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« Resources to Help Church Leaders Equip Their Members to Defend the Unborn | Main | Heroism & Evil »

September 10, 2008

Comments

Maybe somebody will post it on YouTube. I always feel better when the theists win.

I wish I could have been there too but I have read his book that he wrote with Norm Geisler "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" and I have even caught a few episodes of the show he has by the same name. It's pretty good. I particularly liked his quote that everything Poisons religion. I wrote it down to make sure I remember it the next time I am in a debate with a Hitchings fan.

The quoted Hitchens fanboy here. Thank you for the link. I have posted a second part to the analysis, looking at the specific points made, here:

http://rudyhenkel.livejournal.com/2869.html

Come and disagree with me, please =D I always enjoy discussing this stuff.

I attended this event, and yes, Hitchens did disappoint. That does not mean that Turek won. Hitchens disappointed in the sense that he was likely expected by most in the room to utterly destroy Turek; instead he prattled on with unctuous pedantry and an impressive vocabulary about things seemingly unrelated to what the debate was supposed to be about. He did land his shots when he made an effort to, but many of Turek's points, including the one about "objective morality" that was raised ad nauseam, were almost entirely ignored.

Hitchens' argument was disjointed, but it was at least clever/amusing at times. Turek was charismatic but not very interesting to listen to. His arguments sounded like something a high school biology teacher wanting to teach creationism would offer at a town hall meeting. Hitchens was more than capable of dismantling them, but he didn't seem to be taking either Turek or the debate very seriously. So instead of giving an intellectual beatdown as expected, Hitchens dragged his feet to a rather muddy stalemate where neither side said or did anything particularly memorable.

The problem Warpoet is your doing the same thing Hitchens does; not engaging the arguments.

Its rather irrelevant if you think Turek sounded like a creationist biology teacher. What matters are the soundness of the arguments which I rarely see atheists actually engage with. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Can someone post the youtube link to this debate if it exists? The funny thing about Hitchins for me is that I kind of like the guy and certainly like watching him debate because he is clever and witty and fun to listen to. But I also think he is terribly ignorant when it comes to religion. It's not just a matter of his having "reached a different conclusion than I have" but he really thinks things about religion that are factually incorrect. I am honestly surprised that he has not been called out more on this. Can you imagine (if you are Christian) how effective an apologist he will be when he converts? I honestly believe it is coming...call me optimistic.

"Do you have any thoughts on that?"

I already gave them to you. Turek's arguments were on par with a high school biology teacher's. They were not the level of quality that one would expect for an event such as this. Your red herring about atheists not engaging the "actual" arguments is typical wishful thinking and irrelevant to the point that I made (which YOU did not actually "engage"): Hitchens not living up to the level of intellectual smackdown expected of him does not award Turek a victory by default. In reality, neither of them presented much in the way of substance.

I actually really enjoyed the debate and thought that Hitchens did a good job though he could have been more direct in his answers.

The thing is that the arguments that Turek pressed very hard, those of fine tuning, complexity/evolution, and the societal origins of morality were ones he knew were not Hitchens' field of study. There were people in the audience who could have answered Turek concisely and completely destroyed his assertations by citing research in their own fields. In fact Hitchens made this invitation, I sincerely wish someone had taken him up on it.

The woman sitting next to me is a senior sociology undergrad and I could hear her citing studies on the societal construction of morality under her breath.

What seems to have happened was that Hitchens tried to ignore the hackneyed and frankly intellectually insulting arguments (first hint: macroevolution and darwinism were in Turek's arguments, neither of which has any real meaning,) and get to the heart of the matter.

He started out by saying that, yes, god does exist for those who believe in it. From there he set out to make points about why the theistic mindset is not only dangerous and undesirable, but also servile in the extreme.

In direct response to Turek's argument from morality, he responded that the idea that a divine power is required for morality demeans the very meaning of the word.

I would disagree that Hitchens preformed poorly. He could have avoided talking over Turek so often during the conversation portion, but overall I thought he made a solid first presentation and sifted through the much of the dross that Turek had thrown out to get to the meat of the matter: there is no proof of a creator (I believe that Nicole pointed out the flaws in Turek's Cosmological and Teleological arguments), and even if there were such a being would not be worthy of worship or adoration.

If you have any feedback about the debate I would love to hear it so the United Secular Alliance at VCU can continue to provide quality events. Please contact me at RobertsLL2@vcu.edu

For those saying that no one addressed his arguments, I did so in the second part of my article already linked above.

>>The woman sitting next to me is a senior sociology undergrad and I could hear her citing studies on the societal construction of morality under her breath.>>

The way that the "new atheists" constantly pat themselves on the back for being so "smart" is disgusting and juvenile. I have no doubt that there are many studies that demonstrate a relationship between societies and establishment of moral principles. This could never in any way though reduce morality to a social construct. If it ever appeared to, it would be missing the point of what theists mean by "morality".

>>but overall I thought he made a solid first presentation and sifted through the much of the dross that Turek had thrown out to get to the meat of the matter>>

Are we talking about the same person? Hitchins is almost never on point, switches topics frantically, brings up irrelevant points (like constantly pointing out the sins of religious persons) and is exceptionally rude and arrogant. And I say this as someone who actually kind of likes the guy (though I believe him to be sorely ignorant in matters of philosophy and theology). We're talking about Christopher Hitchins, right...?

"The way that the "new atheists" constantly pat themselves on the back for being so "smart" is disgusting and juvenile."

A bit like how pseudointellectual theists like you pretend that they never even address their arguments in the first place?

Turek's assertion throughout the debate is that morality CANNOT exist with some divine mandate, though he failed to explain how people can access such a thing in the first place. It is a foolish argument, and yes, the evidence does point to morality as it is applied being a personal and social construction - something that humans created on their own. Nobody can prove that it comes from some divine entity. You insult the social sciences by pretending that anyone is patting themselves on the back for being so "smart" just because they are aware of this.

Royan, while everything you say about Hitchens' style is true, I as trying to point out that Hitchens did in fact address the issues brought up by Turek, if rather indirectly at times.

"Turek's assertion throughout the debate is that morality CANNOT exist with some divine mandate, though he failed to explain how people can access such a thing in the first place. It is a foolish argument, and yes, the evidence does point to morality as it is applied being a personal and social construction - something that humans created on their own."

I'm just trying to clarify your point of view. If we assume that you are correct, and morality can exist without God, doesn't that ultimately mean that it is meaningless? For what reasons should someone be moral?

"I'm just trying to clarify your point of view. If we assume that you are correct, and morality can exist without God, doesn't that ultimately mean that it is meaningless? For what reasons should someone be moral?"

To be clear, the term that Turek used was "objective morality." He didn't say that humans can't have morality of some kind; he said that their morality is not objective like God's is. Of course, he never once attempted to explain how humans are capable of accessing God's standard of morality in the first place. Hitchens also failed to press him on this.

The question of why morality exists is not a new one. Most social scientists would likely respond by saying that it exists because societies need it to maintain social order. The religious component that so many societies invoke adds an air of authority, but merely a perceived one, and since so many societies use different Gods to validate different moral codes, they obviously can't all be right. So the "objective morality" argument always brings theists back to the impasse that is their onus of proof to explain why the particular God that they believe in is real and other gods are false.

More importantly, though, the "objective morality" argument does not support the positive assertion that God exists, rather, it simply tries to make the idea of a world without God seem less appealing.

Thanks for the response.

"Of course, he never once attempted to explain how humans are capable of accessing God's standard of morality in the first place. Hitchens also failed to press him on this."

The Christian argument would be that we have access to God's moral standard because He's told us what it is.

"since so many societies use different Gods to validate different moral codes, they obviously can't all be right."

I agree...

"So the "objective morality" argument always brings theists back to the impasse that is their onus of proof to explain why the particular God that they believe in is real and other gods are false."

As a Christian, I would argue for the historical evidence of Christ's resurrection. If the resurrection happened then everything else follows from that.

"More importantly, though, the "objective morality" argument does not support the positive assertion that God exists, rather, it simply tries to make the idea of a world without God seem less appealing."

I think that the argument would be that a moral law exists, and therefore there must be a moral law giver.

Sorry for the short answers, but lunchtime is over. Thanks for the dialogue.

{As a Christian, I would argue for the historical evidence of Christ's resurrection. If the resurrection happened then everything else follows from that.}

That's a rather big if, also as Hitchens pointed out, it's not as if resurection was that uncommon at that time period in that area according to the books in the current New Testament.

"The Christian argument would be that we have access to God's moral standard because He's told us what it is."

Do you have any way of proving that?

"As a Christian, I would argue for the historical evidence of Christ's resurrection. If the resurrection happened then everything else follows from that."

One of Hitchens' better moments was when he addressed this point specifically, citing the other instances of resurrection in the Bible which are not commented on, and stating (to much chuckling from the non-theists in the room) that there was almost a certain "banality" to resurrection at that time, according to scripture.

My question, however, is the same as the one above: do you have any way of proving that God resurrected Christ?

"I think that the argument would be that a moral law exists, and therefore there must be a moral law giver."

Morality does indeed exist - however, it did not come from God, but from man, and for each and every person it is unique. Hitchens did make a very powerful and compelling argument when he accused the concept of God's moral standard of demeaning and denigrating the ability of the individual to decide such things for themselves using reason and judgment. I agree with him, and would add that the historical evidence points to morality being something that humans create and have always created on their own, with Christians simply being no exception.

"Morality does indeed exist - however, it did not come from God, but from man, and for each and every person it is unique."

So, on your view, it would be okay for me to adopt a morality that makes it okay to rape and murder?

"Hitchens did make a very powerful and compelling argument when he accused the concept of God's moral standard of demeaning and denigrating the ability of the individual to decide such things for themselves using reason and judgment."

Well, if sneering is "a very powerful and compelling argument", then Hitchens probably made one. A quick look at the history of the world tells me that humans don't usually do a very good job of reasoning out their own morality. Can you tell me of an example of morality which could be produced by reason and judgement alone, apart from a basis on some moral intuition?

"I agree with him, and would add that the historical evidence points to morality being something that humans create and have always created on their own, with Christians simply being no exception."

That humans could create systems of morality on their own doesn't prove anything. This is what Hitchens continually ignores (or side-steps). The theist's argument is that there's no reason to call something "moral" apart from an objective standard, which can't come from humanity itself.

"So, on your view, it would be okay for me to adopt a morality that makes it okay to rape and murder?"

What a stupid question.

"Well, if sneering is "a very powerful and compelling argument", then Hitchens probably made one. A quick look at the history of the world tells me that humans don't usually do a very good job of reasoning out their own morality."

...and as Hitchens pointed out ("sneered" I guess) by referencing the number of atrocities that have been committed in God's name, they apparently aren't very good at reasoning out his morality, either.

"Can you tell me of an example of morality which could be produced by reason and judgement alone, apart from a basis on some moral intuition?"

Reason and judgment are very much a part of a person's moral intuition.

"That humans could create systems of morality on their own doesn't prove anything. This is what Hitchens continually ignores (or side-steps). The theist's argument is that there's no reason to call something "moral" apart from an objective standard, which can't come from humanity itself."

Utter nonsense. That humans create morality on their own proves that they are capable of doing so and that they don't need God to do it. The theist position poisons the well by claiming that something can't be called objective if humans are involved, but cripples itself at the same time because it is incapable of proving that any other form of morality exists or that human beings are capable of accessing such a thing. That is something that theists accept purely on faith because they want it to be true, not on the basis of any evidence. You might not want to hear that, but it's true nonetheless.

To clarify something: I take back what I said about reason and judgment being part of someone's moral intuition - the terms have separate meanings, but I don't recall Hitchens using either. His point was that humans have the ability to determine right from wrong using their own faculties and not just a divine mandate.

"That's a rather big if, also as Hitchens pointed out, it's not as if resurection was that uncommon at that time period in that area according to the books in the current New Testament."

I should have clarified that I have other reasons for believing. The historical evidence for the resurrection is probably the most convincing argument for Christianity. As for the other resurrections... Well, I think they need to be evaluated individually. But keep in mind that even if those stories are not true, the resurrection of Christ can't be dismissed so easily, if one were to honestly evaluate the evidence.

"Do you have any way of proving that?"

Volumes have been written with proofs for the validity of the Christian faith. I suspect that nothing that I'm capable of writing on a message board would convince you.

"One of Hitchens' better moments was when he addressed this point specifically, citing the other instances of resurrection in the Bible which are not commented on, and stating (to much chuckling from the non-theists in the room) that there was almost a certain "banality" to resurrection at that time, according to scripture."

See my first comment. I don't base my faith on those resurrections. Maybe they happened, but even if they didn't, the evidence for Christ's resurrection is still there.

"My question, however, is the same as the one above: do you have any way of proving that God resurrected Christ?"

Again, entire books have been written on this subject. I won't convince you with anything I can write here. But it does raise another question... What evidence would convince you that the resurrection happened?

"Morality does indeed exist - however, it did not come from God, but from man, and for each and every person it is unique."

But when someone presses you on this point, you call the question "stupid". What makes what you consider to be moral, correct, and others wrong?

"Hitchens did make a very powerful and compelling argument when he accused the concept of God's moral standard of demeaning and denigrating the ability of the individual to decide such things for themselves using reason and judgment."

Well, I wish I had the faith in humanity that you have... History tells me that I shouldn't.

"I agree with him, and would add that the historical evidence points to morality being something that humans create and have always created on their own, with Christians simply being no exception."

Well, since you asked me for proof, it only seems fair that I can ask you to prove that humans created morality.

Matt, you keep saying that there is historical evidence for the resurrection of christ. Could you please provide this? From my understanding, the only mention made of this event comes at least 30 years after it with the writing of the gospels. If you are going to accuse Hitchens of avoiding questions, don't be the hypocrite that you were with that nice dodging about the resurrection as part of your faith in the last post.

{But when someone presses you on this point, you call the question "stupid". What makes what you consider to be moral, correct, and others wrong?}

The problem here for you seems to be that there just is not a simple answer to this question. It is a complex interplay between the society in question's social structure and the personal morays of the individuals within said society.

>>From my understanding, the only mention made of this event comes at least 30 years after it with the writing of the gospels.

Actually Roy, the Bible records a pre-biblical creed about the resurrection that scholars (not just Christian scholars) date to within 2 to 7 years of Jesus. (And beliefs must predate the creation of any creed.) If you're looking for evidence about the resurrection, I would start here.

To expect Matt to have summed it all up in a blog comment or two is ridiculous, so to call him a name for not doing this is equally ridiculous. But if you're civil, you'll find that you can have some great conversations here, so we hope you stick around.

Thanks Amy. I've actually read the Habermas book, and it was pretty good. I was also thinking of "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by N.T. Wright, which I believe Greg suggested on the show. I haven't read it yet, but hope to soon.

Roy, I don't think I accused Hitchens of anything (at least not on this forum). I've been having a dialogue with Warpoet. I think you've mixed me up with someone else.

Hi WarPoet,

You wrote:
"('...okay for me to adopt a morality that makes it okay to rape and murder?')
What a stupid question."

I'm glad we agree that the conclusion (not the question) is absurd. However, it follows from your view (of moral relativism), hence we are justified in regarding that view as absurd.

"...and as Hitchens pointed out ('sneered' I guess) by referencing the number of atrocities that have been committed in God's name, they apparently aren't very good at reasoning out his morality, either."

Again, we agree, that people do a bad job of reasoning out their own morality. That people commit terrible acts based on heretical beliefs seems to argue *for* theistic morality, not against it. I find it odd that you would take exception with the acts of anyone, though, if everyone is entitled to their own unique, personal morality.

"Reason and judgment are very much a part of a person's moral intuition."

I agree that humans are able to reason out fairly decent moral systems, but this still bypasses the question of *why* we call something "moral" at all. Throughout your posts you imply existence of "good" and "bad" moral systems, as though there can be an objective comparison to an absolute moral objective standard.

"(my comment about Hitchens' side-stepping)
Utter nonsense. That humans create morality on their own proves that they are capable of doing so and that they don't need God to do it."

Humans do nothing of the sort. They don't "create" morality. If they did, then why should we object to the Nazi Germany morality that made it okay to murder millions?

"The theist position poisons the well by claiming that something can't be called objective if humans are involved,..."

I don't think that's their precise claim. Humans *could* create a system and *call* it objective, but this isn't your point either. Your point is that there is no objective standard and everyone (or every society) decides for him/her/itself.

" ... but cripples itself at the same time because it is incapable of proving that any other form of morality exists or that human beings are capable of accessing such a thing."

On the contrary, the fact that no moral relativist I've ever encountered actually believes or practices moral relativism proves quite a bit. The fact that you called my first question "stupid" demonstrates that everyone knows rape and murder are wrong (i.e., they have "access" to that moral system, placed there by God), and they don't need laws to tell them so.

"That is something that theists accept purely on faith because they want it to be true, not on the basis of any evidence. You might not want to hear that, but it's true nonetheless."

That sounds nice, but your certitude doesn't help your argument. It takes more "blind faith" on the atheist's part to believe we could all magically come up with the same moral intuitions by rationality, evolution, etc.

Paul, I have just one thing to say at this point. If god has an objective morality what standard does it use? If it is using its own characteristics (which are not desirable at all if you brush up on your old testament) then said morality is arbitrary and produced by fiat.

"Volumes have been written with proofs for the validity of the Christian faith. I suspect that nothing that I'm capable of writing on a message board would convince you."

Correct, because the evidence is not there except in the minds of those who believe regardless.

"See my first comment. I don't base my faith on those resurrections. Maybe they happened, but even if they didn't, the evidence for Christ's resurrection is still there."

Then produce it.

"But when someone presses you on this point, you call the question "stupid". What makes what you consider to be moral, correct, and others wrong?"

It doesn't matter what makes me do that - what matters is that it isn't God. If you think otherwise, then you need to provide evidence.

"I'm glad we agree that the conclusion (not the question) is absurd. However, it follows from your view (of moral relativism), hence we are justified in regarding that view as absurd."

Sorry - you're still wrong.

"Again, we agree, that people do a bad job of reasoning out their own morality. That people commit terrible acts based on heretical beliefs seems to argue *for* theistic morality, not against it. I find it odd that you would take exception with the acts of anyone, though, if everyone is entitled to their own unique, personal morality."

Utter logical fallacy. The question is not if people draw morality from religion. It's where the morality in the religion originates from. It is your burden to prove that it comes from God and not from man; so far you've done nothing to support that claim.

"I agree that humans are able to reason out fairly decent moral systems, but this still bypasses the question of *why* we call something "moral" at all. Throughout your posts you imply existence of "good" and "bad" moral systems, as though there can be an objective comparison to an absolute moral objective standard."

No, what I call good and bad is based purely on my own moral standards. I don't need to qualify every statement regarding morality with "I think this is right" or "I think that this is wrong." There are things that most people agree are right and wrong, and because of that, society functions, just as people communicate because they agree on the meanings of words. Both the words and the moral codes are human creations. They do not come from God, and you've presented absolutely nothing to suggest that they do - rather, you're just engaging in vague semantical zigzagging that does not help further the agenda that you are really trying to push.

"I don't think that's their precise claim. Humans *could* create a system and *call* it objective, but this isn't your point either. Your point is that there is no objective standard and everyone (or every society) decides for him/her/itself."

Which they do. There is no such thing as an objective standard if one defines the term the way you want to, which would mean that there can be no room for dispute; societies, however, have many universal rules and codes that pretty much all follow so that they may function at all.

"On the contrary, the fact that no moral relativist I've ever encountered actually believes or practices moral relativism proves quite a bit."

Your personal anecdotes are of no interest to me.

"The fact that you called my first question "stupid" demonstrates that everyone knows rape and murder are wrong"

It demonstrates nothing of the sort. You asked ME if I would condone those things, which WAS stupid. There are clearly lots of people in the world who think that rape and murder acceptable, many finding them acceptable in certain instances and some so detached that they see nothing wrong with them at all. Your claim that "everyone" knows them to be wrong is nonsense, but it gets better:

"(i.e., they have "access" to that moral system, placed there by God), and they don't need laws to tell them so."

Ah, I see now! So not only does everyone know that rape and murder are wrong, in spite of the fact that so many people commit both, but that morality isn't borne of the same pragmatism that drives societies to create languages and structure to keep themselves functioning. No, God did it.

Please.

"That sounds nice, but your certitude doesn't help your argument."

It doesn't need to. My superior reasoning and intellectual honesty, as well as your failure to provide any evidence of any kind to back up the argument you're really trying to prop up (that some divine creator creates morality and that humans don't do it themselves) have given my argument all the help it could ever need.

"It takes more "blind faith" on the atheist's part to believe we could all magically come up with the same moral intuitions by rationality, evolution, etc."

No, that's just the typical wishful thinking and delusion of creationists whose worldview has been losing a war of attrition to science for centuries. There's no "magic" to be found, except in the notion that the answers all lie in a book written by men before people even understood gravity. Thankfully, the days when people will push such a notion on others are coming to a close.

Reason always prevails in the end.

Hi Roy,

You wrote: "If god has an objective morality what standard does it use?"

Whatever standard He chooses. His world, his rules. Now, you probably don't think there is a God, but I think you'll agree that if there is an all-powerful being that created a universe, it makes the rules on how that universe is run.

"If it is using its own characteristics (which are not desirable at all if you brush up on your old testament)..."

Should I assume that by "not desirable" you mean "immoral"? By what standard? Yours sounds like a statement that relies on objective morality.

"... then said morality is arbitrary and produced by fiat."

You can call it "arbitrary" if you like (depending on what you precisely mean by that), but it certainly is rule by fiat. I'm not sure how it could be otherwise. Again, assume for a moment that a deity created the universe out of nothing, and then tell me what other (arbitrary) system of morality would restrict that deity.

Hi Warpoet,

We're not really making any progress, since you won't engage my questions, so I'll give it this last try and you can have the final word.

You wrote: "Sorry - you're still wrong."

And you still haven't provided an argument. You said morality was unique and based on whatever an individual decided. I said that a person should then be allowed to decide on whatever moral system they like (including that rape and murder are "moral"). Explain why my conclusion doesn't follow from your premise.

"Utter logical fallacy."

Really? Which one, and precisely where did I make it?

"The question is not if people draw morality from religion."

You commit a strawman fallacy here -- this isn't my claim.

"It's where the morality in the religion originates from. It is your burden to prove that it comes from God and not from man;"

What "proof" would I need to produce to satisfy you? My guess is that anything brought would be dismissed, if your M.O. is the same as other atheists. By the way, you are the one that made the claim that objective morality comes from humanity -- why do I bear the burden of proof?

"No, what I call good and bad is based purely on my own moral standards."

Does that same principle hold for everyone (that "good" and "bad" are based on each one's own moral standards)? If so, you still don't have any grounds for objecting to someone devising their own moral standards holding rape and murder as moral acts, based on your own reasoning.

"There are clearly lots of people in the world who think that rape and murder acceptable, many finding them acceptable in certain instances and some so detached that they see nothing wrong with them at all."

And (based on your own reasoning) you have no basis to hold them morally accountable, since they were acting in accord with their own morality.

"So not only does everyone know that rape and murder are wrong, in spite of the fact that so many people commit both,..."

Because we all know that people *only* do the things they know are right. As a side-note, tying back to your last point, most people who commit rape and/or murder *do* know they are doing something wrong, but (as you point out) there are some that actually believe what they are doing is okay.

"... but that morality isn't borne of the same pragmatism that drives societies to create languages and structure to keep themselves functioning."

My claim (still) isn't that societies can't create moral systems so that they can function. My claim (still) is that there is no reason to call rape and murder immoral (not just "impractical for creating a functioning society") apart from an objective morality, which can only come from outside humanity.

"Please."

Please give me an argument, and not more attitude-laden strawman-killing.

"My superior reasoning and intellectual honesty,..."

Like when you (twice) run away from a valid challenge by calling it "stupid" and pounding the pulpit with a dismissive "you're still wrong"?

"No, that's just the typical wishful thinking and delusion of creationists whose worldview has been losing a war of attrition to science for centuries."

[Yawn] I'll bet you think you're the first to make such predictions. Curiously, all the others were (also) incorrect.

"We're not really making any progress, since you won't engage my questions, so I'll give it this last try and you can have the final word."

Your goal here isn't to make progress. It's to muddy the waters and bog us down to keep the focus off of your inability to support your claims. I don't need to answer your questions - it is YOU who needs to answer mine.

"And you still haven't provided an argument."

Yes, I have. You just don't have a rebuttal.

"I said that a person should then be allowed to decide on whatever moral system they like (including that rape and murder are "moral"). Explain why my conclusion doesn't follow from your premise."

That is not what you said. You asked if it was OK in MY worldview for you to adopt such a "morality", which was not only juvenile and stupid but personally offensive.

"Really? Which one, and precisely where did I make it?"

You suggested that people committing crimes in the name of God somehow argues in favor of theistic morality. It doesn't.

"What "proof" would I need to produce to satisfy you? My guess is that anything brought would be dismissed, if your M.O. is the same as other atheists."

My M.O. being the requirement of evidence that can support a claim without blind faith?

"By the way, you are the one that made the claim that objective morality comes from humanity -- why do I bear the burden of proof?"

Because we know that human beings exist and that their brains are advanced enough for them to reason and think. Divine interjection of morality, aside from failing to explain the inconsistency in human behavior, is unnecessary. We all know what Occam's Razor says about that. The only people who would think that God coming into the equation is vital are those who accept his existence on blind faith.

Unless, of course, you have some way of verifying his involvement that can stand up to scientific inquiry. You don't, however.

"Does that same principle hold for everyone (that "good" and "bad" are based on each one's own moral standards)? If so, you still don't have any grounds for objecting to someone devising their own moral standards holding rape and murder as moral acts, based on your own reasoning."

Yes, I do have grounds to object to other people's behavior. Societies in general have done precisely that, because it's necessary for them to keep order and stability. Your belief that they don't have the right to object unless they cite some divine standard which you cannot even prove exists is purely your own.

"And (based on your own reasoning) you have no basis to hold them morally accountable, since they were acting in accord with their own morality."

Yes, I do have a basis for doing that, as was just explained to you.

I also notice that when pressed on the inconsistency in human behavior, despite this supposed "objective standard" which you claim teaches them all right from wrong, you do what theists usually do when checkmated: change the subject to atheists and why you think their worldview is lacking.

"Because we all know that people *only* do the things they know are right. As a side-note, tying back to your last point, most people who commit rape and/or murder *do* know they are doing something wrong, but (as you point out) there are some that actually believe what they are doing is okay."

Which is sad for you and even sadder for your crippled position, which is that ALL people know those things to be wrong because God says so. So in addition to being totally incapable of supporting your claims, you aren't even consistent in them.

"My claim (still) isn't that societies can't create moral systems so that they can function. My claim (still) is that there is no reason to call rape and murder immoral (not just "impractical for creating a functioning society") apart from an objective morality, which can only come from outside humanity."

Yes, you have claimed many things.

The problem is that you haven't backed any of them up, or really even tried to.

"Please give me an argument, and not more attitude-laden strawman-killing."

You post a bunch of vague nonsense about some "divine standard" being responsible for the human concept of morality, without backing any of it up, instead choosing to demand proof from me, then have the gall to tell me that I need present an argument?

PLEASE.

"Like when you (twice) run away"

Nobody has run away from anything except you, every time I've challenged you to provide evidence for the "divine standard" you keep mentioning without making any effort to prove.

"from a valid challenge by calling it "stupid"

It was stupid, and insulting, and did not even warrant a response. Furthermore, I've explained why I have the ability to object to other people's "morality" - I'm still waiting on you to support your claim that that morality comes from God with something other than evasive handwaving.

"and pounding the pulpit with a dismissive "you're still wrong"?"

Saying it once is hardly pounding the pulpit. It doesn't even need to be said anyway: it should be obvious to anyone watching your constant goalpost shifting and attempts at avoiding the burden of proof how hopeless your argument is.

"[Yawn] I'll bet you think you're the first to make such predictions. Curiously, all the others were (also) incorrect."

What predictions? It's not a prediction: it's a statement of fact. It's not just me, either, but millions of people who use science to expand our knowledge and help explain the world around us.

Meanwhile, people like you cling to a book penned by humans with no validity beyond the faith they place in it, having its claims pushed further and further back by science as time goes on, just as your foolish assertion about God giving humans morality is going to be pushed further and further back the longer you choose to continue this.

Paul and Warpoet,

jumping in, just wanted to bring up a possibly relevant point into your deteriorating discussion. Theism and moral relativism are not the only alternatives our there. There are some non-theistic and non-relativistic theories of morality (among them those that posit objective moral truths grounded in rationality and agency).

In general these issues are quite complicated, and I recommend to both of you to read up on them (for example, a good source is the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

You miss the point, though, elwira: this isn't a simple question of whether theism or moral relativism are preferable. Paul would like it to be that simple, but it is not: his view stipulates that a divine entity not only exists but that it has an objective standard of morality which it gives to all humans. It's his burden to prove that before it can even be seriously discussed, but thus far, all he's done is make excuses and attack the alternatives to that view. He's not interested in substantiating his own claim, because he knows that he simply cannot.

Good day Paul,

I should have said that by our society's current moral standards, the god of the bible and in particular the old testament is immoral. I think that you would agree that our current societal moral structure has advanced quite a bit from the first century CE. The reason I said undesirable is that the general character of the Judeo-christian god is particularly appalling.

As for the arbitrary nature of the “morality” and rule of this hypothetical god, why does the act of creation give a god complete authority over sentient beings within said universe. As we are independent, social, and sentient creatures, we could, and I would argue have, improved upon the general morality of the biblical god in an overall societal sense.

In closing I would like to say that great power does not entitle one to respect or worship. Respect is earned through how one uses one's power and understanding.

~Roy

Paul and Warpoet,

This hypothetical god and these hypothetical morals seem to me to be equally creatures of the subjective realm. Neither exists in the objective world outside of our minds, both were created as ideas by people, and people's belief in them is what gives them their force.

Since time immemorial people have been born into cultures that provided them with a religious and a moral outlook — two engines that help keep us flying straight. Today in the modern West an increasing number of us are provided with only one or in some cases neither of these engines. Some consider this state of affairs as liberating, others find it disorienting or spiritually impoverishing. And then a third group come along and point out that the human spirit doesn't exist either, except for in the human imagination, and that in any case we don't need a human spirit because we have cordless phones, MTV, Facebook and YouTube, and any incling for things spiritual can be nipped in the bud by browsing God is Not Great. Indeed, a copy should be placed in every hotel room.

To say that Hitchens usually offers a "intellectual smackdown" laughable. I've enjoyed watching him debate, even before he started debating on the topic of religion. However, what makes Hitchens interesting is not his intellect (I'm not saying he's not intelligent) but his acerbic and scathing comments. I've got news for you, it's not the guy who is the most sarcastic who wins the debates, but the guy that puts up the best arguments. In nearly every debate I've seen him in, he doesn't answer direct questions, personally insults the person he's debating, and brings up old recycled arguments. At least he'll actually debate in person (unlike Dawkins) but to say he's some intellectual giant is far from the truth. He's a witty, clever, acerbic author who wins over crowds by entertainment, not by arguments.

Full MP3 Audio of the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek can be found here at apologetics315.com.

Thanks, Brian!

I say Hitchens won the debate.

Both speakers were largely talking to the audience, with the "opponent" there largely for symbolic value. So with the proviso that this was, in a way, hardly a true debate, I was looking for something resonant.

If that's the ground they both seemed to want to gravitate to, then Turek chose poorly and Hitchens chose well.

I think Hitchens does "resonance" much better than Turek. Turek's presentation is bourne of dogmatic belief, which inevitably leads down bunny trails. Hitchens' comes from a warm, open-minded human interest in values exploration, the real-world implications of which Hitchens has paid dues to travel and research: Hitchens is like a Darwin of the values question, and he's been riding The Beagle for years now. It shows anytime he takes the podium, and I'm happy to bask in it.

Turek seemed to want to scrap on Hitchens' turf, and the outcome was therefore what one would expect.

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