Scriptural Literalism or Scriptural Liberalism?

Page 3 of 3 [ 38 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3

MCalavera
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,602

17 Feb 2013, 8:45 am

To be honest, there isn't much you can say to negate what I've argued here, but whatever. You might surprise me.



Tensu
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,669
Location: Nixa, MO, USA

19 Feb 2013, 11:58 pm

MCalavera wrote:
Tensu wrote:
Say you arrest a murderer. Now to you, of course, what he did was evil and thus punishing him for it is good. But to him the murder was justified and thus punishing him for it is evil. So who is right? I suppose you could say it's like how some people find a statue beautiful and others ugly, but the difference is as much as I hate minimalist art I have no problem saying it is beautiful to others. If morality is subjective that means that murder IS truly a moral action to those that commit it, since their opinion is just as valid as yours.


It depends on the reason for murder. I don't actually believe murder in every single case is necessarily evil. For example, someone who murders another person who was continually sexually abusing her and using the manipulative art of blackmail against her every now and then to keep things going his way. I would not consider murder in such a case as evil.

And I don't really believe in actively punishing anyone for anything they do, although I do believe in locking certain people away if they pose a great danger to others and if locking them away is the only/best way to keep society safe from them. And even then, I believe they should be treated well while in incarceration.

As for beauty and what not, if you can accept that people may (and will) find beauty in things that you don't, then by the same token, you should accept that people may (and will) find moral good in things that you don't. Both beauty and morality are abstract constructs with varying definitions relative to each individual with a mind that's capable of evaluating the beauty/moral goodness of things.

Quote:
Are you willing to say that?


Absolutely. Just because it isn't an ideal thing to say doesn't mean the veracity of moral subjectivity is any less true.

Quote:
Furthermore, When the bad webcomics wiki pointed out to me all the anatomical errors anime artists make, the effect was strictly detirmental. There is no benefit to seeing something you once thought of as beautiful as ugly. However, coming to see something you once thought of as justified as unethical is beneficial in that you can quit doing that thing and become a better person. But this only works if morality is objective. If morality is subjective then nobody is under any pressure to improve their own behavior. In fact, a thief admitting stealing is wrong is less ethical that him continuing to insist it is ok because if morality is realitive then stealing is ethical so long as he insists it is. But this is the total opposite of everything morality is understood to mean.


You're confusing a belief in moral relativity with an absolute desire to act contrary to what you, Tensu, personally believe. That's a wrong way of looking at it. There are certainly believers in moral relativity who have very similar moral values to yours and are of the opinion that theft is wrong like you do. So for such people, they certainly would like to make sure harmony and peace and love continue to go on between them and their friends and loved ones and others. They just don't necessarily need a faith in some God to think that.

Besides, we're generally wired via zillions of years of evolution to look out for each other and for others we may benefit from, so it wouldn't do us any good to just go around killing random people and stealing from them for the sake of it. Sure, some people may do these things, Christians or not, but they are often either psychopathic or they may have very noble reasons to kill and steal (for example, stealing excessive wealth from the extremely rich to provide for the unfortunate poor or killing a tyrant to end his oppressive reign over the constantly tortured people). There is no black or white when it comes to debates like this.

Quote:
Thirdly, I do not need to know the objective answers to morality to seek to understand them, I just need to know that objective morality exists. Like a scientist making a hypothosis doesn't need to know if it is right or wrong, only that it could be.


Ok, sure. But all I'm saying is that, even if objective morality exists, you don't have full access to it anyway. So you're really still in the same boat as a moral relativist is when it comes to these matters and you still end up expressing a subjective opinion relative to you as an individual with his own set of experiences and leanings if you wish to demonstrate why murder is wrong rather than right.

So it's the same thing really. And that's exactly what I was referring to as ironic. That you imply that we don't have an absolute authority to rely on to explain why murder/theft/dishonesty/cheating is/can be wrong, while you're not reall in a better position than your fellow human beings who happens to be moral relativists, is indeed irony.


The correct definition of irony is the use of words or phrases other than their literal intention, at least, that's what I've always heard. Some dictionaries have changed their definition because of the surge of misuse since the turn of the millennium but really people have used that word to describe so many very different things that it's beginning to lose it's meaning so I adhere to this first definition. More on this later.

Punishment isn't necessarily the same thing as revenge, but perhaps "negative consequences" would have been a better choice of words.

Morality as a concept depends on the existence of right and wrong answers. It is different from beauty because, while it is possible for someone to point out flaws we didn't notice before or for us to appreciate the beauty in things we didn't use to, we can more or less instantly tell if something is beautiful or ugly just by looking at it, or perceiving it with another sense under broader definitions.

With morality it is not so simple. When someone is tempted to steal, they are torn between the desire to possess an object and fear of guilt they may feel. Their emotions are not giving them a clear answer.

If morality is a subjective concept, I can achieve perfect morality just by claiming that everything I think, feel, and do is always just and right no matter what. If this is the case then how is it any different than morality simply not existing?

Language is understood because everyone has more or less the same idea of what words mean. If everyone could come up with their own definitions for words then words would cease to have meaning. It is the seem with morality.

I was going to elaborate more but I ran out of time again. Next time I'll just come here first instead of waiting until I've checked the other forums. :lol:



MCalavera
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,602

20 Feb 2013, 2:16 am

Tensu wrote:
The correct definition of irony is the use of words or phrases other than their literal intention, at least, that's what I've always heard. Some dictionaries have changed their definition because of the surge of misuse since the turn of the millennium but really people have used that word to describe so many very different things that it's beginning to lose it's meaning so I adhere to this first definition. More on this later.


Definitions vary with time. That's a fact of life.

Quote:
Punishment isn't necessarily the same thing as revenge, but perhaps "negative consequences" would have been a better choice of words.


The thing is there are potential negative consequences for doing any deed, whether you consider them good or bad, or right or wrong.

Quote:
Morality as a concept depends on the existence of right and wrong answers. It is different from beauty because, while it is possible for someone to point out flaws we didn't notice before or for us to appreciate the beauty in things we didn't use to, we can more or less instantly tell if something is beautiful or ugly just by looking at it, or perceiving it with another sense under broader definitions.


What you say here doesn't really do much to counter what I've been arguing. All you're doing is reasserting what you've already stated before. What you need to do now is counter what I said and demonstrate that morality really is absolute and objective. My core argument is that both beauty and moral right/wrong are subjective to the individual's mind. There is no external source beyond your (or my) mind that states what is absolutely beautiful/ugly or what is absolutely right/wrong.

Quote:
With morality it is not so simple. When someone is tempted to steal, they are torn between the desire to possess an object and fear of guilt they may feel. Their emotions are not giving them a clear answer.


You're asserting things that are not necessarily true. Some people don't feel guilt just for stealing. And some people feel guilty for almost practically anything they do (and even for things they didn't actually do). Guilt is a poor measure of what's right/wrong.

Quote:
If morality is a subjective concept, I can achieve perfect morality just by claiming that everything I think, feel, and do is always just and right no matter what. If this is the case then how is it any different than morality simply not existing?


It depends on your definition of the word "existence". Morality doesn't exist in an absolute and concrete sense, but neither does beauty/ugliness exist in an absolute/concrete sense. Does this mean one can say that he/she is absolutely beautiful/ugly? Yes, that person definitely can. But what that person thinks is merely what that person thinks. People don't have to agree with his/her standards of what is considered beautiful or not.

Maybe beauty doesn't exist in an absolute sense? So what? Does this mean people should stop opining about what is beautiful or not?

How about morality? If you were ever truly convinced that morality didn't exist in an absolute sense, does this mean you should no longer have an opinion of what's right or wrong?

No matter how you look at it, it is a non-sequitur to argue that a lack of absolute and objective morality must mean that the sense of morality cannot exist in our minds.

And with all that said, you really haven't done much to demonstrate that moral absolutes are real. It's not enough to make some nice rhetorical argument as to why it doesn't make sense for morality to be subjective. You need to demonstrate with logic why it's wrong.

Quote:
Language is understood because everyone has more or less the same idea of what words mean. If everyone could come up with their own definitions for words then words would cease to have meaning. It is the seem with morality.


Morality can still have some meaning even if it is subjective. Human beings, after all, are still of the same species and still tend to agree on a lot of things anyway, even morally speaking.

It's really the same dilemma that Christians have anyway. The Bible is a very poor entryway to God's absolute morality, so Christians themselves have to decide what is considered right and what is considered wrong. And that, to me, implies that Christians are really moral relativists in denial. They just refuse to see that as a fact.



Tensu
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,669
Location: Nixa, MO, USA

20 Feb 2013, 11:40 pm

I spent over half an hour typing a response but my internet hiccuped and deleted it. :x



Tensu
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,669
Location: Nixa, MO, USA

22 Feb 2013, 11:14 pm

My point wasn't that guilt was a good source of morality. It was that guilt ISN'T a good source of morality. Our emotions tell us when something is beautiful and when it is ugly, but on questions of morality emotions can become conflicted and confused. This is how morality differs from beauty. When you offer your opinion on wether or not something is beautiful, you are expressing an emotion, and since morality is not emotional, and is in many ways about NOT giving into emotions, at least specific emotions, what is it you are expressing? You could make up morals, but what would be the point of doing so? You will always be more justified by saying you are always right. Why try?

If you have been expecting me to argue that something is right or wrong in every context, that has never been what I've been trying to argue and bringing up examples of killing and stealing were just things generally accepted as wrong to try to illustrate points. Nothing needs to be right or wrong in every context for morality itself to be objective because that isn't how morality works. Although I can provide an example of something that is wrong in every context: hypocrisy. I suppose you could argue that since hypocrisy is a betrayal of one's own values that doesn't mean morality is subjective, but if I can just say everything I do is justified and thereby become incapable of hypocrisy what is the point?

Humans may agree on a lot regarding morality but I would argue that is because religions agree on a lot of things. But if morality is subjective being in the majority wouldn't make anyone any more right. What is the point?

The biggest difference between morality and beauty is the level of importance at which people place it. Nobody becomes a martyr for beauty or starts a war to end ugliness. The concept of morality depends on having gravity. If morality is subjective then wherefore comes its' gravity? What would be the point in sacrificing for a cause if you could just make up a different cause that required no sacrifice and have it be just as valid as the one that did? What would be the point?

The difference between moral universalism and moral relativism is not one of knowledge put of purpose. I'm not in denial of anything as I never claimed to know all the answers, but rather, as stated earlier, if morality is objective then it is possible for me to do the right thing and to improve, like scientists trying to figure out how the universe works: the theories of physics proposed by the ancients greeks were flawed, but over time our idea of how the universe works has improved and can continue to improve because objective answers exist. But if morality is subjective it's just two kids arguing over who's imaginary friend is more powerful. Can Sir Stabalot's unstoppable sword penetrate Captain Adamant's impenetrable force field? As each child disagrees and no objective answer exists, we'll never know. So there is no point in arguing it. And if morality is no more important than that then why sacrifice for it?

And if morality is meaningless, how is that different from it not existing? You can say it exists in our minds but the concept of a four-sided triangle can exist in my mind, but that doesn't mean it makes any sense, that there is purpose to it, and it certainly doesn't mean I should consult that concept and judge which actions I should take.

If morality is subjective, why shouldn't I just say that I am always justified in everything I do and am incapable of wrong?

If I have been repeating or rephrasing things it is because I know what I want to say but not how to phrase it in a way that makes sense.



MCalavera
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,602

23 Feb 2013, 6:16 am

Tensu wrote:
My point wasn't that guilt was a good source of morality. It was that guilt ISN'T a good source of morality. Our emotions tell us when something is beautiful and when it is ugly, but on questions of morality emotions can become conflicted and confused. This is how morality differs from beauty. When you offer your opinion on wether or not something is beautiful, you are expressing an emotion, and since morality is not emotional, and is in many ways about NOT giving into emotions, at least specific emotions, what is it you are expressing? You could make up morals, but what would be the point of doing so? You will always be more justified by saying you are always right. Why try?


Beauty isn't just only a matter of expressing emotions. Some people may find certain things beautiful for purely intellectual reasons. But then again, it depends on what you really mean by "emotions".

Nevertheless, even if there is a clear distinction in such an aspect, it still doesn't really demonstrate that absolute morality is truth.

You have a gripe with the idea of morality being subjective. That I understand. But it doesn't mean your view is logically valid.

Quote:
If you have been expecting me to argue that something is right or wrong in every context, that has never been what I've been trying to argue and bringing up examples of killing and stealing were just things generally accepted as wrong to try to illustrate points. Nothing needs to be right or wrong in every context for morality itself to be objective because that isn't how morality works. Although I can provide an example of something that is wrong in every context: hypocrisy. I suppose you could argue that since hypocrisy is a betrayal of one's own values that doesn't mean morality is subjective, but if I can just say everything I do is justified and thereby become incapable of hypocrisy what is the point?


Well, that depends on what you consider to be hypocrisy. People have different ideas of what hypocrisy means. Who's to say who's right? Once again, subjective values come into play.

Quote:
Humans may agree on a lot regarding morality but I would argue that is because religions agree on a lot of things.


I don't agree at all. Do non-human animals adhere to religion? Why, then, do many animals of the same species tend to cooperate with each other rather than clash or compete with each other? It's a result of evolutionary conditioning, not of religion.

Quote:
But if morality is subjective being in the majority wouldn't make anyone any more right. What is the point?


The point isn't ultimately about declaring who's objectively right. What's the purpose of that anyway? The point is about whose standards are more dominant or more appropriate for the situation given at hand.

Quote:
The biggest difference between morality and beauty is the level of importance at which people place it. Nobody becomes a martyr for beauty or starts a war to end ugliness.


Again, it depends on how you define "beauty" and "ugliness". One can argue that Hitler's Holocaust was to end "ugliness". There goes your argument.

The problem is you're debating human constructs and treating them as if they're discrete and concrete units that can be clearly and physically defined.

Your whole argument falls because of such reasoning.

Quote:
The concept of morality depends on having gravity. If morality is subjective then wherefore comes its' gravity?


This makes no sense. What do you mean by "gravity" here?

Quote:
What would be the point in sacrificing for a cause if you could just make up a different cause that required no sacrifice and have it be just as valid as the one that did? What would be the point?


I say some humans just happen to be so delusional they think the cause they're fighting for is real. And they die for it in the process.

Quote:
The difference between moral universalism and moral relativism is not one of knowledge put of purpose. I'm not in denial of anything as I never claimed to know all the answers, but rather, as stated earlier, if morality is objective then it is possible for me to do the right thing and to improve, like scientists trying to figure out how the universe works: the theories of physics proposed by the ancients greeks were flawed, but over time our idea of how the universe works has improved and can continue to improve because objective answers exist.


That's assuming morality is objective and not just a construct. We don't have any evidence for a concrete and discrete entity that one could appropriately label "objective morality" or whatever. Until that happens, it makes no sense to pretend that absolute morality exists.

So really what you're arguing (very likely inadvertently) is that you're pretending absolute morality exists despite a lack of evidence and my suspicion is that because your faith in God demands that it exists. Otherwise, if you were to accept the opposite of what you currently believe, you'd have to stop believing in the God that you believe in.

Quote:
But if morality is subjective it's just two kids arguing over who's imaginary friend is more powerful. Can Sir Stabalot's unstoppable sword penetrate Captain Adamant's impenetrable force field? As each child disagrees and no objective answer exists, we'll never know. So there is no point in arguing it. And if morality is no more important than that then why sacrifice for it?


That's assuming the two kids are arguing all of the time.

Nice analogy, though. As this fits well with the Christians and Muslims who each wield their invisible version of the God that they believe in. :wink:

Quote:
And if morality is meaningless, how is that different from it not existing? You can say it exists in our minds but the concept of a four-sided triangle can exist in my mind, but that doesn't mean it makes any sense, that there is purpose to it, and it certainly doesn't mean I should consult that concept and judge which actions I should take.


I said that morality isn't necessarily meaningless. It is what it is.

If you have a sense of morality, then you're going to have moral standards, regardless of whether or not you believe it exists in the same way we exist.

Quote:
If morality is subjective, why shouldn't I just say that I am always justified in everything I do and am incapable of wrong?


You can, but you'd be a narcissist if you think you must always be right. Many of us aren't that arrogant anyway.

So, with all that said, you admit you have no access to objective morality and that you have to pretend that it exists. Well, that puts you in the exact same boat as moral relativists then. Because the fact that you don't know what it is exactly (as you have to pretend it exists) means you have to come up with your own reasoning on why murder (for example) is considered wrong (and whether or not it's always wrong). And your reasoning is going to be based (at least partially) on your subjective experience and observations in life. That implies subjectivity and relativity, as this is all relative to your mind.

Hence, you're actually a moral relativist just like me. You're just in denial.



Tensu
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,669
Location: Nixa, MO, USA

23 Feb 2013, 11:23 pm

It seems at some point in this discussion you convinced yourself that my goal was to argue for objective morality. This was never my goal. My only goal was to argue against subjective morality.

Also gravity has two definitions.

People describing WWII as a war to end the ugliness of hitler's actions would only be using ugliness as a metaphor for evil. Unless you are going to argue that WWII was fought because we didn't like the way his deed visually looked and not because we found them morally wrong.

Your assumption that animals have no religion is just that: an assumption. And even if they don't I don't see how that strengthens your argument. Heck, if your goal is it say that instincts are the source of morality, that would be an argument IN FAVOR of objective morality.

What would be the point of determining who's beliefs are more dominant? Isn't that just "might makes right"?

You seem to believe that morality is pointless, but I would argue that the concept of morality depends on its' all-consuming importance (which is the second definition of "gravity") and on the existence of right and wrong answers. If morality was subjective, there would be no right and wrong answers and no importance. If morality isn't important then it doesn't exist.

If morality is subjective I could just say arrogance isn't wrong. :P



MCalavera
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,602

24 Feb 2013, 1:17 am

Tensu wrote:
It seems at some point in this discussion you convinced yourself that my goal was to argue for objective morality. This was never my goal. My only goal was to argue against subjective morality.


By arguing against subjective morality, you're arguing for the exact opposite. If there's an in-between position, let me know because I can't think of one.

Quote:
People describing WWII as a war to end the ugliness of hitler's actions would only be using ugliness as a metaphor for evil. Unless you are going to argue that WWII was fought because we didn't like the way his deed visually looked and not because we found them morally wrong.


I meant the Holocaust itself as a war to end what Hitler saw as "ugliness".

In terms of visual looks, men fight over beautiful women all the time. And for no clearly defined moral reasons.

Quote:
Your assumption that animals have no religion is just that: an assumption.


It's based on evidence. Have you ever seen non-human animals build altars and do rituals for their gods? It's possible that a couple of species might have some religion, but that still doesn't speak for every single species out there.

Quote:
And even if they don't I don't see how that strengthens your argument. Heck, if your goal is it say that instincts are the source of morality, that would be an argument IN FAVOR of objective morality.


No, not really. Because individuals are still individuals at the end of the day and will have variations of this thing called "instinct". Thus, a variation in one's sense of morality despite some commonalities. That's not objective morality. That's just evolutionary conditioning. Killing (for example) was not considered wrong at the time the Big Bang occurred or when the Earth was formed or when life first emerged.

Quote:
What would be the point of determining who's beliefs are more dominant? Isn't that just "might makes right"?


It's not always might makes right. Some standards dominate simply because they're more appropriate for the situation at hand. For example, in a civilized world where egalitarianism is encouraged and people are allowed to be whoever they wish to be (so long as they don't physically harm others), it would be more appropriate to treat homosexuals with respect and allow them to continue to act upon their homosexuality than to condemn them and burn them on the stakes.

Quote:
You seem to believe that morality is pointless, but I would argue that the concept of morality depends on its' all-consuming importance (which is the second definition of "gravity") and on the existence of right and wrong answers. If morality was subjective, there would be no right and wrong answers and no importance. If morality isn't important then it doesn't exist.


You would still have an opinion of what's right and wrong. If that exists, then morality exists through that. And the benefits of having moral standards makes it meaningful rather than pointless. Without moral standards, how do you expect to cooperate with others and have mutual bonds?

Quote:
If morality is subjective I could just say arrogance isn't wrong. :P


You can. I'm not stopping you.