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Apr 02 2013

You have no right to make others pray to your god.

So the city council of Rowlett Texas wants to open every meeting with a prayer, and the townspeople intend to hold a “prayer vigil” tonight to support that idea.  Because of course we evil atheists are gonna be there to ruin everyone’s fun again.  They think we want to deprive them of the right to wish upon a star in the name of their favorite imaginary friend, but of course that was never the issue.  The issue is the forced affirmation of religious beliefs as part of the job of political officials.  Believers will never understand this no matter how simply I explain it, but here goes one more time anyway.

The first article of the Texas Constitution is the Bill of Rights, a portion thereof reads as follows:

Sec. 6.  FREEDOM OF WORSHIP.  All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.  No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent.  No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship.  But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.

Sec. 7.  APPROPRIATIONS FOR SECTARIAN PURPOSES.  No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.

Notice that no preference will be given to any particular religion, because most everyone is still Christian of one brand or another.  So the document still feels confident enough to say that every religious denomination will be protected, because everyone has a “natural” right to believe in supernatural things. They’re not going to change that rule until there are Muslims or Sikhs on the council.  Until they’re forced to be fair to the wrong non-Christian religion, they’ll still claim equal rights for all.

Until Texas towns have to deal with diversity, then they’ll say we have a right to assume there is a god, so long as it is their god.  But even though you can’t be forced to attend the worship of their god, and no property belonging to the state should be used for that purpose, it still seems that you do NOT have the right NOT to believe in any almighty deities.  Nor do you have the right to worship anything other than, but let’s not get into that yet.

Now imagine that you’re the Perry Mason type.  You don’t buy into woo because you’re nobody’s fool.  You’re a solid secular citizen serving the city and representing your community exactly the way an ideal politician should.  But your co-workers insist on chanting a mystic incantation every single morning, and everyone has to take part in that.  It doesn’t matter that you’re not using candles or robes, and you’re only using common speech when you close your eyes and pretend there is a ghost in the room listening to you.  It’s still silly, and inappropriate, but worse than that, it’s unconstitutional.  That sort of nonsense shouldn’t be required of anyone’s job, but especially not a public official who’s job description implies devising actual solutions to real world problems.

No one on the council has complained about that yet, because the Texas Bill of Rights had already established a loophole:

Sec 4.  Sec. 4.  RELIGIOUS TESTS.  No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

So non-believers aren’t even allowed to hold public office in this state anyway. So what right do we have to complain that we would be treated unfairly -*if* we were allowed to hold offices we’re forbidden to hold?

Astute readers will refer to Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States’ Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Guess what?  Texas is apparently not one of the “several” states required to abide by the overriding federal law.  So we’re just out, ostracized without representation.  Yet -get this- the Christians say they have a right to pray, and they think we’re taking their rights away.  Can you believe that?  Do they just ignore Matthew 6:6?  Christians are almost made of irony

Anyway, I’ll be in Rowlett tonight, like a good atheist activist ought to be.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    moarscienceplz

    “If there was a mosque in this city we would very much want the Imam to be involved, if there was a synagogue in this city, we would love the priests to be involved,” said Pruitt.

    This is hilarious! Even ignoring that Pruitt apparently is ignorant that there haven’t been priests in Judaism for nearly two millenia, one can easily imagine the reaction if there was a serious push to establish a mosque in Rowlett.

  2. 2
    d.c.wilson

    Has anyone ever tried to enforce the requirement that office holders believe in a supreme being? It probably would get smacked down by the courts pretty quick because of the US Constitution, though Rick Perry is probably dumb enough to try.

    1. 2.1
      Rick Pikul

      Yes, Texas enforces it all the time and it survives for a simple reason: The state drags out the case until the person’s term of office would have expired then gets the case dismissed on standing.

  3. 3
    Cornell

    Aronra says “So the document still feels confident enough to say that every religious denomination will be protected, because everyone has a “natural” right to believe in supernatural things. They’re not going to change that rule until there are Muslims or Sikhs on the council. Until they’re forced to be fair to the wrong non-Christian religion, they’ll still claim equal rights for all.”

    Rights? Oh well let’s talk about Moral Ontology here, because without a proper foundation for whatever grounds your view of ethic I need some justification on your end, otherwise all I’m seeing from you now is a moral compass that has its feet planted firmly in mid-air, so I must ask you Aronra how do “rights” or “values” emerge from valueless matter? Matter has properties (Shape, mass, color, texture, and so on), but moral value isn’t one of them.

    Aronra says “Notice that no preference will be given to any particular religion, because most everyone is still Christian of one brand or another.”

    Oh yes Aron this makes a lot of sense, there are definitely Christians everywhere, whether it be nominal, moderate, fundy etc. hence why we have a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President. Yes these Christians voting in the democrats are becoming a big problem for US aren’t they Aronra?

    Aronra says “So non-believers aren’t even allowed to hold public office in this state anyway. So what right do we have to complain that we would be treated unfairly -*if* we were allowed to hold offices we’re forbidden to hold?”

    This seems to imply that you think you ‘ought’ to be treated in a way of X, instead of in a way of Y, as if humanity has some sort of OBJECTIVE moral accountablity towards each other, and that moral facts EXIST, hence ultimately making views such as moral nihilism false. Well I’ll be darn, Aronra is getting into a bit of moral philosophy here, but I thought you said you didn’t care about philosophy? Why the sudden change? In fact this video from thecartesiantheist catches you in a contradiction. You may find this video to be interesting, I mean I would hope for your sake that you don’t truly live a life of inconsistent reasoning.

    The tile is: Is AronRa evolving?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9f7_Et2W_s

    1. 3.1
      dragon

      Re: Cornell

      Rights? Oh well let’s talk about Moral Ontology here, because without a proper foundation for whatever grounds your view of ethic I need some justification on your end, otherwise all I’m seeing from you now is a moral compass that has its feet planted firmly in mid-air, so I must ask you Aronra how do “rights” or “values” emerge from valueless matter? Matter has properties (Shape, mass, color, texture, and so on), but moral value isn’t one of them.

      “Rights” and “values” emerge from valueless matter by the ink placed upon them by the forefathers of our country after discussion and ratification. It is called the U.S. Constitution. The people of the U.S.A. agreed to give equal rights to all people (after a couple amendments).
      Perhaps you have heard of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. It is the social contract that organized this country.

      This seems to imply that you think you ‘ought’ to be treated in a way of X, instead of in a way of Y, as if humanity has some sort of OBJECTIVE moral accountablity towards each other, and that moral facts EXIST, hence ultimately making views such as moral nihilism false. Well I’ll be darn, Aronra is getting into a bit of moral philosophy here, but I thought you said you didn’t care about philosophy? Why the sudden change? In fact this video from thecartesiantheist catches you in a contradiction. You may find this video to be interesting, I mean I would hope for your sake that you don’t truly live a life of inconsistent reasoning.

      The citizens of this country do have some sort of moral accountability towards each other – the U. S. Constitution – that provides for equal rights for all citizens. It specifically prohibits government from establishing a religion (e.g. Christianity). Those rights are provided for ‘a more perfect union’ by the consent of the governed.
      So, yes, under our system of government you ‘ought’ to be treated in a way of X, instead of in a way of Y. It says so in our ratified social contract that is the basis of our laws.

      Of course, I will let Aronra answer for himself.
      But I do wonder where you get your moral accountability other than one of the best social contracts ever inked to paper. Could your morals perhaps derive from an ancient hebrew oral history that was later modified by some inconsistent greek ramblings that unambiguously supports slavery, punishes the victims of rape by forcing them to marry their rapist, encourages genocide if your religious leader claims an invisible man told him to order it, and directly contradicts freedom of religion – one of the five rights in our First Amendment? If so, you really should update your morals.

      1. Cornell

        Re: Dragon

        You say “Rights” and “values” emerge from valueless matter by the ink placed upon them by the forefathers of our country after discussion and ratification. It is called the U.S. Constitution. The people of the U.S.A. agreed to give equal rights to all people (after a couple amendments).
        Perhaps you have heard of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. It is the social contract that organized this country.”

        Wow so what your saying is that if you were born during Nazi Germany in the days of the Holocaust, then it would be ok to persecute Jewish people, as that is what was written in their law. Ok so cultural relativism, well that doesn’t explain why we ‘ought’ to do X. I will reject this nonsense for a few reasons,

        First off I don’t need a constitution to tell me that torturing infants for fun is wrong, secondly If moral cultural relativism suffers from a problem known as the reformer’s dilemma.

        JP Moreland weighs on why this fails:

        “If normative relativism is true, then it is logically impossible for a society to have a virtuous, moral reformer like Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, because moral members of a society who stand outside that society’s code and pronounce a need for reform and change in that code. However, if an act is right if and only if it is in keeping with a given society’s code, then the moral reformer himself is by definition an immoral person, for his views are at odds with those of his society. Moral reformers must always be wrong because they go against the code of their society. But any view that implies that moral reformers are impossible is defective because we all know that moral reformers have actually existed!”

        QED

        You say “The citizens of this country do have some sort of moral accountability towards each other – the U. S. Constitution – that provides for equal rights for all citizens. It specifically prohibits government from establishing a religion (e.g. Christianity). Those rights are provided for ‘a more perfect union’ by the consent of the governed.
        So, yes, under our system of government you ‘ought’ to be treated in a way of X, instead of in a way of Y. It says so in our ratified social contract that is the basis of our laws.”

        The only accountablity I see is that we all come from a meaningless, valueless, purposeless universe and then we die, it doesn’t matter whether a person saves lives by being a firefighter or whether a person just sits in bed all day and withers away to his or her death. The universe doesn’t care on whether or not you live or die, so this seems to be an EMOTIONAL response on your part. I’ll use atheist philosophers to support my point:

        “There is but only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”

        “Hence the intelligence…tells me in its way that this world is absurd. Its contrary, blind reason, may well claim that all is clear…But despite so many pretentious centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and persuasive men, I know that is false”

        - Albert Camus ‘Myth of Sisyphus’

        “The existentialist….thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plain where there are only men. Dostoievski said; “If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.’ That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”

        Jean Paul Sartre “Existentialism, New York, Bernard Frechtman”

        I concur with these two, as if a godless universe exists, nothing ultimately matters as humanty doesn’t have any goals to fulfill.

        In a meaningless godless world you are not here for any reason and are not here to secure any goals but you can invent a bed time story, pretend you have a reason or goal for your existence, pretend your every choice is not equally arbitrary, valueless and are not an accidental conglomerations of pointless matter in a random world.

        So, given our arbitrary existence, to continue in purposeful resolve, as if there was actually some rationale for preferring one course of action to another, is to take another godless leap of faith.

        Again I’ll use an atheist for support:

        You say “The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” by Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989),

        So you ultimately beg the question that morality is not just an illusion that occurs during our pointless existence.

        “Of course, I will let Aronra answer for himself.
        But I do wonder where you get your moral accountability other than one of the best social contracts ever inked to paper. Could your morals perhaps derive from an ancient hebrew oral history that was later modified by some inconsistent greek ramblings that unambiguously supports slavery, punishes the victims of rape by forcing them to marry their rapist, encourages genocide if your religious leader claims an invisible man told him to order it, and directly contradicts freedom of religion – one of the five rights in our First Amendment? If so, you really should update your morals.”

        This ultimately becomes a strawman here on your part as I NEVER CLAIMED that my moral compass is GROUNDED in the Bible. Why don’t you explain to me exactly what ethical theory I follow? I ask because, it always gives me a good laugh watching a village athiests attempt philosophy!

        1. Cornell

          *edit*

          My last ‘You say”

          Should have started on this paragraph where dragon says:

          “Of course, I will let Aronra answer for himself

          not from the quote stated by Michael Ruse:

        2. No One

          I don’t know…. It seems to me that objective morality is subject to it’s “creator”.

    2. 3.2
      Michael Brew

      Morality is based partially in biological imperatives that evolved early on because our most basic moral urges are those that give socially dependent organisms the best chance to survive, while others come about from our unique ability of reflection and future planning. What we would term objective morality would refer to those sets of behaviors that would bring about optimum happiness for all people while not causing any suffering. Obviously, there are subjective disagreements on what particular behaviors accomplish this goal, but just because there are valid subjective differences of opinion doesn’t mean there is no objective morality. It just means we haven’t completely figured everything out yet. The Constitution has many very good ideas that seem to mesh well with the idea of objective morality, freedom of religion and the denial of government endorsement of the same being one. Also, it should be mentioned that being an atheist in no way logically obligates one to be an existentialist, and we additionally don’t have to respect the opinions of other atheists, so attempting to force such a position on us is a futile endeavor. I know I, personally, think existentialism is just so much intellectual masturbation, and I don’t need to believe in a god or gods to justify having a different philosophical worldview. Aron doesn’t seem to be one, either, though you’d have to get confirmation from the horse’s mouth, as it were, because, again, atheists don’t have a unified worldview.

      1. Cornell

        @Michael

        “Morality is based partially in biological imperatives that evolved early on because our most basic moral urges are those that give socially dependent organisms the best chance to survive, while others come about from our unique ability of reflection and future planning.”

        This poses a big problem then in regards to the event of trusting our cognitive faculties, and I don’t see what’s the point of PLANNING if our minds are adapting moreso toward survival purposes.

        Darwins Doubt:

        “Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? ”

        Darwin to William Graham July 3rd 1881

        “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in…feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.”
        Patricia Churchland, “Epistemology in an Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987), pp. 548-549;

        The very fact we think that truth is something real and not just a concept in our brains. This is completely without justification. Ascribing a natural non-teleological process to answer all these phenomena reduces them to the status of being mere illusions. This is why some naturalists go so far as to suggest that consciousness is an illusion. Because they want to reduce everything down to its working parts. But this is not a good explanation of our world nor how we live.

        On naturalism + evolution, therefore, what we call ‘truth’ appears to be no more than just information which holds a heuristic benefit to survival. Alvin Plantinga has made a good case for this. If ‘truth’ is also the product of minds and not a mind then it seems difficult to refute the implication that there is not truth but truths. That it is inherently subjective and not objective [although majority agreements can cause the illusion of the latter].
        it does not look as though knowing what’s true is all that necessary for survival so it’s a huge epistemic leap to think we do. The naturalist has a problem here.

        So naturalism [your worldview] has a very special epistemic problem.

        How do I know that I am not just evolved PURELY for the purposes of survival and nothing else? This means that what I take to be true is just what my genes want me to take as true because it is best for the heuristic purposes it is being put to task to perform. On naturalism a naturalist has a very good reason to think she may well be permanently deceived about a great many things!

        “What we would term objective morality would refer to those sets of behaviors that would bring about optimum happiness for all people while not causing any suffering. ”

        Optimum happiness needs to be defined, optimum happiness for who? Terrorists? Rapists? Doctors?

        What you’re also trying to do is derive and ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ how exactly does one do that?

        “Also, it should be mentioned that being an atheist in no way logically obligates one to be an existentialist, and we additionally don’t have to respect the opinions of other atheists, so attempting to force such a position on us is a futile endeavor. I know I, personally, think existentialism is just so much intellectual masturbation, and I don’t need to believe in a god or gods to justify having a different philosophical worldview. Aron doesn’t seem to be one, either, though you’d have to get confirmation from the horse’s mouth, as it were, because, again, atheists don’t have a unified worldview.”

        This is just an emotional response with no substance, as I don’t care about BELIEF, I care about “What makes the most sense of the nature of reality” for all you know you could be rebelling against extentialism to keep your sanity, therefore you have failed to show why morality isn’t just an illusion and you beg the question that we ‘ought’ to obtain optimum happiness,without defiing what exactly this optimum would look like and how we would ‘know’ it’s route to get there, and how one can derive and ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.

        You can disbelieve in X, but that doesn’t make it the case that X is false. Why is X most likely to be false? You’ve only given me bare assertions and an empty tautology such as ‘we must obtain optimum happiness, because we must obtain optimum happiness’

        So forgive me if I’m not persauded here

        1. Michael Brew

          This poses a big problem then in regards to the event of trusting our cognitive faculties, and I don’t see what’s the point of PLANNING if our minds are adapting moreso toward survival purposes.

          We know for a fact that we cannot completely trust our cognitive faculties. There are ways (namely: the scientific method) for discovering when and why our brains fail at representing the world accurately, however. I’m not sure why you think that the ability to plan would have no survival benefits for social animals, but the trait certainly exists in other animals, and our only claim to fame is that it’s so beefed up in us, which has obviously served us quite well.

          So naturalism [your worldview] has a very special epistemic problem.

          One can’t dismiss the possibility that everything we know via empirical research is wrong, but the thing is that the likelihood of that is very low given the consistency all these things have with one another. And, of course, the fact of the matter is that this problem is only a problem if the naturalist worldview is wrong and there exist things that are not observable or testable (the supernatural). Really, this problem is more with supernaturalism, because in a universe where some all-powerful deity can alter the laws of physics or anything, really, on a whim, how do you know that the universe and everything in it wasn’t actually created last Thursday, and all your memories and everything else was simply manufactured?

          Optimum happiness needs to be defined, optimum happiness for who? Terrorists? Rapists? Doctors?

          It’s funny, because you seem to have quoted my entire sentence, but you apparently stopped reading it after I said “optimum happiness” and did not notice that I answered your question “for whom” with “for all people” while adding the qualifier “while not causing any suffering,” meaning that if committing terror or rape (which causes suffering) makes one happy, that still isn’t moral.

          What you’re also trying to do is derive and[sic] ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ how exactly does one do that?

          I’m not even entirely sure what you’re talking about here. I am certainly saying that any morality that we come up with is based on the concept of “what one ought to do.” Of course, these “ought”s should all be based on what actually happens in reality.

          This is just an emotional response with no substance, as I don’t care about BELIEF, I care about “What makes the most sense of the nature of reality” for all you know you could be rebelling against extentialism to keep your sanity, therefore you have failed to show why morality isn’t just an illusion and you beg the question that we ‘ought’ to obtain optimum happiness,without defiing what exactly this optimum would look like and how we would ‘know’ it’s route to get there, and how one can derive and ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.

          I would have to ask if you even know what morality is. Or, rather, how it is that you would define it. I, personally, define it as a set of behaviors that would result in the increase of happiness without causing harm as well as the reduction of harm for all people. Certainly, you cannot deny that there exist behaviors which can accomplish that end. I would also say that we “ought” to be moral because it’s simply the most beneficial for us to do that. I don’t like suffering, and I like happiness. I also don’t like to see or hear about other people suffering (because empathy is another one of those traits that actually increases the chance of survival for social animals). Therefore, a world in which there is as much happiness as possible and as little suffering makes it the least likely that I or anyone I know will suffer. We’ve already figured out many general moral behaviors like not murdering, stealing, or lying because these behaviors in general tend to cause suffering. Of course, because every situation is unique it’s impossible to lay out a fixed list of Things You Must Always Do and Things You Must Never Do. That’s why we have reason. We can actually look at a situation, use our reason to predict how our behaviors will effect those around us, and come to a moral conclusion. Will people make mistakes? Sure. Will suffering happen even if everyone in the world is moral? Of course. That doesn’t mean that the concept of morality is invalid. There’s certainly no reason that my worldview necessitates existentialism apparently some kind of nihilism. My conclusion that morality, as an abstract concept, exists is based completely on my own reasoning. My belief that it ought to be implemented, of course, is an emotional reaction as it is based on the fact that I have a negative reaction to suffering, and I would say most people do, but if you think that negates the logic of the argument, then you’ve seen one too many Straw Vulcans.

          You can disbelieve in X, but that doesn’t make it the case that X is false. Why is X most likely to be false? You’ve only given me bare assertions and an empty tautology such as ‘we must obtain optimum happiness, because we must obtain optimum happiness’

          My argument certainly was not a tautology, and I’m puzzled as to what you read that made you assume as such. I pointed out that your assertion that Aron’s worldview somehow disallowed him to make any moral arguments because naturalism is somehow incompatible with morality is false and explained one ethical worldview (which is not based on the reasoning that “we must obtain optimum happiness, because we must obtain optimum happiness,” but more along the lines of “we can all agree that we desire happiness and seek to avoid suffering; therefore, we should ensure that our behaviors increase happiness as much as possible without increasing, or better while decreasing, suffering”) that does not require belief in a supernatural entity to justify it. I could explain why the opposite (that we require some supernatural deity to define morality) is more likely to be false simply by breaking out the old Euthyphro standby, if that’s what you’re looking for.

          1. Cornell

            @Micheal Brew

            “We know for a fact that we cannot completely trust our cognitive faculties.”

            Then you have just conceded to the probability thesis and have now been engulfed by the Cartesian Demon/Genius, therefore once you have justification to doubt your cognitive faculties as being unreliable then you have now have reason to doubt ANY belief that forms from your cognitive faculties from this point on, and your whole epistemology is now suspect as you don’t know when your senses could be unreliable again, for all you know they could be deceiving you right now.

            So, now you must deal with this skepticism:

            By not knowing the “true nature” of things is basically not knowing anything at all.

            The objects of one’s perception may not exist but your experience does.

            How does one know they are not a brain in a vat being transmitted experiences. The world could just be a clever illusion. You need to justify this

            How do you know your senses are not lying, after all everything that your senses collect must be processed in your mind, how do you know that your mind isn’t deceiving you? You need to justify this

            “ There are ways (namely: the scientific method) for discovering when and why our brains fail at representing the world accurately, however. I’m not sure why you think that the ability to plan would have no survival benefits for social animals, but the trait certainly exists in other animals, and our only claim to fame is that it’s so beefed up in us, which has obviously served us quite well.”

            Using the scientific method is ad hoc and trying to justify anything with the use of it just ends up being circular, If your senses have deceived you in the past you cannot rely on them to judge what is real in the present. You have basically just conceded to the argument, now I can pose the defeater Thesis:

            Take this scenario that my friend Wade came proposed:

            Scenario (S1A): I know that my friend Sam has ingested drug XX, a drug that renders one’s cognitive faculties unreliable for a high percentage of those who take it, though those so afflicted are incapable of detecting their own cognitive unreliability. I know also however that Sam later comes to believe that an extensive battery of tests has established his cognitive reliability, though I have no independent reason for thinking this occurred. And since Sam obtained his belief about the cognitive tests long after he ingested drug XX, I conclude that the belief was likely produced by unreliable cognitive faculties, and I have a defeater for my belief that Sam’s cognitive faculties are reliable.

            Let:

            P = probability
            N = Naturalism
            R = proposition that are cognitive faculties are reliable
            E = proposition that we and our cognitive faculties have come to be in the way proposed by the contemporary scientific theory of evolution

            1) P (R/N&E) is low.
            2) Anyone who accepts (believes) N&E and sees that P (R/N&E) is low has a defeater for R.
            3) Anyone who has a defeater for R has a defeater for any other belief she thinks she has, including N&E itself.
            4) If one who accepts N&E thereby acquires a defeater for N&E, N&E is self-defeating and can’t rationally be accepted.

            Conclusion: N&E can’t rationally be accepted.

            You’ve already conceded to one, so now you need to argue against 3, otherwise you might as well reject naturalism. (If you haven’t already)

            “One can’t dismiss the possibility that everything we know via empirical research is wrong, but the thing is that the likelihood of that is very low given the consistency all these things have with one another. “

            And what empirical evidence do you have to support this statement, how did you come to this probability of being ‘low’?

            “And, of course, the fact of the matter is that this problem is only a problem if the naturalist worldview is wrong and there exist things that are not observable or testable (the supernatural). Really, this problem is more with supernaturalism, because in a universe where some all-powerful deity can alter the laws of physics or anything,”

            First off I don’t think you understand what supernaturalism or Theism is, I don’t know of many Theistic Philosopher besides Descartes that would state God could alter the laws of physics, I think what you meant to say is ‘TEMPORARILY SUSPEND “ the laws of physics. If you are going to your hand at the Philosophy of religion you might want to brush up a bit on philosophical theology.

            “really, on a whim, how do you know that the universe and everything in it wasn’t actually created last Thursday, and all your memories and everything else was simply manufactured?”

            That’s fine, I don’t know, so what? This doesn’t affect my epistemology anyways, so what would be your response to this? Honestly one can’t get ever get past this, I’m ok with that. Just as I’m ok with the belief that other minds exist, that the universe is rationally intelligible, that ‘you exist’ etc.

            Yes for all I know I could be a brain in a vat, so what? What’s your point?

            “It’s funny, because you seem to have quoted my entire sentence, but you apparently stopped reading it after I said “optimum happiness” and did not notice that I answered your question “for whom” with “for all people” while adding the qualifier “while not causing any suffering,” meaning that if committing terror or rape (which causes suffering) makes one happy, that still isn’t moral.”

            This just ends up begging the question, why does suffering have to entail a negative definition that is biased towards a terrorist or a rapist? Now you have to deal with moral anti-realism. To a rapist he suffers if he or she does not rape a person, so why doesn’t his or her happiness matter? Why couldn’t ‘optimum happiness’ entail a world where rape is the norm? Doesn’t the act of rape occur in other parts of the animal kingdom, in which the rape victim doesn’t mind? (ie: Whales)

            “I’m not even entirely sure what you’re talking about here. I am certainly saying that any morality that we come up with is based on the concept of “what one ought to do.” Of course, these “ought”s should all be based on what actually happens in reality.”

            That makes absolutely no sense, what actually happens in reality = is

            ‘ought’ implies prescriptive
            ‘is’ implies descriptive

            “I would have to ask if you even know what morality is. Or, rather, how it is that you would define it. I, personally, define it as a set of behaviors that would result in the increase of happiness without causing harm as well as the reduction of harm for all people.”

            I use the definition here on this peer-reviewed website:

            “The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves. Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, or nuclear war.”

            Cf: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

            “Certainly, you cannot deny that there exist behaviors which can accomplish that end. I would also say that we “ought” to be moral because it’s simply the most beneficial for us to do that.”

            This just begs the question on the fact that we must live in the most beneficial way, why assert that we need to live beneficially? Why does it ultimately matter if the human race either goes extinct just like many other species in the past rather or lives beneficially? Why is existence better than non-existence given a godless universe?

            “I don’t like suffering, and I like happiness.”

            So if you were in a situation where happiness could only be achieved by some suffering (ie dentist) wouldn’t you still go to the dentist?

            “I also don’t like to see or hear about other people suffering (because empathy is another one of those traits that actually increases the chance of survival for social animals).”

            So really this is just an emotional justification, you don’t like to see or hear people suffering, though you haven’t pointed out the fact on whether or not suffering is permissible if it leads to greater happiness. And even if it Is the case that you agree, how one can know all potential and actual long-term and short-term effects that occur from our moral decisions that led up to this happiness. Suppose YOU THINK you are making a moral decision that entails an outcome of increased happiness how do you KNOW that this will actually be the case down to a T whilst making that moral decision?

            “Therefore, a world in which there is as much happiness as possible and as little suffering makes it the least likely that I or anyone I know will suffer.”

            And what does this model look like? What checklist are you using here and how do you know that this is this the CORRECT checklist that leads to your ideal world?

            “We’ve already figured out many general moral behaviors like not murdering, stealing, or lying because these behaviors in general tend to cause suffering.”

            Moral rigorism, Is that so? So you’re saying if you were hiding Jews in your basement during the Holocaust and a Nazi came to your door whilst asking if any Jews were in your house, you wouldn’t lie to save them? If someone put a gun to your friends head and told you that if you do not steal a pen, then he will kill your friend, would you steal the pen?

            What I’m saying is, a good theory of ethics is a lot harder to put together than what you are portraying here. I mean don’t get me wrong, as I it wish it were that easy.

            “Of course, because every situation is unique it’s impossible to lay out a fixed list of Things You Must Always Do and Things You Must Never Do. That’s why we have reason. We can actually look at a situation, use our reason to predict how our behaviors will effect those around us, and come to a moral conclusion. Will people make mistakes? Sure. Will suffering happen even if everyone in the world is moral? Of course. That doesn’t mean that the concept of morality is invalid. There’s certainly no reason that my worldview necessitates existentialism apparently some kind of nihilism. My conclusion that morality, as an abstract concept, exists is based completely on my own reasoning. My belief that it ought to be implemented, of course, is an emotional reaction as it is based on the fact that I have a negative reaction to suffering, and I would say most people do, but if you think that negates the logic of the argument, then you’ve seen one too many Straw Vulcans.”

            Are you are moral-realist or a moral anti-realist?

            “My argument certainly was not a tautology, and I’m puzzled as to what you read that made you assume as such.”

            Because you gave no evidence for you assertion, so I took as you thought I would see what you said as being self-evident.

            “ I pointed out that your assertion that Aron’s worldview somehow disallowed him to make any moral arguments because naturalism is somehow incompatible with morality is false and explained one ethical worldview (which is not based on the reasoning that “we must obtain optimum happiness, because we must obtain optimum happiness,” but more along the lines of “we can all agree that we desire happiness and seek to avoid suffering; therefore, we should ensure that our behaviors increase happiness as much as possible without increasing, or better while decreasing, suffering”) that does not require belief in a supernatural entity to justify it. I could explain why the opposite (that we require some supernatural deity to define morality) is more likely to be false simply by breaking out the old Euthyphro standby, if that’s what you’re looking for.”

            This is a strawman, I never said naturalism is incompatible with morality, what I said was:
            why is his view on morality more likely to be true than Moral Nihilism? Or heck any form of moral skepticism

            Practical moral skepticism is a tough cookie for both Theists and naturalists alike, but I don’t see why it would be the case that if Theism is false, secular humanism or whatever ethical theory AronRa follows, automatically becomes true. This is basically a false dichotomy.

            An advantage to society is quite difficult to determine. Something looked at one way and deemed to be a detriment, can be looked at another way and be deemed a benefit. And how is it exactly that such values are embedded on every person on the face of the earth? No one generally thinks of such macro level influences when they get ready to commit an act of personal self-gratification, however heinous it may be.

          2. Cornell

            @Michealbrew

            Forgive me for this as it came out a bit too harsh “If you are going to your hand at the Philosophy of religion you might want to brush up a bit on philosophical theology.” I apologize for that, you’ve actually been fair and respectful, hence you are definitely not a village atheist….at least so far

            Also I want to address this:

            You said “I could explain why the opposite (that we require some supernatural deity to define morality) is more likely to be false simply by breaking out the old Euthyphro standby, if that’s what you’re looking for”

            The Euthyphro absolutely fails, in fact I think it’s one of the worst objections in the history of the Philosophy of Religion. First off it wasn’t even intended for Monotheism, but yet it was intended for Polytheism. (honestly this is the only way I think it makes sense) If you wish to say that this speaks against monotheism then I could turn the tables on your worldview and state:
            :
            Proposition: Is an action right because it promotes human flourishing or does it promote human flourishing because it is right?

            Depending on your response, I could attack either horn and use it against your own worldview. So I’ll wait on this:

            Secondly, let’s say the Euthyphro is a plausible objection towards a Monotheist who commits to a form of the Divine Command Theory, well then the euthyphro dilemma commits to a fallacy of a false dichotomy as you are leaving out a third option, hence ‘God = goodness’

            God commands in accordance with His good nature. His commands do not create anything apart from Himself, they correspond to Himself. And good is not apart from Himself, but is Himself.

            Note that the good of God is not justified by His nature/command, but would not exist/correspond to real being without God’s existence. We can reason to the justification for the good, but unless God exists, we are not reasoning to anything real/true.

            If you want to keep pressing the fact that morality is independent of God then you need to argue against perfect being theology being false if Theism is indeed true, and advise me why God entails a weakness as such where morality is independent upon his existence. Personally I wouldn’t think that this ‘diety’ is worthy enough to bear the ESSENTIAL properties of God.

            Heck, why don’t you just define what you mean by ‘God’ or ‘Deity’

            ty

    3. 3.3
      Kevin

      What a lot of gas to try to slip the “lawmaker” fallacy under our noses.

      We get our moral values as part of our evolutionary heritage as social beings who need to live in cooperative groups to survive. Were we lions, we’d have a different moral code — one that would see a benefit to eating the children of a deposed pride leader.

      And yes, moral values evolve as society evolves. As anyone who has ever read the bible will realize.

    4. 3.4
      changerofbits

      So much wrong, so little time:

      Biblical Morals -> Thankfully, the objective morals in the bible ware rejected by most christians to end slavery
      Bunch of fighting Christians in Europe-> Pre-Darwin atheists (i.e. deists) persuade the ones that came to America that forming a secular government would be a good idea, rest of Christian Europe takes a while to catch up to this “objective” moral.

      Almost no moral situation is black and white, but tell me which side you’re on of the above two? What do your “objective” morals say? Or, would you rather use your own brain to decide? Don’t worry, I believe that you’re more moral than whatever god you think you’re praying to.

  4. 4
    Bruce Gorton

    dragon

    Don’t forget the human sacrifice (Jeptha’s daughter.)

  5. 5
    dragon

    Re: Cornell

    Wow so what your saying is that if you were born during Nazi Germany in the days of the Holocaust, then it would be ok to persecute Jewish people, as that is what was written in their law. Ok so cultural relativism, well that doesn’t explain why we ‘ought’ to do X. I will reject this nonsense for a few reasons,

    Wow. Do you actually read for comprehension, or do you just go straight for the strawman you were hoping to find? (rhetorical question)
    Note: “your”‘ above should be “you’re”, the contraction of “you are”, not the possessive pronoun. But I am certain that someone as pompous as you only made that mistake by accident.
    I never said ALL systems of laws are good. Our constitution was molded by the people and our country’s forefathers with protections for the minority. They had seen the failures of divine right, theocracy, as well as pure democracy. It isn’t perfect, but a constitutional republic that protects the rights of all citizens is better than any that came before it. That is not moral relativism, only your comprehension failure.

    First off I don’t need a constitution to tell me that torturing infants for fun is wrong, secondly If moral cultural relativism suffers from a problem known as the reformer’s dilemma.

    I would hope not, but then any ‘objective morality’ from the Bible never tells you that torturing infants for fun is wrong. In fact, slaughtering them under orders from God is perfectly fine (e.g. Canaanites, Isaac, Almalekites). So apparently humans are getting our morals from somewhere else than the Bible. Our empathy and culture.

    I will ignore JP Moreland’s position on cultural relativism because I said no such thing.

    The only accountablity I see is that we all come from a meaningless, valueless, purposeless universe and then we die, it doesn’t matter whether a person saves lives by being a firefighter or whether a person just sits in bed all day and withers away to his or her death. The universe doesn’t care on whether or not you live or die, so this seems to be an EMOTIONAL response on your part. I’ll use atheist philosophers to support my point:

    You must live a horrible fearful life if that is all you see. Please don’t try to put those words in my mouth. I have a great and fulfilling life, thank you very much. I care about my fellow humans for many reasons, but none of them are because I think the universe or imagined superbeing cares. Other people care, and that makes a lot of difference. I will admit that I feel emotions of gladness and pride when someone saves another human life. I really pity you that you don’t feel the same unless you associate some superbeing’s command with that same act.

    I concur with these two, as if a godless universe exists, nothing ultimately matters as humanty doesn’t have any goals to fulfill.
    In a meaningless godless world you are not here for any reason and are not here to secure any goals but you can invent a bed time story, pretend you have a reason or goal for your existence, pretend your every choice is not equally arbitrary, valueless and are not an accidental conglomerations of pointless matter in a random world.

    So, given our arbitrary existence, to continue in purposeful resolve, as if there was actually some rationale for preferring one course of action to another, is to take another godless leap of faith.

    I am not an existentialist like you, since you concurred. I am happy with having purpose and meaning even if it does not fulfill your false ‘ultimate’ definition. You seem to either believe humans fulfill some cosmic entity’s chess game where we never see the hand that moves the pieces, or our lives are completely meaningless. What a sad way to view your own existence. More’s the pity on you then.

    You say “The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” by Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989),

    I presume you failed to edit that properly. That is not what I said, your later marks indicate Michael Ruse said that.

    So you ultimately beg the question that morality is not just an illusion that occurs during our pointless existence.

    You seem to misunderstand the logical fallacy of begging the question. It is not my question that you are begging, but your own. You are presuming some outside absolute morality, and creating arguments that ‘beg that question’. I am merely saying that is your premise is flawed, i.e. never been demonstrated.

    This ultimately becomes a strawman here on your part as I NEVER CLAIMED that my moral compass is GROUNDED in the Bible. Why don’t you explain to me exactly what ethical theory I follow? I ask because, it always gives me a good laugh watching a village athiests attempt philosophy!

    Wrong again, my friend. Please try to read my paragraph again. I wondered where you claimed to have gotten yours. Then asked if I was guessing correctly, given your previous post. It was not a rhetorical question.
    And hence, you referred to yet another fallacy incorrectly. Perhaps your philosophy education is not as thorough as you imply.

    1. 5.1
      Cornell

      @Dragon

      You said “Wow. Do you actually read for comprehension, or do you just go straight for the strawman you were hoping to find? (rhetorical question)”

      Perhaps you are having a problem following your own moral worldview correctly, because it’s just that bad. Down below I show you why it is your own ignorance of ethical philosophy that leads to this confusion.

      You said “Note: “your”‘ above should be “you’re”, the contraction of “you are”, not the possessive pronoun. But I am certain that someone as pompous as you only made that mistake by accident.”

      I guess this means that everything I say from here on out is wrong, right? Are you losing that bad to the point where you have to critique my grammar?

      you said ” I never said ALL systems of laws are good. Our constitution was molded by the people and our country’s forefathers with protections for the minority. They had seen the failures of divine right, theocracy, as well as pure democracy. It isn’t perfect, but a constitutional republic that protects the rights of all citizens is better than any that came before it. That is not moral relativism, only your comprehension failure.”

      First off what exactly makes something ‘good’? Secondly, I don’t know what forefathers you are talking about, but the founders of this country (US) were either Deist or Theist, hence I don’t see any atheists, so this ‘Divine right’ comment needs some backing. Here this is what backing up a claim looks like:

      “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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

      Key words: Creator, Unalienable Rights

      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

      Sure Jefferson and many others who founded this country rejected religion, but they didn’t reject *A GOD*, so your ignorance has been your demise here.

      You said “I would hope not, but then any ‘objective morality’ from the Bible never tells you that torturing infants for fun is wrong. In fact, slaughtering them under orders from God is perfectly fine (e.g. Canaanites, Isaac, Almalekites). So apparently humans are getting our morals from somewhere else than the Bible. Our empathy and culture.”

      You are asserting that if moral facts exist, then moral rigorism must be followed, why is this the case? Why take such as radical view on moral realism and why must a Christian commit to this? All you do here is the beg the question and once again show ignorance on what Christian Theism entails.

      You say “I will ignore JP Moreland’s position on cultural relativism because I said no such thing.”

      You just said before that the constitution = where we get our morals in regards to ONTOLOGY.

      You said earlier: ““Rights” and “values” emerge from valueless matter by the ink placed upon them by the forefathers of our country after discussion and ratification. It is called the U.S. Constitution. The people of the U.S.A. agreed to give equal rights to all people (after a couple amendments).”

      This is obviously a response to my question that was posed to Aron regarding MORAL ONTOLOGY, so YOU DID SAY IT, therefore I didn’t attack a strawman as it’s just the case that you are just ignorant of ethical philosophy, most specifically Meta-ethics.

      You said “You must live a horrible fearful life if that is all you see. Please don’t try to put those words in my mouth. I have a great and fulfilling life, thank you very much. I care about my fellow humans for many reasons, but none of them are because I think the universe or imagined superbeing cares. Other people care, and that makes a lot of difference. I will admit that I feel emotions of gladness and pride when someone saves another human life. I really pity you that you don’t feel the same unless you associate some superbeing’s command with that same act.”

      terrorists think they live great and fulfilling lives too, so this point of yours holds no weight and becomes a dubious emotional rambling. Anyone can say ‘I live a fulfilling life’ just to bolster their argument.

      Secondly, you obviously care about humans WHO AGREE with you, so far that has been shown to obvious, but what about those who disagree with you? Whether it be Theists or Existentialist Atheists?

      You also admit that none of your feelings come about because of an unconscious impersonal universe, well you do live in this universe, yes? Your existence is contingent upon this universe, correct? So do you think that ‘value’ can just magically appear from valueless matter? If you want to argue, yes it comes in a subjective way, then I will concede, but if you are talking about some sort of ultimate significance then you need to explain why this is the case. I don’t care about your personal beliefs from an emotional standpoint, I want to know why you think your beliefs BEST correspond to the nature of reality.

      You also say that you feel emotions and happiness when you see someone saving someone’s life, well I say this is foolish. If philosophical naturalism is true, then people who risk their lives for others are just plain silly. If in fact one purposeless conglomeration of matter dies whilst saving another purposeless conglomeration of matter they don’t get to experience the joy from life they saved, but yet they only experience death. They experience no reward for their good deed either, as lIF philosophical naturalism is true, then life ends at the grave. The only thing that makes sense here on this example that appears to be arguing for altruism is the fact that ‘prudential’ reasoning can take over ‘moral’ reasoning.

      Here is proposition that goes against you

      . If philosophical naturalism is true, then prudential reason and moral reason can and often do come into conflict, in which case there is no reason to act morally rather than in one’s self-interest.

      We have also have evidence for the fact that the universe will eventually come to an end:

      http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-10/universe-end-sooner-previously-thought

      http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2009/10/05/new-calculations-suggest-universe-may-be-a-bit-closer-to-heat-death

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/10/101027-science-space-universe-end-of-time-multiverse-inflation/

      So this means that everything humanity has done up to this point would be for NOTHING, and your worldview becomes that much more emotional and useless. Everything gets wiped out and becomes useless.

      So now I’m putting forward to you this proposition, lets see if you can answer this without using emotion:

      If life and the universe will come to an end, then there is no ultimate meaning or purpose for them.

      So please tell me what the ultimate goal to humanity is again?

      “I am not an existentialist like you,”

      Strawman, I never said I was an existentialist, do you know what a reductio ad absurdum is?

      “I am happy with having purpose and meaning even if it does not fulfill your false ‘ultimate’ definition. You seem to either believe humans fulfill some cosmic entity’s chess game where we never see the hand that moves the pieces, or our lives are completely meaningless. What a sad way to view your own existence. More’s the pity on you then.”

      I believe it was C.S Lewis that said something along the lines of the idea that life ends at the grave is the biggest psychological crutch IMO, as it entails the mindset of one not being judged. We must also thrown in the fact that there is no one other than myself who I am accountable to, and the idea that no one has the right to judge my life other than myself is an extremely huge comfort to life with. It is extremely possible to live a life of complete selfishness with no other intentions other than to please oneself and get away with it.

      The only sad thing is how your emotions take over your reasoning. Albert Camus was right when he contended one must rebel against the logical conclusion on an existential and practical basis so he was the most honest that it was impossible. It would mean that one could only accept personal concerns for matters but no longer be able to argue for any rightness or wrongness about any significant matters due to the fact that one could not account for values or meaning beyond one’s only subjective account.

      You can’t handle the fact that you live an ultimately meaningless, purposeless, valueless existence so you try to lie to yourself by stating that you somewhat ‘special’ and important. I hate to break it to you, but all I see here from you is ‘emotions’. This is what Plato referred to as a Noble lie.

      You’ve deluded yourself to the point where your only justification is:

      YOU think you are special, therefore you are special.

      Well here another quote for the road, maybe this will break you out of your mindset that appears to be a rebellion against Nihilism, as I can only assume AT THIS POINT that deep down you think nihlism is true, hence you make no INTELLIGENT arguments against it.

      If intrinsic value does not exist from the outset, its emergence from non-valuable processes is difficult to explain. It doesn’t matter how many non-personal and non-valuable components we happen to stack up: from valuelessness, valuelessness comes. – Paul Copan

      You say “presume you failed to edit that properly. That is not what I said, your later marks indicate Michael Ruse said that.”

      Didn’t I point that out in my very next comment?

      You say “You seem to misunderstand the logical fallacy of begging the question. It is not my question that you are begging, but your own. You are presuming some outside absolute morality, and creating arguments that ‘beg that question’. I am merely saying that is your premise is flawed, i.e. never been demonstrated.”

      I haven’t even made an argument for God lol, in fact I’M PLAYING SKEPTIC HERE, though it appears that you are arguing for the case that morality exists. Don’t be afraid to bear the burden of proof, I mean if you are so confident in your arguments it shouldn’t be a problem. I mean you HAVE THOUGHT OVER YOUR POSITION regarding ethics before, yes?

      You say “Wrong again, my friend. Please try to read my paragraph again. I wondered where you claimed to have gotten yours. Then asked if I was guessing correctly, given your previous post. It was not a rhetorical question. And hence, you referred to yet another fallacy incorrectly. Perhaps your philosophy education is not as thorough as you imply.”

      Ok I read the paragraph again and it still states:

      you said earlier “But I do wonder where you get your moral accountability other than one of the best social contracts ever inked to paper. Could your morals perhaps derive from an ancient hebrew oral history that was later modified by some inconsistent greek ramblings that unambiguously supports slavery, punishes the victims of rape by forcing them to marry their rapist, encourages genocide if your religious leader claims an invisible man told him to order it, and directly contradicts freedom of religion ”

      This STILL confuses moral epistemology with moral ontology, I wasn’t talking about how we’ve come to know morals, I was talking about WHAT GROUNDS MORALS. The Bible = Moral epistemology, so I have absolutely no clue on why you asked this question towards me, so I’ll now charge with you a non-sequitur as this question of yours doesn’t follow.

      Again, it’s not so much my knowledge of philosophy that is off the mark, but moreso your ignorance regarding the branches of philosophy of ethics, religion and epistemology. If you wish for me to give you some recommendations for introductory books in ethics, just let me know.

      QED

    2. 5.2
      Cornell

      @Dragon

      You said “Wow. Do you actually read for comprehension, or do you just go straight for the strawman you were hoping to find? (rhetorical question)”

      Perhaps you are having a problem following your own moral worldview correctly, because it’s just that bad. Down below I show you why it is your own ignorance of ethical philosophy that leads to this confusion.

      You said “Note: “your”‘ above should be “you’re”, the contraction of “you are”, not the possessive pronoun. But I am certain that someone as pompous as you only made that mistake by accident.”

      I guess this means that everything I say from here on out is wrong, right? Are you losing that bad to the point where you have to critique my grammar?

      you said ” I never said ALL systems of laws are good. Our constitution was molded by the people and our country’s forefathers with protections for the minority. They had seen the failures of divine right, theocracy, as well as pure democracy. It isn’t perfect, but a constitutional republic that protects the rights of all citizens is better than any that came before it. That is not moral relativism, only your comprehension failure.”

      First off what exactly makes something ‘good’? Secondly, I don’t know what forefathers you are talking about, but the founders of this country (US) were either Deist or Theist, hence I don’t see any atheists, so this ‘Divine right’ comment needs some backing. Here this is what backing up a claim looks like:

      “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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

      Key words: Creator, Unalienable Rights

      Cf: Declaration of Independece

      Sure Jefferson and many others who founded this country rejected to be part of a religion, but they didn’t reject *A GOD*, so your ignorance has been your demise here.

      You said “I would hope not, but then any ‘objective morality’ from the Bible never tells you that torturing infants for fun is wrong. In fact, slaughtering them under orders from God is perfectly fine (e.g. Canaanites, Isaac, Almalekites). So apparently humans are getting our morals from somewhere else than the Bible. Our empathy and culture.”

      You are asserting that if moral facts exist, then moral rigorism must be followed, why is this the case? Why take such as radical view on moral realism and why must a Christian commit to this? All you do here is the beg the question and once again show ignorance on what Christian Theism entails.

      You say “I will ignore JP Moreland’s position on cultural relativism because I said no such thing.”

      You just said before that the constitution = where we get our morals in regards to ONTOLOGY.

      You said earlier: ““Rights” and “values” emerge from valueless matter by the ink placed upon them by the forefathers of our country after discussion and ratification. It is called the U.S. Constitution. The people of the U.S.A. agreed to give equal rights to all people (after a couple amendments).”

      This is obviously a response to my question that was posed to Aron regarding MORAL ONTOLOGY, so YOU DID SAY IT, therefore I didn’t attack a strawman as it’s just the case that you are just ignorant of ethical philosophy, most specifically Meta-ethics.

      You said “You must live a horrible fearful life if that is all you see. Please don’t try to put those words in my mouth. I have a great and fulfilling life, thank you very much. I care about my fellow humans for many reasons, but none of them are because I think the universe or imagined superbeing cares. Other people care, and that makes a lot of difference. I will admit that I feel emotions of gladness and pride when someone saves another human life. I really pity you that you don’t feel the same unless you associate some superbeing’s command with that same act.”

      terrorists think they live great and fulfilling lives too, so this point of yours holds no weight and becomes a dubious emotional rambling. Anyone can say ‘I live a fulfilling life’ just to bolster their argument.

      Secondly, you obviously care about humans WHO AGREE with you, so far that has been shown to obvious, but what about those who disagree with you? Whether it be Theists or Existentialist Atheists?

      You also admit that none of your feelings come about because of an unconscious impersonal universe, well you do live in this universe, yes? Your existence is contingent upon this universe, correct? So do you think that ‘value’ can just magically appear from valueless matter? If you want to argue, yes it comes in a subjective way, then I will concede, but if you are talking about some sort of ultimate significance then you need to explain why this is the case. I don’t care about your personal beliefs from an emotional standpoint, I want to know why you think your beliefs BEST correspond to the nature of reality.

      You also say that you feel emotions and happiness when you see someone saving someone’s life, well I say this is foolish. If philosophical naturalism is true, then people who risk their lives for others are just plain silly. If in fact one purposeless conglomeration of matter dies whilst saving another purposeless conglomeration of matter they don’t get to experience the joy from life they saved, but yet they only experience death. They experience no reward for their good deed either, as lIF philosophical naturalism is true, then life ends at the grave. The only thing that makes sense here on this example that appears to be arguing for altruism is the fact that ‘prudential’ reasoning can take over ‘moral’ reasoning.

      Here is proposition that goes against you

      . If philosophical naturalism is true, then prudential reason and moral reason can and often do come into conflict, in which case there is no reason to act morally rather than in one’s self-interest.

      We have also have evidence for the fact that the universe will eventually come to an end: *I have posted these links on my other post that is now being reviewed for moderation, sometimes these replies of mine do not go through, if that is the case then you’ll either have to look it up yourself as it’s not hard to find, or I could just dismiss this, as I don’t necessarily need this point to make my case.)

      So this means that everything humanity has done up to this point would be for NOTHING, and your worldview becomes that much more emotional and useless. Everything gets wiped out and becomes useless.

      So now I’m putting forward to you this proposition, lets see if you can answer this without using emotion:

      If life and the universe will come to an end, then there is no ultimate meaning or purpose for them.

      So please tell me what the ultimate goal to humanity is again?

      “I am not an existentialist like you,”

      Strawman, I never said I was an existentialist, do you know what a reductio ad absurdum is?

      “I am happy with having purpose and meaning even if it does not fulfill your false ‘ultimate’ definition. You seem to either believe humans fulfill some cosmic entity’s chess game where we never see the hand that moves the pieces, or our lives are completely meaningless. What a sad way to view your own existence. More’s the pity on you then.”

      I believe it was C.S Lewis that said something along the lines of the idea that life ends at the grave is the biggest psychological crutch IMO, as it entails the mindset of one not being judged. We must also thrown in the fact that there is no one other than myself who I am accountable to, and the idea that no one has the right to judge my life other than myself is an extremely huge comfort to life with. It is extremely possible to live a life of complete selfishness with no other intentions other than to please oneself and get away with it.

      The only sad thing is how your emotions take over your reasoning. Albert Camus was right when he contended one must rebel against the logical conclusion on an existential and practical basis so he was the most honest that it was impossible. It would mean that one could only accept personal concerns for matters but no longer be able to argue for any rightness or wrongness about any significant matters due to the fact that one could not account for values or meaning beyond one’s only subjective account.

      You can’t handle the fact that you live an ultimately meaningless, purposeless, valueless existence so you try to lie to yourself by stating that you somewhat ‘special’ and important. I hate to break it to you, but all I see here from you is ‘emotions’. This is what Plato referred to as a Noble lie.

      You’ve deluded yourself to the point where your only justification is:

      YOU think you are special, therefore you are special.

      Well here another quote for the road, maybe this will break you out of your mindset that appears to be a rebellion against Nihilism, as I can only assume AT THIS POINT that deep down you think nihlism is true, hence you make no INTELLIGENT arguments against it.

      If intrinsic value does not exist from the outset, its emergence from non-valuable processes is difficult to explain. It doesn’t matter how many non-personal and non-valuable components we happen to stack up: from valuelessness, valuelessness comes. – Paul Copan

      You say “presume you failed to edit that properly. That is not what I said, your later marks indicate Michael Ruse said that.”

      Didn’t I point that out in my very next comment?

      You say “You seem to misunderstand the logical fallacy of begging the question. It is not my question that you are begging, but your own. You are presuming some outside absolute morality, and creating arguments that ‘beg that question’. I am merely saying that is your premise is flawed, i.e. never been demonstrated.”

      I haven’t even made an argument for God lol, in fact I’M PLAYING SKEPTIC HERE, though it appears that you are arguing for the case that morality exists. Don’t be afraid to bear the burden of proof, I mean if you are so confident in your arguments it shouldn’t be a problem. I mean you HAVE THOUGHT OVER YOUR POSITION regarding ethics before, yes?

      You say “Wrong again, my friend. Please try to read my paragraph again. I wondered where you claimed to have gotten yours. Then asked if I was guessing correctly, given your previous post. It was not a rhetorical question. And hence, you referred to yet another fallacy incorrectly. Perhaps your philosophy education is not as thorough as you imply.”

      Ok I read the paragraph again and it still states:

      you said earlier “But I do wonder where you get your moral accountability other than one of the best social contracts ever inked to paper. Could your morals perhaps derive from an ancient hebrew oral history that was later modified by some inconsistent greek ramblings that unambiguously supports slavery, punishes the victims of rape by forcing them to marry their rapist, encourages genocide if your religious leader claims an invisible man told him to order it, and directly contradicts freedom of religion ”

      This STILL confuses moral epistemology with moral ontology, I wasn’t talking about how we’ve come to know morals, I was talking about WHAT GROUNDS MORALS. The Bible = Moral epistemology, so I have absolutely no clue on why you asked this question towards me, so I’ll now charge with you a non-sequitur as this question of yours doesn’t follow.

      Again, it’s not so much my knowledge of philosophy that is off the mark, but moreso your ignorance regarding the branches of philosophy of ethics, religion and epistemology. If you wish for me to give you some recommendations for introductory books in ethics, just let me know.

      QED

      1. No One

        “That which we agree upon is powerful.”

        Morals, ethics, and rights are all subjective. Is the universe meaningless? Yes. Santa Claus? Nope, my parents put the presents under the tree. Nice try with the guilt trip though. Fear is a pretty strong motivator keep trying to tap into that… Oh and don’t forget shame…

        “Religions all have one thing in common, they produce unbelievers.”

        1. Cornell

          @No One

          “Morals, ethics, and rights are all subjective.”

          Bare assertion with no support, so I will reject this as you offered absolutely no evidence for it.

          “Is the universe meaningless? Yes.”

          Good so we agree here

          “Santa Claus? Nope, my parents put the presents under the tree.”

          non-sequitur, what does Santa claus have to do with ANYTHING I’ve stated regarding meta-ethics?

          “Nice try with the guilt trip though. Fear is a pretty strong motivator keep trying to tap into that… Oh and don’t forget shame…”

          Umm this would be a strawman, I’m not trying any ‘guilt trips’ as I’m laying ARGUMENTS from ATHEISTS THEMSELVES in Albert Camus, Fredrick Neitzsche, Jean Paul Sartre etc, so if you want to call me out on a guilt trip then you need to call out these atheist philosophers as well. Please be consistent

          Ty

  6. 6
    Kevin

    Point of correction — the Texas Constitution’s provision requiring belief in a supreme being is invalid.

    US Supreme Court decisions (as per the 14th Amendment) trump state constitutions. See Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961).

    Just because it’s still on the books, doesn’t mean it’s enforceable.

    1. 6.1
      Kevin

      From the Torasco decision — Justice Black writing for the Court:

      We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.

      Settled. The provision is invalid and unenforceable.

    2. 6.2
      Rick Pikul

      Yes, we all know it’s invalid. That doesn’t stop the state of Texas from refusing to allow atheists to take office.

      CBC Radio’s As It Happens has interviewed someone who was blocked and then stonewalled until his term expired a lot more recently than 1961.

  7. 7
    Cornell

    @michealbrew

    I posted a response to you up above, but the comment field is shrinking so if you want to continue our discussion here by all means. It will be easier to follow.

  8. 8
    dragon

    @Cornell

    I apologize for having been very busy.
    You do really enjoy walls of text. I realized after writing a response to each point that you were merely using the Gish Gallop. So instead, I will simply respond to a few points to remain on topic.
    1) You really don’t understand “Divine Right of Kings? It has nothing to do with whether the founders of the US were atheist, Deist or Theist. It is not actually religious per se, it is a premise about the rights and privileges of rulers. It has to do with the assertion that King George and all the royal family of Great Britain (and other royalty not related to our Declaration) were birthed with different rights than the rest of us and that they could suspend our rights at whim.
    Hence, I will use the exact same quote from the Declaration of Independence you used to prove my point, just putting the emphasis on different worlds. And one note about proper backing up a claim: When you emphasize words differently than the original authors, you must note it. And you failed to do so.
    (Emphasis mine):

    “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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their JUST POWERS from the CONSENT of the governed”

    2) You are merely projecting as follows:
    • You see a valueless existence without Theism. I find value regardless.
    • You are the one that wishes to be ‘special’ to the point of some magical sky fairy providing ‘ultimate’ meaning to your life by your fawning adoration. I feel I am just like everyone else, though each of us have ways we are special. I don’t feel the emotional need to have the universe acknowledge my importance.
    • You emotionally wish for ‘ultimate’ meaning and an eternity of afterlife. I rationally recognize neither is demonstrated.
    3) Meta-Ethics can make for interesting philosophical discussions, but it does not provide an answer. None of your speculations about ‘ultimate’ can be demonstrated. Since you are arguing for moral ontology, please demonstrate with actual evidence exactly what ‘grounds morality’ in your opinion.

  9. 9
    Michael Brew

    [blockquote] Then you have just conceded to the probability thesis and have now been engulfed by the Cartesian Demon/Genius, therefore once you have justification to doubt your cognitive faculties as being unreliable then you have now have reason to doubt ANY belief that forms from your cognitive faculties from this point on, and your whole epistemology is now suspect as you don’t know when your senses could be unreliable again, for all you know they could be deceiving you right now.[/blockquote]
    Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. Through quite a bit of study, we have found and catalogued specific flaws in how the brain perceives the world, in terms of bias, optical illusions, etc. The only reason we’re able to do this is because we have means of determining what reality generally is versus our perception. This is why we can make accurate predictions about the outcomes of events we’ve never attempted based on observation and theory.

    [blockquote] How does one know they are not a brain in a vat being transmitted experiences. The world could just be a clever illusion. You need to justify this
    How do you know your senses are not lying, after all everything that your senses collect must be processed in your mind, how do you know that your mind isn’t deceiving you? You need to justify this[/blockquote]
    I see this as akin to when a theist tells me that if I want to disbelieve in whatever deity in which they believe, I need to prove their god doesn’t exist. That’s a shifting of the burden of proof. Every piece of evidence we have points to this being reality, though as said above there are acknowledged gaps in our perception that we must at times work around. If what we perceive as reality, however, is not reality, then you need to explain how we would determine this to be the case. If we can’t, then why act as if this isn’t reality? If you can find something that we can perceive is inconsistent with what should be expected, then we can consider that our perception is inaccurate, but even here we cannot apply it universally based on a single situation. This kind of thing is little but mental masturbation.

    [blockquote] Scenario (S1A): I know that my friend Sam has ingested drug XX, a drug that renders one’s cognitive faculties unreliable for a high percentage of those who take it, though those so afflicted are incapable of detecting their own cognitive unreliability. I know also however that Sam later comes to believe that an extensive battery of tests has established his cognitive reliability, though I have no independent reason for thinking this occurred. And since Sam obtained his belief about the cognitive tests long after he ingested drug XX, I conclude that the belief was likely produced by unreliable cognitive faculties, and I have a defeater for my belief that Sam’s cognitive faculties are reliable.
    Let:
    P = probability
    N = Naturalism
    R = proposition that are cognitive faculties are reliable
    E = proposition that we and our cognitive faculties have come to be in the way proposed by the contemporary scientific theory of evolution
    1) P (R/N&E) is low.
    2) Anyone who accepts (believes) N&E and sees that P (R/N&E) is low has a defeater for R.
    3) Anyone who has a defeater for R has a defeater for any other belief she thinks she has, including N&E itself.
    4) If one who accepts N&E thereby acquires a defeater for N&E, N&E is self-defeating and can’t rationally be accepted.
    Conclusion: N&E can’t rationally be accepted.[/blockquote]
    Cool story, bro, but it should first be established that this story only establishes a reasonable basis for believing that Sam’s cognitive faculties have been compromised. Why should you believe that yours have, as well? Simply rationally concluding that a belief you once had is incorrect also doesn’t mean that every belief you have is incorrect. It could mean that, but until there’s a reason to believe it, it would be irrational to act as if that were the case. The claim that all our perceptions of reality are wrong is an outstanding claim, and those require outstanding evidence. The onus is upon the claimant to provide that evidence.
    [blockquote] And what empirical evidence do you have to support this statement, how did you come to this probability of being ‘low’?[/blockquote]
    The assumption that our perceptions are correct is the default position. That is to say, we have no rational reason to believe that our perceptions are wrong until we can find evidence that they are. We have found evidence in certain cases, and the way we do this is commonly by testing and finding ways in which we can fool people, and inconsistencies in expectations versus outcomes. Experimentation has also produced satisfying theories on why our brains work in this fashion. Therefore, we can conclude that in these specific circumstances our perceptions are unreliable. The reason the probability is low for other things we empirically know is because we’ve established that predictions match outcomes consistently, and various methods of experimenting produces the same results (for instance, you can prove the age of a tree through radiometric dating, counting rings in the trunk, counting branch whorls, measuring the trunk, etc.). Alternatively, any proposal that you could come up with to explain why these observations might still be unreliable lead to a violation of Occam’s Razor, relying on fantastic scenarios like our brains hooked up to a jar with some presumed method of creating an incredibly realistic illusion that is indistinguishable from actual reality. There’s no reason to assume this without evidence.
    [blockquote] First off I don’t think you understand what supernaturalism or Theism is, I don’t know of many Theistic Philosopher besides Descartes that would state God could alter the laws of physics, I think what you meant to say is ‘TEMPORARILY SUSPEND “ the laws of physics. If you are going to your hand at the Philosophy of religion you might want to brush up a bit on philosophical theology.[/blockquote]
    I was specifically thinking of Descartes when I said that, yes. Really, though, even if most theists don’t think this is the case, the idea that the world we see is an illusion and that there is some “more real” world out there that we can’t see seems to be a central conceit of most religions. In fact, it is exactly the kind argument that I hear most theists make to me when they try to convince me that I should believe in god.
    [blockquote] That’s fine, I don’t know, so what? This doesn’t affect my epistemology anyways, so what would be your response to this? Honestly one can’t get ever get past this, I’m ok with that. Just as I’m ok with the belief that other minds exist, that the universe is rationally intelligible, that ‘you exist’ etc.
    Yes for all I know I could be a brain in a vat, so what? What’s your point?[/blockquote]
    “So what” is my point, exactly. Why should we assume that these fantastic claims are true without any reason? We can only act based on what is evident.
    [blockquote] This just ends up begging the question, why does suffering have to entail a negative definition that is biased towards a terrorist or a rapist? Now you have to deal with moral anti-realism. To a rapist he suffers if he or she does not rape a person, so why doesn’t his or her happiness matter? Why couldn’t ‘optimum happiness’ entail a world where rape is the norm? Doesn’t the act of rape occur in other parts of the animal kingdom, in which the rape victim doesn’t mind? (ie: Whales)[/blockquote]
    I don’t see how a terrorist or rapist suffers if they don’t commit heinous acts toward others. There’s a difference between what “pain” may result in not being allowed to do something because it will cause others harm. Further, a part of finding a reality-based morality is recognizing that there are rarely ideal solutions, and one must prioritize. In this case, the negative effect on the victim is going to be worse if the perp commits his or her act than the effect will be on the perp if he or she does not (and, in the case of the terrorist, more people will suffer those negative effects). As for your other point… I suppose if we found an alternate reality in which humans (or whatever sentient species) had to commit rape in order to continue the species and the rape victim didn’t mind and all the negative stuff that makes rape bad here were not the case there, then it may not be immoral. The thing is, though, that’s not this reality. Objective morality isn’t some cut-and-dry “this particular act is inherently bad.” It’s based on whatever reality we happen to inhabit, and in this one rape is bad because of the particular effects it has in this reality.
    [blockquote] That makes absolutely no sense, what actually happens in reality = is[/blockquote]
    Don’t know how to make it any clearer. I just said that objective morality is prescriptive, but that prescription is based on the descriptive (i.e. reality).
    [blockquote] This just begs the question on the fact that we must live in the most beneficial way, why assert that we need to live beneficially? Why does it ultimately matter if the human race either goes extinct just like many other species in the past rather or lives beneficially? Why is existence better than non-existence given a godless universe?[/blockquote]
    It’s not often clear as to what the most beneficial ways to live are. Sometimes natural urges come into conflict, and we need to reason which one is [i]really[/i] the one that trumps the other. Why it matters that we live beneficially and why it matters whether or not we exist is simply because most humans naturally desire that. You may complain that this is based on emotion, but when it comes down to it the urge to survive is a reality that we as humans can rarely get around, so we just have to… well… live with it.
    [blockquote] So if you were in a situation where happiness could only be achieved by some suffering (ie dentist) wouldn’t you still go to the dentist?[/blockquote]
    Yes, because as a reasonable human being I recognize that the universe isn’t always fair, and sometimes short term suffering is required to maintain long term happiness. This doesn’t prove a problem for objective morality because this is still based on actual consequences in actual reality.
    [blockquote] So really this is just an emotional justification, you don’t like to see or hear people suffering, though you haven’t pointed out the fact on whether or not suffering is permissible if it leads to greater happiness. And even if it Is the case that you agree, how one can know all potential and actual long-term and short-term effects that occur from our moral decisions that led up to this happiness. Suppose YOU THINK you are making a moral decision that entails an outcome of increased happiness how do you KNOW that this will actually be the case down to a T whilst making that moral decision?[/blockquote]
    It’s the most basic emotional justification, yes. Do you think that’s a problem? As explained above, this kind of thing is a reality with which humans have to deal. That’s what morality is for. I would agree, as I stated above, that suffering is permissible if it leads to greater happiness, but that kind of thing must be weighed on a case by case basis, based on the specific circumstances. You seem to be concerned that we don’t always know if a decision will lead to a beneficial consequence. I agree that it’s a risk when trying to figure out what reality is. Sometimes we’re wrong. Thanks to rationality and not having some deity (or whomever) hand down its own subjective, fixed morals, we can adjust when we find that our actions have not been as moral as we originally thought.

    [blockquote] And what does this model look like? What checklist are you using here and how do you know that this is this the CORRECT checklist that leads to your ideal world?[/blockquote]
    I don’t know for sure. Human beings have been struggling with that for ages, as you can see when you look back and see the constantly shifting social mores throughout history. Certainly, there is the possibility for an ideal world to come about in which all humans are able to make decisions that will not cause anyone any suffering and will generally increase happiness, though even in this ideal world there would still most likely be things beyond people’s control like natural disasters and individuals who are simply unable to make the correct moral decisions (like children or those who are not neurotypical in certain ways). Asking for a checklist would be an undertaking of a lifetime, of course, because given that I’m basing my morality on observed reality, and the situations I find in reality are vastly complex, such a checklist would undoubtedly take up several volumes of hardback and still not be completely comprehensive.
    [blockquote] Moral rigorism, Is that so? So you’re saying if you were hiding Jews in your basement during the Holocaust and a Nazi came to your door whilst asking if any Jews were in your house, you wouldn’t lie to save them? If someone put a gun to your friends head and told you that if you do not steal a pen, then he will kill your friend, would you steal the pen?[/blockquote]
    I said “general” for a reason. It’s generally wrong to lie, but in specific situations (again, based on objective reality) it can be morally right to lie. In this case, lying to the Nazis causes the Nazis far less negative consequences than telling the truth would for the Jews. In the same way, stealing a pen would have far less negative consequences than allowing someone to die. Of course, you could give me a choice of saving either one person from death or another, which would be a real moral dilemma. In that case, I would say you’re just in a catch-22 and you should save either one, because saving one is better than saving neither (that’s assuming there’s not some other factor making one more desirable to save than the other).
    [blockquote] What I’m saying is, a good theory of ethics is a lot harder to put together than what you are portraying here. I mean don’t get me wrong, as I it wish it were that easy.[/blockquote]
    No shit.
    [blockquote] Are you are moral-realist or a moral anti-realist?[/blockquote]
    Given that I think morality should be based on reality, I would say that the moral-realist position would fit me best.
    [blockquote] This is a strawman, I never said naturalism is incompatible with morality, what I said was:
    why is his view on morality more likely to be true than Moral Nihilism? Or heck any form of moral skepticism[/blockquote]
    Fair enough. I would say that the important thing is that reality-based morality is more useful than Moral Nihilism because the latter assumes things about the universe that aren’t evidentially true while the former does not. Like I said before, if the reality we perceives is indistinguishable from actual reality, then it’s best to treat is as if it is actual reality until we have reason to believe otherwise.
    [blockquote] Practical moral skepticism is a tough cookie for both Theists and naturalists alike, but I don’t see why it would be the case that if Theism is false, secular humanism or whatever ethical theory AronRa follows, automatically becomes true. This is basically a false dichotomy.[/blockquote]
    Well, yes. There are many ethical philosophies, and even many rather woo philosophies that have no account to give of a god or gods. I don’t think I’ve argued that the only two philosophies available are moral skepticism and whatever ethical philosophy theists tend toward. In fact, I know of theists who go by the same moral philosophy as me.
    [blockquote] An advantage to society is quite difficult to determine. Something looked at one way and deemed to be a detriment, can be looked at another way and be deemed a benefit. And how is it exactly that such values are embedded on every person on the face of the earth? No one generally thinks of such macro level influences when they get ready to commit an act of personal self-gratification, however heinous it may be.[/blockquote]
    That’s fine. Like I said before, just because we can’t be 100% sure of the outcome of an action doesn’t mean that there is no objective standard of morality. Our values, as I’ve also said before, come from a combination of hardcoded instincts that were necessary for our less rational ancestors to survive (where we get our universal taboos like “don’t murder”) and from culture, which may or may not have been arrived at rationally, though there was usually at one point a reason for it.
    [blockquote] Proposition: Is an action right because it promotes human flourishing or does it promote human flourishing because it is right?
    Depending on your response, I could attack either horn and use it against your own worldview.[/blockquote]
    I’m going to say upfront that I always find it highly suspect when someone asks a question with only two options as answers in which either answer results in that person being right. Therefore, I’m going to attempt to answer this delicately so as not to give any false impressions by simply picking a choice. The chain that I see basically starts from the fact that modern humans are here because they had traits that caused them to perform actions that would allow the genes that resulted in these traits to be passed on and also had traits that caused them to avoid actions which would result in the genes for those traits to not be passed on. Because of this, the vast majority of humans desire things that benefit them and avoid things that do not. Due to these desires coupled with human reason, we have been able to find those actions that (we believe, based on what we can see) are most likely to lead to beneficial consequences, and have labeled these actions “right.” Therefore, you could say that an action is right because it promotes human flourishing; however, I feel that this is inadequate because I’m not sure this is really a “this is x because y” situation. Really, I’m leaning more toward an “x=y” situation. That is, people have labeled “human flourishing” as “right,” so it’s not really that one has caused the other, but that they are practically synonymous. Then again, I’m not sure it’s wise to make a blanket statement that all actions that promote human flourishing should be labeled “right,” either, because when I label an action right I think it needs the context of the specific events to reliably apply the label.
    [blockquote]‘God = goodness’[/blockquote]
    My major objection to this is that if you’re going to start saying God is actually some other thing, why not just call it that other thing? Well, the reason that I’ve found is that people don’t want to just say God is just that thing by another name, but also bundle a lot of extra properties along with it. “Goodness,” for instance, is generally understood as an abstract concept. Saying “God = goodness” is like saying “God = tallness” or “God = wetness”. I can see what you’re trying to get at, which is basically that God would never act in a way that was not good, so you could say that God’s will is synonymous with goodness; however, that’s not the same as saying that God and goodness are exactly the same things.

    Really, though, I think it’s better to get to the core of the issue, which is “why should I believe that there is a God?” Much like the reasoning I used when talking about why it’s more rational to believe that our perceptions are accurate until we have evidence otherwise, it’s also more rational to believe that there is no god until we have evidence otherwise. So far we have been unable to distinguish between our universe and one in which no God exists, so it’s safe to assume that this universe is one in which no God exists. In order for us to even begin to talk about “perfect being theology” or whether morals come from God or God follows independent morals, we really need to establish whether a God exists at all, otherwise we’re just making arguments that, sure, an atheist like myself may entertain for the fun of it, but doesn’t really get us anywhere because it’s based on the assumption that has not yet been established as true. Good luck convincing anyone on an atheist blog of that.
    [blockquote] Heck, why don’t you just define what you mean by ‘God’ or ‘Deity’[/blockquote]
    I can’t define “God” or “Deity.” That’s one of the reasons I’m an atheist. No one can consistently define these terms because every single person has a different concept. Can there only be one god or many? Did a god create the universe or did they all emerge from it? Do the gods run the afterlife and subsequent punishment/reward system or are they also subject to it? Are they physical beings or spiritual? There are many different answers to these questions based on who you ask. The only consistent things I’ve ever found of the definition of “deity” is that it generally must be a sapient being with some power over the fundamental workings of the natural and/or supernatural world. This makes Storm from the X-Men a candidate for a deity, in fact (which she was worshipped as in her village in Africa). I’ve also heard some ascribe to pantheism, where they basically say that the universe, itself, is God. I can’t exactly say I don’t believe in this God, but I’ll continue to call it “the universe” because this tactic seems like a disingenuous attempt for someone who would otherwise be called an atheist to claim that they really aren’t by allowing the word “God” to cause other theists to bring their own preconceived notions of God as an intelligent being to it. So, yeah, in any situation in which I’m asked if I believe in a god or gods, I have to ask “which one.” And… you know… you have to be specific, because even saying “the Christian God” leaves so many alternate interpretations open that I’ll still have a hard time addressing it.

  10. 10
    Cornell

    @Dragon

    You say “You do really enjoy walls of text. I realized after writing a response to each point that you were merely using the Gish Gallop. So instead, I will simply respond to a few points to remain on topic.”

    The focus is specifically on morality, I don’t see any other topics being discussed here so this claim is dubious at best. If I was going on to other topics such as epistemology, or logic then you might have a point.

    You say “1) You really don’t understand “Divine Right of Kings? It has nothing to do with whether the founders of the US were atheist, Deist or Theist.”

    You really don’t understand moral ontology, those people WERE DEISTS hence they listed the FOUNDATION of morality being = to a GOD, which actually makes sense

    You say “ It is not actually religious per se, it is a premise about the rights and privileges of rulers. It has to do with the assertion that King George and all the royal family of Great Britain (and other royalty not related to our Declaration) were birthed with different rights than the rest of us and that they could suspend our rights at whim.”

    I never said it was religious, Deism is not a religion so this is a strawman

    You say “Hence, I will use the exact same quote from the Declaration of Independence you used to prove my point, just putting the emphasis on different worlds. And one note about proper backing up a claim: When you emphasize words differently than the original authors, you must note it. And you failed to do so.

    (Emphasis mine):

    “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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their JUST POWERS from the CONSENT of the governed”

    CREATED equal = CREATED BY a God, therefore they still held to Deism or even a generic Theism as their JUSTIFICATION for a moral foundation. So I don’t see how this helps your point at all. In fact all you did was bolster mine. Without Theism your moral foundations entail your feet being planted firmly in mid-air.

    You say “You are merely projecting as follows:

    • You see a valueless existence without Theism. I find value regardless.”

    That’s fine, as I stated before a terrorist or a rapist could find value as well. What I’d like to hear is IF this value is subjective (which I’d concede to) or is this value intrinsic value, to which we could say you are objectively valuable
    .
    You say “ • You are the one that wishes to be ‘special’ to the point of some magical sky fairy providing ‘ultimate’ meaning to your life by your fawning adoration.”

    What I wish doesn’t change anything, I believe that God exists on independent grounds so I don’t need to appeal to a telos in order to justify my belief in Theism, so ends up being a strawman. It appears that it is YOU who is committing to projection

    You say “I feel I am just like everyone else,”

    Makes no sense, how could you feel like everyone else when you just said that I think differently than you do? Obviously you don’t mean everyone else, in fact I take it that you wouldn’t include a good number of Theists

    You say “ though each of us have ways we are special. I don’t feel the emotional need to have the universe acknowledge my importance.”

    Good, then you admit to being a purposeless conglomeration of matter, yes? Hence you have no ultimate goal to fulfill, and no obligation to meet.

    You say “ You emotionally wish for ‘ultimate’ meaning and an eternity of afterlife. I rationally recognize neither is demonstrated.”

    I didn’t realize I needed to, YOU my friend are on the hotseat, not me. Remember my first statement:

    IF Theism is false, why should we consider Aronra’s ethical theory? He begs the question against moral nihilism and other ethical theories that promote moral skepticism. Why is it that you are trying to put this on me? I thought you were so happy with your position on the nature of reality? Wouldn’t you be just as happy defending it? All I see from you is constant appeals to wishful thinking and emotion.

    Again I’ll ask this question, are you more significant to the universe than a cockroach? Yes or no?

    You say “ Meta-Ethics can make for interesting philosophical discussions,”

    Which is what we are doing now

    You say “ but it does not provide an answer.”

    I never said it did, I’ve been using the reasoning of ‘inference to the best explanation’.

    You say “None of your speculations about ‘ultimate’ can be demonstrated”

    Really, where would you like me to start? As I stated before, I’m not even arguing for Theism, hence I’m asking you secularists why nihilism is false, given the proposition that Theism is not true. So far I’ve seen nothing but emotional arguments and meaningless banter. My purpose here is simple, why should we all be secular humanists if it is the case that Theism is false? Why deny moral skepticism? Right now you and your other secular humanist friends just beg the question against moral skepticism, so I’d like some intelligent reasons on why moral skepticism is more likely to be false than true, unless however, you are NOT a secular humanist.

    You say “Since you are arguing for moral ontology, please demonstrate with actual evidence exactly what ‘grounds morality’ in your opinion.”

    Only if you concede to the fact that Secular humanism provides NO REASONS on why one ‘ought’ to follow their ethical theory, hence there is NO EVIDENCE for it being the rational position, and that moral skepticism SHOULD be considered if Theism true. Once you do that, then I’ll then argue for Theism. I could easily argue for why God makes more sense than any *naturedidit* brand of make-believe we are special conglomerations of matter ethical theory, but I’m not doing that until my ORIGINAL topic is done and over with. Once I see the concession then I’ll argue for why Theism > Naturedidit. If I see evasion, then there is no point in me continuing with this discussion.

    ty

  11. 11
    Cornell

    @ Micheal Brew

    “Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we don’t know anything.”

    I’m talking about JUSTIFICATION here regarding epistemological insight

    “ Through quite a bit of study, we have found and catalogued specific flaws in how the brain perceives the world, in terms of bias, optical illusions, etc. The only reason we’re able to do this is because we have means of determining what reality generally is versus our perception. This is why we can make accurate predictions about the outcomes of events we’ve never attempted based on observation and theory.”

    But now you are appealing to studies, but yet you’ve given no evidence on why we should trust these studies given the fact that our cognitive faculties are unreliable. How do I know that I’m not being deceived whilst reading these studies? How can one trust their memory recalling the right information at the right time, when in fact you just stated before that our cognitive faculties have been shown to be unreliable?

    “I see this as akin to when a theist tells me that if I want to disbelieve in whatever deity in which they believe, I need to prove their god doesn’t exist.”

    This has nothing to do with theism, it’s a question of skepticism, the theist has to deal with this question as well.

    “ That’s a shifting of the burden of proof.”

    Umm how would I have the burden of proof, given the fact that Aronra is claiming that every brand of moral skepticism is false, hence he is a secular humanist.

    My goal here was simple, even if, for arguments sake I concede to the proposition that Theism is false, why should I be a secular humanist instead of a moral nihilist or any brand of moral skepticism for that matter. I don’t see why I have the proof when it is the case that Aronra is making the positive claim here. I mean he is a secular humanist right?

    “Every piece of evidence we have points to this being reality, though as said above there are acknowledged gaps in our perception that we must at times work around. If what we perceive as reality, however, is not reality, then you need to explain how we would determine this to be the case. If we can’t, then why act as if this isn’t reality? If you can find something that we can perceive is inconsistent with what should be expected, then we can consider that our perception is inaccurate, but even here we cannot apply it universally based on a single situation. This kind of thing is little but mental masturbation.”

    Your response is entirely circular You are being asked to demonstrate the existence of the physical world and you are trying to use the physical world to demonstrate it. You’ve therefore assumed the existence of the very thing you are being asked to demonstrate. This is what is referred to as Begging the question you are starting with a premise that the external world is real by already presupposing the fact that it is real and then coming to a conclusion that it is real.

    “Cool story, bro, but it should first be established that this story only establishes a reasonable basis for believing that Sam’s cognitive faculties have been compromised. “

    Thanks Brah, but you just said before that our cognitive faculties have been shown to be unreliable, I asked you when you can recognize this and you didn’t really give me a good response so are you retreating from this point now?

    “Why should you believe that yours have, as well? Simply rationally concluding that a belief you once had is incorrect also doesn’t mean that every belief you have is incorrect. It could mean that, but until there’s a reason to believe it, it would be irrational to act as if that were the case. The claim that all our perceptions of reality are wrong is an outstanding claim, and those require outstanding evidence. The onus is upon the claimant to provide that evidence.”

    Why do they require outstanding evidence? Why should we believe that the default position entails our perceptions of reality are indeed not illusions? You need to give me an argument for this, so far all you’ve done here is given an assertion, well this assertions needs to be backed up with reasoning.

    “The assumption that our perceptions are correct is the default position. That is to say, we have no rational reason to believe that our perceptions are wrong until we can find evidence that they are.”

    And a skeptic could just reply with:

    The assumption that our perceptions entail an illusion is the default position. That is to say, we have no rational reason to believe that our perceptions are right until we can find evidence that they are.

    You basically beg the question here again by ASSUMING our sense perception is reliable and then concluding that this must be the case. We’ll I’m sorry, but once again you commit to circular reasoning, unless however you want to admit to having beliefs that are ‘self-evident’ though you cannot give evidence for this belief. Which is fine, but I’m unsure if that was where you were going

    “We have found evidence in certain cases, and the way we do this is commonly by testing and finding ways in which we can fool people, and inconsistencies in expectations versus outcomes. Experimentation has also produced satisfying theories on why our brains work in this fashion. Therefore, we can conclude that in these specific circumstances our perceptions are unreliable. ”

    The testing itself relies on the ASSUMPTION that the senses are working properly and that the universe is rationally intelligible, could you please provide evidence for these assumptions?

    “The reason the probability is low for other things we empirically know is because we’ve established that predictions match outcomes consistently, and various methods of experimenting produces the same results (for instance, you can prove the age of a tree through radiometric dating, counting rings in the trunk, counting branch whorls, measuring the trunk, etc.).”

    Wait a minute so are you conceding to Premise 1 now? Is the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable = low or = high? Are you with Patricia Churchland or are you with W.V.O Quine?

    “Alternatively, any proposal that you could come up with to explain why these observations might still be unreliable lead to a violation of Occam’s Razor, relying on fantastic scenarios like our brains hooked up to a jar with some presumed method of creating an incredibly realistic illusion that is indistinguishable from actual reality. There’s no reason to assume this without evidence.”

    Occam’s Razor still relies on the assumption that the senses are working properly, so I’m afraid that you will not get far here. Well no it’s not. Skepticism is the default position! Why? Well because anything believed needs a REASON for being believed. You cannot just start with the conclusion you want. Well, you can but then you’re not a serious thinker if you do – and certainly have not taken philosophy seriously at all (Not stating this on you in particular, just in general). Okay – if you’re starting with observable things then you are starting with the senses as your tool for discerning what is real and what is not yes? But just before you said that your senses HAVE deceived you.

    “I was specifically thinking of Descartes when I said that, yes. Really, though, even if most theists don’t think this is the case, the idea that the world we see is an illusion and that there is some “more real” world out there that we can’t see seems to be a central conceit of most religions. In fact, it is exactly the kind argument that I hear most theists make to me when they try to convince me that I should believe in god.”

    Descartes never came to the conclusion that the world is an illusion, he was just using what is referred to as hyberbolic skepticism. So even though he doubted the external world he never came to the CONCLUSION that the external world was an illusion, his purpose was all about JUSTICIATION.

    “So what” is my point, exactly. Why should we assume that these fantastic claims are true without any reason? We can only act based on what is evident.”

    To a solipsist this isn’t a fantastic claim, if you are so comfortable with your position to assert a solipsist living with a fantastic claim then I expect some good reasons to follow on why he is wrong.

    “I don’t see how a terrorist or rapist suffers if they don’t commit heinous acts toward others.”

    So you don’t think that there are terrorists or rapists entails a sort of sadism type of behavior?

    “There’s a difference between what “pain” may result in not being allowed to do something because it will cause others harm. Further, a part of finding a reality-based morality is recognizing that there are rarely ideal solutions, and one must prioritize. In this case, the negative effect on the victim is going to be worse if the perp commits his or her act than the effect will be on the perp if he or she does not (and, in the case of the terrorist, more people will suffer those negative effects). “

    But what model are we using to discern HOW MUCH pain and suffering one is inflicting? What is the checklist that we use here as a sort of crystal ball?

    “As for your other point… I suppose if we found an alternate reality in which humans (or whatever sentient species) had to commit rape in order to continue the species and the rape victim didn’t mind and all the negative stuff that makes rape bad here were not the case there, then it may not be immoral. The thing is, though, that’s not this reality.”

    What makes it negative? What exactly is ‘negative’?

    “Objective morality isn’t some cut-and-dry “this particular act is inherently bad.” It’s based on whatever reality we happen to inhabit, and in this one rape is bad because of the particular effects it has in this reality.”

    I know that

    “Don’t know how to make it any clearer. I just said that objective morality is prescriptive, but that prescription is based on the descriptive (i.e. reality).”

    Umm ok, that still make no sense. Objective morality would tell us how things “OUGHT” to be, not what ‘Is’

    If giving to the needy entails a moral fact then I ‘ought’ to give to the needy.

    Part 1

  12. 12
    Cornell

    @Micheal Brew

    Part 2

    “It’s not often clear as to what the most beneficial ways to live are. Sometimes natural urges come into conflict, and we need to reason which one is [i]really[/i] the one that trumps the other. Why it matters that we live beneficially and why it matters whether or not we exist is simply because most humans naturally desire that. You may complain that this is based on emotion, but when it comes down to it the urge to survive is a reality that we as humans can rarely get around, so we just have to… well… live with it.”

    Then you just conceded your statement which talked about terrorism = bringing an X amount of suffering, for all you know the long term effect could be different.

    Just living with it doesn’t do it for me either, I need some REASONS on why I ought to follow your ethical theory

    Secular ethicsare just as much assertions and so a claim to knowledge as is the assertion of theistic ethics ( Hence BOTH require evidence according to be epistemologically rational.

    “Yes, because as a reasonable human being I recognize that the universe isn’t always fair, and sometimes short term suffering is required to maintain long term happiness. This doesn’t prove a problem for objective morality because this is still based on actual consequences in actual reality.”

    But you just said before:

    “:It’s not often clear as to what the most beneficial ways to live are”

    So this conflicts with what you just said. On the one hand it’s not clear as to what the most beneficial ways to live are, but on the other hand sometimes short term suffering is required to maintain long term happiness. Well this doesn’t make sense if we can’t tell what the most beneficial way to live is.

    “It’s the most basic emotional justification, yes. Do you think that’s a problem? As explained above, this kind of thing is a reality with which humans have to deal. That’s what morality is for. I would agree, as I stated above, that suffering is permissible if it leads to greater happiness, but that kind of thing must be weighed on a case by case basis, based on the specific circumstances. You seem to be concerned that we don’t always know if a decision will lead to a beneficial consequence. I agree that it’s a risk when trying to figure out what reality is. Sometimes we’re wrong. Thanks to rationality and not having some deity (or whomever) hand down its own subjective, fixed morals, we can adjust when we find that our actions have not been as moral as we originally thought.”

    I’m sorry, but I’m not persuaded by emotional thinking, for all I know you could deny God’s existence based on the fact that you just don’t want to live in a universe where there is a God.

    “I don’t know for sure. Human beings have been struggling with that for ages, as you can see when you look back and see the constantly shifting social mores throughout history. Certainly, there is the possibility for an ideal world to come about in which all humans are able to make decisions that will not cause anyone any suffering and will generally increase happiness, though even in this ideal world there would still most likely be things beyond people’s control like natural disasters and individuals who are simply unable to make the correct moral decisions (like children or those who are not neurotypical in certain ways). Asking for a checklist would be an undertaking of a lifetime, of course, because given that I’m basing my morality on observed reality, and the situations I find in reality are vastly complex, such a checklist would undoubtedly take up several volumes of hardback and still not be completely comprehensive.”

    Well then I can’t follow your ethical theory hence it is impossible to calculate the consequences of our actions, for we cannot conceivably predict the full extent to which our actions impact events in the future. And if it is impossible for us to do something, we do not have an obligation to do it.

    “I said “general” for a reason. It’s generally wrong to lie, but in specific situations (again, based on objective reality) it can be morally right to lie. In this case, lying to the Nazis causes the Nazis far less negative consequences than telling the truth would for the Jews. In the same way, stealing a pen would have far less negative consequences than allowing someone to die. Of course, you could give me a choice of saving either one person from death or another, which would be a real moral dilemma. In that case, I would say you’re just in a catch-22 and you should save either one, because saving one is better than saving neither (that’s assuming there’s not some other factor making one more desirable to save than the other).”

    Ok, so that example of the Jews commits to the principle of double-effect, hence we agree here. As long as you understand the difference between moral objectivism and moral rigorism (sometimes stated as moral absolutism) then we are fine here.

    “No shit.”

    Ooook, so how does this hurt moral skepticism?

    “Given that I think morality should be based on reality, I would say that the moral-realist position would fit me best.”

    Gotcha, excellence choice IMO.

    “Fair enough. I would say that the important thing is that reality-based morality is more useful than Moral Nihilism because the latter assumes things about the universe that aren’t evidentially true while the former does not. Like I said before, if the reality we perceives is indistinguishable from actual reality, then it’s best to treat is as if it is actual reality until we have reason to believe otherwise.”

    Again I’m not concerned with what is ‘useful’ just yet, and how does the latter assume things about the universe that isn’t evidentially true? How do we know that morality is not just an illusion?

    First off I see that an irreconcilable conflict between any moral demand that might be upon us (the objectivity of which is moot) and the demands of one’s well-being and there is no way to decide rationally which to follow. I agree with the Overriding Reasons Thesis (namely, that moral value always trumps prudential value) is not true, for one may have extremely strong prudential reasons for not acting morally and there seems to be no common scale in which to weigh against prudential considerations.

    I’d then argue that goodness is bound up with personhood, and without the existence of a personal God (who created all other persons), no moral values would exist, period. Without this personal God, the source of all personhood, why think that moral values should appear on the scene? Moral values and personhood are intertwined.

    “Well, yes. There are many ethical philosophies, and even many rather woo philosophies that have no account to give of a god or gods. I don’t think I’ve argued that the only two philosophies available are moral skepticism and whatever ethical philosophy theists tend toward. In fact, I know of theists who go by the same moral philosophy as me.”

    Good, for whatever it’s worth you are better at arguing for your position than dragon. Though I don’t think you agree with Theists on the fact of a Divine Command Theory so it must either be Thomistic (which I’m not sure how that would go) or something else a Theist follows.

    “That’s fine. Like I said before, just because we can’t be 100% sure of the outcome of an action doesn’t mean that there is no objective standard of morality. Our values, as I’ve also said before, come from a combination of hardcoded instincts that were necessary for our less rational ancestors to survive (where we get our universal taboos like “don’t murder”) and from culture, which may or may not have been arrived at rationally, though there was usually at one point a reason for it.”

    Went over this up above, so I will not repeat.

    “I’m going to say upfront that I always find it highly suspect when someone asks a question with only two options as answers in which either answer results in that person being right. Therefore, I’m going to attempt to answer this delicately so as not to give any false impressions by simply picking a choice.”

    If you think that this is a false dichotomy then go ahead and argue for why that is the case, it appears you do.

    “ The chain that I see basically starts from the fact that modern humans are here because they had traits that caused them to perform actions that would allow the genes that resulted in these traits to be passed on and also had traits that caused them to avoid actions which would result in the genes for those traits to not be passed on. Because of this, the vast majority of humans desire things that benefit them and avoid things that do not. Due to these desires coupled with human reason, we have been able to find those actions that (we believe, based on what we can see) are most likely to lead to beneficial consequences, and have labeled these actions “right.” Therefore, you could say that an action is right because it promotes human flourishing; however, I feel that this is inadequate because I’m not sure this is really a “this is x because y” situation. Really, I’m leaning more toward an “x=y” situation. That is, people have labeled “human flourishing” as “right,” so it’s not really that one has caused the other, but that they are practically synonymous. Then again, I’m not sure it’s wise to make a blanket statement that all actions that promote human flourishing should be labeled “right,” either, because when I label an action right I think it needs the context of the specific events to reliably apply the label.”

    But again, how do we know what is beneficial?

    I’ll also argue with this: As stated by Matthew Flanagan contemporary evolutionary psychology teaches that our basic evaluative judgments have evolved from precursors in lower primates. Evolution, however, is unconcerned with truth per se; it merely selects adaptive behaviour. As I pointed out, if God does not exist then the process evolution took is the result of numerous chance contingencies. There are a huge number of different ways evolution could have occurred.

    Each different way offers the possibility that radically different evaluative judgments of humans or any other moral agents could have emerged. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the evaluative judgments we actually ended up making, given how the evolution did occur, just happened to be objectively true; this entails that all possible judgments that could have been made just happened to be false. This is why I see a big problem here regarding a godless universe.

    “My major objection to this is that if you’re going to start saying God is actually some other thing, why not just call it that other thing? Well, the reason that I’ve found is that people don’t want to just say God is just that thing by another name, but also bundle a lot of extra properties along with it. “Goodness,” for instance, is generally understood as an abstract concept. Saying “God = goodness” is like saying “God = tallness” or “God = wetness”. I can see what you’re trying to get at, which is basically that God would never act in a way that was not good, so you could say that God’s will is synonymous with goodness; however, that’s not the same as saying that God and goodness are exactly the same things.”

    And what’s wrong with that? Should we say God = had a beginning? God = creator of the universe, but yet not the creator of the universe at the same time? Should we say God = non-omniscient, and as powerful as an art? God = dependent on air for his existence? What I’m using is a STIPULATIVE DEFINITION OF GOD and which is similar to Plato’s theory of forms regarding morality.

    Morality is an expression of the nature of God, so anything that is good is that which is consistent with God’s nature. Could God, theoretically, command something other than what He commands? Technically, perhaps, the answer is “yes”. But He will never do anything that violates His nature, so it remains an option that will never be acted upon.

    “Really, though, I think it’s better to get to the core of the issue, which is “why should I believe that there is a God?”

    Much like the reasoning I used when talking about why it’s more rational to believe that our perceptions are accurate until we have evidence otherwise, it’s also more rational to believe that there is no god until we have evidence otherwise. So far we have been unable to distinguish between our universe and one in which no God exists, so it’s safe to assume that this universe is one in which no God exists. In order for us to even begin to talk about “perfect being theology” or whether morals come from God or God follows independent morals, we really need to establish whether a God exists at all, otherwise we’re just making arguments that, sure, an atheist like myself may entertain for the fun of it, but doesn’t really get us anywhere because it’s based on the assumption that has not yet been established as true. Good luck convincing anyone on an atheist blog of that.”

    That’s fine, we can do that (argue for God) some other time or we can wait on Dragon’s concession, but just remember my first question to Aronra was:

    IF Theism is said to be false, why should we follow AronRa’s moral theory, so my intention wasn’t to argue for God. Why is nihilism false?

    As far as God following morality, this entails what is called eternal dualism, I don’t see how God needs to take a backseat to morality, I don’t see how a God who follows a moral law is EVEN WORTHY OF HAVING THE DEFINITION OF GOD.

    “I can’t define “God” or “Deity.” That’s one of the reasons I’m an atheist.”

    Wouldn’t atheism entail a concept of God that he or she lacks a belief in, or rejects the existence of? ( I think I know where you are going though, so let me read what else you have to say here)

    “No one can consistently define these terms because every single person has a different concept. Can there only be one god or many?”

    Polytheism vs Monotheism, both entail Thiesm, but I don’t see how they remain in the same category on aspects of metaphysics, ethics and epistemology. And I don’t see why Apollo would be more powerful than a Zeus, hence Zeus = the king of the Gods, though then again it appears that Zeus is contingent on some other beings existence, so I can’t see why Zeus is even necessary.

    My friend here makes a good point about why Monotheism makes more sense than Polytheism, he states that some of the properties possessed by a Maximally Great Being cannot exist in more than one being in any possible world. Omnipotence is one example. If multiple beings are omnipotent, then a logical contradiction follows if their wills come into conflict. If one omnipotent being chooses to bring about a state of affairs where a green elephant exists, then such a state of affairs will be actualized. But if another omnipotent being in the same world wants to bring about a state of affairs where a green elephant does not exist, then that state of affairs will be actualized. So in this world, a green elephant would both exist and not exist, but no possible world can contain such a contradictory state of affairs. So no possible world can have multiple omnipotent beings. Hence, there can only be one God.

    Lastly I don’t agree with your logic here, as you state because one cannot DEFINE X, this means we can’t come to a conception of X.

    Well first off When a naturalist states one cannot define God their claim is self-refuting, since by defining God as undefinable, one has engaged in an act of definition. It would be like uttering in English the sentence “I cannot speak a word of English.”

    Secondly, Your contention is that due to there being existing a plethora of theistic concepts it is more intellectually prudent not to choose at all. I simply apply this flawed logic to the fact that there exist a plethora of viable moral theories in existence which means that if we apply the same flawed logic it would mean one ought not to choose at all but rather opt out and be amoralist

    Oxford Dictionary definition of amoral:
    “lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something”

    Just some of the moral options:

    Normative ethics
    Postmodern ethics
    Consequentialist ethics
    Deontological ethics
    Relational ethics
    Rational ethics
    Pluralist ethics
    Virtue ethics
    Moral nihilism
    Hedonism
    Epicureanism
    Social Contractualism
    Stoicism
    Utilitarianism – hedonic or act or rule or ideal or another version?
    Ethical egoism

    “ Did a god create the universe or did they all emerge from it? Do the gods run the afterlife and subsequent punishment/reward system or are they also subject to it? Are they physical beings or spiritual? There are many different answers to these questions based on who you ask. The only consistent things I’ve ever found of the definition of “deity” is that it generally must be a sapient being with some power over the fundamental workings of the natural and/or supernatural world. This makes Storm from the X-Men a candidate for a deity, in fact (which she was worshipped as in her village in Africa). I’ve also heard some ascribe to pantheism, where they basically say that the universe, itself, is God. I can’t exactly say I don’t believe in this God, but I’ll continue to call it “the universe” because this tactic seems like a disingenuous attempt for someone who would otherwise be called an atheist to claim that they really aren’t by allowing the word “God” to cause other theists to bring their own preconceived notions of God as an intelligent being to it. So, yeah, in any situation in which I’m asked if I believe in a god or gods, I have to ask “which one.” And… you know… you have to be specific, because even saying “the Christian God” leaves so many alternate interpretations open that I’ll still have a hard time addressing it.”

    I’d agree that there are many concepts of God and when debating ‘God’ one should provide a definition when asked. Here is Richard Swinburne’s definition: (I believe this is a good definition)

    “I take the proposition ‘God exists’ to be logically equivalent to ‘there exists necessarily a person without a body who necessarily is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and the creator of all things’. I understand by God’s being eternal that he always has existed and always will exist. By God’s being perfectly free I understand that no object or event or state in any way causally influences him to do the actions that he does – his own choice at the moments of action alone determines what he does. By God’s being omnipotent I understand that he is able to do whatever it is logically possible that he can do. By God’s being omniscient I understand that he knows whatever it is logically possible that he know. By God’s being perfectly good I understand that he always does a morally best action, and does no morally bad action. By his being the creator of all things I understand that everything that exists at each moment of time, he makes it exist, or permits it to exist.” – Richard Swinburne……QED

    Here is my concept of God

    I hold to perfect being theology, hence in which God is defined as “A Maximally Great Being” which means that God possesses all great-making, properties such as moral perfection, knowledge, and power, and possesses each in a maximal way. He also possesses no flaws, such as immorality. He would be all-powerful, morally perfect, and all-knowing.

    Lastly, the big problem here is, even if I concede to the point where everyone has a different definition of God in which would therefore lead to having a hard time making a concept, this still doesn’t make it the case that Theism would be false and naturalism be true. IF a God existed, his existence wouldn’t depend on what humans ‘thought’ about him regarding conceptualization, in fact his existence wouldn’t even be dependent on humanities existence either.

    ty

  13. 13
    Cornell

    Edit

    “Well first off ”

    Should have stated

    “Now let me go deeper into the point regarding the conceptualization of God…Well first off”

    I also wanted to add that my support for moral values being identified with certain attributes of God would be justified by what is referred to as ‘informative identification’.

    Till next time!

    1. 13.1
      Michael Brew

      I’m going to quickly address what I see to be the most fundamental issue, here. I’m not saying that there’s no way that my perceptions are wrong, and I fully concede that I could just be living in a dream world and my actual self, whatever that is, is in some reality completely different from this one. However, because I have no way to determine whether I’m just a brain in a jar experiencing an incredibly realistic simulation or actually perceiving reality, then it’s more rational to behave as if this were actual reality. Now, starting from the basis that my perceptions are at least representative of actual reality, I can determine under what circumstances my perceptions are misleading (i.e., my memories tend to be less accurate with the passage of time, the inducement of stress, the suggestions of others, and when filtered through my own biases), and in these circumstances I will apply a greater degree of skepticism. In this way, I can practically find ways to better deal with reality as I perceive it, and won’t run into as many unexpected situations. If I were to start from the default assumption that everything I perceive is completely wrong, however, where would that get me? I could decide that hunger is just an illusion of perception and if I don’t eat I won’t die. Well, that might be the case, but since I have much perceptual data that tells me otherwise and none that tells me it’s so or even suggests that my initial perception that starvation results in death is wrong, it would be irrational for me to just stop eating because I don’t think anything bad will happen to me. I hope that’s an acceptable explanation for you as to why I find the basis of nihilism to be less rational than my own thoughts on the matter, because this is one of those things that we’re not going to get anywhere else if we can’t come to an understanding on this matter.

      1. Cornell

        @Micheal Brew

        You say “I’m going to quickly address what I see to be the most fundamental issue, here. I’m not saying that there’s no way that my perceptions are wrong, and I fully concede that I could just be living in a dream world and my actual self, whatever that is, is in some reality completely different from this one.”

        Granted, so right now we are at the same level. I also concede this as well, as I’m not completely sure that I’m not just a brain in a vat as well.

        You say “However, because I have no way to determine whether I’m just a brain in a jar experiencing an incredibly realistic simulation or actually perceiving reality, then it’s more rational to behave as if this were actual reality. Now, starting from the basis that my perceptions are at least representative of actual reality, I can determine under what circumstances my perceptions are misleading (i.e., my memories tend to be less accurate with the passage of time, the inducement of stress, the suggestions of others, and when filtered through my own biases), and in these circumstances I will apply a greater degree of skepticism. In this way, I can practically find ways to better deal with reality as I perceive it, and won’t run into as many unexpected situations. If I were to start from the default assumption that everything I perceive is completely wrong, however, where would that get me?”

        That’s one of the points, why ‘ought’ someone get somewhere to begin with?

        But I like what you’re saying, though you must realize how important ‘a priori justification’ is here
        If we didn’t start with a default assumption that everything I perceive is completely the way it is: “sometimes referred to as the principle of credulity” then where would that get us, is a good point, but this is something that is not learned from the senses directly hence it’s justification lies OUTSIDE of empiricism.

        Now at this point, I’d like to ask where you stand regarding epistemology and a priori knowledge:

        Are you a radical empiricist, which entails dismissing a priori knowledge and justification outright?

        Are you a moderate empiricist, which entails ANALYTIC a priori justification such as tautologies

        Ex: Experience is required to learn the relevant concepts involved in an a priori claim, but having grasped the concepts, you don’t need to depend on experience for their epistemic justification. Thus, I might learn 2+2=4 by having added sea shells, pebbles, apples, etc. together; but having grasped the concepts of addition, equation, 2 and 4, I don’t need experience to justify my belief that 2+2=4. I’ve never added two black swans with other two black swans to get four black swans, for example – but I don’t need to do that, in order to believe that two black swans plus two black swans equals four black swans.

        Or are you like myself, a moderate rationalist which entails a priori justification and knowledge though not in the radical sense of how Plato argued for rationalism.

        A moderate rationalist is under no obligation to make all philosophical knowledge a priori. That’s simply not necessary. Like almost all rationalists [apart from maybe Plato - as I'm sure you're aware] accept a posteriori reasoning as legitimate. There’s no problem there so long as someone sees that something more than observation is going on in the subsequent reasoned argument.

        You say “I could decide that hunger is just an illusion of perception and if I don’t eat I won’t die. Well, that might be the case, but since I have much perceptual data that tells me otherwise and none that tells me it’s so or even suggests that my initial perception that starvation results in death is wrong, it would be irrational for me to just stop eating because I don’t think anything bad will happen to me.”

        That’s fine, but I wouldn’t be talking about ‘hunger’ as a relevant example, hence ‘hunger’ is moreso a physiological need for food, and the examples I used were physical.

        You say “I hope that’s an acceptable explanation for you as to why I find the basis of nihilism to be less rational than my own thoughts on the matter, because this is one of those things that we’re not going to get anywhere else if we can’t come to an understanding on this matter.”

        That’s not really defining moral nihilism, nihilism would be definied as a reject of moral facts existing and that no moral act can be branded as moral or immoral in an objective sense. So the moral proposition:

        “Torturing babies for fun is wrong” would not be a moral truth regarding the nature of reality

        As atheist Austin Cline points out, When Nietzsche described nihilism in the descriptive sense, he basically stated that there was no longer any real substance to traditional social, political, moral, and religious values. He denied that those values had any objective validity or that they imposed any binding obligations upon us. So in conclusion Moral nihilism most certainly rejects moral realism

        When I define moral realism I use this person from academia:

        “Though there are several distinct types of moral realism, the common thread uniting them is the belief that moral facts are stance-independent. What the moral facts are, and thus which moral judgments are true, is a matter determined independently of any stance or attitude taken by an actual or idealized individual towards the relevant states of affairs in the world. Realists believe the moral facts inherent in the nature of things…observers do not create the moral facts, but instead correctly mirror a moral order that exists independently of their deliberations or responses.”

        - Russ Shafer-Landau

        Anyways you’re a good man Micheal, hope to see you again in the future. You are definitely not a village atheist either.

        Ty

  14. 14
    dragon

    @Cornell

    You really don’t understand moral ontology, those people WERE DEISTS hence they listed the FOUNDATION of morality being = to a GOD, which actually makes sense

    Deism says no such thing. Deism rejects all revelation and dogma, and instead the creator gave humans the ability to reason. In Deism the creator does not intervene in any way. In Deism morality comes from reason. You probably recognize that many Christians of the time called Deists atheists.

    I never said it was religious, Deism is not a religion so this is a strawman

    You implied that Divine Right would not be rejected by Deists and Theists. Which is exactly the opposite of what really happened. The Declaration is, in fact, a denunciation of Divine Right, specifically the right of King George. I clarified that divine right is actually more a political statement and therefore there was no conflict.

    CREATED equal = CREATED BY a God, therefore they still held to Deism or even a generic Theism as their JUSTIFICATION for a moral foundation. So I don’t see how this helps your point at all. In fact all you did was bolster mine. Without Theism your moral foundations entail your feet being planted firmly in mid-air.

    Wrong. The signors never stated who created humans, which could be their parents. That is because to deists, the creator of humans would be nature, the natural world. That the creator of the universe does not interfere but could be known only by reason and the evidence from nature.

    That’s fine, as I stated before a terrorist or a rapist could find value as well. What I’d like to hear is IF this value is subjective (which I’d concede to) or is this value intrinsic value, to which we could say you are objectively valuable

    Partly subjective. That is demonstrated by morals having changed over time. Such as slavery and womens rights. And likely partly objective as coded into our genes by nature. That is demonstrated by nearly every culture having a version of the golden rule.

    What I wish doesn’t change anything, I believe that God exists on independent grounds so I don’t need to appeal to a telos in order to justify my belief in Theism, so ends up being a strawman. It appears that it is YOU who is committing to projection.

    You were the one that kept using ‘ultimate meaning’ (in various linguistic forms). So please, please, provide your data for why there is ‘ultimate’ meaning provided by your theistic god beyond wishful thinking.

    You say “I feel I am just like everyone else,”
    Makes no sense, how could you feel like everyone else when you just said that I think differently than you do? Obviously you don’t mean everyone else, in fact I take it that you wouldn’t include a good number of Theists

    You were discussing how ‘special’ you felt I must be feeling. I was stating the equality of all humans. Not that we all think exactly alike. Read for comprehension please.

    Good, then you admit to being a purposeless conglomeration of matter, yes? Hence you have no ultimate goal to fulfill, and no obligation to meet.

    Asked and answered already. I have purpose and goals and obligations. They just are not to imbued by Allah or Zeus.

    I didn’t realize I needed to, YOU my friend are on the hotseat, not me.

    Oh goodie, you resort to Pascal’s Wager. Why are you not on the hot seat to meet the ultimate requirements to enter Valhala? Once you answer that question, you will understand.

    Remember my first statement:
    IF Theism is false, why should we consider Aronra’s ethical theory? He begs the question against moral nihilism and other ethical theories that promote moral skepticism.

    Aronra’s ethical theory is not moral nihilism. It is very different than moral nihilism. Thus, the fallacy of ‘begging the question’ does not apply. Instead, you are trying to claim it is nihilism and arguing against that, which is a strawman.

    Why is it that you are trying to put this on me?

    Because you offered your points against your strawman. You mischaracterize Aronra, and fail to recognize your own fallacies. That is why I am putting this on you.

    I thought you were so happy with your position on the nature of reality? Wouldn’t you be just as happy defending it? All I see from you is constant appeals to wishful thinking and emotion.

    I am defending it from your mischaracterizations. Why can’t you debate honestly?

    Again I’ll ask this question, are you more significant to the universe than a cockroach? Yes or no?

    That sir, is begging the question. The universe has no demonstrated method to provide significance. There can be no answer to that question without accepting the undemonstrated premise that the universe cares.

    I never said it did, I’ve been using the reasoning of ‘inference to the best explanation’.

    Then, please by all means, account for all the reliable data if Theism is true. Explain why Theism supported slavery and racism and killing people for picking up sticks on the wrong day. Explain why morals changed over time. Explain why theists occupy our prisons in larger percentages than in the general population.

    Really, where would you like me to start?

    Please, start wherever you wish. It is your argument, not mine. Just please start providing points for your position.

    As I stated before, I’m not even arguing for Theism, hence I’m asking you secularists why nihilism is false, given the proposition that Theism is not true. So far I’ve seen nothing but emotional arguments and meaningless banter.

    Nihilism exists, we can see it in psychopathy. But most people have empathy, which makes sense in light of evolution, and they are not nihilists. A few ‘cheaters’ (psychopaths) also makes sense, as documented in “The Selfish Gene”.
    So why would I argue that a reasonably small percentage (though larger than the general population) of CEOs are not in fact nihilists when that has been demonstrated.

    My purpose here is simple, why should we all be secular humanists if it is the case that Theism is false?

    I make no claim that we should all be secular humanists, only that it is a better alternative than that we have priests/mystics/omans who claim personal revelation tell us what morality entails. When they have proven to disagree amongst themselves. When historically they endorsed slavery, rape, stoning for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, racism, burning heretics, and so many other acts that we now see as immoral. I claim that reason and empathy is better. Not perfect.

    Why deny moral skepticism?

    I neither accept nor deny moral skepticism. I accept that reason and empathy provide the only morality we actually know. The problem with moral skepticism is that it entails no one has moral knowledge. Humans have knowledge of morals, it just is not absolute. You can’t think outside the “absolute” box. Thus you keep trying to push me into a corner where I do not belong.

    Right now you and your other secular humanist friends just beg the question against moral skepticism, so I’d like some intelligent reasons on why moral skepticism is more likely to be false than true, unless however, you are NOT a secular humanist.

    Get outside your ‘absolutist’ box. I will not accept your strawman, as that is not what any of us have been arguing.

    Only if you concede to the fact that Secular humanism provides NO REASONS on why one ‘ought’ to follow their ethical theory, hence there is NO EVIDENCE for it being the rational position, and that moral skepticism SHOULD be considered if Theism true. Once you do that, then I’ll then argue for Theism.

    So, you refuse to argue for your view unless I accept your strawman which is the opposite to what I have argued. That is not an honest debate tactic.

    I could easily argue for why God makes more sense than any *naturedidit* brand of make-believe we are special conglomerations of matter ethical theory, but I’m not doing that until my ORIGINAL topic is done and over with. Once I see the concession then I’ll argue for why Theism > Naturedidit. If I see evasion, then there is no point in me continuing with this discussion.

    Another dishonest tactic. You must know that you aren’t going to convince me to accept your strawmen. And thus will always claim that your original topic is not done. Just so you will never have to show your cards.
    On the other hand, I also know that I will not convince you to relinquish your ‘absolutism’. Instead we are debating to influence the audience.
    You refuse to argue for your point of view unless I betray my stated position. I accept your capitulation that you will never get to your arguments. Have a nice life.

  15. 15
    Cornell

    @Dragon

    “Deism says no such thing. Deism rejects all revelation and dogma, and instead the creator gave humans the ability to reason. In Deism the creator does not intervene in any way. In Deism morality comes from reason. You probably recognize that many Christians of the time called Deists atheists.”

    Deism most certainly asserts that moral values are founded in a God as a moral foundation, pace Immanuel Kant. You don’t have to have revelation or dogma to discern this, hence it is common sense. I know of NO Deist that would ever state the fact that a God exists, but yet morals are independent of this God’s existence. This is philosophy of religion 101

    “You implied that Divine Right would not be rejected by Deists and Theists. Which is exactly the opposite of what really happened. The Declaration is, in fact, a denunciation of Divine Right, specifically the right of King George. I clarified that divine right is actually more a political statement and therefore there was no conflict.”

    That’s pure nonsense, how could someone be a Deist and deny moral realism being grounded in God? That just begs the question on the fact that if a God existed, eternal dualism would be correct, I’m pretty sure that these Deists weren’t talking about the God Plato believed in. Well the simpler solution would be bringing up the obvious fact that ‘Rights come from God’ not government.

    For support:

    “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” (The Works of John Adams, ed. by Charles Francis Adams, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851, Vol. 6, pp. 9 and 280)

    “Wrong. The signors never stated who created humans, which could be their parents. That is because to deists, the creator of humans would be nature, the natural world. That the creator of the universe does not interfere but could be known only by reason and the evidence from nature.”

    No actually I’m right and you make no sense, if we go by your reasoning then we state created by their parents who were created by…what? Well a little knowledge in philosophy would point out that we couldn’t use this methodology ad-infinitum, hence humans are not eternal, so what’s the stopping point? You really should just ditch your anti-theistic dogma and concede this point, I’m afraid you are only making things worse for yourself.

    “Partly subjective. That is demonstrated by morals having changed over time. Such as slavery and womens rights. And likely partly objective as coded into our genes by nature. That is demonstrated by nearly every culture having a version of the golden rule.”

    That doesn’t mean morals are partly subjective, as that could mean people think there are moral facts, but yet disagree on what exactly they are. And if every culture has a version of the golden rule, well then that is a moral fact about the nature of reality, hence subjectivism is false. There only needs to be ONE moral fact for moral objectivism to be true. So thanks for the help there!

    “You were the one that kept using ‘ultimate meaning’ (in various linguistic forms). So please, please, provide your data for why there is ‘ultimate’ meaning provided by your theistic god beyond wishful thinking.”

    It’s easy, look around do people ACT as if their lives are completely meaningless? It appears that this is either something innate or that we are all living a noble lie thanks to a purposeless blind watchmaker.

    “You were discussing how ‘special’ you felt I must be feeling. I was stating the equality of all humans. Not that we all think exactly alike. Read for comprehension please.”

    Ummm, this is either backpedalling or you making a statement that just refuted your above statement. I could read for comprehension if you actually made sense, and stuck to the arguments that resided in academia, but it seems as if you are just flip-flopping all over the place everytime you get refuted you change the goal post. So what’s next? Are you going to admit that moral realism is true, but yet morals are partly subjective? Oh wait you already did that.

    “Asked and answered already. I have purpose and goals and obligations. They just are not to imbued by Allah or Zeus.”

    Well since Zeus was brought into existence from another God by the name of Cronus and is contingent upon his existence, I’d highly doubt Zeus is the necessary being that entails being essentially omnipotent, omniscient and moral perfection.

    Though “allah’ which is the Arabic word “God’ that could be stated by any Theist who is Arabic makes more sense. At least now we are going somewhere, but I’m afraid to say all I see from you is this line of reasoning:

    “I feel like I have a purpose, therefore I have a purpose’

    Well that’s very cute Dragon, I’m glad that you feel as if you are special, but what exactly justifies this besides emotional reasons?

    “Oh goodie, you resort to Pascal’s Wager. Why are you not on the hot seat to meet the ultimate requirements to enter Valhala? Once you answer that question, you will understand.”

    Wait what? What in the world does Pascal’s Wager have to do with this? LOL You seriously need to stop resorting to knee-jerk reactions as they are making you look painfully ignorant.

    I mean that as the burden of proof is on you to persuade me on the fact that if Theism is false, then secular humanism makes more sense than moral nihilism. So argue for it

    And I need reading comprehension, ROFL

    “Aronra’s ethical theory is not moral nihilism. It is very different than moral nihilism. Thus, the fallacy of ‘begging the question’ does not apply. Instead, you are trying to claim it is nihilism and arguing against that, which is a strawman.”

    /facepalm

    Wow do I seriously repeat myself, maybe caps will help

    STRAAAWMAN, I KNOW ARONRA IS NOT A MORAL NIHLIST, I NEVER SAID HE WAS, BUT GUESS WHAT IF MORAL NIHILISM IS TRUE, THEN HIS VIEW ON ETHICS IS FALSE, SO WHY IS HIS VIEW ON ETHICS MORE LIKELY TO BE TRUE?

    “Because you offered your points against your strawman. You mischaracterize Aronra, and fail to recognize your own fallacies. That is why I am putting this on you.”

    You fail to understand my intent, because you are not thinking clearly and you constantly project. We can’t go anywhere until you pick the straw out of your teeth.

    “I am defending it from your mischaracterizations. Why can’t you debate honestly?”

    Pot calling the kettle black here, why don’t you read what I say, instead of what you want me to say and then we can talk about honesty. I mean is this is a case of ‘lying for nature’?

    “That sir, is begging the question. The universe has no demonstrated method to provide significance. There can be no answer to that question without accepting the undemonstrated premise that the universe cares.”

    How is that begging the question, when I offered you two conclusions that you can use? In fact I didn’t even answer the question for you, so there is nothing circular here.

    I mean seriously buy yourself a book in logic and argumentation before I laugh myself to death from all this ignorance.

    Anyways YES OR NO, it appears that you’re saying no here, but I just want to be sure

    “Then, please by all means, account for all the reliable data if Theism is true. Explain why Theism supported slavery and racism and killing people for picking up sticks on the wrong day. Explain why morals changed over time. Explain why theists occupy our prisons in larger percentages than in the general population.”

    Whoa wait a minute are you saying that slavery is OBJECTIVELY wrong, or is it partially subjective because morals change over time? I can’t answer this until I understand your strange inconsistent view on ethics.

    “Please, start wherever you wish. It is your argument, not mine. Just please start providing points for your position.”

    Ok did you read up above on my point about naturalism + evolution entailing the fact that we have good reason to doubt the reliability of our cognitive faculties? Well how would you answer that? You are a naturalist right?

    “Nihilism exists, we can see it in psychopathy. But most people have empathy, which makes sense in light of evolution, and they are not nihilists. A few ‘cheaters’ (psychopaths) also makes sense, as documented in “The Selfish Gene”.

    So why would I argue that a reasonably small percentage (though larger than the general population) of CEOs are not in fact nihilists when that has been demonstrated. “

    I don’t care about people’s psychological beliefs, I care about what best corresponds to reality. This is question of ontology here, hence pointing out a small portion of our population is pointless. What I’m arguing for is INDEPENDENT OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK. I’m talking about an OBJECTIVE purpose to our existence along with the point on whether or not moral facts can exist given philosophical naturalism.

    “I make no claim that we should all be secular humanists, only that it is a better alternative than that we have priests/mystics/omans who claim personal revelation tell us what morality entails. When they have proven to disagree amongst themselves. When historically they endorsed slavery, rape, stoning for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, racism, burning heretics, and so many other acts that we now see as immoral. I claim that reason and empathy is better. Not perfect.”

    Really, so what’s this goal that humanity is striving for, can you please for the umpteenth time provide an example?

    Are we doing this for mother nature?

    “I neither accept nor deny moral skepticism. I accept that reason and empathy provide the only morality we actually know. The problem with moral skepticism is that it entails no one has moral knowledge. Humans have knowledge of morals, it just is not absolute. You can’t think outside the “absolute” box. Thus you keep trying to push me into a corner where I do not belong.”

    Makes no sense, you have to be either/or here as you can’t deny both, nor hold to both at the same time. I guess I’ll ask you this again, and then we can come to a conclusion on what your actually position on ethics is

    Is slavery objectively wrong? Yes or no?

    “Get outside your ‘absolutist’ box. I will not accept your strawman, as that is not what any of us have been arguing.”

    I’m not a moral absolutist, so it is you who commit to a strawman here.

    “So, you refuse to argue for your view unless I accept your strawman which is the opposite to what I have
    argued. That is not an honest debate tactic.”

    Actually if you have been following, my whole point was to address the fact that secular humanism fails even if Theism is false. Please learn to follow a conversation.

    If God does not exist, then prudential reason and moral reason can and often do come into conflict, in which case there is no reason to act morally rather than in one’s self-interest. Explain to me why this is false, how is your beloved humanism going to answer this one?

    “Another dishonest tactic. You must know that you aren’t going to convince me to accept your strawmen. And thus will always claim that your original topic is not done. Just so you will never have to show your cards.
    On the other hand, I also know that I will not convince you to relinquish your ‘absolutism’. Instead we are debating to influence the audience.

    You refuse to argue for your point of view unless I betray my stated position. I accept your capitulation that you will never get to your arguments. Have a nice life.”

    Again I’m going to say ‘pot calling the kettle black here’

    Is this some sort of guilty conscience I see?

    Well now I’m going to rip your worthless ’lying to nature’ reply to shreds:

    First off you have never actually stated a position that makes any logical sense, so even if I concede to the point where you stated a position, it is completely inconsistent with anything that is seen in academia. So I’ll take it that you are definitely a layman who needs to learn a bit of ethical philosophy.

    Secondly I’m not a moral absolutist so please stop playing devil’s advocate to Joel Olsteen Bible-Belt theology and start reading arguments from academia. You might have noticed the part where I stated I’m not a moral rigorist, this might lend you a clue, but then again you are just a layman. (which isn’t a bad thing, but you are indeed a philosophical naïve layman)

    Lastly if you can’t debate when I’m stating then I will conclude that you are afraid, hence why you can’t stay on topic and continue to misrepresent my intent. I guess you just need handicaps for your position, hence the constant misunderstandings of mine.

    In conclusion Dragon failed to provide INTELLECTUAL reasons on why secularism is superior to moral nihilism, all I saw was EMOTIONAL bantering such as:

    “Well I feel special, so this must be the case that I’m special’

    Again let me leave off with this beautiful quote:

    “If intrinsic value does not exist from the outset, its emergence from non-valuable processes is difficult to explain. It doesn’t matter how many non-personal and non-valuable components we happen to stack up: from valuelessness, valuelessness comes.”

    – Paul Copan

    QED

    Looks like ‘NATUREDIDIT’ fails again folks!

    1. 15.1
      dragon

      @Cornell

      No actually I’m right and you make no sense, if we go by your reasoning then we state created by their parents who were created by…what? Well a little knowledge in philosophy would point out that we couldn’t use this methodology ad-infinitum, hence humans are not eternal, so what’s the stopping point?

      The point is that your so called philosophy fails in its own assumptions. The assumption that we need an eternal end point. That has never been demonstrated. We know from proven science that humans came from earlier hominids and that there was never a clear dividing line where any parent gave birth to a different species, yet speciation occurred over many generations. And yes, I am familiar with the Kalam Cosmological Argument and find it to be specious.
      You seem to be arguing using Descartes’ Meditation III. Because you can imagine a perfect being, that idea must ‘come’ from somewhere else outside your mind. You can imagine a perfect bowl of ice cream, delicious, non-fattening, and endless. And since you are not a perfect bowl of ice cream yourself, that thought must have been put into your head by the perfect bowl of ice cream. Hence a perfect bowl of ice cream must exist.
      Or perhaps you imagine a perfect celestial tea pot, orbiting somewhere outside the asteroid belt. Its unmarred exterior perfectly glazed and with amazing refractive indices which make it sparkle with endless variations of reflected light. Its interior filled with an ambrosia beyond words to describe. That celestial tea pot must exist, because it could not merely be the product of the human mind.
      Or perhaps you imagine a perfect fairie creature. One who aids humanity without ever being seen. Who cavorts with nature’s creatures in a beautiful ballet and who sings better than Eminem. That fairie must exist in reality because you imagine it and it could not merely be the product of the human mind.
      The problem is the assumption that Descartes’ mind is incapable of this level of imagination. I realized this debilitating error in Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy when I first read it in 9th grade. On the other hand, I found Meditation I did indeed prove beyond any doubt I exist (but not Descartes). That doesn’t make me ‘special’, it just means the proof doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone else.
      The human mind is quite capable of recognizing humanities limitations and imagining an anthropomorphic idea that removed those limitations. Likewise, the human mind is capable of recognizing the limitations of current morality and imagining a morality that would cause less suffering. And Philosophy has been debating the exact form of that better morality for thousands of years with no actual resolution. Is it always wrong to kill? Is it always wrong to lie/bear false witness? Is it always wrong to renege on a vow? Each of those has scenarios where we humans recognize exceptions. Protecting someone’s life, surprise parties, and vows made under false pretenses/coercion/where the circumstances change radically.

      That doesn’t mean morals are partly subjective, as that could mean people think there are moral facts, but yet disagree on what exactly they are. And if every culture has a version of the golden rule, well then that is a moral fact about the nature of reality, hence subjectivism is false. There only needs to be ONE moral fact for moral objectivism to be true. So thanks for the help there!

      Some people do indeed think there are moral facts and the sum of all humanity do indeed disagree on exactly what they are. So you just accepted that they are, at least partly, subjective.
      Next you change my wording of ‘nearly every culture’ to ‘every culture’. Was that an error, or dishonest? And even then it does not necessarily become a ‘moral fact about the nature of reality’, it could just be that it is humanity’s perception of the nature of reality. In your discussions with michaelbrew you are arguing that our perceptions may not be trustworthy. And here you are arguing that it is a ‘moral fact’ even if our perceptions are faulty, or you would not have concluded ‘hence subjectivism is false’. Your perception of my helping you is flawed.
      Indeed, you are still caught in your own trap of absolutism. You, or perhaps just your arguments, cannot accept that there may be shades of grey between totally subjective and totally objective. And I just keep proving that there are shades of grey. Even in your own arguments.

      It’s easy, look around do people ACT as if their lives are completely meaningless? It appears that this is either something innate or that we are all living a noble lie thanks to a purposeless blind watchmaker.

      You are blinded by your absolutism again. Try to grasp your mind around that idea that people can find meaning in their own lives. We can still have meaning to those around us without caring if the life forms on Eridani V take note of our existence. We can have meaning without caring if the space faring descendants of Earth based life remember us 7 billion years from now. And we can still have meaning in our lives even if no anthropomorphic deity will judge us after our brains cease to function. It just isn’t ‘ultimate’ or ‘intrinsic’ or ‘eternal’ meaning, those things you keep bringing up but fail to demonstrate regardless of how often I ask you to demonstrate them.

      Well since Zeus was brought into existence from another God by the name of Cronus and is contingent upon his existence, I’d highly doubt Zeus is the necessary being that entails being essentially omnipotent, omniscient and moral perfection.

      What evidence do you have that there is a necessary omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being? The failed Kalam Cosmological Argument? William Lane Craig keeps talking about it, but in my opinion his arguments are specious and vapid.

      “I feel like I have a purpose, therefore I have a purpose’
      Well that’s very cute Dragon, I’m glad that you feel as if you are special, but what exactly justifies this besides emotional reasons?

      Pure dishonesty. You placed in quotes something that I did not say. If you want to reinterpret what I said, you sir, do not ever, ever put it in quotes. I am sure that any valid academia would have taught you that. Which begs the question of where you believe you were educated.
      I don’t need justification from some un-evidenced anthropomorphic imaginary being. Why do you?

      “Oh goodie, you resort to Pascal’s Wager. Why are you not on the hot seat to meet the ultimate requirements to enter Valhala? Once you answer that question, you will understand.”
      Wait what? What in the world does Pascal’s Wager have to do with this? LOL You seriously need to stop resorting to knee-jerk reactions as they are making you look painfully ignorant.

      Hmm, perhaps I misunderstood your reference to the ‘hotseat’, in the context of your claim for eternal purpose. I was thinking you meant god’s judgement. And that would be a form of Pascal’s Wager. Given your following clarification, I withdraw the reference to Pascal.
      If you were instead claiming that I was on some hotseat of the audience, then sir your claim that you are not on the hotseat would not logically follow. You have yet to show any evidence.

      I mean that as the burden of proof is on you to persuade me on the fact that if Theism is false, then secular humanism makes more sense than moral nihilism. So argue for it.

      As I have already pointed out, I have no need to persuade you. I have stated we are arguing to the audience. Thus, the burden of proof is on both of us. I have demonstrated your dishonesty and lack of foundation. And so far you have just misinterpreted my arguments and resorted to insults. You have yet to show any evidence.

      How is that begging the question, when I offered you two conclusions that you can use? In fact I didn’t even answer the question for you, so there is nothing circular here.

      You offered me two false conclusions. I demonstrated that both are false (in that they are not demonstrable), that neither is what I have ever argued, and that either false conclusion presupposes an ‘absolute’. That sir is begging the question, specifically due to that presupposition. And that presupposition creates the circular argument. To whit, presupposing an absolute means that you will find an absolute in the conclusion. How can you claim that is not circular?
      This limitation to two false conclusions is what I mean every time I describe you as ‘absolutist’.

      I mean seriously buy yourself a book in logic and argumentation before I laugh myself to death from all this ignorance.

      I could lend you some, but they are physical not digital.

      Anyways YES OR NO, it appears that you’re saying no here, but I just want to be sure

      I am saying your presupposition is false and leads to a false dichotomy. There are many other possibilities that you refuse to acknowledge.

      Whoa wait a minute are you saying that slavery is OBJECTIVELY wrong, or is it partially subjective because morals change over time? I can’t answer this until I understand your strange inconsistent view on ethics.

      Called it! You will never get to your own argument.
      I asked for your argument, not for you to yet again misinterpret mine.

      Ok did you read up above on my point about naturalism + evolution entailing the fact that we have good reason to doubt the reliability of our cognitive faculties? Well how would you answer that? You are a naturalist right?

      Called it! You will never get to your own argument.
      Whether the reliability of our cognitive faculties is perfect is beside the point.

      I don’t care about people’s psychological beliefs, I care about what best corresponds to reality. This is question of ontology here, hence pointing out a small portion of our population is pointless. What I’m arguing for is INDEPENDENT OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK. I’m talking about an OBJECTIVE purpose to our existence along with the point on whether or not moral facts can exist given philosophical naturalism.

      I understand that is what you are arguing. Now please, demonstrate your contention that we have an objective eternal purpose. Not that you hope we do, or that you feel better if we have one, or that you feel more secure if you can tell the mugger that he will be judged after death. Not that you want to feel special by believing that Jesus watches you constantly and cares if you think your neighbor looks sexy in tight pants.
      Show me some evidence that an unchanging moral code is actually imprinted on the fabric of the cosmos and comes from an eternal source.

      Really, so what’s this goal that humanity is striving for, can you please for the umpteenth time provide an example?

      There is no ultimate goal post. That is your failure to think outside your absolutist box. Humans will keep recognizing suffering of others and keep evolving our social contract.

      Are we doing this for mother nature?

      That ‘for’ would presuppose that mother nature makes a value judgement. The question is nonsensical.

      Makes no sense, you have to be either/or here as you can’t deny both, nor hold to both at the same time. I guess I’ll ask you this again, and then we can come to a conclusion on what your actually position on ethics is

      It makes perfect sense if you get outside your absolutist prison.

      Is slavery objectively wrong? Yes or no?

      Get outside your absolutist prison.

      I’m not a moral absolutist, so it is you who commit to a strawman here.

      That is NOT what I mean by absolutist. I mean it more generally, that you refuse to acknowledge an answer that is not entirely one extreme or the other. So when I say there are shades of grey, you keep claiming that my position was all black or all white. Or you claim I have somehow denied both black and white.

      Actually if you have been following, my whole point was to address the fact that secular humanism fails even if Theism is false. Please learn to follow a conversation.
      If God does not exist, then prudential reason and moral reason can and often do come into conflict, in which case there is no reason to act morally rather than in one’s self-interest. Explain to me why this is false, how is your beloved humanism going to answer this one?

      Why are you only including prudential and moral reasons. Why not evidential, why not logical, why not emotional?
      If you acting immorally caused others to learn from your example, would that not affect you negatively? And conversely, if you acting morally caused others to learn from your example, would that not affect you positively? And if most of society acting morally caused more of society to act morally, would that not affect everyone positively? And if, just if, some portion of that occurred due to some altruism encoded into our genes would not the genes cause a survival advantage to those gene pools with that set of alleles?
      And add to that the social contract, as already answered over and over. It isn’t perfect. But then I am not trapped in your absolutist box.

      Well now I’m going to rip your worthless ’lying to nature’ reply to shreds:
      First off you have never actually stated a position that makes any logical sense, so even if I concede to the point where you stated a position, it is completely inconsistent with anything that is seen in academia. So I’ll take it that you are definitely a layman who needs to learn a bit of ethical philosophy.

      So you start your position by dishonest quotation again.
      You then start with the premise that academic theology and apologists provide consistency. Yet they are still arguing without resolution. And then all you can provide for your so called ripping is that I should read some non-specific academic material that might or might not be relevant. So nothing so far.

      Secondly I’m not a moral absolutist so please stop playing devil’s advocate to Joel Olsteen Bible-Belt theology and start reading arguments from academia. You might have noticed the part where I stated I’m not a moral rigorist, this might lend you a clue, but then again you are just a layman. (which isn’t a bad thing, but you are indeed a philosophical naïve layman)

      I never claimed you were. I asked you to clarify and you refused. You continue with a specific denial of Joel Olsteen, who I never brought up. Then another statement of what you are not. So…nothing so far. No ripping sound.

      Lastly if you can’t debate when I’m stating then I will conclude that you are afraid, hence why you can’t stay on topic and continue to misrepresent my intent. I guess you just need handicaps for your position, hence the constant misunderstandings of mine.

      So your position is….that you aren’t certain things, might be some undisclosed type of theist, and that I haven’t defined your position for you. I am well aware that you keep trying to define my position for me, and I have rejected every such attempt. So why would I ever want to define yours for you.
      So still nothing. No rips.

      In conclusion Dragon failed to provide INTELLECTUAL reasons on why secularism is superior to moral nihilism, all I saw was EMOTIONAL bantering such as:

      I provided evidentiary reasons, which you didn’t even try to refute. Which you failed to recognize as intellectual because they did not fit into your distorted view of academia. Please tell me you didn’t graduate from Liberty University.
      And this is your summation of your position? Wow, I am underwhelmed. I am currently at a loss to articulate the failure of your position any better than you have done yourself.

      “Well I feel special, so this must be the case that I’m special’

      And another dishonest quotation, that I have previously refuted. You could potentially say you were paraphrasing what you believe I meant even if it was a complete mischaracterization. But it would not be a quotation.

      Again let me leave off with this beautiful quote:
      “If intrinsic value does not exist from the outset, its emergence from non-valuable processes is difficult to explain. It doesn’t matter how many non-personal and non-valuable components we happen to stack up: from valuelessness, valuelessness comes.”
      – Paul Copan

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is not surprising that a Christian apologist sees no value imbued without his starting premise of god. Indeed his use of ‘intrinsic’ means in this context: from god. And Paul Copan would reject any other meaning of ‘value’. Pure unadulterated circular reasoning by Paul Copan. Indeed as an example, he must count water (H2O) as non-valuable components, where I would credit the availability of water with making our type of carbon based life possible and therefore water was intrinsically valuable given its natural properties. But then scientists use ‘intrinsic’ differently than apologists. Scientists have experiments to discover the intrinsic properties, and apologists have…nothing. Okay, not entirely true, apologists have circular and/or false premises, presupposition, and emotional wish fulfillment. Just no way to demonstrate any answer is more accurate than another. Which is what I meant by ‘nothing’ in that context.
      And just how does Paul Copan solve the Euthyphro dilemma?
      To briefly paraphrase: Does god provide ‘intrinsic value’ by command and therefore if he enjoyed eternal suffering, that would be your intrinsic value? Or is intrinsic value something outside of god and god can only enjoy those things that have intrinsic value? In which case what is the use of the premise of god. There are many other variations of the answers to that dilemma. The Euthyphro dilemma can provide debate on ‘intrinsic value’ for millennia, just as it has for morals. And since not all philosophical answers to the dilemma require god, all it proves is that god is not a necessary condition.

      QED

      I will provide a better quote.
      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya, from Princess Bride.

  16. 16
    Michael Brew

    I’ll describe myself as a moderate empiricist first (though it should be understood that it may not be “like you” since the distance from moderate to radical is fuzzy at best), because experience has generally shown that my pattern spotting ability is acute enough to reliably apply rules such as two pebbles plus two pebbles makes four pebbles universally as 2+2=4. However, pattern recognition is not always accurate, so when I run into an anomaly, I investigate and find not only the right answer, but the reason for the error. However, I, like you, do not go so far as to assume that because my pattern recognition is occasionally faulty, that it is universally faulty. I assume that it is faulty under the circumstances I discovered. It’s the same for my perceptions. Why? Because to do otherwise is irrational. My perceptions are all I have to go on. Even accepting that actual reality could be anything, I have, on the one hand, very convincing evidence that what I perceive is pretty close to actual reality while, on the other, I have no evidence—indeed, not even a good conception—of reality being any other way. Based on the evidence, therefore, I can only rationally assume that my perceptions reflect reality, and adjust my beliefs as evidence to the contrary emerges and I can develop theories as to how and why my perception may not match up with reality, thus allowing me to model what actual reality is beyond my perceptions. To do otherwise is to baselessly jump to conclusions, and why would I do that? Well, I suppose you could ask “why wouldn’t I?” and I could only say that would rely on whether you care about whether what you believe is true or not. “Why care?” Well, I probably have little choice in that matter, since the desire to care about the truth to some degree is probably genetically hardwired into our species and, indeed, most animals that rely on any kind of learned knowledge to survive. Hopefully, I’ve adequately explained why it is more rational to assume cognitive reliability by default rather than absolute unreliability.

  17. 17
    Health and Wellness

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