Friday, June 26, 2009

Point of Reference for Value

What is real value? Can value be real if it can be given and taken away at will by humanity? History shows a world full of people who think their race is better than another’s. Prejudice, racism, and slavery still abound in the world and yet we all have this idea that this is wrong. How is that? Are we just evolved from the animals and we have our own form of the survival of the fittest? What keeps that mentality from prevailing over the value of every man, woman, and child?


In the popular film I Robot, Will Smith’s character wrestles with the knowledge that a robot calculated the odds of his own survival over that of a small child and pulled him to safety instead of the child. Smith wanted the child, whom he had never met, saved before his own life. He was willing to chance both of their deaths to save the weaker one first.


In an airplane if there becomes a need to put on the oxygen masks the stewards tell the passengers to put it on themselves before putting it on the children and others who need help. This is because it is our natural inclination to protect the weaker not the stronger. The stewards know that if you don’t put the oxygen on yourself first you may not have time to help the weaker ones and they won’t be able to help you. The point though is that we will risk ourselves to help those with less chance of survival. This is not in line with the Darwinian evolutionary progress.


Regardless we hold to the value of life. If life has value regardless of who believes it does, then someone else external to us is giving life value. Time plus matter plus chance is not producing value. If all there is the natural universe which exists as a result of random chance then there is no value to our lives other than what we choose to give it. If we have the power to choose to give life value, we have the same power to take it away for we are not perfectly good people and we will use people for our own needs and thereby rob their value at the will of the stronger.


However, if we have been lovingly fashioned and created by a good God who makes good things then we have inestimable intrinsic value. Each and every human no matter how small or weak or handicapped has priceless value. This is why abuse, murder, discrimination, racism, hatred, unkindness, etc is wrong.


I’m certain some of you are ready to argue that since I said above that humans who give value can just as easily take it away that God could do likewise. In fact, you will further claim that he has reduced the value of life by taking it Himself. So how in the world do I have any grounds to claim God gives us value?


I don’t think anyone can argue though that humans have a birds eye view on life nor are we perfectly good in our thinking and actions. We could and have convicted innocent men. We are not perfectly just in what we do.


However, a perfectly good and holy God would be perfectly just and perfectly good in all of His words and actions. A perfect God would not need to change to be something other than what He has always been for if He is perfect then there isn’t something else better to be and perfection isn’t ever being less than that. So if God created us with value then we really have it and that doesn’t ever change. But God also is just because He is good and perfect and He can perfectly exact justice and when He does so our tainted fallen minds may see it has unjust and we may try and claim He is doing something wrong. But if goodness is that which lines up with Him, we have no grounds in our created selves to declare the only source of real goodness as doing something not good. For we have no other point of reference for the good. He created all, He is the only uncreated Being; thus His goodness is uncreated.


All other references to good only gain meaning in light of His goodness. He has to give it to us from His own goodness in order for it to be so. That is why that which is evil is that which is contrary to Him, for what is in accordance with Him is good. When we alter the point of reference of good to something that is not perfect we create an ambiguous ever changing point of reference which is no real point at all.


Our understanding of what is good will be limited and tainted by our current state of imperfection, but when we join in God’s life by His invitation which He has extended freely He works in us to bring a full restoration of who we were really designed to be. And while He instantly makes us righteous when we accept His invitation, the transformation of the inner reality is a process walked out in time that culminates in a future day where we will fully be restored.

38 comments:

Ali P said...

"This is not in line with the Darwinian evolutionary progress"

Wrong. Protection of progeny fits perfectly in with evolution; many other animals exhibit similar behavior to humans in this respect.

"If all there is the natural universe which exists as a result of random chance then there is no value to our lives other than what we choose to give it"

Correct, live with it and move on.

GCT said...

"This is not in line with the Darwinian evolutionary progress."

As Ali P already pointed out, this is dead wrong, as I've also previously pointed out to you. FFS, watch a nature documentary sometime and you're bound to see this type of behavior in animals. Not only that, but to speak of "evolutionary progress" is to be not even wrong.

"If life has value regardless of who believes it does, then someone else external to us is giving life value."

It need not be some entity. This is all part of the false dichotomies that you rely on.

"Time plus matter plus chance is not producing value. If all there is the natural universe which exists as a result of random chance then there is no value to our lives other than what we choose to give it."

Natural selection is NOT random.

"However, if we have been lovingly fashioned and created by a good God who makes good things then we have inestimable intrinsic value."

Non sequitor. Also, how do you know that this god is one who "lovingly fashioned" us, instead of malevolently fashioned us for his amusement?

"I’m certain some of you are ready to argue that since I said above that humans who give value can just as easily take it away that God could do likewise. In fact, you will further claim that he has reduced the value of life by taking it Himself. So how in the world do I have any grounds to claim God gives us value?"

I'm glad you anticipated one of my responses, although your answers to it leave a lot to be desired.

"However, a perfectly good and holy God would be perfectly just and perfectly good in all of His words and actions. A perfect God would not need to change to be something other than what He has always been for if He is perfect then there isn’t something else better to be and perfection isn’t ever being less than that."

Then, god is a robot.

"So if God created us with value then we really have it and that doesn’t ever change."

Even in hell we still have value?

"But if goodness is that which lines up with Him, we have no grounds in our created selves to declare the only source of real goodness as doing something not good."

What does it mean to say that goodness lines up with an entity? Also, again you've backed yourself into a meaningless tautology. If god is defined as goodness, then goodness is defined as god, and it's a circular definition that does not inform us in any way. How does this teleological definition match up with human conceptions of good, which are what we really should be discussing, since neither of us (as you yourself argue) know what "good" really means in the context you are arguing for?

"Our understanding of what is good will be limited and tainted by our current state of imperfection..."

And, you have once again been reduced to the fallacious argument that god must be good, and when he does something that we think is not good it's because we can't understand god. It's fallacious, because if we can't understand god, then we have no basis to claim that god is good or evil. You can't have it both ways.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Can value be real if it can be given and taken away at will by humanity?

That would depend on what you mean by 'real' wouldn't it?

karla said: Prejudice, racism, and slavery still abound in the world and yet we all have this idea that this is wrong. How is that?

I would suggest that the people untaking these activities do not believe they are wrong. So not *everyone* would agree with you.

karla said: Are we just evolved from the animals and we have our own form of the survival of the fittest? What keeps that mentality from prevailing over the value of every man, woman, and child?

Huh?

karla said: The stewards know that if you don’t put the oxygen on yourself first you may not have time to help the weaker ones and they won’t be able to help you.

Indeed. Such a strategy is highly practical and increases the chances of people surviving - especially the weak.

karla said: The point though is that we will risk ourselves to help those with less chance of survival. This is not in line with the Darwinian evolutionary progress.

Erm...? *What* progress?

Anyway, there are very good reasons why we should help those in our immediate and extended family. They're all carrying at least some of our genes. If I saved my sisters family and died in the process then many more of my genes would've survived than if I'd simply saved myself. Darwininan does not mean self-centred!

karla said: If life has value regardless of who believes it does, then someone else external to us is giving life value.

Life has value because we assign value to it. I assign infinitely more value to my immediate family, for example, than to those outside it. Also given a choice between saving a mouse and saving another human I'd save the human - no matter how cute the mouse was.

karla said: If all there is the natural universe which exists as a result of random chance then there is no value to our lives other than what we choose to give it.

Correct. As Ali-P said: Deal with it.

karla said: If we have the power to choose to give life value, we have the same power to take it away for we are not perfectly good people and we will use people for our own needs and thereby rob their value at the will of the stronger.

...and people do indeed do that. The 'trick' is to simply decide not to. If you see people as ends in themselves, rather than means to an end, then you won't treat them as such.

karla said: However, a perfectly good and holy God would be perfectly just and perfectly good in all of His words and actions.

Do you hear that whiring sound? It's the noise made by a circular argument.....

Karla said...

Cyber that was a typo "progress" was to be "process"

Karla said...

Cyber "I would suggest that the people untaking these activities do not believe they are wrong. So not *everyone* would agree with you."

I don't accept that something is wrong only if it is believed to be. It is either really wrong or really right. That goes back to talking about what is "real".

Cyber "The 'trick' is to simply decide not to. If you see people as ends in themselves, rather than means to an end, then you won't treat them as such."

You are still making value judgments without a framework. There is no reason I should treat people a certain way versus another way unless there is a real personal perfectly good being that gives meaning to the "ought".

I ought to treat people well. What is well? Where is my point of reference for this? Where does "right" or "well" or "good" gain meaning?

I think these are sound questions that the naturalist needs to "deal with".

Karla said...

GCT "Non sequitor. Also, how do you know that this god is one who "lovingly fashioned" us, instead of malevolently fashioned us for his amusement?"

It's the only logical possibility that God would necessarily be good. We've been over this.

I think you should deal with the theist argument, because no theist is giving an argument for an evil or duplicitous God. You need to deal with the argument given and not make other supposals that no one accepts as reality.

Would you expect to be able to fully comprehend God if He existed, no matter how good He is? Does a God that can fit in such a limited box make more sense to you than one that is unlimited and all surpassing in goodness and greatness?

GCT said...

"It's the only logical possibility that God would necessarily be good. We've been over this."

Yes, we have. You simply assert that god must necessarily be good and then don't back it up. When pressed, you simply define god as needed to be necessarily good, making a tautological issue that doesn't go away. Once again, there is no logical necessity for a creator being to be good. This being could be evil logically speaking. You don't get a free pass in being able to simply assume away this problem.

"I think you should deal with the theist argument..."

I did.

"...because no theist is giving an argument for an evil or duplicitous God."

And, how do they know that this sort of god does not exist? You have to come up with some logical argument that defeats this argument. Until then, neither you nor anyone else gets the free ride.

"You need to deal with the argument given and not make other supposals that no one accepts as reality."

No, you need to support your argument and show why it is valid. If I can poke holes in your assumptions, then your argument is not valid.

"Would you expect to be able to fully comprehend God if He existed, no matter how good He is?"

What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Either we can or we can not comprehend god. If we can not, then we can not say that god is good. If we can comprehend god, then we can say that god is either good or evil or some mixture of the two. You can't have it both ways, however. You can't claim that you can comprehend god and that he is good, but that you can't comprehend god whenever some evil arises.

"Does a God that can fit in such a limited box make more sense to you than one that is unlimited and all surpassing in goodness and greatness?"

You are presupposing that cosmically good is necessarily better than evil, that the greatest being possible must be good, when this is simply not the case. More likely would be that the greatest being possible would be capable of both evil and good. By claiming that god is only good, you are the one that is limiting god, not me.

Karla said...

GCT “Yes, we have. You simply assert that god must necessarily be good and then don't back it up. When pressed, you simply define god as needed to be necessarily good, making a tautological issue that doesn't go away. Once again, there is no logical necessity for a creator being to be good. This being could be evil logically speaking. You don't get a free pass in being able to simply assume away this problem.”


A constant point of reference is required to label anything as good or evil. If that point doesn’t exist, neither does good or evil. If good and evil really exist then a good is required. Evil makes no sense without being the absence of good. An evil God is like arguing for a square circle.


Karla "...because no theist is giving an argument for an evil or duplicitous God."

GCT “And, how do they know that this sort of god does not exist? You have to come up with some logical argument that defeats this argument. Until then, neither you nor anyone else gets the free ride.”

No one is alleging such a God. You aren’t because you don’t believe any God exist. So alleging an evil one isn’t a true allegation. It’s like asserting a purple dragon exists instead of dealing with the actual proposition.

GCT “No, you need to support your argument and show why it is valid. If I can poke holes in your assumptions, then your argument is not valid.”

I am supporting it, but I think we are still on the level of understanding the fullness of the proposition.


GCT “What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Either we can or we can not comprehend god. If we can not, then we can not say that god is good. If we can comprehend god, then we can say that god is either good or evil or some mixture of the two. You can't have it both ways, however. You can't claim that you can comprehend god and that he is good, but that you can't comprehend god whenever some evil arises.”

You talked about whether or not we could understand God. We know in part, finite minds. So we can know that God is good, but we cannot understand the totality of goodness, it is beyond our comprehension. He is so good we can’t fully grasp the fullness of it, because we have limits and He has not. He in infinitely good we are finitely able to understand, thus we can know He is good, but we only understand the fullness in part.


GCT “You are presupposing that cosmically good is necessarily better than evil, that the greatest being possible must be good, when this is simply not the case. More likely would be that the greatest being possible would be capable of both evil and good. By claiming that god is only good, you are the one that is limiting god, not me.”

Evil is a restraint, it is a limitation. God is not limited, thus He is good. Certainly you don’t want to argue that a God who is both good and evil is greater than a purely good God?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I don't accept that something is wrong only if it is believed to be. It is either really wrong or really right. That goes back to talking about what is "real".

...and that is your opinion. We know this. It just happens that it is not my opinion on the matter.

karla said: You are still making value judgments without a framework.

[laughs] You mean without an absolute set of values? If so - yes. But I'm not simply making things up as I go along! Apart from sociopaths *everyone* has a moral framework. They just happen to be different from each other.

karla said: There is no reason I should treat people a certain way versus another way unless there is a real personal perfectly good being that gives meaning to the "ought".

So you keep asserting and so I keep rejecting..... Continually saying something doesn't make it so. I'm not just going to give up one day and agree with you.

karla said: I ought to treat people well. What is well? Where is my point of reference for this? Where does "right" or "well" or "good" gain meaning?

The reference point(s) are the culture you were born into, your upbringing, your peers, your education, your life experiences and probably a dash of your genes. That's why there are many reference points - not just the one you happen to follow. If you had been born in a different place at a different time you would hold different beliefs and be as confident in them as you are in your present beliefs. Which means that *all* beliefs are pretty much accidents of birth.

karla said: I think these are sound questions that the naturalist needs to "deal with".

...and I have been... continually on this Blog. You seem to be having problems accepting it though.

karla said: A constant point of reference is required to label anything as good or evil.

No it doesn't.

karla said: If that point doesn’t exist, neither does good or evil.

In the absolute Platonic sense no - but then I don't believe in such things. We define things as good or evil. Over time and from place to place the definitions change. What is good at one time is vilified in future generations. What we see as good today will apall our great grand-children.

GCT said...

"A constant point of reference is required to label anything as good or evil."

As CK said, no it isn't. Do you need a constant point of reference for hot or cold in order to label something as hot or cold?

"If that point doesn’t exist, neither does good or evil."

Good and evil do not exist as entities in themselves, but as abstract concepts that we've developed.

"If good and evil really exist then a good is required."

As would be an evil, as required by existing.

"Evil makes no sense without being the absence of good."

Or, perhaps good makes no sense without being the absence of evil. Or perhaps they both exist independently of each other. In reality, though, we know they are simply concepts.

"An evil God is like arguing for a square circle."

Says you, and only because you are using your preconceptions and arguing as if they are true. That's what I was getting at. You simply decided that good is the better attribute and that evil is the negation of that attribute, so therefore god must be good instead of evil. Yet, there's no logical reason for this. You're simply making assumptions and then acting as if they hold weight.

"No one is alleging such a God."

Your point? My point is that they have no reason not to.

"You aren’t because you don’t believe any God exist. So alleging an evil one isn’t a true allegation. It’s like asserting a purple dragon exists instead of dealing with the actual proposition."

No, it's more like this:

Let's say that you argue that because unicorns are pink, they are X. I say, "How do you know they are pink and not green?" Since you can't support your assumptions that unicorns are pink, you similarly can't support your conclusion of X.

"I am supporting it, but I think we are still on the level of understanding the fullness of the proposition."

Simply claiming that god must be good because you say so doesn't cut it.

"You talked about whether or not we could understand God. We know in part, finite minds. So we can know that God is good, but we cannot understand the totality of goodness, it is beyond our comprehension."

IOW, you're trying to have it both ways, just as I said. You're claiming that we can understand that god is good - that we can make value judgements on god. Yet, when we make a value judgement on god and decide that god has acted in an evil fashion, then you claim that we can't make value judgements because we lack knowledge. Make up your mind please.

"Evil is a restraint, it is a limitation."

Says you, and based on what?

"God is not limited, thus He is good."

This is based on your above assertion that evil is a restraint, yet it is unsupported and not logically viable.

"Certainly you don’t want to argue that a God who is both good and evil is greater than a purely good God?"

Yes, I would argue that, because I think it is closer to the truth. Which god is more powerful, one that can only do what is right, or one that has a fuller range of options to act? If god can only do what is right in all situations, then god only has one course of action, meaning god is basically a robot. A god that can perform good or evil has more freedom as well (the good/evil god actually has free will while the only good god does not). Once you start saying that god can't do X, you start to limit god, not me.

cl said...

Karla,

These guys have some valid points regarding protection of progeny and I think acknowledging them would only strengthen your arguments.

Also, you said "..no theist is giving an argument for an evil or duplicitous God... An evil God is like arguing for a square circle."

I completely agree with GCT regarding the lack of logical necessity that a creator be good. Further, I don't think any Christian theist can give an argument for God without an argument for an evil, duplicitous God - at least - not without cherry-picking scripture, and I'm alluding to Lucifer, not what atheists generally refer to as "OT capriciousness."

Karla said, "There is no reason I should treat people a certain way versus another way unless there is a real personal perfectly good being that gives meaning to the "ought"."

This is untrue whether we say morality is subjective or objective. If subjective, the reason is whatever we deem it to be. If objective, the reason is whatever it is. These guys are absolutely correct when they rebut your claim that, "A constant point of reference is required to label anything as good or evil."

Lastly, GCT is right when he says it seems like you're trying to have it both ways. Logically speaking, your opinion that God exists and is good is worth no more or no less than their opinion that God is not good, or doesn't exist.

CK,

So is it safe to say we can count you in with the "subjective morality" crowd?

CyberKitten said...

cl said: So is it safe to say we can count you in with the "subjective morality" crowd?

Definitely. Morality is pretty much a purely cultural construct (with probably a dash of genetics) which changes over time and from place to place. It seems pretty obvious to me.

cl said...

CK,

I was just making sure I understood where you were coming from - remember though, geocentrism also seemed pretty obvious.. ;)

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I was just making sure I understood where you were coming from - remember though, geocentrism also seemed pretty obvious.. ;)

...and?

Also, most gods humanity has believed in over the millenia have gone the way of the Dodo. Is there any reason why Christianity will not follow them?

Karla said...

CL “These guys have some valid points regarding protection of progeny and I think acknowledging them would only strengthen your arguments.”

I can see why people would want to protect those of their own family. I want to know how the disabled person who has no living family and is not able to contribute to society has value too pursuant to their philosophy.

CL “Also, you said "..no theist is giving an argument for an evil or duplicitous God... An evil God is like arguing for a square circle."

I completely agree with GCT regarding the lack of logical necessity that a creator be good. Further, I don't think any Christian theist can give an argument for God without an argument for an evil, duplicitous God - at least - not without cherry-picking scripture, and I'm alluding to Lucifer, not what atheists generally refer to as "OT capriciousness."”

Yes evil has a personal being too in Satan, but Satan isn’t the polar opposite of all of God’s attributes matching Him in power and eternality. He is not all powerful. I’m not sure evil could have that kind of similitude to be the exact opposite of good. If good is the best of all possible things tangible and intangible then evil would be a weakness, hindrance, or limitation. If God was also evil, He would not be perfect and thus not God.


CL “This is untrue whether we say morality is subjective or objective. If subjective, the reason is whatever we deem it to be. If objective, the reason is whatever it is. These guys are absolutely correct when they rebut your claim that, "A constant point of reference is required to label anything as good or evil."

The key is “ought to” I can want to, I can feel like it, I can see it as beneficial, but there is no moral ought. If it is purely made up and not a reflection of the real then there is no “ought”.

CL “Lastly, GCT is right when he says it seems like you're trying to have it both ways. Logically speaking, your opinion that God exists and is good is worth no more or no less than their opinion that God is not good, or doesn't exist.”

My stating it is no different than their stating the contrary. We both have to support our statements. I’m trying to do that. Both have to be examined as to whether they make better sense of the world as it is then the other.

cl said...

CK said, "..and?"

Come on. I believe you know where I was going with that.

CK asked, "..most gods humanity has believed in over the millenia have gone the way of the Dodo. Is there any reason why Christianity will not follow them?"

I don't know.

Karla said, "I can see why people would want to protect those of their own family. I want to know how the disabled person who has no living family and is not able to contribute to society has value too pursuant to their philosophy."

Ah-ha. Clarification noted. I await their answer, too, especially Cyber's.

Karla said, "Yes evil has a personal being too in Satan, but Satan isn’t the polar opposite of all of God’s attributes matching Him in power and eternality. He is not all powerful." I believe you've missed the point. From pure logic, there is no reason why a creator must be good. That's what GCT is saying in that regard, and he's correct - unless you can show a logical reason why a creator must be good.

Karla said, "There is no reason I should treat people a certain way versus another way unless there is a real personal perfectly good being that gives meaning to the "ought," then said, "The key is “ought to” I can want to, I can feel like it, I can see it as beneficial, but there is no moral ought. If it is purely made up and not a reflection of the real then there is no “ought”." What's the point of a tautology? All you're saying here is that if morality isn't objective, it's subjective. Honestly, I think you should all return to the words that best express the concepts with the least amount of confusion.

GCT said (to Karla), "You're claiming that we can understand that god is good - that we can make value judgements on god. Yet, when we make a value judgement on god and decide that god has acted in an evil fashion, then you claim that we can't make value judgements because we lack knowledge." I added that I agreed: "GCT is right when he says it seems like you're trying to have it both ways. Logically speaking, your opinion that God exists and is good is worth no more or no less than their opinion that God is not good, or doesn't exist." To that, you [Karla] said, "My stating it is no different than their stating the contrary. We both have to support our statements."

All I'm saying is you can't logically say God is good then refuse to accept their opinion that God is evil, if that's actually what's happened.

Karla said...

CL, an evil god would be a non-perfect God and we couldn't even declare him evil without a point of reference for good and then we would be back to square one with the necessity of an eternal good.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Come on. I believe you know where I was going with that.

Well, duh! Some things considered to be 'obvious' turned out to be wrong... Go figure! Then again... the number of times I've heard God's existence being called *obvious* maybe there is really something in your implication afterall....

cl said: I don't know.

As far as I see it Christianity is just another religion like so many before it. It may have been around a long time and have millions if not billions of believers but that doesn't mean its going to be around forever. Civilisations fall and religions fade away. It's only a matter of time.

cl said: Ah-ha. Clarification noted. I await their answer, too, especially Cyber's.

Because people have value - because they're people. Sentient beings who are ends in themselves.

The way I have been brought up is to respect the lives of people until they give me a *very* good reason to stop respecting them.

Those in need and incapable of helping themselves deserve a helping hand because we one day might be that person and although we are animals we don't need to act like some of them and fall on the weak.

Until very recently in human evolution the people we saw every day would have been fairly close relatives. It is not surprising therefore that we are hard-wired to care for people. It is only comparatively recently that we have been living amongst strangers. The hard-wiring is still there however which is why we often go to the aid of strangers where no genetic advantage exists.

Ali P said...

"I want to know how the disabled person who has no living family and is not able to contribute to society has value too pursuant to their philosophy."

To me, they don't.

"Those in need and incapable of helping themselves deserve a helping hand because we one day might be that person"

This statement fits for me. So even though they have no value to me, I'm still willing to help them.

Karla said...

Cyber says "Because people have value - because they're people. Sentient beings who are ends in themselves."

and Ali says "To me, they don't."

and Ali further said "This statement fits for me. So even though they have no value to me, I'm still willing to help them."


Cyber it seems above you are now saying humans have value by the fact of their humanity. Or you are saying you value even the person who has no family and does not contribute to society but needs the help of society to survive.

Ali on the other hand is saying this person has no value to her, but she would help anyway.

So when you have one person who says people have value because we give them value and another who says this person doesn't have value to them, then where do you go from there to see which view is correct?

Ali P said...

"Ali on the other hand is saying this person has no value to her, but she would help anyway. "

As I stated, I agreed with Cyber on role reversal being a motivator.

"So when you have one person who says people have value because we give them value and another who says this person doesn't have value to them, then where do you go from there to see which view is correct?"

Neither.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber it seems above you are now saying humans have value by the fact of their humanity.

I consider that all sentient beings would have value because they're sentient - humans included. Sentience makes the universe far more interesting than it would be without it. I am not saying that they have independent objective value - I'm saying that I (and my culture by and large) assigns them value because of that particular attribute.

karla said: Or you are saying you value even the person who has no family and does not contribute to society but needs the help of society to survive.

Both. We are wired to care for people - therefore we care for them.... on the whole.

karla said: So when you have one person who says people have value because we give them value and another who says this person doesn't have value to them, then where do you go from there to see which view is correct?

Neither. To propose a 'correct' answer would suggest that there is a single benchmark that such moral questions can be measured against. No such benchmark exists. When Ali says that she does not value someone and I say that I do we are merely expressing our own individual moral standpoints. Neither of us is 'correct' in the way you mean because there is no 'correct' moral position - on anything.

Karla said...

"Both. We are wired to care for people - therefore we care for them.... on the whole."

So we are wired for caring for others, but there is no sentient cause for that wiring?

To me "wired" is very close to saying "designed" and would require a Wirer just like design requires a Designer.

But I know you guys don't see it that way.

What if we do have real intrinsic value? Do you think that if people believed that every person was equally valuable instead of our value being conditional upon other people assigning it to us, that we would treat each other better in this world?

Do you think having a reality of our value would make how we see our selves and others better?

Just a question, it being better or not would make no difference if it isn't true.

Ali P said...

"To me "wired" is very close to saying "designed" and would require a Wirer just like design requires a Designer."

To me, this means born/brought up this way, thus open to influences from evolution and culture.

"Do you think having a reality of our value would make how we see our selves and others better?"

Yes, but it just isn't a reality to me. To me, it's all subjective.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So we are wired for caring for others, but there is no sentient cause for that wiring?

Nope. Just think of it this way. Imagine two groups of animals. One cares for its offspring and other members of the group. The other does not. Which group do you think will prosper under any circumstances? Caring enhances survivability.

karla said: To me "wired" is very close to saying "designed" and would require a Wirer just like design requires a Designer.

Nope. Evolution manages quite well - both as a wirer and to create the *illusion* of design.

karla said: But I know you guys don't see it that way.

Probably because it *isn't* that way... [grin]

karla said: Do you think that if people believed that every person was equally valuable instead of our value being conditional upon other people assigning it to us, that we would treat each other better in this world?

If people treated each other 'as if' they had intrinsic value then the world would be a *much* better place.

karla said: Do you think having a reality of our value would make how we see our selves and others better?

If it was real and we recognised it as real then probably yes... but it isn't real. It's 'contrived'.... to use your word.

Karla said...

"If people treated each other 'as if' they had intrinsic value then the world would be a *much* better place."

Cyber why do you think that is? What about intrinsic worth would create a better world rather than attributing the kind of worth you speak of?

cl said...

Cyber,

You said, "[Christianity] may have been around a long time and have millions if not billions of believers but that doesn't mean its going to be around forever."

Of course. To imply otherwise would be the genetic fallacy. OTOH, if the God of the Bible exists, it has always been around and will be around forever.

You said, "Because people have value - because they're people. Sentient beings who are ends in themselves."

That's just your opinion, right? Why should I value your opinion over anyone else's? What if I say not all people have value, that many are just little molecule sycophants who clog up the process and should be removed?

You said, "The way I have been brought up is to respect the lives of people until they give me a *very* good reason to stop respecting them."

Regardless of whether it's proven itself or not, I'm willing to bet you initially accepted that position without evidence, correct?

You said, "Those in need and incapable of helping themselves deserve a helping hand because we one day might be that person.."

So what? Unless there's some God or law of karma that ensures those who give help receive it, where's the evidence for a connection? And isn't that an admittedly self-centered way of looking at it? Though I fail at it constantly, I think all people have value and I say we should help people to alleviate their suffering - not from the selfish idea that we might one day need help.

Karla said...

Good questions cl.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber why do you think that is? What about intrinsic worth would create a better world rather than attributing the kind of worth you speak of?

Because there would be no ambiguity - it would be an accepted fact that everyone has intrinsic value so that discrimination would be practically impossible. That alone would make the world into a much better place!

cl said: if the God of the Bible exists, it has always been around and will be around forever.

That's a *huge* if!

cl said: That's just your opinion, right?

Well, It's not *just* my opinion - but it is an opinion that I subscribe to, yes.

cl said: Why should I value your opinion over anyone else's?

Opinions are valued - or not - because they make more/less sense than other opinions - in the mind of the person weighing them. If you want to value my opinion that's fine. If you don't... that's fine too.

cl said: What if I say not all people have value, that many are just little molecule sycophants who clog up the process and should be removed?

Then we could debate the issue if you *really* wanted to....

cl said: Regardless of whether it's proven itself or not, I'm willing to bet you initially accepted that position without evidence, correct?

If, as I suspect, I picked up that idea in my childhood then yes, obviously. Then again, childhood acceptence of such things are a major reason why religions and other points of view persist over time. I doubt very much if many reasoning adults could be persuaded to accept most religious doctrine with serious reservations. Catch 'em young, that's the trick. Luckily my parents had little interest in the religion they were accidently born into so I managed to dodge the bullet on that one.

cl said: Unless there's some God or law of karma that ensures those who give help receive it, where's the evidence for a connection?

If I carry on the general behaviour of aiding the needy such a behaviour is propagated through time. If, in the future, I become needy it is therefore more likely that someone will help me.

cl said: And isn't that an admittedly self-centered way of looking at it?

Of course. Can't I be self-centred from time to time? I actually lavish quite a lot of attention on myself on a day to day basis....

cl said: Though I fail at it constantly, I think all people have value and I say we should help people to alleviate their suffering - not from the selfish idea that we might one day need help.

Good for you.

cl said...

Cyber,

You said, "That's a *huge* if!"

Sans equations, that's a just-so statement.

You said, "Then we could debate the issue if you *really* wanted to...."

Yet, how would that be useful, since by your own definition, opinions are valued (or not) because they make more/less sense than other opinions - in the mind of the person weighing them? If that's the case, isn't debating morality essentially the same as debating what the best flavor of ice cream is?

You said, "If, as I suspect, I picked up that idea in my childhood then yes, obviously."

So then obviously, you do actually accept claims without evidence, just not certain ones?

You said, "If I carry on the general behaviour of aiding the needy such a behaviour is propagated through time. If, in the future, I become needy it is therefore more likely that someone will help me."

What sufficient evidence do you have for your claim that your own generosity will somehow come back to you?

CyberKitten said...

cl said: If that's the case, isn't debating morality essentially the same as debating what the best flavor of ice cream is?

Actually I was being sarcastic....

Debating such things is mostly pointless, I agree. Probably because we normally end up debating the wrong things - opinions. To come to any kind of concensus, agreement or even understanding we really need to debate things a little more concrete - but first we have to decide exactly what those concrete things are. As much fun as karla's debates are I do find that we are continually arguing in the clouds when we should be doing so in the weeds. Without reasonable foundations these arguments will continue to go nowhere and produce nothing but hot air.

cl said: So then obviously, you do actually accept claims without evidence, just not certain ones?

When I was a child I believed as a child. It has been a *very* long time since then. Actually my skepticism of adults and their statements developed at an early age - certainly before I was 10.

I suppose that I accept many *trivial* claims without evidence. If someone says that they had a nice weekend I don't interrogate them for evidence! If someone said that they had been abducted by aliens however......

cl said: What sufficient evidence do you have for your claim that your own generosity will somehow come back to you?

Life experience.

[Oh, the word verification for this is *confess* - hilarious!]

Karla said...

cl said: What sufficient evidence do you have for your claim that your own generosity will somehow come back to you?

Cyber said "Life experience."

Sounds like you are advocating the personal experience you guys don't let me advocate.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Sounds like you are advocating the personal experience you guys don't let me advocate.

Not at all. I am merely saying that I have had many experiences where my generosity to others results in their generosity to me (and others). Its simple reciprocity.

cl said...

Cyber,

Regarding morality discussions, you said, "Debating such things is mostly pointless, I agree."

Yet, I don't think debating such things is pointless because I don't think morality is subjective. Somehow, you're reading my words and hearing your worldview.

You said, "When I was a child I believed as a child. It has been a *very* long time since then. Actually my skepticism of adults and their statements developed at an early age - certainly before I was 10."

Good for you, or not. The point I was attempting to make was that I've heard you say people shouldn't believe in things without evidence. Then, I heard you say that you'd accepted a belief without evidence. Now, you state that "life experience" is your evidence for the belief, yet your initial claim was that you accepted the belief early in your childhood well before the accumulation of sufficient evidence was possible. Your statements are contradictory.

Going further, don't you think that "life experience" remains anecdotal? If so, why do you offer anecdotes as evidence when I've heard you refuse to accept anecdotes as evidence from believers?

You told Karla, "I am merely saying that I have had many experiences where my generosity to others results in their generosity to me (and others). Its simple reciprocity."

Yet, proffering a causal connection - especially after conceding that one put the cart before the horse - is most certainly consistent with the fallacy of post hoc reasoning.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Yet, I don't think debating such things is pointless because I don't think morality is subjective. Somehow, you're reading my words and hearing your worldview.

Possibly. Maybe you were being too nuanced or maybe I was simply tired when I read it.

cl said: The point I was attempting to make was that I've heard you say people shouldn't believe in things without evidence. Then, I heard you say that you'd accepted a belief without evidence.

Because I was a *child*. Children tend to accept what adults tell them - until they know better. Adults certainly shouldn't simply believe in things without evidence, a strong supporting argument or both. A certain degree of skepticism should be part of every adults persona.

cl said: Now, you state that "life experience" is your evidence for the belief, yet your initial claim was that you accepted the belief early in your childhood well before the accumulation of sufficient evidence was possible. Your statements are contradictory.

I'm a human being therefore I sometimes contradict myself - so shoot me.

cl said: If so, why do you offer anecdotes as evidence when I've heard you refuse to accept anecdotes as evidence from believers?

Because there is a world (indeed a universe) of difference between presenting anecdotal evidence for reciprocity and similar evidence for the existence of the supernatural, miracles, UFO's, ghosts or God.

cl said: Yet, proffering a causal connection - especially after conceding that one put the cart before the horse - is most certainly consistent with the fallacy of post hoc reasoning.

Maybe. I refer you back to the "I'm human" comment. If you want a fully rational, fully logical, fully reasonable answer everytime you get a response you'll have to wait a few decades for a fully functional *machine* intelligence. Me, I'm all mushy inside - not a silicon circuit to be seen.... apparently.....

cl said...

CyberKitten,

I agree that a certain degree of skepticism is a healthy part of the adult persona.

You said, "Adults certainly shouldn't simply believe in things without evidence, a strong supporting argument or both."

Why? Because that's your opinion? Why should I value your opinion over mine? Further, what is the evidence for your belief that adults shouldn't believe in things without evidence?

You said, "I'm a human being therefore I sometimes contradict myself - so shoot me."

Shoot you? I applaud your humanity. We all blow it from time to time.

You said, "Because there is a world (indeed a universe) of difference between presenting anecdotal evidence for reciprocity and similar evidence for the existence of the supernatural, miracles, UFO's, ghosts or God."

Really? I'd like to hear more about that. Why is it okay to accept anecdotes in one case and not the other?

You said, "If you want a fully rational, fully logical, fully reasonable answer everytime you get a response you'll have to wait a few decades for a fully functional *machine* intelligence."

I've already noted and applauded your humanity. My point was to show that many who espouse rationalism and skepticism often make the same mistakes as their religious counterparts. Would you say that's a reasonable claim?

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I agree that a certain degree of skepticism is a healthy part of the adult persona.

I suspect though that we will disagree on the level of skepticism required.....

cl said: Why? Because that's your opinion?

My opinion is the only one I've got. If I'm not actually quoting someone else - that'd be me.... giving my opinion.

cl said: Why should I value your opinion over mine?

Good question. Why should you? Why should I value your opinion over my own? Another good question. I guess that opinions are valued for their content, if they answer questions reasonably, if they make sense or fill in gaps, if they seem cogent and worthwhile. Do you value anyone's opinions over your own? I personally value the opinions of subject matter experts - especially when they're giving their opinions on a subject I'm interested in but know little about. I don't take their word as infaliable but I do take it into account.

cl said: Further, what is the evidence for your belief that adults shouldn't believe in things without evidence?

Because to accept things without evidence is wasteful, timeconsuming, costly and probably dangerous. Do you advocate that we should simply accept everything that advertising tells us is true? If two people are advocating opposite positions do we simply oscilate between the two unable to form our own opinion on the matter? Without the use of critical facilties we are helpless in the face of competing claims - are we not?

cl said: Really? I'd like to hear more about that. Why is it okay to accept anecdotes in one case and not the other?

Scale, for one thing. Anecdotal evidence for the behaviour of your cat is one thing. Anecdotal evidence for God is quite another. You might accept my evidence that my cat is far from agile because accepting such things will hardly change your outlook on things. The existence of God, however, could be considered by some to be fairly important and potentially life changing. Before you make that kind of decision the quality of the information you need is substantially higher than anecdotes - in my opinion of course.

cl said: My point was to show that many who espouse rationalism and skepticism often make the same mistakes as their religious counterparts. Would you say that's a reasonable claim?

Both atheists and theists make mistakes. Not matter how much either side attempts to dehumanise the other they're still both human - and to err is most definitely a human trait. As to making the *same* mistakes... you're going to have to be a bit more specific there I'm afraid.

cl said...

Cyber,

"..to accept things without evidence is wasteful, timeconsuming, costly and probably dangerous."

Where's the evidence for this claim, though? It sounds more like your opinion.

"Do you advocate that we should simply accept everything that advertising tells us is true?"

No. Are there reasonable positions between, "accept all claims without evidence" and, "accept no claims without evidence?" Surely.

"Both atheists and theists make mistakes. Not matter how much either side attempts to dehumanise the other they're still both human - and to err is most definitely a human trait."

I like that.

"As to making the *same* mistakes... you're going to have to be a bit more specific there I'm afraid."

Sure. Many atheists criticize theists for presenting arguments based on presumption when they haven't even read the writer they criticize. You made that same mistake in Karla's post about Flew.