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May 16, 2013

Comments

I think this points to a fundamental theorem that is demonstrated consistently throughout history: the further a society (and individuals) get from upholding God's moral standards, the more animalistic they become.

For example, think of the comparisons between Sodom and Gomorrah and, say, Las Vegas. I don't think it's even close. And that's not to say that Las Vegas is somehow not that bad: it's a cesspool. But that narrative shows just how bad things had become in Sodom and Gomorrah, that men were clamouring to have the chance to gang rape two angelic beings, and that the offering up of Lot's daughter wasn't even enough to cause a blip on their radar.

Or, you mentioned pre-Christian cultures, how about the idolatrous worship of the deity Molech found in the Old Testament, where it wasn't just "not morally wrong" to sacrifice human infants, it was actually morally good to do so because it was in fulfilment of their deity's wishes and was supposed to bring them blessings. Totally backwards.

And we're seeing the same trend in it's early stages with the modern examples mentioned in the article with things like the British politician and the pro-choice movement's acceptance that it is in fact a human life in the womb but it's still okay to go ahead and kill it in favour of the mother.

And here is another case in point, Richard Dawkins discussing infanticide:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWkJ6cZ0FY8

Wintery Knight

Classic quote mine, in video form. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a reasoned argument.

Watch it here and then tell me what you think.

http://www.theaunicornist.com/2012/08/does-richard-dawkins-support-infanticide.html

CID, the video you pointed to isn't there. It's my understanding from WK's clip that Dawkins is agreeing with a position similar to Peter Singer's--that is (as is explained in WK's clip), that in a case where a baby has an incurable disease, he would be in favor of infanticide (that's what he says explicitly, but perhaps he means only that he thinks it's morally permissible) in that case. All of that, I get from the clip WK put up, where indeed, Richard Dawkins is discussing infanticide, as WK said. And I find that view utterly deplorable, as I find Peter Singer's view utterly deplorable.

Since I can't see what is cut out, I'm interested in hearing why my understanding of what was said in this clip was wrong. Because I have to admit, it seems like plenty of context to give Dawkins' position. But I'm open to hearing where I'm mistaken if he says differently later. So what does he say that changes his position from what I took away from that clip?

Hi Amy,

I think that the "Case in Point" you have quoted/linked is more a result of the Moderns rejecting final causation and natural law in lieu of a mechanistic understanding of the universe. This recent shift in thought has really turned us all (even Christians to some extent) into Consequentialists and Utilitarians. Plato and Aristotle seemed to have gotten it close to right when they worked things out rationally even though they did not have Christianity (I say "close to right" because I do believe that Special Revelation is necessary for a complete understanding of morality).

Your point seems to go against much of what C.S. Lewis has argued in several different books and articles, including the classic Mere Christianity. In an essay entitled "The Poison of Subjectivity," he has this to say:

And what of the second modern objection - that the ethical standards of different cultures differ so widely that there is no common tradition at all? The answer is that is a lie - a good, solid, resounding lie. If a man will go into a library and spend a few days with the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics he will soon discover the massive unanimity of the practical reason in man. From the Babylonian Hymn to Samos, from the Laws of Manu, the Book of the Dead, the Analects, the Stoics, the Platonists, from Australian aborigines and Redskins, he will collect the same triumphantly monotonous denunciations of oppression, murder, treachery, and falsehood, the same injunctions of kindness to the aged, the young, and the weak, of almsgiving and impartiality and honesty. He may be a little surprised (I certainly was) to find that precepts of mercy are more frequent than precepts of justice; but he will no longer doubt that there is such a thing as the Law of Nature. There are, of course, differences. There are even blindnesses in particular cultures - just as there are savages who cannot count up to twenty. But the pretence that we are presented with a mere chaos - though no outline of universally accepted value shows through - is wherever it is simply false and should be contradicted in season and out of season wherever it is met. Far from finding a chaos, we find exactly what we should expect if good is indeed something objective and reason the organ whereby it is apprehended - that is, a substantial agreement with considerable local differences of emphasis and, perhaps, no one code that includes everything.

I think that the issue here is to think of man's moral depravity as something that affects our knowledge of right and wrong to the same extent as it affects our ability to choose right over wrong. I would argue that the Fall hurt our ability to follow God's laws more than our ability to apprehend God's laws from nature or reason (this seems consistent with the book of Romans).

Best,
Austin

Austin, thanks for your comment. I'm certainly not saying there's utter moral chaos out there. Do I think we all have the capability of perceiving right and wrong? Yes. However, as I said, our consciences are weak and malleable, and we tend to suppress the moral ideas that inconvenience our lives and go against the accepted ideas of the culture. Some ideas are more easily suppressed than others.

One of those moral ideas that is often suppressed is the idea of universal, intrinsic human value. People who are like "us" are valued, but people who are not like "us" (whoever "us" is) have been considered less than human throughout history, and therefore, not worthy of the same moral considerations due a "real" human being (see the link above to the post on "intrinsic human value has to be taught," on the story of men who were surprised to learn it was illegal to kill Aborigines).

See also the link I have above to where John Loftus argues that ridicule is a proper tool of persuasion).

The fact is that though you will definitely see larger categories of morality expressed most everywhere, the question of who you apply that morality to changes (family? friends? countrymen? enemies? disabled?). There are certain moral ideas that humanity has proved itself to be incapable of coming to on its own (because it's suppressing them), though we now recognize the beauty of them.

So when you look at that link describing infanticide throughout history, you find that Jews and Christians have consistently argued against it and created laws against it, while it was common practice most everywhere else. This isn't an accident, this is due to different views of the human person.

It is so ironic, that many, if not the majority, of Christians, will, as pointed out a above, quote mine out of context in order to vilify someone, e.g., Dawkins, in order to bolster there otherwise unsubstantiated criticisms.

The sadder part being, that in the case of the short video snippet above, the full context (and very non-infanticide quote) is readily found and accessible.

If Christians are so much about truth, how is it that the skill of fact finding is lost on them?

Here is the full video. And he is musing on the nature of moral reasoning, and how troubling it can get. His comment is a hypothetical; a "what if." Granted, Christians are adverse to hypotheticals, since it makes them even possibly think "what if my particular religion isn't true," which, in Christian theology, is itself a sin. Thought crime.

An axiom which predicts invariable bad reasoning from Christians - the courage to think, truly, is lacking, should one have to wonder out of the confines of the mythological garden.

Which leads to my next criticism, that of Amy's essay, which glaringly overlooks any consideration of the epistemology (how we know things) of right and wrong, for the self same reasons ; a reluctance, fear, or out right inability (read: lack of insight) to think outside the confines of the mythology to which oneself has emotionally (not rationally) attached.

The weight of fear is the ever present nemesis for the Christian thinker, a fear much like the in any abusive relationship, must be turned into "love," as a captive spouse makes excuses for her tormentor. That's apologetics, really, in a nutshell.

Amy

Grrr its been removed. I'll look for an alternate. However, in the mean time one can read more here: http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/showthread.php/25338-Atheists-Peter-Singer-and-Richard-Dawkins-on-Morals which summarises things nicely, and gives a full transcript

Im not saying anything about Dawkins point of view, Im saying Wintery Knight is taking him out of context and if the full thing were available then it can be seen in the context of an exploration of morals.

And I'm sure you agree that context is important. For instance, I find Genesis 22 quite deplorable, but I'm sure you can tell me why I'm reading it out of context.

My general point is that if you assert that God is omniscient and omnipotent, why on earth did he leave the interpretation of his alleged objective morals to a textual version, so open to re- and mis-interpretataion?

As to Singer, its impossible to comment on his position without reading in full what he has written - and quelle surprise - in the str blog post that Mr Wallace links to, there is no attempt to link to the original source for Singer.

Would it not be better to cite original sources?

Amy grossly overlooks a question that is fatal to her "argument" (as I see it, no real argument is given, but one long assumption that her particular religion and particular religious book should be regarded as THE ethical standard).

For one, Amy makes no case (or gives any examples) that would lead one to believe the Bible is somehow an ethical beacon. Rather, she gives us a cultural example and an example of a rather unsavory individual. Giving an example of a culture that is wayward or backwards in ethics or an individual of the same in no way whatsoever gives credence to her foregone assumption that her faith and her belief in her bible are somehow a contrasting shining light. There is no deduction of that sort even attempted here.

FYI Amy: we find your Christian culture and beliefs in the same boat as the culture you cited and the individual you criticized. It only varies in degrees. How you overlook saying you are making a case while not making it at all is beyond me (and my secular contemporaries). On top of it all you seem to be willfully oblivious of the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity based on Christianity, writing as though Christian culture has been pristine and good all this time.

Here's a little fact for you, Amy: It hasn't. Far, far from it. That's what you are seeing in the secular movement, if you've been paying any attention at all.

You might as well have said, look at these bad belief systems, just like, er, mine. And all we have to do is read your book for that.

Aside from pointing out several hundred morally nightmarish passages in the Bible (Numbers 5:11-31, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Acts 5:1-10, the entire book of Joshua) we can simplify the objection that leaves the Christian with a difficult dichotomy neither of which lends favor to any sort of faith derived ethics.

It's what should be well known to any apologetic thinker, and what I would expect to come to mind in an article such as this, but astoundingly, does not. Well, of course it doesn't. Because it buries arguments like this wholesale.

The title of this piece can easily be understood, or at least reduced, to "How do we Know Right and Wrong?"

Amy keeps mentioning Christian principles, as if, somehow, these "principles" were obvious? But what are they? Don't kill the infirm? I'm pretty sure I have that principle, and - OMG - I didn't get it from your Bible.

Of course, Amy argues that indeed I did : "A society saturated in a Christian understanding of morality will reinforce that understanding, even among its atheists."

So, Amy, are you arguing that I absorbed this ideal from a Christian culture? Are you arguing that should I start my own culture, on an island, say, we'd all just go crazy and happy go lucky killing the suffering, er, just for fun?

It's question begging at it's finest, with a healthy dose of self affirming. Typical circular apologetics.

When we approach an moral proposition, we must, instinctively and based on experience, render value to that proposition: true, false, conditional. This is no different then when one approached the biblical writings. Or even deeper.

So when you are confronted with a verse, say, Numbers 5:11-31, you must assess it's moral value. But if you even have the ability to assess that, you've already proven you are at least a moral entity. In order to access whether it is "from god," you must access whether it is good or bad.

But if you can do that, you have already shown yourself to be a moral creature, so the precept is not needed. There is no point. If I read something that says "love your neighbor," and can ascertain that this is good, simply from the reading of it, it's not the reading of it that informed me that it was good - I already knew.

On the other hand, if you, as you state, we are too depraved to know the truth, so we must believe the bible (again, where are these values? aside, I mean, from the genocide and misogyny) then you are accepting "values" arbitrary and that, of course, is absurd: by it's definition it is no value at all if you can't understand or evaluate it.

So you have in front of you Euthyphro Dilemma:

"Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"

The former doesn't require a god (as in your ascertaining if a passage is true from your own experience and understanding) and the latter makes ethics arbitrary, both on the part of god and those that accept it by mere authority - and nothing can be further from ethics as that.

***

Anticipated Objections

* God's nature is good, so he is not appealing to a good outside himself.

A: this merely tightens the circularity of the problem via semantics. Did he create his own nature? If not, he is still appealing to something not in his control, and certainly can't be viewed as "ethical" if a slave to his own nature, however that might make him behave. Ethics is a reasoned process that takes careful consideration of others, and this response just makes god a good natured bunny that will judge us for not being soft and fuzzy too.

* I don't need to understand god's reasoning to know that his word is still true, even if it seems otherwise

A: same answer any good Muslim would give for his god, and flying planes into buildings. This response simply misconstrues and misunderstands the nature of ethics entirely, and rests on the laziness and fearfulness of requiring an authority to issue commands, which again, is contrary to anything remotely conceivable as ethical.

@YogurtKing--many before you have tried the bombastic, accusatory, inflammatory statements you've made--hoping to drag us into some defensive mode of addressing spurious remarks, all to stroke the ego of the perpetrator. Been there, done that. Why not check back when you can be civil and engage in grown-up discourse? Your kind of game gets old really fast and few of us have the time or inclination to play.

Right and wrong were obvious - to the extent that they are obvious - before Christianity and they will be obvious after it leaves.

Which leads to my next criticism, that of Amy's essay, which glaringly overlooks any consideration of the epistemology (how we know things) of right and wrong, for the self same reasons ; a reluctance, fear, or out right inability (read: lack of insight) to think outside the confines of the mythology to which oneself has emotionally (not rationally) attached.

I didn't overlook it at all--it's a matter of understanding the genre of blog posts, which are quite limited by nature. What you're asking for was actually outside the scope of this blog post which was written for another purpose other than proving which ethical system is the true one, which I thought would be clear in that I never claimed I was trying to prove otherwise in this particular post. However, you can find plenty of writings on this subject (by me and others) on this blog and on our website, including those responding to the issues you brought up. So if you look outside this one "chapter" of the "book" of this website, perhaps that will help you make sense of this one observation.

It's not possible to write an entire treatise on why I think Christianity is true at the beginning of every blog post before I explain to Christians the difference that a person's worldview makes. That's just not how a blog works. I encourage you to read the link to the post on Loftus above because I explicitly explain that when I make these observations about the differences in worldview I don't expect them to act as proofs to atheists that Christianity is true.

Again, CID, I don’t see how that clip is taking Dawkins out of context. It seems to me that it has plenty of context to identify what ideas he’s agreeing to. It’s obviously an exploration of morals, and he’s very explicit about what he’s agreeing to.

And the positions I’m talking about here that atheists are currently taking have nothing to do with people misinterpreting the Bible, so I’m not sure how this enters into your question.

A person doesn’t have to know the Bible in order to know right and wrong, right? Well, yes and no. It all depends on what value system is being fed to that person by society.

Well, no. Period.

It does not all depend on culture.

We are, by nature, social. So, an anti-social culture is impossible.

Our social nature is, therefore, the actual foundation of morality.

So there's two guys who support infanticide. And one who does not see moral problem with it if the child is permanently ill. So what? What exactly does this have to do anything about secular values?

We are, by nature, social. So, an anti-social culture is impossible.

I take it, then, you don't find an accepted practice of infanticide (throughout history) to be anti-social? Or a traditional culture of murder and cannibalism? Or honor killings? Or forced abortions in China?

Since an anti-social culture is "impossible" and all of these things exist, then our existence as social beings isn't enough to address these questions of right and wrong.

Erkki, the point is that it's never been obvious to people that infanticide is wrong (as evidenced in the past and in some secular voices today). Our culture has developed in a worldview that understands it to be wrong, so it isn't widely practiced today – or, at least, it's hidden from the law and/or claimed to be something different from infanticide (abortion) so as to avoid the stigma of doing something wrong. My only point is that the idea of universal human rights and value (born and unborn) is not obvious, and will not be obvious in the future, with predictable consequences.

    My only point is that the idea of universal human rights and value (born and unborn) is not obvious, and will not be obvious in the future, with predictable consequences.

Fair enough, but I don't know who has ever even claimed that they are. In your OP, you say atheists think that objective morality is obvious to everyone. But I really haven't heard of atheists to claim that this is so, on the opposite, it is usually the atheists who acknowledge that morality and ethics come with lot of cultural and social baggage. This is obviously true even in the Christian context, as anti-semitism, imperialism and slavery were once very much accepted in most western countries, Christian or not, whereas now they are seen crimes of unbelievable magnitude. The reasoning why universal human rights seem much more acceptable to us can be precisely attributed to the fact that we now have the luxury of modern education, relative peace and stable society. Here is a good TED talk on the issue:

http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

Erkki, atheists will often say that Christianity is unnecessary for a good society and that atheists can be as moral as Christians. I say yes, but that is only the case if they have the same standard of morality as Christians. That isn't always the case (see Singer) and will be less and less so.

As for your explanation about slavery, if you look at the people who have led the fight against slavery and against infanticide throughout history, you will find Christians. In fact, for a time, the slavery issue was put to rest by Christians until it was revived again. This is because Christianity teaches intrinsic human value, not instrumental human value (a view that naturally arises from a materialistic perspective).

The fact that it's more convenient for people to accept a rejection of slavery now doesn't change who was the force behind pushing for its rejection.

On the secular side, we see things like an early 20th century push for eugenics with people like G.K. Chesterton arguing against them.

    Erkki, atheists will often say that Christianity is unnecessary for a good society and that atheists can be as moral as Christians. I say yes, but that is only the case if they have the same standard of morality as Christians. That isn't always the case (see Singer) and will be less and less so.

Charles Darwin and Karl Marx also argued against slavery. You are using quite selective reading of history. It's not like there is some common "Christian" morality throughout history counter-acting whatever happens to be against it. Peter Singer is one guy, and faces considerable criticism from about everyone against his harsh utilitarianism.

I'm talking about the impetus for the movement. Of course there were others with different views who may have agreed (though I think you'd have a hard time arguing that their position is a logical result of a materialist philosophy). But Darwin and Marx did not lead the fight to abolish slavery, and those who followed Marx philosophically and coupled his views with power ended up murdering millions of people they thought might get in their way. Not just in one county, but in multiple countries.

As for Peter Singer, he is "one guy" who is a highly respected professor of bioethics at Princeton. I'd hardly call that "considerable criticism from about everyone." Dawkins is another guy. If you'd like to hear from another guy, read this paper from the Journal of Medical Ethics. These are places of influence, not some crazy fringe. If you'd like to hear about many more guys, I recommend Wesley Smith's blog.

"We are, by nature, social. So, an anti-social culture is impossible.

Our social nature is, therefore, the actual foundation of morality."

Oh, the actual foundation? Why couldn't it be that we're social because we're moral? How do you determine that "we are by nature social" is the cause of morals/morality?

Amy,

I've always been very impressed with your stuff on this site. Although I disagree markedly with some of your positions, I can't help but appreciate the dispassion and careful thought with which you approach them. Moreover I am especially happy that, unlike many bloggers, you actually stick around to interact in the comments section. You even have the patience to deal with the... well, the folks who probably are NWRT.

Sometimes I don't even disagree with you! In this case I agree to some extent. No doubt many of our moral inclinations are learned, just as you say. (And since we agree on this point, I wonder if you also agree with me that we cannot use our moral intuitions, so to speak, as evidence for an objective moral standard in the sense required for WL Craig's moral argument.)

However I do not share your conclusion that Christianity is required if we want society to hold onto goodness. While it is true that some pre-Christian cultures did things that we would today consider deplorable, well, so did many Christian cultures. For example, consider American slavery in the south. Whatever you want to say about whether the Bible approves this or that, it's hard to deny that those particular Christians strongly approved of slavery, to the point of marching to war to protect that most evil institution.

So it's not as if non-Christian cultures are the only ones with serious problems. Moreover, many non-Christian and pre-Christian cultures demonstrate great virtue. For instance in ancient Rome, aristocrats prided themselves on public works rather than limiting their expenditures to selfish private ventures. Ionians and later Athenians strove to find a government which would serve the whole citizen body instead of just a privileged few. Indeed it seems Western culture has a rich moral history even before the introduction of Christianity.

Nevertheless, I agree that if you want Christian morality then it definitely helps to hang onto Christianity. But not everyone desires specifically Christian morality. We don't all think abortion is wrong. Some of us actually want to institute gay marriage. Etc. Meanwhile, I doubt we are in any great danger of turning into a society of Colin Brewers if Christianity ever disappears.

If we want the next generation to agree with us on moral issues, then the solution is to teach them properly. For as you have pointed out, our most sophisticated moral intuitions are learned, not innate. But we don't need Christianity to do that. We just need to keep being good teachers.

"We" can and do delight in all sorts of terrible things. In another post we watched as many backed away from slavery as “wrong” so long as "we" desired it, and so forth. Now, the atheists give us no good reason as to why they don't seem to fear these tangents as very probable, while Christianity warns of these tangents as quite probable. And here we have all the evidence of History which proves the Christian more accurate in its claim on human nature. Christians are sinful within. It is not Christian-ity which is good for the world, it is Love Himself. Of course Christian-ity is not the thing which the Christian posits as Mankind’s hope. Scripture tells us we must, our whole life long, be taught understanding, kindness, and we must put on charity, hope, and so on. We must put on Christ, Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self.


But what do our atheists and agnostic friends mean to teach us as being "Good"?


Someone once said that “Good” is a very fun or very good experience. And they also commented that Truth is not valuable in and of itself, not at all in any inherent way, especially when it disrupts this very fun or very good experience. Truth is valuable only if it fosters this very fun experience. These terms help us define good teaching. They help us see why teaching the grand Noble Lie of Dr. L. D. Rue to our children is a good thing. Teaching the Noble Lie is, on very specific terms, good teaching. It is good to tell the lie. The Noble Lie is our best shot, society’s best shot, at decreasing pain and increasing a very fun experience on the whole. Link here


In short, telling lies is good teaching according to some of atheism’s elite. Love and Truth begin to die their prophesied death of growing cold in a simple address to the Academy “where Dr. L. D. Rue boldly advocates that we deceive ourselves by means of some "Noble Lie" into thinking that we and the universe still have value”. After all, “good” is a very fun experience.

Brad,

Oh, the actual foundation?

What's the problem?

If it's the 'foundation' metaphor, then try this.

Our social nature and our moral nature are interlocked. Neither is foundational to the other. The two are mutually dependent.

Well, it may be true that culture might have some influence on folks when it comes to making moral choices, but there is really a limit. The Germans found that out the hard way during WWII. At first they exterminated the Jews with bullets, but that proved to be something that effected the soldiers very badly psychologically, as they put it. So, they had to switch to gas chambers that isolated them away from the murders themselves. But that even was not enough to insulate them. So, they had to have other prisoners actually do the cleanup after the gas chamber use. While their culture taught them from childhood that Jews were nothing more than rats to be exterminated, deep down the German people were human beings with a conscience that refused to let them completely get away with what they were doing without serious emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences. Even when one is in deep denial, the objective morality bubbles to the surface and torments those who dare to deny the truth.

"Our social nature and our moral nature are interlocked. Neither is foundational to the other. The two are mutually dependent."

While I see reasons to quibble with this statement in general, it is the mutual dependence term I see as obviously problematic. [It does nothing to answer the questions necessary to make authoritative judgements.]

Your view seems to attempt a descriptive accounting as though observing proves authority. When there is no anchor--something you need for binding and unchanging moral rules, you have no authority to compel obedience. Morals, I think are self evident prescriptive oughts that rule over social behavior, they cannot be mutually dependent. Unless your view allows for changing standards and are ok with it, you are incoherent within your system. If you are ok with changing standards, you have no supportive authority to judge any behavoir as good or bad.

Ben: Well, usually I’m only able to respond once or twice, but thanks. And let me say back at you that I appreciate the way you interact here, and I’m glad you’re here. I hate when I have to kick out atheists for treating people badly (and/or being profoundly disrespectful) because dialogue makes this blog better. They don’t seem to get that it’s not because they disagree that they have leave. In fact, I would much prefer they behave respectfully and stay, no matter how strongly they disagree.

But not everyone desires specifically Christian morality.

Well, that is of course my point. :-)

As for your question about moral intuitions, I think I clarified earlier in the comments that I do think we do have moral intuitions, but that we suppress them at points—particularly points that cause common inconveniences to us (as is the case with universal intrinsic human value). Some are easier to suppress (and reveal) than others. The more basic the idea (cheating, murder, etc.), the harder it is to suppress. So there is agreement that murdering a person is wrong, but there’s disagreement about what it means to be a person and what it means to be innocent. But of course our moral intuition--our conscience, depending on how it has been twisted, has led to many different societies getting many things right. Human value is not one of those.

But Louis makes a great point about the Germans, and that is that though a culture sanctions a particular immorality (or declares a type of human being to not be a person), the guilt will still be there waiting to be revealed. Suppression doesn’t end our feelings of guilt.

“Good teaching” seems to lead us to all sorts of odd places.

Our lives are, it seems, objectively real. That is, our body and so on. Now, our objective lives do objective acts. We may lay down our lives to stop some “evil”. Now, “evil” is of course pure fantasy, and, by fantasy, we mean simply that which is not objective, but that which is found only “in-here” within I-Feel. On the terms of “good is a very fun experience” and on the terms of “truth has no worth other than how it can maximize that very fun experience” we find some difficult lessons, but certainly possible lessons, to teach our children about how to live their lives. The “I-Feel” and the “We-Feel” will certainly conflict, and there is no need to insist one is necessarily, that is to say, inherently, better than the other. There is no magic which shows us how the majority is right and the minority wrong when it comes to conflicting fantasies (conflicting I-Feel’s).


And then the atheist will, from this starting point, pretend everything we just described is not “true” and proceed to insist we ought teach our children to be respectful of life, and so on, as if that fantasy is an objective truth “out-there” and not merely an I-Feel “in-here”. We tell ourselves it is okay to lie to our children and teach them that this fantasy is not just a Fairy Tale, but is actually the truth of the matter, that is to say, it is an objective truth.


And worse, some even define Good as “We-Feel” as if that magically trumps various conflicting “I-Feel’s” by blindly foisting, “Morals are the norms which various societies shape over time” and other such assertions. But they give us no reason to believe that the fantasies of the many are any better, or worse, than the fantasies of the few. This is why Good-Teaching in one culture can radically contradict Good-Teaching in another culture. Seeing all this it becomes painfully apparent that there is nothing at all about Good-Teaching which necessarily insulates any culture from gently ebbing and flowing into some version of We-Feel which we currently detest.


Good-Teaching only has various fantasies of “I-Feel” to offer its children. And what hope is there of Fairy Tales (those things which exist only “In-Here”) to magically insulate us against other Fairy Tales?


This is why it is “Good Teaching” to teach the Noble Lie if it satisfies various end-points of the teachers, whoever they may end up being.

In case we mistake Good-Teaching as somehow above the fray of Fairy-Tale let us dissect this further, for just what will we tell our children about all the “evils in the world”? Shall we teach our children to absorb pain, sacrifice, and loss of objective life (their actual lives) to stop some Fairy Tales and promote other Fairy Tales? Is human life “valuable”? What if other’s lives interfere with our own very fun experiences? Good-Teaching only stems from, out of our own Fairy-Tales “in here” as what we will tell our children “out there” and so simply leads to all sorts of conflicting Fairy-Tales abounding. Good-Teaching offers us no hope at all, for it simply foists our own myriad sets of “In-Here’s” onto our children “out-there”. The mother who dies to save her child, or the man who is imprisoned in his fight to end this or that evil are both responding to their own “In-Here’s”. But, we all know that fantasies need not, in fact cannot, become or reflect objective and immutable moral truths, for such things do not exist. All is mutable, for, given enough time, the Good one day morphs to the Ugly and the Ugly will one day morph to the Good.


Given that the Atheists have only their own “in here” of whim, of I-Feel, of psychic phosphorescence to trace all this back to, it is clear that they hold that whim, or fantasy, or I-Feels, or fairy tales held tightly “in here” somehow magically transpose to positive realities “out there”. They argue that they are fighting against real evils in the real world; not against fairy tales. In fact, they believe this so strongly that they actually have real anger against those evils they feel actually exist “out there”. And, further, they believe this so strongly that they actually lay down their real lives fighting against those evils that they feel actually exist “out there”. They (those evils out there) are as real as their own very, very real lives.

This is staggering: Whim, or fantasy, or I-Feels, or fairy tales “in here” magically transpose to positive realities “out there” and we can even live for, and die for, these fairy tales of I-Feel’s which have undergone an inexplicable metamorphosis into positive evils “out there”.

The wrongness of rape is not whim, not a fairy tale. We don’t lay down our lives for fairy tales. The wrongness of slavery is not whim, not a fairy tale. We don’t lay down our lives for fairy tales.

Who would live for, or die for, fairy tales?


A little further questioning may help us shed some more light on this amazing and magical metamorphosis:

Is the atheist living for a fairy tale here? Should we all be able to live for and die for Fairy Tales? Does the Mightiest Fairy Tale of all trump them all? Are we really, or for-real, or *at bottom* living in a universe where an animal who names himself homosapien insanely cries; “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the mightiest fairy tale of all?”


The Atheist will again reverse his stance and say (oddly) those evils are *real* and the wrongness of them is also *real*. Good Teaching now enters: “How real?” our children will ask us. “Well, so completely real that you can lay down your very, very real life for them. These are not fairy tales; these are real, very real evils in the very real world.”

Thus in Atheism Belief “in here” and Whim “in here” and I-Feel “in here” and Fairy tales “in here” really do, after all, create real things, actual things “out there”. This is so clearly deduced from the Atheist’s own combinations and permutations of [actions plus rhetoric] that we cannot conclude the matter in any other way. “If you believe the fairy tale, then it is true!” That is the cry of Atheism if we take atheists at their own words and their own actions.


It would go something like this:


“Fight to stop the fairy tale evil “out there” called slavery and fight that fight because of the fairy tale wrongness “out there” that is the wrongness of that slavery” as it were. “Lay down your actual, real-lives for these fairy tales” as it were.

And, if you see someone else whose own fairy tale just happens to be the Phallus and the Fist, to maximize pleasure, to inflict death, at any cost to others, well, you’ll have to either stop or kill that one, that poor deluded one who doesn’t understand “reality”. The cry of, “Can you BELIEVE that guy actually did THAT?” is really felt, really held tight “in here” about that evil act “out there” and betrays that the atheist really does think it was all *real* evil that his physical eyes just saw “out there” in front of him.

That is worth repeating: The cry of, “Can you BELIEVE that guy actually did THAT?” is really felt, really held tight “in here” about that evil act “out there” and betrays that the atheist really does think it was all *real* evil that his physical eyes just saw “out there” in front of him.


On refection here it seems this whole show leaves an unanswered question:

Why does the Atheist's fairy tales and I-Feel’s "in here" about evil magically transpose into positive reality "out there" worth dying for while the Christian's fairy tales and I-Feel’s "in here" that are about evil must remain fairy tales “in here” not worth dying for and which can never be real things “out there”?

Is not whim but whim? Is not urge but urge? Is not I-Feel but I-Feel? What has Whim and Urge and I-Feel to do with Reality, ultimately?

Does “I-Feel” create real things? But how? And why is it only the Atheist’s I-Feel’s that can pull off this magic leap of faith?


Are we really to believe the Atheist when he insists that his, the atheist’s, I-Feel’s “in here” and fairy tales “in here” about evil magically become positive evils “out there” but only he, the atheist, has the magic wand and so only his fairy tales are magic?


What does this lead us to?

Well:

At bottom the atheist is living for, and dying for, fairy tales. And the chilling part is that he seems to believe his fairy tale. That is not just inexplicable, it is bizarre. We find that Atheists hold that evil “out there” is real. That in itself tells us something. It tells us that they really do believe that they are not fighting against fairy tales, but against real evils in the real world. This is a mammoth piece of information with enormous implications on Atheism. What this means is that Atheism posits that our own various (and there are a lot of them) I-Feel’s and Fairy Tales “in here” magically create real, or positive, entities “out there”.

Atheists are not out there trying to slay fairy tales. Are they?

Well:

“All right and wrong, and in particular all ought and all ought not is purely subjective. There is no objective anything here in any of these in the world outside. It is all in our nervous system.”


Conclusion: Atheists really do believe in, live for, and die for, fairy tales that exist only “in here”. There is no objective real-thing “out there” when it comes to right, wrong, ought, and ought-not. Such things are just fairy tales reverberating within our neurons.


It’s all fairy tales.


Incoherency: The inexplicable part is that the Atheists really think their fairy tales “in here” somehow magically transpose to real things “out there”. This is so because the police officer who lays down his life to stop the madman is, if we ask the atheist, doing that objective, actual act of laying down his objective, actual life in this objective, actual world to stop some objective, actual evil out there in the objective, actual world. The atheist does not say the police officer is laying down his life to stop a Fairy Tale.


That is the inexplicable part. The *bizarre* part is that the Atheist really believes that he, the atheist, is the only one with the Magic Wand capable of magically transforming I-Feel’s “in here” into actual things “out there” and so only the Atheist’s Fairy Tales come true.

In case we mistake Good-Teaching as somehow above the fray of Fairy-Tale let us dissect this further, for just what will we tell our children about all the “evils in the world”? Shall we teach our children to absorb pain, sacrifice, and loss of objective life (their actual lives) to stop some Fairy Tales and promote other Fairy Tales? Is human life “valuable”? What if other’s lives interfere with our own very fun experiences? Good-Teaching only stems from, out of our own Fairy-Tales “in here” as what we will tell our children “out there” and so simply leads to all sorts of conflicting Fairy-Tales abounding. Good-Teaching offers us no hope at all, for it simply foists our own myriad sets of “In-Here’s” onto our children “out-there”. The mother who dies to save her child, or the man who is imprisoned in his fight to end this or that evil are both responding to their own “In-Here’s”. But, we all know that fantasies need not, in fact cannot, become or reflect objective and immutable moral truths, for such things do not exist. All is mutable, for, given enough time, the Good one day morphs to the Ugly and the Ugly will one day morph to the Good.

Carolyn Arneson,

What's ironic about your comment is as follows:

* We're just godless atheists, why would you expect anything but vile persecution?

* What was "ego stroking" about my criticism? This sounds a lot like how you read meaning into things: i.e., your bible.

* Whatever the case, my criticisms were very clear. Typically a response such as yours indicate an incapability to address it.

* We are talking ethics here, and so me pointing out the complete lack of any genuinely thoughtful ethics in Christianity IS part of the point. So "accusatory" language IS necessary.

* Despite Amy not using the damning language of Paul and Peter (a funny cultural shift there, if you ask me) the accusations are the same ; "you don't believe as I do (ignorantly) and you are going to hell and you are in the moral wrong for not being as such."

So the insults are embedded in your beliefs. Sorry you can't see them. Perhaps, as Elijah said of his foe's gods, your god is on the toilet and the holy spirit isn't available?

Why is OK for Elijah to elaborate the emotion of his logic and not me?

Or do you not read your bible?

thanks for proving my point about ethics and ignorance.

Amy,

"I didn't overlook it at all--it's a matter of understanding the genre of blog posts."

Well, that's convenient. Also convenient you provided no reference. So I provide stark criticism to both your current logic and your premises, and you simply respond,

"gee whiz, I covered that...er... somewhere else."

How very professionally scholastic and philosophical of you Amy! Rather, it reads like most apologetic back doors do. Avoidance.

You see, in a blog post, there is also, well, this "comments" section. That's where you actually address criticms rather than avoid them, and if you *have* addressed them you provide a reference.

That's how they do it in philosophy and science, anyway. I know, apologetics so badly wants to be playing with the big boys when it grows up... even though it's 1500 years old. Hmmmm.

So... how about actually responding or providing a reference? Rather than, "I covered up go look it up yourself on the site." That's not how it works, Amy.

But we could just take this very sentence:

"intrinsic human value has to be taught."

If it's "intrinsic," Amy, it doesn't have to be taught. That's what the word means. Or have you covered somewhere else that I need to Google why that isn't a blatant and obvious contradiction?

Amy,

  • I think I clarified earlier in the comments that I do think we do have moral intuitions, but that we suppress them at points—particularly points that cause common inconveniences to us (as is the case with universal intrinsic human value).

So, Amy, I don't see how you escape the same criticism as a Christian.

For one, my moral instincts and intuitions are pretty intact in reasoning that the slaughter of women and children for territorial expansion is, ipso facto immoral (i.e., the entire book of Joshua).

A recent justification came out of the mouth of apologist William Lane Craig: "Well, those children went to heaven."

My moral intuition also tells me that's an outright horrific response, and my very intact logic tells me it doesn't follow.

That's the sort of reasoning we find "vile" as you write in another article. We can understand why ancients were primitive in their dog eat dog world with their ethics. We can't understand why 21st century Americans would still jump through hoops to justify such horror : with the only pay off being they are comforting themselves they are "correct" in their beliefs.

To us, that lacks integrity and character.

And this sort (lack) of reasoning leads to other suppressing of moral intuition of your own:

* marriage equality: you must actually deny the love of two human beings based on the fact they have matching genitals. You do so on the basis of design. So, if your god invented a cup I guess it would be sin punishable by death if you used it to capture a wasp. The "arguments" like this and others are so easily refuted it's laughable, and yet, Christians have no moral compass in this regard, basing their ethics on ancient desert nomad bigotry and ignorance of human beings.

And you talk of suppressing moral intuition?

I find it interesting that, in using straight forward language, er, just like your Bible, that condemns what is condemnable, us atheists are accused of not being "nice."

Have you read Romans lately? Peter's epistles? Guess not. The language there on unbelievers is far more foul and hateful and bigoted and ignorant than anything I can conceive.

Yet, when used against you, you cry foul. (not you per se, Amy, but another user on here, and a typical demeanor of the Christian response to criticism).

Even more ironic, you are talking about ethics, I perceive, rather unethically, to wit, ignorantly.

No good ethics is based on authoritarianism, it's based on reason. Not post hoc reason (this is what god meant!) but reasoning that foresees an outcome.

All Christian moral reasoning is post hoc. Because they have to believe it as they are emotionally tied to it. Very difficult to severe that bond of emotion, no matter how much reason screams against it.

So, just like the first apologists (e.g., Aquinas, the modern apologist is evious of the Greek, of reason, and insists his or her beliefs are of the virtue of reason : futhering the irony, since the culture of reason came from nothing Christian or Hebrew, but from Greeks).

So then we get fun reasoning like: God used the Greeks!

thats by definition post hoc reasoning, invalid, and self serving to an already held belief system. It lacks integrity in every possible way.

Yet the trainers of apologetics train wrongly, and they don't train in basic logic, much less the complexities of logic. So the students of such things (that would be you, Amy) are ill equipped to actually have conversations with knowledgeable unbelievers.

But because you've been taught that poor logic is sound, you have, again, emotionally convinced yourself you won the argument (also aided by evasion techniques like "search for that subject elsewhere" instead of either really responding or professionally providing a reference and scolding on what a blog is.

That's what we find vile, Amy. And if you can't figure out how to argue soundly and own up when challenged you aren't going to convert many people except stray sheep (which is mainly what outreach is about these days).

""intrinsic human value has to be taught."

If it's "intrinsic," Amy, it doesn't have to be taught. That's what the word means"

We really have not seen anything in all this pontification which tells us how it is, in a naturalistic set of presupositions, that human personhood has intrinsic worth.


I think that is the only issue in play here. Without Immutable and Everlasting Love within Personhood, one's regress ends in rather loveless places for atheism.


As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus actually, that is to say, Actual Actuality, and is thus, utlimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


That some truth about actuality must be taught seems an odd reason to insist that such a truth cannot be a truth. We must learn all sorts of things which are true it seems.


And it seems both naturalism and idealism reveal some fundamental propositions which support a set of first principles which testify of Uncreated Personhood there within the texture of Word which is Love amid Personhood, amid Mind.


The naturalist’s regress, as noted, fails, ultimately, to show us how it is, in a naturalistic set of presuppositions, that human personhood has intrinsic worth, nor, for that matter, how it is that life in general has innate worth. Nor has it presented us with a moral law which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big-Bang, and so on. Nor have we been shown how volition within Consciousness is free of physical systems.


It seems consciousness itself, thinking itself, love itself, volition itself, innate worth of person itself all die necessary deaths by such necessary regresses as are found within a purely naturalistic set of presuppositions.


Finally, naturalism gives us no “reason” to think that some statement which must be learned is, on the grounds that it must be learned, either necessarily true or necessarily false. Observational reality cannot move out of observational reality and into real truth nor out of real truth where actuality is concerned. “I-Exist” demands it embrace incoherency if it means to yet continue its insistence of such cannot-know-reality presuppositions, but that is another topic.

Idealism must be careful not to succumb to the temptation to pull back away from those nuances of Word into some other some-thing which would become, with such a move of timidity, mere materialism as some thing would thus become the “thing” which serves as Consciousness’ precursor. But if it does not pull back, we find in idealism its final regress to Mind, and worse, to an ontological topography weighing in on idealism’s necessarily triune epistemological regress to Mind for Self/In Knows and Keeps-On-Knowing both in and by Other/Out which thus too Knows and Keeps-On-Knowing too both in and by such embraces for these forever embrace within Mind’s necessary Self-Other which brings yet that Third Distinct which just is the Singular-We and Mind thus Knows, thus Tastes, thus Sees, and so forever as Knowing just does exist in, among, and by these three, amid I-You-We and thus idealism testifies to us of Uncreated Mind’s necessarily triune epistemological bedrock.


Short of Immutable and Everlasting Love within Personhood and Uncreated Mind’s I-You-We one's regress ends in rather loveless places for atheism and for naturalism's necessary regresses and it ends in the self-contradiction of simple materialism for the timid idealist.


As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood, of Mind, and thus of Ontology and of Epistemology all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus Actual Actuality, and is thus, ultimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


God is Love. Logic and Love are eyes by which we see this Ultimate Actuality.

YogurtKing/Jeffrey Lee Robinson, we don't allow people to post under different names in the same post, as it's an unfair way to boost your position. Since you had no way to know this (and it may even have been accidental), we're just letting you know that in the future, this is grounds for being removed from this forum. Thanks.

I wasn't trying to boost my position, moderator, nor was I aware my posts went under a different name. I would imagine that would be due to using different computers and inadvertently chose a different login.

I'll post under Jeffrey Lee Robinson thus forward.

wow, scbrownlhrm, your lack of logic is astounding and almost impressive in its emptiness and self referential nature.

"We really have not seen anything in all this pontification which tells us how it is, in a naturalistic set of presupositions , that human personhood has intrinsic worth."

Funny, I have no less love, even I don't subscribe in your very particular god (so, Muslims don't love, then, because they don't believe in your god?)

So, you assume your silly conclusion without having to prove it... I must have the ability to love because your (particular) god allows it! Wonderfully question begging.

How about, it's just intrinsic in our species? OMG, an alternate explanation that doesn't require celestial hoop jumping!?! Say it isn't so!

Not to mention your religion's history of being most unloving, and a counter culture (enlightenment) that brought about more compassionate ideals in spite, not because of, Christianity.

To say nothing of the regress problem of why would your god intrinsically have love? There is nothing about eternal or powerful that equals love. Nor is it even desirable. So you double up on your question begging and false assumptions.

Logic - it's painful. But rewarding. You should try it some time. Oh, wait, that means you'd have to question your own beliefs and that requires humility and courage. My bad - that certainly won't happen.

Jeffrey

you also miss the point of my criticism, which I guess isn't surprising.

I was pointing out Amy's inconsistence: something can't be both "learned" and "intrinsic."

pretty simple contradiction there.

Jeffrey,


I’ve seen nothing in anything you’ve written which provides us with any notion of innate value to human life. I’ve seen nothing in what you’ve written which provides us with Love as our necessarily Final-Ethic, our necessary end of all Regresses.

Intrinsic value doesn't mean "unlearned," it means it's intrinsic to the person. That is, it's possessed within that person, regardless of that person's instrumental value (i.e., what that person can do). A person is intrinsically valuable whether he has learned that this is the case or not.

You'll find that atheists are able to have good conversations here, as long as they treat others with respect. Otherwise, they don't last long. It's up to you.

As my mind runs the litany of various “real things” which exist, of which the statement, “It is an innate truth that such is the truth” yet which must be learned, it seems an odd assertion to make that because something must be learned it therefore is not actually true. It is like the mathematician who tells us there is no such thing as a perfect “1”, that “1” is an abstract notion which is true of just no real thing in existence. But of course there is but One, Everlasting, Uncreated Actual Actuality. And if we add in various notions of Multi-Verses, well then, that Net-Whole still just is our Perfect-1. There are not 1.00000089 Actual Actualities (whatever our everlasting, uncaused cause is…..), just as, there are not 0.0000000099 of an Actual Actuality. There is One. Only One. And Exactly-1. Thus “1” both must be learned and also tells us something perfectly true about Reality (as compared to 1.000000089 or 0.000000099, and so forth). And so to with our small bowels. Our large intestine. Our potassium content. We must learn these things, and, yet, that they exist is truth. It seems an Omniscient Mind does exist, but, it is not Man’s. It is dangerous to assert that because Man must learn a thing the thing cannot in truth exist. That is like saying, “If I don’t know about then it cannot be real”. So to with our value in this universe, and so on, and so on.

Hmmmm.... make that last sentence more like this:

That is like saying, “If I don’t know about it then it cannot be real”. So too with our value in this universe, and so on, and so on.

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