Morality Without God?

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Re: Morality Without God?

#541

Post by Beanybag » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:18 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:
Beanybag wrote:These assertions of logic and facts are sounding more and more hollow. How did you arrive at these 'facts' and what are facts anyway. Why is your knowledge more legitimate than theirs? There's a lack of philosophical comprehension here.. You want to assert that everything you claim isn't resting on an unjustified premise, and yet I've seen no solution to munchhausen's trilemma.
The only fact I asserted is that there is a stalemate and I explained why I view it that way.
My comment was addressed to Spock.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#542

Post by Spock » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:22 pm

B. W. wrote:+
Spock, Butterfly…

What I did was simply using WLC idea of the provocative approach when debating the subject of morality. Often, this is the only way to make a solid point with those who refuse to sincerely discuss issues of morality. Like others here, we know how to apply philosophic concepts in our own manner, reason, and way with words. We don’t need to sound like a text book – we think for ourselves applying many philosophic models into discussions such as these.
Your presumption that either Butterfly or I "refuse to sincerely discuss issues of morality" is rude and without any warrant whatsoever. We are both completely committed to truth and rational discourse.
B. W. wrote: William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Stroble, etc, use a provocative approach to demonstrate the contradictions of opponents statements. I did so with yours Spock and Butterfly's. The point I was making was this:

If your goal is to dash bible god and the bible to piece – dash the superstitious outdated Christian Social order, for the greater good. Would this not actually be a violation of your own GR based on human interpretation of what do unto others as you would have them do unto you means?

...and that you both cannot and do not live up to your own Human derived GR. The Apostle Paul said something similar too this effect in Romans 2:14, 15c. By the works of the Law, no one is justified because all break their own laws (GR) as the logic of Galatians 2:16 plainly states. This was proven in you both. Since you cannot live up to your own GR; therefore, you positions crumbles. How – by disproving the authority of your stance by means of accountability.
I am dismayed by your continued gross misunderstanding and false caricature of the argument for objective morality based on the Golden Rule. Case in point: The Golden Rule has been presented as an explanation of HOW people judge if something is moral or not. If a person fails to live up to it on a certain point, then they know they have failed on that point. There is no presumption that anyone could do anything perfectly.

And I have no idea what you think the "superstitious outdated Christian Social order" is. Why do you introduce such a concept without even defining what you mean by it?
B. W. wrote: Let me say this, in light of what Neo-x wrote:

The Purpose of the Board Moderators of this Forum are to screen those attempting to solicit after followers, troll for converts, subvert, and to confront them, warn them, and ban when necessary for the greater good of protecting new believers in Christ from wolves in sheep’s clothing who seek to draw away followers to a false messianic ideas. Of any type. Just think, if I came on and your Forums and Blogs with a hidden agenda and you found out about it, what would you do? Like Neo-x mentioned, ridicule and debased comments/jokes would be made aplenty, and maybe kicked off or kept on for the class clown. We here on this forum let you stay here presenting your case but now the time has come to act and ask you directly: Are you Spock and Butterfly here to draw readers to your blogs, seeking to convert?
If I were trying to draw folks to my blog, I would have make a habit of citing it, would I not? As far as I recall, there may be one or two posts where I linked something I wrote there. That's one or two out of 86 posts. I don't even have a link in my signature nor in my profile. I am here for rational discourse, as should be evident from my posts.

Furthermore, I have nothing to convert people to! I was a Christian for about 15 years who intensely studied the Bible and thought that I had solid, objective evidence for a divine design in Scripture. I still think that evidence is valid, but can't accept the traditional interpretation of the Bible itself. So I desire rational discourse about these topics. It seems you are challenging us on these point merely because you don't have good answers to defend your particular interpretation of the Bible. There are many Christians who accept that the Bible is imperfect and who reject the genocide and sexism we see in it, yet retain their faith in Christ. So the real issues are YOUR INTERPRETATION of how the problems with the Bible should be answered. You could, for example, choose to adopt the highest view of Scripture which sees it as "God's Book" which he designed exactly as he wanted it to be according to his divine purpose, including all sorts of errors, contradictions, and moral abominations in order perhaps to protect people from falling into the error of Biblical fundamentalism. There are many possibilities, but you appear to have bought into the narrow fundamentalist / evangelical view that falsely asserts the Bible is perfect in all it says about God. All your problems are generated by that one presumption. If you rejected it, all those problems would evaporate.
B. W. wrote: Are you some great crusade to rid the world of biblegod while the greatest enemy Islamic fascism, Hindu Caste system goes unchecked and unconfronted?
No. I speak out against all forms of fundamentalism. I think that fundamentalist Islam is much worse (dangerous) than the corresponding form of Christianity, though there is much danger in fundamentalist Christianity because it influences our decision makers who have in the past dragged us into unnecessary war.

Islam is not a central interest of mine because I was not a Muslim and Islam is not the dominant religion where I live so it is not the center of my attention. But it is fundamentally an Abrahamic religion and so shares many of the same beliefs and problems like sexism, irrational belief in a book as the word of God, etc.
B. W. wrote: Are you seeking to subvert as Butterfly’s signature suggest – Butterflies create great disturbances? I.E. Chaos theory, Social Conflict Theory, Neo-Marxism, Evolutionary Socialism, all use this didactical model…
I have no idea what you think you mean. Please elaborate.
B. W. wrote: Are you trolling for converts? Or seeking subvert win over to your side? Maybe as one poster mentioned awhile back – de-baptize by use of Hair Dryers…
Convert to what? Speaking truth regardless of the cost to cherished beliefs? I have no dogmas. There is nothing for anyone to convert to.
B. W. wrote:Both your comments on this forum do not suggest at all that you both just want to openly and honestly discuss the bible and god and oppression. If you honestly did, then you would listen to all those responding to you and yourselves been a bit more open minded about our answers. Your own recorded biases betray that you do have an agenda.
I have listened to every word addressed to me. Your comment is based on a false assumption. I am free to be totally open-minded because, unlike you, I have no fragile dogma to protect.
B. W. wrote: Can you be truthful with us and stop the victim card and level with us?
Don't be absurd. I do not play the victim card. Can you be truthful and admit this simple fact? My posts prove that I am quite rational and open minded and that I seek mutual understanding when there is a disagreement.
B. W. wrote: Many of us on this forum, we do feel quite sorry for you both. You both do not know, nor understand the real truth of the gospel, or God at all, but have been, well, brained washed; how, by involvement with Christian Science (CS), Word of Faith (WoF), and liberal theology, and wherever these have led you too. Error begets error as they say.
Thanks for sharing your opinion. Butterfly and I have similar feelings about many folks on this board whom we pity when we see how their false beliefs have corrupted their minds and made them utter many irrational things.
B. W. wrote: Whenever have you actually heard the real truth about gospel of Jesus Christ?
During the 15 years when I read the Bible many hours each day in Greek and Hebrew and deep prayer believing it was the very Word of God.

Have I ever heard the Gospel? How ridiculous! There is not a word of the "Gospel" that you could utter which I could not write a book on off the top of my head. I wrote a 412 page book with over 200,000 words that reviewed the relation between each and every book of the Bible.
B. W. wrote: From the evidence of your own words and testimony – indicates that you never have heard but instead bought into a lie based upon past experiences. With this lie, are you both seeking to distort the bible in order to lead others astray or at least to your blogs for this purpose? Your blogs do mirror propaganda of the Progressive Left and the New Age Movement as far as I can tell and also to me appear based solely upon the bad doctrinal foundation of CS, WoF, and Liberal NCC as a the sole foundation to base you judgments upon the bible, God, and Christianity on.
Your judgments are false, superficial, and based on gross ignorance. Butterfly merely gave a history of some of the forms of Christianity she experienced. You appear to be using her openness and honesty as a way to attack her. Your comments appear designed only to accuse and convict, regardless of truth. I see no authentic Christian love in your words. You are not seeking to understand or to help, but to marginalize and dismiss us under the false pretext that we never understood the Gospel. You are not speaking righteously.
B. W. wrote: As Neo-x stated: The job of a moderator on this forum is to screen comments and make sure people are not here for the wrong reasons and under the guise of sort of subterfuge. We allow people to opine for a while, but when things become clearer by a person’s style and comments, that they are here for the wrong reasons; then we go into action. A moderator who doesn't do these things within the parameters of the board Guidelines is failing their job on any forum. I have a job to do and will do it as would all the mod's on this board.

So why are you really here?
I've explained a number of times. I was a very devout Christian who studied the Bible every day believing it was the very Word of God. It dominated my life completely. I have since "grown up" and realized that everyone is subject to falling into the religious delusion that their PROJECTIONS are "God." This doesn't mean there isn't a God, but it does complexify the human attempt to know if their beliefs are real or if they are a projection. So I find discourse on these issue of central interest. And if you really have the truth, then you should be absolutely delighted that folks like Rose and I are here, because we are absolutely committed to rational discourse and the articulation of truth.
B. W. wrote: I would like to apologize to BryanH for adding his name alongside Spock’s and Butterfly’s name on this thread. BryanH has been here for awhile and has provided many good insights and intelligent dialogues within the realm of the board guidelines. I added his name alongside the others due to the nature of the debate. I used provocative thought model to challenge the assumptions that the GR is solely human derived and BryanH sorry bro, you were caught in the crossfire.
You degrade yourself when you "apologize to BryanH for adding his name alongside Spock’s and Butterfly’s name" as if she and I were some sort of horrible, dishonest, or wicked people. Have you no shame?
B. W. wrote: The intent as to also show that the Golden Rule only proves that we all break it (no matter its source) and none of us cannot live up to its standards without first Loving God as Jesus plainly said. In this, Christians learn by living lessons how to love God and others involving what is termed as the sanctification process after realizing God loved us first so much to send Jesus Christ as a ransom for many. This language is foreign to Spock and Butterfly and even to myself years and years ago when I was an atheist. I suggest to Spock and Butterfly and all Atheist/Agnostics to look into it. It would do you good...
The fact that we all break the GR is totally consistent with the fact that objective morality is based on the GR. This seems to be a very persistent confusion on your part.

And you assertion that the Gospel language "is foreign to Spock and Butterfly" is entirely false and grossly unjustified. Here are some of the things I've written (under my real name, Richard Amiel McGough) concerning my beliefs about the Gospel (I'd provide links, but then you would probably accuse me of advertizing my site):
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: The Lord Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the Author and the Finisher of our Faith. He is the Foundation Stone upon which our Salvation and all Reality rests, the Capstone that completes the Work of God, and Keystone that holds all things together. He is the Mighty God manifest in the flesh, the Creator of All, the great I AM and the Prince of Peace.
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: One of the most difficult ideas to get through to the human heart is the depth of pathos entailed in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of the Book of Hosea; Scripture paints no clearer picture of the utter degradation our High Priest suffered for us when He humbled Himself to the point of death on the Cross. Victor Shepherd, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Tyndale, explained this in his sermon, The Passion of God:
Centuries before Good Friday the prophet Hosea learned about that humiliation which God's love brings to God. Hosea learned this through the humiliation his love for his wife brought him. Hosea's wife, Gomer, traipsed off to the marketplace and sold herself. Pregnancy, of course, is an occupational hazard of prostitution, and Gomer bore three children who weren't Hosea's. When Gomer was sufficiently used up that her market-value was all but eroded and she thought she might as well return home (at least she would be fed there) Hosea went down to the marketplace, endured the taunts and crude jokes of the ruffians and vulgar louts who lounged around there, and paid fifteen shekels to get his wife out of their clutches. Fifteen shekels was half the price of a slave! Why did Hosea endure such humiliation? Because he loved his wife, loved her regardless of the cost to himself, loved her regardless of the face which couldn't be saved. Thereafter Hosea preached about a divine love which loves to the point of public humiliation.
Hosea purchased his harlot wife to redeem her from the bondage of her sin, just as the Lord Jesus purchased His Church when He was nailed to the Cross. All these ideas have been seen before. The Reverend Peter Smit linked the primary elements of Philippians 2 with Hosea's humiliation in his Christmas 1999 sermon, Our God of Grace:
Hosea loved Gomer to show us how much God loves us. Jesus suffered the humiliation of his incarnation, rejection and finally death on a cross to not only secure our salvation, but to show us just how much God loves us.
Through the Cross, God completely joined Himself to us, bearing our sin unto death so we might live with Him forever. In this, He fulfilled His role as our High Priest so He could, as implicitly prophesied by Leah at the birth of Levi, join us to God as an adulterous woman to her estranged husband. And as is typical of the supreme style of God's Word, He promised our redemption in the very Book that so vividly exposes the revolting filth of our sin (Hosea 2:16ff):
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [my husband] ... And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: Praise God, I am a man saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesian 2:8). I am a non-denominational blood-bought Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian. I believe that the true “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) is well stated in the early creeds of the church that Christ founded.
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: To this end I labour, to glorify the Triune God; to glorify the Father Almighty, Creator of all, to glorify His Son Jesus Christ my Saviour and Hope, and to glorify the Giver of all divine gifts, my Comforter, Guide, Teacher and Friend, God the Holy Spirit. To You be the glory, thrice holy blessed God of Eternity! To You be the glory, now and forevermore. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: I remain eternally grateful to my Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, for shedding His Light upon me and guiding my path – usually without my knowledge – and giving me both the burning desire and the ability to proclaim the neverending wonders of His Holy Word. Oh! The wonders of His Grace! Had He left me to myself, doubtless I’d be dead or wandering aimless and lost through this dark world. Thank you, my Lord!
Richard Amiel McGough wrote: Divine Revelation is True Light. When the Spirit of God illuminates His Word, we know His Truth with the same certainty a blind man would have if he received sight. Everything suddenly comes into focus with perfect clarity. We can walk without stumbling in the Daylight of God's Word. All the pieces effortlessly fit together with supernatural grace when the vision of the Whole is received. Ten thousand witnesses lift their voices in unison to confirm God's Word. There is no perplexing doubt, no confusion. Scripture superabundantly conforms to its own reiterative command that "every word" must be established "in the mouth of two or three witnesses" (Deut 19:15, Mat 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1). There is nothing but light, Light, LIGHT that drives out any shadow of darkness. The Gates of Heaven are thrust open; the Divine Perfection of the Holy Word shines like the noontime sun in a cloudless sky for all to see.


I filled a 412 page book and a 1000 page website with praises of God and full expositions of fundamental Gospel truths. Your accusations against me are entirely unwarranted, unjustified, and unrighteous.
Last edited by Spock on Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:31 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#543

Post by Byblos » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:27 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:
Beanybag wrote:These assertions of logic and facts are sounding more and more hollow. How did you arrive at these 'facts' and what are facts anyway. Why is your knowledge more legitimate than theirs? There's a lack of philosophical comprehension here.. You want to assert that everything you claim isn't resting on an unjustified premise, and yet I've seen no solution to munchhausen's trilemma.
The only fact I asserted is that there is a stalemate and I explained why I view it that way.
Me thinks Beanny was addressing Mr. Spock.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#544

Post by Spock » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:39 pm

Beanybag wrote:These assertions of logic and facts are sounding more and more hollow. How did you arrive at these 'facts' and what are facts anyway. Why is your knowledge more legitimate than theirs? There's a lack of philosophical comprehension here.. You want to assert that everything you claim isn't resting on an unjustified premise, and yet I've seen no solution to munchhausen's trilemma.
If anything rings hollow, it is your empty dismissal of my comments. If you had any authentic challenge to anything I have written, why didn't you post it? Why did you choose rather to make empty assertions about nothingness? You comment has no content!

You ask how I arrived at the facts that I have presented? What kind of question is that? Am I supposed to review this long thread and demonstrate again the foundation for each and every fact I referenced from beginning to end? If you have an authentic and intelligent challenge to something I've written, please quote my words and I will respond. As it is, your comments are empty and vain.

Nothing I have written implies that my knowledge is more legitimate than anyone's. My statements are all based on demonstrable logic and facts. If you disagree, then you are free to go and find something I have written that does not stand up to the high standard that I hold myself to. If you find any error, I will be in your debt. Good luck. It should be interesting.

I have never asserted that anything "isn't resting on an unjustified premise." On the contrary, I wrote a freaking POST explaining that every philosophical system must rest upon PRIMITIVE CONCEPTS that cannot be defined. Your comments indicate that you are just taking blind shots at me with no knowledge or understanding whatsoever. What's up with that? Why are you embarrassing yourself like this? What is your motive?
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Re: Morality Without God?

#545

Post by Butterfly » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:41 pm

B.W. wrote:Many of us on this forum, we do feel quite sorry for you both. You both do not know, nor understand the real truth of the gospel, or God at all, but have been, well, brained washed; how, by involvement with Christian Science (CS), Word of Faith (WoF), and liberal theology, and wherever these have led you too. Error begets error as they say.
How is it that my involvement in different branches and doctrines of Christianity supposedly "brainwashed" me, but your being an atheist has no affect on your interpretation of the Bible?
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Re: Morality Without God?

#546

Post by jlay » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:31 pm

I also am confused by your statement that "There were two definitions sited. The first one you held. The 2nd one would comply with realism, the position I hold as do many here and of course WLC." That makes no sense because both definitions are a form of realism, one "weak" and one "strong" according to you. How then can you say that only the second one "would comply with realism?" The terms are obviously confused
Spock said on page 27
Objective (adj)
1: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers
2: having reality independent of the mind <objective reality> <our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff> — compare subjective 3a

The first part of the definition is how I have been using the word: "an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers." Of course, by "sensible" we would have to include things that can be perceived only by the mind, such as logic and mathematics. This is why the second part which defines objective as "independent of mind" has problems. Equations like 1 + 2 = 3 are certainly objectively true but we don't know if it (or anything) is "independent of mind." There is perennial philosophical debate about such things and we certainly won't resolve it here so if we want to make any progress we will have to agree on a pragmatic definition of objectivity. I think the definition given above is entirely sufficient for our discussion.

You say that you are "using the term strong and weak in the sense of the GR being objective." That makes no sense. Realism of any form implies objectivity. This confusion of terms is making the discourse impossible.
Weak being the definition you are using. The fact that universals are 'debated' doesn't mean that we should reject them.
It seems to me that the real issue is that you are trying to force a false dichotomy between Realism and Nominalism, and then force me into the position of a Nominalist. That's now how this discourse should proceed. I have explicitly told you that I am not a Nominalist. If you want to prove that I am, you will need to demonstrate it necessarily follows from something I've actually written
Not denying variants, but is it safe to say you deny universals when it comes to morality? You said,
I do not have a settled position on ontology
Didn't you quote someone earlier saying that ontology presumes epistemology, and that was your position?
Well, then you should have responded to the evidence I gave.
Here are a few words from your "so called" (ooh, i can do it too) evidence. rig, terrible, I do not think.

You said,
This is a [poor] definition. On this definition, someone who believes morality is whatever space aliens tells us it is counts as a believer in objective morality. A more sensible definition would be something like “morality independent of what anyone says or thinks.” And I do think morality has to be objective in something like that sense.
Why would I address it. The comment on aliens? Begging the question by saying, "a more sensible definition." Sure, you don't think morality has to objective in the sense we are using it, but that is ultimately the problem. If your OM is in the sense you prefer then it is ultimately meanigless. As I stated in another thread, regarding the GR, someone can honestly and rationally say, "If I were you, I would want someone like me to tell me what to think and what to do." It's arbitrary and meaningless. It has no more inherent meaning than an elephant fart. Symmetrical or not.
You say Craig makes a false disjuntion between moral ontology and epistemology. You say they both presume each other. We disagree. And none of this proves your theory. Craig being wrong doesn't either.

In the end it's all rabbit trails, which I'm sure because of your very good debating skills (kudos) you are more than happy to chase.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#547

Post by Spock » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:06 pm

jlay wrote:
I also am confused by your statement that "There were two definitions sited. The first one you held. The 2nd one would comply with realism, the position I hold as do many here and of course WLC." That makes no sense because both definitions are a form of realism, one "weak" and one "strong" according to you. How then can you say that only the second one "would comply with realism?" The terms are obviously confused
Spock said on page 27
Objective (adj)
1: of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers
2: having reality independent of the mind <objective reality> <our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff> — compare subjective 3a

The first part of the definition is how I have been using the word: "an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers." Of course, by "sensible" we would have to include things that can be perceived only by the mind, such as logic and mathematics. This is why the second part which defines objective as "independent of mind" has problems. Equations like 1 + 2 = 3 are certainly objectively true but we don't know if it (or anything) is "independent of mind." There is perennial philosophical debate about such things and we certainly won't resolve it here so if we want to make any progress we will have to agree on a pragmatic definition of objectivity. I think the definition given above is entirely sufficient for our discussion.

You say that you are "using the term strong and weak in the sense of the GR being objective." That makes no sense. Realism of any form implies objectivity. This confusion of terms is making the discourse impossible.
Weak being the definition you are using. The fact that universals are 'debated' doesn't mean that we should reject them.
Your definition is entirely contrary to what Craig has repeatedly stated. His "moral realism" is of the weakest form possible. It is consistent with what you have been calling my supposed "nominalism." Here are many examples where Craig defines the word "objective" -

WLC: "To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so." source

WLC: "To say that moral values and duties are objective is to say they are valid and binding independent of human opinion." source

WLC: "To say that moral values and duties are objective is to say that they are valid and binding independent of human opinion." source

WLC: "Objective moral values are values that are moral and binding whether anyone believes in them or not." source

WLC: "By objective moral values, I mean moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not." source

WLC: "When I speak of objective moral values, I mean moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not." source

WLC: "Objectivity: The truth of a moral proposition is independent of the beliefs of any particular human being or human community." source

WLC: "By “objective” I mean “independent of people’s opinions.” By “subjective” I mean “dependent on people’s opinions.” source

WLC: "To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is good or evil independent of what any human being believes. Similarly to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong independently of whether any human being believes them to be so." (Reasonable Faith, p. 173). source

WLC: "[T]here's the distinction between being objective or subjective. By objective I mean 'independent of people's opinions.' By subjective I mean 'dependent on people's opinions.' So to say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is good or bad no matter what people think about it. Similarly, to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong for us regardless of what people think." Craig, William Lane. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010. pp. 130-31

Craig's definition coheres precisely with the definition given in this review of the Moral Arguments for God in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which also is the defintion that I use:
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy wrote: These properties are recognized as objective in the sense that they hold or not regardless of human opinion. They are non-natural in the sense that “they cannot be stated entirely in the language of physics, chemistry, biology, and human or animal psychology” (Adams 1987, 145). Such facts could be accounted for from within non-theistic world views, such as Platonism. ... Complex metaphysical debate is needed to show that alternative, non-theistic, metaphysical systems cannot cope with objective normative facts, or if they can, are implausible on other grounds.
Craig repeatedly uses the definition as given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It is a very weak form of moral realism which is consistent with non-theistic metaphysics. This directly contradicts his first premise which states "If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist." Your comments on this point are entirely contrary to how Craig defines objective. I trust you will now admit your error since I have given overwhelming evidence that you were wrong.
Last edited by Spock on Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#548

Post by The Protector » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:46 pm

Spock,

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply. In some ways I think I understand your argument better, but in others I’m afraid I’m still not quite clear on where you stand. Please allow me to address the points you’ve made in your reply. If you feel you have addressed them elsewhere and I either missed them or didn’t quite understand them, then please accept my humble apologies and simply direct me to the relevant post (or copy and paste if you’re feeling particularly generous)
Spock wrote:
The Protector wrote: I take it, then, that you propose that the GR is like the thermometer in the above example? What I don't get, though, is where you think the analogous statement regarding moral actions or duties might go.

Man may develop the thermometer, establishing consistent interval markings thereon in order to develop an objective measure, but ultimately the measure of degrees is the measure of a man-made construct, is it not? I doubt you would suggest that fahrenheit measurements are objectively preferable to celsius, after all. Although we may develop an objective (i.e. consistent) measure of molecular motion, it would be inaccurate to say that degrees exist, and we can measure 73 of them. In the end, it's a bit like cutting oatmeal at its joints; we are imposing a descrete template onto a continuous phenomenon. Bearing that in mind, are you really saying that "morality" exists and the GR is our objective measure thereof, or are you saying that the GR is objectively morality itself?
Yes, the Golden Rule compares to the thermometer in as much as it provides an objective test to establish the truth value of moral statements. In principle, we can discern the objective moral value of any action by the Golden Rule. I say "in principle" because we will always encounter complex moral situations where the application of our science is beyond our ability. This happens all the time. For example, Quantum Mechanics is great and we have yet to find any disconfirmation of it, but we can actually use it to directly calculate the exact solution of a very small set of problems because the equations quickly get too complex when there are more than a few interacting particles. In those situations we must develop other methods such as statistical mechanics to deal with averages governed by the fundamental laws because we simply have no way to know the exact state of each and every particle.
This is what I thought, but it has me a bit confused. You had argued that the Golden Rule establishes objective morality without the need for God (obviously, please correct me if I’ve misstated your position). Here, though, you acknowledge that the GR is merely a measure of the morality of certain acts that one may perform, and that implies it is measuring something that exists (or perhaps “carries value” or “has meaning” would be better if we don’t want to speak of abstractions as “existing?”) apart from either the measure itself or man’s recognition thereof; after all, heat (that is, variations in energy, molecular motion) exists wholly apart from either the thermometer or man’s recognition of it (I know there are philosophers who would dispute this claim, but it seems we agree here). To sum, then, the GR does not establish morality, it merely is presumed to discern it—or at any rate discern the degree to which an act is moral. But the moral argument at issue is not that morals cannot be discerned without God, the argument is that objective morals (objective in the absolute sense) cannot exist (or “have meaning?”) in the absence of God. That you presume the GR allows you to discern the moral value of a given act does not in any way demonstrate that this moral value exists (or can exist) in the absence of God, does it? After all, Craig does not say that people cannot discern moral values and duties without God—indeed, you’ve criticized him for saying that people can discern them too readily! But this discernment—this taking measure of—is really all you say the GR does here, is it not?

Also, while a measure may in itself be objective, it does not necessarily follow that what is being measured is an objective construct. What reason do we have for supposing that “moral value” is akin to temperature and the GR to a thermometer in this regard, as opposed to, say, being analogous to “cognitive ability” and an Intelligence test?

Moreover, a thermometer is a quantitative test (albeit of man-made interval units), but it seems to me that a measure of moral value would be dealing with qualitative data, would it not? It would be akin to a thermometer with two labels: “Hot” and “Cold;” such a thermometer would tell us very little about the temperature, except inasmuch as it might be perceived by the person who designed the thermometer. So too with a measure with outcomes labeled “Moral” and “Immoral.” Does that make any sense?

If the GR is merely a test or measure of the morality of human actions, do you hold that humans have moral duties?

Spock wrote:
The Protector wrote: Now surely you don't mean this, do you? It seems you conflate "expect" with "prefer," or at any rate equivocate on the meaning of "prefer" here. You are right that we expect each face of a fair 6-sided die to appear 1/6th of the time, but it has nothing to do with our preferences. Indeed, our preference for which side turns up has to do with how much we have riding on the outcome, not on proper understanding of probabilities! When we speak of what we expect to see from a 6-sided die, then--that is, when we speak of a "fair" die--we are referring to what should be observed if all six outcomes are equally likely. With humans, on the other hand, an individual could have any number of reasons to prefer one human face over another, and we have no reason to expect to observe equal treatment among humans because we have no reason to expect that all outcomes are equal. Where am I misunderstanding you here?
I most certainly meant exactly what I wrote. The words "expect" and "prefer" are common in the literature discussing statistics, epistemic probability, etc. The word "prefer" refers to choices guided by the principle of indifference.
...

The "assigning of equal probability" is just another way to say what we should "expect" based on the fact that we have no reason to "prefer" one face over another.
I did not realize you were the husband of whom Butterfly has spoken so highly! I pray you are both blessed with many more happy years together.

To your point: I apologize for not realizing that “prefer” is commonly used in this way; as I said before, I have no training in philosophy or formal logic, and I appreciate your patience with me as I struggle with these concepts. Even so, when you apply it to human actions and morality, it seems to me that the implication must be the use of “prefer” in the more common sense of the word: that is, to desire a given outcome (or outcomes) over others—to find them “preferable.” To say that one expects no single outcome over any others is to say that no particular pattern of outcome is anticipated, but rather one anticipates (over the long run) observing all outcomes in equal frequency. If we are consistent in our usage of the word “prefer,” then when we continue the analogy and apply this to human actions by saying that, since we are all human, we should prefer no one human face over the other would be to say that we do not expect any one human face over any other. This doesn’t make much sense to me. Coupled with all the stuff about symmetry in physics, it strikes me that you are trying to draw an ought from an is, but this may just reflect my poor knowledge of physics. I hope that you might be so kind as to elaborate and clarify these points for me.
Spock wrote: What is love (baby don't hurt me)? That is, as you are using it here.
All philosophy and science requires primitive concepts that cannot be defined in terms of other words else we would fall into an infinite regress or self-referential loop. I think love is the proper "primitive concept" and that morality is the logic of love. Here is how the wiki explains it:
In mathematics, logic, and formal systems, a primitive notion is an undefined concept. In particular, a primitive notion is not defined in terms of previously defined concepts, but is only motivated informally, usually by an appeal to intuition and everyday experience. In an axiomatic theory or other formal system, the role of a primitive notion is analogous to that of axiom. In axiomatic theories, the primitive notions are sometimes said to be "defined" by one or more axioms, but this can be misleading. Formal theories cannot dispense with primitive notions, under pain of infinite regress.
Okay, so you are simply asserting it. But what is it? Where does it come from? I mean, you’ve denied that abstractions “exist,” so is love merely a concept that has sprung from the minds of mankind? Something else?
Spock wrote: Why is love "good?" By what standard?
Would you ever ask that question of Jesus? If not, why not? If so, what do you think his answer would be?
You’ve made similar replies to other people here, and I must say this is quite a trick. We ask questions to try to better understand your perspective from an atheistic position, and instead of responding you take us to task for not displaying a better Christian understanding of these things. If I was a less charitable man I might call this a “rhetorical ploy.” :ebiggrin: Obviously I would not ask this of Jesus Christ, because I believe he is the living God. I ask this of you because you believe there is no God. While I cannot presume to know what Christ would say in reply, my best guess would be something similar to what he said to the Rich Young Ruler who addressed him as “good teacher.”
Spock wrote: Why must a true moral theory "cohere with love?"
Because moral theory is the logic of love. Could a person with no love have any authentic moral intuitions?
“Morality is the logic of love” is a seductive phrase, but I’m not sure what reason you have for positing it, and I certainly don’t see how it answers my question. In response to my question, “Why must a moral theory ‘cohere with love’,” this response is essentially equivalent to, “Because a moral theory must cohere with love.” What does it mean for a moral intuition to be “authentic?” I imagine your question here is rhetorical and you would answer that love makes a person’s moral intuitions authentic. But why? On your view, as an atheist, what logical reason do you have to believe this? What has led you to this conclusion?

And what is this about “moral intuitions?” Weren’t you critical of Craig for citing moral intuitions? Perhaps you explained this already and I’ve just forgotten (again, simply let me know if that is the case), but what role do “moral intuitions” play in your theory of moral values?
Spock wrote: Why do you say Lex Talionis has only "superficial symmetry?" What does it lack that is needed for true symmetry?
That was probably a poor choice of words. The symmetry is "superficial" because that's all the Lex Talionis has going for it. It obviously fails as a moral principle for two reasons. 1) It does not account for our moral intuitions, and 2) It directly contradicts our moral intuitions.
Whose moral intuitions?
Spock wrote: I understand that you are stating that "self loves self" as an axiom, but what reason do we have to accept it? I see people every day who quite clearly do not love themselves.
A self is by definition a unity. People such as schizophrenics who lack self love have a severe mental illness and are incapable of understanding the Golden Rule, especially in its ultimate formulation as Universal Love taught by Christ when he said "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Folks who hate themselves have a "divided self" - as Christ said, "a house divided cannot stand." A good introduction to the psychology of this mental illness is R. D. Laing's book The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness.. As its title suggests, any sentient being lacking self-love (recall the fundamental relation between Love and Unity - the principle underlying Integrity, Morality, etc.) is insane to one degree or another.
I’ve not read The Divided Mind, but I am somewhat familiar with Laing’s work. My understanding, though, was that Laing’s “ontological insecurity” (observed in psychotic patients) had more to do with a sense of existence and personhood, annihilation anxiety and fears of engulfment, that sort of thing. I’m sure I’ll read it all sooner or later. As for schizophrenics’ ability to comprehend the GR, I think you underestimate them a great deal.

Anyway, thank you again for your consideration.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#549

Post by jlay » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:59 am

Spock,

i'll review the info and do some additional research. I am also reading a piece on the debate between Peter Abailard and William Champaeux debating over universals. At first glance, as I was thinking about this the other day, regarding the two definitions. The first definition does not necessarily presume the 2nd. The 1st however, would 'obviously' flow from the 2nd if true. Hope I am wording that correctly. In other words, if morals are universals then it only flows that morally capable beings can know what they 'ought' to do.
So, if Craig is equivocating, how does that prove your position? It doesn't. You neglected to answer several questions and focus on Craig. Are you saying the truth of your argument hinges on Craig?
FWIW, WLC kind of covers some of that here. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-the ... from-an-is

The first definition requires observers, or beings to recognize. Any argument? That is, the GR is subjective to the human experience. And symmetrical or not, why is the GR right? Using the GR to prove the GR is question begging.

Now, I gave an example of the GR, where it would not be true in all situations. And in fact someone would have to appeal to a different code.
Also, there are always people who think they are right but are not, and could rationally and honestly say with self love, "If I were you, I would want someone like me to tell me what to think and what to do."
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Re: Morality Without God?

#550

Post by Spock » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:43 am

jlay wrote:Spock,

i'll review the info and do some additional research. I am also reading a piece on the debate between Peter Abailard and William Champaeux debating over universals. At first glance, as I was thinking about this the other day, regarding the two definitions. The first definition does not necessarily presume the 2nd. The 1st however, would 'obviously' flow from the 2nd if true. Hope I am wording that correctly. In other words, if morals are universals then it only flows that morally capable beings can know what they 'ought' to do.
Good morning jlay, Image

Much research would be required to discuss the meaning of universals. But that's really irrelevant to Craig's argument because philosophers have been discussing this topic for 2,500 years and have yet to come to a consensus. This is one of the many flaws in Craig's argument; it depends critically upon our philosophical understanding of universals but he does not mention it, let alone address it, when he presents his argument. He simply assumes and asserts a naive realism of the weakest sort and relies upon the philosophical ignorance of his audience to carry his argument. And worse yet, he has no basis whatsoever for his second premise other than saying it is "obvious" and "we all know it" coupled with an appeal to authority. Countless critics have exposed his errors, yet he persists like Don Quixote attacking the windmills of his mind. It is truly an intellectual and philosophical travesty.
jlay wrote: So, if Craig is equivocating, how does that prove your position? It doesn't. You neglected to answer several questions and focus on Craig. Are you saying the truth of your argument hinges on Craig?
The falsehood of Craig's argument says nothing about the truth of mine.

As for questions I may not have answered - that's because there are too many issues being discussed at once. Our recent conversation has focused on Craig's argument, so I wanted to get that settled before returning to my argument.
jlay wrote: FWIW, WLC kind of covers some of that here. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-the ... from-an-is
The "is/ought" problem seems to me to be based on a confusion of terms mixed with false presumptions. Here is a snippet from the wiki that makes sense to me:
wiki wrote: Ethical naturalists contend that moral truths exist, and that their truth value relates to facts about physical reality. Many modern naturalistic philosophers see no impenetrable barrier in deriving "ought" from "is", believing it can be done whenever we analyze goal-directed behavior. They suggest that a statement of the form "In order for agent A to achieve goal B, A reasonably ought to do C" exhibits no category error and may be factually verified or refuted. "Ought"s exist, then, in light of the existence of goals.
I don't see how the is/ought problem could lead to any successful argument for objective morality.
jlay wrote: The first definition requires observers, or beings to recognize. Any argument? That is, the GR is subjective to the human experience. And symmetrical or not, why is the GR right? Using the GR to prove the GR is question begging.
I don't understand your point. All experience, thoughts, and philosophical judgements require "observers" or "beings." The GR is no different than anything else in that regard.

Why do you say "the GR is subjective to human experience?" Everything humans experience is "subjective to human experience." The idea is that we can discern an objective reality underlying our subjective experience.

I don't know what you mean when you say "Using the GR to prove the GR is question begging." When did I do that? Please quote my exact words.
jlay wrote: Now, I gave an example of the GR, where it would not be true in all situations. And in fact someone would have to appeal to a different code.
I don't know which example you are talking about. Please present it again and I will answer.
jlay wrote: Also, there are always people who think they are right but are not, and could rationally and honestly say with self love, "If I were you, I would want someone like me to tell me what to think and what to do."
Your scenario is based on a confusion of what "if I were you" means. You are implying that all the personal desires specific to person A carry over to person B in the Golden Rule. But if that were true, then what happened to the desires of person B? The whole point of the GR is to give equal (symmetric) weight to the self-love of both persons. It is the principle of justice, fairness, moral symmetry. It is suppose to evoke empathy for the other person, but you simply obliterated person B in your fallacious application of the GR. When Christ presented the GR, could you imagine answering him with such words? How do you suppose he would have responded to such sophistry?
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Re: Morality Without God?

#551

Post by jlay » Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:03 am

Spock wrote: It is the principle of justice, fairness, moral symmetry. You simply obliterated person B in your fallacious application of the GR. When Christ presented the GR, could you imagine answering him with such words? How do you suppose he would have responded to such sophistry?
Aren't you just appealing to other abstract concepts here? Justice, fairness.
I don't see how it's obliterated person B at all. We use this line of thinking with young people all the time. "When I was your age, I wish I had someone to kick me in the butt."

Importing Christ to attempt to create a dilemma isn't going to work. Since He also said that truth was objective and He was it. Not to mention He appealed to the God of the Bible. So, Jesus wouldn't be making your argument or viewing the GR from your perspective.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#552

Post by Spock » Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:34 am

jlay wrote:
Spock wrote: It is the principle of justice, fairness, moral symmetry. You simply obliterated person B in your fallacious application of the GR. When Christ presented the GR, could you imagine answering him with such words? How do you suppose he would have responded to such sophistry?
Aren't you just appealing to other abstract concepts here? Justice, fairness.
I mentioned those concepts because they exemplify what the GR is really all about. I did not "appeal" to them to prove anything. I mentioned them in the hope of awakening you to the fundamental concepts that relate to any discussion of morality.
jlay wrote: I don't see how it's obliterated person B at all. We use this line of thinking with young people all the time. "When I was your age, I wish I had someone to kick me in the butt."
You totally obliterated person B and substituted yourself, with all your personal "person A" properties, in his place. This is a fundamental failure to comprehend the meaning of the GR.
jlay wrote:
Importing Christ to attempt to create a dilemma isn't going to work. Since He also said that truth was objective and He was it. Not to mention He appealed to the God of the Bible. So, Jesus wouldn't be making your argument or viewing the GR from your perspective.
I didn't import Christ to "create a dilemma." I mentioned Christ in an apparently vain attempt to awaken your innate sense of morality. If you refuse to abide by the same standards when speaking on this forum as you would when speaking to Christ, then you are exposing yourself as a hypocrite. Have you forgotten the Biblical warning?

Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

If "idle words" are to be judged, how much more your Pharisaical treatment of the Golden Rule which Christ himself preached?
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Re: Morality Without God?

#553

Post by Spock » Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:05 pm

jlay wrote: Importing Christ to attempt to create a dilemma isn't going to work. Since He also said that truth was objective and He was it. Not to mention He appealed to the God of the Bible. So, Jesus wouldn't be making your argument or viewing the GR from your perspective.
I think this point needs further comment. Many non-theists, myself included, believe that "truth is objective" so the fact that Christ agreed is irrelevant to our discussion. It is not a valid reason for you to give me an answer inconsistent with the answer you would have given him. And besides that, you don't know anything about Christ's position on the philosophical meaning of "objective" so your assertion has no merit. Furthermore, the fact that he appealed to the God of the Bible does not mean that my argument is false or that Christ would have rejected it. Personally, I believe that even if God exists, it is absurd to think that his existence is required to understand morality because things are good or bad regardless of who says so, including God. God would, of course, state that good things are good, but that's not the reason they are good. Good things are good because of what they are, not because someone says so. God could no more declare something evil to be good than he could declare a circle to be a square. That's what "objective morality" really means. It does nothing to prove the existence of God.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#554

Post by Byblos » Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:12 pm

I don't often play the role of moderator, especially in a thread in which I'm active but I feel it is absolutely warranted in this case.
Spock wrote:I mentioned Christ in an apparently vain attempt to awaken your innate sense of morality. If you refuse to abide by the same standards when speaking on this forum as you would when speaking to Christ, then you are exposing yourself as a hypocrite. Have you forgotten the Biblical warning?

Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

If "idle words" are to be judged, how much more your Pharisaical treatment of the Golden Rule which Christ himself preached?
Spock, you have been told time and again that when Christ preaches the GR it is only because He knew well WHO its source is. For you to use it when you completely reject this source is intellectual dishonesty of the highest magnitude. Then you have the audacity to preach about hypocrisy? Live by your own golden rule and look in the mirror sir. Up until now you've been towing the line. I would suggest you carefully continue to do so. Consider this your last warning; if you continue to use such manipulative tactics you will be banned without hesitation.

Byblos,

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Re: Morality Without God?

#555

Post by jlay » Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:19 pm

I think this point needs further comment. Many non-theists, myself included, believe that "truth is objective" so the fact that Christ agreed is irrelevant to our discussion. It is not a valid reason for you to give me an answer inconsistent with the answer you would have given him. Furthermore, the fact that he appealed to the God of the Bible does not mean that my argument is false or that Christ would have rejected it. Personally, I believe that even if God exists, it is absurd to think that his existence is required to understand morality because things are good or bad regardless of who says so, including God. God would, of course, state that good things are good, but that's not the reason they are good. Good things are good because of what they are, not because someone says so.
Good things. Is the GR a good 'thing.'
And besides that, you don't know anything about Christ's position on the philosophical meaning of "objective" so your assertion has no merit.
I don't see how you can say that. And I don't see any evidence that Christ would ask the same question as you.
Personally, I believe that even if God exists, it is absurd to think that his existence is required to understand morality because things are good or bad regardless of who says so, including God.
That doesn't make any sense. It says, even if God exists (which presumes his existence) that it is absurd to think that his existence is required to understand morality. If God exists, then we were created with the capacity as moral beings, meaning morality is genuinely objective and not simply a result of being self aware. Sure, I believe people can be good and even promote OM without appealing to God.

I don't think one needs to recognize God or even conceed one might exist to understand morality. Neither does WLCAnd that is exactly why I don't think you understand WLC's argument.
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