Where do our morals come from?

This is basically to provide a forum for discussion about origins of morals away from my post Does religion threaten human rights? I think it is obscene to hold that abstract discussion around a post describing violation of human rights and associated restrictions of freedom of expression. It’s like observers being sidetracked into these abstract discussion while they stand around watching a women being stoned for ‘adultery’ or a person being murdered for apostasy.

So some unrehearsed and initial thoughts on the subject – what is the source of our morals?

I don’t know

I personally don’t know? I don’t think we have a full answer. That’s why we research the question. I believe anyone who pretends to have a complete explanation is fooling themselves. Attributing our moral understandings to the existence of gods is silly. Just as in any scientific exploration “God did it” provides the complete answer which isn’t an answer. It’s of no use. Worse, it’s a science stopper because it doesn’t enable the development of any hypotheses or testing against reality.

I believe we are making progress and think the findings so far are interesting. In my recent reading I have found the books Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer and The Secular Conscience by Austin Dacey very useful on this subject.

Obviously a lot of our moral/ethical intuitions result from our evolutionary history. But that’s not the full answer (I think “evolutionary” arguments or speculation can often be overused).

While some of our moral attitudes are relative (history shows that), I believe some of our morality, and moral logic, is objectively based.  In the same way that arithmetic is objectively based (I don’t think our logical argument that 2+2 = 4 is the result of evolution, that another human species may have evolved to believe that 2+2 = 5). So, I think a similar argument can be made for objectively based moral logic.

We don’t have personal access to a lot of our moral intuitions and feelings (just as we don’t have personal  access to most of what our brain does in controlling our bodies). Yet these still influence our moral decisions.

Bible no source of morals

Theist and non-theists have, in general, the same morality and they make their moral judgements with the same raw material and in much the same way. I reject the argument that, for example, the Bible is the source of our morals. If it were we would be a lot more “inhuman” than we are. Christians, for example, select which biblical teachings to adopt as their moral lessons (thank goodness for that). They are able to do this because they have a secular moral logic and moral intuitions. Our secular conscience comes before any religious teaching on morality. In the past religion has often been a vehicle for teaching and enforcing current moral attitudes but this is largely no longer the case. Other social institutions currently fulfill that purpose.

To claim, as some theists do, that atheists have no basis for their morality is obviously silly. To express amazement that atheists can take a moral stand demonstrates a faulty understanding or world view. The obvious thing to do in this situation is to learn from that amazement, accept the empirical facts and readjust your thinking.

So lets discuss this where we don’t have to actually take a moral stand on the real issues.

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82 responses to “Where do our morals come from?

  1. First off the bat, I think we should define some terms:

    Ethics – A collection of precepts.
    Moral – Acting in accordance to a code of ethics.
    Immoral – Acting in violation of a code of ethics.
    Amoral – Acting in a way that is not covered by a code of ethics, either positively or negatively.

    Then there’s three questions we have to ask.

    Question the First: Is living in accordance to a code of ethics a means to an end, or an end in itself?

    Question the Second: If living in accordance to a code of ethics is a means to an end, what is that end?

    Question the Third: Are the answers to these questions relative or are they absolute?

    How people answer these questions will shape how they talk about ethics. I’m of the opinion that ethics is not an end in itself, that the goal of ethics is the promotion of happiness and the relief of suffering, and although I acknowledge that I could be wrong in my answers to these questions, I reject utterly the notion that ethics are an area open to relativistic interpretations.

    Unfortunately, I struggle to find an objective, evidence-based way of tackling these questions. Once we pick a goal for an ethical system, then we can assess things objectively. But when it comes to answering those three questions I listed, I struggle to think of what an objective piece of evidence would even look like.

    This isn’t to say I don’t think I have good reasons for my answers, because I do. They’re just not based on objective observation, which sucks – I really think that objective, observational analysis should be able to inform us about how to assess the answers to these questions. I just can’t work out how to make it work.

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  2. “I’m of the opinion that ethics is not an end in itself, that the goal of ethics is the promotion of happiness and the relief of suffering”

    I’m a bit too busy to get involved in this, but I’d quickly note that my reading of how you’ve framed this, its makes ethics “man made”, in the sense of intentionally created.

    Ethics isn’t my field, I have a suspicion that if you looked at animal behaviour studies, you’d find a number of behaviours that (at least superficially) resemble ethical behaviour. Some of the behaviours are likely to be advantageous (in the sense used in evolution), especially for animals that live and work as social groups.

    With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the more basic ethics have origins in “group behaviours” rather than anything “man made”.

    Having said that, other ethical values formed later, say over the last few thousand years, are sometimes very obviously dependent on justifying actions that benefit the ruling class or other “interest groups”.

    As for “Christian” morals: these are borrowed from groups that preceded Christianity or where outside of it, but whose values they approved of. Common sense suggests that this should be applied recursively, with those groups that the morals were “borrowed” from, in turn, getting them from those before their time or from other religions or enthic groups, etc. Similar logic will no doubt apply to other religions.

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  3. Well Ken I agree, like with math and logic, morality is objectively based. Objective to humankind. Of course such concepts can not exist apart from a mind. Plato’s “forms” no longer hold any weight. If logic, math, and ethics are objective to mankind that means they must have existed before mankind and independet of mankind. So unless you can show how these concepts can exist apart from a mind I will logically conclude that they can only exist in a independent(independent of mankind)Mind.

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  4. Strictly speaking, “2 + 2 = 4″ is not an argument, but a statement or proposition.

    The two main enlightenment moral theories:

    1. Utilitarianism [consequentialism]

    * The underlying justification for every legitimate moral judgement is the importance of promoting well-being or preventing suffering.
    * Each person’s well-being matters equally (regardless of race, gender, national boundaries, etc).
    * The right action is the one that promotes as much well-being as possible, or alleviates as much suffering as possible (giving equal weight to each person’s welfare or suffering).

    2. Kantianism [deontology]

    * The underlying moral justification for every correct moral judgement is the priceless dignity of each human being.
    * Human dignity is grounded in rational autonomy. This is the capacity for being self-governing, which is conferred on us by our rational nature.
    * The appropriate response to this dignity is to honour and respect it.

    Jonathan Haidt at University of Virginia finds that if you ask people in our culture they say they hold to an ethics of autonomy. If it doesn’t harm anyone, it’s okay. So, if I were to ask you your attitudes about sex, most of you–not all of you, you come from different cultures, you have different attitudes–but most of you would say sex between consenting adults is okay as long as nobody gets hurt, as long as nobody gets hurt people’s rights are respected. So, gay marriage, for instance, or gay sex would be okay with you because nobody is harmed and these are consenting adults. Haidt points out that there are certain problems with this argument and he illustrates this with stories like this:

    Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They are traveling together in France on summer vacation from college. One night they are staying alone in a cabin near the beach. They decide it would be interesting and fun if they tried making love. At the very least, it would be a new experience for each of them. Julie was already taking birth control pills but Mark uses a condom too just to be safe. They both enjoy making love but they decide not to do it again. They keep that night a special secret which makes them feel even closer to each other. What do you think about that? Was it okay for them to make love?

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  5. The two main enlightenment moral theories:

    1. Utilitarianism [consequentialism]

    * The underlying justification for every legitimate moral judgement is the importance of promoting well-being or preventing suffering.
    * Each person’s well-being matters equally (regardless of race, gender, national boundaries, etc).
    * The right action is the one that promotes as much well-being as possible, or alleviates as much suffering as possible (giving equal weight to each person’s welfare or suffering).

    2. Kantianism [deontology]

    * The underlying moral justification for every correct moral judgement is the priceless dignity of each human being.
    * Human dignity is grounded in rational autonomy. This is the capacity for being self-governing, which is conferred on us by our rational nature.
    * The appropriate response to this dignity is to honour and respect it.

    Of course Bob, all of this is still quite subjective. How does rational autonomy confer diginity? According to whom? This is not a self-evident truth.

    Why does each person’s well-being matters equally? Again, according to whom? What if removing your well being (money and property for instance) increases my well being?

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  6. I think Hume was along the right lines in talking about our morality coming from sympathy. It’s a very messy foundation for moral decision making – but that seems an appropriate basis for an area where things are rarely clear-cut.

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  7. One of the best books I have ever read on the topic is one by Marc Hauser called Moral Minds. I talk about it briefly on my blog here but would like to add that it covers the whole issue in some depth including the Kantian/Utilitarian debate and so forth in the clearest way I have yet to encounter with numerous examples and from many points of view. I think the notion that morals, like language, is something we come equipped with an underlying grammar for but no actual context to apply (which is subsequently supplied by our upbringing, society, experience etc) makes a lot of sense to me and neatly explains why morals seem intrinsic but vary from society to society and have changed over time.

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  8. @Heraclides:

    I’m a bit too busy to get involved in this, but I’d quickly note that my reading of how you’ve framed this, its makes ethics “man made”, in the sense of intentionally created.

    Heh. Yeah, that was intentional. It’s interesting talking to other people about this kind of thing, it brings to the surface a lot of things that I’ve been taking for granted. Good stuff.

    As I defined my terms, ethics is just a collection of precepts. Those precepts have to be passed on from person to person, either in writing or by word of mouth. It follows from this that that collections of precepts of this sort are human artifacts. They’re things we make.

    For the sake of argument, even if I were to accept that a given code of ethics was of, say, divine origin, then that ethical code would still have to be written down or spoken. It would still have to be copied and communicated by humans. It would still be a human artifact – and as such, it could be put next to other, similar human artifacts and comparatively assessed against them to see if it really is all as divine as its proponents claim it is.

    @Bob

    I didn’t even blink at the story about Julie and Mark – but I understand that the taboo that Julie and Mark would be breaking in that scenario weighs heavily on people’s minds for a lot of good reasons – some of them good, others less so.

    And you’ve reminded me I really need to get stuck into Kant sometime – I can never find the time to actually sit down and slog through the bastard, and I really should. :P

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  9. @8:

    “Heh. Yeah, that was intentional.”

    Not for the reason you’re making out. I really am very busy. I write these posts in tiny breaks from work. (I type fair quickly too, which helps.) Why is that people continually “read into” things written literally?

    I started with that to make it clear to others that I was tossing it in, but would be unlikely to be able to follow it up (at least with the time it’d deserve).

    You’ll still presuming that social codes are passed on in modern human fashion. I would think that behaviour studies would show more of a continuum between “pure” social behaviour, as in animal species, on one hand and modern ethics.

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  10. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Ken, I think you misunderstand the biblical view of ethics. It looks like you think that the Bible claims to be an exclusive source of moral content (things we consider good and evil), and perhaps even moral categories (our understanding of good and evil themselves). This isn’t the case. The Bible claims to be an exclusive source of infallible moral content, which amends or expands upon our existing innate moral knowledge. Since we are created in the image of God, we are intrinsically moral creatures; that is, we have built into our cognitive makeup both the moral categories required to understand good and evil, and some basic moral content in the form of things which we generally consider good, and things we generally consider evil. For example, consider Romans 2:14-16, in which Paul is explaining why God is just to hold everyone accountable for sin, regardless of whether they have the law (that is, in this case, the moral law) or not—

    For when Gentiles [ie, non-Jews], who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    Thus, you are in fact entirely correct to say that our secular conscience comes before any religious teaching on morality. We all have a built-in pre-theoretical grasp of ethics, because we are made in God’s image. We don’t need the Bible to tell us, generally speaking, what is right and wrong. However, we do need the Bible to provide an explanation for the basis for morality, and to tell us infallibly what is right and wrong, since our consciences, like the rest of our cognitive faculties, are damaged by the effects of sin.

    Thus, when you say that theists are “obviously silly” to claim that atheists have no basis for morality, I must disagree. I think you at least underestimate the theistic arguments. Have you considered them carefully, or are you simply assuming that they must be silly? Surely even you would acknowledge that, prima facie, it’s hard to see any basis for morality in a worldview which precludes non-physical phenomena. Just on a cursory analysis, what are “value” and “duty” in a materialist worldview? What is the distinction between the specific composition of chemicals which makes up human beings, and some other random composition? What is the actual difference between them which underwrites value for one, but not for the other? Or what is the distinction between an organism with our specific chemical composition acting in a certain way, and another organism acting in the same way? What establishes responsibility for one and not the other?

    Indeed, it’s hard to see how you can even answer these questions without presupposing the falsehood of your own claimed commitment to materialism/physicalism. To answer the questions to your own apparent satisfaction, you’d need to treat these non-physical moral categories as if they were properly basic. After all, if they are not properly basic, then they reduce down to physical phenomena and so (by very merit of not being properly basic) can have no more obligatory or persuasive or even explanatory power than any other physical phenomena. But if they are properly basic, as you seem to implicitly believe, then physicalism is most certainly false.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  11. @Heraclides

    Hmm… I think we’re not exactly on the same page, here. I think what you mean when you write what you’re saying and what I’m interpreting when I read what you’ve written aren’t lining up. I can tell you’re saying something interesting, I just can’t get a grip on where you’re coming from – probably because you’re rushing.

    If you get some time, I’d be keen for you to expand on what you’re saying. I’m interested.

    @Dominic

    Hmm… I’m intending to reply, but I want to make sure I’ve understood you first. Don’t want to go jumping the gun, here. Also, I know you were directing your question at Ken, but I’m pretty strongly materialistic myself, so I’m opting to intercept it. :P

    It feels like you’re saying that, under materialism, human beings are just collections of atoms, and there is nothing to distinguish humans from other collections of atoms, like rocks. Leaving scripture aside, the accusation seems to go something like this:

    1) Suppose all that exists is atoms and void.
    2) From 1), humans are collections of atoms and void.
    3) Collections of atoms and cannot assign values to collections of atoms and void.
    4) Humans do assign values to collections of atoms and void.
    5) Contrasting 3) and 4) reveal a contradiction in light of item 2).
    ——————————————————————————
    6) From 5), the original supposition must be absurd.

    Sorry to go pulling numbered propositions on you, I’m just trying to get to grips with the point you’re making. I open myself to your correction – I don’t want to misrepresent you before I go disagreeing with you. :D

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  12. (carried over from the thread that James rudely derailed with his desire to preach)

    James said…”…freedom of expression is only important is you have a specific goal in mind.”

    Such goals are created by people. They don’t pop up out of nowhere.

    James said…” And if atheism is true then each opinion is arbitrary and no more correct than it’s opposite.”

    Why arbitrary? There is no random toss of the coin.

    In the hypothetical example you responded to, given that you no longer believed in a god, you would not decide to suddenly fling poo from trees at strangers.
    That’s not an arbitrary decision on your part.
    That’s the rational, logical decision of normal person.

    Same goes for the man on the radio who claimed that there was no reason for him not to go around murdering people if there was no god.
    And yet…and yet…when pushed to find out if he really would actually go out and do this, he did not respond in an arbitrary manner. He admitted that he would not actually do such a thing.
    Even without belief in a god, an arbitrary nature does not suddenly seize us and turn us into fiends.

    James said…” I many agree with you on slavery – but so what?”

    So everything. You agree with me because you are a product of your society. A product of your parent’s upbringing. Of the philosophies that have touched your life and shaped your thinking.

    You would find it difficult, probably impossible, to do something that we would both find revolting and inhumane. Your nature and mine are not arbitrary. They follow set patterns. Invisible pink pixies have nothing to do with it.

    James said…” Don’t you get it – there are no objectively “right choices.”

    I don’t understand why you are so focused on “objectivity” and don’t seem to be paying attention to the mundane work-a-day moral environment of your community and yourself.

    Is there an “objective morality”? No idea. Such a thing I leave freely to the philosophers.

    Does that mean that my moral behavior is therefore totally random or arbitrary or “feigned” or “strange”? Nope.

    My moral code is boringly predictable and fits neatly within my society.
    Just like yours.

    James said…” We are just coggs in the materialist machine.”

    Yet there’s nothing arbitrary about those cogs. They usually function very well together.

    James said…” And it would be quite silly to point to another cogg with blame. He is just doing and thinking what the process created him to do and think.”

    If that cogg damages or destroys the machinery of society, then that would be blame worthy. Yet the vast majority of “coggs” agree enough about enough issues to form the machinery and keep it working.

    James, about the issue of slavery…
    I know that you don’t like slavery and that’s good to hear but I really would be interested to did a little deeper on this one.
    Let me offer this scenario to you again since you didn’t really answer it last time. Okay?

    There religous societies that saw no moral probem with slave ownership. History is littered with them.
    Christian societies? Yep. Plenty.
    If you lived in those societies at those times, would you own slaves? If not, why not?

    (Remember, you are a product of that era. You don’t get to bring your 21st century morality and hindsight with you.)

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  13. James gets it bady wrong as usual.
    Can you imagine him at the time of the cave dwellers looking out in fear at the thunder-storm?

    Lightning is objectively based. Objective to humankind. Of course such concept of can not exist apart from a mind.
    Lightning is objective to mankind that means it must have existed before mankind and independet of mankind. So unless you can show how lightning can exist apart from a mind I will logically conclude that they can only exist in a independent(independent of mankind)Mind.
    Ergo, THOR EXISTS!

    “The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (“appeal to ignorance” [1]) or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false or is only false because it has not been proven true.

    The argument from personal incredulity, also known as argument from personal belief or argument from personal conviction, refers to an assertion that because one personally finds a premise unlikely or unbelievable, the premise can be assumed not to be true, or alternatively that another preferred but unproven premise is true instead.

    Both arguments commonly share this structure: a person regards the lack of evidence for one view as constituting proof that another view is true. The types of fallacies discussed in this article should not be confused with the reductio ad absurdum method of argument, in which a valid logical contradiction of the form “A and not A” is used to disprove a premise.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

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  14. (I’m sorry about this Cedric. Some of your comments seem to get caught in spam – I don’t know why. I am allowing up to 4 links and this doesnt’ exclude you. Currently all I’m able to do is check my spam each morning and despam your comments. Hopefully this educates the system.

    I have deleted obvious multiple posts but may have missed some. — Ken).

    Can you imagine James at the time of the cave-dwellers, looking out fearfully at the thunderstorm outside?

    “Lightning is objectively based. Objective to humankind. Of course such a concept can not exist apart from a mind. If the concept of lightning is objective to mankind that means it must have existed before mankind and independet of mankind. So unless you can show how lightning can exist apart from a mind I will logically conclude that they can only exist in a independent (independent of mankind)Mind.
    Therefore, THORDIDIT!”

    Oh dear!

    “The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (“appeal to ignorance” [1]) or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false or is only false because it has not been proven true.
    The argument from personal incredulity, also known as argument from personal belief or argument from personal conviction, refers to an assertion that because one personally finds a premise unlikely or unbelievable, the premise can be assumed not to be true, or alternatively that another preferred but unproven premise is true instead.
    Both arguments commonly share this structure: a person regards the lack of evidence for one view as constituting proof that another view is true. The types of fallacies discussed in this article should not be confused with the reductio ad absurdum method of argument, in which a valid logical contradiction of the form “A and not A” is used to disprove a premise.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

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  15. Ubiquitous Che: that is one way in which my argument could be formulated, yes.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  16. There religous societies that saw no moral probem with slave ownership. History is littered with them.
    Christian societies? Yep. Plenty.
    If you lived in those societies at those times, would you own slaves? If not, why not?

    Sure, I may have owned slaves (hopefully I would have been a kind master). And so would you have. Also slavery was practiced in most ancient societies, religious or not. And quite useful to those societies. So Cedric, is slavery objectively wrong or only culturally wrong?

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  17. Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals argues specifically for a grounding that is NOT subjective and NOT relative, but will (if he is correct) ground morality in principles arrived at using reason applicable for all rational beings (not just humans) following his categorical imperative.

    You probably all remember reading Plato’s Euthyphro in which Socrates asks the question, “Is a thing right because the gods say so, or do the gods say so because it is right?” The relationship between the gods and the good is teased out in the dialogue with Socrates arguing that morality is logically prior to religion.

    All this may be summarized in the following argument:

    (1) Suppose God commands us to do what is right. Then either (a) the right actions are right because he commands them or (b) he commands them because they are right.
    (2) If we take option (a), then God’s commands are, from a moral point of view, arbitrary; moreover, the doctrine of the goodness of God is rendered meaningless.
    (3) If we take option (b), then we have admitted there is a standard of right and wrong that is independent of God’s will.
    (4) Therefore, we must either regard God’s commands as arbitrary, and give up the doctrine of the goodness of God, or admit that there is a standard of right and wrong that is independent of his will, and give up the theological definitions of right and wrong.
    (5) From a religious point of view, it is undesirable to regard God’s commands as arbitrary or to give up the doctrine of the goodness of God.
    (6) Therefore, even from a religious point of view, a standard of right and wrong that is independent of God’s will must be accepted.

    Even St. Thomas Aquinas leaves morality independent of religion. “Conscience is the dictate of reason…,” he writes.

    All of this leads to what the philosopher James Rachels calls the minimum conception of morality: “morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason – that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing- while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual who will be affected by one’s conduct.”

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  18. (1) Suppose God commands us to do what is right. Then either (a) the right actions are right because he commands them or (b) he commands them because they are right.
    (2) If we take option (a), then God’s commands are, from a moral point of view, arbitrary; moreover, the doctrine of the goodness of God is rendered meaningless.
    (3) If we take option (b), then we have admitted there is a standard of right and wrong that is independent of God’s will.
    (4) Therefore, we must either regard God’s commands as arbitrary, and give up the doctrine of the goodness of God, or admit that there is a standard of right and wrong that is independent of his will, and give up the theological definitions of right and wrong.
    (5) From a religious point of view, it is undesirable to regard God’s commands as arbitrary or to give up the doctrine of the goodness of God.
    (6) Therefore, even from a religious point of view, a standard of right and wrong that is independent of God’s will must be accepted.

    1. Of course that does not follow Bob. God’s commands are right because they are grounded in His immutable moral character. So they are far from arbitrary.

    2. Amd how can morality exist independent of God, or man, for that fact? Moral/ethical propositions only exist in minds. They have no independent or physical existence.

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  19. Read the Euthyphro again James. Study the argument. It is sound.

    You are simply Begging the Question when you claim that “God is good because God is good.”

    You are also assuming that an all good, all powerful, all knowing, god exists.
    Do you any evidence?

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  20. Bob, I understand Euthyphro delima quite well. If God’s commands are grounded in His immutable moral character then they are not arbitrary. Logically – how would they be arbitrary? Be specific please.

    Second,you did not answer my question – how can moral propositions exist independently of a mind/minds? Where do they live?

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  21. The problem that corrodes all “divine command” theories of morality is that they are relativistic all the way up (or down). It is the choice of God that is arbitrary! Are we talking about Zeus or Thor, Ra or Yahweh?

    To the extent that reason is “in the mind” then of course all propositions are in the mind.
    “2 + 2 = 4″
    and
    “Murder is wrong”
    are of a kind.

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  22. The problem that corrodes all “divine command” theories of morality is that they are relativistic all the way up (or down). It is the choice of God that is arbitrary! Are we talking about Zeus or Thor, Ra or Yahweh?

    I’m a Christian Bob, so that should clear that up. But you did not answer my question. If God’s commands are grounded in, or expressions of, His immutable character then how are the arbitrary?

    To the extent that reason is “in the mind” then of course all propositions are in the mind.
    “2 + 2 = 4″
    and
    “Murder is wrong”
    are of a kind.

    Since there is no independent existance of moral law then how is it not subjective and relative (apart from God)? You suggested above that it was neither.

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  23. I did answer your question, James. Let me make it simpler for you: It is the subject not the object that is arbitrary! [and hence relative]

    Here’s my claim: morality is logically prior to religion.
    Why? Because to choose a god (or no god) to worship is to make a moral choice.
    So, we have to have a way to make moral choices BEFORE we choose to worship some god or not.

    [As an aside, James, I always told my philosophy students they would get an automatic "F" if they didn't spell "existence" correctly. :-)]

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  24. This review of mine might contribute (or not) to the discussion.

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  25. I did answer your question, James. Let me make it simpler for you: It is the subject not the object that is arbitrary! [and hence relative]

    Bob you have moved the goal posts. We are not speaking of a specific God per say. We are speaking of Euthyphro’s dilemma. And if God’s commands are grounded in, or expressions of, His immutable character then the dilemma is solved – His commands are not arbitrary.

    Now you want to speak of a “specific” God. Well that was not part of the dilemma, nor necessary to show that the problem is solved.

    Here’s my claim: morality is logically prior to religion.
    Why? Because to choose a god (or no god) to worship is to make a moral choice.
    So, we have to have a way to make moral choices BEFORE we choose to worship some god or not.

    As a Christian I believe all men have an imnate, God given, moral sense (Rom.2).Whether we worship God or not.

    [As an aside, James, I always told my philosophy students they would get an automatic "F" if they didn't spell "existence" correctly. :-)]

    Well I also spelled dilemma wrong. But if you are a teacher Bob, you should be more careful and deal with my argument instead of moving the goal posts.

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  26. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    “morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason – that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing- while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual who will be affected by one’s conduct.”

    That’s just question-begging. How does one know what is “best” without having some kind of moral theory? In what way does reason, which I take to refer to principles of inference, guide us in ethics?

    Bob: your whole Euthyphro argument seems to hinge on your assumption of divine command theory/theological voluntarism. Since this is by no means the only metaethical theory available to the Christian, and is one of the weaker ones, why should your argument concern those of us who don’t hold to it?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  27. quick point: (before I head out to get my upper wisdom teeth yanked – OUCH! yeah…)

    morals being prior to religion need not necessitate them being prior to (a) G(g)od(s). In other words, ‘god’ is not equatable to ‘religion’.

    Like

  28. Cedric said:
    “Lightning is objectively based. Objective to humankind. Of course such a concept can not exist apart from a mind. If the concept of lightning is objective to mankind that means it must have existed before mankind and independet of mankind. So unless you can show how lightning can exist apart from a mind I will logically conclude that they can only exist in a independent (independent of mankind)Mind.
    Therefore, THORDIDIT!”

    Well ligntning does exist independent of human minds, and is objective to human minds. But ligntning is a physical thing. Not a concept. Concepts only exist in minds. In this thread Ken suggested that morality was objective (he leans that way at least). But if that is the case then it must be held in a mind that is objective to, and independent of, humankind.

    If not then it’s all relative. Like my cogg example (which went right over your head). Why does cogg A (you) get upset with cogg B (the Muslim) for doing and thinking what the natural process created him to do or think? Cogg A’s opinion is no more valid or correct than cogg B’s opinion.

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  29. (Sorry for the delay. My computer’s in the shop.
    I’m quickly using the one at work.)

    James said…”Sure, I may have owned slaves (hopefully I would have been a kind master). And so would you have.”

    A straight answer. Thanks. And yes, I probably would have owned slaves too.

    James said…”Also slavery was practiced in most ancient societies, religious or not. And quite useful to those societies.”

    Just curious, what ancient slave-owning societies were not religious?

    “So Cedric, is slavery objectively wrong or only culturally wrong?”

    I don’t know.
    I suspect that that it’s culturally wrong.
    Cultures and societies change. Morals change along with them.
    If (and it’s a BIG if) there is an objective morality, then it is an objective morality based upon reason and logic. I know that philosophers have at least two different streams of thought on this very subject but I know little about it.

    I brought up the Christian slave-owning society to demonstrate Dawkin’s “shifting moral zeitgeist”.
    Here’s the link again just in case you did not check it out before…

    http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ9JMUFIVqE

    If I owned slaves then but not now, that’s easy enough to understand if we accept that the culture changes. We can look back on the wrongs of the past with twenty/twenty hindsight.

    Yet you, as a Christian, claim that morals are objective. They’re handed down to you in a napkin from “on high”.
    So…what gives?

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  30. If I owned slaves then but not now, that’s easy enough to understand if we accept that the culture changes. We can look back on the wrongs of the past with twenty/twenty hindsight.

    Yet you, as a Christian, claim that morals are objective. They’re handed down to you in a napkin from “on high”.
    So…what gives?

    1. I still don’t get it Cedric, why was slave owning wrong in the past? As a matter of fact why is it wroing today?

    2. Objective does not mean absolute. For instance it was a sin for the Jews, under the Mosaic Covenant, to work on the Sabbath. This requirement was not necessary after the New Covenant.

    3. You still have not given me a direct answer – why is your moral opinion any more correct or right than the Muslim’s moral opinion. Or Stalin’s moral opinion?

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  31. James said…”But if that is the case then it must be held in a mind that is objective to, and independent of, humankind.”

    You have not made your case for this.

    All you are claiming is that there must be an objective morality.
    Because there MUST BE.
    Because the horror of it all being relative is too much to bear for you.

    Morality is a concept.
    Concepts are in the mind.

    Yet in order to be satisfied with an objective morality it’s got to be untouched by human hands.
    For you cannot imagine of an objective morality within humanity.

    1) You have not demonstrated that there really is an objective morality.
    This is just an assertion backed up by an argument from ignorance.
    You offer no positive evidence.

    2)Your second assertion is that an objective morality must be outside humanity in order for it to be objective in the first place.
    Once again, you back this up with nothing concrete.
    You offer no positive evidence.

    Finally we get to the Thordiddit part, which is what this whole discussion was really all about.
    A chance for you to preach.

    (Freedom of speech. Who cares, right?
    We never did find out about your views.)

    Do you have anything positive to offer in the way of evidence?
    Or are you going to stick with the Argument from Ignorance as expressed as “So unless you can show how these concepts can exist apart from a mind I will logically conclude…”

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  32. James said…”I still don’t get it Cedric, why was slave owning wrong in the past? As a matter of fact why is it wroing today?”

    We know better now? Our society has changed? We benefit from the social and moral reforms inspired by the intellectual giants who transformed our thinking?

    James said…”Objective does not mean absolute.”

    So what good is it?
    Is slavery wrong or not?

    Is seems that operating a society under “objective morality” delivered from “on high” works pretty much the same as a plain old-fashioned human run society.

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  33. Your second assertion is that an objective morality must be outside humanity in order for it to be objective in the first place.Once again, you back this up with nothing concrete.

    What? You are joking right? How can morality be objective to humankind if it is not actually objective to humankind?

    All you are claiming is that there must be an objective morality.
    Because there MUST BE.Because the horror of it all being relative is too much to bear for you.

    How old are you? I’m simply stating the logical consequence. If morality is not objective then….

    But Cedric you still have not answered my question – why is your moral opinion any more correct or right than the Muslim’s moral opinion. Or Stalin’s moral opinion?

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  34. James, Ken’s point wasn’t about if one person’s morals are better than another’s but that atheists have viable morals. The tit-for-tat thing is a bit silly to my mind, especially as you can pretty much always just reverse the logic of tit-for-tat statements.

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  35. James, Ken’s point wasn’t about if one person’s morals are better than another’s but that atheists have viable morals. The tit-for-tat thing is a bit silly to my mind, especially as you can pretty much always just reverse the logic of tit-for-tat statements.

    Actually Ken suggested that morals were objective. We pick that argument up in another thread. And I’m not sure what you mean by “atheists have viable morals” You mean like Stalin’s and Mao’s viable morals?

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  36. Dearest James (yes, I’m forced back to this because you continue to post silly things!): arguing by attacking others’ with remarks like “You mean like Stalin’s and Mao’s viable morals?” doesn’t say anything positive about or for your point of view, in fact it makes you look an idiot ;-)

    Like I said, you can reverse tit-for-tat arguments: And I’m not sure what you mean by “Christians have viable morals” You mean like de Torquemada’s and Milosevic’s viable morals?

    You’re only a troll.

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  37. James, Heraclides does seem to have your number.
    You don’t seem to be willing to engage.

    James said…”How old are you? I’m simply stating the logical consequence.”

    Difficult to have a serious conversation with you if you keep this up.
    ………………………………………………

    James said…”Objective does not mean absolute.”

    So what good is it?
    Is slavery wrong or not?

    ………………………………………………

    You want to asert that there is an objective morality?
    Fine.
    Positive evidence please.

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  38. (almost forgot)

    James said…”Also slavery was practiced in most ancient societies, religious or not. And quite useful to those societies.”

    Just curious, what ancient slave-owning societies were not religious?

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  39. Dearest James (yes, I’m forced back to this because you continue to post silly things!): arguing by attacking others’ with remarks like “You mean like Stalin’s and Mao’s viable morals?” doesn’t say anything positive about or for your point of view, in fact it makes you look an idiot

    Like I said, you can reverse tit-for-tat arguments: And I’m not sure what you mean by “Christians have viable morals” You mean like de Torquemada’s and Milosevic’s viable morals?

    When I speak about Christian morals, I speaking of New Testament teaching. The teaching of Christ. You know the love your neighbor stuff. And my question is valid Heraclides, what makes your moral view higher or more correct than Stalin’s or Mao’s? No one has answered that yet.

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  40. Jeez, your latest posts are even more pointless than they usually are!

    First, you give a number of things that are irrelevant to what I wrote, so there’s not much for me to say there. Then you pointlessly repeat the statement that I already pointed out is pointless!

    Perhaps you don’t understand that your question is an empty retort, like kids give in a tit-for-tat that neither can side ever win. (Unless one little prat decides to thump the other!) It’ll be why no-one is bothering to answer it.

    *shrugs and wanders off*

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  41. Pingback: A naturalistic approach to human morality « Open Parachute

  42. Pingback: Pinker on morality « Open Parachute

  43. Where do our morals come from?

    I think this is easily the best answer:

    http://hem.passagen.se/nicb/morality.htm?k

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  44. Hello, I’m a Christian so my standpoint should be obvious. Morality comes from God. Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (God[THE God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you know])

    Individual
    Morality from the individual is ridiculous. If everyone ran around doing what was right in their own mind and it was “ok” then there would be anarchy. Societies wouldn’t be able to stand. There would be no prison, punishment, war, etc., but it’d be the opposite of utopia. Surely this is a given.

    Society
    Morality from Society or Government seems to come a little closer to what we’re looking for. But it is still so flawed. If societies determine their morals (assuming every single person in any one particular society could ever completely agree on those morals), then there are other societies determining other sets of morals that are different from those. Problem? One society determines to be peaceful, live and let live, kindness, etc. (idealistic, but for illustrations sake). Another society decides that it is ok to conquer this society, torture the men to death and rape the women and children to death. Well who are we to say the second society was wrong? But we DO say that they are wrong… because they are. Why is that?

    God’s Morality
    Our last viable option is morality from a higher standpoint. God. I think James said it right when he alluded to Gods perfect moral character.
    I was wondering even today whether God created right and wrong, or whether right and wrong just exists, and God is perfectly holy. I can’t answer that, but I can say that I know for a fact that God IS perfectly holy. I know that no matter which one came first God or morality, God commands everyone everywhere to turn from sinning, trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and live with a wholehearted attempt at holy (New Testament biblical moral) living.

    “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (you), but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. … But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians Ch1 verse 20-27 (26 left out, not applicable)

    Many of you think of yourselves as very intelligent or wise. You speak seemingly intelligently on morals; examine your own morals for a moment.
    Lying. Theft(even as small as a paperclip). Cheating on your taxes. Lust after girls or women(or men) that you’re not married to. Entertaining homosexual lusts. Filthy language. Using Gods name in vain or like a curse word. (would you use your mothers name that way?) Hatred towards people. (Sensing some hatred towards God and Christians here) Disrespecting your parents. Coveting things that aren’t yours. Pornography. Putting other things before God.

    You may say “I don’t think those things are wrong” but the truth is, down inside of you, you KNOW those things are wrong. (thats why you’re disturbed or angry from reading this) Just like we KNOW the evil society in my example was wrong.

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has MADE it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been CLEARLY SEEN, being UNDERSTOOD by what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 (emphasis added)

    Were you able to understand what I’m (and God is) getting at in that quote? You know the truth, and you lie to yourself (suppress the truth) and you know you do. Its clearly understood by what God has made. So people take “made” out of the equation and put in a fairytale called evolution. (seriously guys, study it. I’m not even being sarcastic, I’m completely serious. Read “God doesn’t believe in Atheists” and “Evolution: A Fairy Tale For Grownups” both written by Ray Comfort. Its worth an intellectuals time)

    Long post, I know. Bottom line? Our morals or our obligation to abide by morals, comes from God. You have sinned against God. Adding to your sin, you’ve rejected the greatest gift in the history of history – The God of all things came to earth in flesh to willfully lay down His life so that you don’t have to perish forever in Hell. (The bible says it wasn’t created for you, but for satan and his angels. Also says its God’s will that none should perish) Up until now, you’ve rejected that.

    But there is still hope! Turn from your sinning while you still have the chance! The bible says “God is love” so He loves you! The bible also says “God is a consuming fire” and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” God is just, and He WILL punish you for what YOU CHOOSE. I beg you, please, drop your pride. Its not worth your eternal soul. Turn from your sin, and put your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. You have no idea the truth and joy and life that you’re missing.

    Very lastly – I say these things because I love you and I care about your souls. Not to win an argument. You’re all on a higher intellectual level than me. I beg you, seek Jesus.

    Stay strong James, love you in Christ.
    Joshua

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  45. Joshua – instead of reproducing your silly religious tract you could have considered and commented on my article. This was a serious undertaking to promote an intelligent conversation – instead you have reacted with the wordt sort of religious justfucation for moral relativism . That right and wrong ate determined by your god who is a puppet repeating all the prejudices of yourself and your friends.

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  46. Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (Vishnu, Zeus, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, a sweaty magic football sock, you know])

    (shrug)

    Read “God doesn’t believe in Atheists” and “Evolution: A Fairy Tale For Grownups” both written by Ray Comfort. Its worth an intellectuals time…

    Wow. Putting the word “intellectual” and Ray Comfort in the same comment. The world just got a little dumber.

    Ray Comfort interview – The Atheist Experience #702 (full episode)

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  47. Joshua I appreciate what you are trying to say ; from a Christian understanding biblical morality is interpreted through the lens of the life of Christ, and the law of Grace supersedes karma and “an eye for an eye” Old Testament practices. But the Bible itself does not expect non Christians to obey these “higher” laws, the principles of justice, retribution, and restitution still apply to wider society and inevitable human failings of Christians.

    Further, unlike many of my Christian friends I don’t think there is any successful objective codification of morality — only a few good principles. Society’s morals are subjective and evolving; as each person is a Subject who interacts with others, and society itself rubs along taking useful moral lessons from the past and current experiences.

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  48. That’s a bit heretical of you, Ropata?
    “I don’t think there is any successful objective codification of morality”

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  49. Ropata,

    What you said was surprisingly insightful for a nonChristian. (not meant to offend) I also appreciate your civillity and kindness.
    I agree that nonChristians are not held to the law of Grace. The bible is very clear, however, that all men are held accountable to The Law (specifically referring to the ten commandments) because it has been “written on the hearts” of man. This is evidenced by the fact that no matter where you go (even “uncivilized” tribes) have a semblance of these laws. Even cannibals don’t eat eachother. All peoples know lying is wrong. Theft is wrong. Etc. This is the law that will ultimately be the condemnation of unrepentant sinners. If you’re interested in an in-depth (albeit short) study or explanation of this I recommend reading the first four chapters of Romans. Very short, but very insightful into the “other side’s” point of view. I’d explain personally or copy and paste but I’m on my phone.

    In the end we might end up agreeing to disagree, but there doesn’t have to be hate here. Once again I admire your kindness and professionallity.

    Joshua

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  50. There you are, Ropata. Joshua has got you sorted!

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  51. What you said was surprisingly insightful for a nonChristian.

    Wow.
    That has to leave a mark. What a sanctimonious turd.

    Even cannibals don’t eat eachother.

    The ignorance is strong with this one.

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  52. Ken I don’t think it is heretical, the OT laws were a codification of morality that failed, the later prophets and the NT itself asserts as much.
    Joshua, I just got back from church. And I disagree that the 10 commandments apply to all humanity, they were part of the covenant between YHWH and Israel. The laws that do apply to all are ‘written on the heart’ for example old testament figures such as Melchizedek or Job or Cyrus were not all identified as Hebrews but were nevertheless recognised as good men.

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  53. Ropata,

    I’m sure you understood that when I said what you said was insightful I meant insightful INTO Christianity for a nonChristian. Generally when a person isn’t a Christian they either don’t really take the time to truly study into Christianity or the bible, or they do so with the motive to twist it to fit their argument; not objectively.
    You don’t seem to be this way, and so again, thankyou.

    As to your comment, I’m open to what you said about Job, Melchizedek, and Cyrus, but can you give me an example of what some of these laws are?
    You see, from my standpoint, and I think it is biblically well founded, what is considered holy now by God (not people or things; Moral concepts like not stealing etc) have always been considered holy and always will be. God has never considered theft as anything but wrong and never will. So my point is, if you leave out the basic ten commandments, what other standard of holiness would God judge by? What other laws could we look at to say that these men were good?
    As an aside, we know that some in the OT were considered righteous before God because of their faith/trust in Him. I’m obviously not talking about this, but actual laws apart from the ten commandments.

    I really do look forward to your answer and appreciate the discussion.

    Ken and Cedric,

    Guys I, and possibly your peers, would appreciate it if, instead of attacks, you actually put forth challenging discussion. Attacking people who disagree with you like that discredits your (the atheist population’s) claim to morality – in the “other side’s” point of view. I havent attacked anyone here and dont intend to. Ad hominem attacks are generally the last defense of someone who is stumped or losing a debate.

    I’d appreciate some challenging dialogue; maybe we can both learn something.

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  54. The last comment directed at Ken and Cedric sounded harsh after rereading it. It wasn’t meant to be harsh or mean-spirited.

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  55. Theft is not always wrong either.

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  56. “natural law is a view that certain rights or values are inherent in or universally cognizable by virtue of human reason or human nature”

    I agree with this statement with the condition that God put those values in us. The fact that He is our creator we must deduce that there is little that is inherently “natural” about us.

    It seems that in the philosophy of natural law, especially aristotle’s version, just seeks to replace God with the word nature. I did enjoy the section of Christian natural law though as it quoted the same scripture I directed you to.

    As for the Micah 6:8, this scripture refers to “good” as something that is set in stone. “He has showed you, oh man, what is good.” Justice, humility, and mercy are and have always been good.

    So with our different viewpoints on the natural law, leading me back to Romans, I feel as if my question wasn’t satisfied. What laws apart from what we know is good and from God could we possibly live by and still be able to say ” this is good “?

    Thanks again for the challenging discussion.

    So, with the

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  57. Edit: in what situation is theft good?

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  58. Richard Christie

    You see, from my standpoint, and I think it is biblically well founded, …

    From your standpoint….gee, of course the bible and Jesus agree with you. That’s a big part of Jesus’s job – to agree with all of your prejudices and interpretations.

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  59. Richard, I wasn’t born a Christian. Jesus didnt agree with my hatred and sin before I was a Christian. When I realized the truth. I repented and conformed my thoughts to Gods Word, which I know to be true. Stop hating.

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  60. Richard Christie

    Joshua, the difference between you and me is that I was born right the first time up.
    No need to for me to repent or to despise my own species for merely existing.
    Nor did my morals come from your imaginary friend.

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  61. The last comment directed at Ken and Cedric sounded harsh after rereading it. It wasn’t meant to be harsh or mean-spirited.

    Being harsh or mean-spirited is not the problem.
    Sounding sanctimonious and being just plain wrong is the problem.

    I said what you said was insightful I meant insightful INTO Christianity for a nonChristian. Generally when a person isn’t a Christian they either don’t really take the time to truly study into Christianity or the bible, or they…

    ropata IS a Christian, you idiot. What does he have to do? Get a little certificate from his minister or something? Urg.

    Ad hominem attacks are generally…

    Listen up Sparky, nobody has used an ad hominem attack on you.
    Find out what an ad hominem attack is and then, IF someone uses one against you, go ahead and point it out.

    Confused?
    Let me help you out with that:

    What a sanctimonious turd.

    This is not an ad hominem. It’s just me calling you a sanctimonious turd.
    It’s just a plain old fashioned insult.
    It’s not an ad hominem.
    Ad hominem =/= plain old fashioned insult.

    The ignorance is strong with this one.

    Now here I’m calling you ignorant. That’s based on your comment about cannibals. Calling you ignorant in this case is quite apt.
    Even IF you were NOT ignorant and I was being unfair in calling you ignorant…that would not be an ad hominem.
    At best and making a real stretch , it’s still just an insult.

    Now, at this point, you have probably entered your “but…but…but” phase where you have fixated on the insults and have not bothered to actually look up a comprehensive explanation of what an ad hominem actually is and how it works.

    Looking up the phrase “ad hominem” is easy.
    Yet you probably will be too intellectually incurious to even bother.

    “You called me a turd. A sanctimonious one!”

    Yes, that’s right.

    “Well, stop using ad hominems”.

    I didn’t. I just called you a turd. That’s not an ad hominem.

    “Yes, it is. You called me a turd.”

    You are not listening. I know I called you a turd.
    I’m not denying that I called you a turd.
    I’m very comfortable with the fact that I called you a turd.
    You deserved it.

    But….that’s not an ad hominem.

    (…awkward silence…)

    “But…but…but…but you called me a turd!”

    (sigh)

    Yes, yes, yes. I KNOW I CALLED YOU A TURD.
    It’s an insult.
    But (wait for it, wait for it) that’s NOT an ad hominem.
    An insult is not the same thing as an ad hominem.
    No, really. It’s not.
    I’m not saying that just to get away scott-free with calling you a turd.
    I embrace the fact that I called you a turd. I own it completely.
    I, Cedric Katesby, called you a turd.
    I really did.
    I’m not even sorry about it. It was an insult.
    But…..it’s not an ad hominem.

    Pay attention to your opening salvo:

    Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (God[THE God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you know])

    So I took it completely and re-labeled it:

    Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (Vishnu, Zeus, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, a sweaty magic football sock, you know])

    So why do I bring this up?
    What has this to do with ad hominem attacks or the lack thereof?
    Well, find out what an ad hominem attack is and then (hopefully) the penny will drop as to why I brought up your quote and my response.

    Go ahead and google “ad hominem”. Find one in-depth definition that’s comprehensive and does a good job demonstrating the difference between a garden-variety insult and an actual ad hominem.

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  62. Richard,
    I don’t despise my own species. I love them enough to tell them the truth. Even Cedric, even you.

    Cedric,

    After I researched ad hominem I realized that you are right, I misused it. So?
    I should’ve just said that people should contribute to the conversation/debate instead of resorting to childish name calling. If you have an argument or disagreement then present it.
    I’m curious as to your disagreement with my cannibal statement. You haven’t proven me wrong yet btw. Ropata is the only one who has come close to challenging my beliefs on the origins of our morality.

    Ropata,
    I was thinking earlier this morning about how I might’ve made an incorrect assumption about you. You never said that you weren’t a Christian and I believe I assumed that because I couldn’t see how a Christian could hold the point of view that you do on this subject. If I have mislabled you I am sorry and didn’t mean to offend you. Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and the full and free forgiveness of your sins? ( are you a Christian? )

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  63. Richard Christie

    You haven’t proven me wrong yet btw

    No one will ever prove you wrong Joshua, because you just… know .

    Your world operates with an imaginary but assailable authority that resides inside your mind. No one can hope to compete with the voices in your head.

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  64. Joshua – to say morality comes from your god is at least very lazy. All “god did it” arguments have been shown to be completely inadequate, historically.

    Worse, by its nature this argument holds people back from really understanding the source of human morality.

    I believe that science is making good progress in understanding human morality. Just as we no longer attibute origins of life or universe to your god, or explain the workings of the solar system that way, we can acheive an understandign of morality based on evidence and tested against reality.

    Humans have evolved as a sentient, conscious, intelligent, social, empathetic species. This means that we have morality built in to us. We must as a social species. And we can arrive at moral postions becuase of this – because of our intuitions. Finally, as an intelligent species we can further develop our moral positions based on a rreasoned approach.

    We have extremely strong intutions of right and wrong. While these are often motivated by our empathy they can also be influenced by our culture. Consequently there have been moral positions which have been anti-human. We used to think slavery was right. No longer. Similarly with our attitudes to women and homosexuals. We used to support appression based on race. No longer.

    This shows the ability of humans to not only arrive instinctively at moral positions based on our empathy but to also change those positions by application of education and reason.

    Religion and god beliefs are not required. if anything they get in the way. they become methods of justifiying and advocating any sort of inhumanhity. The worst sort of moral relativism.

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  65. Ken,

    I disagree. Not that slavery isn’t wrong, or the oppression of women. That’s wrong. I just disagree with your point of view. The morality of Christianity isn’t relative. And homosexuality is wrong.

    Repent and believe the good news – that your sin can be forgiven you in Jesus Christ.

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  66. Joshua – to say you disagree is not discussion. The Church disagreed with Galileo’s right to advocate for a heliocentric universe. They were wrong, he was right.

    Science turns out to be the best method we know of understanding reality. Revelation the worst. You actually seem to agree nbecause you say that slavery and the opprssion of women are wrong.

    By the way – offensive statments like “Repent and believe the good news – that your sin can be forgiven you in Jesus Christ” are also not discussion. Just bigotry and hate. Please leave those at home. They aren’t welcome here.

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  67. After I researched ad hominem I realized that you are right, I misused it. So?

    So?
    You were wrong.
    Hello?
    Anybody home?

    What is wrong with you?

    What ever happened to being big enough to acknowledging a mistake and moving on with the conversation?
    Or are you too small and petty for that?

    I’m curious as to your disagreement with my cannibal statement.

    Evidently not curious enough to not do the slightest bit of research.

    You said…Even cannibals don’t eat each other.

    Whatever you may know about cannibalism is probably gleaned off of B-grade Hollywood movies. Once again, I urge you to type in “cannibal” into google and look at real communities known to practice cannibalism
    who have been recorded by anthropologists.

    You haven’t proven me wrong yet btw.

    Wha…?
    I prove you wrong?
    I prove YOU wrong?
    Dang, that’s that fastest piece of burden shifting I’ve seen in a long time.
    Awful.

    Here’s how it works:
    1) You make a claim.
    2) You support said claim with evidence.

    Here’s how it does NOT work:
    1) You make a claim.
    2) You dare people prove you wrong.

    Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (God[THE God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you know])

    “Logically, there are three origins for morality.
    1) The individual.
    2) Society/Government.
    3) An all powerful, all knowing Being that precedes everything. (Vishnu, Zeus, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, a sweaty magic football sock, you know])”

    Spot the basic problem in your claim.
    Go on, try.

    Shifting The Burden Of Proof – The Atheist Experience 438

    Like

  68. Ken,

    No, sir, neither of those are discussion. They are the end to discussion with you.

    I truly pray that God blesses you in Jesus Christ and helps you to see.

    Goodbye to you.

    Like

  69. Cedric,

    Your hate is a discredit to atheists. There seems to be no civility here. How about taking the time to type out your thoughts instead of using google as a crutch. I’m not debating google.

    This is my last post to you as well seeing as discussion seems improbable with you.

    Idea-attack
    Response-attack

    That’s not discussion. So God bless you sir. And I will truly pray for you as well.
    I encourage you to turn from sin and believe the good news. Trust Jesus.

    Goodbye to you.

    Like

  70. Well – that was quick wasn’t it?

    This guy is obviously scared of a scientific approach.

    Like

  71. Your hate is a discredit to atheists. There seems to be no civility here.

    I don’t hate you. I pity you a little bit but I don’t hate you.

    You can’t bring yourself to believe that ropata is a Christian even when ropata takes the time to spell it out for you.

    ropata doesn’t care for me much but in all fairness where do you get off by questioning his credentials with your holier-that-thou posturing?
    That’s very turd-like behaviour.
    Calling you a turd is not an expresssion of hate.
    It’s my way of insulting you because you don’t seem like a very nice person.
    I cheerfully mock you and the bone-headedness you richly represent.

    I said what you said was insightful I meant insightful INTO Christianity for a nonChristian. Generally when a person isn’t a Christian they either don’t really take the time to truly study into Christianity or the bible, or they…

    You owe ropata an apology.
    (Not a qualified, half-assed one subject to assurances that the other guy must bends over backwards to produce.)

    Taking the time to point out that you don’t seem to know anything about cannibals or what an ad hominem is or understanding the concept of the burden of proof is not hate.

    Your snarky passive-aggressiveness is, however, worthy of pity and probably more than a little contempt.
    Grow up.

    Like

  72. And I will truly pray for you as well.

    And I will think for you.

    Like

  73. Actually I have come to enjoy your comedic posts Cedric although it took some getting used to.
    Joshua I don’t like labels or jumping through hoops as ones relationship with God is quite personal but I have some small perception of and respect for God’s presence.

    Like

  74. Actually I have come to enjoy your comedic posts Cedric although it took some getting used to.

    Well, then it’s all for the good.
    Since I have you here and Joshua’s comments are still hot…

    What’s your opinion on Joshua’s charge of ad hominem?

    I know he said that I was right after all but do you concur?
    Did I insult him or was it an ad hominem?

    (I’m hoping that we can perhaps use this as a clear example whenever accusations of “ad hominem” go flying around again in some future discussion.)

    Like

  75. Richard Christie

    Did you guys notice Joshua’s avatar?

    …. it’s getting to be uncanny

    Like

  76. Joshua it’s very easy to construct a situation where theft might be morally justified. Stealing a semiautomatic weapon from a maniac is better than letting him keep it and possibly killing people.

    Cedric a lot of your comments were indeed “against the man” but strictly speaking I don’t think you committed the ad hominem logical fallacy. If you had said “Joshua is X, therefore his argument is wrong” that would have done it. Unfortunately your general attack on his character wasn’t congenial to further discussion and deconstruction of his thinking but if you felt the need to do so it’s a free country.

    Like

  77. Ropata, do you not think Joshua was being offensive by accusing others, me certainly, of bring a sinner and demanding repentance?

    I find that sort of talk really offensive and arrogant.

    Like

  78. Yes I did see that and thought it was puerile.
    Another graduate of the Ray Comfort school of robo-evangelism, probably.

    Like

  79. Richard Christie

    I’m going to copy Joshua’s first comment into my next tax return.
    Plus a bit about how the threat from the Pihgerians of the third system of Proxima Centauri was first predicted in the book of Revelations.
    Maybe the IRD will leave me alone after that.

    Like

  80. …but strictly speaking I don’t think you committed the ad hominem logical fallacy. If you had said “Joshua is X, therefore his argument is wrong” that would have done it.

    A breakthrough!
    Will wonders never cease?

    All I ask is that when you are about to accuse someone of using an ad hominem attack against you, that you take a moment to remember this occasion and make sure you really are talking about an ad hominem as opposed to something else.
    If Ken or myself or somebody else really does make an ad hominem attack on you then by all means spell it out and I’ll be the first to acknowledge it.

    Another graduate of the Ray Comfort school of robo-evangelism, probably.

    Ah, but until you read “God doesn’t believe in Atheists” and “Evolution: A Fairy Tale For Grownups” both written by Ray Comfort you will never have an intellectual understanding of how a real Christian thinks.
    ( Or a real Scotsman for that matter) ;)

    No True Scotsman

    Like

  81. It pays to remember that 85% of people have IQ less than 115, I don’t expect great sophistication from most random people Christian or otherwise. If Ray’s sophomoric tracts and misguided guilt-trip based ministry is how a “real” Christian thinks , I’m more interested in how a “great” Christian thinks such as C.S Lewis or Aquinas or Pascal.

    Like

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