Does Disagreement Prove There Are No Objective Moral Truths?

I regularly teach high school students the nature of truth and the distinction between objective and subjective truth claims. This includes a discussion related to the nature of moral truth. While most people readily accept the self-evident nature of objective truth when it comes to material claims (i.e. “Jim’s car is a Hyundai”), larger metaphysical claims about immaterial realities (i.e. “God exists”) or moral claims (“Premarital sex is morally wrong”) are sometimes thought to be entirely subjective (a matter of personal opinion). I usually take some time to demonstrate the reality of objective moral truth to students, and talk about several examples of objective moral truth claims.

Disagreement Moral Objective

As an unbeliever, I rejected the existence of objective moral truth because I recognized the implication. If there are objective moral truths transcending time, location and culture, how would these truths arise? What kind of transcendent, objective source could adequately explain their existence? For many years I simply refused to accept moral laws as anything other than functional, commonly accepted social conventions. In addition, I pointed to moral disagreements between like-minded social groups as evidence for the non-existence of transcendent moral truth. I’ve discussed this with many atheists over the years (some very recently). If we were to poll any group of people embracing the same “objective” moral standard, I bet we would come away with a number of contradictory responses related to how these objective laws ought to be employed or expressed. In fact, we might even discover large disagreements related to the nature or identity of the objective laws themselves. If like-minded groups who accept the existence of transcendent, objective moral laws can’t agree on the identity or nature of these laws, isn’t this good evidence against their existence?

No. Over the years, I’ve investigated literally hundreds of crimes in which multiple witnesses have been asked to describe the same suspect. I seldom get witnesses who agree on their descriptions. In one particular case, after four witnesses observed a “purse snatch” street robbery, I interviewed them in an effort to reconcile the apparently contradictory statements they gave the responding officers. When separated from one another and interviewed at the scene, all four witnesses gave a different description of the suspect’s clothing and one of them described the suspect’s race differently. Interestingly, all four witnesses seemed to be in a similarly sufficient geographic position related to the robbery; all four should have been able to get a clear, unobstructed view. Why were their descriptions so different? As it turned out, much of the difference could be attributed to their personal response to the violent nature of the crime committed in their presence. Some of the witnesses were so disturbed by the offense they simply could not pay attention to the details related to the suspect. Some were more accustomed to this level of violence, and, as a result, were much calmer in their response and more attentive to details. Some witnesses had never seen such a crime or thought about what might be important to remember. Other witnesses possessed a bit more “street savvy” and made the effort to remember important details. In addition to all of this, one witness was a victim of a similar crime and repeatedly misidentified the race of the suspect; her description was influenced by her own experience as a victim.

The fact four people could not agree on the objective truth related to the suspect in this case did not refute the objective nature of the suspect, and their disagreement was not evidence against his existence. All were certain a suspect existed, and all would readily admit his existence was not a matter of personal opinion. In spite of this, none of them could agree entirely on his description (his nature). In a similar way, theists who acknowledge the existence of objective, transcendent moral truths may disagree on their identity and (more likely) how these objective laws ought to be employed or expressed. This disagreement is not evidence against the existence of transcendent moral truth; it is merely a reflection of the nature of humans who are trying to be good witnesses. Some of us have thought more deeply about this than others. Some of us allow our own personal moral history to color our observations and descriptions. My purse snatch witnesses couldn’t agree on the nature of the suspect. In spite of this, one objective suspect existed and his identity was not dependent on the witness’ opinions. Theists often disagree on moral issues. In spite of this, objective (transcendent) moral truths exist and their identity is not dependent on the opinions of theists.


Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
40 replies
  1. KR says:

    “The fact four people could not agree on the objective truth related to the suspect in this case did not refute the objective nature of the suspect, and their disagreement was not evidence against his existence.”

    In the criminal case, there was obviously one objective truth concerning the identity of the perpetrator. The problem for proponents of objective morality is that it’s not obvious. Are there cases where people have disagreed on the description of a perpetrator and later been persuaded by the objective technical evidence against the actual perpetrator? Sure. How about cases where people have disagreed on a point of morality – has there ever been an instance where the disagreement was resolved by one side of the argument demonstrating that their position was the objectively correct one? I can’t think of one. This, to me, is clear evidence that objective morality doesn’t exist – if there were such a thing, we should be able to see it manifested at least once in a while. If objective moral truths exist but we’re not able to access them, then the issue of their existence is moot – either way, they’re irrelevant to our lives.

    Proponents often refer to moral issues where there is broad consensus as evidence of objective moral truths but why would consensus imply objectivity? Consensus has changed on many moral issues over time so this would not seem to be a reliable measure of objectivity. Also, how broad does the consensus have to be in order to be considered objective? At what point does a majority view get elevated to objectivity?

    Reply
    • TR says:

      Consensus has nothing to do with whether something exists or not. Just because the majority of Germans in 1945 thought killing Jews was beneficial for society, it did not make it good or right. Yes culture can evolve and change, but it only gets closer or further from the truth and we know this by the effects, not the consensus. Believing it does not make it so. I also have to disagree with you on objective truth being irrelevant, I think it is essential. Unfortunately, we only tend to realize this after the fact once the effects have been enough for us to change our perspective. We ebb and flow as a culture and society towards and away from truth. Then as usual, we forget our mistakes of the past and repeat them again learning nothing from history.

      Reply
      • KR says:

        TR wrote: “Just because the majority of Germans in 1945 thought killing Jews was beneficial for society, it did not make it good or right.”

        Indeed – that was kind of my point. Consensus is not evidence of objective morality. Do you have anything else you would like to present as evidence that objective morality exists?

        “Yes culture can evolve and change, but it only gets closer or further from the truth and we know this by the effects, not the consensus.”

        And how do we objectively assess the effects?

        “I also have to disagree with you on objective truth being irrelevant, I think it is essential.”

        You missed my point twice over:

        1. My argument isn’t against objective truth, it’s against objective moral truth – big difference.

        2. I didn’t say that objective morality is irrelevant, I said it’s irrelevant if we can’t access it. If you disagree with this, can you please explain how objective moral values are relevant if we have no way of knowing what they are? If you do think we can know what they are, can you explain how – and also how we can determine that they are indeed objective rather than subjective?

        Reply
        • TR says:

          We know them. By their effects. If it is self-destructive or destructive to others it seems it would be morally wrong in an objective sense. Let’s take an issue of today like abortion, you can justify why killing babies for convenience is okay, that does not make it right.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            “seems it would be morally wrong in an objective sense” isn’t really good enough, is it? If it’s objectively true, it should be demonstrable . That’s kind of what the word means – something that’s based on facts rather than emotions or preferences. Let’s say I find the idea of forcing a woman to carry to term against her will more abhorrent than the abortion of a fetus. Now demonstrate why I’m objectively wrong.

        • TR says:

          You can see my reply to Andy Ryan below, I think that sums up my position. I know you may not agree with it, but I do not think from a materialistic atheistic perspective you can refute it either.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            I think Andy did a pretty good job responding to your reply. I’d just like to add that if you claim that there are objective moral truths, it’s not my job to refute your claim – it’s your job to justify it. That’s how the burden of proof works. We seem to agree that the fact that there are some moral positions where there’s a broad consensus does not make those positions objective. You also, as far as I can see, haven’t provided any examples where moral disagreements were resolved by a demonstration of what the objectively correct position is.

            I tend to go where the evidence leads me and I’ve seen no evidence that there’s any such thing as objective moral values. What I do see is various forms of democratic systems where moral conflicts are solved through an entirely subjective political process. My conclusion is that the most parsimonious explanation for the lack of evidence for objective morality and the observation that we apparently can set up moral frameworks through a completely subjective process is that objective moral values are at best irrelevant and at worst non-existent.

  2. Bob Seidensticker says:

    “DOES DISAGREEMENT PROVE THERE ARE NO OBJECTIVE MORAL TRUTHS?”

    Not necessarily. But either there are no objective moral truths or their not reliably accessible by humans. Either way, the idea of objective moral truths is useless. Stop making the claim.

    Reply
    • Brian says:

      Bob – It seems to me that your contention that “either there are no objective moral truths or their[sic] not reliably accessible by humans” cannot be objectively or empirically supported. If I am incorrect (in the objective sense), please help me out by providing the data.

      Reply
      • TGM says:

        Brian, do you have an example of a objective moral value? If so, would you mind sharing what it is and explain, step-wise, how you came to the conclusion that it was objective? And could you please hold my hand on this one… I’m not very smart. Thanks!

        Reply
  3. Kalmaro says:

    I find most people who do not believe in objective morality become converts when something horrible happens to them or they see atrocities performed against others.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Funnily enough, that’s often the point believers say ‘No benevolent God could allow this to happen’. And if those atrocities are truly terrible, why wouldn’t they be terrible still if God didn’t exist? You’re the one saying they’re not actually so bad in a Godless universe, not us.

      Reply
  4. TR says:

    No one is saying they are not terrible, just that the atheist has no grounds for saying they are bad if morality is based on merely subjective opinion and culture. He cannot like it, he can disagree, but he has no ground to condemn Stalin’s Soviet Union as wrong or terrible if morality is based solely on culture and subjective opinion. What makes his opinion better than the opinion of the majority in soviet Russia during that time?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      That Stalin killed millions and made millions suffer is an objective fact. If you deny that what he did is terrible then I want to know what definition of terrible you’re working on. Why is what he did terrible if a God exists but not terrible if there is no God? Surely it was either terrible or it wasn’t, irrespective of a God’s existence?

      Reply
      • TR says:

        You are so enmeshed in a Judeo-Christian underpinning to society that you think you can just take it away and nothing would change or maybe the world would even be better? Every society that has tried this ends up with blood in the streets. We see this throughout history because something has to fill the vaccum and it is never positive. We see this currently in North Korea right now, but there are a 100 million casualties throughout history where atheism takes over and the state becomes god and millions die. You can even see this starting with the fascist left in the U.S. right now trying to shut down any political conversation or free speech they do not like, even when it has to do with genetic and biological realities and they are trying to force people to ignore these realities and use certain language based on their subjective views of themselves and anyone who disagrees has their character attacked and many times forced to pay financially or with their careers being jeopardized. This is an effect of the rise of the “nones” and atheism growing more popular. Government always becomes god and is used as a club against those who disagree. By the way notice they are the ones forcing others to do what they want, not the other way around. So why is all of this wrong in an objective sense? I said this above, but I’ll say it again, we know by the effects. If something is self-destructive or destructive to others or relationships with others it is morally wrong, regardless of how popular it may be for the majority. Why, because humans have value, not because of what they do or what benefit they bring, but because they are made in the image of God. Materialistic atheism denies this and can’t explain this, in an objective sense anyway, just preference. However, no atheist lives this way.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “You can even see this starting with the fascist left in the U.S. right now trying to shut down any political conversation or free speech they do not like”

          TR, it’s the Christian right trying to do this, not the left. Their big current campaign is protesting about a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, calling it a ‘snuff play’! This is because the producers have made Caesar a Trump-like character. During the last administration another production made him an Obama figure and no-one on the left complained. Want another example? Ted Nugent talked about shooting Obama and Trump invited him to the White House. Kathy Griffin posed for a tasteless image holding the severed head of Trump and everyone on the right called for her to be sacked.

          “We see this currently in North Korea right now” – that’s Communism, not atheism. The Nazis tied themselves to Christianity and killed millions.

          “This is an effect of the rise of the “nones” and atheism growing more popular”
          Weird how the murder rate is so much higher in American than Europe, when the latter has a far higher proportion of ‘nones’.

          All that aside, you completely avoid my question. Here you go again:

          Why is what Stain did terrible if a God exists but not terrible if there is no God? Surely it was either terrible or it wasn’t, irrespective of a God’s existence?

          Reply
          • TR says:

            I thought I did answer it: “Why, because humans have value, not because of what they do or what benefit they bring, but because they are made in the image of God. Materialistic atheism denies this and can’t explain this, in an objective sense anyway, just preference. However, no atheist lives this way.”

            I agree that Kathy Griffin should not get her career destroyed over what she did. Many may not agree with that, but I do. I think what she did was stupid and it should be pointed out as such, but her whole career (what was left of it anyway) should not be destroyed. I would say this push to oust her still came more from the left than the right. They knew they would look too hypocritical if they did not punish her, that is why all the left networks she had contracts with dropped her. Also, Snoop Dog had a video shooting up the president and nothing happened and no one said a word, which I thought was interesting (political correctness perhaps?) I am also not a Trump supporter just to be clear, I think he does stupid things as well and we should all call him on it when he does. Sorry, but there is no way you can compare a few random examples, one of which was pushed by the left mores than the right which is the only reason it got any media coverage to the countless college protests of speakers of counter views (not all I agree with, but still they have a right to share their views) and the lefts bias in hollywood that has been well documented and how they shut down shows like Last Man Standing (which I did not watch, but apparently had good ratings) because of comments making fun of “safe spaces” and people needing to grow up. Communism always springs from atheism, you can’t deny that. Hitler was no Christian, here is some information I found to share: “The Nazi leadership made use of indigenous Germanic pagan imagery and ancient Roman symbolism in their propaganda. However, the use of pagan symbolism worried some Protestants.[39] Many Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler,[36] subscribed either to a mixture of pseudoscientific theories, particularly Social Darwinism,[40] or to mysticism and occultism, which was especially strong in the SS.[41][42] Central to both groupings was the belief in Germanic (white Nordic) racial superiority. The existence of a Ministry of Church Affairs, instituted in 1935 and headed by Hanns Kerrl, was hardly recognized by ideologists such as Alfred Rosenberg or by other political decision-makers.[43] A relative moderate, Kerrl accused dissident churchmen of failing to appreciate the Nazi doctrine of “Race, blood and soil” and gave the following explanation of the Nazi conception of “Positive Christianity,” telling a group of submissive clergy in 1937:[38] “In Hitler’s eyes, Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.”
            — Extract from Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, by Alan Bullock
            Many historians believed that Hitler and the Nazis intended to eradicate Christianity in Germany after winning victory in the war.[8][9]

            I guess maybe I am missing your point, you are saying why can’t something be wrong in the absence of a deity and I am saying without something outside of subjective human opinion (because we can disagree on these matters obviously) then it is all a matter of preference. It is not a matter of how, but why it exists in the first place. There is a moral code that we all know exists. We cannot use culture and majority opinion either, because those either get closer or further away from this moral standard and we usually know this in hindsight. We know morality by our reactions more than our actions. One may say it is okay to steal from his neighbor, but the minute it is done to him, he knows an injustice has been done. Why? If you say empathy, that again explains how, not why. After all, when the gazelle is eaten by the lion or when a lion kills another lion for territory, there has been no injustice done, why with the human being we inherently know this is not the case. If no God, no value, no meaning, no love, no free will, no reason. This is not me saying this, this is what Sartre, Nietzsche, Dawkins, Harris and others have said. Yet no one lives this way! If your worldview does not fit reality, maybe you have the wrong worldview.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Sorry, but there is no way you can compare a few random examples”

            They’re not random examples, they’re a clear pattern of the manufactured outrage of the right. And sorry from me, but your reference to the ‘fascistic left’ strikes me as absurd hyperbole. You can disavow Trump, but your lot elected him – he’s your guy, he represents you, if not the whole of America. He invited Ted Nugent to the WH as a VIP. That’s not a random example.

            “and how they shut down shows like Last Man Standing (which I did not watch, but apparently had good ratings) because of comments making fun of “safe spaces” and people needing to grow up”

            People on the right tried to get a boycott going for Hamilton because they didn’t like a cast member giving a pretty mild speech after a show addressed to VP Pence. Trump even said that theatre should be a safe space!

            You can cherry pick quotes or copy and paste from apologist websites about the Nazis, but Germany in the early 20th Century was overwhelmingly Christian. They fought in WWII wearing belt buckles saying “Gott mit uni” – (God with us). You can’t say they all suddenly converted to something else and you can’t say that the holocaust was only carried out by a tiny number of non-Christians. And don’t both playing ‘No true Scotsman’ with claims about what any ‘true’ Christian would do.

            “I am saying without something outside of subjective human opinion (because we can disagree on these matters obviously) then it is all a matter of preference”

            What stops it just being your preference to base morality on God’s nature? Why does God’s nature have to be ‘good’? Any argument that it is good is either circular or must itself be explained by another standard.

            “Many Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler,[36] subscribed either to a mixture of pseudoscientific theories, particularly Social Darwinism”

            The Christian right in America pushes social darwinism – that’s why my near namesake Ayn Rand is its hero. It hates any social net because it thinks it provides unnatural support to the ‘dregs of humanity’. Right wing commentators are terrified of substandard humans crossing into America and getting fat off the work of the smarter people. ‘Survival of the fittest’ originally comes from a description of free market economics.

            “One may say it is okay to steal from his neighbor, but the minute it is done to him, he knows an injustice has been done”

            Because he doesn’t like being stolen from! Are you saying that if no God existed he wouldn’t mind it? That sounds unlikely.

  5. Luke says:

    TR said: “No one is saying they are not terrible, just that the atheist has no grounds for saying they are bad if morality is based on merely subjective opinion and culture. ”

    This would be true if and only if it were also true that “only objectively bad things can be ‘said to be bad'”.

    Where’s the evidence for that?

    Of course, that’s also ignoring that it’s really quire easy to achieve an objective grounding for “bad” without a deity. For example “a thing which a perfectly rational mind would classify as ‘bad’ is ‘bad'” can work quite well. Obviously you can quibble with that (and people do) and lay out reasons that you don’t really think that works. (Just as others argue that a standard of deity offers no substantial ground since it’s dependent on a person, therefore subjective by definition.) It’s perfectly fine to quibble, but it’s not fine to ignore centuries of intellectual history and pretend ideas don’t exist.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  6. Andy Ryan says:

    “After all, when the gazelle is eaten by the lion or when a lion kills another lion for territory, there has been no injustice done, why with the human being we inherently know this is not the case”

    That just sounds like own-species bias. You’re a human so you care more about humans than gazelles or lions, the same way you probably care more about your immediate family than someone you never met starving to death in an African famine.
    And you’re making a leap from ‘Feels a great sense of injustice’ to ‘KNOWS that something is wrong’ and ‘KNOWS that objective morality exists’. All you can say that is the first – what the person feels. Your conclusion is begging the question.

    ” even when it has to do with genetic and biological realities and they are trying to force people to ignore these realities”

    There are some elements of the left who are anti-vaxers, and other new-agers on the left who trust in crystals and leylines etc, but that’s vastly outweighed by those in the right who deny the near scientific consensus on evolution, climate change, the age of the earth and the age of the universe. It’s the right who stick their fingers in their ears over science. The current administration ignores its own scientists in the EPA. Again, this is your lot – they represent you.

    Reply
    • TR says:

      All of the stuff I pulled on the Nazis was from Wikipedia, maybe not be the best source, but also not an apologetics site. I just want to know, honestly you feel that if the majority decides something it is okay then it is “right”? Islamists, racism in the south 100 years ago, Nazi Germany in 1940s? If you lived in those areas during those times it would be okay? I really am trying to understand your thinking. As far as I can see these things are self-evident. That does not mean society always gets them right though. As far as the science claim, I am not inline with many of those things you mentioned, but I am sure you may/or may not feel people can become whatever they want based on their subject feelings ignoring biological realities (and be able to force others to change their view of reality based o these subjective views of themselves)and that it is okay to kill babies out of convenience by ignoring biological facts of a human being and calling it just a bag of cells, and that there is “white privilege” “institutional racism”, “microaggressions”, etc. out there based on no evidence of any of these in today’s society. So the left ignores science and empirical data as well, they just have taken over academia and Hollywood and always speak in the name of “science”. Even Bill Nye “the science guy” shows that political correctness is more important to him these days than scientific and biological realities, not that he is a real scientist on the matters he discusses anyways (mechanical engineer). But his hypocrisy showed on genetics recently if you see a video he did years ago saying the exact opposite. This is the way I characterize the left – if you believe fairness of outcome is more important than equality of rights then you are on the left. Conservatism at root is about you taking responsibility for your own life and taking responsibility for your own actions. Limited government and personal responsibility. Once you say, “I am in control of my life whether I succeed or fail is up to me.” You are no longer on the left. The left says that society is out to stop you from doing that, that is why we must reconstruct society along Marxist lines. The right says look you are in a free country do what you want to do no one cares. Once you say to people that it’s their responsibility to do what they want, it’s both empowering and disempowering. It’s empowering in the sense that now they can do what they want, it’s disempowering in the sense that if they fail it’s their fault and that’s very scary, it’s very scary to a lot of people. I would even be willing to give you another objective truth. We all start in different spots in life. Some are richer, some are taller, some have alcoholic parents, etc. The Brookings Institute which is a left-leaning institute said there are 3 things you have to do to not be permanently poor in America. 1. Graduate High School 2. Get a job. 3. Don’t have children before you get married. That is it. Guess what those that do this see positive results, those that don’t see negative. I would say that is an objective fact no matter where you start, if you do that your life will be better than if you don’t. The #1 reason for poverty in the US is single motherhood and a big part of this is because everyone wants to have sexual feeedom without the responsibility, many of these boys need to grow up and be men. As far as the Hamilton thing, I agree no one should try to shut them down which I actually had not heard about that happening and if it was just Trump mouthing off that does not mean they were physically making attempts to shut it down, however the VP should be able to go out to a play with his wife without getting harassed by the cast also. Honestly most people just want to be left alone, in most instances it is the left trying to force others to do something, not the other way around. Sorry, but interrupting a person at dinner or an outting with their family is not the time to harass them about what they need to do and your disapproval. Do it through the proper channels. Anyway, back to our truth conversation, I am trying to be open, but just as KR did above, many times the atheist dodges the questions and says the burden of proof is on the theist. I disagree with this entirely because they make positive claims about the world, if they just lack a belief than we are only discussing their psychological state, but they make more positive claims about how the world is, yet keep moving the goal posts once they are called on it. I also find it interesting that this is a Christian site and I have multiple atheists interacting with me, which is great, I just wish more Christians were involved also. I am curious do you also talk to Muslims and are you conversing on their sites? Also, did you see the debate on this same topic between Alex O’Connor and Frank Turek. I just watched it today. I thought it was a good discussion and I felt Alex had some really good points that I think clarified some of the things you have been saying. Check it out if you haven’t. 25:00-48:00 I feel are Frank’s best arguments. Alex says we have to make several assumptions for atheism to work with this concept. 1. We can know the real world even though reason is brought through an unguided evolutionary process and 2. that human flourishing is a good thing. In my opinion Frank’s best points are at 26:00 to 29:00 and the quote from the atheist, Louise Antony at 37:40. Alex’s rebuttal was that we have to make some assumptions which the host said steps out of evolution. Anyway, would be curious on your thoughts.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b5a3MxIqZOs

      Reply
      • TGM says:

        What strikes me most about your reply TR is that you don’t really seem to understand your opponents’ arguments. Nor do you accurately represent their points in your rebuttal. I don’t want to get too deep into disputing your rant, time constraints alone preclude that, but I feel obliged to point out a few things. First, what’s with the Bill Nye hatred? You know… Einstein was a patent clerk. Was he unqualified to do physics? William Lane Craig is a philosopher… have you written to tell him it’s inappropriate for him to debate cosmology with Sean Carroll? People can learn more than one skill. Second, white privilege is actually a thing. People who reject it do not seem to understand why it’s a thing. Try talking to someone who struggles against it everyday. Third, who is calling fetuses “just a bag of cells?” For starters, we are all bags of cells, one of those “biological realities” you were undoubtedly referring to. But who exactly is saying that’s entirely what a person is? And finally, your political analysis is trite and full of the same bland talking points that has overrun our discourse. The entirety of the political spectrum is filled with far more depth and nuance than either side admits. My staunchest right wing friends have bent over backwards to accommodate the gender spectrum and my most committed leftist friends acknowledge the realities of firearms and weaknesses in Marxism. Without even realizing it, you are probably in 90% agreement with those you would consider your political opponents. Try to find some perspective. Now, I have a question for you… why is it important that there be an objective morality? Or, perhaps I might ask how it makes any practical difference whether there is, in fact, an objective moral code in this world? Salut.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “you don’t really seem to understand your opponents’ arguments”
          Certainly TR has misunderstood the issues around transgenderism, to pick one.
          The claim isn’t ‘we can pick and choose new genders for ourselves in defiance of reality’. Rather it rests on two positions, neither of which strike me as unreasonable or even that unlikely:
          1) There are mental differences between men and women alongside the physical differences.
          2) A person could get a male body but a ‘female brain’.
          Now, I’m pretty sure that Conservative Christians actually AGREE with position 1. It tends to be more liberals who claim that it’s just conditioning that means, say, boys like to shoot guns while girls play with dolls. So that leaves position 2. To deny that would be to ignore hundreds of other genetic faults or variants that we see in humans. So if a woman says she’s convinced she has a male brain and there is, in fact, a man in the wrong body, not only do I not see that as ‘denying reality’, I don’t think I’m even on a strong ground to say she (or in fact he) is not correct.

          “Once you say, “I am in control of my life whether I succeed or fail is up to me.” ”
          If you’re stuck in a burning house, you’re depending on firefighters to save your life. Your protection also depends on the police force, on the armed forces. And many others. Every time you drive, a thousand regulations are protecting you. That’s all paid for by taxes. And a thousand forces outside of your control can take success away from you. Pretending that every successful person achieved it in a vacuum and every person who doesn’t reach success is to blame, strikes me as pretty peculiar.

          But all this political talk reminds me that many Christian apologists are basically using particular religious dogma or interpretations of a faith merely to back up political positions. In the greatest of ironies it’s often being used to justify selfishness and social darwinism.

          “If you lived in those areas during those times it would be okay?”
          Not to me, no. I believe in equality and fairness. I would do so even in the face of a God who did not. Isn’t your position that if God told you Hitler was right, then you wouldn’t think “Oh no, it turns out God has horrible views” but instead “Oh well, I guess killing Jews WAS the right thing to do then”?

          Reply
        • TR says:

          No Bill Nye hatred, just why not represent himself as an engineer. If you watch his video on genetics years ago he says the complete opposite. There have been no scientific findings to conclude what is said today. The only thing I am doing is saying than everything is a matter of preference if there is no objective truth claims, but no one lives that way. You make objective truth claims everyday. By even saying there is no objective truth you are making an objective truth claim, it is self-defeating. You can say I don’t understand the arguments, but I feel you cherry pick what you like and what you don’t as an atheist. Also the cosmological argument is more philosophical in nature than scientific. Like the multiverse theory is based on no scientific evidence but inquiry of what could be…that is far more in the realm of philosophy than science. As far as white privilege. Give me an example. I am not denying that people start out positioned in different places and that racism of the past still effects African Americans and other groups today or that there are individual racists today, but the most prosperous and economic group in the US is Asians. If you take into account single motherhood when looking at poverty the racial disparities get much, much closer. The fact is my kids will not have the advantages and privileges Lebron James or Colin Powell’s kids have. That has nothing to do with race, which by the way only works in a free market. I do not think they owe me anything and I shouldn’t. Neither should Bill Gates or his family. So what is an example of white privilege or institutional racism today? As an atheist is individual racism objectively wrong?

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “The only thing I am doing is saying than everything is a matter of preference if there is no objective truth claims”

            No-one here, or Bill Nye, has at any point denied that objective truth exists. You talked about ‘objective MORALITY’, which is not the same thing at all, and I’ve yet to see evidence that objective morality exists, or even that it is an intelligible concept.

            “but the most prosperous and economic group in the US is Asians”
            What’s that got to do with whether white privilege exists?

          • TGM says:

            Regarding Objective Truth: cf. Andy’s reply. Is TR short for troll? Because now it looks like you are deliberately misunderstanding.
            Regarding Cherry Picking: Huh? What are you referring to? You say 20 things and because I only have time/interest to address 5 of them I am cherry picking. Ok. Next time, only say 5 things and I’ll expose fully 100% of the nonsense instead of 20%.
            Regarding White Privilege: White privilege should not be confused with privilege. This is a common misunderstanding. But as for what white privilege is, do your own homework: start with Wikipedia, but don’t stop there. I’m white and frankly it’s mildly inappropriate for me to white-splain white privilege.
            Regarding Racism: It is my opinion that racism is wrong. What does it mean to say it’s objectively wrong? That sort of depends on how we speak of right and wrong. Right and wrong in a vacuum are meaningless. They only have usefulness in terms of some sort of value. So when we speak of right and wrong… with respect to what? If we take the position espoused by many that right and wrong only have meaning with respect to human well being, then yes… racism is objectively wrong. And, unlike the theistic notions of right and wrong, this type of objective morality can be demonstrated, tested, evaluated, and improved.

          • toby says:

            I don’t know about TR, but I’ve always thought the only use of objective morality is for judgement how hot someone will be in their afterlife. For practical purposes it has little value because we get along fine with subjective morality.

          • TGM says:

            Agreed Toby. I’m really surprised that nobody seems capable of telling me why objective values are so important. I mean… they sure talk about them a lot, but never in the context of why it’s so vital that they exist. It’s an honest and fair question, I think. I must conclude that the only reason OMVs matter is for Judgment purposes. This, to me, is fatal for the apologist. Because if objective morality is only relevant for Judgment, then it is utterly useless as an apologetic when non-believers don’t think they are going to be judged in the first place. And remember, the moral arguments are the go-to arguments for Christians – every debate eventually comes around to morality. The conclusion I happily draw, then, is that moral apologetics exist only to reassure believers, the queasy flock who might begin to wonder what’s behind the curtain.

          • toby says:

            TGM, at least theists could give a reason to follow objective moral values if they acknowledged that they’re only use is judgement.

            Why follow them? Because otherwise you’re just hell fodder!

  7. Luke says:

    I just want to test something.

    Specifically, if it’s possible to enter line breaks on this site.

    Whose idea was it to make the site so difficult to read?
    I don’t think it was a good one.
    Oh well…

    Reply
  8. Luke says:

    TR, I have a comment and a question.

    You said: ” I just want to know, honestly you feel that if the majority decides something it is okay then it is ;right’?”

    Literally no one says this. Even “normative moral relativists” limit themselves to the claim that we should tolerate behavior that goes against our own morals, not that such behavior is ‘right’ in any sense. Again, literally no one believes this (because frankly, it would be really hard to put this in any sort of thought system that makes sense.) I am not sure if you just haven’t yet understood the various positions others hold, or if you’re setting up a deliberate straw man, but I don’t think it does you (or anyone) much good.

    Now my question. You said: “Islamists [sic], racism in the south 100 years ago, Nazi Germany in 1940s? If you lived in those areas during those times it would be okay? I really am trying to understand your thinking. As far as I can see these things are self-evident.”

    (First of all, racism in the northern US should not somehow get a pass. We should also not somehow act as if racism is a thing of the past. That does nothing but support racism.)

    If you grew up in the antebellum South, do you think it would have been self-evident to you that slavery was wrong?
    If you grew in Nazi Germany, do you think it would have been self-evident to you that anti-Semitism was wrong?
    If you grew up in Saudi Arabia, do you think it would have been self-evident to you that anything but equal rights for women was wrong?

    I could go on, but i think you see the point of my inquiry. Think of something you consider self-evidently wrong and picture yourself as growing up among it. Do you think it would still be self-evidently wrong to you? In every case?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  9. Andy Ryan says:

    TR, I’ll pick one more point out of your long post. Lack of paragraph breaks make it hard to pick out more (I know spaces in between lines aren’t possible on this site, but your posts would be easier to read if you at least hit ‘return’ a few times).

    “1. Graduate High School 2. Get a job. 3. Don’t have children before you get married. That is it. Guess what those that do this see positive results, those that don’t see negative. I would say that is an objective fact no matter where you start”

    Yet the right refuse to back methods shown to work in reducing teen pregnancy – thorough sex education that starts young, and access to contraception. That these methods are effective is also an objective fact, yet the right spurns them in favour of ‘abstinence education’ (which is less effective in reducing teen pregnancy) and cutting funding for family planning. Teen pregnancy rates are far lower in Western Europe than in America – do you really think this mean Americans are much more dedicated to pursuing sexual freedom than Europeans? It seems more likely we can instead thank Europe’s easier access to contraception and sex education that starts younger and is more thorough. Is the Christian right interested in adopting these policies? No. Is the Christian right genuinely interested in reducing teen pregnancy rates? It doesn’t appear so.

    Reply
  10. TR says:

    Sorry about the difficulty to read, I typed in on my phone which makes it even more difficult. You barely touched on anything I said. If there is a difference in psychology and biology shouldn’t we not work with the psychology. I agree that attachment styles and gender stereotypes can play a role, but this does not mean we should start mutilating children who are confused and 80% or above will grow out of this by the time they reach adulthood. I think we are doing these individuals a disservice by causing them to do irreversible damage to themselves instead of helping them with their emotional and psychological difficulties. This is what the American Academy of Pedriatrics stance is on this issue. We need to help these individuals and yes this is a new phenomenon, but I do not think we are going down the right road and this shows with no change in the suicide rate after surgery.

    I do think we can do more with sex education, however as far as access to contraceptives. Can one not afford a few packs of condoms that should last a while, unless they have a real problem. Access is not the problem. Any local drug store/ Walmart will carry these for a reasonable price.
    As far as your points on firefighters, police, etc., that is the role of government to protect to protect the rights of its citizens. Right to safety, property, etc.
    If you are talking about positive vs. negative rights we can go there. As far as capitalism, wealth is made by voluntary exchanges on the free market. Anytime government takes over and regulates more inequality occurs. You can see this in Venezuela which was one of the most prosperous countries until they adopted socialism. Now people are standing in line for hours for bread and eating dogs in the streets.
    So are you on Muslim sites as well? Also, you never commented on the video..any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “If there is a difference in psychology and biology shouldn’t we not work with the psychology”
      It could be a physical difference in the brain, so wouldn’t be a case of giving someone therapy to ‘get over it’. Point stands that it’s not a case of ‘denying biology’ – you’re mischaracterising the other side’s position.

      “Can one not afford a few packs of condoms that should last a while, unless they have a real problem. Access is not the problem”
      The fact remains that it reduces teen pregnancy levels. Either you think that’s a desirable outcome or you don’t.

      “You can see this in Venezuela”
      I’ve noticed the hard right in America like to concentrate very hard on Venezuela and ignore the whole of Western Europe, which is far more socialist that America and in general enjoys better healthcare and longevity, lower murder rates and obesity and the aforementioned lower teen pregnancy.

      “So are you on Muslim sites as well?”
      I’ve answered a lot of your questions, TR, and these political diversions are way off the topic. Discussing other websites I visit are even further from the point. I haven’t had time to view the video, though I’ve watched several of Frank’s debates in the past. Go back on the site and you can see many of my answers/rebuttals of his posts and videos.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Anytime government takes over and regulates more inequality occurs”
      So forcing cafes to serve black people has the effect of increasing inequality?

      This libertarian outlook is a perfect example of white privilege. The idea that businesses should be allowed to discriminate along the lines of race or sexuality or whatever almost always coming from well off straight white men. The people claiming “the free market will punish such businesses!” are very unlikely ever to be in groups denied service by any shops. They have no idea what that would be like. And pointing to successful black people in show business, sport or politics is a poor way of pretending there’s no racism in America. One black guy becomes President, but the right spent almost his entire tenure claiming he wasn’t actually American. And then the right elected as President the cheerleader of those very ‘Not really American’ claims.

      Reply
  11. TR says:

    I never said there was no racism in America. I said there is no institutional racism or laws against those of particular races in America. If there are please point those out and I will fight them with you. Also I am half Hispanic just so you know and my Hispanic family has been more successful in economic terms than my white side of the family. I know I can’t take the specific to the general, but my full-blooded mom,uncles, aunts and grandparents would disagree with everything you claim and they grew up in a time when there were racist laws on the books.
    All I am asking for is evidence and honesty and no one brings any, just accusations and hypotheses. You have yet to answer many of my questions and you guys are trolling this site and you keep dodging my Muslim question for good reason. I have found very few atheists that will go after Islam, why because they want the same thing (for now anyways)..tear down western democracy built on Judeo-Christian values.
    (Also, I am not putting all democrats as leftist, but the most outspoken tend to be.) Nevermind their ideology teaches violence and not like the OT against a group during that time, but towards any non-believers today and forward(and no I am not saying all muslims are Islamist) Many are literally killing people of different faiths or non-faiths and are throwing LGBT people off buildings, yet not a word is said from the atheist community. Hitchens did,but that is about it. I cannot continue to converse with 3 or 4 of you who are not willing to face facts and are eating up way too much of my time. Here are a few short videos I will post that destroy all your arguments, including the one with Frank above, though I doubt you will watch them. Many atheists listen to both of these men, so I hope you will give it a chance, if not maybe it will help an open-minded individual in here somewhere.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gkONHNXGfaM

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zGaEcAeTiP0

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OYfP0m76V8U

    Best of luck.

    Reply
    • KR says:

      TR wrote: “I have found very few atheists that will go after Islam”

      You can’t have been looking very hard, then. Of course atheists go after Islam – why wouldn’t they when they’re being hacked to death by muslim zealots in the streets of Bangladesh? Atheists like Sam Harris and Bill Maher have been so outspoken against Islamic fundamentalism that they’ve been accused of islamophobia.

      “… why because they want the same thing (for now anyways)..tear down western democracy built on Judeo-Christian values.”

      What utter nonsense. Atheists want to tear down democracy??? Where on earth are you getting this from? I appreciate that you stand up for democracy, though. You do realize that it’s a completely subjective system for setting up the moral guidelines (i.e. laws) that we live by? Kind of cuts the legs out from under your argument for objective moral values, doesn’t it?

      You’re complaining that these discussions are taking up too much of your time but you expect us to sit through a bunch of videos? If you think someone in those videos is making a good argument, just present it and I’d be happy to discuss it but I’ll pass on the “argument by YouTube link”.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “I never said there was no racism in America. I said there is no institutional racism or laws against those of particular races in America”
      This week a policeman got cleared for shooting a black guy who had committed no crimes. The black guy had gun that he own legally. He told the cop he had the gun. He got shot. The cop got off scot free. No word from the NRA on this, by the away. This kind of thing happens all the time in America. It always seems to happen to black people, never to white. It goes unnoticed by you because it doesn’t affect you.

      Your Muslim question is completely irrelevant to any of your arguments here – it’s pure ad hominem. As KR said, you say we’re taking up your time but then you keep trying to change the subject and discuss completely irrelevant subjects.
      For the record, I defend Western Democracy and its ideals. I defend it from any theists who wish to turn the West into a theocracy, whether they be Christian or Muslim. If that sounds like hyperbole, I include in that any attempts to move it even a bit into that direction. The founding fathers quite deliberately made the constitution a secular document. Right now wouldn’t you agree that Christians have more power in America than Muslims? That aside, if you have any Muslim apologetic arguments you’d like me to address, go ahead and present them.
      I’m still waiting for evidence for objective morality, by the way.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      By the way, we’re not all atheists here – Luke is a theist. He has posted on this thread several times and you’ve not addressed any of his points. This is a common theme for poor Luke – the other theists ignore him. It’s a great shame as he always has very interesting questions.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *