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The inherent fallacies of Rhology’s presuppositionalism

Matthew Hughes wrote a funny science fiction novel a few years ago, Black Brillion, which contains one the greatest lines of dialogue I’ve ever read: “You have only just begun to gauge the depth of your ignorance yet you use it as the foundation for a towering confidence.”

In following Rhology’s attempts to debate us on morality, one notes that the bulk of his argument rests on the stated assumption atheists have “no basis” to determine right from wrong. Naturally, any atheist reading that will immediately know that Rhology’s full of crap. But why does Rhology feel so confident as to root his whole argument in such a bold and arrogant claim, and how does he think this claim will help support his conclusion that “the Christian worldview [is] a much more reasonable and fitting (not to mention existentially satisfying) alternative to the atheistic one”?

As the always interesting if long-winded Dawson Bethrick points out, presuppositional apologetics is rife with logical fallacies. And in this case, Rhology is taking a page from Greg Bahnsen’s book and employing the argument from ignorance fallacy. When presuppositionalists state that atheists cannot account for morality or whatever, if they were honest, they would have to admit that they simply are not aware of what basis atheists employ to draw such conclusions. But presups like Rhology, rather than honestly admit to their simple lack of knowledge as to how atheists think, would rather declare as an axiom that atheists just cannot draw any conclusions on moral or other issues. Stated as a syllogism, what the presup wants to argue is this:

  1. If the atheist worldview cannot account for morality (or whatever), then the Christian worldview is true.
  2. The atheist worldview cannot account for morality.
  3. …So the Christian worldview is true.

Where Rhology and his fellow presups fall on their faces is that they never present any evidence to support point 2. If any of them were actually able to state an example of any situation where the Christian, using only the Bible as his guide, was capable of accurately assessing the moral rightness or wrongness of the situation, and the atheist simply could not do so by using reason, then they might be on to something. But no presup ever does this, and I submit they cannot. On the occasions they actually confront atheists head-on with their declaration that we have no basis for right and wrong, as Rhology is balls-fully doing here, they are invariably shot down and given ample and detailed explanations of just how atheists do comprehend moral precepts. Yet they ignore or dismiss these explanations so as to hold on to what little argument they have — an argument which is propped up almost in its entirety by the ignorance fallacy, and which attempts to establish the truth of the Christian worldview and even the existence of God Himself based on the presumed inability of atheists to account for such things as right and wrong.

As long as presuppositionalists insist on rooting their arguments in premises that they not only haven’t established as true, but which can easily shown to be false — like atheists’ having “no basis” to account for whatever the presup wishes to claim validates Christianity — then their entire method of arguing will be undermined by fallacies from the get-go. In ignoring these fallacies, and by insisting on restating their flawed premises as axioms no matter how often they are corrected, the presuppositionalist is like a homeowner who thinks that brand-new wall-to-wall carpeting is sufficient to deny the fact that all of their flooring has been eaten away by termites.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey,I don’t know if I’ll have much time to respond substantially before the holidays are over, but you have grossly misunderstood what I am saying, so here’s a chance to correct your error.-If the atheist worldview cannot account for morality (or whatever), then the Christian worldview is true.-The atheist worldview cannot account for morality….-So the Christian worldview is true.The difference between the labels “classical” and “presuppositional” apologetics are not very important right now, but just FYI, you’ve confused the 2. What you’ve said here is a classical argument. I may or may not think it’s all that, but it’s not MY argument.Here’s MY argument.-If a worldview cannot justify making moral judgments that are objective, then any moral statement comes down either to personal/societal preference or borrows from a worldview that CAN justify such.-The atheist worldview cannot account for any objective morality beyond personal preference or at ‘best’ societal preference (ie, a bunch of persons’ preferences)…-Therefore, any atheist who argues against Christianity on the basis of morally objectionable things that Christians or the Christian God has done has no basis to make such judgments beyond “I don’t like it”, and so these arguments have no merit at best and at worst (for the atheist) presuppose a theistic framework of objective morality in order to argue against said theistic worldview.Hopefully that’ll get you back on the right track. Fire away if you like, but at least fire at the right target.Peace,Rhology

  2. says

    You have made two arguments: 1. atheistic morality is based on “preference” 2. Christian morality is objective.As for preference, well, we prefer things that are better. We prefer things that do not lead to our eventual demise. We prefer our preservation instincts. We prefer humane treatment of others, but that does not make “humane” an arbitrary standard. You can judge an action by it’s consequences. Does it harm others? Does it harm society? We have objective standards for most forms of harm.2. As for the argument that Christian morality is objective, that is simply untrue. If it were, then two Christians could be given copies of the bible and asked about any moral issue, and with enough study, would come up with the same response. The problem is that they run into contradictions, areas where they are supposed to read between the lines, and areas where they have to sit in a little room watching Kirk Cameron for advice on how to cobble together an answer for the next question.So the question is, if Hitler, Pat Robertson, Pope Jean Paul II, Pope Benedict, and George W. Bush all read the same Bible, then why do they disagree on major issues? Ok, Catholics read a slightly different Bible, but is there any difference beyond the superficial?If Jesus and Mohamed both read the Jewish Bible, then why did they (if they both existed) disagree? Shouldn’t there be only one religion; Judaism? Or will this be a case of the “anyone who is more strict than me is stupid and anyone who is more lenient than me is evil” argument?If it the Bible were objective, then you could program an artificial intelligence robot that could decide the correct course of action in any situation using nothing more than the dictated commands in the Bible. I’m pretty sure that, if we programmed a machine that didn’t have the discretion to say “this part’s bullshit, I’m not following that”, then it would either kill itself or turn into skynet. The last thing we need is a bunch of Arnold Schwarzenegger-bots running around and shooting people OR handing out Bibles.

  3. Martin says

    Wow, rho. You may not think the syllogism I gave as an example accurately reflects your position. But I had no idea your position was as big a mess as the syllogism you’ve actually given.Here are the problems I see right off the bat.• Point 1: You have not defined, up to this point in the discussion, what you mean by “objective morality,” nor have you explained how it is a more valid way of determining right and wrong than the presumed alternative, “subjective” morality. One way I can think you might do this would be to come up with an example of something that is morally right (or wrong) that no one alive actually believes is morally right (or wrong), which might be a way to establish that there is indeed an “objective” standard of morality that exists outside the knowledge or understanding of the human society to which it applies. Maybe you can come up with another. Thing is, we haven’t see you come up with anything yet.• Point 2: Again, without meeting your obligations above, you haven’t made a convincing case that atheists’ presumed inability to “account for any objective morality beyond personal preference or at ‘best’ societal preference (ie, a bunch of persons’ preferences)” is in any way insufficient to establish accurate and valid moral precepts for people to live by as a practical matter. As long as “societal preferences” — by which I assume you mean moral precepts that aren’t purported to have been handed down as fiats by some unproven supernatural or divine authority — work towards ensuring the success of society, then what’s the problem? You have not given any examples of divine laws, or even basic moral precepts, employed as the foundation of any actual statutes we live under, that can only have come from a supernatural source and could not in any way have also been derived from human reason. Nor have you explained how “objective morality” as dictated to humans by a creator god is necessarily better. Lacking these examples, I find your whole distinction between “objective” and non-objective moralities to be a massive rhetorical red herring.• Conclusion: Not only does your conclusion not follow logically from the above poorly supported premises, but it sounds like you’ve constructed this whole tortuous syllogism simply to protect the bad behavior of Christians and the moral atrocities attributed to God in the Bible from criticism. It’s the old “who are you to judge” thing all over again, and what’s amusing about it is that you think you can actually support your case that Christianity is de facto morally superior by telling me, in effect, I have no right to criticize guys like Ted Haggard or Richard Roberts. I knew you were a bad arguer, rho, but I had no idea you were this bad.In fact, the audacity of your whole argument is really quite breathtaking, and I have to tip my hat to you. You’re essentially saying, in the same breath, that only Christians are capable of being moral because Christianity provides “objective” moral guidelines, but when Christians and their God behave in an immoral manner, atheists and non-Christians are in no position to judge them because they lack these “objective” moral guidelines. So basically, what’s great about being Christian is that you can do anything because no one who isn’t Christian can judge you, and you have the smug assurance that you are morally superior whether you behave morally or not, because at least you understand what the “objective” standards are and no non-Christian does. (And it helps that you never explain what “objective” morality is in the first place.)Finally, you can call your arguments whatever you wish. I can’t help but notice that your arguments happen to take much the same form as those by apologists who proudly label themselves presuppositionalists. But I can understand if you don’t want to be lumped in with them. Whether “classical” or “presuppositional,” the only label that really needs to be applied to your arguments is “awful.”

  4. says

    I wonder if Rhology obeys traffic laws. After all, there is nothing about them in the Bible. The person who invented the traffic light presumably used his personal preferences in designating red to equal Stop, yellow for Slow Down, and green for Go.Traffic lights came about because it became apparent that in intersections all drivers could not go where they wanted at the same time. It resulted in traffic jams and accidents. So, traffic lights were invented because they provided a chance for everyone to get their turn to cross or turn at the intersection. Consequently, traffic jams, injuries and fatalities drop markedly.I can just imagine Rhology trying to debate advocates for traffic lights. “Well, it’s just your personal preference that traffic jams and deaths from car accidents are a bad thing. Unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you have no basis for determining that regulating the flow of traffic is better apart from your personal preferences.”Unbelievable.

  5. Martin says

    I ought to make it clear that the reason I think Rhology is a presuppositionalist is that his arguments are essentially the same as Bahnsen’s, rooted in presuppositions which are then not given any evidentiary support, like “atheism cannot account for X.” Rho’s presuppositions are that a thing called “objective morality” exists; that Christianity provides exclusive understanding of it; and that it is necessarily better in all cases than the alternative, “personal” or “societal preferences” — which, if Rho’s most recent comment is any indication, he still seems to think are preferences with “no basis,” that people are just pulling out of their asses. He has been informed many times that, far from lacking a basis, secular moral precepts are rooted in such things as human empathy and the ability to comprehend intellectually the consequences of actions. These are facts, and Rho cannot refute them. So his approach so far has been to ignore them, and continue to assert as axiomatic his presupposition that non-Christian, non-objective morality has no basis. Why he thinks we’ll allow him this indulgence is a mystery.

  6. says

    This could also be an appeal to authority: your definition of morality is wrong because human beings have no right define that. My definition is correct because is written in a very old book, BY GOD!Or it could simply be inconsistent. The argument that the definition of morality used by secular humanists, deists, Buddhists, pantheists, unitarian-universalists, non-secular humanists, etc… is arbitrary, regardless of how it i measured, because man decided what the standard was, which makes it a preference. BUT, if everybody decides to use the same definition as Rho, then we all have one shared standard of morality. Either way we would have a shared standard of morality. The difference is that with a standard based on the good of human society it is valid to question the validity of the source, but with a standard that was found in a book, we can skip that question and head straight for salvation.Also, any references to “my world view says this” are simply admissions to not following logic, or not basing one’s argument on reality.

  7. says

    Thomas,we prefer things that are better.The truth is better.If a way of life leads to eternal demise, but the choice remains to NOT go there, one might think it would be a good idea to change direction. Does it harm others? Does it harm society? We have objective standards for most forms of harm.Begging the question.WHY do we prefer not to harm others? See here for more.Let’s talk after you read that.If it were, then two Christians could be given copies of the bible and asked about any moral issue, and with enough study, would come up with the same response.It does not follow that two persons’ response to a text equals a bad text. It could easily mean one or both of them didn’t read the full thing, ignored part of it, forgot part of it, preferred not to follow some of it, etc.So that’s 2 logical fallacies so far (begging the question and non-sequitur). Sometimes it’s useful to keep a count.If Jesus and Mohamed both read the Jewish Bible, then why did they (if they both existed) disagree? Shouldn’t there be only one religion; Judaism?1) Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Bible. So, no.2) Mohammed couldn’t even apparently read Arabic, much less Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Why would we care about what he thought about the Torah?If it the Bible were objective, then you could program an artificial intelligence robot that could decide the correct course of action in any situation using nothing more than the dictated commands in the Bible.Haha, this reminds me of the joke among Christian bloggers – the Objective Exegesis Machine.But this goes back to the non sequitur mentioned above. Fallacy #3.man decided what the standard was, which makes it a preference.Exactly. So man can change it at any time for any reason in any way. It’s not a standard at all.Either way we would have a shared standard of morality. 1) When did “society” get together and create a Statement of Shared Morality? 2) It’s totally different in the biblical system.we can skip that question and head straight for salvation.Without a law that has been broken, what do we need salvation for? The law must come first. Martin,what you mean by “objective morality,”True, had no place to do so. But I did on the above-linked blog post. Hopefully it will help advance our convo past the initial stages. :-) You’re essentially saying, in the same breath, that only Christians are capable of being moral because Christianity provides “objective” moral guidelinesNo, not at all. This is one of the strawmen I’ve been talking about (fallacy #4, but #1 for you).I’m saying -If a worldview cannot justify making moral judgments that are objective, then any moral statement comes down either to personal/societal preference or borrows from a worldview that CAN justify such.-The atheist worldview cannot account for any objective morality beyond personal preference or at ‘best’ societal preference (ie, a bunch of persons’ preferences)…-Therefore, any atheist who argues against Christianity on the basis of morally objectionable things that Christians or the Christian God has done has no basis to make such judgments beyond “I don’t like it”, and so these arguments have no merit at best and at worst (for the atheist) presuppose a theistic framework of objective morality in order to argue against said theistic worldview.Crazy thing is, I posted this above. Why didn’t you take it into account?It’s the old “who are you to judge” thing all over again,It all depends on who’s the judge and who’s the defendant.I have no right to criticize guys like Ted Haggard or Richard Roberts.Again, totally wrong.You have every right to criticise them BECAUSE THEY’RE SINNING. It’s just that, as an atheist, you have no consistent way to do so. You have to act like a Christian to do it; you have to act like there is a law to which to appeal to criticise them.secular moral precepts are rooted in such things as human empathy and the ability to comprehend intellectually the consequences of actions.But those beg the question too, as I’ve explained in the post.Tommy,Clueless as usual.I wonder if Rhology obeys traffic laws. After all, there is nothing about them in the Bible.Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 command Christians to obey the law of the land where it doesn’t conflict with God’s law.You **really** need to listen more and talk less; you say foolish things almost every time you respond to me. And unlike the others like Martin and ChooseDoubt et al, what you say virtually never even advances the conversation.Peace,Rhology

  8. says

    I see. So the reason you obey traffic signals is because the bible told you to?And, let’s say I agree with everything you’ve said about morality, objective standards, etc. I don’t believe any of it, but let’s say I do. How does any of this prove or even imply that the creator who is the source and standard of this morality is the Christian god? How does it suggest that the bible is an accurate telling of his mind, that Jesus was a man-god who died for our sins, that there is an afterlife, that those who renounce the creator will end up in a hell, etc.?

  9. says

    Yeah, clueless. Whatever you say Rho. I was being satirical. But if you don’t like what I have to say, you are perfectly free to ignore me.Now, and please forgive me if I am wrong, Mr. Wonderful Christian, I think I understand where you are coming from. Because you believe that we as atheists have a worldview that, to use your words “cannot account for any objective morality beyond personal preference..”, we can go from warm loving people one day to genocidal maniacs the next day. In a godless world, you fear that one day 90% of the people will suddenly decide that they “prefer” to not have to live with the other 10%, and if they have the means to go along with their desires, then so long 10%. Am I reading you right?What you crave is certainty. If there is a god that exists and has made it clear to us that certain things are forbidden, that provides you with the certainty that you crave. Where I disagree with you, of course, is that your moral worldview is objective. What you have bought into is a set of beliefs, many that are good and laudable, and a few that are bad. The problem is that you and those who think like you have taken a package of subjective beliefs, built a moat and wall around those beliefs, and then claim that they represent the inerrant truth of a universal creator and that they are therefore above criticism. In other words, it’s God’s way or the highway (to hell)!Now I am not going to get into the whole “Any god that would send someone to eternal torment because that person did not worship it is a cruel god” thing because it is merely arguing a hypothetical. Since the god you worship does not exist, it is not even something I worry about. I personally don’t even care all that much that (1) you personally believe that I am going to suffer eternal torment in the afterlife if I drop dead after typing this message, and (2) that you think it is a good thing. What bothers me is the implications for society when a large percentage of a population believes it. And that is because it has the very real potential to jeopardize my personal freedom and safety. Someone like me cannot be tolerated in Rhology World, because there is a chance that I might tempt one of the flock to turn away from god and thus condemn that person to hell.It is what can happen in any society where a group of people with a high tension faith seeks to impose itself at the expense of everyone else. It can run the gamut from Sharia police in a conservative Muslim country beating women who do not wear sufficiently modest attire to an evangelical mom in Georgia trying to ban Harry Potter books from the school library. So, I apologize if I came off a bit emotional on CD’s blog, but I want you to understand it in its context. I don’t expect you to agree of course, merely to understand.

  10. Robert Morane says

    “Begging the question.WHY do we prefer not to harm others?”Because a social species cannot survive if its members are not “wired” to behave in a way that is not overly selfish and violent. For example, when 2 wolves fight, as soon as one wolf shows signs of submission, the fighting stops. Why? Do you think the wolf is obeying some kind of religious morality code?The reason is simple: if wolves had a tendency to kill one another too easily, the pack would eventually disappear, and since the species is made of packs, it would go extinct. Since being not too violent and not too selfish is the best way to survive for a social species, this behaviour was successfully passed on from the common ancestor of all social species to all the species that exist today, including ours.If you’re not convinced, here’s an interesting fact: the only situation where a wolf will actually kill another wolf, is when a male wants to mate with a female that already has puppies – in this case, the puppies are killed by the male but – this is the important part – they are killed only because they will be replaced by other puppies, and so all in all there will be no loss – the number of wolves in the pack will remain the same! Again: causality!Keep in mind that social species use cooperation to survive – i.e. wolves hunt in pack – and so hurting a member of the pack ends up hurting every member of the pack.To use an example, if our early ancestors actually _enjoyed_ killing animals (for fun that is), eventually they would have starved to death! Therefore we can see why we don’t like to kill animals for fun – if we had, we would have gotten instinct! (Note that in our case, it is more complicated because of culture, including the way one is raised.)

  11. says

    Yes, but the reaosn a wolf killing a female’s pups might make sense is not because those pups will be replaced, thereby leaving the number of wolves constant.It makes sense to that particular wolf because his genes will be passed on. Natural selection doesn’t operate at the level of groups (like packs) or species, but at the level of the individual.I’m not sure what my comment has to do with the matter at hand. I just thought we could all use more pedantry.

  12. says

    I have a basic question about all this:What is the upshot of Rhology’s reasoning? Is it that atheists can’t be moral? That atheists can be moral, but only “by accident,” when their actions happen to coincide with the one, true objective morality? That atheists who claim to act morally are not actual atheists? That there are no actual atheists?I am struggling to decide which of these possibilities I find the most offensive.

  13. says

    Rho, do you not realize how Christianity itself has changed drastically over two thousand years into a very, very “subjective” moral construct? Can you find any Christian in modern times willing to advocate stoning a disobedient child to death?Can you find a Christian father willing to let his daughter’s rapist marry her, so long as the rapist pays the father 50 shekels of silver?Does mainstream Christianity still consider a woman the literal property of a man?Hell, even progressive Muslims think that the death penalty for apostasy is in poor taste.These were all direct examples of “objective” morality supplied by, if you really believe, “God Himself” (in his various forms).In all these examples, it was god who informed morality, not society. Then, over time, the general consensus in civilized society shifted and decreed that you can’t just kill unruly children, that punishing the rape victim is cruel (although backwards assholes in Saudi Arabia still think that this is cool), and that women are equal to men. Thus, commonly held “subjective” morals have (rightly and thankfully) triumphed over any of god’s “objective” decrees.So, if your god’s “objective” morality still comprises these archaic atrocities, then human, societal morals are, by far, superior (and not near as maddeningly arbitrary). And you still haven’t addressed the role that basic human empathy plays in the formation of morals. Or, if you do, you do so through either blatant misrepresentation or ignorance.Contrary to what Patrick Swayze would have us believe, pain does hurt. If someone punches you in the face, you realize just how unpleasant it is. If you’re a decent human being (with EMPATHY), you will then carry that realization past yourself and see that, if you punch someone else in the face, you will hurt them. Decent human beings don’t want to hurt other human beings, be it physically or mentally.That’s one of the basic foundations of human morality. No “god” is needed to tell someone that stabbing a fellow human being is a bad thing. Of course, some people may choose not to “do the right thing,” but, then again, society doesn’t tend to exalt those who wantonly stab or shoot innocent people for kicks.And, as we have seen over the past few thousand years, even those who subscribe to “objective” moral precepts still violate these with a disgustingly annoying frequency. Oh, and, by the by, Muslim suicide-bombers are pretty damn sure of their own version of “objective” morality, one that wildly differs from yours and mine. So, how can you prove that your “objective” morality is more objective than theirs? In fact, outside of the Bible, how can you prove that your morality is “objective,” period?

  14. says

    Rho: I skimmed over your blog post, and had some comments.Funny how your example of how Christian morality involved Child rape. 1. We have perfectly logic explanations why it is wrong. You just refuse to listen to them. 2. Wouldn’t a better example involve a rule that clergy has a better track record for upholding? 3. Why use child rape as an example? The Bible assigns no weight to sins, so, from a Biblical world view, Child rape is no worse than working on a Sunday, or not following dietary guidelines. 4. The Bible is a rule-based system: under the strictly literal usage, one does not do anything because of respect for others. One acts to be in compliance with the rules. This can lead to loopholes. For example, you say that only your religion can denounce child rape. Well, under the bible, there are two situations in which child rape are ok. a). If you are married to that child. The Bible never gives an age of consent, or tells any husband not to forcibly have sex with their wives. b). Leviticus 19:20-22 provides for leniency in the case of sex with slaves.20′(A)Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free. 21′He shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD to the doorway of the tent of meeting, (B)a ram for a guilt offering. 22′The priest shall also make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed, and the sin which he has committed will be forgiven him. This is not technically a loophole, but, the Bible rules seem to go as follows: 1. Consensual sex between two adults: Terrible thing. Both shall be put to death. 2. Consensual sex between an adult and an unmarried six-year old: see #1 3. Trip to Thailand, complete with slave purchase, and non-consensual sex: well, if the slave is for you, then it’s ok, but if it is meant for someone else (you know, a Christmas present), then you must sacrifice a ram. Thank the gods that we have something like this to save us from the arbitrary nonsense we would come up with, if acting under our own preferences.

  15. says

    Ben:> Natural selection doesn’t operate > at the level of groups (like packs)> or species, but at the level of the> individual.I know this is an old comment, but natural selection can be said to occur at the genetic level. See Richard Dawkins book The selfish Gene for an explanation of the parasitic love-hate relationship we share with our genes.Just as individuals have a vested interest in not seeing their communities, villages, or species as a whole being wiped out, genes have a vested interest in not seeing the individual get killed. There are genes, however, which harm the individual, but also improve the survival odds for organisms that are likely to carry the same genes. So, evolution works indirectly on several levels, including the genetic, individual, and group level. Of course I am not a scientist, but that is my understanding.

  16. says

    Hi all,I have limited time today so I’ll respond to the most relevant points. Yep, I judge them relevant and irrelevant.First, please read this post to see how my points have been misrepresented several times. I’ll not be responding to those mistakes.Ben said:So the reason you obey traffic signals is because the bible told you to?Yes.But the fundamental question is: WHY obey ANYthing the law says to do or not do? Why not do all in one’s power to subvert the law at every point?How does any of this prove or even imply that the creator who is the source and standard of this morality is the Christian god? It doesn’t. That’s not my point.How does it suggest that the bible is an accurate telling of his mind, that Jesus was a man-god who died for our sins, that there is an afterlife, that those who renounce the creator will end up in a hell, etc.?That’s not an argument I’ve made here, but I have on my blog recently; you’re welcome to go comment there and we can talk.I just thought we could all use more pedantry.Haha, the more the merrier! :-D What is the upshot of Rhology’s reasoning? Is it that atheists can’t be moral? Read the first post I linked to and then the one I link to in this comment.Tommy said:If there is a god that exists and has made it clear to us that certain things are forbidden, that provides you with the certainty that you crave.Not only do I like certainty that raping little girls is wrong, but you do too apparently; otherwise you wouldn’t claim that you have a moral code.Where I disagree with you, of course, is that your moral worldview is objective. I went over why I believe that in the post I linked to.What you have bought into is a set of beliefs, many that are good and laudable, and a few that are bad. On what basis do you judge some of them good and some of them bad?it has the very real potential to jeopardize my personal freedom and safety. I don’t see how. Biblical law is very different from sharia law.Someone like me cannot be tolerated in Rhology World, because there is a chance that I might tempt one of the flock to turn away from god and thus condemn that person to hell.Coercion to belief (human to human) is not part of biblical law. I think you’re basing all this on a complete misunderstanding.We attempt to persuade others thru love and reason to repent of sin and turn to Christ.It can run the gamut from Sharia police in a conservative Muslim country beating women who do not wear sufficiently modest attire to an evangelical mom in Georgia trying to ban Harry Potter books from the school library.I love this.You compare legalised beating of women (sometimes very savagely) to a woman trying to protect her kids from books she finds offensive? This comparison definitely works to the advantage of my position and speaks to your (personal) moral blindness.Robert Morane said:Because a social species cannot survive if its members are not “wired” to behave in a way that is not overly selfish and violent**WHY** is survival the moral fulcrum?Jenner J. Hull said:Christianity itself has changed drastically over two thousand years into a very, very “subjective” moral construct? I’m far less interested in that than in biblical law.Can you find any Christian in modern times willing to advocate stoning a disobedient child to death?No, and rightly not. That law was for OT Israel.Look, no offense, but you have very little idea of Christian doctrine on this issue. Perhaps you could do some reading on it and come back. I’d be happy to discuss then.Moral, civil, and ceremonial laws exist in the OT Law. The punishment on this one is civil in nature, not in force if you don’t live in OT Israel.These were all direct examples of “objective” morality supplied by, if you really believe, “God Himself”And perfectly good and legitimate for what they were intended for.the general consensus in civilized society shifted and decreed that you can’t just kill unruly childrenThe OT Israelite society was destroyed way before that. This is a foolish restatement of history.human, societal morals are, by far, superiorHow do you know?you still haven’t addressed the role that basic human empathy plays in the formation of morals. I’m waiting for someone to justify WHY that should be the basis for morality.how can you prove that your “objective” morality is more objective than theirs?It’s a very different question, not one I’m willing to field here.Very short answer: I do an internal critique on Islam and find it contains internal inconsistencies and contradictions, so I can’t believe it.If you want to discuss that more, go to my blog or maybe Martin or one of the Ath Exp guys can blog on it.Thomas said:Wouldn’t a better example involve a rule that clergy has a better track record for upholding?Why? The biblical worldview includes a very clear doctrine of the fall of man.I don’t speak for Roman Catholicism; I don’t consider Roman CatholicISM Christian at all, even less so do I consider them biblical.The Bible assigns no weight to sinsThen why does it assign different penalties for certain sins? Why did Jesus say “You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel” and related points? This is a foolish assertion.The Bible is a rule-based system: under the strictly literal usage, one does not do anything because of respect for others. Another miss. The Bible makes very clear that the Law and Prophets are summed up in the 2 Great Commandments- love God, love your neighbor.you say that only your religion can denounce child rape.A complete miss. See the post linked to above.The Bible never gives an age of consent, or tells any husband not to forcibly have sex with their wives.1) true, no age of consent exists. It’s up to the father to protect his daughter.2) Each spouse has a responsibility to each other, both to serve THE OTHER and to treat the other with love and respect. See Ephesians 5:22-29.Leviticus 19:20-22 provides for leniency in the case of sex with slaves.1) On what basis do you call this bad?2) There were still penalties. 3) You contradict what was said earlier by 2 other atheists (“the Bible is only rule-based”) (“there aren’t different degrees of sin”). You guys are not on the same page.Trip to Thailand, complete with slave purchase, and non-consensual sexThere you go again, trying to apply OT Israelite law to modern times when that nation no longer exists. Keep your contexts straight and you’ll earn more respect for your arguments.Your scenario means sex out of marriage, which is condemned in the NT. I’ll look forward to comments from you guys that take into account what I *AM SAYING* versus what I’m NOT saying. Any further of the same strawmen I’ll just ignore.Peace,Rhology

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    RHO: >> The Bible assigns no weight to sins> Then why does it assign different> penalties for certain sins? Ok. It does assign weights, on some scale. I was wrong. The Bible says that consensual sex outside of marriage is the worst thing ever and that slavery, genocide, and child rape are not quite as bad.Of course you have argued that everyone deserves to go to the same hell. So, are there varying degrees of torture to account for sins of varying weights? If so, how can we have varying degrees of “infinite”?> There you go again, trying to apply> OT Israelite law to modern times > when that nation no longer exists. So morality is different in Israel? It was different thousands of years ago? Why isn’t it different in Tahiland? Or Austin, Texas for that matter? In what way is your standard objective, or moral? It sounds like you can’t get your story straight.The reason I apply OT law is because Christians are often arguing that Biblical law should be the final authority on all morality. The problem is that they invariably end up tossing 90 percent of the book out the window. There is no logical way of determining which rules apply (except the “if it hurts me, then god doesn’t really mean it” standard).So the question is, what is the point of your concept of morality? It seems to be “respect…with arbitrarily chosen exceptions…but attribute nothing to human decency”. The problems with your argument are as follows: 1. You assume that man has no right to define concepts. To say morality is invalid because it was defined by man is like saying “medicine is invalid because I reject the idea that it’s purpose is to heal people. Who gives you the authority to define that word in that manner?” 2. You have completely missed the point of morality. You have confused it with “appeasement”. So, you are afraid that something will hurt you. That doesn’t make the big scary monster a good being. 3. You have argued that it is objective, and completely abandoned any objectivity or consistency in your defense of it. With religion, every man is his own God. You pick some rules from a large and inconsistent sampling, you discard the ones you do not like, and claim that the ones you do like are beyond question because they were picked by God. Unfortunately, God only lives in your head.

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    Thomas,This back and forth is good, but I’d really like to see more forth from you. I’ve answered many questions here and I’d like some answers to my questions. Especially since I’ve asked approximately one main question. Surely that’s not too much to ask… :-)Peace,Rhology

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    Rho:Ok. Here is the situation as I understand it.Man is capable of understanding concepts, such as art, language, and morality. Those things may be concepts that man invented, just as the Dewey Decimal system is made up, but they are also ways of defining things. They are methods of classification. As such, they are not always objective. I think I was wrong when I argued that they were. But, subjectivity does not negate a concept. Take the taxonomy system for the classification of species, for example. There is no objective criteria that can be used to differentiate one species from another. Scientists have a list of criteria, and use their judgment. This does not negate those differences. It does not mean that cats and dogs are exactly the same, simply because we have no “authoritative” way to classify them. Man has the right to define language. If 99% of the world defines “water” in a certain way, then the word has a definition. The fact that it is a group of people’s “preferred definition” does not diminish the definition of the word.If we can recognize concepts, and define words, then morality is a concept that describes equitable treatment toward one’s fellow man. But it is a little more than that. It refers to truths that are universal in a healthy individual. It refers to ideals such as the one that nobody wants to be tortured, so therefore, torture is wrong. Morality is about understanding the underlying fears and motivations common to all individuals, and helping each other to deal with the negative, while promoting the positive. Those are more than preference. To define those as preference is like stating that a car prefers to drink gasoline and not be smashed with a sledgehammer.If you look at the definition used by the majority of the world, including individuals from all faiths, as well as those with none, then they have defined the morality concept in a similar way.As for the question of someone with a different definition, well, you are entitled to disagree, within limits. Once the majority of the world has agreed on a set of standards, trying to redefine those standards is like trying to convince others that the number 3 should come after 4, or that “water” should mean “pizza”.I say the Bible is immoral because the OT has some things in it that no human being in today’s world would want to experience. And I do count the OT, because it is part of the Bible. It might have some passages that would be good inspiration for morality, but, taken as a whole, with nothing discarded, it certainly could never be a suitable replacement for morality. There are societal rules that cause more harm than good, and there is the tendency toward making exceptions. If morality is about finding universal truths, then exceptions have no place in the matter.Does this answer your question?

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    Rho, I lump the beating of the woman with the calls to pan Harry Potter books from school libraries together because they are both examples of people trying to restrict the freedoms of others based on religious beliefs.I wrote that they run the gamut, because obviously beating a woman for not dressing modestly is an extreme example whereas banning books from a school library is much lower on the scale. But they both stem from the same impulse.And there is nothing in Harry Potter books that children need to be protected from!

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    Thomas,I thank you for your words. I really think you’re making an effort to get closer to the bottom of this question, which is more than I can say for many.they are not always objective. I think I was wrong when I argued that they wereVery well; I’ll make sure to keep that in mind.subjectivity does not negate a concept.Agreed, but it limits its applicability and proscriptive power. You’ll note that I defined what I meant by the “objectivity” of the biblical morality, its scope, its applicability, whom it judges, how it judges, etc.If 99% of the world defines “water” in a certain way, then the word has a definition.True, but take “green” for example. It can mean1) money2) environmentally conscious3) political activist to favor less pollution4) political activist to favor less pollution who goes way too far5) a color of face expressing envy6) a color of face demonstrating seasicknessetc. So it’s both. morality is a concept that describes equitable treatment toward one’s fellow man.Here’s where the subjectivity comes into play. I don’t recognise your right or ability to make this pronouncement as if you were the Pope of Morality. I know you don’t consider yourself to be such, so I wonder how you get off saying this.So you’re not making an authoritative pronouncement. Are you trying to recognise what morality is to most people? 1) When did “most people” get together and make this judgment?2) How did they do so? Did they take a vote? When? 3) What’s “most”? 50.1% 60%?4) How do you know either way?And of course some people enjoy suffering.And still others enjoy inflicting suffering on others.So we have 3 choices. How do you know which one is correct? Morality is about understanding the underlying fears and motivations common to all individuals, and helping each other to deal with the negative, while promoting the positive.This is begging the question. You’re trying to define good/bad, positive/negative; you can’t appeal to them to define them.To define those as preference is like stating that a car prefers to drink gasoline and not be smashed with a sledgehammer.Bad illustration – cars don’t prefer anything.If you mean that humans “run” better with one morality than with another, you’re begging the question again as regards what “runs better” means. Does running better refer to treating others gently? Making lots of money? Conquering the world? Becoming fat? How do you know either way?If you look at the definition used by the majority of the world, including individuals from all faiths, as well as those with none, then they have defined the morality concept in a similar way.1) This is easily explained by a biblical understanding. God put that there.2) So what? The extreme majority of people who have ever lived have believed in the supernatural; that doesn’t mean you think you should follow them in that, do you?As for the question of someone with a different definition, well, you are entitled to disagree, within limits. Who sets those limits?trying to redefine those standards is like trying to convince others that the number 3 should come after 4, or that “water” should mean “pizza”.You’re confusing IS with OUGHT. 3 comes after 4, mathematically. Morality is not reducible to mathematical equations.And “water” to “pizza” is not as far as you are saying, so I think this is another bad example. See my “green” illustration above. Shoot, in the US (I don’t know if you live in the US or not), lots of people use the word “bad” to mean something positive or great. So again, thanks for going after it, but you have a long way to go yet. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to keep going.And I’ll post this response on my blog.

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    >> subjectivity does not negate a concept.> Agreed, but it limits its applicability and proscriptive power. That depends. If there is no god, then there is no one authoritative source of morality. That means that we can define our own concept of morality and enforce it. So, maybe other cultures can define and enforce morality differently, but: 1. we still have the right to say that we have done a better job of enforcing morality. If our system causes a larger percent of the population to be treated in a way that they would consider fair, if they were well-informed of the situation. (In other words, a group that has been deceived into believing they are treated fairly is not being treated fairly.) 2. If their morality has a definition, then we have the right to point out exceptions that are contrary to that goal. 3. We have the right to point out what that definition is. 4. We have the right to point out internal inconsistencies. For example, the problem with morality is that people think that “God’s word”, and “respect” are the same thing, but then they ignore the parts of “god’s word” that are contrary to our concepts of respect and morality. regardless of where the concepts came from, we have them, and they often contradict both the OT and the NT. > You’ll note that I defined what I meant by the “objectivity” of the biblical morality, its scope, its applicability, whom it judges, how it judgesI honestly have not seen that post. I asked you about the OT and you changed the subject. I have yet to see any consistent definition of which biblical rules apply, when they apply, or how we are to determine their applicability. I have also not seen an authoritative arbiter. If you assert that the OT does not count in a particular situation, or category of situations, then how is that anything other than your preference? If two people disagree on the OT, then how is one to determine the correct interpretation? And why is the OT the authority?> I don’t recognise your right or ability to make this pronouncement as if you were the Pope of Morality. I know you don’t consider yourself to be such, so I wonder how you get off saying this.This goes back to a word being defined by it’s usage.> 1) When did “most people” get together and make this judgment?Do we have to have a formal meeting? If it were close to fifty percent, then I could see your argument, but, in my experience, most people either believe in morality based on respect. Even those who claim to believe in the Bible often are not familiar enough to cite biblical precedent for the moral judgements they make. So, if they are not getting their morals from the Bible, then, one can assume based on the patterns in human behavior, that they are relying on some system based on respect. > 2) How did they do so? Did they take a vote? When?> 3) What’s “most”? 50.1% 60%?> 4) How do you know either way? No. I have not conducted a formal poll. I also have not asked everyone on Earth if they like to eat garbage, but I can assume the majority says “no”, based on the cultural indicators, and the sampling of people I have observed in my lifetime.> And of course some people enjoy suffering.Usually only in specified contexts. They use code words that can allow them to escape when the pain gets to be too much. If you can find anyone who wants to suffer without any freedom to end such suffering, then this is an exception so rare, that it should be seen as an anomolie, not a rule.> And still others enjoy inflicting suffering on others.If two people want to get together and have a night of freaky S&M, then let them. If one of them does not want to be involved, then we have come up with this construct of morality to protect those people.>> Morality is about understanding the underlying fears and motivations common to all individuals, and helping each other to deal with the negative, while promoting the positive.> This is begging the question. You’re trying to define good/bad, positive/negative; you can’t appeal to them to define them.I can define “good” as that which meets the preferences and needs of human beings. You can play this game of asking “what does that mean” all night. It seems really childish. >> To define those as preference is like stating that a car prefers to drink gasoline and not be smashed with a sledgehammer.> Bad illustration – cars don’t prefer anything.exactly. Cars simply need what they need to survive. Human beings are machines that strive toward the things that produce endorphins, which create the sensation known as “happiness”. You are trying to dismiss the need to not be killed, raped, beaten, etc as nothing more than a preference, when it is a critical function of what human beings do.> If you mean that humans “run” better with one morality than with another, you’re begging the question again as regards what “runs better” means. You are playing the “what does that mean” game again. “runs better” means less likely to feel the emotions of fear or pain, and more lilkey to feel joy.>> If you look at the definition used by the majority of the world, including individuals from all faiths, as well as those with none, then they have defined the morality concept in a similar way.> 1) This is easily explained by a biblical understanding. God put that there.Well, God contradicted himself. What relevance does god have to the definition of a word? He never said anything to anybody, so, if he was real, we’d nbever know his language anyway.> 2) So what? The extreme majority of people who have ever lived have believed in the supernatural; that doesn’t mean you think you should follow them in that, do you?That is silly. Words are defined by people. Reality is not.>> As for the question of someone with a different definition, well, you are entitled to disagree, within limits.> Who sets those limits?The people who use those words. Like it or not, language is a consensus game. Using your logic, dictionaries could never exist, because there is no “dictionary-pope” to authoritatively define what words mean. Instead the dictionary people conduct polls and define words based on their usage. How will we ever know what words mean!>> trying to redefine those standards is like trying to convince others that the number 3 should come after 4, or that “water” should mean “pizza”.> You’re confusing IS with OUGHT. 3 comes after 4, mathematically. No, it doesn’t. 3 is just a word. 4 is just a word. If the concept of 3 were given the name “4″, and the concept of 4 were given the name “3″, then math would work out exactly the same. That is my point. > Morality is not reducible to mathematical equations.The inner workings of the human brain, with regard to desires and fears cannot be measured and quantified, using any existing technology, and we lack the knowledge to correctly measure or express the consequences of one’s actions. If, theoretically, we had an infinite amount of knowledge, we probably could measure reactions to external stimuli, and reduce it to an equation.> And “water” to “pizza” is not as far as you are saying, so I think this is another bad example. See my “green” illustration above. Shoot, in the US (I don’t know if you live in the US or not), lots of people use the word “bad” to mean something positive or great.Well, you can try to use those words any way you want. you can try to add new definitions for every word, and, if you’re lucky, then maybe a few of them will catch on, but it is unlikely, because the relevance of morality is in it’s benefit to humanity. The reason the Biblical view of morality is mutating is because people are beginning to see patterns of behavior that provide more benefit to humanity (killing less of them, causing less suffering among them, etc), and they are conform
    ing their ideas of morality to those patterns. On the bright side, as people get farther and farther from Christianity, they will continue to revise their concept of Chrsitianity (dragging it, kicking and screaming, as they have since its inception), and give it credit for the moral understanding of its followers.> So again, thanks for going after it, but you have a long way to go yet. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to keep going.Well, until you have a consistent explaination about where the OT fits into this, which parts are infallible, which ones are not, and how we tell the difference, I will say the same for you.

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    Sorry T.A.E. for the intrusion…Hi Alan (rhology)…I check in on you from time to time and this is what you been up to?A break from the pack? Tired of fighting with your “own kind” that disagree with you? Thinking you’ll make a difference for the kingdom fighting with your blatant enemy?Give it up, you’re NO match for this group either!You still seem intent to hijack people to your site so you can demonstrate your apologetic skills to some groupies you may have. It’s not working, your side discourses are still too exhausting even for me to follow… and I care about you.A couple of words about morality…I wrote about this but you never engaged in a debate with me. I”ll try to keep the christian dilemma simple and I’m sure everyone here could add more.In the beginning…A god that declares that he is LOVE and Unconditional Love at that, has a problem with a servant angel(lucifer). god changes his name(satan),throws him down here for humans to deal with, all the while knowing humans are no match for fighting spiritual demons. All Knowing indeed! Now factor in giving humans “free will” that is punishable by eternal death for exercising it. Free Will indeed!Now the “moral part”??? A bipolar “loving god” that created bizarre laws (that made sense at the time?)that demanded death in some cases and blood sacrifices of animals for breaking them. All the while knowing they were good for nothing. Because only the death and blood of his only son would be good enough to satisfy his blood lust for righteousness!Now if “we” can all agree child rape is bad, what can we say about a god that needed to set up his own child to be murdered in order to take care of a problem he couldn’t deal with in heaven? Should I even mention again, all the bloodshed in the name of any god?All Powerful and All Loving indeed!If this isn’t some sort of divine fairy tale, it looks like humans really HAVE come a long way… Atheist included! You all “are human” aren’t you?Alan, you never seem to be able to track context or discern where anybody is coming from. A major blind spot, you know what Jesus said about specks and logs…I guess trying to live a moral or better life by AnyOne’s definition isn’t good enough!Final thought Alan…Would a moral god demand and require “mere mortals” to do something he seems incapable of?Forgive, Bless and Love his Enemy!In this example, Lucifer, not mankind.Peace… t.f.p.s. Robert and Ben, I Loved the “wolf” analogy, it seemed proper for Alan.

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    So… rape isn’t immoral because of what it does to the victim or the victim’s loved ones or those who might begin to feel a fear of being raped themselves?It’s not immoral because it causes someone else pain or injury, or causes them to feel afraid or violated?No, it’s immoral simply because God says it’s immoral. Because the fact of rape’s immorality flows from God’s being. Its immorality is, then, opaque. We don’t need to know what rape is, or what its effects are. All we need to know if God’s opinion of it.I find this worldview baffling.

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    Rho:Ah. Then maybe I didn’t miss a post. My question was, you dismissed my citation of a reprehensible passage from the old testament by stating that it was Jewish law.So, the question remains: Which parts of the OT are to be obeyed? How does one make that distinction? And how does one settle interpretive differences?Also, is the NT beyond question? How about the OT? Were the values from Leviticus acceptable? This sounds like a major inconsistency in your argument.

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    Gentlemen…After investing a good part of my day reading the arguments here and even more back at rho’s site, I’m left thinking this and… It’s biblical! OT no less!All of this is vanity, chasing the wind. And perhaps this wind, is the god being debated.Everyone has a belief/opinion that is “faith based” in a god or humanity. It’s also been demonstrated that we’ll spend a lot of breath to be heard. Even if we don’t always listen to what the other is saying. But to what end? What’s the prize in winning this argument? Being right? Shame on either side for being correct about the inspiration dictating “morality”, if they’re not willing to live what they believe. I suppose I have to ask…Is the word “shame” alright to use in this conversation?It seems to me that we’re making this all up as we evolve. How do I know? Because IF there is a god,he/she or it, must really be frustrated and pissed off that organized christianity is failing to demonstrate Love toward each other and also to anyone that believes differently (enemies, according to rho)!We’re making this all up because everyone here has shown that even an “atheist” or other “heathens” are capable of doing the “right/loving” thing apart from a god.How much longer will it take for mankind to evolve before we realize that knowing and demonstrating Love and Unity is more important than knowing a god?Unless Love and Unity… is god… The bible says as much, but of course, that’s my interpretation.peace… t.f.

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    Hi Thomas,That means that we can define our own concept of morality and enforce it.Exactly my point. And the definition of “my morality = good and contrary moralities = bad” begins and ends with YOU. Personal preference. QED.1. we still have the right to say that we have done a better job of enforcing morality. But someone else’s morality could include a clause saying “no one has done a better job of molding or enforcing morality than me”. Neither one matters a whit.2. If their morality has a definition, then we have the right to point out exceptions that are contrary to that goal.But maybe hypocrisy is built in and desired in that person’s moral code. regardless of where the concepts came from, we have them, and they often contradict both the OT and the NT.But why should anyone else care about the concepts YOU have are or whence they came? I have also not seen an authoritative arbiter. God, of course. If you assert that the OT does not count in a particular situation, or category of situations, then how is that anything other than your preference?It’s not that “the OT” (as if it’s one sentence) doesn’t “count”. Christianity is a large theological construct with well-developed ethics, etc. There’s a reason for everythg. I consider this question of whether I follow “the OT Law” largely beside the point since I’m asking whether *atheism* can support making moral statements that are beyond personal preference. Tell you what, I’ll blog on the question within a day and you can interact with it there. Do we have to have a formal meeting? If it were close to fifty percent, then I could see your argument, but, in my experience, most people either believe in morality based on respect.In my experience, “most people” believe in the supernatural. But you wouldn’t consider that an evidence. Neither would I.Don’t press for details about HOW I know most people believe in the supernatural. They just do. (that’s the equivalent of what you’ve just told me.)Even those who claim to believe in the Bible often are not familiar enough to cite biblical precedent for the moral judgements they makethat’s completely irrelevant. People can have the right ideas about the Bible that they picked up from a variety of sources.if they are not getting their morals from the Bible, then, one can assume based on the patterns in human behavior, that they are relying on some system based on respect.You continue to confuse IS with OUGHT. I’m asking WHY these moral statements could be considered anythg other than personal preference. You haven’t touched on that yet in this comment.If you can find anyone who wants to suffer without any freedom to end such suffering, then this is an exception so rare, that it should be seen as an anomolie, not a rule.You’ve given no reason not to consider these anomalies as the rule. Maybe most people (those who don’t enjoy suffering) are suffering from widespread mania. Maybe they’re just messed up. You believe the same thing about large segments of the population (those who are strong believers in a supernatural religion), or at least your compatriots Harris and Hitchens and Dawkins believe that. Why is that not possible here? Just b/c it lines up with YOUR beliefs? That’s special pleading, a logical fallacy.If one of them does not want to be involved, then we have come up with this construct of morality to protect those people.*Why* have you come up with it?I can define “good” as that which meets the preferences and needs of human beings. Why?You are trying to dismiss the need to not be killed, raped, beaten, etc as nothing more than a preference, when it is a critical function of what human beings do.There is no “moral” way to treat a car or a clod of dirt. You’re implying there IS a “moral” way to treat a human. Why the difference?God contradicted himself. How?What relevance does god have to the definition of a word? He never said anything to anybody, so, if he was real, we’d nbever know his language anyway.Pitiful question begging.God is relevant b/c I’m drawing a comparison between the objective morality of the biblical worldview and the completely subjective morality of an atheist worldview.You’ve not proved God never said anythg to anyone, but that’s for another day.Words are defined by people. Reality is not.I couldn’t’ve said it better myself. Using your logic, dictionaries could never exist, because there is no “dictionary-pope” to authoritatively define what words mean.Not at all. I’m taking your arguments to their logical conclusions; you’re appealing to them as some kind of authority, but I don’t see how one could justifiably do so.If, theoretically, we had an infinite amount of knowledge, we probably could measure reactions to external stimuli, and reduce it to an equation.That would make morality even less important. You already consider humans just biological machines. As I said, there’s no moral way to treat a car. So, all we’ve seen from you here is:1) Humans are machines2) Question-begging3) IS implies OUGHT4) Special pleading5) Argument from anecdoteI don’t know whom you’re trying to impress.My case is made unless you come up with something different.Happy Phanthom,Wow, a surprise to see you here! Of course, you fled from our last convo if I remember correctly. I don’t fight with my own kind, FYI. We may disagree from time to time but we don’t “fight”. If you see me “fighting” (your word) with someone, it’s b/c I don’t consider them “my kind” (again, your word) and thus consider our differences too large to share fellowship in the same worldview. Just FYI.Yes, I know I’m making a difference for the kingdom, as you put it, by being here. That doesn’t necessarily mean I expect to convince any poster, but I hope to persuade lurkers, readers, etc, and I know I encourage other believers.If I’m no match for this group, maybe you could explain why they’re the ones committing all the logical fallacies. Or maybe YOU could answer the questions I’m posing. I’d love to see that.You set up your description of how you think the biblical narrative went down and call it “bad”. My question to you is the same as to everyone else here: how do you know it’s bad?Would a moral god demand and require “mere mortals” to do something he seems incapable of?Yes. OUGHT does not imply CAN. That’s another logical fallacy, but one not seen here as often as “IS implies OUGHT” has been.If you think it’s bad, please explain how you know what is bad and what is good.I’d add that this is the setup for the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God demands perfection of us, but we can’t ever make it. We must repent, but we can’t even do that without the Holy Spirit’s help. But when He comes to work on us, if we turn our back on Him, woe to us! If we agree and repent of our sin, Jesus’ righteousness becomes our own, imputed as if it were our own. It’s glorious.And your 2nd post is just empty bloviating. Thanks for posting it, but there’s nothing there to respond to.Ben said:rape isn’t immoral because of what it does to the victim or the victim’s loved ones or those who might begin to feel a fear of being raped themselves?I said the equivalent of that very thing in my linked-to post. But in atheism, you have the responsibility to explain how you know those things are morally objectionable beyond personal preference. Yes, it’s a broken record. I’m just asking for an answer!No, it’s
    immoral simply because God says it’s immoral.
    Strawman. Look again at how I described what makes things immoral.Even if that were true, it’d be SOMEthing, unlike what we have in atheism.Peace,Rhology

  28. says

    Like many, I’m ready to give up. Rhology says I have misinterpreted his statements about WHY immoral things are immoral. Here is what he said on his blog:”Raping little girls is wrong because:1) Rape is specifically proscribed (added by Ben: proscribed by God)2) Rape is also theft, which is specifically proscribed (added by Ben: proscribed by God)3) Rape is also wanton aggression against another, which is specifically proscribed. (added by Ben: proscribed by God)OK, so WHY are these things proscribed?Because they violate the command of God, Who has given a law of behavior by which His creation has a responsibility to abide.WHY did He give this law this way?Because these laws are how He is. The law He gives flows out of Who and how He is.”So. Rape is immoral because God says it is immoral. He has so declared. Or his proscription flows out of who he is. And they are proscribed because God says they are. We will never reconcile the fact that this means the proscription against rape is arbitrary, whereas in a worldview that doesn’t first ask what God has to say about something, we DO have standards. Criteria for morality. Harming others is wrong. Is life always so clear-cut? No. It’s not. Is it immoral to harm someone by accident? No. Is it immoral to harm someone in self-defense? No.Of course, those “exceptions” (or complications, or refinements) hold true for thesists as well.Honestly, this idea that atheists have no objective grounds for making moral decisions is silly and offensive. Rhology can keep saying, “Yes, but WHY is it bad to harm others needlessly?” but I’m starting to think this merely points up his own immorality.2 + 2 = 4, not because God so wills it, but because it just is. Immorality MEANS (for instance) the infliction of unnecessary harm against a creature that can feel pain, fear, etc. Why? Because that’s what it means. Just as pain means what it is.

  29. says

    I think I have put my finger on something that’s been bothering me about this whole discussion:What are we to make of people behaving morally before the bible was written and God’s proscriptions were made known? Or people behaving morally in places where the bible is unknown?How is it that they are able to act morally? What standard of conduct are they appealing to when they refrain from causing someone unnecessary harm? Why would they choose to behave morally if they are ignorant of God’s will or God’s punishments?When they claim to know what’s right and wrong—and when their claims about morality coincide with the claims all people make about right and wrong—how do we account for this?Do we say, “Of course they know right from wrong. After all, God made them”?

  30. says

    One way of looking at it Ben is that like every other species on the planet, humans want to survive. On one level, it is a personal preference. Pretty much all of us would rather live than die, unless we find ourselves in a situation where we feel we either have nothing to live for or we are fighting for a cause that we feel is worth dying for. On another level, it is instinctive. When our bodies become infective, our immune systems will instinctively go to work to combat the infection. It is not as though we are consciously commanding our antibodies to go to work because we prefer to be healthy.The survival instinct has different degrees to it. We value our own personal survival. We value the survival and welfare of our children and family. From there it radiates to community (which can be either the physical community you live in, tribe, or religious group), nation, and species. The same thing can be observed in other species.Humans also learn from experience and pass it on to their children. Commit harmful actions against others (like stealing, murder, rape etc.) and you can suffer consequences for it. From there it is not such a great leap to recognize that tolerating such actions against others can create a climate where you and your family can also be at risk.Where religion comes into play in all of this is that back in the mists of time, somebody (or more likely somebodies in different places) figured out that a good way to get the message across to people was to convince them that some supernatural force greater than them wanted them to refrain from some actions and partake in others. Religion was a way to codify human conduct to give it an “objective” basis.I will have to pick up on this later, as my lunch break is over.

  31. says

    Tommy:I get this. I just get how Rhology can believe what he claims to believe.And while I am absolutely an atheist, I don’t believe that those first, um… religionists way back when were intending to trick people. I believe that “the thunder god must be angry” could be a perfectly rational response, when one knows nothing of how weather works, or what might make crops fail, etc.

  32. says

    Aw, rats.I meant to say, “I just don’t get how Rhology can…”Without that “don’t” in there, my response doesn’t make any sense.

  33. says

    Rho:Well, this should be my last post on the subject, as I have made my case. You simply refuse to acknowledge any adherence to logic whatsoever. Your argument is essentially that people can not define words, but christians can. Your answer to every question is “what does this word mean” or “why”. Most people who try this trick are not old enough to read.What you refer to as question begging is me pointing out that the Christian view of morality is one big lie. But you keep missing the point. When I say that Christians get their morality from somewhere other than where you claim, then it is not my responsibility to define every word in the English language. I’m simply stating that your view is a lie, and that Christians and atheists get their morals from the same place.As for your claims about objectivity. I suppose this comes down to your insane redefinition of words. I have yet to see a single definition of “objective” anywhere that your view fits. Hell, it’s barely coherent. When I pointed out the hippocracy and contradiction of your views, your reply was pretty much “so, why is that bad?”.You keep trying to change the subject when I ask you about religion because your world view is completely irrational, and you are hoping that if you respond to every question with either a non-sequitor, or with “why”, then someone will eventually give up.Well, I give up. you can go worship you fuzzy pink elephant or whatever you make your virgin sacrifices to, and tell the grand hoo-hah, or whoever conducts your weekly brainwashing sessions, that you did good. I have wasted too much time on this.

  34. says

    Sorry for the long post guys,it will be my last too. Although I believe differently, I love this site and you’re doing a good work here ( I guess I will thank rho for leading me here)!Hey rho…Since my first adventure chatting with you from a christian worldview, it was clear to me from the beginning that you don’t understand what words mean and you certainly do not try to understand or use them in context. An example… “fled”…I did not run away or vanish from our conversation, I disengaged, something everyone does with you eventually. I still checked in from time to time, but you were still talking to yourself and knew I couldn’t get a word in that you would hear.FYI…”fighting” is not my word, it’s a word used to describe what you do.I don’t know if Merriam or Webster were christians so I don’t know if you can accept their definitions, but check it out anyway.”your kind” should not be hard to figure out… The conglomerate known as christianity. Please, check out the definition for “conglomerate” for yourself.”enemy”, anyone who does not believe EXACTLY what YOU believe!So, using common definions and in context…You DO “fight” both groups. FYI…As far as “making a difference” here or even on your site. You delude yourself into thinking that. You may sway undecided christians or investigating atheists one way or the other with your arguments, but the outcome will never lead them closer to a god that declares to BE LOVING. Just judgmental and self-righteous.And where are the opinions of the lurking believers that you encourage here or even on your blog? They would just be “your kind” and for that reason alone you’re delusional.On being “no match” for the intellect here… Considering the personal bias alone, you don’t stand a chance. But you’ve never shown much need for discernment here or on your blog.Speaking as one that believes in a divine source of all and the teachings of the historic Jesus…Everyone that engaged in this argument has demonstrated more logic than you. Mix that with being gracious and going the extra mile to help you understand…T.A.E. WINS! That’s only my opinion and your god knows that doesn’t count for much.Do you agree with my biblical narrative of the fall of mankind?If you do and are asking me why I think it’s “bad” I’ll tell you…Because… I SAY SO!And what I “think and do” affects my world. And that, has been the reason driving this conversation.Now I’m not claiming to be all powerful and all knowing, but I could have come up with a better plan to deal with a rebelling angel on my own turf. Imagine if I had super powers like god!I wrote about this in detail, you said you read it, but you sure wouldn’t waste your time debating it because you can just declare it heresy, like the little god you think you are.Short answer part 1… Kill Lucifer? No more death or bloodshed! Nope, just love and forgive him.If that fails, Kill Him! Just kidding.part 2… I am a father that has two children that I love dearly. One is perfectly brilliant, the other, a beautiful child that suffered brain damage that rendered him into a imperfect, retarded, wicked little brat. So What does a loving father do? Ask my perfect brilliant child to be killed because I’m so angry that I created such a disobedient little monster child that recreated and now there are even more monsters to deal with? Hell No!I just do what sinful human parents do…Accept and Love the child, and do as much as possible to give him thebest life possible. See, I came up with a better plan!It involves no bloodshed or death and demonstrates Love.You won’t touch the 2nd post because it would involve agreeing that there is no reward for winning this debate. People will believe what they choose, and even though god is alright with it (freewill), you can never be. Plus it would take faith that you don’t have, to believe that god is in charge and you’re not.Peace and Love Buddy… t.f.

  35. says

    Hey, I only wanted to speak up here real quick just to say that I’m one of those people Rho encourages. My reading of his blog, other blogs (both atheist and Christian in nature), and various comments on other pages has started recently, so I haven’t really put much time into commenting, especially since he does well enough at responding on his own. At this point mostly like to reading through them is a good exercise for me, even though some of the higher intellectual speaking and use of certain arguments in the school of logic, etc. go a bit beyond me. I’m learning more every day, however.I have met Rhob in person a few years ago and consider him a friend, though we haven’t seen each other since then, but have always known him to have a fire to share what he believes and what I also believe to be the truth. The last post by Happy Phanthom made it sound as though he is a reckless hothead with tunnel vision that considers himself a “little God”. A person with a differing viewpoint from mine will most likely take whatever I say with a grain of salt, but I also believe that Rhob has been gracious to everyone on these pages, consistently responding to essentially the same arguements over and over again. And he’s right, somebody still has yet to answer the question about where an atheist’s morality finds grounding besides personal preference. In the process of responding to his posts, people throw out possible reasons that there might be to not believe in the morality of the Bible – some that were weak, and some that definitely need to be responded to, which Rhob has shown from past behavior that he will do, given enough time. I’m impressed he can write and say even this much considering he has work and a family.Don’t get me wrong, because I think that other people on this page are being gracious with their time and responses as well – we all want to believe in the truth, right? Arguments in this realm can get quite heated at times, so it’s good to see people that (though they might get a bit steamed from time to time) refrain from anything horrible, usually.As far as “making a difference”, he has, at least for me, helped solidify the foundations of my faith that I fell in love with so long ago. And he does a good job at keeping at people with the truth, time after time. Saying he has “bias” sounds like you’re saying that he can’t argue intellectually because he believes in something. The man was an atheist before, however, so perhaps seeing things from both sides of the fence give him more credibility? Whether it does or not, it’s a sneaky statement to slip in there. Doesn’t that apply, then, to everyone he is talking with on these pages?Anyway, I just felt like saying something, because I’m impressed that Rhob continues at it all despite the continuing attacks at his arguments and, unfortunately, at him. He isn’t an angel or a god, and therefore makes mistakes, but he’s pretty good at owning up to them I’ve noticed. The difference of all this for us is not being able to go back to God and say “GOD, I won the argument for you! YaYYY!” We keep at it because we love him, his word, and his creation, and want to serve him by helping people who don’t believe in the truth come to know it, even if no one does.Didn’t really add to the arguments at hand, so I apologize for that, but it looked like people were leaving anyway.

  36. says

    Hi all,Ben said:Or his proscription flows out of who he is. And they are proscribed because God says they are. Yes on the former. But the latter just gets it wrong again. Strange to see you hit the mark and then miss it in the next sentence. I’ve expressed that clearly several times; I wont’ respond to a strawman anymore.Is it immoral to harm someone by accident? No. Is it immoral to harm someone in self-defense? No.Based on YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCE. You can say nothing further either way. I know b/c I’ve asked you to and you haven’t.2 + 2 = 4, not because God so wills it, but because it just is.B/c God is like that; logic and reason flow out of Him b/c He is a logical and rational being.Same for morality.Immorality MEANS (for instance) the infliction of unnecessary harm against a creature that can feel pain, fear, etc. Why? Because that’s what it means.It’s so funny! Look what Thomas says a little later:Your argument is essentially that people can not define words, but christians can. Your answer to every question is “what does this word mean” or “why”. Most people who try this trick are not old enough to read.This is exactly what you’re doing, Ben. You would impose this personal preference, this definition of morality that you have, on everyone else. Based on what authority? Based on what consensus? Based on what?You’re acting like God here. Maybe you’re not an atheist; you believe yourself to be some kind of demigod of morality.What are we to make of people behaving morally before the bible was written and God’s proscriptions were made known? Or people behaving morally in places where the bible is unknown?These are irrelevant to the topic at hand.1) Most people are NOT atheists.2) We’re talking about atheISM. 3) You’re wondering about these things within the context of a biblical worldview. Feel free to ask me on my blog (where I’m likely to respond), blog about it yourself and alert me (where I’d probably respond), or ask a blogger here to blog about it (where I’d respond if I had time).“Of course they know right from wrong. After all, God made them”?Some variation of that, yes, but it’s more nuanced given sin, the fall of man, man’s suppression of the truth, general revelation etc. It’s not terribly complicated but it’s beyond the realm of this discussion.I believe that “the thunder god must be angry” could be a perfectly rational response, when one knows nothing of how weather works, or what might make crops fail, etc.And your advanced, sophisticated, modern atheist mind has come up with such a superior response!Tommy said:humans want to survive.So what? Some humans don’t want to survive.Some humans don’t want other humans to survive. Why pick your version and not theirs? If you say, “Empathy; we want to live!” then you’re repeating yourself and begging the question. Both of which you’re apparently good at…On another level, it is instinctive.Which does not speak to the question of morality at all.The next 2 paragraphs of your comment are question-begging and redundant, consistently confusing IS and OUGHT.I thought *Christians* were the ones who were supposed to be constantly committing logical fallacies. Not here, looks like.figured out that a good way to get the message across to people was to convince them that some supernatural forceBegs the question. Assertion without evidence.And still doesn’t answer YOUR question. It looks like you’re waving the white flag and trying to convince the other side to do the same. But there’s no reason to, from where we sit.Your argument is essentially that people can not define words, but christians can. Strawman AGAIN.*God* defines morality, not people.And my point about words was that they depend on the personal context, much like the morality you espouse. I say “green leaves” and “gimme the green” depending on how I feel and what I’m trying to express. You believe rape is wrong or right depending on your preference at that time. Same thing. Conversely, the biblical morality doesn’t change. Rape is wrong. Period. Next question.Christians and atheists get their morals from the same place.How is that possible since biblical Christians get their morality from the Bible? I suppose this comes down to your insane redefinition of words. I have yet to see a single definition of “objective” anywhere that your view fits.I have referred to it at least twice. Without much hope that this will help, I do so here a 3rd time.Don’t just assert that my morality isn’t objective. Make an argument. You can start by responding to the argument in that post.When I pointed out the hippocracy and contradiction of your views, your reply was pretty much “so, why is that bad?”.It’s “hypocrisy,” BTW.I answer that way b/c you have admitted your morality is based on personal preference, nothing more. So if *I* prefer it that way (taking on your view), and you don’t, so what?If you’d make a specific charge, I’d answer it.if you respond to every question with either a non-sequitor, or with “why”What non sequiturs have I made? I ask why b/c you can’t answer it; it’s useful to keep shooting at the chink in the bravado.whatever you make your virgin sacrifices toI assume this is intentional hyperbole to make a joke.If not, please explain what you mean.Happy Phanthom said:you don’t understand what words mean thirty green 56 higher slough nearby on lake if adversely punk gerbil snaochtI disengaged, something everyone does with you eventually. I still checked in from time to time, but you were still talking to yourselfAn ignominious disengagement leaving important questions on the table that you’ve not yet even tried to answer looks like a flight to me. But whatever.If I was talking to myself all this time, why the comboxes with multiple comments in them?“fighting” is not my word,Well, you were the one who said it. I didn’t say it.The conglomerate known as christianity. I don’t necessarily identify myself as part of the “conglomerate” of “Christianity.” Just FYI, I’m a Reformed Baptist attending a Southern Baptist Church. If the focus becomes too wide off of those labels, one risks losing sight of where I stand. “enemy”, anyone who does not believe EXACTLY what YOU believe!Typical foolish hyperbole. Why don’t you ask me what it means to me when I use the word?”Enemy” as I meant it is someone who does not submit to Jesus Christ. EXACTLY does not enter into it, but there are certainly some qualifications.Do you agree with my biblical narrative of the fall of mankind?Yes.Because… I SAY SO!Which has been my point the entire time. thanks for the admission.You won’t touch the 2nd post because it would involve agreeing that there is no reward for winning this debate. Or maybe it’s b/c you didn’t present any arguments.You delude yourself into thinking that.Quite a few people have told me that; I don’t have to delude myself. But whatever. You’re just going after my person now. Ad hominems of this kind are a fallacy and not worth anyone’s time.Ciao.Phinehas,Much appreciated. Peace,Rhology

  37. says

    Sheesh.Who “decided” what the word “water” means? Was it God who decided that? No, it was human beings who use the word “water.” Somehow, the word “morality” is different. THAT word was defined by God. When our human-made definition of the word and the concept of immorality coincide with God’s concept, well, hey, we got lucky. (And when God’s morality looks abhorrent to us, we just find a way to discount it. That was the Old Testament. That applies only to this or that kingdom. That’s only true on Wednesdays.)For anyone reading this who actally believes that he dervies his morality from the bible, I must ask this:When confronted with a situation of questionable morality, what do you do? Do you go through the bible in your mind, trying to discover a passage relevant to the situation, so you’ll know how to respond, what to think? And even if you claim that that is what you do—wow!—I have to ask this:If you didn’t already know or sense that the situation was morally questionable, why would you search through your bible databank to verify it?Are there actually human beings who remain neutral on every matter before them, until such time as they can try to remember what the bible would have them do or believe?How do these people get through the day?

  38. says

    Missed the point again, Ben.And I’m not talking about practice but about *justification* for holding certain beliefs.Why not try answering the questions?

  39. says

    In the first place Rhology, my remarks were addressed to Ben, not you.In the second place, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and see yourself for what you really are, an attention whore with such an overinflated ego that if somebody were to prick you with a needle, the force of the escaping air would level trees and buildings in a hundred mile radius.”See what a superior debater I am? Bow down before my superior wisdom and accept Jesus Christ or else you are MY ENEMY! Oh and btw, here’s a link to a post on my blog. COME VISIT ME!”We are at an impasse because what you are asking for does not exist, namely a clearly delineated guide as to what is right and wrong because some force in the universe greater than us tells us so. However, if your believing in such a thing is what keeps YOU from raping children or stealing purses from old ladies, then heck, I salute you for it.As for me, it is going to take a lot more than your exclamations of “BEGGING THE QUESTION”, “LOGICAL FALLACY”, “IRRELEVANT” and “SO WHAT?” to make me believe that whether Adam kisses Steve instead of Eve is a cosmically significant event that causes a universal creator to blow a gasket and call up hurricanes, floods and tornadoes to serve as a demonstration of his rage (not to mention consigning Adam and Steve to some fiery pit for all eternity in the afterlife.)I don’t know what kind of life you lived before you became “saved” nor will I ask. I don’t believe it is too much of a stretch to guess that you were very unhappy with yourself, and you had a “personal preference” to live a better life. Adopting the belief system of the particular stripe of Christianity you embrace was your vehicle for achieving your preference. Conversely, I was a believing Christian (though I know you don’t consider Catholics to be Christians) who was unhappy with my life. My life as an atheist has been much happier and rewarding. You and I drew different conclusions from our personal experiences. You drew the conclusion that one must believe x, y, and z, or else one will be damned for all eternity, regardless of whatever actions one does that are virtuous or good. I drew the opposite conclusion, that it is our actions that matter most, and if some deity does exist that watches over us and judges us, then it must be a rational being that will care more about who I was as a person instead of whether I believed that the deity even existed. IF I die and find out I was wrong, oh well, tough break I guess!In conclusion, if you really care about my well-being on some religious level and truly want to “save” me from eternal damnation, then being an arrogant prick is not the way to go about it. I do give you props for being well-skilled in the art of debate, whereas I have no training in formal debate. But that is what lies at the heart of what I dislike about you. All you are about is the debate. You seem more concerned with racking up points rather than trying to communicate with people on a personal level. Consequently, I fear you have become a legend in your own mind. And with that, I bid you adieu.TK

  40. says

    Canned Rhology response:”Sigh…I don’t have time to address all these misrepresentations you guys are guilty of here, so go read my blog and then we can talk.”The bottom line is this, Rhology: Your arguments about morality with regard to atheism have no merit because they are completely based on the false assumption that atheism is a “worldview” that espouses a specific set of moral ideas. It is not a worldview. I know you’re convinced that it is, and you can send us to your blog all you want, but all your blog is is more fleshed out (read: long-winded) versions of what you’re saying here. I can only speak for myself here, but until you get rid of your false assumption that atheism is a worldview, you’ll be ignored by me on this issue. I would recommend everyone else here do the same, as the discussion won’t go anywhere useful as long as he holds onto this straw-man assumption about atheism. He will, of course, hold onto it because without it, he’d have no basis for anything he has to say against atheism.

  41. says

    Wow, digging deep to find some old stuff, eh?When I say “atheism” in this context of worldview, it’s shorthand for “any worldview that is atheistic”. Pick one. Better yet, pick YOURS and let’s talk. This is such a pitiful smokescreen argument.

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