Video: If good and evil exist …

posted at 4:41 pm on December 11, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I’m a big fan of Prager University, the new effort by my colleague and friend Dennis Prager that does what Dennis does every day on his indispensable radio program, which is to discuss values, morals, and politics — and how they cannot be disengaged from each other.  But what is morality, anyway — and what is its source?  Prager U has a new video featuring Boston College’s Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, explaining that morality cannot possibly come from nature, human or otherwise, or from evolution or politics.  Morality has an objective quality, which points to a higher source than nature or man:

There is a lot to unpack in this video for just five minutes, but it’s well worth the view.  Kreeft uses the two most notable evils of the last two centuries to make compelling points about how morality has to be objective, above nature, and above mankind, or it doesn’t exist at all in any rational form.  Agree or disagree, the argument is compelling.

Perhaps we can get Professor Kreeft to join us on The Ed Morrissey Show to discuss this further.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

This is why I love Dennis Prager. Moral relativity is a huge issue in our culture.

terryannonline on December 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM

The denial of Natural Law is the primary cause of our cultural wars.

GWB on December 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM

That was excellent for such a short clip. C.S. Lewis does a much more thorough job in Mere Christianity (although I disagree with much of what’s in the rest of the book after he demonstrates God exists and Jesus is God).

The book of Romans also explains many of the same things.

The Rogue Tomato on December 11, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Does an act have an inherent moral value, or is it the result of an arbitrary edict by God?

If the latter, then what if God changes his Mind? He comes down to us and declares that only murderers and torturers will henceforth be permitted into heaven, and anyone who helps a neighbor in need goes straight to Hell.

No? Well, then, if there’s an inherent moral value unrelated to God’s choices, then it would have such a value even if there were no God.

Steven Den Beste on December 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Steven Den Beste on December 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Glad to see you around! Hope you are doing well now.

Ed Morrissey on December 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Very “heady” topic from a guy who 48 hours ago had his noggin painted to resemble a Steeler’s helmet. ;-)

TXUS on December 11, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Risking your life to save someone else seems pretty reasonable to.

Oh well, seems like a nice guy.

DeathtotheSwiss on December 11, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Steven Den Beste on December 11, 2012 at 4:58 PM

For something to have an inherent moral value, then how did it become inherent? There is a clear implication someone gave it that moral value—and it wasn’t us if it’s inherent. There is also a clear implication that by an act being inherently good, that God has not changed His mind nor will He.

INC on December 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

You have to deny reality to say that good and evil don’t exist. Who among us hasn’t at one time declared that’s wrong or been repulsed by evil and yearned to see justice done? I think our desire for justice is a reflection of the holiness of God. Even those who may rail against a God they say exists only in the minds of men to give condemnation and guilt, have at some point cried out to see wrongs made right, even if only within their own life.

In Frank Peretti’s novel, Piercing the Darkness, he tells a story of a woman who, after shattering her life through a denial of good and evil, understands that absolutes are undeniable, and eventually becomes a Christian. It’s a great read.

INC on December 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

morality has to be objective, above nature, and above mankind, or it doesn’t exist at all in any rational form. Agree or disagree, the argument is compelling.

Oh no, but it does require an IQ above 95 and enough character to dig deeper, a lot deeper.

Speakup on December 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Looooove Kreeft and love what he’s written on C.S. Lewis. Thank you for this, Ed.

Weight of Glory on December 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Morality has an objective quality, which points to a higher source’ than nature or man

Is that the same ‘higher source’ that ordered the mass extermination of tribes and many other humans throughout history, if the ancient texts are to be accepted as historical accounts? The same ‘higher source’ that is alleged (according to the same texts) to have slaughtered every man, woman and child on the planet with a flood because it (apparently) did it wrong the first time?

The same ‘higher source’ that laid out 10 commandments that didn’t bother to note that the enslavement of other fellow humans is not worth including in that list, and that the command not to murder is not the most important one, but only 5th on the list after 4 listing the proper ways to prostrate and worship the said invisible skybeing?

Didn’t see anything about those great moral lessons by the ‘higher source’ in the video. Just wondering if they’re worth including in the discussion. After all, we’re supposed to be basing morality on it objectively. And we, as humans and as a society, would regard any one of those things as morally reprehensible in this sick, twisted, unenlightened age we find ourselves in.

Good Lt on December 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM

This is the most stunningly obvious bit of self-serving propaganda I’ve seen in a long time.

1. Slavery was never acceptable. It certainly was throughout most of the history of Christianity. Why the OT even provides guidance on the treatment of slaves. So, if some supreme being says it isn’t acceptable, it sure isn’t the one that this dude worships.

2. His drivel about criminals using “reasoning” is equally transparent. One who applies reason beyond the goal of some immediate gain can and will conclude that most reasonable behavior is also moral behavior. Reasoning will lead one to conclude that he is not an island and that without self-restraint by members of a society all suffer.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Prager U has a new video featuring Boston College’s Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, explaining that morality cannot possibly come from nature, human or otherwise, or from evolution or politics.

He knows about as much about this subject as Al Gore knows about climate and Barack Obama knows about economics.

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

that God has not changed His mind nor will He

who are you to say what God will do? The point is, He could.

Steven Den Beste on December 11, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Thomas Jefferson would call this college professor an idiot.

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Steven De Beste says:

“Does an act have an inherent moral value, or is it the result of an arbitrary edict by God?

If the latter, then what if God changes his Mind? He comes down to us and declares that only murderers and torturers will henceforth be permitted into heaven, and anyone who helps a neighbor in need goes straight to Hell.

No? Well, then, if there’s an inherent moral value unrelated to God’s choices, then it would have such a value even if there were no God.”

This is what is known as Euthypro’s dilemma, but the horns of this dilemma have long since been split. Morality is not objective outside of God, nor is it an arbitrary command of God. Rather, what we call “morality” flows from God’s very nature. God, as a perfect being, is essentially Good, Just, Merciful, etc. Any reality comporting with the nature of the perfect Creator is moral, any which does not comport with His nature is immoral. The choice between arbitrariness or objectivity outside of Divine Command is a false one.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM

If people think that morality can only come from God, then be aware that not everyone believes that God wants the same thing. In fact, not even close. Whose opinion of what God wants are we to then take if we have no independent minds ourselves? And it is not a trivial matter as there are an almost countless number of different religious sects on planet earth and given demographics, Islam will soon be the largest. If someone hypothetically had it proved to them that there was no God, or that God had left the vicinity of earth never to return, perhaps being extremely disappointed in mankind and wanting to get as far away as possible from an early blunder, would previous believers in God reject all morality and go on as big a rampage of pillaging, raping and murdering as they thought they could get away with doing? What a pathetic lot God must have created.

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshiped by many who think themselves Christians.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price from Paris, January 8, 1789

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Reasoning leads one to conclude that egocentric behavior includes regard for one’s behavior with respect to others and to society at large. Reasoning leads, therefore, to moral restraint.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Perhaps we can get Professor Kreeft to join us on The Ed Morrissey Show to discuss this further.

You would be providing a service rather than a disservice if you could get someone who knows what the hell he is talking about, like Thomas Jefferson. Now he is unavailable to appear in person, but you could just read some of the things he has said.

If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Not very convincing and he takes an intellectual shortcut at the end. Religion is not the only source of morals and ethics. It’s an interesting topic and this video simply fails to cover it seriously.

lexhamfox on December 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 5:34 PM

So why is it that those who don’t believe in any gods behave honorably and morally (with regards to others, please leave out any aspects of morality you may associate with the acts of worship and belief)?

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Good LT says:

…well, really all he does is list the standard “God atrocity list” from the Old Testament often cited by atheists…

First of all, Kreeft’s argument has nothing to do with the Bible or any specific religion. It merely states, in a way you have not answered, that if there is such a thing as objective morality then God must exist. This seems pretty obviously true. Without an absolute measure, there is only preference or fashion… subjective, not objective morality. Without God, you are in a Nietzscheian “who says?” universe. If the Nazi really thinks it is right to slay the Jew to protect his homeland, but you think it is wrong, neither of you can make any real claim that your view is the right one. It is only your preference. To put it further, torturing a baby to death for fun isn’t really WRONG, it’s merely unfashionable to our culture, and the guy going against the cultural norm is not violating objective morality, he is only violating a cultural norm, and nothing more. But, of course, it is ALWAYS WRONG to torture a baby to death for fun, no matter what society says. Morals exist. Therefore, a moral lawgiver must also exists.

None of this has anything to do with the Bible or any one particular religion. It just says an absolute authority must exist for morals to exist objectively. Now let’s assume, for the sake or argument, that everything you listed there was as bad as you make it out to be… that would not disprove Christianity either! All it would prove would be that the Bible is not an inerrant document. This does nothing to disprove the arguments from God from natural theology or the historical method evidence of the radical personal claims and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. Nor would it disprove the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. These are the things that would cause one to become a Christian. If the Bible were shown to not be inerrant, all one would have to do would be to modify that doctrine – one not central to the faith. (there are many Christians that do not believe in Biblical inerrancy, by the way)

But I do not concede even that. The list you gave is often misunderstood one way or another (even by many Christians), but that is a much broader topic than we can get into here, and it is off-topic of Kreeft’s argument.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:39 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 5:36 PM

But even a “game theory” model would lead one to conclude that the benefits of an orderly and charitable society outweigh lawlessness, callousness, etc.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:39 PM

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:39 PM

I see. So then those allahu akbars who blow up buildings because it is the moral thing to do must be right. After all, they’re following the will of the supreme being that they follow.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM

MJBRUTUS says:

“Reasoning leads one to conclude that egocentric behavior includes regard for one’s behavior with respect to others and to society at large. Reasoning leads, therefore, to moral restraint.”

Reasoning only leads to prudential moral restraint, not full moral restraint. One only restrains oneself if one reasonably concludes that they will get caught and/or suffer ill consequences if they act immorally. But of course, there are many, many examples where acting immorally would produce no ill consequences whatsoever. And likewise, there are many cases where acting immorally actually produces an enhancement in one’s life. This is not restraint.

But that is beside the point. Kreeft is not talking about the effect of objective moral values on society nor even how they are perceived, but rather he is discussing their mere EXISTENCE. Without an objective standard, there can be no truly objective morality. “Who says?” is the rule then. Nothing is actually right or wrong, but merely fashionable or unfashionable.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:45 PM

“I see. So then those allahu akbars who blow up buildings because it is the moral thing to do must be right. After all, they’re following the will of the supreme being that they follow.”

This is a red-herring.

Again, you are not understanding what Kreeft is saying. He is not saying that any one religion or other gives us absolute morality, he is saying that absolute, objective morality CANNOT EXIST at all without God.

In fact, your example is one Kreeft could use in his argument! If these Islamists think they are doing right, and we do not… who is to say which one is really right or is really wrong? Without an Absolute Standard, we are not talking about right or wrong, we are only talking about “I think” vs. “You think”. Without God, you have no basis to say those Islamists are doing wrong, but “wrong” does not really exist. Only preference.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Reasoning only leads to prudential moral restraint, not full moral restraint. One only restrains oneself if one reasonably concludes that they will get caught and/or suffer ill consequences if they act immorally.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Among those ill consequences is that the society in which we live will be an unhappy place. That’s reason enough for me and doesn’t require any mysticism.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:51 PM

To those searching for truth – not the truth of dogma and darkness but the truth brought by reason, search, examination, and inquiry, discipline is required. For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction – faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake. Religion is all bunk. [Thomas Edison]

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:52 PM

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Exactly, I am demonstrating the absurdity of his thinking. What makes the “absolute standard” of the Islamacist (who is supposedly informed by a superior being) any less credible a source for morality as any other religion based standard?

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:54 PM

The advance of science was mostly due to the decline in the influence of religion, which sought truth and meaning by ‘looking in’ to see what God [Allah], or more specifically what the myriad of those who claim to speak for God [or Allah], had to say, and its replacement by’ looking out’, deriving knowledge and authority from observation, contemplation, experimentation and exploration. Among the first men of this enlightened school of thought were Bishop Robert Grosseteste and Saint Thomas Aquinas, among the first men to imagine a secular world, a world without God [or Allah], or more specifically what the myriad of those who claim to speak for God [or Allah], directing everything and giving meaning to everything. Secularism is not the same as atheism, of course, both Grosseteste (later a Bishop) and Aquinas (later a saint) were priests. Enlightened Priests, who played a major role in helping Europe escape the suffocating medieval view that the world can only have meaning in relation to God [or Allah] or more specifically in relation to what the myriad of those who claim to speak for God [or Allah] say.

VorDaj on December 11, 2012 at 5:54 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

My self interest is best advanced by living in a safe, lawful, charitable society.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:55 PM

“So why is it that those who don’t believe in any gods behave honorably and morally (with regards to others, please leave out any aspects of morality you may associate with the acts of worship and belief)?”

Atheists can act morally. Kreeft said this right off. This is not the argument, though. (see previous responses) But if you want to ask why atheists act morally, which is different than what Kreeft is getting at, I’ll bite. Atheists act morally out of the norms of society. In our country, that is a society coasting off the fumes of the Western Christian world and its values. It is borrowed capital. There have even been studies (by atheists!) that have admitted as much. In one study, atheists did NOT act as morally as religious people, particularly in matters where it was not prudential to do so.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Kreeft’s great. If you know any college freshmen, give ‘em “Socrates meets Jesus” (or one of his similar books) for Christmas.

His book on Aquinas’s Summa (Summa of the Summa) should be required reading for high schoolers — but high schoolers can’t think as well as they did a hundred years ago. :-\

Like the Anglican C.S. Lewis, the Catholic Kreeft bridges over to a lot of us Evangelicals. And we can’t get enough of ‘im.

rasqual on December 11, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Why would this reasoning lead someone away from pursuing a self-interest moral standard? Why should they care if society, in general, in unhappy as long as they benefit?

blink on December 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM

You are dancing around the point. A “moral” society is required for each of us to be able to advance our self interests. When laws (moral and otherwise) apply to some and not all then most of us (and I include myself in that majority) will find our ability to pursue our own interests will suffer. Therefore, it is in my interests to be a cooperative and moral participant in that society.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:06 PM

“Among those ill consequences is that the society in which we live will be an unhappy place. That’s reason enough for me and doesn’t require any mysticism.”

This is veering way off topic, as Kreeft is not saying atheists cannot or do not behave morally. What he is saying is that the very notion of “being good” is meaningless in itself without God. In the absence of God, you are not behaving “morally” when you try to make society a happy place. You are just enacting a preference. And if your preference was for society to be unhappy, to “watch the world burn”, then you would be doing nothing wrong, you would just be exercising your own preference. You are talking about preference and fashion, not morality. Your trap is this – you cannot ground true, objective morality in anything other than God. So your only move is to deny that objective morality exists. In that world, torturing a baby to death for fun is not actually WRONG, it is just against your preference and the preference of most others. But we cannot say it is actually wrong in and of itself. How can we? Who says? What if society decided that it was okay in 100 years? Slavery is like this. We thought it was fine hundreds of years ago. Was it? No, it was wrong then, objectively. That is why we can say we have IMPROVED morally since abolishing it. Without God, we cannot say we have IMPROVED morally by abolishing slavery, we can only say we have CHANGED morally, since improvement requires an objective measure.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

For something to have an inherent moral value, then how did it become inherent? There is a clear implication someone gave it that moral value—and it wasn’t us if it’s inherent. There is also a clear implication that by an act being inherently good, that God has not changed His mind nor will He.

INC on December 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

I can’t figure you two out.

Good and evil are not choices of God. Good is the nature of God. God might be able to change his nature, but in so doing, he would cease to be what he is.

“Good” is not a choice of God.

Axe on December 11, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Btw, what is your moral standard, and do you support the enforcement of your moral standards on others via government enforced laws?

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:02 PM

I chose to answer this separately. My morality is based on reason.

First, a political perspective. I believe that when governments are formed, each of us sacrifices a measure of liberty in exchange for the benefits of cooperation. Since each of us makes such a sacrifice, each of us is entitled to the same mutual benefits.

On a more personal level of conduct, I have concluded that being kind and caring towards others is personally rewarding and improves the level of cooperation I receive from others. In general, it improves the quality of my life.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

My self interest is best advanced by living in a safe, lawful, charitable society.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Good for you but that really is your personal preferences and presuppositions. Criminality is proof that enough people don’t agree that it is in their best interest to live in the type of society you want. On what basis do you label their preferences immoral or wrong?

chemman on December 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

What he is saying is that the very notion of “being good” is meaningless in itself without God.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

His argument is a tautology. You DEFINE morality in terms of religion and then conclude that religion is required to possess morality. Being good DOES HAVE meaning in and of itself. The position is filled by reason, no gods need apply.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

chemman on December 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I cite an inability to reason beyond their desire for immediate gratification.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

MJBRUTUS says:

“Exactly, I am demonstrating the absurdity of his thinking. What makes the “absolute standard” of the Islamacist (who is supposedly informed by a superior being) any less credible a source for morality as any other religion based standard?”

This does not follow. Kreeft has never said that people cannot be wrong about morality. The moral world can be learned the same way the natural world is learned. At one point most people thought the world was flat. That didn’t make it flat – it was always an imperfect sphere. Now we know that objective fact. Similarly, people can be wrong about their moral beliefs, but that does not mean there isn’t a right.

You really need to get out of your head the idea that Kreeft is saying anything about religious dogma with this argument. He is not. He is not saying anything about any specific religion or who is “right or wrong”. All he is saying is that it is impossible for there to be absolute objective moral values and duties without an Absolute Standard defining right and wrong. There can be no such thing as objective morals without God, because without God no person can claim that his moral beliefs are any better or more valid than its opposite. So if you think murder is immoral, you can’t really say that without God, because the term becomes meaningless. Cannibals in Papau New Guinee think murdering your neighbor and eating them is a-okay. Why are they not right? “Who says?” Without God morals collapse into mere fashions and preferences.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

I love it when the blind critics and atheists shake their tiny fists. Kreeft is a national treasure.

Mason on December 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

On a more personal level of conduct, I have concluded that being kind and caring towards others is personally rewarding and improves the level of cooperation I receive from others. In general, it improves the quality of my life.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

And if overrunning other nations, subjecting their people and selling their children into slavery improved our quality of life…well that too is a different life choice. Perhaps not one that you would personally choose, but perfectly legitimate nevertheless.

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:18 PM

This is the most stupid thing that I’ve read today.

Yes, you would think so. I would be disappointed if I had any respect for you or your reasoning.

Anyone can try advancing their own self interest within or without an “moral” society (btw, that’s a strange adjective for you to use given the context of this discussion).

And certainly a “moral” society can exist even if I decide to pursue my own interests. Society will not suddenly stop being “moral” simply because I’m pursuing my own self interest.

I’m done with you. I explained the flaw in this screed and have no interest in going over the same ground.

Not at all. Current laws aren’t evenly applied to all for many reasons. Discrimination, ability to not get caught, excellent legal defenses, etc. These laws and societal norms still exist notwithstanding this asymmetrical application.

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

And when they’re not evenly applied, I have a word for that. Immoral!

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Is that the same ‘higher source’ that ordered the mass extermination of tribes and many other humans throughout history, if the ancient texts are to be accepted as historical accounts? The same ‘higher source’ that is alleged (according to the same texts) to have slaughtered every man, woman and child on the planet with a flood because it (apparently) did it wrong the first time?

Good Lt…
You are confusing those who obey morality and the One who is the source of morality. It is wrong for man to take the life of another unjustly because that life is not his to take. But God is the creator and sustainer of ALL life. It is His to give, and to take.
He owns and creates it all.

The same ‘higher source’ that laid out 10 commandments that didn’t bother to note that the enslavement of other fellow humans is not worth including in that list, and that the command not to murder is not the most important one, but only 5th on the list after 4 listing the proper ways to prostrate and worship the said invisible skybeing?

The commandments are moral principles. They were not meant to be an itemized list of moral wrongs.
The first few are our commitments to God, the rest are to man.
How we see and behave to our Creator is foundational to how we treat each other.

Didn’t see anything about those great moral lessons by the ‘higher source’ in the video. Just wondering if they’re worth including in the discussion. After all, we’re supposed to be basing morality on it objectively. And we, as humans and as a society, would regard any one of those things as morally reprehensible in this sick, twisted, unenlightened age we find ourselves in.

Human beings are not God. God is God. And what God does or commands He does from out of His nature, and the standard of His being.
But let me ask you… you seem so focused on the evil that men do… what of the good? The good in this world? Is that God’s doing? Or man’s? It seems so often people are willing to attribute every evil to God, but then praise men for their good. You can’t have it both ways.
If the existence of moral evil is proof against God, then by the same argument the existence of moral good is proof of God.
So, blaming God for evil is not a very good argument when you look at the whole of it.
…Just something to think about.

Daddy-O on December 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Not at all. The conduct of nations are subject to the same reasoning. A nation that is unjust to other nations both degrades itself and results in a less stable less successful globe. The word “society” can be deemed to extend beyond national borders.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

whence arises the morality of the Atheist?

– Vordaj

The morality of an atheist is simply parasitic. Were you in Communist China, you’d have no problems with forcible abortions, political gulags, roving execution vans (@15,000/year)… or perhaps Russia during Stalins purges, or in Cambodia with the killing fields.

John_G on December 11, 2012 at 6:22 PM

“The advance of science was mostly due to the decline in the influence of religion, which sought truth and meaning by ‘looking in’ to see what God [Allah], or more specifically what the myriad of those who claim to speak for God [or Allah], had to say, and its replacement by’ looking out’, deriving knowledge and authority from observation, contemplation, experimentation and exploration.”

This is absolutely incorrect, and basically no modern historian of science today makes this claim. In fact, science was largely born out of religion. The great scientific minds of antiquity such as Newton, Kepler and others considered it our obligation to explore the universe that God had made for us. It was the Divine calling of humanity to do so. Also, modern science did not develop in other parts of the world such as the far east, where the universe was not considered rational and intelligible. In the Western monotheistic world, science was born because the universe was considered to be the product of an orderly, rational MIND that could thus be discovered and tested. Finally, the entire university system itself was started by the Church, and most of our knowledge of the ancient world was only preserved through the work of Catholic monks.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 6:22 PM

“I do not agree with the view that to be moral, the motive of one’s action has to be benefiting others. People like me want to satisfy our hearts to the full, and in doing so we automatically have the most valuable moral codes.” – Mao

John_G on December 11, 2012 at 6:24 PM

His argument is a tautology. You DEFINE morality in terms of religion and then conclude that religion is required to possess morality. Being good DOES HAVE meaning in and of itself. The position is filled by reason, no gods need apply.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

No it isn’t. Right or wrong, it isn’t tautological. You are using “religion” in place of “reality,” and then declaring it a loop. It is a loop, but not a rational loop; you are just saying the same thing twice and calling it tautology.

Rewriting it to show you: “You define morality in terms or reality and then conclude that reality is required to possess morality.”

Also, your positioning of reason is interesting — you understand things through reason, not create them. You put reason where reality would be, or where God would be.

This is what is known as Euthypro’s dilemma, but the horns of this dilemma have long since been split. Morality is not objective outside of God, nor is it an arbitrary command of God. Rather, what we call “morality” flows from God’s very nature. God, as a perfect being, is essentially Good, Just, Merciful, etc. Any reality comporting with the nature of the perfect Creator is moral, any which does not comport with His nature is immoral. The choice between arbitrariness or objectivity outside of Divine Command is a false one.

daviddunn on December 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Sorry. :) I should have continued reading the thread. I would have just ditto’d you or something.

Axe on December 11, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Not at all. The conduct of nations are subject to the same reasoning. A nation that is unjust to other nations both degrades itself

Degrades itself?

If its making cash from the sale of children then its credit rating would go up and add to that the income from its colonies as well.

How would it be degraded?

and results in a less stable less successful globe. The word “society” can be deemed to extend beyond national borders.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Who cares?

If they have the power, the women, and the gold who really cares if the world is a sad place for others?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:27 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

You are too shallow to comprehend that one’s self interest is advanced through moral conduct. Therefore it is beyond your reasoning ability to understand the fuller meaning of self interest.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:27 PM

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:27 PM

One need only look at the history of this nation. Enslaving people was more injurious to the slave holders in the long run than it was even to those they enslaved. It was a grave injustice that almost led to the destruction of our entire nation.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Enslaving people was more injurious to the slave holders in the long run than it was even to those they enslaved.

It was injurious because some religious minded folks decided it was wrong and started a big to-do about it.

It was a grave injustice that almost led to the destruction of our entire nation.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Why was it an injustice?

Wasn’t it just another societal option?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM

1. On a large enough scale of course society breaks down from non-compliance.

2. Police are immoral for failing to find a perp only they fail to try and/or are selective in their attempts.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:35 PM

It was injurious because some religious minded folks decided it was wrong and started a big to-do about it.

No, it was injurious by its very nature.

Why was it an injustice?

Wasn’t it just another societal option?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM

I explained my political philosophy above.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Same fallacy, different post.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I explained my political philosophy above.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

You haven’t explained anything.

And what does your political philosophy have to do with a nation crushing those weaker than it and utilizing them for maximum profit?

You may decide that such a choice is NOT FOR YOU, but how does that translate to it being wrong for others?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:39 PM

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:39 PM

OK, so you refuse to argue with what I wrote and choose to ignore it altogether.

NEXT!

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

You admit that one person, pursuing their own interests, will not break down society!!!

No. I told you that it is the self interest of each of us to conduct ourselves cooperatively. When it is moral for one to steal it becomes moral for anyone to steal.

But you claimed that the uneven application of societal laws was “immoral.” You didn’t say that the uneven application had to be deliberate.

So, it seems as if you are backing away from your claim about an uneven application being immoral. Regardless, this is a further admission that society will not break down just because someone is able to avoid being caught by law enforcement.

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Boggles the mind. Morality if purely a consequence of intent. An act or omission that is not intentional is not relevant to the topic.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Name one moral act that only a theist can do and an atheist cannot do?

wrath187 on December 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

OK, so you refuse to argue with what I wrote and choose to ignore it altogether.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

You claim something is immoral and refuse to define any basis for that morality, because you know that you don’t have one.

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Name one moral act that only a theist can do and an atheist cannot do?

wrath187 on December 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Define a moral act.

Axe on December 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Really? The south didn’t benefit economically by slavery?

The only injuries were later caused by others attempting to enforce their moral values on them.

You can’t deny this.

blink on December 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM

I can and do deny this. You expressed your argument in purely economic terms. The damage done was also to the moral climate of our society. To accept that it is morally acceptable to enslave anyone is to accept that it is morally acceptable to be enslaved.

As I stated above, morality is based on a symmetry of human relations. What is moral for one person must be moral for others. We each sacrifice limits on our conduct when we take part in a society.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM

:)

Axe on December 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM

The damage done was also to the moral climate of our society. To accept that it is morally acceptable to enslave anyone is to accept that it is morally acceptable to be enslaved.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM

What makes slavery immoral other than your opinion?

Slavery has been practiced for thousands of years and yet you claim this as wrong based on what exactly?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Symmetry. Once again, you ignore the answers your given and then pretend you’ve accomplished something.

But how about you and your pal blink answer a question I have. Suppose I’m shopping around for a religion so that I can become “moral” just like other theists. What makes you think that yours, assuming you do, is more moral than the allahu akbar crowd? If some god is responsible for morality then why do you suppose that the Allah is any less valid a basis for morality than Jehovah or Jesus?

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Symmetry. Once again, you ignore the answers your given and then pretend you’ve accomplished something.

morality is based on a symmetry of human relations. What is moral for one person must be moral for others.

So slavery IS MORAL?

It was moral for the Romans so it must be moral for you?

If some god is responsible for morality then why do you suppose that the Allah is any less valid a basis for morality than Jehovah or Jesus?

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

I don’t.

I don’t believe in God.

I do know that logically IF morality exists, then it MUST be an external force, or it’s just a passing fancy.

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM

So slavery IS MORAL?

It was moral for the Romans so it must be moral for you?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM

One can only reach that conclusion by ignoring everything I’ve said. At least you’re consistent in that regard.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

One can only reach that conclusion by ignoring everything I’ve said. At least you’re consistent in that regard.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

What you have said is contradictory.

Why is slavery wrong?

It was moral for the Romans and many others so why is your opinion more valid than their opinion?

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 7:11 PM

sharrukin on December 11, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Symmetry. Now go away.

MJBrutus on December 11, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Comment pages: 1 2