Is there a God?

Healthy skepticism of ALL worldviews is good. Skeptical of non-belief like found in Atheism? Post your challenging questions. Responses are encouraged.
Kenny
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Re: Is there a God?

#121

Post by Kenny » Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:43 am

Squible wrote:Hi,

The comments I am about to make are more going to address a perspective drawn from across multiple posts from various people.

Wow! there's a lot to read.... So I hope I haven't misinterpreted positions either..

Thank you Kenny for inviting others to comment.

If we grant evolution (as Audie proposed) as a basis for morality, the reality is, all that it explains is how we have come to obtain/know morality. At best on this front this is all that science can attempt to provide. As such this makes morality a deeper more philosophical issue. Having said that, science can also inform our moral decisions. We must always remember that science doesn't say but rather scientists do, and when they go beyond science, they inescapably start entering into the philosophical realm.

Explaining how we have come to know/obtain seems to miss the deeper point which is why is there a reality of moral existence at all?

This question highlights that the reality of moral existence is a different problem.

It seems that when we make moral judgments there is a sense of something objective that we use as a standard by which to compare. This is something evolution cannot account for. And neither does the assertion of "desiring peace" seem to solve since it seems to presuppose and use this standard. Also granting that other animals have harmony or as we observe some kind of "morality" doesn't in any way explain why there is a reality of moral existence in the first place, for this too seems to presuppose it. In addition attempting to say it is within our own nature no more explains the reality of moral existence itself.


Upon reflection on this over a few days I have come to realize Kenny that it seems that your position on peace seems to be more about taking a pragmatic view on the issue? If this is the case, then a possible problem with this is, that what works while it might have truth (small t) value, doesn't necessarily lead you to answer the actual Truth (capital T) of the matter. In fact it has the potential to avoid or miss it. It seems to me that the notion of peace is merely relative and for practical purposes for localized groups of people, based on what their definition of peace is. Also wanting to achieve peace no more explains what standard they are using in order to attempt to achieve that. And why it would be right/wrong for another group to impose itself on others.

I wish not to get into a debate over what I am about to say but a good example is the abortion problem. It could be argued that it is practical (and also peaceful) to allow abortion but it no more negates the Truth (capital T) that another life is being nullified.

Also in the previous post Kenny, you seem to rebut Craig by attempting to ground morality in humanity itself, it seems that perhaps a deeper point is being missed?

For another man (or group) to impose a wrong/right upon another person means they are appealing to some standard outside of humanity (otherwise it is relative and just merely a group of opinions in agreement, and it no more means it is in fact right or wrong). If it is grounded in humanity itself then why is it not different to saying I like banana ice cream and your wrong for liking chocolate ice-cream? This may seem simplified but it illustrates what I am trying to convey.
You see if we grant "our neighbors" will enforce action then by what standard are they using? What makes their standard better then another's if it is merely coming from them? What are they comparing against outside themselves in order to determine their position is "better"?


To finish up, based on introspection and as I said previously it seems whenever we make moral judgments there is some sort of objective standard (not in a practical sense) that we appeal to in order to know better/worse/good/evil and so on. There is a deep sense of a reality of a moral existence independent of humanity. Essentially the theist grounds the reality of moral existence in Gods existence.


Hopefully without running the risk of this being a loaded question, I guess then what standard are you using to decide bad/good, better/worse when it comes to making moral judgements (other then from humanity itself) in order to impose that upon another human?
Squible
For another man (or group) to impose a wrong/right upon another person means they are appealing to some standard outside of humanity
Ken
I disagree. When I look at how things work, the only thing necessary for another man or group to impose right/wrong upon another is that he have more power/authority. If you start from the position (my position) that God doesn’t exist; humanity is the most Supreme Being currently known so to appeal to a standard outside humanity is to appeal to an inferior standard.

Squible
(otherwise it is relative and just merely a group of opinions in agreement, and it no more means it is in fact right or wrong). If it is grounded in humanity itself then why is it not different to saying I like banana ice cream and your wrong for liking chocolate ice-cream? This may seem simplified but it illustrates what I am trying to convey.
Ken
I agree! When you look at societal laws, they are just a group of opinions in agreement. As far as the Ice cream... In a previous post I gave my definition of morality as:
the ability to understand the consequences of actions and how it effects your neighbour. And it starts from the position that what is harmful to your neighbour is bad, and what is helpful to your neighbour is good”
Banana vs chocolate ice cream doesn’t cause harm; stealing, (or whatever group of opinions society has made into laws) does.

Squible
You see if we grant "our neighbors" will enforce action then by what standard are they using? What makes their standard better then another's if it is merely coming from them? What are they comparing against outside themselves in order to determine their position is "better"?
Ken
As agreed earlier; our neighbours (society) will use their own standards (group of opinions in agreement) to enforce action and if someone doesn’t like it they can feel free to leave that society and live on an island or some deserted land by themselves.
As far as what makes it better? Society subjectively believes their laws are better; if someone outside society feels they have better laws, society can accept them or reject them as they choose.
As far as comparing something outside of humanity to determine their position is better... as I mentioned before; if humanity is the Supreme being in the Universe; anything outside humanity is inferior thus it would be foolish to go outside humanity for ideas on morality.

Squible
To finish up, based on introspection and as I said previously it seems whenever we make moral judgments there is some sort of objective standard (not in a practical sense) that we appeal to in order to know better/worse/good/evil and so on. There is a deep sense of a reality of a moral existence independent of humanity. Essentially the theist grounds the reality of moral existence in Gods existence.
Ken
I agree if there were a supreme being that could give us advise on morality, that would make life much easier; but when I look at the real world; all I see are a lot of people who claim to get their information from a supreme source, yet they don’t agree on who this supreme source is, or what his instructions are. This tells me these people are either dishonest or mistaken.

Squible
Hopefully without running the risk of this being a loaded question, I guess then what standard are you using to decide bad/good, better/worse when it comes to making moral judgements (other then from humanity itself) in order to impose that upon another human?
Ken
As I mentioned earlier; I like to start from the position that what is helpful to my neighbour is good; and what is harmful to my neighbour is bad. Of course as a skeptic; I can only speak for myself, I can’t speak for anyone else because I have no supreme moral standard outside humanity to base this upon. However, if there were such a flawless and perfect standard, how would I (or anyone else flawed and imperfect) recognize it? How is a flawed being supposed to recognize a perfect being? If I experienced such a being and it said “X” is right; but because of my flaws I mistakenly assumed “X” to be wrong, I would assume this being is in error rather than myself and just assume it is just another flawed being, and when we do agree on an issue; because I recognize I could be wrong, he might be wrong on the same issue as I, but I will be unable to recognize it because of my flawed insight. So how is a flawed and imperfect person supposed to recognize perfection without employing blind faith? How do you recognize perfection? How do you verify what you are calling perfect IS perfect without employing blind faith? Because I don’t employ blind faith, I have to do the best I can and go with what makes sense to me.

Ken
Last edited by Kenny on Sat Oct 18, 2014 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
RickD wrote
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

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Re: Is there a God?

#122

Post by Kenny » Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:49 pm

Starhunter wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi Squible,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Moral laws are as real as the physical laws, but some say that moral law is just a wish of the religiously conscious, and that it has nothing to contribute to the progress of life in evolution.
The problem with comparing the philosophical with the physical is with the physical it affects everyone whether they want to accept it or not. If we consider the physical law of gravity for example; gravity affects humans, animals, insects, etc. there is no disputing its existence or the extent of its affect on us. But when we look at the moral laws, rape for example; the idea that non-consenting sex is wrong is only something we apply to humans; they aren’t applied to insects or animals, and the definition of what is or is not considered “non-consenting' has been up for debate for as long as rape laws have been applied.
Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.

Ken
RickD wrote
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

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Re: Is there a God?

#123

Post by Audie » Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:03 pm

Byblos wrote:
Squible wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi S,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Hi Audie,

In philosophy there is the epistemological (how we come to know/obtain) and the ontological (the reality of something's existence) problem.

So the problem is split in two such that how we come to know/obtain something doesn't explain why it even exists at all and what it is grounded in. (the reality of its existence/ontological).

For example someone might say that they obtained their morality from their culture or parents and so forth, but this actually doesn't explain why it exists at all in the first place. Similarly evolution cannot account for the ontological problem, since it can only address how we obtained/come to know it.

I hope it's not too technical but this goes quite deep.. I think it is important to see that there is a distinction...

Why is it we have a strong sense of right and wrong? What are we appealing to in order to determine this? Why should morality exist at all? What is it anchored in/what is its source? These are deep questions philosophers has been trying to answer for centuries.
This is precisely the point Kenny and Audie keep missing. There's no escaping that dreaded P word Audie. :mrgreen:
To you, it is a point, to me it is an assertion of facts not in
evidence.

I did not miss it nor fail to spend my own quiet time thinking
of such matters.

I dont agree at all that some external source needs to be invoked.
Im ready to listen, but I sure dont accept it as a given.

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Re: Is there a God?

#124

Post by Audie » Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:22 pm

Kenny wrote:
Starhunter wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi Squible,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Moral laws are as real as the physical laws, but some say that moral law is just a wish of the religiously conscious, and that it has nothing to contribute to the progress of life in evolution.
The problem with comparing the philosophical with the physical is with the physical it affects everyone whether they want to accept it or not. If we consider the physical law of gravity for example; gravity affects humans, animals, insects, etc. there is no disputing its existence or the extent of its affect on us. But when we look at the moral laws, rape for example; the idea that non-consenting sex is wrong is only something we apply to humans; they aren’t applied to insects or animals, and the definition of what is or is not considered “non-consenting' has been up for debate for as long as rape laws have been applied.
Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.

Ken
Regarding "just a wish" I've never heard that expressed, it sounds odd that anyone would say it.

As for "nothing to contribute", no, I totally disagree, our moral instincts are as vital as the instinct to
care for young ones, or fly south for winter if you happen to be a goose.

Im trying to learn the culture of this forum and text from tiny mobile device please excuse
my style if I dont get it right yet.

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Re: Is there a God?

#125

Post by Lonewolf » Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:31 pm

Kenny wrote:
Starhunter wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi Squible,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Moral laws are as real as the physical laws, but some say that moral law is just a wish of the religiously conscious, and that it has nothing to contribute to the progress of life in evolution.
The problem with comparing the philosophical with the physical is with the physical it affects everyone whether they want to accept it or not. If we consider the physical law of gravity for example; gravity affects humans, animals, insects, etc. there is no disputing its existence or the extent of its affect on us. But when we look at the moral laws, rape for example; the idea that non-consenting sex is wrong is only something we apply to humans; they aren’t applied to insects or animals, and the definition of what is or is not considered “non-consenting' has been up for debate for as long as rape laws have been applied.
Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.

Ken

In our heads and hearts. While an insect knows not the harm he does to the spirit, the human being filled with intelligence and free will does.
Your outward profession of having put on Christ, has as yet to put off Plato from your heart!

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Re: Is there a God?

#126

Post by Squible » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:36 pm

Hi Kenny,

Thanks for your post it has given me some food for thought. And I have found it quite interesting.

Now I may sound a little repetitious here and for that I apologise. But it is the only way to hopefully get you to understand a deeper point.

Hopefully you also don't take my pointedness to heart either :) I am merely trying to bring out into the open a few core issues that I see.
Kenny wrote: I disagree. When I look at how things work, the only thing necessary for another man or group to impose right/wrong upon another is that he have more power/authority.
This doesn't logically follow since having more power/authority doesn't mean someone is right/wrong.

Then again by what standard are they appealing to in order to enforce their power? Why ought they do it? Why ought others who disagree suffer?

Basically your position can be used to support the oppression of people. As such you have just affirmed a possible logical outworking of a pragmatic view, just because something “works” doesn't mean it is actually right/wrong. It also doesn't seem to support your statement on what "morality" is.

Kenny I am baffled that you can't see your own incoherence, basically if another group of people is more powerful and disturbs your peace then you cannot enforce that they were wrong. You have to run away because your “peace” has been violated, and you can't even give a reason why it ought not be that way.

You said in a previous post to paraphrase that it concerns you that some theists would not be good if it wasn't for God. Let me tell you Kenny, your position concerns me more.
Kenny wrote: If you start from the position (my position) that God doesn’t exist; humanity is the most Supreme Being currently known so to appeal to a standard outside humanity is to appeal to an inferior standard.
This doesn't necessarily follow.

Besides this your comment misses the point.

Why is there a reality of moral existence in the first place? Why does it exist at all? Where does it come from? Why ought we do to what is right, helpful and so on?

Just to be clear, from my experience it's rare to find a theist who thinks that because someone doesn't believe God exists that someone cannot be good. The Christian believes that the moral law is written on the heart of every man.

Kenny wrote: I agree! When you look at societal laws, they are just a group of opinions in agreement. As far as the Ice cream... In a previous post I gave my definition of morality as:
the ability to understand the consequences of actions and how it effects your neighbour. And it starts from the position that what is harmful to your neighbour is bad, and what is helpful to your neighbour is good”
Banana vs chocolate ice cream doesn’t cause harm; stealing, (or whatever group of opinions society has made into laws) does.
Well then that is just your opinion. :) I ought not follow it then :)

But more seriously, your view here is also a tautology.

Understanding the consequences of something still doesn't explain why we ought or ought not do it.

You still haven’t explained why we ought to be helpful/not harmful and by what standard you are using to determine this ought and what this standard is grounded in.

Also you offer no explanation for why we ought to even honour that agreement, and when it's broken why we ought to impose penalties and by what standard is being used in order to determine that ought.

Kenny, you have also taken the ice-cream illustration out of context, having said that if you want to play this game:) Someone may be allergic to cocoa and therefore prefers banana ice-cream so yes chocolate ice-cream could cause harm.

Kenny wrote: As agreed earlier; our neighbours (society) will use their own standards (group of opinions in agreement) to enforce action and if someone doesn’t like it they can feel free to leave that society and live on an island or some deserted land by themselves.
Wow and as such being alone is harmful for man. Then again how is that society coming to that standard? What are they comparing against?

Your comment here merely avoids the issue. What if there was a law preventing you from leaving that society or one which prohibits living on deserted land since it was owned by the society which was worldwide. Basically your rights are violated and you have to simply accept them. The point here is the fact that you want to “leave” means you have employed some standard in order to understand that the society ought not be that way. What is that Kenny? Where does it come from? Why should it exist at all?
Kenny wrote: As far as what makes it better? Society subjectively believes their laws are better; if someone outside society feels they have better laws, society can accept them or reject them as they choose.
This too is a tautology.

It doesn’t explain why we ought to accept and ought not accept and what we are using in order to determine that within the society.

You’re not understanding the issue Kenny.

The deeper issue is why is there a reality of moral existence at all. What is it grounded in? As such there is a standard we are appealing to in order to determine what we ought to do and ought not to do.

With your example you cannot complain if another group of people decided to steal from you or murder relatives and so on. This is very concerning.
Kenny wrote: As far as comparing something outside of humanity to determine their position is better...
as I mentioned before; if humanity is the Supreme being in the Universe; anything outside
humanity is inferior thus it would be foolish to go outside humanity for ideas on morality.
This statement doesn't necessarily follow.

And it fails to recognise why morality exists at all in the universe.

Also you seem to not understand that there is a sense of some maximal good/standard we are comparing to in order to facilitate those “ideas on morality”.

Kenny wrote: I agree if there were a supreme being that could give us advise on morality, that would make life much easier; but when I look at the real world; all I see are a lot of people who claim to get their information from a supreme source, yet they don’t agree on who this supreme source is, or what his instructions are. This tells me these people are either dishonest or mistaken.
Kenny you are moving away from the real point. It is not about instructions/advice, it is about the reality of the existence of morality itself and this innate standard by which we compare against. And what its source is.

Also I find your dichotomy that either they are dishonest or mistaken to be a false and an uncharitable one. There is a third way which is that in fact someone could be right.

Having said that why ought we not be dishonest and what standard are you using? Also it may be helpful to be dishonest :) but that doesn't mean it is right.

Kenny wrote: As I mentioned earlier; I like to start from the position that what is helpful to my neighbour is good; and what is harmful to my neighbour is bad.
Again this is a tautology.
Kenny wrote: Of course as a skeptic; I can only speak for myself, I can’t speak for anyone else because I have no supreme moral standard outside humanity to base this upon.
You say you are a skeptic, well have you ever thought that you should be skeptical about your skepticism. It seems to me you are perhaps rejecting objective moral values and duties based on this skepticism? If this is the case then I can construct another argument in parallel to make you be skeptical that the external physical world actually exists.

As a side note and a bit of dig, as a skeptic it's possible that you may well be speaking for yourself :mrgreen:
Kenny wrote: However, if there were such a flawless and perfect standard, how would I (or anyone else flawed and imperfect) recognize it? How is a flawed being supposed to recognize a perfect being? If I experienced such a being and it said “X” is right and because of my flaws I believed “X” is wrong, I would assume this being is in error rather than myself and just assume it is just another flawed being, and when we do agree on an issue; because I recognize I could be wrong, he might be wrong on the same issue as I, but I will be unable to recognize it because of my flawed insight. So how is a flawed and imperfect person supposed to recognize perfection without employing blind faith? How do you recognize perfection? How do you verify what you are calling perfect IS perfect without employing blind faith? Because I don’t employ blind faith, I have to do the best I can and go with what makes sense to me.
The Christian world-view actually affirms how flawed we are. However being flawed in no way negates that there is a reality of moral existence and as such some sort of “perfection” we compare against. Where does that come from, as such what is it grounded in? Despite the fact we are flawed, it doesn't follow that we don't have a sense of that “perfection” and its existence.

Given that you admit that you are flawed yourself, perhaps you should reconsider what you have said here. It actually seems to refute your own position.

Having said that I don't employ "blind faith" either Kenny. So please don't take digs at theists, it's not "helpful". It is basically meaningless parody.

The other problem with this comment Kenny, is that this discussion is not about what God says or what information is provided either, it's about the source of moral existence itself, and when we make moral decisions there is a sense of maximal good / perfection/ a standard we are using to compare by. This helps us to determine what we ought to do. Saying it is within humanity itself doesn’t answer why it exists at all in the first place and what its actual source is.

For the theist who recognizes that morality exists objectively, this then generally leads one to Gods existence, not the other way round. For many they start with nature and with what we know and that leads them to God. The point is the theist has a his feet firmly planted (despite maybe getting the workings wrong) by anchoring the reality of moral existence within Gods existence.

You seem to want to dismiss God in order to assert your position. One step at a time Kenny, it seems you are putting the horse before the cart. Not the theist.
Last edited by Squible on Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:31 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Is there a God?

#127

Post by Squible » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:43 pm

Kenny wrote:
Starhunter wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi Squible,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Moral laws are as real as the physical laws, but some say that moral law is just a wish of the religiously conscious, and that it has nothing to contribute to the progress of life in evolution.
The problem with comparing the philosophical with the physical is with the physical it affects everyone whether they want to accept it or not. If we consider the physical law of gravity for example; gravity affects humans, animals, insects, etc. there is no disputing its existence or the extent of its affect on us. But when we look at the moral laws, rape for example; the idea that non-consenting sex is wrong is only something we apply to humans; they aren’t applied to insects or animals, and the definition of what is or is not considered “non-consenting' has been up for debate for as long as rape laws have been applied.
Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.

Ken
You are special pleading Kenny.

Prove you are not a brain in a vat being controlled movement by moment to perceive the "physical" world, including gravity and so on. Such that the external "physical" world as you know it simply exists in your mind. The only thing you can be sure of is that you exist.

Also you do realise that your statement is a philosophical one?

Whether you like it or not our perceptions / conclusions about the physical world is a philosophical position. And surprisingly that position can have the capability of affecting people without them even choosing it.

It could also follow that what you are saying here just exits in your mind.

Also there is a distinction between moral laws and the existence of morality itself.

In addition insects don't have our kind of rationality, Kenny, other animals do not understand the logical consequences of actions, and why they ought not do it. So this is to commit a category mistake since we actually do.

And despite all that it still doesn't explain why morality exists at all.

Mind you the very fact that two or more minds can entertain the idea entails it is objective.
Last edited by Squible on Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:21 am, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: Is there a God?

#128

Post by Starhunter » Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:08 am

Kenny wrote: Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.
So our heads aren't reality?

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Re: Is there a God?

#129

Post by Audie » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:29 am

Squible wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi S,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Hi Audie,

In philosophy there is the epistemological (how we come to know/obtain) and the ontological (the reality of something's existence) problem.

So the problem is split in two such that how we come to know/obtain something doesn't explain why it even exists at all and what it is grounded in. (the reality of its existence/ontological).

For example someone might say that they obtained their morality from their culture or parents and so forth, but this actually doesn't explain why it exists at all in the first place. Similarly evolution cannot account for the ontological problem, since it can only address how we obtained/come to know it, it can't tell you why it exists at all or what it's source is.

I hope it's not too technical but this goes quite deep.. I think it is important to see that there is a distinction...

Why is it we have a strong sense of right and wrong? What are we appealing to in order to determine this? Why should morality exist at all? What is it anchored in/what is its source? These are deep questions philosophers has been trying to answer for centuries.
I wanted to know if "moral existence" has some special meaning. Does it just refer to "the reality that morality exists"?

The philosopher questions seem like a good intellectual exercise, and
likely to be good for many more centuries. That is fine, but I see a problem if one thinks the Answer is to be
found that way.

Am I understanding correctly that the ancient Greeks attempted to address many things entirely
thru thought, without reference to external data, corroborating evidence from experiment and observation ?

I see some Christians go off the rails that way, using the bible as the only and ultimate guide.
The paleontologist Dr. Kurt Wise being a noteworthy example, saying he'd still be a yec if
all the evidence in the universe went the other way, because of what the bible seems to say.

Philosophy wont be able to ever say why evolution has gone as it has, but research provides some good answers.

I cant agree at all that evolution does not address the why / what questions you posed, except on the level of, say,
"Why does anything exist?".

I dont think either philosophy or science can touch that one.


Early morning at Starbucks with tiny mobile device.

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Re: Is there a God?

#130

Post by Kenny » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:43 am

opps
RickD wrote
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

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Re: Is there a God?

#131

Post by Kenny » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:56 am

Squible wrote:Hi Kenny,

Thanks for your post it has given me some food for thought. And I have found it quite interesting.

Now I may sound a little repetitious here and for that I apologise. But it is the only way to hopefully get you to understand a deeper point.

Hopefully you also don't take my pointedness to heart either :) I am merely trying to bring out into the open a few core issues that I see.
Kenny wrote: I disagree. When I look at how things work, the only thing necessary for another man or group to impose right/wrong upon another is that he have more power/authority.
This doesn't logically follow since having more power/authority doesn't mean someone is right/wrong.

Then again by what standard are they appealing to in order to enforce their power? Why ought they do it? Why ought others who disagree suffer?

Basically your position can be used to support the oppression of people. As such you have just affirmed a possible logical outworking of a pragmatic view, just because something “works” doesn't mean it is actually right/wrong. It also doesn't seem to support your statement on what "morality" is.

Kenny I am baffled that you can't see your own incoherence, basically if another group of people is more powerful and disturbs your peace then you cannot enforce that they were wrong. You have to run away because your “peace” has been violated, and you can't even give a reason why it ought not be that way.

You said in a previous post to paraphrase that it concerns you that some theists would not be good if it wasn't for God. Let me tell you Kenny, your position concerns me more.
Kenny wrote: If you start from the position (my position) that God doesn’t exist; humanity is the most Supreme Being currently known so to appeal to a standard outside humanity is to appeal to an inferior standard.
This doesn't necessarily follow.

Besides this your comment misses the point.

Why is there a reality of moral existence in the first place? Why does it exist at all? Where does it come from? Why ought we do to what is right, helpful and so on?

Just to be clear, from my experience it's rare to find a theist who thinks that because someone doesn't believe God exists that someone cannot be good. The Christian believes that the moral law is written on the heart of every man.

Kenny wrote: I agree! When you look at societal laws, they are just a group of opinions in agreement. As far as the Ice cream... In a previous post I gave my definition of morality as:
the ability to understand the consequences of actions and how it effects your neighbour. And it starts from the position that what is harmful to your neighbour is bad, and what is helpful to your neighbour is good”
Banana vs chocolate ice cream doesn’t cause harm; stealing, (or whatever group of opinions society has made into laws) does.
Well then that is just your opinion. :) I ought not follow it then :)

But more seriously, your view here is also a tautology.

Understanding the consequences of something still doesn't explain why we ought or ought not do it.

You still haven’t explained why we ought to be helpful/not harmful and by what standard you are using to determine this ought and what this standard is grounded in.

Also you offer no explanation for why we ought to even honour that agreement, and when it's broken why we ought to impose penalties and by what standard is being used in order to determine that ought.

Kenny, you have also taken the ice-cream illustration out of context, having said that if you want to play this game:) Someone may be allergic to cocoa and therefore prefers banana ice-cream so yes chocolate ice-cream could cause harm.

Kenny wrote: As agreed earlier; our neighbours (society) will use their own standards (group of opinions in agreement) to enforce action and if someone doesn’t like it they can feel free to leave that society and live on an island or some deserted land by themselves.
Wow and as such being alone is harmful for man. Then again how is that society coming to that standard? What are they comparing against?

Your comment here merely avoids the issue. What if there was a law preventing you from leaving that society or one which prohibits living on deserted land since it was owned by the society which was worldwide. Basically your rights are violated and you have to simply accept them. The point here is the fact that you want to “leave” means you have employed some standard in order to understand that the society ought not be that way. What is that Kenny? Where does it come from? Why should it exist at all?
Kenny wrote: As far as what makes it better? Society subjectively believes their laws are better; if someone outside society feels they have better laws, society can accept them or reject them as they choose.
This too is a tautology.

It doesn’t explain why we ought to accept and ought not accept and what we are using in order to determine that within the society.

You’re not understanding the issue Kenny.

The deeper issue is why is there a reality of moral existence at all. What is it grounded in? As such there is a standard we are appealing to in order to determine what we ought to do and ought not to do.

With your example you cannot complain if another group of people decided to steal from you or murder relatives and so on. This is very concerning.
Kenny wrote: As far as comparing something outside of humanity to determine their position is better...
as I mentioned before; if humanity is the Supreme being in the Universe; anything outside
humanity is inferior thus it would be foolish to go outside humanity for ideas on morality.
This statement doesn't necessarily follow.

And it fails to recognise why morality exists at all in the universe.

Also you seem to not understand that there is a sense of some maximal good/standard we are comparing to in order to facilitate those “ideas on morality”.

Kenny wrote: I agree if there were a supreme being that could give us advise on morality, that would make life much easier; but when I look at the real world; all I see are a lot of people who claim to get their information from a supreme source, yet they don’t agree on who this supreme source is, or what his instructions are. This tells me these people are either dishonest or mistaken.
Kenny you are moving away from the real point. It is not about instructions/advice, it is about the reality of the existence of morality itself and this innate standard by which we compare against. And what its source is.

Also I find your dichotomy that either they are dishonest or mistaken to be a false and an uncharitable one. There is a third way which is that in fact someone could be right.

Having said that why ought we not be dishonest and what standard are you using? Also it may be helpful to be dishonest :) but that doesn't mean it is right.

Kenny wrote: As I mentioned earlier; I like to start from the position that what is helpful to my neighbour is good; and what is harmful to my neighbour is bad.
Again this is a tautology.
Kenny wrote: Of course as a skeptic; I can only speak for myself, I can’t speak for anyone else because I have no supreme moral standard outside humanity to base this upon.
You say you are a skeptic, well have you ever thought that you should be skeptical about your skepticism. It seems to me you are perhaps rejecting objective moral values and duties based on this skepticism? If this is the case then I can construct another argument in parallel to make you be skeptical that the external physical world actually exists.

As a side note and a bit of dig, as a skeptic it's possible that you may well be speaking for yourself :mrgreen:
Kenny wrote: However, if there were such a flawless and perfect standard, how would I (or anyone else flawed and imperfect) recognize it? How is a flawed being supposed to recognize a perfect being? If I experienced such a being and it said “X” is right and because of my flaws I believed “X” is wrong, I would assume this being is in error rather than myself and just assume it is just another flawed being, and when we do agree on an issue; because I recognize I could be wrong, he might be wrong on the same issue as I, but I will be unable to recognize it because of my flawed insight. So how is a flawed and imperfect person supposed to recognize perfection without employing blind faith? How do you recognize perfection? How do you verify what you are calling perfect IS perfect without employing blind faith? Because I don’t employ blind faith, I have to do the best I can and go with what makes sense to me.
The Christian world-view actually affirms how flawed we are. However being flawed in no way negates that there is a reality of moral existence and as such some sort of “perfection” we compare against. Where does that come from, as such what is it grounded in? Despite the fact we are flawed, it doesn't follow that we don't have a sense of that “perfection” and its existence.

Given that you admit that you are flawed yourself, perhaps you should reconsider what you have said here. It actually seems to refute your own position.

Having said that I don't employ "blind faith" either Kenny. So please don't take digs at theists, it's not "helpful". It is basically meaningless parody.

The other problem with this comment Kenny, is that this discussion is not about what God says or what information is provided either, it's about the source of moral existence itself, and when we make moral decisions there is a sense of maximal good / perfection/ a standard we are using to compare by. This helps us to determine what we ought to do. Saying it is within humanity itself doesn’t answer why it exists at all in the first place and what its actual source is.

For the theist who recognizes that morality exists objectively, this then generally leads one to Gods existence, not the other way round. For many they start with nature and with what we know and that leads them to God. The point is the theist has a his feet firmly planted (despite maybe getting the workings wrong) by anchoring the reality of moral existence within Gods existence.

You seem to want to dismiss God in order to assert your position. One step at a time Kenny, it seems you are putting the horse before the cart. Not the theist.
Squible
This doesn't logically follow since having more power/authority doesn't mean someone is right/wrong.

Then again by what standard are they appealing to in order to enforce their power? Why ought they do it? Why ought others who disagree suffer?

Basically your position can be used to support the oppression of people. As such you have just affirmed the a possible logical outworking of a pragmatic view, just because something “works” doesn't mean it is actually right/wrong. It also doesn't seem to support you statement on what morality is.
Kenny I am baffled at the fact that you can't see your own incoherence, basically if another group of people is more powerful and disturbs your peace then you cannot enforce that they were wrong. You have to run away because your “peace” has been violated, and you can't even give a reason why it ought not be that way.

You said in a previous post to paraphrase that it concerns you that some theists would not be good if it wasn't for God. Let me tell you Kenny, your position concerns me more.

Ken
Your exact words were “For another man (or group) to impose a wrong/right upon another person means they are appealing to some standard outside of humanity”Do you believe Hitler, Mao, or Stalin appealed to some standard outside humanity when they gave reason for slaughtering all those people? Nobody is required to do this in order to impose right or wrong. Do you agree? If not, then who did Hitler appeal to?

Squible
This doesn't necessarily follow.

Besides this your comment misses the point.

Why is there a reality of moral existence in the first place? Why does it exist at all? Where does it come from? Why ought we do to what is right, helpful and so on?

Just to be clear, from my experience it's rare to find a theist who thinks that because someone doesn't believe God exists that someone cannot be good. The Christian believes that the moral law is written on the heart of every man.

Ken
I don’t believe morality has an actual existence. I believe morality is nothing more than a series of human thoughts and opinions. Where there are no people, there is no morality. There are no people on the moon, thus there is no morality, right or wrong on the moon. Do you agree?


Squible
Well then that is just your opinion. I ought not follow it then

But more seriously, your view here is also a tautology.

Understanding the consequences of something still doesn't explain why we ought or ought not do it.

You still haven’t explained why we ought to be helpful/not harmful and by what standard you are using to determine this ought and what this standard is grounded in.

Also you offer no explanation for why we ought to even honour that agreement, and when its broken we we ought to impose penalties and by what standard is being used in order to determine that ought.

Kenny, you have also taken the ice-cream illustration out of context, having said that if you want to play this game:) Someone may be allergic to cocoa and therefore prefers banana ice-cream so yes chocolate ice-cream could cause harm.


Ken
I was simply offering my opinions. That is what seems right to me. Now remember; I come from the position that right and wrong is subjective; that there is no objective morality, because morality cannot be demonstrated. So if enough people agree with my opinions and ideas we will enact laws to enforce these ideas. As far as the Ice Cream, I was explaining why there are laws against stealing but not against preferred Ice cream flavours.

Squible
Wow and as such being alone is harmful for man. Then again how is that society coming to that standard? What are they comparing against?
Ken
Why would you assume society will need to compare their standard against something else?

Squible
Your comment here merely avoids the issue. What if there was a law preventing you from leaving that society or one which prohibits living on deserted land since it was owned by the society which was worldwide. Basically your rights are violated and you have to simply accept them. The point here is the fact that you want to “leave” means you have employed some standard in order to understand that the society ought not be that way. What is that Kenny? Where does it come from? Why should it exist at all?
Ken
As I said before, morality is nothing more than a series of thoughts and opinions. They only exist in your head. That is where they originate, and that is where they will stay unless you find out a way to put those thoughts into action.

Squible
This too is a tautology.

It doesn’t explain why we ought to accept and ought not accept and what we are using in order to determine that within the society.

You’re not understanding the issue Kenny.

The deeper issue is why is there a reality of moral existence at all. What is it grounded in? As such there is a standard we are appealing to in order to determine what we ought to do and ought not to do.

With your example you cannot complain if another group of people decided to steal from you or murder relatives and so on. This is very concerning.

Ken
Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I do not believe morality exists by itself. I believe it only a bunch of human thoughts and ideas. So morality only exists in the context of human thought and ideas. To answer your questions;
Why does morality exist? Because people think of things like right/wrong, fair/unfair.
What is it grounded in? Human thought. What is the source? Human beings are the source. There is no outside agency, no place people go to in order to get the right answer; everything comes from us.


Squible
This statement doesn't necessarily follow.

And it fails to recognise why morality exists at all in the universe.


Ken
It exist because people feel a need to create morality in order to live peacefully.

Squible
Also you seem to not understand that there is a sense of some maximal good/standard we are comparing to in order to facilitate those “ideas on morality”.

Ken
I don’t believe that to be true. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “maximal good” that people can compare their ideas and thoughts to.

Squible
You say you are a skeptic, well have you ever thought that you should be skeptical about your skepticism.
Ken
Sceptics are critical of asserted claims. Sceptism is not a claim.

Squible
It seems to me you are perhaps rejecting objective moral values and duties based on this skepticism? If this is the case then I can construct another argument in parallel to make you be skeptical that the external physical world actually exists.
Ken

Please do. I would love to hear your claim.

Squible
As a side note and a bit of dig, as a skeptic it's possible that you may well be speaking for yourself

Ken
That isn’t a dig that is a fact! I’ve made it clear; as a sceptic I am only qualified to speak for myself.

Squible
The Christian world-view actually affirms how flawed we are. However being flawed in no way negates that there is a reality of moral existence and as such some sort of “perfection” we compare against. Where does that come from, as such what is it grounded in? Despite the fact we are flawed, it doesn't follow that we don't have a sense of that “perfection” and its existence.

Given that you admit that you are flawed yourself, perhaps you should reconsider what you have said here. It actually seems to refute your own position.

Having said that I don't employ "blind faith" either Kenny. So please don't take digs at theists, it's not "helpful". It is basically meaningless parody.

The other problem with this comment Kenny, is that this discussion is not about what God says or what information is provided either, it's about the source of moral existence itself, and when we make moral decisions there is a sense of maximal good / perfection/ a standard we are using to compare by. This helps us to determine what we ought to do. Saying it is within humanity itself doesn’t answer why it exists at all in the first place and what its actual source is.

For the theist who recognizes that morality exists objectively, this then generally leads one to Gods existence, not the other way round. For many they start with nature and with what we know and that leads them to God. The point is the theist has a his feet firmly planted (despite maybe getting the workings wrong) by anchoring the reality of moral existence within Gods existence.

You seem to want to dismiss God in order to assert your position. One step at a time Kenny, it seems you are putting the horse before the cart. Not the theist
.

Ken
So if I understand you correctly, you do not employ blind faith, you believe that even though you are not perfect, moral perfection does exist and you have the ability to compare against this moral perfection. Is this correct? If not; please explain where I went wrong.
If this IS correct; perhaps you can answer the questions I asked before; how do you know this standard is perfect? What system did you use to verify its perfection?

Ken
Last edited by Kenny on Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
RickD wrote
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Re: Is there a God?

#132

Post by Kenny » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:50 am

Squible wrote:
Kenny wrote:
Starhunter wrote:
Audie wrote:Hi Squible,

What is meant by the "reality of moral existence"?
Moral laws are as real as the physical laws, but some say that moral law is just a wish of the religiously conscious, and that it has nothing to contribute to the progress of life in evolution.
The problem with comparing the philosophical with the physical is with the physical it affects everyone whether they want to accept it or not. If we consider the physical law of gravity for example; gravity affects humans, animals, insects, etc. there is no disputing its existence or the extent of its affect on us. But when we look at the moral laws, rape for example; the idea that non-consenting sex is wrong is only something we apply to humans; they aren’t applied to insects or animals, and the definition of what is or is not considered “non-consenting' has been up for debate for as long as rape laws have been applied.
Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.

Ken
You are special pleading Kenny.

Prove you are not a brain in a vat being controlled movement by moment to perceive the "physical" world, including gravity and so on. Such that the external "physical" world as you know it simply exists in your mind. The only thing you can be sure of is that you exist.

Also you do realise that your statement is a philosophical one?

Whether you like it or not our perceptions / conclusions about the physical world is a philosophical position. And surprisingly that position can have the capability of affecting people without them even choosing it.

It could also follow that what you are saying here just exits in your mind.

Also there is a distinction between moral laws and the existence of morality itself.

In addition insects don't have our kind of rationality, Kenny, other animals do not understand the logical consequences of actions, and why they ought not do it. So this is to commit a category mistake since we actually do.

And despite all that it still doesn't explain why morality exists at all.

Mind you the very fact that two or more minds can entertain the idea entails it is objective.
Squible
You are special pleading Kenny.

Prove you are not a brain in a vat being controlled movement by moment to perceive the "physical" world, including gravity and so on.

Ken
I have no reason to assume that. I cannot prove a negative.


Squible
Also you do realise that your statement is a philosophical one?

Whether you like it or not our perceptions / conclusions about the physical world is a philosophical position. And surprisingly that position can have the capability of affecting people without them even choosing it.

Ken
They only affect people if other people cause it to happen. Philosophical positions do nothing by themselves; they require people to act on them. Physical laws like gravity does not require human action; it acts by itself

Squible
In addition insects don't have our kind of rationality, Kenny, other animals do not understand the logical consequences of actions, and why they ought not do it. So this is to commit a category mistake since we actually do.

Ken
Insects and animals that do not understand physical laws still have to obey them; insects and animals that do not understand moral laws do not. You can’t compare the two as equal.

Squible
And despite all that it still doesn't explain why morality exists at all.
Ken
We weren’t addressing that issue. That is a different conversation.


Squible
Mind you the very fact that two or more minds can entertain the idea entails it is objective.

Ken
Objective morality is not defined as a moral idea that two or more minds can entertain.

Ken
RickD wrote
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Re: Is there a God?

#133

Post by Kenny » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:55 am

Starhunter wrote:
Kenny wrote: Physical laws exist in reality; moral laws only exist in our heads.
So our heads aren't reality?
Our heads are real; the thoughts that exist in our heads can only become real when we make them real. They don't become real by themselves. Even though I will admit; if I could make my thoughts become real without any action on anyones part like Samantha Stevens; (even though I do beleive she did have to twinkle her nose in order to make her thoughts real) life would be a whole lot easier. Do you agree?

Ken
RickD wrote
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

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Re: Is there a God?

#134

Post by Squible » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:02 am

Hi Audie,

Some great questions!
Audie wrote: I wanted to know if "moral existence" has some special meaning. Does it just refer to "the reality that morality exists"?
The reality of moral existence itself. This is not simply referring to why it exists on planet earth, the known universe or just within humanity. It really means why does it exist at all.
Audie wrote: The philosopher questions seem like a good intellectual exercise, and
likely to be good for many more centuries. That is fine, but I see a problem if one thinks the Answer is to be
found that way.
Philosophy will exist as long as we do. We all hold to a philosophical position. We even do about the physical world itself.

Do you realize that methodological naturalism that science uses is actually a philosophical position? You can thank philosophers for that. However it also takes good philosophy to understand what it can and can't tell you about the physical world. Today science can also be known as naturalized epistemology, which is a philosophical position.

More importantly Logic, critical reasoning skills and being able to recognize fallacies comes from philosophy. Ethics comes from philosophy, theories of knowledge, truth theories, metaphysics, in fact your culture holds to a philosophy (worldview).

Did you know there is philosophy of science? Which is about science itself and helps inform what science should be and what its demarcations are. There's philosophy of mathematics , philosophy of religion the list is literally endless.

Plenty of answers have been found through philosophy. Unfortunately many people seem to think philosophy is a bunch of guys walking around picking their navels while wearing sheets. This simply isn't the case.

As William Lane Craig once said "those who denounce philosophy will be deceived by it". And I can assure that statement is very true.
Audie wrote: Am I understanding correctly that the ancient Greeks attempted to address many things entirely
thru thought, without reference to external data, corroborating evidence from experiment and observation ?
This is not entirely true. For example Aristotle came up with his theories of causation, beginnings of realism, and initial metaphysical positions both through observation and thought. Incidentally this leads you to the unmoved mover (ie: God).

The reality is even today many philosophers do use evidence and science to in form their positions. Their position could be extrapolated from that evidence using reason and so on.

Philosophy is far deeper then people realize.
Audie wrote: I see some Christians go off the rails that way, using the bible as the only and ultimate guide.
The paleontologist Dr. Kurt Wise being a noteworthy example, saying he'd still be a yec if
all the evidence in the universe went the other way, because of what the bible seems to say.
This seems a little off topic. But I'll respond.

I don't even know who Kurt Wise is. I am actually not a YEC. Having said that, there is absolutely no mandate to read genesis literally in the way YECs do. Also the YEC interpretation is quite new, for example an early church father by the name of Augustine around 400AD made a great point and I am paraphrasing here that we should be careful how we interpret scripture and that we should take a two book approach, which is the bible and the book of nature (natural revelation / knowledge gained from nature).

Also do you really think this only applies to Christians? I think it can apply to anyone really.
Audie wrote: Philosophy wont be able to ever say why evolution has gone as it has, but research provides some good answers.
I agree that research can provide some good answers. But as to the ultimate why has it formed beings who can experience the universe, do you think science can ever answer that? Science is fairly limited in what it can tell us, and it is only one way to seek truth.

And do you honestly think philosophy plays no part in it?
Audie wrote: I cant agree at all that evolution does not address the why / what questions you posed, except on the level of, say,
"Why does anything exist?".
I agree it will depend on the type of why question. Now forgive me if I am not 100% correct in my terminology here.. But lets say for example why did something adapt a particular way may be answered. Or what influences caused certain epigenetic changes to occur may be answered.

However you can't say why evolution came about using evolution itself, because this is basically circular reasoning.

It also seems with this comment that you are wanting to ground morality into evolution?

Sure you could attempt to answer a why with something like "because it gives an advantage to the species" but this explains absolutely nothing about morality and its existence. It also gets messy when you start putting things in survival terms and so on.

Also, the odd thing with morality is that there is an oughtness to it. Because there is this oughtness with morality someone for example can't say it is a behavioral pattern, because it is really an internal compulsion that compels us to choose certain behaviors to do what's right – even though this moral incumbency can be denied or disobeyed. Having said that If the moral element is prior to the behavior, then it can't be the behavior itself.

At best evolution could explain how we have obtained/come to know morality. The bottom line is evolution cannot explain why morality exists at all.
Audie wrote: Early morning at Starbucks with tiny mobile device.
Wow that must be frustrating to write with! I admire that you have taken the time and persistence to actually interact on this topic given how difficult it must be to do so.

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Re: Is there a God?

#135

Post by Squible » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:02 am

Kenny,

I am not going to respond to what you wrote at any length.

What I will say is you don't actually understand what skepticism really is. That much is evident especially given what your definition of skepticism is and also how you answered with regard to the brain in the vat scenario.

Basically you have answered both responses incoherently with regard to what was said, misunderstood points, twisted words, setup straw men arguments and continued to use tautologies.

You even attempted to use Hitler against my position, which blew my mind. This clearly demonstrates that you don't understand what you are dealing with, because it actually supports my position. Especially when we say it was wrong to do it.

Anyway this is too exhausting to unpack and as such I am going to let others read and they can decide for themselves.

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