Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Just the usual

Another day, another atheist posting little more than repeated question-begging assertions. Ho hum...


Rhology, with all due respect:

Buy.A.Dictionary.

They are cheap, and they are much more efficient (and reliable) than I am.

However, rather than define words, let's try a thought experiment and see if this gets through to you. Imagine there is a tribe of American Indians, ~1000 A.D. Your god hasn't visited them for whatever reason (please don't bother trying to provide me with one.) One tribesman (let's call him Chip on Shoulder) decides that he is entitled to attack his fellow tribesman brutally every time someone gives him "a look." There are already 3 tribesman permanently wounded. These indians are harmed, and suffer negative undeserved consequences. They are harmed because they can no longer move well. This = bad because they can't hunt, and their ability to feed their families is impaired. (I can't believe I just wrote those sentences) The tribe meets, and based on their group instincts of self preservation, decide that these violent outbursts cannot be tolerated. This behavior would eventually destroy the tribe. Also, they recognize that this type of lopsided retaliation is ALWAYS wrong, and create a law. What you should find amazing (and what I don't) is that they managed to figure all of this out without Jesus having to appear to them at all.

My response will be posted after it is moderated:

jdp,

Wow, you proposed that I buy a dictionary.
Let me try to explain again.

My contention is that atheism lacks an objective standard by which to measure good and bad, beyond the personal subjective "I like it" and "I don't like it".
If I'm right, you have no justification to make any more far-reaching statement than "I don't like it when children are raped". You can't say it's "bad" or "wrong" - you need to define how you know what is bad or wrong. You didn't say merely "I don't like it", so you're expressing a value judgment that refers to sthg outside of yourself. I want to know how you know what that is.
Saying "Well, duh!" isn't an answer.
Saying "Harm is BY DEFINITION bad" isn't an answer, unless you can tell me why.

So you're begging the question all over the place. Tell me how you know these things are bad, are negative, are harmful.

They are harmed because they can no longer move well.

So? What is your argument for the statement "Not being able to move well is harmful".

This = bad because they can't hunt, and their ability to feed their families is impaired

What is your argument for the statement "Being able to feed their families is good"?

This behavior would eventually destroy the tribe.

What is your argument that destroying the tribe is bad?
*I* have an answer b/c my worldview provides an objective basis for morality. Yours doesn't, and your consistent question-begging is only reinforcing that conclusion.

What you should find amazing (and what I don't) is that they managed to figure all of this out without Jesus having to appear to them at all.

My worldview provides for recognition of the fact that
1) God has placed innate knowledge of right and wrong within every person
2) God provides different amounts of light and revelation to different people groups
3) People usually do act morally in many areas.

You must have forgotten that I already said:
And to reiterate my constant refrain for those of you just joining us - my argument is not that atheism precludes the possibility of having a moral system nor that atheists are all immoral.

I look fwd to more answers and less question-begging assertions.

Peace,
Rhology

14 comments:

Paul C said...

Tell me how you know these things are bad, are negative, are harmful.

Emergent psychological responses shaped by external social conditioning.

Paul C said...

It goes without saying, of course, that moral language is simply a description of behaviour and does not refer to any objective quality of the universe.

Rhology said...

So what implication does that have for whether it is OK to rape a child?

Seems like this statement: moral language is simply a description of behaviour and does not refer to any objective quality of the universe

would preclude the possibility of saying "That is wrong and one SHOULD NOT do it."
Right?
If not, what property of the universe are you observing to lead you to such a SHOULD NOT statement?

Paul C said...

So what implication does that have for whether it is OK to rape a child?

Define "OK".

Seems like this statement... would preclude the possibility of saying "That is wrong and one SHOULD NOT do it." Right?

Wrong. You've just said it, and thus disproved your own point.

Rhology said...

jdp has abandoned the argument. He's a quick learner; we'll see whether he's a quick learner as regards the horror of the conclusions of his position.

NAL said...

Rho: God has placed innate knowledge of right and wrong within every person

Every person ... that would include nonbelievers.

Rho: Tell me how you know these things are bad, are negative, are harmful.

My innate knowledge of right and wrong.

Rintintin said...

God has placed innate knowledge of right and wrong within every person

that being the case, why can some groups consider some things morally wrong whilst other don't really find them shocking in the slightest? surely we should all think exactly the same things are wrong if that was true?

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle said...

rintintin:
(Previous post reposted with typo corrected)

"that being the case, why can some groups consider some things morally wrong whilst other don't really find them shocking in the slightest? surely we should all think exactly the same things are wrong if that was true?"

Your conclusion shows that you are unaware of the distinctions made within the Christian worldview regarding human morality. The law of God is written on the hearts of all people but no one follows the law perfectly and some reject it almost completely. For this reason we should expect the opposite conclusion than what you suggest. We see in this world people making moral judgments inconsistently. But the fact that humans have a tendency to make judgments, flawed as they may be, and be concerned with right and wrong is consistent with a Christian understanding of man. This is an area where reality and theology overlap and demonstrate the explanatory power of the biblical teachings.

Rintintin said...

"Your conclusion shows that you are unaware of the distinctions made within the Christian worldview regarding human morality. The law of God is written on the hearts of all people but no one follows the law perfectly and some reject it almost completely. For this reason we should expect the opposite conclusion than what you suggest. We see in this world people making moral judgments inconsistently. But the fact that humans have a tendency to make judgments, flawed as they may be, and be concerned with right and wrong is consistent with a Christian understanding of man. This is an area where reality and theology overlap and demonstrate the explanatory power of the biblical teachings."

But if the sense of right and wrong was innate, then whether people followed the teachings or not would have no bearing on whether they thought they were wrong - people can do 'bad 'things and still feel that they are behaving wrongly. I'm asking about people who do 'bad' things and don't think it's wrong. they are not choosing to think it's wrong, it's just that they honestly, innately don't think it's wrong. Surely their innate sense of morality doesn't work then?

Also, since biblical moral 'rules' dished out by God differs for various groups (eg OT Israelites vs Christians), does this mean that our sense of innate morality was 'changed' by God at some point in time?

Paul C said...

The law of God is written on the hearts of all people but no one follows the law perfectly and some reject it almost completely.

If this is true, then it proves that even if there is an objective morality, humans are unable to perceive it accurately, if at all. This means that it is impossible for you, Rhology or anybody else to make definitive statements about what that objective morality might be, since I can never know if your perceptions of that objective morality are accurate.

G-man said...

Rho,

I guess I don't see why you always harp on this idea. Imagine a person who is, by profession, a teacher. He loves what he does, and he does an excellent job educating children.

Along comes Rho and says "Hey, what made you decide to be a teacher?"

The teacher responds, "I don't know, I guess it all started when I realized that I just love the satisfaction of seeing an idea click in a child's mind. My friends always told me I had a talent for expressing concepts in ways that others can understand."

And Rho says, "Sorry, that's not a good enough justification. Therefore, you should not be a teacher."

I mean, is that really what it's like? Whether you feel that atheists can justify morality to your standards or not - the truth is, if someone can justify moral actions to him or herself, and behaves well, is there really a problem? There are many things more deserving of your attention than "I disagree with the way you justify being a good person, so let's argue about it."

Tell me how you know these things are bad, are negative, are harmful.

It's pretty simple when you consider what harm really is. The only things humans value are states of affairs where their desires are fulfilled. You harm people by going after what they value.

Being "permanently wounded," or crippled and unable to provide for the families they love... these are harmful outcomes, because the things these people truly value are at risk.

As for your comment at the Atheist Experience: come on Rho, just because someone *should* do something doesn't make it authoritative. That argument begs the question. It's even more puzzling to me when you say morality is prescriptive because "that's kinda what people mean when they say morality" and in the next paragraph you berate the idea that morality is derived from society whatsoever. Odd.

Paul C said...

G-man: Rho harps on this idea because he is stuck at the pre-conventional stage of Kohlberg's moral framework, where he cannot comprehend morality as anything other than a game of avoiding punishment and furthering self-interest. However he realises that this makes him morally suspect in the eyes of other adults, which is why he looks to a parental authority figure (in the form of his god) to justify his moral position.

G-man said...

Ooh, nice use of Kohlberg! I think you have a point.