Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Contrasting atheistic preferences and biblical law

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for many things and for the disappointments from the Lord this year (heck, in this past 7 weeks). May His name be praised forever.

I am also very thankful that I'm not an atheist like I used to be. I've been talking to some verbose atheists over here and though I can't match them keystroke for keystroke b/c of time constraints, they've given a good opportunity to contrast the worldview presented to us by atheism and the biblical worldview. Most of their arguments against God's existence have been based on moral objections, so I thought I'd respond in this way.


I'm going to make clearer the difference between the atheistic worldview's ability to make value judgments that go beyond personal preference and the biblical worldview's ability to do the same.

What I mean when I say "an objective morality" is this: a moral system that is prescriptive and that is true whether or not anyone believes it or not. With that in mind...

Atheistic worldview
We haven't seen a justification yet for saying that, say, raping little girls is definitely, always morally wrong.

Biblical worldview
Raping little girls is wrong because:
1) Rape is specifically proscribed.
2) Rape is also theft, which is specifically proscribed.
3) Rape is also wanton aggression against another, which is specifically proscribed.
OK, so WHY are these things proscribed?
Because they violate the command of God, Who has given a law of behavior by which His creation has a responsibility to abide.
WHY did He give this law this way?
Because these laws are how He is. The law He gives flows out of Who and how He is. He is holy; His law demands holiness (and describes how to be holy). He is good; His law demands goodness (and describes how to be good). He loves truth; His law demands truthfulness (and describes how to be truthful). Etc.
What makes these laws good?
-We need SOME standard to tell what good and bad are. In atheism, that's totally lacking.
These laws from God are backed up with the force of justice. He will punish all breakers of the law with eternal torment, so evil is met with just judgment. The law has a policeman and judge as well - God.

In other words, the statement "Raping little girls is always wrong for everyone at all times everywhere." is true, everywhere, for all people, at all times.
That's what I mean when I say "objectively wrong". It doesn't depend on my personal preference. It doesn't depend on society. It doesn't depend on whether my personal preference changes at a different time in my life. And if I break that law, I'll be punished, JUSTLY, for the crime.

Finally, this is most important - EVERYone has broken the law of God, so EVERYone deserves the eternal torment as a just reward for his/her actions. But God took the torment and death (the punishment) on Himself in the person of Jesus Christ as a substitute for all who will repent and believe. As the gospel of John says: "He who believes in the Son is not judged, but he who does not believe in the Son is judged already."


Now then, as we've seen so far, the option offered so far here is either question-begging (more on that in a sec) or based on nothing more than personal preference.
-If it's based on personal preference or societal preference, we have no standard; we just have a DESCRIPTION. Is does not imply ought, remember?
-Also, if personal/societal preference, there is no mechanism in place by which we might know whether the person's preference is good or bad. It just IS. And it ends at the tip of your nose; my personal preference might be totally different. And there's no way to judge between them.
-You may have noticed that I often ask WHY your standards for morality are the standards. What I've seen so far is:

**I am a member of a species of social animal with traits common to that species, one of which is empathy for others; Empathically, I can put myself in the shoes of a victim
**secular morality is about getting along with your fellow humans
**The justification is that the foundation of human society is respect for other human beings.

Perhaps more, but that's so far.
But **WHY** are these good? What makes respecting fellow humans good?
You might say:
We recoil from pain, we don't like to suffer. So it's wrong to inflict suffering.

But is it not the case that, while some don't like to suffer, others welcome it, others inflict it on themselves, and still others enjoy inflicting suffering on others?
Why did you arbitrarily choose the former rather than one of these latter options?

You might say:
If people inflict suffering, it's usually in the name of a god.

That's a distracting side issue and begging the question again. Tell me WHY it's wrong.

Thomas said:
It's necessary to proscribe the inflicting of suffering on others in order to sustain society.

That's begging the question again.
WHY do we prefer to sustain society? Some people prefer to sustain it, others prefer to scramble it, others prefer to remake it like they want it, others prefer total anarchy, still others want to raze certain societies of the face of the earth.
Why did you arbitrarily choose to sustain society? Why not one of these other options?

All this to say - you PREFER it that way, but you don't have a good foundational reason to beyond that.
Contrast that with the above-described biblical view of morality.


Now, I'd like to call attention to this comment:
One of the mistakes inherent in your theistic worldview is to think moral judgments will always be consistent.

This is a brilliant illustration of what I mean.
Yes, it is a terrible mistake to think that it might be best that a moral judgment ("Raping little girls is always wrong for everyone at all times everywhere.") be consistent forever. Is this where an atheistic morality leads us?

39 comments:

John Morales said...

Raping little girls is wrong because:
1) Rape is specifically proscribed.
2) Rape is also theft, which is specifically proscribed.
3) Rape is also wanton aggression against another, which is specifically proscribed.


Really?

"The Bible found no fault with Abraham and Isaac for knowingly giving their wives to other men for sexual use. (Genesis 12:11-16; Genesis 26:7-10.) In fact, the Bible praised Lot and Ephremite for offering their daughters to be raped, so this fate would not befall their male guests. (Genesis 19:1-8; Judges 19:22-24.) If a man raped a virgin who was not engaged to be married, his "punishment" was to pay a fine and marry her. (Exodus 22:16.) As for female servants, male masters could legally rape them. (Exodus 21:7-11; Leviticus 19:20-22; Deuteronomy 21:10-14.) The Bible even shows such holy men as Abraham and Jacob forcing sex on their female slaves (Genesis 16:1-2, Genesis 30:9-10.)"

(from http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-bibleatrocities.html)

Carrie said...

You are a brave man, Rhology :)

Rhology said...

Carrie,

Do not confuse courage with stupidity. ;-)



John,

These recycled antitheist sites are tiresome in their predictability.
Signore, I ordered Originality with my atheism!

The Bible found no fault with Abraham and Isaac for knowingly giving their wives to other men for sexual use

At best you could say God is silent on the issue if you actually read the psgs in question.
But look again - each time they are rebuked indirectly by the Lord, Who sends plagues on the one house (in Ab's case) and a threatening dream to the king (in Isaac's case).
Those two men made a mistake.

In fact, the Bible praised Lot and Ephremite for offering their daughters to be raped

Where does it praise them? Just b/c the Bible RECORDS the event has happening doesn't mean it's praised.

If a man raped a virgin who was not engaged to be married, his "punishment" was to pay a fine and marry her.

1) Arranged marriages were the norm back then.
2) the guy had to marry, care for, and protect the woman he had de facto married.
3) b/c the odds were long that she'd find another husband as a non-virgin.
4) and this redeems each of them from a sinful situation. God is big on redemption.
5) and she still had legal protection from abuse in marriage. He did not have a carte blanche to do whatever he wanted.

As for female servants, male masters could legally rape them.

Ex 21:7-11 - where is the rape?
Lev 19 - the illicit sex carries a legal punishment.
Deut 21 - v. 11 - "if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your ***wife***."
Arranged marriage once again.
Anachronistic judgment on your part.

The Bible even shows such holy men as Abraham and Jacob forcing sex on their female slaves

Forcing? They were concubines, a very common thing at the time.
And nothing good for either man came out of those illicit relationships when you look at all the jealousy and trouble.
Again, anachronistic judgment on your part.

Congratulations, you seem to have taken one of your best shots and come up completely baseless.
It's funny, once you've seen as many of these "contradictions" as I have, the resolutions become as easy as pie. And pie's pretty easy.

Peace and happy Thanksgiving,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

One of my best shots?? That post took me about 3 minutes to put together; I didn't want to waste my time creating a post de novo when the author of my quote has said it for me.

I have read the passages. In fact, the following comments are from memory.

Brief rebuttals to your comments:
* Abraham/Issac - the OT god is not reticent about condemning. He doesn't here.

*Lot and Ephremite - they were spared and (verse 19) Lot says the angels are pleased with him (no dispute from them) and even asks a favor (to spare some place he was going to go) which is granted. I suppose I wouldn't (had I written the original quote) say "praised" but it sure found favor in the angels' (emmisaries of god) eyes.
*payment for "seducing" a virgin - you're right about the arranged marriages (women were essentially chattel). Situation similar to Shariah law.
*female "servants" - surely you "get" what it means that a woman sold to some man doesn't "please" him. Sheesh.
*anachronisms - You bring this up twice. "concubines* were common", "arranged marriages were the custom".

This sounds to me awfully like you claiming moral relativism - if "customs" (like slaughtering your enemies and enslaving their women and children) back then were moral, then the same activities should be moral now, regardless of whether they are a custom.

*you do know a concubine was a nice term for a sex slave, right?

Bah, now I've wasted like 15 minutes. Not for you, for your readers.

PS I'm Australian, we don't have thanksgiving.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Yeah, so, I didn't get far past the part that says, essentially, "atheists say raping little girls is fine" because that's just wrong in every category.

You can preach all you want but...

Isn't false witness wrong? Isn't blatantly lying about or consciously misrepresenting a group of people wrong?

Atheists, like any normal person, will tell you that it's morally wrong to rape ANYONE, not just young children. Just because you think that atheists don't have morals doesn't mean that we don't have morals.

And some of us consider that allegation a grave insult along the lines of "You're a fucking evil, worthless prick." For now, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and let that shit slide.

So, by your reckoning, why do Christians still rape people? Is it because they're not "True Christians?" Have they fallen from God's grace? Do they not love Jesus enough? Are they really atheists masquerading as Christians?

Or are they biological creatures who would rather satisfy primal urges than be decent, civilized human beings with respect for others?

Do not equate atheism with a lack of morality; such things are in the realm of despicable charlatans like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson.

In your response to John Morales, you say...

"2) the guy had to marry, care for, and protect the woman he had de facto married."

I hope, hope, hope that you're not saying that if some jackass raped a woman that he would be "de facto" married to her? Because, given the example you're replying to, that sounds like exactly what you're saying. And that really, really sucks.

Then...

"4) and this redeems each of them from a sinful situation. God is big on redemption."

Oh, so the woman is redeemed from a sinful situation by MARRYING THE MAN WHO RAPED HER? That's some mighty fine "redemption..."

And, finally...

"5) and she still had legal protection from abuse in marriage. He did not have a carte blanche to do whatever he wanted."

Oh, "legal protection from abuse in marriage." That's quaint. Considering he had to RAPE her to MARRY her. No, that's not abuse at all.

By the way, women in the OT (and up until a few hundred years ago) were seen as the legal property of a man, no different from land, livestock, and personal effects. I don't know if you knew that. You should. Because it's disgusting and wrong. Especially from a secular perspective.

And your "Biblical worldview" condoned the Hell out of it.

merkur said...

"Also, if personal/societal preference, there is no mechanism in place by which we might know whether the person's preference is good or bad."

Yes there is; social norms tells us what our society deems good or bad. We may or may not agree with that preference, since we can form our own moral judgments about what is good or bad. The social preference is merely the aggregate of individual opinions within society, and if enough individual opinions change, then the social norm will shift.

Why might people change their moral opinions, rather than sticking to an "objective morality"? The main reason is new information. Abolitionism is a good example; most people simply didn't know about the way in which slaves were treated and, when they were exposed to it (for example, by reading the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano), they tended to change their opinions.

Of course that's not the only reason - there are often catalysts, individuals who make "moral discoveries" and press them forward - in our example, somebody such as Thomas Clarkson. Such individuals might come at their discoveries from different directions (in Clarkson's case, from a Christian direction) but fundamentally they are pioneers, and frequently face tremendous opposition within their society (as the Quakers found). Yet even Clarkson derived his moral charge from access to new information, when he first began to read about the slave trade at university.

"But is it not the case that, while some don't like to suffer, others welcome it, others inflict it on themselves, and still others enjoy inflicting suffering on others? Why did you arbitrarily choose the former rather than one of these latter options?"

The vast majority of people don't like to suffer. If somebody welcomes it, or inflicts it on themselves, then they are welcome to it - as long as their suffering doesn't affect other people. Those that enjoy inflicting suffering on others should be prevented as long as those others don't like to suffer. This seems to be a pretty simple formula which works to the advantage of almost everybody in society - the only people it doesn't work for are those who are anti-social (hence the label anti-social) - so it's not arbitrary, but entirely rational.

"WHY do we prefer to sustain society? Some people prefer to sustain it, others prefer to scramble it, others prefer to remake it like they want it, others prefer total anarchy, still others want to raze certain societies of the face of the earth. Why did you arbitrarily choose to sustain society? Why not one of these other options?"

It's not an arbitrary choice. We "prefer" society because man is a social animal - it's built in to the vast majority of people. You mention people who want to remake society - but they still want it. You mention people who prefer total anarchy - but anarchy is also a form of social organisation. You mention other who what to raze certain societies off the face of the earth - yet they rely on their own society to carry that out. (You also mention people who want to "scramble" it, but I have no idea what you meant.)

The point that you don't seem to understand is that it's not a "personal preference" in the same way that "I like pistachio ice cream" is a personal preference. We're born into societies and it's extremely difficult for us to survive without societies - so it's fair to say that we don't have much choice in the matter, and preference - in the diminuitive sense that you seem to mean - doesn't really come into it.

"Yes, it is a terrible mistake to think that it might be best that a moral judgment ("Raping little girls is always wrong for everyone at all times everywhere.") be consistent forever. Is this where an atheistic morality leads us?"

Raping little girls is a handy example for you, since little girls are de facto virgins, and therefore covered by biblical morality. Can you tell us if rape in general is always wrong for everyone at all times everywhere?

Lucian said...

A piece of poetry, especially dedicated to Rhoblogy.

John Morales said...

From tonight's TV guide:
Movie: POP ALWAYS PAYS
Classifications: Movie, (G, 1940, B&W, Rpt)
"A man will allow his daughter to marry, only if her intended can raise $1000."

My bold.

Rhology said...

Hey all,

John Morales said:
One of my best shots??

OK, one of your worst shots... then why even post it?


the OT god is not reticent about condemning. He doesn't here.

1) An argument from silence.
2) I already described the unpleasant consequences of each's actions.
3) Each time God DID get involved in a condemnatory way.


Lot says the angels are pleased with him

1) B/c he had faith - Heb 11.
2) Just b/c Lot said it doesn't mean that the angels did indeed look on him with a ton of favor.

even asks a favor (to spare some place he was going to go) which is granted.

1) B/c he had faith.
2) Anytime God grants a favor to any person He is giving an unmerited gift.


women were essentially chattel)

It depends on what you mean by "chattel." They didn't have the exact same social standing as men, no. But if you mean they didn't have any substantial legal rights, that would be false.

Situation similar to Shariah law.


Not really
.
Man, I should install an Ignorance Aggregator for my comboxes!

surely you "get" what it means that a woman sold to some man doesn't "please" him.

And that clarification is in the text somewhere? I must've missed it.

"concubines* were common", "arranged marriages were the custom".

Except concubines were not supported by the Mosaic Law.
Arranged marriages were.

if "customs" (like slaughtering your enemies and enslaving their women and children) back then were moral

1) Slaughtering one's enemies was indeed the custom back then for everyone.
2) THe Mosaic Law governs exactly when and how that can take place - under God's direct orders.
3) Ditto for enslaving. But the slaves then had legal rights.
4) And the slaves had the privilege then of being redeemed from their self-destructive, evil, and depraved cultures and could participate in God's covenant community. It'd be many times better than what they had.
5) Which then becomes a picture of God's salvation of sinners from their previous darkness. It's a foreshadow of what happened to me when God saved me.

*you do know a concubine was a nice term for a sex slave, right?

You're getting that from where exactly in the OT?
It's unimportant that, in most ancient cultures generally, you're right. The whole point is to point out the differences between that and the Mosaic Law of the Israelites.


"A man will allow his daughter to marry, only if her intended can raise $1000."

1) Sounds like it could be a dowry to me.
2) Or it could be that the intended was dirt poor and a lazy butt; I wouldn't allow my daughter (depending on her age) to marry such a man and thus pass out of my protection in favor of a lazy man's non-provision.
3) Of course, maybe you meant nothing by this. In which case, it sounds like an interesting film. ;-)






Hi Jenner!

Jenner J. Hull said:
I didn't get far past the part that says, essentially, "atheists say raping little girls is fine"

You didn't read the post, then you come in and criticise a total strawman? Brilliant strategy! Try reading the whole post, please.

it's morally wrong to rape ANYONE, not just young children.

But I want to know WHY it's wrong.

Just because you think that atheists don't have morals doesn't mean that we don't have morals.

Strawman. Read the post.

why do Christians still rape people? Is it because they're not "True Christians?"

Correct. Christians are known by their holy behavior.

Or are they biological creatures who would rather satisfy primal urges than be decent, civilized human beings with respect for others?

That would be sthg I'd say against YOUR position, actually, so it's funny you bring it up.

if some jackass raped a woman that he would be "de facto" married to her?

No, he would THEN HAVE TO marry her, so she would have legal protection, etc.

Considering he had to RAPE her to MARRY her.

No, he didn't have to rape her to marry her. He SHOULD have married her w/o raping her.


women in the OT (and up until a few hundred years ago) were seen as the legal property of a man, no different from land, livestock, and personal effects.

That's just a naked (and false assertion).
Prove your statement from the OT.



Merkur said:
social norms tells us what our society deems good or bad.

Whoopie, I want to know how we judge whether that social norm is good or bad.
If the goodness or badness of it is discovered by determining whether it's a social norm is accepted or not, then:
1) all these above objections to rape/marriage in the OT law are stupid
2) the 3rd Reich's actions can't be condemned
3) the practice of burning widows alive with their deceased husbands can't be condemned
etc.

You don't really believe that.

since little girls are de facto virgins, and therefore covered by biblical morality.

1) And this charge you make lower in your comment is meaningless as well.
2) You have a long way to go to prove that OT Law allows for rape. You yourself didn't even try.

Yet even Clarkson derived his moral charge from access to new information, when he first began to read about the slave trade at university.

But others are in the thick of the slave trade and don't believe it to be wrong. So WHY is slave trading wrong?

If somebody welcomes it, or inflicts it on themselves, then they are welcome to it - as long as their suffering doesn't affect other people.

Now you're acting like God. WHY should they not inflict it on others? Give me a reason beyond "I say so" or "most people don't like to suffer".
Of course most people don't like to suffer. So what? You're conflating IS and OUGHT again, which is the ubiquitous atheist error.

We "prefer" society because man is a social animal - it's built in to the vast majority of people.

IS and OUGHT again.
Some people are sociopathic, why not their model?


You mention people who prefer total anarchy - but anarchy is also a form of social organisation.

Or DISorganisation.
Doesn't matter - I'm asking for the WHY.

You mention other who what to raze certain societies off the face of the earth - yet they rely on their own society to carry that out.

OK. that's irrelevant.

The point that you don't seem to understand is that it's not a "personal preference" in the same way that "I like pistachio ice cream" is a personal preference.

That's precisely what I want the answer for. **WHY** is this personal preference not to rape little girls different from the personal preference for ice cream flavor?



Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

John Morales said: "One of my best shots??"
OK, one of your worst shots... then why even post it?


Because one doesn't need a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.

Well, I have a life so shan't spend time over every little thing, however I am saddened by your glossing over the OT laws on women and slaves, and so here's a couple more quotes "from the horse's mouth" to illustrate the point.

Genesis 3:16 [re women]"Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Sadly, I just went through some of Exodus and it's horrific:
[Some snippets from Ex21]
"7And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do."
...
"20And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
21Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money."

Servant/Maid, such nice euphemisms.

Anyway, I'll let you have the last word on the rest your quibbles, my points are made and do not require belaboring.

If you find iron-age morality compelling and just, then I am glad I don't live near you.

Oops, one more line I can't pass (and I hope you asked with tongue-in-cheek and aren't serious):
**WHY** is this personal preference not to rape little girls different from the personal preference for ice cream flavor?


My answer: Because I am a human being with empathy, and causing needless suffering to conscious beings would cause me anguish.
I cannot express how badly I have felt in the past merely due to having said unkind words to my wife and upsetting her (a far lesser action than rape), and I suspect most humans are similar to me in this respect.

I must say, those theists who (and I have met them) claim that without their religion they would lie, rape, cheat, steal and murder if they could get away with it are the only good justification I can find for religion.

Anyway, I'm droning on.

I'll just finish by saying that someone's morality should be judged by their actions, not their (stated) beliefs or lack thereof.

Rhology said...

John,

Why does someone with as much philosophical training as you continue to confuse IS and OUGHT?

Is that not a basic fallacy?

You said:
Because I am a human being with empathy, and causing needless suffering to conscious beings would cause me anguish.

But OTHER human beings ENJOY inflicting suffering, they don't care about empathy. Why should "good morality" follow your model and not theirs? I don't want to hear a sob story, "oh, you're SO EVIL!"; I want a rational answer if you please.


those theists who (and I have met them) claim that without their religion they would lie, rape, cheat, steal and murder if they could get away with it are the only good justification I can find for religion.

I'm not sure I'd say that, but I WILL say that without the biblical worldview there would be no ultimate justification to say that such things were objectively wrong.

I'll just finish by saying that someone's morality should be judged by their actions, not their (stated) beliefs or lack thereof.

I thought you didn't believe in God, a Moral Lawgiver, but here you act just like Him. Maybe the Bible was right about humans wanting to take God's place after all.


As for:
-Gen 3:16 - and what does that mean?

-Ex 21:7 - you neglected to include the rest:
8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

-Ex 21:20 - why would someone beat up his property? Wouldn't that be an economic loss? When's the last time you took a hammer to your car dashboard?

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

Were I to respond fully to your questions, I would have to write a lengthy dissertation, so I shall spend some time on your first point and adumbrate my response to the remainder.

Firstly, be aware I have very little formal philosophical training (2 semesters of philosophy and one year of logic at university, 1979-1980). I have kept an interest in it (you could say it's my substitute for religion) but I'm aware that I suffer from the common problem autodidacts have, and I certainly don't consider myself an expert.
That said, I am aware of the is-ought problem (raised by Hume, who was an atheist), which basically questions whether what ought to be can be determined by what is.

But OTHER human beings ENJOY inflicting suffering, they don't care about empathy. Why should "good morality" follow your model and not theirs?

I fail to see where I am being prescriptive as to what morality should be, especially when I took pains ("my answer is") to clarify that what I wrote is my personal reason.
(As a side note, from reading what you have written I suspect you are confusing ethics and morality, but I shan't quibble over that issue).

I suspect people who enjoy inflicting suffering are a very small proportion of the population, but I can offhand think of a number of utilitarian reasons why raping (let's leave out the "little girls" part, please! That is just unnecessary) is not a good idea, even if you have no empathy:
(1) the possibility of retaliation/castigation/revenge by (a) the victim (b) the victim's relatives/friends (c) society at large.
(2) if your purpose in raping is to seek sexual gratification, seduction (yielding a willing partner) would provide a greater degree for longer, for multiple occasions whereas if you rape, your victim and other potential victims will do as little as possible and afterwards seek to avoid you.
(3) It might cost you friends/lower your social status.

OK, a quick response to your other points:

I WILL say that without the biblical worldview there would be no ultimate justification to say that such things were objectively wrong.

Indeed, that is my view. Why do you need ultimate justification?
I don't rape because I think it's wrong, I admit that is my personal opinion, I have given you the reason why. I don't need an external justification.

I thought you didn't believe in God, a Moral Lawgiver, but here you act just like Him.

And I think you have it backwards, God was invented by humans to provide an "ultimate justification" for such as you, and it's not surprising He is made in our image.

Gen 3:16 - and what does that mean?

It's an indication of the misogyny of biblical beliefs, where women are considered subservient to men.

Ex 21:7 - you neglected to include the rest

The rest is unnecessary since it's already been shown that selling your daughters is acceptable, which was my point (cf women as chattel). That there are rules regulating such transactions is irrelevant.

Ex 21:20 - why would someone beat up his property?

Why would there be rules in the bible as to what to do when it happens, if it didn't occur? ;)

Phew, another marathon at the keyboard...

To finish with your post's title:
Contrasting atheistic preferences and biblical law

(1) There is no atheistic "law" or any shared rules, atheists only share a disbelief in deities.
(2) This atheist doesn't derive his morality from a book, he derives it from inner preferences, utilitarianism and a considered ethical framework.
(3) Biblical law is fixed, so as times change it becomes more and more out of step with society.
I have no fear of eating prawns, as I'm not allergic and not religious.

A question for you then: Do you adhere to the proscriptions in Deuteronomy 14:9-10 or Leviticus 11:9-12?
I am curious, since you appear to believe that it is immoral to deviate from biblical "law".

Rhology said...

hi John,

Glad to see you're familiar with the is-ought problem. I thought you would be.

I fail to see where I am being prescriptive as to what morality should be

It's possible I was jumping to attribute other opponents' positions to you. I should be more patient, that is true.

from reading what you have written I suspect you are confusing ethics and morality

Also very possible. In a previous blogalogue on the same topic, I deliberately and explicitly neglected to make a distinction between them, but I mean the more expansive, universal concept of "morality".

(1) the possibility of retaliation/castigation/revenge by (a) the victim (b) the victim's relatives/friends (c) society at large.

Perhaps the aggressor's moral code expects and appreciates retaliation. It's immoral to him if he is not retaliated against.

your victim and other potential victims will do as little as possible and afterwards seek to avoid you.

Perhaps that's included in the aggressor's moral code.

It might cost you friends/lower your social status.

Perhaps that's how he prefers it.
I'm asking HOW WE CALL THIS ACTION WRONG, since atheists do not hesitate to call Christianity wrong b/c the Bible contains morally objectionable things.
I'd add that, on naturalism, humans are nothing more than evolved biological machines; this is another plank in the argument. There is no morality in how I treat a calculator, a wristwatch. Why a human?

I don't rape because I think it's wrong, I admit that is my personal opinion

Just FYI, I don't think anyone I'm talking to is a rapist or struggles with the temptation to rape. It's just an example.
That said, you have confirmed my point.
Given this admission, anytime you presume to criticise the Bible or the OT Law for sthg "barbaric" you see in there, I'll remind you it's just your personal opinion with no ultimate justification, no weight beyond your own mind. Given that, it carries as much force.



Gen 3:16 - It's an indication of the misogyny of biblical beliefs, where women are considered subservient to men.

1) that's just your opinion that this is objectionable. I don't share it and by your own admission have just as much justification to hold mine as you do yours.
2) The distinction is of ROLE and RESPONSIBILITY, not ontology. See Galatians 3 and Ephesians 5.

The rest is unnecessary since it's already been shown that selling your daughters is acceptable, which was my point (cf women as chattel). That there are rules regulating such transactions is irrelevant.

1) that's just your opinion that this is objectionable. I don't share it and by your own admission have just as much justification to hold mine as you do yours.
2) Men were also in OT slavery. Your case is better stated "some people as chattel".

Why would there be rules in the bible as to what to do when it happens, if it didn't occur?

Argument from silence. Laws are generally meant to be deterrents.

(1) There is no atheistic "law" or any shared rules, atheists only share a disbelief in deities.

It would appear that your disbelief extends farther than that.

(3) Biblical law is fixed, so as times change it becomes more and more out of step with society.
I have no fear of eating prawns, as I'm not allergic and not religious.


Thank God it's fixed! Else I might end up like you, without any idea of WHY rape is wrong, just sure (at least sure TODAY) that it is b/c I don't like it. But if I like it tomorrow, well...
Jesus fulfilled OT ceremonial and purity laws, Mark 7 specifically states all food is clean. Prawns are fine, pork is fine, blood pudding is fine. Enjoy. But give thanks to God while eating them. That's the part of the biblical law you're breaking now.

Do you adhere to the proscriptions in Deuteronomy 14:9-10 or Leviticus 11:9-12?

No, see reference to Mark 7 above.

it is immoral to deviate from biblical "law"

Correct, but one has to understand it. If you think the highway speed limit signs actually means you are prohibited by law to possess 70 dollars to your name, then you have it all wrong and can't obey the law. That's your problem here. I'll write a post in a day or two answering this question in more detail.

Peace,
Rhology

merkur said...

"Thank God it's fixed! Else I might end up like you, without any idea of WHY rape is wrong, just sure (at least sure TODAY) that it is b/c I don't like it. But if I like it tomorrow, well..."

What? What happens tomorrow if you wake up and "like rape"? Your argument against "atheist morality" falls apart if we can find somebody who likes to commit immoral acts but feels that it's wrong. Since such people exist - I read an interesting interview with a mercenary last month who explained that he liked killing people even though he knew that it was wrong. So clearly when you use the word "like" to describe moral choices, you are using it in a different way to how you use it to describe ice cream preference, while hoping is that nobody will notice this sleight of hand.

John Morales said...

Rhology,

I'm asking HOW WE CALL THIS ACTION WRONG, since atheists do not hesitate to call Christianity wrong b/c the Bible contains morally objectionable things.

I already said why I call it wrong.

And for the umpteenth time, atheists do not share any beliefs/opinions/traits other than a disbelief in gods. Hint, whenever you want to ascribe some sort of group opinion to atheists, try substituting non-Christians in there and see how much sense it makes (eg since non-Christians do not hesitate to call Christianity wrong b/c the Bible contains morally objectionable things). Let me reiterate: you cannot determine what beliefs people share by examining a disbelief this group share.
Some atheists have pseudo-scientific beliefs (eg homeopathy) or mystical beliefs (eg spirits), etc. The Raelians (a religion) are atheists, as are Buddhists.

You seem to need an objective, external reason to hold a belief (except, of course, when you just call it "faith"), and consider that what was written down by other people in other cultures hundreds and thousands of years ago is just such an objective reason.

I'm not going to keep following up on the mysoginy, it's there and it's evident (as in, being ruled by men quoted above, as in, 1 Corinthians 14:34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says).

Re the food prohibitions, it was an example that these rules are rather arbitrary (I could easily have picked anyone of many others such as the different cloths).
However, to respond to your response,
Mark 7 specifically states all food is clean
I will point out (a) the original passages say nothing about cleanliness, it refers to detestation and abomination.
Further more, you write
Prawns are fine, pork is fine, blood pudding is fine.
I point out Acts is scripture, it is post-gospel, and Acts 15:29 says:
"You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell."
Note it doesn't say it's unclean, it merely says it's forbidden.

Anyway, I'm off to work.

Rhology said...

merkur said:
What happens tomorrow if you wake up and "like rape"?

If *I* do? Then if I follow thru, I've committed a legitimately evil act.
If an atheist does? Then if he follows thru, nothing. It's just what he likes.
Knowing that the heart of man is depraved, this is scary.

Your argument against "atheist morality" falls apart if we can find somebody who likes to commit immoral acts but feels that it's wrong

Clearly his preference is still to commit the acts. Doesn't matter if he "believes" they're wrong or not.
I keep asking you to provide a better basis, but you haven't yet. You've had plenty of chances.

So clearly when you use the word "like" to describe moral choices, you are using it in a different way to how you use it to describe ice cream preference, while hoping is that nobody will notice this sleight of hand.

Tell me why murdering people is different from liking one flavor of ice cream.


JohnMorales said:
atheists do not share any beliefs/opinions/traits other than a disbelief in gods.

Apparently you also share a lack of any objective basis for morality. That's 2 things you share; I'll bet we can find some more if we dig a little.
Just off the top of my head, you also share a faith commitment to the universe as brute fact. Logic as brute fact. Etc. We've been over that stuff.

since non-Christians do not hesitate to call Christianity wrong b/c the Bible contains morally objectionable things

Other groups than atheists certainly have different applicable critiques to the bases for their moralities. They may be less obvious but are no less real. And I'd be happy to demonstrate it, but I'd need one belief system to focus on.

you cannot determine what beliefs people share by examining a disbelief this group share.

A "disbelief" is a belief in the opposite of the proposition.
Maybe you believe there's no god.
Maybe you believe the evidence for a god's existence is insufficient.
Maybe you believe there's no way to say definitively one way or the other. These are all beliefs.

The Raelians (a religion) are atheists, as are Buddhists.

True. Do you have a reason why my critique doesn't apply to them?

You seem to need an objective, external reason to hold a belief

Of course, otherwise a human is an amoeba is a head of broccoli is a clod of mud.
I'd be like you - without any good reason beyond personal preference not to commit rape or genocide.

consider that what was written down by other people in other cultures hundreds and thousands of years ago is just such an objective reason.

That's a strawman. I consider that what was revealed by God is just such an objective reason.

it's there and it's evident (as in, being ruled by men quoted above, as in, 1 Corinthians 14:34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says).

1) As demonstrated and as you've admitted, this is just personal preference.
2) So maybe I prefer it that way. So what? Nobody wins that way. And nobody EVER wins this type of discussion.
3) You gave up on the Gen 3 psg, that's telling.
4) You're farting in my direction as you turn tail to flee the field of argument on 1 Cor 14.
5) Have you ever examined the implications for what 1 Cor 14:34 actually means in light of 1 Cor 11- the rest of 14?

Re the food prohibitions, it was an example that these rules are rather arbitrary (I could easily have picked anyone of many others such as the different cloths).

Fine, and my answer will change accordingly.
The different cloths were part of ceremonial purity laws and to differentiate the Israelites from the surrounding Canaanite cultures. The ceremonial purity laws are fulfilled in Christ, and Christians are to differentiate ourselves by our BEHAVIOR in Christ.

I will point out (a) the original passages say nothing about cleanliness, it refers to detestation and abomination.

And you didn't even take into acct what Mark 7 says.

I point out Acts is scripture, it is post-gospel, and Acts 15:29 says:
"You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell."


1) Acts is Scr, yes. If it's post-Gospel is irrelevant.
2) The letter in Acts 15 was to the churches of Gentiles who also had converted Jews in membership who would have serious conscience issues if their fellow believers were to eat those things. And they were having trouble mixing anyway. This is an issue of watching out for the "weaker brother" - see Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8 for more information.
3) If the letter had said, "And kill any atheists you find," your only response could be "no, that would be against my personal preference." I can't stress this enough - you are in NO position to make any moral judgment on ANYthing.


Peace,
Rhology

merkur said...

Let's quickly revist exactly what we've said. You said:

"Else I might end up like you, without any idea of WHY rape is wrong, just sure (at least sure TODAY) that it is b/c I don't like it. But if I like it tomorrow, well..."

This indicates that you believe that I don't have any idea why rape is wrong, only that I think it is wrong because "I don't like it". You have consistently argued that when I say "rape is wrong" all I mean (all that I can mean) is "I don't like rape".

I claim that you are mistaken, and gave you the example of a mercenary who likes killing but believes that is wrong. This presents us with an example of a person who, when he says, "killing is wrong" does not mean "I don't like killing".

As should be obvious to anybody (except possibly to you), the example of the mercenary falsifies your claim. Here is somebody who thinks killing is wrong (moral judgment) but likes killing (personal preference). QED.

Having established that a secular moral judgment is not solely a case of personal preference, we can then move to a more useful discussion of what constitutes a secular morality, as opposed to a personal preference.

However I'm sure you'll prefer not to do that, and will continue simply to repeat the same assertion that you yourself acknowledged to be false when you said

"Clearly his preference is still to commit the acts. Doesn't matter if he "believes" they're wrong or not."

His belief is the moral judgment. His action is the preference. I can't make it any simpler than that.

Rhology said...

Merkur,

I appreciate the example of the mercenary, but the distinction you're trying to make is irrelevant.
Forget for the moment that he likes killing. Let's concentrate on his moral compunction against killing. On what is it based? A theistic framework? If so, then he has an objective basis (an objective law) by which to judge killing as morally wrong.
If an atheistic framework, his belief that killing is wrong carries no weight. It could change tomorrow. It is indeed based on personal preference - what else would it be based on? I keep asking the same question and you keep repeating yourself, which says a lot. Or you tell me it's societal preference, which is nothing more than an aggregate of several people's personal preferences, as if truth is determined by popular vote.

If you have sthg better to offer for the moral framework that you espouse, PROPOSE IT. I've only asked you 10 times. 11 won't hurt, I guess.

Peace,
Rhology

merkur said...

"I appreciate the example of the mercenary, but the distinction you're trying to make is irrelevant."

It's entirely relevant. It clearly distinguishes between a personal choice and a moral judgment, yet you persist in claiming that they are the same thing.

"Forget for the moment that he likes killing."

Let's not, Rhology, since that's the entire point of the example.

"Let's concentrate on his moral compunction against killing. On what is it based? A theistic framework? If so, then he has an objective basis (an objective law) by which to judge killing as morally wrong."

My argument is that it is irrelevant what it is based on. The point is that there a clear distinction between his personal preference and his moral judgment, yet you persist in claiming that they are the same thing.

"I keep asking the same question and you keep repeating yourself, which says a lot."

I keep repeating myself because you don't seem to be capable of understanding my point, which is that this example clearly shows that there is a difference between personal preference and moral judgment.

So here's what I think. When you say "personal preference", you don't mean personal preference in the sense that he prefers a certain flavour of ice cream. You mean something completely different, but you use those words because a) somebody else used them in a book you read, and/or b) using those words diminishes the concept that a human might be able to work out these things for themselves.

And incidentally, one doesn't change one's preferences overnight. Try waking up tomorrow and preferring pistachio ice cream to vanilla fudge ice cream - and I mean really preferring it, not just saying that you prefer it - and you will quickly find that it can't be done.

Rhology said...

merkur,

I too would distinguish between a choice and a moral judgment.
What I'm interested in is HOW the mercenary knows it's wrong to murder, not whether he likes it or whether to call these values "personal preferences" or sthg else you make up in order to make it not sound so damning.

there a clear distinction between his personal preference and his moral judgment

Fine.
If not personal preference (or societal preference, which is 1000 people's personal preference aggregate), what is his moral judgment based on? And yours? I've been asking this question over and over again.

When you say "personal preference", you don't mean personal preference in the sense that he prefers a certain flavour of ice cream.

When *I* say it? Actually, that's exactly what I mean.
Part of my point is that in an atheist worldview the preference of vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream is not qualitatively different from the preference of raping little girls to not raping little girls.

using those words diminishes the concept that a human might be able to work out these things for themselves.

If I'm guilty, it's of the latter.
But I've offered you a dozen chances to show me HOW you'd work it out and most importantly, WHY, that is, how you justify it.

Try waking up tomorrow and preferring pistachio ice cream to vanilla fudge ice cream - and I mean really preferring it, not just saying that you prefer it - and you will quickly find that it can't be done.

The concern is not that it can change overnight but that it can change at all. An objective moral standard that changes is not really objective at all.
And some fundamental things about people CAN change literally overnight. I know several people who were living like hell but were drastically transformed, overnight, by an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. My own encounter was neither so dramatic nor so quick-acting but it produced no less a change.

Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

BTW, here's one of those friends' testimonies.

John Morales said...

Rhology, why do you lie so blatantly?

You keep getting told by atheists that there is a qualitative difference between choosing a behaviour that affects others and preferring a flavour.

And then you choose to ignore what real atheists tell you and assert that "in our worldview" there is no difference.

You know perfectly well there's many atheist bloggers that post their moral codes and their bases.

I'm not stupid, I know you know you are deliberately "misunderstanding" and misrepresenting.

It says a lot about your actual morality that you choose to be dishonest.

Rhology said...

John,

I keep getting told THAT there is a difference. I just don't hear much about WHAT the difference is.
It's why I keep asking the question. I'm a curious sort.
Besides, other atheists, such as ChooseDoubt and JeffPerado, have told me that there is NO qualitative difference. Make the argument that there is a difference or get off me.

The question remains open. Do you have an answer?

Mariano said...

Great to see more apologetics on Blogger, particulary on atheism.

John Morales said...

For the umpteenth (plus one) time, atheists do not share any beliefs/opinions/traits other than a disbelief in gods.

There is no such thing as a communal "atheist worldview".

Different atheists will give different answers, because there is no such thing as atheist dogma.

Some are rational, some are not.
Some are dualists, some are monists.
Some are nihilistic, some are altruistic.
Some appeal to an objective morality, some don't.
Some are religious, some aren't.
Some are honest, some are dishonest.
Et cetera.

I reiterate, atheism is not a belief system - it's the lack of a belief in gods.

But I have no doubt that you'll soon enough post again about "the atheist viewpoint".

R: The question remains open. Do you have an answer?

You have ignored the various answers already, and I suspect you will again.
I've given you my answer, others have given you theirs.
There is not "the answer", only "an answer" by each respondent.

Again I repeat: atheism is not a belief system. It's a lack of belief in divine beings.

I know you have already admitted you don't understand logic, but that is a feeble excuse for not accepting what I've said already and here repeat:
"you cannot determine what beliefs people share by examining a disbelief this group share".
If you don't believe me, ask anyone who knows logic and that you trust. Or consider this analogy: what is the colour of things that are not red?

I know you're being disingenuous because you have repeatedly ignored answers. I have said nothing in this answer that I haven't repeatedly said before, yet you ask the same question over and over.

Rhology said...

Hi John,

Regarding your 1st assertion, please see here. I'm betting you'll want to contribute some thoughts.

Some appeal to an objective morality, some don't.

For those that do, which?
For those that don't, why doesn't that disqualify any value judgment such as "The God of the Bible ordered horrible atrocities"?
For both, doesn't that assume that you believe there is such a thing as morality? Isn't that a positive assertion?

you'll soon enough post again about "the atheist viewpoint".

Good prediction. :-D

I know you have already admitted you don't understand logic

To go from "I have no formal education in logic and can't write in symbolic logic" to "you don't understand logic" is a non sequitur, I should think.

I know you're being disingenuous because you have repeatedly ignored answers.

Ignoring answers is not the same as recognising inconsistencies inside those answers and repeatedly attempting to get a straight answer from the maker of the statement.
One who would lecture me on how I'm ignorant of logic should hardly make such errors, one would think.

Peace,
Rhology

merkur said...

"If not personal preference (or societal preference, which is 1000 people's personal preference aggregate), what is his moral judgment based on? And yours? I've been asking this question over and over again."

My moral judgment is based on a combination of the social norms that I was raised with combined with my own thought, as is (I believe) everybody's, including his and including yours.

merkur said...

"Part of my point is that in an atheist worldview the preference of vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream is not qualitatively different from the preference of raping little girls to not raping little girls."

There may be some people who make that argument, but I am not one of them. I would argue that it is qualitatively different, since it involves another human being. I would argue that it is qualitatively different since it involves the use of force. I would argue it is qualitatively different since ice cream flavours are not actually a moral issue. I would argue, in fact, that is self-evident that it is qualitatively different, and the fact that you need to have this spelled out in such a way does not speak well of you.

By the way, I reject entirely your notion of an "atheist worldview".

merkur said...

"The concern is not that it can change overnight but that it can change at all."

But it can't. Barring serious brain damage, people's "preferences" don't change in the way that you have repeatedly describe. Their control over those preferences might change; their expressed preferences might change; but their preferences are very unlikely to.

Try the ice cream experiment and let me know how it goes.

merkur said...

"And some fundamental things about people CAN change literally overnight. I know several people who were living like hell but were drastically transformed, overnight, by an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ."

The "testimony" you linked to is an interesting window into your ideas of morality, so I'd like us to use it to extend this discussion. Your idea of "living like hell" appears to be going to bars, drinking beer and occasional drug use while at college, which describes 95% of my college friends. It's not a "drastic transformation" to grow up.

I agree that there are examples of people's lives being dramatically transformed; however I'm willing to be that their favourite ice cream flavour remained the same.

John Morales said...

To go from "I have no formal education in logic and can't write in symbolic logic" to "you don't understand logic" is a non sequitur, I should think.
True. You haven’t admitted you don’t understand logic.
I apologise.

But, see below:

Ignoring answers is not the same as recognising inconsistencies inside those answers and repeatedly attempting to get a straight answer from the maker of the statement.

Let me summarise one sub-thread from the earlier comments, where you dismiss my point with a one-liner.
J: (1) There is no atheistic "law" or any shared rules, atheists only share a disbelief in deities.
R: It would appear that your disbelief extends farther than that.

It comes up again in a later comment:
J: atheists do not share any beliefs/opinions/traits other than a disbelief in gods.
R: Apparently you also share a lack of any objective basis for morality. That's 2 things you share; I'll bet we can find some more if we dig a little.
Just off the top of my head, you also share a faith commitment to the universe as brute fact. Logic as brute fact. Etc. We've been over that stuff.

And later again:
J: you cannot determine what beliefs people share by examining a disbelief this group share.
R: A "disbelief" is a belief in the opposite of the proposition.
Maybe you believe there's no god.
Maybe you believe the evidence for a god's existence is insufficient.
Maybe you believe there's no way to say definitively one way or the other. These are all beliefs.

My statement clearly was determine what the beliefs are, isn’t it obvious that means I acknowledge that there are beliefs?
Do you really claim your answer above actually addresses what I said?

Anyway.

Some appeal to an objective morality, some don't.
For those that do, which?

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

For those that don't, why doesn't that disqualify any value judgment such as "The God of the Bible ordered horrible atrocities"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_ethics

For both, doesn't that assume that you believe there is such a thing as morality? Isn't that a positive assertion?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raelians

Rhology said...

Hi merkur,

My moral judgment is based on a combination of the social norms that I was raised with combined with my own thought

1) Which is why it can easily be changed, if the "norms" you accept change.
2) Can you say that raping little girls is always objectively morally wrong in all circumstances at all places at all times? On what basis since a society may exist whose norms accept that?

There may be some people who make that argument, but I am not one of them

Wouldn't that just be their "norms" and what they accept against your norms and what you accept? How can we tell which is right? If we can't, concede the point that you can make NO moral judgment against the "atrocities" committed in the Bible.

I would argue that it is qualitatively different since it involves the use of force.

But all of these distinctions are also subject to the personal/societal norms/preferences.
It's as I've been saying - it all begins and ends with the person, nothing more.

I would argue it is qualitatively different since ice cream flavours are not actually a moral issue.

What if a society existed that thought that ice cream flavors WERE a moral issue? What would you have to say to them?

I would argue, in fact, that is self-evident

1) They'd say the same thing to you. How the heck could you possibly think that eating chocolate ice cream is not a perversion??!?!?!
2) Was it self-evident to the Nazis that murdering Jewish children and women was morally wrong?
3) If it was self-evident, where did that come from? We're all made in the image of... oops. I meant, we all came from inanimate material; why think that our moral qualities have to be different from rocks?

Barring serious brain damage, people's "preferences" don't change in the way that you have repeatedly describe.

Or barring a serious conversion experience, an encounter with the power of God. Their preferences change from terrible ones to godly ones, sometimes overnight.

Your idea of "living like hell" appears to be going to bars, drinking beer and occasional drug use while at college

1) This is kind of irrelevant.
2) To me, "living like hell" is defined as living in a way that is not submitted to Jesus Christ. So yes, what you describe is a subset thereof but by no means the whole thing.



John Morales said:
My statement clearly was determine what the beliefs are

I want to understand but I think you might have forgotten a preposition or a small word in there.
Did you mean "clearly was TO determine..."? Sorry - please repeat.

Do you really claim your answer above actually addresses what I said?

That you have no positive assertions to make? Yes, but we're discussing it in more detail in the other thread.

Moral objectivism

On atheism, what might "rational procedural tests for identifying morally impermissible actions" be? A couple of examples?

Virtue ethics - A system of virtue ethics, having offered an account of the good life, then identifies those habits and behaviours that will allow a person to achieve that good life: these habits and behaviours are the virtues (arête).

This is begging the question and pragmatism.
1) How do we know that the "good life" is good? What is the point of reference? Is it just "the life I want to live"?
2) This is living life so as to achieve a desired end. Nothing great or bad about that - it's amoral. The Nazis lived life in order to achieve their desired end - creating an ideal society. So what if they had to murder a few million people to do that?

A system of virtue ethics is only intelligible if it is teleological: that is, if it includes an account of the purpose (telos) of human life, or in popular language, the meaning of life.

Whence would such a thing come on atheism?

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

J:My statement clearly was determine what the beliefs are

R:I want to understand but I think you might have forgotten a preposition or a small word in there.
Did you mean "clearly was TO determine..."? Sorry - please repeat.

Rhology,

You once again have taken a phrase out of context - the full quote was
"you cannot determine what beliefs people share by examining a disbelief this group share.", however I (foolishly, in retrospect) only paraphrased the sentence fragment that was relevant in the assumption you'd understand that it was a fragment and should be taken in context.

You chose to misrepresent the original full paragraph as "this group has no beliefs" and I highlighted that I actually said
"determine what the beliefs are", with the word determine in bold to emphasize the difference between establishing that there are beliefs and determining what the beliefs actually are.

I do make typographical errors, but normally have no difficulty with grammar - nor do I quibble about yours.
You, apparently, have difficulty with comprehension - but I suspect this is deliberate on your part.

As for further examples, you apparently don't read the ones I've already provided (had you done so, you'd see your question is addressed), so I cannot see any likely benefit to providing additional ones. Besides, you can search for yourself, I've already indicated the direction.

J: Do you really claim your answer above actually addresses what I said?

R: That you have no positive assertions to make?

Sigh.

I can but repeat that different atheists have different preferences, so you shouldn't compare them as a class with "biblical law". Well, you can and you do, but it's nonsensical because it's invalid.

How is that not a "positive assertion"?

As to your questions on Moral Objectivism, Virtue Ethics etc, be aware I'm not a proponent of these, I merely pointed them out as examples of what you claim does not exist (objective/moral bases not dependent on theism).

Rhology said...

Hi John,

Merry Christ-mas!

You once again have taken a phrase out of context

Asking you for clarification is not the same as taking a phrase out of context.
Take a deep breath, please. Count to 10. This isn't the end of the world.


but I suspect this is deliberate on your part.

OK, fine, suspect away.
Of course, even if it is deliberate, it's not BAD, remember?

R: On atheism, what might "rational procedural tests for identifying morally impermissible actions" be? A couple of examples?
JM: As for further examples, you apparently don't read the ones I've already provided

Oh, well, that makes my job a lot easier.
I trust the reader to analyse the examples you've given and see how vacuous they are.


I can but repeat that different atheists have different preferences, so you shouldn't compare them as a class with "biblical law".

Understood, thank you. I've known that for quite some time.
A good analogy would be to ChristianS and the Bible. The Bible is the foundation. ChristianS sometimes embellish certain parts, deemphasise others, add traditions to their belief systems.
But I'm arguing that atheis***M*** makes positive assertions.


How is that not a "positive assertion"?

What, that diff atheists have diff preferences?
It is, of course. Remember, I'm not the one who claims that his worldview doesn't make positive assertions, like "Atheism says there's no god. That's not a positive assertion; we don't make them. We just negate."
I happily claim and am happy to defend hundreds and thousands of positive assertions.


I merely pointed them out as examples of what you claim does not exist (objective/moral bases not dependent on theism).

OK, I'm not asking you to defend them as a whole. I'm asking you to defend your statement, that these provide objective bases for morality.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Rhology :)

You say "Atheism says there's no god. That's not a positive assertion; we don't make them. We just negate."

No no no.
Look:
A person who doesn't have a god-belief is called an atheist.
Atheism is that which atheists share (a lack of belief in gods).

You're an aZeuist, I'm an aZeuist. Neither of us believe in Zeus the God, so we are both aZeuists.
AZeuism is what we share (a lack of belief in Zeus).

I reckon we both consider Zeuists have a rather silly belief-system, so that's a shared view there.

And yes, stating disbelief in something is a positive claim in the sense that any statement of opinion is a positive claim.
But it's not a positive claim about anything that is believed, only about what is disbelieved.

Just knowing you are an aZeuist doesn't tell me anything about your beliefs otherwise.

Anyway... Remember when I said: Different atheists will give different answers, because there is no such thing as atheist dogma.[...] Some appeal to an objective morality, some don't.[...] as part of a response to you?

You then said: For those that do, which?, so I provided examples.

And now you respond: I'm asking you to defend your statement, that these provide objective bases for morality.

There is no such statement.
Please do read what I write.

Again: Those are examples of what some atheists consider an objective basis for morality, which you asked for (For those that do, which?). They are not positions I hold or need to defend.

In fact, I've already answered this in the first part of the sentence, which you did not quote: As to your questions on Moral Objectivism, Virtue Ethics etc, be aware I'm not a proponent of these, I merely pointed them out as examples of what you claim does not exist (objective/moral bases not dependent on theism).*

* The part in bold.
You changed the whole sense of my sentence by leaving out the first clause, and only quoting the second clause.

Rhology said...

John,

Thanks for your patience - holy days and all!

You're committing an error common among atheists.
There is a big difference between not believing in Zeus and not believing in ANY god at all. Don't you agree?
And since the question of God is such a HUGELY monumental question with nearly (?) infinite implications, a worldview that has one God vs one with many gods vs one with no god will be radically different at the foundation.

You do the same thing that I'm doing when you attack theism as being irrational, since you recognise that all theistic systems share these foundational characteristics that you find irrational.
I'd be happy to critique the position you personally hold more specifically if you explained it. Barring that, I am looking at the spectrum of naturalistic moral theories and critiquing an element they all have in common.

Just knowing you are an aZeuist doesn't tell me anything about your beliefs otherwise.

But knowing that you're an ATHEIST is far different than being an aZeuist. It tells me a lot about your worldview, like it or not.

You then said: For those that do, which?, so I provided examples.

Which I checked and found they share the same characteristic I'm criticising. Maybe you have some other examples, or maybe you're just denying the obvious b/c it's painful to your argument.

RHOLOGY: I'm asking you to defend your statement, that these provide objective bases for morality.

There is no such statement.


Brilliant - you and I agree. Why are we even having this discussion then?

Peace,
Rhology

merkur said...

"But knowing that you're an ATHEIST is far different than being an aZeuist. It tells me a lot about your worldview, like it or not."

You think it does; but in fact it doesn't, nor have you provided any sort of evidence that it does. Oh, there's plenty of hot air about the "atheistic worldview", but no actual description of what that worldview is. It's all a merry apologetic roundabout.

Rhology said...

Howdy,

My friend Vox Veritatis has dealt with that question sufficiently.

John Morales said...

http://alexandertheatheist.blogspot.com/2008/02/zeus-endorsement.html