As it turned out, no, I of course don't make excuses for tGotB but rather call the disobedient and unrepentant to repentance and obedience to Him. In fact, here is what I told him in that thread:
My principal thought is that you claim to be an atheist and yet you don't live like it. You can't. Your conscience is screaming at you that true injustice and evil exist in the world. But if atheism is true, there's no such thing as Overriding Cosmic Objective Justice or Good. There's just what you think, what I think, and what happens. If I think vanilla ice cream is tasty and you think it's disgusting, and you decide to kill me over that quarrel, so what? You just shortened my existence by ~50 years. In the course of eternal heat death, which is where the universe is heading if atheism is true, that means nothing. You changed the configuration of my molecules, reduced the gene pool by one more weak set of genes who couldn't defend itself, rid the world of my mouth to feed, my thirst to satisfy, my carbon footprint. You probably toughened up my children by making them adapt to their environment more rudely and quickly than otherwise; they now have to defend themselves at a younger age. And that makes the race last longer.
So what, so what, so what?
All men are simply bags of protoplasm trying to pass on our genes to the next generation, if atheism is true. And in fact, all high-sounding but empty platitudes of "we can rise above our genes" (as expressed by Dick Dawk in the last chapter or two of The Selfish Gene and echoed ad infinitum by many others) aside, given that "rising" and "above" are moral statements and atheism offers no foundation by which we can know objectively good morality from objectively bad morality nor a telos or purpose toward which we should aspire, I don't see why rape (as long as you're strong and clever enough not to get caught) wouldn't in fact confer an evolutionary advantage on the rapist. Each agent in an evolutionary scheme is motivated to pass his genes on to the next generation, and in this competition, agents vying against each other, the stronger tend to emerge and tend to pass on their genes more successfully. "Advancing" and "evolving" is the closest an evolutionary atheist will get to a telos, and impregnating dozens of females (as opposed to, say, one) is probably a successful strategy. Do you criticise dogs in heat for their willingness to jump on anything that moves that is approximately dog-sized?
But deep down you know that's not true, and that's why you express outrage over evil. Now, take the next logical step. Admit that atheism has nothing to offer, that you cannot be consistent if atheism is true, and that you have committed wrong things. Then ask yourself why you think you've done wrong, why you think you feel guilt. It's not b/c guilt is an evolved mechanism - for what purpose? Please! Rather, it was put there by God Himself to turn you to Him to ask Him for forgiveness and mercy! You can't be the ultimate foundation for morality, and you can't show me one unless it be God Himself. He commands you to repent, or you will be judged for your wrongdoing. But if you repent, He will forgive and give you eternal life, for free, b/c He has already paid the judgment that you so richly deserve. I pray you will do so.
Magx01 has turned out to be quite courteous and personable, but with his latest response to me, is certainly calling me to a substantive response. So here goes.
I find intellectual honesty to be very important, and a lack thereof to be very irritating
To be honest, so do I, but again, if atheism is true and the situation is as I described, so what? What I'm looking for from magx01 is a reason to care. If there is no Cosmic Ought out there, then why should I think that I should concern myself with a Subjective Ought inside myself? Why even bother making one? I can't help but do so, you say? OK, but why should I listen to it, be consistent with it, care about it, express it to anyone else?
Further, if something doesn't exist in the cosmos and I make it up for my own personal pleasure, does that not fulfill the definition of a fantasy?
I myself have had to correct misconceptions on my part. For example, concerning the historicity of Jesus, or the whole Horus thing
Very decent of him, since those don't hold water.
Do you think I actually think killing you is acceptable because I do not believe that there is a god?
No, not at all. What I'm trying to say is that the atheist has no overriding reason not to kill anyone he feels like killing. And no overriding reason to kill, either. There's just nothing.
But what reason would magx01 give to someone who told him that he was morally obligated to kill a child? "You shouldn't do that....b/c it isn't nice"? "...b/c it doesn't further the survival of our species"? "...b/c it runs against all my 21st-century Western upbringing"?
So what? And what does the death of a child matter in the great scheme of things? Even if magx01 assigns great meaning to that child's existence, why should anyone else respect that meaning? Does PZ Myers respect the great meaning that Roman Catholics assign to the Eucharist?
You are also just making arguments from perceived consequence, but failing to argue TRUTH, and that's the issue here.
What, specifically, have I said in the above comment that is not true?
And yes, I'm arguing that the atheist worldview concludes in utter absurdity, and that magx01 can't live that way. He himself proves the falsehood of his worldview.
what about destroying a family? Robbing them, and you, of experiences, both together and apart? Impoverishing the lives of people around you?
Now who's arguing from perceived consequence?
Who says that accumulating "experiences" is a moral imperative? How does he know what it means to impoverish someone? Where is the Objective Guide to Impoverishing People (and How to Avoid Doing So)?
Heat death is a reality if the science is correct (which it seems to be).
Side note - science has zero means at its disposal to tell us with any degree of certainty that the universe will end in heat death. None. It's merely conjecture, but it's a convenient foil and illustration I use, since it's widely accepted by scientismist types.
Me: "All men are simply bags of protoplasm trying to pass on our genes to the next generation, if atheism is true."
magx01: So? You're getting dangerously close to revealing that the problem is atheism CAN'T be true, because you cannot accept such a reality.
It's not that I can't accept such a reality. It's that magx01 can't, even though he has no reason not to other than what amounts to fantasy. And if we accept it, then why talk about this? It's morally the same as:
-not talking about it
-shooting up some meth
-murdering a few children
-giving all our money away to the hungry.
That is, it's not moral. It just IS.
a naturalistic view of life does not preclude one from emotion, value, etc.
And why should anyone else care about anyone else's emotions or values?
A computer or a painting are no less wonderful because we understand how they work.
Are such things indeed wonderful? What if I, another bag of earthbound protoplasm, simply deny that they hold wonder or value? If another bag accuses me of being cold or harsh, so what? Why not take down a Van Gogh and use it for toilet paper? Just b/c I'm for some reason "supposed" to "respect" your fantasy?
Me: "atheism offers no foundation by which we can know objectively good morality from objectively bad morality nor a telos or purpose toward which we should aspire...."
magx01: NOT. THE. JOB. OF. ATHEISM. That is outside the scope of atheism. Atheism is the lack of a belief in god(s).
As I've noted before, I'm using "atheism" as shorthand for "any worldview that is atheistic". This usually amounts to a weasel's way out of a conundrum, but I don't think magx01 is trying to weasel out. I just think this is the 1st time he's encountered this argument, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Pick ANY worldview that is atheistic, preferably the one you hold, and tell me why my critique is false.
Me: "Do you criticize dogs in heat for their willingness to jump on anything that moves that is approximately dog-sized?"
magx01: Do dogs have the same cognitive faculties we do? Do they understand morality, consequence, etc the same way we do? Do they have the same social dynamics as we do?
Remember that on evolutionary atheism, we are animals just like dogs. Our actions, thoughts, and reactions are determined by our genes and the chemical reactions occurring in our brains. Just like dogs are. If we hold "values" and "meaning" and "social mores", it's b/c our genes and neurons "told" us to. They don't hold any normative power, don't provide us with any objective imperatives.
And it's not as if humans the world over understand morality the same way. Some Christian apologists like to argue that way; I think the point has very limited utility. At any rate, it's easy to find people who don't put the same value on even "basic human rights" that we in the modern Christianised West recognise.
Aren't women raped every day, even in modern times, even in the West? To say nothing of places like refugee camps in Rwanda and the DRC.
Aren't people murdered every day, even in modern times, even in the West? To say nothing of places like Darfur. To say even less of Nazi Germany, like various outbreaks of religious intolerance on any given side throughout the medieval ages, like the pre-1950s Aucas, the Yanomami, the Sawi... the examples go on and on. What makes magx01 think he's better than all of them? B/c he assumes that it's better to respect his version of human rights?
Your main problem seems to be that a godless world means a world of relative and subjective morality. Guess what? I agree.
Oh, then why are we even having this discussion? Clearly magx01 hasn't put the thought into this that I have, and I can't blame him. It's not easy staring the void straight in the face like this. Perhaps I succeed where most atheists fail on this count b/c it's not MY void. It's theirs, and it used to be mine, and Jesus saved me from it.
We are still able to continually work towards bettering society
What is his reference point for knowing when a given action will "better" society? What is his telos?
Who is society? How does he know? What % of the people on the planet, where, when, are "society"? How does he distinguish between "society whom we must better" and "criminals whom we must suppress" without totally circular reasoning?
Does it reduce to who's in power at the time? What reason other than "I don't like who's in power" would there be to change who's in power at the time?
You imply that a god=objective morality. Why?
Well, I don't imply it.
he created that data/the rules
Not quite. He communicated the rules that are consistent with His character, in the form of commands to His creation. Thus we can know that Action X is objectively right or objectively wrong.
You are not providing evidence for the existence of your god.
True, I haven't really been doing that here. The thing is, magx01 has been doing so, by showing the absurdity of atheism, that he can't live like he says he can live (ie, apart from God), and that he prefers absurdity to admitting that he's a rebel against God.
You can argue that we're just bags of protoplasm here for a finite amount of time and therefore nothing matters, but I say to you that rather than measuring meaning in duration, you should measure it in depth and effect.
Of course, w/o a way to know what effects are good and bad, that won't help us.
Besides, who is he to tell me what I should do? Who died and made him the Pope of Morality?
do you really think I could, would, or should say that "oh well, I only have 9 years left with Rocky, and then he will die, so what's the point? Might as well kill him now!
He neither should nor shouldn't think that, and neither should nor shouldn't kill all of them; not just his dog but his wife and child as well. It doesn't matter. Go to jail for life? Live all of life "happy" in his fantasy? It doesn't matter - all will end up in the same place with the same fate - dead and unknowing.
Is that kiss any less wonderful because it ended?
Cue the sappy music. Give me evidence that the "wonder" of a kiss exists. Give me evidence that my wife's smile carries any meaning that I should embrace.
He goes at this point into a sentimental appeal to me. The whole point here is that, if his worldview is true, none of it matters at all. And he can't live like that, can't bear the thought.
But on my worldview, it ALL matters. So yes, kisses from my wife are wonderful. My childrens' smiles are wonderful. Good books are wonderful, and all this b/c Jesus lives. If Jesus doesn't live, I've not yet found a worldview that gives me a good reason to think any of that wonder I think I feel is actually true. Least of all atheism.
Is the only thing stopping you from being an immoral, hideous person the guy watching you from upstairs and the idea of eternal life?
Sort of. I remember how I was before I knew Jesus, and I was and remain an immoral, hideous person. But that which has changed me is not "the guy watching from upstairs" and "the idea of eternal life". Rather, it is the transforming power of Jesus' Holy Spirit that has made my heart love Him and His Law, and to want to follow Him wherever He takes me.
Magx01 will no doubt turn his nose up at this, but so what? What moral preference should any of us give, if atheism is true, to a skeptic than to a religious believer? They all end up in the same state!
Why, then, if you think these things, do you not see atheists doing all of these things en masse, in record numbers?
1) Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot weren't, um, Christians. (And no, Hitler wasn't a Christian either, though neither was he an atheist.)
2) They don't do so b/c God gives common grace (ie, providence) and providentially and generously restrains a great deal of man's depravity during this phase of human history. He won't always restrain, won't always give that grace, though.
3) This has nothing to do with what we're discussing. People are inconsistent, and in this case they'd be exhibiting what's known as "blessed inconsistency".
Morality is something that is ingrained within us
Gosh, I wonder why that could be?
Those who work together get more done, engender good will and subsequent future reciprocation (there's your selfish aspect of it) and have better survival rates.
And his point is? He's simply assuming that survival is good.
We're not discussing whether "morality" leads to people living longer. We're discussing whether things are good or bad.
Me: “But deep down you know that's not true,”
magx01: Again, amazing presumption for someone who does not even know me.
God knows you far better than you know yourself and certainly far more than you'll admit to anyone else. I'll take His word over magx01's any day, especially when magx01 can't yet bring himself to admit what his worldview ends in.
Or are you just committing a bare assertion fallacy
1) Even if I did, magx01 is way in the lead on that count.
2) God's Word is by definition the highest standard of authority and evidence. So no, it's not a "bare assertion" at all.
3) On atheism, what does it matter whether someone commits a logical fallacy?
I need evidence, otherwise it's just empty words.
Then hopefully, next time magx01 will be so kind as to provide us evidence:
1) for his worldview, and
2) that his moral beliefs are objectively true and binding upon others with normative power.
Otherwise, it's just empty words.