Open thread on episode #803 »« Creationists, watch those sources!

The Atheist Experience written up in Süddeutsche Zeitung

I had an interview a few weeks ago with a reporter from Germany, and it has resulted in a very nice write-up about The Atheist Experience in the The Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest national print newspaper.

You can view the original article in context here, under the title “Gottlose Gesellen”. The attempt to get an English version from Google Translate was a bit laughable, so one of our native German followers has kindly provided a much better translation for us:

[…]

Godless Fellows

“I’m going to ask you something now. And I’m not doing it to insult you, but to save us all time.” For twelve minutes Matt Dillaunty tried to make it clear to his caller, that there was no global flood that nearly wiped out humanity, 4000 years ago. He also tried to make it clear that creationism, the belief in the literal truth of the biblical creation account is not science. As host of the weekly call-in show The Atheist Experience, Dillahunty often uses harsh words, particularly when his discussion partners stumble over logic fallacies. For 15 years now the live TV show broadcasted on the public channel in Austin, Texas and live streamed on the internet.

Two of the weekly rotating hosts debate with callers about God and the world. Mostly God, because they don’t believe in him. Their show is meant to promote “positive atheism and the separation of state and church.” They stand in for a world view which is hardly viewed as favorable in the United States. “If you live on the East or West Coast, maybe in New York or Los Angeles, nobody is really interested in your faith,“ says host Russell Glasser, “but in the central states, particularly here in Texas, there are a lot of fundamentalist Christians.”

Since Glasser moved to Austin in 2000 he is active in the Atheist Community of Austin (ACA).The organization began in the late 90’s with a newspaper ad as an invitation to an atheist social gathering, today it counts more than 100 active members. Most of the growth can be attributed to their call-in show. “The first ten years it was a local show with just local calls,” Glasser recalls, “but once the first clips appeared on YouTube it became a worldwide success.”

Especially popular are the clips featuring rhetorically clumsy but religiously devout callers getting taken apart verbally by the hosts. For instance, when someone claims that Noah’s Ark was discovered in Asia Minor . Hardly anyone is capable to make the discussion as entertaining as the hosts of The Atheist Experience. Well-versed in the bible and rhetorically brilliant, Matt Dillahunty is now the star of the show.

Originally Dillahunty wanted to become a minister. The burly, bearded, bald man gladly retells his story of growing up in a Fundamentalist Christian family, and how he found more and more contradictions in his belief system, until he was unable to find any rational reasons to maintain his faith. That’s exactly what he demands of his callers: to skeptically examine their faith. Everyone who keeps up with the hosts can look forward to an intellectually satisfying debate. Everyone who remains too rhetorically challenged risks becoming a joke among the YouTube community.

Such ridicule is not the goal of the show, Russel Glasser explains. He rather views it as a contribution in the fight against the restrictive religious climate in the USA. Russell Glasser knows that many religious people are already offended by the mere concept of the show, “but for those people it is already offensive to have different views from them at all.“

Peter Sich

Comments

  1. Christoph Burschka says

    Bible hard

    I haven’t seen the Google Translate but I can absolutely see where that came from. :P

    (A closer literal translation would be Bible-solid, I guess, short for having solid knowledge of it.)

  2. says

    Matt is a great debater but I think he stills in a sense corrupted by is old christian fundi background for he still believes in an absolute truth and an absolute moral: he has the burden of proof that such absolutes exist, no? He haven’t showed evidences that such things exist but he talks and presupposes them often.

  3. Lord Narf says

    You’re missing a lot of what he says on the subject. We can come to an absolute conclusion on morality, given certain premises and goals.

    He often leaves bits of that out, as we all often do, when we discuss the same thing over and over. It’s like referring to the Theory of Evolution. Evolution itself is not a theory. Evolution is an observed fact. When we talk about the Theory of Evolution, we’re referring to the theories that explain the mechanics of biological evolution, such as Natural Selection and Punctuated Equilibrium.

  4. jacobfromlost says

    I think he invokes objective truth and objective morality, not “absolute”. He has even said absolute certainty is useless.

    I do share your concern, though, at least about his assertions that an objective morality can still exist even if we don’t know what it is. I think specific values can be chosen based on our understanding of objective facts in reality, and that there will be objective outcomes that can be taken into account regarding our values later if it turns out our understanding of objective facts was faulty.

    But I think the existence of moral dilemmas alone (in which there are unknowns that couldn’t possibly be known a priori) torpedoes the idea of an objective morality in all situations. I would agree with Matt that morals are not “relative” in the sense of “I’m ok and your ok no matter what”, but they ARE relative (and subjective) in the more general sense of the term–they are relative (and subjective) to contexts, values, and objective outcomes and objective facts.

    There are situations (certain moral dilemmas and psychological double binds) in which every moral action (including doing nothing) is simultaneously moral and immoral relative to the same contexts, values, and objective facts. Which tells me the morals themselves are not objective at all (because people can be trapped in those moral circumstances in which all options are simultaneously moral and immoral).

  5. Lord Narf says

    Ah, yeah, I missed that point. He usually says objective morality, not absolute. There’s a subtle but very important difference.

  6. says

    I totaly agree with you about moral and truth, but listen carefully to Matt in his debates (not on the show necessarly), he believes in an “asbsolute truth” and an “absolute moral” in which he agrees with Matt Slick (?) and an orthodox theologian (and maybe others that I don’t know).

  7. jacobfromlost says

    I have listened to him carefully, on and off the show. I don’t agree with you. If you have specific vids, quotes, etc, I’ll look at them.

  8. Lord Narf says

    I think you may be missing some of the conditionals still. In the ones I’ve heard, he generally refers to us being able to reach an objective morality through reason. Can you show us one in which he flat-out says that there’s an absolute morality?

  9. Lord Narf says

    Damn, the click on the Reply button didn’t seem to register.

    I think you may be missing some of the conditionals still. In the ones I’ve heard, he generally refers to us being able to reach an objective morality through reason. Can you show us one in which he flat-out says that there’s an absolute morality?

  10. says

    I think he’d agree on the “absolute truth” one… which I also don’t see a problem with. Reality works in a particular way… even if our knowledge about it will never reach 100%.

  11. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, certainly, there is a way that things actually are. The Christians just have no fucking clue how to go about getting within any vague proximity of it.

  12. says

    I am not shying away, guys. My internet connection is really slow and now I have to go to sleep for tomorrow I have to awakened.

    well for references about Matt’s “absolutes”: well you can ask Kazim, I am pretty sure he knows it. Also I gave you two debates in which he conceided that “absolutes” exist in morality and truth (in which I don’t see why he agreed on that).

    Matt says though on the show in his everyday life he hasn’t an objective morality, but a subjective one (btw).

    Anyway, I am not anti-Matt, but I think that when he agrees and believes that an absolute morality and truth exist he becomes less skeptic but a believer.

    see you tomorrow.

  13. jacobfromlost says

    Matt has talked about the logical absolutes. You are going to have to be more specific in your references rather than simply asserting them over again for me to know what you are talking about.

  14. Felipe says

    “Burly, bearded, a bald”? Is that the style of journalistic writing in Germany? That’s awesome.

    I do wonder, though, what is the climate in which such an article is received in Germany. I tend to think of it as a largely secular country, but maybe I’m just clinging to a stereotypical view of Europe.

  15. Lord Narf says

    Umm, I don’t think they all start with B, in the German, man. :-p

    It’s “massige Mann mit Bart und Glatze,” in the original text.

  16. says

    Regarding the debate with the “orthodox theologian”, are you perhaps referring to the debate with Jacobse? He’s an orthodox priest and the debate was mostly about morality. I can’t be bothered to search through it right now, but if anyone else would like a go, here’s a link:

  17. jdoran says

    I don’t know where you’re getting this idea from. Matt’s repeatedly stated on the show that his positions positions on truth and morality are “objective” and not “absolute”.

  18. Oliver says

    It’s perfectly acceptable to apply those “colorful” descriptions hereabouts. I don’t think there was any offence intended.

    About the general climate towards religion: No-one really cares. Most people I know don’t really believe, but have a vage feeling that the major churches must be a force for good in the world. “When I was a child, the pastor was always so nice” kind of crap.

    Might be different in Bavaria, though. Oh, and in the last few days media went collectively crazy about the pope retirement plans.

    Anyway, keep rocking!

  19. brishadow says

    Nice article.

    ‘If you live on the east or west coast, maybe in New York or Los Angeles, is interested no one really for your faith”… google translator can be amusing, yes. Or we can just say that the article was translated by Yoda. :D

    B

  20. brishadow says

    My favorite band is from Munich. They are all coming to NY again at the end of the month, I’ll ask them. I know them all personally, but never asked any religion based questions before. As far as I know, they are all Atheists.

    B

  21. konqui says

    How come the reporter thinks that AETV is a radio show? “Eine Radiosendung” means “a radio show”. Otherwise nice article.

  22. says

    Well Süddeustche Zeitung is printed Munich, Bavaria. It is a progressive and lefty newspaper in a real strong christian province. The middle and the south of bavaria are strong catholic, the north of bavaria strong lutherian.

    all majors and minors holidays (The three Kings, for exemple) everything is closed and in all Germany everything almost is closed on Sunday and the streets are desert. and many provinces they are holidays when bars are not allowed to be open (well yes they can, but it is forbidden to dance and to drink alcohol those days, so they stay close lol).

    When you are moving to a new appartment, a new city, you have to go to Town Hall and there they ask you your religion, if you are catholic or lutherian, you have to pay an amount to the gouvernment. I think the 2 later are considered as national religions. The gouvernment pay for the catholic priests and the lutherian pastors.

    Bavaria is conservative and christians, but they are laughing about the fundis in USA (about Intelligent design stuff, young earth creationists, rejection of evolution, etc). In Germany they are no really querrels between the different ways of christianity, lutherian, catholics, free christian churches collaborate together and are not fighting between them calling themselves TRUE and the rests FALSE and from satan, etclike in the USA and Canada.

  23. konqui says

    Well, the number of atheists is greater in Germany than in Texas, but we have some nasty stuff like the anti-blasphemy law and church tax collected by the government, as well as hospitals, nursery, diverse social care institutions which are paid by the government at least 90%, but the rules are made by the church. Some rules would be illegal for any other employer, e.g. firing someone for getting married a second time.

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung is mainly read, well, in the south west of Germany, but also in the middle. In general the southern part, especially Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are the most religious parts of Germany. Thus, I’m rather surprised by the positive article in SZ.

    Thanks for posting.

  24. brishadow says

    Wow. Now I’m sure to definitely get some interesting stories. Jan’s Christmas tunes every year are always clearly labeled X-Mas.

    B

  25. says

    Btw. Kudo to AE to have an article about them in that very prestigious newspaper!

    (p.s. I am coming later about the thema “objective”, “subjective” and “absolute”)

  26. brishadow says

    :D

    Check out their versions of The Pink Panther Theme, and a few hilarious renditions of classic rock tunes, like Thunderstruck from ACDC and Smoke on the Water from Deep Purple. Absolutely insane. Jan is pretty famous in music circles for the rework tunes, but his originals are also magnificent. “Mustafari Likes Di Carnival” from the new disc is one of the most ridiculous(in a great way) pieces of music that I’ve ever heard. A huge inspiration to crazy musicians like myself who are always trying to push the envelope on technique, writing, and what is possible.

    B

  27. says

    Hmm can’t wait to hear what is that famous anti-blasphemy law. I would doubt that such a law exists in Germany, otherwise music bands like Agonoize, Das Ich, Wumpscut,etc would be considered criminal and their albums, concerts, video would be illegal, which in Germany they aren’t.

  28. konqui says

    In case you understand German or want to try google translate you can find the law here:
    http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/stgb/__166.html

    In short plain English it says that you can get up to three years in prison or have to pay a fine if you insult a religion in public, and this insult might lead to civil unrest. There is no problem in publicly stating you disbelief, but stating that some deity is a douche is a gray zone, but should still be towards the OK part.

    I don’t know if this law has been enforced in recent times, but it was discussed of using this law to ban this bad Mohammed movie.

  29. says

    wow!! I am on my ass. :D even “Weltanschauungsvereinigung”. So in Germany we could go to jail saying to a raelien, that Rael is an ass hole?! I could go 3 years in jail for that. And an evangelical christian that would tell us that having sex with many partners without being married we will go to hell, I could go to the police? (lol) weird…

    I am pretty sure it is not applied, as I gave exemple with those “blasphenous” german bands. I guess it is there to discourage anti-semitism.

  30. konqui says

    Well, the music bands have a special savior: That’s art. With art and satire you are allowed more than with plain hate speech.

    There might be multiple reasons but enhance respect towards each other is a good idea, but not respect towards ideas.

    I dislike this law personally but doesn’t feel my rights being infringed. Also recognize that three years prison is the msximum. You’ll have to try very hard to get this sentence.

  31. says

    ya, I guess it is some anti-harrasment law, not much more. like anyway if you target someone or a group even secular, it infriges the right of the other to be in peace,

    I am surprise though, that every year they are neo-nazis manifestations in many cities in Germany. Not only it is often tolerate it by the cities, but also they are protected by the police from the leftis. In a sense, it is a surprising free speach that I thought it wasn’t allowed in Germany.

    Anyway thanks for giving me the specific article of law. really interesting!

  32. Lord Narf says

    “When I was a child, the pastor was always so nice” kind of crap.

    “… and we were so shocked when those boys accused him of going those horrible things. They must have been doing drugs or something to make them want to say that about such a nice man.”

  33. says

    yeah, he believes in an “absolute logic”, that an “objective moral” exists and and a “objective truth” exists. I have pushed “objective” to “absolute” in his mouth because when for exemple someone believes that an “objective moral” exists it is for me a residu from theology and idealism, it is not grounded in reality. When someone pretend that an “objective truth or moral exist” it could be only assert from an idea of a transcendent being- that see all, all knowing the consequences of an act, seeing the future- exists, which is indemonstrable and anyway a fantasy.

    Thanks to Luke for the video. I just listened to it again but only in parts. When they both agree that killing is wrong, I have stopped. I prefer the world of Walking Dead where they are more grey zones in that area.

    Nietzsche’s “Genealogy of Moral” is more believable and grounded on reality then all those “theorists of some absolutisms and ojectivisms”

  34. Curt Cameron says

    I think Matt would say that an objective reality exists – there is a reality out there, and we imperfectly perceive it. I fully agree with him here.

    On the other hand, I have heard him say something like there is an objective morality. I know what he means, but I wouldn’t phrase it that way. He takes Sam Harris’s view that if we as humans can agree that our actions should reduce suffering and increase happiness, then we can fairly objectively evaluate the consequences of our actions, and generally get an idea about whether an action is moral or not. That’s what he has called objective morality. It’s something we can all agree on, once we accept the first premise.

    I don’t think we should call that “objective morality,” because it gets confused with the theists’ claim of absolute morality (I don’t really see a difference between the words absolute and objective here). Morality is someone’s opinion about what we should do, and opinions are necessarily subjective, even if every sane person agrees with them.

    Morality is subjective. If a theist tries to set a trap by asking “Is it absolutely immoral to torture babies?” then the correct answer is “morality is not absolute, but in my opinion it’s immoral to torture babies.”

  35. says

    yeah, he believes in an “absolute logic”,

    No, not exactly. In the same sense that he “believes in” the law of gravitation, he believes there are “logical absolutes”, which we have three – non-contradiction, identify.. and a third I can’t remember the name of. Like gravity, they’re demonstrable.

    But “absolute logic” as a term doesn’t even make sense.

    that an “objective moral” exists

    I think what you’d find is that what he means is that secular morality can be objectively demonstrably effective. It’s demonstrable whether punching someone in the face is harmful or not… and if the morality is harm/benefit based, it’s therefore in a sense objective.

    and a “objective truth” exists.

    Unless you’re a solipsist, you agree with him.

    I have pushed “objective” to “absolute” in his mouth because when for exemple someone believes that an “objective moral” exists it is for me a residu from theology and idealism, it is not grounded in reality. When someone pretend that an “objective truth or moral exist” it could be only assert from an idea of a transcendent being- that see all, all knowing the consequences of an act, seeing the future- exists, which is indemonstrable and anyway a fantasy.

    “Objective” only means “outside of a mind”, whereas “subjective” means essentially “within a mind”. My coffee cup objectively exists. Non-solipsistic reality is definitionally objective.

    At no point is “idealism” invoked… and certainly nothing “transcendent”

  36. says

    Ok, let’s focus on Morality, for those subjects are too vast anyway for a forum, and anyway I can’t spend much time on it.

    About what you call “Objective morality” sounds to me close or exaclty like Utilitarians. Their Morality is strongly subjective (in opposition to Kant’s ethic/moral, which was an attempt to an “objective morality”, if it is not a an attempt to an “absolute morality”).

    So you mean, to take a practicle exemple, that in the world of Walking Dead if my wife is bitten they are
    Subjective Morality: I won’t kill her because I love her.
    Objective Morality: We have to kill her because anyway, she is done and the only thing that can happen it is that she could contaminate us.
    Absolute Morality (for the exercise): The thing he and they should do (I am transcendent).is to let her live because she won’t bite anyone until they find the cure to zombiness.

    Do you mean that by “Objective Morality”? If yes, then it is subjective because, as you said, it is essentialy inside the mind of a person or a group what they think it is the best. Utlilitarians=Subjective

  37. says

    So you mean, to take a practicle exemple, that in the world of Walking Dead if my wife is bitten they are
    Subjective Morality: I won’t kill her because I love her.
    Objective Morality: We have to kill her because anyway, she is done and the only thing that can happen it is that she could contaminate us.
    Absolute Morality (for the exercise): The thing he and they should do (I am transcendent).is to let her live because she won’t bite anyone until they find the cure to zombiness.

    I’d disagree with the absolute morality description. The idea I get from theists frequently is that absolute morality is that it’s always wrong to kill. Always. God lets us know about this, but it’s unvarying and constant. As soon as you added the “… because …”, it’s no longer absolute.. it’s more relative to the situation.

    Do you mean that by “Objective Morality”? If yes, then it is subjective because, as you said, it is essentialy inside the mind of a person or a group what they think it is the best. Utlilitarians=Subjective

    What I was trying to say is more along with lines of what Curt Cameron was saying. It’s a question of what, exactly is objective about it.

    – The harm/benefit is objective. Cutting off someone’s head hurts that person.
    – Deciding that harm/benefit is the metric for the moral framework, is subjective.

    It can be called “objective morality” only in the sense that, outside of that one axiomatic starting point, the rest of it is objective, in terms of deciding what to do (spear through the head is objectively harmful, so that’d violate the axiom), and whether it adhered to the moral axiom or not.

    Christian morality, on the other hand, is subjective in that the framework is completely established on “that’s what invisible sky wizard wants”

    So when we say “objective morality”, it’s more or less a shortcut for saying that the harm/benefit is objectively verifiable for each of our decisions.

  38. says

    I think part of where we’re not seeing eye to eye is because of the word choice.

    We have two different metrics:

    – Absolute versus relative
    – Objective versus subjective

    They’re two different “measurements” that may or may not overlap.

  39. Houndentenor says

    I don’t know what’s so difficult about morality. 99% of the time we agree that it’s not okay to do certain things. Moral dilemmas always involve the conflict between one person’s well being and another (separating Siamese twins when only one can survive the operation, for example). Those are difficult questions and “absolute morality” doesn’t help in those anyway. It’s wrong to cause harm to others. It’s pretty simple. I don’t need a threat of eternal damnation to know that I’m not allowed to hurt other people. Are theists telling me that if it weren’t for the threat of hell they’d just kill and rape people whenever they felt like it? I think that’s mostly not true (although since plenty of theists do those things, even that doesn’t seem to work very well).

  40. Houndentenor says

    But the question then is not that I have to explain why it’s immoral to torture babies (since virtually everyone would agree that such a thing is wrong) but that someone trying to rationalize such behavior would have to present a case for why that is moral. I can’t imagine any case that wouldn’t make that person sound like a monster. If you are harming others you need a damn good reason (self-defense, for example). Perhaps a case in which a painful procedure was necessary to save the baby’s life. That might be moral (assuming there was no medically safe way to alleviate the pain). These topics can be discussed by rational people. We don’t need an imaginary source, especially one like the Bible that advocated genocide and slavery which I think almost everyone would agree are immoral.

  41. Houndentenor says

    But the same in true in the very liberal north. Germany has strong blue laws. Stores are closed on Sundays and most Saturdays after noon. There are many national holidays, many with a religious name. In general German has a very conservative Catholic (or at least traditionally Catholic) south, a very liberal traditionally Lutheran north and then there’s the east which tends to be the swing in the elections (since they were out of West German politics for about 50 years they have no strong allegiances one way or the other. The election maps show this in most elections. I cautioned my German friends that they might like the convenience of stores open 24/7 like we have in America, but the toll it would take on working class families (who would suddenly have no regular time to spend together) would be a high price to their society for that convenience. I think this has more to do with how Germans view family and friends and the value of a day off to enjoy the outdoors more than it has to do with religious observance. That’s just what I gleaned living near Wiesbaden and traveling around the country for about half a year. Your observations may be different.

  42. says

    ya, I guess the problem resides often in the polysemy of words. So somethimes people disagree for the wrong reasons and sometimes they agree also for the wrong reasons. If we analyse the debate deeply between Matt and the orhtodox priest, when they say they agree on “objective morality” I am pretty sure that they talk about 2 different things.

    I can see that our 2 words and concepts differs when you tell me that christian morality is subjective. I would have never seen it that way. I am still not sure though what is usefull about if to cut the head hurt the other or not, the goal for morality is what we should do to stay alive (and happy) if possible, so it is subjective.

    Also we have that “eternal” dichotomy that could confuse, some talk about the individual good (called subjective), the collective good (objective, that I would call subjective-collective) and an absolute good (a trancendent good, whatever that is but not necessarly from a god perspective, but a transcendental view).

    “The idea I get from theists frequently is that absolute morality is that it’s always wrong to kill.”
    Well maybe the modern christians think that but the Crusades, Inter-Christians wars, Old Testament, modern Muslims consider (red) as moraly good to kill the non-believers or another group of faith for it threatened the inside peace and better to kill the “poisoned” minds before it infects the others (like Walking Dead, it as almost a duty to kill our infected beloved).

    The difference of the terminology I guess come sometimes by which philosophical background we have (christian, continental philosophy, analytical philosophy, etc) For exemple it is funny how the word nihilist can signified different thing totally depending who says it. Nietzsche when he talk about “nihilists” he is talking about the christians and other theists, I guess a christian when he hear “nihilist” he thinks about “atheists”, etc

  43. konqui says

    It’s true that shops are closed on Sundays in Germany (except for a few Sundays where Shops are allowed to open, usually during the weeks before XMas), but Grocery stores and major warehouses open on Saturdays until 8 or 10 pm.

    Another downside of stores opening 24/7 (besides social tolls) is that it hurts small businesses very much. Large stores anyway have security personnel in the stores over night and also people to refill the shelves.

    Most holidays do have religious names and origins, but churches are rather empty, except on Easter and XMas. Usually seniors go into church on Sundays except for a very small percentage of young people. Most holidays are used for relaxing and extended vacation.

  44. Lord Narf says

    That’s actually one of the best justifications I’ve heard for the odd treatment of Sundays, by the business community. Large corporate stores have a major advantage in the 24/7 culture. I’m all for helping out the small stores that Walmart and similar corporate behemoths actively try to crush and eliminate.

  45. Lord Narf says

    And strangely, the people we always hear advocating the mass slaughter of women and children are religious. It’s a recurring theme in the Bible.

    The part I love best is when Christians try the morality argument on atheists. It’s just so foolish. Sure, use it as an argument to scare the sheep and keep them raising their children religious, but don’t try that shit on atheists. We know better.
    I have a hard time getting my mind around it, when Matt tells stories about how he used that argument, back when he was a Christian. I have to defer to his explanation of it, since I never really believed and had rid myself of most of my doubts, before I was old enough to develop a more advanced moral sense.

    The guy who started the “Why are so many theology schools asking their students to pass out questionnaires?” thread, by passing out the questionnaire, tried that shit in his parting shot. http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2013/02/18/why-are-so-many-theology-schools-asking-their-students-to-pass-out-questionnaires/#comment-89151 It’s so pathetic.

  46. says

    I agree with konqui. most of the christians even in bavaria are pissed of when they are like Buss und Bettag (“pray and repentence” day and not allowed to celebrate in bars).

    But I forgot to precise in my first comment about germany (and you both forget that) that they are 24/7 in all Germany, even during holidays! They are the Tankstelle (Gas station). Beers, chips, milk, ect can be buy 365 days a year and 24/7. It is just cost 2 or 3 times the price for all except the Tobbacco and cigarettes for the price for that is Gouvernemental, so fixed prices. Chips are 3 euro (ouch) but beers 2 x the price, but still much cheaper then USA for in Tankstelle beer is 1 euro for a 500 ML

    Oh, and in Est-Germany you have the Spätkauf, they are really small chops where you can buy at a really afordable price beers, chips, food between like 9pm and around 6 am. But not sure if they are open during holidays but they are open even Sunday nights.

  47. says

    I can see that our 2 words and concepts differs when you tell me that christian morality is subjective. I would have never seen it that way. I am still not sure though what is usefull about if to cut the head hurt the other or not, the goal for morality is what we should do to stay alive (and happy) if possible, so it is subjective.

    The goal is subjective (although programmed into us by evolution – an objective thing)… but the means is objective. Cutting off someone’s head is objectively harm. In the objective world, the person is now actually dead.

    Those objective analyses of reality play an important role in morality. If our intent was to be friendly in greeting a person, but our method of handshaking decapitates the other person, we can assess objectively that it’s immoral due to the harm… and we can mend our ways, and try out non-decapitating handshakes.

    There’s a little bit of subjectivity, but compared to most moralities, it’s very minimal – which is why I like it. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. It can be a mixture of subjective and objective elements… kind of like how we make many assumptions in life, but it’s better to keep the assumptions to a minimum.

    Well maybe the modern christians think that but the Crusades, Inter-Christians wars, Old Testament, modern Muslims consider (red) as moraly good to kill the non-believers or another group of faith for it threatened the inside peace and better to kill the “poisoned” minds before it infects the others (like Walking Dead, it as almost a duty to kill our infected beloved).

    I agree that theists tend to be the first to abandon the concept of absolute morality, while still maintaining it exists. Ultimately, morality comes from a god, according to them… even if they’re constantly changing what they think God has absolutely set up as morals.

    For exemple it is funny how the word nihilist can signified different thing totally depending who says it. Nietzsche when he talk about “nihilists” he is talking about the christians and other theists, I guess a christian when he hear “nihilist” he thinks about “atheists”, etc

    Don’t forget that the Christians were supposedly atheists because they didn’t believe in the Roman gods, back in the day.

  48. says

    I basically agree with Curt Cameron that “objective morality” isn’t a great name, since technically it’s ultimately a mental process, but everything I’ve been babbling about is what (I think) Matt means when he says it.

  49. says

    Ok, thanks. I will try to keep that in mind when Matt will speak about “objective morality” the next time. If it is the case that he mean what you and Curt Cameron said, ya he surely should use another less confusing expression for that.

  50. konqui says

    I agree there are gas stations which open all night, but some gas stations do close on Sundays and during the night, especially in small towns and villages. Anyway, try to find fresh veggies in a gas station. ;)

    Although I see the need to get gas 24/7 every day, it’s a bit weird that non-gas station shops have to close. Actually, there is one other exception: a Kiosk. That’s a small shop which is additionally defined through their variety of goods (essentially the same as gas station except for the gas). I know a small Turkish shop which labeled itself to be a Kiosk, so that it can open whenever their owners want to. They clearly sell goods (fresh veggies) which are way outside of what a Kiosk is allowed to sell. I’m curious when/if they have to close.

    It’s kind of funny how some small shops circumvent the rule kept in place in part to protect them.

  51. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, it’s the problem with labeling. We need quick, concise ways to refer to concepts, which are going to necessarily lack a lot of the nuance. But, when you use just the concise labeling to refer to the concept, at a later point, you’re going to have a bit of confusion … unless you stop and explain in detail what you mean by the label, thus defeating the point of the quick, concise label. It’s a bit of a Catch-22.

  52. Lord Narf says

    You get that sort of selective enforcement sometimes. Protected entities are often allowed to violate laws put in place to protect them, as long as the ultimate goal is achieved.

    I have a problem with some people being allowed to ignore laws, but when it’s a law with a specific, targeted goal, you get into a letter-of-the-law/spirit-of-the-law conflict.
    I dunno. I can see both sides. Besides, on the whole, I’m in favor of people being more honest about why they’re passing certain laws. In America, we have a huge problem with fundie nut-jobs passing stealth (and not-so-stealth) theocracy-based laws.

  53. says

    “Secular morality” is probably a better name, since it just means “morality without using a god”. Then again, basing a moral system on Magic 8-balls could also be considered “secular morality”, under that definition.

  54. says

    “secular morality” would be less ambiguous, it gives a better picture of what it is.

    I wonder though if Matt calls it “objective morality” as a rhetorical trick, I don’t know like to confuse his opponent. hmm

  55. Lord Narf says

    Yes, but we’re talking about what type of secular morality. The objective part is the important bit, since we otherwise get attacked for promoting moral relativism.

  56. jacobfromlost says

    I think the rub is the criteria by which we agree on that 99%, how we come about that criteria, and why it doesn’t (or can’t) apply to 1% of moral situations.

    Moral dilemmas don’t always involve a conflict between one person’s well being and another’s. Sometimes it is unknown what action leads to well being and which leads to harm. That’s why I talked about the psychological double bind above. If such a thing as a psychological double bind can exist in a moral situation–and it can–then morality isn’t objective in a strict sense. And if it isn’t objective in a strict sense, I don’t think there is any basis to say objective morals (or objective moral actions) can “exist” even if we don’t know what they are.

    Morals by their very nature are dependent upon context, chosen values, objective outcomes, and objective facts. Yes, there are objective elements involved, but morals will always be subjective to US–which makes them seem objective to us, and perhaps in a loose sense they are, but that is hardly the “fundamentalist” take on (even) objective morals that ericvon was criticizing.

  57. Houndentenor says

    I found Sundays to be very nice when I was “home” (I lived with the ex-pat parents of a close friend while I was there.) We went on long walks through the trails that lead through the vineyards along the Rhein. Everyone we met seemed to know the name of the family dog. It was relaxing and a nice break. I think Americans could use something like that. We hear a lot about “family values” in America but nothing has been worse for families than stressed out overworked parents. I will admit that it was frustrating to be traveling over the weekend when almost nothing was open except the shops in the train station, but I learned quickly to plan ahead (so that I didn’t run out of toothpaste on Sunday, for example). I understand the silliness of some of the blue laws. I remember parts of the supermarkets being roped off on Sundays because you could buy food but not writing tablets on Sunday in Texas (this was c. 1979). It was silly. Of course the big reason we want things open 24/7 is that we work long and ridiculous hours in the US. Germans tend to have a real lunch hour and reasonable work hours (and VACATION). If stores were only open from 8-6 I’ve had plenty of times when I worked 8-8 and ate lunch at my desk, so that would have been a problem.

  58. Houndentenor says

    I’m a singer and I have to translate the German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, etc songs and operas that I sing into English. The word for word can come off bizarre (it’s English that’s out of sync with most languages with regard to word order, btw). German to English almost word for word tends to sound like Yoda, or at best Prince Valiant. I’ve always suspected that the person who wrote Yoda’s dialogue actually thought of it that way.

  59. Oliver says

    As a child, my mum was sexually molested – though not raped – by a catholic priest. Seems that he got away from him before the worst could happen. She told me after being silent for 50 years.

    She’s still defending them.

  60. yorkshire_geek says

    Reality, morality, “exists”….

    So something for sure exists, but because we filter reality through finite senses, further filter through prejudice, our sense of reality is wrong and subjective. Subjective varied by the individual and an individual varies over their life.

    I’d say reality is where many people agree with you and few disagree with you. If many both agree and many disagree on something then its something I cannot confidently form an opinion on. So if I think a giant pink rabbit floating in the room is real, I’d have to get other people to agree with it, if a few disagree with it then there are causes to not think its real or I cannot confidently know it to be real. I can combine my direct senses with logic and memory and infer if something is real from past experiences. e.g. if pink floating rabbits are commonly seen, I can infer my senses are probably correct. If though hardly anyone says they are real, I have cause to doubt my senses.

    Hence reality is really collective reality combined with logic and memory.

    That definition of reality is consistent with “The Matrix” film as you’d think something real because you sense other people observe the same thing, even if it is not actually real.

    Logic is where I have difficulty. Logic feels to be absolute. e.g. if A implies B, so not B implies not A. I cannot comprehend in any opinion that is ever not the case.

    Hence I place logic of higher trueness than reality. So if logic and senses disagree, I’d take logic as higher authority, and reject the senses as flawed. In “The Matrix” example I’d begin to doubt reality if it was illogical, some aspect which didn’t make sense.

    Morality is about how people get along with each other. Now as I know reality is made true by consensus and that logic exists above reality, morality is itself a consensus. There is no objective morality. You can though define one which is objective which is the golden rule. I can simply ask myself would I like a thing done to me, setting aside my individual preferences, and if I don’t like it I don’t do it to others. That means that for example if I like self-harming, I’d in that sense be moral to encourage someone else to self-harm?

    I also think that morality has a natural selection cause. Behaviour which encourage individual and then group prosperity is gene selected. So in the example of self-harm, if that was genetically caused, it would tend to bring on damage to individual and group wellness (basic stuff like more chance of getting an infection, or bodily damage worsening chances of survival). Hence you can see a evolutionary cause why I don’t want to self-harm. That then means I don’t want to self-harm and via morality then encourage others to not self-harm.

    So there are: logic, evolutionary advantage, and then reciprocal approach to others which we call morality.

    Of them all, the only absolute I’d say is logic.

    Where does logic come from? I don’t have a clue.

  61. steve84 says

    Northern Bavaria is still very much Catholic, but you’re getting into the middle of Germany, which is a mix of Catholic and Lutheran. You can find Lutheran churches more easily than in the deep south, but they are hardly a majority.

  62. says

    No, Catholics aren’t in majority in the North of Bavaria, North of Bavaria is Franken (Franconia) and it is traditionaly and historicaly Lutherian, was annexed to Bavaria I think only during the 3rd Reich. Of course you will find some catholic cities there like Bamberg, but they are the minorities. The whole Nürnberg is strongly pro-franconian and therefore anti-Bavarian and anti-catholic for the Franconian identity is strongly related in being Lutherian.

  63. says

    @Ercvon Germania:
    You are distorting some things.

    While yes, bavaria is mainly catholic in numbers the fact is that most people, even if they are technically counted as religious, are a-religous. In fact even in bavaria over 20% are nones and the numbers is growing steadily. In my circle of friends which is diverse there is not one that goes to church except maybe for their wedding ceremony (in addition to the state sanctioned wedding) and christmas.

    In no diocese is the number for sunday worshippers reaching 20% of the total registered “believers”. (That’s 20% of 50% of the total population = 10% total). Mostly it is the same number as with protestants about 5% of the total population and that is the churches own numbers!

    The rest of germany has much more Nones! In total their number is between 32-37%. In East-Germany that number is as high as 75% and more. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Religion_map_germany_2008.png

    Also you don’t go to townhall to pay your church tax, it is deducted from your income tax card.

    Aditionally, yes, the origin of the no-work-on-sundays laws is christian, but with the rise of labour unions in the late 1890’s and ever since these are mostly labour laws protecting the workers and should you find your self working on sundays you get a sunday work surplus paid by your employer that is very often a 100% more than normal salary, which makes it very expensive to let your workers work on sundays.

    Restaurants, fast food diners and other entertainments like cinemas, museums, theaters and clubs are open on sundays (it’s an important business day for them).

    About the dancing prohibitions: there are currently new laws in motion that will allow it even in bavaria. Also most young people don’t even know about these laws and tend to ignore it. It is just an administrative offence anyway.

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