Anyway, he asked me to take our discussion elsewhere, I offered my blog, here we are. The thread in question deals with whether an atheist rapper is right or wrong to make offensive statements and slurs and epithets against homosexuals in his rap lyrics. The whole thing just makes me chuckle at the large-scale display of cluelessness. They have no grounding for any moral statement they make, but that doesn't stop them! No sir. Morality of one? Why the hail not just throw out some touchy-feely subjective "I don't like this (oh, and I also don't like lobster 'cause it tastes funny)" type of statement and see if anyone will swallow it? It generally goes unchallenged b/c most US and UK atheists hold to a vaguely biblical ethic, but what possible answer would they have if they were to encounter some actual diversity of opinion?
So here is the summation of my interaction with theclapp:
Original post: Should atheists, and those involved in the "atheist movement" (which overlaps the humanist, skeptic, freethought, etc. movements), be concerned if an avowed advocate for atheism expresses such views? Should atheist organizations withhold support, and individual atheists who disagree turn their backs?
Another question: If someone does not rely on tradition or religious authority to form ethical views, are there any good reasons (besides "I find it yucky") to be so virulently homophobic?
Rhology: You act inconsistently with your atheism when you make moral judgments of any kind that you expect or imply should be or are normative for anyone else. I also chuckle when I see atheists engage in moral debate like this - it’s all “I like chocolate ice cream” vs “yeah? Well, I don’t”.
Rhology: Let me ask you guys a question.
How do you know when something—anything—is true?
theclapp: Like everyone, I have certain axioms that I believe to be true without proof. One of them is that I exist. One is that I can learn about reality via my senses. And one that I’m debating, but having a hard time putting into words, is that truth does not exist, only consistency. I cannot say that X is true, only that it appears consistent or inconsistent with other axioms, theorems, and hypotheses, which (hopefully) are consistent with reality.
Theists like to ask atheists “how can you talk about morality when you have no objective reference for it?” (by which they mean, a deity, usually their deity, usually the being portrayed in the Bible). “If you have nothing objective to rest your theories on, then it’s just ‘what I like’ and ‘what I don’t like’.” I object (hah) to this on a couple of points. First, I rest my theories on observed reality, which is as objective as I can get. Second, as I don’t accept the Bible as divinely inspired (much less dictated, as some have claimed), it has just as much (or as little) legitimacy as any other document created by humans.
So here’s the thing. I value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (among other things). I have *observed* that others do too. I have *observed* that slamming an entire class of people frequently leads to a general decrease in the life, liberty, and/or happiness of said class, and occasionally in the person doing the slamming, to boot. I have *observed* that sometimes when people slam groups that don’t contain me, occasionally they get around to slamming groups that *do* contain me. So when people go around slamming homosexuals for no good reason, or for demonstrably false reasons, I object, and I question what good can come of it.
So, in a nutshell, I object to homophobia, especially loud, obnoxious, and unfounded homophobia such as Charlie’s, out of selfishness.
Rhology: It’s good of you to concede that. With some ppl, it’s like pulling teeth. Now, you do realise that most atheists deride Christianity as being “w/o proof” too. So even on your own views, your worldview is on the same level as mine, founded on no proof. (I don’t agree with that, but I’m talking about the implications of YOUR views here.)
Your 2nd paragraph commits the naturalistic fallacy. Let me suggest you look that up, and get back to me.
I value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
And maybe my ethic makes depriving you of those things morally obligatory and praiseworthy. So, which of us is right, and how can we know?
So when people go around slamming homosexuals for no good reason, or for demonstrably false reasons, I object, and I question what good can come of it.
1) Maybe, to me, “atheists are &*^*^&%*%ing pieces of &^*&^&*^” is my idea of doing good to them.
2) Maybe, to me, insulting people spontaneously is a good reason precisely b/c it’s spontaneous and arbitrary.
3) Maybe, to me, ripping ppl on false charges is an expression of love
You might say “you’re messed up”, but that’s what I’m saying to you at the same time. So, who’s right and how can we know?
See, on Christianity, it’s easy to say you’re wrong and to explain how I know it, and I have an objective standard to tell me right from wrong. I want you to explain how, on atheism, that’s possible, b/c I’ve never seen how it is.
theclapp: You said “your worldview is on the same level as mine, founded on no proof”. Well, sort of. As near as I can tell, the actions and values of most atheists and humanists have a higher probability of being consistent with reality than the actions and values of some Christians. (You may or may not fall into that group.)
I skimmed the Wikipedia article on the naturalistic fallacy, and I don’t see where I committed it. I didn’t say “good => natural” and I didn’t say “natural => good” and I don’t think I tried to “draw ethical conclusions from natural facts”. I said I try to remain consistent with reality. I stated my values. I stated that Charlie’s actions conflict with my values and why, and that ergo I would not “support” him. I even stated the foundation of my values: base selfishness.
That said, and on further thought, I suppose I must grant you your initial assertion: it boils down to what you value and why, or as you put it “I like this” or “I don’t like that”. And so I guess the great question is: So?
Regarding your points 1, 2, and 3: You’re free to believe that, of course, but in my opinion such behavior is inconsistent with what I know of the core teachings of Christianity, and by observation such behavior frequently leads to other behavior and actions that go against my values (i.e., however indirectly, they threaten me and mine, including the society I live in), and ergo by both your values (or what I assume as your values) and mine, you shouldn’t do that.
As far as “right” and “wrong”, I agree that neither of us can know, but I disagree that we can’t reasonably extrapolate from observed cause to unwanted effect, and discuss why we do or don’t want such things.
As far as Christianity having an objective standard, in a way, you do: you have a book. The book says certain things. You can act in ways consistent or inconsistent to those things. You can argue and interpret your book in many ways.
But *shrug* there are lots of books. In the end, *you* decide. The Bible can guide you, but *you* make the call:
“No one’s finger is on the trigger [metaphorical or literal] but your own. All the talk-talk in your head, all the emotions in your heart, all the experiences of your past — these things may inform your choice, but they can’t move your finger. All the socialization and rationalization and justification in the world, all the approval or disapproval of your neighbors — none of these things can pull the trigger either. They can change how you feel about the choice, but only you can actually make the choice. Only you. Only here. Only now. Fire, or not?” —Eric Raymond. I don’t agree with everything Eric says, but I think this is an excellent point.
So anyway, you say: “I have an objective standard to tell me right from wrong.” And, from my point of view, it’s as “objective” as any other book written by humans. But Christians accept, as an axiom, that the Bible came from the Christian God. This is not an axiom that I am prepared to accept.
*Since you appear to realize **all** of this*, it puzzles me that you continue to bang your head against atheists and humanists, when you already know from the very beginning that your core axioms differ significantly from ours, and that until you resolve that fundamental difficulty, you will make *exactly zero progress* in changing minds. (... on the other hand, I’m doing it too, by talking to you, like a moth to a freakin’ candle, so I suppose it shouldn’t puzzle me *too* much.
Rhology's final comment on this: I’m glad you feel that way. Moving on.
Don’t rely on wikipedia. Here’s what I mean: it is said to apply to any attempt to argue from an “is” to an “ought,” that is, to argue directly from a list of facts to a claim about what ought to be done.
I don’t think I tried to “draw ethical conclusions from natural facts”.
Of course you did.
You said this in #14 - “I value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (among other things). I have *observed* that others do too.”
I even stated the foundation of my values: base selfishness.
Now, can you tell me whether base selfishness is right or wrong? How do you know?
If you can’t, the fact that you don’t live like you don’t know whether your basic moral presupps are right or not tells me that you don’t value atheism either. It looks like there’s no reason why one would believe atheism beyond simple personal preference.
as you put it “I like this” or “I don’t like that”. And so I guess the great question is: So?
Go back and read the original post and answer So? for me.
You’re free to believe that, of course, but in my opinion such behavior is inconsistent with what I know of the core teachings of Christianity
So? I was asking whether it was right or wrong. Apparently you can’t tell me.
such behavior frequently leads to other behavior and actions that go against my values (i.e., however indirectly, they threaten me and mine, including the society I live in), and ergo by both your values (or what I assume as your values) and mine, you shouldn’t do that.
That’s not the case if I actually blv the things I said I blvd up there. So, just pretend I blv those things. Am I wrong?
And don’t play games. Don’t say “well, it’s wrong for ME”. That is a 100% meaningless statement. Morality is not the dealings with the question “What do I do?” It’s “what SHOULD I do?”
As far as Christianity having an objective standard, in a way, you do: you have a book.
Exactly. A book that doesn’t change, written by a God Who doesn’t change. This is a way in which Christianity has a far superior metaphysics than atheism.
there are lots of books. In the end, *you* decide.
No, God’s existence and communication is my starting point.
In one sense, yeah, I *recognised* its truth, but that doesn’t seem to be what you were saying.
They can change how you feel about the choice, but only you can actually make the choice. Only you. Only here. Only now. Fire, or not?
There’s one more question after that, and you posed it. Let’s say I fire. And the person hadn’t done anythg wrong. As you said, So?
it puzzles me that you continue to bang your head against atheists and humanists, when you already know from the very beginning that your core axioms differ significantly from ours
Yeah, that’s what alot of ‘classical’ apologists don’t seem to realise. But what I’m doing here is showing you the idiocy and poverty of the atheist axioms. If you can’t justify anything about the answers to these questions I’m asking, if you’re going to be consistent, you next have to ask yourself whether, even if atheism is true, one is obligated to believe it. And if not, what that means.
In fact, I already dealt with that very question recently. I encourage you to drop-kick atheism, b/c it’s idiotic.
So, it's up to theclapp now if he'd like to comment here.