Maximum Awesome said:
I'm prepared to admit that my initial impression of you as "closed minded" was off the mark.
That's appreciated. Thank you.
To put that another way, we probably do share moral intutions and want to live in a reality where genocide, burkas, acid-in-little-girl's-faces, etc, can be objectively ruled out in a way satisfactory to everyone.
That depends on what you mean by "objectively ruled out". I don't know of a way that this could be accomplished in a possibilian worldview, at least an atheistic one.
OTOH I absolutely decry acid in little girls' faces. Burqas as demanded by fascistic Islam, yes. Genocide when it's undertaken by men with evil agendas, yes. There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified, but the vast majority of genocidal actions throughout history have been UNjustified, so we're close to the same page.
But as to the WHY we're on the same page, I'm there b/c I obey and love Jesus.
You're there b/c Jesus has made you in His image; you know that certain things are actually morally wrong but by your professed worldview deny their foundation. You're borrowing from my worldview while professing not-my-worldview. The sooner you quit your self-deception, the better for you.
I'll try to stop being such a dick.
:-P Believe me, I've met far worse. You're not too bad. This is a friendly discussion and debate, so no hard feelings here, please be assured.
I was listing two acts near the opposing poles of "caused discomfort" to give an idea of a vast scale, as if I had said "all the numbers from zero to infinity."
Well, may I ask on what basis you rate the one on the low end and the other on the high end? How do you know which is which?
I see as the mistake of claiming we can be sure:
1) There's no god(s).
2) Therefore, nihilism is correct.
In fact, I make that very argument. Here's why.
Only the biblical worldview is self-consistent and coherent, and only it thus provides a reason to think that our cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs. Atheism never even gets off the ground in that regard; the "my cognitive faculties are tuned to reality" is an article of absolute blind faith for an atheist, with no possibility of ever knowing whether it is actually true.
Same for an empiricist - no evidence can be adduced to determine whether evidence is the best way to discover truth.
Same for false religions such as Islam - they suffer from irresolvable internal contradictions and thus give every reason to doubt that the deity in question is a sufficient foundation for knowledge, reason, and morality.
Thus, the only possibility is nihilism, if one is to be consistent.
You say (the trunk) contains X, muslims say it has Y, ancient greeks say it has Z - I say I have no idea what's in there but I'm open to the evidence.
I'm afraid I can't agree with the analogy. Jesus isn't contained in a trunk; He created everything, including you and your brain, and He is the master of it all.
You're not an external observer; you're living in Jesus' universe, as is the Muslim. I see the truth about it and you and the Muslim won't admit the truth about it. It's more like the trunk is a McDurgle brand, and Mr. McDurgle is standing right there showing you his trunk: "You like it? Let me tell you about it," and you're looking the trunk over to try to show that it's not a trunk, but actually a giraffe.
IOW, you're not "open to the evidence" at all.
1) If you were, you'd be a Christian.
2) You SAY you rely on evidence to inform your decisions, but that's not true either. There's no evidence to back up your moral claims, which you make in abundance. That's the naturalistic fallacy.
Further, there's no evidence for the assertion that evidence is a good way to discover truth. You assumed that. Why did you assume it? Answer that and we're getting more to the heart of the issue.
I was using the "conversation stopper" argument strictly in reference to the possible formulation of a universal moral rule.
Would you say that "it is OK to rape and torture little girls for fun" is open for "conversation"?
An honest account of what we know and what we don't is the precursor to finding truth.
Do you know or not-know the truth of that statement?
See what you're doing? You're claiming you're talking on a foundational level, but in reality you already have your mind made up and you're sneaking in your assumptions. What is your real position on these matters?
would you like it if such an objective standard were to be formulated, without recourse to supernatural claims about any particular god?
Whether I'd "like it" is immaterial, really, as I think you'd agree. No, I don't suppose I'd like it, but it wouldn't be the death knell for my position.
I've asked many, many atheists and naturalistic empiricists to provide me with such an objective standard, and they never have been able to. I welcome your attempts, however, to see how it goes. I am a seeker of truth above all.
I do *not* accept the apparent implication that my resulting system is entirely random and variable
OK, then what prevents it from being random and variable?
I would argue that my, admittedly less-clearly-delineated-than-yours moral views are, nonetheless, mostly in agreement with most of yours and most of humanity's.
Which has no bearing on whether it is entirely random and variable, as I'm sure you'd agree.
This similarity, in itself, makes me wonder what these systems may have in common.
How about that everyone is wrong?
Have you ever considered that?
To put that another way, we disagree about the basis of morality, but agree on most of its specifics.
Which is entirely consistent with and explainable given the biblical position, wherein God creates everyone with conscience and with a heart that yearns after eternity, yet by virtue of the Fall of Man, hasten after evil things even while suppressing within themselves the guilt they feel for doing evil.
It may be fine on your end - but it is, still, scapegoat human sacrifice.
Yes, it is.
I'm using it in the "inevitable consequence" sense, that is, that 2+2=5 and 3+3=7 are both wrong because of the principle of addition.
OK, but I still don't see how what I've said doesn't resolve the issue for my position.
God's nature and character IS ITSELF a principle too, in the way you defined it.
You're using "argument from authority", I'm looking for an actual argument.
What you don't seem to realise is that all moral questions reduce to questions of authority and normativity. Who has the right to tell you what to do?
there's no "argument" to be made, in the sense you seem to mean it. That's the problem Hume realised when he delineated the IS/OUGHT gap.
God as Creator and Ultimate Lawgiver and Basis for Morality provides the necessary precondition for objective morality.
No God? Good luck with that precondition; this jumps unjustifiably over that gap, and results in an utterly arbitrary morality.
"I'm disturbed at the idea of god being above his own laws."
He's not above His own laws.
The law is: Don't unjustifiably put people to death.
God is always justified in putting anyone to death whenever He wants. You and other humans are not so justified.
What's the problem?
You seem to be using an ad hoc justification to clean up after all his possible behaviour after the fact.
Yes, I seem to be, but in point of fact I am not. The Bible is much older than you or I. I'm just following what it says.
I realise you feel I have no standard to express dissatisfaction
It's not that I feel you don't have one. It's that you in reality do not have one. Big difference.
At one point, church fathers had a problem with Galileo - they do no longer.
1) The Galileo issue is vastly misunderstood; I suggest you look into it a bit more deeply.
2) Medieval Roman Catholics are most definitely NOT "church fathers".
3) I disagree with medieval RCs far more often than I agree with them, so I reject any association w/o a good argument to that effect.
At one point, the bible was presented as supporting slavery - mainstream christians now reject this.
Both of these examples are of people misunderstanding the biblical text, not a change in the text itself. Yet there were also those at those times who correctly understood it. Why not cite them?
I know why - b/c it would be unhelpful for your argument.
but would you agree that interpretations of it improve over time?
Yes, but in some cases they get worse too.
Evolving, becoming truer to the bible's intent?
Yes, and sometimes devolving to become less true to it. Men are fallible, transient, sinful, unstable, inconsistent. That's why we must base our foundations on the unchanging God.
Would you say the current interpretation of the bible (yours) is the best there has ever been, and that interpretations will continue to improve in future?
I doubt mine is the best that has ever been, but I require argumentation to correct my view. Let's say that my position, by God's grace, is aligned with the truth in many ways, but I am not infallible. I am blessed in that my position on many things is correct, but yet there are other things I don't understand. One must not be blind to his own fallibility and biases.
Yes, interps will doubtless continue into the future just as misinterps will continue to abound and get worse as well. Humanity is far from monolithic, you know?
how do you think this improvement happens? Is it distinct from the process of rational criticism and marshalling of evidence shown in any other science?
Exegesis and hermeneutics are sciences (as well as arts), so I would be comfortable saying this, yes.
a question for you about "oughts": why are they more necessary for morality than any other scientific discipline?
It's the definition of morality - that which ought to be done.
"you ought to do X but not Y ... if you want to be healthy."
Yes, I hear this a lot, but it always stalls out when one introduces different "if"s, thus demonstrating that the non-Christian has an unstated, underlying moral standard.
"You ought to carry a garroting cord and hood and not a pack of tissues, if you want to capture children to torture at home."
"You ought to spend your time learning to make explosives and shoot an assault rifle well, if you want to create a fascistic state."
"You ought to kill all the intellectuals and freethinkers, if you want to be a dictator."
Now, the real morality to which you hold (ie, "What I like is what is moral") will rise up and say "Hey, those are not good 'if's!" thus showing that you don't really believe this if-then thing you're professing here.
It's pretty clear you've never thought about this before. I'm not blaming you all that much, but your blame will be much heavier if you should pass this opportunity by: think about this stuff now that you've been confronted with it.
You have a responsibility to repent before Jesus and beg Him to be the Lord of your life and your Savior. Don't pass that up for the sake of your self-centered worldview.
If reason is enough to provide us with principles to rule out genocide, rape, etc
Studying 20th-century history should be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that it is.
finding ways of behaving that are mutually agreeable for all parties.
Again, how do you know that what is agreeable for all parties is morally right?
maybe "ought" is just a grammatical conjugation, not a fact of reality?
Tell that to a family whose daughter was just raped and murdered. You can't live that out, so who am I to agree with it if you don't?
One more thing, in response to Damion, which Maximum Awesome actually anticipated:
Theistic morality thus becomes "If you desire to please God, you should follow the divine commands."
Humanistic morallity becomes "If you desire humans to thrive more and sufffer less, you should find out what makes that happen and then do more of it."
Only the latter comes with a research programme.
1) That's not what the biblical morality is.
2) This is demolished by my alternative "if" statements above.
3) Damion has apparently forgotten about the millions of pages that have been written on theology and ethics from theistic authors throughout far more centuries than modern science has been in existence.
4) He has also apparently forgotten that most scientists up to very modern times have been theistic and looked to God to ground their scientific studies. There is every reason to reject this biased assertion about "research programme"s.