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Absurd Theologians and Atheists
Posted: 06 March 2007 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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Noggin-Many times the Bible states what has happened from a historical perspective, not exactly what God wants to happen. We know in Numbers what God wanted, and Moses did not do what was wanted.

My goodness, you talk like this was real history instead of myths created to impress the Babylonians.  Yeah, and Robin didn’t always do what Batman wanted either, but it all came out OK.

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Posted: 06 March 2007 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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Waltercat I am still interested in the Divine Command Theory and I feel like I have come to a conclusion that does not create a problem for me.  This is taken from someone else,

“In other words, yes, God is a “higher” metaphysical principle than morality. Morality itself is based on something outside of itself (God). In this sense, we can say that morality is “arbitrary,” but that really doesn’t seem like the right word. An eternal God who created all things and continually holds all things together, without whom nothing would exist at all, is hardly being “arbitrary” when He hates rape.”


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Posted: 06 March 2007 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Waltercat:  I am still interested in the Divine Command Theory and I feel like I have come to a conclusion that does not create a problem for me.

for me

for me

for me

for me

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Posted: 06 March 2007 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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Pertaining to morality we didn’t even touch on the concept of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity statements.  So where does this drive to not boil babies come from?  Does is come from matter?  How can moral instructions come from matter?  Thought I would throw this out as well…..

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Posted: 06 March 2007 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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Fletch you are talking about my statement that talked the moral obligation we feel towards objects to the degree that they can suffer?

Rocks don’t suffer, therefore if an evil madman decides he is going to kidnap rocks and if we don’t pay him one million dollars (cue Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil outstretched pinky pointing toward upper lip) he is going to toss these rocks into a boiling pot of oil… we are not morally obligated to save the rocks or pay his demands.

In fact, the evil madman, on that act alone, is not all that evil, and not all that mad.

But the minute the rocks change to babies, he is quite evil and mad.

And the reason?  Babies that are boiling in oil suffer a great deal of pain.

Please clarify what you meant when you said “matter” has to do with this scenario of boiling babies and morality.

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Posted: 06 March 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Pertaining to morality we didn’t even touch on the concept of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity statements.  So where does this drive to not boil babies come from?  Does is come from matter?  How can moral instructions come from matter?  Thought I would throw this out as well…..

Suppose it says somewhere in the Bible that God commands that we boil babies.  Would that make boiling babies morally acceptable?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 06 March 2007 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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Noggin-The discussion that we are having on the side with the topic of rape, I have studied the verses some more, can I email you my thoughts? Reason being, I want the topic of absolute/subjective morality to not get side tracked. 

“Suppose it says somewhere in the Bible that God commands that we boil babies. Would that make boiling babies morally acceptable?” 

Didn’t we already have this discussion?  It is against his character and his character is shown in the world he programed, that is the world we experience through our senses and being.  Now, if you hold to a naturalistic view of the world than we are all made up of only matter and it is only matter that is telling you what to do and what to feel.  Right/wrong are silly terms that hold absolutely nothing.  You can’t have ‘right’ matter acting out and ‘wrong’ matter acting out.  Yet I have a concious that tells me when I’m ‘right’ and when I’m ‘wrong’. How did the materalistic universe create such beings to feel the weight of one action as inappropriate when there is no such thing as an inappropriate action?  Where did our concious state come from? We are just matter upon matter upon matter.  One can even go further and say is my concious state even real.  Am I part of some dream an Alien is having because they had too much Alien food the night before?  Am I over the top?  So great it’s matter upon matter and my matter is acting differently then yours.  Does that sum it up? Can we go home now.

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Posted: 06 March 2007 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Noggin-The discussion that we are having on the side with the topic of rape, I have studied the verses some more, can I email you my thoughts? Reason being, I want the topic of absolute/subjective morality to not get side tracked. 

“Suppose it says somewhere in the Bible that God commands that we boil babies. Would that make boiling babies morally acceptable?” 

Didn’t we already have this discussion?  It is against his character and his character is shown in the world he programed, that is the world we experience through our senses and being.  Now, if you hold to a naturalistic view of the world than we are all made up of only matter and it is only matter that is telling you what to do and what to feel.  Right/wrong are silly terms that hold absolutely nothing.  You can’t have ‘right’ matter acting out and ‘wrong’ matter acting out.  Yet I have a concious that tells me when I’m ‘right’ and when I’m ‘wrong’. How did the materalistic universe create such beings to feel the weight of one action as inappropriate when there is no such thing as an inappropriate action?  Where did our concious state come from? We are just matter upon matter upon matter.  One can even go further and say is my concious state even real.  Am I part of some dream an Alien is having because they had too much Alien food the night before?  Am I over the top?  So great it’s matter upon matter and my matter is acting differently then yours.  Does that sum it up? Can we go home now.

Fletch,
What is God made of?  If matter can’t do it, how can God? 

You think only God is capable of establishing absolute morality.  Well, how does He do it?  Matter can’t but God can?  Why?  How did God create right and wrong?  What special powers allowed him to do it?

Also, since you failed to answer my question about boiling babies, how about this one:  Is Slavery against God’s nature?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 06 March 2007 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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FFF wrote:

“In other words, yes, God is a “higher” metaphysical principle than morality.

But, “In MORE other words, yes, Rationality is a “higher” metaphysical principle than God.

Without rationality, God could not have created an ordered universe.
Since the universe is ordered, God must have used rationality. That makes rationailty a HIGHER principle than God.

Christianity is the psychosis of 1000 contradictions.

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Posted: 06 March 2007 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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[quote author=“Joad”]FFF wrote:

“In other words, yes, God is a “higher” metaphysical principle than morality.

But, “In MORE other words, yes, Rationality is a “higher” metaphysical principle than God.

Without rationality, God could not have created an ordered universe.
Since the universe is ordered, God must have used rationality. That makes rationailty a HIGHER principle than God.

Christianity is the psychosis of 1000 contradictions.

It ruins your point when you use faulty reasoning.  Your claim is equivalent to saying that a hammer is a higher manifestation than a carpenter because the carpenter used the hammer to build a house.  If you want to get into some dense reading on this, try Martin Heidegger, The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic.

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Posted: 06 March 2007 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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Burt,

I was being a bit sarcastic.

The notion of ‘higher metaphysical principles’ is absurd.

Joadism has higher metaphysical principles than Burtism.

Of course, I get to pick which one is highest.

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Posted: 07 March 2007 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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[quote author=“Joad”]Burt,

I was being a bit sarcastic.

The notion of ‘higher metaphysical principles’ is absurd.

Joadism has higher metaphysical principles than Burtism.

Of course, I get to pick which one is highest.

LOL 

Actually, there is a way of ranking, although it is not just a straight line.  Logic, for example, is based on metaphysical assumptions so those assumptions are deeper than logic.  (Which, I guess, places logic higher smile

On the other hand, some forms off metaphysics require that a person get high to discuss….  Once I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book by Rene Guenon (notorious French metaphysician of early 20th century) called The Multiple States of Being.  A guy I knew slightly who was from Malta wandered by, saw the title, and said “You have to be very drunk to read that.” 

More seriously, metaphysics can’t be discarded, as Hume would have us do.  Schrodinger, for example, says that while metaphysics is not a part of science, it is a part of the foundation necessary for science, and somebody (can’t look up the quote right now) said something to the effect that if we throw metaphysics into the fire, science goes with it.  If we preserve science, it brings metaphysics along as well.  So we can go along cheerfully doing science, but in times of crisis metaphysics always shows up.

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Posted: 10 March 2007 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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I will probably be able to post only on Saturdays, so the space between my posts will be long.  I’m going to try to cover a lot of stuff and answer a lot of posts in one big response.  I’ll start with the quotes . . .

This leads back to the issue of God’s moral praiseworthiness. I assume, Silenus, that you want to say that God is good and that He has a good character. But what does this mean on the DCT. All that it can mean is that God’s character does not violate his character (or God’s character approves of God’s character). But this is entirely empty. God would approve of Himself regardless of what his character is. On the DCT what “God is good” amounts to is “God doesn’t do anything that violates His own character.” But this is trivial. I don’t do anything that violates my character. Nor do most. Even a rapist might be such that he doesn’t do things that violates his character. Big f’n deal, right?

It seems to me that your premise is that, for an ethic to be truly objective, it must above both God and man.  But, in an atheist world, isn’t morality a principle that your mind developed.  If something is good, it’s because my mind judges it to be so.  You form the definition of good and then appraise things accordingly.  Your argument discounts your own ethics, does it not?  And so, you seem to say that I must be able to say God is good because he does good things.  If God cannot be judged by a morality greater than himself, morality cannot be understood and neither can God.  But, if a creator God exists and if he doesn’t create, there is no rape or good or evil, just God.  And we can understand his morality through divine revelation and the fact that morality has been implanted in us through natural law and through experience as well.  We are made in His image.  And yes, if we are made in God’s image, than the rapist is violating his character by raping because he is violating the divine wisdom and the image in which he was created.  revisit the Aquinas quote.  And I don’t agree that people don’t do things that violate their own character or beliefs.  I’ll revisit this later on in this post.  I feel like your basic beef with DCT is that you have no way to appraise God and that a non-arbitrary ethic must stand above the ethic giver.  However, it is the very nature of the creator metaphysic that the lawgiver gives the law and cannot, therefore, be appraised by it but can be understood by them.  It’s like saying; If God is all powerful can he make a rock he can’t lift.  Of course not.  It is the very nature of being all powerful that such a rock isn’t possible.  It’s like saying a round circle.  We can; however, appraise Him by His ability to keep His promises, His lack of contradiction, and His consistent action.  I see Noggin has already started that ball rolling.  If these things are not true, than the God is not infinite, omniscient, or omnipotent and, therefore, probably just my imagination.

But, “In MORE other words, yes, Rationality is a “higher” metaphysical principle than God.
Without rationality, God could not have created an ordered universe.
Since the universe is ordered, God must have used rationality. That makes rationality a HIGHER principle than God.

Again, Rationality is part of the divine wisdom, to say without it he could not create the world is to say I couldn’t create a poem without my own brain, and therefore, my brain is a higher metaphysical principle than I am.  Oops, sorry, I see someone else has covered that already . . . my bad.

Onto point 2 . . .

Right, the artist deserves the praise he gets BUT he creates so that it can be enjoyed, not to glorify himself. If any artist created just to glorify himself, he would be a megalomaniac. Right?

Nope.  An artist is not an altruist.  He creates so it can be enjoyed, but he also creates to earn a living, out of the enjoyment of his craft, out of his assessment of his skill.  Artists don’t put forward works which they think are crap.  The fact that they produce and show a work is because they think it is good, their skills are good, and that it is something people should enjoy.  God does create the world for enjoyment, and their enjoyment glorifies Him.  We are made to enjoy our creator.

Also, I don’t see how effort has anything to do with the question.  If someone gets an A or a test and doesn’t have to work for it and someone else gets a B and has to work hard, it doesn’t change the fact that the “A” test is superior in quality to the B test.  Each tester can feel a sense of satisfaction at their results, but the A test is a superior result, regardless of the work needed to get the grade.  The fact that God creates with ease just shows His majesty, but it doesn’t belie His glory.

Now my conversation flows naturally to talk to Joad.

That is an amazing statement. You have a purely subjective standard of ethics, based on a deity you created to have those specific standards, then you claim they are objective.

I like to eat Pizza. I create the God of Pizza, who says that eating pizza is the highest moral act. Therefore, eating Pizza is an OBJECTIVELY ethical behavior.

This is simply not how it works at all.  This statement would be true if I sat back in my easy chair, decided the morality I desire, and then, poof, made a God.  However, I am not the author of the Bible or my belief.  You believe, say, the theory of evolution because you are convinced of its merits and so you accept it as true.  I accept scripture and the existence of God because I believe its true, but I am not the author of it.  My metaphysics does create my ethics, not the other way around.  Your beef with me is not that I created a God so I can have whatever ethics I want, but that you think my acceptance of the scriptures and theism is stupid and unfounded.  Fair enough.  But it is still true, whether my metaphysical basis is a stupid one and a delusion or real, that it informs my ethics.  I think, at this point, Joad, our conversation is for a new thread.  This thread was founded on first, the question of whether its okay to question a philosophy based on the errors of smart people in that philosophy.  Fletch answered that well and pointed out some errors of smart people in atheism.  Then, it became a question of the objectivity of ethics in an atheist philosophy.  You don’t believe in any objective ethics, so at this point, our conversation will revolve around how much you think my metaphysics sucks.  Now, I am oversimplifying, you are arguing that my ethics isn’t ethics at all.  I’m pretty sure I disagree with your premise, that, if I don’t create an ethic, it’s not a true ethics.  Are you to tell me you created every principle you believe in and never read something and said, hey that’s a good point.  I don’t think that, just because someone else established a rule, that this takes away morality.  We can accept or reject rules and I don’t think every rule you accepted, Joad, was of your own discovery or making.  And if I reject a right rule, than I am wrong, but that doesn’t mean I’ve ceased having a moral aspect.  Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your point.  I did come back to this forum to a whole lot of posts.  I’m not saying this to say stop posting, just mentioning that I won’t be going into why you believe my metaphysics are stupid right now because I have these other comments to deal with in the topic of this thread.

I’m going to move on . . .

But how do you know just what those morals are? You have to make a distinction between this divinely established morality and our human morality. And that latter certainly does change, even in a single life. For example, the morality that we expect (and enforce) for out children is not the same as the morality that we expect them to follow as adults, any more than the injunction that they must not play with matches is expected to carry over into adulthood. I would deny that you can appeal to the Bible, or any other sacred text because any text whatsoever, because it is expressed in human languages and uses humanly relevant analogies and examples, is of necessity humanly subjective—that is, relative to time, place, and circumstance. So how do you come to know the divine, objective morality?

Why do I have to make a distinction?  Are you saying that God gets to follow a different set of rules than man?  The application of morality does change with age and situation, but the principles do not change.  There is a reason and principle behind why a adult can use fire but a child cannot.  You are talking about how principles or morality are applied in a situation, I’m talking about the principles themselves.  Now, it is true, God has not give a rule for every situation and there is some wisdom involved in discerning the application or moral principles.  But this falls under our role as priests in the created order.  Priests follow rules, draw bounders, and guard them.  Here we take the principle (the boundary) given us and we, as situation arises we use what we know to encounter what we don’t know ethically.  Thou shalt not murder is the principle that leads to you shall not hate your brother in your heart but shall reason frankly with your neighbor.  Also, the very essence of the priest, king, and prophet situation is God’s way of growing up humanity as a whole.  The priest follows rules and protects bounders (child), the king’s function I’ve already mentions (adult), and the prophet’s function brings him directly into the counsels of the Almighty (elder).  Through all this, the moral principles, again, do not change.  This is why humans must understand morality because they are called to apply it.  Just as modern science can understand the world, but not completely, we do not come to morality with a complete understanding of how always to apply it, but we do come with a complete understanding of the principles that we need to do the applications.  And so the picture of not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk is not a completely modern situation, but it does give us the principle about cruelty to animals or skinning an animal alive.  These things, according to the bible, are also within the hearts and minds of men.

and so this brings me back to the comment about people defying their own character.  I don’t think Christians believe that man doesn’t understand morality without God.  We do believe that we don’t have complete understanding, but an atheist would say the same thing about their morality.  We would say our understanding is better because we accept divine revelation and are grounded in absolute moral principles, but we still need wisdom to apply it.  Romans 1 and 2 are clear that man does have an understanding of morality with or without God.  The problem is that nobody follows it, their own morality or God’s.  And this has been confirmed to me over and over again.  there is not one person I have ever known who has been consistent to their own moral code.  They break it and are forced to apologies, and we have all played the role of the jerk at some point.  The problem is not knowledge but the fact that we all do compromise our character.  So, to occam I say inferior, yes it’s implied, but meaningless, no.  The moral attempts, even apart from God, have valid content and do inform us about our world and God.  Now, I’m going to turn the table and this will be reductionistic, but, since I still am the only one who has stated my principles, I am forced to be this way.

In an atheist metaphysics, the world is time and chance acting on matter, or movement and energy stabilizing and destabilizing.  From this premise the non-material world is the judgments humans make about the world around them.  Love is an abstract premise describing certain actions by a common principle.  Evil is the same.  They don’t exist as objects, they are names given to actions and events.  So far this is true and fine.

Now, from this premise of the non-material world, individuals and societies formulate concepts and premises.  It is true that there are disagreements and this is not a problem.  Disagreements alone don’t discount a theory in my mind.  The problem is, on what basis are these disagreements are resolved.  Now is love the same as gravity.  No. Gravity is the name of a force of nature, unless you are saying that love is a force of nature constantly acting on reality, you can’t define love in a laboratory.  okay, no problem yet.  But, I still have differences and I need a means of mediation.  Now it has still yet to be refuted that you can’t go from an is to an ought, so my observations of the physical world cannot help me.  They simply tell me how things are.  Men are generally more powerful physically than females.  Does this fact give me any indication of a moral premise?  I could conclude it is my job to protect, I could conclude it is my right to oppress.  I can state that adultery is wrong because it is not a loving act, but I can’t account for the spouse who says its fine because I fell out of love with my husband and in love with this new guy.  Sure, she made a commitment, but she feels her emotions are greater than her commitments and He feels that a commitment is greater than emotions.  Which is primary?  A primacy of consciousness metaphysic doesn’t work.  It leaves me necessarily subjective.  Can I appeal to reason?  Reason is a set of laws about thinking, but, unless our axioms agree, reason will resolve nothing.  We can both be internally consistent from our axioms and still disagree.  And I can’t claim that my principles have any true connection to the way things are until I deal with Kant and the inability to perceive the thing in itself.

And I’m not saying he can’t be dealt with, but some atheists do and some don’t.  So, I have a big blank

If the individual is primary, than morality is subjective and philosophy and my job is to get as many people to agree with my morality as possible.  Except we don’t have any common principles to appeal to unless we first happen to agree


Or, as Occam has already pointed out

It’s been said many times before on this site and elsewhere but let me reiterate: we already have man-made codes of conduct - laws which govern the lives of individuals and the societies in which they live. I can’t just go and drive off on my neighbor’s car because it’s what my nerve endings want - unless they also want to go to prison.


Or the crowd is primary and we’re left with utilitarianism or societal (mob) rule.  According to this comment, I am to assume that, if the society allowed him to steal as long as he was sneaky, then he would sneak the car away.  But, to what do societies appeal to when their ethics disagree.  Usually, by force.  Either way, I don’t know how you can get objectivity from those metaphysical premises.  For reason to work as arbiter, there is a need for common axioms in both the physical realm and the non-material realm.

This brings me to Michael Martin.  He has made the following argument many times.  Here’s the reduced version.

For theism to claim the lack of atheist morality, theism must refute all atheist arguments to the contrary.

Theism has not refuted all atheist premises

Therefore, atheism has a basis for objective morality.

However, Martin needs to present an unrefuted premise to finish his argument.  I think I read through his paper a few times, and I never read him put forward his metaphysical basis for ethics.  That is why I am asking.  Waltercat made this point earlier.  Different atheists have different beliefs.  Joad doesn’t believe in an objective ethic for anybody.  Everyone else here seems to believe in objective ethics.  So, ante up.  What is your metaphysics for the non-material realm?  What is your metaphysical basis for morality?  Until this happens, this conversation will only be one way.  Fletch and I have been forthright in taking attacks on our positions, but I haven’t heard anybody else’s position.  I have no clue what kind of atheists I’m dealing with.  Is this a room of logical positivists?  Is there an existentialist in the mix?  Maybe one of you is deconstructing me as we speak.  Perhaps you’re gonna get all Rand on me. 

Waltercat revealed these problems when he said this

have no doubt that this is true, nor do you, nor does any rational person, I suspect. It is an interesting question of how (B) can be true; what is its ground? A very important question. And one that professionals are working hard to answer. But regardless of the answer, we do know that it’s true.

This is a statement of faith if I ever saw one.  It is an epistemological head turner.  I have to assume from this statement that ethics is an axiom for waltercat.  How do you know it is true of RATIONAL people if you have no answers, no reasons to believe this?  When you say rational it seems you mean people who agree with you.  What defines one as an ethical professional?  How do they go about proving ethics?  By what method?  Like Fletch has been saying, without the ground you seem to admit isn’t there, how can you claim objectivity?

More seriously, metaphysics can’t be discarded, as Hume would have us do. Schrödinger, for example, says that while metaphysics is not a part of science, it is a part of the foundation necessary for science, and somebody (can’t look up the quote right now) said something to the effect that if we throw metaphysics into the fire, science goes with it. If we preserve science, it brings metaphysics along as well. So we can go along cheerfully doing science, but in times of crisis metaphysics always shows up.

Burt is on top of this.  But science can’t bring along metaphysics.  Metaphysics must prop up science.  In a time of crisis metaphysics shows up because science operates under a metaphysical assumption about the world, without which, science would also be a post hoc ergo prompter hoc leap of faith.  So, what is the ground of ethics?

Finally, to occam.  You accuse me of using ad hominem in response, which you are right I did do it once when I referred to your vein ego and I apologize for that.  And everything else was sarcasm and not ad hominim.  If my questions are annoying and distracting to you I can only assume three things.

1) You are easily distracted
2) You don’t like my comments because they are getting to you
3) you just don’t like to be questioned

and that is exactly what I said.  Also, the only adamant person here is you.  I am in a conversation, a debate, an exchange of ideas.  If I am wrong, I am suffering from a delusional fantasy and faking reality and reality will get me back.  That’s what reality does when you fake it.  If I am right, than you have some things to answer for.  But either way, I am simply stating my views and making my case.  just because I keep making my case doesn’t make me adamant.  however, calling your opponent childish makes you adamant indeed.  this is all the time I have now . . . Again, if anyone find my presentation of atheist metaphysics reductionist, which I’m sure you will, feel free to fix it.

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Posted: 10 March 2007 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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Silenus,

It is an unfortunate commonplace that theists often take themselves to have answers that they don’t really have.  They believe that the existence of God explains how certain things are possible.  Yet, when you start to think about this alleged explanatory apparatus, you find it woefully lacking.  God explains nothing.  Even if God does exist, this does not explain how an objective, non-arbitrary system of moral laws is possible.  It does not explain how the universe was created.  It does not explain how eternal life is possible.

Let’s take a closer look at creation.  The theist explanation for the existence of the universe is: “God created it.”  But this explains nothing. How did God do it?  What are the metaphysical principles that allow God to go from nothing to something?  What did he do, exactly?  Did he just speak, and the world popped into existence?  But how did that happen?  Normally when I speak, worlds do not pop into existence.  There must be some very strange metaphysical laws at work here that transfroms God’s speech into the physical universe.

More questions: Could God have done it in a different way?  Was speech necessary?  Might he have just thought the words to himself?  Could he have simply snapped his fingers?  If speech was necessary, which language did he use?  Does only one language have this power?  If so why and which one?  Can a non-supernatural being learn to use language in this way?  Why or why not?

You see, theists have no answer to these questions, but without them, they have no real explanation.  They say, “God did it.  God created the universe”  But they are in no way prepared to explain how he did or to provide the metaphysical principles whereby a supernatural being creates out of nothing.

Thus, “God created the universe” is a hollow explanation.  It is not really an explanation at all.  It is a form of words offered in response to a question; words that, if you look at them closely, have no content, no real explanatory power.  They are just words the make theists feel as if they had an explanation.

So this brings me to your beliefs that atheists have no way of accounting for objective morality:

What is your metaphysics for the non-material realm? What is your metaphysical basis for morality? Until this happens, this conversation will only be one way. Fletch and I have been forthright in taking attacks on our positions, but I haven’t heard anybody else’s position. I have no clue what kind of atheists I’m dealing with.

But I am not arrogant enough to believe that because I have a few words that I can repeat in response to a question, that therfore I have an explanation.  I have been arguing that theists have no way to account for objective, non-arbitrary morality.  It is a well-established claim that the Divine Command Theory cannot do it.  Even many (if not most) Christian philosophers agree with this.  Now many Theists do believe that morality comes from God.  But how is this possible.  Again, we lack an explanation. 

Frankr is fond of saying that the Moral Law emanates from God as light emanates from the sun.  But this is hardly an explanation.  Does God undergo some analog of nuclear fusion that results in the emanation of morality?  If so, what is this process?  Can it be described?  Until we have answers to these questions, we really have no explanation of how God can produce objective morality.  And until we do, the theist is in the same boat as the atheist in this regard.  Neither has a completely compelling account of how objective morality is possible.

So stop demanding answers from me and look into your own beliefs a little deeper.  Do you really have answers?  Do you really know how objective morality is possible?  Or do you just have a form of words that you can repeat, which make you feel as if you had an answer?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 11 March 2007 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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[quote author=“silenus”]
I’m going to move on . . .

But how do you know just what those morals are? You have to make a distinction between this divinely established morality and our human morality. And that latter certainly does change, even in a single life. For example, the morality that we expect (and enforce) for out children is not the same as the morality that we expect them to follow as adults, any more than the injunction that they must not play with matches is expected to carry over into adulthood. I would deny that you can appeal to the Bible, or any other sacred text because any text whatsoever, because it is expressed in human languages and uses humanly relevant analogies and examples, is of necessity humanly subjective—that is, relative to time, place, and circumstance. So how do you come to know the divine, objective morality?

Why do I have to make a distinction?  Are you saying that God gets to follow a different set of rules than man?  The application of morality does change with age and situation, but the principles do not change.  There is a reason and principle behind why a adult can use fire but a child cannot.  You are talking about how principles or morality are applied in a situation, I’m talking about the principles themselves.  Now, it is true, God has not give a rule for every situation and there is some wisdom involved in discerning the application or moral principles.  But this falls under our role as priests in the created order.  Priests follow rules, draw bounders, and guard them.  Here we take the principle (the boundary) given us and we, as situation arises we use what we know to encounter what we don’t know ethically.  Thou shalt not murder is the principle that leads to you shall not hate your brother in your heart but shall reason frankly with your neighbor.  Also, the very essence of the priest, king, and prophet situation is God’s way of growing up humanity as a whole.  The priest follows rules and protects bounders (child), the king’s function I’ve already mentions (adult), and the prophet’s function brings him directly into the counsels of the Almighty (elder).  Through all this, the moral principles, again, do not change.  This is why humans must understand morality because they are called to apply it.  Just as modern science can understand the world, but not completely, we do not come to morality with a complete understanding of how always to apply it, but we do come with a complete understanding of the principles that we need to do the applications.  And so the picture of not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk is not a completely modern situation, but it does give us the principle about cruelty to animals or skinning an animal alive.  These things, according to the bible, are also within the hearts and minds of men.

You agree that the applications of moral principles change with time, place, and circumstance yet claim that the principles themselves are eternal and, in your view, rooted in the very nature of God.  I was asking how you might come to know these principles and be able to apply them situationally.  How do we attain to this “complete understanding” of the invariant moral principles?  Is it by referring to a sacred text, by sincere prayer, by listening to what a priest or king tells us?  That is what I want to know, what is your source of authority for the principles that you would choose to assert?

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