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1 StephenMeansMe  Mar 25, 2015 4:09:34pm

For a great YouTube series in the other direction:

2 EiMitch  Mar 25, 2015 5:24:58pm

LOL! What an unflattering frame to load the YT video with. But that’s all I’m going to see for now. I’ve added this to my watch later list since my connection is crap atm. Speaking of which…

re: #1 StephenMeansMe

I’ve tagged this as watch later too.

3 HappyWarrior  Mar 25, 2015 6:55:40pm

You can have moral beliefs without believing in God. Fuck how hard is it to understand this?

4 electrotek  Mar 25, 2015 7:26:42pm

Has Sam Harris called out Phil Robertson yet?

5 calochortus  Mar 25, 2015 7:43:54pm

re: #3 HappyWarrior

You can have moral beliefs without believing in God. Fuck how hard is it to understand this?

Apparently very difficult.
Also that people of other faiths can have solid moral beliefs. I remember hearing that a lot of Victorian English missionaries who went out to India were shocked (not necessarily horrified, but it jarred the foundations of their beliefs about the world) to find an ancient, functioning, moral civilization made up of non-Christians.

6 Dalai Rasta  Mar 25, 2015 9:34:23pm

There is no such thing as objective morality, in the sense that there is no code of right and wrong discoverable by empirical testing and observation. We have a long history of moral philosophy that has nothing to do with the Abrahamic tradition; while there are numerous broadly-agreed-upon principles, the whys and wherefores of moral thought are not universally agreed upon.

If the Christian perspective were in fact true, we still would not have an objective morality, but the most subjective of all possible moral codes, handed down to humanity from a single entity - one with a long record of hypocrisy on moral issues.

To me, the only irrefutable basis for moral reasoning is the fact of our common humanity. All must originate from that principle.

7 The Ghost of a Flea  Mar 25, 2015 10:07:29pm

The idea that atheists are incapable of moral judgement, and that humanists and liberals are all pure relativists, are hackneyed tropes routinely treated as “true” by wingnuts. It’s especially prominent amongst megachurch pastors, but also turns up in the rhetoric of wingnut bloggers and pundits that are read and mocked on LGF daily.

Phil Robertson wasn’t being funny, nor was his statement transgressive by the standards of his audience. It was the spoken word equivalent of desecrating an effigy. It stood out only in the degree of attention of detail paid to the suffering of the straw figures.

It falls in line with panics about satanists and baby killers. Wingnuts have established a faith in which their own vices and faults are either forgiven or elevated as merits, so they can only establish their righteousness by claiming their opponents are agents of total depravity, blacker than black. This does not make them afraid…rather it is exciting and enjoyable. They need monsters to exist so they can be heroes, because they can’t conceive of being heroes by being better people.

8 Nyet  Mar 26, 2015 2:44:22am

The problem with Craig’s views is twofold.

1. Since he thinks that his God is the foundation of absolute morality, it also follows that anything that God orders is moral. Hence the genocides and massacres described in the Old Testament (which, by the way, never happened since there was no Conquest of Canaan) are moral.

His only problem with this is what it did to the perpetrators:

reasonablefaith. org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

So while accusing atheists of being immoral monsters, he is actually saying that if his God commands him to murder babies, he will do it. Maybe not gladly, but he will. Think about that for a second. Would you leave your kids with such a person?

So judging people by their opinions on the ontological status of morality is a double-edged sword.

Plus claiming to have an “absolute moral foundation” is not enough, one has to actually prove that one has the right one (why Craig’s version and not that of other sects or religions?).

2. Rejection or acceptance of absolute objective morality has logically nothing to do with atheism (though sociologically there may be a correlation, since atheism “widens” the philosophical outlook a bit). It is easy to show that theism doesn’t demand the absolute morality and atheism doesn’t demand the lack thereof.

Now, I’m an atheist and I certainly do reject the coherence of this concept. There can no more be an “absolute objective morality” than there can be an “absolutely objectively tasty food item”. There are things that the human body is more likely to find tasty or disgusting due to physiology or culture (just like there are things that humans are more likely to find moral or immoral due to our our evolutionary biological basis or, again, culture), but ultimately it’s a value judgment and thus subjective. These are not laws of nature, these are tendencies with numerous “exceptions” throughout peoples and eras, and when one thinks hypothetically (as philosophers are wont to do) about other potential (alien) creatures with other cultures and physiologies, we will be talking about yet other, very different tastes.

Craig’s favorite tactic is bringing up some historical baddies: surely everyone can agree that they were evil? So it’s all objective! (And if you don’t agree that such and such was objectively evil, you’re supporter! Get him!) The problem is that I can also say: surely we can agree that genocides and baby-killing is evil. So where would that leave Craig? Moreover, while we hold certain people to be evil, millions of their followers - as well as they themselves - don’t. So who is to judge the objectivity?

Here’s where Craig’s argument comes in: that judge is God. Only God can set the absolute rules that basically make morality akin to a law of nature and make it objective and meaningful. Since atheists reject God, they also must reject absolute morality.

The problem is that those who reject the concept (like myself) reject it as not merely false, but as incoherent. That is, if you add God to the equation, nothing changes in the ontological status of morality. God’s version of morality is just his opinion. God can no more make morality objective than he can make a pineapple pizza objectively tasty or objectively disgusting. Sure, he can give a law making it such and such, he can mete out a punishment for eating (or not eating it), he can only leave those creatures alive, whose culture and physiology forces them to find it tasty (or not), but the ontological status of the pizza’s tastiness won’t change: it is still an opinion, a wholly subjective value judgment depending on many factors. The same goes for morals.

Then one needs to ask: what is primary/supreme, God or morality? If morality is some universal law independent from God, God himself is subject to it, which makes him an “ontologically lesser being”, so to say.

If God is not subject to morality, if he himself sets up the moral laws, it does make morality God-dependent, but also non-objective and merely his opinion.

In the first case, to repeat, morality is independent from God, it simply exists as a brute fact. In the second one must ask: why does God exist at all? His existence is also merely a brute fact. He just exists. In both cases we’re left with “brute facts”. So if someone does feel the need for belief in “objective morality”, one can simply skip one step and declare that objective morality just exists. This claim is no worse than “God exists”. That “someone” can, of course, be an atheist.

To sum up:
a) theism does not entail objective morality; a theist can consistently accept both God and the absence of objective morality;

b) atheism does not entail absence of objective morality; an atheist can consistently reject God and accept the existence of objective morality as a brute fact.

3. Then of course there is the matter of building the moral foundations on shaky grounds. It’s not like Craig can actually prove the existence of God (his Kalam argument is full of holes). So if Craig et al. are saying that God is necessary for belief in objective morality and for moral behavior, he is undermining the latter two, because he can’t prove God in the first place.

PS: note: just because one rejects an objective, absolute ontological status of morality does not make one a nihilist, only a relativist; we can still hold moral beliefs and make moral judgments while knowing that they’re subjective and not “absolute” or perfect; those who reject any kind of moral judgments and don’t hold any subjective moral beliefs are called nihilists. Wouldn’t want to meet one, whether he believes in God or not.

9 Rocky-in-Connecticut  Mar 26, 2015 4:48:49am

“Morality” is nothing more than the evolutionary sum of humanity’s experiences codified into a set of behaviors deemed acceptable and unacceptable. Animals may also have morality as Science is beginning to question.

There is no such thing as “absolute” Biblical morality. To state that there is is a complete joke. There is not one aspect of morality that is absolute in the Bible, with each violation of commandment or code given religious sanction.

From Murder, to Rape, to Pedophilia, to Theft, Extortion, Coveting, Slavery, etc etc etc all have examples of being sanctioned behavior in Bible stories at times and all have been deemed acceptable or unacceptable as human cultures and countries evolve. Human morality never was or never will be static. It is entirely a product of evolution that defines and maintains a society and gives that society a set of behaviors to advance and survive.

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