Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

Healthy skepticism of ALL worldviews is good. Skeptical of non-belief like found in Atheism? Post your challenging questions. Responses are encouraged.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#91

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:13 pm

Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:[. As I pointed out in a thread elsewhere, Atheism carries with it a "belief set" and certain presuppositions, especially for a person who defines himself as an Atheist compared to say a baby who perhaps truly has no real beliefs on matters concerning God.
What "belief set" and presuppositions does an Athiest carry with him? I've always considered an atheist as someone who is not a theist.

K
Please define for me what you believe an "Atheist" is?
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#92

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:04 pm

Jac
I certainly would concede that the dominant view among atheists is that morality is subjective, but that's hardly surprising. In the first place, some of them have seen the reasoning and recognize that without God, morality cannot be objective

Ken
Actually most of the arguments I’ve heard had more to do with the claim that morality is a human construct; that if all humans disappeared, so would OM thus it is limited to the human mind.

Jac
But more fundamentally, I don't think that this is really a matter of definition at all. It's actually a matter of nature. The question is, what is morality?, which really just reduces to, does morality exist?. The atheistic position is really nothing more than a denial of morality by its embrace of moral anti-realism. It then claims the term "morality" and applies it to its own views and attempts to set itself up as a serious intellectual competitor.

Ken
That’s because Atheists believe that all human morality comes from human beings. There is nothing intellectually above humans thus morality must come from us, and is enforce by us. Morality is useless unless it is enforced.

Jac
If atheists want to be consistent, they need to just drop all pretenses of morality all together. They just need to say that all language about "right" and "wrong" is really theistic in its assumptions and that such language is therefore at best an accomodation and at worst deceptive. They ought to speak rather in terms of social preference or incompatibility with social or individually established and enforceable norms. They need to quit saying that racism, slavery, bigotry, and murder are wrong, objectively or otherwise.

Ken
Why must they say all of that? Remember; morality comes from us and is enforced by us. If humans disapprove of these things we will deem it immoral and enforce it. If humans deem all that stuff moral, who is going to say otherwise and enforce it?

Jac
They need to start saying that they don't approve of such things and that they hope society will disapprove of them, too. When asked why they would have such hopes, they need to take pains not to use the word "ought," because "ought" implies some sort of obligation that cannot be justified unless one appeals to moral realism. They need to keep it strictly personal: "Because I happen to prefer a world in which people act that way." They can get sophisticated if they like and appeal to some sort of utilitarian and ultimately economic argument (so long as they never become prescriptive in their language; they must always stay descriptive), but the underlying issue can never change--it is a matter of personal preference and absolutely nothing more.

Ken
From an atheist perspective, we should and do say “ought” and we don’t have to justify it by appealing to some type of moral realism because; humans are the origin of morality. We decide it and we enforce it. That is the way the secular world runs! Now there are some who will claim that there are Gods who are above humans that back up their ideas, but it is always the humans that enforce the laws so weather the God says it or not is irrelevant because as I mentioned before, if morality isn’t enforced, it might as well not even exist!

Jac
But put that way, I hope you see clearly that this is not a matter of definitions at all. This is a matter of atheists wanting something they cannot justify.

Ken
As the originators of morality, humans will justify and enforce anything they decide is moral. History has taught us that time and time again.

Jac
For instance, suppose an atheist says, "I believe morality is objective in the sense that I personally think the Golden Rule is sufficient to establish it; anyone can objectively determine right from wrong based on that standard." The theist may well respond, "Fine, morality is objective in that manner. Now I ask, though, do you think people ought to actually follow the Golden Rule as their standard of morality?"

Ken
I would say most people should but not everybody because nothing is going to work for everybody; there are always exceptions to a rule. And the Golden Rule isn’t the only secular rule, there are a plethora of other secular rules people uses as a basis of morality

Jac
If the atheist says, "Yes," then he has to justify that view by appealing to something other than the Golden Rule.

Ken
If the Atheist says the Golden Rule works for everybody, why would he have to justify it by appealing so something else? That would be akin to telling a Christian that if he believes everybody should follow God’s word, he will have to justify that view by appealing to something other than God’s word! Don’t cha think?

Jac
And if he says, "No," then the Christian may well respond, "Then it's not that morality is objective after all. It's that morality doesn't even exist!

Ken
That doesn’t make sense. Just because something doesn’t work for everybody doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! I am not getting this.

Jac
All your 'objective morality' means is really nothing more than 'this act is in accordance with this rule or it is not'. But you aren't saying anything about any kind of morality after all, objective or otherwise."

Ken
And how is that different from the way morality is enforced today?


Ken
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#93

Post by Byblos » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:17 pm

Kenny wrote:And how is that different from the way morality is enforced today?
Moving the goal posts Kenny. What does enforcement (epistemology) have to do with objectivity (ontology)? In any case, it is clear that you are finally conceding without grounding morality in God it cannot possibly be called objective.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#94

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:18 pm

Kurieuo
Thanks Kenny. You haven't resolved my complaint, but rather verified it via circular reasoning.

That is, the truth of what is seen, smelt, touches, heard or tastes is justified through seeing, smelling, touching, hearing or tasting is circular and as such taken on faith (fideism) rather than logic or reason.

Ken
Not sure how you define faith, but my definition does not include empirical evidence. If yours does, then using to your definition, it requires faith, logic and reason.

Kurieuo
See what as theism/common sense?

Point to me in the physical/material world where morality exists?

Ken
Planet Earth. A place where Humans are the origins of morality and as a society we enforce laws based upon morality.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#95

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:24 pm

Kurieuo wrote:
Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:[. As I pointed out in a thread elsewhere, Atheism carries with it a "belief set" and certain presuppositions, especially for a person who defines himself as an Atheist compared to say a baby who perhaps truly has no real beliefs on matters concerning God.
What "belief set" and presuppositions does an Athiest carry with him? I've always considered an atheist as someone who is not a theist.

K
Please define for me what you believe an "Atheist" is?
I believe an atheist is a person who lacks a belief in God. I realize many people have different interpertations of what an atheist is, and I am pretty much okay with all of them (at least all that I've heard so far)

Ken
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#96

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:27 pm

Byblos wrote:
Kenny wrote:And how is that different from the way morality is enforced today?
Moving the goal posts Kenny. What does enforcement (epistemology) have to do with objectivity (ontology)? In any case, it is clear that you are finally conceding without grounding morality in God it cannot possibly be called objective.
Not quite. My definition of objective morality is totally different than his. I was respeonding under the assumption that his defintion is correct (which I do not believe it is) As far as enforcement; I know that has nothing to do with the question he asked, I was just adding that in because I thought it was revelant.

Ken
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#97

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:07 pm

*sigh*

Theists don't "appeal" to moral-realism, Kenny. The question is whether morals are real things or not. If they are, you are a moral realist. If they are not, you are a moral anti-realist.

Again, the argument is:

1. If OM (which is to say, moral realism) is true, God exists;
2. OM (which is to say, moral realism) is true;
3. Therefore, God exists.

You don't get to say that you have "objective morality" and be an anti-realist. You may as well say that you are pro-choice and believe that abortion should be illegal or that you are an atheist who believes God knows everything but the future or that you you hold to a steady-state theory of the universe and that it came into existence 14.6 billion years ago. What you are saying is just self-contradictory non-sense.

All your position boils down to is "might makes right." So a society decides to come up with a set of values. It enforces those values. It calls those values "morality." You can say that if you like, but it's not true, and frankly, you don't even believe that yourself. You're just being intellectually dishonest. To give you but one example, I'll make an assumption you are supportive of gay marriage (statistically, that's a safe bet). Up until a couple of years ago, the majority of the country was opposed to it, and it is still illegal in the majority of most states. That is to say, as a society, we have (or had, if you prefer) decided that the marriage of a man to a man or a woman to a woman is immoral and not to be tolerated. So you come along and say, "That's bigotry. You are denying people their basic rights, which is wrong!"

But by your own definition, it is NOT wrong. In fact, it is RIGHT. On your own definition, YOU are in the wrong because YOU are arguing for a position that society has said is immoral. The fact that society ultimately is changing its mind on this subject doesn't change the fact that there was a time that a minority of people were saying something was wrong that society had deemed right. And that's the problem with your view. It makes ALL social progress impossible.

And besides that, you get to the more fundamental problem of nature that I talked about. In reality, you don't have OM (regardless of your wrong definition) because you don't have morality at all. You are a moral anti-realist, which is to say, you don't believe moral values are real in and of themselves. But that which is not real is nothing, and that which is nothing can be neither objective nor subjective. But where there are no morals, there is no such thing as "ought" (in a prescriptive sense).

So you continue to use prescriptive language, which is essentially theistic in nature, while denying theism. You're just like a person who drinks from a river while denying that the river comes from the reservoir.

Continue to argue for your four-sided triangles. You're just being contrary to reason. *shrug*
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#98

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:14 pm

Kenny wrote:Kurieuo
Thanks Kenny. You haven't resolved my complaint, but rather verified it via circular reasoning.

That is, the truth of what is seen, smelt, touches, heard or tastes is justified through seeing, smelling, touching, hearing or tasting is circular and as such taken on faith (fideism) rather than logic or reason.

Ken
Not sure how you define faith, but my definition does not include empirical evidence. If yours does, then using to your definition, it requires faith, logic and reason.
Say are you saying then that you don't have faith in empirical evidence? Or that you do, which is why you don't need to prove empirical methods accurately tell us something about reality?

Empirical evidence only counts as evidence if it provides real knowledge. So how is it that you know that what you sense is a reliable indicator of the world?

Please help me understand.
Kenny wrote:Kurieuo
See what as theism/common sense?

Point to me in the physical/material world where morality exists?

Ken
Planet Earth. A place where Humans are the origins of morality and as a society we enforce laws based upon morality.
Can I pluck "moral goodness" from a tree? Tell me where.

What colour is morality? What shape? Does it weigh anything? Can I touch it with my fingers -- is it hot, cold, furry, slimey??
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#99

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:19 pm

Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:
Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:[. As I pointed out in a thread elsewhere, Atheism carries with it a "belief set" and certain presuppositions, especially for a person who defines himself as an Atheist compared to say a baby who perhaps truly has no real beliefs on matters concerning God.
What "belief set" and presuppositions does an Athiest carry with him? I've always considered an atheist as someone who is not a theist.

K
Please define for me what you believe an "Atheist" is?
I believe an atheist is a person who lacks a belief in God. I realize many people have different interpertations of what an atheist is, and I am pretty much okay with all of them (at least all that I've heard so far)

Ken
Thanks Ken.

Atheist: a person who lacks a belief in God.

Please now define:

1) what a "person" is
2) what a "belief" is
3) what is "God"
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#100

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:43 pm

Jac3510
Theists don't "appeal" to moral-realism, Kenny. The question is whether morals are real things or not. If they are, you are a moral realist. If they are not, you are a moral anti-realist.

Ken
As a sceptic I believe morals are human construct; they only exist as an idea; they don’t have an actual physical existence. Sorta like math, if humans no longer existed, neither would math or human morality.

Jac3510
Again, the argument is:

1. If OM (which is to say, moral realism) is true, God exists;
2. OM (which is to say, moral realism) is true;
3. Therefore, God exists.

Ken
The problem with #1 is there is no physical proof that God even exist! Let alone be all that is claimed of him; so as a skeptic i don’t see how anything that exists in the physical world can be attached to a God that can’t be proven to exist or have an effect on the physical world.

Jac3510
You don't get to say that you have "objective morality" and be an anti-realist. You may as well say that you are pro-choice and believe that abortion should be illegal or that you are an atheist who believes God knows everything but the future or that you you hold to a steady-state theory of the universe and that it came into existence 14.6 billion years ago. What you are saying is just self-contradictory non-sense.

Ken
You must remember; when I said I believe in objective morality, I was talking about my definition which is akin to the dictionary definition of objective morality; not the definition that you guys use on this site.

Jac3510
All your position boils down to is "might makes right." So a society decides to come up with a set of values. It enforces those values. It calls those values "morality." You can say that if you like, but it's not true, and frankly, you don't even believe that yourself. You're just being intellectually dishonest.

Ken
I never said I personally agree with everything society enforces as moral or right; my opinion of morality often differs from what society deems moral on some issues. It’s not might makes right, its might makes enforcement.

Jac3510
To give you but one example, I'll make an assumption you are supportive of gay marriage (statistically, that's a safe bet). Up until a couple of years ago, the majority of the country was opposed to it, and it is still illegal in the majority of most states. That is to say, as a society, we have (or had, if you prefer) decided that the marriage of a man to a man or a woman to a woman is immoral and not to be tolerated. So you come along and say, "That's bigotry. You are denying people their basic rights, which is wrong!"

But by your own definition, it is NOT wrong. In fact, it is RIGHT. On your own definition, YOU are in the wrong because YOU are arguing for a position that society has said is immoral. The fact that society ultimately is changing its mind on this subject doesn't change the fact that there was a time that a minority of people were saying something was wrong that society had deemed right. And that's the problem with your view. It makes ALL social progress impossible.

Ken
That is not my view. As I said; my view on many issues often differ from what society enforces.


Jac3510
And besides that, you get to the more fundamental problem of nature that I talked about. In reality, you don't have OM (regardless of your wrong definition) because you don't have morality at all. You are a moral anti-realist, which is to say, you don't believe moral values are real in and of themselves.

Ken
I believe they are only real as human ideas. They have no physical existence.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#101

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:51 pm

Kurieuo
Say are you saying then that you don't have faith in empirical evidence? Or that you do, which is why you don't need to prove empirical methods accurately tell us something about reality?

Ken
I say I don’t have faith. I define faith as a belief that does not include empirical evidence. I do however believe empirical evidence is an excellent way of learning about reality.

Kurieuo
Empirical evidence only counts as evidence if it provides real knowledge. So how is it that you know that what you sense is a reliable indicator of the world?

Please help me understand.

Ken
One sense confirms another. My sense of sight confirms my sense of touch, which confirms my sense of smell etc. Also my senses are confirmed by everybody around me

Kurieuo
Can I pluck "moral goodness" from a tree? Tell me where.

What colour is morality? What shape? Does it weigh anything? Can I touch it with my fingers -- is it hot, cold, furry, slimey??

Ken
Moral goodness is simply a human construct; it only exists in our heads.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#102

Post by Kenny » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:54 pm

Kurieuo
Thanks Ken.

Atheist: a person who lacks a belief in God.

Please now define:

1) what a "person" is
2) what a "belief" is
3) what is "God"

Ken
A person is a human being,
Belief is what a human believes is true,
As far as God, you have to ask the person who believes in God, because that varies from person to person.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#103

Post by neo-x » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:46 am

Kenny, let me rephrase what other are saying to you.
Ken
As a sceptic I believe morals are human construct; they only exist as an idea; they don’t have an actual physical existence. Sorta like math, if humans no longer existed, neither would math or human morality.
By this morals are strictly subjective. If its a human construct how can it be objective? Say humans are wiped out and few billion years down the road another species of intelligent creatures with conscience like humans rise up and they produce their morals, then it will sill be subjective. Its subjective to time, place and a lot of different other factors.

I had a very nice conversation once with an atheist (who held to SM) on this topic, I asked him, is stealing wrong? He said "define stealing". I replied "taking something you don't own". And to that he said, well lets define ownership?

I asked him, would this hold up in a court?

The answer was, silence.

Can you see the problem? Its an inherent idea of fairness that rules the difference between subjective and objective morality, anywhere, anyplace. For instance, lets say I don't belong to earth and I came from a far distant planet (the concept is I am not aware of morality on earth) and in conversation I tell you that I can say that its alright to torture disabled people for fun.

Now, how would you analyze the SM/OM situation here? According to you, am I right/wrong?
Last edited by neo-x on Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#104

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:01 am

Then I learned that all moral judgments are 'value judgments,' that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either 'right' or 'wrong'. I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself - what apparantly the Chief Justice couldn't figure out himself - that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational . Nor is there any 'reason' to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring - the strength of character - to throw off its shackles. ... I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consisted in the insupportable 'value judgment' that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these 'others'? Other human beings, with human rights? ...Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as 'moral' or 'good' and others as 'immoral' or 'bad'? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham, and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me - after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self ~ Ted Bundy

(Source ~ I'd recommend reading that whole page, by the way)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#105

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:29 am

Ken wrote:As a sceptic I believe morals are human construct; they only exist as an idea; they don’t have an actual physical existence. Sorta like math, if humans no longer existed, neither would math or human morality.
There's actually a similar question pertaining to math. I am a realist there, as well. In other words, 3 may not be a physical thing, but 3 does represent a real, objective part of extramental reality (strictly speaking, it's not that 3 does but rather that 1 does, as do the notions of division and multiplication/addition, so that 3 is really a composite of several concepts, but I digress).

Anyway, the idea you are promoting is called moral subjectivism, or, again, moral anti-realism. It has real consequences, and I just don't think that you believe what you pretend to believe.
The problem with #1 is there is no physical proof that God even exist! Let alone be all that is claimed of him; so as a skeptic i don’t see how anything that exists in the physical world can be attached to a God that can’t be proven to exist or have an effect on the physical world.
So you also adhere to scientism. More self-refuting nonsense, where by "nonsense," I mean that which cannot logically be true because it refutes itself.

For the record, you are wrong that there is no physical evidence of God's existence. Your keyboard is such evidence. You just don't know how to make the proper deductions from that, and you don't know how to do that because your scientism is keeping you from being rational.
You must remember; when I said I believe in objective morality, I was talking about my definition which is akin to the dictionary definition of objective morality; not the definition that you guys use on this site.
Yes, yes, yes, you go on and on and on about "my definition" this and "my definition" that. You seem to think we are talking about words. We aren't. We are talking about ideas. What are are calling "morality" (objective or not) is just not morality. You would be more honest to say "personal preferences that are more or less predictable for this or that reason."
I never said I personally agree with everything society enforces as moral or right; my opinion of morality often differs from what society deems moral on some issues. It’s not might makes right, its might makes enforcement.
You aren't allowed to say you "agree" or "disagree" with anything society enforces as moral. To agree is to say something is right or correct. To disagree is to say it is wrong or incorrect. Such is meaningless, however, when applied to morality if morals aren't real. Suppose you say, "Chocolate ice cream is the best," and I say, "I agree!" We're not really saying anything about chocolate ice cream at all. We're both talking about our selves--you asserting that chocolate ice cream is preferable to all other flavors, and me saying that I hold to the same view. But if neo-x comes along as says, "I disagree; vanilla is the best!" neither of us would turn around and try to argue that he is wrong. In fact, very soon we would all drop our language about "best" and just come out and say that there is no "best" ice cream, objectively speaking.

So we go back to what I said before. If a society says something is right or wrong, you don't really "agree" or "disagree." At best, you hold a similar personal preference. But you have no basis on which to say society is "right" or "wrong." Press you're ideas--your language here--and you'll have to admit (if you are at all willing to be intellectually honest) that there's no agreement. There's just similarity and dissimilarity of opinions. The racist, bigot, murderer, and rapist are not wrong or immoral after all, anymore than neo-x is wrong or immoral for preferring vanilla to chocolate.
That is not my view. As I said; my view on many issues often differ from what society enforces.
Of course it isn't your view--not intentionally. But it is the necessary consequences of your view. That you, like everyone who holds to your absurd position, commits the taxi cab fallacy is your problem, not mine. Your failure to be intellectually consistent only points to your own ignorance on one had or cowardice on the other. Either way, it's hardly respectable, and either way, your problem points well back to the OP. Your atheism, and your ethical subjectivism, it turns out, cannot stand on its own two feet. You avoid the logical and necessary consequences of your beliefs by simply ignoring them and adopting conclusions that completely do not follow, conclusions that undermine your premise, conclusions that require a belief in God.
I believe they are only real as human ideas. They have no physical existence.
Yes, I know. As I said before--self-refuting scientism, which is something else that I doubt you see.

You have much to learn, Kenny.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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