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Jan 07 2011

RCimT: Religion/sexuality link roundup

Been a while since I’ve done one of these! I have to get some tabs off my Firefox and I don’t really have a lot of time to blog them individually, so here you are.

In case you haven’t seen it, Stephanie has weighed in on the hilarious conflation of sex-positivity and pedophilia a theist has accused Justin me of recently. As is her wont, Stephanie did not address the hilariousness of the religious apologist’s claims. Instead, she posted an essay, and a suicide note, that will cut you to the quick, no matter where you believe the source for morals might be. Hopefully the apologist will simply shrivel up and blow away at this. I mean, I doubt it, but I can’t help but hope so.

And is it any surprise that public opinion on homosexuality throughout history has been so damaged by prevailing modes of thought, especially those argued by theists since roughly 1400? In Canada, where gay marriage is legal coast to coast, psychiatric care professionals in Alberta can still reference the code for homosexuality in making claims for compensation. That’s right — Alberta still considers homosexuality a mental illness.

Meanwhile, the Baptist Press is ‘appalled’ that an iPhone app with the text of the Manhattan Declaration was rejected from the iPhone store. They are upset that the reason that was given was that the homophobic content is potentially damaging to gay people — upset because that, in effect, tells them that their faith is potentially damaging to gay people. If you ask me, they’re just upset because the truth hurts. Their faith, founded as it is in hatred for all things alien, has interpreted their holy texts in such a way that they believe gives them free license to be bigoted against people they already hate. Dovetails nicely with the recent attempt at calling atheists pedophile-friendly, considering how this app (and the declaration) claims that homosexuality is equivalent to incest.

PZ Myers posted an image flowchart on whether to engage certain people in discussion about a topic. If I were to follow it, I’d never get the delicious trolls that I do. Don’t get me wrong — most of my trolls are people I would have no problem with having their public input license revoked. But my tactic with trolls has been to use them as examples — to hold them up to those of their belief systems as “what not to be like”. If you disagree with me, but you follow this flowchart, you and I will almost certainly have a good discussion, even if we fail to convince one another of our respective points. If you follow this flowchart and land on “this is not a discussion” or “you cheated”, I intend to go on pointing this out, to put your head on a proverbial pike for the next troll to come along and fail to honestly discuss the points they have to make.

The inestimable Orac discusses the circling of the wagons going on in the antivax camp, as their hero Andrew Wakefield is demonstrably shown to have perpetrated elaborate fraud in creating the only study underpinning their entire belief system. Nobody’s abandoning Wakefield in the wake of his proven mendacity. They will go on believing what they want to believe, damn the evidence. Theirs is a faith-based movement, in other words. Sad.

In Pakistan, a governor who opposed blasphemy laws was assassinated by, you guessed it, a religious fundamentalist. Blasphemy laws are bad, but religious proscriptions against blasphemy and dogmatic adherence to fundamentalism are worse. If you’re not allowed to disagree with the prevailing opinion about a religion without risking being killed, you do not live in a free society. In fact, you live in the kind of society Jack Chick tracts generally describe as precursors to the End Times (only without the rampant secularism).

A scientific study discovered the “secret ingredient” that makes religious people happier: other people. Your sense of happiness is evidently directly correlated to how often you congregate with a large number of like-minded individuals — not to the reason you congregate, but rather to the act of congregating. This comes as absolutely no surprise to me. Humans are social animals, and most of our morality is directly related to our ability to empathize and interact with others, so being happier because you’re interacting with people often is totally expected to me.

And finally, here’s an interesting thought — what if Buddha’s ‘enlightenment’ was a stroke? The parallels are really strong between the stories about Buddha’s enlightenment and the description of a stroke survivor of how your brain interprets the storm as it’s happening. Given that we have no way of going back in time to diagnose properly as it’s happening, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure, but it’s certainly a neat postulate. Likewise, I suspect other religious figures (at least the ones who weren’t outright con-artists like Joseph Smith) may have been experiencing some form of medical condition when they experienced what they claim to have experienced.

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  1. 1
    Peter

    Hi Justin, er, Jason, sorry. I responded to you on my blog and am posting it here for you to read if you’re interested. So you know, I wasn’t trying to do a “hit and run.” The point of my post wasn’t about you personally but about atheism. Sorry, anyway. Here it is:

    First of all, my apologies to Jason for getting his name wrong in the previous post.

    I do need to clarify two things before I proceed. First, Jason wrote: “I consider the link there and accusation that I support pedophilia to be a hit-and-run, so I’m okay with making a hit-and-run in return.” Unfortunately Jason misunderstood me. I was not accusing him of supporting pedophilia. In fact, I even wrote: “I don’t mean to suggest that the Lousy Canuck, [Jason], supports pedophilia.” But I guess there’s no need for getting upset about it since I also misread him and got his name wrong. I’m not accusing Jason of supporting pedophilia, rather, I’m saying that his rejection of pedophilia does not comport with his atheism, since atheism cannot account for universal and invariant laws.

    Second, I’m not a defender of a “god,” or some kind of deity, but rather the one and only true God revealed in creation and the Bible. I am not a supporter of “religion” as it is often understood. (Many atheists like to lump Christians in with Muslims under the category of “religious people” – which is to beg the question.) I believe that Christianity is religion, and anything else that goes by the name of religion is really just idolatry.

    Unfortunately for Jason, he has already lost the debate in his first reply. He writes: “…all morality is subjective.” But this claim is self-defeating. If all morality is subjective, then no one is obligated to accept the claim that all morality is subjective, since the claim is not objectively true – it would just be a matter of subjective opinion. But if Jason says that the claim is objectively true, then all morality is not subjective. Do I have a moral obligation to accept the claim that all morality is subjective? If yes, then morality is not subjective. If no, then I reject the claim and instead embrace the claim that morality is objective. Saying that all morality is subjective is analogous to saying there’s no such thing as truth – which is a ridiculous idea since the claim presupposes that it is true.

    When we go to apply Jason’s idea of morality to pedophilia, we see the disastrous results, namely, that pedophilia cannot be said to be objectively wrong, since our atheist friend Jason believes that morality is subjective. This is why I said that Jason’s rejection of pedophilia does not comport with his atheism. The atheist in Jason wants to say that morality is subjective, but the part of him in his heart of hearts that knows God wants to say that pedophilia is wrong regardless of human opinion on the matter. Or does Jason actually believe that if most humans supported pedophilia then it would be ok? Really?

    The atheistic notion of morality actually provides the very justification for pedophilia that pedophiles want, even if atheists don’t intend it. The pedophile can argue that pedophilia is right because it can’t be said to be objectively wrong. Unfortunately this is where atheism takes you.

    There are other comments Jason made that I want to deal with but I don’t want this to drag on too long, so just one last thing. If Jason is correct (objectively or subjectively, I’m not sure) that “all morality is subjective,” then someone should ask him if people have an objective moral obligation to embrace atheism. If yes then, well, you see what I mean.

  2. 2
    Dan J

    Second, I’m not a defender of a “god,” or some kind of deity, but rather the one and only true God revealed in creation and the Bible. I am not a supporter of “religion” as it is often understood. (Many atheists like to lump Christians in with Muslims under the category of “religious people” – which is to beg the question.) I believe that Christianity is religion, and anything else that goes by the name of religion is really just idolatry.

    Wow. I’m… I think I need to stop drinking so much caffeine. Peter can’t have said what I think he said, can he? Only Peter’s God™ is the One True God™. The people on our planet who worship any other deity, or worship the right deity in the wrong way, are idolaters!

    The atheistic notion of morality actually provides the very justification for pedophilia that pedophiles want, even if atheists don’t intend it. The pedophile can argue that pedophilia is right because it can’t be said to be objectively wrong. Unfortunately this is where atheism takes you.

    I’m now convinced that Peter, like so many others, doesn’t have a f*$king clue what morality is.

    Peter; you scare me. If the only thing that stops you from raping young children is your Bible™, you are a danger to our society. Please seek psychiatric attention as soon as possible. If not for yourself, do it for the sake of the children.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Z

    Peter, forget reading my post. You’re incapable of thought.

    There’s nothing about claiming an objective, authoritarian source of morality that keeps anyone from claiming that morality provides for anything they want. God says the righteous should get all the babies they want to rape? Well, who can argue with that??

    It’s only when morality is required to be based on on generally agreed-upon principles rather than some inaccessible deity’s say-so that we build moral systems in which child rape (not pedophilia, which isn’t a behavior) can’t be justified.

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Let me repeat myself. All morality is subjective. The fact that all morality is subjective, is an objective fact, because it is supported by reality. The proof for this fact is that different societies, built around different rules, are self-sustaining with arguably more or less inequality as a direct result of the morals that are passed down (enculturated) within them. These morals come out of what actions would harm or unravel the society. The morals in the Bible are generally concerned with living life and waging war in an arid Bedouin environment. They are appropriate to the time and culture (though not necessarily progressive or egalitarian between the sexes or classes). Many of these proscriptions — these moral imperatives — make no sense today. Do you ever wear linen and wool at the same time? Do you ever send your female relatives into isolation when they’re on their periods, and wash the places they sit lest you become contaminated?

    Before you say “the sacrifice of Jesus eliminated many of these rules”, that’s a subjective set of morals. If the morals ever change because of an event (or series of events), then they are different at one time for one people than they are for another people at another time. That is the very definition of subjectivity.

    You have a logical fallacy in suggesting that morals that are subjective are self-defeating because one doesn’t have to accept that fact. I’m not saying that FACTS are SUBjective, or that all sociological concepts are OBjective. I’m saying that facts are OBJECTIVE — they are either facts or they are not, independent of what we would wish them to be — and that sociological concepts like morals are subjective, because they depend on the society they came from.

    Most religions can be boiled down (once you eliminate the hocus pocus, claims to divinity, and the specious and potentially harmful nonsense) to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This is a Bible passage – Matthew 7:12. However, it was also said by Socrates centuries before the Bible was supposedly written (and many many more centuries before it was compiled by the Council of Nicaea). It was also said by Confucius many many centuries before Socrates. Some form of the Golden Rule has existed in philosophy long before Jesus, before YHWH, before monotheism when people believed dozens of humanoids created the heavens and earth rather than just one. The Golden Rule is therefore a human concept. It codifies the idea that we, as humans, should be good to other humans because we are intelligent and capable of relying upon one another to build great societies.

    And it is true. We work better together than apart. Objectively, it is easy to see, if you can view history with any sort of objectivity, that human populations where infighting or selfishness are prevalent also have a tendency of dying out quickly. The reason for this is that populations where resources are fought over or killed for, are unstable. Rather than banding together to fight off the elements and husband the resources we have available, these populations are willing to kill one another. Can you not see how this would lead to the more stable, more moral populations being stronger, thus “selected for”? Can you not see how these morals, which predate the religion from which you claim all morals flow, actually instead INFORM your religion? And how the parts of your texts which directly suggest morally reprehensible things (for instance: killing people for suspected witchcraft, for being a midget, or for having been raped but not managing to attract any help with her screams, or for being a helpless child of the wrong religion in a recently-conquered land), might actually be morally wrong — not just today, subjectively, due to your enculturation, but also objectively, taking the standard of “that which harms human society is objectively wrong”?

    Even my statement “that which harms human society is objectively wrong” is subjective. There are aspects of human society that we might do well without — like child rapists, or crazy genocidal bigots like Hitler. I would like to think that there is such a thing as a threat to humanity large enough that everyone, no matter their subjective viewpoints, would band against it. However, some countries and some of Germany’s citizens thought Hitler was an all right dude. So if there’s an objective evil large enough to threaten all humankind, Hitler wasn’t it. It would have to be larger and more evil and a more direct and immediate threat to all of humanity simultaneously.

    Something like a certain deity that supposedly proposes we should all be wiped out at the judgement day, save for 12,000 people from each of 12 tribes. No matter how good a person I happen to be (and I’d like to think you’d think I’m an excellent person save for my whole godlessness thing), I would never be one of those people. Nor would any of the very good people I know. Meanwhile, some very bad people would get saved from this abject destruction of humanity because they met some criteria that apparently included suspending any ability to think critically.

    No, thankfully, that large of an objective evil doesn’t exist.

    For the record, atheism doesn’t presuppose your One True God, per your blog title. It presupposes that there exists people who believe in some sort of deity that they firmly believe is the One True God, because without you guys, we’d just be “people” rather than “atheists”. Since the people who believed in some sort of divinity came before the atheists, who represent the people who disagree, theists have invented the concept and atheists are merely defined in relation to you. If all theists disappeared throughout history through some act of a time traveler somehow, the rest of humanity would be de facto atheists, but the lack of knowledge of even the concept of a god would not matter one whit to them. Humanity would no longer be divided between theists and atheists. It would simply be humanity.

    And it would probably divide itself between people who liked Justin Bieber and people who didn’t.

  5. 5
    George W.

    So Justin,
    Do I win some kind of prize for guessing the double-down?
    It wouldn’t be fair for me to claim it, as I spent several hours on his site killing brain cells with his drivel. He is a TAG proponent, and I believe deluded enough to consider himself the intellectual heir to Greg Bahnsen, judging from his blog address and virtual shrine he has created.
    So I understood that he believes he has the magic bullet for atheism.

    Peter,
    You picked on the wrong people. My suggestion is that you quietly sink back into meatspace and continue to tell your flock that you’ve got it all figured out. See, TAG had it’s day in the sun during the Stein debate, when it was sprung on an atheist in a live debate when he was ill equipped to properly analyze the wealth of fallacies it requires. He couldn’t think on his feet, and it made him look stupid. If you would like to claim that that makes all atheists look stupid, then so be it, but you would have to plug your ears and shout “LALALALALALA” every time your premise was shot down after it. It is a ridiculous premise, one that Jason, Dan, Stephanie, and the rest of us will deconstruct and reveal for what it is. Smoke and mirrors, an intellectual slight of hand that works on an untrained mind. It is a magic trick, like making an observer commit to one observational stimulus while secretly moving the pea to another nutshell. It won’t work here, and I warn you, that if you let it be documented on this blog, you won’t even have the luxury of erasing the evidence.

    So if that is what you want, let’s begin. I’m game. Could we start by admitting that your original premise doesn’t hold in the specific because:
    a) The quotes you used to create your premise came from two different people.
    b) The quote you used about sexual freedom was plucked out of context. Or would you like to defend the premise that statements and context are independent?

    I hope you took the time to read my response on Jason’s other post as well as my blog post in response to your original post. You see, Jason never conceded that children could consent, you did. That means you are the only person here who argues that they can. Who’s worldview comports with pedophilia now?

  6. 6
    Peter

    Jason wrote: “You have a logical fallacy in suggesting that morals that are subjective are self-defeating because one doesn’t have to accept that fact. I’m not saying that FACTS are SUBjective, or that all sociological concepts are OBjective. I’m saying that facts are OBJECTIVE — they are either facts or they are not, independent of what we would wish them to be — and that sociological concepts like morals are subjective, because they depend on the society they came from.”

    Hi Jason. Thanks for clarifying your position. I hope our discussion is mutually beneficial. But if we were debating this in a Tim Horton’s, I would offer to buy you the next coffee since I believe you need some more time to think through the logical consequences of your position.

    You said that morality is subjective yet you say that facts are objective. But consider the following claim: “Pedophilia is morally wrong.” According to you, is this a fact, or is this a subjective opinion? Please take some time to consider your answer while enjoying the coffee I just bought for you.

    To put it another way, Jason, do people have an objective moral obligation to believe that morality is subjective? Or, do people have an objective moral obligation to believe the facts?

    Also, you write: “… sociological concepts like morals are subjective, because they depend on the society they came from.” But from what society does this claim itself come from? If this claim came from one society but not another, am I morally obligated to believe this claim? If there was a society that believed pedophilia was right, would that society be wrong? Does the rightness or wrongness of pedophilia depend on the society it comes from? Really?

    The Christian position is that pedophilia is morally wrong for any person in any place at any time. Pedophilia is wrong regardless of the society you come from, regardless of your subjective opinion on the matter. But since the atheist can’t account for universal and invariant laws of morality, he’s left with the absurd position of saying that pedophilia is morally wrong on the one hand and saying that morality is subjective on the other hand. Thus, the atheist position gives the pedophile the loophole he needs to justify pedophilia, since he can appeal to the atheist position that moral claims concerning pedophilia are just a matter of subjective opinion and can’t be said to be objectively binding.

    The next coffee is on you.

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    But if we were debating this in a Tim Horton’s, I would offer to buy you the next coffee since I believe you need some more time to think through the logical consequences of your position.

    That’s rather condescending, as it assumes that I have not “thought through” my position well prior to engaging you on the subject. And since this is not the first time a religious apologist has attempted to tell me that morality cannot possibly be subjective, I have had a good deal of time to argue pretty much every facet of this philosophy, and while this is the first time you’ve heard it and I’m willing to go over it all again with you (cordial as the discussion has been), you should really attempt to make fewer such “poisoning the well” statements. An outside observer might find the gambit compelling, but they might also find it irritating.

    I’d take the coffee though. Just, let’s not do Tim Horton’s. It leaves a weird coating on my tongue. Nasty stuff. Don’t understand how so damn many people are addicted.

    You said that morality is subjective yet you say that facts are objective. But consider the following claim: “Pedophilia is morally wrong.” According to you, is this a fact, or is this a subjective opinion?

    To put it another way, Jason, do people have an objective moral obligation to believe that morality is subjective? Or, do people have an objective moral obligation to believe the facts?

    All sociological concepts are subjective, because they depend on the zeitgeist of the culture from which they’re built. The facts of reality are independent from culture. For instance, no matter what your culture tells you about the age of the Earth, the Earth actually does have one real age — and that age can be estimated, if not exactly calculated, by the physical evidence available to us.

    There is no such thing as an objective moral obligation. If there was, we might have an easier time bridging culture gaps, by appealing to those moral obligations. Especially if one of those moral obligations was to accepting facts as facts, once they are so proven with sufficient evidence. One CAN, however, arrive at a set of criteria by which we can objectively assess a situation and determine the most moral course of action according to those criteria. Many important human cultures have a set of laws, built by generations of popular consensus, and abide by those laws equally so that anyone that breaks them is punished equally. Some of these laws are not as strict — sometimes abused women are not punished as severely for murdering their abusive spouses as someone else might be for murdering at random. This is another example of subjectivity.

    Another example of a set of subjective criteria that can be used to judge actions objectively, is “don’t do to other people what you’d hate to have done to yourself”. In other words, pretend like you’re the other person, on the receiving end of what you’re doing, before you do the thing. Imagine what they’d experience. As humans are capable of empathy, they can understand that being raped while sexually immature could destroy that innocent child’s entire life, however long it happens to be thereafter. It is by that property — that ability to have empathy for your fellow man — that someone who claims there is no God can also demand justice for children who are raped.

    If a pedophile uses the “there’s no God so why shouldn’t I” gambit, they are in violation not only of the precept of the Golden Rule, because they do not take the time to consider the damage to the child, but they are also engaging in the same kind of verbal legerdemain that you are attempting when you claim that my disbelief in God also happens to give pedophiles an out.

    As a member of a society, you are raised to accept the rules by which the society runs, with the understanding that without those rules, society would devolve into anarchy, death and violence. If you are a member of a society that tries to protect children from harm, then you have no leg to stand on when you try to say “why SHOULDN’T I rape a child”, because we’ve already established that rape harms children and that harming children is agreed-upon by your society to be wrong.

    In summary, it is possible that another culture at another time might actually consider pedophilia acceptable. For instance, the age of consent in Vatican City is 12 years old, and the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s youngest wife Aisha was apparently 9. Those are other cultures from the one you grew up in, and both follow YHWH as you do in sub-branches of the same Abrahamic tradition. Today’s societies generally agree (with some exceptions) that children should be protected, and science can even pin down when sexual maturity is more or less accuracy, and (on average) humans are not fully capable of informed consent until a certain age. By our standards, what was once acceptable practice is revealed, through our improved knowledge about psychology and sexual health, to be potentially damaging and therefore morally impermissible.

    Do you see how that can lead to morality being a shifting zeitgeist? And how a society can evolve its morals to better serve humankind?

    The Christian position is that pedophilia is morally wrong for any person in any place at any time. Pedophilia is wrong regardless of the society you come from, regardless of your subjective opinion on the matter.

    From what passage of the Bible do you derive that understanding of Christian positions on child rape? Seriously, I really do want to know where it is written.

  8. 8
    Yakaru

    Let me get this straight. Someone who believes that Jesus is going to burn me hell for eternity, is lecturing everyone here on “objective fact”??? Good one. I wish it was funny.

    Peter, I think you’d be better off arguing with all those Christians who think the Seal of the Lord is on them and not you. All you’re going to get here is people demolishing your rhetorical half-logic that you only use as far as it supports your particular sliver of biblical interpretation.

    Maybe you should also reflect a bit on why, out of all those who read that initial post, YOU were the only one who connected the topic of healthy male sexuality with pedophilia. I’m not calling you a pedophile, I’m calling you plain straight out nuts.

  9. 9
    Peter

    Hi Jason. I prefer a large double double in case you’re wondering.

    You wrote: “All sociological concepts are subjective, because they depend on the zeitgeist of the culture from which they’re built.”

    First, you don’t know all sociological concepts in order to make this kind of a claim. Second, your statement is one concerning sociological concepts. Think about that. According to the criteria of the statement, the statement itself is subjective, i.e., your statement is subjective since it concerns sociological concepts and is thus not objectively true.

    Jason wrote: “The facts of reality are independent from culture.”

    First, you don’t know all the facts of reality to make this kind of a claim. Second, since when is culture not part of reality?

    Jason wrote: “There is no such thing as an objective moral obligation.”

    First, how do you know this? It’s an absolute negation. Have you examined all obligations to know that they’re all subjective? Second, are people morally obligated to accept the claim that there is no such thing as an objective moral obligation? If yes, then the claim is false since it assumes I have a moral obligation. If no, then the claim is false since no one is required to adhere to it, that is, people are permitted to adhere to the negation of the claim.

    Jason wrote: “If there was [an objective moral obligation], we might have an easier time bridging culture gaps, by appealing to those moral obligations.”

    Since atheism does not offer this, and since Christianity does offer this, I thank you for the observation.

    Jason: “Especially if one of those moral obligations was to accepting facts as facts, once they are so proven with sufficient evidence.”

    You are admitting that atheism provides the basis for permitting pedophilia because you are saying that a pedophile is not morally obligated to accept the fact that pedophilia is harmful to children. If the pedophile is not morally obligated to accept the fact that pedophilia is harmful to children, then why shouldn’t he engage in that activity? Since Christianity can account for universal and invariant laws of morality, the Christian can actually say that pedophilia is wrong.
    Meanwhile, the best the atheist can do is to say: “In summary, it is possible that another culture at another time might actually consider pedophilia acceptable.” Unbelievable! You’re admitting that atheism allows for pedophilia! What if our Western society changed to allow for pedophilia? Would our society be morally wrong in doing so?

    Hopefully now you can understand why I’m arguing that your rejection of pedophilia does not comport with your atheism, because you’re atheistic view of morality allows for a society to accept pedophilia. That is scary stuff.

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    This is absolute nonsense, Peter. Sociological concepts are concepts related to society, especially ones that are invented by humankind. I don’t need to “know” all sociological concepts in order to make that statement — it’s a category! I don’t need to know every dog to know that all dogs are quadrupedal mammals — the category defines this!

    Morality is one such concept. It is an objective fact that humans have moral codes, and it is an objective fact that these moral codes differ from culture to culture. Stop trying to conflate the fact of humans having morals, with the subjective nature of those morals.

    I have explained several times why the objective fact of morality does not negate the subjective nature of morality. You have asserted baldly several times that the subjective nature of morality means people don’t have to accept it, thus allowing pedophiles to claim cover for their actions in the fact that they don’t have to accept it. That is nonsense. To live in a society, you agree to be bound by its rules, and our society’s rules include not hurting children. If you think my saying that society’s morals are subjective, somehow allows pedophiles to get away with disagreeing with the morals of the society they live in, then you come by your morals only dogmatically and not through scrutiny of action or empathy.

    If you repeat yourself one more time, without at least challenging any of my assertions, then that is good evidence that you have come by your argument dogmatically from some third party source (and like others, I’d guess Greg Bahnsen), and are not even attempting to confront the opposing idea that maybe, JUST MAYBE, morals come from humans rather than a law-giver sky daddy. That honestly does make me fear for the safety of those around you — because should you ever start internalizing some of the other morals in the Bible (which I have pointed out to you elsewhere), you might start doing grievous harm to them. Like stoning them to death for the crime of having been raped, for instance. Or taking people as slaves, and beating them with a stick that’s no wider around than your thumb.

    Hopefully now you understand why I reject your ridiculous conflation of subjective, evolving morals giving cover to pedophiles, because your theistic view of morality is based on some very old laws that apparently don’t even cover pedophilia (since you have neglected to point me to where, exactly, in the Bible pedophilia is prohibited). That is scary stuff.

    If you’re not interested in engaging with my arguments, perhaps you could instead engage in the arguments of those other commenters in this thread. I’m sure they would be so kind as to also tell you what they drink for coffee.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    Meanwhile, the best the atheist can do is to say: “In summary, it is possible that another culture at another time might actually consider pedophilia acceptable.” Unbelievable! You’re admitting that atheism allows for pedophilia! What if our Western society changed to allow for pedophilia? Would our society be morally wrong in doing so?

    This is pullquoting. Yes, that statement begins with “in summary”, however the summary is the entire paragraph, not the first sentence alone. I gave you two examples of societies that allow for pedophilia — both of them religious, belonging to the same religious tradition as yours. Pullquoting is equivalent to bearing false witness, sinner.

  12. 12
    George W.

    Peter,
    Why do you insist on my blog that your words remain in context but not give others that same luxury here?
    I wonder about the double-double standard. Yes, that was a bad pun.
    Your basis for subjective morality being false is that the premise is non-sensical. Why?
    Your logic is this:
    1.X is a subjective concept
    2.By the nature of it’s subjectiveness, no-one is obligated to assume it’s subjectiveness, since it is not an objective truth.
    3.Therefor the concept is self contradictory

    Am I right?
    So can anything be subjective without being illogical? Are all things objective? Else they descend to absurdity?
    My suggestion is that you conflated a objective truth (that morals are subjective) with the subjective nature of the concept. If your logic is true, I cannot objectively call anything subjective, thus the word has no meaning. You are denying that there is a property that could be called subjective. It is semantic wordplay, linguistic slight of hand, and you got caught.
    You do not get to by fiat still use this claim without proving it.
    So re-organize it so that it is an objective truth, or concede that it is false.

    To the rest of your points, you really like pedophilia. I don’t think that it is because you like little boys, but rather because you know it to be as close to an objective moral truth as one can get. It elicits strong human emotions, and causes us to seemingly defend pedophilia if we want to prove you wrong. It is a good tactic, one that we are all wise to.
    I wish in the case of pedophilia, that there was such a thing as an objective morality. But my wishing it doesn’t make it so, and that is what you are trying to play off of and feed off of. You know pedophilia to be an unarguably horrible act. You use this to your advantage by trying to conflate all of morality with pedophilia, then saying “see, if it isn’t objectively wrong then they are condoning it.” You are claiming that there is no reason behind morality, that it just is.

    Peter, is killing children always immoral? Careful how you answer that.
    Is it always morally right to do God’s bidding?
    I think you see where this is going…

    You will avoid this conversation because you know the consequences. If you would like to defend your positions on this issue, proceed.
    Or claim that I am changing the subject from pedophilia to morality in general, shame on me…

  13. 13
    Yakaru

    Yeah, I was also wondering about that, Jason – just where in the Bible does it state that pedophilia is wrong. And of course, I don’t mean a verse which needs to be “interpreted” (subjectively) to somehow imply this. I mean the verses on which Peter is basing his “objective” argument.

  14. 14
    George W.

    Peter won’t tell you where the bible says so. He will quote some text that says that people were “fornicating” or some similar thing and then say that of course by extension includes sex with children, because it is easily interpreted as such.

    Will he also answer:
    Is killing children always objectively morally wrong?
    Is obeying God’s direct and unambiguous orders always objectively morally right?

  15. 15
    Peter

    Jason, among all the other assertions you’ve made that I’ve already challenged, here’s another assertion you made that I’ll challenge now: “To live in a society, you agree to be bound by its rules, and our society’s rules include not hurting children.”

    In case you didn’t notice, you’re putting a moral obligation on people to bind themselves to the rules of the society they live in. (But you said that morality is a matter of subjective opinion.) And why do people have to agree to be bound to the rules of the society they live in? And if people are not morally obligated to live according to the rules of the society they live in, then how are they obligated to do so? Because of society? But that’s circular reasoning. Are people supposed to obey society because society says so? And can’t societies be wrong?

    Here’s another assertion I’ll challenge: “… JUST MAYBE, morals come from humans rather than a law-giver sky daddy.”

    Of course, I find it offensive that you refer to God as a sky daddy, but since you believe that morality is a matter of personal opinion then I guess there’s nothing stopping you from doing that. But I have just one question concerning this, Jason. Can humans be wrong? Yes? Then how do you know if humans are wrong? Because of the facts? But you said people aren’t morally obligated to accept the facts, and I quote: “There is no such thing as an objective moral obligation. If there was, we might have an easier time bridging culture gaps, by appealing to those moral obligations. Especially if one of those moral obligations was to accepting facts as facts… .” If people aren’t morally obligated to accept the facts, then why are people required to accept “the fact” that they should bind themselves to society’s rules?

    According to Christianity, people are morally obligated to accept the facts as facts, because failure to do so is to engage in lying or deceit, which in Christianity is morally wrong. But since atheism claims that morality is a matter of subjective opinion, the atheist can’t say that lying is morally wrong. Ouch. No wonder I’m not an atheist.

  16. 16
    Peter

    George wrote: “Is killing children always objectively morally wrong?”

    George, you said that morality is not objective. Why did you ask me this question? Is it because you’ve changed your mind and you now think that morality is objective?

  17. 17
    Jason Thibeault

    Do you have to practice to be dense like this, Peter? George is asking you because you claim there is an objective, unchanging, eternal moral standard handed down from on high. He is asking whether certain actions are unchangingly, objectively wrong. You are dodging because you know the answer is damaging to your case. As is admitting that there is absolutely no passage in the Bible that suggests that pedophilia is wrong.

    I will try this one more time, and this is the last time. There is no objective moral imperative that people have to accept facts. However, people who do not accept facts are, how do you say it… WRONG. People who believe things that are the opposite of facts (e.g. falsehoods) are either deluded, or wilfully ignorant, if the facts are readily available.

    As for what happens when you live in a society and decide not to abide by its rules — well, there’s no objective imperative to follow the morals of the society (otherwise people would be simply incapable of doing things that are wrong). There IS, however, the very big hammer that is society doing whatever it can to make your life miserable from that point on for breaching those rules. A pedophile not only gets thrown in jail for a very long time when caught, he or she will also carry a stigma on their name for the rest of their days that will make it nearly impossible to move anywhere, to get jobs anywhere, or to live a normal life in any way. Society turns its back on people who defy society’s rules. By being part of society, you agree to those rules, on penalty of being kicked out. In some violations’ cases, permanently, e.g. capital punishment.

    That’s not to say that society’s rules are always perfectly evolved to benefit mankind in the most perfect manner. There are certain rules that do not objectively benefit mankind, such as the prohibition of marijuana and simultaneous acceptance of alcohol. We have scientific studies that show conclusively that the one that is prohibited, is much less harmful (to yourself and others) than the one that is accepted. I abide by the rules of society that say marijuana is illegal, so I don’t smoke it. The last thing I want is for the societal support structure to be pulled up from under me and end up in jail because I decided to smoke something instead of drink something some night, you see. That doesn’t mean that the societal rule about it is correct — only that it is in my best interest to abide by it. It is my dream that all of society’s rules be based on evidence — that only those rules that are proven to objectively benefit humanity should be put into place. I want that to be humanity’s subjective moral standard, and I believe we can one day achieve it. I also believe society’s standard for morals is grossly inadequate in a number of ways. However, it is far superior to the standard for morals found in the Bible.

    Since our society places a premium on diversity, people may be educated that certain facts about reality are not facts at all, but are subjective opinion — facts like the existence or non-existence of God. Instead of demanding evidence of God, a pluralistic society will say “believe what you want, because religion is exempt from the burden of proof”. That burden of proof is something I demand from every claim to truth from any authority figure, and when I was growing up in the Catholic tradition, I found that proof wanting. Not just wanting, but non-existent. You evidently found that lack of proof and demand for faith to be everything you needed to claim superiority, and to demonize people who have shown themselves to be acute critical thinkers with respect to morality.

    I wish there was an objective morality that one could appeal to, to force people to stop lying or misrepresenting people’s intentions or the endgames of their particular philosophies. You’re doing both of these in spades in this conversation, and I’m finding my distaste for you growing with each post. It started out civil, but you’ve repeated the same line of argumentation with nothing but sophistry and gross misunderstanding of the English language to back you up enough that I’m no longer interested in continuing. I called your deity a “sky daddy” not only to point out that his function as father figure in your theology is equivalent to calling humans children, but also to tweak you because I’m getting tired of having to say the same thing over and over again and having you do nothing but misinterpret it or pullquote it every time.

    Frankly, if this is the best Bahnsen could come up with, maybe you should study some Ken Ham or Kent Hovind, so you can parrot some other lines of argumentation that are at least a little more fun to have to repeatedly argue against.

  18. 18
    George W.

    Peter,
    Did you just conveniently side step my question? Is that because you are uncomfortable with the logical ramifications of answering it, given biblical passages?
    You know very well why I asked you that question. You know very well why you will not allow yourself to be pinned down to an answer to that question.
    You have just proved my point.
    If you answer yes, then you have to admit that God has ordered you to break a moral absolute; if you answer no, then by your own logic you are admitting that Christianity comports with infanticide by your own standards.
    If morals are objective and are universal and independent of context,as you claim is the basis of Christian morality, then how could God clearly order His people to do something that you (I assume) admit is objectively morally wrong?
    If you believe in objective morality then you need to answer whether child murder is part of that objective morality. Is it? Or will you sidestep my question again?
    I’ll tell you this: Answering whether child murder is immoral, whether subjectively or objectively, is a pretty elementary question. One that I would not hesitate, as you just did, to answer.

  19. 19
    Peter

    Jason, let me put this very simply for you.

    Do I have an objective moral obligation to listen to or agree with anything you say? If yes, then you contradict yourself, because you say that morality is not objective. If no, then I dismiss everything you say because I’m not morally obligated to believe it.

    The end. Good bye.

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault

    You absolutely do not have an objective moral obligation to do anything at all, because there is no such thing. There is no moral imperative to accept the fact that morals are made to support society, and they evolve subjectively over time. You may go on believing whatever you want.

    And I may go on showing you to be a disingenuous, intellectually stunted liar, should you be incapable of accepting facts. These descriptive terms are also objective facts. You don’t have to believe them, but they are evident on their face to anyone willing to read this conversation beginning to end. The evidence is all here, one only has to read the thread to understand this to be true.

    Goodbye! It’s been nice talking to you. Except for the part where you admitted you don’t like facts and want to go on believing nonsense and spreading misinformation and outright falsehoods about others.

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    For the record, he probably only wanted to argue with me because he knew he was losing every other front (yours especially), and he thought his gambit of saying “do I have a moral obligation to accept facts?” meant something other than “can I continue to believe things that aren’t true?” Silly boy put his own head on that pike. I tried to warn him, when I said “there’s no obligation, but they’re wrong.”

  22. 22
    George W.

    To let you know Jason, Peter has all but claimed victory in this debate on his blog in his newest post. I tried to leave a comment, but it is conveniently missing.
    You’ll have to teach me that screen shot trick so that I can document these things.
    I will concede that the comment included the term “buggering” more than once, and I perhaps offended his unwritten language policy, although I maintain that is the proper contextual term, whether polite or not.

    I also included the same challenge I asked here, that he give us the Christian moral stand on child murder and obeying God.

    So I will re-iterate here:
    Morality is not just whether it is good or bad or neutral to bugger children, it is the whole of things that one would consider morally just and morally unjust, and that includes child murder. So I think it cannot be hard to answer this very simple question:If morality is objective, universal and independent of context, is it always objectively morally wrong to murder children?
    I would argue with the premise of objectivity, but after that I would immediately answer yes. I’ll pin myself down. Child murder is morally wrong. I can’t conceive of any situation where I would consider it morally just or even morally ambiguous.
    Was that really all that hard?
    So before you try to twist that into admitting objective morality, note that i clearly noted my objection to the premise of objectivity. I also said “I can’t conceive of”, as opposed to “there is not” because again, I’m sure you can think of one time it might be morally just or at least ambiguous to do so. Surely any Christian must be able to think of one time when killing children is not objectively morally wrong?
    See, Peter, you have painted yourself into a corner. You can try as much slight of hand as you like, but if you don’t address questions that demand an answer, you have destroyed your premise.

    So to my mind here is where your argument stands:
    1. Christianity is the only faith with objective morality except when it’s not objective but let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about child buggering because everybody hates that and my God has never commanded his chosen people to bugger kids.
    2.I can’t reference where the bible condemns the buggering of children because God must have thought that that was so obvious that it didn’t require mentioning.
    3. I still maintain that nothing can be subjective because subjectivity is self-contradictory, although I attribute a meaning to a word that I claim has no meaning.
    4. If you think that morals are subjective then there is nothing stopping people from buggering children, but I refuse to prove that morals are objective, I just say so, so it must be true.
    5. I offer no proof of any of my claims, just semantics, and refuse to make a proper logical progression from a statement to a conclusion.
    6. I refuse to answer whether child murder is wrong.

    That case is pretty solid! If this is the best Greg could do when formulating the modern incarnation of TAG, maybe his heart was not the organ that stopped out of a massive failure, if you get my meaning.

    Now that statement was offensive.

  23. 23
    George W.

    Do I win the prize for prophesy when I made this comment on his blog?
    I warned him, and I guessed correctly that he would crawl back under his rock and claim victory at the same time.
    For the record, I also warned him about doing this on your blog, because now the whole thing is documented and he can’t take it back or erase it. His failure is there for all to see, and linked to his blog no less.
    Every person who comes here for the proof of his “victory” will leave asking why the morality of child murder is a hard decision for Peter, one worth dodging at least…

  24. 24
    George W.

    Oh, and I have a feeling my final comment on his “Unbelievable” post wont get published either, I was nice with the language this time, I’ll publish it here for posterity:

    Yeah, you sure showed us Peter!
    I wish everybody took the time to read every comment so that they could see that you consider child murder to be a morally ambiguous issue, at least not one worth having an opinion on!
    If that is your objective morality, that child murder is not morally wrong, then I think we are not even on the same page when defining “morality”.
    Good luck with that.

  25. 25
    sinned34

    Ugh. Arguing with presuppositionalist Christians is even worse than the philosophical discussions with post-modernists idiots back in college.
    Good work though, Jason and George. You showed a lot more patience with Paul Peter than I could have. I did the presup dance with one idiot on Ray Comfort’s blog a couple of years ago, and I still find it amusing that people like Paul Peter can accuse atheists of relying on circular reasoning. I’m constantly amazed at the capability some theists have for projection.

  26. 26
    George W.

    As I promised Peter, here is the full comment I re-posted to his blog that conveniently disappeared:
    In response to his statement:

    Justin, er, Jason, did you miss me?
    Let’s try this:

    Premise #1: Jason believes that what he is saying is factual.
    Premise #2: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept the facts.
    Conclusion: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept what he is saying.

    If premise #1 is false, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. If premise #2 is true, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. Either way, we can disregard what you’re saying. That’s a self-defeating position.

    Or how about this:

    Statement #1: “There is no objective moral imperative that people have to accept facts.”
    Statement #2: “However, people who do not accept facts are, how do you say it… WRONG.”

    These two statements contradict each other. The first statement says I’m not required to accept the facts. The second statement says that I’m required to accept the facts.

    9 January, 2011 2:51 PM

    and

    George: “If Christian morality is objective, universal, unchanging, and independent of context, is it always morally wrong to murder children?”

    Thanks for the softball. Having a debate over whether murder is wrong presupposes that morality is objective. That morality is objective is a Christian position. This is why I call my blog Atheism Presupposes Theism because you have to presuppose the Christian view in order to attack Christianity. In so doing you unwittingly prove Christianity by presupposing it in your argumentation.

    Or course, if you think that morality is subjective, i.e., one man’s opinion vs. another, then there’s no basis for saying murder is wrong.

    I responded:

    You have twice now deleted comments I have made on this blog. Do you find this conversation uncomfortable, Peter?
    I’ll restate my objection to your comment, then re-post it on Jason’s blog so that people can understand what you are saying.
    If Jason’s statement:
    Statement #2: “However, people who do not accept facts are, how do you say it… WRONG.”
    is self contradictory to his first premise, you must prove that you are required to be RIGHT.
    In order for Jason’s position to be self defeating, as you say, you must first accept his premise to be true, by your own logic conceding defeat. If you consider your premise #2, that there is no moral obligation to accept the truth, to be false, then you are morally obligated to defend you position or concede his point. By refusing to defend, you concede his premise.

    Just so we are clear… you are the one who won’t concede your own premise of objective morality in regards to child murder. I am glad to make logical if/then statements, you refuse to concede to your own argument. If you continue to dodge the question, then by your own logic you concede the truth of my premise.

    Is he unwittingly proving my position by avoiding the question? By his own logic, yes…

  27. 27
    Dan J

    He obviously wasn’t interested in actually answering any questions. He should look into the possibility of a career as a press secretary with the US Government.

  28. 28
    sinned34

    What I really like about him deleting those entries is that I received all your posts through my email subscription. Didn’t he mention he had an “open posting policy” on his blog? Why am I not surprised to discover Peter was nothing more than yet another liar for Jesus?

  29. 29
    Jason Thibeault

    Fucking unbelievable. This man makes a mockery of logic itself. Just added this post at his place, in his “victory lap” of a post, where he claims my argument is self-defeating. Posting it here in case he decides to make with the memory hole. I also handled the “what’s the difference between humans killing humans and lions killing zebras”, George, but don’t let me steal your thunder. I’m sure you can come up with something better than I did.

    Premise #1: Jason believes that what he is saying is factual.
    Premise #2: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept the facts.
    Conclusion: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept what he is saying.

    If premise #1 is false, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. If premise #2 is true, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. Either way, we can disregard what you’re saying. That’s a self-defeating position.

    There’s nothing self-defeating about admitting that people are prone to ignore facts despite them being facts — I mean, it makes for some very long and maddening conversations with people like you who refuse to accept facts as facts, but you’re not under any kind of moral imperative to be right. Only the societal pressures against being wrong. If you’d like to continue being wrong, feel free. You aren’t making a very good case for the truth value of your philosophy though, by admitting you don’t care about truth!

    Whether you like a fact or not, facts are immutable — you cannot change reality by merely disagreeing with it. No matter how often you shout that you have, by my philosophy, no moral imperative to accept the fact that the grass is green and the sky is blue, they are so, independent of whether you like it or want it to be otherwise. Facts are truth, and if you refuse truth, then you embrace falsehood, against every precept you claim to endorse about Christianity.

    Facts are objective. Morals are subjective. That humans have morals is objective fact. Deal with it.

    Likewise, show me a zebra and a lion that must coexist in the same population to survive, and I’ll show you a zebra and a lion that have evolved to coexist peacefully. Humans and humans are of the same species. Humans are social animals. In order to have society, you need more than one human. These humans then have to agree upon how to coexist. The agreements become the moral precepts around which society is built.

    If you have any intention of continuing this argument, return to my blog, where you have retreated. I have no intention of following this thread in perpetuity at yours, where you can alter my words and your own at will (though you’ll protest that you’d never do so, the temporary censorship of comments belies that protestation).

    And please do actually show us where in the Bible pedophilia is prohibited! And why child murder is acceptable! Your immutable, objective, eternal guidelines are as loose-weave and as subjective as the morals that guide societies today, and you’re only dodging the question in perpetuity because you know it will END YOUR ARGUMENT FORCEABLY.

    Besides that, I consider your blog hostile territory, in that you’ve not only lied about me, but you’ve lied about the end result of accepting that morals are derived from society. Society frowns upon pedophilia. Two Abrahamic religious traditions, as I have shown at my blog, actually embrace it. The Bible says girls reach the age of consent at age 12. Vatican City still maintains that law according to the Bible. We generally agree that sex before roughly 16 or 17 to be non-consensual, and therefore pedophilia, and therefore punishable. Why is your Bible less stringent than our society today?

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    My comment hasn’t shown up yet. Funny how that works. So I posted this, though I see it’s not yet shown up either. Meanwhile, George can get through. Fight on, noble sir.

    Funny how your “open commenting policy” hasn’t yet allowed this comment to show up: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/?p=4689&cpage=1#comment-13269

    Luckily I copied it from the “your post is saved and will show up soon” page before closing that window, just in case.

    That’s proof, to me, that this is a hostile debating environment. I will not return. I consider you to have ceded every salient point and to have ended the debate prematurely, and in a huff, because you are empirically and verifiably wrong on enough points that your argument fails on its own merits.

  31. 31
    George W.

    I cannot repeat this enough. Acceptance=/=Truth. No-one is obliged to accept any statement as fact because the truth is independent of any one persons opinion of it.
    Peter’s argument, as Jason has said as well, only works if Peter’s opinion of a fact is the very definition of that statement as a fact. We all know the shell game. Please read my newest post on the problem with a magic trick.

    Here is my response to Peter, who finally took the position that child killing is not a moral question, as long as it is commanded by God.

    Peter,
    Thanks for taking a position. It only took you four days and eight requests. Did you really have to think about it that much? Did you have to ask your pastor?
    Killing is wrong. I agree with you. If there are some exceptions to that rule does that not make it by nature subjective, in that it requires context? Unless you only consider murder a moral question and not killing? Killing seems to me to be a moral question, I wonder if you agree? If not, I wonder if we are even able to agree on the definition of morality out of the gates.
    You state, in your answer, that killing is not a moral question. So you can kill at will, so long as you are justified in doing so?
    If you killed me today, because God told you to do it, you would not be morally culpable?
    I’m struggling to follow your logic, because I suspect there is none to follow.
    I’m glad that of all the responses I have given, you seem to feel that you can defend against this one.
    So we are clear, Christianity only comports with child killing, as long as God told you to do it. Your words.
    So if God decided to tell you to kill your children, then you are morally right to do as he says. Glad you cleared that up for us.
    How, then, are we to know what God told you? Does He give you a receipt? If someone kills their children and tell you that God commanded it, are you morally bound to believe him? What is the procedure?

    The zebra/lion, human/human conflation is here:

    Wow, just..wow!
    First, so as not to create a false conflation of two very different situations, wouldn’t you agree that it would be more appropriate to ask: What is the difference between a lion killing a zebra and a human killing a cow/fish/rabbit(insert food source here)? How would you answer that question, Peter? Shouldn’t your question have been: What is the difference between a lion killing a lion and a human killing a human? Or does that just lead to some uncomfortable parallels?

    Here is an expansion of that comment that does not appear in my comments, for brevity.

    I’ll avoid the question no longer, because I actually think highly enough of my arguments to defend them. The difference is that humans have a social contract that makes killing each other a non-moral act. I would argue that because lions do not partake in rampant cannibalism that they also have a similar social contract, an implied result of mutually beneficial evolution. It does not have to be written, it is implied. Some animals have no equivalent of this contract, like many fish, who rely on a numbers game and do not have an evolutionary need for it.

    No one here is saying that you are incapable of going out and killing someone. You are perfectly capable of doing so. If you read the Bible and believe it to be literal and unchanging, then God would argue that you don’t do it enough. Your ability to do something is not the same as the rightness of doing it. Your opinion of its rightness does not make it right. You are perfectly capable of lying, you can does not mean you should. Really let that one sink in, because it is important. You are asking us to concede that because you are not required to listen to an argument/moral truth etc. that that makes the argument/moral truth false. Your denial of something doesn’t make it false. You have no objective moral obligation to be right. When your opinions conflict with the social contract, there are consequences.
    This is as brief as I can be. But I’ll happily keep making you look stupid if you’ll let me.

    He’ll likely delete this comment too.

  32. 32
    Stephanie Z

    George, I’ll be very curious to see whether he responds to you on the out clause in “objective” religious morality (God said so). He didn’t when I brought it up, but, well, I am female.

    So tempting to go comment on all his threads and spread the girl cooties everywhere.

  33. 33
    George W.

    OMG.
    I just re-read my comments and I just checkmated Peter. Literally.
    If anyone else can see why, I’ll send the first winner a $10 Gift certificate to a store of their choosing.
    You can post the response to this on my latest post, or if you would rather, wait till I explain it in tomorrow’s post Presuppositional Morality: How Peter Gets to Murder His Kids And There is Nothing You Can Do About It.
    Good Luck, and good reasoning!

  34. 34
    Jason Thibeault

    Gordon George, that’s easy. I can’t really play too much right now, but my guess based on the title of your post is:

    If morals are objective and God commands them, then if Peter decides he’s been commanded by God to kill his kids, we can’t punish him for it because our punishment would be contradicting God’s commandments. And because we weren’t privy to them, we have to trust that he’s been commanded, because God has done it before.

    If Peter’s wrong, and morals are subjective, but is right about subjectivity meaning one cannot judge others by the subjective morals of the time, then he is free to use the morals of the Bible to kill his kids. And since morals are subjective, we don’t get to judge him by our moral standards as defined by the rest of society.

    And if Peter’s wrong about both subjectivity of morals and objectivity of application of morals within the scope of society, then he can pick a society where, when he kills his kids, the Bible precepts apply.

    He’s arguing that it’s totally acceptable to kill his children under any circumstances.

  35. 35
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, just do it, Steph, you know you want to. :)

  36. 36
    George W.

    Your close Jason….
    But you are assuming that he is wrong on at least one point in the final two postulates, and you are ever so close on the first. Maybe we are saying the same thing, I’m just going to lay bare the evidence using his own words.
    If only someone could save all the comments he ever made on that post, so that he can’t backtrack…
    Unfortunately, it is beyond my technical know how, too bad.

  37. 37
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s easy. In your browser, go to File > Save Page As.

  38. 38
    George W.

    Really? It’s that easy?

    I am a luddite.

    Oh, well. I’ll give you a teaser of my post for tomorrow:

    I have a good friend who is a chess phenom. He says you don’t win a game of chess, you lose a game of chess. He has even told me that you can lose in the first three moves. In presuppositional apologetics, the trick is to make two moves, claim that their opponent has already lost, and refuse to play the rest of the game. The trick works only if you believe that you can lose without playing it out, and only if the presuppositionalist never makes that third move. If he makes it, I can follow any combination of moves he will make from then on to a checkmate.
    He can continue to tell those that will listen that I already lost in the first two moves, but he can’t prove it, because it requires that third move.
    The third move is to commit to your own premise, the third move is the losing one for any moral presuppositionalist strategy.

    If the first rule of Fight Club is “never talk about Fight Club” then the first rule of presuppositional moral apologetics should be:
    Never talk about morality.

    You took a position on a moral Peter. You broke the first rule.

  39. 39
    Stephanie Z

    Badly enough to spend more time at that site? Eh.

  40. 40
    George W.

    I hate to do this again Jason, but Blogger commenting sucks. It limits me to 4096 characters, so I can’t respond to his post without being snarky and waving away his arguments. I can see how that isn’t a problem for presupposionalists, they always respond that way….
    On his new post, 1st Reply To George, which I will reprint here so people can avoid giving him traffic:

    George: “Thanks for taking a position. It only took you four days and eight requests. Did you really have to think about it that much?”

    I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.

    George: “Killing is wrong. I agree with you.”

    Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?

    George: “If there are some exceptions to that rule does that not make it by nature subjective, in that it requires context?”

    The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
    a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
    b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

    This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.

    George: “Unless you only consider murder a moral question and not killing? Killing seems to me to be a moral question, I wonder if you agree?”

    In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.

    George: “… I wonder if we are even able to agree on the definition of morality out of the gates.”

    Probably not as the Christian position is that morality is not a matter of subjective or personal opinion.

    George: “You state, in your answer, that killing is not a moral question.”

    I did not state that. It is a moral question. But as you said, we likely disagree on the definition of morality.

    George: “So you can kill at will, so long as you are justified in doing so?”

    There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified. I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation. For example, I hear both atheists and theists say they’re in favour of capital punishment. I hear both atheists and theists say they’re opposed to capital punishment. Also, people might disagree over what constitutes a just war as opposed to a unjust war.

    George: “If you killed me today, because God told you to do it, you would not be morally culpable?”

    Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament. I know that may sound weird to you, but there it is for you anyway. Yes, it would be wrong for me to kill you, unless you were trying to kill me.

    George: “I’m struggling to follow your logic, because I suspect there is none to follow.”

    Are the laws of logic universal and invariant? Or are they a matter of convention?

    George: “So we are clear, Christianity only comports with child killing, as long as God told you to do it. Your words. So if God decided to tell you to kill your children, then you are morally right to do as he says. Glad you cleared that up for us.”

    You are not clear.

    George: “How, then, are we to know what God told you? Does He give you a receipt? If someone kills their children and tell you that God commanded it, are you morally bound to believe him? What is the procedure?”

    God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

    Also, the reason I asked the question about the difference between a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is because the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.

    I respond:

    O.K., I’ll play along, but your 15 minutes is almost up. Every single commenter here has poked holes in your boat, and your already drowning and telling the coast guard you’re just fine. This whole debate is turning into the “Black Knight” scene from “Quest for the Holy Grail”, and just like in the movie, eventually we give up arguing against your false reality and move on.

    “I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.”

    See, that seems clever, until your apologist friends read the conversation and notice that it’s not that you didn’t respond because you were busy. You responded to other comments just fine. You still haven’t responded to the request for a Bible verse condemning pedophilia that was asked 5 days ago now, yet you had the time to write 14 comments and 3 blog posts in the interim.

    “Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?”

    You really do not listen. Guess. Use your logic.

    “The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
    a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
    b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.”

    I’m glad you can look things up. The same source offers this definition:
    1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
    2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views

    Why would you conflate a definition that clearly tells you it relates to “decisions” or “experience” with one that relates to “views”: the very subject we are talking about? Especially when it’s on the same page? Reading comprehension, Peter, reading comprehension.

    “This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.”

    Wow, we actually found a clause we can agree on in totality!
    1.You’re right that your definition is not the best one.
    2.You are indeed providing it because you are trying to put words in my mouth.
    3.The rest I cannot find fault with, for you proceed to concede that you can apply “prejudices that are independent from the nature of the object being considered. Read the definition again Peter.
    Also, show me the asterisk in the Bible after the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

    “In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.”

    This may be important soon…..

    …I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation.”…

    See how I indicated when I paraphrase? That lets people know that there is context. It is called being intellectually honest. Anyway, You didn’t really give three, you gave four. You included revelation. By not including it here you make it seem like I was putting words in your mouth when you make your next point. Just so we are clear, I did no such thing.

    I won’t bother to address the next point, I will accept that that is your position on revelation. I obviously fundamentally disagree, based on the presupposition that there is in fact a “God” to communicate with.

    “God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.”

    This will become very important soon….

    “….the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.”

    Show me one human behavior, outside of organized religion, that cannot be found to have an unambiguous parallel in the animal kingdom. You haven’t even done that yet. As I pointed out, your premise of the lion and the zebra is a false conflation. Prove yourself.

  41. 41
    George W.

    Wow,
    I can’t even post there anymore. Maybe one of you could notify him that I did, in fact, reply. Even my “here is where I answer you” comment, a meager few characters, won’t go through because of “errors on the page”. What’s up with that?

  42. 42
    Jason Thibeault

    I tried earlier but couldn’t get through. I don’t know if he’s sending this stuff to moderation or if Blogspot was going bananas. But either way, I couldn’t help you with that, George.

    It’s funny that his latest post is the last reply he sent to you, but without any comments. And yet I know at least three of us have attempted to comment there. If Blogspot isn’t having problems, then we have empirical evidence that his “open comment policy” was a farce, and he’s simply overwhelmed with the level of beatdown he called down on himself when he decided to pick on my wife’s words and on atheism as a concept.

  43. 43
    George W.

    I think he’ll tire of a no comment policy when his daily blog stats go from 45 or so hits a day to 3 or 4.
    I am wondering about the Blogspot commenting system being the problem, because I’ve had issues with it before. I find it very unfriendly compared to WordPress. I have had issues at Sinned’s site a couple of times, and mild frustration at Stephanie’s. I’m not prepared to jump to a conclusion quite yet, but the timing seems convenient.
    He might be realizing that we are more than he bargained for, I have proof that he deleted several comments of mine, and others have complained of the same.
    What I don’t get is if his motivation is to attack and hide, why on earth keep the links up to your site? Any person who comes across the conversation and is interested is likely to read this thread and stumble across my links, our comments, and it looks really bad for him that following the thread on all three blogs leads to him shutting down. And all his evasion of questions etc…
    Anyway, I guess I was a tad chivalrous in defending Jodi’s honor,maybe I should talk to Katie about a Knighthood.

  44. 44
    Katie

    Hey Guys—

    I realize I’m several days late and several dollars short (as freakin’ usual), but I just wanted to say, “Can’t we all just get along?”

    I mean, I KNOW we are all agreed, both Atheist and Theist, that the MORALITY over which we are quarreling is largely a social affair (meaning that it’s an affair relating to societies of people’s, to include the society of people within this debate…societies of people’s “getting along” with one another??)

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know. I think I’ve successfully solved the whole Morality Riddle (thanks to George W., who helped me understand that, “if I think and speak in riddles…perhaps I can solve them??)!!

    I am busy now, and just stopping in, so I don’t have time to “teach myself” how to do a link (I’ve been meaning to do that some weekend…)

    But over on my site at http://www.thegreatknock.com at wordpress, I’ve posted the solution to this icky, icky riddle, which has us constantly at each other’s throats…

    The post is called: “Atheistic Morality and Theistic Morality,” and suggests the existence of TWO separate systems of Morality, while also suggesting that “it’s perfectly okay and viable” to choose EITHER SYSTEM,

    as evidenced by the fact that we do have about us the liberty to make such a choice.

    Whether we make the choice based on what we suspect to be our “preference” or what we truly suspect may be the truth (a belief)… does it really matter?

    Both systems of morality are honorable and viable, as the human being has either been “created” or “encoded” or “both” (as the case may be)

    with THE DIGNITY OF CHOICE!

    Katie.

  45. 45
    George W.

    Oh Katie,
    I suspect that comment will get you out of Peter’s good graces. That is a clear refutation of presuppositional apologetics. That is Peter’s crutch, which he uses to simultaneously hold up his faith and bash at the shins of atheists. Don’t kick it out from under him- he might get angry.

  1. 46
    Presupposational Apologetics, Morality, and The Intellectual Legacy Of Greg Bahnsen « Misplaced Grace

    [...] So Peter, of Atheism Presupposes Theism, predictably crawled back under his rock. [...]

  2. 47
    Presuppositional Apologetics: TAH DAH! Let Me Pull God Out Of A Hat. « Misplaced Grace

    [...] That is not hubris on my part, take the time to read it for yourself, though you will have to go to lousy Canuck to see my replies, because Peter won’t publish them.  If you can read the exchange between [...]

  3. 48
    Check(Mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: How Peter Gets to Murder His Kids And There is Nothing You Can Do About It. « Misplaced Grace

    [...] of Lousy Canuck, and myself.  The sources from which I pull quotations from Peter are available at Lousy Canuck, and on Atheism Presupposes Theism, in posts and comments here and here.  I will attempt to use [...]

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