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May 21, 2013

Comments

Wow.

I’m only 30 minutes in, but Dr. Greene's argument amounts to, “Look at these horrible things. Surely we can all acknowledge these things are bad! Killing children and slavery are very very bad. We can all surely think these things are bad. Let’s say there is a world with no God….see these things are still bad!”

I find it amazing that you can lay out, preemptively, that this can be true, yet people always seem to think they’re saying something meaningful when they go ahead and point out the obvious.
I’ll continue watching…

KWM, after the debate (of course!), Greg helped me think of a counterexample, as a quick response: "Look at the mail in your mailbox. Surely we can acknowledge there is mail in there. Now, let's say there is a world with no mailmen...see there's still mail in the mailbox! Therefore, we can have mail delivered without mailmen."

Brett, great job. I think this was a fantastic blend of the Utah mission with a sprinkling of the Berkeley mixed in. I know the students and I are very grateful for all of your hard work.

Can there be objective moral values and obligations without God?

Dr. Greene is incorrect. There cannot be objective morality without a law-giver. I have no idea why he would attempt to argue otherwise. Rather, humans have moral preferences which are nearly universal and have been selected by natural means. Certain behaviors and preferences were selected by nature because they provided an advantage to humans who had these traits. Man is a social animal so preferences and behaviors that strengthened that social aspect of his person were advantageous to his survival.

So morality is not objective. There is no universal good or evil. However, there are traits and behaviors that repulse the vast majority of humankind and we call those things "evil".

Brett,

Nice. You performed well. L'esprit de l'escalier. But as a fighter might say, “You should’ve seen the other guy”.

In the same vein, I’d also add that the questioner at 1:36 thought a little bit too much of her question.

Brett;

I am a retired police officer and amateur apologist. I volunteer with the high school group at my church and I am working on a local college campus with Ratio Christi.

I still remember the first traffic ticket I ever wrote. I was more nervous than the guy I stopped. But as I gained experience in lots of areas of law enforcement, I become better at everything from traffic stops to "man with a gun" calls.

I a high stress situation, panic wants to take over. There are three parts to panic: I am alone, I am trapped, I can't handle this - I've got to find a way out.

Even in a crowd, we feel alone in these situation. As a cop, we learn to rely on other officers and the force of the law to be there with us. As apologists we know that we have other Christians and God on our side. (A lot better than a couple cops and a law book)

Being trapped is the feeling of loss of control and the ability to maneuver. Learning good tactical responses is important in law enforcement and the military. Where to defend territory, where to advance, what risks to take, choice of weapons, etc. As you gain experience, you will develop a repertoire of tactics, responses and favorite "weapons".

The "I can't handle this" aspect will diminish with training and experience. Those first few times I turned on the red lights and siren to fly to a call caused sensory overload. The speed, the adrenaline, the apprehension about what to do when I got there, IF I got there in one piece all rushed through my mind. After a while, I was able to think through fast moving crisis situations like they were in slow motion and I had plenty of time to make good decisions.

You are well on your way to handling all three parts of panic.

With experience, those situations that would have caused panic, instead became exciting adventures to be remembered fondly rather than dreaded. Keep up the good work that encourages us all to not only maintain our faith, but to bravely advance the Kingdom.

AJG,

Rather, humans have moral preferences which are nearly universal and have been selected by natural means

Is this similar to how most people like the flavor of chocolate over Brussels sprouts?

Certain behaviors and preferences were selected by nature because they provided an advantage to humans who had these traits. Man is a social animal so preferences and behaviors that strengthened that social aspect of his person were advantageous to his survival.

“Selected by nature?” So “nature” chose behaviors? How did “nature” know which behaviors to choose from? When did this choosing occur? Was killing a bad preference before “nature” decided it was a bad preference? When will nature get to work on passing that info on to the rest of the social animals?

So morality is not objective. There is no universal good or evil. However, there are traits and behaviors that repulse the vast majority of humankind and we call those things "evil".

So it’s morality by popular demand? So, if we all get together and vote on morality would that satisfy our thirst for “nearly universal” moral preference or do individuals get to have their own “preferences”?

“Selected by nature?” So “nature” chose behaviors? How did “nature” know which behaviors to choose from? When did this choosing occur?

Individuals who were predisposed to act in a moral manner had a survivability advantage. Heck, we can observe this behavior in other primates. For a social species (like chimps, bonobos or humans), immoral behavior generally leads to shunning or death and an inability to pass on one's "defective" genes.

Was killing a bad preference before “nature” decided it was a bad preference?

Killing is only perceived as a bad preference by higher-order animals who have the cognitive ability to conceive of the self and the other. I don't want to kill you and steal all your stuff because I understand you are like me with similar wants and needs. I doubt the black widow sees the cricket as anything other than food.

When will nature get to work on passing that info on to the rest of the social animals?

You mean like bonobos? They are decidedly non-violent for the most part toward the apes in their own shrewdness. Of course, they will attack their own kind who they perceive to be a threat. Just like humans.

Yes. First the world is too evil for God. Now the world is too slaughter-free for Him.

Comical.

KWM


Not to worry about all the talk of natural selection. The naturalist will embrace Love's Image and thank natural selection for it all the while disowning the myriad of combinations and permutations of ugly behaviors as "against the grain". But we know that every behavior has been quietly fostered and watered and valued by natural selection if there is no God. The naturalist who thus attempts the fantasy of "this is universally good and this is universally bad" invokes a moral framework which is thus independent of natural selection when we press him on it. This is the incoherency of such a line. All the killing and inhumanity in the world is, if God, the gift of the Volition which Love calls 'sin', or, if no God, then such is the gift of natural selection's deterministic and volition-less slavery it so values.

As in other arenas the naturalist here again borrows from the God of Genesis, that Singular Us, that Singular-Self-Other of Love's necessarily Triune I-You-We who fashions all life as it was and will be again. The naturalist is slowly catching up with the Hebrew and the Christian in his worldview here as, "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them."

I won’t rehearse all the details of the debate here as I've posted the video below

!

I haven't seen the video yet. But having spoken with several atheists on this same topic I have come to the conclusion that the reason why these debates can never be resolved is because of fundamental differences in definitions. Even with words that are fairly unambiguous.

Like, 'objective', for example.

I won't be surprised if many atheists define 'Objective' to mean 'Personal Opinions that are free from bias'.

Lesson: Don't be afraid to clarify the meanings of everything that's being discussed. You will end up sounding anal. But you will also force the other person to be upfront about the definitions they're working with. If there are differences in definitions, no point proceeding with the discussion till the differences are sorted out.

Brett, I applaud you for having the courage and strength to step up to this debate! I hope you will do more of these events in the future. Greg, Jim, yourself and Alan are all excellent speakers, quite pleasant, intelligent and respectful. You guys rep the Lord very well, and that is so winsome in the end...
Every time I hear atheists/agnostics/skeptics claiming that objective morals or good and evil can exist with no need for God to define them, I am left asking, "What is natural standard inside humans? or Good and evil COMPARED TO WHAT?" That seems to escape these skeptics, or they side-step the issue on purpose. If people of any society cannot agree on what good and evil must be compared to, or how the standard was first defined, then morals are not objective. They become subject, opinions, preferences, differences of societies and cultures, and compared to many things. Skeptics act like a bunch of cavemen "voted" on what was considered evil millions of years ago, and it just stuck with us for some reason (Evolution?) Why did those cavemen have an inherent feeling of what is GOOD inside them, and want that more than evil? Many people enjoy evil, and it is far easier, and we cannot seem to agree on what is "good for society" to save our lives presently. So, these things are NOT determined simply by majority (or even vocal minority) The buck must stop somewhere as far as an ultimate source of "good", and I believe that is God. If people compare good and evil to far different sources, there will be no consistency or objective end. Thanks for your hard work & God bless! - Dave

Dear Brett,
I'm glad the debate was a good experience for you. I really enjoyed it, too. It was much fun and I think my students got a lot out of it. I hope that our paths cross again in the future. I wish you all the best.

Richard Greene

Hi Dr. Greene,
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and you were a fantastic debate partner. Maybe we can have a second round sometime in the future!

Prof green mopped the floor with him

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