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Is there morality without God?
YES! Somethings are simply wrong! 85%  85%  [ 34 ]
NO! If God decided that torturing babies was righteous it would be righteous! 15%  15%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 40

ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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24 Jan 2014, 5:27 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo wrote:
And I am sure there were laws before Moses...


Yes, and it is a fact that religious moral apologists like to ignore, Hammurabi set down a code which predates moses by several centuries and is remarkably similar although far more comprehensive than the ten commandments, it also avoids the demand for godly worship, surely religion would not have appropriated this, dumbed it down and added a religious element? its not like it has ever committed such an act before :wink:

It's the duty of every priest to keep their flock in line, that's why you see so much of God in the ten commandments.



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24 Jan 2014, 5:44 pm

the truth has a funny way of wanting to be whatever it is we already believe.



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24 Jan 2014, 6:39 pm

ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo wrote:
And I am sure there were laws before Moses...


Well.. i have found my way to the CHI energy..kundalini energy..Christ Energy..DAO..QI..or whatever one chooses to describe this real human
higher power of energy....

And people in eastern countries have been practicing some form of TAI CHI for a reported 70 thousand years...

So no..it's certainly nothing new under the sun...

OH my god there are so many words to describe this higher potential of human beings..who tap into this energy..
to do amazing things..as I truly experience this now..

IT is no wonder that some folks thought that Jesus was GODLIKE in that time and place..

Where true enlightenment for simple bliss and peace in life..was so hard to find..

At least now the paths are almost all available...in MY GOD!..even YOUtube now..

That is great that the secrets are no longer hidden from potential sight of folks like the ones

that used to be so repressed in my area..without a hope of gaining insight from a distant time or place...

But as they say.. ya can even lead a horse to water..but one cannot make the horse drink the water...

There is incredible human energy..available to at least some human beings..through this power of 'whatever' that many

folks have qualified with an abstract three letter word concept..that IS shell of the word GOD...

It truly is nothing but imagination..without the power of GOD that is REAL incredible energy..

beyond any testosterone fueled workout..

OR adrenaline generated effort...

Been there done both of those other things..for too long..decades..not to clearly perceive the subtle differences...

IN this power..of what some folks describe as GOD..that can range ..from barely detectable...to almost an explosion of energy..that yes..can move the
proverbial mountain...and yes.. even more...

But without the TRUE experience of IT..i simply do not seeing it as existing..

at least that was the way i experienced the lack of it..

as opposed to overflowing fulfillment..

Of this thing that some folks describe as the POWER of GOD!

And i am still a scientist at heart..and as big a skeptic about GOD..as anyone here...before

I experienced this power..

I would not be promoting this truth..if i did not understand..it completely and scientifically per my own
unique measures of the scientific method ..to get the proof..that is enough for me...

But it is impossible really i think..to communicate this to another person that does not live in the energy..

It was certainly impossible for anyone to relate to me..before i experienced it...

There is incredible overall healing power...i have proof of that in the photos i have taken of myself..

since my sudden and yes..therapist stated miraculous remission/recovery from 19 medically documented disorders..

Almost overnight around July 22nd of last Summer...

This power that some folks describe as GOD IS real..there is nothing but 100% real life credible evidence..for me to believe anything else....

But again..i certainly do not expect to convince anyone of it..unless they have experienced..it....

I'm not much one for blind faith...i've always had the tendency toward positive thoughts...

But i have to have evidence before getting attached to any abstract concept in life...

I am not one to believe in any conspiracy theory..and the placebo effect or hypnosis ..does not even work on me....


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24 Jan 2014, 8:05 pm

Morality has no base. For the most part I believe that it mainly exists in instinct. People turn to things like God when they want an exact idea of what's good and what's bad. It's not the best to follow IMO and history has shown that. If you feel that something is bad or wrong, don't trust God, trust your gut.



ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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24 Jan 2014, 8:31 pm

This is why philosophy is so important.



91
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25 Jan 2014, 12:18 am

DentArthurDent wrote:
Maybe, but he certainly has his detractors, most of them people I respect eg Sam Harris, Dawkins, HItchens to name a few, not sure what Sagan thought of him either and I doubt Ehrman thinks much of him either, but then their opinions are no doubt reciprocated by his supporters.


None of those people you listed is a trained philosopher. Although Dawkins is a great evolutionary biologys, Harris is a reasonable neuroscientist and Hitchens is one of my favorite writers. None of them have a philosophical bone in their bodies. Eherman is a fairly prominent theologian and I don't know what his opinion on Planting is. The only one of the so-called four horsemen to engage with Plantinga directly is Dennett and they publish books together where they debate (which are REALLY good). If there is however a top atheist voice in philosophy it is Thomas Nagel, who actually agrees with Plantinga's criticism of naturalism. Nagel is a university professor (not a professor at a university but one who belongs to the university and not to a department) at probably the best philosophy school in the world (the only real competition is from Stanford), his position within the discipline is akin to that held by Dawkins when he was at Oxford. Here are his comments on Plantinga:

The interest of this book, especially for secular readers, is its presentation from the inside of the point of view of a philosophically subtle and scientifically informed theist—an outlook with which many of them will not be familiar. Plantinga writes clearly and accessibly, and sometimes acidly—in response to aggressive critics of religion like Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. His comprehensive stand is a valuable contribution to this debate.

I say this as someone who cannot imagine believing what he believes. But even those who cannot accept the theist alternative should admit that Plantinga’s criticisms of naturalism are directed at the deepest problem with that view—how it can account for the appearance, through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry, of conscious beings like ourselves, capable of discovering those laws and understanding the universe that they govern. Defenders of naturalism have not ignored this problem, but I believe that so far, even with the aid of evolutionary theory, they have not proposed a credible solution. Perhaps theism and materialist naturalism are not the only alternatives.



DentArthurDent wrote:
If this paragraph has not been taken out of context it then shows an absurd attempt to square the circle.


I am not familiar with that exact quote, so I can't really comment on it.

DentArthurDent wrote:
PS not sure where you live in Aus but unless you are in certain parts of Queensland how good is it to have relatively benign temperatures again!


That it is... although this week we could be in for another dose.


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25 Jan 2014, 4:38 am

91 wrote:
how it can account for the appearance, through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry, of conscious beings like ourselves[i]

That 'conscious being' is nonsense. Ironically Nagel is not really much of a philosophy of mind. His 'other alternative' is woo.

Quote:
[i]capable of discovering those laws and understanding the universe that they govern.

That is factually false. Our description of the universe, especially in quantum physics, has exceeded what our common language and our primate intuition can ever grasp. All we can do now is some formal calculation and then compare with observations.



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25 Jan 2014, 8:42 am

91 wrote:
Perhaps theism and materialist naturalism are not the only alternatives.


QFCM

"Quoted for Common Sense"

Along with the Quantum theory stuff..posted directly above....this post^


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25 Jan 2014, 8:48 am

raisedbyignorance wrote:
Morality has no base. For the most part I believe that it mainly exists in instinct. People turn to things like God when they want an exact idea of what's good and what's bad. It's not the best to follow IMO and history has shown that. If you feel that something is bad or wrong, don't trust God, trust your gut.


Well..of course...

God IS
Gut
2
go
to
gut..guy..
or whatever
[email protected]

And no that is no joke..
One's reality goes far beyond one's head.........brain or

whatever

But this is only empty shells of language...

What could language knowNOW..

i trust my GUT..and my GUT loves
the TRUe GOD..that is One
and ALLasONE

But gut huh...
is more than
words...
even a three letter one...an abstract one
to attempt to describe.....

GUT

And no
not stomach...

or a magic man
in the sky..............


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25 Jan 2014, 5:10 pm

91 you really are shocking when it comes to using the argument from authority, your use of this is often borderline logical fallacy.

Plantinga may be respected as a philosopher but this does not mean he is correct in his deductions, Harris, HItchens and Dawkins may not have majored in philosophy but it does not follow that their philosophical musings are inferior or errant.

As far as I am aware none of the people I have mentioned makes the claim that altruism and the morals which flow from it, are purely naturalistic, Dawkins most certainly does not, in the selfish gene he refers to the effect of society and environment. From what I have read they all suggest that whilst altruism has a naturalistic cause (which is quite evident in other species today) we have carried this behavior forward in a sentient way, building upon its successes in forming and maintaining small familiar groups, then larger extended groups and then societies and into the modern era, to do this required cooperation and cooperation needs guiding principles, to a point this can be naturalistic (Meerkats come to mind) but we are more than simple mammals we have the power of speech and a highly evolved intellect.

As Hitchens repeatedly pointed out, how ludicrous it is to suggest of jewish his ancestors that " they had been dragging themselves around the desert in the impression that adultery, murder, theft and perjury were all fine, they get to mount sinai to be told its not kosher after all...... if we had thought that adultery, murder, theft and perjury were all right we would not have got to the foot of mount sinai or anywhere else."

The "evolution" of morals and ethics is clearly observable using the Bible itself as a yardstick, who reading this, would agree that any of the moral examples I pulled from the bible in a previous post would be regarded as moral today? The only people I can think of are the religious fundamentalists.

Your reference to Nagel, does not support Plantinga, all it does is support the the intellect and thoughtfulness of his work. This does not prevent Nagel from disagreeing with him.

You also appear to be disallowing science from the debate, placing the sole authority in the hands of metaphysics. You appear to be suggesting that someone who is an expert in Evolutionary Biology and another who is a Neuroscientist have no place in a debate on the development of human interactions and behaviour. If so, this seems to me an absurd position to take.


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25 Jan 2014, 7:59 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
Plantinga may be respected as a philosopher but this does not mean he is correct in his deductions, Harris, HItchens and Dawkins may not have majored in philosophy but it does not follow that their philosophical musings are inferior or errant.


No it does not but do we really have to go through all three of those authors and show how bad their philosophy really is? Dawkin's main argument in his book is not even logically valid (http://www.skepticalchristian.com/r_dawkins.htm), the argument put forward by Harris in defense of naturalistic good stems from an equivocation fallacy (http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/04/h ... hty-puppy/) and Hitchens makes no claim to be a philosopher. I can find things to like in all three of those writers, their ability as philosopher is not one of them. As I said, Hitchens is one of my favorite writers.

DentArthurDent wrote:
As far as I am aware none of the people I have mentioned makes the claim that altruism and the morals which flow from it, are purely naturalistic, Dawkins most certainly does not, in the selfish gene he refers to the effect of society and environment. From what I have read they all suggest that whilst altruism has a naturalistic cause (which is quite evident in other species today) we have carried this behavior forward in a sentient way, building upon its successes in forming and maintaining small familiar groups, then larger extended groups and then societies and into the modern era, to do this required cooperation and cooperation needs guiding principles, to a point this can be naturalistic (Meerkats come to mind) but we are more than simple mammals we have the power of speech and a highly evolved intellect.


Well Dawkins and Hitchens would agree that there is no good without God. Although Dawkins has changed his tune a bit since the publication of 'The Moral Landscape', “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other god. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is,”... there is no ought from the is even if on Dawkins morality can be accounted for through genetic means, there is nothing in that to suggest we 'ought' to do what it proscribes. Dawkins understands the limits of naturalistic reasoning, in that you cannot derive ought from is.

DentArthurDent wrote:
The "evolution" of morals and ethics is clearly observable using the Bible itself as a yardstick, who reading this, would agree that any of the moral examples I pulled from the bible in a previous post would be regarded as moral today? The only people I can think of are the religious fundamentalists.


I would not dispute that statement at all. You are however equivocating between the process that produces a thing and the thing itself. Showing us how morality is developed does nothing to show us why such a thing should be given the property of being moral. Essentially you are cheating, I grant that such behavior is moral in my world view but there is an equally logically valid view that says it should not be given the title of 'moral' behavior, even if it is recognizable behavior. Surely you can see the issue there?

DentArthurDent wrote:
Your reference to Nagel, does not support Plantinga, all it does is support the the intellect and thoughtfulness of his work. This does not prevent Nagel from disagreeing with him.


To be clear, Nagel does not agree with Plantinga's views on the existence of God, he does however agree with his criticisms of naturalism (which has made Nagel an enemy of the Dawkins crowd of late). Further, I cited Nagel as an example that you should take Plantinga more seriously, rather than dismiss him out of hand, I believe that it was sufficient to do so. You have not read Plantinga's books on the subject and so all I can really do to show you how seriously he is regarded is to make a reference to authority, yet you then come at with me from that... So your lack of knowledge and my working with that makes me reliant on authority to suggest that you are wrong... So you put me in a position where I cannot argue from within the literature and then criticism me for arguing from within the discipline?

DentArthurDent wrote:
You also appear to be disallowing science from the debate, placing the sole authority in the hands of metaphysics. You appear to be suggesting that someone who is an expert in Evolutionary Biology and another who is a Neuroscientist have no place in a debate on the development of human interactions and behaviour. If so, this seems to me an absurd position to take.


Well I am not sure what would suggest that to you. I think both have a great deal to suggest about behavior. Since I already said that I agree the development of morality can be accounted for through evolution and you know I am a compatibilist (which should give you insight into the reality that I do think neuroscience can say things about behavior), I am not sure where that statement is coming from. The question of accounting for behavior is one that is accessible to science but the question of what makes that behavior moral is a question for philosophers. Science can determine behavior to be useful, to assist survival or to aid human relations but it says nothing of the moral value of these things as opposed to their logical opposites which are equally explicable in much the same way. To suggest otherwise is to equivocate between two very different definitions of the word 'good'.


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27 Jan 2014, 5:13 am

91 wrote:
Dawkin's main argument in his book is not even logically valid (http://www.skepticalchristian.com/r_dawkins.htm), the argument put forward by Harris in defense of naturalistic good stems from an equivocation fallacy (http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/04/h ... hty-puppy/)


Regarding the God Delusion the article you quote does not ring true, but I will need to recover my lent copy to challenge its assertions effectively. Regarding Harris Vs Craig it is quite obvious that Harris is not as competent an orator as Craig, also his argument is much harder to address than Craig's. That said I would suggest the title of the article is very inaccurate.

To be honest I don't think Objective morals exist, certainly not in the sense Craig believes. Ethics and morals have been evolving since before the bible, some of the stories purporting to be Gods moral code are quite obviously part of that evolution. Craigs insistence that without the Ontology of a kindly, good god we have no basis for Objective Morals falls flat on me, as the characterisation of god in the bible is not kindly nor ethically good.


91 wrote:

Well Dawkins and Hitchens would agree that there is no good without God. Although Dawkins has changed his tune a bit since the publication of 'The Moral Landscape', “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other god. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is,”... there is no ought from the is even if on Dawkins morality can be accounted for through genetic means, there is nothing in that to suggest we 'ought' to do what it proscribes. Dawkins understands the limits of naturalistic reasoning, in that you cannot derive ought from is.


This is taken very much out of context, both Dawkins and Hitchens would and do agree that at a base genetic level there is no thought, no intelligent guiding principle. The same goes for the natural world. Indeed I can almost hear the words "Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference" coming out of their mouths. They both quite equivically say that once you get into sentient life things start to change, the ability to reason, to discuss, to form opinion, to express feelings, change life from being from purely of gene survival into something far richer. Neither give the slightest reason to suggest your statement that "they would agree there is no good without god", is anything short of an absurdity.


91 wrote:
I would not dispute that statement at all. You are however equivocating between the process that produces a thing and the thing itself. Showing us how morality is developed does nothing to show us why such a thing should be given the property of being moral. Essentially you are cheating, I grant that such behavior is moral in my world view but there is an equally logically valid view that says it should not be given the title of 'moral' behavior, even if it is recognizable behavior. Surely you can see the issue there?


That is because you believe in Objective Morals which have God as their source. I do not. I see morals and ethics as fluid, they change all the time, heck just look to fashion and foul language. But fashion and language can change with rapidity because they are not of much import.

Once someone or some group has come up with the idea that murder is not to be a part of that society it will stick because it is not a frivolous idea, it has obvious merits, the same with adultery and other moral values which have remained in our society and now form the bedrock of Morals. It should however be noted that when it comes to these morals you often see the religious only applying them to their society and not universally, Armies praying to God for victory for example, in this case where is the bedrock of God in the morals and ethics of a society.

If Morals are Objective and Devine why is it that they change and morph? Why is it that much in the bible seems immoral to us? Or is it that god only hands out edicts that will be accepted by contemporary community standards?

If you were arguing that without Philosophy we would have no morals, I most probably would agree with you. Once these concepts have been thrashed out and taken hold in the general society it is not god who maintains them it is the state. On an international scale once again it is not god who is the bedrock of morals and ethics rather it is the community of international states through treaties and MOU's etc.


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27 Jan 2014, 5:56 am

91 wrote:
Well Dawkins and Hitchens would agree that there is no good without God. Although Dawkins has changed his tune a bit since the publication of 'The Moral Landscape', “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other god. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is,”... there is no ought from the is even if on Dawkins morality can be accounted for through genetic means, there is nothing in that to suggest we 'ought' to do what it proscribes. Dawkins understands the limits of naturalistic reasoning, in that you cannot derive ought from is.


Actually, Dawkins and Hitchens never said that there was no good without God, what they said was that without God, good, evil and morality is not cosmically relevant, which I agree with. All the universe is on a fundamental scale is matter and energy (additionally you could include time and space), so good and evil is not a fundamental part of the universe. All good and evil is really, is a set of rules that humans obey in order to live in a functional society. Though, just because something doesn't matter on a cosmic scale, it doesn't mean that it shouldn't matter us at all. Obviously, it matters a great deal to people who have to endure suffering because of evil done to them.



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27 Jan 2014, 11:14 am

01001011 wrote:
Our description of the universe, especially in quantum physics, has exceeded what our common language and our primate intuition can ever grasp. All we can do now is some formal calculation and then compare with observations.


That is why the language is evolving. I keep fairly up to date in terms of modern physics. It is difficult to comprehend based on just words, but if you are fluent in the mathematical languages of mechanical physics, it is really not overly difficult to comprehend.

We needed to evolve a new language to explain the microscopic world (once it was discovered), and now even young children can grasp the idea of "invisible" bacteria. It is just a matter of time until the common language of modern physics catches up and becomes part of the culture.


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27 Jan 2014, 12:24 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
91 wrote:
Dawkin's main argument in his book is not even logically valid (http://www.skepticalchristian.com/r_dawkins.htm), the argument put forward by Harris in defense of naturalistic good stems from an equivocation fallacy (http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/04/h ... hty-puppy/)


Regarding the God Delusion the article you quote does not ring true, but I will need to recover my lent copy to challenge its assertions effectively. Regarding Harris Vs Craig it is quite obvious that Harris is not as competent an orator as Craig, also his argument is much harder to address than Craig's. That said I would suggest the title of the article is very inaccurate.

To be honest I don't think Objective morals exist, certainly not in the sense Craig believes. Ethics and morals have been evolving since before the bible, some of the stories purporting to be Gods moral code are quite obviously part of that evolution. Craigs insistence that without the Ontology of a kindly, good god we have no basis for Objective Morals falls flat on me, as the characterisation of god in the bible is not kindly nor ethically good.


91 wrote:

Well Dawkins and Hitchens would agree that there is no good without God. Although Dawkins has changed his tune a bit since the publication of 'The Moral Landscape', “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other god. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is,”... there is no ought from the is even if on Dawkins morality can be accounted for through genetic means, there is nothing in that to suggest we 'ought' to do what it proscribes. Dawkins understands the limits of naturalistic reasoning, in that you cannot derive ought from is.


This is taken very much out of context, both Dawkins and Hitchens would and do agree that at a base genetic level there is no thought, no intelligent guiding principle. The same goes for the natural world. Indeed I can almost hear the words "Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference" coming out of their mouths. They both quite equivically say that once you get into sentient life things start to change, the ability to reason, to discuss, to form opinion, to express feelings, change life from being from purely of gene survival into something far richer. Neither give the slightest reason to suggest your statement that "they would agree there is no good without god", is anything short of an absurdity.


91 wrote:
I would not dispute that statement at all. You are however equivocating between the process that produces a thing and the thing itself. Showing us how morality is developed does nothing to show us why such a thing should be given the property of being moral. Essentially you are cheating, I grant that such behavior is moral in my world view but there is an equally logically valid view that says it should not be given the title of 'moral' behavior, even if it is recognizable behavior. Surely you can see the issue there?


That is because you believe in Objective Morals which have God as their source. I do not. I see morals and ethics as fluid, they change all the time, heck just look to fashion and foul language. But fashion and language can change with rapidity because they are not of much import.

Once someone or some group has come up with the idea that murder is not to be a part of that society it will stick because it is not a frivolous idea, it has obvious merits, the same with adultery and other moral values which have remained in our society and now form the bedrock of Morals. It should however be noted that when it comes to these morals you often see the religious only applying them to their society and not universally, Armies praying to God for victory for example, in this case where is the bedrock of God in the morals and ethics of a society.

If Morals are Objective and Devine why is it that they change and morph? Why is it that much in the bible seems immoral to us? Or is it that god only hands out edicts that will be accepted by contemporary community standards?

If you were arguing that without Philosophy we would have no morals, I most probably would agree with you. Once these concepts have been thrashed out and taken hold in the general society it is not god who maintains them it is the state. On an international scale once again it is not god who is the bedrock of morals and ethics rather it is the community of international states through treaties and MOU's etc.


Excellent analysis..just wanted to quote this as something
that rings true to me too..:)

God ain't fair..anyone who thinks that GOD is fair (human defined ideology/mythology of morality)..

ain't seeing the big picture...
i think..:)

at least not in this one life..
i see now....


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27 Jan 2014, 8:43 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
Regarding the God Delusion the article you quote does not ring true, but I will need to recover my lent copy to challenge its assertions effectively. Regarding Harris Vs Craig it is quite obvious that Harris is not as competent an orator as Craig, also his argument is much harder to address than Craig's. That said I would suggest the title of the article is very inaccurate.


Its tangential but interesting to note that Harris is not a very good philosopher. Go and read Daniel Dennett's review of Harris's latest book 'Free Will', it was scathing. Harris keeps writing these books without even really making an effort to engage with the contemporary philosophy, its starting to border on dishonesty. As for writing off Craig's wins in debates to his oratory, his speaking skills are certainly a factor but take Dennetts advice when it comes to encountering what you think are glaring holes in a philosopher's work: If you find yourself thinking you have found a hole in a widely accepted formulation of an argument, its possible they made a glaring error but its also possible and more likely to be the case that you did not read them correctly. It is becoming quite a common statement to hand-wave off theist wins in debates as better debate skills rather than looking at the reality that they have a credible argument, even if you don't buy it. What you really want to do is look t the entire worldview they are offering to see how arguments become interdependent. Theists and atheists alike have both developed sophisticated world views.

DentArthurDent wrote:
To be honest I don't think Objective morals exist, certainly not in the sense Craig believes. Ethics and morals have been evolving since before the bible, some of the stories purporting to be Gods moral code are quite obviously part of that evolution. Craigs insistence that without the Ontology of a kindly, good god we have no basis for Objective Morals falls flat on me, as the characterisation of god in the bible is not kindly nor ethically good.


Well I would not say I am sold on the idea that morality is 'evolving', that seems to imply that reason has bestowed a teleology on subject. I would agree that much of our behaviour evolved but I can see no decent reason for deeming some of it to be moral and others to just be useful without introducing a massive selection bias.

DentArthurDent wrote:
This is taken very much out of context, both Dawkins and Hitchens would and do agree that at a base genetic level there is no thought, no intelligent guiding principle. The same goes for the natural world. Indeed I can almost hear the words "Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference" coming out of their mouths. They both quite equivically say that once you get into sentient life things start to change, the ability to reason, to discuss, to form opinion, to express feelings, change life from being from purely of gene survival into something far richer. Neither give the slightest reason to suggest your statement that "they would agree there is no good without god", is anything short of an absurdity.


"Yeah. I don't want to be too much of a reductionist, but it's entirely possible that it is purely evolutionary and functional." - Hitchens

I am not aware of too much in the way of sophisticated thought on the subject by Dawkins, most of it just focuses on his cursory reading of the euthyphro dilemma. I would agree that Reason allow us to apprehend moral values but I see no grounding in reason for anything like morality itself. I would suggest again that you are mistaking the means of perception for the thing itself.

DentArthurDent wrote:
That is because you believe in Objective Morals which have God as their source. I do not. I see morals and ethics as fluid, they change all the time, heck just look to fashion and foul language. But fashion and language can change with rapidity because they are not of much import.


That is an acceptable position to take on but it comes with certain costs. Inter-subjective morality never satisfied my experience of the real world in which I live where things are plainly right and wrong regardless of time, space and popularity. If they are sustained by their popularity, then it follows that all someone who brakes them does, is behave in a way that is unpopular, why then add the additional term of immoral, especially when there is no grounding for it? I for one am not comfortable with a view that says that when I am in North Korea, what they do is morally correct because it is within the existing social contract. Even if we then fait the social contract to the whole world, then slavery becomes moral for most of human history. Nor am I prepared to accept cultural relativistic interpretations of the definition of rape. Nor I am prepared to accept socially relativistic interpretations of slavery.

I can see in the Bible the development of a stronger stance against slavery as time goes on, I can accept development of morality that leads mankind to reject slavery, but that implies that the future has some right to judge the past. If there is no mechanism for establishing legitimate teleology, then all you are doing is engaging in fiat, which is no ground at all. Inter-subjectivity is limited to the group and when really unpacked eventually reduces to individual opinion, when I look at how morality actually functions and is enshrined in law, I see no reason that the modern standard and it's claims to universality could be sustained without morality needing to be objective. It is perfectly acceptable for you to affirm subjective morality but you need to firmly imbibe the rather nasty negatives that some along with that. That position is easy to prefer when you are in a wealthy relatively urban society where your biggest moral threat is being unfairly judged by peers and family but when you venture beyond that, into the wider world where truly awful things happen and occur for structural reasons (that you use to sustain your views of morality), it becomes quite evident that there is rather more going on and the subjective view covers too many sins to be affirmed.

DentArthurDent wrote:
Once someone or some group has come up with the idea that murder is not to be a part of that society it will stick because it is not a frivolous idea, it has obvious merits, the same with adultery and other moral values which have remained in our society and now form the bedrock of Morals. It should however be noted that when it comes to these morals you often see the religious only applying them to their society and not universally, Armies praying to God for victory for example, in this case where is the bedrock of God in the morals and ethics of a society.


I would agree with that statement. However, there is no reason to equate socially useful to a community with the moral 'good'. I would also caution you against conflating all religious morality with morality centred on the objective grounding within a benevolent (basically benevolent deist) conception of God. Religion is the social mechanism by which people have often propagated morals but it I would never agree that religion is a decent anchor for objective morality, there is a plain error in that sort of logic.

DentArthurDent wrote:
If Morals are Objective and Devine why is it that they change and morph? Why is it that much in the bible seems immoral to us? Or is it that god only hands out edicts that will be accepted by contemporary community standards?


Why would we expect to moral interpretation not to change? We as a species have obviously become better at understanding things as we have developed. Morality, on the theistic view that I am offering, is a form of knowledge that we slowly develop an understanding of, just like anything else. A lot of what occurs in the Bible is coloured by later sins (especially when discussing slavery, the Hebrew laws were actually more progressive than the 17th century's view of the subject). It still is immoral because it is so far from what we ought to view as best practice but it does show us now, looking back on them, that there was wrong done then that we know better now than to do again. Objective morality gives our view the teleology to say that the present can judge the past and we can develop towards something better. If you accept the intersubjective view, then what they did was morally correct, at the time, which is, at least to me, much to high of a price to pay.

DentArthurDent wrote:
If you were arguing that without Philosophy we would have no morals, I most probably would agree with you. Once these concepts have been thrashed out and taken hold in the general society it is not god who maintains them it is the state. On an international scale once again it is not god who is the bedrock of morals and ethics rather it is the community of international states through treaties and MOU's etc.


At the international scale, the bedrock is a claim of universality of morality, which cannot be sustained without an objective grounding for morality. I would argue that the introduction of cultural relativism has done huge damage to the moral clarity of those institutions, especially the UNHRC. The very worst idea that body ever affirmed was cultural relativism, its what directly led to the election of Mauritania and Saudi Arabia to the council. I would not disagree that morality is intersubjectively affirmed but I would never agree that it is grounded in the same way.

Jono wrote:
Actually, Dawkins and Hitchens never said that there was no good without God, what they said was that without God, good, evil and morality is not cosmically relevant, which I agree with. All the universe is on a fundamental scale is matter and energy (additionally you could include time and space), so good and evil is not a fundamental part of the universe. All good and evil is really, is a set of rules that humans obey in order to live in a functional society. Though, just because something doesn't matter on a cosmic scale, it doesn't mean that it shouldn't matter us at all. Obviously, it matters a great deal to people who have to endure suffering because of evil done to them.


I believe I have elucidated my objection to your statement in my discussion with Dent above. I would however point out that neither of those authors ever put forward the term 'cosmically relevant'. Saying that morality is socially structural is useful but only to a very limited point. Most of the worst evils in history were caused by structural forces. The lone killer who rejects the social contract is limited in the evil they can do but the really nasty things, require the same forces to function as does intersubjective morality. To say one set of behaviour is moral and the other immoral is either personal option or blind fiat and neither is particularly comforting for the person crushed by the consensus of the time they lived in.

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Oh, at risk of inviting the ragnarok on my posts, I am going travelling for the next week and will be out of contact. Assume that whatever objection you make is wrong and any move to compromise is appreciated :P Imagine a great acerbic comeback written by Hitchens but in defence of my position with the logic of Bertrand Russell and the irony of GK Chesterton.


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Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.