ought'."[8] Ayn Rand maintained that "an ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means — and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism's life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil."[9] She argued that an objective system of morality is both possible and necessary (see Objectivism)."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_problem

Oh, by the way, no-name, Ayn Rand started an entire philosophy build on "objective" truths - as an "Atheist".

Dave8 said...

No-name, just in case you attempt to personify nature as good or evil, using an anthropomorphic paintbrush, because you don't seem to know any better; see the following fallacy as well.

Reification: "Reification (also known as hypostatization or concretism) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it represented a concrete, real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not one. When people describe nonbiological events (like a geyser) or social institutions (like government) as alive, they are committing a reification fallacy."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_%28fallacy%29

Another example; suggesting/describing Nature as good or evil, or that it objectively "thinks" about how humanity "ought" to be treated.

Ryan said...

for Jim Arvo:

No Sir,we are not so far apart. And do excuse me if I wax conversational.

I believe, as you do, that there is no god. The universe has neither design, nor purpose, nor goal; the universe and whatever it is that we recognize as reality does not have a meaning. As I am fond of repeating, we are sophisticated animals on our hind legs.

As to any assertion that our evolutionary heritage provides the foundation for civilized morals: I will not argue the point. Evolution has given me opposable thumbs,eyes pointed forward, and a ridiculously large brain. That same evolution has given me certain soft and gentle feelings (I take in stray cats--we have four). But I also have a hot temper and I am not above violence; again, the work of my animal ancestors. It is a mistake to say that evolution takes over the job of god.

I can never say that I am a moral person in any way that would make sense. I am not. I simply recognize that I am going to go to my death as any animal would, and that nothing I have done will have any cosmic significance. I will face neither reward nor punishment.

Be assured, Dr Arvo, that I grieve over the sufferings of my fellow man, as I grieve over a road-killed raccoon or 'possum. It's just that there is no moral indignation behind it. We are capable of making deals between ourselves--Mafiosi make deals--but that is as far as we can go. There is no moral imperative. It is like that sign at my neighbor's swimming pool: "I don't swim in your toilet, please don't piss in my pool". Whatever we agree to as a law or guideline is purely human. It is not holy or binding in any way.

Our "adversary" anonymous, or no-name, or whoever the hell he is, believes that there is a moral code, or a moral system, that is divine in origin. I asked him to specify exactly who his deity is and what it is that he wants. What are these moral principles? It was once moral to hang a witch; it was once moral to drive jews out of your country; it was once moral to torture and burn heretics; it was once moral to lynch niggers. All these things were uphold by godly people as god's will. What does that tell us about god's will?

I once asked one of my professors: "would you rather have your daughter arrested by the KGB or tried for witchcraft?" I did not get an answer. If no-name cares to attempt an answer, fine. In one of his postings yesterday, he wrote that we are obligated to do good and to avoid evil. What is this good, and what is this evil? Where are the objective standards? Who enforces this obligation? He furthermore said that the religious view is correct. What religion? Islamic? Norse? Aztec?

Well, I have had my rant. I become weary of this. I do not need to justify my way of life or thought. I do not need to defend myself. Defend myself against what?

If anyone wants me to seriously attempt a moral statement, I will follow up dave8's paragraph on Ayn Rand" "I will not live my life for another, nor compel another to live his live for me." I am not her disciple, but she was my first love.

I bid you well, Sir. Oh, and I am about to finish The Crucible this morning. Turns my knuckles white.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi Ryan,

Your comments are spot on; I think the only point on which we may differ is in whether our evolutionary past has endowed us with anything that influences the "moral" decisions we make and, ultimately, the laws we put in force. It would be fun to discuss this with you. I must learn NOT to attempt this type of discussion with religionists, as it seems they invariably wish to push their agenda and could not be bothered with the subtleties of evolutionary arguments. I think from now on (along with you) I will simply insist that they exhibit this fabled "absolute" moral code and demonstrate that it is indeed "absolute" (meaning both completely unambiguous, and originating somewhere other than within the minds of men). Otherwise, these discussion always degenerate into arguments over imaginary things, and they go on and on and on....

I'd like to recommend a book to you: The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright. It's a popular account of evolutionary psychology, but it's extremely well written, with ample references to more scholarly works. I'd love to hear your opinion of it. I consider it to be one of the best books I've read in many years. As the title suggests, Wright argues that we do have some innate mental mechanisms that lead to what could be labeled "moral" behavior (although that word is perhaps overly loaded). A much more scholarly treatment is The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Anyway, I find the field of evolutionary psychology to be absolutely fascinating; I think it will be key in understanding how our minds really operate.

no-name said...

Jim arvo said: Wrong in what sense? If you want to deem something "wrong" according to an absolute set of rules, for example, then I want to see those rules and why you think they are absolute. To deem something "wrong" according to my own sense of morality, which I share with most of my society, is quite straightforward. I deem it abhorrent to do unnecessary harm to others--that concise statement goes a long way (but, of course, it does not even hint at how one makes difficult tradeoffs).

Why do you only share murder being wrong with most of your society why doesnt the rest of your society agree? and as an outsider looking in on your society which group am i supposed to believe has the correct belief and how can i know they are correct?
the use of the word innate wasnt childish. i just believe that one word gets at the heart of the whole thing.

no-name said...

ah, I believe I have found the source the author is mocking.
here is the original source for argument 14. its a solid argument.
as for the authors premise that God could may change his mind most belief systems are built on the belief god is unchanging but if god could change his mind then what could anyone do about it? nothing. but that is merely an argument for what god must be like not whether or not god exists which is the topic we are considering i thought.

14. The Moral Argument
1) Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil.
2) Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the "religious" one.
3) But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation.
4)Therefore the "religious" view of reality is correct.
We need to be clear about what the first premise is claiming. It does not mean merely that we can find people around who claim to have certain duties. Nor does it mean that there have been many people who thought they were obliged to do certain things (like clothing the naked) and to avoid doing others (like committing adultery). The first premise is claiming something more: namely, that we human beings really are obligated; that our duties arise from the way things really are, and not simply from our desires or subjective dispositions. It is claiming, in other words, that moral values or obligations themselves—and not merely the belief in moral values—are objective facts.

Now given the fact of moral obligation, a question naturally arises. Does the picture of the world presented by atheism accord with this fact? The answer is no. Atheists never tire of telling us that we are the chance products of the motion of matter—a motion which is purposeless and blind to every human striving. We should take them at their word and ask: Given this picture, in what exactly is the moral good rooted? Moral obligation can hardly be rooted in a material motion blind to purpose.

Suppose we say it is rooted in nothing deeper than human willing and desire. In that case, we have no moral standard against which human desires can be judged. For every desire will spring from the same ultimate source—purposeless, pitiless matter. And what becomes of obligation? According to this view, if I say there is an obligation to feed the hungry, I would be stating a fact about my wants and desires and nothing else. I would be saying that I want the hungry to be fed, and that I choose to act on that desire. But this amounts to an admission that neither I nor anyone else is really obliged to feed the hungry—that, in fact, no one has any real obligations at all. Therefore the atheistic view of reality is not compatible with there being genuine moral obligation.

What view is compatible? One that sees real moral obligation as grounded in its Creator, that sees moral obligation as rooted in the fact that we have been created with a purpose and for an end. We may call this view, with deliberate generality, "the religious view." But however general the view, reflection on the fact of moral obligation does seem to confirm it.

Anonymous said...

ryan that last post was great all of your references were perfect examples of a athiest view point and yes I believe the exact opposite of that ayn rand statement. i think it is clear we live in community and we live for each other and every law any of us breaks diminishes us all and every good deed i do benefits us all.

here is someone elses thoughts that i think get at it better
Placing value on another person’s life in the hope that they will reciprocate and thus place value on your life, is an inherently subjective means of valuing human life. I will value you, if and only if you value me. It is not a case of recognizing a human being’s inherent value and thus not killing them. It is simply: I’ll value you and won’t try to kill you, if you value me and don’t try to kill me. A social contract. Where is the objective standard in that? We have value insofar as we participate in this social contract which will hopefully save our hide from extinction.

no-name said...

this is also why i am so fond of the word innate. it gets at the source that we inherently know murder, and stealing are wrong that we are made that way that there is design. this is also like ryan says he believes that creation has to be random why there cannot be design. i appreciate his honesty he perfectly illustrates the atheist veiwpoint of subjective morality. there are only these two choices either the law comes from god or from man.

This is why the basic question for morality hinges on whether the atheist view of reality is correct or the religous view.

Ryan said...

Jim, hi.

noname has posted again and his second paragraph is garbled. He seems to be putting a lot of store in the concept of "innate".

I am prepared to agree that many things about us are innate. Mozart was composing at the age of 6. There is a philosopher named Saul Kripke who was teaching himself Hebrew and Algebra at the same age. But the point is that composing music or learning languages and mathematics are not moral responsibilities.

In the same way, the emotions of love and pity can be called innate, coming into being through a highly evolved interplay of body chemistry. But there is no imperative to act on these feelings. I can--and will--just as quickly act on feelings of anger, hate, and lust, also put there by the same process. There is simply nothing that stops me, if that is the way I choose to go.

I believe that as a sentient being, I am motivated by ego and self-interest. I am ready to get along with people and to live in peace, but I come first.

I hope you have found this pleasant reading--my respect for you knows no limits.

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

I was talking about nonames posting just below Jim's last posting. noname has been very busy with a variety of postings.

noname, I keep trying to make it clear that I do not give a flying fuck into hell about your morality. Why the fuck do you keep jabbering about the atheist world view and the religious world view? We have been challenging you to elaborate on what exactly is the religious world view but you can't seem to do it.

I have tried to tell you that the universe is without meaning. I do not have a "world view". I do not view the world as anything at all. Follow me? I grow weary of this. You are here to preach in vague generalities. Get down to substance or get out.

boomSLANG said...

Dear impenetrable no-name Theist,

Care to put your money where your mouth is for change, and actually answer the questions put before you?

Let's review, and this is NOT a "change of conversation"...it is directly ON topic:

Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the "religious" one.

Let us humor you, no-name. Okay, WHICH religious one, and WHY? I await your direct response to this question. Then, I wonder if you could answer the following:

1) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to tell a lie?

2) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to kill another human being?

3) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to earn a living on the Sabbath?

4) Is your biblegod's "Word" intrinsically "good", and "just"?

5) If "yes" to question 4, then tell me, would you kill your own mother, and/or child, if you were absolutely 100% convinced that this was the wishes of "God"?

6) If "no" to question 5, why not.

Then of course, there's Jim Arvo's questions that you also completely ignored. Let's review those, too:

1) Please define what you mean by "Objective Morality".

2) Please define what you mean by "moral obligation".
(Above, you didn't define it; you merely stated it as a "fact")

3) Please exhibit ONE principle/commandment that is demonstrably ABSOLUTE, or divinely authored.


Please.....'care to put up, or shut up?

fjell said...

no-name said: "...and how can i know they are correct?"

The word "correct" seems queerly out of place here.

How can you know that certain values are "correct"?

How can you know that a peanut butter sandwich is correct?

Various people have various values. We live in a world where certain values seem to enjoy a wider subscription amongst large segments of the human population than certain others.

This phenomenon allows societies to cohere, at least ephemerally, and not degenerate into chaos. Those widely subscribed-to values, however, are constantly undergoing debate and refinement and sometimes eshewel resulting from developing interpretations of the benefits of those values weighed against the disadvantages of adhering to those values.

Values function in a sort of web, a sort of symbiotic interconnected way. Values often seem to spill into the territory of neighboring values. They are not isolated dogmas. Example: On its face, I don't value lying, but I would lie to save my mother's life.

So, is my not highly valuing lying "correct"? I don't even know what that means.

There are clearly situations where we observe our values undergoing a shift in balance with their neighbors. We could note from this that our values are not, in fact, carved in stone. We are free to imagine situations (fantastic though they may be) where even some of our most-often practised and ubiquitous values would be put on hold for others.

I suppose that no-name, as a theist (I'm assuming, could be wrong!), imagines a universe in which there is an all-knowing observer of human decision and interaction and which can and does judge all decision and interaction upon some sort of moral law which has been constructed before the universe began but which has full bearing upon humans now.

I only want to say that this offers no help whatsoever in our collectively determining the usefulness of the values written into that supposed law, as humankind will no doubt continue judging what "they" think to be right or wrong based on a collective intuition of whether certain propositions resonate with them. We have no alternatives here. If someone makes a suggestion of how to improve our moral characters - whether that someone be a four year old child or a deity - it will still necessarily have to be evaluated by humans for it to have any bearing on us. Humans weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of moral propositions on their own, as humans, always. It doesn't matter who asserts a certain moral position. Whether it is moral or not will always be guaranteed by its resonance inside a human being. Not upon whether a deity said it or not.

fjell

boomSLANG said...

Impenetrable no-name Theist is back once more with:

- I find that the religous view is consistant with reality.

and...

- that moral obligation resonates inside us as you say just facinates me.[bold added]

What facinates me, is your BLATANT refusal to DEFINE "moral obligation", as well as your blatant refusal to disclose WHICH "religious view" you refer to. There are THOUSANDS to chose from. Jesus christ!...Christians cannot even agree on what it "moral", and what is not; they consistently fall on opposite sides of the fence concerning such "moral" issues as capital punishment, abortion, war, right to life, right to die, and on and on.

STOP equivocating and being deliberately ambiguous, and come out with it, already.

.:webmaster:. said...

No-name,

What would be the possible species survival advantage to murder? How would murder advance my personal, my family's, my country's, or my species' survival?

Quite obviously, a general inate inhibition against the murder of other human beings is a desirable surival trait. Interestingly enough, human beings generally have no inhibitions whatsoever against killing the members of other species. Perhaps more interesting is that all other species share these similar traits.

Your apologetic is religiously presuppositional. You begin with the premise that there is a super-duper, invisible, god thing which is supposedly beyond all human comprehension. Since your premise lacks supporting evidence (this god thing is beyond comprehension, so how could there be any evidence), you are attempting to find comprehensible things in nature that you think might hint at support for your presuppositional premise. You are using a circular approach that makes for lots of words, but signifies nothing.

A quick look through any newspaper will reveal that not everyone has the same exact moral code embedded into their brains. There is great variety of degree in these areas, and not everyone sees things the same way. If they did see things the same way, we wouldn't need laws, governements, police, the military, and so on.

You haven't demonstrated that there is an invisible meta-deity, nor have you demonstrated that all human beings follow exactly the same moral code, nor have you provided a reason why evolution would favor murder.

More importantly, you have rudely ignored several salient questions posed in this discussion. This website is not your personal soapbox.

Now, please answer the questions put to you, or simply admit that you don't know how to answer the questions. However, if you continue to ignore the questions, then your guest pass here will be revoked.

no-name said...

ryan said: We have been challenging you to elaborate on what exactly is the religious world view but you can't seem to do it.

this it is: Moral absolutism claims that there are moral principles that are unchangeable, objective, and universal.

it needs no more elaboration.

no-name said...

webmaster asked: What would be the possible species survival advantage to murder? How would murder advance my personal, my family's, my country's, or my species' survival?

Stalin showed by his actions that there was a distinct advantage to murder to establishing his government. So history bears it out that many people think murdering others has many justifable benefits.

webmaster also said: A quick look through any newspaper will reveal that not everyone has the same exact moral code embedded into their brains.

that is a matter of perspective a person who believes that morality is subjective could reach that conclusion but not all would. whereas someone who sees the world as morally objective would say that person has not followed his conscience, that he knew better but did not live up to the demands of the moral law.

no-name said...

webmaster says: Now, please answer the questions put to you, or simply admit that you don't know how to answer the questions. However, if you continue to ignore the questions, then your guest pass here will be revoked.

if you review the posts it is i who put the question first and some have answered indirectly. that question was and is quote "So ryan you tell me from the subjective morality of atheism why was it wrong for Stalin to kill the millions of people he did?"

the only question placed before that one was if i knew what an ad hominem attack was? i answered that i did know. there have been many questions posed about the christian god but they are not perinant to this discussion and stated up front in reply to jim arvo that i was going to avoid them as they are not pertinant quote "yes i do know what it is and was not engaging one just wanting to make sure we all know the argument for the existance of God based on morality as far as i know cant be used to prove whether that God is the Christian God only that there must be a God and keep everyone from dragging Christianity into the argument except maybe by way of example."

to answer questions related specifically to christianity ask someone else for the purposes of this discussion you could believe the mickey mouse is god and it would be fine.

no-name said...

ryan said: In the same way, the emotions of love and pity can be called innate, coming into being through a highly evolved interplay of body chemistry. But there is no imperative to act on these feelings. I can--and will--just as quickly act on feelings of anger, hate, and lust, also put there by the same process. There is simply nothing that stops me, if that is the way I choose to go.

i believe there is something that stops us and it is our conscience.

fjell said...

no-name said: why should a basic morality resonate in us all unless it was a design?

Perhaps there are twenty six trillion billion other universes out there where things are quite different and people are murdering each other willy nilly. We don't know. But for now, asserting that certain ubiquitous impulses to a particular species of mammal found on a certain planet in this one testifies to the existence to a creator is an utter non-sequitor. (you might as well have pointed out that most of us have ten fingers and toes - is this any more or less "fascinating" than a (sometimes) shared set of morals?)

boomSLANG said...

No-name Christian: i believe there is something that stops us and it is our conscience.

Yet, you've done jack-shit to show that this "conscience" is of Divine origin, Christian, OR otherwise...despite how many times you've been asked. Try again:

- I find that the religous view is consistant with reality.[bold added]

WHICH RELIGIOUS VIEW? Buddhism? Islam? Scientology? Which???

and...

- that moral obligation resonates inside us as you say just facinates me.[bold added]

"OBLIGATION" to WHAT?..TO WHOM?...FOR WHAT?

STOP with the "poker face", it's not convincing, not to mention, you've tipped your cards long ago, and your hand is not playable.

Jim Arvo said...

I started writing a long reply to no-name, but thought better of it. Instead, I'd like to start with several meta observations. I'll speak mainly for my own exchanges with no-name, but I think others probably feel similarly (Boom and Ryan in particular).

No-name. I have tried time and again to get you to articulate your position clearly. I have absolutely NO interest whatsoever in attacking a straw man. If I've misrepresented anything you said, all you need to do is correct me. If I've used or interpreted a word in a way you did not intend, all you need to do is define it, and I'll honor your definition for the purposes of this discussion. I want YOU to clearly state what YOUR position is, with nobody putting words in your mouth or distorting what you say. Furthermore, I've tried to answer every question of yours as directly and concisely as I could.

Now please tell me whether you can make a similar statement. It doesn't seem to me that you can. In most of your posts you have either misrepresented what I have said, or projected some absurd position onto the class of all atheists, or used some other such ploy. You've never once asked for clarification on any point, even when you clearly did not understand what was said to you. You pull words out of context (such as "innate"). I don't think you have once produced an accurate paraphrasing (at least of what I have said). And what baffles me the most is that you refuse to answer simple and direct questions!

Once again, you can make a million claims about how wonderful it would be to have an "absolute" or "universal" moral code (or whatever you want to call it) that is handed down from god. I could make such a list myself. However, such a list does not lend one iota of support to the assertion that THERE IS A MORAL CODE THAT IS HANDED DOWN FROM GOD! Wishing something to be so does not make it so. Dreaming about how wonderful it would be does not make it so.

Please answer the questions that have been put to you. Personally, I don't intend to respond to another thing you say until you do.

no-name said...

fjell said: Perhaps there are twenty six trillion billion other universes out there where things are quite different and people are murdering each other willy nilly. We don't know.

perhaps, and if there is such a place and there was a universal morality than that place would be evil. if morality is just a matter of random events than i imagine those universes might even find murder entertaining. i know some of the romans did with the popularity of the circus's. so there it is it can only be evil if there is a morality that binds us all. atheism can only propose that there isnt a morality that we are all obliged to so neither can stalin those in other universes or the circus's be condemned as wrong behavior.

as attested to by ryan and i quote;" In the same way, the emotions of love and pity can be called innate, coming into being through a highly evolved interplay of body chemistry. But there is no imperative to act on these feelings. I can--and will--just as quickly act on feelings of anger, hate, and lust, also put there by the same process. There is simply nothing that stops me, if that is the way I choose to go.

I believe that as a sentient being, I am motivated by ego and self-interest. I am ready to get along with people and to live in peace, but I come first." so was stalin
ryan to jim arvo and i quote: "for Jim Arvo:

No Sir,we are not so far apart. And do excuse me if I wax conversational.

I believe, as you do, that there is no god. The universe has neither design, nor purpose, nor goal; the universe and whatever it is that we recognize as reality does not have a meaning. As I am fond of repeating, we are sophisticated animals on our hind legs.

As to any assertion that our evolutionary heritage provides the foundation for civilized morals: I will not argue the point. Evolution has given me opposable thumbs,eyes pointed forward, and a ridiculously large brain. That same evolution has given me certain soft and gentle feelings (I take in stray cats--we have four). But I also have a hot temper and I am not above violence; again, the work of my animal ancestors. It is a mistake to say that evolution takes over the job of god.

I can never say that I am a moral person in any way that would make sense. I am not. I simply recognize that I am going to go to my death as any animal would, and that nothing I have done will have any cosmic significance. I will face neither reward nor punishment." stalin also didnt think he would be punished after death.

.:webmaster:. said...

No-name:

The questions put to you by Jim Arvo and Boomslang are absolutely pertinent to the discussion.

Again, please address the questions or all of your posts on this site just might magically disappear.

Seriously.

no-name said...

jim asks: I want YOU to clearly state what YOUR position is, with nobody putting words in your mouth or distorting what you say.

my position is as fjell has figured out is that there is a set of universal moral principles that we are all obligated to obey and that our consciences testify to. that these principles are mandated by our creator and to disobey our conscience is to commit an evil act against that god and our fellow man and ourselves. and only from this viewpoint can stalin by all peoples of all time be considered a murder.

.:webmaster:. said...

Oh, and no-brain,

Stalin was a sociopath who was able to rest power for a time. Sociopaths have no conscience at all. The very existence of sociopaths contradicts your assumption that people simply ignore their consciences, which implies that everyone already thinks exactly the same on what is right and what is wrong in every circumstance under every condition.

Saying Stalin "saw murder as..." doesn't answer my direct question as to how murder advances a species' survival. I'll take it by your obvious side-stepping of that question as well as other questions that you have no intelligent response for any of them.

no-name said...

webmaster said: Saying Stalin "saw murder as..." doesn't answer my direct question as to how murder advances a species' survival.
i will address this good question latter. i feel i have addressed it already above but i will elaborate tomorrow.

no-name said...

although for now i dont see how it advances a species either only his ideology and himself. to answer forces me to assume the thougts of stalin which i can only see as evil at best misguided but i pretty sure he didnt care much about humans that didnot agree with him.

fjell said...

no-name, you seem entirely fixated on what I consider an utterly meaningless question:

How can we call Stalin "evil" if there exists not a deity?

My response (just so we can get beyond this ridiculous sticking point and actually have a discussion rather than a lecture): who cares under what circumstances we can use a word like "evil"?

You, apparently.

I don't. At all.

I care whether or not I feel that his actions were an appropriate manifestation of what I understand to be love.

For clarity: I care not for the guidelines by which I might use the word "evil". In fact, I don't use it. I have my inclinations towards love, care not for whence they come, do not postulate the existence of deities to magically acount for them (while simultaneously not finding a need to postulate anything to account for the deity) and recognize that human morality is and always has been in flux.

Can standards for morality change? Yes! In fact they have been changing for centuries! How do we know that what we consider moral will be moral forever?

News flash: we don't! I'm sure a lot of theists like yourself from the 1600's would be incredulous to learn that we of the 21st century consider slavery to be an abhorrent misappropriation of human life. Get off your imaginary high horse! Since when has morality demonstrated itself to be static in either the theistic OR the "athestic" world?

At the end of the day, a moral code which endures forever has never been deomonstrated on Earth and continues to be nothing beyond a suggestion in the mind of certain theists.

fjell

Dave8 said...

Ryan: "If anyone wants me to seriously attempt a moral statement, I will follow up dave8's paragraph on Ayn Rand" "I will not live my life for another, nor compel another to live his live for me." I am not her disciple, but she was my first love."

Hey Ryan, I agree, first love, but I make a poor disciple as well. She was criticized for requesting that those who agreed with her philosophy; accept it as a bundle deal or to not suggest they followed her Objectivist philosophy - she did this, because her philosophy was consistent without contradiction.

She didn't want self-proclaimed Objectivists, to add to the philosophy because it opened up the opportunity to create conflict and contradiction within the framework. So, she jilted the critics, by removing her philosophy from those would bring conflict into the mix.

The critics thus, claimed that she was seeking a following, but... that was untrue, she was seeking to keep the posterity and integrity of her philosophy... People could take it or leave it, but do one or the other. I really admired that in her thinking.
If people throughout history, were requested/required to accept the bible as it is "literally" written; or to leave it alone altogether, we wouldn't have apologists, and the millions of mongrel Christian believers.

Ayn didn't see philosophy as a social event, per se, it was an intellectual pursuit, social life was not to be entangled... the religious seem to confuse the two; like, a social gathering is a justified intellectual pursuit.

Good talking with you, have a great one.

Dave8 said...

No Name: "1) Real moral obligation is a fact."

No name, do you know what a "fact" is?

Fact: "4. a concept whose truth can be proved;..."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fact

For 'your' premise to be a "fact", you must "prove" that all people are morally obligated.

-Stalin and tyrants don't seem to care much for your opinion of their "moral obligation".
-Infants don't even "know" what they are doing in order to "act" morally right or wrong.
-Mentally handicapped people can't understand what it means to be good or evil - they just "act", based on instinct and immediate reaction to the environment.

Oh, almost forgot... about your premise...

"Reification: "Reification (also known as hypostatization or concretism) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it represented a concrete, real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not one. When people describe nonbiological events (like a geyser) or social institutions (like government) as alive, they are committing a reification fallacy."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_%28fallacy%29

Your example; Real moral obligation is a fact.

You make the phrase "moral obligation" seem "tangible" and “concrete” in Nature... that is "false".

A "moral obligation" is not something that sits in my body, or out in the Universe/Nature.

The religious would suggest that this "thing" called "moral obligation", is "soul", which is a "ghost" inside the body.

Your term, "moral obligation", doesn't "exist", if you can "prove" as a "fact" where this "moral obligation" exists, and where I can "find" it, without any exceptions, then do so.

Until then, you are fabricating your story as you go.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name, glad to see that you made a start at stating your position, although you have along way to go. We can hash that out further after you answer the rest of the questions put to you.

Ryan said...

noname states that there are moral principles that are "unchanging, objective, and universal". For the last time, jerkoff, what are those principles? You said they needed no elaboration. No jerk, only private fastasy needs no elaboration. You imagine that your moral delusions are from god, but history shows that such delusions quickly become nightmares. The Salem witch trials were full of neurotics like you, following the eternal and changeless dictates of god. You would have made a good witch-hunter. Pious xianity is the prerequisite.

You have been given an opportunity to tell us all what the will of god is and you have steadfastly refused. It would seem that the only principle you adhere to is keep your mouth shut and cover your ass.

And then he appeals to "conscience". With that, I am outa here. Conscience is guilt that has been instilled from birth. Nothing more. Guilt may be a normal feeling for many people but it is the depth of folly to believe that it comes from god. This is called superstition.

It is time the WM erased your posts. I admire his patience but I would have revoked your pulpit days ago. You are xianianity personified: vague generalities but no reason behind them.

Dave8, hello. Bless you sir, I could not agree more. Ayn Rand was accused of being a petty tyrannt, but thanks to her "tyranny" we know what an Objectivist is and what he stands for. And thank you for the term "mongrel xian". I intend to use it. noname is a mongrel--it isn't so much that he believes in bullshit, but that he doesn't know what he believes to begin with.

I owe Rand a great deal, growing up as I did in a small town, a screwball church and two parents who didn't have the sense to pour piss out of a boot, and all of them trying to indoctrinate me with their "objective" values. Rand taught me what "objective" means.

An author, Raymie Stata, once wrote that "the individual is the primary unit of reality; the utimate standard of value". I beieve that with the last of my strength. When we hand over our individuality to the collective, there will be the devil to pay, and I do not care if it is marxism; fascism; the protestants or the catholics.

I regret to say that I cannot continue to post here, pretty much for the reasons stated above. I do hope to see you later on in the near future.

Special hi to Jim Arvo.

.:webmaster:. said...

No-name,

Because you haven't honored my requst, your last several posts are now deleted.

no-name said...

webmaster i honored all your request. whats the real issue.

no-name said...

webmaster said: No-name:

The questions put to you by Jim Arvo and Boomslang are absolutely pertinent to the discussion.

Again, please address the questions or all of your posts on this site just might magically disappear.

Seriously.

i replied to: jim asks: I want YOU to clearly state what YOUR position is, with nobody putting words in your mouth or distorting what you say.

my position is as fjell has figured out is that there is a set of universal moral principles that we are all obligated to obey and that our consciences testify to. that these principles are mandated by our creator and to disobey our conscience is to commit an evil act against that god and our fellow man and ourselves. and only from this viewpoint can stalin by all peoples of all time be considered a murder.

jim acknowledged: No-name, glad to see that you made a start at stating your position, although you have along way to go. We can hash that out further after you answer the rest of the questions put to you.

so whats the issue the posts you deleted were the rest of the responses and they were good and they were challenging. why else would you censor them. i would ask you show the integrety to repost them and let everyone decide for themselves there contribution to the discussion.

boomSLANG said...

To whom it may concern:

Isn't about time? Yes, IMO, it is long over-due that this jerk-off's posts get scrubbed---every last one of them. This name-less person evidently has zero interest in sincere, factual, follow-up concerning his or her unceasing and unsupported generalities against "Atheism". Post, after post, after post, after post...... "Stalin, Stalin, Stalin, Stalin, Stalin, Stalin, Stalin, Stalin....blah, blah, blah. Yes, you insipid moron...."Stalin" killed some people; Christians killed some people. People are people are people are people. Yes, people have perpetrated some horrific acts against humanity throughout history. Notice that those people, if they were in fact "God-less", tried to more, or less, ASSUME the role of a "god", and/or, had a political agenda. Well, y'know what, douche-bag?.....that doesn't look so f%cking good for those who posit that there exists ONE "unchanging, objective, and universal" set of "principles", does it?(rhetorical)

Speaking of....

No-brain, if you're reading this..... for the bazillionth time---WHERE are these alleged "principles"?????? Saying that they are "magically" ingrained in our "conscience" aint' cuttin' the mustard. You'll have to do better. I know individuality is a foreign concept to you, but "conscience" varies from person to person, duh?... due partly to conditioning; partly to biology. News flash: Some people have NO conscience at all, which, FYI, can often times be traced to a BIOLOGICAL misfiring of nerves in the human brain. It's called behaving amorally. So nooooo, they aren't "possessed by evil spirits". There IS no "evil", m'kay?

Also, you've blathered on long enough about this alleged absolute "moral obligation". Okay, also for the bazillionth time---WHAT "obligation"???...obligation to WHO???...for whAT? To a "creator"???... WhAT "creator"???...Quetzacoatl??? The almighty Allah??? Atum???...Marduk???? WHO????

disclaimer: Yes, I'm perfectly aware my post is laced with ad hominem. I notice that many Atheists in this conversation have refrained from this. Well, wha'd'ya know?..not ALL Atheists behave the same. Duh?

.:webmaster:. said...

Lame-Brain,

Although I've restrained myself, I feel as frustrated with you as Boomslang. Repeating the same things over and over and over is not discussion, it is lecture. You are lecturing, and your English writing skills leave a lot to be desired. And copying pages and pages of text into a comment box is retarded. Just link to the damned thing in the future.

Finally this is our soapbox and not yours, so I would like you to stop imagining that you are in charge of the discussion. If you would like to continue to participate, then answer Boom's questions which I've pasted here for your convenience:

1) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to tell a lie?

2) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to kill another human being?

3) Is it absolutely 100% morally wrong to earn a living on the Sabbath?

4) Is your biblegod's "Word" intrinsically "good", and "just"?

5) If "yes" to question 4, then tell me, would you kill your own mother, and/or child, if you were absolutely 100% convinced that this was the wishes of "God"?

6) If "no" to question 5, why not?

I await your honest and straight-forward answers to these questions.

Jim Arvo said...

No-name, all of my numbered questions are still pending too. Your stab at articulating a position didn't directly address a single one of them (although I'll grant that you did hint at what you mean by a "moral obligation"). If you can't define your terms, and demonstrate that the things you speak of actually exist, then you have no argument whatsoever. We might as well be arguing over how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin. But I repeat myself.

boomSLANG said...

Oh looky!..and on the sixth day, Jebus evidently created the run-on sentence.

Answer the questions; define your terms...or BEAT IT, DOLT!

stronger now said...

No-name,

You could have just made those statements to begin with and saved a whole lot of silly peek-a-boo word games.

There is something to be said for brevity.

redtail said...

AAAHHH! Make Stalins lover shut up! My heads gonna start spinning around in a minute!

Jim Arvo said...

No-name, you continually conflate hypothetical god-breathed "codes" with "morality". Consequently, your rhetoric is thick with presupposition, making it nearly impossible to have a rational discussion with you. In my opinion, your god-concept makes you no more likely to treat your fellow man well; if anything it puts you at a distinct disadvantage, as thinking you are privy to some magical information makes you oblivious to what is real.

If you wish to attempt this type of discussion again at some other site, I suggest you first identify something that you can clearly delineate and claim as an absolute moral code, then marshal what evidence you can to back that assertion. The rest is subterfuge. Good luck with that. (Honestly, I doubt you'll find any greater success than you did here, but how you spend your time and energy is up to you.)

.:webmaster:. said...

Jim, and everyone, this is just an fyi:

No-name started posting all over the site after I deleted his most recent posts. Those posts are now deleted as well.

In one of those spam posts he revealed that he is a high school student.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous/No-name,

You did not answer direct pertinent questions. You did not define your terms. You routinely projected puerile arguments onto others. You made assertion after assertion without support. If/when you learn to engage in honest open discussion you may gain some respect for that word "truth", and possibly even the wisdom to use it. Until then, I hope you'll exhibit some integrity and leave peacefully.

(By the way, I did see some of your "answers" before they got scrubbed. They were evasive and facile.)

fjell said...

Well Dave, it doesn't come as any great shock. No-name's fervor and single-track mind seemed to intimate youth from the word go.

Funny how some of us (me) knew similar beginnings!

It looks as though our "opponents" at ex-C are as prone as ever to overlooking: we ourselves were once the teens and young adults entralled by the pursuasive powers of Lewis, who sat up many a night listening to undeniable righteous certainty in the austere voice of Ravi Zacharias, it was we who enrolled in those lake-side, northern-shore apologetics course retreats in summer...

If only our "foes" could really experience how worn-out and useless and one-dimensional those arguments taste to us now. Like someone walking up to us with a copy of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and imploring us to appreciate its cutting-edge sound.

But. Perhaps they themselves will know this sensation one day. Maybe no-name's enormous zeal in defending what is essentially the way he simply hopes things are, will, in ten years' time, lead him to entertaining some of the questions which aren't fully addressed his apologetic playbook.

The unfortunate thing is that rarely can a person go back and make amends for having asserted things so strongly to those whom he bludgeoned with his narrow views. So...if no-name ever acknoweldges the immense probability of his present beliefs about the nature of the universe being inaccurate, we shall doubtless never hear of it.

Unless he deconverts and, true to at least a portion his former beliefs which hold that all moral views gain equal footing in a godless world, he becomes the next Stalin. (He seems so enamored with mentioning the guy, perhaps he entertains some kind of awe?)

At the end of the day, you don't have to be an atheist to reject the metaphysical claims made in Christian doctrine. You just have to know that they are extraordinary claims which lack extraordinary evidence. (Tips hat to Carl Sagan)

fjell

boomSLANG said...

and to compound the nails-on-the-chalkboard effect given off by people like no-name people who make assertion after assertion after assertion without backing it with relevant facts people who speak in blanketed generalities people who are disingenuous about their position and they cannot properly punctuate a sentence to save their life it leads one to wonder if they've made it past the 6th grade isn't it striking how not necessarily all christians are like this but most religious people are basically illiterate yes it's a sad if you ask me and quite f%cking annoying to boot bye everybody 'boom.

= )

Jim Arvo said...

Boom... you scare me some times. :-0

fjell said...

Jim, sometimes I think boomSLANG is your vitriolic alter ego, who has the green light to hurl all the stinging insults of which the otherwise methodical, patient and courteous Jim Arvo does not avail himself.

You two are like a regular good-cop, bad-cop routine for skeptical inquiry.

fjell

Jim Arvo said...

That's funny, fjell! Maybe we should pitch a TV show, like Penn & Teller's "Bullshit" series, only we would both vocalize. What do you think, Boom?

(As I'm sure you know, I'm not above hurling a juicy insult now and again, but thanks for the comment anyway.)

boomSLANG said...

J. Arvo: (As I'm sure you know, I'm not above hurling a juicy insult now and again, but thanks for the comment anyway.)

Right, Jim....and boy, I don't know about anyone else, but it sure seems that those rare times that you do bust out with a scathing one-liner, that it's all-the-more funny, since you normally exhibit nerves of steel. I just hope that in the wake of my "junk yard dog" approach, that I occasionally say someTHING thought-provoking. lol. Nonetheless, it's FUN, and educational, here! (Great site, Dave)

boomSLANG said...

Just a quick clarification to the above: When I said "all-the-more funny", I most certainly meant at the expense of the fundy.

Jim Arvo said...

No worries, Boom, I caught your meaning the first time.