Some unbelievers do 'ave 'em

 

j__mars: God bless you as well! Suggestion, instead of attacking someone for asking legitimate questions, you can try to respond gently and lovingly! 1st Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give a defense of the hope that lies within, but do so with GENTLENESS and RESPECT. Just for future reference. Love you!
 

xurnnn: ur right brother, my apologies

 

asmanytruethings: We all have moments of weakness bro. It’s ok. I was a little bristly too so I apologize for that.

 

j__mars: it’s all good! We all learn!

 

asmanytruethings: You have some interesting points here. Do you mind if I ask further questions on them?

 

j__mars: sure, go right ahead! You want to take this to direct messaging?

 

asmanytruethings: Yeah, I don’t like people feeling like they have to put on a “debate performance” or something so I will DM you if you’re cool with that

 

j__mars: that’s cool!

 

carlo4: frededich nietzche albert camus bertrand russel jean paul sartre richsr dawkins told that is no God is not a moral absolute

 

asmanytruethings: Thanks, but I don’t understand what you’re saying. Can you maybe use punctuation and full sentences?

 

trystanvierra: and what if people agree on, say, committing genocide? Is this morally permissible?

 

carlo4: who said that is not an objetive moral werent believers. Who said and affirmed that is not good or bad were atheist like Protagoras, Frederick Nietzche, Albert Camus, Bertrand Russel, Jean Paul Sartre, Richard Dawkins

 

asmanytruethings: No, of course not, but to them it would be. That is why we must do our best to ensure that our values do not become supplanted by systems of belief that are harmful. It is up to us. Another point of view: an atheist objectivist (like Sam Harris) would argue it is always wrong for humans because it causes harm to our fellow human beings.

 

trystanvierra: but why is causing harm to your fellow human beings wrong?

 

asmanytruethings: Because we don’t want it done to us, and we are a prosocial species and have enough empathy to realize it causes suffering (which we wouldn’t want ourselves). We realize that we don’t want to live in a group which allows such behaviors and so the group rules exclude those behaviors. We need to live in groups like this to further our genes. I mean, monkeys and dogs and other animals have been shown to share these kinds of morals too. Pretty amazing.

 

trystanvierra: you have stated why harming people is inconvenient, especially with the sapience to understand that the same could be done to yourself, but you haven’t told me WHY it is wrong. Someone could say “well, I don’t want that to happen to me but I don’t care if I do it to someone else”. So you need to tell me why it’s wrong.

 

asmanytruethings: I never said it was convenient (your word there). Perhaps in some cases it is inconvenient! I answered why it is wrong and you don’t like my answer. I don’t see why you’re looking for “oomph” here.

 

Someone could say that they don’t care if something happens to someone else, but we are all smart enough to know intuitively that everyone else could say the same thing about us! Therefore the only way to prosper is by furthering prosocial behavior. Much of this development (as evidenced by other prosocial animals) seems to have arisen without even an ability to reflect upon it with higher intellect, and hence seems engrained in our consciences.

 

cormackytyrone: I think Lewis wrote on this really well. We might call a tree “good” because they provide just the right amount of what we need (e.g. shade, shelter, etc.) We’d call another bad because it’s not right for our purposes. In the same way, without an objective standard by which to measure good behaviours from evil ones, we’re left with that “good” as useful language. I don’t believe thoughtful Christians need God to somehow order rights and wrongs, they see Him as necessary for there to truly be rights and wrongs.

 

asmanytruethings: Good talk. Say, do you think that what is good for God might really suck for us? Perhaps it’s like how it’s good for us to eat chicken sandwiches but bad for the chicken. Perhaps when people go on and on about how good God is, they’re not even saying that He’s good for them! There’s a thought!

 

I see that you are thoughtful, and I think it’s very clever that you set aside using God for ordering rights and wrongs (thereby sidestepping the issue that Christian morality is itself relative and continues to constantly change, as well as sidestepping the issue of the multiplicity of denominations with their own moralities). Instead you say we need god for there to BE rights and wrongs.

 

Of this I am not convinced. Even if god is real, we have no idea if he is moral or not, let alone the arbiter of morality. Perhaps he is evil (from our point of view), or a mixed bag. Further, supposing he does exist, I must as Euthyphro’s question of him and find whether things are good because he does them or whether he does things that are good. If it’s the former (and morals do come from him), then morals remain subjective, but if it is the latter, then morals exist independent of him, there for our access and He is subject to them.

 

cormackytyrone: It's hard to say about the chicken sandwich comment because "good" is such a complicated word. I mean eating a chicken sandwich isn't even always BENEFICIAL for people, for example if the person is incredibly overweight and well fed and eating chicken is a compulsion of theirs. Eating chicken sandwiches would then be very "bad," if by bad we mean useless with an aim to survival, reproduction and "usefulness."

 

Good is a word people (Christians and atheists) can equivocate over, which is why they love the topic so much I suspect. ;) Could what's good for God be bad for us? I think what God considers to our benefit is truly for our benefit. Although what constitutes the good for God is going to be the good for everyone going by the Christian definition, Gods very nature would be the ontological ground of the good, so it's the same for everybody. That's the objective good, a feature Christian morality has that most views lack.

 

On the usefulness subjective viewpoint however, although we might not want the same things for ourselves that He wants for us, like how children don't want to see the dentist or take a shoot or get up for school everyday, or like how as adults we want to smoke, drink, try before we buy with women, have a good time, God like any loving parent cherishes our mental, physical and spiritual well-being even when we don't.

 

I think when people say God's "evil from our point of view" they're only saying they don't much like Him or His choice of action. That's not so much evil as their preference. Euthyphro Dilemma is answered by a lot of online sources. It's a false dichotomy which posits only two opinions where more than two are available. For the sake of brevity I'll leave it at that and any curious readers can chase it down themselves. Dr. Craig over at Reasonable Faith answers the objection LOTS.

 

asmanytruethings: Thanks for the comment, but what I'm hung up on here is that we really have no way of knowing any of this — it’s all guesses and philosophy, based too upon the presupposition that's god exists and that if he does, he's telling us the truth about himself.

 

How do we *know* that God is the ontological standard for morality, just because he's the creator? What if he isn't? What if he's just telling you that he is? What if there is an objective standard that he needs to live by, and perhaps he isn't? How would you know? With your worldview, you simply accept it on face value but presuming he existed, I still wouldn't be so sure of that myself.

 

I agree that these debates consist of lots of definitional soup. Both sides thrive on using their definition exclusively. Thing is, I'm not seeing the utility of some "good" (your version) that doesn’t accomplish anything besides "existing as a standard." Good to me needs to be of use. I think the ultimate Christian good is to simply worship God and do whatever he says, so something good in the Christian sense may be terrible in my sense, such as some action of worship that causes great harm (I.e, self-abuse, suicide bombing in radical Islam, or the execution of non-harmful "sinners" in various Christian kingdoms, etc).

 

cormackytyrone: I think the reason people believe God is the ontological ground of The Good is because in moral experience we apprehend objective moral dimensions. It's a fancy way of writing we experience moral rights and wrongs as an objective reality, not as subjective. That moral experience isn't guesswork or philosophy though, it's the purest, most plain type of knowledge we can possess. When we go through that moral experience it's nature to do inference to the best explanation. God comes out on top amidst the competing explanations.

 

After asking many different questions I'll do my best to tackle them all quickly and in the order you gave them. How do we know God's the ontological foundation? Inference, experience and because He's told us. God being the creator wouldn't make Him that. If this being wasn't the ontological ground then he wouldn't be the greatest conceivable being. But God is the greatest conceivable being.

 

What if he's just telling us that he is? I'm not sure, anybody can say anything. Still, God according to Christian revelation cannot lie. What if there's an objective standard he has to live by? Again that's the dilemma. It’s a false dilemma though. If this being was subject to a law he'd be some kind of powerful supernatural thing, but it wouldn't be God.

 

How would we know he wasn't living up to the standard? Since we can apprehend moral dimensions ourselves I imagine we'd come into conflict with this deeply flawed being and the real moral law eventually. Still abstract moral laws by which God is held accountable is again the euthyphro dilemma, which is a false dilemma. I know there's stuff after the questions about Christians just believing etc, although I don't think that's true and my opening stuff about the moral experience hopefully helps with those feelings.

 

trystanvierra: no you didn't say verbatim that it was "inconvenient", however everything you've said fails to demonstrate the rightness or wrongness of human action. Only that certain actions benefit the procreation of humans as a species, which doesn't matter in the argument of right vs. wrong. Let me try to reduce this in a way that might make sense: is rape morally wrong?

 

cormackytyrone: the answer under atheism would have to be "it depends." Alien societies might be all about forced copulation, like in some parts of the animal kingdom. If it were possible to wrangle a society in which the heights of well being were populated by wicked people then rape would be positively righteous....so far as I’m understanding it.

 

asmanytruethings: You said we can “know” God is the ontological ground of good because we “experience moral dimensions,” and that these experiences are of objective reality and not as subjective. I highly disagree with you here. Of course our experiences all feel objective TO US, but upon conferring with others, we can discover that our experience of some thing may not have been the reality. You cannot take the subjective out of it. In fact, this is something that has been bothering me about this entire moral ontology debate: I don’t believe that your side (Christian objectivists) are being intellectually *honest* about the subjectivity of *your* beliefs. Let me explain.

 

It seems to me that the utility of having God be the ontological ground for morality is simply so that you can point to it to reinforce your own subjective views on what that morality is. Yet, you do not seem to recognize the complete subjectivity of your position: Every Christian age, culture, and instantiation has had varying moralities and emphases on at-times conflicting “Christian values,” which leads to vastly differing instantiations of “Christian morality” throughout the ages, in varying regions and cultures and times.

 

Yet, each of these instantiations of Christian morality all point to “God” as the “basis” of *their interpretation* of morality. To add another layer of subjectivity here, all of these (you) Christians are simply seeking to understand your morality by reading a series of books that were written by *humans* who (also subjectively) were trying to understand what they thought God was communicating to them. There are so many layers of subjectivity here, it’s not even funny — yet the Christian objectivist side seems to completely disregard this and act as if their morality is truly objective, JUST BECAUSE they supposedly have an “ontological basis” for it.

 

All the rest of this is simply your answers from a purely Christian point of view. You saying “God told us” is really you saying “the Bible says so,” and so you must recognize that the Bible was written by man, and as such, I have no way of distinguishing whether an ancient religious text has an element of divine inspiration and human authorship, or JUST human authorship. Therefore, I cannot trust the text as being divinely authored and cannot agree that “God told you” anything.

 

You said that since we are moral beings that apprehend moral dimensions, we might come into conflict with a deeply flawed being and the “real moral law” eventually. Just what do you think is happening now? We atheists are coming into conflict with your version of a God-based morality because there are things that it promotes that we find to be BAD. I’m not seeing how the euthyphro dilemma has been shown to be a false dichotomy. Perhaps you can go into this a little more?

 

cormackytyrone: We know in the purest sense that the moral experience is objective just for having experienced it. Still about knowing God as the ontological ground of The Good, this involves experience, inference and revelation (“because He told us.”) You don’t really disagree so highly as you think, because we’re both in agreement. Your moral experience comes across as objective TO YOU, that’s something you’ve written and that’s my earlier point.

 

It’s not much of an argument for someone else to write “pfft, yea but I don’t feel it,” or even to complain that they’ve arrived at a different conclusion. The incredible fact of the moral experience isn’t that you and I draw different moral lines and boundaries in the sand, the amazing thing is that we consistently draw lines at all. The moral judgements we arrive at don’t have to be shared because the fact that we’re experiencing moral dimensions is already shared.

 

If somebody can convince you that rape and murder and abuse of people isn’t REALLY evil despite your best knowledge to the contrary I believe that’s something you’d have to answer for to the Lord, but not to me. Paul wrote very well about violating ones own conscience in the eating of food sacrificed to idols, that it was of great harm to the person eating. Still the harm wasn’t literally in the food or even in their moral experience, and a different man who ate idol food by faith incurred no issue. So the subjective isn’t an issue to me, it’s inescapable for having occurred in a subject.

 

About people wanting to enforce their subjective morality under a cloud of Gods objectivity, it’s just not something people are aware of. Ask most Christians what the word ontology means and they’d puzzle at you. Rather than assume those kind of poor motivations I simply take the moral experience and the strong viewpoints built around it at face value, they’re experienced as objective rights and wrongs, for which the most natural and intellectually honest thing a man or woman can do is assume they’re related to an objective reality. That’s as justifiable a reason as any for the person to take it seriously and defend their conscience.

 

The idea that people are using God for “utility” just doesn’t amount to much around people who truly believe in and love the Lord. It’s a strange kind of objection. Throughout our conversation “usefulness” has been your bag, not the Christians. Lewis wrote no difference in morality amounts to so much of a difference as we’d like to believe. Some cultures argue for 3 wives and others for 1, but no culture says you may have any wife from any man at any time you please. The same is true for churches and Christian denominations throughout history.

 

The thing is “Christian objectivists” as you describe them don’t believe their morals, the moral experience or the conclusions therefrom are objective ‘JUST BECAUSE they “supposedly” have an ontological basis for it.’ They believe their moral experience is objective because it’s experienced in the objective sense. Adding these non Christian conspiratorial auxiliary motivations, a kind of atheist oomph factor, doesn’t help anybody when a frank and plain sense reason has already presented itself.

 

I’d say to delve into history vindicates the Biblical material as divinely inspired in light of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, Christ affirms many scriptural books Himself so however highly you prize Him, you prize them. So for the non Christian they can search into historic criteria and various historic disciplines until they’re prepared to take a step of faith in the Bible promises. The promises are a means by which you can go beyond the bare bones academia into something more immediate and powerful.

 

The Christian if truly gifted by an in dwelling of the Holy Spirit can know the truths of the Christian faith, enjoy a personal connection with Jesus Christ and have a transforming experience in their own life. This isn’t always the most popular thing to write but if you can receive it it’s a powerful thing to understand about another human being, Christians, sincere Christians, really do believe in an experience of God. His presence, the Spirit, transforming power. They’ve experienced these things first hand.

 

About atheists and their struggle to find the true moral law in the face of “BAD God based morality,” I’m just not convinced that the objective realm of goods you’re hoping to find exists outside of a divine mind, so evicting God from their search just leads them onto a fools journey. Granting virtues like compassion and mercy as objective abstractions outside of a person isn’t simply nonsensical, it also opens the door to other abstract baddies who can simply pop up into the conversation. Avarice, envy, sloth, are just there in the same way the virtues are if we concede to atheistic demands of continuing the search for good without God.

 

These baddies like the good aren’t out there, unattached and up for grabs. It’s wishful thinking to believe they are. Between abstractions and redefining terms I see The Good under atheism as being lost. Which is tragic as both believers and non believers feel the good. If I’m missing out on anything you’re really interested in me replying to please reminded me. Although for some things like the dilemma etc there’s really so much out there already, and done by so many incredible teachers, that to go into it here would be pointless.

 

asmanytruethings: Experience is subjective. Of course, from our subjective viewpoints, we experience objective beliefs (because we are convinced of one thing and not another!). This doesn’t make the experience any less subjective.

 

You are proving my point precisely. You are using your subjective opinion about the ontology of morality being objective to support your subjective religious expression.

 

I’m not even talking about canon, that’s shifting the goalpost. I’m talking about the notion of divine inspiration itself! To even need to consider Yeshua, you need to have a basis for him - the OT (Tanakh). How can you determine, upon examination, that the words of the tanakh have any divine component, as opposed to just being words written by man? Further, if you want to learn about Yeshua, in reading the NT, how are you able to find any divine component? What quantifiable aspect of the text in either case tell us that the book is divinely inspired, and that, say, another book *isn’t?*

 

cormackytyrone: I think there’s a mix up in the language here, my friend. Subjective gets a foot in the door only because it’s experienced by a subject. That’s all. But people can have a subjective experience to do with an objective reality. When you write we experience “objective beliefs” that’s an odd expression. Maybe it’s better to say true beliefs vs false beliefs, or accurate beliefs vs inaccurate ones.

 

For example, it's true in the subject, namely you, that you feel cold on a cold January day. But it’s also objectively true that for all people in all places at all times you are cold at that specific time in that specific place. I’d be holding a true belief if I look outside my widow and see you’re cold, despite the roaring fireplace I’m in front of.

 

In short I’m still talking about divine scripture. I’m not moving on into the canon. I’m writing Jesus Christ can prove the veracity and divine element in OT scripture. The foundational basis for considering Jesus isn’t the OT, it’s Jesus Himself. You can literally know Jesus, you don’t need any literature. Literally, but without literature.

― Tyrone Cormack