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Dawkins on free will

The first paragraph of the following quote appeared in a comment to Gil Dodgen’s post on the Quinn v. Dawkins debate on Irish radio. The succeeding paragraph is quite illuminating and included here. Question: What evidence (since Dawkins is so big on evidence) would help us to decide whether attributing responsibility to others for their actions is simply an adaptive device fobbed off on us by evolution or a reflection of an underlying moral structure to the universe (sometimes called “natural law” or “higher law”)?

But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused’s physiology, heredity and environment. Don’t judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?

Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment.

Source: http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html#dawkins

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90 Responses to Dawkins on free will

  1. Dawkins’ dangerous idea has been tried many times, and I assure you, it is quite literally dangerous.

  2. A clarification question: Who is the person talking in the quoted paragraphs? Are both paragraphs by Dawkins, or is the second paragrpah a response to the first paragpraph, which was asked by someone else.?

    Thanks

  3. Argghh. Lousy typing and worse proofreading – obviously I meant paragraph, and I didn’t mean to end the last sentence with both a period and a question mark. Sorry.

  4. “we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing”

    There you go, the psychology profession knows just how hard “fixing” is. Seems that anyone who isn’t “working” should therefore be “disposed of.” If we “dispose of” all the people who don’t fit our grid, whether they be physically, mentally or morally inadequate, then surely the great god of natural selection will smile on us and make us into a superior race. See how sensible this evolution thing is?

  5. He asks : “Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing?”

    He needs to ask the parents of murdered children and the victims of crime.

    If this man and those like him could experience crime victimization themselves then we would witness whether this spurious and pernicious doctrine is practiced in their lives as they pretend it should be.

    As foolish as it is, this whole discourse completely desolves any kind of responsibility and, in fact, good and evil themselves! Again, the postmodern man’s unfathomable dilema.

    Moral suicide.

    Now in this light what does that make of Dawkins’ infamous “…or wicked…” comment? The usual self-contradiction of the atheist mind.

    Under this inane scheme of things crime no longer exists – nor does any merit or worth. Law is purely arbitrary and punishment is neither wicked nor just. So why even the comment about “visceral hatred”?

    More self contradiction.

    Thankfully “thinkers”, if one may call them such, like this do not and cannot live according to their pretended beliefs. They would be taken away by the “nice young men in the pretty white coats” to the “funny farm” if ever they attempted to live as though no one, including themselves, bore any real responsibility for their actions.

    Again, intellectualized and legitimized insanity insues.

    “But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment.”

    And I fear he will never attain to any level of enlightement whatsoever.

    Indeed, in his own doctrine, enlightenment does not exist – just pulsing neurons within a condemned to vanity and death piece of organized flesh.

  6. It is false dichotomy. Our moral behaviour can be explained causally by looking at us as evolved animals and also in terms of responsibility, praise and blame. The two are compatible and so the issue of evidence for choosing between them does not arise.

    The addition of some higher authority does not help for well known reasons of infinite regress. (How do we recognise the higher authority’s laws are moral?)

    A truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system does NOT make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility.

    Assigning blame and responsibility is NOT a useful fiction (but nor does it require an appeal to some higher authority).

  7. Hi Jack,

    “Who is the person talking in the quoted paragraphs?”

    Check out the link provided. It’s quite clear that Dawkins is the author of both paragraphs.

    BTW, “Dawkins’ deterministic idea” has also been discussed here.

  8. “Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution…My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. ”

    Are there any examples in history of people who have “grown out of” this delusion of good and evil? Just because Dawkins hasn’t achieved this enlightened state, doesn’t mean others have not done so through discipline and determination, or as one might say “a triumph of the will”.

  9. Thanks Krauze. I didn’t check the original source.

    I don’t see how anyone could live according to the views Dawkins espouses, and I doubt dawkins himself does. Irrespective of our philosophical views about the source and true nature of free will and choice, from a practical point of view it is certain that human beings have a sense of choosing, and some control over what we choose to do. I can’t imagine how someone like Dawkins could actually live his life according to his own precepts, and there is no way that society could function if we adopted his views.

  10. In a sense, Dawkins is a culture warrior. There are some strengths to his point of view and some weaknesses. The free will isssue is one of the difficulties. He has made deterministic statements in the past. In the present, it seems that he is backing away from these statements or trying to divert the issue when it comes up. Why? I think he knows it’s not a winner, and like all folks whose worldviews are held with passionate certainty, he wants to win.

  11. You can’t have any sense of goal directedness if everything is just a machine.
    My experience of machines is that they are wholly determined.
    I have always thought that if a worldview cannot be lived out consistantly then it is wrong completly.
    Dennet describes the need to adopt an ‘intentional stance’ which is inconsistant with the naturalistic creed -it means treating people as if they were goal directed for convienances sake,because it allows acurrate predictions ofbehaviour etc, even though, according to naturalism, intentional stance is yet another illusion like the illusion of design.

  12. A final thought-Dawkins new book is called the ‘God Delusion’.
    How can anything be deluded if there is no agency?Understanding something requires agency -in order to be deluded we must think,thinking is an act of intent not determinism.

  13. I do not think that the exsistance of a God is such a ridiculous possibility that it should be excluded from thought. I do not understand why God seems so anathema to Dawkins.

    “Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car.” – RD

    I believe if we do have an example of species that cannot comprehend the concept of blame and responsibility. I believe that such a species species can be found in the zoo. Perhaps if we do grow out of such concept we might belong there as well.

  14. Dawkins is not the only person who runs afoul of free will on theoretical grounds.

    1. It has always been true that I will sin tomorrow. (Assumption: Omnitemporality of Truth).

    2. It is impossible that God should hold a false belief or fail to know any truth (Assumption: Infallible Foreknowledge).

    3. God has always believed that I will sin tomorrow (from 1 and 2).

    4. If God has always believed a certain thing, then it is not in anyone’s power to do anything which entails that God has not always believed that thing (Assumption: Fixed Past).

    5. It is not in my power to do anything that entails that God has not always believed that I will sin tomorrow (from 3 and 4).

    6. That I refrain from sinning tomorrow entails that God has not always believed that I will sin tomorrow (necessary truth and from 2; Principle of Transfer of Powerlessness).

    7. Therefore, it is not in my power to refrain from sinning tomorrow (from 5 and 6).

    8. If I act freely when I sin tomorrow, then I also have it within my power to refrain from sinning (assumption libertarian free will).

    9. Therefore, I do not act freely when I sin tomorrow (from 7 and 8).

  15. the smiley above should be an 8 )

  16. Wow. I knew Dawkins was not the most intellectually gifted person in the world but that was really astonishing. People get upset for various reasons which have nothing to do with genetics. While different philosophies give different accounts on the cause of human emotion, one that would seem to be externally true is that people feel empathy. We know what what pain and loss feels like and therefore when we become aware of other peoples pain and loss it is common to relate to them through a shared experience. If we care about others and we don’t have a philosophy which sees a cosmic justice playing out all the time, then we will react to the cause of that suffering, whether that pain is to ourselves, or to others we empathize with, in an emotional fashion. If you cause me enough pain I will cry out. If I don’t believe that I deserve that pain then depending on the amount of pain I experience I will react emotionally accordingly. It is the nature of an intellectual being that emotions are part of the intellect. We will react emotionally to the degree we have learned to react.

    If you harm a child before it has reached a stage of development where it comprehends sufficiently, then it will not emotionally react to pain beyond it’s limited intellectual capacity to understand the cause and effect of the pain. Empathy and emotion are learned, they are the product of a sufficiently advanced intellect.

    Dawkins thinks that what materialism teaches him is that nothing matters because we are here for a fleeting moment, that we exist for only an extremely short sojourn through eternity. Therefore we don’t matter. Nihlism is what Dawkins has come to. It is a logical endgame for the intellectual materialist who sees logic as superior to emotion and empathy. Like a vulcan from Star Trek he believes that our lives are best experienced in an emotionless android like eating machine state. Our emotions should use our knowledge of materialism and nilhism to conquer petty feelings which don’t matter in the grand scheme of an eternal nothingness.

    Dawkins clearly sees himself in that vain. He is the great prophet of materialism bringing his gift of nihlism to the dumb masses whose lives are governed by delusions and who care about that which is not worthy of our concern because we will all be gone forever in a blink of an eye. He brings despair and darkness as his great gift, he is the prophet of damnation who wants extinguish the light of eternal life in us all. He seeks nothing less then to send people to hell on earth. People who believe in god and the eternal gift of life are the people he seeks to stab though the heart and send them tumbling into the abyss of eternal darkness. He should be ashamed, and so should the rest of the evolutionist evangelicals who really seek no less.

  17. Mark Frank

    It seems to me evolution explains both moral and immoral behavior as needed. Isn’t that convenient? How do you propose we confirm or falsify either of these evolutionary hypotheses so we know it’s evolution and not something else?

    If there’s no such thing as free will, how does evolution have anything to do with the choices we make? Or for that matter, what does our own illusory decisions have to do with anything? If there’s no such thing as free will you might as well just do whatever feels good and don’t worry about morals because you’re going to do it anyway. You have no choices. Choice is an illusion just like design is an illusion. Dawkins sure has a lot of illusions.

  18. mentok:

    It is a logical endgame for the intellectual materialist who sees logic as superior to emotion and empathy. Like a vulcan from Star Trek he believes that our lives are best experienced in an emotionless android like eating machine state.

    Maybe the simpler (and more probable) explanation is that Dawkin’s materialism deadens the voice of his conscience. I don’t think Dawkin’s lives an “emotionless android” life for a second. It’s just his way of justifying whatever he (and, per his reasoning, everyone else) wants to do.

  19. Mark Frank:
    The addition of some higher authority does not help for well known reasons of infinite regress. (How do we recognise the higher authority’s laws are moral?)

    “Well known reasons of infinite regress”? Please explain what this means. I bet there’s lots of people–including me–that probably don’t subscribe to this assertion.

    As to the parenthetical statement you make, why that’s the easiest answer in the world: when God made us, he made us with the ability to recognize moral law. What’s so hard about that?

  20. I’m no Dawkins fan, but most of you are failing to distinguish the question of whether what he thinks about free will is true or not from question of practical policy. From my reading, he’s putting aside the practical question for a moment and simply addressing the rationality, the logic, of assigning blame in the manner that we do. If we believe in a “clockwork” materialistic universe–or even a pseudo-clockwork universe including quantum randomness–then the way we dole out blame based on personal responsibility, as if people had a real choice, is irrational. Many of you expressed doubt that Dawkins himself lives by this philosophy, but he tells you right out that he does not–and fears he never will. Of course such a worldview is unworkable in practice for human society–no argument there from me–but that’s not what he’s speaking to here. He’s simply asking if that view is correct. This leaves us with the question of whether someone or some society could be “enlightened” by possessing a dysfunctional, yet accurate, portrait of the world.

  21. I should say, rather, that he is not asking if this picture of reality is correct but instead appears to be asserting it is. He asserts it, as you well know, based on commonly held materialistic understanding of the universe. The state of the art in modern understanding, if you will. If he were a reasonable person, he would be posing this for the sake of argument and admit that our current understanding of reality is far too inadequate to assert any such thing unequivocably. Given other positions he has staked out, I’m not so certain he is that reasonable.

  22. Mark Frank: What if an eternal God, created the universe? Doesn’t this solve the problem of infinite regress? After all, atheists must assume that matter is eternal. Why does “matter is eternal” make more sense than “God is eternal”?

  23. We know that matter is not eternal because the universe (matter, energy, space and time) had a beginning. The infinite regress problem does not exist because time does not extend infinitely into the past. It had a point of origin.

    Actually, the word eternal is not really the right term to use in this discussion, because “eternal” implies an infinite amount of time. Whatever caused the universe existed before time began (although I shouldn’t use the phrase “before time began” because “before” implies a relationship within the time domain, but you get the point).

    As a result of all of this, the question of who designed the designer is meaningless. The regress stops at the origin of time itself.

    C.S. Lewis talks eloquently about the universality of a sense of transcendent moral law. Dawkins bemoans the universality of belief in God. Could it be that these things did not evolve in us through natural selection? Could it be that we were programmed that way?

  24. russ,
    An eternal God does not necessarily solve solve the problem of infinite regress. The problem has been around at least since Plato: basically, Socrates argues against the notion of “what is good consists of what is the will of the gods.” Substitute here the deity(s) of your choice. He argues there there must be some standard against which we can judge god/God’s will as good. Otherwise what the deity dictates can not be properly said to be good in the sense that we commonly understand “good.” The same would apply to “justice.” For a king to declare that the essence of justice is precisely that which I, the king, say is “just” also goes against the common concept of justice. It is somehow, in our minds, not arbitrary. I think theologically, you get around this by sticking to your guns and maintaining that the ultimate Good is, in fact, the will of an omniscient and eternal being. The will of such a being is beyond arbitrary choice. And if that concept of “good” as God’s will is in discord with everyday usage of “good,” then so much the worse for everyday usage. Everyday usage, in this view, is merely a distorted reflection of the true meaning of the good.

  25. Great_ape: “For a king to declare that the essence of justice is precisely that which I, the king, say is “just” also goes against the common concept of justice. It is somehow, in our minds, not arbitrary. ”

    God is not in the same category as humans. We consider a king’s edict arbitrary, because he is also a man like us.

    The gods of the Greeks and Romans were much more like humans than the biblical God. That God stands above human judgements about good and evil, since his very character defines good, and evil is simply a corruption of his goodness. The idea of “judging” the biblical God is presposterous since he supplies the faculties to make such moral judgements.

  26. Jaredl:
    4. If God has always believed a certain thing, then it is not in anyone’s power to do anything which entails that God has not always believed that thing (Assumption: Fixed Past).

    This is where the wheels come off your proof. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that knowledge of a future event causes the event to a happen.

    Also, when is the past anything other than fixed? It’s always fixed.

    Explain the causal relationship between knowledge of a future activity and said activity.

  27. russ: “God is not in the same category as humans. We consider a king’s edict arbitrary, because he is also a man like us.”

    we agree, in essence, on the theological point. One could play devil’s advocate and press the issue further from a sort of Cartesian doubt perspective. How can we trust, for instance, the very faculties of mind through which we have come to these conclusions about the good nature of the deity and the absurdity of questioning it?

  28. great_ape: “How can we trust, for instance, the very faculties of mind through which we have come to these conclusions about the good nature of the deity and the absurdity of questioning it?”

    Indeed. It would seem that humans have to begin with the assumption that our reasoning faculties really are capable of insight into these matters. If we don’t, then we may as we put this nonsense to bed, pop open a beer, and watch some TV, or whatever else suites our fancies. Otherwise, if we assume we have insight, and our reason is not an illusion, then by god, something other than random chance is responsible for this insight. The old philosophers called it “the law of nature”, ie, the law of human nature. If we assume our reason is valid (and we all tacitly do anyway, otherwise all is folly) it is a default proof that there is a “deity” that endowed us with such. It is at that point when we can really get down to business about all the rest of the important questions.

  29. RE: 26 – Lurker,

    I have neither the patience nor time to unpack your misreading for you. The argument is straightforward.

    RE: 23 – GilDogen

    How is it known that time, space, and matter had a beginning?

  30. Mark: “A truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system does NOT make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility.”

    Show how this is so if you can!

    “Assigning blame and responsibility is NOT a useful fiction (but nor does it require an appeal to some higher authority). ”

    False. The rule by which ones measures the moral correctness between two actions must exist or no measure is possible. Self-evident.

    There must necessarily be an external Law to which all are subject otherwise all rule of law becomes merely subjective and arbitrary.

    The standard atheist doctrine is that there are no objective moral values. But upon what objective basis is this claim made?! None whatsoever!

    And to try to prove the contrary is to prove that you yourself believe you have some higher authority to use to do so!

    As CS Lewis wrote:
    “If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.”
    –The Abolition of Man

    “The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum…” – Christian Reflections

    “The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike…”

    Morality is a question of conduct in accordance with some rule of conduct — by free choice. No free choice = no possibility of morality. Rocks don’t have morality.

    If there is no such thing as an absolute moral law by which all motives, and consequently actions, are weighed, then there is no such thing as morality itself.

    If there is no higher authority then all becomes my idea versus yours – everthing turns to chaos – “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” – but there it is again – every man has a concept of right and wrong – the moral conscience – “the law written in the heart”.

    The source of morality cannot be either an individual perception nor a cultural collective agreement – for upon what do we base and measure the rightness of our agreement?

    a simple ex:
    2 people argue over something – one says, “that’s not fair, you have no right to do that!” the other responds, “You’re wrong, not me, I have every right!”

    They are not merely saying – your behavior doesn’t please me, they are both appealing to some standard outside of themselves that they believe the other ought to obey.

    That thing by which we measure each others morals cannot itself be one of things measured.

    If moral law were merely an individual choice you would still have to find out why their is a choice to be made in the 1st place!

    This moral Law, is like the law of mathmatics – real and absolute.
    One cannot make 2+2 = 5 no matter what. And no one can ever find a rightness in say, child rape and murder, no matter what some culture may say!

    We could not, without this higher authority, say that the morals of Abraham Lincoln were “better” than the morals of the Nazis.

    So the rule by which we may judge between Nazi morals and Christs’ morals is that higher authority you deny! Can you see how obvious this is? You yourself are appealing to it in your own arguments against it!

    There must of necessity be an ultimate rule against which all moral conduct is evaluated.

    For upon what real objective value system would you base your evaluation?

    So Mark, your position is clearly erroneous.

  31. “He argues there there must be some standard against which we can judge god/God’s will as good. Otherwise what the deity dictates can not be properly said to be good in the sense that we commonly understand “good.”” – great_ape

    What then is this standard, if God himself is the one who has put this standard in us? Who are we to judge our creator? (if we have one) Can creation be worthy of judging the creator? If there is a creator, who is infinitely more intelligent than his creation and has been around since the beginning of time, which human, among all of us on the earth, above the earth and under the earth, do you think is worthy of passing judgement on such a being? How long have any of us been around? How much do any of us know? Let’s put our limited knowledge and more often than not, vain intellect in perspective.

    We are human, and have come into a world we did not make. Let us not exalt ourselves beyond what we deserve, if we deserve to be exalted at all.

  32. I have a problem that my posts are usually held up for 24 hours or more and frequently don’t make it at all. But it is interesting subject matter – so I will try to participate.

    I thought this was an interesting argument from Borne in #30.

    The standard atheist doctrine is that there are no objective moral values. But upon what objective basis is this claim made?! None whatsoever!
    And to try to prove the contrary is to prove that you yourself believe you have some higher authority to use to do so!

    You could use the same argument whenever anyone claimed something was subjective. E.g. “you claim there is no objective basis to clothes fashion. But upon what objective basis is this claim made? To try and prove to the contrary is to prove you yourself believe that you some higher authority about what is fashionable.”

    The fallacy is that the question of whether fashion is subjective or objective is not itself a question about what is fashionable. It is a logical/epistemological question about how we make judgements about fashion. In the same way the question of whether moral values are objective is not itself a moral judgement. It is a question about the logical/epistemological basis for morals. You don’t answer such questions by appealing to a higher authority!

    Those that believe that we need a higher authority to provide a basis for moral judgements should consider how we actually conduct discussions and arguments about moral matters. I offer a small story to illustrate the point. I apologise for the length of the post (which I will replicate here http://mark_frank.blogspot.com.....ivity.html)

    Suppose a middle class western man is appalled by the situation in some stricken African country. He is a doctor and believes that he could make a big difference if he went out there and could save many lives, but it would mean leaving his wife and family and his wife objects. He is a devout Christian and he tries to find the answer in his Bible or prays for guidance. He comes to the conclusion that God is telling him the right thing is to go. His wife is agnostic. She argues on the lines of – How sure are you that you really can save all these lives? When we married you made a commitment. Have you considered the children? Why can’t someone else do it? Etc. Is she making a logical error by appealing to a common human sense of what is right or wrong rather than seeking to interpret God’s will. If the husband discovers a verse in the Bible that says unequivocally that trying to save lives is more important than family ties – is she proven wrong?

    The concept that is missing is suspended subjectivity. It is a bit like Dennett’s intentional stance. It is fact of human nature that we are sufficiently similar in our reactions to the suffering of others, injustice etc that we assume that if we describe things powerfully enough or assemble enough facts then eventually we will come to the same decision. The wife is working on this assumption. (Something similar applies to aesthetics).

    There is no higher authority or ultimate proof to resolve whether the husband or the wife is right: just common desires for compassion and fairness and an assumption that the other can be made to see their point of view. They can’t call in the ethics expert to tell them which was right, as they could get a legal expert to tell them what was legal. The husband may try to produce a book of rules e.g. in the form of the Bible, but the wife can always undermine it by pointing out that a particular rule would imply suffering or injustice or broken commitments. The husband might defend it simply by saying – ah but it is in the book therefore it is God’s word therefore it must be moral. In this case I suggest the wife might feel justifiably aggrieved. More likely he will say something on the lines of she has misinterpreted the rule and actually it does lead to less suffering or greater justice or it is an inevitable consequence of the gift of free will or whatever. i.e. he has to justify the rule.

  33. RE :

    =====================
    It is fact of human nature that we are sufficiently similar in our reactions to the suffering of others, injustice etc that we assume that if we describe things powerfully enough or assemble enough facts then eventually we will come to the same decision.
    ====================

    It is not ALWAYS a fact of human nature that we are all similar in our reactions to the suffering of others. Al Qaeda can prove it anytime. THEY REJOICE at the suffering of others.

    What you are simply telling us is that given two opposite reactions to human suffering, there REALLY is no foundational basis for determining which reaction is GOOD or BAD. They all boil down to how we evolved.

    But I think that’s what Dawkins is implying in his essay anyway.

  34. Here is a repeat of a post I made a week ago on this same topic of morals/ethics, etc.

    Ethics, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil are only relevant versus a standard. We judge an act against a standard and then make claims about the act relative to the standard.

    If the standard is arbitrarily chosen such as when Dr. McNeill says someone professes a form of Buddhism then they can say their actions are moral, good, etc. because they have chosen an arbitrary standard to judge their actions.

    When a religious person chooses a standard it is because they believe that the standard has been handed down from their creator and is thus not necessarily arbitrary. They didn’t choose it but it came from God. A religious person acts in a certain way because of this standard set down from above. But as we have seen a person can choose which standard from above he likes by what religion he chooses to adhere to, so this too is often fairly arbitrary.

    Others have chosen to study human nature and develop laws about what is good or bad depending upon what humans prefer. In other words they are trying to find what is built into humans and develop standards from that. This is what is called the study of natural law. This natural law is supposedly there because a creator made it so.

    You can argue that no such standard from above exists or there is no built in natural law but there is a difference between Dr. McNeill’s standards and a religious person’s standards based on a revelation or natural law. Dr. McNeill is choosing some other person’s or group of person’s standards as opposed to a creator’s standards.

    There is all sorts of ways to set standards and one of the common ones in history was to use the ruler’s standards as Great_Ape mentioned above. One of the problems with current society’s standards that are not religious based is that they are frequently shifting and come from one’s political motives and we use the term political correctness to express this. This is similar to using as a standard what the person in power decrees is appropriate at the moment.

    Another common way people set standards was from a work of literature in the form of a written document or folklore passed down from the elders. The Iliad and Odyssey did this for ancient Greeks and other epics have done it for other cultures. Certainly the Bible has had such a role even for the non-believers.

    So when an atheist says they have ethics and are acting morally they are just using some arbitrary standard set by someone. Often in today’s society these standards that atheist use have flowed from Judeo-Christian beliefs but because they have no firm standard what they use is morphing away from these standards. We could say they are evolving.

    So problem with atheism is that there is no agreed upon standards and whatever personal standards they may use could change very quickly since there is no basis for adhering to any standard other than current personal preference. So we can get a Hitler, an eugenicist or a Richard Dawkins or you name it.

  35. Big problem with that example, Mark. If the man based his life on the Bible, he’d never had married a non-Christian in the first place. And for good reason- she specifically denies that their shared ethics, morality comes from a higher source and can be found within a particular book.

    The Bible, in this particular case, makes it clear that life isn’t fair. The man could easily go off for a bit and save lives, leaving the wife at home with the kids or whatever situation she’s left in, and that’s fine. She might feel like he’s not doing the right thing, but that’s her sense of fairness…I don’t think right and wrong hinge on whether you think life is fair or not. Ambulance drivers probably see people die a lot- I’d argue to see that daily isn’t really all that fair, but it’s still moral what they do. It’s clearly a good thing.

    In the situation you describe- if both were Christians, I can almost guarantee they’d come to agree on the issue just by going to the Word for guidance.

    Hitler surely didn’t share the same idea of suffering and justice as others! So, that doesn’t really hold up. I’m sure there are millions of evil people worldwide who would kill your child without flinching, praising the act as good. They’re wrong. With no higher authority, tho, they are NOT wrong. They just are. A law cannot exist without a lawmaker- else it’s meaningless. If someone didn’t hand down the law, then it’s arbitrary and can be changed at a moment’s notice. If one day we get more people that think Hitler’s actions were right more than those who think it was wrong- do we allow millions to die because the overriding majority says it’s okay? Do we then call their actions good because it’s the feeling of most people?

    Moral relativism leads to disaster. If we all lived our lives as if right and wrong are just human concepts, we’d be screwed in no time. A group would get together and declare evil things good and gatehr enough people to back them up- then they could easily say that what they say is right and what you say is wrong. I mean, with the sheer numbers alone- we surely can’t be wrong. I can imagine the world this way- it would lead to chaos and anarchy in the blink of an eye, I’d say.

  36. Re #35.

    If the man based his life on the Bible, he’d never had married a non-Christian in the first place

    Jason – I don’t understand what you getting at. The world is full of marriages between fervent believers and agnostics or even atheists. There is one example my own family. However, it is irrelevant to the point of the story.

    I should have made the point clearer. It is not to prove whether one party or the other is correct. The point is to illustrate how in practice we resolve moral issues. We don’t usually look up the answer in a book or turn to a priest to tell us what is right or wrong. We appeal to human emotions – compassion, fairness, justice etc. Some may try justifying their morality in terms of the Koran says this, or the Bible says that, but almost invariably slip into justifying their particular set of rules in terms of simple human emotions. If someone points out a passage in the Old Testament where the Jews kill all the males of another tribe – Christians (and Jews) don’t react by saying – the Bible says massacres are OK – our human feeling that it is wrong must be mistaken. They react by saying that we have misinterpreted that bit of the Bible or that bit was not intended to be moral guidance or whatever.

    If we did not have lot of common ground on what we feel to be right, then the world would indeed be chaotic – luckily we do have common ground. Whether this is relativism, I don’t know. On the whole it works – with some major and horrific exceptions. e.g. most adults find it abhorrent to cause suffering to other sentient beings.

  37. Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing?

    Well, if our behavior patterns are the end result of evolutionary processes, as Dawkins clearly espouses, then I have to wonder what the criteria is to determine what constitutes a “faulty” unit, in behavior terms. Perhaps Dawkins means behavior that he personally doesn’t like…like believing in God, for example…but that hardly provides a basis applicable to all “units” for determining which ones are “faulty”.

    I wonder if Dawkins realizes that the “faulty” unit in need of repair or replacement might just be the one that exhibits atheistic tendencies and denies that God exists. After all, Dawkins and his cohorts (i.e. Danny (‘hi I’m a bright” Dennett), have repeatedly told us that our religious notions were given to us by evolution because it increased our fitness for survival. That would make denial of those notions “faulty” in evolutionary terms. So, here’s an idea: let’s repair or replace Dawkins!!

  38. DonaldM,

    Bravo!

  39. Donald M

    I have had similar thoughts. If religious beliefs are evolutionary adaptations, then they exist because they provide survival benefits. You could call them metaphysical survival benefits. Since the majority of humanity holds such beliefs and has throughout human history, you would be foolish to think your going to eradicate such beliefs by writing books and producing television shows.

  40. I also resonate bj’s thoughts. If religious beliefs are such a great survival advantage why does Dawkins fight against it, embrace your evolutionary advantage geez…

    If he really thinks its so hardwired in us for our survival benefit, he must be a poor evolutionist to think that he could change it.

  41. BJ

    Really does show that the totality of the defects of the “Dawkins unit” doesn’t it? The only way Dawkins et.al. can justify their thinking is to believe that they represent the next step in our evolutionary development and that they are among the first to have evolved beyond the need for religious beliefs for survival. If Dawkins were an honest evolutionist, he would have to agree.

  42. The next step from there is to consider that since ‘religious units’ are, by comparison, faulty, and therefore in need of ‘upgrading or replacement’. No doubt creationists and IDers would be considered the most ‘faulty’ of all.

  43. jerry: “One of the problems with current society’s standards that are not religious based is that they are frequently shifting and come from one’s political motives and we use the term political correctness to express this. This is similar to using as a standard what the person in power decrees is appropriate at the moment.”

    There was a time when I would agree completely; the foundations of human law are less clear than divinely ordained law. In principle, is true. However, in practice, even religious laws are subject to contemporary interpretations. As a trivial example, there was a time when any respectable person would have simply understood with certainty that rock-n-roll was of the devil. There are very few such people now. For mormons, there was a time when polygamy was ok, now it isn’t. Divine law, we can presume, has not changed in the interim. Since our deities invariably seem to communicate through ancient texts and/or private intimations to the receptive, the public at large is left with a good deal of wiggle-room concerning which laws takes precedent, which laws are no longer applicable (Leviticus, for example), and what is even law vs. nonlaw. There are, of course, some divine laws that are pretty straightfoward; “thou shall not steal” comes to mind. But those laws are just as straightfoward from a humanist perspective. They are not “groundless,” as the tend to be very pragmatic in nature. They are the types of laws that allow societies to function. Everything else is up for grabs to some extent or another and varies from region to region, population to population. Now we might argue that a pragmatic humanistic foundation for laws allows, ultimately, for a Hitler, etc, and I would agree. But a cursory reading of history will show you that many such atrocities, if on a smaller scale, occurred precisely because of someone or some group’s interpretation of divine law. In my mind, these attrocities would have approached the scale of Hitler except for the lack of appropriate industrial technology. I guess my point is that the society based on divine law is, in practice, not much better off. Consider the Taliban, for instance. It’s only advantage is that it will receive the blessing of the deity *if* its understanding and implementation of divine law is correct. Of course, every such society founded on divine law understands its own interpretation as correct. Yet that is the one thing we can be sure of is not the case; they can’t all be right.

  44. “Yet that is the one thing we can be sure of is not the case; they can’t all be right.”

    Something we agree on! You’d be surprised at just how many people would disagree with us as I’m sure you’re painfully aware of.

  45. Great_Ape,

    You said

    “Of course, every such society founded on divine law understands its own interpretation as correct. Yet that is the one thing we can be sure of is not the case; they can’t all be right.”

    I agree with that. They all can’t be right. But some are much better than others and anything based on shifting standards can never survive.

    An aside, “Give Me that Old Time Rock and Roll.” I never met anyone who did not think it was fun, especially at the beginning. Maybe I just never ran in the prudish circles.

  46. Mark Frank says:

    The fallacy is that the question of whether fashion is subjective or objective is not itself a question about what is fashionable. It is a logical/epistemological question about how we make judgements about fashion. In the same way the question of whether moral values are objective is not itself a moral judgement.

    Wrong. Moral relativism is a truth claim about the nature of morality, which says that no truth claim about the nature of morality is valid.

  47. Jaredl:
    The argument is straightforward.

    But your conclusion is not. This problem has been debated for thousands of years, and so far there is no evidence to suggest that foreknowledge of an event removes the possibility of free will.

  48. Mark: “There is no higher authority or ultimate proof to resolve whether the husband or the wife is right: just common desires for compassion and fairness”

    You are doing exactly as I said you would do.

    You are yourself appealing to some assumed authority of truth to support your view – thus proving yourself wrong.

    You constantly assume that there is a real justice – that “fairness” and “compassion” and “rightness” are true concepts – all while stating the contrary! It sticks out like a sore thumb so I remain surprised that you cannot see this.

    Your very phrase “whether the husband or the wife is right” demonstrates this adequately, for here you assume that one could be right or *more right* than the other!

    This kind of statement contains an underlying recognition of some rule by which such a thing may be judged.

    If there really is no such rule – by what rule or authority are you here trying to prove it!? Your own?

    Obviously you believe that what you say is more “right” than what I and others are saying. But upon what basis or authority of truth do base this?

    Your own ideas? Dawkins? If so then upon what authority do they speak?

    You cannot win in this situation for by trying to prove yourself right you must necessarily appeal to some higher authority than yourself!

    The nihilist, relativist view = moral suicide.

    Also, your example is faulty as someone else stated – you are clearly missing the point.

    Again, if there is no higher or ultimate authority there simply is no such thing as morality and, as Dawkins & cie. clearly say, morality is an illusion.

    You try to prove yourself right – all while denying there is any such means of proof!

    If there is no external rule, then there is no objective way to measure any morality at all and thus no means of declaring one action blame-worthy or praise-worthy.

    All actions and all thoughts are, in that case, equally neutral and all opinion purely arbitrary and subjective.

    Without the external Moral Law, there is no other reliable rule of judgment and right and wrong themselves are, as Dawkins says, mere human invention pushed on us by random mutations and selection forces. Utterly useless and meaningless!

    So what are you arguing for?

  49. Wrong. Moral relativism is a truth claim about the nature of morality, which says that no truth claim about the nature of morality is valid.

    .

    Gil – I am struggling to understand this statement. I am not sure how a “truth claim” differs from an ordinary claim. Are they the same thing? Also I am not sure what you mean by “valid”. Do you mean true?

    Assuming both these things we end up with:

    Moral relativism is a claim about the nature of morality, which says that no claim about the nature of morality is true.

    This is indeed a paradox! It highlights the need to distinguish between moral statements and statements about morality. As a software guy you must be aware of the distinction between languages and meta-languages. It is the same thing.

    Perhaps you mean that moral relativism is a meta-statement about morality that says that no moral statement is true? This would be an extraordinary metastatement. Paedophilia is immoral and Paedophilia is not immoral are both moral statements. However, I am not aware of any moral relativist who says this. In fact all that a moral relativist claims is that the truth or otherwise of the moral statement is grounded in common reaction to paedophilia.

    Before you jump up and down and say “but that means there is no objective basis” look at some other things that we would regard as being objective e.g. the colour of an object. You and I would probably pretty much always agree that a clear sky is blue. But suppose I didn’t? Suppose the human species did not have common ideas of about what objects were the same colour? (And of course there are many men who find red and green to be shades of the same colour and even you and I will have a different perception of colour under different lighting or with a different background.) So one person would find the sky to be the same colour as grass and the next might look at a cloudless sky and see multiple colours in it. All in an unpredictable and widely varying fashion. Then there would be no way to make meaningful colour statements. (Nor would it help much if someone introduced a book of rules saying that grass is actually green even though a large percentage of people don’t see it that way).

    So even something as objective and factual as colour relies on a common human reaction. Morality is no different. And just as with colour, the fact that it has it roots in human reaction does not make it meaningless. We have a common reaction and that is what gives it is objectivity.

  50. Borne

    I think the answer to your post is to be found in my answer to Gil. But I will try to make the link clearer.

    We are clearly talking past each other and I think the root of the problem is confusing statements about the nature of morality with moral judgements. I am not making moral judgements. I am talking about the nature of morality and how we make moral judgements. My “authority” is to observe how we do it. Does a scientist need to appeal to a higher authority to provide a justification for his observations? No. He just points to what he observes . In a similar fashion I am pointing to how we actually make moral judgements. In general, we don’t look the answers up in books. We don’t get an ethics professional to come and work out the answer. We appeal to our emotions; in the reasonable belief that we have enough in common to come a to common judgement.

    One of things you or I or anyone can observe about moral judgements is that people believe some moral judgements are correct and others are wrong. There is also a large amount of agreement about which judgements are correct (although clearly there are disagreements). That is the basis of objectivity in morals. If it happened that we were totally inconsistent in our judgements of what is right or wrong then indeed there would no such thing as morality – fortunately that is not the case.

    None of this entails that moral judgements are meaningless or arbitrary ( just as me calling grass green is not meaningless or arbitrary – even though that also relies on a common assessment of colour). Evil people are still responsible for their crimes. Good people are still praiseworthy for their virtues.

    This position is logical, consistent and corresponds with how people actually make moral judgements. Furthermore, adding some other element, such as God’s word, does not make moral judgements any more objective. We would still have to consistently agree that God’s word was good before it became the basis of any morality. This is what I mean’t by “infinite regress” way back at the beginning of this thread.

    I know I am not going to change anyone’s mind. We are rehashing arguments that have been made a thousand times over the millenia. But I hope at least you can see what I am saying is not absurd.

  51. So even something as objective and factual as colour relies on a common human reaction. Morality is no different. And just as with colour, the fact that it has it roots in human reaction does not make it meaningless. We have a common reaction and that is what gives it is objectivity.

    I’m not sure I follow this idea. Right and wrong are merely what most people feel is right and wrong? Child rape isn’t wrong because most people inherently feel it’s wrong…if this were the case, we could easily reverse child rape to being “good” merely by getting most people to accept it as “good.” There’s no way to get objective moral standards this way, if it’s all based on a popularity contest of how many think A is right and B is wrong.

    Besides- we DON’T have a common human reaction on moral issues. There are, in fact, many people out there who are just evil and see nothing wrong with child rape. When you say common human reaction- where do you draw the line? Is something only good when 51% of all people say it’s good? Or is it only when 75% of us say it’s good? What happens when the tide changes and 60% of us say that child rape is good? Does it suddenly swap from being bad to good? This could possibly happen. That alone crushes the argument that “common human reaction” makes morality and thus it’s objective.

    Good people’s actions mean nothing if a majority of people change their minds and call virtue evil someday in the future. Is it possible virtue will be seen as evil? Well, if we have no free will and mere chemicals control our actions, chemicals don’t care about you, me, or whether virtue is good bad or somewhere in between. Chemicals might change in our brains and proclaim to our common human reaction that virtue is suddenly evil. Thus- Christ himself becomes the root of evil and maybe someone like Pol Pot becomes good? Chemicals don’t know either way, and they could very easily mix up in our heads and make “right” suddenly “wrong.”

    I’ve no idea how this worldview could ever be seen as an objective standard of morality. A common human reaction could change in 1000 years…a gut feeling that exists in all good people is what we go by. We don’t take a poll and ask others what is good and what isn’t. As people, we inherently know deep down what is and what isn’t good. Terrorism is bad- and that will never change. What happens if the birthrates in extremist muslim nations actually increases, and we suddenly find ourselves in a world where a majority of people support terrorist attacks? Is terrorism suddenly good because the common human reaction says it is?

    This whole worldview is a mess when you think of what it could SO easily lead to…

  52. By the way. I would argue the idea IS absurd if morality is merely a chemical reaction in the brain that says good is what most humans say is good. I don’t see how you could possibly get a moral standard that way that isn’t relative and could change as the seasons change. All you need to do is change the minds of as many people as possible, and bam- evil is suddenly good.

    Finally- I don’t think we can compare morality, ethics, and right and wrong to color blindness! It’s like comparing apples and space shuttle parts. If someone is colorblind- we see that as a malfunction of the eye and the system connected to it that allows us to see. We don’t see someone as a child rapist and merely say they have a malfunctioning morality center (in which case, you can’t really get angry with them, afterall it’s not their fault their ‘morality center’ is malfunctioning or broken)- we say they’re evil.

  53. Adding to what JasonThe Greek said….

    Chemical reactions in our brain don’t know what is right or wrong so the question to Mark Frank and others like him is:

    What decides something is right/wrong or true/false or pragmatic/not pragmatic?

    The same chemical reactions that tell your brain the sky is blue, 2+2=4 and science “works” are the same chemical reactions that tell you morality is an illusion (or not). How do you know which chemical reactions are telling you the truth?

  54. Jason

    You are dead right – you don’t follow the idea. That’s my fault for explaining it badly – but forgive me because it is quite subtle. I will do my level best to explain it. In return I ask that you give it your full attention and read exactly what I have written.

    I never said or implied that good or evil was the result of a popularity contest. I said that we come to conclusions about moral issues by appealing to other people’s emotional reactions and luckily they, on the whole, agree. This is the basis of objectivity. This is quite different from a popularity poll. The assertion “terrorism is evil” is not an estimate of global opinion, it is my statement about what I think of terrorism. But it becomes more than simply a report about my emotional reaction because I know that many other people share many of my ideas about what is good and what is evil. In a similar way, if you say something is beautiful you are saying something about how it affects you but you are also assuming that others can be brought to the same opinion.

    You devote some attention to what happens if there is a large scale change in people’s assessment of good and evil. It is an interesting question but a hard one to answer because moral language and moral behaviour are based on human nature as it is – not as it might be. There have, of course, been fluctuations in people’s feelings about moral issues over time and place. But not overwhelming changes – the majority of people at all times and places would accept that it is wrong to make other people suffer – all other things being equal. If human nature were totally different it is very hard to say how morality would change.

    The only reason I introduced colour was to show that even the most objective of concepts is grounded in common behaviour. No other similarities with morality were intended.

    Perhaps this helps? Somehow I doubt it – but you never know.

  55. GilDodgen:

    Wrong. Moral relativism is a truth claim about the nature of morality, which says that no truth claim about the nature of morality is valid.

    That’s not quite right. Moral relativism is the position that (nearly all) moral claims are relative to their circumstances. In contrast, Objective Morality relies upon Divine diktat to provide a universal, concrete, extra-human to provide a morality independent of circumstances.

    Unfortunately, divinely inspired objective morality runs afoul of several problems:

    1. It does not attain what it claims. Many moral claims of one era are completely contradicted in another by claimants of the same divine diktat. See, for example, the history of usury in Christianity, never mind the demands of Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

    2. There is no possibility of discerning, within the constraints of Divine diktat, the truth of competing moral claims. Islam, as a matter of divine direction, directs the beating of disobedient wives. Those who differ are on very shaky ground when using Divine diktat to claim otherwise.

    3. The inescapable Euthyphro Dilemma. (For those who are curious about it, the link points to a fairly thorough description of the dilemma, as well as a very extensive follow on discussion).

    With respect to moral relativism, while the concept has led to some pernicious nonsense, it simply isn’t the bogeyman many claim. More properly, moral relativism claims that moral judgments are contingent upon exigent circumstances, which is not the same as anything goes. Once upon a not at all distant past in the US, girls could be married as young as 13. Not any more. What was once moral no longer is — the moral judgment is based upon circumstances.

    Which, when you get right down to it, means there simply is no such thing as Objective Morality; outside of a very few restrictions so universal as to qualify as taboos, there are very few moral statements that qualify as “Objective,” in the sense they are true for all time even within a community of believers, never mind between groups.

    JasonTheGreek highlights the point: Child rape isn’t wrong because most people inherently feel it’s wrong…if this were the case, we could easily reverse child rape to being “good” merely by getting most people to accept it as “good.” If it is inherent, than, given the intransigence of human nature, there simply is no such thing as “easily” reversing that conclusion. If there was no such thing as inherent and intransigent human nature, Communism would have triumphed.

    He goes on to say Well, if we have no free will and mere chemicals control our actions, chemicals don’t care about you, me, or whether virtue is good bad or somewhere in between.

    Let’s take that as stipulated — the distinctions between good and evil are wholly arbitrary, and changeable at a whim. What does not follow, however, is that the consequences are just as arbitrary. Some moral judgments have superior material consequences to others — regardless of Christ’s, or Communism’s advice, the protection of private property yields superior material consequences to societies based upon communal property.

    So, within the context of Pol Pot, all kinds of things were deemed “good.” But no amount of deeming was going to create an end state materially superior to a society that deemed as “good” those things Pol Pot viewed as “bad.”

    Which makes morality an intellectual construct subject to evolution.

    Also, Jason probably overrates the scope of free will. When you start subtracting all the things you are not free to decide (start with your gender, and the constraints that puts on your world view and behavior, then work from there), free will becomes, at the least, very circumscribed.

    Posing a choice between “chemical reactions” on one hand, and Divine diktat on the other is to pose a false dichotomy. There is another alternative out there: what is good works, what isn’t doesn’t.

  56. 2. There is no possibility of discerning, within the constraints of Divine diktat, the truth of competing moral claims. Islam, as a matter of divine direction, directs the beating of disobedient wives. Those who differ are on very shaky ground when using Divine diktat to claim otherwise.

    I’m confused – what is the shaky ground you refer to?

  57. Indeed, why is there no possibility of discerning the truth of competing moral claims, within the constraints of the divine command theory? There seems to be some unsupported background assumption being utilized.

  58. 58

    I never said or implied that good or evil was the result of a popularity contest. I said that we come to conclusions about moral issues by appealing to other people’s emotional reactions and luckily they, on the whole, agree.

    You appeal to the reactions of others and most of them agree with your own conclusion of what is right and what is wrong…the fact that most of them agree with your view makes it objective. That is, in essence, a popularity contest in my book.

    You say terrorism is wrong, and that’s solely your opinion…but it becomes “wrong” in an objective sense, as you claim, because most others agree with you that it’s wrong. Seems like it comes down to a popularity contest to me. Mere chemicals don’t choose right or wrong, they don’t know right or wrong…mere chemicals just ARE. They’re not one way or another- good or bad. Chemical reactions cannot be evil or peaceful. They just exist. They just are.

    I’m not sure how morality becomes objective simply because others agree with your stance on a moral issues and they agree that A is either good or bad. Simply because you can make others see how A is good and not bad.

  59. 59

    Posing a choice between “chemical reactions” on one hand, and Divine diktat on the other is to pose a false dichotomy. There is another alternative out there: what is good works, what isn’t doesn’t.

    So, what if murdering millions of people “works” for most humans 10 yrs from now? That would be, in your mind, good, because it “works.” Nonsense.

    Furthermore- the Holiness Code pertains to a certain people at a certain time. If you create life, you can certainly make rules that apply only to some people at a certain point of time for a specific reason… I think we can argue that’s completely justified.

    You can’t choose your gender, so that means that your free will is a narrow constricted area that doesn’t mean that much in the end? You can’t choose your gender, so free will is basically too small to even matter, I assume?

    When I said easily- I was referring to Mark Frank, who I think IS saying that it comes down to what most people think is right (a populatity contest of sorts)…morality is inherent in us. That screams for an objective moral standard. For MOST actions, good and evil have been the same for all people for all time. Mere chemicals do that how? Good is suddenly merely what works best for the community? If that’s so- good means nothing, as it’s nothing but a tool evolved to help us form community and get along. It’s like saying you’re hardwired to be good for the sake of the community. Being good, for many people, isn’t easy like that. It’s easier to be bad, selfish, etc.

    If we’re nothing but chemicals with no free will, no objective morality, EVERYTHING related to “morality” “right and wrong” and everything in between is 100% completely arbitrary. Chemicals don’t care about the starting point or the end point. They could give a damned less about the morality itself or the consequences. A chemical cannot see ANYTHING as good or bad, right or wrong.

    If morals are relative- they CAN change. Maybe it won’t happen in the blink of an eye, but a thousand years from now murdering innocents could be considered “good” by most people. Does that make it ultimately good? Would you, yourself, go along with the majority and proclaim it as good? Whjat if murdering innocents seemed like an okay idea considering the situation? Hitler did well to convince the German people that they were better off by rounding up the Jews. What if, related to the circumstances of the Germans at the time, it WAS best to round the Jews off? Is that somehow good because of it? No, it’s evil then, it’s evil tomorrow, it’s evil forever.

    You can study divine morality and follow the evidence. If you’re religion’s founder was a brutal warrior tribesman who slaughtered innocents- it’s safe to say your “divine morality” isn’t divine at all. Why? Because humans are born with a sense of right and wrong without being taught right and wrong, and slaughtering innocents is wrong.

    On that subject- being born with right and wrong…what mutation could possibly choose right and wrong? How does a mutation know the difference? We are, indeed, born to know right and wrong. You can teach a baby nothing, and it will grow to inherently know murder is wrong. In his or her heart, a voice says ‘this is wrong.’ How does a chemical choose? What is the chemicals that evolved choose murder is good/ do what’s best for you and to hell with the others?

    As for 13 yr old girls being married. I don’t think many would see this as an issue of morality, free will, or anything related to these. The young age was a necessity when the lifespan was much shorter. I don’t think most of us wouls say it’s immoral for a girl of 13 to marry today…we’d say that it’s just not necessary and probably a bad decision (is it not legal in some states with the permission of the parents?) , but I don’t think many would say it’s immoral.

  60. frisbee:
    “Which, when you get right down to it, means there simply is no such thing as Objective Morality; outside of a very few restrictions so universal as to qualify as taboos, there are very few moral statements that qualify as “Objective,” in the sense they are true for all time even within a community of believers, never mind between groups.”

    frisbee, you are technically correct here but only as the result of defining “objectivity” in such a manner that most here would fine unacceptable–or at least atypical. Objective, more classically, signifies something that exists in reality independent of any particular perspective. One can always argue that there is a divine, intransigent moral code that does in fact exist and could, in principle, be properly spelled out and adhered to. The fact that historical implementations in human societies have invariably faultered in one way or another does not exclude this objective possibility, and so I don’t think we can say with certainty that such an objective moral code does not exist somewhere “out there” to be found or to be properly appreciated. It could well be the case that our own intellectual and spiritual ignorance combined with human weakness has thus far prohibited a realization of such a code and corresponding society. That said, it would be an exceptionally difficult–if not utterly impossible–case to make, given human history, that your own faction had arrived at that code, that truth, and was prepared to implement that virtuous society. Better to, like the modern western government, establish a big tent where individuals/factions can pursue the moral codes that they believe are best, all the while having the tent forcing citizens to adhere to some minimal set of moral standards which are, at least ostensibly, agreed upon by the majority. Of course the conflict of the tent codes with individual factions’ codes are inevitable and can be serious. (e.g. abortion, stem cells, etc.) But I see no better alternative, and at least in such a tent someone who simply cannot tolerate the tent morality (or lack-there-of) can, barring no oportunity to rectify the situation politically, seek residence elsewhere.

  61. You appeal to the reactions of others and most of them agree with your own conclusion of what is right and what is wrong…the fact that most of them agree with your view makes it objective. That is, in essence, a popularity contest in my book.

    Jason – there are subtle but important distinctions here. Let me try to explain with an a closely related example.

    Consider “good” in the non-ethical sense of a good e.g. a good tool such as a drill.

    What makes a drill a good drill? It clearly isn’t just the most popular drill. An aggressive marketing campaign can make a very poor drill popular. However, it is also clearly related to what people like about drills. If you describe a drill as being “good” – then you may base that description on its power, weight, ease of handling whatever. But underlying that is an assumption that other people will find those features attractive. It is this that makes your statement “this is a good drill” reasonably objective. If there was no conensus about what was appealing about drills then your statement “this is a good drill” would become equivalent to “I like this drill” – the fact that there is a consensus about drills gives the statement much more status and objectivity.

  62. Mark:
    “There is also a large amount of agreement about which judgements are correct …That is the basis of objectivity in morals…”

    Here, you’ve merely displaced your “higher authority” – avoiding to call it such – to general human agreement. Why should humans have some supposed “value” to attach to actions and motives in the 1st place?

    According to what rule of moral judgment can humans collectively decide whether a thing is wrong or not? See, you’ve gotten no further towards answering this. You merely avoid it.

    What you say is simply – majority rules. And so what the majority says is and must be really “right”. Whatever the majority says is right today, tomorrow’s majority may say the complete opposite and it is still right!? Makes no sense.

    And then, you claim that that is sufficient for an objective moral foundation. Of course such is merely a subjective, collective agreement again.

    You take a multitude of subjective ideas, instead of just one, mix them up, and then call the parts that fit objective?

    “Does a scientist need to appeal to a higher authority to provide a justification for his observations? …” If you’re talking about mere observations then it is irrelevant to the subject at hand.

    We’re not discussing what one may observe or not – we’re addressing the evaluations, conclusions one makes after the observation.

    We’re not merely discussing whether humans have moral values but what those values mean, if anything.

    Observed human reactions do not constitute a rule of right and wrong.

    IOW, *your* authority is general human consensus. But as others pointed out – what gives general human consensus any authority?

    You say, “We appeal to our emotions; in the reasonable belief …”

    Change the emotions, as the other guy said, and everything else changes – you’ve gotten nowhere at all in that case.

    But here you’re mistaken – we do not make judgments based on emotions but on reason.

    If judgments were to made on emotions there would be total chaos in the courts and society in general including your own life.

    Why do you think there exists such a global consensus on basic morals in the 1st place? Why do morals exist at all? These are the questions naturalism cannot answer with any sufficient logic.

    You get to general consensus as your higher authority and stop there without asking the above.

    Morality is not a physical attribute of genes. It’s very existence is evidence of a metaphysical mind. It deals ultimately, with intention which implies volition and free will. But where does the very idea of “values” come from?

    You say, “Evil people are still responsible for their crimes…. This position is logical, consistent and …”

    No it is not logical – taking a materialist view, you are trying to squeeze a metaphysical construct out of sugars and enzymes and say that morality is really no more than that.

    And you did not answer my question post 30: “Show how this is so if you can!”

    “Furthermore, adding some other element, such as God’s word, does not make moral judgements any more objective.”

    You are the only one here mentioning God’s word! I’ve not mentioned God or his word even once.

  63. frisbee: “Many moral claims of one era are completely contradicted in another by claimants of the same divine diktat.”

    “…the demands of Deuteronomy and Leviticus”

    Wrong. First, you quite clearly do not understand either mentioned book, if indeed you’ve ever done anything more than a superficial reading.

    But once again, why are the bible and the divine being introduced here? You assume too much.

    Next, you ought to look up the similarities between vastly differing religion’s claims of what is morally right and wrong – you’ll see just how intensely alike they are across geo-cultural boundaries and across millenia.

    You will not find anything so great as a totally opposite morality. You will only find differences in things that are cultural beliefs or issues on how some rule is to be delimited – nothing like a major denial that any moral values exist or any total contradiction.

    And if you do find blatant contradictions on fundamental rules, you will also find that such denials are universally made by groups that had subjected themselves to things like satanism, demon worship, postmodern idiocy and the likes and yet who still had their own set of values they considered objective!

    a few short quotes :
    “I have not slain men” – ancient egyptian – confession of a righteous soul – book of the dead

    “in Nastrond I saw murderers” – Old Norse – Volospa 38,39 (nastrond=hell)
    “do no murder” – hebrew -exodus 20

    “Slander not” – ancient babylonian – Hymn to Samas
    “do not bring a false witness against your neighbour” – hebrew exodus 20
    “utter not a word by which anyone could be wounded” – hindu
    “never do to others what you would not like them to do to you” – ancient chinese – analects of confucius

    “speak kindness…show good will” – Hymn to Samas
    “men were brought into existence for the sake of men that they might do one another good” – roman cicero De Off.
    “man is mans delight” – Old Norse Havamal 47
    “what good man regards any misfortune as no concern of his?” – roman Juvenal15, 140

    “love your wife studiously. gladden her heart all your life” – ancient egyptian – ere
    “has he appraoched his neighbour’s wife?” – babylonian – List of Sins
    “you shall not commit adultery” – hebrew
    “In Nastrond I saw beguilers of others’ wives” – Old Norse Volospa

    “take no vengeance though they do you wrong” – Old Norse Sigdrifumal, 22
    “do not avenge yourselves” – christian Paul

    “I have not stolen” – egyptian – confessions… ibid.
    “do not steal” – hebrew
    “to wrong, to rob, to cause to be robbed” – babylonian List of Sins
    —————-
    “More properly, moral relativism claims that moral judgments are contingent upon exigent circumstances, which is not the same as anything goes.”
    “Once upon a not at all distant past in the US, girls could be married as young as 13. Not any more. What was once moral no longer is — the moral judgment is based upon circumstances.

    Of course circumstances must be taken into account on most moral judgments. And even there you have missed the fact of the underlying global rule upon which any judgment ought to be made at all. Your conclusion is wrong. Your conclusion leads to situation ethics.

    You also fail to mention the fact that things like child rape have nothing to do with circumstances – it is an absolute evil – that’s it. Many other crimes fit the bill as well.

    No circumstances will allow it in any age or culture, so you can’t get away with your avoiding the obviously objective by citing the obviously circumstantial or cultural.

    Your example of age of marriage is based on what? Sexual maturity rate factors in human growth at different times in a given social order.

    But the underlying judgment is based on a global and objective rule of decency and honesty. So your argument fails again.

    “… means there simply is no such thing as Objective Morality”

    Indeed, and upon what rule, authority or foundation do you base this judgment?

    Is it your own subjective opinion? A collective subjective agreement? How can this be proven?

    Obviously if your statement is true then it cannot be proven – making it false. Quite a dilema there.
    It will always turn out to “anything goes” when taken to it’s logical conclusions, which you have missed.

    You then say, “What does not follow, however, is that the consequences are just as arbitrary. Some moral judgments have superior material consequences to others”

    So now we are judging the consequences of actions and making that our “higher authority”. Again, why should the consequences be considered?

    First, upon what assumed rule does one consider a consequence “superior”? Do you mean simply a quantitative, numerical rule here? If so, why should we care about that? Upon what objective rule does quantitative consequence need consideration?

    So what if some actions have “superior material consequences”? Back to square one, what is the objective rule for deciding that material consequences have objective value?

    Value that your very statement assumes in it’s form!

    Sorry, but you can’t win this argument on that basis – in attempting to prove yourself objectively right you will always have intrinsically proven yourself wrong.

    I strongly suggest people here read Lewis’ Abolition of Man – viewable here: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....ion1.htm#1

  64. Jaredl:

    I’m confused – what is the shaky ground you refer to?

    A Faith based argument is powerless to contradict a competing Faith based argument. The only means of doing so, as Pope Benedict did recently, which is to rely on Reason.

    Which material outcome do you prefer, a society that sanctions beating wives, or one that doesn’t?

    Indeed, why is there no possibility of discerning the truth of competing moral claims, within the constraints of the divine command theory?

    Because competing claims, such as the example above, are both based on “on account of God said so.”

    How do you go about adjudicating between two completely opposed statements based upon unassailable authority?

  65. Peter:

    First off, “Baroque” and “Monarchic”, like “Spartan” and “Meritocratic” are not generalizations. They are reasonably well defined terms allowing the categorization of various belief systems and, thereby, allow grouping those systems by their characteristics, rather than their details. Those categories are either accurate and defendable, or not, but they are neither horrible nor tired.

    Second, and I probably should have been more expansive, what I wrote was complimentary towards Christianity. Where I would have once discounted the possibility, on further inspection, Christianity appears to be sui generis in that it manages to be simultaneously both Spartan and Meritocratic.

    Given the parameters of Spartan / Baroque and Monarchic / Meritocratic, there are four possible combinations. Of those, Spartan – Monarchic and Baroque – Meritocratic belief systems are always unstable over time, becoming either Baroque – Monarchic, Spartan – Meritocratic, or extinct.

    Well, almost always. While I think Chesterton’s conclusion is faulty, and his writing seriously depletes the world’s supply of words, his argument does point to why Christianity, as a belief system, is so unique.

    Consequently, I have come to conclude that whatever the merits of its objective basis, subjectively Christianity has a great deal going for it that other religions, Islam in particular, do not.

    JasonTheGreek:

    So, what if murdering millions of people “works” for most humans 10 yrs from now? That would be, in your mind, good, because it “works.” Nonsense.,/i>

    Has murdering millions of people ever worked in the past? Under what set of conditions could it possibly work in the future? When Francis Fukuyama became notorious, his thesis was that there is no conceivable alternative to a Liberal society based upon limited government and market economics.

    But let’s take your point as given. For the survivors, murdering millions would be good, because it worked. In fact, that is precisely what Islam hopes to achieve, in precisely the way Allah directs.

    God, in the guise of Allah, says to kill millions is good. Does that make it good in your mind? If not, why not?

    And if it came to pass, does it not seem likely the survivors will have viewed all the murder as good?

    There simply is no such thing as religiously derived objective morality. Instead, we are left with consensus judgments based upon exigent circumstances. That doesn’t make morality arbitrary, because clearly some decisions produce better results within a set of circumstances than others. Regardless of your religious foundation, if you want to become rich, don’t get divorced.

    but a thousand years from now murdering innocents could be considered “good” by most people. Does that make it ultimately good?

    Well, several hundred years ago, murdering innocents was considered good by most people, as established by religious authorities. (If you don’t believe me, read The Witches Hammer)

    Did that make it ultimately good?

    What if, related to the circumstances of the Germans at the time, it WAS best to round the Jews off? Is that somehow good because of it?

    Do not pose a “what if” when the results are already known. Attempting to eliminate the Jews was a positive harm to the Nazis as it caused some of Germany’s best minds to join its enemies, and diverted substantial resources.

    As well, Ferdinand & Isabellas bout of Semitic cleansing, religiously justified, caused positive harm to Spain.

    I submit that things we view as “wrong” invariably produce materially bad outcomes, hence posing such thing as somehow succeeding is to ignore history.

    On that subject- being born with right and wrong…what mutation could possibly choose right and wrong? How does a mutation know the difference?

    Humans are invariably social animals; the idea of a lone human has no more meaning than that of a lone ant.

    Unless you are a Communist, and I know you are not, then humans are not born tabula rosa — our existence as social animals absolutely requires certain patterns of conduct (for instance, one thing you certainly don’t have to teach a two year old is the notion of reciprocity).

  66. frisbee:
    Because competing claims, such as the example above, are both based on “on account of God said so.”
    How do you go about adjudicating between two completely opposed statements based upon unassailable authority?

    There are two options, really: brute force or sophistry. Seriously, though, just because you can not resolve opposing claims between rival authoritative codes doesn’t mean you can’t not ajudicate *within*those systems internally based on their respective codes, assuming they are more or less coherrent. You can not discount some system or tradition simply on the basis that another exists with conflicting moral positions. It may well be the case that one of the two systems is superior in the sense that problems within the other system will ultimately bring about its downfall.

  67. Borne:

    Wrong. First, you quite clearly do not understand either mentioned book, if indeed you’ve ever done anything more than a superficial reading.

    Deu 13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

    Deu 13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

    The Divine diktat directs Jews to kill evangelizing apostates, does it not?

    Presumably you are an adherent of Judeo – Christian morality. Do you agree with this, or not? If you do not, then you are a claimant of another era contradicting the clear divine diktat of another era.

    You will not find anything so great as a totally opposite morality.

    Islam does not, in many respects, constitute a totally opposite morality?

    Finally, it is worth mentioning that all particularly revealed religions establish exclusionary moral communities: behavior considered immoral when directed at a member of the community is sanctioned when directed at someone outside the community.

    First, upon what assumed rule does one consider a consequence “superior”?

    Results. Liberal democracy, market economics, and protected private property rights produce vastly superior material results — the only objective rule that matters — in comparison to all other organizing principles.

    The attendant morality is thereby deemed “good,” regardless of how many ways it, in contrast to Communism, contradicts Christ’s teachings.

  68. Frisbee,

    Here’s the rub:

    How do you go about adjudicating between two completely opposed statements based upon unassailable authority?

    Who says that the authority of any systems reliant upon Divine Command is unassailable? Or is it your position that both positions are appeals to an imaginary authority?

    A Faith based argument is powerless to contradict a competing Faith based argument.

    You presume, it appears, though you haven’t explicitly stated it outright, that there is no God, or if there is, God cannot be known. You also implicitly seem to be defining faith as “belief without evidence.” From these presumptions, your position seems to follow (roughly).

    Am I accurately summarizing your position?

  69. jaredl:

    Who says that the authority of any systems reliant upon Divine Command is unassailable?

    That’s true by definition, isn’t it? The 10 Commandments are true because God says they are, and all arguments to the contrary are a priori wrong.

    Islam will rule Earth, because Allah says so, and all arguments to the contrary are a priori wrong.

    My position, and yours, regarding the objective reality of either Allah or God is completely irrelevant. To those for whom either the Bible or the Quran are revealed truth, all contrary arguments are simply non-starters.

    You presume, it appears, though you haven’t explicitly stated it outright, that there is no God, or if there is, God cannot be known.

    That is an incorrect summary of my position. More correctly, I assert that there is no way, within the human realm, to adjudicate competing claims based upon divine diktat.

    The only alternative is through reason, based on the material consequences of each claim. That means we must have within us (through whatever cause) a shared, inborn, moral compass.

    (c.f. Eurythphros dilemma)

    But don’t take my word for it. Pope Benedict XVI had something to say on this subject recently.

  70. I’m not Catholic, so the Pope isn’t relevant to me.. And I would say, in theory, supposing there exists an accessible God, there is a way to contradict, compellingly so, opposing systems.

    Why do you assert there is no way, within the human realm, to adjudicate competing claims based upon divine command? I must repeat, it sounds a lot like you are saying that even if there is a God, he cannot be known. If he could be known, then there would be a way to adjudicate the competing claims by simply gaining this knowledge from God.

    Also, reason is only as good as the axioms you carry into it. Those axioms, you see, are precisely the points under dispute.

  71. I’m not Catholic, so the Pope isn’t relevant to me..

    You probably didn’t mean it that way, but your comment comes across as an ad hominem.

    Pope Benedict’s argument stands or falls on its merits, not whether you are Catholic, or even if you are antagonistic towards Catholicism.

    For the record, I am not a Catholic.

    Why do you assert there is no way, within the human realm, to adjudicate competing claims based upon divine command?

    Because any attempt to do so constitutes nothing more than a tautology. Since the basis for all competing claims is the underlying divine command, using divine command to adjudicate is a perfect example of circular logic. Within the human realm — which has only revelatory texts to go on — there is no which divinity is the correct divinity, hence the correct claim.

    What I am saying that there is no way to decide which knowledge of God is the correct knowledge.

    If you don’t believe me, try debating Allah’s intent for the ummah with a devout Muslim.

  72. That is an incorrect summary of my position. More correctly, I assert that there

    Sure there is. You look at each revealed religion. Does the Holy book stand up to the various tests? It is historically true? Is it true in what it says of other things? When speaking of the Bible, for example, you can look to the prophetic claims and the claims of a resurrected man. If you research these and conclude they are all true, then you can easily conclude that the particular moral code in the book as true as well.

    As for the so-called “Euthyphro Dilemma”- this has been answered, and I think successfully by many. Here are just 1 example:
    STAND TO REASON

    Just because someone claims a dilemma doesn’t necessarily means a dilemma exists.

    And sure there’s a way to decide which knowledge of God is the proper knowledge. Clearly LDS doesn’t stand the test, as the empirical claims made by the founders were wrong. Thus, if they have a particular moral code to go along with their incorrect basis, you can ignore the moral code.

    The fact is- we’re still left with this…if man is mere chemicals, chemicals know not right nor wrong. We’re still back to the claim that what is good is “what works” or what the majority agrees is right. It seems to me that the majority of people in the United States have no problem with sex before marriage, but I think it’s wrong, because the Word says it’s wrong. Reason tells me that this is good practice…if everyone followed this moral dictate- there’d be no AIDS. The one way to wipe out AIDS? To wait until marriage before you have sex and stay with that partner for life. Hard for many to accomplish this goal? Sure…but it would work. It “works” in one sense- so it must be “right” then, no? Thus, if you’ve had premarital sex, you’re in the wrong. Getting rid of AIDS is surely an idea that “works” in the sense that it’s a benefit to mankind. So- by the definitions of what morality is above- premarital sex is evil. I doubt you guys who have said what is right is “what works” believe as much!

    There’s also still NO objectivity to your “morality” explained above. Agreeing that something is right doesn’t make it objective. Objective is empirical- it leaves out all emotion. If it’s based on emotions, it’s subjective, because not all of us have the same emotions on the subjects at hand.

    So- we evolved a sense of morality…that sense is merely “what works” and what most humans agree is “right” and what is “wrong.” As I said- this isn’t objective at all. It’s 100% relative. But even worse- how do chemicals in the brain even get to the point of creating a mind that sets boundaries of “what works” (aka right and wrong)? Chemicals simply do not care. Chemicals created humans…in turn created society, in turn created societal norms and customs- which somehow equal right and wrong?

    We’re still left with massive gaping holes into how unthinking uncaring chemicals could ever do this, let alone the fact that chemicals, even if they could to this, could never dictate right or wrong…thus making right and wrong not only arbitrary but totally meaningless in the end.

    Worst of all- if man and mind are mere chemicals, we’re all destined for an eternity of nothingness. So- even if we could say right and wrong evolved chemically and they equal “what works”- why should any man care to do right or wrong? What compels us to do right or wrong? Laws? Punishment by the police? Why not gather together to form a society with no laws, no police, no punishment. Every man for himself. Why care if your ulitmate destiny is wormfood in a mere 30, 40, 50 yrs? None of it should matter outside of enjoying your VERY limited time here, but we have ingrained in us a sense that ultimate wormfood is nonsense and that there’s something more…something higher to reach. To attain something beyond mere “what works.” Did mindless chemicals also somehow program this fairy tale into us as well? What for? What NDE selective advantage does it have? Do selfish genes somehow thrive when people fight religious wars, die, and aren’t able to have children?

    This worldview will never reach objective moral status. Objective moral status must come from OUTSIDE. If humans construct morals, then they cannot possibly be anything but subjective, as we are creatures with emotions, biases, worldviews, etc. from the time we’re born and grow into adulthood.

  73. Well that didn’t work for some reason. The quote should have been

    “That is an incorrect summary of my position. More correctly, I assert that there is no way, within the human realm, to adjudicate competing claims based upon divine diktat.”

    with my comments starting with: “Sure there is. You look at each revealed religion.”

  74. Frisbee – I just followed and read your link to the Euthyphro Dilemma. The author has absolutely got it. I only wish I could write as well as does.

    I am bowing out of this and referring others to that thread.

  75. Frisbee -

    Within the human realm — which has only revelatory texts to go on — there is no which divinity is the correct divinity, hence the correct claim.

    What I am saying that there is no way to decide which knowledge of God is the correct knowledge.

    If it is your position that God’s will is ONLY known by revelatory texts, then yes, your position is effectively agnostic – that God cannot be known. But it appears your assumption – that there is no way to know which divinity is the correct divinity – is without foundation. The most you can say is you don’t know which divinity is the correct divinity, if any. If you can extend that conclusion to anybody else upon theoretical grounds, I would like to see that argument.

    JasonTheGreek:

    And sure there’s a way to decide which knowledge of God is the proper knowledge. Clearly LDS doesn’t stand the test, as the empirical claims made by the founders were wrong. Thus, if they have a particular moral code to go along with their incorrect basis, you can ignore the moral code.

    I am curious – why have you chosen the Church of Jesus Christ to illustrate your point? And, since we’re on the topic, which of their empirical claims are incorrect? Moreover, at which point is their moral code dissimilar to your own? If theirs is so similar to yours, why shouldn’t we likewise dismiss yours?

    A theology that is logically inconsistent, as is any variant of classical theology – creedal Christianity, Judaism, or Islam – can be safely ignored as the source of a valid divine command, wouldn’t you agree? Such a system, given the ground rules of logic, is false. I don’t see a need to evaluate a system which begins with “1 == -1″, for such a system can prove anything; that, analogously, is why none need examine the classical religions (re: the problem of evil given creation ex nihilo, the problem of free will vs omniscience, and so forth).

  76. 76

    I chose LDS off the top off my head. Smith made empirical claims of the return of Christ before his death. He’s been dead a long time now, and I see no Christ on earth. That’s an empirical claim we can debunk given the evidence. Thus- we shouldn’t put much credence into their particular moral system, as it was forumlated by the same persons who were wrong with their clear empirical claims.

    If their moral claims closely match my own, so what? If someone says 2+2=5, that is, indeed, somewhat similar to 2+2-4. The latter is correct, the former incorrect. Should 4 be judged by those who claim 5?

    LDS, continuing with the example, have taken Christianity and added their own stuff to it. Smith was clearly wrong in what he claimed, his prophecies were bogus, thus we can conclude it’s a false system of beliefs. The parts they borrowed from the Bible need not be voided because of their incorrect statements.

    It seems you’re saying we should ignore all theology a priori? As, it’s clear (to you, it seems) that it’s all bogus? Scholars throughout the ages have dealt with the issue of evil and free will. Maybe I’m misreading what you’re saying in that regard tho.

    Either way- we can easily look to any revealed religion to see if the claims made within in hold up to scrutiny. If they totally fail, we mark that religion off the list. If the religion passes the test, we look further and investigate. If it holds up across the board, we can safely say the moral code within it holds up as well.

    Non-revelead religions don’t help you out much, as they basically claim ‘all of this seems like it was brought about by God, I feel it in my gut…thus it’s so.’ There’s really no evidence to back up such a claim outside of gut instinct, which is fairly worthless when deciding empirical matters.

  77. 77

    The formatting (in my browser at least) made some odd symbols in your last comment jared, so part of what you were saying was lost on me, so I didn’t cover it…if I did, then I’m not 100% sure what it was you were saying.

    Good news tho- my comments looks normal to me.

  78. JTG -

    What I am saying in my final paragraph is that systems which contain an obvious contradiction on logical grounds need not be examined further. Such a system is classical theology (God as the ground of all being, creation ex nihilo coupled with the problem of evil, the contradiction between free will and omniscience) and all its religious offshoots, which are creedal Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

    As far as Smith’s prediction of the advent of Christ – “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the acoming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.” This text is found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 130, available on the LDS website.

  79. 79

    Greg Koukl does a good job of answering the Euthyphro Dilemma in the “Stand to Reason” article. However, I actually disagree with his statement about “God is good” being a useless tautology. I personally find it to be a very useful tautology. It could be reduced to simply “God is” or “Good is”.
    (Zipporah: “Well, honey, how was the shepherding today? Learn anything new?”

    Moses [somewhat dazed]: “God is”)

    God and Good are inextricable, infinite and eternal.

  80. “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?”

    Either God’s will is conditioned by his nature (contradicting classical theology), or God’s will is arbitrary – child murder could conceivably be right (commanded by God) in some possible world.

    The Bible would even lend support to the second view, if I were a classical theist.

  81. JasonTheGreek:

    Sure there is. You look at each revealed religion. Does the Holy book stand up to the various tests? It is historically true? Is it true in what it says of other things?

    The Bible fares no less well in this respect than the Q’uran. You cannot use the Bible to dissuade a devout Muslim about Allah’s intent for the ummah. You can’t even use the Bible to adjudicate competing claims within the Bible. Is it moral to follow God’s direction and murder apostates evangelizing Jews? If not, why not?

    As for the so-called “Euthyphro Dilemma”- this has been answered, and I think successfully by many. Here are just 1 example:

    I have never seen it answered (and, unfortunately, your link didn’t work). Either we have an inborn moral compass, in which case God is not required for morality, or God is required, and our notions of right and wrong are wholly subject to God’s whim.

    Meaning it is moral to beat disobedient women, or murder evangelizing apostates, simply because God says so.

    The alternative to acknowledging an inborn moral compass is perilously close to asserting The Good German defense.

    And sure there’s a way to decide which knowledge of God is the proper knowledge. Clearly LDS doesn’t stand the test, as the empirical claims made by the founders were wrong.

    No, there isn’t.

    Sorry, I’m wrong. There is: material consequences. The material consequences of Ferdinand and Isabella expelling the Jews proved their particular knowledge of God, no matter upon which part of the Bible it was based, was “wrong” because it didn’t work.

    Fundamentalist Islam, although it closely hews to the Q’uran, is “wrong” because it doesn’t work.

    Similarly with respect to the Bible. Our contemporary moral code would scarcely be recognizable to those who lived by the Bible five hundred years ago, and would, in many respects, be repellant to Jesus himself. Unfortunately, if we were to all live by Jesus’ teachings, we would quickly propel our society straight back to the stone age.

    Claims to use any instance of a god to substantiate a particular moral conclusion are doomed to failure wherever they contradict another such claim. Absent the evidence of material consequences, you have plumbed the depths of moral relativism, because you have absolutely no leverage over the other equally committed believer.

    The fact is- we’re still left with this…if man is mere chemicals, chemicals know not right nor wrong.

    That statement is devoid of meaning.

    Chemicals can neither know, experience, nor remember anything. Yet somehow we have knowledge, experiences and memories.

    So to somehow conclude that a whole clearly greater than the sum of its parts is incapable of having inborn mental constructs that lead to the ability to ascertain “right” from “wrong” requires completely ignoring all the other components of humanity (and life in general).

    We’re still back to the claim that what is good is “what works” or what the majority agrees is right. It seems to me that the majority of people in the United States have no problem with sex before marriage, but I think it’s wrong, because the Word says it’s wrong. Reason tells me that this is good practice…if everyone followed this moral dictate- there’d be no AIDS. The one way to wipe out AIDS?

    You have completely contradicted yourself in the space of one sentence. Even if the Word had never been uttered, you would still conclude pre-marital sex is wrong, because it doesn’t work, and if the Word subsequently came out telling you pre-marital sex was OK, would you then suddenly change your mind?

    Further, this substantiates what I have said above. Our societal attitude towards pre-marital sex is different than it was fifty years ago, because it “works” in ways that were impossible before reliable birth control. Now you, or I, may dislike that change, or find it completely immoral, but that doesn’t alter my point in the least.

    Pre-marital sex is tolerated now because, for most people, it works better than the absence of pre-marital sex.

    There’s also still NO objectivity to your “morality” explained above. Agreeing that something is right doesn’t make it objective. Objective is empirical- it leaves out all emotion.

    I never said there was. My clear point is there is no such thing as objective morality, and claiming that the invocation of divine diktat provides it is simply illusory. And your last sentence seems like it could have benefitted from some reflection. Until we enlist Mr. Spock to make our moral judgments, or until we all become Spock, divorcing emotion from moral judgments makes no more sense than separating fish from water.

    What compels us to do right or wrong? Laws? Punishment by the police? Why not gather together to form a society with no laws, no police, no punishment. Every man for himself. Why care if your ulitmate destiny is wormfood in a mere 30, 40, 50 yrs?

    Humans are social animals. How would a society based wholly on self-centered hedonism fare against a more prudent society? More fundamentally, you are posing a self-defeating situation: humans that are irrevocably social will somehow suddenly decide to act in such a way as to completely forfeit all the benefits of society?

  82. frisbee,

    I never said there was. My clear point is there is no such thing as objective morality, and claiming that the invocation of divine diktat provides it is simply illusory.

    That is false. There is such a thing as objective morality, as right and wrong, good and evil. The fact that you have talked yourself out of acknowledging such things is irrelevant.

  83. What if we posited an eternal, uncreated reality in which God exists, and it is with respect to that reality that God commands what he does in this world? On such a view, God’s commands may be objectively good, yet our reasoning would be unable to access the necessity or goodness as such of those commands.

  84. JehU

    That is false. There is such a thing as objective morality, as right and wrong, good and evil. The fact that you have talked yourself out of acknowledging such things is irrelevant.

    Okay, prove it. Provide to me the objective morality, and demonstrate how to assert its truth value in comparision to competing objective moralities.

  85. Jaredl:

    On such a view, God’s commands may be objectively good, yet our reasoning would be unable to access the necessity or goodness as such of those commands.

    There are several problems here. First, you have no means of determining how your conception is more objectively true than a competing conception.

    But even more importantly, your conception removes from humanity any possibility of comprehending what that morality might be, which would seem to reduce its effectiveness a bit, don’t you think?

  86. Frisbee: “The Divine diktat directs Jews to kill evangelizing apostates, does it not?

    …Do you agree with this, or not? If you do not, then you are a claimant of another era contradicting the clear divine diktat of another era.”

    As I said, you do not understand the quoted texts nor their context, nor the christian view of this.
    Like I said before, you assume too much – in your despite against truth which is quite obvious here.

    “Islam does not, in many respects, constitute a totally opposite morality?”

    You miss the point again. Why does Islam have morality in the 1st place? And why is it’s general morality similar to every other morality in history?

    Do they believe in justice, righ, wrong, mercy, truth, goodness, etc.? If so then that alone proves my point and proves you wrong.

    There is the assumption of an external, true, objective Moral Law running behind everything said in this forum and behind every religion and every concept of justice. Denying it will change nothing. And every attempt you make to prove this truly “wrong” it only proves it more.

    Of course in your strange and illogical view, only material results are the objective rule, so being wrong on this should not bother you since there is no material result! ;-)

    You specialize in focusing on irrelevant details. You sift out a flea and swallow a wasp.

    “Results. Liberal democracy, … produce vastly superior material results — the only objective rule that matters — in comparison to all other organizing principles.”

    Another sifting of fleas to swallow wasps.

    Why do results import if there are no objective values on real right and real wrong? What underlying rule makes material results the rule of right and wrong? You have assumed such a rule in your very statement.

    Persistent self-contradiction and denial of reality is all atheism ever does.

    You have merely assigned your own deemed “superior” material results the role of “higher authority” – the rule by which you judge. All while remaining blind to the underlying assumption that something makes results a rule of action!

    Of course results can never occupy such a role since they are themselves amoral.

    I noticed you simply ignored the rest of my arguments.

    “The attendant morality is thereby deemed “good,” regardless of how many ways it, in contrast to Communism, contradicts Christ’s teachings. ”

    Again your hatred of christianity and indeed of Christ is showing. You have a serious problem. You would no doubt have been one of the heralds of “Crucify him!” back in the day since he would have turned your whole philosophy on it’s dirty little butt with one or two sentences.

    You keep bringing in Christ, the bible and christians and seek to dismantle them with ill fashioned reasonings. I could refer to some good psy’s if you like?

  87. Borne:

    As I said, you do not understand the quoted texts nor their context, nor the christian view of this.

    Yes, you did say that. But you failed to provide “context,” or the Christian view. And even if you had, you would still be faced with the task of how the addition of context, or a sectarian point of view would not hole the concept of Objective Morality below the waterline.

    As for understanding, the words are perfectly clear. If understanding requires abandoning vocabulary and syntax, then claims to objective morality aren’t worth the page they are written on.

    You miss the point again. Why does Islam have morality in the 1st place? And why is it’s general morality similar to every other morality in history?

    I beg to differ. You are the one who misses the point. Where it is similar to every other morality in history, then any particular notion of God is beside the point (as the Euthyphro dilemma points out). And where it differs, all claims to objective morality vanish, because the claims are dependent upon a subjective opinion as to which deity is correct.

    Appealing to divine authority to decide whether beating disobedient women is moral, as just one glaring for instance, is an exercise that contradicts itself before it so much as gets out the door.

    Belief in justice, right, wrong, etc proves nothing. What does prove something is that the details behind each of those concepts varies so wildly between divine diktats, and even within a set of divine diktats over time.

    You do assume there is an external, true, objective Moral Law running behind everything. It is a comforting notion, but it simply doesn’t stand up to inspection. Merely asserting the existence of something does not make it so.

    Of course in your strange and illogical view, only material results are the objective rule, so being wrong on this should not bother you since there is no material result!

    Please do me a favor. Review the history of usury in Christianity. Then demonstrate how that history supports your contention that material results do not have any effect on divine diktat.

    Like it or not, consensus response to material consequences is the way societies decide right from wrong.

    I trust you agree with the assertion that polyandry is wrong, even to the point of being sinful. Even if that rule didn’t exist, give human nature and material consequences, we would have arrived there in any event.

    There is an up until recently isolated tribe in the New Guinea highlands where women mate with many men. In that tribe, such conduct is “right.” At least until recently, they had no idea that paternity is particular; they believe(d) that it is shared. Given the high male mortality, the belief in shared paternity, and the resulting polyandry, increases the likelihood there will be some “fathers” around to care for “their” children.

    Is polyandry right, or wrong?

    Mormonism claims a divine diktat for polygamy. Religious freedom in the US goes a long way, but it doesn’t go that far (isolated areas of the four-corners area notwithstanding). It is easy to make a material consequences argument against polygamy. It is, however, impossible to argue divine will as a tie breaker with a Mormon polygamist.

    That impossibility is enough to torpedo objective morality (although I’m happy to entertain a reasoned argument why not.)

    In case that isn’t reason enough, consider this entirely plausible thought experiment: A plague sweeps across the US, killing 75% of the male population, but leaving the female population untouched.

    How long do you think polygamy is going to remain “wrong?”

    Of course results can never occupy such a role since they are themselves amoral.

    Yes, results are amoral. But human nature is neither empty, nor random. It is the human response to results that is the basis of what we consider “right” and “wrong.”

    Again your hatred of christianity and indeed of Christ is showing. You have a serious problem.

    That conclusion is fallacious. If you can demonstrate that the tenets Communism doesn’t accord better with Christ’s teachings than market capitalism, then I shall apologize for being wrong on the facts.

    Rather, it is an analytical argument that claims of possessing objective morality are simply wrong. All such claims are comprehensively dismantled by studying the basis for any specific set of claims, the irreconcilable contradictions between competing claims, and the fluidity of claims over time.

    My argument stands, or falls, on its internal coherence and its proper use of evidence. Nothing I have written here can by any stroke of the imagination be taken as a hatred for Christ or Christianity. Where I have made evidentiary mistakes, then please point them out with justification — simply citing the all purpose “context” is insufficient.

    However, unless you can point out something I have written as hateful, or even derogatory, than I suggest your conclusion here is not well supported.

  88. “You are the one who misses the point.”

    Sorry but by the very fact that you persist in attempting to demonstrate that there are no objective moral values (material consequence based values are not objective and are often useless), you only dig in further to proving there are.

    Obviously you believe you are objectively “right”. But then you cannot be “right” or “wrong” about anything if what you state is true!

    Relativism cuts its own throat and you know it.

    “Where it is similar to every other morality in history, then any particular notion of God is beside the point…”

    Very bad logic. Your conclusion does follow at all. You completely ignore the universality of morals and the universality of belief in a higher authority throughout all ages and in all peoples tribes and nations.

    “And where it differs, all claims to objective morality vanish, because the claims are dependent upon a subjective opinion as to which deity is correct.”

    Bad logic again. You assume every specific religions deity is fundamentally different and opposite to every other. Another falsehood.

    Here you are brining in deity again. As I keep saying you and Mark are the only ones bringing this up all the time – yet no one has even gotten that far yet. Get over it.

    Moral values – their very existence – can easily lead us to conclude there must of necessity be some overgoverning power to moral law. But that is not and has not been to point.

    “Like it or not, consensus response to material consequences is the way societies decide right from wrong.”

    Wrong again. If you cannot even see reality outside your own little atheist world of nothingness, how are you to judge?

    And why are you here? Do you think you’re doing some objective “good” in the universe? Of course you don’t. You cannot in your own view!

    So what’s the point? It’s all useless in the end, in your view, and will persih in short time.

    So your very presence is indication enough that you do indeed perceive a real objective absolute “truth” to exist. Otherwise you would know you are wasting your time trying to objectively prove there is none. Time which you could use to go out making whatever personal pleasures for yourself.

    And worse is that, like I said before, you keep focusing on external details – usually minor; polygamy, and etc. – in the actual outworkings of law, to find your arguments against objectivity.

    But even in this you must assume an underlying rule over-riding all. Your persistence of focusing on outward details is clearly a wrong approach.

    Why don’t you focus on child rape? Find me a religion that has approved of this besides satanism or its cousins! There is none and never has been – except of course certain atheistic sex cults who believe there aer no objective morals and so they need not answer to anyone – like the afore mentioned NAMBLA member.

    You again miss the assumed underlying values you yourself are using to argue against objective values!

    “It is the human response to results that is the basis of what we consider “right” and “wrong.”

    Wrong again! Once again, Reason is what brings the moral considerations, not human response to material consequences.

    Is this the way you live every day? I don’t think so, nor could you – you’d end up in the cell block of the asylum.

    “But human nature is neither empty, nor random”

    Now this, is clearly a contradiction of Darwinian thought. We are the results of billions of unlikey concurrent accidents – random mutations and selection – yet we are not empty nor random you say?!

    We are, in the materialist view, without soul, spirit, heart. Without free will. Without anything but bio-chem processes in our brains and nervous systems that dictate what we are and even what we believe, as per the OP – yet here you are stating the contrary — when it serves your own purpose of course.

    “All such claims are comprehensively dismantled by studying the basis for any specific set of claims, the irreconcilable contradictions between competing claims, and the fluidity of claims over time.”

    So, your proofs here, of being objectively right, are thus dismantled by the same rule of logic!

    It’s rather surprising you can’t see how obvious this is.

    I suggest you go back to post 62 and read the short quotes sections. This, and a hundred others, easily disproves your whole “contradictory claims” argument.

    It simply isn’t true that there are so many contradictions in the base principles of morality. There is always and universally an underlying belief in justice, goodness and evil and wrong.

    No expetions outside of satanism and it’s relatives. And even the “values” of satanism prove you wrong!

    “Do you agree with this, or not?” ref – deut.
    Actually – in context – I would agree with this. And if you fully understood what was at stake, in the global context of scripture, you too would agree.

    Supposing that one who leads others astray into lies is actually, within context again, leading them to “hell”, what reaction would be the equivalent justice to the value of the precept in your view?

    Surely one who is clearly leading others, not to death, but to eternal death, ought to be considered worthy of death themselves.

    Of course, in your world, there are no such things so you couldn’t agree. But suppose there really is a hell? Hmmm – would this crime not be worse than actual murder? Indeed. And that’s a mere grain of reasonable analysis!

    But again, you pick up an outward working of the Hebrew civil law under the Mosaic agreement – once again assuming there to be something objectively wrong with such a command, and once again again missing the underlying eternal purpose! You have no foundations.

    Quite the contradiction – like all atheist thought.

    As for your persistence n referring to the old “Euthyphro dilemma” I suggest you read this:
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?.....38;id=5236
    and this: http://www.charlesgfinney.com/.....ture23.htm

    No being can make law. But no law can exist without sanctions. And no sanctions can exist without a Ruling, conscious Magistrate to adiminster them…reason it farther if you can – the ultimate conclusions are obvious enough.

    After this you ought to re-think your life.

    I’m not going to answer your so-called dilemma here. It’s already been done. It’s a bit like answering the “can god make a rock so big he can’t lift it?” nonsense.

    And again, I believe, your persistence in attempting to prove yourself objectively right here is already ample proof that you are objectively and sadly very wrong.

    Perhaps : “Oh God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul.” would be an adequate prayer for you.

    You don’t have a soul, you ARE a soul, you have a body.

    I’ve already taken too much space and time here and won’t make a novel of it – So nuff said.

  89. Borne:

    I can be demonstrably correct. I have asserted that what you call objective morality is in fact fluid over time, or differs wildly between sects and among religions, and I substantiated that with examples.

    This is not the same as relativism, at least in the sense you are talking about it. There are extremely few culture & time invariant moral prohibitions: incest, and in-group murder, rape, and deceit are about the only ones that make the list.

    Bad logic again. You assume every specific religions deity is fundamentally different and opposite to every other. Another falsehood.

    No, I don’t. Every religion has its own “objective” morality, and they are, to significant extents, mutually exclusive. The reason Mark and I continually bring this up is because it is the fundamental problem you simply ignore. It is beyond human ken to objectively know whether the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Q’uran (to name a few) is the true depiction of God, his intent, and his direction. A plethora of objective moralities is simply a contradiction in terms.

    As I noted above, and I trust you agree, humans are social animals, unless you are a closet Communist, for whom human nature is purely a social construct, then you must agree that requires our behavior reflects that inescapable fact.

    “Like it or not, consensus response …”

    Wrong again. If you cannot even see reality outside your own little atheist world of nothingness, how are you to judge?

    Simply saying “wrong again” falls somewhat short of persuasive. Outside that short list I provided above, perhaps you could give me even one example?

    And why are you here? Do you think you’re doing some objective “good” in the universe? Of course you don’t. You cannot in your own view!

    So your very presence is indication enough that you do indeed perceive a real objective absolute “truth” to exist.

    Well, that is certainly a good point, but not in the way you think it is. There is undoubtedly some set of objectively true statements about existence, and that set of statements might contain and equally true subset of invariant moral statements. One of which might be, BTW, the statement that moral codes are largely situationally dependent.

    The problem is, no one knows. Competing, irreconcilable, revealed texts are absolutely no help.

    Wrong again! Once again, Reason is what brings the moral considerations, not human response to material consequences.

    Human response is a combination of emotion and analysis, in varying proportions. And when you say I’m wrong again, perhaps you could give me an example of a moral prohibition that both imposes negative material consequences and lasts.

    Now this, is clearly a contradiction of Darwinian thought. We are the results of billions of unlikey concurrent accidents – random mutations and selection – yet we are not empty nor random you say?!

    No. It. Isn’t. Nothing is the product of random selection, because there is no such thing.

    So the conclusion that naturalistic evolution would, by definition leave us without an inherent, and conflicted, nature is thoroughly wrong. What’s more, it puts God in a box of your making. Who are you to say that God could not have chosen a non-random recursive system to produce a being capable of admiring His Creation?

    Those so-called answers to the Euthyphro dilemma boil down to this: Could God simply decree that torturing babies was moral? “No,” the Christian answers, “God would never do that.” It’s not a matter of command. It’s a matter of character.

    So the Christian answer avoids the dilemma entirely.

    By simply defining it out of existence, while ignoring the contained tautology.

  90. frisbee :
    You just don’t give up huh? Still trying to objectively prove there are no objective values by assuming them yourself. Sheesh.

    You have already been shown to be out to lunch on the issue many times over – not my fault if you refuse or fail to see how obvious this is.

    “I have asserted that what you call objective morality is in fact fluid over time, or differs wildly between sects and among religions, and I substantiated that with examples.”

    So very wrong it is shameful!

    Your examples are all faulty as stated and your statement is clearly a perfect example of “wrong” as I demonstrated. Either you know nothing of history, historical religions and society or you are terribly blind to the most obvious thing in this world.

    “There are extremely few culture & time invariant moral prohibitions: incest, and in-group murder, rape, and deceit are about the only ones that make the list.”

    Way out in the boonies again! Ever heard of justice, goodness, mercy, truth, faithfulness, loyalty, kindness, patience, love, humility, candor, honesty, fair play, benevolence…….????

    Apparently these words mean nothing to you – and logically so in your weird scheme of things.

    Find a religion that doesn’t include *all* of these in it’s creeds! You cannot and I dare to to try. You will fail as have all the others who tried.

    “No, I don’t.”

    Well, yes you do.

    ” Every religion has its own “objective” morality, and they are, to significant extents, mutually exclusive. ”
    And no, their moral values are nothing like significantly different. Rather significantly similar!! A child can see this.

    Wake up and taste the wasps in your mouth!

    “Nothing is the product of random selection, because there is no such thing.”

    Do you actually read what’s there before responding? Apparently not. You’re a very sloppy and negligent thinker – like the guy in the OP title.

    “By simply defining it out of existence, while ignoring the contained tautology.”

    Nothing is easier than defining this *dilemma* out of existence. There is no dilemma in the 1st place!

    The pretended dilemma argues what it does not understand and founds it’s argument on a falsity.

    In one phrase it may be undone – “God is the Law and the Law is God.”

    God is the inspirited, incarnate, Living Law – they are one. Not independant entities.

    What is said of God is exactly what may be said of the Moral Law “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”

    And of course, this is the view of the bible and Christianity. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because *God is love*.”

    Love is good willing. It is benevolence. It is seeking the highest good. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    The Law is One. An indivisible unit all summed up in one word “love” – agape – disinterested, unselfish good willing.

    “Do as you would be done by” is the worlds oldest, most universal command. It describes love which describes the Moral Law which describes who God is and what he is like.

    As fo tautologies and contradictions, the are the very well documented territory of Darwinism and atheism as you would know if you’d really done any proper homework.

    You’ve have swallowed many wasps while straining out the fleas of insignificant details. And you still show up here trying to prove there is no objective Moral Law by assuming one of your own feeble imagination.

    I suggest you change your approach and re-think your life. You are accountable to the absolute Moral Law whether you like it or not.

    Sorry, you lost a few posts ago.

    Seeing as I waste my time with you, this is my last entry on this thread. I suggest you go pawn off your cheap, broken-down philo on some dupe with no brains if you can – you should many on the 1000′s of atheist “let’s pretend there is no god” sites.

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