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Ken Follett on secular ethics

On page 426 of Ken Follett’s latest novel, World Without End, I came across a neat quote. The story, which is a sequel to Pillars of the Earth, takes place in 14th century England, in a town that is mostly managed by monks from the local cathedral. A monk named Godwyn has devised a scheme to bilk the townspeople out of a bunch of money.


Caris wondered whether he believed that any deceit was pardonable provided it was done for the sake of God’s work. Surely men of God should be more scrupulous about honesty than laymen, not less?

She put the point to her father, as they hung around the court, waiting for their case to come up. He said: “I never trust anyone who proclaims his morality from the pulpit. That high-minded type can always find an excuse for breaking his own rules. I’d rather do business with an everyday sinner who thinks it’s probably to his advantage, in the long run, to tell the truth and keep his promises. He’s not likely to change his mind about that.”

Comments

  1. says

    Strikes to the heart of civilization doesn’t it? Economy is based on trust. If you can’t be trusted, you cannot be dealt with. I often wonder how many of those surveys come back marked “Christian” when they really mean “Lying for Jesus.” I think there a number of people out there that call themselves believers when all they really truly believe is that this deception is somehow better for humanity. It is the lying to the kids about Santa because they look so happy storming the tree on Christmas morning that I truly question. I think I would have loved my parents more if they had just told me that THEY bought them from the start. Looking back I remember that the Xmas in which I recieved the most toys was also the Xmas in which my dad had just come off of a long stretch of unemployment. For 9 months all he wanted to do was provide, and finally he could, and he called it Santa. Kind of a touching lie right? But does that make it right?

  2. says

    I am currently reading that book. Absolutely great view of religion in my opinion. All atheists should check it out. Brilliant writer.

  3. says

    This seems similar to Camus’ Le Peste, actually. It’s a good brainteaser. A few mistakes, though.Mistake 1 – That someone breaks the rules does not suggest whether the rules are right or wrong. Mistake 2 – Someone proclaiming his morality from the pulpit and someone telling you what his personal morality is is fundamentally indistinguishable – each is an expression of what that person believes is moral.Mistake 3 – Using this as an escape hatch from dealing with the actual, real laws of the actual, real God. EVERYONE breaks the law and so everyone needs forgiveness. You are indirectly here reveling in that breaking of the law and you go on to snub the one who can forgive you.Mistake 4 – Pretending that you have a better option, when in fact you have no way to justify expressing a morality that would be binding on anyone else.Peace,Rhology

  4. says

    Mistake 1 – That someone breaks the rules does not suggest whether the rules are right or wrong.What did that have to do with the text?Mistake 2 – Someone proclaiming his morality from the pulpit and someone telling you what his personal morality is is fundamentally indistinguishable – each is an expression of what that person believes is moral.There is a difference, actually. Someone who believes that his actions are approved of by an unchanging deity is less likely to recognize when he is in the wrong.Mistake 3 – Using this as an escape hatch from dealing with the actual, real laws of the actual, real God.You lost me there. Atheist blog, remember?Mistake 4 – Pretending that you have a better option, when in fact you have no way to justify expressing a morality that would be binding on anyone else.And of course, neither does religion.

  5. says

    What did that have to do with the text?“That high-minded type can always find an excuse for breaking his own rules.”Someone who believes that his actions are approved of by an unchanging deity is less likely to recognize when he is in the wrong.Argument?Atheist blog, remember?Yeah, I think I saw sthg like that on here.As if what you believe about X makes any difference in reality about whether X is.neither does religion. Except for this.

  6. Martin says

    It is, in fact, a common mistake of Christians to confuse “morality” with “obedience to authority.” To believers, “morality” is about pleasing their god. To the secular, morality is all getting along with your fellow man.Most everyone in the world already practices a natural, evolved morality rooted in empathy and reason; cooperative rather than destructive behavior is a key factor in species survival, and kind of a no-brainer. It’s entirely secular and people in general do not need to be “bound” to it, since most everyone who isn’t sociopathic pretty much practices it as a matter of course. Ask me what a fundamental moral precept by which I live my life would be, and I’d start with something like, “Be nice, don’t be an asshole, get along with everyone and they’ll get along with you.” I suspect that over 99% of folks hearing that would say, “Yeah, that’s right.” I wouldn’t need to make my morality “binding” on any of them, since it’s pretty much the way they already behave, too.Certainly people must learn basic moral precepts, but this is all part of the growing-up process of childhood to adulthood. People are also imperfect, and many make bad and immoral choices, and are sanctioned by society and its laws for those choices.But if, as Rho is implying, Christianity does have a way to “justify expressing a morality that would be binding on anyone else,” then it must not be all that good, or at least, no better than plain old secular morals, as the innumerable cases of morally reprehensible behavior among even the most devout believers can attest. I would say that Christian moral teachings, based on the notion of reward and punishment, are demonstrably worse, as they make people think “morality” is just “what you can get away with.” If the only reason not to do a bad thing is because it will piss of an authority figure, divine or otherwise, then the minute that authority figure is not around, the urge to misbehave can be pretty strong. Similarly, if you convince yourself you are a chosen representative of said divine authority figure, well, you can pretty much decide the rules don’t apply to you. Swaggart, Haggard, Bakker, Richard Roberts, several thousand pedophile priests, Jim Jones, David Koresh…the list is endless.Honestly, why burden yourself with all the confused mixed messages of religious “morality,” with its added psychological baggage of guilt, fear, and redemption, when simply living your life behaving rationally will see you through just fine every time.

  7. Martin says

    As if what you believe about X makes any difference in reality about whether X is.Of course, that statement could be used to defend leprechauns and pixies just as well as your god, Rho.

  8. says

    After spending a few days on this blog, I am reminded of the quote “You can’t reason someone out of a belief that they didn’t reason themselves into.” It really does burn me that what Christianity boils down to is obedience. Yet when I read the bible, all the rules that are clearly defined are horrific, but explained away somehow by Christians with blind faith in that book. I typically say something like “The bible asks for disobedient children to be stoned to death” and I get “But yeah, that was OT.” Then I say, “But Jesus upheld that particular OT law in Matthew 15:4.” They say to me (and I am not making this up) “Oh, Jesus was being sarcastic.” I think I saw a study the other day that showed that a frighteningly large number of people don’t understand sarcasm. Was the bible not written for them too?

  9. Martin says

    You have to remember that the Bible is Christianity’s Big Book of Multiple Choice, particularly as regards the OT. When it comes to trying to slip creationism into the schools, or getting the ten commandments (version 1.0) posted on plaques in government buildings, clearly the OT matters a great deal. However, bring up any number of the ghastly atrocities it depicts, and suddenly they’re telling you, “Oh, well, that’s just the Old Testament!” Hilarious.

  10. says

    Martin said:It is, in fact, a common mistake of Christians to confuse “morality” with “obedience to authority.”That’s b/c God lays down morality for us to follow.We “confuse” it b/c that’s the way it is. That’s kind of what people mean when they say “morality” – it tells you, a person, what you SHOULD do. that’s authoritative.W/o a “should”, just call it a “norm” or something that implies that it’s a DEScription rather than a PREscription. Consider the comparison – you derive your morality from whatever you want, from certain precepts from “society”. As if you can define “society”. As if you don’t pick and choose which parts of the “societal” “morality” you follow.As if you ever took a survey to discover what “society” believes about moral topic X. As if you can explain WHY we *should* follow what society says. kind of a no-brainer.I’m kind of dim so I need more explanation than a question-beg.It’s entirely secular and people in general do not need to be “bound” to itSo where’s the “should” part of this “morality”? If the only reason not to do a bad thing is because it will piss of an authority figure, divine or otherwise, then the minute that authority figure is not around, the urge to misbehave can be pretty strong.I already linked to the response I’d give to this. Martin apparently didn’t read it.if you convince yourself you are a chosen representative of said divine authority figureAnd if you don’t?And there’s more to being a chosen rep of God than THINKING you’re a chosen rep of God.when simply living your life behaving rationally will see you through just fine every time.Since all “rationality” as Martin is using it here can only DEscribe things, I don’t see how it could possibly help anyone with questions of morality.And to reiterate my constant refrain for those of you just joining us – my argument is not that atheism precludes the possibility of having a moral system nor that atheists are all immoral. Rather, it is that atheism cannot provide an objective basis for morality beyond “I like it” and “I don’t like it”. Problem is – that sort of question is involved in choosing ice cream flavors and choosing whether to rape a child or not.jdp said:“The bible asks for disobedient children to be stoned to death” and I get “But yeah, that was OT.” Then I say, “But Jesus upheld that particular OT law in Matthew 15:4.”I am truly sorry that you’ve run into a lot of ignorant Christians.Hopefully this will clear it up for you.And Martin, unlike you did with the link I already posted, I’d suggest you actually READ this link – it might do you some good. The Jolly Nihilist was good enough to do so, and he denies that morality is even worthwhile. You who don’t agree with that should do at least the courtesy to your readers to understand the position you’re attacking.Peace,Rhology

  11. says

    Wait, speaking of should, even if God is the creator, why *should* we follow his commands? I can think of no ethical reason to follow the so called morality laid out in the bible. The only reasons given are that “it offends God” if I don’t, or that it is better for me in the long run if I do. Those aren’t ethical justifications. If the only two reasons for following some god is that: a) he is more powerful so don’t ask questions (book of Job) or b) because you will be rewarded for obedience or punished for disobedience than all that says about you is that you are afraid, not moral. Actually, you are less moral because you have allowed your moral sense to be co-opted by blind obedience.

  12. Martin says

    Rhology, you’re right. Atheism does not “offer an objective basis for morality.” Atheism is merely the disbelief in gods. Beyond that it has nothing to say about any philosophy, political views, or moral precepts a person might choose. Atheists can be pillars of the community or complete assholes, just like anyone else.What I was pointing out to you is that atheists base their morals on things like reason and empathy, not their lack of belief in a god. Christians, who have been convinced morality is somehow tied to the existence of their god, and that morality is something entirely incomprehensible to the human mind unless it is uploaded there, Matrix-fashion, by a deity, cannot get this. If their morality is based on god-belief, then they simply assume atheists must base theirs on their disbelief, which they then attack as insufficient. It’s a bogus assumption.And as I’ve pointed out in previous threads where this topic has come up, the whole notion of “objective” morality versus other (presumably non-”objective”) kinds is a big red herring and a non-issue. If a person’s moral sense develops as most normal adults’ do, then the issue of whether it has an “objective” basis or not is irrelevant, as long as it in fact leads to moral behavior. Considering that devout religious belief does not correlate in any way to the moral health of society, I don’t see how believers’ touted “objective” moral standards are any better merely for having an “objective” basis. (“Objective” being Christian-ese for “it comes from God,” I presume. Again, this wouldn’t be “morality,” just obedience to authority.)

  13. says

    my argument is not that atheism precludes the possibility of having a moral system nor that atheists are all immoral.Thanks, that’s very charitable of you.Rather, it is that atheism cannot provide an objective basis for morality beyond “I like it” and “I don’t like it”. Problem is – that sort of question is involved in choosing ice cream flavors and choosing whether to rape a child or not.That is a gross oversimplification. If my morality simply was based on “what I like” or “what I don’t like”, then I would do whatever the hell I felt like doing and conjure up some justification for it.I have no desire or inclination to have sexual relations with another man nor do I want to force myself on a child. And yet, I am supportive of gay rights while I find child rape absolutely abhorrent and believed it should be punished severely. It’s not that “I like” gay sex, it’s just that I don’t see why I should care about what two consenting adults do in private, which is far different than a man forcing himself on a defenseless child to satisfy his own urgings without regard to the welfare of the child he is harming.Speaking only for myself of course, there are lots of things I would like to do, but either refrain from or don’t do as much as I would like to because I recognize the value in doing so. My value system serves as a check on my impulses, not as a justification for those impulses. Ultimately Rho, you and I are both concerned about the consequences of our actions, but we differ as to what those consequences are. For me, they are consequences that can be suffered in this life, whereas you worry about consequences in the afterlife. We also differ of course in that I deny that you have an objective moral system. It is simply your personal preference to believe that the prepackaged belief system you embrace represents an objective standard. If believing it keeps you from committing murder, rape, or theft, then bully for you. I have nothing to worry from you in that regard, just as you have nothing to worry from me.Peace and human solidarity,Tom

  14. says

    To me, just because you base your beliefs on this book or that book doesn’t make your beliefs any better. Would it make more sense if I adopted “The Joy of Cooking” as the ultimate fount of all knowledge? Just because you HAVE a basis says nothing about whether that basis is RIGHT. All it says about you is that you have surrendered your moral sense to a book, and out of fear, nonetheless.

  15. says

    Actually, Rhology, after further thought something else started bothering me. By your own admission, you have no idea why raping little girls is wrong other than (by your interpretation) the bible prohibits it. The fact is that there are plenty of other ways to determine whether an act is harmful, we don’t need a 2000 year old book to tell us that child molestation is harmful and causes lifelong trauma to the child.

  16. says

    jdp,Give us, then, a standard by which we can know:1) the definition of “harm”2) why “harm” = bad and “not harm” = goodin your worldview.As for me, it’s not that the Bible says so, it’s that God said so. In the Bible.Peace,Rhology

  17. says

    Wow, I can’t believe that I am actually defining harm for someone! Harm could be defined as that which is detrimental to anyone, especially unfairly, resulting in undeserved negative consequences. That is just off the top of my head. It breaks down like this: Secular ethics: Some action is right/wrong based on consequences in this lifetime. Religious Ethics: Action is right /wrong because it is offensive to some claimed god.

  18. Martin says

    Wow, I can’t believe that I am actually defining harm for someone!Welcome to religion, where authoritarian ideas of right and wrong that actively discourage independent thought result in the complete atrophying of same. Rho is like a lot of Christians, who think that people need “standards” in order to understand behavioral norms that just about everyone comprehends. He might as well demand to what the “standards” are for determining if chocolate ice cream is “yummy,” and how one knows whether “yummy=good” or “yummy=bad”.Tom’s reply to Rho is eloquent. There’s just a very basic level at which Rho does not get morality outside of religious contexts. You can explain notions like “consequences” and “empathy” to him all the live long day, and it will fly a mile past him while he’s busy demanding to know “objective standards.” He’s basing all his ideas on the false premise of “personal preferences,” as if atheists felt themselves to be living in a vacuum where no one’s actions ever affected anyone else. Rho may be that solipsistic, but no atheist I ever met has been.In any case, at least he’s willing to admit up front he thinks he understands what’s right or wrong because he’s had it explained to him by a character in a book. As he says:That’s b/c God lays down morality for us to follow.The God who tortures people for eternity if they fail to worship him to his satisfaction laid down morality for me to follow? Why on earth should I follow the “moral” dictates of a being less moral than I am?QED: Obedience to authority is what religion substitutes for morality. But I wonder, if God is the one who dictates our morality, where did God get his moral precepts from? Are there reasons for the things God decides are moral? And why this kind of “morality” and not another? Or is it all just “God likes this” or “God doesn’t like this”? And where’s the “should” part of this “morality”? I mean, sure, I guess there’s the whole “You’ll go to hell otherwise” thing. But it seems to me that’s all just obeying a tyrannical authority figure out of fear. And something tells me that isn’t really moral.(If any of the above sounds familiar, it should. Plato was working on this millennia ago. Maybe you have an answer? In the meantime, have fun following your God-dictated morality. Just don’t let anyone see you stoning any disobedient children. They might not understand.)I liked this, though.…there’s more to being a chosen rep of God than THINKING you’re a chosen rep of God.Got it.PS: Sure, I’ll read the links. More later.

  19. says

    jdp,You’re doing what I am trying to get you past – begging the question.Let’s try this again.Harm could be defined as that which is detrimental to anyone, especially unfairly, resulting in undeserved negative consequences.Define “negative”. Define “undeserved” and how you know whether an action is deserved.My contention is that atheism lacks a standard by which to know these definitions, which is why I’m asking this. Prove me wrong.Meanwhile, Martin adds little of substance to the convo, and that always makes me grin.But I do like this statement quite a lot:He might as well demand to what the “standards” are for determining if chocolate ice cream is “yummy,” and how one knows whether “yummy=good” or “yummy=bad”.So the question of whether it’s desirable or undesirable to rape small children is… what? Just dependent on a sentiment similar to whether yummy=good?See, without a standard, the standard becomes YOU. And everyone is different. And you can’t tell someone else that “ice cream is yummy, period!” b/c they might not like ice cream. So to them it’s not yummy. Right? So who are you to tell someone else that raping a small child is wrong, period?As for the rest…Why on earth should I follow the “moral” dictates of a being less moral than I am?1) Tell me how you know God is less moral.2) Where is your empathy for God in all this? You insult Him all the time, but isn’t insulting others bad, b/c you wouldn’t want to be insulted, yourself?Obedience to authority is what religion substitutes for morality.B/c morality is supposed to PRESCRIBE what one is SUPPOSED TO, what one OUGHT TO do in such and such a situation.Martin is apparently advocating that we touchy-feel our way thru life. Hmm, what do I feel is the right thing to do here? where did God get his moral precepts from?1) Asked and answered before. God is the source of them. They reflect His character. 2) When atheists start acting like this, it’s all downhill. I’ve seen it before – these ignorant questions reflect a floundering-about desperation. And where’s the “should” part of this “morality”? I mean, sure, I guess there’s the whole “You’ll go to hell otherwise” thing.Answered in the post I linked to already. Martin apparently is not into finding out what his opponent believes, but rather enjoys posing empty rhetorical questions and hoping no one will notice.But he said he would read the links. Let me suggest, Martin, that you actually READ them before you make ignorant remarks like you have here. It’s a little embarrassing for you.No true ScotsmanYou are apparently implying that there exists no true way to identify a messenger from God according to the Christian worldview and that figuring it out is simply all up to what I think. Maybe you could (non-ignorantly this time) (yeah, as if that’s gonna happen) describe how the Bible informs how a messenger of God is to be identified. Maybe THEN you can critique it, but if you don’t know how, why would you just throw out sthg that you don’t know applies or not? Peace,Rhology

  20. says

    Rhology, with all due respect:Buy.A.Dictionary. They are cheap, and they are much more efficient (and reliable) than I am. However, rather than define words, let’s try a thought experiment and see if this gets through to you. Imagine there is a tribe of American Indians, ~1000 A.D. Your god hasn’t visited them for whatever reason (please don’t bother trying to provide me with one.) One tribesman (let’s call him Chip on Shoulder) decides that he is entitled to attack his fellow tribesman brutally every time someone gives him “a look.” There are already 3 tribesman permanently wounded. These indians are harmed, and suffer negative undeserved consequences. They are harmed because they can no longer move well. This = bad because they can’t hunt, and their ability to feed their families is impaired. (I can’t believe I just wrote those sentences) The tribe meets, and based on their group instincts of self preservation, decide that these violent outbursts cannot be tolerated. This behavior would eventually destroy the tribe. Also, they recognize that this type of lopsided retaliation is ALWAYS wrong, and create a law. What you should find amazing (and what I don’t) is that they managed to figure all of this out without Jesus having to appear to them at all.

  21. says

    The dictionary I have here in my office defines harm as “physical or mental damage.” Of course, I can already anticipate Rho’s next question. My dictionary defines damage as “loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property or reputation.”So, going back to the issue of child rape, not only do I personally have no desire to rape a child, as a humanist I recognize and value the right of a child not to be raped because of the physical or mental damage that such an act can inflict.It is also probably very possible that there are adults who want to have sex with children, but they refrain from it because they believe it is wrong. In other words, they are using morality to go against their personal preferences.What a value system does Rho, whether it be yours or mine, is to provide us with a prism through which to view the world and our place in it and helps to guide are actions. You just happen to believe that the worldview that you embrace really does come down from on high, whereas I do not. You are simply following the subjective world view of the people who wrote the various parts of the Bible.

  22. says

    jdp,Wow, you proposed that I buy a dictionary. Let me try to explain again. My contention is that atheism lacks an objective standard by which to measure good and bad, beyond the personal subjective “I like it” and “I don’t like it”. If I’m right, you have no justification to make any more far-reaching statement than “I don’t like it when children are raped”. You can’t say it’s “bad” or “wrong” – you need to define how you know what is bad or wrong. You didn’t say merely “I don’t like it”, so you’re expressing a value judgment that refers to sthg outside of yourself. I want to know how you know what that is.Saying “Well, duh!” isn’t an answer.Saying “Harm is BY DEFINITION bad” isn’t an answer, unless you can tell me why.So you’re begging the question all over the place. Tell me how you know these things are bad, are negative, are harmful.They are harmed because they can no longer move well.So? What is your argument for the statement “Not being able to move well is harmful”. This = bad because they can’t hunt, and their ability to feed their families is impairedWhat is your argument for the statement “Being able to feed their families is good”? This behavior would eventually destroy the tribe.What is your argument that destroying the tribe is bad?*I* have an answer b/c my worldview provides an objective basis for morality. Yours doesn’t, and your consistent question-begging is only reinforcing that conclusion. What you should find amazing (and what I don’t) is that they managed to figure all of this out without Jesus having to appear to them at all.My worldview provides for recognition of the fact that 1) God has placed innate knowledge of right and wrong within every person2) God provides different amounts of light and revelation to different people groups3) People usually do act morally in many areas.You must have forgotten that I already said:And to reiterate my constant refrain for those of you just joining us – my argument is not that atheism precludes the possibility of having a moral system nor that atheists are all immoral.I look fwd to more answers and less question-begging assertions.Peace,Rhology

  23. says

    Rhology, if I have to explain to you why suffering and dying unnecessarily or undeservingly is bad, then I think you have bigger problems than winning this argument. Trying a different tack, isn’t the burden of proof on you? I have never claimed that my vision of morality is somehow objective, but you claim yours is. So isn’t the burden of proof on you to first prove that your God even exists, before you begin to prove that his morality is somehow objective? Aren’t the same arguments for your version of morality (the bible says so) equally valid for the Koran? Also, isn’t your argument circular? Since objective morality comes from God, aren’t you saying that morals are invalid if they don’t come from God, because they don’t come from God?

  24. says

    jdp,If your morality isn’t objective, then the moral value of raping little girls = the moral value of not raping little girls. Now that we have that out of the way, with your admission…Actually, you know what? That’s DISGUSTING. You may think the idea of the God of the Bible is lousy; you may think it’s nonsensical or whatever you think. But if you can’t tell the moral difference between two opposite actions on the order of whether it’s OK to rape a little child like my daughter, then why in the world would any sane person believe what you believe?The answer is this: You don’t act like you really believe that. You can’t stand to be consistent with your professed beliefs b/c the conclusions are too horrible. And you apparently know it, b/c I doubt you’re wanted for serial child molestation. You think it’s horrible in one part of you and in the other (more “rational”) part, you don’t think ANYTHING is horrible. Or praiseworthy. Stuff just is. Just description. I’m glad to propose Jesus Christ as an alternative to this kind of demented thinking. That which is good is that which reflects His character, and He is good, loving, merciful, and compassionate. He can tell you unequivocally that it’s wrong to rape a little child; He invites us to come to Him in faith like a child, and He will forgive the wrong you’ve done, even as horrible as raping a child. Rant about how “there’s no evidence” all you want; that’s a whole different discussion. But I pray this will stick in your craw – you act like a Christian when you make these moral statements, b/c your worldview, as we’ve seen, can’t provide you the any basis to make them.Peace,Rhology

  25. says

    Rho: God is the source of them. They reflect His character. So theism cannot provide an objective basis for morality beyond “God likes it” and “God don’t like it”.

  26. Martin says

    Rho: [Jesus] can tell you unequivocally that it’s wrong to rape a little child…If you need Jesus or any other imagined savior to tell you this, then where basic humanity is concerned, you’ve failed to launch.

  27. says

    Is it just me, or does Rhology seem inordinately obsessed with the idea of child rape? He brings it up a lot.Don’t worry Rho, none of us atheists here are ever going to rape your little girl. If anything, you need to be more worried about the guy who volunteers at the community church because he claims to love kids so much.

  28. Martin says

    Christians always bring up child-rape when they try to make these absurdly tortuous moral arguments for God because it can be used as an all-purpose “worst thing anyone could ever do” example. How it in any way makes a case for God as some moral authority is anyone’s guess. If they wish to argue that without God uploading his moral rules to your brain everyday a la system software patches, you’d be such a morally adrift person you wouldn’t even be able to see anything wrong with (dramatic music cue) CHILD RAPE, then one has to wonder about the plethora of child abuse, particularly of the sexual kind, that takes place with alarming frequency in high-profile religious environments, compared to the remarkable lack of such scandals among the non-religious. Either these pedo priests, cult wackos, and other pervs of the cloth aren’t grokking God’s divine rules just right, or they simply aren’t “true” Scotsm… er, Christians. Or, maybe, perhaps, just probably, morality is not about blindly obeying authority…and if you’re someone who consults lists of rules to understand what’s considered “moral,” then given the first opportunity, you’ll break that list the minute you think no one’s watching.The little problem of the fact that this God-Who-Is-The-Source-Of-All-Morals never sees fit to protect little children from the unwanted attentions of child rapists is something else that tends to cause apologists great consternation, usually resulting in a lame retreat into the Appeal to Free Will.Seriously, apologetics is always at its weakest when it tries to make laughable “no morals without God” claims. And when apologists dig further traps for themselves by bringing in child rape, well, it’s usually a flailing exercise in desperation at that point, alot like watching a live cockroach being flushed down the commode.

  29. says

    I guess what it boils down to (for me) is this: Who is more moral? A) A person who needs a book to tell him/her that child rape is wrong.B) A person who doesn’t need a book to see that child rape is wrong.

  30. says

    JDP, for me it isn’t a matter of who is more moral. If you don’t engage in behavior intent on purposely causing damage or injury to another, then I don’t care what your reason is.If you don’t steal because you believe that it is a sin in the eyes of god, then that’s all that matters to me. I don’t steal because I value living in a society that promotes honesty.

  31. says

    If your morality isn’t objective, then the moral value of raping little girls = the moral value of not raping little girls.As anybody with a basic grasp of the English language can see, this is utter nonsense.

  32. says

    Rhology,When I use the term “objective” ethics, I use it in the encyclopedic sense of the word. That is that objective ethics are ethics that exist outside of human concerns. I don’t mean that my preferences are my only barometer for what is moral or acceptable. You should familiarize with a few ethical systems (such as utilitarianism) that do not pose the existence of a god, and also aren’t based on personal preference. I like them in that they *objectively* don’t ask me to stone unruly children to death.

  33. says

    Rhology, You also have created a straw man here. I never said that because ethics are not objective that they cannot be globalized.

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