Friday, March 6, 2009

Addendum To "More Thoughts On God's Goodness"

In the comments of my post “More Thoughts on God’s Goodness” it is asserted that morality is either arbitrarily dictated by God or it exists outside of God and consequently God is bound by an external moral standard. First of all, those are not the only possibilities, but let us examine the latter assertion first.


Instead of saying morality let us change that to “good.” If goodness is outside of God and God is bound to it, it would be eternal like God and uncreated like God then we would have this metaphysical non-God standard of goodness with no being attached to it that exists independently and outside God. This seems highly unlikely. We would be positing the eternal substance of good without any attachment to any person, being, entity, God. We would be positing something extremely abstract and unimaginable. Furthermore, if God was bound to conform to an outside standard, He would not be an independent self-existent Being for He would have need of adaptability to eternal goodness. He would for all intents and purposes cease to be God and would not be in essence a good God, for goodness is something not found in Him, but found outside Him that while He could measure up to it, He wouldn’t be the measurement of it. Need I explain further how this paradox could not logically exist?


Moving on, to the first proposition that goodness is created by God. This is typically argued that whatever God decrees is good. For instance, He could suddenly decide to decree that “rape” is good and it would be so. This would be an arbitrary and ever changing standard based on the whims of God. In this scenario, people assert that God creates goodness and could just as easily declare evil things good because He decrees it. This does not work as a standard of goodness. For one, for God to be God, He is unchangeable. He is always Himself. If He needed to be whimsically one thing and then another, He would cease being God. For God is the greatest being that nothing greater can be imagined. If there was someone greater than the Judeo-Christian God, then that Being would be God. If no one greater exist and it were possible to be greater than God, then God would not be God. Thus, necessarily being the greatest, He must be perfectly good, pure, holy, worthy, just, merciful, loving, and righteous.


A possibility was not proffered in the assertion about the nature of goodness that avoids the paradox and the whimsical arbitrary dictator. That is that goodness is not eternally external to God, nor created by God as an external created standard, but it is His nature. He is goodness. All He is the perfect standard of goodness. Not a representation of goodness, but in real essence goodness itself. Goodness isn’t an abstract invisible set of laws and rules. It isn’t separate from God. Jesus’ disciples called Him the Good Teacher. Jesus asked them, “Why do you call me good? You know that there is none good, but the Father.” Jesus was asking them if they realized they were accepting Him as one with God. For He knew they knew only God was “good.”


One can argue that this idea makes our use of the word “good” meaningless. Because when we say an apple taste good we are not saying it is God. No, we are saying that it lines up with a high standard of taste as far as apples go. We use the word in many different ways just as we use the word love in a variety of ways that does not communicate the fullness of love. We say we love our child, but we also say we love going bowling. This does not mean that the love we have for our child is on the same plain as the love of a sport or an object. We still know the difference, even though we use the word in both instances.

Christians believe that we become righteous when we receive Jesus gift of salvation. Sometimes we give the wrong impression as if Jesus hands salvation out to us. In reality, He gives us Himself who is salvation. We become righteous because we enter union with God. He doesn’t give us righteousness, He is righteousness. He doesn’t give us goodness, He is goodness. He doesn’t give us love, He is love. We can have shadows and tastes of this reality before we know Him, but the real tangible essence of these things are only found in Him and we only gain them by being in Him relationally. That is why the greatest commandments are to love God and from that place of love of God and being loved by God we can live out the second greatest commandment to love people. When God’s love is within us it naturally overflows to others. This is why the Scriptures say we cannot hate people and claim we love God, for we do not know God’s love if we hate people. This is actually the standard Scriptures say that unbelievers have to judge Christians. Jesus said that it is our love for each other and the world that shows that Jesus is really the Son of God and that it’s all true.


If I do not live a life of love towards you or towards anyone, you have reason to believe I do not know God and I have nothing true to say about Him. Being in Christ is a highly experiential reality. It is more than intellectual belief in the existence of God and the acceptance of the worldview of Christianity. It is not akin to religious service because of that intellectual accent. It is a viable tangible living relationship. Granted there are times when it doesn’t feel like it and I don’t feel that tangibility. However, there are so many times where that relationship is alive and journeys to new depths and new experiences. It is a journey through deserts, valleys, mountains, and sometimes you feel like you’re soaring with the eagles and other times you feel like you’re traveling through a desert. But that joy of having even one day with the Lord is worth more than a thousand elsewhere. However, God delights to spend time with His children and we don’t have to sustain on only one day of tangibly relating with Him. We can have an eternity with Him that begins not when we die, but when we begin to live with Him now.


Just like any relationship it is cultivated by spending time with Him and talking with Him and listening to Him. It is cultivated by love and trust. However, it is His love working in us that enables us to know Him. He does the work. He asks us to rest in Him. All service is done out of a place of that rest. It seems like a contradiction, but it is a beautiful harmony when you see it lived out. It is part of that journey in learning how it all works. I’ve met people that have a pretty good handle on it and they are a joy to be around. I’m still learning, as I am sure are they. The Kingdom of God is a big place. Jesus said His Father’s house has many rooms. There is a lot of exploring to do, and He invites us to explore the deep things of Him. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and it is to the glory of kings to search it out. It is a joy to journey with God. He is totally amazing.

65 comments:

CyberKitten said...

karla said: We would be positing the eternal substance of good without any attachment to any person, being, entity, God. We would be positing something extremely abstract and unimaginable.

If its 'unimaginable' then how are you imagining it as you wrote that sentence? Also Plato did a pretty good job of 'imagining' the eternal and perfect 'Good'. He called it a Form and became quite famous for the idea.

karla said: Need I explain further how this paradox could not logically exist?

*Only* if you take as a given that your definition of God is what God really is. What you're saying is that if Good exists independently of God then the definition or attributes of God will need to change. This is not a paradox nor is it logically inconsistent. It justs means that your understanding of God would be incorrect.

The rest of your post is another statement of the argument you have put forward many times before. Merely restating your position doesn't exactly move the argument forward.

Karla said...

Some of the repetitiveness was for those who may be reading who have not been following this discussion at length. Some is just me thinking "out loud".

It isn't my definition. It's the necessary definition. God has to be the greatest possible entity in order to be God. If He needed to change or could change to be something "better" then He wouldn't be God.

I think I mean by unimaginable that it would be formless and abstract and not an entity but a "blah" I don't know what. Good separated out into "something" other than God and other than man and other than matter, while being eternal, I don't know what that could possibly translate to.

In contrast, God is a Being, Metaphysical as He is.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Good separated out into "something" other than God and other than man and other than matter, while being eternal, I don't know what that could possibly translate to.

You've *got* to read Plato on the Forms. He nails that idea. I don't agree that they exist but he certainly makes a good effort putting the idea forward.

Karla said...

Hmm, I'll check that out. I think I have some of his Dialogs. Do you know which book he discusses it most?

CyberKitten said...

'The Republic' I think..... but he mentions it in other works too.

Quixote said...

"You've *got* to read Plato on the Forms. He nails that idea. I don't agree that they exist but he certainly makes a good effort putting the idea forward."

Hey Cyber,

What's interesting is that Plato's "good" as a form is in effect his solution to his Euthyphro dilemma. However, it's unsatisfying ultimately:

Abstract objects do not possess the requisite properties to ground the good. IOW, Abstract objects cannot yield, possess, render, or sustain the good. Abstract objects do not stand in causal relationships—they are distinguished by their causal inefficacy. The number thirteen cannot cause bad luck, for instance.

If the good were an abstract object, then, it doesn’t appear that it would be very good, not to us at least. Moral values must be grounded in a concrete object, if at all. The best conceivable concrete object available to ground the good, is God. In fact, it doesn't appear reasonable that anything else can in light of the Euthyphro dilemma.

CyberKitten said...

Quix said: Moral values must be grounded in a concrete object, if at all.

Why?

Quixote said...

Hey Cyber,

Abstract objects, like the number three, are generally not thought to have any casusal relation to other objects, nor do they have properties. Good as we understand it in this argument seems to require this.

Notice, of course, the "if at all" clause in my proposition. It's entirely logical to state that there's simply not a "good" as I believe I've recalled you stating.

However, if we want to acknowledge that a "good" exists, it appears reasonable to conclude that abstract objects do not fit the bill. It seems to require a concrete object, and more specifically, I should have specified personhood as the proper property of a concrete object necessary for grounding.

I think there's good reason to conclude such. What would it mean to suggest that honesty just exists as an abstract object? It's clear what's meant by an honest person, however.

I understand you reason from an evolutionary, naturalistic perspective. What are the chances that a blind, evolutionary process resulted in creatures that just happened to conform to a pre-existing set of abstract values, such as honesty? It's absurd to propose that it just happened that way. It's more rational given naturalistic evolution to conclude that the good is merely a human convention, not that it approximates some abstract standard or form of goodness.

Abstract objects cannot deliver moral obligation-again, they have no causal relationship with concrete objects. Moral obligation appears to require personhood, which is a property of concrete objects, not abstract objects. Duty cannot be owed to the number three, or an abstract concept of honesty.

It appears altogether reasonable to conclude that either the good does not exist, being a merely human convention, or that it requires a concrete object to ground it, namely personhood. In accordance with Euthyphro, the only possible, personal grounding conceivable is God.

So I say, either reject the "good," or seek it in God. There doesn't appear to be a third way, but if there is, is not likely to be abstract objects.

Ali P said...

"So I say, either reject the "good," or seek it in God. There doesn't appear to be a third way, but if there is, is not likely to be abstract objects."

Or treat 'good' as just another human construct.... like morals.

CyberKitten said...

Qiux said: Abstract objects, like the number three, are generally not thought to have any casusal relation to other objects, nor do they have properties. Good as we understand it in this argument seems to require this.

That's because 'Good' isn't an abstract *Object*, it's an abstract *Concept*. 3 may not have any 'casusal relation to other objects' but the idea of Justice does, for example.

Quix said: It seems to require a concrete object, and more specifically, I should have specified personhood as the proper property of a concrete object necessary for grounding.

Ideas of Good, Justice or Honesty are human concepts that we have invented and developed over our history. They have cultural histories just like our religious ideas. The only 'personhood' required for the existence of such ideas are the people who hold, develop and transmit them. If people did not exist then Justice would not exist and neither would Good.

Quix said: What are the chances that a blind, evolutionary process resulted in creatures that just happened to conform to a pre-existing set of abstract values, such as honesty?

Plato may be arguing that the Form of Honesty existed before we did - though as he was unaware of Evolution he might have struggled with the idea of a time before Man - but I am not. I think that the actual existence of Forms in some kind of timeless dimension is nonsense and doubt if Plato meant them to be taken literally. Honesty - to use your example - developed alongside the development of human (and probably pre-human) social forms. It has distinct adavantages and I can see how it could have been encouarged both socially and genetically.

Quix said: It's more rational given naturalistic evolution to conclude that the good is merely a human convention, not that it approximates some abstract standard or form of goodness.

Definitely.

Quix said: Duty cannot be owed to the number three, or an abstract concept of honesty.

But it can to the abstract concept of 'Country' giving rise to Patriotism.....

Quix said: It appears altogether reasonable to conclude that either the good does not exist, being a merely human convention, or that it requires a concrete object to ground it, namely personhood.

See - that's where you're mistaken. You say that 'good' does not exist *because* it is *merely* a human invention. Whereas I say that good exists because it *is* a human invention. You seem to imply that human conceptual inventions are at best inferior or at worst non-existent simply because we invented them. Personally, I believe that God is *merely* a human invention. He's a moderately interesting one though and worthy of cultural study.

Quix said: So I say, either reject the "good," or seek it in God. There doesn't appear to be a third way, but if there is, is not likely to be abstract objects.

The 'third way' is to treat ideas of 'Good' and much else besides as what they are - parts of a societies cultural make-up. Adding a mythical Deity into the equation is completely unesscesary.

MS Quixote said...

"Or treat 'good' as just another human construct.... like morals."

Precisely, Ali, which is to say in that view that it lacks any grounding, and that it's relative to the human or group of humans that happen to be constructing it.

"That's because 'Good' isn't an abstract *Object*, it's an abstract *Concept*. 3 may not have any 'casusal relation to other objects' but the idea of Justice does, for example."

Cyber, concepts actually are abstract objects. That's the point. Thus, if justice is merely a concept, it cannot stand in causal relation.

"If people did not exist then Justice would not exist and neither would Good."

That's certainly one potential view, as I've indicated. But the point I'm addressing is given that view, grounding of the "good" seems impossible. It's a serious problem with your system that you should attend to thoroughly. And certainly, given your view, Justice would not exist as an abstract object.

"It has distinct adavantages and I can see how it could have been encouarged both socially and genetically."

Understood, and agreed. But if that's indeed the case, see above, and below...

"But it can to the abstract concept of 'Country' giving rise to Patriotism..... "

Which is only moving the problem back a step, not removing it altogether.

"See - that's where you're mistaken. You say that 'good' does not exist *because* it is *merely* a human invention. Whereas I say that good exists because it *is* a human invention."

No ma'am, not at all. I'm saying that "Good" cannot exist as a human convention. It's self-evident that that's the case: if humans invented it, then it wasn't there as the "Good" before we arrived on the scene.

Again, I follow your argument of good as a human invention or conception completely. What I am arguing is if that's the case, you've got no way to ground it. It's relative to whatever group of humans, or aliens for that matter, happen to be conceiving or inventing it. And though I have no doubt you maintain this view philosophically, I do doubt that you maintain it in your daily life.

And remember that merely is not a pejorative; it simply means "not more than", or some such.

"You seem to imply that human conceptual inventions are at best inferior or at worst non-existent simply because we invented them."

I'm not implying it; I consider it obvious:) If good is only what a particular group or person invents it to be, it does not appear to have any substantive, lasting, or authoritative worth- but I'm open to arguments as to how you think it might...

"The 'third way' is to treat ideas of 'Good' and much else besides as what they are - parts of a societies cultural make-up."

This is entailed by my first way, and thus does not constitue a third way. When you postulate societal/culture inventions, etc., you are addressing good, not the "Good."

"Adding a mythical Deity into the equation is completely unesscesary."

I quite agree. A mythical deity adds nothing. But God as contemplated for this argument is not mythical, and for you to assume such would clearly be question begging.

What we're dealing with here, actually presents a powerful deductive proof for the existence of God:

P1 If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties exist.

Therefore God exists.

Granted, you can escape the conclusion of this valid, deductive argument by denying that objective moral values and duties exist. As I've indicated several times, I take no exception to your doing so. But there's a couple of things to note: if someone considers these premisses true, or at least more plausible than their denials, they're bound to the conclusion. Secondly, if you deny these premisses, I think you are bound intellectually to embrace the consequences of your particular philosophy, or set forth rational arguments why the apparent logical consequences of your position aren't in fact the logical consequences of your position. In light of what we've argued so far, I don't see how this can be done-but as always, I'm all ears, or in this case, eyes.

CyberKitten said...

Quix said: Thus, if justice is merely a concept, it cannot stand in causal relation.

Huh? I'm pretty sure that concepts of Justice would cause people to act in certain ways rather than others.... But maybe you mean something different.

Quix said: But the point I'm addressing is given that view, grounding of the "good" seems impossible.

If by 'grounding' you mean an absolute foundation I agree with you. No such thing exists.

Quix said: It's a serious problem with your system that you should attend to thoroughly.

Erm, *what* problem?

Quix said: if humans invented it, then it wasn't there as the "Good" before we arrived on the scene.

Agreed. The idea of Good, Evil, Justice etc.... did not exist before we thought of them. But then again the idea of Gods, Ghosts & Fairies (and numberless other supernatural creatures) did not exist either....

Quix said: What I am arguing is if that's the case, you've got no way to ground it.

...and?

Quix said: It's relative to whatever group of humans, or aliens for that matter, happen to be conceiving or inventing it.

Yes, Indeed.

Quix said: And though I have no doubt you maintain this view philosophically, I do doubt that you maintain it in your daily life.

Really? How so?

Quix said: I'm not implying it; I consider it obvious:)

It would seem that I have a slightly higher opinion of our abilities.

Quix said: If good is only what a particular group or person invents it to be, it does not appear to have any substantive, lasting, or authoritative worth- but I'm open to arguments as to how you think it might...

You say that like its a *bad* thing [laughs] Things change. Concepts change. Ideas change. Morality changes. It's obvious, at least to me.

Quix said: A mythical deity adds nothing. But God as contemplated for this argument is not mythical, and for you to assume such would clearly be question begging.

Well, as I consider that *all* Gods are mythical... beg away....

Quix said: What we're dealing with here, actually presents a powerful deductive proof for the existence of God:

P1 If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties exist.

Therefore God exists.

OF COURSE! Why didn't I see it before... [laughs]

That's just a silly argument. Firstly it assumes that morality can only originate in God (Erm *which* God BTW?) Then it assumes that morality is in some way objective - which it clearly isn't.

Therefore God does *not* exist [grin].

Quix said: you can escape the conclusion of this valid, deductive argument by denying that objective moral values and duties exist.

Which I do.... Oh, and if that's even amongst your best arguments for the existence of God you've got a major uphill battle to convince me of your position.... [laughs]

Quix said: I think you are bound intellectually to embrace the consequences of your particular philosophy, or set forth rational arguments why the apparent logical consequences of your position aren't in fact the logical consequences of your position.

I think you're going to have to be a tad more explicit there. I think that your statement is brimming with assumptions but I don't really want to put words in your mouth. I'm pretty sure of what you're going to say - having heard similar countless times - but I'd like to hear it from you.

Karla said...

Cyber, if indeed morality is constrained to a human invention then people of one culture could not legitimately claim that people of another culture had worse or better system of morality without something outside each culture by which to use as a reference point. For instance, if one culture embraces slavery and another says it is wrong there is nothing by which to validate ones acceptance or abhorrence to the practice. As you have stated in the past you must accept that slavery was the right thing to do in communities that allow it either presently or in the past. Or to the Nazi's their treatment of the Jewish people was moral whereas to the Jews and those opposed to the Nazi's it was not. Thus the Nuremburg trials were not just for the Nazi's were being held to a moral system outside of their culture and being punished for crimes that were not crimes to them. How do you justify moral obligation in a world where morality is a human invention that adheres to no external standard?

You also ask which God would be required to anchor the "good." There can only be one God that would be such a God. That would be a God that was eternally the greatest of all possible greatness. There is only one God who is described as having the attributes of eternal love, goodness, righteousness, etc.

Quixote, I enjoy reading your comments, you remind me of Peter Kreeft who I am currently listening to on audio CD's a philosophy course I picked up at Barnes and Nobel.

Ali P said...

P1 If Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties exist.

Therefore The Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

Yay, I win. Frankly, a pitiful argument

Ali P said...

"Cyber, if indeed morality is constrained to a human invention then people of one culture could not legitimately claim that people of another culture had worse or better system of morality without something outside each culture by which to use as a reference point. For instance, if one culture embraces slavery and another says it is wrong there is nothing by which to validate ones acceptance or abhorrence to the practice. As you have stated in the past you must accept that slavery was the right thing to do in communities that allow it either presently or in the past. Or to the Nazi's their treatment of the Jewish people was moral whereas to the Jews and those opposed to the Nazi's it was not. Thus the Nuremburg trials were not just for the Nazi's were being held to a moral system outside of their culture and being punished for crimes that were not crimes to them. How do you justify moral obligation in a world where morality is a human invention that adheres to no external standard?"

The Nazis were being tried by the Allies, applying their own set of morals. It doesn't make it right or moral, it makes it right or moral to the Allies.

Slavery was absolutely fine for thousands of years, it's only recently gone out of fashion (become immoral) because we chose to make it so. I beleive slavery is immoral, but I'm pretty sure many of my ancestors were fine with it.

MS Quixote said...

"Huh? I'm pretty sure that concepts of Justice would cause people to act in certain ways rather than others"

Exactly, Cyber. You've asserted that the concept of justice requires personhood for grounding.

"But then again the idea of Gods, Ghosts & Fairies (and numberless other supernatural creatures) did not exist either...."

Agreed.


"Quix said: What I am arguing is if that's the case, you've got no way to ground it.

...and?"

Well, OK. If you as an atheist choose to maintain a non-grounded belief, I'm fine with it :)

"It would seem that I have a slightly higher opinion of our abilities."

It's not at all clear why you think "non-substantive, non-lasting, or non-authoritative worth" is a measure of higher ability. But again, I'm open to consider your suggestion.

"Well, as I consider that *all* Gods are mythical... beg away...."

Again, if you want to be illogical, I'll not protest :)

"You say that like its a *bad* thing "

I think it's a logical possibility. It would only be bad if people lived it as consistent with their philosophy, which they generally do not.

"That's just a silly argument. Firstly it assumes that morality can only originate in God (Erm *which* God BTW?) Then it assumes that morality is in some way objective - which it clearly isn't."

Actually, it's logically valid and deductive. If all you have to argue against it is irrelevance (which God), and a naked assertion (objective morality doesn't exist), then apparently I'm rational in holding to the conclusion:)

"Which I do.... Oh, and if that's even amongst your best arguments for the existence of God you've got a major uphill battle to convince me of your position...."

If you'll take a quick look back at what I posted with regard to this argument, it should be clear I was justfying my own beliefs, not trying to convince you.

"I'm pretty sure of what you're going to say - having heard similar countless times - but I'd like to hear it from you."

You're a pleasure to talk with, Cyber-sincerely-and I sense we have a lot of common interests. But your post is one extended fighting withdrawal. There's already enough on the table for you to respond to with postitive assertions in defense of your view based on what I've argued. But I'm fine with stopping here...I've enjoyed the conversation.

MS Quixote said...

"Yay, I win. Frankly, a pitiful argument"

If this passes for argumentation in the circles you frequent Ali, I'd find another set. Ignoring for a moment the evident history of the FSM we're all aware of, would you posit the FSM as a being possessing maximal greatness in all possible worlds? If so, then you've validated the argument, because you've merely substituted a synonym for the word "God." If not, the FSM doesn't qualify as God. Please...

Quixote said...

"Quixote, I enjoy reading your comments"

Thank you Karla. I enjoy yours as well, and your posts are very encouraging for Christians, which is my primary reason for visiting here.

CyberKitten said...

Quix said: Exactly, Cyber. You've asserted that the concept of justice requires personhood for grounding.

I think that's blatently obvious. The concept of Justice exists in our heads (and our books) and needs people to exercise it. Are we agreeing or disagreeing here?

Quix said: Well, OK. If you as an atheist choose to maintain a non-grounded belief, I'm fine with it :)

OK, I'll bite. What exactly do you mean by "grounded".?

Quix said: It's not at all clear why you think "non-substantive, non-lasting, or non-authoritative worth" is a measure of higher ability. But again, I'm open to consider your suggestion.

I fail to see what point you're trying to make here.

Quix said: Again, if you want to be illogical, I'll not protest :)

...and why exactly is a disbelief in *all* Gods illogcal? I actually find it very logical.

Quix said: It would only be bad if people lived it as consistent with their philosophy, which they generally do not.

I have a feeling that we've had this debate before. Are you saying that everyone (or even most people) operate as if there is some kind of absolute morality? So how do you explain the variations in moral behavious between societies and over time? Do the 'absolutes' change? What exactly *are* these absolutes you refer too?

Quix said: Actually, it's logically valid and deductive. If all you have to argue against it is irrelevance (which God), and a naked assertion (objective morality doesn't exist), then apparently I'm rational in holding to the conclusion:)

Now you're being ironic (and quite funny actually) When *I* say that objective morality doesn't exist I'm making an assertion... but when *you* say that it does exist you're what... stating some kind of truth? Based on what exactly?

Quix said: You're a pleasure to talk with, Cyber-sincerely-and I sense we have a lot of common interests. But your post is one extended fighting withdrawal.

[laughs] Hardly a *subtle* avoidence of the question.... [snigger]

Oh, and a 'fighting withdrawl' from what exactly? What you see as withdrawl I see as standing still (or even advancing with minimal opposition).

Quix said: If this passes for argumentation in the circles you frequent Ali, I'd find another set.

Actually I agree with Mr P. It was a particularly pitiful argument for God - but then again I've yet to hear a good one (obviously)

Quix said: Ignoring for a moment the evident history of the FSM we're all aware of....

...and the "evident history" of the Judeo-Christian God that *we're* all aware of? The God you speak of is as much an invention as Zeus.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: As you have stated in the past you must accept that slavery was the right thing to do in communities that allow it either presently or in the past.

From *their* point of view, yes. Of course in the last 2K years many Christians have not only kept slaves but defended the idea of keeping them. Things changed and now it is considered unacceptable to keep slaves. Am I getting my point across yet? Ideas of right and wrong change over time and from place to place - even for Christians.

karla said: Thus the Nuremburg trials were not just for the Nazi's were being held to a moral system outside of their culture and being punished for crimes that were not crimes to them.

Exactly. They were being held accountable for their actions according to *our* rules - not their own. Indeed Crimes Against Humanity didn't exist until *after* the end of WW2 (or at least very near the end). Which means that as it is normally considered illegal to convict someone for a crime that didn't even exist when they were doing it it could be argued that the sentances handed down in Nuremberg were illegial and not valid. If we had lost WW2 it is quite possible that our leaders would have been convicted of crimes accoring to *their* beliefs. Fortunately we won and therefore could impose *our* beliefs on them.

karla said: How do you justify moral obligation in a world where morality is a human invention that adheres to no external standard?

Firstly there *are* no 'external' standards to adhere to. It is only your subjective belief that there are such objective standards.

If you're asking why people continue to behave in a moral way even without God... Most people have been brought up to behave morally - though you might disagree if their behaviour is moral from your PoV. It also makes sense (most of the time) in that a moral life is often a less problematic life. Of course there are many instances where we behave immorally - normally for our own advantage. Such is life.

karla said: There is only one God who is described as having the attributes of eternal love, goodness, righteousness, etc.

Yes, but which *flavour* of God are you talking about? A generic Christian God, a Catholic God, a Muslim God.... There are a number of alternatives to choose from.... You interpret God in a certain way. Others - even inside your own religion or your own particular sect - interpret Him in another way. That's why I say "Which God?" Of course you would say that your interpretation of God is the correct one - but other religions/sects make exactly the same truth claims. So how can I, looking in from outside, say which of you (if any of you) are correct?

Ali P said...

'Ignoring for a moment the evident history of the FSM we're all aware of, would you posit the FSM as a being possessing maximal greatness in all possible worlds? If so, then you've validated the argument, because you've merely substituted a synonym for the word "God." If not, the FSM doesn't qualify as God.'

Blasphemer! You shall never feel the presence of his noodley appendage!

FSM is clearly different than the false Christain God, the Bible barely even mentions pirates!

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
Play fair.

"I understand you reason from an evolutionary, naturalistic perspective. What are the chances that a blind, evolutionary process resulted in creatures that just happened to conform to a pre-existing set of abstract values, such as honesty? It's absurd to propose that it just happened that way. It's more rational given naturalistic evolution to conclude that the good is merely a human convention, not that it approximates some abstract standard or form of goodness."

Sorry, but are you asserting that cultures don't evolve and that instances of justice and "goodness" can not have formed through evolution? Most research now shows that there is a good chance that concepts of justice and morality were selected, as it helped group cohesion allowing tribes to survive. Those that didn't deal fairly (horded food, etc.) were ostrasized and not able to reproduce.

"I quite agree. A mythical deity adds nothing. But God as contemplated for this argument is not mythical, and for you to assume such would clearly be question begging."

It's question begging to assume that this god exists.

"P1 If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties exist.

Therefore God exists."

P1 needs some work. I'm sure that you are well aware of the philosophical systems of thought that do not rely on god and still develop objective morals. What you are claiming here is really that "absolute" morals do or don't exist. This changes the scope of the argument, because there is no good evidence that "absolute" morality exists. That we can and do form objective morals is not in question.

"If this passes for argumentation in the circles you frequent Ali, I'd find another set. Ignoring for a moment the evident history of the FSM we're all aware of, would you posit the FSM as a being possessing maximal greatness in all possible worlds? If so, then you've validated the argument, because you've merely substituted a synonym for the word "God." If not, the FSM doesn't qualify as God. Please..."

Classic bait and switch. You seem to be arguing for a deistic god here, but the previous argument was assumed to be for the Xian god. If you are simply arguing for any god, then you've made a different argument than the one typed.

Karla said...

Cyber “From *their* point of view, yes. Of course in the last 2K years many Christians have not only kept slaves but defended the idea of keeping them. Things changed and now it is considered unacceptable to keep slaves. Am I getting my point across yet? Ideas of right and wrong change over time and from place to place - even for Christians.”

William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, was instrumental in ending the slave trade and his book on Basic Christianity was highly influential in changing the mood towards slavery in the US. Regardless of this, there are no grounds to be indignant towards slavery of the past or today if the standard for good is rooted in the human physic. For those who run the slave trades in the Sudan are just as justified in their treatment of humans as people who think it wrong to enslave humanity. Popular opinion doesn’t make something right or wrong. Certainly cultures impose laws and rules upon a populace. But just because they do doesn’t make the law just. It doesn’t mean I ought to obey it. The only reason for doing so would be to avoid the societal consequences, not because I have any ethical reason for obedience.



Cyber: ”Exactly. They were being held accountable for their actions according to *our* rules - not their own. Indeed Crimes Against Humanity didn't exist until *after* the end of WW2 (or at least very near the end). Which means that as it is normally considered illegal to convict someone for a crime that didn't even exist when they were doing it it could be argued that the sentances handed down in Nuremberg were illegial and not valid. If we had lost WW2 it is quite possible that our leaders would have been convicted of crimes accoring to *their* beliefs. Fortunately we won and therefore could impose *our* beliefs on them.

So the winners determine moral obligations? Is this really your philosophy? So slavery is never wrong, because it is always imposed by the winners and they get to choose morality. Are you sure you do not want to rethink this?

karla said: How do you justify moral obligation in a world where morality is a human invention that adheres to no external standard?

Cyber “Firstly there *are* no 'external' standards to adhere to. It is only your subjective belief that there are such objective standards.”

That’s what you believe, but I do not think you have supported it well enough to show its validity.



”If you're asking why people continue to behave in a moral way even without God... Most people have been brought up to behave morally - though you might disagree if their behaviour is moral from your PoV. It also makes sense (most of the time) in that a moral life is often a less problematic life. Of course there are many instances where we behave immorally - normally for our own advantage. Such is life.”

I am not asking this question. Of course we all have intuitive and learned knowledge of moral responsibility and the failure to live up to it. This isn’t countering my argument. I don’t believe that “belief in God” is required for understanding there is a moral responsibility or attempted adherence to a moral obligation. It is when we come into relationship with God that we are freed from that struggle of failure to live up to even our own standards as well as His nature.


karla said: There is only one God who is described as having the attributes of eternal love, goodness, righteousness, etc.


”Yes, but which *flavour* of God are you talking about? A generic Christian God, a Catholic God, a Muslim God.... There are a number of alternatives to choose from.... You interpret God in a certain way. Others - even inside your own religion or your own particular sect - interpret Him in another way.”

There cannot be more than one entity that fits the bill. If God is the greatest possible being, then there can be none greater. I am speaking of He who the Bible describes. Christians may differ on how God relates to us at times, but they do not differ on God being He who is the greatest of all possible beings, metaphysical, personal, good, righteous, loving, eternal, just, merciful, benevolent, pure, excellent, worthy, etc. We are not delving into doctrines here. We are staying in the most basic first principals. We cannot proceed to particulars unless the basic is grasped.

“That's why I say "Which God?" Of course you would say that your interpretation of God is the correct one - but other religions/sects make exactly the same truth claims. So how can I, looking in from outside, say which of you (if any of you) are correct?”

I take it you are not well versed in comparative religions; if you were you would not suggest that other religions make the same truth claims for they do not. From the outside you are indeed in a difficult place. For example, can someone who has never been in love truly understand what it means to love from the outside looking in at a relationship? So there is a certain degree of difficulty to understand a very personal relational God from the outside. But I believe it is quite possible to understand enough from the outside, to one day step inside and have a look around. This is one of the reasons I emphasize the experiential, for a personal relationship with God cannot be fully grasped from the outside. However, as I have just indicated you can examine with your mind and heart enough to weigh the data enough to know if there is a good reason to step closer in for a better look.

Karla said...

Anon, culture developing different moral laws, rules, etc. Does not validate whether such constructed laws are good. If they are simply human constructions of a system of rules to aid survival and cultural cohesion then they are no more than that. Are you comfortable with that? Or do you want to justify that such rules are right, good, just? That would be where you have a problem in grounding such assertions. But if you simply want to suggest rules are culturally constructed and are amoral as they do not reflect any eternal goodness, then that would logically follow your assertion.

Also arguing for an eternal good personal being is not suggestive of Deism. We just haven't taken the argument beyond step one. His existence and goodness. There is no sense speaking of particulars until that is accepted.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
As CK already pointed out, you're not adding anything new with the majority of your post (and perhaps all of it).

For Euthyphro, you're still simply moving the question back one level. I've yet to see you address that.

"One can argue that this idea makes our use of the word “good” meaningless. Because when we say an apple taste good we are not saying it is God. No, we are saying that it lines up with a high standard of taste as far as apples go."

Here, you are admitting that you are using a separate definition of the word "good" when referring to god than what we currently understand. Yes, we understand there are different degrees of "good" as per the definitions in the Bible, but what you are presenting us is not "grounded" to use the lingo that has been flying around this thread. You claim that "god" is the "grounding" for "good" but since you can't define "god" it's simply a tautology. To say that god is the being that is good is to simply complete the circular logic of the tautology. Hence, you've still left us with a meaningless tautology.

You aren Quixote are also both ignoring some very real and important ideas, those of our shared evolutionary history and the fact that we create words and concepts to explain the empirical reality around us that exists. Making the argument that one must have some sort of metaphysical grounding also ignores that we can have other "grounds" for developing our concepts. We can have intellectual and empirical grounds. It doesn't take god to formulate the golden rule, for instance. We can empirically and intellectually note that if we kill someone else and don't have a "rule" or concept to not do that, then someone else might do the same to us. Jesus didn't invent the golden rule, neither did Yahweh.

BTW, have you read the book of Job? How do you explain god wagering with the devil on Job's loyalties and allowing all this to befall him, then simply giving him new children as if that would replace the old ones?

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Anon, culture developing different moral laws, rules, etc. Does not validate whether such constructed laws are good. If they are simply human constructions of a system of rules to aid survival and cultural cohesion then they are no more than that. Are you comfortable with that?"

You're still confusing "absolute" and "objective." You're also ignoring the natural, empirical aspect of all of this.

"Or do you want to justify that such rules are right, good, just? That would be where you have a problem in grounding such assertions."

Not at all, because they are based on empirical observation. This is actually more a problem for you. You're asserting that goodness is absolute and comes absolutely from god, but this is far from demonstrated. The best you have is the word of god telling you what is and is not moral (which you don't even have since we have different morals than the Bible, and you claim to be able to post hoc impart our modern morals back onto the Bible). As far as you can tell, this "god" may simply be a powerful being that tells you what is moral, made up by his whim. You have no assurance that god will not appear tomorrow and declare that rape is good or won't appear and order another genocide.

"But if you simply want to suggest rules are culturally constructed and are amoral as they do not reflect any eternal goodness, then that would logically follow your assertion."

Only if you ignore half of my argument, and hence argue against a strawman.

"Also arguing for an eternal good personal being is not suggestive of Deism."

If you are arguing that some god must exist in order to have morality, then there's no logical necessity that this god appeared in Jesus form and has died for our sins. Either way, you can't very well argue that the generic argument for god being necessary to have morality is somehow specific to your conception of god, but excludes other conceptions like FSM.

Karla said...

Anon, I am not addressing particulars of morality, or particulars of doctrine. I am talking about one think. The nature of goodness and where we find it. I am not addressing particular rules made by man nor am I addressing rules of God. I am simply addressing how can we know that whatever construct of morality is in line with good or not. In your philosophical assertions whether backed by evolution or not, you cannot attribute goodness to any moral construct. It is amoral. No matter who authored it if there is no anchor for goodness it is amoral.

Karla said...

** Correction : One *thing* not one *think*

Karla said...

"If you are arguing that some god must exist in order to have morality"

No I am arguing that if moral constructs, laws, rules, have any base in an "ought" or "good" then there must be a God to anchor that reality.

Otherwise you have an agreed set of values and laws and rules that are contingent only upon agreement or power to enforce them and they have no connection to being "good" or "bad". They are simply utilitarian in nature and our beneficial or not beneficial to survival and pleasure or whatnot. But do not reflect any goodness or evil. So a society could just as easily decide to euthanize everyone over 70 and if all agreed or the powers that be enforced it, it would be what it is. There would be no declaring such an action evil for there wouldn't be anything to appeal to outside our agreement to declare it such.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"I am simply addressing how can we know that whatever construct of morality is in line with good or not."

If morality is defined as good behavior, you've simply made a statement that you are addressing how we can know that good is in line with good. Either way, you are begging the question in the implicit assertion that "good" is a thing that something else can be "in line with," and that "morality" is something apart from "goodness" that has to somehow come in line with it.

"In your philosophical assertions whether backed by evolution or not, you cannot attribute goodness to any moral construct."

Only if we accept your tautologies and begging the question is this true.

"No matter who authored it if there is no anchor for goodness it is amoral."

Only if absolute morality is true and handed down to us from on high. Yet, this is not what you purport to argue for, or is it? You still have yet to make your tautologies meaningful in any way. Again, absolute is not the same as objective.

"No I am arguing that if moral constructs, laws, rules, have any base in an "ought" or "good" then there must be a God to anchor that reality."

Must be a god, with a lower case "g" you mean. You're not arguing for your specific interpretation of god here, so this would be more of an argument for any god, not a particular one. I fail to see what the problem is.

Oh, and BTW, you are far from showing that god must exist in order to form objective morals. Simply continuing to assert it does nothing to help your case.

"Otherwise you have an agreed set of values and laws and rules that are contingent only upon agreement or power to enforce them and they have no connection to being "good" or "bad"."

Once again you ignore the evolutionary and empirical components of the argument. Why won't you deal with the argument in full?

"So a society could just as easily decide to euthanize everyone over 70 and if all agreed or the powers that be enforced it, it would be what it is."

And, I'm sure that no one would be able to figure out that one day they would be 70 and would be agreeing to die at that age? C'mon. Once again, if you are simply going to deal with strawmen (and not even knock them down!) then why bother acting like you have an answer?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Regardless of this, there are no grounds to be indignant towards slavery of the past or today if the standard for good is rooted in the human physic.

We judge them by our standards and, by our standards, we can be indignant towards them. Just because we do not point to supposedly absolute values does not mean that we are incapable of (any) judgement.

karla said: Popular opinion doesn’t make something right or wrong.

Indeed - but that's not what I'm saying. What makes something right or wrong is the *values of the culture*. This is why ideas of right and wrong obviously vary over time and from place to place - because cultural values are different across the globe and change over time.... and that's *all* values.

karla said: Certainly cultures impose laws and rules upon a populace. But just because they do doesn’t make the law just.

Agreed - that's because Law and Morality are not always the same thing. For one thing morality takes time to change whereas laws can be enacted overnight. Quite often law leads morals rather than the other way around.

karla said: So the winners determine moral obligations? Is this really your philosophy?

No. The winners get to *impose* their morality on the vanquished. It's one of the cruder ways that cultures spread.

karla said: So slavery is never wrong, because it is always imposed by the winners and they get to choose morality. Are you sure you do not want to rethink this?

Actually I think that slavery is *always* wrong - even to the extent that most of us are 'wage-slaves'. Many of us have given up one master only to be worked to death by another. I am of the firm opinion that people should never be treated as means to an end but instead as an end in themselves.

karla said: That’s what you believe, but I do not think you have supported it well enough to show its validity.

Naturally you'd say that. Equally I dismiss your idea of some kind of external values. What *are* they BTW. You've never actually gone into any detail beyond assertions.

karla said: I am not asking this question. Of course we all have intuitive and learned knowledge of moral responsibility and the failure to live up to it. This isn’t countering my argument.

Can you rephrase your question then? I obviously didn't understand you.

karla said: I take it you are not well versed in comparative religions..

Not particularly, no. You can imagine that my knowledge of Christianity is fairly skimpy - so my knowledge of other religions (apart from the very basic stuff) is almost non-existent. I did do a Comparative Religions course at University where we covered all the major flavours: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Communism and Secular Humanism but that was *many* years ago so I've probably forgotten most of it.

karla said: From the outside you are indeed in a difficult place.

Oh, I wouldn't describe it as 'difficult'.... [grin] except in the context of understanding what you're talking about most of the time [smile]

karla said: you can examine with your mind and heart enough to weigh the data enough to know if there is a good reason to step closer in for a better look.

Oh, I have... and their isn't any *good* reason to step in closer or inside for a look around....

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So a society could just as easily decide to euthanize everyone over 70 and if all agreed or the powers that be enforced it, it would be what it is. There would be no declaring such an action evil for there wouldn't be anything to appeal to outside our agreement to declare it such.

Yes. If that is the moral stance of that particular society - probably for very good reasons.... who are we to argue? It's just like the Chinese idea of restricting births to one per family in order to control their population. It's no big deal and none of our business. Actually its a *very* good idea.... I imagine it would be difficult to enforce though. You'd certainly need some *serious* propaganda campaign to back that up!

Quixote said...

"Quixote,
Play fair."

I'm doing my best, my anonymous friend, and thanks for the feedback. I was wondering the same, actually.

"Sorry, but are you asserting that cultures don't evolve and that instances of justice and "goodness" can not have formed through evolution?"

No, not at all. I think I made it clear that this was a logical possibility.

"Most research now shows that there is a good chance that concepts of justice and morality were selected,"

Understood. The point was that under this system of thought, the odds that humans would evolve such concepts that coincide with pre-existing abtract objects are so outrageous as to be equivalent to zero.

"It's question begging to assume that this god exists."

Of course, but You'll have a difficult time pointing out where I've done that, because I haven't.

"because there is no good evidence that "absolute" morality exists. That we can and do form objective morals is not in question."

You've understood the argument perfectly. And you're correct, in a larger context, I'd make my terms more clear. Thanks for the rationality, my friend.

"Classic bait and switch. You seem to be arguing for a deistic god here, but the previous argument was assumed to be for the Xian god. If you are simply arguing for any god, then you've made a different argument than the one typed."

Not at all. I agree that the argument cannot lead to the Christian God on its own. And in reviewing my posts, I don't see where I implied that it was the Christian God, although perhaps you picked up the context from Karla's original post. As I understood it, the discussion between Cyber and me was about grounding the good--either in God or abstract objects. If that was unclear, then it should be clear now.

That's sometimes the problem with these internet squabbles--simply not enough space to define everything down to the level it should be.

And Ali, I much prefer this:

"Blasphemer! You shall never feel the presence of his noodley appendage!" :)

Sorry to hit and run folks, but I'm under the gun for about a week now. This is a good conversation, IMO, on all sides. Even if we can't or don't agree, it's nice to be able to disagree nicely, and through the discussion actually pick up some good thoughts, and nice turns of phrasing. Cyber, I thought we were about done anyway, right?

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"No, not at all. I think I made it clear that this was a logical possibility."

Which part is a logical possibility? If it's the part about evolving morality, I think we are way past the point of it simply being "possible." It's demonstrated.

"Understood. The point was that under this system of thought, the odds that humans would evolve such concepts that coincide with pre-existing abtract objects are so outrageous as to be equivalent to zero."

Based on what? And, how are we to determine that "goodness" and "morality" were pre-existent before they evolved culturally? (As an aside, it should be noted that morality did not start with humans as our evolutionary cousins show it as well.) It's putting the cart before the horse.

"Of course, but You'll have a difficult time pointing out where I've done that, because I haven't."

Actually, you have from a strict standpoint. You've made an observation that there is this concept called "morality" that humans talk about. You've then posited an absolute morality that may or may not exist and then assumed some god to explain how it got there and why. I don't see positing god as having any explanatory power, but that doesn't change the problem of begging the question.

"You've understood the argument perfectly. And you're correct, in a larger context, I'd make my terms more clear. Thanks for the rationality, my friend."

This is a huge problem for your assertions. If we can't determine that absolute morality does exist, then how can we use it as "evidence" or proof of god?

"Not at all. I agree that the argument cannot lead to the Christian God on its own. And in reviewing my posts, I don't see where I implied that it was the Christian God, although perhaps you picked up the context from Karla's original post."

You used the capital G form of the word, which for Xians is usually a denotation for the Xian god. If you are simply talking about a deistic or generic god, then there's no reason the FSM can't be that god...that is if your argument held true.

"As I understood it, the discussion between Cyber and me was about grounding the good--either in God or abstract objects."

And, both of you left out the possibility of using the empirical world.

Karla said...

"Yes. If that is the moral stance of that particular society - probably for very good reasons.... who are we to argue? It's just like the Chinese idea of restricting births to one per family in order to control their population. It's no big deal and none of our business. Actually its a *very* good idea.... I imagine it would be difficult to enforce though. You'd certainly need some *serious* propaganda campaign to back that up!"

So in effect you are saying there is no universal values unless per chance everyone universally agrees upon some. Thus, nothing is inherently right or wrong. It's just whatever we decide upon collectively? Of course, you would have to justify why it "ought" to be based on collective agreement versus individual opinion. What of the minority? Or what of the one? Whose to say the voice of the many is "better" than the voice of the one. Why not each person determine their own set moral principals or none at all? What's it matter anyway if life has no intrinsic value and Hitler and Mother Theresa are on par with each other morally. For each come from separate moral paradigms.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So in effect you are saying there is no universal values unless per chance everyone universally agrees upon some. Thus, nothing is inherently right or wrong.

At last... You 'get it'.

karla said: Of course, you would have to justify why it "ought" to be based on collective agreement versus individual opinion.

It's both actually. There is the collective morality of society and the morality of the individual which may often be different. For example - does your morality mesh completely with your society? I'm guessing not on some important issues - me too! But when you add everyone together - like adding individual voices - you eventually get white noise (with an ocassional discordent note or two) no matter how many extra voices you get..... then the noise slowly drifts this way and that, just like morality.

karla said: Whose to say the voice of the many is "better" than the voice of the one.

The many - and often the one. Remember that our morals are, by and large, the morals of the culture/community we grew up in - into which we were accidentally born. If we were born into - or lived through - different circumstances then inevitably we would have different morals. There we, by and large, accept the moral stance of our culture whilst holding our own beliefs on certain things too. Its not as simple as either/or. Life is generally a bit more complex than that.

karla said: Why not each person determine their own set moral principals or none at all?

But we do - in the context of our culture... which we are free to reject if we so wish. Its just that most people don't.

karla said: What's it matter anyway if life has no intrinsic value and Hitler and Mother Theresa are on par with each other morally. For each come from separate moral paradigms.

OK, you've lost it again. Just because there are no objective morals doesn't mean that every action is equally moral (or not). Most people agree that in most circumstances killing people is wrong and helping people is right. But as with most things its just a bit more complex than that. One size does not fit all.

Oh, and I'd really like to hear what you think the objective morality actually is....

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"So in effect you are saying there is no universal values unless per chance everyone universally agrees upon some. Thus, nothing is inherently right or wrong. It's just whatever we decide upon collectively?"

Can you do me a favor and learn the difference between absolute and objective?

"Of course, you would have to justify why it "ought" to be based on collective agreement versus individual opinion. What of the minority? Or what of the one? Whose to say the voice of the many is "better" than the voice of the one. Why not each person determine their own set moral principals or none at all?"

Um, that's what evolution has done. Those that didn't conform to the societal norms were ostrasized and weeded out (actually, this happened before humans were even on the scene). Feel free to continue to ignore empirical evidence, however, since you're quite good at it.

"What's it matter anyway if life has no intrinsic value and Hitler and Mother Theresa are on par with each other morally."

Mother Theresa wasn't all that moral, considering that she helped prop up ruthless dictators and reveled in the suffering of others. Either way, there need not be some cosmic "meaning" in order to determine a value to humans, as has already been pointed out to you.

Quixote said...

"It's demonstrated."

If you're claiming that morality can improve over time, or even degenerate, I'd agree. There's plenty of room for morality to improve or approximate the "Good" or recede from it.

If, as I suppose you are, you're suggesting that it's an empirically demonstrated fact that evolution created morality, I don't think it's at all clear that you can prove this. In fact, it strikes me as a "just so" evolutionary story.

"And, how are we to determine that "goodness" and "morality" were pre-existent before they evolved culturally?"

I'm saying that given the truth of a naturalistic evolutionary process, goodness and morality are almost certainly not pre-existent abstract objects.

"Actually, you have from a strict standpoint."

A strict standpoint is the only one I'll accept. Now take another look at the premisses, and tell me where they claim God exists, which strictly speaking, would be required for begging the question:

If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2 Objective moral values and duties exist.

"If we can't determine that absolute morality does exist, then how can we use it as "evidence" or proof of god?"

If you reject the premiss, then obviously the argument doesn't work for you. But I think an absolute morality is rather obvious, or at least more plausible than its denial. Therefore, the conclusion is not only rational for me, it's necessary.

"If you are simply talking about a deistic or generic god, then there's no reason the FSM can't be that god"

Which, if you'll go back and read what I wrote, is exactly what I told Ali. And if it is but a different term denoting the same God, the argument's structure holds, rendering his objection moot. If it's not a term denoting the same God, he's equivocated.

"And, both of you left out the possibility of using the empirical world."

I'm not certain that's the case, but I'm open to suggestions on how you believe goodness can be grounded using the empirical world.

CyberKitten said...

Quix said: But I think an absolute morality is rather obvious, or at least more plausible than its denial. Therefore, the conclusion is not only rational for me, it's necessary.

Actually I think absolute morality is neither obvious *nor* plausible. Can you provide any evidence that such a morality actually exists? The *concept* of absolute morality certainly exists... but we're not really talking in the abstract here are we?

Karla said...

"OK, you've lost it again. Just because there are no objective morals doesn't mean that every action is equally moral (or not). Most people agree that in most circumstances killing people is wrong and helping people is right. But as with most things its just a bit more complex than that. One size does not fit all."

As soon as you start to profess that one action is more moral than another then you have to accept a standard outside of human agreement. The fact is, we don't all agree. Just think how many cultures we have (generational, ethnic, geographical, spiritual, political, economical, etc.) There is no reason to believe than any of them have any rights to a superior moral structure developed through evolution. If our values of right and wrong or good and evil do not correspond to any ultimate right or good then all are equal and stepping on an ant or snuffing out the life of a child are equally amoral. One may cause more destruction to the highest level of the food chain, but in the grand scheme of things there is no difference. There is no reason for outrage when a gunman shoots up a school. Yet we grieve and we know something horribly evil has been done. We know not because we culturally agree on it, but because we know something greater has been violated. And we know it ought not to be this way. We are appalled at things because they are not in line with what we know deep down ought to be.

"Oh, and I'd really like to hear what you think the objective morality actually is...."

Cyber, it's that which measures up with the ultimate goodness of God's nature. God gave commandments to guide humanity away from the things that will corrupt our nature and bring harm to us and to point us to Himself where we find life. Then He took us a leap further and showed us that the key to all righteous living was not in keeping the commandments for obedience sake, but in entering His life and love and taking on His nature to the extent where we can supernaturally reflect goodness and righteousness without following a list of rules. The rules are by default kept, but not because it's about them. God had created the rules out of His goodness for our benefit, but they are only there to point to Him not to bring us into bondage to a set of rules. The Pharisees and Sadducees were always the best at keeping the letter of the law. They prided themselves on how good they followed the rules. They thought in them was life. They thought they had it all because of their obedience to God's law. Jesus time and again rebuked them because the law wasn't ever put in place as a method by which to find righteousness, but to point to Him who is righteous. The righteous one was before them and they were rejecting Him. He told them that He is the life they seek, not the rules.

To often the Church has given the impression that it's about law and regulation and the Church has piled even more laws never given by God. That's appealing to no one. And it is not the Gospel message. Jesus said he came to free those in bondage, to set the captives free. He didn't come to bring condemnation, but to free us from condemnation.

While I think it vital to understand that goodness isn't rooted in an evolutionary human system, but in God and that is why I keep bringing up the moral argument for God's existence. But I do not do it to impose system of laws to you.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: As soon as you start to profess that one action is more moral than another then you have to accept a standard outside of human agreement.

No you don't - because (as I keep saying) there are no standards 'outside of human agreement'. I can say that the killing of a child is a deeply immoral act and the killing of an ant is largely irrelevant *from my moral standpoint*. I do not require outside assistence to make moral judgements. I am more than capable of making them myself.

karla said: There is no reason to believe than any of them have any rights to a superior moral structure developed through evolution.

What exactly has evolution got to do with it? Some of the underlying factors may indeed be the product of evolutionary forces but morality as we see it today around the world and throughout history is cultural not evolutionary.

karla said: We are appalled at things because they are not in line with what we know deep down ought to be.

Even if that is true (which is debatable) it in no way validates your argument that either an external standard of morality exists nor that God gave it to us.

karla said: God gave commandments to guide humanity away from the things that will corrupt our nature and bring harm to us and to point us to Himself where we find life.

So... The 'ultimate standard' for morality is the 10 Commandments in the OT? What exactly makes *them* the external standard rather than any other religious or non-religious teaching?

karla said: While I think it vital to understand that goodness isn't rooted in an evolutionary human system, but in God and that is why I keep bringing up the moral argument for God's existence. But I do not do it to impose system of laws to you.

I'm actually reading an interesting book ATM about the evolution of morality. I'll let you know when I do the review. As to imposing ancient Jewish law on me... don't worry about it - it ain't going to happen. [grin]

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"If our values of right and wrong or good and evil do not correspond to any ultimate right or good then all are equal and stepping on an ant or snuffing out the life of a child are equally amoral."

Without absolute morality, then there is no morality? Why is everything black or white with you?

"We are appalled at things because they are not in line with what we know deep down ought to be."

How many Muslim men are appalled at honor killings? Do they similarly have this "ought to be" in them or are Muslim men from the devil?

"Cyber, it's that which measures up with the ultimate goodness of God's nature."

Meaning what exactly? Morality is defined as lining up with god's goodness. Good is defined as lining up with god's nature. god's nature is defined as...goodness. Circular definitions and tautologies, and we're no closer to understanding what your definitions are.

"While I think it vital to understand that goodness isn't rooted in an evolutionary human system, but in God and that is why I keep bringing up the moral argument for God's existence."

It's not an "evolutionary human system," it's a system based on empirical studies and actual evolution - as we see in other animals. And, your argument for morality stemming from god seems to be an argument from incredulity (evolution couldn't a done it) coupled with bald assertions sans evidence. Where is the evidence that god exists, absolute morality exists, and that god is the measure of goodness and morality? What does it mean to say that god is the ultimate measure of goodness? Why can't god come down and order another genocide?

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"If you're claiming that morality can improve over time, or even degenerate, I'd agree. There's plenty of room for morality to improve or approximate the "Good" or recede from it."

I'm claiming that morality has evolved over time. There's a subtle difference, but it's undeniable that this has happened.

"If, as I suppose you are, you're suggesting that it's an empirically demonstrated fact that evolution created morality, I don't think it's at all clear that you can prove this. In fact, it strikes me as a "just so" evolutionary story."

I wouldn't say that it's empirically demonstrated, but there is empirical evidence for it, which places it outside of the "just so" regime and into plausible, which is much better than we have for any god.

"A strict standpoint is the only one I'll accept. Now take another look at the premisses, and tell me where they claim God exists, which strictly speaking, would be required for begging the question:

If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist."

Right there is where it happened. In formulating your first premise, you had to beg the question in order to come up with this concept that god exists in order to allow for absolute morality. You could just as well posit that some force, mysterious particle, or anything else exists which explains absolute morality.

"If you reject the premiss, then obviously the argument doesn't work for you. But I think an absolute morality is rather obvious, or at least more plausible than its denial. Therefore, the conclusion is not only rational for me, it's necessary."

What evidence do you use to decide that an absolute morality exists? And, how will you differentiate it from the fact that we see morality in many animals.

"Which, if you'll go back and read what I wrote, is exactly what I told Ali. And if it is but a different term denoting the same God, the argument's structure holds, rendering his objection moot. If it's not a term denoting the same God, he's equivocated."

Just so we know that you're not arguing for the Xian god.

"I'm not certain that's the case, but I'm open to suggestions on how you believe goodness can be grounded using the empirical world."

It's quite simple really, first off there's evolutionary evidence which is empirical. Second, we use the same methods to develop objective morality as we use to develop things like logical rules (fallacies, etc.)

Quixote said...

"I'm claiming that morality has evolved over time."

It's still not clear what you mean here. Until then, I can't agree or disagree.

"which places it outside of the "just so" regime and into plausible,"

Which sounds remarkably similar to my calling it a logical possibility.

"In formulating your first premise, you had to beg the question in order to come up with this concept that god exists in order to allow for absolute morality."

The first premiss begins with God's non-existence: "If God did not exist." Not sure how you get "God exists" outof that. What you have above is my conclusion. Hence, non-question begging.

"What evidence do you use to decide that an absolute morality exists?"

Observation, experience, reason, history.

"And, how will you differentiate it from the fact that we see morality in many animals."

Don't see how this matters one way or the other, except possibly as a defeater for our morality being based on reason.

"It's quite simple really, first off there's evolutionary evidence which is empirical. Second, we use the same methods to develop objective morality as we use to develop things like logical rules (fallacies, etc.)"

I understand why you believe what you believe. What I'm asking is how it's grounded. For instance, if you really believe that we "develop" logic--it seems to me that we discover it, not develop it--then your logic is not really grounded upon anything except some kind of ephemeral sense that you've somehow created it and agreed that it works.

Take Euthyophro for another example. When you use the ED, you're not asking the theist why he believes God is good, you're asking how the good is grounded. I've never really heard a satisfying answer on grounding the good from your side of the fence. I'm not picking on y'all, or trying to make a point, if you have a suggestion. I'd really like to hear it. Problem is, there's really not a good answer to the question that I know of, except to say that it's not, and to accept the universe that way.

Which in a way answers your question above. The universe doesn't make sense to me that way, so I reject it tentatively in favor of an absolute morality, in addition to the other reasons I think its the more rational position (NOTE: I said MORE rational, not the only rational).

CyberKitten said...

"What evidence do you use to decide that an absolute morality exists?"

Quix said: Observation, experience, reason, history.

Fuunily that's the same evidence that I use to come to the opposite conclusion. There must be something else going on. Obviously when we look at the same evidence we clearly see different things.

Quix said: For instance, if you really believe that we "develop" logic--it seems to me that we discover it, not develop it--then your logic is not really grounded upon anything except some kind of ephemeral sense that you've somehow created it and agreed that it works.

Wasn't logic invented by the Ancient Greeks? They at least codified what we in the West view as logic. Logic has undergone development since that time. Not exactly my subject but that's my understanding of it.

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"The first premiss begins with God's non-existence: "If God did not exist." Not sure how you get "God exists" outof that. What you have above is my conclusion. Hence, non-question begging."

From whence this concept of god did come? Why do you not say, "If humperdingles do not exist...?" And, how do you get from "god exists" to "absolute morality exists and comes from god" since that is an explicit assumption of your premises.

"Observation, experience, reason, history."

That's not really telling me much - it's rather vague, don't you think? I can point out that we've done studies on other animals to find that they have moral senses, we share a common evolutionary history with them, etc. and that's just one observation. I've never observed a moral absolute. I've never reasoned to a moral absolute, because all "reasoning" to god must beg the question from the get go, meaning the logic is shot from the beginning.

"Don't see how this matters one way or the other, except possibly as a defeater for our morality being based on reason."

Not at all, because our ability to reason is also a product of our evolution.

"What I'm asking is how it's grounded."

It's grounded in empirical results. That's the only way that I know of to "ground" anything in this world.

"For instance, if you really believe that we "develop" logic--it seems to me that we discover it, not develop it--then your logic is not really grounded upon anything except some kind of ephemeral sense that you've somehow created it and agreed that it works."

No, it's grounded in empiricism. Take argument from popularity, for instance. I can believe that something must be right if a majority of people believe in it, but I could be empirically shown to be wrong on that score, because the majority of people used to believe the sun revolved around the Earth. So, going with the majority opinion would be empirically shown to be incorrect at times. Thus, I can use my empirical results to formulate a rule that it's illogical to assume that the majority is always right.

"I've never really heard a satisfying answer on grounding the good from your side of the fence."

It's grounded by our culture and our evolutionary history.

"Which in a way answers your question above. The universe doesn't make sense to me that way, so I reject it tentatively in favor of an absolute morality, in addition to the other reasons I think its the more rational position (NOTE: I said MORE rational, not the only rational)."

I fail to see how that's a rational position to take as it smacks of god of the gaps logic. If I can't convince you that the natural world explains itself, then god must be behind it, absolute morality must exist, etc?

Karla said...

"So... The 'ultimate standard' for morality is the 10 Commandments in the OT? What exactly makes *them* the external standard rather than any other religious or non-religious teaching?"

Nope. I haven't posited that. The ultimate standard is God Himself.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Nope. I haven't posited that. The ultimate standard is God Himself.

OK... You've *completely* lost me now.....

kiwiofknowledge said...

Hey Karla,

Sorry I disappeared for a bit. I am kind of struggling with writing and such lately.

I kind of tend to think that God and goodness are the same thing. I mean, an abstract concept of "goodness" has a purpose and a reason for being... One and the same. We try to use human terms to define something that is undefinable by earthly standards.

I hope you are doing well!

Amanda

Quixote said...

"Why do you not say, "If humperdingles do not exist...?"

Ali revisited. I'm fine with "humperdingles" as long as we are defining as being possessing maximal greatness in all possible worlds. It's self-evident to theist and atheist alike that the definition of God means a being than which a greater cannot be conceived. Call it by whatever name you want to. The disagreement is not the definition of the concept of God, it's that we think he exists, and you think its merely a concept.

"since that is an explicit assumption of your premises."

Go back and read the premiss. It says "If God does not exist." However hard you try, you're not going to get "God exists" out of that premiss.

"I've never observed a moral absolute."

I doubt you live your life consistently with this statement.

"all "reasoning" to god must beg the question from the get go, meaning the logic is shot from the beginning."

Mere bluster. You must know this statement is false.

"It's grounded in empirical results."

You mean you put the goodness in a laboratory and tested it, or you observed people and animals exhibiting morality. I assume the latter, which is to say you haven't grounded anything, you've only made observations.

"Thus, I can use my empirical results to formulate a rule that it's illogical to assume that the majority is always right."

Or, we might say that you are using logic to invent logic. Rather circular.

"It's grounded by our culture and our evolutionary history."

Which are in a state of constant flux, according to atheists. Hardly candidates for grounding anything in your view.

"I fail to see how that's a rational position to take as it smacks of god of the gaps logic"

That's probably one reason you're an atheist. I, OTOH, see you as constructing an arbitrary wall between yourself and what you can know about the way things are.

"If I can't convince you that the natural world explains itself,"

The natural world does not fully explain my observations. Goodness is an example of that, yes.

Quixote said...

"Fuunily that's the same evidence that I use to come to the opposite conclusion. There must be something else going on. Obviously when we look at the same evidence we clearly see different things."

Hey Cyber,

Isn't that the thing though. It constantly amazes me.

"They at least codified what we in the West view as logic. Logic has undergone development since that time. Not exactly my subject but that's my understanding of it."

Yeah, good catch. I shouldn't have said "developed." As you've pointed out, we've been developing it for quite some time. I meant "created."

CyberKitten said...

Quix said: I doubt you live your life consistently with this statement.

[waves hands] I do......

Quix said: Isn't that the thing though. It constantly amazes me.

It doesn't amaze me so much these days. I've come to the opinion that people often see what they want to see.

Quix said: Yeah, good catch. I shouldn't have said "developed." As you've pointed out, we've been developing it for quite some time. I meant "created."

That would be the Greeks then - specifically Aristotle.

Karla said...

karla said: Nope. I haven't posited that. The ultimate standard is God Himself.

Cyber: OK... You've *completely* lost me now.....

All of you seem to be looking for me to list or point to a system of rules or laws as the ultimate standard of moral living. That would be in accurate for me to do.

God, Himself, is the standard. What He speaks is true, because what He speaks is that which is congruent with Himself. So I cannot say that the 10 Commandments are the ultimate moral values, but that God is the ultimate good standard. And He out of Himself has given precepts and laws that are good and objective (not created by us but discovered).

However, He takes us a leap further and says you don't need to seek even my system of rules, if you know me because in me is life and righteousness and as you take on my nature doing what is good and right will be supernaturally normal.

But those who don't live this way do look to the system because that is all they have. That system is still objective, but it has no value apart from being a reflection of God's goodness.

I know this sounds confusing. I'm trying to articulate some of this for the first time.

Karla said...

Amanda, great to see you back. Welcome!

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"Ali revisited. I'm fine with "humperdingles" as long as we are defining as being possessing maximal greatness in all possible worlds."

I'm not seeing why this is a necessary condition.

"It's self-evident to theist and atheist alike that the definition of God means a being than which a greater cannot be conceived."

Incorrect. There are differing levels and conceptions of god that don't always align to the omni-max or greatest being conceivable.

"Call it by whatever name you want to. The disagreement is not the definition of the concept of God, it's that we think he exists, and you think its merely a concept."

No, the disagreements (plural) are as follows:
1) Why is it necessary that a greatest conceivable being must exist in order to have absolute morals?
2) What is the reason we believe that absolute morals exist?
3) Why do we think that if absolute morals exist that they must be indicative of a god?
4) Where did we get the concept that some greatest conceivable being exists that can be called god?
I'm sure there are others...

"Go back and read the premiss. It says "If God does not exist." However hard you try, you're not going to get "God exists" out of that premiss."

That's the point. Instead of saying, "If humperdingles exist," you said, "If god exists." Where did you get this concept of god? Where did you get the concept that with this god necessarily come absolute morality? It's begging the question. Now, it doesn't look that way from what you wrote, but only because you are leaving out quite a few steps.

"I doubt you live your life consistently with this statement."

The closest I can come to is that one should not commit genocide...incidentally, that's one that god has violated. I'm still not convinced that I've seen a moral absolute.

"Mere bluster. You must know this statement is false."

No, it's not. I've yet to see anyone reason their way to god, as it inherently requires one to beg the question.

"You mean you put the goodness in a laboratory and tested it, or you observed people and animals exhibiting morality. I assume the latter, which is to say you haven't grounded anything, you've only made observations."

Empirical results are observations. This is the only way that we can develop objective measures of things, because they must correspond with reality.

"Or, we might say that you are using logic to invent logic. Rather circular."

Not at all. There's nothing circular about noticing that the majority is not always right and writing down this fact. From enough observations and experiments, we can develop all the rules of logic, etc. These things don't exist on their own, they are derived from the real, emprical world. If we lived in a world where the majority was always right, then our rules of logic would be different.

"Which are in a state of constant flux, according to atheists. Hardly candidates for grounding anything in your view."

Actually, I find "grounding" things to the real world to be the best way to "ground" things.

"That's probably one reason you're an atheist. I, OTOH, see you as constructing an arbitrary wall between yourself and what you can know about the way things are."

What can I know that I'm shutting off? I've never once heard what we actually learn from religion/revelation. IIRC, you mentioned that we learn about god's nature from revelation, but I reject that as an answer for pretty obvious reasons (which god, and how are you sure that what you've claimed to "learn" about god is actually correct - how will you verify it?)

"The natural world does not fully explain my observations. Goodness is an example of that, yes."

Sorry, but this is more GOTG and argument from incredulity.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"All of you seem to be looking for me to list or point to a system of rules or laws as the ultimate standard of moral living. That would be in accurate for me to do."

Am I included in that, considering that I've told you over and over that it's not necessary? What I've asked you to do is not use a tautology, or to define the terms you are using in non-tautological ways. You keep claiming that goodness is defined as god's nature, but that gets me nowhere when it comes to trying to decide how to live my life if I want to be good. (Actually, it means that I can't be good, because I'm not god's nature, nor is anything else, including that which god made - so Eden can not be good, heaven can not be good, etc.) Is genocide good? It's not part of god's nature, so it must not be good, but OTOH, god did order it and he felt it was good since it was in his nature to commit genocide....see how confusing this is?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: All of you seem to be looking for me to list or point to a system of rules or laws as the ultimate standard of moral living. That would be in accurate for me to do.

Well... I was expecting something a bit more substantial than: "God, Himself, is the standard". Which as far as it goes is virtually meaningless. The standard is unreachable perfection.... Personally I'm not that motivated to obtain the impossible.

karla said: And He out of Himself has given precepts and laws that are good and objective (not created by us but discovered).

...and they are....?

karla said: That system is still objective, but it has no value apart from being a reflection of God's goodness.

...and how do you know that its objective?

karla said: I know this sounds confusing. I'm trying to articulate some of this for the first time.

I think I'm confused by what you say because I'm attempting to make sense out of something that makes no sense.

Karla said...

Anon said "You keep claiming that goodness is defined as god's nature, but that gets me nowhere when it comes to trying to decide how to live my life if I want to be good. (Actually, it means that I can't be good, because I'm not god's nature, nor is anything else, including that which god made - so Eden can not be good, heaven can not be good, etc.) Is genocide good?"

True, you can't find a way to live the good life without being in Him. And by being in Him, I mean relationally not spatially. We are already in Him spatially. He is the greatest that there is, and He is all present so we are always in Him in that regard. I am speaking of relationally being connected to His Being.

Without knowing Him you can follow moral principals that we intrinsically know and discover and avoid the problems that living outside those precepts cause. But in those precepts is not the root of all goodness or the fulfillment of the good life. Those things are there to guide us to Him and to show us the path away from lawlessness and to His goodness. But they are not their to bind us to legalism (law for the law's sake).

He created the world and man and He called all of His creation good. He was able to call it all good because we reflected the glory and goodness of God. But when we fell that reflection was tarnished, corrupted, subverted, etc. And when we come into alignment with Him and experience His righteousness we are set free from all of that and all the laws and rules and concern we won't make the grade. He sets us free and adopts us as Sons and Daughters.

Were you never taught this in your time in the Church?

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"True, you can't find a way to live the good life without being in Him."

You mean without being him. If good is god, then we can not be good. But, either way, what does it mean to "be in him?" You don't really explain that. How does one "be in god?"

"And by being in Him, I mean relationally not spatially. We are already in Him spatially. He is the greatest that there is, and He is all present so we are always in Him in that regard. I am speaking of relationally being connected to His Being."

Meaning what exactly?

"Without knowing Him you can follow moral principals that we intrinsically know and discover and avoid the problems that living outside those precepts cause."

How do we intrinsically know them? Did god put them in us? Did god also put them in other animals? How would you ever demonstrate or prove this or provide evidence for it? What are these things that we intrinsically know? Are they rules by any chance?

"But in those precepts is not the root of all goodness or the fulfillment of the good life. Those things are there to guide us to Him and to show us the path away from lawlessness and to His goodness. But they are not their to bind us to legalism (law for the law's sake)."

So, let me get this straight.

god gives us innate laws that we intrinsically know, laws that guide our morals, but they don't lead us to good because good can only be attained by being "in god." Instead, these moral laws are how we find god, thus leading to good through having some sort of relational "in-ness" with god. So, only moral people can find god? This doesn't seem to square with the whole saving of the unwashed masses thing.

"He created the world and man and He called all of His creation good."

And, he was wrong, since only god is good, as you said. I hope that you tell god that he was wrong when he said that next time you talk to him.

"He was able to call it all good because we reflected the glory and goodness of God."

Reflections are not the same as the real deal - hence we were not good according to your own definition.

"And when we come into alignment with Him and experience His righteousness we are set free from all of that and all the laws and rules and concern we won't make the grade. He sets us free and adopts us as Sons and Daughters."

With no moral law to follow, correct? So, if you are "in alignment" with god, then it's OK to commit genocide when god commands it because that's how you stay "in alignment" with god, correct?

"Were you never taught this in your time in the Church?"

What does that matter?

Karla said...

Anon, it is possible for God to inhabit you and at the same time for us to be within the habitat of God. I am both in God and He is in me. I am His dwelling place and yet He is bigger than all that exist so I can be in Him at the same time. This happens through relationship. God gives us His righteousness and His goodness. We become representations of Him. Our union with Him gives us goodness and righteousness.

The moral "laws" we speak of become fulfilled and unnecessary as laws in and of themselves the more we live in the freedom from the need to be something other than who we were created to be. The more we get closer to His nature the more we work that out in our natural lives supernaturally.

This is all laid out in Scripture, but I figure you don't want me to quote the verses to you.

The laws protect us from a destructive path that hardens our hearts and brings us farther and farther away from the truth. But once we find Him their necessity for guidance becomes less and less until we need only Him for guidance. We can learn to hear His voice and follow Him. The written Word is a guidance to protect us from mishearing Him which we can do, but if we know what He has said and compare that with what He is saying it helps us to recognize Him. But the more you hear Him the less uncertain you become of His voice. It's like in a crowded room I can distinguish my husband's voice from the other voices. I have learned it and I am quiet familiar with it. It is the same with the Lord. As we spend time with Him we learn His voice and we know when He is speaking. But as we are learning we also have the unchanging Scriptures to compare what we believe He is saying for He never contradicts Himself.

I know this might be a lot for you to swallow and I don't expect you to. But I would ask that you store away the information and consider it within the whole of what we have discussed. What is often forgotten I think is that all of this interlocks into a big picture and sometimes just talking about some of the pieces leaves out important details that helps bring cohesion.

Quixote said...

"Incorrect. There are differing levels and conceptions of god that don't always align to the omni-max or greatest being conceivable."

Granted, but you know I'm not appealing to those.

"No, the disagreements (plural) are as follows:"

This is disingenuous on your part, my friend. I was referencing the specific question of humperdingles with this statement, and you've taken it out of context and applied it to the argument as a whole.

"Where did you get the concept that with this god necessarily come absolute morality? It's begging the question."

If what you're claiming is true, then a modus tollens would beg the question.

A modus tollens does not beg the question.

Therefore, what you're claiming is not true.

"The closest I can come to is that one should not commit genocide...incidentally, that's one that god has violated. I'm still not convinced that I've seen a moral absolute."

It sounds like you're saying it may be "not wrong" for someone to commit genocide.

"This is the only way that we can develop objective measures of things, because they must correspond with reality."

It's difficult for me to envision how you would empirically justify this belief.

"There's nothing circular about noticing that the majority is not always right and writing down this fact."

You either got there by using the laws of inference, or this conclusion landed in your mind fully formed by some sort of miracle. Since we can agree you'll reject the former, the latter is the case. IOW, you used logic to arrive at your conclusion about logic. Even if you claim you're merely observing and collecting data, you're processing those observations with the laws of inference.

"Actually, I find "grounding" things to the real world to be the best way to "ground" things."

Grounded in an entity in a constant state of change, becoming, and decay--doesn't sound too promising to me.

"What can I know that I'm shutting off?"

Quit shutting it out, and it will become obvious, my firend.

"Sorry, but this is more GOTG and argument from incredulity."

Now here's a good example of question begging and special pleading. IOW, I know there's nothing beyond nature, so any statement or belief that is skeptical of my naturalism is GOTG or incredulity.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Anon, it is possible for God to inhabit you and at the same time for us to be within the habitat of God. I am both in God and He is in me. I am His dwelling place and yet He is bigger than all that exist so I can be in Him at the same time. This happens through relationship."

Um, no, it happens through the Xian tenet of omnipresence.

"God gives us His righteousness and His goodness. We become representations of Him. Our union with Him gives us goodness and righteousness."

Thank you for restating yourself, but this does nothing to explain how this happens and what it means.

"The moral "laws" we speak of become fulfilled and unnecessary as laws in and of themselves the more we live in the freedom from the need to be something other than who we were created to be."

What does this mean? You claim very often that moral law is "fulfilled" through Jesus or relationship with god, but you never get around to explaining what that means. How can a law be "fulfilled?"

"But once we find Him their necessity for guidance becomes less and less until we need only Him for guidance. We can learn to hear His voice and follow Him."

So, the highest moral act is to obey god to the fullest? Freedom is slavery, eh?

"The written Word is a guidance to protect us from mishearing Him which we can do, but if we know what He has said and compare that with what He is saying it helps us to recognize Him."

So, you are claiming now that the Bible does provide a moral guideline?

"But the more you hear Him the less uncertain you become of His voice. It's like in a crowded room I can distinguish my husband's voice from the other voices. I have learned it and I am quiet familiar with it. It is the same with the Lord."

And, as I've pointed out, how do you know that it's not some demon's voice talking to you and has been from the start? How do you know it's not simply your inner conscience?

"But as we are learning we also have the unchanging Scriptures to compare what we believe He is saying for He never contradicts Himself."

I agree that scripture doesn't change (not taking into account modifications over the years, like the addition of the "Let those without sin cast the first stone" story, for instance). Problem is, our morality has changed (evolved). We used to think slavery was OK, and the Bible seems to support that. Now, we agree that slavery is not OK. So, how do you point to the Bible and point out that it now claims slavery is not OK? It doesn't. What you are doing is taking your modern moral sense and post hoc applying it back to the Bible and finding any way to shoehorn your faith back into the scripture you say you follow. Then, after you think you've sufficiently done that, you turn it around and incorrectly credit the Bible as the source of your theology.

"I know this might be a lot for you to swallow and I don't expect you to."

I've noticed that when the going gets tough, you resort to proselytizing to me, so it's no surprise that I wouldn't swallow it. If you had several unanswered questions and instead of working on them and answering them I simply proselytized to you, would you be satisfied?

Anonymous said...

Quixote,
"Granted, but you know I'm not appealing to those."

Good, because the omni-max variety is the easiest to disprove. Some other varieties are impossible to disprove.

"This is disingenuous on your part, my friend. I was referencing the specific question of humperdingles with this statement, and you've taken it out of context and applied it to the argument as a whole."

No, it's not, because I brought all those up as part of your begging the question.

"If what you're claiming is true, then a modus tollens would beg the question.

A modus tollens does not beg the question.

Therefore, what you're claiming is not true."

Once again, incorrect. Simply because your example is incorrect does not mean that all are incorrect. This would be another logical fallacy, although in my sick state I can't think of the name right now.

"It sounds like you're saying it may be "not wrong" for someone to commit genocide."

No, I'm saying that I don't know that it's absolute. There's no example so far where it has been right, including in the Bible, but does that make it absolute? What you are claiming is that something is always right or wrong for all times in all situations in all possible worlds.

"It's difficult for me to envision how you would empirically justify this belief."

It's rather easy. We have no examples of things that are objective and are not in accordance with reality. Many things that are not objective, however, like gods, are not in accordance with reality. Yay me.

"You either got there by using the laws of inference, or this conclusion landed in your mind fully formed by some sort of miracle."

The "laws of inference" were themselves gained by empirical observation. Once I've empirically observed something and formed a "rule" it doesn't mean that the empirical basis is somehow no longer valid or never happened.

"IOW, you used logic to arrive at your conclusion about logic. Even if you claim you're merely observing and collecting data, you're processing those observations with the laws of inference."

No. We gain logic by examining the workings of the world. Just as the case I gave you with examining the world and learning that the majority is not always right, all logic is gained through empirical observation of the world. I've not seen an example of knowledge gained that was not gained through empirical observation and testing.

"Grounded in an entity in a constant state of change, becoming, and decay--doesn't sound too promising to me."

Really? I wasn't aware that the rules of physics and science were constantly in a state of change. Our understanding of them is increasing and changing as we speak, but the way the world works isn't changing. Reality is not changing. Can you think of a time when the majority was necessarily right?

"Quit shutting it out, and it will become obvious, my firend."

It is by not shutting things out that I realized that god is imaginary. It was by opening my mind to all possibilities that I figured out that god almost certainly does not exist, and the common conceptions of god (omni-max) are logically contradictory.

"Now here's a good example of question begging and special pleading. IOW, I know there's nothing beyond nature, so any statement or belief that is skeptical of my naturalism is GOTG or incredulity."

Sorry, but arguments of the variety that 'X can not be explained to my satisfaction via natural processes therefore god' are GOTG and arguments from incredulity.

Karla said...

"So, the highest moral act is to obey god to the fullest? Freedom is slavery, eh?"

I haven't said that. Righteous living does not come from us, by our strength. It comes from our relationship with Him, by His strength.

Some of your questions seemed to require me to go into greater depths to paint more of the picture. I'm sorry if I stepped on your toes and proselytized.

The post I made today is along the same lines as my previous comment to you. I had been working on it before I made that comment and completed it today.

I am still learning how to communicate across worldviews. I'm trying to put things in terms that communicate without jargon. I keep seeing that some of what I say is heard differently from what I believe I am saying. So I keep trying to tweak, repeat, and take another go at it. Thank you for aiding my learning experience.

Anonymous said...

"I haven't said that. Righteous living does not come from us, by our strength. It comes from our relationship with Him, by His strength."

You haven't? You said, "We can learn to hear His voice and follow Him." If following god does not mean obeying him, then what does it mean? You're engaging in what is commonly referred to as Xian-speak. What people mean by that is meaningless Xian sound-bytes that tell us nothing and are rooting in tautological language that doesn't actually tell us anything. Until you can flesh out your ideas in ways that actually explain things to our human understanding, your words are quite useless.

"I'm sorry if I stepped on your toes and proselytized."

I'm not, because you've established that it's your only way to try and counter that which is difficult. Can't answer a question, simply assert that god loves me, that god is good, or some other such nonsense. I'm still waiting for you to explain quite a few things here, like why it's OK to commit genocide when god orders it and why god would order it...especially since you claim that absolute morality exists!

"I am still learning how to communicate across worldviews. I'm trying to put things in terms that communicate without jargon."

That's exactly what I've been asking for...knock off the jargon and use definitions and terms that make sense to us all. To communicate across worldviews - as you put it - is not hard. You don't even have to disbelieve in god, you simply need to put things into terms that make sense and have to learn to actually use and understand logic. If you god does exist, then you should have no issue with logic, because your god should be logical. When you can't defend your god except by resorting to illogical arguments, doesn't that tell you something? Also, you should try and use evidence.

"I keep seeing that some of what I say is heard differently from what I believe I am saying. So I keep trying to tweak, repeat, and take another go at it."

No offense, but I hope that you aren't a school teacher, because you'd never be able to do a good job. Your process of "tweak, repeat, and take another go," is better labeled as "repeat and take another go." Either way, it's not that I don't understand you, because I do - for the most part at least. You forget that I was a Xian. I understand the "worldview." You have to show why it's valid. You have to show why it makes sense and why it's logical. Simply attacking atheism or evolution doesn't lend support to your theology. You have to provide positive arguments for your theology.