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May 06, 2014

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Well, one question you could ask is "How do you know what's right?"

I'd like to know what their position on authority is . As Christians we know God has put into place principles concerning authority. I would also explore there stance on rebellion.

I would post the correction

Religion is knowing why what you are doing is right

In this challenge, everything is pinned to the term "regardless." It has the sad attachment to being heedless or careless, which only raises the uncertainty of the truth claim made here.

This then leaves morality to personal choice without authority, which seems to be blanked out in this discussion. What if religion has everything to do with the fundamentals of moral choice? Personal conscientiousness has to be based on something, not some nebulous feeling of some action being right (or wrong; these expressions of morality never seem to address what is evil or wrong). The "if it feels good ..." mentality could still lead to horrific choices.

This week's challenge is worse than some trite "cute" saying. It spawns confusion.

Who determines "what's right"?

There are a number of issues with the statements, and so a number of different approaches that can be taken to address them. The first would be something as simple as appealing to Mark Twain, “All generalizations are false, including this one.” The statement “Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told” ignores the fact that sometimes doing what is right is doing what you are told and so is directly linked (regarded). Similarly in religion sometimes doing what you are told is doing what is right, and you are told to do it because it is right. That leads to a second issue with the statements.

The assumption is that religion generates its commands independent of a standard of right. Which of the major religions would agree with this idea? The three big monotheistic religions (symbolized in the image) all ground the standard of right in the person or commands of the deity they worship. Each of the religions has different understandings of what is right and wrong, and because of this they cannot all present true accountings of what is right. However, if one is to determine which religion (or that none of the religions) present such a true accounting, then there must be an independent standard to which said religious accountings can be compared. That then leads to a third issue with the statements.

The two phrases separate what is right from what you are told, and religion from what is right. What is lacking in the statements is an explicit moral epistemology, how one knows what is right. Because what is right does not come from what you are told (first statement) moral right cannot be taught or revealed. (Because moral right cannot be taught or revealed, religions cannot tell you what is right.) If moral right cannot be taught or revealed (because it exists without regard to what you are told), then it must be something intuited or generated internal to the individual. Yet, if it is internal to the individual, how can it be applied to things external, such as religions? Aren’t religions, after all, just collections of individuals with shared beliefs? If Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told, than it is doing right regardless of what the person who believes that phrase is true tells you to do. So if what is right is to follow what your religion teaches, the person who believes the first statement can only accept it. That leads to a final issue with the statements.

The two statements, though not explicitly, are implicitly contradictory. There are two underlying assumptions. 1) Each individual decides what is right. 2) Religions do not teach what is right (therefore they teach what is not right, IE: wrong). However, if each individual decides what is right, there is no standard that can be applied across systems of right. If there is no such standard, there is no way to declare what religions teach wrong. If there’s no way to declare what religions teach is wrong, there is no way to confirm the second statement. In fact, the second statement becomes distinctly false for each individual that is an adherent of the religion. If the first statement is true, the second statement is false (by implication). If the second statement is true, the first statement is false(by implication).

For a completely different approach:
Morality is adherence to moral standards. Moral means adhering to a principle of right conduct. Therefore morality is doing what is right. Full stop. The “regardless of what your told” exceeds the definition of morality and gets into methods of understanding what is moral, and is therefore extraneous to the definition of morality itself.
Religion, on the other hand, is a system of beliefs about the world and reality. There are such systems that define the way the world is, and the way the individual relates to that world, and make no claims on the individual’s actions or attitudes. In other words they don’t tell you to do anything, so you cannot do what you’re told.
More simply put, both statements are definitionally false.

I think the two statements are similar, like two sides of the same coin. It all comes down to doing what your conscience tells you to do, either morally or religiously.

The problem is as the Apostle Paul says, that the conscience can be programmed (Ro 14:23) and often it is, whether religiously or not, resulting in harm to others.

The Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", is both religious and naturally moral. In that not only are we told to live it in Scripture, but every one from a cannibal to Mother Theresa knows how they would like to be treated, and can easily invert this natural law of conscience into how to treat others.

In regards to the question of morality, atheists are perpetually stuck in a confusion between moral epistemology and moral ontology. The force of the poster or image comes from our moral intuition that just because someone commands us to do something, that doesn't make it right. And we all know religions tell us to do things. To be a good religious person, you have to follow the commands of the religion.

The confusion is the idea that the goodness of the religious person is in following the command (what we are told) because it is a command (what we are told) rather than because it is right.

We should distinguish two things:

1. The moral principle
2. The command expressing the moral principle.

Morality is by its very nature prescriptive. You can't express a moral principle in particular or concrete terms without an explicit or implicit "ought" or "should" statement. So every moral principle is expressed in a command.

Consider the following moral principle and its accompanying particularization (how the moral principle relates to YOU):

1. Love one another.
2. You should love your neighbor.

(2) is really just an explanation or clarification on (1).

The confusion of the image or poster is that it assumes religions teach that (2) is right *because* it is commanded, rather than because it explicates a true moral principle. But virtually no religion teaches this. The commands reveal (epistemology) what is (ontology) right.

Religions claim special insight into certain things. Often they claim special insight into morality. The reason it is right, according to the religion, to follow the commands is not simply because it has been commanded but because it is right.

Suppose you enter a foreign country and a lawyer approaches you and tells you to not drive on the left side of the road. Furthermore, suppose that the law of this country is that persons don't drive on the left side of the road. If you follow the lawyers advice, you're doing what you're told and you're doing what is right. The lawyer simply explains to you what the laws are. It's not law because the lawyer said so and you're not right simply because you're obeying the lawyer.

To characterize your actions on this foreign trip as merely doing what you are told and then believing you were good *merely* because you did what you were told would be to mischaracterize the broader context. The reason you're doing what you're told is not because you think "doing what I'm told" is always right, but because you think the lawyer is a reliable guide to the principles of this foreign nation. The lawyer reveals what is right. You obey the lawyer not because you hold to the maxim "doing what the lawyer says is right" but because you think you have good reasons to believe the lawyer is a proper guide to what is right.

Or take what the poster says about doing what is right "regardless" of what we're told. Should we be regardless of what we're told? Well that depends. Suppose Jones is your regular American couch potato who sits around all day drinking beer and watching TV shows. He works as a cashier for McDonalds 30 hours a week and is fairly ignorant of everything outside of TV trivia. Suppose Black is a moral philosopher specializing in bioethics. Suppose Smith is a doctor. Suppose Jones, Smith and Black have been friends since grade school. One day, Jones' wife gets into a car accident and becomes comatose. Jones isn't sure what to do. For all he knows, comatose people are dead. Should he be regardless towards Black's advice and Smith's advice? Clearly not. For Jones to be regardless of the advice of Black and Smith would itself seem immoral. So perhaps there is another moral principle we can uncover: You should not be regardless of moral advice when you have good reason to believe the advice is coming from persons better informed than yourself.

Then we can add to the above: If you shouldn't be regardless towards moral advice in such circumstances, you shouldn't be regardless towards moral commands in such circumstances. This is especially clear since moral principles are by their nature prescriptive. Religious persons have good reason to believe the (religious) commands are coming from persons better informed than themselves. Therefore, religious persons should not be regardless towards moral commands within their religion.

Obviously the controversial premise here would be that religious persons have good reasons to trust the source of the commands. In other words, the idea that religious persons have a reliable moral epistemology. But the poster or image above itself bypasses that debate.

tl;dr version:

The poster or image assumes religious people hold to a moral ontology that they don't actually hold. They don't believe they should do what they are commanded, regardless of whether what they are commanded is right or wrong. Rather, they believe that the commands of their religion are a reliable guide to what is right. They should do what they are commanded *because* it is right. Furthermore, even non-religious people should agree that we should not always be regardless to what we are told. Some people are in a better position than us to know what is right. We should have regard towards what they say.

First, this is an unproven assertion that pretends to prove what it assumes.

Second, it begs a number of questions. Most important of these is that it refers to an unspoken ethical belief system. If you agree with this belief system, you are told that you are doing what is right. if you disagree with this belief system, you are told that you are following what you were told instead of what is right.

Therefore, if you know the friend well you may be able to hijack the argument by saying you are glad that you are doing a particular thing right instead of doing what society tells you to do on that particular item.

If you don't know the friend well, you can ask what they think is right. When they respond, you can ask how they know that thing is right. Whatever they tell you, you can point out was told to them. They may insist that it is common sense, but people have had different senses about these things outside of any religious convictions since the beginning of recorded time. So you effectively turn what they consider right into a subjective personal belief rather than an objective one. After that you can argue that you are free to choose what you think is right and that what you think is right is to discover what is objectively right. It shouldn't take long for them to abandon the argument as they think about that. Any objective argument they come up with to say that they are right was told to them. The only way to know if something is right is if it is validated in some way. We know that both evidentially and presuppositionally to be what was written in the Bible.

"Morality is doing what is right."
And water is wet. It's a tautology.

"Religion is doing what you are told."
And Al Gore invented the Internet. A ridiculous assertion, in other words.

This post trades on the Euthyphro dilemma a little bit. The question Plato raised was "Does God command that which is good?" Or "Is something good because God commands it?" The general answer is: "God commands the good because He is good." Of course not all religious activity is good unless one is following a perfectly good being. So religions do not guarantee moral perfection unless their object is perfect.

The second implication is that religions cause people to do what is wrong when they follow the commands of the religion and of leaders in the religion. This is clearly true in all the major religions including Christianity.

The first implication is that secular humanists mostly do what is right because that is their goal. This is false, even by their own standard of right & wrong, but this is not readily apparent so I won't expect agreement on this point.

The conclusion is that secular humanism is more successful than religion for producing good works. While I may agree with this point in general, there is no reason to treat all religions the same because they are not all the same. In fact, if any religion is true, then at least most of the others are false, so we should expect most religions to fail if any of them are true.

I won't defend any other religion that I think is false, but what commands of Christianity are immoral, and why?

" This is clearly true in all the major religions including Christianity." I should qualify that leaders within the church cause this, not the religion itself. Leaders in conflict with their own religion are easy to explain.

@Igniscient You wrote "The conclusion is that secular humanism is more successful than religion for producing good works. While I may agree with this point in general...." Can you explain this more? It does not seem intuitive to me at all that this is the case. What reasons do you have to believe that secular humanism produces more good works?"

1) I would like to know more about how this person determine's what is right (moral) vs. wrong (immoral)?

2) What is their source (authority) and process they go through to decide right from wrong? And should everybody adopt this person's morality?

3) Have they ever committed immorality according to their process, source, and/or authority? If so, how do they deal with their guiltiness?

4) What are some examples of the Christian religion where one is commanded to do something that is immoral in their eyes?

"What are some examples of the Christian religion where one is commanded to do something that is immoral in their eyes?"

I'd say Christ's implied demand that abused women remain with their husbands is an immoral request (particularly if these women have children). Christ only permitted divorce for infidelity. Nothing else.

How about Paul's demand that women remain silent and "in submission", having no authority over men no matter how intelligent or skilled they might be. That's demeaning to half the human species (not to mention the fact that it deprives all of humanity of the talents of individuals).

Most of the Old Testament is grossly immoral: torturing animals, Moses telling his armies to kidnap young girls and target civilian children, taking human life for the simple act of picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

The "nice" passages of Scripture are so few that could fit on a cocktail napkin.

Doug, who determines what is healthy?

Re: James B. The Bible is in some ways a "Rorschach test" that reflects the attitudes of the heart.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Those who seek to defend their sins will no doubt view it, and read into it as you appear to do. Those who love God, will see things in better light.

James,

"I'd say Christ's implied demand that abused women remain with their husbands is an immoral request (particularly if these women have children). Christ only permitted divorce for infidelity. Nothing else."

That abuse is not grounds for divorce does not entail that one cannot take other actions to protect themselves: e.g., calling the police, fleeing to a safe place.

"How about Paul's demand that women remain silent and "in submission", having no authority over men no matter how intelligent or skilled they might be. That's demeaning to half the human species (not to mention the fact that it deprives all of humanity of the talents of individuals)."

Suppose you're in the room with the President as he gives the state of the Union speech. You're required to remain silent and you have no authority over him, no matter how intelligent or skilled you might be. Is that demeaning to you and is it depriving you of your talents?

Suppose the President gives a state of the Union speech once a week on Sunday and you, as a good journalist for the NY Times, should attend it. Is that demeaning to you and does it deprive you of your talents?

I suggest that it obviously does not. And it does not obviously demean women in their parallel situation, assuming your reading of the text.

"Most of the Old Testament is grossly immoral: torturing animals, Moses telling his armies to kidnap young girls and target civilian children, taking human life for the simple act of picking up sticks on the Sabbath."

(a) The killing of animals in the OT only qualifies as torture if beg the question.

(b) Moses doesn't specify young girls but virgins. These were probably mostly young, but the command isn't for them to be young but for them to be virgins. Consider the fact that in that time and culture, the men and married women having been killed, the women would have likely died or sold themselves into slavery in order to survive. If the women were allowed to integrate into society as Israelites, that was by far their best option.

(c) In a time of war, you could be regarded as a traitor and killed by your commanding officer for failing to pick up sticks in a certain context. Suppose your platoon is behind enemy lines and disguised as local villagers. The custom of the local villagers is to gather sticks for the enemy militia for firewood. The militia is going to arrive in the village in five minutes and the commanding officer orders his men to start gathering sticks. One soldier refuses to participate and says he isn't going to obey the CO's orders anymore. He's done with this fighting stuff and he sure as hell isn't going to pick up sticks. The CO tells the subordinate that if he doesn't fall in line and start gathering sticks, he'll consider it insubordination that jeopardizes the rest of the men. He will be considered a traitor and executed immediately. The subordinate snubs his nose at the CO and starts walking off in the other direction. The CO shoots the subordinate. In this case, a man was killed for failing to pick up sticks. But his failure to pick up sticks is situated within a broader context that most people would recognize as reasonably resulting in his death.

The point of the above illustration is that there can be contexts in which simple acts like picking up sticks or failing to pick up sticks can be more serious and more harmful than in other mundane contexts. In the case of the man executed in Numbers 15:32, we should note the broader context. The people had already been instructed on the Sabbath. They knew what they should do and what the consequences would be for failing to do it. They had just recently been instructed on unintentional sins and sins done "with a high hand" (sins as acts of open rebellion). Furthermore, the people had just rebelled against God, disregarding his promise in one instance and then disregarding his command in the latter. Then God warns them about high-handed sins and then this man goes out and performs and breaks another command.

In its broader context, it's clear that his picking up sticks on the Sabbath wasn't a mundane event. He was openly rebelling against God, on the heels of two previous rebellions which had devestating consequences for the fledgling nation and on the heels of a warning against such high-handed rebellion. His execution seems reasonble in that light. Israel's success (their survival) depended upon obedience to God.

Now there isn't the slightest doubt in my mind that you won't be satisfied by any of this. You'll probably scoff, still find it all immoral and you'll probably want to throw in more examples of things from the Bible that you consider immoral.

Which brings us to the real issue:

Upon what moral standard do you judge an act to be moral or immoral? What is the standard, where does it come from?

Remington brings an important dimension to the discussion on the linkage between religion and morality.

There is a paradox between the necessity of moral law and the futility of humankind's attempts in keeping it. Morality is reduced to a "choosing, accusing and excusing" mentality (Rom. 2: 15). As proof of this, consider the contents of Matthew chapter five. True godly living transcends the efforts of the scribe and Pharisees (Mt. 5: 20). Ponder the issue of mere lusting after a woman on sight. Of loving enemies. Of anger as equivalent to murder. There is a degree of the impossible implied here, a being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus words were directed at the trend occur in the rise of rabbinic Judaism, a re-codification of Mosaic Law with a self-confidence in keeping the legalistic structures. No Christian would admit to such a measure of moralistic perfection (or perfectibility). In this case, morality misses the point. Grace impels the life of thankful living with no sense of keeping score. If score would be kept, we'd be losing badly. Morality loses sight of this, a;ways focused on right behavior, censuring bad behavior at times such occurs (but, with a sad trend of finding excuse if such behavior is attributed to oneself).

A modern example. Take Donald Sterling. I do not defend the man's insensitive statements; they were reprehensible. I would critique the level of backlash his words evoked. Suspension. A push to remove ownership of his team. People coming forward with yet one more sordid glimpse into the life of this racist. What if the NBA were to remove everyone who expressed a racist word (or, to include Jesus' dictum, everyone who had a racist thought)? I heard this morning that Michael Jordan would have been such a man.

Thus, Jesus would add one more element to the concept of mere morality, forgiving grace. He understood the difference between a pious view of God and His glory and a pious zeal to look good in front of others, the difference of "doing good for ..." versus "doing good to ...".

This gets us to the OP. Religion to too far ranging a concept to criticize in the name of morality. We find we shift our moral standards too easily, all in the hope of Rousseau's assumption, man being basically benign. Religion often tells us this isn't so.

Wow. I thought the Coexist poster was bad. This one's even worse. There are so many assumptions here, it's hard to know where to start!

I'd start off with, "Says who?"

I'd also ask why they have only Christianity, Islam and Judaism. They'll probably claim it's just for space, or that it's because these three are the most popular/common. Fair enough. Still, I think it's worth asking.

And they not only have just those three, but it seems they're making a comparison as though these three are more or less the same. (Demonstrating that they know nothing about any of them.)

"Wisdom is paying attention to the truth of a claim no matter how it is stated.

Folly is paying attention to how a claim is stated, no matter how false it is."

"Courtesy is understanding a person's view before you object to it

Rudeness is objecting to a person's view before you understand it"

"Theists believe God created us, so they choose to follow His commands instead of doing whatever they like

Atheists do whatever they like instead of following God's commands, so they choose to believe that we created God."

We can go on all day with that sort of infantile nonsense.

Saying something ridiculously false with an oh-so-clever chiasmus does not make it less false or less ridiculous.

@Erik Elvgren

"You wrote 'The conclusion is that secular humanism is more successful than religion for producing good works. While I may agree with this point in general....' Can you explain this more? It does not seem intuitive to me at all that this is the case. What reasons do you have to believe that secular humanism produces more good works?"

Remember the argument was made for religion in general. I can admit that an incredible amount of evil is done by the multitude of false religions in this world. I suppose we could get into whether Christianity produces enough good to overcompensate - which is a fair question - but it would ultimately not be helpful for a non-believer.

Secondly, keep in mind the moral understanding of the critic. He has an idea in his mind of what morality is, and even though he is confused about how to ground that morality, it is very real & tangible to him. It's not fair to dismiss his legitimate perception of the "good" done by humanists. I will grant that humanists do "good works" & that religion in general does a worse job. But this only means that Humanism is better than average at doing good. How does it compare to Christianity? Not very well.

This was merely an attempt to evaluate the argument on its own assumptions. To show that even a humanist should reject the implications presented in the picture.

Outside of that, we could ask the person to justify their perception of morality in such a way as their judgment of another religion is legitimate.

@James Bradshaw

You made some interesting points, but on what basis do you judge these things to be wrong? For example, you say that the Bible condones domestic violence against women. I don't think it does, but assuming it does, why do you think that is wrong? Maybe it's not wrong after all. I think it is wrong, but I base that on my understanding of biblical morality. I want to know, what do you base your moral opinions on?

Much has already been said about how idiotic this picture is.

One question I always ask is, “Why do these people never talk about immorality”?
Its causes. Its justifications. Why it’s oh-so-easy to be immoral. Many times it is much more convenient to be immoral.

So:

Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told

But immorality can be fun. So if you choose to be immoral, that’s ok too.

I'd say Christ's implied demand that abused women remain with their husbands is an immoral request (particularly if these women have children). Christ only permitted divorce for infidelity. Nothing else.

Jesus' (the Messiah)commands are in a virtue ethic framework. They are principles, not rules. He expects us to practice virtue, and through the Holy Spirit we know how to make the correct ethical decisions. It's clear you do not understand Christianity. At all.

How about Paul's demand that women remain silent and "in submission", having no authority over men no matter how intelligent or skilled they might be. That's demeaning to half the human species (not to mention the fact that it deprives all of humanity of the talents of individuals).

You don't know why Paul said that or what his motivation was. Actually, no one does. Some people interpret those passages from Greek differently. Once again, you don't understand the passages you are siting, in my opinion.

Most of the Old Testament is grossly immoral: torturing animals, Moses telling his armies to kidnap young girls and target civilian children, taking human life for the simple act of picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

No where does anyone torture animals. They are killed and then put on an altar to be eaten. Oh wait, we do that too!! It's called barbecue.

In regards to the Sabbath, this was a rule put in place hard and fast. The Sabbath existed because of human exploitation (which we see nowadays in many countries and increasingly in our own). When humans are subjected to work without end they become like cows. This law existed to protect them from exploitation. The person who was stoned callously spit on this law and what it represents. He didn't get stoned for picking up sticks. He got stoned for breaking the Sabbath.

Yes, God did give the order to annihilate the Canaanites. God did this because it was a punishment against their injustices and immorality (think that they would do child sacrifice). He would later do the same to the Israelites for their injustices. People are always complaining that God is not just. When he does do something just, then they complain too. Which is it?

Not sure what you are referring to about the kidnapping thing.

The "nice" passages of Scripture are so few that could fit on a cocktail napkin.

The most common description of God in the Old Testament: Slow to anger, abounding in mercy, faithful. There are countless examples in scripture of God's mercy and love. It's on every page.

I knew students during my school years whose morality involved humiliating and tormenting the outcast kids of our grade, getting trashed on weeknight, and watching hardcore pornography. According to this poster, they were exceptionally moral individuals, because they always did what they felt was "right" for them.

The second statement completely ignores a very real possibility: What if everything we are told to do IS right? I would contend that is the case in regards to the Judeo-Christian worldview - everything God commanded was and is within his perfectly good will.

Any attempt by the naturalist/humanist/atheist to refute this point would require to them to import their own standard of morality (which they cannot rationally justify) in order to condemn God's moral behavior.

Religion trumps morality. Here’s why:
If “Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told”. Hitler could reply that the holocaust is the right thing to do. He obviously believed it was.

If “religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.” Had Hitler practiced the teachings of Jesus, even though he thought the holocaust was right, would have shelved the idea and settled for peaceful solutions to his situation.

Brilliant answer, dave.

Ignis asks: "on what basis do you judge these things to be wrong?"

I have my own system of ethics based on what I believe is good for humanity in general and on my general "deism" (I'm not an atheist).

Yes, it's a bit subjective, but I'm not sure you realize that yours is as well. If the Bible suggested that human sacrifice, cannibalism and rape were "good things" that should be done on a daily basis because it pleases the creator of the universe, do you suppose that most Christians would embrace the Bible as the "word of God", or do you suppose they'd just think it was cooked up by a bunch of lunatics?

I'm thinking the latter. Most Christians embrace the Bible because it gives a sense of authority to the ethics *they already have*.


Another writes: "You don't know why Paul said that or what his motivation was."

That is precisely my point, actually. A literal reading of the word might conflict with the intent of the authors. So why do you all seem to have a problem with this concept when it comes to things like homosexuality? For that, well, just a face value interpretation is acceptable, thank you very much!

Re: James said; "A literal reading of the word might conflict with the intent of the authors. So why do you all seem to have a problem with this concept when it comes to things like homosexuality? For that, well, just a face value interpretation is acceptable, thank you very much!"

So James, how is it you literalize the portions of Scripture you extract your negative view points from? Shouldn't you interpret them spiritually, making them mean something else, and tone down your rhetoric a bit?

Did the people in the Old Testament goof when they punished adulterers, homosexuals, and animal exploiting sex perverts? Were they to spiritualize the law instead, and somehow approve of those sins as you suggest?

Please let me in on the portions of Scripture I should take literally and those I shouldn't.

I think I would try to contrast religion as an institutional system
with
faith and an assurance of what is right.

You would have to ask:
"How do you know what is right?"

@James Bradshaw

It's not "a little subjective", it's totally subjective. You're banking on everyone having the same moral intuition, and in most cases it works out that way. But what happens when we disagree? On what basis can you say I am wrong? You can't. You can only presume that my intuition is at odds with my religious instruction and that if I listened to my intuition we would agree. This is a convenient presumption for you, but it begs the question. In reality, you have no basis for judging another person's morality. You can say, "your morality is not effective for producing the goals of my morality," but you cannot justify the goals of your morality.

In regards to your claim that my moral system is subjective; you are mistaking the moral system itself with my personal acceptance of it. The Christian moral system is very simple: God is good, by definition. It is not possible for God to command evil, for if it is His will then it is good. It therefore follows that either "human sacrifice, cannibalism and rape" are good or that it is impossible for God to command them.

It's no use to say what if God commanded them, because He doesn't. It's a clever trick though, because the question attempts to pit one's devotion to God against his personal moral intuition, in order to reveal that God is not one's absolute authority. In reality, you are pitting God's own moral laws against His supposed violation of those laws, which is simply absurd.

But are you suggesting that I accept biblical morality because it matches my own pre-existing moral intuitions? Actually, biblical morality has corrected my own understanding on a variety of issues, and I accept it because it is verifiably the truth from God. Yes, it helps as I understand better, but that is not why I accept biblical morality.

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