Objective Morality: Much Ado About Nothing?

Earlier this year, an early-morning storm passed through our area, causing schools to open late. Some counties announced they would open schools one hour late. Others announced that school would begin at 9:30 am.

Our county? Officials announced that school would begin “after the storms were over.”

Imagine the confusion this created, as the storms dissipated in some areas, and continued in others! Parents and students wondered exactly when school would start. Instead of providing a definite starting time for county students, the officials based the starting time on, at a minimum, two variable factors: the weather conditions at the student’s home, and each person’s idea of what it means for a storm to be “over”. This, of course, varies widely; In my opinion, a storm is “over” when it no longer poses a serious threat of damage. My aunt, who was terrified of storms, would insist that a storm isn’t “over” until the sky is clear for at least an hour!

Imagine what would happen if our government wrote our laws like this! If tomorrow, our legislators declared that all speed limits were repealed, and law enforcement officers were empowered to arrest those who were driving “too fast”, chaos would reign! How fast is “too fast”? It’s a safe bet that your idea of “too fast” is not the same as mine… and neither of us are likely to agree with the cop that has just pulled us over! Without a legal fact… a clearly-written and duly-established law, all legal opinions are equally valid… and thus are completely useless for governing anyone other than the holder of that opinion!

For this reason, modern legislators and lawyers spend enormous amounts of time fretting over the exact phrasing of a document. Companies spend huge amounts of money to remove as much opinion as possible from the wording of a contract.  And even after adding all of the “legalese”, litigants still debate the meaning of even the smallest words. (After all, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is“!)  Our laws and regulations must be objective, based in external facts independent of any one person’s opinions, in order to be meaningful.

In the same way, subjective moral opinion, in the absence of objective moral facts, is effectively no morality at all!

Often at this point, the subjective moralist objects, saying “I can be just as moral as anyone who believes in objective morality.” However, this objection is illogical… if moral facts do not exist, then why would it be “better” or “worse” (which are themselves, morally-charged words) to be called immoral rather than moral? Why does it matter whether one breaks a non-existent standard of behavior?

Can a subjective moralist be a moral person? Well, yes…they can be moral and wrong about the existence of objective moral facts. Or they can be right in their belief, but neither moral nor immoral. What they cannot be is both right and moral. (Or, to be fair, right and immoral!)

To clarify,  consider this question: does a unicorn’s horn glow in the dark? The answer doesn’t really matter. Because the topic of the question doesn’t exist, no answer has any meaning in the real world. In the same way, one’s opinion of how we should treat others is meaningless… unless there actually exists a way that we should treat others! Subjective moral opinion with no undergirding objective moral fact is an opinion about something that does not exist. It has no more relevance to our lives than the destruction of Krypton. (That’s the homeworld of Superman and Supergirl, for those under 30!)

Subjective Moral Opinion Isn’t Sufficient

Moral opinion alone lacks the necessary scope of influence required of morality. An opinion is, by its nature, limited to one person. No two persons can share an opinion. You might describe your opinion to me, and we might hold similar opinions, but I cannot hold your opinion! Nor can you hold mine!

This means that the scope of influence of any opinion is exactly one person; but a standard of morality deals largely with relationships between two or more persons. Opinions simply have insufficient scope to address relational behavior. For this reason, the argument that morality is a product of people in society fails. Moral opinion can provide no binding reason that men should seek the good of others.

Indeed, we instinctively resist the moral opinions of others, often with the common objection, “who are you to force YOUR morality on me!” At best, subjective morality informs a person of how they believe people should treat others, but it cannot inform a person of how they actually should treat others!

Subjective Moral Opinion Cannot Explain Guilt

How often we make excuses for our actions!  The same actions that the subjective moralist claims cannot be objectively wrong, he attempts to justify to themselves and to others. This strongly indicates that at least some form of guilt is felt; one does not justify moral actions.

Subjective morality cannot provide a sound explanation for guilt. Occasionally, when my oldest daughter was a toddler, she would put herself in timeout when she felt that she had done something wrong. She tearfully walked to the corner, although she had broken no rule, and neither my wife nor I had any intention of disciplining her.

One day when this had happened, she looked over at me and asked, “May I get out of timeout now?”

I replied, “Honey… I didn’t put you there! YOU put yourself there.”

In a world where morality is not objective, subjective moral opinion is a lot like my daughter’s self-imposed timeout. With no higher authority to tell us to behave, or else “sit in the corner”, and no moral facts by which to judge our actions, we make up our own rules. Then we behave as if they were binding. (Even more illogically, we act as if our moral opinions should be binding on others!) When we fail to live up to the rules we’ve created, we “put ourselves in timeout” with feelings of guilt and shame. And then we turn and ask “can we get out of timeout now”… and are answered with silence.

The Problem that Should Not Exist

Dealing with guilt should be simple in such a world. Just as my daughter chose to put herself into timeout, she could also choose to leave her self-imposed punishment at any time. She had no obligation to stay there. Similarly, guilt for breaking a subjective moral code can only result in self-inflicted guilt. We are “free to leave” at any time. Yet, this doesn’t reflect our experience.

Every mentally-healthy person at one time or another feels guilty. Subjective moralists attempt to explain this away by asserting that the crushing weight of guilt is just an illusion. Yet these “illusions” lead some to spend thousands of dollars on counseling. Others resort to alcohol or drug abuse, and some to self-destruction. This “illusion” has a huge impact in the real world!

It is more intuitively obvious that feelings of guilt are real. We stand guilty of breaking objective moral facts, and we need a way to “get out of the corner”. Repeated insistence that guilt is an illusion cannot soothe the nagging misery. All of our own efforts to remove ourselves from the corner fail. We crave forgiveness for our offenses… forgiveness that is neither necessary nor available if no law has been broken. Our conscience knows the truth that we often suppress.

Subjective Moral Opinion Cannot Secure Rights

Rejection of an objective moral standard claims to bring freedom. Instead it brings slavery. The cost is simply too high. Freedom from a moral law may seem to allow one to live as they desire, but it also requires the forfeiture of any protections and rights provided by that law. Appeals to subjective morality as a replacement only provides an illusion with no substance. Claims that men should submit to such a code “for the sake of society”. But this begs the question; you cannot argue for subjective morality by appealing to subjective morality. Either denying oneself for the good of the group is an objective moral principle, or it is a subjective opinion with no authority.

Objective morality exists, and this fact is implicitly affirmed by the subjective moralist, many of whom live highly moral lives in spite of their denial of the standard that makes them moral.  Does our society oppress certain groups of people? Should we change some of our laws to be more “fair”? Are discrimination and intolerance wrong? All of these require an objective moral standard to be meaningful… and practically no one these days, regardless of political leanings, religion (or lack thereof), creed, or color would not agree with at least one of these statements. Similar to logic itself, the more someone argues against objective morality, the more they show that they actually believe in it! The inability to reason without it is strong evidence for both its reality and its importance.

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44 replies
  1. Tracey says:

    Heb 2.
    1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    Why this, how many people cry out “oh science help me,” when in a dire situation?

    Yes this is a good article, there is a line in:
    Matthew 6:24 – No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    So why this, well mammon, is, money, which is what people to to work for, including scientist, but God does not go to work nor is God employed, satisfying an occupation, objective morality God put in our hearts for our good, not his, God is good anyway any way.
    Thank you for another piece for objective reality, one day the penny will drop.

    Reply
    • ANTHONY says:

      >”Why this, how many people cry out “oh science help me,” when in a dire situation?”

      When seriously ill, how many Christians refuse the help of a doctor?

      Reply
          • Tracey says:

            Sorry Anthony I do not involve in testy arguments life is precious. I wrote what I felt. Should you desire to find, search for the answer yourself then you can claim it was the answer you were looking for.

  2. KR says:

    Terry Lewis wrote: “How fast is “too fast”? It’s a safe bet that your idea of “too fast” is not the same as mine… and neither of us are likely to agree with the cop that has just pulled us over! Without a legal fact… a clearly-written and duly-established law, all legal opinions are equally valid… and thus are completely useless for governing anyone other than the holder of that opinion!”

    What you’re describing is how subjective morality works, not objective morality. Laws – including speed limit regulations – are not “objectively correct”. If they were, they would never change – which they clearly do. When a speed limit is set, we don’t have an “objectively correct” speed limit to refer to – we simply come to an agreement on a speed limit which seems reasonable and we can obviously change it if we feel it’s necessary. This is subjectivity in action, not objectivity.

    “For this reason, modern legislators and lawyers spend enormous amounts of time fretting over the exact phrasing of a document. Companies spend huge amounts of money to remove as much opinion as possible from the wording of a contract. And even after adding all of the “legalese”, litigants still debate the meaning of even the smallest words. (After all, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is“!) Our laws and regulations must be objective, based in external facts independent of any one person’s opinions, in order to be meaningful.”

    You’re confusing objectivity in the interpretation of the law with objectivity in the law itself. We obviously want the interpretation of the law to be as non-arbitrary as possible since the whole point of the law is that it should apply equally to everyone at all times. This has nothing to do with the law itself being “objectively correct” – it’s still just an agreement which has been reached through a subjective political process and is open to change at a later date. The rules of chess are very clear and can be applied without referring to anyone’s opinion. This doesn’t mean that these rules were revealed to us as some kind of objective truth. We made them up.

    “However, this objection is illogical… if moral facts do not exist, then why would it be “better” or “worse” (which are themselves, morally-charged words) to be called immoral rather than moral? Why does it matter whether one breaks a non-existent standard of behavior?”

    It matters because our actions have consequences. We are social beings, living in societies where we need to get along with each other. This obviously requires some kind of agreed upon code of conduct. Lawless societies tend not to last very long.

    “Can a subjective moralist be a moral person? Well, yes…they can be moral and wrong about the existence of objective moral facts. Or they can be right in their belief, but neither moral nor immoral. What they cannot be is both right and moral.”

    This is incoherent. If the subjective moralist is correct about the non-existence of objective morality, he can obviously still be moral according to his subjective morality. The claim that only objective morality qualifies as morality is just a bald assertion that needs to be justified.

    “Subjective moral opinion with no undergirding objective moral fact is an opinion about something that does not exist.”

    I can’t make any sense of this statement. Laws are our agreed upon position – reached through a subjective political process – on various moral issues. Are you saying that laws are about “something that doesn’t exist”?

    “An opinion is, by its nature, limited to one person. No two persons can share an opinion. You might describe your opinion to me, and we might hold similar opinions, but I cannot hold your opinion! Nor can you hold mine!”

    Again, I have to confess I can’t make any sense of what you’re saying. Sticking to laws as a representation of our subjective stance on moral issues, if you were correct then common laws could not exist since no two people can share an opinion – we’d need individual laws for each and everyone of us.

    “Indeed, we instinctively resist the moral opinions of others, often with the common objection, “who are you to force YOUR morality on me!” ”

    Yes, there are plenty of disagreements on moral issues – but this simply exposes the obvious weakness of the argument for objective moral values. Such disagreements should be the shining moments of objective morality. We should be able to resolve these disagreements by simply referring to the objectively correct position. Can you give me an example of this happening – ever? I’m asking, of course, because I can’t think of one. The fact that we never see objective morality resolving moral conflicts seems pretty damning for the whole concept. If objective moral values are powerless to resolve moral conflicts, the entire discussion about their existence is moot. Whether they exist or not, they’re clearly irrelevant to our lives and we’ll just keep settling our moral differences by subjective agreements – the only method that seems to be working.

    “Subjective morality cannot provide a sound explanation for guilt.”

    Why not? Are you saying that a subjective moralist could never act against his own moral intuitions? How does this follow?

    “With no higher authority to tell us to behave, or else “sit in the corner”, and no moral facts by which to judge our actions, we make up our own rules.”

    Only there is, of course, a higher authority – other people. As I’ve already stated, our actions have consequences. If your actions affect other people, those consequences could be rather unpleasant for you. Try living by your own rules without any consideration for anyone else and see how far you get.

    “Similarly, guilt for breaking a subjective moral code can only result in self-inflicted guilt.”

    This assumes that we get to choose our own morality. We’ve had our run-ins about this before, so I think you know pretty well that I don’t buy into that premise. My view is that our morality – like everything else about us – is a result of our genetic and environmental programming. Nothing self-inflicted about it.

    “Subjective moralists attempt to explain this away by asserting that the crushing weight of guilt is just an illusion.”

    Guilt is an experience that’s obviously real. I’m not aware of any moral subjectivists who would deny this.

    “Freedom from a moral law may seem to allow one to live as they desire, but it also requires the forfeiture of any protections and rights provided by that law.”

    This is the classical false dichotomy that pits objective morality against nihilism. As any democratic society will show you, a subjectively derived set of moral rules will not inevitably lead to a free-for-all. If you truly believe it will, what would you like to replace democracy with?

    “Objective morality exists, and this fact is implicitly affirmed by the subjective moralist, many of whom live highly moral lives in spite of their denial of the standard that makes them moral.”

    Still just a bald assertion. You’re assuming that objective morality is the only valid kind of morality. What is your justification for this? In fact, what is your justification for the claim that objective moral values exist in the first place?

    “Does our society oppress certain groups of people? Should we change some of our laws to be more “fair”? Are discrimination and intolerance wrong? All of these require an objective moral standard to be meaningful… and practically no one these days, regardless of political leanings, religion (or lack thereof), creed, or color would not agree with at least one of these statements.”

    The fact that what is considered “fair” concerning things like slavery, racial equality, women’s rights, LGBT rights etc. has changed over time neatly demonstrates that this is not an appeal to an unchanging, objective standard but is indeed a subjective, evolving view of what it means to be moral. You’re also acknowledging that we don’t all agree on all of these issues so the problem again becomes: how do objective moral values resolve these disagreements?

    As you know, I’m an empiricist – I try to go where the evidence leads me. When it comes to morality, I see plenty of evidence that we have individual (and often conflicting) opinions about moral issues so it’s obvious that subjective morality exists. What I don’t see is any evidence of objective moral values. What I would like the proponents of such objective moral values to answer is this:

    1. If there are objective moral values, what are they? Can you present a list?
    2. How do you access these objective moral values?
    3. How do you determine that these moral values are indeed objective rather than subjective?

    Reply
    • ANTHONY says:

      Seems to me that most of these moral questions have no meaning without intelligent agents. And I use the plural. If you remove all life from the universe, it makes no sense for God to say “thou shalt not kill”. Introduce animals, and the commandment makes some sense, but not to the animals.

      Reply
    • Tracey says:

      KR. Yes you’ve answered you own question, why ask anybody, ask God. Good on you, it may not be written in your piece, exact, but in summary, you right, speaking to people endlessly about somebody else, when it’s better to go to the source.
      The Beatitudes, objective moral values, read for their in-depth meaning, and who said them, the beautiful attitudes?

      Reply
      • KR says:

        The problem with the “ask God” solution is that people who claim to have asked God often present different answers so that still leaves us with the question of how to objectively determine the correct answer. If someone claims to have asked God, how do we objectively determine that the message they received was actually from God, that they haven’t misunderstood the message and that they’re not lying?

        Reply
  3. Bryan says:

    Over 80% of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in the last election. If this is where your “objective morality” leads I want nothing to do with it.

    Reply
    • Terry Lewis says:

      Bryan, thank you for your response. Do you believe then that these people were objectively wrong to have voted as they did? Or is that just your opinion?

      -tl

      Reply
  4. Tony says:

    I am pretty sure the only way to know someone, what they think, how they act etc. is only done one person at a time. I am also pretty sure that lumping “80% of Evangelical Christians” or for that matter 80% of any group of people into some category serves no purpose. I would bet if one took the time to really understand one of those 80%, you might not agree together but you would understand each others positions and either agree or agree to disagree without lumping people into some preconceived box.

    Reply
  5. Bob Seidensticker says:

    You’ve spent a lot of time getting excited about objective morality without showing us why it actually exists. I see no evidence. What you’ll point to as objective morality (torture is wrong, perhaps) is simply strongly felt or widely felt morality.

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      Bye blog! I see the thought police are here.

      Evangelism is better than apologetics because an evangelist knows to think along with God.

      He isn’t busy disclosing error all the time because he’s too busy living the transformed life setting the example.

      I can’t believe anyone would erase a post that contained Derek Prince’s example.

      Prince was God’s miracle. He transformed a philosophical atheist into a worldwide evangelist and if he can do it then God can do it for even more atheists.

      I suppose it is time to either write a book or set up my own church so my ideas can be heard and not censored by a lot of clowns who prefer to analyze more than they like to tell the truth which is what God likes His people to do.

      Tell the truth. So people can move from darkness into the light instead of fighting under a blanket all the time.

      He gave the truth to proclaim it. You only have to argue it if you aren’t capable enough to proclaim it and explain it.

      May His Grace Abound to You!

      Reply
    • Susan Tan says:

      Bob Seidentsticker, I know you’re too busy promoting division through arguments but God loves you, too!

      How do I know? Because I am one of the better students of God’s nature and He regards everyone through the eyes of love because that is His nature.

      No matter how many theists you can’t control that you ban off your blog over on Patheos from telling the simple truth.

      Some theists actually know God and his theology better than others.

      Read up on Derek Prince. God transformed a philosphical atheist who used to hang out with Wittgenstein so you are no problem for Him at all.

      Read the Gifts of the Spirit by Derek Prince.

      Went the arguing route for years and I am tired of it. Now I look for the humble, teachable, receptive people with common sense.

      Apparently it s easy for some people to make such a sophisticated snafu out of things that it takes an act of God for them to get removed from it.

      Remember Saul on the Road to Damascus. Some people say he was one of the top ten intellects of all time but God still had to intervene personally and turn him all the way around. You can argue all day and get too personal with people like Paul did to the point of killing them and get no where unless God takes you in hand personally.

      SJ

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “I know you’re too busy promoting division through arguments”
        I think it’s the Christians here that are promoting division. All their arguments on this site are saying that atheists can’t justify this, atheist are being inconsistent that, that atheism is the enemy. I get on with lots of Christians in real life – we have plenty of common ground and don’t need to attack each other.

        “I see the thought police are here”
        Saying evidence hasn’t been provided to support a claim makes Bob ‘the thought police’? I don’t know you know what ‘the thought police’ means.

        “Remember Saul on the Road to Damascus. Some people say he was one of the top ten intellects of all time”
        Good grief, which people say such a silly thing and on what grounds?

        Reply
    • Tracey. says:

      Objective morality, try to read the Beatitudes, in context, they were spoke in and to.
      This might help you solve your problem of having no evidence; is based on where and how you decide to look.
      God is all present ever present.
      Can’t help one see or hear, Gods Word, that would be, presumptuous and controlling another, when your ready you will, and if your not ready you won’t.
      Entirely up to you.

      Reply
  6. Susan says:

    Sorry for the confusion, Andy Ryan. The first post was toward the moderator or whoever removed my post.

    Though the second was to Bob and he does like to argue and he banned me from his blog once for refusing to argue. If I didn’t answer point by point it seems tomfrustratenhim but I no longer let people force me to play their intellectual games.

    Why should I? They could be trying to force a conclusion.

    People have different worldviews though so you can’t force a person to your conclusion like you’d take a horse to a water to drink. The horse has his own mind and won’t drink if he doesn’t want to.

    No hard feelings though. I am almost over the arguing phase now. Other aspects of religion interest me more though I learned a lot from apologetics while it lasted.

    But a lack of respect for freedom of speech does bother me. Of course, the free speech should be responsible on a board or they do have a right to eject you.

    If you’re going to learn the truth about things then you are more likely to learn from study than argument though argument could be useful in pointing out flaws and contradictions.

    In my experience though quite a few people like to make too much out of contradictions though they almost never research to resolve them though you can find the resolutions if you look hard or think a while about them.

    Reply
    • Kyle says:

      Was it deleted or did it never show up? I’ve had that happen multiple times. Never thought it was anything malicious.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Actually I was wrong. I got my threads confused.. So I owe the moderators an apology.

        Every forum is moderated differently but the philosophy forums seem more tolerant of ideas and free speech.

        Some personal blogs of both atheists and theists are moderated very stringently.

        I think I may be giving up reading blogs soon. My eyesight is getting weak and I need to save it for studying. I find Biblical research and studies more interesting than arguments because I make more interesting discoveries that way.

        It’s more fun to make discoveries than to try overcome other people’s wills…I finally learned to leave that to God.

        Quite a few people have difficulty interpreting Bible symbology and if they won’t settle down and master that the misperception is endless and the controversies, too, depending on the personalities. Some people like Sam Harris practice conversational intolerance. They don’t understand the social importance of interpersonal boundaries. Sam just wants to win and thinks he can jar people out of their worldviews but that is an ignorant approach if the worldview is God given.

        The Bible can be like poetry. It takes a good teacher to learn Bible symbology better.

        That’s why Bart Ehrman got everything jumbled up. Witherington is a lot better at Biblical interpretation than Ehrman and wrote an article on how Ehrman gets things wrong. Both studied with Metzger but Ehrman just doesn’t have the Bible comprehension that some of the people he is claiming to be peers with have.

        It could be that a high percentage of the world suffers from this symbology understanding problem…so it takes time to master it.

        Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Yes, it’s possible to resolve almost any contradiction if you’re determined to do so and are starting from the proposition that ANY contradiction must have an explanation that isn’t ‘At least one of these things is wrong’. But that’s not necessarily the best way to arrive at the truth.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Some contradictions aren’t contradictions. People are just missing information or different methodologies being used.
        The reader is looking for conformity and perfection and when he doesn’t get it he just assumes a contradiction.
        That is why research is the answer. It helps you locate the missing info that resolves a superficial contradiction.

        Of course, if you’ve willed yourself to deny the evidence/info that refutes the contradiction. The. that’s up to you. To each his own but that’s not truth seeking that’s stubbornness.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          The bible has two different accounts of the death of Judas. In one the field he dies in has blood in its name because he falls about bursts open, spilling blood in it. In the other account he hangs himself and the field has blood in its name because he bought it with blood money.
          The apologetics performed to resolve this contradiction are deeply unconvincing – he hung himself and THEN fell headlong etc – and are offered by people trying to explain away a discrepancy at any costs – they’re starting with the idea that there CAN’T be a contradiction, and then they’re working backwards from there.

          In actual fact the differing Greek words used to describe the areas in the two different descriptions – agros vs chorion – pretty much rule out them being the same place they’re saying he died in.

          Reply
          • Susan Tan says:

            I am not familiar with that contradiction but have researched several in the past and there are always good reasons that resolve the contradictions.

            But why even share them? Is someone trying to plant a doubt in other people’s minds by doing that?

            In my opinion most people don’t research them. They use them to sow doubt in people’s minds.

            My mind is a perfectly good instrument if I protect it and keep it in shape.

            I don’t trust the world to do that.

            I don’t trust the scientific method either. The scientific method wasn’t even around in the time of Christ.

            So clearly God expected us to use our own minds. Our own minds are good enough to deliberate with and make critical decisions.

            But people like to come along and trick people out of relying on their perfectly good minds.

            But I don’t like surrendering my mind to strangers opinions.

            I feel that I can sit and hear the Gospel or scriptures myself and dependi on my own perception and reasoning faculty. I’m not a drug addict. I don’t have any brain defects. I have a perfectly good mind and no man is talking me into substituting some naturalist method for a spiritual relationship.

            My mind was made up a long time ago and I like it that way. Beware the con men that will deny you your abundant life now and your eternal life in the future.

            I have been confused about a lot of things in my life but not about Jesus Christ.

            Imagine someone using a cold impersonal method to replace a lifegiving relationship.

            It is clearly mixed up thinking. People are being bamboozled all over the place.

            Read up on non-overlapping magisteria. You can believe in God and still study science.
            Plenty of scientists have. They are not mutually exclusive.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “I don’t trust the scientific method either”

            Then don’t fly in a place, see a doctor, use a computer or take medicine then. Stop watching TV, don’t read newspapers, leave all your lights off. All of them rely on the scientific method. If you don’t trust that you shouldn’t trust them either.

          • Tracey. says:

            Act 8: 18-21. monetary issues, wrong thought the Spirit of God is a commodity.

            Jeremiah 19: 6-8 Named Field of Slaughter.

            Act 1:19, renamed field.
            Interestingly, there is a Psalm 69. 25,Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. This psalm is describing the life of Jesus, to his death.

          • toby says:

            “Act 8: 18-21. monetary issues, wrong thought the Spirit of God is a commodity.
            Jeremiah 19: 6-8 Named Field of Slaughter.Act 1:19, renamed field. Interestingly, there is a Psalm 69. 25,Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. This psalm is describing the life of Jesus, to his death.”

            I believe this is called cherry picking. If an atheist did such a thing, you’d be crying aloud, “But what of the context! You’re not taking into account the context!”

        • Tracey. says:

          I offen wonder, if atheist confirm they have a spirit and a soul?
          How would this feel is one question, but the important question is, how does one, “know,” if one doesn’t.

          Reply
  7. Susan Tan says:

    I never said I didn’t trust the scientific method. I said I don’t need it to make up my mind about God.

    There is no reason for me to learn a methodology and substitute it for my own mind’s judgments. My mind includes perception and is a sophisticated sensing and weighing apparatus in it’s own right.

    I don’t work in science so I have to rely on my mind.

    Anybody who dismisses God on the grounds of the scientific method took the extra step of invalidating their own judgment in favor of a man made method.

    Prove the scientific method works in the metaphysical realm.

    Reply
  8. TGM says:

    Better late than never, eh? But I’m glad someone finally got around to addressing my question-challenge. I will accept your opinion for what it is Terry, but I still don’t see why OMVs matter. The crux of your argument seems to be, to paraphrase, that “Our [morality] must be objective… in order to be meaningful.” But meaningful to whom? I don’t see why subjective morals lack meaning. Their meaning exists to the extent that they are useful or have value to people. Group dynamics strongly reflect and influence moral behavior in ways useful to the group (population, species, etc.). So I don’t see an advantage to objective morality. You go on to say: “Why does it matter whether one breaks a non-existent standard of behavior?” Except that groups self-regulate behavior because it’s useful to do so, and thus it matters, even if the standard is malleable. Your argument, valiant as it is, contains an implicit appeal to some transcendent Thing, as if meaning cannot exist without that Thing. You’ll lose skeptics here, every single time.
    Incidentally, your storm example demonstrates a problem with objective, binding rules, in that they do not allow for initiative and varied circumstances. Objectively fixing a start time for school forces people either to choose between “being right” (on time) or “being safe”. Why is this remotely desirable? There is a reason judges have/need discretion in enforcing the law and I would daresay not a single student was punished for being late that day.
    But thanks for trying. It was illuminating.

    Reply
    • Susan Tan says:

      What’s an objective standard without accountability?

      We don’t make laws without creating a police department to enforce them do we?

      A law is nothing but a flimsy idea on paper unless it is backed by authority and authority is backed by power.

      Reply
      • KR says:

        Laws are not an objective standard, they are the result of a subjective political process and are subject to change. The fact that we have a police force to enforce them doesn’t make them objective, it simply means we have come to an agreement on what the rules are and that they should be upheld.

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        • Terry Lewis says:

          That’s not the meaning of the word “objective”.

          Laws are objective. They are not matters of personal opinion. If you get caught speeding, you won’t get off by telling the officer that the 35 MPH speed limit is just his opinion!

          Objective does not necessarily mean immutable or unchangeable… it simply means that it is based on something external to the person, (a city or state ordinance, for instance).

          Why do you say the “rules should be upheld”? There’s always someone who doesn’t want to play by the rules… does that make them wrong, or just different?

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            Terry, nothing you say there negates KR’s points. You answer with a bunch of non sequiturs. When did he say you can get off speeding because it’s ‘just his opinion’?
            And in your sentence beginning ‘Why do you say…’ you only quote half of his sentence, changing the meaning. And you’re equivocating on objective. There are many moral systems that are ‘external to the person’ in the sense that I didn’t come up with them, but you wouldn’t accept as being objective in the same sense you claim for God’s objective morality.

          • KR says:

            “Laws are objective. They are not matters of personal opinion.”

            How on earth do you think laws are made? When a speed limit is set, do you think the number comes to the lawmakers in a vision? “This just in: it’s 35!”. You’re confusing the interpretation of the law (which should obviously be non-arbitrary) with the content of the law. The text that goes into a law is debated and eventually confirmed by a vote – it really doesn’t get much more subjective than that.

            “Objective does not necessarily mean immutable or unchangeable… it simply means that it is based on something external to the person, (a city or state ordinance, for instance).”

            The laws are rules made by people – they don’t appear out of a vacuum. Since the rules are made by people, they represent the subjective opinion of these people.

            “Why do you say the “rules should be upheld”?”

            Maybe because that’s the point of a law – a rule that’s been agreed on?

            “There’s always someone who doesn’t want to play by the rules… does that make them wrong, or just different?”

            It makes them lawbreakers. They’ve acted against the agreement and, if apprehended, they will face whatever consequences the agreed-upon rules stipulate.

          • KR says:

            Terry,
            Can you please address the question that remains unanswered but which seems rather crucial for proponents of objective morality to deal with:

            In a situation where people disagree on a point of morality how do you decide which position is the objectively correct one?

    • Terry Lewis says:

      Just for you, TGM! 😀

      I’m preparing another post related to this one that attempts to shed a bit more light on some of your statements above. But to offer a quick observation, you’re using terms that are laden with either utilitarian or moral implications (“meaning”, “useful”, “value”, etc.) If you are using them in a strictly utilitarian sense, then you’ve subscribed to “might makes right”. I’m not certain this is a position you want to defend, but it’s a necessary implication of utilitarian morality.

      On the other hand, if you’re using them to truly represent “good” and “evil” in a moral sense, then you have provided no basis for me to believe that such a thing exists, according to your view.

      The storm example was provided only to highlight the difference between subjective and objective standards; but since you brought it up, does it matter why one would “force such a choice”? They are school administrators. They have a job to do. In their subjective opinion, both sets of administrators did what they felt was right. Without an objective fact backing up your opinion that one set (or the other) was wrong to do what they did, even if they had made the students come to school in spite of the threatening weather, all you have is exactly that: your opinion.

      As the school administrators, they have the power. In a utilitarian sense, they could have been perfectly justified to take the action they did.

      Reply
      • TGM says:

        You sound as though your are horrified by “might makes right”. (Ironically, and somewhat tangentially), isn’t this exactly what your god is purported to do, use his might to proclaim and enforce what he believes to be right?

        But never mind. Let’s stick with the human world. I’m ok with “might makes right” as a utilitarian consequence because I don’t think of “might” in the manner of an iron-fisted ruler declaring what is correct. To me, “might” is the accumulation of positive expectation social behaviors and culling of negative expectation social behaviors over thousands of generations that statistically resolve into the semblance of a “moral code”, constructing itself such that it can be propagated through generations by preserving its hosts (us). But this code is vulnerable to numerous competing factors, which is why we must address conflicts, moral disagreements, and those iron-fisted rulers, from time to time.

        “…all you have is exactly that: your opinion.”
        Yes. Yes, you do. And thusly, we argue about things constantly.

        ” In a utilitarian sense, they could have been perfectly justified to take the action they did.”
        I disagree, because I see their behavior as the result of a higher level utilitarianism (described above) rather than just creating & enforcing the rules because it’s useful for them to do so. But if I can play along here… what do you think the punishment should be for a student that comes to school late because he chose to stay safe at home, and why?

        Reply

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