This is a response to THIS POST, which itself was a response to MY RESPONSE to THIS POST by the user Rhology. That post of his is a response to my Initial Post which was a response to an older post of his (linked to in my original response post).
This might be starting to get confusing. Just follow the links, it's not nearly as confusing as it may sound. Basically, this is the thrid or fourth round in an ongoing debate of sorts with the Christian Apologist Rhology from the RHOBLOGY BLOG.
This response is definitely the most heated of what has thus far been a very civil, but strident, debate. I think I may have just opened the gates to some anger and perhaps even insults, although this was certainly not my intention. Sometimes, to be honest, you have to ruffle some feathers. Regular readers of mine may be scratching their heads at this point, wondering if perhaps I have sustained a head injury or something, as I am known for my fiestiness and proclivity to 'let someone have it' if they, in my estimation, deserve it. I only make these disclaimers in this case because this is someone who, up until this particular comment of his that I am responding to, was open and honest, with a respectful demeanor. Well.....I am afaid the demeanor may have remained intact, but the intellectual honesty seems to have taken the night off.....Let's get into it, shall we?
"Quite simply, it leaves him stuck in the middle of nowhere. Have you ever tried to convince someone who preferred pizza with pineapples and Canadian bacon that pizza with pineapples and Canadian bacon is, in fact, revolting? How far did you get?"
This, and where you go with it, seems to me like a false equivocation. Taste in pizza toppings is purely subjective, as is my morality, as I agreed. Okay, so far so good. Problem is, taste in pizza toppings and feelings on say child rape, are not equally subjective.
There are degrees to which something is subjective. There are external factors (ie, evidence) which one can point to in order to try and substantiate his or her subjective opinion. We can look to the consequences that are derived from such an action.
There are real world implications that in and of themselves, are objective/can be objectively assessed. We can look at the effect on the person, the family, etc.
Of course, your response to this will likely just be “so what?” You're taking the subjectivity/relativity thing too far. I'll explain in upcoming comments. Let us move on.
“Now I hope magx01 will ask himself - have you ever tried to convince someone that raping and murdering children for fun is, in fact, revolting? What if you had to? What will you tell him? Some nonsense about a brain scan? That you feel that what he's doing is wrong? So what?
Remember - it's not as if raping and murdering little children is objectively wrong. Everyone's morality is subjective.
Let's see how far magx01 is willing to take his position.”
I don't see what is so difficult here. I already mentioned the consequences/effects, etc. Now, this is where you say “So what?, etc.”
Well, here's the thing: Just because we have not been prescribed the notion that an action that does harm is bad by some objective, outside source, does not preclude us from coming to that consensus ourselves and working on avoiding such effects by limiting behaviour. Like the two people who cannot prove to one another which toppings are the best. When they go to order a pizza, they come to a compromise, namely, one that makes them both happy and does neither harm. (Look, now you've got me using a situation that I told you was not analogous lol).
What it comes down to is limiting harm and maximizing benefit/pleasure/survivability/health, etc. I can immediately foresee you making the obvious objection: But HOW did you come to those as criteria if you have no objective basis by which to select criteria? This is the part you keep getting stuck on, and the answer to it is the part you seem to be missing: Experience, our nature/biological/social drives, discussion, and usually, majority rule.
We live for a while with behaviour a being permissible, and we consistently see behaviour A leading to consequence A and leading to no benefit to the person on/against whom the behaviour was enacted (but will possibly see some benefit to the person engaging in behaviour A). In addition, there may be consequences for people other than the person to whom the behaviour was directed (including society at large).
While we have no objective standard to say that the benefit to the person performing behaviour A is outranked or diminished in importance (or just not important at all) in comparison to the consequences engendered by behaviour A, we come to an agreement on that based on the observations we make, and our shared/common goals.
For example. Let's say behaviour A is rape.
John rapes Susan.
John benefits because the rape felt good, it was empowering, he got off, and he increased his chances of passing on his genes (ugh just saying all that disgusted me, but I digress).
Susan is harmed in that the rape does her physical damage, mental trauma, it makes her family suffer, it harms her marriage, hurts her financially (missed work, hospital and therapist bills) and possibly leaves her with the insidious position of being forced to be impregnated by a rapist against her will. The child, if born (in my opinion, abortion would be justified here no question) will also suffer, having been conceived in the conditions in which he/she was conceived.
People in the community are harmed in that they now must deal with fear and paranoia as there is a rapist at large, and whatever other effects there would be that I cannot even conceive of at the moment, and are not really worth me trying to rack my exhausted brain to try and fuss out.
Let's leave it at that.
(btw, you're really making me work here. My poor brain is being taxed trying to defend/explain the entire moral system of secular humanity...something I am by no means an expert in to begin with.....you owe me a beer (well, I don't drink beer, so how about a protein shake?)
So, having seen this situation played out many times over a certain period of time, we, as a society, come to some conclusions. A rape does no good for the society at large. It actually does it some amount of harm (hard to quantify, of course). It does a little bit of good for one person (the rapist) (although it actually does them harm as well...social standing for one), and it is very selfish good at that which also comes at the expense of much harm to the person to whom the behaviour was directed. There is also much harm done to the people surrounding the person who was raped, and harm to the possible offspring. So, you have:
John: Some benefit, some harm.
Susan: Tons of harm.
Susan's kin, spouse, etc: Much harm.
Possible offspring: Some harm.
Society in general: Some harm.
Do you honestly think that it's monumentally difficult for a group of people over time, witnessing this, to say, “hey, you know what? John and his ilk should not be allowed to go around raping people anymore. No more rape. The harm is does far outweighs what good there may be, and said good is both selfish AND comes at the expense of others, so no more rape!”
What is so troubling/hard to grasp/scary/unacceptable/problematic/inconceivable about this?
I don't see what the purpose of you pointing out the subjective nature of “atheistic morality” is when its subjective nature does not preclude it from producing tangible positive effects.
We have seen, with our “subjective, fly by the seat of our pants secular/atheistic morality” consistent upwards trends in the harm to benefit ratio as time has passed in human history. We are constantly improving and restructuring our moral values in such a way that we are trying to make sure everyone has the equal opportunity to achieve/attain whatever it is we have decided is most conducive to a happy, productive life. Basically, the golden rule (just do not apply it to masochists....pure folly there!).
Using this flawed system, we have seen things like medieval torture, sexism, racism and slavery fall by the wayside. We have slowly but surely made progress to closing gaps and removing glass ceilings, ensuring equal opportunities for all.
Interesting aside, by the way: Speaking of slavery, you will say that the bible (aka god) does not condone slavery. Now, we could argue that point (I'd win, thanks to a simple passage or two) but let's not digress there and focus instead on this point: Let's say I agree with you; god considers slavery immoral. Who was a huge part of the contingent that wanted to maintain the slave trade, while secular morality was in the process of moving us away from said action, and what did they use as support for their arguments? CHRISTIANS, using THE BIBLE!!
How is it that the flawed morality of the secular society was more in line with god's 'objective morality' than his own people were? Ditto for the interracial marriage fight and the current battle for equality in marriage across sexual preferences. (Btw, if you respond to this point, please don't reply with a no true Scotsman fallacy).
Also, before I move on to the next comment of yours, when I said earlier majority rule, obviously this is imperfect. However, we are also branched off into different sub-societies, and so the ebb and flow of differing group ideas is accounted for and we see this with relative moral ideas between cultures (yes, more evidence of subjectivity, but I admitted that 20 times now).
I said: "I don't see you offering a justification for your assertion that god's laws are moral at all."
You replied: “Should I? Why?”
And this is the first time I feel like being blatantly rude to you. Are you fucking kidding me? You spend an inordinate amount of cognitive energy on trying to demonstrate to me that your morality is objective, and therefore superior to mine, which is subjective. I ask you to demonstrate this to me (aka validate/backup/provide evidence for, your claim) and your response is “why should I?”
What the hell?
If this is you trying to say that I am putting a moral obligation on you when I admit that I have no objective standard of morality, you are making the mistake of conflating rules of logic, reason and debate with morality. It's also a terrible debate tactic. I have not once felt as though I am wasting my time here, and I am trying hard to make sure you feel likewise, but this little comment made me momentarily feel as though perhaps we both are doing just that. You're better than that, come on.
Your response to me after I pointed out that you contradicted yourself:
"So what? Is there something wrong with self-contradiction? If he says it is irrational, again, so what? Is there some reason I shouldn't be irrational, on his worldview? What if my morality says it's morally obligatory to be irrational?"
Come on man, first see above. Second, you're just being disingenuous now. This is you blatantly running from a legitimate criticism on my end.
I said: "If they did come from god, well there goes your claim of objectivity."
You responded: “magx01 doesn't seem to think that's a problem, so why should I? Why not keep holding to my Christian worldview anyway? If magx01 points out that it's inconsistent, so what? Is there some reason I shouldn't be inconsistent, on his worldview? What if my morality says it's morally obligatory to be inconsistent?”
You're being disingenuous again. DOES your christian worldview prescribe irrationality and inconsistency to you by divine command? No, and you know it. The answer to your question is this: BECAUSE YOU SAID IT IS BETTER. If it is not better, YOU HAVE NO POINT and no legitimate CONTENTION with ATHEISM.
Me: "I have to ask, the fact that all 'sins' are considered equal, and the fact that all 'sins' are punished the same.....this doesn't bother you?"
You: “A much better question is why this bothers magx01. Why can't be live consistently with his stated worldview?”
How does the subjective nature of my morality stop me from wondering if you are personally bothered with what you claim to be an objective fact?
Your definition of objective morality, as pointed out by me: “a moral system that is prescriptive and that is true whether or not anyone believes it or not.”
Me: “Okay, so you think a moral system exists that is not contingent upon a mind to exist.”
You: “Hmm, this brings up a good point, which can serve as a clarification for our further discussion. I shamelessly ripped that line off of William Lane Craig, but I forgot to tweak it for my own use. I mean it is a moral system that is prescriptive and that is true whether or not any human believes it.
So hopefully that will help.”
Oh, it helps all right. It helps YOU. You just changed the definition of objectivity in order to suit your purpose. This gives you the perfect out, as it neatly sidesteps the issue of objectivity going out the window if morality is contingent upon god's mid. You conveniently change an established definition to mean only HUMAN minds as opposed to any, leaving the door perfectly wide open for god and his mind not to contradict your claims.
SPECIAL PLEADING 101.
Huge fallacy, and I am amazed at how low you will stoop to prove an unprovable case. I think it is becoming more and more clear with your usage of terms and strange descriptions of god somehow communicating something he did and did not create that you can;t and won't just come out and admit that your so called objective morality was created by a mind, and you know that this contradicts the definition of objective, but you want to say it is objective because god says it is, yet you recognize the folly in this. God says it is therefore it is so. You can't admit that, so you conflate terms and commit blatant special pleading in order to hold on to your misconception.
I think you are too smart not to recognize that at its core, your belief is irrational and predicated upon faith, which we both know means a lack of evidence. You are trying to convince me of the flaws in my moral system so you can replace it with your own equally flawed, yet supported by tradition and bolstered by claims of eternal paradise system, because you don't want to face the possibility of there being no afterlife. It's becoming clear that my presumptions were indeed correct, and all of your post hoc rationalizations are just that. Your belief is not based on rationality and reason. You are just trying to utilize these tools to justify it and convince both yourself and those around you.
“Now, wait just a minute. I'm defining my position. You don't get to tell me what I believe. Let me tell you what I believe, and then you can deal with that on its own merits.
And God most certainly can say they are b/c He said they are - He's the Creator of the universe and the Ultimate Lawgiver. You don't get to judge God any more than I do”
More special pleading. In all of your commenting, I still have not read one shred of evidence. Just woo woo words, conflation of terms, changing of definitions to suit your needs, and special pleading.
I think I am coming to the end of this here, as your case is really quite clear now. You don't have one. Let me finish up here.
I asked you: “So, which is it? The laws existed in and of themselves, and god is simply the messenger, or god created them?”
To which you responded: “Looking at what I wrote, I never made that intimation. It's neither of the above.”
Are you kidding me? God did not create them, yet they did not exist independent of him? So your answer to the euthyphro dilemma is to say “Not a, but not not a?” You are now going to break the rules of logic, is that it? Let's see if you qualify this nonsense at all:
"The law He gives flows out of Who and how He is. If it helps, let "gives" = "communicates/reveals". Such that the law He communicates/reveals to humans flows out of Who and how He is.”
Oh, here comes more nonsense:
Me: “If they did come from god, well there goes your claim of objectivity, since they are not independent of a mind.”
Your response: “ The mind in question is a transcendent mind, of the Ultimate Lawgiver.”
Uh huh.....any evidence of this? Or is this more made up nonsense because the real answer is he said it and I want to believe it therefore I do?
It looks like your objective morality is not superior to my subjective morality in the slightest, since your objective morality is subjective, after all, just like that of every other bag of protoplasm's (your words) on this planet.
So he is somehow communicating that which he did not create but that which did not exist without him?
MORE NONSENSICAL BULLSHIT.
Yet again, an intelligent person gets into apologetics to try and legitimize the illegitimate. Apart from the higher level language, your belief is of no higher level, of no more sound a basis, than that of any average cafeteria Catholics'.
At least have the courage to do as I do and admit the faults of your belief systems, your morality, whatever.
You're a bright guy, and up until this last response, you were doing great in the debate (outclassing me for much of it, in my amateurish estimation). I gained huge respect for you early on, with your admission of the fact that you supported the actions in the Old Testament that I found questionable. As I told you, I HATED your answer, but I respected the hell out of it, because it seems as though everyone else tries to weasel out of it with some disingenuous squirming. Alas, in the end, however, you resorted to just the same thing. Even William Lane Craig himself, the grand poo-bah of christian apologetics, revealed his cards (ie, he's irrational and his belief is based on nothing but irrationality) when he said the following:
"And my view here is that the way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart and this gives me a self authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I don't think that that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit."And he's supposed to be the be all end all of christian rationality. The truth appears to be, yet again, that none of you have any actual evidence, and all of your highbrow debating and writing is just posturing. Trying to lend credence to that which you know, at the core, is purely based upon faith.
Maybe you should look in the mirror and admit that to yourself. Try and understand your own beliefs before you try and tell an atheist what they believe.
Now, I am going to leave this here for you to respond to. I hope you don't make this the point where you turn tail and run. We both agreed that we respected intellectual honesty and integrity, right? Well, I think I have demonstrated that I hold to those principles to the best of my (limited) abilities. I hope you do the same.
If you refrain from being disingenuous, I will continue this conversation with you, if you would like to do so. I am not here to take away your faith. I am here, however, to defend myself against faulty attacks, and I think that's what I have faced in your opposition thus far. Valid points were made, but they were made in the pursuit of disingenuously attacking me for things that you yourself share with me, but care not to realize....or admit.
Goodbye for now,