Islamic Terror, Homosexuality, & the Consequences of Ideas

By Tim Stratton

Sunday morning I awoke to horrific news on my Facebook feed: an Islamic terrorist brutally gunned down over fifty of our fellow human beings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This broke my heart and made me extremely angry! I cannot imagine the sorrow, pain, and anguish the friends and family members of the deceased victims are currently experiencing. This was an objectively evil act – it was wrong!

As soon as I read the headlines and processed the fact that evil has once again reared its ugly head, I told my wife what was going to happen next. Like clockwork, people were going to insist that “religion is the problem,” or that “guns are the problem.” The statements made on social media over the past few hours have validated my prediction. In this article I will examine both of these statements and offer a third option that must be considered if we are to extinguish terror, hate, and evil.

“Religion is the Problem!”

Since 9-11, many atheists have pontificated, “Religion is what’s wrong in the world today.” They conclude that since Muslims were behind the terror attacks on September the 11th, 2001, and Islam is a religion, then religion is to blame for the terror in the world today. This attempt at an argument can be written in the following syllogism:

1- Islam is responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.
2- Islam is a religion.
3- Therefore, religion is responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.

This argument fails as it commits the logical fallacy of composition. This error involves an assumption that what is true about one part of something must be applied to all, or other parts of it. In this case, the atheist assumes that since one particular religion affirms terror, then all religions affirm terror.

If one were to allow this argument to pass, then we could jump to all kinds of crazy conclusions. For example, according to several reports I read following the terror attack in Orlando, the terrorist was a registered Democrat. If one allows the above argument to pass, then the following argument would suffice as well:

1- The terrorist responsible for murdering homosexuals in the gay nightclub was a registered Democrat.
2- Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are Democrats.
3- Therefore, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are responsible for the murders of homosexuals in the gay nightclub.

Obviously this is ridiculous and such reasoning is incoherent. Reasonable people will reject such “conclusions.” Thus, a reasonable person will reject the so-called “conclusion” that, “religion is the problem with the world today.” This is explicitly demonstrated when surveying other religions and world views.

Take the religion of Christianity, for example. A necessary condition for one to be a legitimate Christian is that they desire, and strive, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus are clearly contradictory to the teachings of Muhammad and Islam. Sure, the two religions share some overlapping beliefs: Christians and Muslims all agree, for example, that the universe began to exist and was caused and created by an enormously powerful Intelligent Designer, but they begin to part ways soon after. The final teachings from both of these religions are quite different with Muhammad commanding Muslims to kill all infidels (non-Muslims) in the Quran, and Jesus commanding his followers to love all people, from their neighbors (Mark 12:31) to their enemies (Matthew 5:44), in the Bible. Moreover, according to Islam, those in the LGB community are to be executed. According to Jesus, however, although homosexual acts go against God’s plan, the ones committing these homosexual acts are to be loved!

Let me repeat myself: According to the law of Christ found in the New Testament, homosexual acts are sinful, but homosexuals are to be LOVED! Click here for more!

“Guns are the Problem!”

Many others in America today see horrendous headlines of Islamic terror and immediately jump to the hasty conclusion that guns are the real problem. The error with this line of thinking is that it does not take into consideration all of the other means by which evil people can accomplish their evil plans. After all, the Nazis used poisonous gas to kill millions of Jews, the Ku Klux Klan used rope to hang African Americans, Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill 168 people, and Islamic terrorists killed thousands of Americans on 9-11 without firing a single bullet.

If one thinks banning guns is going to stop hate crimes, then, to be consistent, they must also strive to ban all gas, rope, fertilizer, and airplanes too. This is obviously ridiculous as well, as the real problem does not lie within the tools that an evil man uses to accomplish his evil desires, but the desires of the evil man. If all guns, rope, fertilizer, and airplanes were banished from the face of the earth, these evil men would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans. This is a much bigger problem.

Ideas are the Problem!

These evil desires typically stem from previously held ideas. The way one thinks directly leads to the way one acts, and the way one believes directly influences the way he behaves. You see, the problem is not all religions, all guns, all rope, all fertilizer, or all airplanes. The problem is ALLbeliefs, thoughts, and ideas that do not correspond to reality.

Ideas have consequences, and ideas that do not correspond to reality have painful consequences. These underlying ideas are referred to as one’s worldview. A worldview is a foundational set of beliefs that ultimately influence all other beliefs built upon this foundation.

Consider the worldview (or idea) of atheism. It is vitally important to understand what consistent atheism logically implies: If God does not exist, then there is nothing objectively good, bad, right, wrong, fair, or evil with anything! Watch this short video to understand exactly why this is true. It logically follows that if naturalistic atheism is true, then there is nothing really wrong with the Islamic terrorist shooting homosexuals at the gay nightclub in Orlando this past weekend. Moreover, if naturalistic atheism is true, this Muslim had no choice in the matter, as the laws of physics and chemistry forced this poor terrorist to believe and behave exactly as he did. It was simply not his fault.

To make matters worse for atheists, history is not on their side. This past century has provided evidence as to the consequences of following atheistic ideas, as the nations governed according to these ideals usually end in suffering and mass human slaughter. The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest,” has caused devastating collisions with the reality of morality; human suffering and death followed on a massive scale.

If naturalistic atheism were true, then there would be nothing really wrong, bad, or evil with any action and there would be no ability to make moral choices. Couple that with the historical fact that communistic governments officially adopting atheism (or being influenced by it) make all murders under the umbrella of “religion” pale in comparison. Why would anyone want to hold to an incoherent worldview like atheism over the ideas of Jesus teaching all people to love all people? Can you imagine a world where everyone loves everyone? That sounds like heaven to me — maybe Jesus was on to something!

So, if you are keeping score, here is a quick recap: In regards to the terrorist attacks at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida this past weekend, here is what each worldview affirms; or rather, here are the consequences that follow from each set of ideas:

1- Consistent Islam: this attack was GOOD as Muhammad’s final commands were to kill the infidels (Take five minutes to understand by clicking here).

2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks. In fact, on naturalistic atheism it is unavoidable. Terrorists are therefore not responsible for their actions.

3- Consistent Christianity: this attack was objectively WRONG and EVIL! According to the law of Christ, all humans are commanded to love all humans (even the ones we disagree with). According to Jesus, we are to love everyone from our neighbors to our enemies. Thus, one who consistently follows the teachings of Jesus will demonstrate love to all people (even the ones he disagrees with)!

Is there a best choice option? Yes there is. The one supported by all of the evidence and the same one commanding us to love!

Bottom line: If you agree that these Islamic terror attacks against homosexuals at the gay nightclub were objectively wrong and evil, then, to be logically consistent, you must reject atheism, Islam, or any other view that disagrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5) and love one another (John 13:34-35),

Tim Stratton


Notes

To learn more about Islamic terror and Jihad, begin by reading this article by Timothy Fox reviewing the book of the former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward.

Original article: http://freethinkingministries.com/islamic-terror-homosexuality-the-consequences-of-ideas/

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99 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “If all guns, rope, fertilizer, and airplanes were banished from the face of the earth, these evil men would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans.”

    So you don’t oppose Iran or North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, on the basis that even without them they would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans?

    “The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest”

    Hitler quoted himself as being influenced by his religious faith far more than ‘survival of the fittest’.

    What’s more, in your last blog, you explicitly said that God may have allowed HItler’s holocaust because it led to you becoming a Christian. In other words you were saying it was for the greater good. It follows from that that you believe Hitler was doing God’s work, which Hitler also believed. In fact Hitler’s justification for slaughtering Jews was exactly the same as the justification you gave for the massacre of the Canaanites.

    Reply
    • Timothy Stratton says:

      //So you don’t oppose Iran or North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, on the basis that even without them they would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans?//

      Andy, once again you have completely missed the point and put words in my mouth. This is starting to become a normal tactic for you. Our initial conversations didn’t seem to be like this. It is too bad you have devolved to this level. The main point, which you don’t seem to grasp, is that the reasons nuclear weapons are dangerous in the hands of Iran and North Korea is because they hold to the ideology of Islam and atheism respectively! The Islamic rulers of Iran believe they have a moral obligation to Allah to nuke the infidels because they really believe the Quran is true, and the communistic rulers of North Korea seem to really believe atheism is true, which means they see nothing *really* wrong with nuking anyone who disagrees with them. Both of these bad ideas have bad consequences!

      Read my article again, Andy! I argued that the real problem – the main problem – is the ideas people hold. Consistent Islam and *consistent* atheism both do not or cannot condemn Islamic terrorists killing infidels (non-Muslims) as objectively wrong! Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, can and does condemn these terror attacks as objectively/really wrong. This is why I ended my article by saying: “If you agree that these Islamic terror attacks against homosexuals at the gay nightclub were objectively wrong and evil, then, to be logically consistent, you must reject atheism, Islam, or any other view that disagrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!”

      You quoted a snippet of my article: “The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest”
      You said, //Hitler quoted himself as being influenced by his religious faith far *more* than ‘survival of the fittest’.//

      Thank you for making my point, Andy! You admit that Hitler was indeed influenced by “survival of the fittest.” That is my point and it is irrelevant if he was influenced by other things to a greater degree or not. The fact remains: Hitler was influenced by the idea of naturalistic survival of the fittest at some level. Thank you for agreeing with me.

      What is interesting is that you completely ignored the atheistic ideology of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao in the same sentence. That is probably because you are an atheist just like they were.
      //What’s more, in your last blog, you explicitly said that God *may* have allowed HItler’s holocaust [for a relatively short time] because it led to you [and millions upon millions of others] becoming a Christian [and experiencing eternal flourishing].//

      Andy, I added the words in brackets as to not be taken out of context. In my last article I provided TEN reasons as to why the Canaanite objection is faulty. Here it is: http://freethinkingministries.com/ten-problems-with-the-canaanite-objection/

      I do not argue that all ten have to be true simultaneously either, but if only one of the ten is true, then the objection fails. You are alluding to one *possible* option I listed (which is not my primary view but a logical possibility): The 9th point I offered was this: “9- Given God’s property of omniscience and perfect intelligence, God makes the best decision in every scenario and situation [given His purpose of eternal human flourishing]. God would know what would happen if He did not issue the commands to destroy the Canaanites.”God also would know what would happen if He allowed humans (including Hitler) to make horrible and evil free choices. I simply offered a thought experiment that may or may not be true, but it is at least logically and possibly true.

      Andy, if you want to get into all other kinds of other topics then we can discuss your ad hoc taxi cab fallaciousness regarding your complete opposition to any supernatural thing I have ever provided logical argumentation for, but you are now affirming an *infinite* amount of other supernatural things except for God – anything but God! I’d rather discuss the fact that your worldview of atheism is morally bankrupt, as you cannot condemn the murders of the LGBT community at the gay nightclub as objectively (really) wrong. As a Christian, I can and do condemn these acts as really wrong and evil! I argue that we have a genuine ability to make a real free choice not to behave like this (you cannot), and I argue that we have an objective obligation not to behave like this (you cannot).

      Here is my article making this case in more detail: http://freethinkingministries.com/an-ought-from-an-is/

      You said that Hitler believed he was doing God’s work. As you noted, Hitler was influenced by both “the religion of father,” and atheistic naturalism’s survival of the fittest. In regards to the “religion of his father,” the logical question that must be raised is this: what exactly was his father teaching him? If he claimed it was Christianity (following the teachings of Christ), then what teachings of Jesus would lead to a holocaust? I’d love to see a logical argument making that case! This is why my article specifically deals with CONSISTENT Islam, CONSISTENT atheism, and CONSISTENT Christianity.

      Reply
    • Timothy Stratton says:

      Andy, once again you have completely missed the point and put words in my mouth. This is starting to become a normal tactic for you. Our initial conversations didn’t seem to be like this. It is too bad you have devolved to this level. The main point, which you don’t seem to grasp, is that the reasons nuclear weapons are dangerous in the hands of Iran and North Korea is because they hold to the ideology of Islam and atheism respectively! The Islamic rulers of Iran believe they have a moral obligation to Allah to nuke the infidels because they really believe the Quran is true, and the communistic rulers of North Korea seem to really believe atheism is true, which means they see nothing *really* wrong with nuking anyone who disagrees with them. Both of these bad ideas have bad consequences!

      Read my article again, Andy! I argued that the real problem – the main problem – is the ideas people hold. Consistent Islam and *consistent* atheism both do not or cannot condemn Islamic terrorists killing infidels (non-Muslims) as objectively wrong! Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, can and does condemn these terror attacks as objectively/really wrong. This is why I ended my article by saying: “If you agree that these Islamic terror attacks against homosexuals at the gay nightclub were objectively wrong and evil, then, to be logically consistent, you must reject atheism, Islam, or any other view that disagrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!”

      You quoted a snippet of my article: “The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest”
      You said, //Hitler quoted himself as being influenced by his religious faith far *more* than ‘survival of the fittest’.//

      Thank you for making my point, Andy! You admit that Hitler was indeed influenced by “survival of the fittest.” That is my point and it is irrelevant if he was influenced by other things to a greater degree or not. The fact remains: Hitler was influenced by the idea of naturalistic survival of the fittest at some level. Thank you for agreeing with me.

      What is interesting is that you completely ignored the atheistic ideology of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao in the same sentence. That is probably because you are an atheist just like they were.
      //What’s more, in your last blog, you explicitly said that God *may* have allowed HItler’s holocaust [for a relatively short time] because it led to you [and millions upon millions of others] becoming a Christian [and experiencing eternal flourishing].//

      Andy, I added the words in brackets as to not be taken out of context. In my last article I provided TEN reasons as to why the Canaanite objection is faulty. Here it is: http://freethinkingministries.com/ten-problems-with-the-canaanite-objection/
      I do not argue that all ten have to be true simultaneously either, but if only one of the ten is true, then the objection fails. You are alluding to one *possible* option I listed (which is not my primary view but a logical possibility): The 9th point I offered was this: “9- Given God’s property of omniscience and perfect intelligence, God makes the best decision in every scenario and situation [given His purpose of eternal human flourishing]. God would know what would happen if He did not issue the commands to destroy the Canaanites.”God also would know what would happen if He allowed humans (including Hitler) to make horrible and evil free choices. I simply offered a thought experiment that may or may not be true, but it is at least logically and possibly true.

      Andy, if you want to get into all other kinds of other topics then we can discuss your ad hoc taxi cab fallaciousness regarding your complete opposition to any supernatural thing I have ever provided logical argumentation for, but you are now affirming an *infinite* amount of other supernatural things except for God – anything but God! I’d rather discuss the fact that your worldview of atheism is morally bankrupt, as you cannot condemn the murders of the LGBT community at the gay nightclub as objectively (really) wrong. As a Christian, I can and do condemn these acts as really wrong and evil! I argue that we have a genuine ability to make a real free choice not to behave like this (you cannot), and I argue that we have an objective obligation not to behave like this (you cannot).

      Here is my article making this case in more detail: http://freethinkingministries.com/an-ought-from-an-is/

      You said that Hitler believed he was doing God’s work. As you noted, Hitler was influenced by both “the religion of father,” and atheistic naturalism’s survival of the fittest. In regards to the “religion of his father,” the logical question that must be raised is this: what exactly was his father teaching him? If he claimed it was Christianity (following the teachings of Christ), then what teachings of Jesus would lead to a holocaust? I’d love to see a logical argument making that case! This is why my article specifically deals with CONSISTENT Islam, CONSISTENT atheism, and CONSISTENT Christianity.

      Reply
    • Art says:

      There is no such thing as consistent Atheism, and for that matter Atheism in the context it is expressed here. But, there are thousands of words and phrases that Christians have invented (let alone Jews) over the centuries that are meaningless.

      Reply
  2. toby says:

    In regards to guns: do you honestly believe if all guns on the planet were confiscated and destroyed that the world would be worse off? It’s very hard to get guns in Japan. Walk down a street in Tokyo at 3 am knowing that the chance of someone shooting you is basically zero and tell me that that’s not a better system to live under.

    Guns have one use now and it’s a decidedly unchristian one, but you can’t take peoples toys of mass casualty because somehow they’re more free if they have the ability to kill or injure 100 at once.

    Reply
    • Jake says:

      First off, it’s impossible for all guns to be confiscated and destroyed. They would be black marketed and not to mention criminals don’t care about laws, including gun laws. Why don’t you move to Japan then? Also guns are/were meant for protection and hunting, evil people use them for murder…It’s not the gun but the persons intention behind it. Police and Military can’t always be there to protect you man. Law abiding citizens don’t want their right taken away to own a gun because its for protection and they should have the right to defend themselves if someone is trying to attack or kill them.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Also guns are/were meant for protection and hunting”
        Who needs a machine gun for hunting?

        “Law abiding citizens don’t want their right taken away to own a gun”
        Why don’t you move to Somalia then? See how stupid the ‘don’t like it, move away’ argument is?

        “not to mention criminals don’t care about laws”
        Funny how that was supposed to be a terrible argument when people were defending the NC bathroom laws that were supposed to stop bathroom perverts, and now suddenly it’s a good one again.

        The Orlando shooter bought his gun quite legally. You can say that he’d have got a gun anyway if he’d been barred from buying one legally but you don’t know that.

        “It’s not the gun but the persons intention behind it”
        But he’d have struggled to kill 50 people without a machine gun, right? It’s not like other Western countries with tighter gun laws have similar rates of massacres taking place by people in bomb vests or using swords.

        Reply
      • toby says:

        It was a hypothetical. If there were no guns left in the world, do you agree that that world would be better off? Look no farther than Australia where they did bans and large gun buy backs and see how firearm suicide and gun murder fell.

        No one needs an AR-15 for hunting or protection. Hunting initially was for sustenance and some of the poorer people in rural areas might depend on it today, but largely it’s just a “sport” these days and not much of one when considering you can use a high powered semiautomatic rifle to pick the stupid things off from 200 yards with 10 rapid shots.

        If you feel you need an AR-15 for protection you’re either paranoid or doing something illegal. Let’s face it, people like their toys because “they’re cool” and get a cheap thrill using them. And they get defensive if it’s suggested that their toys are dangerous and shouldn’t be around anymore.

        If I had the power to snap my fingers and all of the guns in the world would disappear I would, but this isn’t a fantasy and I know people won’t give up their weapons of mass casualty easily. My sensible suggestion is to treat it just as we do driving. You need a training course, a license that expires every so often, and insurance (for when the gun is used by the owner or someone else to kill someone).

        The only kind of ban I think that would make sense is banning the sale, manufacture, and import of any gun with a removable magazine. You can still have your AR-15 or glock or whatever but it has to have a permanently attached magazine that has to be hand loaded one bullet at a time. Limit the capacity to 10 – 15 rounds. If a person can’t “protect” themselves with that, then they’re more dangerous as a gun owner because they’re probably a horrible shot.

        I grew up with guns. I shot targets. I hunted a little. Hunting I eventually found to be completely boring and useless. Growing up we had shotguns and rifles, there were one or two handguns, but those never saw the light of day. My dad maintained that no one needed a rifle stronger than a .22. He didn’t think anyone need pistols and the only reason we had any is that they were given to him. Most of my target shooting was done with a single shot .22 with a scope. Bolt action, one bullet at a time. When I graduated college the guns stayed at my parents home and today my brother has them in a gun safe at his house. I haven’t shot one in 10 years or more. Guns are relics of the past and the American ideas of needing them for safety is apocryphal junk.

        Reply
    • Robert says:

      In regards to guns: do you honestly believe if all guns on the planet were confiscated and destroyed that the world would be worse off?

      The Roman assault against Jerusalem in 70 AD resulted in more than 40,000 deaths. Not a single gun was used.

      Walk down a street in Tokyo at 3 am knowing that the chance of someone shooting you is basically zero and tell me that that’s not a better system to live under.

      With respect, I can walk out my front door here in the wild west known as Arizona at 3 am and expect the same results.

      Guns have one use now and it’s a decidedly unchristian one, but you can’t take peoples toys of mass casualty because somehow they’re more free if they have the ability to kill or injure 100 at once.

      Again, with respect, this is a silly generalizing statement seemingly support by a non sequitor in order to reach a specific conclusion. Guns have multiple uses; only one of them may be seen as un Christian; please re read my statement about the Roman assault on Jerusalem to understand that it is intent, not device, that brought about the horrific attack in Orlando.

      Andy you seem to have missed the authors point that it is the heart that is the problem not the weapon of choice.The rationalizing of what is morally right was the causal affect behind the attack; guns were just the means to an end. Where evil intent can be justified there will always be horrific acts- guns or no guns. You may be able to rationalize that the end result would have meant less death but there will still be death and there will still be evil. There is a much lager issue that needs to be addressed and it is not one that can be legislated away.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Robert, I think YOU are missing the point. If the justification you and the author offer is valid, why do we attempt to stop Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons? If there are going to be ‘horrific acts’ regardless of what weapons they have access to, then surely it makes no difference whether they have nuclear weapons or not? Why do we try to stop children having guns – if they’re going to get up to mischief anyway then what difference does it make? Why do we stop convicts in prison having guns? I mean if there’s no difference between them having a gun and them fashioning a shank, then who cares, right?

        “With respect, I can walk out my front door here in the wild west known as Arizona at 3 am and expect the same results.”

        Statistically speaking, whether you expect the same results, you are in reality a lot less safe in Arizona compared to Tokyo.

        “The Roman assault against Jerusalem in 70 AD resulted in more than 40,000 deaths”

        “Where evil intent can be justified there will always be horrific acts- guns or no guns.”

        Non sequitur. Cancer kills millions of people without the use of a gun too. But you weren’t asked if getting rid of guns would eliminate murder completely.

        “it is intent, not device, that brought about the horrific attack in Orlando.”

        So even if he’d been armed with just a popsicle stick, he’d still have killed 50 people, because the intent was the same? And if he’d had a nuclear weapon, it would still have only been 50 deaths? Or does the weapon used make SOME kind of difference to the damage caused?

        Reply
        • Robert says:

          Morning Andy. Your last comment about the popsicle stick attack should make my comments(and I believe the authors intent in the article) perfectly clear. Is not one life lost through morally justified evil intent one too many?

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            Robert, please answer at least one of my points:

            1) Are you saying there’s no point in stopping North Korea getting nuclear weapons, given that without them they can just exercise their evil intent anyway?
            2) Likewise, would you say we might as well let convicts in prisons get guns
            3) Do you dispute that statistically speaking you’re more likely to be shot in Arizona than a similarly populated area in Japan?
            4) Are you honestly saying there’s no difference between a guy attacking a nightclub with a popsicle stick and a machine gun? It’s a massive dodge to reply ‘one life lost is too many’, but be honest: less life will be lost in almost every occasion if he’s just got a hand-to-hand combat weapon compared to an assault weapon. Hey, even if he’d just had a standard handgun then he’d have been over come more quickly.

          • Robert says:

            Hey Andy- sorry for answering above your response- doesn’t seem to be a reply button below it.

            1) Removing nuclear weapons from Korea will not reduce there aggressive military response to those around them. Removing everyone’s nuclear weapons will not reduce anyone’s aggressive military response to those around them. Wars will be fought with popsicle sticks if all other weapons are removed. I am making an assumption that you are talking about universal reduction of arms; anything less minus a change in heart will lead to overt aggression of the haves vs the have nots- see any history of Rome, Ghengis Khan or more recently Hitler’s Germany for clear examples.

            2) Your assumption appears to support a opinion that I believe that all people should have guns. I don’t. Likewise your implied belief that all guns should be confiscated is, well, as silly as it is simplistic. Criminals as well as law abiding folks will ignore this decree. Already happening in Australia.
            3) In your imaginary town, on your imaginary street I am likely to be accosted or beat to death by some having bad intent with a baseball bat, or a iron pipe. Evil will always be there just as is real crime on real streets in real Japan.

            4) Popsicle stick is your weapon of choice, Andy. One life lost due to relative moralistic beliefs IS one too many. What would your response be to the family of someone brutally murdered? I will hope and pray it is not along the lines of, “Boy, I’m glad it was just your child that died!” Implying that the relative number of lives lost is more important the individuals lost is a sad statement on our society and the world as a whole.

            Please take the time to re read the article. It was never about gun control. It was about moral decay and how we have systematically allowed it rule this world we live in. And ruin it.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Robert, you’ve flanneled and dodged and not answered my questions.

            1) Are you saying there’s no point in stopping North Korea getting nuclear weapons?
            2) Likewise, would you say we might as well let convicts in prisons get guns?

            Regarding this: “In your imaginary town, on your imaginary street I am likely to be accosted or beat to death by some having bad intent with a baseball bat, or a iron pipe.”

            Robert, compare murder stats in Japan – a real place, not ‘an imaginary town’ at all – and America (or indeed Arizona). Or I can save you the time: You’re flat out wrong.

            “What would your response be to the family of someone brutally murdered?”

            What would your response be? Your question has nothing to do with the issue. Families get wiped out in gun attacks, they don’t get wiped out by a guy wielding a popsicle stick. If there was a horrible choice between someone attacking my family with a popsicle stick vs an assault rifle then obviously I’d choose the former and if you claim otherwise then I don’t believe you.

            Saying ‘all murders are terrible’ is just a shrug of a response. We can’t eliminate all murder, but the issue is whether any steps might reduce murder rates. You can argue that certain steps would NOT reduce murder rates, but just answering ‘any murder is bad’ doesn’t address the point at all. No-one’s arguing that murder is a good thing – we’re discussing whether it can be reduced or not.

    • Timothy Stratton says:

      //In regards to guns: do you honestly believe if all guns on the planet were confiscated and destroyed that the world would be worse off?//

      Well, I don’t know about that, Toby. If it were not for guns, then what would police use to kill terrorists armed with knives, rope, fertilizer, poisonous gas, or airplanes? Do you want to just ban all things that could be used to harm others? There will always be bad guys with bad ideas with weapons. I think it’s good for the good guys to be able to have some guns for protection against other bad humans as well as dangerous wild animals (have you ever had a mountain lion in your front yard? I have)!

      Moreover, it is simply unrealistic to think one could ban all guns from the face of the earth. Even liberals who don’t want American citizens to own guns think that the military and police should still have guns. Since guns will still be manufactured, they will always be available on the black market to Criminals who do not care about the law. If you don’t think so you are living in fantasyland! Moreover, there are probably hundreds of millions of guns in circulation in the US alone. It is simply unrealistic to think they can all be destroyed.

      Bottom line: bad people like Islamic terrorists are going to possess guns no matter what. Let’s say *some* liberals got their wish and made it illegal for all people to possess guns (except for the government of course)! What would stop the bad guys like Islamic terrorists from possessing guns?
      After all, many of these same liberals love to point out that if abortion were illegal, women would continue to get abortions; therefore, they conclude abortion should be legal as they are going to do it anyway. Many liberals also argue for the legalization of marijuana, because, although it is illegal to possess marijuana in this country (sans Colorado and Washington), people are still going to do illegal drugs anyway. The prohibition is a great historical example: those who do not care about the law are going to find ways to do what they want to do.

      Now, since bad guys, like Islamic terrorists, do not care about the law and are going to possess guns no matter what, then it is only the good guys — the ones that choose to follow the law — that are going to be penalized and left without means to defend themselves and their families from the bad guys who are going to have guns. These same bad guys (Islamic terrorists) want to kill everyone from me and my family, to all Republicans, to all Democrats, to all socialists, to all atheists, to all homosexuals, to all Japanese people, and anyone and everyone else who is not a devout or radical Muslim themselves.
      We should not be so blind to think otherwise. I am not opposed to some restrictions on guns, but guns are not the real problem; it goes much deeper than that and this is exactly the point of this article above!

      //Guns have one use now and it’s a decidedly unchristian one//

      That is simply false, Toby. To be clear, this is not the point of my article so we are getting into some weeds here, but guns can also be used for good. I know of Christian police officers who hope they never have to pull the trigger – they pray then never have to pull the trigger – it’s the last thing in the world they want to do, but they also know that sometimes, in extreme circumstances, pulling the trigger might be the most loving thing a person can do. I would argue that the police officer who shot and killed the Islamic terrorist the other night did the most loving thing possible in that extreme situation.

      Since I have written articles pointing out what Islam really teaches, I have received some messages from some Muslims that make me quite uneasy; however, I will continue to speak the truth because it is the most loving thing to do. David Wood has received many outright death threats against him and his family. Since there is a clear and present danger, and the police cannot always be at his house or with his family, why should guys like him not be allowed to have the means to protect themselves and their family if evil strikes?

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “After all, many of these same liberals love to point out that if abortion were illegal, women would continue to get abortions; therefore, they conclude abortion should be legal as they are going to do it anyway. Many liberals also argue for the legalization of marijuana, because, although it is illegal to possess marijuana in this country…”

        You misrepresent the two arguments. It’s not not ‘we might as well legalise it because it will happen anyway’, it’s that backstreet abortions are far more dangerous for the mother. In that sense it’s more like needle sharing plans. The latter aren’t a condoning of heroin use, it’s saying that if it’s going to happen then it’s better that it’s done more safely, lessing the spreading of HIV.

        And with marijuana, the arguments are again not ‘it’s going to happen anyway’. It’s that the ‘war on drugs’ causes more problems than it aims to solve, and that it brings money to drug dealers who can then use that capital for worse purposes.

        Neither of those two arguments are the same as people saying “Bad guys will get guns anyway so we might as well oppose any background checks or delays at all to them getting a gun”.

        Even if you view these arguments as the same, are you saying you AGREE that it’s pointless banning abortion and marijuana? And indeed are you saying that it’s pointless stoping trans people from using the bathroom of their choice, on the basis that ‘perverts who want to use bathrooms to abuse people will do so regardless of the law’?

        Or are you saying that the ‘they’ll do it anyway’ is a GOOD argument for opposing gun control, but a BAD argument for opposing bans on abortion, marijuana, NC bathroom laws etc?

        “Even liberals who don’t want American citizens to own guns think that the military and police should still have guns”

        Many liberals aren’t even opposing general US citizens owning guns – they’re just suggesting people under observation by the FBI like the Orlando shooter should be prevented from owning them. Do you agree? Knowing all that we knew about the Orlando shooter BEFORE he killed those people – e.g. his support for ISIL – do YOU think he should have been allowed to legally buy his gun? Do YOU think that weapons that can kill 50 people in such a short period of time are NECESSARY simply for hunting and protecting your home?

        Reply
        • Timothy Stratton says:

          //You misrepresent the two arguments. It’s not not ‘we might as well legalise it because it will happen anyway’, it’s that backstreet abortions are far more dangerous for the mother.//

          I’m saying that if all guns are banned, only criminals will possess guns and this will be far more dangerous for the law abiding citizens.

          //And with marijuana, the arguments are again not ‘it’s going to happen anyway’. It’s that the ‘war on drugs’ causes more problems than it aims to solve//

          I’m making the case that banning all guns would cause more problems that it aims to solve.

          //And indeed are you saying that it’s pointless stoping trans people from using the bathroom of their choice, on the basis that ‘perverts who want to use bathrooms to abuse people will do so regardless of the law’?//

          I’ve never argued for that. What I have argued for is that the new ruling from the current administration offered in the name of Title IX is actually antithetical to Title IX. I am more concerned about the rights of women who were born that way: http://freethinkingministries.com/transgender-bathrooms-basketball/

          //Many liberals aren’t even opposing general US citizens owning guns – they’re just suggesting people under observation by the FBI like the Orlando shooter should be prevented from owning them. Do you agree?//

          I agree 100%! I disagree with the liberals who think *all* guns should be banned from the public and I believe I said as much. If not, allow me to clarify: I think there should be better restrictions on gun control, but the point of my article that should not be missed is that guns are not the real problem. The real problem is ideologies that either teach that it is good to mass murder the LGBT community in Orlando, or that say there is nothing *really* wrong with it!

          Reply
  3. Bob Seidensticker says:

    I must quibble with your conclusion.

    “1- Consistent Islam: this attack was GOOD as Muhammad’s final commands were to kill the infidels”

    The Quran is a big book. I’m sure you could cherry pick to say the opposite as well.

    “2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks.”

    True and irrelevant. Look up “wrong” in the dictionary–that’s the definition atheists use, and there’s no mention of objective anything in it.

    “3- Consistent Christianity: this attack was objectively WRONG and EVIL!”

    Here again, the Bible is a big book. Christianity is a big tent–there are 45,000 denominations and counting. Already, there are Christians (on the fringe, admittedly, but Christians nevertheless) who aren’t especially annoyed that “pedophiles” (their term) were killed.

    You say that verses can be picked to say that this was wrong? I agree. But the opposite is true as well. Indeed, the hateful verses in the Old Testament about genocide and slavery are shared with the Quran.

    Reply
    • Timothy Stratton says:

      //I must quibble with your conclusion. “1- Consistent Islam: this attack was GOOD as Muhammad’s final commands were to kill the infidels” The Quran is a big book. I’m sure you could cherry pick to say the opposite as well.//

      Bob, do you understand Islamic doctrine? I have studied the teachings of the Quran and Islamic doctrine a fair bit. It seems to be the case that if Muhammad’s commands contradict each other, then the latest commands abrogate the old. This is also the case with Christian theology as Jesus’ commands seem to be at odds (at least at face value) with some of the commands of Moses – and this is one reason why the Jews had Jesus executed. The final teachings of Jesus in the Bible are LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, and the final commands given by Muhammad in the Quran are KILL, KILL, KILL!

      So, the Quran is terribly inconsistent with its view of infidels. At times, it demands Jihad. At others, it seems to call for tolerance toward the unbeliever. However, what can definitively be said is this: violence against those who disagree is a *logical* outworking of a face value reading of the Quran. And when one understands the Islamic doctrine of abrogation (aka, Naskh), then a Muslim has good reason to reject the “peaceful” verses found in the earlier sections of the Quran and in the Hadiths.

      When one understands how Jesus abrogated the Old Testament Law, then a Christ follower (a Christian) has good reason to love everyone from his neighbor to his enemy and everyone in between. Can you imagine a world where everyone follows the commands of Christ? Sounds like Heaven to me… maybe Jesus was on to something!

      The point of my article is that *consistent Islam* naturally produces violence against those who disagree. Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, logically produces love, mercy, and tolerance towards those who disagree.

      Here is an excellent (and short) video of a former devout Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, explaining this very idea: http://youtu.be/XNseMjQkxvI

      I said, “2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks.”

      You agreed that this was true, but then said it was irrelevant! Wow! You really think there is nothing really wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night? Moreover, you think it is irrelevant?!? WOW! I appreciate your honesty (not that you think anything is objectively good with being honest).

      You tried to justify your morally bankrupt view by appealing to the dictionary. I took your advice and googled the word, “wrong.”Here is the first thing that came up:

      1. Not correct or true.
      2. Unjust, dishonest, or immoral.

      So, the question is this: was it *really* incorrect, unjust, and immoral to mass murder the LGBT community the other night or not? Is it simply your personal preference over the Muslim’s or is there an objective truth to the matter? What makes your personal and subjective preference better than the Muslim’s personal subjective preference if there is no objective truth to the matter?

      Now, since you are appealing to dictionaries, I took the liberty of googling “objective” and here is what came up from thefreedictionary.com:

      ob.jec.tive

      1.
      a. Existing independent of or external to the mind; actual or real: objective reality
      b. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices

      So, Bob, the point of my article remains. According to your worldview of atheism, you cannot consistently claim that there was anything *really* wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night. As a Christian, I believe this was an objectively evil act that was really wrong! I condemn it as objectively bad, wrong, and evil! According to your morally bankrupt worldview, evil does not really exist.

      I emphasized that point in my article: “3- Consistent Christianity: this attack was objectively WRONG and EVIL!”

      You responded, //Here again, the Bible is a big book. Christianity is a big tent–there are 45,000 denominations and counting.//

      This is why I specifically argued for *CONSISTENT* Christianity in my article, Bob. A consistent Christian consistently follows the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. I made that clear in my article too! So, if one is a Christ follower, they will follow the teachings and commands of Christ. These abrogate verses that *might* be interpreted as violent in the Old Testament. So if one does something unloving in the name of Christ, and calls themselves a “Christian,” that is no different than a bank-robber wearing a LeBron James jersey and saying he is robbing the bank in the name of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are not logically related!

      My argument in the article is to deal with what can be logically derived or implied from each worldview and the teachings of Muhammad and Jesus. On consistent Islam, killing the LGBT community is good. According to consistent atheism, nothing is really wrong with killing the LGBT community. And on consistent Christianity, it is objectively wrong to kill the LGBT community; in fact, as I said in my article, if Christianity is true, then the LGBT community ought to be loved (objectively speaking)!

      You concluded, //You say that verses can be picked to say that this was wrong? I agree. But the opposite is true as well. Indeed, the hateful verses in the Old Testament about genocide and slavery are shared with the Quran.//

      This is not cherry-picking, but reading the entire books in the order that they were written. The final commands of Jesus are to love everyone from your neighbor to your enemy; the final commands of Muhammad are to kill ‘em all! The logical outworking of atheism is that there is nothing good, bad, right, wrong, or evil with either view.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “a. Existing independent of or external to the mind; actual or real: objective reality”

        So by that definition it exists independently of God’s mind too, right? Or doesn’t he count?

        Reply
        • toby says:

          That definition seems to forbid objective morality existing in ANY mind. God is supposed, by apologists, to be a mind—floating in no time and no where and made of nothing.

          Reply
        • Timothy Stratton says:

          Obviously this is in regards to the opinions held by human minds, Andy. If God (the Maximally Great & NECESSARY Being) created contingent human minds on purpose and for the specific purpose of eternal flourishing, then this would be an objective fact of the matter that would be true apart from human opinion and even if every human had a differing subjective opinion.

          If the perfectly intelligent God created humanity for the purpose of humanity loving and serving each other (even the people that we disagree with), and we hate people instead of loving and serving them, then we are doing something that is diametrically opposed to the objective purpose to the human existence.

          We’ve had this conversation in depth before, Andy. Bottom line: on your atheistic view, there is nothing really wrong with mass murdering gays and lesbians in Orlando, or not having any gun restrictions at all.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Obviously this is in regards to the opinions held by human minds”

            Then you’re not going by the dictionary definition of Objective then, which didn’t specify ‘human minds’ or say there were any exceptions.

            Sure, you’ve argued before that if a God created us for a certain purpose then it would be objectively true that… he created for a certain purpose.

            You’ve not shown why it would be objectively immoral for us to go against whatever that purpose was.

            We’d be objectively wrong (as in INCORRECT) to claim that he did NOT create us for that purpose, but that’s not the same as it being objectively wrong (as in IMMORAL) to go AGAINST that purpose.

            You’re trying to create an ought from an is by equivocating between two different meanings of wrong, and further muddying the waters by conflating ‘Denying that he created us for a purpose’ with ‘Going against that purpose’.

            You’ve offered analogies for ‘not using an object for its intended design’, but haven’t explain why me, say, buying a shoe and using it as a paper weight instead of wearing it, would be ‘objective immoral’ rather than simply ‘objectively using it for a different purpose to the intended one’.

            Bottom line: you’ve still not shown why objective morality comes from God, meaning you’re no better off than any atheists with regards to establishing a source of objective morality.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Oh yes, and you conflate
            1) ‘Maximally intelligent’, meaning God has ‘good’ reasons for doing something, meaning RATIONAL reasons – in other words, reasons that perfectly that to his will and purpose,
            With:
            2) God has ‘good’ reasons meaning ‘morally good’

            This is another way you use sleight of hand to substitute different meanings of the same word to smuggle in morality. I don’t think you do this deliberately, by the way.

            You can’t get from ‘God is maximally X’ to ‘God is objectively moral’ without assuming being moral is a great-making property. And that would be assuming the very thing you’re trying to argue for.

            I’ve just deleted another couple of paragraphs as you’ve complained in the past of me trying to put in too many points. So you can thank me for that!

          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            Andy said, “You’ve not shown why it would be objectively immoral for us to go against whatever that purpose was.”

            I don’t think Tim needs to provide any proof. I think you do. Christianity argues that God created us for a purpose and imposed a moral standard upon us that emanates from His character. Departing from this purpose and standard is called sin (IMMORAL). Sin literally means missing the mark (in Hebrew “chata”). Missing the mark is sin because the Creator said so. I think the burden of proof is on you to prove why God has no right to impose this standard on man.

            “We’d be objectively wrong (as in INCORRECT) to claim that he did NOT create us for that purpose, but that’s not the same as it being objectively wrong (as in IMMORAL) to go AGAINST that purpose.”

            Sounds like the difference between ignorance and rejection. This depends on the amount of revelation a man has received. If Christianity is right, God has given us a conscience, many Christ-like stories spread throughout various mythologies (C.S. Lewis argued this in Mere Christianity), and then actually came down to earth in person to reveal Himself to the creation. That’s a pretty strong revelation and God is justified in judging man based upon this revelation. The Bible teaches that each man will be judged by the revelation he has received. We can rest assured that His judgements will be just. People will be judged against the standard they have heard and understood.

            But perhaps you don’t mean ignorance, perhaps you just mean a man who says, “I have heard the stated purpose of man offered by Christianity (or insert other religions) and disagree.” Perhaps you don’t think this qualifies as objectively wrong (IMMORAL). Well I think it depends on the preponderance of evidence for Christianity (or other religions) and if this evidence (combined with revelation from the Holy Spirit) is enough. This evidence must be reviewed and a determination made. For example, say someone reviews all of Christianity’s arguments and yet doesn’t believe them. This person isn’t absolved from being objectively wrong (IMMORAL) simply because they were unconvinced. I think ignorance (I have never heard) is one thing. Rejection (I have heard and don’t believe) is another. If the Christian God is real, and one reviews all evidence for Him and yet remains unconvinced, they are rejecting the Christian God. No problem if Christianity is wrong. A MAJOR problem if Christianity is right. Moreover, the Bible says that God gives each man the grace he needs to choose Him. If this is true, then man cannot be absolved because he disagrees.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Departing from this purpose and standard is called sin”

            Why? What makes it sinful to do so?

            “We can rest assured that His judgements will be just”

            What do you mean by ‘just’?

            “If the Christian God is real, and one reviews all evidence for Him and yet remains unconvinced”

            I’m not talking about whether someone is unconvinced. Read my post again. I said even if we concede the existence of a God, who has a purpose for us, how do you get from that to objective morality and obligations from us to him?

            “perhaps you just mean a man who says, “I have heard the stated purpose of man offered by Christianity (or insert other religions) and disagree.””

            No, I made my point very clear. Read my post again because nothing in your reply to me addresses it in any form.

          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            “I’m not talking about whether someone is unconvinced. Read my post again. I said even if we concede the existence of a God, who has a purpose for us, how do you get from that to objective morality and obligations from us to him?”

            I think I offered an answer to this question but let’s try again. The answer is because He said so. The God who created us says He wants something from us. I think you must provide evidence why this answer isn’t sufficient. If God defines what is right (which is what I mean by justice…you could also replace the word with righteouness) then why can’t He impose the same standard on His creation?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “If God defines what is right”

            That’s your ‘if’ to prove, Josef – as it’s your claim. Who says he defines what’s ‘right’? Did he give himself that right? Did you?

          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            Andy, you previously stated: “even if we concede the existence of a God, who has a purpose for us,”

            To me you conceeded that “God defines what is right.” By conceding the existence of God in this hypothetical space, who defined a purpose for man (what is right for him to do)…are you not conceding that the establishment of this very purpose is what is right for man? Is this imposed purpose not a standard by which God expects man to live under? Purpose means, “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” It sounds like you are saying:

            “Suppose God exists and he gave us a something to do…well why is not doing it wrong? What gives God the right to expect man to fulfil His purpose?”

            I’m sorry this really isn’t making sense to me, perhaps because I’m just not understanding you. To repeat my answer: It is because He is God. He didn’t have to give Himself the authority to impose a purpose or moral standard on man. Who else would He appeal to? The point of God is that He is the ultimate authority. You aren’t making sense to me.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Josef, that a God might have created us for a purpose says nothing about any obligations we may have to him, or about what is ‘right’ for us to do. It just tells us that… he created us for a purpose.

            If there’s a bridge between the two ideas then you will need to explain what that is.

            I’ve heard theists asking atheists: “How do you justify not stealing in your worldview?”. I could reply: “Well I paid for it, so it belongs to me, objectively speaking, so you’re denying that objective reality by taking it”.

            But theists reject that answer. They demand a bridge between ‘It belongs to me’ and ‘You shouldn’t take it from me’.

            If such a bridge is required, then the theist has bridges of their own to explain between the mooted fact of his creating us and supposed objective morals and obligations.

            Feel free to explain that bridge – the is/ought bridge – in such a way that doesn’t beg the question, and that doesn’t equally provide a bridge for atheists.

          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            “If there’s a bridge between the two ideas then you will need to explain what that is.”

            To me this is obvious…but perhaps not to others. If I as a creator build a vacuum cleaner with free will, that subsequently refuses to vacuum, and worse, decides to spew dirt all over the place I wanted it to clean, is this not grounds for me the inventor to say, “it is sinning (missing the mark I set for it).”

            “They demand a bridge between ‘It belongs to me’ and ‘You shouldn’t take it from me’.”

            Yes. The point is that your will isn’t objective. It’s just your opinion. The person stealing from you also has an equally valid opinion as an individual, that it is right to steal. Who’s will should prevail? They are equally valid opinions unless there is a standard to compare them to. You need an objective third party which the Christian has in God.

            We’re probably going around in circles at this point. I don’t know that I fully understand your difficulty with a God imposing a standard on man. It seems very apparent that God has every right to do so as our creator to me, but less so to you. I’ll dwell on this more and see if I can’t nail down your point. Signing off now…thanks for the conversation and opportunity to learn more about your thoughts 🙂

          • TGM says:

            Thanks Shannon. Let me ask, then…

            1. So what? What difference does it make that something is _objectively_ wrong? Nobody has explained to me why that actually matters, …especially considering that, in your view, we’re all sinners and forgiveness is offered regardless of our moral behavior. Why does it even matter what’s right/wrong in that case?!

            2. Can you give me an example of something that is objectively wrong, always, and in all cases?

            3. How do you know that something is objectively wrong? What is your source for whether a given action is right or wrong? Is practical morality based on guidelines – then who gets to interpret? Is it based on rules; then, where is the comprehensive rule book that covers all cases?

          • toby says:

            1. So what? What difference does it make that something is _objectively_ wrong?…especially considering that, in your view, we’re all sinners and forgiveness is offered regardless of our moral behavior. Why does it even matter what’s right/wrong in that case?!
            The only thing I’ve ever thought they’d be good for is a god deciding if a person gets 72 virgins or severe burns if they failed to ask for forgiveness. Other than that it’s just one of their favorite circular arguments.

            2. Can you give me an example of something that is objectively wrong, always, and in all cases?
            I’m sure you’ll get the standard “torturing babies for fun” line. Which is a skeevy, smarmy line. morality is about actions. The verb in the sentence is torture. What’s being called into question is torture. Why is the age important? It’s an emotional appeal. or an implication that older people could be tortured and that might be okay. Then they smuggle in a reason—-for fun. this seems to be a mistake on their part. When the inevitable holocaust comment comes up or calling hitler wrong/bad they don’t mention reasons. I guess murder doesn’t need a reason. If we press them they might admit torture is good for certain reasons. Or Hitler’s reasons for the holocaust—bigotry and demonization of jews—were wrong because jews weren’t evil and trying to take over or ruin germany so his actions were committed on bad assumptions. We could probably all agree that if there were a group that was actually doing physical attacks and harm on germany that retaliation was in order. Probably not on the scale of genocide though. The point is that their arguments are a bit deceptive, either unintentionally or by design.

            3. How do you know that something is objectively wrong? What is your source for whether a given action is right or wrong? Is practical morality based on guidelines – then who gets to interpret? Is it based on rules; then, where is the comprehensive rule book that covers all cases?
            It’s subjective, but they won’t admit it. It’s a “best possible outcome” calculation. They borrow from humanism and inborn survival instinct to build up a false idea of supernatural objective morals based on what they see is good (or based on what they’ve been told a creator says is good—which is just the opinions of those writing it down centuries ago). If there are such things as objective moral values and they are beyond human opinion . . . then what good are they? If we as a whole are doing something objectively bad right now that we haven’t even gotten the knowledge to think of it as anything other than neutral then the uselessness of objective moral values becomes apparent. In that case are we responsible and therefore evil or are we ignorant and hence absolved? seems that human knowledge and opinion are vitally important to morality.

      • Bob Seidensticker says:

        “Bob, do you understand Islamic doctrine? I have studied the teachings of the Quran and Islamic doctrine a fair bit. It seems to be the case that if Muhammad’s commands contradict each other, then the latest commands abrogate the old.”
        Yes, I understand the principle of abrogation, thanks.
        “This is also the case with Christian theology as Jesus’ commands seem to be at odds (at least at face value) with some of the commands of Moses”
        Gotta disagree with you there. There’s some crazy, backwards, violent stuff in the Old Testament. Jesus with his “not one jot or tittle” line embraced all of it.
        “what can definitively be said is this: violence against those who disagree is a *logical* outworking of a face value reading of the Quran.”
        Sounds good, except that look at how it works in Christianity. It’s a big tent, and there are loving and hateful Christians, pro-gay and anti-gay Christians, and so on. You can make the Bible say just about whatever you want it to, and “Christians” do that. We see the same thing in Islam.
        “When one understands how Jesus abrogated the Old Testament Law”
        Not one jot or tittle, remember?
        “The point of my article is that *consistent Islam* naturally produces violence against those who disagree. Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, logically produces love, mercy, and tolerance towards those who disagree.”
        “Consistent Christianity” sounds like “my Christianity.”
        I said, “2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks.”
        “You agreed that this was true, but then said it was irrelevant!”
        Correct.
        “Wow! You really think there is nothing really wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night?”
        I do think there is something wrong with it. If you’re puzzled by this, you need to reread my comment.
        There’s morality, and then there’s your “objective morality.” Ordinary morality, like it’s defined in the dictionary, works just fine for us. If you imagine an objective morality, grounded outside humans, you’ll have to show that it exists.
        “You tried to justify your morally bankrupt view”
        Nice. That’s the way to bridge the gap.
        “So, the question is this: was it *really* incorrect, unjust, and immoral to mass murder the LGBT community the other night or not?”
        I’ll just boringly repeat myself: it was wrong. According to Bob, it was wrong. And—whaddya know?!—according to Timothy, it was wrong, too. Sounds like there may be wide agreement on issues like this. Sounds like a shared moral trait.
        You say that it was *objectively* wrong? That’s an interesting claim—show me.
        “What makes your personal and subjective preference better than the Muslim’s personal subjective preference if there is no objective truth to the matter?”
        Let’s first figure out if there is objective morality.
        “According to your worldview of atheism, you cannot consistently claim that there was anything *really* wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night.”
        What does “really” mean? If you are referring to objective morality, say so—this conversation is confusing enough as it is.
        I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em. I say that it was morally wrong. Is there anything else I can do?
        I mean, sure, I can invent an objective morality, point to it, and declare that my statement now has more power. But first I’d have to show that objective morality exists (which I’m sure you’re about to do).
        “As a Christian, I believe this was an objectively evil act that was really wrong!”
        Cool. Show me objective morality. Demonstrate it. Don’t just claim it.
        “This is why I specifically argued for *CONSISTENT* Christianity in my article, Bob.”
        I imagine you’re careful enough to see the pitfall here. “Consistent” Christianity = *my* Christianity is the risk.
        You do know that the “Christians” you disagree with think that *you* are the inconsistent one, right?
        “These abrogate verses that *might* be interpreted as violent in the Old Testament.”
        I fear that one of us is picking and choosing from the Bible to serve his agenda. Careful.
        “And on consistent Christianity, it is objectively wrong to kill the LGBT community”
        Which is to say nothing until you justify the empty “objectively wrong” phrase.

        Reply
        • Timothy Stratton says:

          Bob, I asked: “Bob, do you understand Islamic doctrine? I have studied the teachings of the Quran and Islamic doctrine a fair bit. It seems to be the case that if Muhammad’s commands contradict each other, then the latest commands abrogate the old.”

          You said, //Yes, I understand the principle of abrogation, thanks.//

          It sure didn’t seem like it based on your previous comments!

          I said, “This is also the case with Christian theology as Jesus’ commands seem to be at odds (at least at face value) with some of the commands of Moses”

          You said, //Gotta disagree with you there. There’s some crazy, backwards, violent stuff in the Old Testament. Jesus with his “not one jot or tittle” line embraced all of it.//

          I encourage you to read some Dr. Douglas Moo to set you straight, Bob. Jesus said not a “jot or tittle will bass away from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Then, Jesus said that He had fulfilled the law and ultimately said “it is finished!” Jesus then went on to say, “if you love me, you will keep *my* commands,” and these commands were at odds with the law the Jews were keeping. This is one of the main reasons why Jesus was executed!

          Please keep the entire New Testament in mind, Bob.

          I said, “what can definitively be said is this: violence against those who disagree is a *logical* outworking of a face value reading of the Quran.”

          //Sounds good, except that look at how it works in Christianity. It’s a big tent, and there are loving and hateful Christians, pro-gay and anti-gay Christians, and so on. You can make the Bible say just about whatever you want it to, and “Christians” do that. We see the same thing in Islam.//

          That’s why I argue with ignorant Christians more than I argue with atheists! When logic and good hermeneutics are applied, you cannot make it say just about whatever you want it to.

          I said, “When one understands how Jesus abrogated the Old Testament Law”

          //Not one jot or tittle, remember?//

          Taking Jesus out of context again, remember? Please keep all of His teachings in mind, Bob.

          I said, “The point of my article is that *consistent Islam* naturally produces violence against those who disagree. Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, logically produces love, mercy, and tolerance towards those who disagree.”

          //“Consistent Christianity” sounds like “my Christianity.”//

          How about examining what Jesus taught and taking those words at face value? He even made it clear for people who were having a hard time comprehending: Love God and Love all people (from your neighbor to your enemies)!

          I said, “2- Consistent Atheism: there was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks.” “You agreed that this was true, but then said it was irrelevant!”

          You answered: //Correct.//

          Wow!

          //There’s morality, and then there’s your “objective morality.” Ordinary morality, like it’s defined in the dictionary, works just fine for us.//

          As I explained, you cannot say things are really wrong. It is a matter of subjective opinion that is ultimately caused by the laws of physics and chemistry. Opinions change like the tides. According to you, slavery was good and moral back in the day and MLK was wrong for standing up against the majority view. Also according to you, if ISIS winds up killing all who disagree with them, or at least become the majority in the world (which is their goal), then Sharia law would be the morally good thing. You could not condemn it as *really* wrong!

          //If you imagine an objective morality, grounded outside humans, you’ll have to show that it exists.//

          That is easy and I’ve done it in past articles. Here is one surveying several arguments that make the case:

          http://freethinkingministries.com/truth-reality/

          I asked you: “So, the question is this: was it *really* incorrect, unjust, and immoral to mass murder the LGBT community the other night or not?”

          You answered, //I’ll just boringly repeat myself: it was wrong. According to Bob, it was wrong. And—whaddya know?!—according to Timothy, it was wrong, too. Sounds like there may be wide agreement on issues like this. Sounds like a shared moral trait.//

          That’s great for us, but what about the opinions of ISIS, Nazis, the KKK, and Stalin? We can demonstrate that they are objectively wrong according to Christian theism (which there is ample evidence for). On your view, it is simply “might makes right.” I believe that view is objectively wrong even if the “mighty” have a different subjective opinion.

          I said, “According to your worldview of atheism, you cannot consistently claim that there was anything *really* wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night.”

          //What does “really” mean? If you are referring to objective morality, say so—this conversation is confusing enough as it is.//

          I can tell you are confused, Bob. “Really” can be used synonymously with “objectively true apart from human opinion.” It saves time and is easier to understand.

          You said, //I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em. I say that it was morally wrong. Is there anything else I can do?//

          Yeah, by your definition, “moral” just means your subjective preferences. However, Ted Bundy has a different subjective preference than you. What’s the big deal? On your view he simply has a different taste than you — like ice cream! You might like chocolate, but Ted Bundy prefers vanilla!

          //Show me objective morality. Demonstrate it. Don’t just claim it.//

          Spend some time on my website! http://www.freethinkingministries.com

          //You do know that the “Christians” you disagree with think that *you* are the inconsistent one, right?//

          Yep, and that is why I encourage logical discussion with them. I usually change most of their minds! Logic has a way of doing that.

          Here is one of my articles you might like talking about how objective morality and obligations and abilities to do otherwise are impossible on atheistic naturalism:

          http://freethinkingministries.com/an-ought-from-an-is/

          Here is another that demonstrates the probable existence of God which would then ground objective moral values and duties:

          http://freethinkingministries.com/logic-science-god-the-kalam-cosmological-argument/

          Reply
          • Bob Seidensticker says:

            It sure didn’t seem like it based on your previous comments!

            The principle of abrogation isn’t the point here. Yes, it’s a nice (though bizarre) way for Muslims to avoid the contradictions in the Quran. No, Christianity has no similar principle.

            Please keep the entire New Testament in mind, Bob.

            No need. I’m on solid ground if I quote a verse in the New Testament in context. If it contradicts another, that’s not my problem. I have no obligation or interest in resolving the contradiction.

            That’s why I argue with ignorant Christians more than I argue with atheists!

            You say they’re ignorant, and they say that you are. The Bible can be marshalled to say just about anything you want.

            When logic and good hermeneutics are applied, you cannot make it say just about whatever you want it to.

            “Logic and good hermeneutics” sounds very much like “My view of things.” Be careful to avoid deluding yourself. The smart guys on another side of the issue also think that they’re right.

            How about examining what Jesus taught and taking those words at face value?

            OK. He said nothing about slavery. He didn’t decry the Flood or the Canaanite genocide. His healing miracles amount to less healing that an intern does in a year. Doesn’t sound like the omniscient creator of the universe.

            He even made it clear for people who were having a hard time comprehending: Love God and Love all people (from your neighbor to your enemies)!

            Sure, reading the Bible through the lens of Western morality makes it look pretty good. You ignore the omissions and errors and highlight the good stuff.

            As I explained, you cannot say things are really wrong.

            As I explained, I see no evidence for any morality beyond what we figure out ourselves. You say that objective morality exists? Then first explain what you mean by objective morality, and then show me.

            Opinions change like the tides.

            Morality has indeed changed. It was OK in biblical times, and we reject it now. So much for objective (unchanging) morality.

            According to you, slavery was good and moral back in the day and MLK was wrong for standing up against the majority view.

            Wrong. I never said this. Try again?

            That is easy and I’ve done it in past articles. Here is one surveying several arguments that make the case:
            http://freethinkingministries.com/truth-reality/

            Doesn’t look like arguments supporting objective morality to me.

            If objective morality exists and it’s reliably accessible by we humans, show me. Take a vexing moral issue (abortion, say) and show me the objectively correct answer. Show me that that answer is reliably accessible by all of us. No points for “Well, the pro-life position is the only correct position, but it’s just that people’s hearts are so hard that they won’t accept it.” That’s not an accessible truth.

            That’s great for us, but what about the opinions of ISIS, Nazis, the KKK, and Stalin?

            Do you and I agree but disagree with the bad guys? That’s hardly a novel insight. That’s reality.

            We can demonstrate that they are objectively wrong according to Christian theism (which there is ample evidence for).

            I see negligible evidence for the Christian god.

            I believe that view is objectively wrong even if the “mighty” have a different subjective opinion.

            Believe whatever you want. I’d just like some evidence for it.

            “Really” can be used synonymously with “objectively true apart from human opinion.” It saves time and is easier to understand.

            Not at all. With this issue, precision is important. Simply say “objectively true” if that’s what you mean, rather than “really true.”

            Yeah, by your definition, “moral” just means your subjective preferences.

            You lament that we’re stuck figuring this stuff out for ourselves with no big brother to help out. If you have evidence for another approach, provide it.

            You were kind enough to share some links. As it turns out, I’ve also written extensively about morality. Here are some posts at my blog:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/08/explanation-for-objective-morality-another-fail/
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/08/understanding-morality-its-really-not-that-hard-2/
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/08/frank-tureks-criminally-bad-c-r-i-m-e-s-argument-morality/

    • Bob Seidensticker says:

      Looks like I need to retract my applause. My comments are now being moderated. Since I didn’t use any profanity, I assume it’s because this site doesn’t like to explore contrary opinions.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Bob, did you include a link? That often snarls things up. Also, I’m really enjoying your posts (as I have elsewhere on other sites – you had an Avi where you had big fake superman biceps, right?), but I’d find them easier to read if you put in some carriage returns, paragraph breaks!

        Reply
        • Bob Seidensticker says:

          Aha! I think you spotted the problem. It must’ve been the links. Thanks. (I should now retract my retraction.)

          Yes, that’s me. Mine is the other Cross Examined blog, the one on Patheos.

          As for formatting, I’m used to Disqus. My last one used proper quotes, so it should be more readable.

          BTW, is there a way to get email notifications of replies? It’s a pain to have to make a mental note to come here to see if there’s any response to my comments.

          Reply
          • toby says:

            Uh oh. Battle for the cross examined title.

            I use Firefox as my browser and have the SImple RSS reader add on. It’s okay. If there are a lot of comments between visits you’ll loose yours in the shuffle.

  4. Luke says:

    Hey Tim,

    I just want to make sure I understand what you’re saying. You said:“Now, since bad guys, like Islamic terrorists, do not care about the law and are going to possess guns no matter what…”

    Do you mean to say that “no matter what” the laws were the number of guns terrorists would possess would be the same?
    Or just that “no matter what” the laws were terrorists would not be
    gun free?
    (If it’s the latter, do you have any preference as far as terrorists having fewer guns, same number of guns, or more guns? Or no preference?)

    As you know, bombs are highly regulated, and terrorists still posses them. Do you find current bomb regulations useless? Do you think they are too restrictive? Do you think our world would be better if bombs were available at the sports counter at Wal-Mart?

    I’m just trying to get a better understanding of your view.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • toby says:

      Tim’s argument amounts to “criminals don’t follow laws therefore we don’t need laws because criminals don’t follow them anyway.”

      Reply
      • Timothy Stratton says:

        Toby, that is NOT what I am arguing at all! Go back and take a little more time to read everything I’ve said a little more closely. You would do well to learn from Luke’s example and instead of jumping to incoherent hasty generalizations, you could ask some clarifying questions!

        Reply
    • Timothy Stratton says:

      Hi Luke, once again I want to thank you for your good questions and your tone. I could talk to guys like you all day. You asked:

      “Do you mean to say that “no matter what” the laws were the number of guns terrorists would possess would be the same? Or just that “no matter what” the laws were terrorists would not be gun free?”

      No to the first and yes to the second! Given the fact that history has shown time and again that criminals will possess illegal things, then we are living in a fantasyland if we think bad guys will not own at least some guns even if law abiding citizens cannot possess any means of protection. So, my argument (that some on this thread are distorting) is that it would be nonsensical, irrational, and dangerous to basically pass a law that guarantees bad guys can use their guns against the good guys who the government has just disarmed.

      You asked: “(If it’s the latter, do you have any preference as far as terrorists having fewer guns, same number of guns, or more guns? Or no preference?)”

      I’d prefer terrorists to have ZERO guns, but like I said, that only happens in fantasyland. So, if we can somehow get fewer guns in the hands of those who understand what Islam teaches, think Islam is really true, and want to be obedient to the teachings of Muhammad (those three things equal Jihad), then we should try to do whatever it takes to get (at least) fewer guns in their hands.

      Here is a good (and short) video by David Wood explaining why some Muslims become Jihadists:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjvfaZIDLCg

      You asked, “As you know, bombs are highly regulated, and terrorists still posses them. Do you find current bomb regulations useless? Do you think they are too restrictive? Do you think our world would be better if bombs were available at the sports counter at Wal-Mart?”

      Haha! Good one, Luke! 🙂 No, I do not think bombs should be legalized. I simply think I should have the right to defend the life of my family if evil comes knocking on my door. I do not think I need a bazooka or a .50 cal sniper rifle, or any fully automatic weapons. I am simply stating that law-abiding citizens should be able to protect their families with a handgun if bad guys are going to have guns (and they will).

      You said, “I’m just trying to get a better understanding of your view.”

      Thank you, Luke! I appreciate how you ask thoughtful and clarifying questions as opposed to jumping to conclusions and putting words in my mouth.

      By the way, what is your view on this topic? Do you think all guns should be banned from law-abiding citizens, or just some better gun reform making it harder to get guns into the hands of bad guys and terrorists?

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Hey Tim,

        Thanks. I am a bit short on time, and my views are bit more complex than a simple yes or no, but I want to give you a worthwhile and true answer to your question.

        I will be back with you.

        If you feel I’ve forgotten, please feel free to *bump*. I have a short question for you about some of your comments here that I would be happy to see you answer in the meantime. I will try to post that shortly.

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
  5. Timothy Stratton says:

    Andy, you said:

    //So you don’t oppose Iran or North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, on the basis that even without them they would continue to find ways to accomplish their hateful plans?//

    Andy, you have completely missed the point and put words in my mouth. The main point, is that the reasons nuclear weapons are dangerous in the hands of Iran and North Korea is because they hold to the ideology of Islam and atheism respectively! The Islamic rulers of Iran believe they have a moral obligation to Allah to nuke the infidels because they really believe the Quran is true, and the communistic rulers of North Korea seem to really believe atheism is true, which means they see nothing *really* wrong with nuking anyone who disagrees with them. Both of these bad ideas have bad consequences!

    Read my article again, Andy! I argued that the real problem – the main problem – is the ideas people hold. Consistent Islam and *consistent* atheism both do not or cannot condemn Islamic terrorists killing infidels (non-Muslims) as objectively wrong! Consistent Christianity, on the other hand, can and does condemn these terror attacks as objectively/really wrong. This is why I ended my article by saying: “If you agree that these Islamic terror attacks against homosexuals at the gay nightclub were objectively wrong and evil, then, to be logically consistent, you must reject atheism, Islam, or any other view that disagrees with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!”

    You quoted a snippet of my article: “The atrocities committed in the name of atheism by Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and arguably Hitler being influenced by naturalism’s “survival of the fittest”

    You said, //Hitler quoted himself as being influenced by his religious faith far *more* than ‘survival of the fittest’.//

    Thank you for making my point, Andy! You admit that Hitler was indeed influenced by “survival of the fittest.” That is my point and it is irrelevant if he was influenced by other things to a greater degree or not. The fact remains: Hitler was influenced by the idea of naturalistic survival of the fittest at some level. Thank you for agreeing with me.

    What is interesting is that you completely ignored the atheistic ideology of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao in the same sentence. That is probably because you are an atheist just like they were.

    //What’s more, in your last blog, you explicitly said that God *may* have allowed HItler’s holocaust [for a relatively short time] because it led to you [and millions upon millions of others] becoming a Christian [and experiencing eternal flourishing].//

    Andy, I added the words in brackets as to not be taken out of context. In my last article I provided TEN reasons as to why the Canaanite objection is faulty. Here it is: http://freethinkingministries.com/ten-problems-with-the-canaanite-objection/

    I do not argue that all ten have to be true simultaneously either, but if only one of the ten is true, then the objection fails. You are alluding to one *possible* option I listed (which is not my primary view but a logical possibility): The 9th point I offered was this: “9- Given God’s property of omniscience and perfect intelligence, God makes the best decision in every scenario and situation [given His purpose of eternal human flourishing]. God would know what would happen if He did not issue the commands to destroy the Canaanites.”God also would know what would happen if He allowed humans (including Hitler) to make horrible and evil free choices. I simply offered a thought experiment that may or may not be true, but it is at least logically and possibly true.

    Andy, if you want to get into all other kinds of other topics then we can discuss your ad hoc taxi cab fallaciousness regarding your complete opposition to any supernatural thing I have ever provided logical argumentation for, but you are now affirming an *infinite* amount of other supernatural things except for God – anything but God! I’d rather discuss the fact that your worldview of atheism is morally bankrupt, as you cannot condemn the murders of the LGBT community at the gay nightclub as objectively (really) wrong. As a Christian, I can and do condemn these acts as really wrong and evil! I argue that we have a genuine ability to make a real free choice not to behave like this (you cannot), and I argue that we have an objective obligation not to behave like this (you cannot).

    Here is my article making this case in more detail: http://freethinkingministries.com/an-ought-from-an-is/

    You said that Hitler believed he was doing God’s work. As you noted, Hitler was influenced by both “the religion of father,” and atheistic naturalism’s survival of the fittest. In regards to the “religion of his father,” the logical question that must be raised is this: what exactly was his father teaching him? If he claimed it was Christianity (following the teachings of Christ), then what teachings of Jesus would lead to a holocaust? I’d love to see a logical argument making that case! This is why my article specifically deals with CONSISTENT Islam, CONSISTENT atheism, and CONSISTENT Christianity.

    Reply
  6. Timothy Stratton says:

    Andy, in regards to the objective purpose of human beings (which you do not think exists), I said: “Obviously this is in regards to the opinions held by human minds”

    You replied: //Then you’re not going by the dictionary definition of Objective then, which didn’t specify ‘human minds’ or say there were any exceptions.//

    I hope I have clarified now. Here is a deductive argument adding further clarification:

    1- Objective truth corresponds to reality.

    2- If a maximally great being (God) exists, He exists necessarily and eternally. God is ultimate reality.

    3- God created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy him forever (Inventors invent things for specific purposes. Creators create for specific purposes).

    4- Therefore, this purpose is objectively true apart from human subjective opinion.

    Andy, the argument can end here as it demonstrates that the mind of God is ultimate reality and all other things from the universe to the human minds within it are contingent. If all human minds think God does not exist, they are simply wrong about reality. If all human beings disagree with the purpose that God created us for (to love and serve all persons), then all human minds are simply wrong about the objective purpose the necessary mind (God) created us for. There is a fact of the matter here that is true apart from all human opinion. With that said, we can extrapolate further:

    5- If God exists He is a maximally great being.

    6- If God is maximally great then He is perfectly intelligent.

    7- If God is perfectly intelligent then everything He does is for perfectly good reasons (This is the epitome of a good leader).

    8- Therefore, every command God gives is perfectly intelligent and perfectly good.

    9- Therefore if we are to correspond to reality we ought to obey His perfectly good and perfectly intelligent commands (That would be the objectively smart thing to do).

    10- God gives us the freedom to do otherwise and freely choose to be objectively stupid.

    You said, //Sure, you’ve argued before that if a God created us for a certain purpose then it would be objectively true that… he created for a certain purpose. You’ve not shown why it would be objectively immoral for us to go against whatever that purpose was.//

    We can go several directions here, Andy. First of all, you have recently rejected naturalism and affirmed that objective moral values (not duties or obligations) can be grounded in the immaterial/supernatural abstract world. With that in mind, if objective moral values can be grounded in supernatural abstracta, why can they not be grounded in a supernatural mind? So, if the good is really grounded in God, and God created us to be good, when one chooses to be bad, they are objectively wrong. This is the epitome of immorality. Bad people are doing what ought not be done.

    Now, as we’ve discussed before, if you want to get rid of all that “immorality talk” and simply affirm those who choose to act in a way other than the objective and perfectly intelligent purpose of loving and serving humanity (why are you opposed to that?), then we can simply call those people “objectively stupid” for lack of a better term. So, pick your poison; would you rather affirm immorality or willful stupidity for those who act in a manner other than the objective purpose they were created for by a perfectly intelligent Mind?

    You said, //Oh yes, and you conflate 1) ‘Maximally intelligent’, meaning God has ‘good’ reasons for doing something, meaning RATIONAL reasons – in other words, reasons that perfectly that to his will and purpose, With: 2) God has ‘good’ reasons meaning ‘morally good’ This is another way you use sleight of hand to substitute different meanings of the same word to smuggle in morality. I don’t think you do this deliberately, by the way.//

    Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt, and I do appreciate your pushback here; however, I’m not convinced I’m guilty of this. Let me explain: “maximally intelligent” is different than “rational.” I have argued in the past that it is impossible for God to make “rational” decisions in the way humans do. Why? Because the process of rationality leading to the inference to the *best* explanation, or the most likely true explanation, is simply not something an omniscient and perfectly intelligent Mind can do. God simply KNOWS and does not have to “think things through” or infer what is *probably* the case. He knows with absolute and 100% certainty. Perhaps that’s neither here nor there, but I think it is something interesting to think about.

    With that said, again, if “the good” is grounded in God (as opposed to abstracta), then there is no conflation. I think this is probably the case and proponents of the Euthyphro dilemma actually make this case for me (albeit unintentionally). But again, I am fine with talking about about just “plain stupidity” if you’d like. If one does not like the argument for objective “wrongness,” then they are left with objective stupidity.

    ***Let me make it clear, I do not think you are “stupid,” Andy. I am simply using that word to make a point.***

    Come to think of it, is it not really stupid for a person to freely choose to suffer eternally when true love and eternal flourishing (the reason he was created) are available for him? Call it what you will.

    You said, //I’ve just deleted another couple of paragraphs as you’ve complained in the past of me trying to put in too many points. So you can thank me for that!//

    Haha! I do thank you for that, Andy! You know, I bet we would probably have a lot of fun talking about this stuff face to face. I appreciate your pushback and I know we both get a little irritated at times with each other, but these are good conversations. I appreciate you, and I am sorry for when I get a little abrasive; I’m trying to work on that! 🙂

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “First of all, you have recently rejected naturalism and affirmed that objective moral values (not duties or obligations) can be grounded in the immaterial/supernatural abstract world”

      Tim, I think it would help if you stuck to the argument I make here rather than stating things you think I believe based on your interpretation of our past conversations. Suffice it to say, you are misrepresenting my position, and what you say there at any rate is not relevant to the critique I made of you argument above.

      I understand why you present your entire argument from scratch again, for clarity’s sake, but in my critique, I had already said that I believe your argument fails even if we grant the first six points, up to
      “6- If God is maximally great then He is perfectly intelligent.”

      The key here is how you’re getting from ‘God is perfectly intelligent’ to ‘God is moral’ and ‘we have obligations to him’.

      You say: ‘Let me explain: “maximally intelligent” is different than “rational.”

      OK Tim. So what IS the connection between ‘maximally intelligent’ and ‘He is moral’ and ‘we have obligations to him’? Again, I’m saying for the sake of argument I concede all the first six or so points, so I don’t believe you need to back any of them up again.

      “8- Therefore, every command God gives is perfectly intelligent and perfectly good.”

      Can you explain what you mean by ‘good’ here? I mean explain exactly what it means in this context. Because it seems to mea that it doesn’t follow from the previous point – it’s either a new idea you’ve smuggled in, or you’re using ‘good’ in a way I don’t understand.

      “9- Therefore if we are to correspond to reality we ought to obey His perfectly good and perfectly intelligent commands (That would be the objectively smart thing to do).”

      By ‘correspond to reality’ do you mean facts of reality in ADDITION to ‘God created us for a purpose?’

      Here’s the situation – a maximally intelligent being created me for a purpose. I accept that that purpose is the reason he created me. I accept that it is definitely in my INTEREST to conform to that purpose. OK, so all of that is conceded, and you do NOT need to back up any of that again.

      I still don’t see how that makes God’s commands ‘morally good’. I still don’t see how you are getting ‘obligations’ to this God. You’ve shown self-interest might guide a ‘smart’ human to follow those commands. I could even say that those commands strike me as ones I can get behind! But perhaps those are commands I would get behind even if they didn’t come from a ‘maximally intelligent’ being!

      You’re saying they are ‘objectively moral’ commands, rather than commands that might match my own goals and values, and I don’t think you can justify that leap..

      “I am sorry for when I get a little abrasive; I’m trying to work on that!”

      Cool. For the record, when I picked you up in the last thread that you had to back out of the conversation, to which you replied that you had family and other more important things to do: That was only in response to you telling ME it was a cop-out when I had earlier told you I had to drop out the conversation on an earlier thread. You gave me a stink about that, so I was just pointing it out when you did the same.

      If we both resolve to leave out the jibes and the ‘I beat you there, stinker!’ rejoinders, I think it would if nothing else help keep posts short and bring greater clarity to our actual arguments.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      …If you want my position on this: “First of all, you have recently rejected naturalism and affirmed that objective moral values (not duties or obligations) can be grounded in the immaterial/supernatural abstract world”
      …Here it is.

      I pointed you towards Jay Lowder’s response to W L Craig. I felt he responded particularly well to Craig’s defence of where obligations towards God would come from. I’d love to hear how Craig or you responded to Lowder’s point there. Obviously it was Craig’s argument, not yours, but there you go.

      Anyway, what you seemed to take from Lowder’s argument was a concession about OMV being grounded in the immaterial world.

      What I took from Lowder’s attack on the argument from morality is that the there’s problem with all three steps of the argument.

      1) The first is that theists have yet to demonstrate that OMV exists. I’ve yet to see anyone explain how we can test for it, or demonstrate it, or even have an argument that amounts to more than “But without OMV, I can dismiss your contention that HItler was immoral – it’s just your opinion. Is that what you want?”. That’s not demonstrating OMV.

      2) Now, we can move on from that and say that EVEN IF we concede objective morality – PURELY for the sake of argument – the theist then needs to get around Euthyrphro. Now you offer a splitting of the horns, saying there is a third option. You do this without acknowledging that the proposed third horn has been addressed many times by counter-apologists. I’m not saying this makes you wrong and them right, I just mean that you really need to address their objections to that third option.

      The objection is that ‘God himself is the standard of good’ isn’t really a third option, and merely pushes the dilemma back a stop. We can then ask: “Is is something good (e.g. forgiveness) because it is part of god’s nature or is it part of god’s nature because it is good?” The false dichotomy can be better stated as the following true dichotomy: when we define ‘good,’ do we start from god (or his nature, etc.), or do we start from something else. If we choose the former, good is arbitrary, as good then stems from whatever god happens to be (there is no guarantee that justice, honor etc. being good). If we choose the latter, then goodness is independent of god. The choice, as always, is between arbitrary or external good.

      3) Finally, even if we dismiss Euthyphro – again, PURELY for the save of argument – we’re left with the claim that objective morality can ONLY be explained by God. Lowder argues here that this isn’t the only explanation. The argument from morality relies on it being the only explanation.

      My point is that dismissing, say, Euthyphro, for the sake of the argument, to show that the other person’s argument STILL doesn’t work, isn’t the same as saying you think Euthyphro doesn’t work or is ‘dead’. Lower or me making the third point above isn’t a concession of anything, it’s just saying that the argument from morality fails at every point.

      But if you want to know my exactly position on morality, here it is:
      • I’m agnostic as to whether objective morality exists
      • If someone thinks they can demonstrate it exists, or tell me how the world would actually look different it if did NOT exist, then I’m all ears
      • I think I can define morality in such a way that I can say what’s immoral
      • Whether I can call someone ‘objectively wrong’ rather than just ‘wrong’ has no bearing on whether I’d stop them harming another person. I mean, if a big rock is rolling towards someone, I’d stop the rock irrespective or whether that rock is ‘objectively immoral’ or not.
      • Even if you can argue that it would make my life easier if I could call something ‘objectively immoral’, that doesn’t make objective morality more likely to be true
      • At any rate, I don’t see why objective morals would flow from a God even if one DOES exist, so….
      • I don’t think that believing in a God would ‘solve’ any problems I have from NOT having an objective morality anyway

      Reply
    • toby says:

      God created us for (to love and serve all persons) . . . and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy him forever.
      How do you know this?

      If a maximally great being (God) exists, He exists necessarily and eternally.
      Define great and explain how any “great making” attribute is anything other than subjective opinion.

      If God is maximally great then He is perfectly intelligent.
      Same as above.

      How can a maximally great being exist and not have the property of being able to perfectly demonstrate and convince all of his creations that he exists. You allude to freedom to choose to be stupid, but could not a maximally great being grant freedom and perfect clarity of it’s existence.

      1. If god exists he is a maximally great being.
      2. Maximal greatness entails maximal intelligence.
      3. Maximal greatness entails maximal power to create.
      4. A maximally intelligent being knows what it circumstances would have to occur in order to convince all of his creations that he existed without violating their freedom.
      5. A maximally great being can create such a world.
      6. This is not what we observe.
      7. Therefore god is not a maximally great being.
      8. Therefore god does not exist.

      Reply
      • Josef Kauzlarich says:

        I take issue with premise 4. It is filled with assumptions. I think you would have to revise it to the following for it to be valid:

        A maximally intelligent being knows what circumstances would have to occur in order to convince THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF all of his creations that he existed without violating their freedom.

        To argue that God could possibly create a world that resulted in all people knowing Him without violating their freedom is a huge assumption. God can’t create a square circle right? How do you know in your limited knowledge that a world as you describe is even possible? It seems to me since the world we observe isn’t like you describe in premise 4, then such a world isn’t possible. This is just as logical a conclusion as yours.

        Reply
        • toby says:

          I take issue with premise 4. It is filled with assumptions.
          Yes, this is the premise I figured would rub the wrong way. But the point is that the ontological argument and moral argument make the same huge assumptions that you accuse me of in premise 4. What does it mean to be maximally great if maximally great things can’t be done.

          To argue that God could possibly create a world that resulted in all people knowing Him without violating their freedom is a huge assumption. God can’t create a square circle right?
          What is logically impossible about a maximally great being with the attributes given to him by apologist being able to make a universe in which all sentient creatures could know him without violating their freedom? Your god supposedly walked around and talked to people and appeared to people in the bible. If that clear knowledge of his existence violates freedom, then those he appeared to were not free.

          Reply
          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            “But the point is that the ontological argument and moral argument make the same huge assumptions that you accuse me of in premise 4.”

            I can’t possibly respond to this without seeing your understanding of these arguments fleshed out in more detail.

            “What does it mean to be maximally great if maximally great things can’t be done.”

            So are you saying that an example of a maximally great thing (in this sentence) is all creatures knowing God? If so, how do you know this is maximally great? How do you possibly know it is even possible? There is a possibility this is not maximally great or logically impossible considering the creator’s objectives. It seems to me that God’s quality of omniscience makes Him the only one that could possibly know this with certainty.

          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            “What is logically impossible about a maximally great being with the attributes given to him by apologist being able to make a universe in which all sentient creatures could know him without violating their freedom?”

            I used the square circle to illustrate only that what you describe in premise 4 COULD be logically impossible. The point is you can’t know. Even with omnipotence and omniscience God very well might not be able to create a universe with freedom in which all people come to know Him and still accomplish whatever objectives He put in place. To think He could is an assumption.

          • toby says:

            I can’t possibly respond to this without seeing your understanding of these arguments fleshed out in more detail.
            The ontological argument is basically trying to define a god into existence with no real proof at all. It is based on subjective notions of “greatness” with no explanation as to why those attributes are “great”.

            The moral argument assumes a being like the one in the ontological argument exists.

            If so, how do you know this is maximally great? How do you possibly know it is even possible? There is a possibility this is not maximally great or logically impossible considering the creator’s objectives.
            That’s the point, sir. The arguments, ontological and moral, are equally full of assumptions of what greatness is. They assume things like omnipotence and omniscience are not only great, but that they are even possible. With no support. It’s pure armchair philosophy with a big fluffy faith cushion.

            Theist: “He’s omniscient so that makes him great!”
            Atheist: “What do you mean by great?”
            Theist: “Well . . . omniscient for one thing!”

        • toby says:

          A maximally intelligent being knows what circumstances would have to occur in order to convince all of his creations that he existed without violating their freedom.
          You took issue with this, but all it’s saying is that such a being would be smart enough to know how to accomplish this. You really have issue with 5. You think your god is impotent to create the world in which the circumstances he knows would lead all to know him can occur.

          Reply
          • Josef Kauzlarich says:

            “You took issue with this, but all it’s saying is that such a being would be smart enough to know how to accomplish this.”

            I would change that to read, “such a being is the only one who could possibly know if it could be accomplished.”

        • toby says:

          Premise (5) of your argument is demonstrably false, Toby. Do you understand the vital difference between possible and feasible worlds?
          Then by all means demonstrate it.

          One is possible and not logically impossible, the other is what is actually possible in reality. All sorts of possible worlds could be imagined, but I’d say that calling something feasible is subjective unless aspects of the possible world clearly violate reality.

          Such as it’s possible that a world could be created where mountains get wider as you go up from the ground (peak on the ground in other words) but in this reality it’s not feasible due to gravity. Sure, you can call that not feasible based on gravity and the types of materials that go into making mountains.

          How you go about calling worlds unfeasible when it comes to a maximally great being is subjective as the ideas of what are great are subjective. What does great mean and what is great?

          Reply
  7. Josef Kauzlarich says:

    Tim,

    Overall I appreciate your post. I have one question. I don’t see why you felt the need to even address the gun issue. Can you please explain why this would fall into the realm of Christian apologetics in the first place?

    Reply
    • Timothy A. Stratton says:

      Thank you, Josef! You ask a very good question; in fact, my pastor asked me the same question yesterday. The reason I wrote the “guns are not *the* problem” section, is because I felt vast amounts of people were missing the problem that makes guns dangerous — bad ideas!

      In the article I was careful not to be a “guns rights activist” or anything like that. Moreover, I am actually for some gun reform, but this is not the point of the article. Bottom line: Why can guns be dangerous? Because when they are in the hands of someone with incorrect ideas about reality, horrible consequences can follow.

      Some of the comments here have gotten into the weeds (so-to-speak) and are missing the point. I hope I’ve provided some clarification. Thank you for asking a good question!

      -Tim

      Reply
      • toby says:

        is because I felt vast amounts of people were missing the problem that makes guns dangerous — bad ideas!
        Guns are dangerous by default. Period. You can make a graph to rate household items as dangerous and I doubt that there would be anything higher on the graph than guns.
        Bad ideas . . . yeah, tell that to the toddler that shoots their sibling when they find a loose gun in their house. Or the guy that shot his own 8 to 10 year old kid outside of the gun shop when he accidentally discharged his gun into the kid’s chest.

        Reply
  8. Mark Guetersloh says:

    I really enjoyed the article by Tim. And I tried to wade through all of the comments in this string….I really did. But I am becoming old – old enough to have suffered these same tired arguments over and over again. I haven’t found a better way to summarize the fallacy held by most all postmodern secular humanists than the comment made by Cynthia McFadden of NBC Nightly News many years ago. When asked about the nature of humans, she said she believed that we are all born intrinsically good. So, it follows that killing of any sort is motivated by mental illness or some other hurt done to us (real or perceived). Really? Does an honest look at human behavior throughout all of history support this? I’ll leave you to answer this for yourselves. Men and women kill because it is in our nature…part of our character since original sin. And the only thing that stands between all of us and a wholesale surrender to unrestrained feral warfare is God. None of these counterfeits deities and the fools who follow them, but the Creator God of Biblical Christianity and the dwindling authentic Christians who still acknowledge Him as Lord. And someday soon He is going to call home His elect and then those who remain will see just what nobility can be found in Godless humanity.

    Even a clumsy look at the number of casualties listed for the great wars in past history ought to show at least one thing – the weapons responsible for most deaths did not involve the use of gunpowder. In the absence of firearms our species has proven more than proficient with other tools of killing. More we have proven that we enjoy killing, and we do it for all manner of reasons – personal gain, vengeance, self protection/preservation and very often for the simple enjoyment of killing (yes, I know there are very many more reasons than I’ve listed). Take away all guns if you want – you will never be safe. Only Christ can give you that…has promised to give you that, and you hate Him.

    Tim, you have done a good job of showing this logically. I’m afraid logic will accomplish little in a postmodern culture that has abandoned objective truth. Curiously, another name for Christ is “Logos,” which can be interpreted as logic or more appropriately Wisdom, which was with Creator God at the beginning. Postmodernism has proven to be a fertile agar for the ascension of man to godhood. Let us watch and see what our imagined deification will both sow and reap. Jesus warned us of a time when this would occur – “as in the days of Noah.” Those who know Scripture know God’s response to that evil. Those who know Scripture know what comes next…and I think soon…I pray soon.

    The murder of those men and women in Orlando, each created in the image of God, is a tragedy. It was perpetrated by a sinful man influenced by a false religion. It could have just as easily been done by a sword, knife, club, bow or bare hands. Perhaps not as quickly, but does the method or the speed with which murders are committed diminish the crime?

    Look to your God or god(s)…or within yourselves for the answer. Hide behind clever words. Ignore logic, wisdom and history. Ignore the clear teaching of Scripture. Stick your heads in the sand. Those who love evil are becoming fat because of just such ignorance. I take no joy in the knowledge that the culture created by postmodern thought will turn and tear its disciples to pieces.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      ” It could have just as easily been done by a sword, knife, club, bow or bare hands. Perhaps not as quickly”

      Just as easily, Mark? You allow that ‘perhaps’ it might have taken the murderer a bit longer to kill 50 people with his BARE HANDS than with a powerful assault weapon, but others it would have been done ‘just as easily’? You think the people in the club would have just lined up while he strangled them one by one with his bare hands?

      If guns offer so little advantage beyond speed for killing people, why are people claiming they’re so useful for defence? Why don’t we all just use our bare hands to defend ourselves if there’s no difference?

      On another note, you blame the murders both on ‘the wrong religion’ and ‘postmodern thought – can it really be both?

      Reply
  9. Mark Guetersloh says:

    Yes Andy, I hold fast to my statement that 50 people could have been killed just as “easily” with a lesser weapon. I did mention the variable of time. A skilled, clever motivated killer might kill 50 or a hundred or more with something other than a gun, which includes “bare hands” over a period of months or years. Does the speed with which killing is accomplished increase or decrease the finality of the act? I think not. Murder is murder, no matter the method or the time between each life taken. In a society that views murderers as sick rather than sinful…that only reluctantly punishes crimes, that refuses to recognize that human nature is by default evil, worse is coming.

    Guns are useful for self defense because often those who would do us harm possess guns. Not to mention, all men and women are not equally capable of doing harm to others. Often the only variable between a survivor and victim is a weapon.

    You can’t un-fall off a cliff, can’t lose Pandora’s Box. Gun’s are here. Legislation will not change that. People bent on having a gun will buy, steal or make them. I would ask you this – is there an example where legislation has eliminated a weapon or behavior of any kind? It may hinder, but never abolish. History has proven that.

    False religion and postmodern thought are bedfellows. Only a worldview that has abandoned objective truth can give equal validity to all religious beliefs. Only a culture numbed to truth could believe that Islam is a religion of peace. Read the Quran. I have. Killing infidels and homosexuals is as plain as black print on white paper. If there exists a version that denies this, they need to man up and call themselves something else.

    Because I’m sure I’ll get all manner of responses talking about the murders and killing condoned or commanded by the God of the Old Testament, I’ll offer those for those who can hear it. Our entire reality is governed by the metanarrative of Redemption. When God acts, it is to ensure that everyone who will call Him Lord, can call Him Lord. This required the possibility of sin and subsequent fall, the selection of a people (Israel) to bring Christ into the world, the Church age to bring in the “fullness of the Gentiles,” and the last days to make an end of sin and to establish eternity. I know this is foolishness to the unregenerate. It’s good beyond hope to all who believe.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Mark, the man would have been overcome by the clubbers if he’d tried to kill them all with his bare hands. It’s absurd to suggest he could have killed 50 people that way. How many serial killers have managed to kill dozens of people without use of weapons? It’s incredibly rare because you get stopped or caught after the first few victims – whereas it’s incredibly common for someone to manage to slaughter many with assault weapons.

      You ask for an example when legislation has helped – yes, Australia, where banning certain types of guns eliminated the kind of mass shooting that still happens virtually every day in America.

      Feel free to reply that Australia is different from the US, but it remains an example.

      When you say that postmodernism supported the Muslim here you sound just like the other side saying that the culture of homophobia of Christians supported him. It’s just another way of pointing fingers. And yes, one can cherry pick violent passages from both holy books, so,you should expect that response. You explain away those passages in the bible just like Muslim scholars will explain away those passages in theirs. Both sides can say the other is hermaneutically ignorant in their naive interpretations.

      Reply
      • Mark Guetersloh says:

        Hey Andy. I hear you, but really believe your aversion to guns blinds you to the root of the problem. If “bare hands” is so troubling to you, abandon that method. I’m OK with that. Will you still allow swords, knives, axes, bows and spears? If you think getting rid of guns (or education or environment or any physical nicety) will make the world a better place, knock yourself out. It won’t accomplish anything. Since you reject history as a reflection of human character, only time will prove which of us is right. The cost for being wrong in this matter is dreadful.

        And you continue to pretend that 50 killed in several hours is worse than 50 killed over a long period of time. I grant you no such silliness. Neither do the dead. I categorically reject your description of Christians as homophobic. Anti-theists love tossing the word homophobic about to describe us horrible Christians. We are not afraid of homosexuals. We love them…enough to desire with all our hearts their repentance and acceptance of forgiveness and eternal life. This earnest desire shared by all authentic Christians isn’t restricted to the sin of homosexuality, but for all sinners.

        And I don’t explain the plain meaning in God’s Word away like the Muslim. I embrace it. If every Muslim embraced their text as does the indwelt authentic Christian things would be very much worse and atrocities like this latest one in Orlando would devour the world. Turned around, if every professing Christian took their faith as seriously as most Muslims, things would be very much better.

        Regarding the plain meaning of Scripture – advance education isn’t a guarantee of right interpretation. In fact, many who graduate from colleges and seminaries are more lost than they were before enrolling. Our educational system has not been immune to postmodern thought…indeed it is the source for such nonsense.

        Please know that if I believed, as you and many others do, that getting rid of guns would be the end of violent crime and murders I would be all for it. With nothing more than a clear understanding of human nature from experience and history I can tell you the result of such action will be a temporary decline followed by a dramatic increase, in violent crime. Disarmed innocents are nothing more than victims in the eyes of evil men and women. You would think anti-theists who cling so tenaciously to Darwinian Evolution and survival of the fittest would know that.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “I grant you no such silliness.”

          You just argued that a person using his bare hands could kill as many people as the Orlando killer – 50 – before he got stopped, and now you’re loftily telling me you’ll ‘grant’ me ‘no such silliness’? Good grief, Mark, take a look at your posts before posting them.

          “And you continue to pretend that 50 killed in several hours is worse than 50 killed over a long period of time.”

          I pretended nothing. In fact I didn’t even ARGUE the above, let along ‘pretend it, so you are attacking a strawman of my position. Go back and read what I actually said.

          “Please know that if I believed, as you and many others do, that getting rid of guns would be the end of violent crime and murders I would be all for it.”

          Strawman again, Mark – no-one here argued any such thing. In fact your reply to me in sum is a collection of strawman misrepresentation and emotional rhetoric. Address the actual points and arguments I make or discussion is pointless.

          Reply
    • toby says:

      A skilled, clever motivated killer might kill 50 or a hundred or more with something other than a gun, which includes “bare hands” over a period of months or years. Does the speed with which killing is accomplished increase or decrease the finality of the act? I think not.
      This is ridiculous. You’re making yourself complicit in murder by failing to take actions that clearly would prevent them. If there were any way for you to have denied this guy the right to buy a gun, would you have? I’m sure you get all up in arms about abortion and how it should be stopped, why not when it comes to guns? We know that if less guns were in circulation that it would be harder for criminals to get them. That’s just basic math.

      Reply
      • Mark Guetersloh says:

        You suggest that this is simple math. Obviously you have a poor grasp of complex equations. Yup, I do call abortion murder and those who perform them murderers. I suppose if we took away their surgical implements that would be enough. You know better. Surgical tools can be used to do good. Guns can be used to do good as well. Good or bad is in the mind and hands of the wielder, not the tool. Take away an evil persons weapons and they are still evil. I would offer them a better choice, a worldview that recognizes better than any other the condition of the human heart, and more that provides a remedy for this condition. For those who refuse that remedy, I would hold them to an objective moral code. And I would punish them appropriately for breaking this code. It is your worldview that allows such animals to run free. Who I wonder, is more complicit.

        Reply
        • toby says:

          You suggest that this is simple math. Obviously you have a poor grasp of complex equations.
          It’s more of an economic question. Less in circulation = scarcity (uncommon, hard to find or get, rarity). Therefore simple math.

          I would offer them a better choice, a worldview that recognizes better than any other the condition of the human heart, and more that provides a remedy for this condition.
          That has a hideous track record.

          For those who refuse that remedy, I would hold them to an objective moral code.
          Right, and please lay it out for us here.

          It is your worldview that allows such animals to run free. Who I wonder, is more complicit.
          Explain further. Who am I allowing to run free?

          There’s something disgusting about gun rights and gun culture. It condones murder for simply being on one’s property, even if the criminal isn’t armed. In the break room where I work the other day several people were talking about thefts in the rural areas where we live. People breaking into outbuildings and sheds and taking tools and whatnot. And I swear to you that the most christian woman that I know in my personal life said, “If they break into our shed, and we’re there, it’ll be the last one they ever do.” She’s nice, a bit preachy, but they are gun nuts and apparently willing to murder someone for “taking their stuff.” Does this seem right? Proportional? Christian? Yeah, sure. Jesus was all about having and keeping “stuff”.

          So if you’re saying that the animals I’m letting go free is some unarmed thief that wants some powertools then yeah. Oh, I’m such a BLEEDING HEART KNEE JERK LIBERAL because I don’t see death for stealing as a proportional punishment. Do i want them free? No. They should be caught. And how that happens is probably alarm systems with surveillance cameras or them breaking into a place when someone is home and calls the cops.

          Reply
  10. Andy Ryan says:

    Josef: “If I as a creator build a vacuum cleaner with free will, that subsequently refuses to vacuum…”

    Sounds like you’re creating a slave, Josef! You might as well ask: “If my wife and I conceive a child for the express purpose of giving up its organs to us so we can use him for spares, and he refuses to consent to that…”

    “It seems very apparent that God has every right to do so as our creator to me”

    But that’s like me saying “It seems very APPARENT to me that Hitler had no right to take people’s lives when they didn’t belong to him”

    It’s not what’s APPARENT, it’s what you can make a logical argument for, isn’t it? Either they’re BOTH apparent or they’re BOTH begging the question in some way. I mean, I’m very sympathetic to you wanting to give me an argument that appeals to fair play, or what’s apparent, or just ‘makes sense’, in order to explain why OMV flow from God, but you’ve already said that none of those methods are valid for establishing a secular moral system.

    Note, that you can’t say that these arguments do work under God but not without God, because you’re trying to use those arguments to explain WHY they work under God.

    “It seems very apparent that God has every right to do so as our creator to me, but less so to you”

    So we’ve got the same problem you said we had under a secular outlook: “They are equally valid opinions unless there is a standard to compare them to”

    You can reply: “But we DO have a standard here, God’s!” – but that God’s standard is valid is what your’e trying to establish in the first place!

    Reply
  11. Luke says:

    Hey Tim,

    I have a question about your word choice and word usage.

    Let me give a bit of context. In another thread, you made this comment, directed at me: “[Y]et again, an emotional reaction to an intellectual response.” (You see me as a very emotional guy, I guess.)

    You seem to have voiced a preference for dry, accurate, intellectual discourse. You seem to look down on appealing to emotion.

    I’d think you’d agree that in an intellectual discussion, it is helpful to use precise terms, the definitions of which the parties agree upon. (Right?)

    So I was surprised to see this:

    Tim said:“[On a naturalistic view] There was NOTHING objectively WRONG with these attacks.”
    Bob said:“True and irrelevant”
    Tim replied:Wow! You really think there is nothing really wrong with the mass murder of the LGBT community the other night?… WOW! I appreciate your honesty.”

    You were both using and discussing the word “objectively”, then you switched it out for “really”.

    Why this switch Tim?

    Now, I wrote quite a bit about these words, discussing dictionary definitions and common syntax, giving an argument for why this word switch lowers clarity and accuracy. For brevity, let me give examples instead.

    If a car seller said: “There is nothing really wrong with this car.”
    We would all understand: “The car doesn’t have anything major wrong with it. It may not be perfect, but it’s a fine car.”
    We would never think: “The car needs thousands and thousands of dollars worth of repairs before it could be driven, but the seller doesn’t believe that there is some metaphysically objective way in which cars should function.”

    If a doctor said: “There is nothing really wrong with your kidneys.”
    We would all understand: “Your kidneys are in fine shape and don’t pose any major risk to your health.”
    We would never think: “Your kidneys are failing and you may die soon, but this doctor doesn’t believe that there is a metaphysically objective way that kidneys should be.

    It’s just the way we use language. “nothing really” is a common phrase that conveys a certain meaning to most. Sure, you can put forth that other meanings are linguistically correct, but it doesn’t change the fact that everyone, for all practical purposes, understands something else.

    I put forth that when someone reads: “Bob doesn’t think there is anything really wrong with mass murder.”

    One would understand: “Bob is kind of okay with mass murder. He doesn’t see a major problem with it.

    If you asked 100 people on the street to restate Bob’s position, I very seriously doubt that any would say: “Bob personally feels that mass murder is horrible, terrible, reprehensible, but he doesn’t believe that there is a metaphysically objective right and wrong.”

    (The fact that you changed the word and phrasing left things open to that very unfortunate misunderstanding. I’m sure you’d would not want your views opened up to such misinterpretation due to someone changing a precise word, for a much more imprecise one. Am I correct?)

    Is it an emotional appeal?

    Now, from your previous words, I am sure you were not trying to play to emotions by making this change.

    I wonder however, if by changing words, you inadvertently made an emotional appeal to your audience.

    If I am correct in what I said above — that “there’s nothing really wrong with this car”, and “there is nothing really wrong with your kidneys”, and “there is nothing rally wrong with mass murder” leaves the reader understanding that the car, the kidneys, and mass murder are all pretty okay, as far as the writer is concerned, you’ve left readers with a very distorted view of Bob.

    I’m sorry to say that for someone who is keen to avoid emotionallity, you’ve accidentally loaded the conversation with tremendous emotional baggage.

    One of the supports for the second prong of the moral argument (objective moral values exist) is that we all know deep down inside that it is super duper wrong to commit mass murder. It just feels really wrong. For most of us this is a common human trait. (It’s not hard to find reactions calling the killer in Orlando an “animal” for this very reason. For many of us the fact that he didn’t find it deeply wrong separates him from humanity.)

    In general, people have a strong emotional dislike for those who believe mass murder is not super duper wrong.

    Whether intentionally or not you’ve just left the impression that this is the very thing that Bob believes.

    That is going to make many readers not trust Bob. To think badly of Bob.

    You even surrounded your changed wording with “WOW!” as if to signal to readers that something out of the ordinary is to be found. (Moral anti-realism is not that out of the ordinary. No one in the philosophy department is going to say “Wow! Dr. Tom’s is a moral anti-realist! WOW!” Now, someone being personally okay with mass murder of innocents, now that warrants a “WOW!”.) You also said “I appreciative your honesty” as if you thought Bob was brave to say this: as if this was something you find most people don’t admit. Of course moral anti-realists don’t hide in their closets in shame. Now, saying that you think mass murder is sort-of okay. That’s something it takes guts to be honest about. But that’s the weird thing — you knew that Bob personally thinks that mass murder is wrong, you were reacting to moral anti-realism.

    Now you may say, rightly, that you had no intentions to obfuscate Bob’s view, or to leave readers primed to emotionally react negatively to him. That’s fine, but intentions don’t always matter. People are hurt in accidents all the time. The lack of intentionality does not negate injury.

    I know from your words that you strive for clarity and intellectualism, and stray from appealing to emotions. I think you’ve failed to do that here: changing a word to make the meaning much less clear, and the common meaning of Tim’s New Phrasing (TM) elicits a strong emotional response from just about every human alive.

    You changed a word to make Bob’s meaning much less clear, if not outright certain to be misunderstood, and that meaning most would take away, was something that almost everyone will react to emotionally.

    I am pointing this out because I trust you’d like to avoid doing this in the future.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    ps

    I’d really like to see an answer to this: Why do moral anti-realists (sometimes) make you say “WOW!”?

    Reply
    • Timothy A. Stratton says:

      Hi Luke,

      Thank you for your questions! You asked: //You were both using and discussing the word “objectively”, then you switched it out for “really”. Why this switch Tim?//

      Philosophers use the terms synonymously, Luke. I also like “really” because it saves time and space and most people understand this. I pointed this out above in these plethora of comments.

      “Really” means: in actual fact, as opposed to what is said or imagined to be true or possible. Synonyms: im point of fact, as a matter of fact, etc. If you notice my last several comments with Andy, I am repeatedly stating “a fact of the matter which is true apart from human opinion.” This means the same thing as “really.” I hope that helps.

      //Whether intentionally or not you’ve just left the impression that this is the very thing that Bob believes.
      That is going to make many readers not trust Bob. To think badly of Bob. You even surrounded your changed wording with “WOW!” as if to signal to readers that something out of the ordinary is to be found.//

      I’m not trying to signal readers, Luke. I simply have to shake my head in disbelief when people reject properly held beliefs. It is like stating that one does not believe in the reality of the past or that the physical world does not exist. These are all properly basic beliefs that we should hold (or at the very least are justified in holding) apart from very powerful defeaters. Again, I discussed this with Andy on this thread already.

      //Now, someone being personally okay with mass murder of innocents, now that warrants a “WOW!”.//

      This is basically what one who rejects objective moral values and duties does! They can try to sugar coat it all they want, but the fact remains is that the atheist is left with nothing more than saying one is wrong for liking chocolate ice cream the best because I like vanilla best!

      //You also said “I appreciative your honesty” as if you thought Bob was brave to say this: as if this was something you find most people don’t admit.//

      Most people do not admit this, Luke. Only atheists and although atheism seems to be growing, it is still a minority view. Many of these folks still will not affirm that there was nothing *really* wrong with an ISIS sympathizer mass murdering LGBT folks in orlando. Dr. Ruse, who is an atheist, would still say that that person is just as wrong as the person that claimed 2 + 2 = 5. Like it or not, Bob is in the minority, but there is nothing wrong with being in the minority if atheism is true, and there is nothing wrong with me exclaiming, “WOW!” either if atheism is true. In fact, if naturalism is true, I don’t even have a choice in the matter.

      //Now you may say, rightly, that you had no intentions to obfuscate Bob’s view, or to leave readers primed to emotionally react negatively to him. That’s fine, but intentions don’t always matter. People are hurt in accidents all the time. The lack of intentionality does not negate injury.//

      Luke, for the sake of argument, if naturalistic atheism is true, then there is nothing *really* or objectively wrong with priming readers to react negatively to Bob. Neither does it matter that people get hurt in accidents if one is not intentional. Now, if we really do have an obligation to make sure people’s feelings are not injured due to lack of “intentionality” (which is also hard to explain on naturalism), then what are we going to appeal to?

      It seems you are trying to appeal to some objective standard I ought to be aligning my life with, but I am pretty sure you reject that standard’s existence. I guess I’m a little confused. Please clarify what you mean if I am misinterpreting you.

      Thanks for your questions, Luke. As always, they are good (objectively good)! 🙂

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Tim said:“It seems you are trying to appeal to some objective standard I ought to be aligning my life with, but I am pretty sure you reject that standard’s existence. I guess I’m a little confused. Please clarify what you mean if I am misinterpreting you.”

        Tim, I’m not sure what to say.

        Off the top of my head, I can think of several occasions on which I’ve been as clear as I know how to be about the fact that I believe in a theistic objective morality (Perhaps my best is simply not good enough, but it is all I can do.)

        Most directly, I answered about ten questions from you, many on this very topic on June 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm in the Canaanite Objection post, saying “Personally I am a theist and strongly believe that the acts that make up the Shoah were objectively evil.”

        As I mentioned in that comment, I cautioned you in our very first exchange (on April 7th) to not assume that just because someone asks a question, they must disagree with you. Yet you seem to still be assuming that I do, despite my numerous attempts to convince you otherwise.

        Even earlier today I offhandedly mentioned that society’s treatment of animals is objectively wrong.

        I’m at a bit of a loss as to what else I can do.

        Perhaps this will go some way toward clarity.

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
  12. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Hi again, Andy! Once again, thank you for the pushback. You noted that you didn’t appreciate that I pointed out that you seemed to reject naturalism in our last conversation and said: “Tim, I think it would help if you stuck to the argument I make here rather than stating things you think I believe based on your interpretation of our past conversations. Suffice it to say, you are misrepresenting my position, and what you say there at any rate is not relevant to the critique I made of you argument above.”

    To be fair, Andy, that is exactly how I felt when you brought up the Hitler thought experiment (and that’s all it was) from our past conversation on the Canaanites and brought it up here. It was irrelevant to my argument in this article.

    You said, //I understand why you present your entire argument from scratch again, for clarity’s sake, but in my critique, I had already said that I believe your argument fails even if we grant the first six points, up to “6- If God is maximally great then He is perfectly intelligent.”//

    Well, if you grant the first six points, then we have a much stronger foundation to work from. It might not be as strong as you would like, but we have something to work with, where atheism has absolutely nothing to offer! For the sake of clarity let’s look at the first four steps:

    1- Objective truth corresponds to reality.
    2- If a maximally great being (God) exists, He exists necessarily and eternally. God is ultimate reality.
    3- God created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy him forever (Inventors invent things for specific purposes. Creators create for specific purposes).
    4- Therefore, this purpose is objectively true apart from human subjective opinion.

    So, Andy, at the very least, we have a standard above humanity to refer to when discussing how things ought to be. I believe something like this was stated at the Nuremberg trials as to why we can condemn the Nazis: “There is a Law above human law!” Without this, there would be no higher authority to appeal to regarding the condemnation of Nazis who simply possessed a differing subjective opinion from most others in the world.

    Moreover, while considering Nazis (they are so easy to pick on), imagine what this world would have been like if they would have won WWII. Let’s suppose Hitler won the war and killed everyone who disagreed with him so the world was filled with only those who praised Hitler and believed his Holocaust was good. Now let’s suppose you find yourself existing in this possible world years later. It is much different than the world we know, as Andy Ryan is the only one is this possible world who has a different view of Hitler. Everyone worships and praises Hitler in this possible world except for Andy Ryan. Everyone is a loyal Nazi, except for Andy Ryan!

    In this possible world, if God does not exist and there is no Law above human law, then you would have no grounds to say Hitler was wrong and the Nazis were evil.

    So, even if you are not convinced as to *why* God is good or anything like that, at the very least, God provides something quite significant that atheism cannot: a Law above human law and a grounding for how things *ought* to be even if the vast majority or the entire population of created and contingent beings disagrees. The fact of the matter would remain, that a perfectly intelligent God created humanity to behave much differently than Nazis behaved.

    Reply
  13. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, I said, “maximally intelligent” is different than “rational.”

    Andy, you replied: //OK Tim. So what IS the connection between ‘maximally intelligent’ and ‘He is moral’ and ‘we have obligations to him’? Again, I’m saying for the sake of argument I concede all the first six or so points…//

    Okay, I think there are several approaches we could take here. Let me begin by asking you a question: Do citizens have an obligation to follow the laws of the land? Do public schools in America have an obligation to adhere to the Obama administrations decree of allowing co-ed naked showering? If guns become illegal and banned in America, do we have an obligation to turn our guns in? If we do have obligations to human government, then why not an obligation to the King of kings?

    Now we try to elect leaders that we hope are highly intelligent (not just I.Q. scores) and make the best possible decisions in as many situations as they might conceivably find themselves. We hope that if Hilary Clinton becomes president, she will make highly intelligent decisions in public policies, international affairs, etc. She would be in a position of authority and Americans have an obligation to the laws that come from her administration if we like it or not, and if we disagree with her or not.

    The same is true with God. God does not only make what might be the best decision in regards to probability judgments as a human leader would; rather, God is perfectly intelligent and would always make THE BEST decision in any situation He is in. Moreover, since you grant the first six steps, if God created us on purpose and for the specific purpose of human flourishing, then this is a fact of the matter if you like human flourishing or not. There would be no contingent human existence at all if it were not for the necessary existence of God. Humans rely on God for existence and God relies on no one. This is why I like to quote Dr. Craig: “We ought to depend on the ONE who depends on no one.”

    Now, the cool thing about God (unlike human governments) is that God gives humans the libertarian free will to choose to disagree with Him – even for eternity if they’d like. I am a firm believer that everyone gets exactly what they want for all eternity. Everyone is invited to love and flourish for eternity, but if they would rather hate and suffer, God does not (and logically cannot) force someone to freely choose to love. So, even though there is a purpose to humanity apart from human opinion (as you grant for the sake of argument), God is a gentleman. To each their own.

    In regards to step (8): Therefore, every command God gives is perfectly intelligent and perfectly good.” You asked, //Can you explain what you mean by ‘good’ here? I mean explain exactly what it means in this context.//

    That’s a good question, Andy. I believe intelligence is good and that it is better to be smart in all aspects of life than to be smart in some and stupid in others, or to be a complete idiot in all aspects of life. Now, perhaps that is simply my subjective opinion and you might argue that ignorance is better than intelligence. If that’s the case, then we can leave the word “good” off of that deductive conclusion and just argue: “Therefore, every command God gives is perfectly intelligent.”

    Reply
  14. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, let’s move to the next deductive conclusion:

    “9- Therefore if we are to correspond to reality we ought to obey His perfectly good and perfectly intelligent commands (That would be the objectively smart thing to do).”

    You asked, //By ‘correspond to reality’ do you mean facts of reality in ADDITION to ‘God created us for a purpose?’//
    Well, let’s look at the steps of the argument you have granted for arguments sake:

    1- Objective truth corresponds to reality.
    2- If a maximally great being (God) exists, He exists necessarily and eternally. God is ultimate reality.
    3- God created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy him and other humans forever (Inventors invent things for specific purposes. Creators create for specific purposes).
    So, reality is the mind of God (the string theorist, Michio Kaku, just made this following claim recently as well, and we have several more arguments reaching this deductive conclusion too), and his all-knowing mind exists necessarily as ultimate reality.

    Since the mind of God is omniscient and knows the truth-value to every proposition, He does not learn or come to rational decisions the way humans do. God just knows. So, God’s perfect knowledge is an aspect of ultimate and necessary reality. When humans are rational, we approximate to the perfect standard of knowledge possessed by God.

    You said, //Here’s the situation – a maximally intelligent being created me for a purpose. I accept that that purpose is the reason he created me. I accept that it is definitely in my INTEREST to conform to that purpose . . . I still don’t see how that makes God’s commands ‘morally good’.//

    Again, if it is “good” to do intelligent things that lead to maximal flourishing for all people, then “goodness” is grounded in perfect intelligence. As I stated above, I don’t need to die on that hill, and I can simply argue that some thoughts and actions are objectively stupid in light of the objective purpose humans were created for – to eternally flourish. However, even if “good” is just a human word we use to describe perfect intelligence, love, service, and flourishing, and “bad” is word we use to describe ignorance, hate, and suffering, the argument is still made.

    Moreover, one needs to demonstrate exactly how God cannot be the actual and ontological grounding of “the good.” As I said before, if the proponent of the Euthyphro dilemma offers one possible horn (option) as a supernatural, immaterial, abstract object of “the good,” then they need to specifically explain exactly why a supernatural, immaterial, concrete object – GOD – cannot be the grounding of “the good.”

    //I still don’t see how you are getting ‘obligations’ to this God. You’ve shown self-interest might guide a ‘smart’ human to follow those commands.//

    It’s not just “self-interest” but the interests of all humanity! A perfectly intelligent God would know that if He created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to eternally flourish, then God would know what commands to give humans so that we could fulfill that objective purpose that is true apart from human subjective opinion.

    Reply
  15. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, you said, //I could even say that those commands strike me as ones I can get behind! But perhaps those are commands I would get behind even if they didn’t come from a ‘maximally intelligent’ being!//

    Like I just noted, these commands would reflect ultimate and necessary reality, so they would be true even if you could not subjectively “get behind them.” If these commands did not come from necessary and ultimate reality, then it does not ultimately matter if one gets behind them or not. We are all accidental dust in the wind and we all share the same fate along with the entire universe itself. If atheism is true, nothing really matters, including what commands or laws one agrees with or “gets behind” or not.

    //You’re saying they are ‘objectively moral’ commands, rather than commands that might match my own goals and values, and I don’t think you can justify that leap.//

    If God is the ground of moral goodness, then it’s not a leap. This is the view Christians hold and it splits the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma. Thus, there is no leap. Moreover, as I said, we can simply discuss these things in terms of intelligence and ignorance too. If you think it is good to be objectively intelligent and bad to be objectively ignorant, then we can use those terms in that regard.

    Thank you for giving me some grace on my abrasiveness, Andy. I think I have a bad habit of it coming through the typed text, when in my head it does not sound that way to me. Again, I apologize and I will continue to work on that. Keep me accountable too! ☺

    //If we both resolve to leave out the jibes and the ‘I beat you there, stinker!’ rejoinders, I think it would if nothing else help keep posts short and bring greater clarity to our actual arguments.//

    Not to sound too religious, but AMEN to that, brother! ☺

    Reply
  16. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, you said, // I pointed you towards Jay Lowder’s response to W L Craig. I felt he responded particularly well to Craig’s defence of where obligations towards God would come from. I’d love to hear how Craig or you responded to Lowder’s point there. Obviously it was Craig’s argument, not yours, but there you go. Anyway, what you seemed to take from Lowder’s argument was a concession about OMV being grounded in the immaterial world.//

    Yes, that really stuck out to me. I thought it was odd given that “Naturalism” was a part of the title and yet he appealed to a possible option to choose from was anti-naturalism. That is to say, JJL appealed to supernatural abstract objects in an attempt to avoid the supernatural God.

    //What I took from Lowder’s attack on the argument from morality is that the there’s problem with all three steps of the argument. 1) The first is that theists have yet to demonstrate that OMV exists. I’ve yet to see anyone explain how we can test for it, or demonstrate it…//

    That’s a good point, Andy. I don’t think we can “test” to see if objective moral values exist or not. With that said, however, there are many things we cannot test, scientifically discover, or even deductively argue for. For example, we cannot prove the existence of the material world or the reality of the past. These are called properly basic beliefs that one is justified in holding even we cannot prove them. Why doesn’t science work or empirical validation work to prove the external and physical world exists? Because we must rely on our physical senses to make such claims. So, we are justified in holding properly basic beliefs like these unless a defeater comes along – it must be a very powerful defeater!

    Interesting side note: many physicists today are beginning to doubt (or even reject) the existence of space! Well, if there is no space, then there is no mass, and if there is no mass, then so much for gravity! If there is no matter then there are no brains (but minds would still exist). So much for physicalism/naturalism! I wrote a recent article on the topic if you are interested: http://freethinkingministries.com/substance-dualism-interaction-idealism/

    Anywho, I have a very hard time believing these scientists because the existence of my body is so properly basic that it is hard to think they are right. But if these theoretical physicists are right, then one has a defeater against what was once a properly basic belief in space, matter, and the physical world. These physicists argue that the fundamental building blocks of what we experience as physical is not physical at all, but rather, simply ones and zeroes – information. They argue what we experience as physical is not physical at all, but something similar to Neo in the Matrix. Their arguments are getting harder to ignore. Although they have gotten my attention, I am not convinced yet, but I am willing to say they are possibly correct. My properly basic belief has at the very least been shaken by a possible defeater.

    Now, all of that to say this: every single human experiences morality through out every day on a day-to-day basis. We all make claims of good, bad, right, wrong, fair, and evil. When we cheat or steal, we feel guilt. When we love and serve our neighbors (even our enemies), we feel that we have done something objectively good. Now, this does not prove that loving our fellow humans is objectively good, but it is a properly basic belief. The properly basic belief of objectively moral values and duties is even stronger than the belief of the physical world! Why? Because even if we do exist in a virtual matrix and only think physical brains and bodies exist, we still feel an obligation to love our fellow humans (even if their bodies do not really exist).

    So, objective moral values and duties are a properly basic belief that one would have to have powerful evidence for to reject. What kind of proof would be needed? Proof that God does not exist! As you know, many arguments have been made that either deductively or abductively demonstrate the existence of God. You might not find them compelling; however, at the very least, they demonstrate that belief in God is quite rational.

    Moreover, since it is impossible, by definition of the terms involved, to scientifically disprove the existence of God ( http://freethinkingministries.com/god-vs-science/), some have tried to argue against the existence of God via logic. The main one is the problem of evil, but this will actually support the second premise of the moral argument because if evil exists, then some things are objectively wrong. Thus, God exists. I wrote on this topic more in depth here: http://freethinkingministries.com/lex-luthors-lousy-logic/

    So, since the existence of God provides a Law above human law that we were created on purpose and for the specific purpose to accomplish, and it happens to lead to eternal human flourishing, then it seems if obligations do exist, how could they be grounded in anything stronger? Moreover, since there is no scientific or logical defeater against the existence of God (like there is the physical universe) and many rational arguments apart from the Moral Argument supporting the existence of God, we have good reason to hold our properly basic belief, that some things are really good, bad, right, wrong, fair, and evil.

    That’s why I concluded my article stating that “If you think terror and persecution against the homosexual community is objectively [really] wrong, then you ought to be a Christ follower!”

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Tim: “Now, all of that to say this: every single human experiences morality through out every day on a day-to-day basis. We all make claims of good, bad, right, wrong, fair, and evil. When we cheat or steal, we feel guilt. When we love and serve our neighbors (even our enemies), we feel that we have done something objectively good. Now, this does not prove that loving our fellow humans is objectively good, but it is a properly basic belief”

      Tim, at best you’ve shown that it’s a strong INSTINCT. And it’s one that would obviously have strong survival benefits for a social species. It helps us flourish. Game theory shows that such an instinct in a group benefits all, even when there are a few anomalies who reject that instinct and take advantage of others. So this aspect of human behaviour – which can also be observed in varying degrees in other higher primates (chimps certainly have a strong sense of fair play in tit-for-tat exchanges, and also empathise for other animals’ suffering – is perfectly well explained by evolution/natural selection.

      Even if you could show that this instinct was put in us by a designer, it wouldn’t tell us that an objective morality existed, it would just mean that we had been designed to have certain instincts and behaviour.

      I’m not saying anything here about what is or isn’t immoral, I’m just saying that the evidence you put forward for objective morality has an alternative – and I’d say better – explanation.

      Reply
  17. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, you said, // 2) Now, we can move on from that and say that EVEN IF we concede objective morality – PURELY for the sake of argument – the theist then needs to get around Euthyrphro. Now you offer a splitting of the horns, saying there is a third option. You do this without acknowledging that the proposed third horn has been addressed many times by counter-apologists. I’m not saying this makes you wrong and them right, I just mean that you really need to address their objections to that third option.//

    You are correct in that I do not think the Euthyphro dilemma (ED) is good for several reasons; that is to say, I believe it is a false dilemma. The first reason is that it does not appeal to the law of the excluded middle. So, there could be many other options available here – perhaps others that we simply have not thought of yet or that we will never think of. It is not like, “Either God exists, or atheism is true,” or “Either Jesus rose from the dead, or he did not.”

    The second reason is that if the ED proponent affirms that “the good” could be a supernatural abstract object (which is one of the horns of the ED), then they need to specifically explain exactly why a supernatural mind cannot be “the good”(which is what many Christians affirm). As I said, above, I believe this is probably the case but I am willing to simply discuss things in terms of intelligence and stupidity too.

    You noted the objection to God being the good: // The objection is that ‘God himself is the standard of good’ isn’t really a third option, and merely pushes the dilemma back a stop. We can then ask: “Is is something good (e.g. forgiveness) because it is part of god’s nature or is it part of god’s nature because it is good?”//

    Well then we can do the same thing with the supernatural abstract object that the ED proponent offers as an option. Is something good because it is part of the nature of the supernatural abstract object, or is part of the nature of this supernatural abstract object because it is good? The question is raised: Why, as soon as a supernatural thing is a mind, can it not be the ground of goodness.

    Be that as it may, if we appealed to the version of intelligence vs ignorance, and said things that were good added to the objective plan that humanity was created on purpose and for the specific purpose to accomplish, then love and service are good apart from human opinion and shooting gay and lesbians in Orlando is objectively bad apart from human opinion as it goes against the design plan that is true apart from human opinion. Regarding my argument, it seems the only thing I cannot argue for yet is this: why is it good that God would create humanity to love, serve, and flourish? I don’t think I must answer this, however, as I have still demonstrated a purpose for humanity that is the fact of the matter and true apart from what humans might think to the contrary (objective truth in that regard).

    Moreover, and back to Euthyphro, I think to claim, “God has this nature,” is confused. A nature of something is the essences of the thing in question. The nature of God is that he is all-powerful and can do all things logically possible. He is also all-knowing and knows the truth value to any and all propositions. “Power” could also be an abstract object, so does it make sense to offer a ED style argument like this: “Is something powerful because it is part of God’s nature or is it part of God’s nature because it is powerful?” Or, “Is something intelligent because it is part of God’s nature or is it part of God’s nature because it is intelligent?” Why is it just with goodness?

    Reply
  18. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    You said, //The false dichotomy can be better stated as the following true dichotomy: when we define ‘good,’ do we start from god (or his nature, etc.), or do we start from something else. If we choose the former, good is arbitrary, as good then stems from whatever god happens to be (there is no guarantee that justice, honor etc. being good). If we choose the latter, then goodness is independent of god. The choice, as always, is between arbitrary or external good.//

    Why, if God is the ground of good, is that arbitrary? Is it arbitrary that God is omniscient or omnipotent? For the sake of argument, so what if it is “arbitrary?” If God just happens to be the ontological ground of goodness, and thus, “the Good” really exists necessarily, why should we not approximate to that standard of goodness – especially if that same standard of goodness created us for that very purpose which would be a fact of the matter apart from what humans think to the contrary? Moreover, even if one thinks the goodness of God is arbitrary, His commands to humans are not arbitrary nor are they based upon anything independent of God. Rather, God himself is the paradigm of goodness. Ultimate Reality (God) has given us commands that are based on Ultimate Reality.

    Now, if one agrees that it is *Really* (approximating to ultimate reality) wrong to murder homosexuals, then they *OUGHT* to correspond to ultimate reality. This leads to flourishing for all. If one disagrees with Ultimate Reality (like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, ISIS, etc.) then they are free to disagree for eternity if they’d like. Along the way, however, they will cause mass suffering (at least for a time). Bottom line, we are discussing Ultimate Reality – the way things are – and the way things are is the way things are even if all humans disagree. When people are ignorant of reality, it is only a matter of time before there are painful collisions with reality. We saw this in Orlando this last weekend.

    Now, on Christian theism, we were created for the purpose of flourishing. On atheism, we are nothing but accidental dust in the wind and it doesn’t *really* matter if we flourish for a short time and die or suffer for a short time and die. Eventually, if atheism is true, we all share the same meaningless fate and the universe will be destroyed to boot. It will be as if we never existed in the first place. All is meaningless on atheism and therefore, there is no real difference between Hitler or Mother Theresa; between the Islamic terrorist in Orlando, or you.

    Bottom line: on Christian theism, when a Muslim starts shooting gay people, or a communist like Stalin starts mass murdering millions, we can say: “Hey that is *wrong* as that is not what we were designed or created for! Humanity was created to love, serve, and flourish together.” Now, an atheist might respond, “So what, I don’t care about that, I am going to do life my own way even if it is the objective truth that we were not created to act in this manner. I choose to suffer and to make people suffer!” As I said above, if Christian theism is true, then there is a fact of the matter regarding ultimate reality if it is “good” or not. Why, because objective truth corresponds to reality and if a maximally great being (God) exists, He exists necessarily and eternally, and therefore, God is ultimate reality. Moreover, if God created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy him forever and to love and serve all humans to flourish for eternity, then this purpose is objectively true and a fact of the matter apart from human subjective opinion.

    Christian theism offers this much. Atheism does not.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Tim: “If God just happens to be the ontological ground of goodness”

      In what way does he ‘just happen’ to ground this? I don’t know what you actually mean to say he’s grounding goodness ontologically. In what practical way does this grounding affect reality? Where did the traits that his goodness embodies come from? Would you say that it just so happens that he decided to create us for flourishing? I mean, if instead he’d decided to create us in order to enjoy our pain and suffering, would THAT mean that it was moral and good for stronger humans to torture and torment weaker humans? Or are those things necessarily immoral, such that no perfectly good God could command or enjoy them?

      From your argument, I can’t see that you would have to say ‘no’ to that latter question, meaning that it is indeed arbitrary that the traits you see as good are that way – things could ‘just happened’ to turn out differently and torture could have been moral.

      Tim: “Bottom line: on Christian theism, when a Muslim starts shooting gay people, or a communist like Stalin starts mass murdering millions, we can say: “Hey that is *wrong* as that is not what we were designed or created for!”

      You can say ‘that’s not what we’re designed for’ but I don’t see how that gets you closer to saying it’s ‘immoral’. In what way is it immoral to do something you weren’t designed for? Remember, I asked how you get from ‘Doing something opposed to the intention of the being who designed you’ to ‘immoral’. Asking this question does NOT entail ‘denying reality’ – that is to say, it doesn’t mean I’m denying that a purpose was intended. If you reply that it ‘denies reality’ then I think you’re missing my point. I can concede that a purpose was intended, so asking how this creates morality doesn’t mean I am denying that.

      “If one disagrees with Ultimate Reality (like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, ISIS, etc.) then they are free to disagree for eternity”

      Again, you’ve not shown that ‘going against what someone designed you for’ means you are ‘denying reality’. I can use an item for something its designer didn’t intend it without denying reality. It doesn’t mean I’m denying that it was designed for something else, it doesn’t mean I’m not AWARE of its intended function. I’m just using it for something else.

      Tim: “On atheism, we are nothing but accidental dust in the wind and it doesn’t *really* matter if we flourish for a short time and die or suffer for a short time and die. ”

      What do you mean by *really* matter here? It matters to you, right? It matters to me too – I want my friends and family to be happy. In fact I wish happiness on pretty much everyone (with a few exceptions). I empathise with other humans. What greater significance does it need to have before we’re supposed to start caring for other people? Should I only care about people if they’re going to live forever? They may start and end as ‘dust in the wind’ by why should that negate what happens in between?

      Did you see the Shelly Kagan and William Lane Craig discussion titled “Is God Necessary For Morality”? Craig bought up this point more than once and Kagan asked him in response why something had to have cosmological significance for Craig to see it as having any significance at all. I think it’s a good question. If you had to choose between spending the next five years in a cage while people poked you in sharp sticks, or 50 years enjoying a successful career and fulfilling family life, I don’t believe that you’d see no difference between the two. And I think that would be unaffected by whether you maintained your faith in God. If you faced the unknown or annihilation at the end of either scenarios, you’d still prefer the latter, and it would matter to you A LOT which one you were in while you were alive, regardless of what happens afterwards.

      Reply
    • toby says:

      Hey that is *wrong* as that is not what we were designed or created for!
      Oh, I see. So if I bought a $1,000 coffee mug and used it as a paperweight rather than drinking from it I would be offending the designer of the cup. Therefore wrong.

      But this only leads me to thinking about god being a “perfect” being. As such can god be offended? Is offended a perfect quality? It seems to me that god, being a changeless thing, cannot be affected by anything we do. We cannot make him any more or less than he is. so how is not doing what we’re designed for wrong?

      Reply
  19. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, you said, //3) Finally, even if we dismiss Euthyphro – again, PURELY for the save of argument – we’re left with the claim that objective morality can ONLY be explained by God. Lowder argues here that this isn’t the only explanation. The argument from morality relies on it being the only explanation.//

    Maybe I missed something (please let me know if I did), but I sure did not see JJL explain how objective moral values and *duties* could both be explained. I thought he appealed to supernatural abstracta to appeal to values, but I did not see how he grounded any objective facts of the matter as to how humans ought to behave apart from human opinion.

    Moreover, regarding the appeal to supernatural abstract objects, there are at least three reasons to doubt this works. At the very least, we can run an argument based on probability appealing to three independent points as to why this is not the inference to the best explanation.

    One last thought regarding Euthyphro that just occurred to me: For the sake of argument, let’s suppose God is not the grounds of “the good,” but that “the good” is actually just one of the infinite abstract objects that just exists. There would also be the abstract objects of “the bad,” “hate,” “rapacity,” and “malice.” Again, this is one of the ED options to choose from. So, if the perfectly intelligent creator and designer of the universe (GOD) created humans to function according to certain abstract objects and not others, then it would be the fact of the matter (objective truth), that we were created to approximate to certain abstract objects and not others. The ED proponent might say, “well, we don’t need God anymore then, we can just look to these abstract objects on their own, that God created humanity to approximate to anyway.”

    The fact of the matter still remains: God exists and created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to approximate to certain abstract objects and not others. Moreover, a bigger problem arises! By definition, supernatural/immaterial abstracta (if they exist) do not stand in causal relation in the physical universe. Thus, apart from a supernatural mind who is omniscient and knows all of the abstract objects and created humanity to approximate to each of them, and gives us “commands” so that we can know what abstract objects to approximate to, then humans are lost. We might happen to get some things right, but then Hitler, Stalin, and ISIS think they are right too? How could we stand in any sort of epistemic position to gain access to the supernatural abstract world apart from supernatural revelation? Abstracta is causally effete and thus, cannot provide revelation; however, the supernatural God could reveal these things to humanity. Thus, we would still need to look to God to know what abstract objects we were created to align with. We would still need His revelation. The teachings of Jesus Christ let us know that Hitler, Stalin, and ISIS all missed the boat (objectively speaking). Hitler, Stalin, and ISIS approximated to the wrong set of abstract objects!

    Reply
  20. Timothy A. Stratton says:

    Andy, you said, //My point is that dismissing, say, Euthyphro, for the sake of the argument, to show that the other person’s argument STILL doesn’t work, isn’t the same as saying you think Euthyphro doesn’t work or is ‘dead’. Lower or me making the third point above isn’t a concession of anything, it’s just saying that the argument from morality fails at every point.//

    At this point, I sure do not think it fails at any point. The first premise makes sense of both values and duties according to a design plan and atheism cannot. The second premise is a properly basic belief that one is justified in holding until a powerful defeater is brought against the existence of God. This defeater simply does not exist, and there are scores of arguments supporting the existence of God. Thus, we have good reason to believe that if God exists, then OBM&D might exist just as we experience them on a day to day basis.

    Thank you for offering your position on morality, Andy. It helped my understand your view, but I have some questions. You said:

    //• I’m agnostic as to whether objective morality exists//

    I’m just curious, but is that because you are agnostic on the existence of God, or do you take a harder atheistic approach? When you said, “objective morality” does that include duties too?

    //• If someone thinks they can demonstrate it exists, or tell me how the world would actually look different it if did NOT exist, then I’m all ears//

    If naturalistic evolution were true (as opposed to theistic evolution), then humans could have developed the “morality” of sharks or black widows. The world could definitely look much differently and, in fact, it has looked much differently in the past. Slavery could still be seen as “good” or Hitler could have won WWII and killed off everyone who disagreed with him. ISIS has plans of doing this exact same thing; what if they are successful? If no one lived to think they were wrong, would they still be wrong?

    Only if God exists (a necessary mind) could there be a fact of the matter about humanity that is true apart from human opinion. Moreover, until a powerful defeater is offered against the existence of OMV&D, then we should trust our experiences as a properly basic belief.

    *Side note: appealing to “evolution could make us feel these things” will commit at least two fallacies. First, if the atheist admits that evolution is aimed at survival and not truth, then how does he know his beliefs about anything are true, including his beliefs about atheism? Second, it does not logically follow from this that God doesn’t exist or that objective moral values and duties do not exist. After all, God could have intelligently designed the initial conditions of the big bang to guarantee that our comprehension of objective moral values and duties would be realized via evolution. This would not be a problem for an omniscient and omnipotent God.

    This objection assumes God cannot exist along with evolution and it is a genetic fallacy claiming the only reason one thinks something is good is because evolution makes you think that way. This does nothing to demonstrate objective moral values and duties do not really exist. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he stated that morality was “written on our hearts” (Romans 2:15). So, claiming that evolution is the mechanism in which we come to know objective morality does nothing to negate the objective reality of morality.

    //• Whether I can call someone ‘objectively wrong’ rather than just ‘wrong’ has no bearing on whether I’d stop them harming another person.//

    Yeah, but that’s just you! What about ISIS, would the Islamic terrorist be wrong for trying to stop you from helping a person? What if ISIS kills or converts everyone on the planet except for you? Since you disagree with them, are you wrong just because you are in the minority? If there is no Law above the law, then we are simply left with personal subjective tastes and hoping that more people eventually like the same things you like. But on naturalism that isn’t even up to us!

    //I mean, if a big rock is rolling towards someone, I’d stop the rock irrespective or whether that rock is ‘objectively immoral’ or not.//

    And some people would not, but rocks don’t make choices and they do not have ideas. Muslims, atheists, and Christ followers do make choices (well, if atheistic naturalism is true then no choices are ever made). So, while the rock is not objectively immoral, the question is, was the Muslim terrorist objectively immoral?
    //• Even if you can argue that it would make my life easier if I could call something ‘objectively immoral’, that doesn’t make objective morality more likely to be true//

    Again, I would appeal to properly basic beliefs; however, we could run a slightly different argument:
    1- If God exists, then objective moral values and duties could exist.
    2- There is a cumulative case of logical arguments pointing to the probable existence of God.
    3- Therefore, objective moral values and duties could exist.

    //• I don’t think that believing in a God would ‘solve’ any problems I have from NOT having an objective morality anyway//

    Pinting to God, His design plan, and His Law above the law which is true apart from the opinions of Nazis and ISIS are quite helpful when Nazis or ISIS attempts to take over the world! I hope I’ve offered a little bit to chew on, Andy. Thank you for the conversation, my friend!

    Reply
    • toby says:

      After all, God could have intelligently designed the initial conditions of the big bang to guarantee that our comprehension of objective moral values and duties would be realized via evolution. This would not be a problem for an omniscient and omnipotent God.
      Incredible. You said that premise 5 of mine was demonstrably false:
      1. If god exists he is a maximally great being.
      2. Maximal greatness entails maximal intelligence.
      3. Maximal greatness entails maximal power to create.
      4. A maximally intelligent being knows what it circumstances would have to occur in order to convince all of his creations that he existed without violating their freedom.
      5. A maximally great being can create such a world.
      6. This is not what we observe.
      7. Therefore god is not a maximally great being.
      8. Therefore god does not exist.

      So in your mind omniscient and omnipotent can do amazing things . . . except when it’s something you don’t like or doesn’t support your conclusions.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Tim: “At this point, I sure do not think it fails at any point. ”

      Yes, I get that you disagree with me that it fails, Tim, but my point there was that conceding the first point FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, to argue also against the SECOND point, is not the same as me stating that I’m abandoning the first point. So it’s misleading (unintentionally I’m sure) for you to later say, in another thread, that I had abandoned a viewpoint, when in fact I just conceded a point in order to argue that the argument fails even with that point conceded.

      “I’m just curious, but is that because you are agnostic on the existence of God”

      No – as I explain my view on objective morality isn’t affected by whether or not God exists. From my point of view the only way for ‘God is perfectly moral’ to make sense would be for him to be aligned with an objectively perfect morality that exists apart from him. Even if you could demonstrate to me that objective morality existed, it would make the existence of a God any more likely to me. Likewise, even if a God could be proved to me, it wouldn’t make the existence of objective morality any more likely to me.

      I don’t see any connection between the two things.

      “1- If God exists, then objective moral values and duties could exist.”

      I don’t see what difference the former makes to the existence of the latter.

      “So, while the rock is not objectively immoral, the question is, was the Muslim terrorist objectively immoral?”

      I meant that I reject the assertion that a negative consequence of not having objective morality would be that I cannot stop someone doing a destructive act. That his ‘objective immorality’ would need to be established first.

      “If naturalistic evolution were true (as opposed to theistic evolution), then humans could have developed the “morality” of sharks or black widows.”

      Sure, we could have done. I’m not saying ‘this is moral because we evolved this way’. I’m saying that evolution can explain why we have knee-jerk reactions and instincts with regards to certain behaviours. It PURELY explains observed behaviour. If someone holds up a certain aspect of human behaviour and says that it is evidence for objective morality, I’d reply that our evolutionary history provides a great explanation for that.

      WHY we evolved this way is a separate question. It’s a good question to which there are also great answers. We share a lot of our moral instincts with other ‘higher primates’ and many other mammals. Arachnids and sharks aren’t social animals, they never evolved social mores and group behaviours in the way that chimps, gorillas and we did.

      Reply
  21. Luke says:

    Tim,

    I hate to interject into your conversation with Andy, but I would like to understand something which I’ve never been able to fully grasp. I want to, but it never *clicks* for me. I’ve also inquired on this topic in the Cannanite Objection post, in a comment from June 7, 2016 at 4:57 pm. (Along with some other questions for you, by the way.)

    Here you said:“So, even if you are not convinced as to *why* G-d is good or anything like that, at the very least, G-d provides something quite significant that atheism cannot: a Law above human law and a grounding for how things *ought* to be even if the vast majority or the entire population of created and contingent beings disagrees. ”

    You have labeled the law above human law “something quite significant”. In what way is it significant? The first definition of significant, per Webster, is: “large enough to be noticed or have an effect.”

    What is the practical difference created by this law?

    You can provide another example or frame your answer as you wish, but let me ask this way: Imagine you make two versions of a movie about the next few years on this world you’ve conjured up. Let’s call it “Andy vs. the Nazis”, what is different between the plot of Movie One in which there is only human law, and Movie Two in which there is is a law above human law? What happens in one that can not/does not happen in the other? How is the action different? Are the endings different?

    What is the practical, effective difference between these two worlds?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  22. Luke says:

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for your answers.

    You asked:[W]hat is your view on this topic? Do you think all guns should be banned from law-abiding citizens, or just some better gun reform making it harder to get guns into the hands of bad guys and terrorists?”

    Let me start by saying something that isn’t a direct answer. I think the idea of “gun control” has become a very divisive one in the US, but we all seem to have forgotten that we mostly agree.

    We all agree on “arms” control (the 2nd amendment mentions “arms” not “guns”), and you won’t find more than a handful of people on the fringes who believe in no arms controls for private citizens. We all agree on bombs. We all agree on machine guns. We all agree on shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles. We agree on most of this stuff.

    I think if we stopped focusing on the 2% we disagree on, we could make more progress and find more consensus.

    Now to your questions.

    TLDR:I’d wouldn’t mind laws making it harder for regular civilians to have guns. I think a society with few guns in civilian hands is preferable. Such a thing would need to happen slowly, and it’s not my priority. What I would like to see is heavy regulation of guns and gun accessories that have little use in sporting or personal protection, but are great for terrorism. Guns and bullets and magazines that are good at quickly killing large numbers of people, but not good for much else, should be heavily regulated (as many already are).

    Full answer: Let me start by saying that I’ve lived in the US, in states with vary high gun ownership. I’ve also lived in countries with strict gun control — places where regular police patrols don’t carry guns.

    Obviously there are millions of variables that go into this, but the countries with strict gun control are safer places to be, as far as crime is concerned. I feel better in those places. It’s not so much about the guns, I’m also more uncomfortable around people who feel the need to have a gun on them at all times. (I am NOT saying this is a good, or correct, or rational view; I’m just being honest.) I did not grow up in a place with a so-called gun culture, so it’s just an unnatural idea to me. (Though I’ve shot guns on several occasions, and it’s fun, I guess. I haven’t hunted because objective morality requires us all to treat animals with more respect than most of us realize. I haven’t used a gun to defend myself, nor do I imagine I ever will.)

    That said, I don’t think radical policy changes are usually a good idea, and really open things up to uncontrolled unintended consequences. Suddenly banning all guns in the US is not really feasible and would certainly be terribly disruptive. I think a ban and confiscation regime would do more harm than good at the moment. So while I wouldn’t mind slowly moving in the direction of being more like the UK, it should happen slowly. (The UK had 0.23 gun deaths — including suicides, accidents, etc. — per 100,000 people in 2011. The US has 10.54 such death per 100,000 people in 2014. That’s some 45 times as many gun deaths on a per capita basis. As you likely know, the UK is not a criminal wasteland since the good guys don’t have guns.

    Regulation:
    So while I’m not advocating for “let’s ban all guns, right now!” there are things I’d like to see passed very soon. I would like to see the burden of proof shifted for gun ownership. I don’t think the regulators should prove that someone isn’t fit to have a gun, the person should prove that they are fit and have some need to have one. I’d shift the burden on proof to the buyer. I believe it was you who mentioned friends getting death threats. I would be open to a law under which one cannot purchase a gun unless they can demonstrate a reason for needing one — and “hey, I’m getting death threats” seems like a decent reason.

    The other and more important thing is that I’d like to see heavy regulation of guns and accessories (like magazines) that are useful in terrorist settings, but not so much so for home defense or sport. You signaled agreement with controls on machine guns and I see this along the very same lines of reasoning. In the 1920s and 1930s, crimes involving submachine guns were becoming common. The Tommy Gun became part of popular conscious because criminals were terrorizing cities with them. The US regulated them and similar weapons, and now it is extremely rare to see them used in crimes. We instituted some gun control, and the gun control worked. I’m not scared of a bad guy with a tommy gun anymore.

    Surely, we all agree that the man who attacked the LGBT community in Orlando would have loved to easily get a tommy gun (along with those iconic round drum of bullets).

    But we have (some) gun control in this country, so he didn’t!

    I wish I could be writing that sentence, but about how he would have loved to have gotten high capacity magazines. Instead he had them, and it helped him kill more people.

    (I’m not sure if there is a good reason guns with detachable magazines in civilian usage. If there is not one, perhaps this is the sort of thing that needs to go the way of the tommy gun.)

    The danger of guns:

    I don’t doubt that people genuinely desire to have guns for home protection or personal defense. Personally, I’m fairly convinced that having guns is more of a risk, than an effective safety device.

    I think it’s important to highlight that one study or two don’t prove anything. We can find A study to “prove” just about any point in this debate. That said, the preponderance of current evidence shows that gun control reduces gun deaths, and does not increase overall crime. Much of the reduction in death is due to accidents and suicides. Still, many places that implemented gun control (like South Africa in 2000) saw a decline in all homicides, as well as a bigger drop in homicides involving guns. They did not see an overall rise in crime. Patterns like this exist all over the world. It’s not proof that gun control works, but it is evidence.

    My feeling (which can be backed up with statistics, but we all know what Mark Twain said about those) is that a gun is more likely to be used by an abusive boyfriend against his partner, than by that same boyfriend to stop a crime. A gun is more likely to be used by teenage son going through something hard to end his own life, than to be used by him to stop a crime.

    Even in those situations where a gun seems like it would be a great thing to have, there are reasons to think otherwise. There was a study out of Philadelphia in 2009 that found that an assault victim was four-and-a-half times more likely to be shot if the victim had a gun. Guns make people feel powerful, they make it easy to escalate argument, not calm it down. They embolden people to walk down a street they should perhaps avoid.

    So let me ask you, Tim: If you were convinced that the gun you own was more likely to hurt you or a member of your family, than to hurt someone trying to attack one of you, would you still want the gun?

    Us old folks like to marvel at the attitude so many teenagers display thinking “it happens to some, but it won’t happen to me”, yet it seems such a common attitude among gun owners. I work in the medical field now, and I recently read a study that 23% of shootings in hospitals used guns taken from an armed security guard. I remember in the aftermath of the shooting at the Empire State Building, nine bystanders were injured, all by the trained police who brought guns to help. There’s just very little reason to think that any one person is immune to these dangers, especially when trained security guards and police officers are not.

    I believe you mentioned having a gun for home protection. That’s fine. Do you need a removable magazine?

    I realize that people shoot intruders into their homes (though did a gun escalate the altercation? surely in some cases it did). Still, I think a gun is often useless in these break in situation. A gun is best locked up, as we know, especially in a house with children. When a guy with a gun bursts through the door, we’re more likely to be on the couch reading a book, putting away the dishes, taking a shower, than sitting on the couch, facing the door, holding our fully loaded ar-15.

    Yes, sometimes it’s helpful. But sometimes a kid finds it. Sometimes one mistakes a family member for an intruder. Sometimes someone in the house develops depression, and has an easy “solution” within reach. Sometimes tragedy happens.

    I know, that won’t happen to you. That just happens to others.

    (to be continued… boy am I glad the computer doesn’t eat these comments when it tells me they’re too long!)

    Reply
  23. Luke says:

    The safety of guns:

    I think as we get more research, guns seem to be an overall negative factor for safety. Even if we assume they aren’t, are they really the best thing we can do to increase household safety?

    You asked me what I think of all this. Here is one thing I think:

    If we programmed a computer with all possible risks and mitigators of those risks, and asked for a list of the top 10 things we can do to increase our personal health and safety, I am convinced “get a gun” would not be in that top 10. (Probably not anywhere near it.)

    Buying a safer car might be (we’ve saved tens of thousands of lives every year by making and buying safer cars). Buying a gun, would not be. Washing hands well and more often might be. Buying a gun, would not be. Avoiding sugary drinks might be. Buying a gun, would not be.

    Do you disagree Tim? Do you think buying a gun is in the top 10 of most effective things Tim could do today to increase the health and safety of his family?

    Our best evidence shows buying a gun would not appear anywhere on that list, but even if it did, it would not be near the top. There are many other things we can do that are better than getting a gun. If we’re serious about increasing safety, we’d be doing those things first.

    Random philosophizing:

    You asked for my views, so are some more more general thoughts:

    Personally, I just don’t understand the fear that drives one to think “I need a gun to protect myself.”

    I just don’t understand why anyone would be so scarred or so worried.

    (I am NOT saying they are somehow wrong to worry. I just personally don’t understand that feeling. I am going to die. I am probably not going to be super jazzed about it when it’s about to happen. But it’s going to happen; I can’t prevent it, and I have it on good authority that I can’t delay it by worrying.)

    Every time I hear someone say “I need this super dangerous thing to protect my body” I just find myself wishing they’d read the words of Jesus more often.

    “And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing… And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if G-d so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (emphasis added)

    I just don’t get all the worry. And if you are going to worry, at least worry about something more likely to happen than a murderous home invasion.

    I think this is one of the main things in all of this for me. I don’t want to live a life where I have my gun on my hip because I’m worried and see everyone as a potential threat. I don’t want to scan the face of everyone in the library wondering which one I need to pay attention to, and feeling my hip to make sure my gun is in good “quick draw” position.

    I want to live a life where I see the good in people. I want to make choices that will help me focus on that. Guns teach us to look for the bad. I want to find the good. That’s the life I want to live. I don’t think I can live that life with a gun. I don’t want to always be worrying about where the threat is coming from, whether that guy is acting funny. I don’t want to constantly worry about my gun being in good service, about keeping up my training, about spending time at the range to make sure my poor aim won’t take out some innocent 8 year old.

    I’m much happier looking for the next hug; I’m more comfortable knowing that I’m not a potential danger to those around me.

    (And consequently, I’m happier living in a society where my fellow citizens aren’t looking for the bad thing around the corner, but looking for the good in one another.)

    Sure, maybe I’ll get attacked and killed when I’m out walking one morning. I guess I’m somehow supposed to feel like that would be terrible, but I just don’t feel that way. If I’m attacked and killed, I’m happy to know that G-d thought it was a good time for me to go. Why is this something I should be so scared of? I genuinely don’t understand why that would be something so scary and something I should be toting high powered weapons to avoid.

    It literally makes no sense to me why people feel this way. (That’s not to say they are wrong to feel how they feel. It’s just foreign to my brain. I just cannot imagine myself having those thoughts.)

    There are things so much more real than “home invasion” and “I’ve got to have a gun in case I need to protect myself”.

    Thousands of children die everyday for lack of clean water, and I’m expected to be worried about the infinitesimal chance of a home invasion? If I take the money it would cost to buy a gun, gun safe, classes, keep up training, getting the gun serviced, etc. I know I can save a life! (If not way more than one!) Not metaphorically, not symbolically — there is a real child out there, that could be saved with that.

    And I’m expected to consider it reasonable to give up a 100% chance of saving a life, for the tiny chance of saving my own?

    Sorry. No!

    That just makes no sense to me! None at all! I’m not saying that’s the right view. Especially not some objectively right view. To me, it just makes no sense at all.

    You asked for my views, and I am honestly answering. I’m not out to convince you or anyone else.

    Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  24. jcb says:

    Did anyone in this thread define “wrong”? I didn’t see any such definition. Would anyone care to offer their definition?

    Reply

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