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August 23, 2014

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Tsk, tsk,

Funny sense of timing. Yesterday, I met with a family whose child I once taught who had a young boy "afflicted" with Downs Syndrome . Perfect gentle lad. Lives a life as interesting to him as lived by his older sibling. Dawkins' sense of the moral would put have made this meeting impossible. Thank God that a greater sense of morality, one that has room for compassion, ruled the day in that family.

An individual with Downs syndrome or an intellectual utilitarian, which is more capable of greater damage?

What is interesting here that Dawkins is wrong even from an utilitarian perspective. A Down syndrome baby is not constantly suffering so that it could be rationally argued that bringing it to the world would be actively "increasing suffering and reducing happiness" in the world.

The way it could be defended is to say that a mother who would have a too difficult time raising a Down Syndrome baby could reasonably manage handling a non-Down Syndrome baby so he could be a better mother and able to have more children.

Don't know what is controversial about that we all have different systems of morality. Thank (existing or metaphorical) God for that: I would hate to live in a world where we would all share the system of ethics of Genghis Khan.

Sam Harris' "Moral Landscape" takes this line. It fails. Lots of close looks at that out there to refer to. William Lane Craig debated him on this and his webpage has some closer looks. Thanking Immutable Love for different systems of morality which fall short of Immutable Love fails for similar reasons. Semantics just can't do the work the atheist will try to get them to do.

DGF,

Some just assume that the intellectual utilitarian cannot be defined as sub-human by culture / society, their Christianized conscience dripping with a morality they cannot account for on their own. They've forgotten our history and our broken humanity and think our current Christianized nuances housed within Immutable Love is just the way cultures have always been.

Dawkins also said: "My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can't help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand."

Ain't that the truth.

Under secular morality, one has to actually consider the evidence of all factors involved--including the well-being of the parent--rather than screaming that abortion is always bad (regardless of what your Bible actually says) and demanding that the government enforce that unreasoned position.

In any case, do you believe aborted fetuses go to Heaven? If so, shouldn't we be having as many abortions as possible?

To say that secular morality is superior to religious morality would be the understatement of the eon.

maybe everyone should pray to "god" to just cure down's syndrome

Is that condition worse than arrogance, unkindness, hate, self-centeredness, greed, or...? I don't believe so. The Down Syndrome child is such by virtue of his birth; the others are behaviors of so-called "normal" people, capable of learning so much. The DS child should bring out the BEST in us as human beings--kindness, compassion, understanding, altruism, patience and a host of other virtues. We have no need for God to "cure" this, rather a need for us to embrace the opportunity for the above. I would take the DS child any day.

Carolyn,

Thank you for your thoughtful post. In reading through the responses and considering every other STR article in the matter of morality, I have been led to consider the question:

In a totally utilitarian moral system, is it possible to perform an action that could be construed as "noble"?

I believe such would be possible, but I am struck at what could be the motivation. In doing a utilitarian calculation of "increasing happiness and reducing suffering for the greatest number of beneficiaries," it might be conceivable of falling on a grenade to save a platoon of soldiers. But such a morality would probably instruct a segment of society (the handicapped, the imbecilic, the DS afflicted individual) that it would be their duty to offer life to preserve the intelligent, the productive, the prosperous.

I hate sounding cynical over this. But I attribute it to exposure to too many situational ethics "lifeboat scenarios." Who to save? Who to toss into the sea? Vile instructions of contrived ethics. I always saw the lifeboat as a microcosm of society. All worth fighting for. We live together. We die together. No tossing away the homeless, the elderly, or the feeble to preserve the professor, the banker, or the athlete. This is why, I guess, this article struck such a chord.

A utilitarian moral system doesn't work and doesn't even accurately represent atheist ethics. Instead, the concept of virtue ethics is always how we decide between what is right or wrong, whether we think so or not. We Christians believe that through practicing the works of God's Spirit (yes, a concept that atheists do not believe in), that over time, when the moment comes to make a difficult ethical decision, we will decide correctly. Scripture teaches that those that are not believers (or those that may be believers but do not put it to practice) are unable to make those decisions all the time, or that in some way it will be twisted. Therefore, to us Christians, we are continually horrified by the moral decisions made by those that do not believe (such as the statement by Dawkins). Jesus' demands of living go so far beyond what atheism demands, that it leads to a whole new ethic. What Jesus asked of is followers was completely illogical, yet this is the pathway towards ethical enlightenment. Jesus did not make any demands he himself was not willing to complete. This is why Christians and atheists will never fully agree on what is right or wrong. Both ethical systems that the two hold are born out of a lifetime of living according to their paradigm, and the decisions made usually will reflect who they are as a person.

Also, when an atheist claims to be morally superior, I think it's rather inconsistent. If God does not exist, then there is no such thing as morality. At best, you can claim you are more clever than the theist.

Moose, you can pray for anything you like. But apparently, you think that Christians, if we are right about what we believe, should be able to tell God what he should and shouldn't do.

Hitchens: "Name one moral action performed by a believer that could not have been done by a nonbeliever"

Me: "Worship God."

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