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ID Website Targeted to Disrupt Conference in Colorado

Anika Smith has reported at Evolution News and Views an attack which appears to be original to Darwinists. Although the attackers are, as yet, anonymous, the apparent motivation was to obfuscate a conference featuring leading Intelligent Design proponents scheduled this weekend at Douglas County Event Center in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Earlier this month the Shepherd Project Ministries’ website was breached using a “brute force attack” to break the password. The hackers then deleted webpages containing information about an upcoming conference featuring Discovery Institute speakers Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and John West.

“No question whatsoever about [what] they were targeting,” said Shepherd Project Executive Director Craig Smith. “That was brazen. We were a little stunned, to be perfectly honest. We had seen some hostile language about the conference, but honestly we just assumed it was cyber-flaming. We didn’t really expect or anticipate any kind of actual attack.”

Mr. Smith, welcome to the world of ID and it’s sometimes vicious counterparts known as Darwinists, won’t you sit down and make yourself at home.

The web pages were re-instated, and additional security was implemented to avoid this nonsense. However, that apparently wasn’t enough,

[B]ut since then a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack crippled and even crashed the Shepherd Project website, preventing many from registering for the intelligent design conference. These attacks involve multiple people coordinated in an attempt to make a website unavailable, shutting down access to information in a form of modern-day book-burning.

Modern-Day book burning is right. Anika Smith also has a podcast at Intelligent Design The Future in which she and the Shepherd Project’s Craig Smith discuss the incident. This is the third blog I’ve written in just a few weeks about censorship originating with Darwinists (if, indeed, these attackers are found to be such, which, given the escalation of online attacks that Craig Smith mentions, seems likely). There was the John McWhorter and Michael Behe bloggingheads fiasco, the California Science Center’s reneging on showing Darwin’s Dilemma, and now this. Victor Hugo is attributed with saying that “Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Agreed.

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77 Responses to ID Website Targeted to Disrupt Conference in Colorado

  1. I listened to this. Craig Smith says that they used a “brute force” attack, i.e. random, to obtain the password for the server. Smith says they then changed the password to something so long it would take “months” for them to break it using a brute force attack.

    Interesting applications of ID. I would like to know how long the first password was and how long the second one was. Conceivably one could then take a given computing capacity and calculate the odds of getting both passwords, which you could in turn calculate how long you should expect a brute force attack to require to break it.

  2. They really need to report this to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Div.

    I have been trying to register for several days and have been unable to even load the page.

  3. Howdy, Mr. Hayden-

    Truce for a moment. You may be aware that certain “news” outlets have decided that Arnold Schwarzenegger put a coded, insulting phrase directed towards an enemy legislator in his recent veto. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t. Would any of you fellows be willing and able to refute this nonsense by way of detection of design – as in, put some numerical value to the possibility that such a series of three letters could have been arisen by chance?

  4. While I am a “Darwinist”, as you would call me (a silly label at best, but I’m not going to talk about that now), I’m not a fan of the “attack the ID websites” strategy. Resorting to brute force and sabotage sends the wrong message – that we can’t effectively address your arguments, so we have to resort to other means.

    Only a very small minority of evolution-defenders on the Internet would be in support of the actions that took place on the Shepherd Project Ministry site, let me assure you – there’s “violent” people in every group. Painting all “Darwinists” with the same brush is not accurate, yet you seem to be willing to do that.

    Oh well, you’re waging an intellectual war with someone – you’ve got to take all the shots you can, I suppose. ;)

  5. Just days ago an Atheist website promoting a conference in Australia was crippled by the same method. Should the Atheists start blaming the ID crowd ?

  6. Mr Mishap,

    The kind of level of effort calculations you describe are common in cryptography.

    This was a despicable set of actions by anyone.

  7. You guys should put spread your stuff more widely — facebook, other’s blogs, twitter, etc…

  8. This was a despicable set of actions by anyone.

    I agree – whatever one thinks of those one disagrees with, trying to disrupt them like this is wrong.

  9. As Graham the 1st(!) relates, a couple of athiest websites in Australia were knocked out by hackers.

    Condemnable as that act is and the other in Colorado, I found a quote by the president of the athiest group interesting:

    “This may not be just an attack on atheism, but an attack on freedom of speech.”

    I agree, and it cuts both ways.

  10. Resorting to brute force and sabotage sends the wrong message – that we can’t effectively address your arguments, so we have to resort to other means.

    Actually, it’s not the wrong message at all—just the truth :)

    Only a very small minority of evolution-defenders on the Internet would be in support of the actions that took place on the Shepherd Project Ministry site, let me assure you – there’s “violent” people in every group. Painting all “Darwinists” with the same brush is not accurate, yet you seem to be willing to do that.

    Cue Barry’s post asking what morals Darwinists can possibly possess to tell them that such actions are wrong?

  11. Brent:

    Please. A moral argument? That’s so… 1800s. :p

    You really think that evolution-defenders have no morals? Really? Wow.

  12. #10 naontiotami:

    I think he really alluding to the idea that there is no rational basis for objective morality in an atheistic system. Morals are not things atheists can argue for objectively.

    But anyway who cares when an argument comes from. Surely the quality of the argument is what is important.

  13. #11 Cable:

    Sure, there might not be any “objective” morality, but is such a thing really necessary? (Plus, this isn’t relevant to the topic of the post. But whatever.)

  14. naontiotami – I think Brent was alluding to BarryA’s pronouncements that materialists can’t have any real morals. I read the comment as expressing frustration in Barry’s posts.

  15. Wow! I’ve achieved a happy medium that could allow criticism or applause from both friend and foe. Awesome!

    Sorry to be unclear, but Cable got it right. I wasn’t expressing frustration at Barry’s posts, rather that it dovetails with the discussion and it seemed it should be pointed out.

    naontiotami, I know that athiests do have morals, although none of them can seem to figure out the reason why.

    And, if there isn’t any such thing as “objective” morality, then why bother with the equivocation in using the word morality at all?

  16. 16

    Nakashima

    The kind of level of effort calculations you describe are common in cryptography.

    Apparently it’s not common in biology.

  17. #15

    And, if there isn’t any such thing as “objective” morality, then why bother with the equivocation in using the word morality at all?

    Do you think there is an objective thing as “interesting”? I doubt it. But there is plenty of reason to discuss and make the case for one thing being more interesting than another. And the result need not be trivial. Suppose for example that a museum has to spend a million dollars on one exhibit or another. The debate over whether one exhibit is more interesting has important implications.

    Just because there is no objective property underlying a word does not mean that attributing it is trivial or without foundation.

  18. Wow! I’ve achieved a happy medium that could allow criticism or applause from both friend and foe. Awesome!

    Congratulations! Don’t stand in the middle too long, both sides are re-arming with further brickbats, and you’re an easy target now.

  19. Could the people who claim that atheists can’t have any objective morals explain why they think that they themselves (or anyone else, for that matter) have them?

  20. #19 Hoki

    Its not that they can’t have morals or even believe that their morals are objective i.e. its that the they have not basis for it according to their belief. What objective basis could a materialist come up to show lying is wrong. It always just ends up being an opinion.

    This is why the fact that all peoples at all times have had remarkably similar morals is strong evidence for a creator who provides the reference for what is right and what is wrong or what is good and what is bad and has infused this knowledge into us.

    Put another way just as relativity requires a reference frame or all measurements are equally valid so morality requires a reference or all morality is equally valid which really just means there is no such thing as morality.

  21. Cable #20

    You failed to answer my question. To paraphrase: How can anyone justify the claim that they themselves or anyone else has objective morals?

  22. #15 Mark Frank

    Just because there is no objective property underlying a word does not mean that attributing it is trivial or without foundation.

    Morality and which exhibit to choose are different things completely. When one makes a moral assessment one considers it binding on others or it is not morality. There is no such thing as personal morality. The argument is not about what is interesting or not, which preference is better, it is about can one claim another’s actions are wrong or can only only say their conduct wasn’t to their liking.

  23. #20 Cable:

    “This is why the fact that all peoples at all times have had remarkably similar morals is strong evidence for a creator who provides the reference for what is right and what is wrong or what is good and what is bad and has infused this knowledge into us.”

    Sounds like an unfalsifiable hypothesis right there, if you’re talking about a generic deity, but if you bring the God of Bible into it… Why were the morals in the Old Testament so different so that of today? Surely the same God would “infuse” the same morals into each person? Or do God’s moral values change over time? Or do they just change over time in society without need for a deity to command them?

  24. Sorry Cable, I see that you tried to answer my question in your second paragraph. Your answer is far from satisfying, however. Morals do change in time and place. And even if they didn’t, you’re still out of luck. The mere fact that people have similar moral codes on it’s own doesn’t support any notion of the existence of any deity. To create such a link, surely, you have to invent the assumption that a god has a desire for some sort of moral code (and that’s even assuming that there is a god in the first instance). How would you justify that assumption?

  25. Similarities in morals over time are circumstantial evidence for the existence of God, not scientific.

    And yet such moral standards are incomprehensible from an evolutionary standpoint.

    My next door neighbor evolved a desire to lie, steal, and murder.
    My other neighbor evolved a conscience which strongly compels him never to lie, steal, or murder, and to punish those who do.
    For the sake of argument, my father lied, stole, and murdered, but I choose not to.
    Which of these contradictory behaviors does evolution predict? Let me guess – it predicts everything it sees.

  26. #22 Cable

    I have not made my point clear. I will try again. I am pointing out some similarities between “good” and “interesting” but of course there are important differences.

    It is often argued that if you do not believe in an objective morality then to talk of good and evil is meaningless – you might as well do anything. However, the attribute of being interesting is clearly not an objective property of an object. But in certain contexts (he museum acquiring an expensive item) it becomes a very significant decision as to whether something is interesting which has to be settled in much the same way as a debate over some objective attribute such as when it was made. Evidence is produced (“look how much more varied this item is”) and logic is used (“if you found A interesting then you have to find B interesting which is similar in all respects”). Participants need to justify why they think one exhibit is more interesting than another and the decision will affect the community as a whole.

    Something similar happens when we talk of good and evil – only it is more pervasive – decisions about moral goodness and badness always have implications for the wider community. When I argue that something is good I produce evidence (“look how much happier it makes the children”) and logic (“if you think that A is good then you must accept that B is good”). If as a result you agree that something is good we have both committed to promoting that thing.

  27. Mark Frank,

    You’ve used a fairly good amount of words in your previous post to say absolutely nothing at all.

    Again, equivocation! Morality divorced from objectivity cannot be morality at all.

    If you want to make an argument that there is something better than morality to guide our choices, please do so. But stop dragging a well defined and perfectly good word through atheistic mud.

    Thank You!

  28. #27 Brent

    stop dragging a well defined and perfectly good word through atheistic mud.

    If it is well-defined then you should have no problem providing that definition.

  29. To believe in God or not is a subjective decision. Therefore, a believer can never rightfully claim to have access to an objective source of morality.

    It’s really as simple as that. Even if an objective morality exists, there is no objective way to verify its existence, let alone its specific properties.

    QED

    I hope we can now let this discussion rest for a while.

  30. #24 Hoki

    No I think things that pass or morals change but the core real morals never change. Cowardice is never seen as a good thing. It may be accepted but bravery – putting oneself in harms way for the benefit of others – is always moral.

  31. #21 Hoki

    Good question. Thought about it for a little while. Basically true morality is of course independent of the individual or the group. It forms part of reality in the same way the colour red forms parts of reality in that it can be described as a frequency range of light. Now we have the ability to recognise and describe at least some parts reality e.g. if we have working vision and are not colour blind we can recognise the colour red, we can observe and recognise this part of reality. We can therefore distinguish between the colour red and green easily. In the same way we can determine what is moral and what is not moral.

    But now sometimes it is hard to tell if something is red or not e.g. there may be disagrement amongst ourselves over whether a colour is closer to red or pink – assuming we have defined pink and red clearly – because our sense or perception of this aspect of reality is not perfect. We may also have difficulty determining whether something is moral or not or what is the actual moral way to behave. So everyone will know murder is wrong, but in many cases it is subtle and we may not be able to or we may get it wrong. But that does not mean we are not able to recognise morals objectively it just means we can’t do it perfectly.

  32. Mark Frank

    Without morality the only one can to get someone to change a behaviour that they may actually prefer, find more interesting or any other criteria is to appeal the rightness of changing their behaviour or if you like is to use coercive power. To use CS Lewis examples.

    1. One child is sitting in a chair and gets up to go to the bathroom. He comes back and the other has taken his chair. He instinctively appeals to an absolute. “I was sitting in that chair.” The sitting in the chair does not say, “Who cares” but rather appeals to another absolute, “If you have to get up to go to the bathroom you lose rights to the chair”. The rules of the game so to speak. Now no one need have even told either the rules about chair sharing. It is instinctive that there is a universal truth or authority to appeal to.

    A man is crossing a bridge in a story night. He sees someone who has fallen into the river and is stuck calling for help and seems likely to drown. The man can put his life at risk i.e. follow self preservation or jump in and try and help for the herd community instinct. The former seemingly must be stronger, yet his sense of morality tells him that trying to help is the right (moral) thing to do. This appears to be evidence for a universal morality acting on his conscience.

  33. #MarkFrank

    It is often argued that if you do not believe in an objective morality then to talk of good and evil is meaningless – you might as well do anything.

    Morals are the natural law. The natural law is a standard of behaviour that applies to everyone at all times. It is only different to gravity in the sense we can break the natural law. We have this freedom.

    Short of the natural law all behaviour is justifiable and reasonable because it relies solely on one’s own personal reference. Now that may be fine to you, but if that is the case you cannot tell someone ‘murder’ is wrong or “You should be fair” even if you personally have wonderful reasons for your assessment the other person may legitimately not care what you think.

  34. I will again restate my question:

    For those who claim that you or anyone else is following an objective moral code, please justify your reasoning.

    It is all fine and dandy claiming that the “other” guys don’t have objective moral, but if you can’t justify having them yourselves, then the whole discussion is just a red herring.

    Cable tried, but failed, to bring forth some sort of justification (and no Cable, claiming that we can tell morality from non-morality doesn’t say anything about morals being objective).

  35. Cable

    #31

    You give two examples where someone might instinctively act morally rather than selfishly. But the examples demonstrate nothing about where that instinct comes from. Hume, and many others including me would argue that those instincts are part of human nature which has evolved. It doesn’t matter how many examples you produce. You haven’t begun to address the question of where the instinct to act morally comes from.

    Furthermore the presence of an objective morality doesn’t help. Whatever this objective morality should be – you still have to answer the question why the child should instinctively conform to it. Why not go straight from the facts of the case “this man is drowning” to the action “I want to save him”. What does it add to put an invisible attribute “right” between facts and action?

    #32

    You make these assertions about natural law but you produce no arguments to demonstrate that such a thing exists. There are,, of course, many other theories of ethics which are not based on natural law. So surely you need to produce some argument?

  36. Mark #28,

    No problem. Every definition for “moral” or “morality” will not go far without this very significant word. That word is “right”.

    “Right” has not to do with preferences, but absolutes.

    You should have looked it up yourself if you weren’t sure :)

  37. Oh! Precious! I see you call “right” an “invisible attribute”.

    So, when I go into your home and perform a violent crime against your family and you try to stop me because it isn’t “right”, I’ll just simply inform you that “right” is an invisible attribute and you’ll then chill and be cool with it . . . right?

  38. #34

    Moral = right = good

    Yes you can define each of these in terms of each other. But get me out of that circle of definitions.

    Philosophers have been tangling with this for millenia. You appear to be clear about the answer and can put Aristotle/Aquinas/Hume/Kant straight?

    #35

    Brent – I will try to stop you because you are performing a violent crime. I will not work out or use my conscience to detect whether it has the attribute “wrong” before I act. After all, I might work it out wrong, or my conscience might be faulty and I really don’t want you inflicting pain on anyone especially my family.

  39. Brent,

    if someone broke in to your house and performed a violent crime against you and your family, would you NOT try to stop it if you KNEW (with 100% certainty) that the perpetrator was acting objectively morally.

  40. #33 Mark Frank

    I think if you read what I wrote you will find examples of evidence for natural law. But really I think if you examine your conscience – however flawed they may be – you will know there is such a think. But lets assume you don’t. I don’t actually think it is really the point, I was relating my intuition on where morality flows from.

    To the point though suppose you form a view that you should not lie for some interesting reason. Lets call that a moral. Lets say a friend lies to you. You could say to him:

    1. You violated my trust.
    2. You caused me a great deal of trouble.
    3. You shouldn’t lie because of x an y.

    To which he responds, “So what why should I care? None of that matters to me.”

    At this point you have no recourse. You can appeal to no authority. There is simply no fixed standard that simply is intrinsically right. You have no reasonable basis to judge him as doing something wrong. He simply did it based on applying logic to the premises he chose.

    But if there is fixed standard you can actually say he is wrong to lie, that lying is never acceptable, etc. Now if you are right and there is no natural law there can be no right or wrong, good or bad actions that are objectively so. You can only use the coercive power of the government to enforce your preferences regarding morals.

    One last example. In Star Treck Mr. Spock says, “Logic dictates the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Unfortunately logic does no such thing. Logic only operates on premises and he has merely stated his moral which could be:-

    a) objective meaning premise true and an absolute or
    b) subjective and really just a preference perhaps based on other preferences

    So yes, atheists can have personal morals but they can never be objective or expect other people to go along with them.

  41. Morality may be perplexing question for evolution, but objective morality is strictly a religious question. After all, if someone claims to have a fixed source for their morality, they are almost certainly talking about God.

    It’s a religious issue because, at its core, the belief is that it is right to do what God says is right, and that understanding varies by religion. When we tout the superiority of objective morality, are we talking about yours or mine? Or do we go into that squishy gray area where everyone is right, even if we all disagree? I don’t see that convincing anyone.

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe in objective morality. But the underlying message is, my religion is right, accept it. (If it’s not, then what is it?) It’s a purely religious endeavor.

  42. Don’t have time to read all what’s said above, but will risk weighing in anyway even though y’all may already have said it.

    There are only two approaches to morality: Traditional morality and utilitarian morality.

    Traditional morality begins with a moral code made known before the fact and people are judged for infractions of that code. Neither the judge (be he God or man) nor the sinner is to finagle the code after the fact.

    Utilitarian “the end justifies the means” morality is just the opposite. Socialist elites who know what is best for us make up the rules as they go along. They know what kind of world they want and, because there are no absolutes, are generally willing to do whatever it takes to get us there—witness the tens of millions dead at the hands of socialists during the 20th century.

    My sense is that justice today means the judge asking, “How does that make me feel?” Never—no never!—what actually was the intent of the Constitution.

    For a wonderful read I suggest Thomas Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice (Free Press, 1999).

  43. Hoki,

    For those who claim that you or anyone else is following an objective moral code, please justify your reasoning.

    It is all fine and dandy claiming that the “other” guys don’t have objective moral, but if you can’t justify having them yourselves, then the whole discussion is just a red herring.

    “I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

    But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining “It’s not fair” before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter, but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong- in other words, if there is no Law of Nature-what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else? It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong.”
    C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    http://lib.ru/LEWISCL/mere_engl.txt

  44. #37 Cable

    I seem to have this discussion about every three months. It pretty much always ends up the same way.

    My opponent raises an example such as the one you raise about a friend lying.

    I point out, as philosophers have done since Euthrmyo, that whatever “objective” standard you invoke the friend can still say “why should I care about the standard”.

    Eventually my opponent ends up using some form words which I find incomprehensible such as “God is goodness”.

    I guess there is little point in pursuing it. The interesting thing is that despite this we would almost certainly make the same broad moral decisions (although clearly with important differences) and recognise the same factors as being relevant.

  45. I agree with Lewis. In every culture courage is admired and cowardice is disrespected, and I believe serious thinkers in every religion share much. Still I think it needs to be pointed out that reason is not enough. It was revelation that inspired the culture from which so much good has sprung.

    There are cultures where getting away with lying and thievery are virtues, where violence and suicide bombing are promoted, where child sacrifice appeases the gods, where abortion is a sacrament, where envy is encouraged. And on another level there are societies where the deceased must be eaten by the next of kin, societies where witchcraft rules. Yes, I know, these things are perversions of Lewis’s “tao”—but when the West abandoned its book of divine revelation everything became possible and evil proliferated as never before.

    The fullness of natural law is as difficult to achieve by pure reason as are the discoveries of mathematics. “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”

    I’m a Platonist of Peircean bent—there are immutable principles of logic, of esthetics, and of ethics (natural law)—and I even would go so far as to suggest that at some level these have an existence independent of God—else God could have had his cake and eaten it too—there would be no need for a theodicy to get a God who transcends reality off the hook.

    There are some, such as Einstein, who are Platonists but not theists (though I’ve never met a Darwinist who would take such a stance). But in the end Platonism alone cannot defend its ethics, for why does it matter if there is no God and no ultimate purpose and no world to come?

  46. sorry that should read “since Euthyphro”

  47. Morals are the natural law. The natural law is a standard of behaviour that applies to everyone at all times.

    Says who?

    I would suggest that “Thou shalt not kill” is a moral statement, and yet in many countries – even democratic countries – the death penalty is legal and is used.

    More generally, I think you would find it difficult to find many moral statements that fulfil the “natural law” requirement: there will be cultures where they are not considered moral, or holy books that present the behaviour as normal/good. How could you claim universiality then?

  48. Mark Frank,

    I point out, as philosophers have done since Euthyphro, that whatever “objective” standard you invoke the friend can still say “why should I care about the standard”.

    So what? Why should apathy mean that there is no standard? You can be apathetic about mathematics, but, that wouldn’t mean it were subjective. The point is that if there is a wrong way, then there is a right way. Being apathetic to those facts doesn’t invalidate them. And you don’t find “God is goodness” as incomprehensible. It’s perfectly comprehensible, and I have no doubt that you can comprehend it.

  49. Heinrich,

    I would suggest that “Thou shalt not kill” is a moral statement, and yet in many countries – even democratic countries – the death penalty is legal and is used.

    If you’re referring to the OT Law in the 10 Commandments, the prohibition is against “murder”, which is unwarranted and unlawful taking of life, not to be mistaken with “kill” in certain circumstances such as self defense.

    More generally, I think you would find it difficult to find many moral statements that fulfil the “natural law” requirement: there will be cultures where they are not considered moral, or holy books that present the behaviour as normal/good. How could you claim universiality then?

    What is the ‘Natural Law’ requirement that you speak of? I don’t follow your question.

  50. Clive Hayden,

    why do you think that your quote somehow supports the notion of objective morality? Some morals MAY be universal, but that hardly makes them objective. Why do some of you guys seem so hung up on the notion that morals that seem persistent over time and space somehow implies some measure of objectiveness. Are you implying that objective morals couldn’t change? Couldn’t a god change it’s mind now and then regarding acceptable behaviour?

  51. If you’re referring to the OT Law in the 10 Commandments, the prohibition is against “murder”, which is unwarranted and unlawful taking of life, not to be mistaken with “kill” in certain circumstances such as self defense.

    I think this illustrates the problem rather nicely. Even something as clear as killing someone isn’t clear: how would one decide what is warranted or legal?

    What is the ‘Natural Law’ requirement that you speak of? I don’t follow your question.

    Ask Rude. He’s the one who wrote “Morals are the natural law. The natural law is a standard of behaviour that applies to everyone at all times.”

  52. Hoki,

    Some morals MAY be universal, but that hardly makes them objective.

    Are mathematics objective? Could God change His mind about the rules of mathematics every once in a while?

  53. Are mathematics objective? Could God change His mind about the rules of mathematics every once in a while?

    I don’t know. Could he/she/it? Is there any relevance to this?

  54. Hoki,

    if someone broke in to your house and performed a violent crime against you and your family, would you NOT try to stop it if you KNEW (with 100% certainty) that the perpetrator was acting objectively morally.

    Of course not. Why would I?

    Why do you think it’s a meaningful question to compare an alter universe, where wrong becomes right and everything is backwards to the way things really, presently, are, with what our obvious decisions would be in this present reality?

    Meaningless.

  55. Mark,

    I know, of course, that you’ll try to stop me without even thinking. The point that you are avoiding is that, without acknowledging any objective morality, and believing that “right” is just an “invisible attribute”, how do you argue that I’m wrong while you’re right?

    Stop avoiding the question. Either “right” and “wrong” are not merely invisible attributes, or everything is preference. Basically, then, might does become right.

  56. Brent,

    Why do you think it’s a meaningful question to compare an alter universe, where wrong becomes right and everything is backwards to the way things really, presently, are, with what our obvious decisions would be in this present reality?

    Meaningless.

    You don’t know what, if any, objective morals exist. You THINK that you know what these are. That is the whole point. The alternate universe you refer to might very well be this one.

    I remember a while back when an UD contributor made a post stating why Pascal’s wager was a good wager. He was quickly corrected – even by ID supporters. And why shouldn’t he have been? In order for the wager to carry any weight, you have to know what god, if any, you are supposed to believe in. This whole morality issue suffers from the same problem. Without knowing which god, if any, exists, you can’t possibly know what objective morals exist. For good reason, people tend to reject Pascal’s wager. Why shouldn’t the same people also reject the idea that people know what objective morals exist?

  57. #48
    Me:

    whatever “objective” standard you invoke the friend can still say “why should I care about the standard”

    Clive:

    So what? Why should apathy mean that there is no standard?

    This is nothing to do with apathy. It is a deep (and very well known) problem with any claim that there is an ultimate objective moral standard. Whatever you produce as that standard it is always to ask “but why is that standard good?” For example, you may follow Aquinas in believing that there is a natural law but how do you prove that the natural law is good? The reason, as Hume pointed out, is that you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”.

    And you don’t find “God is goodness” as incomprehensible. It’s perfectly comprehensible, and I have no doubt that you can comprehend it.

    I am amazed how people on this forum claim to know what I truly believe and what I understand! I am sorry but I do find the statement incomprehensible. “Goodness” is an abstract noun referring to a property. God is a proper name. To equate the one with the other is like saying “Barack Obama is solitude”. It is a category error. It would mean something to say “God is good”. But of course that doesn’t solve the problem of moral standards.

  58. #55

    Stop avoiding the question. Either “right” and “wrong” are not merely invisible attributes, or everything is preference.

    Brent – I am denying that dichotomy. It may appear that I am avoiding the question because I disagree with the assumptions underlying the question. (Have you stopped beating your wife?). I have argued for this by

    1) showing another case where something is not an objective attribute and yet resolving it is far from being mere preference.

    2) reminding everyone that you cannot derive an ought from an is

    All I have received in response from several commentators is a few mild insults and different ways of restating that morality must be an objective attribute or there would be no way of proving anything right or wrong.

    I can assure you I have thought about this many, many times over the 35 years since I left uni.

  59. Mark,

    I can’t help but think that the society in which you live has conveniently insulated you from being forced to squarely deal with this issue. I can throw out any number of examples of someone doing something “wrong” and then ask you to justify the “rightness” of judging, convicting, and sentencing to some sort of punishment, but you can simply hide behind the fact that the laws are present, no oughts necessary, and our preferences are fairly well established, so no need to bother with calling it objective, right, or true.

    Let me ask you this, then: Was Hitler and Nazi Germany really wrong? or did it just happen to be that enough people preferred that they should be stopped? Can you, in your current understanding, seriously not make a stand and say that what happened was objectively wrong?

    I’m being serious here; not just trying to sling mud and make anyone look bad.

  60. #58

    The trouble is that it is not so clear what it means for something to be objectively true. The wrongness of the Nazi’s in the end lies in a common human horror of what they did. It was really wrong and the wrongness lies in people’s “preferences” (though “preference” grossly underplays the strength of feeling involved). I, like you, condemn such evil actions. I will strive to prevent such actions and wish to punish those that commit them. I am confident that I can get others to agree with me.

    Can I prove mathematically or logically that what they did was wrong? No. (I can’t derive an “ought” from an “is” and neither can you). Can I perceive an additional attribute of wrongness in addition to what they did? No. (You may say you can, but I have no idea what that would be like). I can point at the suffering and say “that was awful”, but there isn’t some additional attribute of awfulness over and above the concentration camps etc. The concentration camps are quite sufficient in themselves.

  61. the wrongness lies in people’s “preferences”

    But who says that “people’s ‘preferences’” are what really matters—that it’s “right” because someone or many people prefer it, or wrong because they don’t? You have found an “ought”, Mark! Congratulations!

  62. Brent:
    Let me ask you this, then: Was Hitler and Nazi Germany really wrong? or did it just happen to be that enough people preferred that they should be stopped? Can you, in your current understanding, seriously not make a stand and say that what happened was objectively wrong?

    I think that now would be a really good time for you to to show – objectively – why what the Nazis did was wrong.

  63. Brent @ 59

    Let me ask you this, then: Was Hitler and Nazi Germany really wrong? or did it just happen to be that enough people preferred that they should be stopped?

    Is a gun, lying on a table, right or wrong or neither? If a person picks up that gun and shoots another person is that action right or wrong?

    Are objects right or wrong or is it only the actions of intelligent agents that are right are wrong? And, as in the Euthyphro Dilemma, are objects or actions intrinsically right or wrong or is that just a judgement made by an intelligent observer, whether it be a deity or a just a human being?

    Explain how there can be an objective morality by any normal usage of the word “objective”.

    If you are referring to the prescriptions of Christian morality they are as baseless as you allege those of secular society to be. Their authority depends on their being the revelation of the Christian God. Yet we have absolutely no evidence for the existence of such a being.

    The primary text for the claim of His existence is undermined by inconsistencies and contradictions. If taken literally, the picture it paints of God in the Old Testament is one who behaves in ways that today we would judge to be highly immoral. If we assume that the meaning is obscured by a literary style which employs metaphor and allegory, we are also admitting that the meaning becomes a matter of interpretation. That would also apply to any morality inferred from the text. So much for objectivity there.

    As for the basis of secular morality, it is true that, in principle, everyone could behave exactly as they please, if they chose. As individuals, however, human beings are weak and vulnerable. Co-operating in groups, however, can earn enormous benefits in terms of personal survival. The stability and cohesion of such groups depends, in part, of a very simple principle known as the Golden Rule or ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.

    The function of moral prescriptions and ethical codes of conduct are to regulate the behavior of human beings towards one another in society. If I want my interests to be respected and upheld by others then I must do the same for theirs. I do not want to be killed prematurely so I must agree not to kill others.

    Thus, what we have is not an ill-defined claim of an objective morality but, rather, a definition of a collective morality based on common interests; something that can be placed on a much firmer rational basis than religious alternatives based, by some accounts, on the whims of a Creator with an unpleasant predilection for abusing and killing His creations.

  64. Hoki,

    I think that now would be a really good time for you to to show – objectively – why what the Nazis did was wrong.

    Not really. Remember that my only point, and how this discussion got started, was, simply, that without there being an objective morality then we are not, by definition, really talking morality at all. Again, the word “right” that pops up in every definition tells us that.

    So, since it has been believed that right and wrong actually exist for as far back as we can see, it is then your burden to show that they are really just “invisible attributes.”

    Nonetheless, I’ll say that every discussion on this board that revolves around the logical argument and conclusion that God does, in fact, exist, is the same one that answers your question. Yes, I believe that the moral “code” present in our lives makes no sense outside of the existence of God.

  65. Seversky,

    Perhaps in keeping a bit with the teaching of our Lord about going the extra mile, I’d like to give you a bit of friendly advice. If you are going to pretend anything toward honest dialogue concerning the Bible, Christianity, Jesus, etc., it would make you a bit more believable if you’d leave the rabid and baseless twisting of said topics into contortions of something altogether different out of your posts.

    But then, if you cannot bring yourself to do that, perhaps you can find a way to market yourself as a professional strawman builder. There! Never say that no one on this board tried to help you.

    Explain how there can be an objective morality by any normal usage of the word “objective”.

    Well, let’s start, hopefully, simply. I assume that we could both agree that it is right for children to obey their parents, yes? If we can, then we would agree that, objectively, children are morally obligated to do, or not do, what their parents tell them.

    This is just an attempt to show, in as common a ground as may be possible between us, what objective morality might look like.

    And, before I go any further in this discussion, let me make it clear that I’m prepending the words “moral” and “morality” with the word “objective” only for the sake of this argument. My whole point is that, in reality, morality actually incorporates that concept, and without doing so is no longer what the word “moral” has always been meant to convey.

  66. Brent,

    Remember that my only point, and how this discussion got started, was, simply, that without there being an objective morality then we are not, by definition, really talking morality at all. Again, the word “right” that pops up in every definition tells us that.

    So, since it has been believed that right and wrong actually exist for as far back as we can see, it is then your burden to show that they are really just “invisible attributes.”

    Nonetheless, I’ll say that every discussion on this board that revolves around the logical argument and conclusion that God does, in fact, exist, is the same one that answers your question. Yes, I believe that the moral “code” present in our lives makes no sense outside of the existence of God.

    You know what they say about people and glass houses, don’t you?

    Your “side” keep harping on about how their “opponents” lack something (objective morals, in this instance). What seems to be totally lost on you is that you haven’t got any either.

    Surely, you’re not expecting us to take “a lot of people belive so” or “morality makes no sense otherwise” as serious justifications, are you?

    Come on “objectivists”. Show us why you have morals that others don’t!

  67. Is a gun, lying on a table, right or wrong or neither? If a person picks up that gun and shoots another person is that action right or wrong?

    Seversky,

    I’m glad you chose a gun as an example? It is excellent. What were guns designed for? Killing game? Only? When a gun was designed, were all possible uses of this object considered? Were the ramifictions of using a gun in all possible ways followed through? What was the results of this analysis? Did the possible consequences of many people dyeing outweigh the convenience of killing game in an easy manner?

    A designer runs through all possibilities before making a decision as to the ‘morality’ of an action? Does the end result contribute to the cohesion of the overall design? Or does the end result in a high cost to benefit ratio that causes the inevitable if not immediate corruption of the design?

    So a gun, as object, represents the result of Man’s incomplete moral analysis. We know guns are immoral precisely because we do not have the maturity to deal with them.

    If we did have the maturity to deal with them, we would no longer be interested in using them, even for killing game.

    That is wisdom at work, the highest plane of the intellect.

  68. Hoki,

    I’m sorry if it irritates you that I’d rather stick closely to my main point rather than try to cover every other point, even if related. It’s the main reason that internet forums are more often than not unproductive, at least concerning anything slightly controversial or that people have strong feelings about.

    But, let me boil your argument down for you: Objective morality doesn’t exist because I refuse to believe in God (even though it’s waaaay more rational than darwinist/materialist atheism).

    Powerful argument there.

    Let me ask you this: If God, The Single Creator of everything, did indeed exist, would you accept that whatever God decreed was the objective morality?

  69. Brent,

    But, let me boil your argument down for you: Objective morality doesn’t exist because I refuse to believe in God (even though it’s waaaay more rational than darwinist/materialist atheism).

    Bzzzt. That is not my argument. I’ll try again. For the sake of argument, I’ll give you that there is a god. For the sake of argument, I’ll give you that that god has decreed an objective morality. The problem now is that we don’t know which god exists and what it’s morals are. There are an infinite number of potential gods, having an infinite number of moral decrees. The probability of you following the correct moral code is, in other words, infinitely small. In other words, you don’t know what the moral code is. Stop throwing stones.

    Shall I try to boil down your argument for you?:
    Objective morality exists because I believe I know that there is a god and, moreover, I know what moral decrees that god has.

    Powerful argument there.

    Perhaps you should try to counter my real argument instead of your own strawman thereof?

    Let me ask you this: If God, The Single Creator of everything, did indeed exist, would you accept that whatever God decreed was the objective morality?

    Why not. I’ll run with that hypothetical. Let me ask you this: If God, The Single Creator of everything, did indeed exist, and decreed that exterminating the jews was a moral act, would you support, or even take part, in the extermination of jews?

  70. Hoki,

    Your argument fails for the simple reason that it is not possible for there to be infinite Gods. There is and can only be infinite descriptions of God.

    God, by definition is indivisible. Nothing can arise from within Him that can separate itself from Him entirely and then overtake or compete with Him for control.

    This is the reality Lucifer understands but unfortunatel does not accept. He demands a piece-a-de-pie, but God can’t provide it without diminishing Himself, which would set off His own destruction.

    You can’t give what you don’t have. God does not have the luxury of entertaining His creation’s demand for consensus government.

    He can delegate, but can’t share. Different animals.

    There are an infinite number of potential gods, having an infinite number of moral decrees. The probability of you following the correct moral code is, in other words, infinitely small. In other words, you don’t know what the moral code is. Stop throwing stones.

  71. Hoki,

    Here you are being consistent, at least in a way. You, and others, continue to assert that morality can exist while divorced of its inherent objective quality. That’s just willing away a definition of a word for the purpose of claiming one can be moral without submitting to anything they may not want to.

    In your last post, you do the same thing with God. You say you will “for the sake of argument” grant that God exists, but then say that He doesn’t by claiming we couldn’t know who He was if He did. Sorry, that’s just a sloppy attempt at an argument. I can do nothing other than point out its sloppiness to you. You “concede” a point with the right hand while taking it all back with the left and then act as if you’ve actually said something.

    If God, The Single Creator of everything, did indeed exist, and decreed that exterminating the jews was a moral act, would you support, or even take part, in the extermination of jews?

    I thought we already played this game.

    Yes, I would.

    Does this question have any significance whatsoever?

  72. Oramus,

    Your argument fails for the simple reason that it is not possible for there to be infinite Gods. There is and can only be infinite descriptions of God.

    God, by definition is indivisible. Nothing can arise from within Him that can separate itself from Him entirely and then overtake or compete with Him for control.

    Wonderful. There can only be one god. Therefore, there can only be the kind of god I’m thinking about. Good argument, there.

  73. Hoki (#69)

    You wrote:

    There are an infinite number of potential gods, having an infinite number of moral decrees. The probability of you following the correct moral code is, in other words, infinitely small.

    Not so, if we accept two reasonable postulates:

    (1) God is a necessary being (true by definition).

    (2) Anything with defining attributes which are (i) measurable, (ii) variable, (iii) separable (such as a mere concatenation or aggregation of attributes), or (iv) ad hoc, is contingent (and hence not God).

    For a defense of (2), you might like to read Dr. Robert Koons’ A New Look at the Cosmological Argument.

    If you accept premise (2), then that severely restricts your range of possible deities. For instance, deities with the following defining attributes are excluded from the outset:

    being 66 feet tall, being three-footed, or being blue (these are all quantifiable and hence measurable attributes);

    being good on Tuesdays and bad on Wednesdays (this is a variable attribute);

    being funny AND courageous (this is a concatenation of attributes); and

    being fond of teachers (this is an ad hoc attribute).

    What we’re left with are general, non-quantifiable, invariable and non-arbitrary defining attributes only, as fitting defining attributes for a proper Deity. And if you wish to propose a Deity with more than one defining attribute, you have to tie them all together in a way that makes them metaphysically inseparable. Anything less than that, and what you’ve got doesn’t deserve to be called a Deity any more than you or I do.

    Are you still sure that the range of all possible moral codes that could be decreed by a proper Deity is infinite?

  74. vjtorley,

    Good one. Why would I possibly accept your two postulates?

  75. Brent,

    Seems like my last answer to this post got lost somewhere along the way. I’ll try again.

    Here you are being consistent, at least in a way. You, and others, continue to assert that morality can exist while divorced of its inherent objective quality.

    You are consistently claiming that I say that “inobjective” morality can exist whereas I’m really saying that you don’t know what objective moral codes exist. The two are different, you know. Please refrain from putting words into my mouth.

    You say you will “for the sake of argument” grant that God exists, but then say that He doesn’t by claiming we couldn’t know who He was if He did. Sorry, that’s just a sloppy attempt at an argument. I can do nothing other than point out its sloppiness to you. You “concede” a point with the right hand while taking it all back with the left and then act as if you’ve actually said something.

    In an envelope which we can’t examine is written a number between zero and infinity. I am, here, at the same time claiming a number exists and that we can’t know anything about it. Your response to me is what is sloppy.

    Yes, I would.

    Does this question have any significance whatsoever?

    Yes, a lot of people would consider your answer morally unacceptable even if you were to be objectively morally right. The same people would probably be glad that you were not born into a culture where such behaviour was considered acceptable. You know, like Germany in the 1930′s and 40′s.

  76. Yes, a lot of people would consider your answer morally unacceptable even if you were to be objectively morally right. The same people would probably be glad that you were not born into a culture where such behaviour was considered acceptable. You know, like Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s.

    “Groan.” Hoki, I am not the one who believes the culture in which I live dictates morals, YOU ARE!

    If I knew that my culture accepted and lived according to objective morality, I would support and keep in line with that culture. If that culture did not live according to known objective morality, I would not support or keep in line with it, you know, like, “Give me liberty or give me death” sort of thing.

    Many have willingly laid down their lives for this objective morality that you refuse to admit exists.

    Now, concerning your arguments about God . . . oh, where to start. Listen, I’m so sick of seeing this from atheists. They use the word God (usually antagonistically using a lower-case “g”), but deny any attributes to this “God” they speak of which must be true of God or else we aren’t talking God at all. That’s what vjtorley was kindly pointing out to you, and the basic reason for me weighing in on this thread at all, namely, materialist and atheists favorite method of argument, unashamed equivocation. They use a word but deny even the foundational meaning of that word outright.

    In summary, you and other atheists haven’t ever even argued against the existence of God at all, but only a twisted atheist concept that is supposed to be God, but which never could have been to begin with.

    In light of this I can accept your argument. Truly, their is no god . . . at least not the one you “believe” in.

    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Atheists have to, and do believe in God . . ., they must in order to have something to throw their stones at.

  77. Brent,

    Arguing with Hoki may be futile, if someone doesn’t perceive morality, then argument cannot bring them to see it. They are usually more interested in how to do whatever they want and avoid getting caught, or how to get out of jail if they have been caught, because they are of the mindset that everyone who is keeping them suppressed by not letting them do whatever they want is suffering from a delusion. Put yourself in their shoes, imagine if you considered everyone around you who believed in real morality to be delusional.

    Morality is always the premise, not the conclusion, and if someone doesn’t see it, then no argument can bring someone to it. It is like trying to argue with someone who doesn’t understand and cannot be got to just “see” first principles in logic. This is ground level zero, and is someone will not begin there, you can’t bring them there.

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