Salt is Good: The Need for Salt in the World’s Diet

Salt has been a significant part of civilized life since 2700 BC. The Greeks used salt as payment for slaves, which is where the term, “not worth his salt” is derived. Rome made rations of salt called salarium argentum, which they distributed to soldiers during times of war. This became the forerunner to the modern term “salary.” When the Chinese discovered that salt was vital for human survival, they implemented a salt tax.

The importance of salt for survival and the significance of its use economically are significant in understanding the meaning Jesus intended for his listeners when he spoke about being this stuff–being salt.

But first let me ask you a question…

What excuses have you heard recently? We can look around almost every corner and see injustice, deceit, and spiritual blindness. Problems are rampant and immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable. What can a Christian do to make a dint in the issues surrounding us in the political, and pop culture spheres? Even church denominations are throwing in the towel, reversing long held moral standards in what seems to be a “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” mentality. Is there any point in trying?

salt_production_in_india_and_indonesia_02

There are so many reasons to jump ship or to just sit back in silence, only hoping that Jesus comes back very soon. Is that the best plan according to the Bible—just sit back in silence waiting for Christ’s return? What does scripture say we should do?

Jesus commands us to be Salt and Light. Jesus points out when salt loses its saltiness it is good for nothing (Matt 5:13-16). Light hidden under a bowl is just as useless.

The Bride of Christ must engage and be involved in societal issues, for salt cannot preform its effect if it does not come in contact with anything. Hopefully it goes without saying that we should not try to overthrow governments but rather to guide and illuminate them by the light and truth of God’s word.

Jesus’ listeners would have understood the metaphor of salt as a call for his followers to be a preservative to the world. This means that in order for the Church to prevent the decay of the world it must be in direct contact with the world. Retreating will not allow the Church’s saltiness to take effect. Also similar to a salt sprinkled on a winter road, the salt of the Church will de-ice the frozen hearts of those who have become cold to Godly and moral living. The saltiness of the Church in the world will make people thirsty for God’s living water.

While there is no perfect formula, a balanced approach to being involved in the world guided by prayer, God’s Word, and the Spirit of God is an appropriate framework for answering Christ’s call to being the salt and light to the world. I hope that we can overcome the excuses and the daunting feelings of not being able to make a difference in this world by building up our faith in God and His call for us to be obedient to His word.

 

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158 replies
  1. moose says:

    “salt has been an important part of civilized life since 2700 BC.”——-like when god killed lot’s wife and turned her corpse into a pillar of salt.

    Reply
      • moose says:

        “god doesn’t creat results of our choices, we do” the choice lot’s wife made was to turn around and look–such a horrendous choice right? did she go to hell after god killed her and turned her into salt?

        Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        If God created everything and knew in advance what choices we’d make, then yes He created the results of our choice.

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          Stephen:
          You are wrong, he allows the results of your free choice. You have the freedom to choose, if not, you would no longer be free. She was told not to look back. Does it seem harsh to me, yes. Did she go to hell, maybe. She should have done what she was told.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            No, I’m right. Again, if God created everything and knew in advance what choices we’d make, then yes He created the results of our choice.

          • Toby says:

            So if a guy took another guy out into a pasture and shot him dead, left his body there to decay, then an emaciated wolf comes along and gets a good meal off the body, rejuvenated this wolf goes off and gets hit by a car driven by a pastor who then misses getting t-boned at the next intersection by a runaway dump truck. Would that not be an instance of god counting on (needing) the actions in that pasture to happen in order to intervene in someone’s life? And did he intervene or was it luck? It kind of appears stephen is correct.

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            I understand where you are coming from, but I still disagree. Using your rational, God created the cotton gin as well? When it all reality, he did not, he placed all the materials and mind power to make the decisions to create the cotton gin. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, either way its about choice, and we are responsible for our choices.

          • Terry L. says:

            Toby, It’s often been said, “everything happens for a reason”… but usually what the speaker really means is, “God causes everything to happen for a reason.”

            That’s not what the Bible teaches.

            The Bible says that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.”

            In your example, God would not have desired the murder you describe; however, he may have taken that evil action and caused some good to come out of it.

            Stephen, Your implication that prior knowledge of an event is a causal agent of the event is untenable. If what you’re suggesting is true, then city councils are responsible for speeding tickets. They set the speed limits, all the while knowing that people are going to choose to speed. That’s exactly why there is a penalty associated with the law; if the governing body did not know that some people would choose to break the law, there would be no penalty.

            So in this case, at least in one sense, the governing body did create the result of the offender’s actions. However, they did not force anyone to be an offender! One can avoid the penalty of the law by obedience to the law.

          • Stephen B says:

            “They set the speed limits, all the while knowing that people are going to choose to speed”

            Incomplete analogy. We’re talking about someone who knew before hand that an accident was going to happen and actually designed the accident site and also designed exactly how the damage would happen, when if he’d wanted to he could have arranged at least smaller damage.

          • Terry L says:

            Stephen, all analogies are incomplete, on some level.

            Your analysis ignores free will. Do you, or do you not believe that we have the freedom to choose our actions?

            (And let’s leave natural evil out of it for now (earthquakes, floods, etc.). We can get to them later.)

            if he’d wanted to he could have arranged at least smaller damage.

            How do you know that the actual damage isn’t “at least smaller damage”? You’re setting yourself up as God here. It comes across as if you’re saying, “Because I would have done it differently, then there is no God!” as if your opinion should be the Supreme Law of the Universe!

            You put a lot of stock in utilitarianism; who is to say that God has not perfectly arranged this accident so that the maximum amount of happiness and good comes out of it, even at the cost of short term loss?

  2. Jon says:

    Gil wrote “similar to a salt sprinkled on a winter road, the salt of the Church will de-ice the frozen hearts of those who have become cold to Godly and moral living.”

    As we know salt on the road slowly pollute groundwater people need, and now many countries have abandon the usage of salt (of the church) and use better methods. Similarly these countries are becoming more moral, not more immoral like Gil wrote. Less salt (of the church) is better for societies and your health.

    Reply
    • Gil Gatch says:

      I think most people understand that analogies are incomplete comparisons… not perfect parallels.

      Jon: I do have a question for you though: by what standard are “these countries” becoming more moral?

      Reply
      • Jon says:

        Gil, I think it was a great analogy better than you thought. Christians used to think salt is good and light [=Christians sharing Jesus’ original teaching] is good. We have recently learned that too much salt is not good for our health or environment, and Christian nations have moved away from “light” towards democracy, anti-slavery, women’s rights, equal right, science, looking after poor and out-group people, tolerating non-Christians etc.

        Reply
  3. Terry L says:

    >>Similarly these countries are becoming more moral, not more immoral….

    By what standard of morality? To become “more moral”, you have to have a standard. To what standard do you refer?

    Reply
  4. Jon says:

    Terry L, we can look objectively how much people break laws in societies. Recently more secular societies have lower crime rate and it is falling. We can objectively look at murder/kill rates of societies in history. Last century was the safest century being a human and it is getting better. Only religion related violence is increasing. We can look subjectively how well we treat poor, minorities and out-group people and this has clearly improved in last 100 years.
    You can also offer your standard of morality and we can see if your standard agrees with Gil’s statement

    Reply
    • Gil Gatch says:

      Jon: It’s implicit in your statement above that crime rates falling is a morally good thing. Are you saying that laws in societies your standard of morality?

      If that’s the case, how do you feel about the acceptable practices of some societies like female circumcision, or the mass killings of the 20th century? What if torturing babies or killing infants that were deemed “ok” by their respective societies? Then would you believe that those things were morally ok?

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        “how do you feel about the acceptable practices of some societies like female circumcision, or the mass killings of the 20th century?”

        Gil, he wasn’t talking about those things though, was he? He was talking about falling murder rates, lower rates of armed robbery etc. Unless you don’t see this as a good thing – ie you see no improvement in fewer murders – then I don’t understand your objection.

        Reply
        • Gil Gatch says:

          Jon assumes that murder is wrong and that lowering murder rates is good. But why? Who says that murder is wrong? The government? A society? I think that’s what Jon is using to undergird his argument.

          Essentially what I hear him saying is, “We all know that murder is wrong. Our government has outlawed murder. Our society knows that it’s bad. So breaking the law and murdering someone is morally wrong.”

          So now enter my confusing examples you mentioned above. What if a government or a society sanctions the killing of millions of innocent people based on their skin color, their sex, their race, or their religion? Is it right to kill these innocent people based on the law, or is it wrong? If you say that it is wrong to kill these innocent people in bold face rebellion to the governmental sanctions and societal norms… then we are back to square one. What is your standard for morality?

          So let me ask you… is it ok to kill innocent people based on their skin color or race etc. if a government or society says it’s ok?

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            “Jon assumes that murder is wrong and that lowering murder rates is good”

            If you don’t agree with him then yes you can dispute that any kind of improvement has taken place.

            If you DO agree that murder is best avoided, then you should agree with him that a lowering of murder rates is an improvement.

            Given that I’m certain you DO agree that murder is best avoided, I really don’t get your dispute.

            “What if a government or a society sanctions the killing of millions of innocent people based on their skin color, their sex, their race, or their religion?”

            Absolutely no relevance to what Jon was talking about.

          • Stephen B says:

            Here’s an analogy for you.

            A bunch of us go to a canteen regularly. You say the food has got worse recently, and Jon replies: “Are you sure? By the canteen’s own standards, things have gone up – the number of dead flies in the drinks has dropped steadily, and amount of broken glass in the food is way down!”.

            Imagine you then reply: “Ah, but what’s your objective standard for measuring food quality? What if someone liked their food burnt to a crisp or covered in mold? What if there was some other canteen that judged high standards as having lots of dead flies and broken glass in the food?”

            Jon and I would be in our rights to point out that none of our group judges the standard of food by that metric, and in fact see that as a bizarre and perverse way of judging food standards. If you claim that food standards have dropped, and everyone in our group pretty much agree on empirical metrics of standards, then it’s not hard for us to work out if your claim in fact holds water or not.

          • Jon says:

            Gil you made the claim that “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable.” Can you please explain that are these immoral things/actions that you refer to. You are also big on standards, so you might also want to explain what standard to you use and what the bases of this standard is.

            You gave examples of female circumcision, mass killings, torturing babies and killing infants. Are these actions becoming exponentially more acceptable? Can you please provide some evidence?

      • Jon says:

        Gil, according to your world view “is it ok to kill innocent people based on” ANYTHING if ANYBODY including God says it’s ok? Is this an objective morality?

        I think the Bible might be able to guide you on this:
        (1 Samuel 15:2-3) This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

        Reply
  5. Toby says:

    Can anyone hear explain how salt loses its saltiness? I know the guy spoke in obfuscating parables, but come on. Salt loses the characteristics that make it salt? Since when?

    Reply
    • Jon says:

      Toby, I think it is a reference to dishonest people cutting salt by adding other things in to clean salt and trading the impure mixture as a real thing (same as drug dealers do to sell more weight). Salt was used as currency 2000 years ago, so people know about this dishonest practice and probably understood the parable at the time better.

      Reply
  6. Terry L says:

    Jon,

    Would you agree that morality is not the same as legality? After all, until the mid 1800’s it was legal to own slaves in the southern states. Did that make it moral?

    If you answer no, then your references to the rate of broken laws are irrelevant. If you answer yes, then can you explain how slavery is only wrong if it is illegal?

    >>We can objectively look at murder/kill rates of societies in history. Last century was the safest century being a human and it is getting better.

    Do you have a source for this?

    Regardless, you seem to view murder as being objectively morally wrong. This is getting closer to an answer to my question above. How do you come to the conclusion that murder is objectively morally wrong?

    Only religion related violence is increasing.

    “Religion” is a straw man. It can mean practically anything you want it to mean. After all, some Hindus say you can be Christian and Hindu, atheistic and Hindu… by this definition, 100% of all crime EVER has been done by a religious person. If you want this to be impressive, you’re going to have to break it down into actual numbers, and specify what you mean by the term “religion”. And cite your sources, please!

    >>We can look subjectively how well we treat poor, minorities and out-group people and this has clearly improved in last 100 years.

    There you go again! Improved in terms of what standard? You see, you’re comparing our actions from 100 years ago to our actions today… and that’s all well and good. But when you say that one is better (which is obviously the meaning of the word “improved”), then you have to have a standard by which to compare the two.

    >>You can also offer your standard of morality and we can see if your standard agrees with Gil’s statement

    Jon, you are the one that made the comparison. I’m simply asking you to clarify your statement. All I’ve got in response is undocumented assertions and more comparisons without referencing the standard by which the comparison is made.

    If you don’t know what the standard is, then how do you know that the “countries are becoming more moral” or that our own behavior has “improved in last 100 years”? What does it mean to become more moral?

    Reply
    • Jon says:

      Terry L, morality and legality both address what is the correct code of conduct; morality is more subjective and legality is more objective measure. Not the same but similar, legality is a good proxy. Slavery is a good example how we take better care now of out-group/poor people in less religious societies. Slavery is wrong, but irrelevant to my previous argument of breaking laws, because this law has changed in less religious countries. Many religious countries still have slavery.

      Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our Nature tells/refers to murder/kill rates studies of societies in history and in modern times in societies in different level of development. You might find YouTube videos of Pinker’s interviews where he explains his studies. Unless you think it is ok to murder people, you bringing up “objectively morally” of murder is irrelevant.

      I don’t know how you think “Religion” [in related violence] is a straw man. I never claimed that crimes committed by religious people are religious crimes. Neither I nor studies Pinker refers to use your definition. It is definition you create a straw man definition and knock it down. Again please read Pinker’s book or listen to his lectures to get a flavor of his book.

      My standard is that it is better for me, you and society to look after poor, minorities and out-group people than not look after/ignore/kill them (studies seem to show that this improves everyone’s lives). Pinker’s book also discusses what is being “more moral”. If you agree that it is better to look after poor etc. then your objection of “standard” is just apologist rhetoric. If you disagree then we can discuss about how we base our standards.

      But clearly you do want to share your standard, but use standard apologetic asking “to clarify your statement” and don’t engage the discussion. More advanced apologists put themselves in line and engage discussion, and offer their definition and standards. (Most advance ones usually completely stall all the real discussion and steer the discussion to unrelated and irrelevant rabbit hole)

      You don’t seem to want to provide any counter evidence to support Gil’s claim that “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable”. So how about you step up, take a risk and provide some evidence of the position you defend to advance the discussion. Also please present it in a same standard you ask me to do it.

      Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Jon:

      morality and legality both address what is the correct code of conduct; morality is more subjective and legality is more objective measure…. Slavery is wrong, but irrelevant to my previous argument of breaking laws, because this law has changed in less religious countries.

      Interesting. So you’re saying that the moral prohibition against slavery is subjective. The dictionary definition of subjective is:

      Subjective (adj) based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

      Are you contending then that your statement that slavery is wrong is simply your personal feeling, taste, or opinion, or do you believe that slavery is actually wrong, regardless of what you or anyone else believes?

      Many religious countries still have slavery…. I don’t know how you think “Religion” [in related violence] is a straw man.

      You keep using the term “religious”. I still want to know what you mean by that. Google’s dictionary simply says “relating to or believing in a religion”.

      But there’s a problem with your usage of the term. You seem to want to lump all “religions” in together; Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism… but they all have radically different views of mankind, God/god/gods, morality, etc. Your blanket use of the term is so inclusive it renders your statements meaningless.

      One must also ask, what constitutes a religion. The dictionary definition again is, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies”. Notice that this definition is not limited to theism. Although it is common (as the definition recognizes) to use “religion” to imply “theism”, even atheism is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose (or lack thereof) of the universe.

      Unless you think it is ok to murder people, you bringing up “objectively morally” of murder is irrelevant.

      Really? If it is not objectively wrong to murder people, then the statement “it is wrong to murder” is only my opinion. One I share, I’m certain, with you.

      Big deal.

      If the immorality of murder is only an opinion, then it cannot be truly wrong. Someone else can hold the opinion that it’s not wrong to murder. Then what? No matter how strong our opinion is that murder is wrong, someone else could hold an equally strong opinion that it is not. How do you then decide whether it is truly wrong?

      My standard is that it is better for me, you and society to look after poor, minorities and out-group people than not look after/ignore/kill them (studies seem to show that this improves everyone’s lives).

      This is begging the question. I didn’t ask if you believe it’s better to do x, but why it is better to do x. You did not explain why caring for the poor is better than killing them.

      If you agree that it is better to look after poor etc. then your objection of “standard” is just apologist rhetoric. If you disagree then we can discuss about how we base our standards.

      Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant, as I am no more qualified to set the standard that the entire world should follow than you. I’m not interested in whether you believe action X is moral, but why you believe action X is moral.

      But clearly you do want to share your standard, but use standard apologetic asking “to clarify your statement” and don’t engage the discussion. More advanced apologists put themselves in line and engage discussion, and offer their definition and standards.

      You don’t know me very well! 😉

      The simple fact is that you made a statement. It’s not up to me to disprove your statement; it’s your responsibility to defend it. I will not ask you to defend my position; I do ask that you defend your own.

      You don’t seem to want to provide any counter evidence to support Gil’s claim that “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable”.

      I’ve made no statements at all about his claim. I simply asked you a question… one that you haven’t answered. So as you said… how about you step up, take a risk and provide some evidence of the position you defend to advance the discussion?

      I’ve posted what I believe about the moral standard all over this website. My thoughts are publicly available. If you want an example, take a look at what I posted here: crossexamined.org/penalty-apostasy-according-islam/#comment-16119

      Reply
      • Jon says:

        Terry, sorry I have no interest arguing word definitions. I told you where you can find the studies and their definitions. If the blog post is not about foundation of morality or about objective morality then it’s probably fruitless to post long comments about it. We will just disagree and will not accept other party’s assumptions and position, and it is off-topic. I’m happy to discuss it if that is the topic of the blog post.

        I was interested in article’s claim that “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable” and happy to discuss about that. I provided the source (easily accessible) for my counter evidence to what article claims, yet you ask me again to “provide some evidence of the position”. Clearly you are not interested in evidence I provided.

        Reply
        • Terry L says:

          I have no interest arguing word definitions.

          I’m not looking for an argument… I’m looking to understand what you mean in the hopes of having a discussion about the issue. The only way I have to do this is to ask you questions.

          You obviously had a definition in mind when you made the post… I wouldn’t think that explaining it should be difficult.

          I was interested in article’s claim that “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable” and happy to discuss about that.

          That’s fine… but in order to have a fruitful discussion about that, we each have to know what the other means. While most of the words in that phrase are well-defined and not (extremely) subject to interpretation, what people believe defines morality varies widely. That fact underlies the heart of many atheist’s objections to theism/Christianity.

          The claim above… “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable”… has a built-in assumption that morality must be objective and fixed. If you don’t agree with this statement, then discussing the phrase is fruitless until that issue has been settled. As you’ve cited Pinker*, I would normally assume you don’t agree.

          However, you also implied objective morality in your statement, “these countries are becoming more moral, not more immoral”. So rather than assume what you meant, I simply asked the question.

          You know… the one you still haven’t answered.

          *If I recall correctly, Pinker believes that morality is not fixed, but is fluid and is essentially based on the values and mores of society. However, if morality is defined by the culture or society, then you could not see immorality becoming more acceptable, nor could you see countries becoming “more” moral. You would see what is immoral today becoming moral tomorrow (and vise-versa), as the culture’s values shifted.

          Reply
          • Greg says:

            Terry I’m curious, by what standard do you judge slavery wrong? I mean of course, if you actually do?

          • Jon says:

            Terry L, you are still stuck on discussion of word definitions and your claimed “built-in assumption” which might or might not be true (the author did not define). Why don’t you talk to me like you would talk to your friend about any subject.

            (Not:
            Jon: This beer tastes good!
            Terry: What… how do you define beer and what is your absolute standard of goodness. Without God you can’t have basis of goodness)

            Funny how you were not aware of Pinker’s studies earlier, but now you seem to know his view of morality. This is standard apologist approach. (Hopefully you checked him out)

  7. Terry L says:

    Terry L, you are still stuck on discussion of word definitions

    Seriously… you make a statement, I ask you to clarify exactly what you mean, you refuse, and you’re going to say I am “stuck”!

    and your claimed “built-in assumption” which might or might not be true (the author did not define).

    Of course he didn’t! If he had made it explicit, it wouldn’t have been an assumption!

    I explained exactly why the statement assumes objective morality… as well as why your statement did as well. Instead of refuting my point, you’re complaining that I’m not having a “friendly” conversation!

    Friendly conversations are nice, but there are worlds of difference between discussing the foundations of one’s worldview and discussing the flavor of the brew at the local pub! For something as serious and as critical as the former, I’m going to be more rigorous, and I expect others to be as well. For casual conversation, vagueness and generalities are much more acceptable.

    And by the way…

    Jon: This beer tastes good!
    Terry: What… how do you define beer and what is your absolute standard of goodness. Without God you can’t have basis of goodness)

    Your example here equivocates moral goodness with personal preference. If you say that moral goodness actually is only personal preference, then you’re denying objective morality. (And that would render your statement that started this whole conversation between us meaningless.)

    Funny how you were not aware of Pinker’s studies earlier, but now you seem to know his view of morality.

    Why is that funny? You’re right… I’d never heard of the guy until you mentioned him, so I found some of his writings and saw what he had to say. And though I hadn’t read him, I’ve read works by many who believe the same way he does. So it’s, “same philosophy, different guy”.

    This is standard apologist approach.

    What do you mean by this, other than an ad hominem attack? Are you saying that if I gave you a reference that you were not familiar with, then you would not go see what it had to say (because obviously, you are not an apologist?)

    This isn’t an apologist’s approach… it’s the intellectually-honest approach!

    In order to do either science or philosophy well, we must consider all of the available evidence when forming a conclusion. I’m not afraid of the evidence; I’m afraid of coming to the wrong conclusion! And how can anyone come to the correct conclusion if they ignore evidence?

    If the evidence says atheism is true, then I want to be the best atheist I can be (whatever that would mean…).

    Can you say the same about Christianity?

    Reply
    • Jon says:

      Terry L, the problem is that you keep on asking definition, bases, assumptions, foundation, clarification and world view question without ever getting to the topic of the article. This is how every discussion seem to go with presuppositional apologist.

      I provided the source (easily accessible) for my counter evidence to what article claims, yet you ask me again to “provide some evidence of the position”. And now again you go back to clarifications and foundations without addressing the topic in hand.

      No ad hominem attack meant with “This is standard apologist approach.” Sorry, it sounded like it.

      You asked “Can you say the same about Christianity”? [If the evidence says Christianity is true, then I want to be the best Christianity I can be]

      I can say and I have studied Christianity and other religions. Christianity can’t answer difficult question satisfactorily. Evidence for truth claims are relatively poor compared to other religions with living eye witnesses. It is nothing like Jesus’ eyewitnesses (=James’ church before Paul) religion was. Bible is not reliable… the problem list just goes on and on.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        This is how every discussion seem to go with presuppositional apologist.

        Interesting, as I am not a presuppositionalist. I’m an evidentialist… that’s why I keep asking for your evidence!

        I provided the source (easily accessible) for my counter evidence to what article claims, yet you ask me again to “provide some evidence of the position”. And now again you go back to clarifications and foundations without addressing the topic in hand.

        But I’m not sending you off to a website. I do that on occasions, but not often. If I wanted to dialog with your source, I’d address them directly. I want to know why YOU believe what you believe.

        I take a lot of time (probably more than I should) on here defending the same points to different people, so forgive me if I expect others to defend their own ideas. You write well and articulately; you should be able to defend your statements yourself, and then refer to your sources as supplemental material. If all I get is a reference to another site or article, then I have to wonder if you truly understand the claim you’ve made, or if you’re just throwing something out there, and then expecting other authorities to defend what you cannot.

        I can say and I have studied Christianity and other religions. Christianity can’t answer difficult question satisfactorily.

        No worldview is going to handle every difficult question to everyone’s satisfaction. And frankly, that’s a poor standard for judging a worldview. Do you expect a place as complex as our universe to come with simple answers?

        The only valid reason for believing in something is because it is true! Regardless of how mysterious it might be, or how many questions remain unanswered, one should follow the evidence to the truth.

        If that’s honestly your goal, then I’ll defend your quest, regardless of where it leads you. I don’t believe that truth is different for you than for me, but each of us have to follow the evidence to the best of our abilities.

        In my own quest for truth, I was led right back to Christianity. I learn more and more every day by discussing these issues with you , Stephen, etc. on here, and sometimes I find that I’m wrong about something and have to change my view. That’s the nature of the quest. We learn more and more as we discuss these issues with each other… which is again why I want to talk to YOU, not your sources.

        Evidence for truth claims are relatively poor compared to other religions with living eye witnesses. It is nothing like Jesus’ eyewitnesses (=James’ church before Paul) religion was.

        What is your evidence for this?

        Bible is not reliable… the problem list just goes on and on.

        And this?

        To what worldview then do you subscribe? You claim that Christianity doesn’t answer difficult questions satisfactorily; how does your own worldview answer those difficult questions?

        Reply
      • Jon says:

        Terry, your method is closer to presuppositionalist; constantly asking definitions and arguing meaning of words. Asking for evidence does not make you evidentialist, and evidentialist supernaturalist are pretty much presuppositionalists if you go down to the core evidence.

        Author of the article made a claim “immorality is becoming exponentially more acceptable” without reference to data/studies or provided any explanation where the data come from.

        I made a counter claim. Provide the source of my claim and instructed how to find more info without buying the book I refer to. Clearly my standard of info provisioning is higher than authors, but you have problem with this. You wanted to argue about definitions and now you want me to copy-paste the studies here? My claim was simple, not difficult, so up to you if you want to ignore it.

        I agree that no worldview is going to handle every difficult question to everyone’s satisfaction. NOTHING is to everyone’s satisfaction. Naturalist worldview has the best explanatory power.

        You asked “Do you expect a place as complex as our universe to come with simple answers?”
        Depends on the question; some are simple, some difficult, sometimes “I don’t know” is the right answer.

        You asked what is my evidence for truth claims are relatively poor compared to other religions with living eye witnesses. It is nothing like Jesus’ eyewitnesses (=James’ church before Paul) religion was.
        – You can interview thousands of real living eye witnesses which is generally better source than couple of second hand anonymous sources
        – You can study James’ church from Galatians, early Church fathers’ writings, Didache etc. Paul, like Joseph Smith, who never met Jesus started a heresy. And no, I’m not going to copy-paste those to here.

        Bible is not reliable? – Just study it with open mind rather than trying to harmonize problems to protect your faith. e.g what was Jesus’ last words?

        My worldview is ~humanistic, secular and ~ naturalistic. I do disagree with some humanistic ideas, but in a broader sense it fits me. It does answer difficult questions better, not always satisfactorily, and I’m ok that sometimes we just don’t know answers to difficult questions (perhaps we will eventually know)

        Reply
        • Terry L says:

          Terry, your method is closer to presuppositionalist; constantly asking definitions and arguing meaning of words

          What word have I argued the meaning of?

          I made a counter claim. Provide the source of my claim…

          You made a claim; I asked for clarification of what YOU meant… not your source. I’m not interested in your copy/paste of someone else’s work, I wanted to understand exactly what you meant by your statement.

          But let’s leave this behind for now; my continually asking you for a clarification you’re not willing to give is getting us nowhere. I do have some questions about your response though:

          You asked what is my evidence for truth claims are relatively poor compared to other religions with living eye witnesses. It is nothing like Jesus’ eyewitnesses (=James’ church before Paul) religion was.
          – You can interview thousands of real living eye witnesses which is generally better source than couple of second hand anonymous sources

          Perhaps I’m not thinking clearly, but I honestly don’t understand exactly to what you are referring by “other religions with living eye witnesses”.

          Are you including secular humanism as an “other religion”, and then claiming that it has “thousands of real living eye witnesses”?

          Bible is not reliable? – Just study it with open mind rather than trying to harmonize problems to protect your faith. e.g what was Jesus’ last words?

          Assuming that you mean as he hung on the cross, I don’t believe we can know with certainty. Why do you call that a problem? If two persons were at the scene of an accident today and were near as the driver was dying, it’s entirely possible for them both to report different “last words” for the victim without lying. They simply report the last words that they personally heard the victim speak!

          Recognizing also that some of the authors didn’t place a lot of emphasis on getting everything in the exact chronological order (Luke himself recognizes this in Acts), I don’t see this as a problem at all!

          My worldview is ~humanistic, secular and ~ naturalistic. I do disagree with some humanistic ideas, but in a broader sense it fits me.

          Two questions about this:

          1. Can you give a brief example of a humanistic idea with which you disagree, and why?

          2. What do you mean when you say, “it fits me?” I ask only because how a worldview “fits” a person’s preferences is a poor way to choose a worldview. The only valid reason for believing something is because it is true, regardless of how it “fits” the individual.

          Reply
        • Jon says:

          I mean by “other religions with living eye witnesses” for example followers of Sathya Sai Baba or David Koresh. You can interview their religion’s living eye witnesses.

          You said “Assuming that you mean as he hung on the cross”.
          Well let’s not; maybe he hang on a tree like Paul said.

          You said “If two persons were at the scene of an accident today and were near as the driver was dying, it’s entirely possible for them both to report different “last words” for the victim without lying. They simply report the last words that they personally heard the victim speak!”
          Sure, but then “last words” reports are less reliable. My point exactly.

          You said “some of the authors didn’t place a lot of emphasis on getting everything in the exact chronological order, I don’t see this as a problem at all!
          Ok, let’s not then claim that Holy Spirit guided this document. And my claim was not “in the exact chronological order”, but contradictions.

          Humanist are typically against capital punishment, I support it in some cases. My view is that some crimes are worth capital punishment especially when victims (taxpayers) have to contribute the wellbeing of the offender.

          I used “fits me” to simplify how I describe my world view. Of course I think it is true, like all of us think their world view is correct.

          Reply
  8. Terry L says:

    Greg:

    You said,

    Terry I’m curious, by what standard do you judge slavery wrong? I mean of course, if you actually do?

    Normally, I would ask you here what you meant by “slavery”… there are, in fact, different usages of the word. But it’s a long weekend, so I’ll give one definition, and address that one (while briefly addressing another). If you mean another, then please let me know and we can discuss that one.

    I’m taking your usage of slavery to mean the kind of slavery practiced in the southern United States until the Civil War. While it is true that many slaveholders in the south used (or I should say, abused) the Bible to justify slavery, this does not mean that the Bible condones that practice.

    We do have an example in scripture of slavery very much like this; the Israelites were held in cruel captivity by Egypt in the story of the Exodus. God’s response to Egypt through Moses should make clear his opinion of this atrocity! Egypt paid a high price; they lost much livestock, gold, silver and other precious goods; their army was likely decimated; they lost the firstborn of all that lived.

    After the exodus from Egypt, we do see a form of “slavery” in Israel; but God gave Israel careful instructions on how their servants (a better translation) were to be treated. And he reminded them frequently in the scriptures of the trials they suffered in Egypt as an example of what NOT to do! Slave traders were singled out by God in Exodus 21:16: “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.”

    Because of this, most slaves/servants in Israel (probably not all… knowing human nature, I’m sure someone broke the rules) entered into servitude voluntarily, in order to pay off a debt.

    God could have just simply ignored the issue… but that wouldn’t make the practice go away. By setting tight limits on the practice, no one who wanted to continue to mistreat their slaves would have any desire to move to Israel.

    In the New Testament, Paul clearly says that whether slave or free, master or servant, we are all equals in Christ. He returned Philemon’s newly-converted runaway slave to him with the admonition to receive him as if he were Paul himself, and to deal with him as a brother in Christ. By doing so, he fulfilled the requirements of the laws of his time, but also insisted that Philemon treat his servant with the dignity and respect he deserved.

    In summary, God clearly condemns the slavery practiced in the southern U.S. in the 19th Century.

    Evolution on the other hand can easily be used to justify the practice… and this has also been done. If some persons are more “evolved” than others, then is it not evident that the more advanced life form should lead, and the rest should follow? Darwin himself, recognizing that some “races” were more “evolved” than others said in The Descent of Man:

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian [aborigine] and the gorilla. (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (New York, A.L. Burt, 1874, 2nd ed.), p. 178.)

    It’s not a giant leap then to say that these less-civilized, less-evolved races should at best, be cared for by their superiors, or at worst, be servants to them.

    And on atheism, you have no God to say, “NO!” All you have is one man’s opinion against another’s… who is to say what is right and what is wrong?

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “We do have an example in scripture of slavery very much like this; the Israelites were held in cruel captivity by Egypt in the story of the Exodus. God’s response to Egypt through Moses should make clear his opinion of this atrocity!”

      Right, he didn’t want Jews made slaves. But Jews making slaves of others was a completely different story. And it’s disingenuous for you pretend the bible doesn’t make the distinction.

      “It’s not a giant leap then to say that these less-civilized, less-evolved races should at best, be cared for by their superiors, or at worst, be servants to them.”

      Darwin was an abolitionist, rendering your point above moot.

      “Evolution on the other hand can easily be used to justify the practice…”

      The bible was used to justify the practice – and by men much more learned in the bible by you, by full time biblical scholars.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      If you want me to expand on why I call it disingenuous, imagine that I was telling you about America’s historical attitude to slavery, and I expanded on 18th and 19th Century laws prohibiting white Americans from enslaving other white Americans, without discussing the laws allowing whites to enslave blacks.

      “Normally, I would ask you here what you meant by “slavery”… there are, in fact, different usages of the word. I’m taking your usage of slavery to mean the kind of slavery practiced in the southern United States until the Civil War”

      Why not cut to the chase and just take it to mean any instance of one human owning another human? Instead you spend the bulk of your reply discussing the instance of slavery that is least problematic to you.

      Terry, can you state clearly now whether there are circumstances when you are fine with one human owning another human? Don’t just say ‘not in the present day’ – we’re talking whether you think it’s objectively wrong at all times and in all places.

      Now, I’m guessing you MIGHT say that you can think of circumstances where you can imagine one man being so indentured to the other that the only solution is a kind of slavery. So my second question is, if you say yes, can you take those same circumstances and state whether you are fine with that slave-owner automatically owning the CHILDREN of that slave.

      Reply
    • Jon says:

      Terry said “And on atheism, you have no God to say, “NO!” All you have is one man’s opinion against another’s… who is to say what is right and what is wrong?”

      Jon says “And on theism, you have no God to say, “NO!” All you have is one man’s opinion against another’s whose God(s) if anyone’s is real… who is to say what/who is right and what/who is wrong?”

      It is really silly to assume we can’t say what is right and what is wrong. Reality is against you there. Non-Christian societies have managed to agree on what is right and what is wrong, and Christian societies can’t seem to agree what is right and what is wrong on many issues

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        Jon, Terry is talking about moral ontology, not moral epistemology. In other words, he’s not claiming that without God you can’t work out what IS moral (he would probably say even atheists have morality written on our hearts), he’s saying that without God there’s nothing to MAKE any particular act moral or immoral.

        William Lane Craig: “I’m convinced that keeping the distinction between moral epistemology and moral ontology clear is the most important task in formulating and defending a moral argument for God’s existence of the type I defend. A proponent of that argument will agree quite readily (and even insist) that we do not need to know or even believe that God exists in order to discern objective moral values or to recognize our moral duties. Affirming the ontological foundations of objective moral values and duties in God similarly says nothing about how we come to know those values and duties. The theist can be genuinely open to whatever epistemological theories his secular counterpart proposes for how we come to know objective values and duties.”

        Obviously I disagree with both Terry and Craig, but it’s important we understand the actual argument they are making.

        Reply
        • Jon says:

          Stephen, is Terry saying that without God we don’t know what is right/wrong or is he saying right/wrong does not exist without God. I thought he made the knowledge claim not the existence claim, and claimed that without God you can’t work out what IS moral. My bad. Anyways if Terry agrees with WLG he is automatically wrong.

          Reply
        • Toby says:

          I view the moral argument as a circular mess, a rabbit hole that draws in debaters. The argument usually follows the same route: there is never anything more than a claim that objective moral values exist, the chaos of unbridled relativism is thrown out there as a boogie man, and the atheist is branded with “You can’t say that anything is wrong or right!”

          Craig’s answer to why we should think objective moral values exist is, “Because I clearly apprehend objective moral values and have no good reason to deny what I clearly perceive.” In light of this how can anyone take the moral argument seriously? “Objective moral values are real because I know they are.”

          Reply
    • Greg says:

      Terry, I see you’ve read Paul Copan or someone making similar arguments. You say: “In summary, God clearly condemns the slavery practiced in the southern U.S. in the 19th Century.” This is an absolute lie. You, like most apologists, want to conflate the two types of slavery mentioned in the old testament, indentured servitude practiced among the Hebrews and chattel slavery similar to that of the antebellum south like the Hebrews practiced against foreigners. Leviticus 25:46 and Exodus 21:20-21 make this perfectly clear. Not to mention the differences in which women slaves were treated from men slaves. I challenge you to read Thom Stark’s critical review of Paul Copan’s “Moral Monster” for a more balanced and I would say honest treatment of the old testament brutality passages.
      And regarding truth or objective morality don’t you get it? The opinions and best attempts of men are all we have ever had to know right from wrong. Men, claiming to speak for god saying this is how we should behave. That’s why, like I said on another blog , you see an “evolution” from Yahweh to Jesus. Do you disagree that Jesus brought us a higher ethic than Yahweh?

      Reply
  9. Luke says:

    Terry said:Your example here equivocates moral goodness with personal preference. If you say that moral goodness actually is only personal preference, then you’re denying objective morality.

    Terry, I have a quick question. Dr. Turek or anyone else, I’d like to hear your answer as well. I just honestly don’t know the answer to this is within this argument.

    Let’s take an example that’s quite revolting to everyone here — child rape. Do you personally think that child rape is wrong? Beyond just “G-d says it’s wrong so it is,” but do you have a “personal preference” as you’d call it against it?

    I hope what I’m trying to ask makes sense.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  10. Toby says:

    Can anyone here provide a valid syllogism for why we should think there are such things as objective moral values?

    Anything other than a claim would be nice.

    Reply
    • Toby says:

      I’d like to add that the syllogism not be just turning the moral argument around. What I mean is leave out a god and to prove that such things exist. And avoid emotional appeals about torturing babies for fun, please.

      Reply
  11. Terry L says:

    Well, I knew this would kick up a firestorm! Sorry to be so long… I’ve been busy and couldn’t respond for a few days.

    Stephen:

    You said,

    “It’s not a giant leap then to say that these less-civilized, less-evolved races should at best, be cared for by their superiors, or at worst, be servants to them.”
    Darwin was an abolitionist, rendering your point above moot.

    The statement you’re “refuting” doesn’t even cite Darwin, nor does it depend on his comments. Whether he believed that slavery was justified or not, the simple fact is that his theory cannot condemn the practice without reaching outside of itself for a moral framework. If, as an atheist, you remove a transcendent God from the equation, you have to replace that with something else.

    The bible was used to justify the practice…

    A point I made myself, I think.

    …and by men much more learned in the bible by you, by full time biblical scholars.

    Even very learned men can be wrong, or misled.

    You’re arguing against points I did not make. I made no appeal to authority. I cited Darwin only to show that he recognized that his theory meant that some men would naturally be more “evolved” than others. But the justification of slavery by evolution stands on the theory itself, not the beliefs of its proponents.

    I’ll cut through the most of your next post:

    So my second question is, if you say yes, can you take those same circumstances and state whether you are fine with that slave-owner automatically owning the CHILDREN of that slave.

    What would you have happen to them? Mom and dad are indentured servants, but the kids are free? Would you prefer they split the families apart?

    Jon:

    You said,

    It is really silly to assume we can’t say what is right and what is wrong. Reality is against you there.

    So you’re admitting that “right” and “wrong” truly exist? Please explain why and how these would exist in a non-theistic world.

    An atheist automatically rules out God/god/gods as a source of morality, so I refer you back to the original question: What standard are you using???

    Non-Christian societies have managed to agree on what is right and what is wrong, and Christian societies can’t seem to agree what is right and what is wrong on many issues

    Most persons these days view tolerance as the highest virtue. Yet Christians, who typically view homosexuality as a sin, are bashed for being homophobic bigots. How is that tolerant?

    But the greater issue isn’t about what a “Christian society” agrees is right or wrong, but about whether anything truly is right or wrong!

    You see, you and I may disagree completely about the morality or immorality of a given action (i.e. homosexuality); but what neither of us is saying is that right and wrong do not exist! I keep asking my atheist friends to explain where “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil” come from, but no one can give me any answer that stands up to scrutiny. On analysis, they all end up defining good and evil as human opinion or ungrounded brute facts of reality. But human opinions change, and claiming the existence of brute facts without justification or grounds for their existence is completely irrational.

    Greg:

    You said,

    Terry, I see you’ve read Paul Copan or someone making similar arguments.

    I’ve not read Copan. I’ve heard him speak for about an hour on a podcast several years ago; that’s my only exposure to him. I was specifically asked about a very difficult passage in scripture, and I gave the best answer I can give. That’s all I can do.

    I’m not going to lie and say I have everything in the OT (or the NT, for that matter) figured out. I don’t! But I’m also reminded of the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where Trip sees a mother apparently abusing her child. He becomes upset… until T’Pol explains that she is merely weaning the child, who from infancy cannot breathe an oxygen-rich atmosphere. He didn’t understand the culture, and by overlaying his own cultural values on that culture, he almost made a huge blunder that could have cost the child his life.

    Similarly, I don’t understand all of the cultural mores of life in Old Testament Egypt and Israel. If I understood them better, then I *might* be able to answer better. God did things that I don’t understand, and I won’t pretend that I don’t struggle with some of those passages. At the same time, I grow weary of persons claiming that “the God of the Old Testament is a moral monster!”, when Jonah clearly shows how patient and long-suffering God was with an evil and rebellious culture; when he allowed the Canaanites 400 years before allowing Israel to dispossess them from Canaan; when God was equally as hard on Israel when they rebelled and grew immoral.

    The bottom line is, I know enough to know that God is willing to be forgiving to the repentant, but will not allow sin to go unpunished. He made a way for men to be reconciled to him. Rather than being thankful for that one way, men complain because there are not five ways! They still want to come to God on their own terms; by being good enough, or just because they exist. (That’s the people who ask, “How can a loving God turn anyone into Hell?” In other words, why doesn’t God accept anyone regardless of their willingness to accept him?!)

    And regarding truth or objective morality don’t you get it? The opinions and best attempts of men are all we have ever had to know right from wrong. Men, claiming to speak for god saying this is how we should behave.

    So you deny that right and wrong actually exist? That if one rapes their infant daughter, they didn’t really do anything wrong, they just didn’t do what society thinks is right?

    You should also know that if you relegate morality to opinion, you also give up your own rights… for they must be opinion as well. The framers of our nation didn’t see it that way… they viewed our rights as being given to us by God himself. The restriction of any God-given right was only to be done in the direst circumstance and with sober consideration.

    But if our rights are merely the opinions of men, then men can simply change their minds… and our rights vanish like the wind! They were never real to begin with!

    That’s why, like I said on another blog , you see an “evolution” from Yahweh to Jesus. Do you disagree that Jesus brought us a higher ethic than Yahweh?

    I have a longer answer to this in the works for a blog post of my own, but yes I do disagree. God promised from the very first sin that he would make a way to restore what man had lost. The first time his righteous anger was shown against sin in the Garden, his mercy was promised as well. Over the generations, God revealed more and more of his plan for restoration, until it was made manifest in the Incarnation. Both Yahweh and Jesus were unapologetically hard against sin, but ready and eager to forgive the sinner who would repent.

    Luke:

    You said:

    Let’s take an example that’s quite revolting to everyone here — child rape. Do you personally think that child rape is wrong? Beyond just “G-d says it’s wrong so it is,” but do you have a “personal preference” as you’d call it against it?

    You asked and answered your own question:

    Q: do you have a “personal preference” as you’d call it against it?
    A: Let’s take an example that’s quite revolting to everyone here

    Of course, I find the act abhorrent! But my opinion on the matter is meaningless… I’m not the standard! My opinion is of no greater value than that of the psychopath down the street who might think it just fine to have some fun with the kiddies! That’s HIS personal preference!

    Toby said “Can anyone here provide a valid syllogism for why we should think there are such things as objective moral values?”

    Can you prove that ANY of the data reported by your other senses is real? We have first-hand evidence of our own moral intuition, just like we have first-hand evidence of what our eyes see, our ears hear, and our hands touch. Why should we doubt the reality of our moral sense any more than we doubt the other five?

    Additionally, I’ve never met anyone who could explain how the idea of morality could arise unless it has some grounding in reality. We could have evolved a dislike for being harmed, but we go one step beyond that to claiming that I’ve been *wronged* if someone harms me unnecessarily. We have introduced the concept of “oughtness”.

    Nowhere else in nature do we see such a thing! We don’t see a young tadpole and say it “ought” to grow up to be a gazelle… it just simply does what it does and becomes a frog. When a cat kills a mouse for sport, I’ve never heard anyone say that the cat did something wrong! It’s simply being a cat! Why then when men lie, cheat, steal, murder, rape, and pillage do we say they are wrong to do so? Why wouldn’t we just accept their actions as being what men do?

    But the only sense of “oughtness”, the sense that something should be other than it is, that we have is in regard to human behavior. Men “ought” to love their families… but often they don’t. People “ought” to keep their promises… but often they don’t. Men “ought” to respect others… sadly, often they don’t. It seems we have this intuition that there is something higher that we are called to be, but are incapable of fully being.

    But why should we feel this way? Without a transcendent morality, any answer quickly devolves to circular reasoning. “Why should I be unselfish?”, I ask. You respond, “For the good of society.” But why should I care about the good of society? Because one ought not be unselfish!

    Is that emotionless enough for you? 😉

    -tl

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Whether he believed that slavery was justified or not, the simple fact is that his theory cannot condemn the practice without reaching outside of itself for a moral framework”

      Terry, you were citing Darwin’s opinions. Either they’re relevant or they’re not. And if the theory cannot be used to condemn the practice then it can’t be used to justify it either.

      “I made no appeal to authority. I cited Darwin only to show that he recognized that his theory meant that some men would naturally be more “evolved” than others”

      Cool, and I cited those slavery-justifying bishops only to show that they recognized that the bible condones slavery.

      “Nowhere else in nature do we see such a thing!”

      You’ve not been looking very hard. We see it all the time in nature. Chimps get very upset if they think food has been distributed unequally among them. And this isn’t just a chimp trying to get more food – chimps given more food than another chimp will often notice the disparity and equalise it by handing over some of theirs.

      The ‘oughtness’ is a sense of fairness, fair play. It’s a sense of equalness and balance.

      “Without a transcendent morality, any answer quickly devolves to circular reasoning. “Why should I be unselfish?”, I ask. You respond, “For the good of society.” But why should I care about the good of society?”

      Introducing a God makes it no less circular. “Because God says so”. But why does God saying so make it so? “Because he’s got authority”. But why has he got authority? “Because he gave himself authority”. But where did he get the authority to give himself that authority?

      “Why should we doubt the reality of our moral sense any more than we doubt the other five?”

      I can test the reality of my senses. If there’s an optical illusion making it seem like a straight line is curved, I can get out a ruler. What tests can you provide to demonstrate a ‘moral truth’, bar the fact that a majority (but not a consensus) all feel the same way about it?

      “So you deny that right and wrong actually exist? That if one rapes their infant daughter, they didn’t really do anything wrong, they just didn’t do what society thinks is right?”

      Your position seems to be that it’s only wrong if God says its wrong, and that if he happened to feel differently about it, so would you.

      “I keep asking my atheist friends to explain where “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil” come from, but no one can give me any answer that stands up to scrutiny”

      Neither can you. Just saying ‘It’s God’s nature’ tells us nothing. How are you getting an ‘ought’ from the ‘is’ of God’s nature?

      “Most persons these days view tolerance as the highest virtue. Yet Christians, who typically view homosexuality as a sin, are bashed for being homophobic bigots. How is that tolerant?”

      So being intolerant of, say, Nazis wanting to kill Jews would make me intolerant of Nazis? I think you and I have a different understanding of ‘intolerant’.

      “Jonah clearly shows how patient and long-suffering God was with an evil and rebellious culture; when he allowed the Canaanites 400 years before allowing Israel to dispossess them from Canaan”

      A weird thing to say about a supposedly aeons-old being who at any rate already knew in advance everything that was going to happen.

      “What would you have happen to them? Mom and dad are indentured servants, but the kids are free? Would you prefer they split the families apart?”

      Why not just answer the question? Your answer appears to be that you don’t condemn slavery in all forms. The ‘indentured servitude’ idea is like a ‘gateway drug’ to the owning of other human beings who never owed you anything, and you refuse to condemn the practice.

      That aside, it’s simply false to say it always began with indentured servitude:

      Leviticus 25: 44-46 “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance”.

      Or Exodus 21:7-11 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.”

      That’s just talking about buying and selling other people. It’s not talking about owning people because they owe you money.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        STEPHEN

        And if the theory cannot be used to condemn the practice then it can’t be used to justify it either.

        Nonsense. The theory clearly shows… indeed, demands that some men must be more evolved than others, at least at some times in human history, for that is how natural selection operates. Natural selection means that those most fit to survive will survive. Why should the one more fit care what happens to those who have been left behind? The entire theory of evolution rests on the victory of the more fit over the less fit. It is illogical for the more fit “alpha” creatures to not assert their dominance over the less-fit “betas”.

        The ‘oughtness’ is a sense of fairness, fair play. It’s a sense of equalness and balance.

        Ok. Where does this concept of fairness come from? Why be fair? Who says that the act of being fair is good?

        Introducing a God makes it no less circular. “Because God says so”. But why does God saying so make it so? “Because he’s got authority”. But why has he got authority? “Because he gave himself authority”. But where did he get the authority to give himself that authority?

        Why do you keep attacking the idea that an action is moral “because God says so” when I’ve clearly denied that this is the origin of morality?

        An action is moral when it is in congruence with the immutable character of the unchangeable God. It is right, because God designed our universe in accordance with his immutable character, and we were intended to function in that manner… in accordance with his nature. There is no circularity; it stops with God’s character, which is what it is and always has been and cannot be changed.

        I can test the reality of my senses. If there’s an optical illusion making it seem like a straight line is curved, I can get out a ruler.

        You’re reasoning in a circle again. Your ruler, according to your senses is straight. You still seem to trust your other senses more than your own moral sense.

        But more importantly, you are testing the perception of your senses by appealing to a standard. When you make claims about morality, you are similarly recognizing that such a standard must exist. You intuitively understand that it exists. You reference a sense of “fairness” above, but what reason can you give for its existence?

        Just saying ‘It’s God’s nature’ tells us nothing. How are you getting an ‘ought’ from the ‘is’ of God’s nature?

        Thank you for asking this question… thinking through this actually clarified a few points for me.

        The practical answer is this: God’s “IS” is what man “OUGHT” to be but “ISN’T”. According to scripture, when God made the other creatures, he gave them their own nature. A dog acts like a dog and not a mouse because it is by nature a dog. A mosquito buzzes around and drinks blood because it is by nature a mosquito. Their nature defines what they do.

        Mankind was different; we are made in the image of God Himself (meaning, we are moral beings). Our original nature was made in the image of God’s own nature. Originally, Men were moral because it was in their nature to be moral. However, Man was given freedom to choose between morality and immorality; between the nature we were given, or defining our own nature. Man chose to act in a manner contrary to God’s nature, which shattered and marred the image of God we had been given. No longer was it our nature to act according to God’s nature; we were (and are) fallen, broken beings. Though we have a remnant of this image (what Paul refers to as the moral law written on our hearts), it is no longer God’s image. Like a shattered mirror, we no longer reflect God’s image truthfully.

        We all recognize that we do things that we should not do, and don’t do things that we should do. Ever told a lie? That makes you a liar. Nothing you can do will ever change that. Ever taken something that wasn’t yours? You’re a thief. Give away everything you own, you can’t change what you’ve done. We’re all guilty of doing something we know we should not have done.

        But Man’s biggest problem isn’t what we do, but what we are! One’s nature defines ones actions. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!” We sin because we are fallen; and our sins mar the image of God in us even further and make us less and less what we ought to be. Nothing we can do can restore that image; only God can do that, and he’s made a way to do just that. But, he won’t do it against our will. If we prefer the fallen, shattered image to what God wants us to be, God will allow us to keep it; but he will not allow that imperfect image into the perfection of Heaven. You don’t mop your white floors until they shine, and then invite the sewer repair guy into your kitchen in his filthy boots!

        So being intolerant of, say, Nazis wanting to kill Jews would make me intolerant of Nazis? I think you and I have a different understanding of ‘intolerant’.

        Loosely speaking (no dictionary definition here), “tolerance” means bearing with something with which you disagree. Not all tolerance is good; not all intolerance is bad. I can tolerate the views of a neo-Nazi who wants to murder Jews while being intolerant of the actions of his companion who actually tries to do so. I don’t agree with his viewpoint, and think that he is morally wrong to do so, but he has the right to his belief. Therefore, I can tolerate it. Acting on that viewpoint is a violation of the law, both civil and moral. One has no obligation to tolerate such actions. Indeed, one would obligated to oppose his actions.

        Which leads to the question of laws… what should be legal? what should be illegal? Laws always place restrictions on someone. Do you really believe that any man should have the right to restrict another man based solely on opinion? Or should laws mirror the unchanging moral law we have discovered?

        If the reality is that morality is illusory, then why do we even need laws? After all, rights are also illusory. Why defend what one doesn’t have? You like to refer to chimps… chimps don’t have laws, cops, lawyers (well, they may actually be smarter than us there!), or judges. They have no legislators. And they survive, and even thrive. And if they don’t, isn’t that evolution at work?

        But if morality is based in reality, then our laws should reflect that morality. Government’s role should be, as our Declaration of Independence declared, to protect those rights given to us by our Creator, not to create new rights that do not truly exist.

        Why not just answer the question? Your answer appears to be that you don’t condemn slavery in all forms.

        “Slavery in all forms” is extremely vague; but I don’t think I can condemn “slavery in all forms”. I’ve seen “slave” auctions for charity in college where you “buy” someone to follow you around and wait on you hand and foot all day. Granted, that’s a flippant example of a heinous institution, but it does fall under your description.

        For more on my views on slavery, see my other post…

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “The theory clearly shows… indeed, demands that some men must be more evolved than others, at least at some times in human history, for that is how natural selection operates”

          The theory shows nothing of the sort. In fact ‘more evolved’ doesn’t really make any sense. We’re not ‘more evolved’ than a snail – there’s no definition of ‘evolved’ that allows one to compare any animal with another and say one is ‘more evolved’ than the other.

          How would one begin to say one man is ‘more evolved’ than another? Watch the film ‘Walkabout’. Jenny Agutter and her brother might be considered more advanced than the Aboriginal boy played by David Gulpilil, but he’s perfectly suited to the harsh outback environment they’re lost in, and he saves their lives.

          ‘Survival of the fittest’ simply means surviving in this particular environment at this particular time. There’s no superiority suggested beyond that, unless you use the term very loosely. What’s ‘superior’ today could be ‘inferior’ tomorrow following a small change in the weather or environment.

          “I don’t think I can condemn “slavery in all forms”.

          Thanks – no further questions from me on that topic then!

          Reply
        • Terry L says:

          there’s no definition of ‘evolved’ that allows one to compare any animal with another and say one is ‘more evolved’ than the other.

          The theory is completely dependent on one creature being more fit for survival. This is the only criteria for selection for survival. While “more evolved” might be somewhat of a misnomer, “more fit”, under Darwinism/Neo-Darwinism is a requirement. If one isn’t sufficiently fit to survive, then he dies! If my holding you in slavery benefits me and my fitness to survive, then what’s wrong with that?

          Secular philosophers have long recognized that extrapolating that concept into the social sciences would lead to what both you and I would call moral atrocities.

          ‘Survival of the fittest’ simply means surviving in this particular environment at this particular time. There’s no superiority suggested beyond that, unless you use the term very loosely. What’s ‘superior’ today could be ‘inferior’ tomorrow following a small change in the weather or environment.

          By your own complaint, the Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians. Change happened, and they became the slave holders. The inferior became the superior. On what grounds do you condemn this?

          “I don’t think I can condemn “slavery in all forms”.
          Thanks – no further questions from me on that topic then!

          You’re taking my statement out of context here to make it look like I said something I did not. But as I answered your question, please respond to mine above.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            “While “more evolved” might be somewhat of a misnomer”
            It IS a misnomer. It suggests a hierarchy that doesn’t exist.

            “If one isn’t sufficiently fit to survive, then he dies!”
            This wasn’t a ‘big idea’ of Darwin. To call it an ‘idea’ at all is stretching it – it’s basically a truism, or tautalogy. It remains true regardless of what Darwin said.

            “Secular philosophers have long recognized that extrapolating that concept into the social sciences ”
            There’s no extrapolation, Terry. You might as well extrapolate gravity into a social science. The theory of evolution is purely an observation of how natural selection will cause changes in allele frequencies over time.

            “…would lead to what both you and I would call moral atrocities.”
            You do know that the opposite of so-called Social Darwinism is socialism, don’t you? Social Darwinism means laissez-faire capitalism and no social net. Ironically it’s the system most commonly advocated by people who reject natural selection.

            “On what grounds do you condemn this?”
            What’s this got to do with natural selection? You said it could be JUSTIFIED on the basis of Darwinism, which makes no sense at all. I don’t need to cite Darwinism to condemn it.

            “You’re taking my statement out of context here to make it look like I said something I did not.”

            I asked you very clearly if you did or didn’t reject all forms of slavery. You said you didn’t, because of charity slave auctions.This is equivalent to saying you don’t reject all forms of murder because of charity murder mystery games. So I think you pretty much got what you deserved there for not giving a serious answer!

    • Jon says:

      Terry asked: “So you’re admitting that “right” and “wrong” truly exist? Please explain why and how these would exist in a non-theistic world.”
      For example society agrees that it is “right” to drive on right side of the road. It does not matter if you disagree with this rule, the rule is still correct.

      Human flourishing is pretty good standard for morality.

      A non-unicornist automatically rules out unicorns as a source of morality, so what?

      Please explain why and how morality exists in a theistic world. According to your world view is genocide it ok if ANYBODY including God says it’s ok? Is this an objective morality?

      I don’t agree that tolerance as the highest virtue. We don’t need to tolerate intolerance.

      Christian victimhood: Christians are upset being called bigots. Have you any idea what Christians have done to countless gays over the centuries? And you dare to portray Christians as victims here. omg.

      I keep asking my theist friends to explain where “right” and “wrong” come from, but no one can give me any answer that stands up to scrutiny. On analysis, they all end up defining “right” and “wrong” as human opinion or ungrounded fiction.

      Terry, is killing gays (Leviticus 20:13) ok always, never or depending on time and place?

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        For example society agrees that it is “right” to drive on right side of the road. It does not matter if you disagree with this rule, the rule is still correct.

        True. So if society agrees that it is “right” to kill homosexuals, then it’s ok? If society agrees that it’s “right” to burn atheists at the stake, then it’s ok?

        Human flourishing is pretty good standard for morality.

        That’s your opinion. Several endangered species that we’ve hunted to near-extinction would disagree with you! Why do humans get singled out for special treatment?

        And what do you mean “pretty good”? Is it THE standard, or not? Does that mean that if the destruction of the Jews in the 1940’s was conducive to human flourishing, then Hitler was right, and we were wrong to stop him?

        Human flourishing might be a standard of the results of an action, but as it is not an action, it cannot be the standard for the action itself. In other words, it might be a standard for the ends, but cannot be a standard for the means to that end. As morality concerns itself with the means… with our behavior, your assertion cannot be correct.

        A non-unicornist automatically rules out unicorns as a source of morality, so what?

        Irrelevant. Who has made the claim that unicorns were our moral source? And what is their evidence?

        Please explain why and how morality exists in a theistic world…. [Theists] all end up defining “right” and “wrong” as human opinion or ungrounded fiction.

        An object needs two things in order to be considered a standard: 1. It must possess the quality that it would define, and 2. It must exist!

        Now some “standards” are defined by men, and are therefore changeable by men. As you point out above, we drive on the right side of the road in the U.S.; in the U.K., they drive on the left. Those standards are created by men. While in the U.S., we are not doing wrong to drive on the right side of the road, although that same action would be wrong in the U.K. I won’t speak for my English cousins, but those of us in the US don’t claim that the British are evil because they drive on the “wrong” side of the road! But isn’t murder and mayhem different than that? Wouldn’t you agree that there’s never a time or place when it’s acceptable to torture children for pleasure?

        If so, then you must agree that the object or being that defines morality must be immutable; it cannot change! I refer to these standards that are true for all men in all places and times as absolute objective standards. Humans obviously cannot fit this description; we change all the time. Therefore, what we think is right or wrong simply doesn’t have any impact on what is right or wrong. We don’t define morality, we discover it! We can no more change the morality of extra-marital sexual activity (whether it be moral or immoral) than we can change the law of gravity!

        As the moral standard measures behavior, then the standard itself must have the quality of behavior. The moral law is not a list of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, but the character of a person… a person who never changes. Who always has the same opinion on moral issues irrespective of the person committing the act. This obviously cannot be a man; if you define the moral law, then it did not exist before you were born. If humanity itself defines the moral law, then whatever a society decides is moral is the right thing to do… and genocide, murder, rape, etc. are all perfectly moral IF the society deems them so.

        And if this is true, then morality is completely fluid; what is moral today can be immoral tomorrow. We have no basis by which to say what Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, or the 9/11 terrorists did was actually evil; their society may have applauded their actions and called them heroes. If morality is objective, then that simply means that the society was wrong. But if morality is based in society, then the question of evil vanishes… it’s meaningless! Evil doesn’t exist… just societal preferences. You might prefer that someone not murder your children, but you can’t call them evil for doing so!

        So the moral law seems to point to a moral lawgiver… not in the sense that this being created the law, but that he defines the law. His character and behavior are the standard by which all behaviors will be judged. Actions that match the character of this being are good; actions that go against the character of this being are evil.

        There’s something deeper also; character is more than behavior… it has to do with who one really is. One could be desperately evil, but locked in jail or stranded on an island incapable of committing the murders they want to commit. The fact that they do no actual murder doesn’t change their character; lack of opportunity doesn’t make them moral. It’s the alignment of one’s character with this immutable being that makes one truly moral. One’s actions follow from their character.

        According to your world view is genocide it ok if ANYBODY including God says it’s ok? Is this an objective morality?

        Actions that align with the character of God, the moral lawgiver, are moral. I’m assuming by “genocide”, you have in mind the Canaanites and the Israel’s conquest of Canaan. While I’ll admit that I’m not an expert on this passage, and there are parts I don’t understand, I do understand that their culture was corrupt to the core, and had been for over 400 years. God gave them opportunity after opportunity to repent, but they refused. Therefore, he destroyed them… capitol punishment, in a manner of speaking. They were not destroyed based on their nationality, race, gender, or other morally-inert attribute; they were destroyed because they were sinful.

        Christian victimhood: Christians are upset being called bigots. Have you any idea what Christians have done to countless gays over the centuries? And you dare to portray Christians as victims here. omg.

        Have you any idea what has been done to Christians (and Jews) over the centuries?

        Let’s cut to the bone here… men can be cruel, vindictive, heartless, merciless beasts at times. ALL men, whether claiming to be a follower of Christ or not. But by condemning what “Christians have done to… gays”, you are appealing to a standard or behavior that you believe must hold true for all men. What is that standard?

        I’ve never claimed that Christians were perfect; on the contrary, perfect men would have no need of Christ. And certainly, all that claim the name “Christian” are not truly following Christ’s example; and even those of us who try fail miserabally at times. I am ashamed of the actions that many in the church have taken over the years, because I can see that they did not measure up to his example. By what standard do you condemn those who crucified, flayed, ripped asunder, boiled and burned alive their fellow men for claiming the name of Christ?

        Terry, is killing gays (Leviticus 20:13) ok always, never or depending on time and place?

        I believe in capitol punishment. At that time and place, sodomy was a capitol offence. It is no longer punishable by death. I do not support making it so.

        Reply
      • Jon says:

        Terry, I’m glad we agree that society is a source of correct code of conduct (=morality), and we don’t need God to make those rules.

        Yes, it is my opinion that human flourishing is pretty good standard for morality. So what? You have your opinion I have mine. Just note that you don’t have God(s)’ opinion. Killing Jews or homosexuals in the 1940′s in Germany did not increase human flourishing did it?

        You said “Several endangered species that we’ve hunted to near-extinction would disagree with you!”
        That’s just your opinion. How do you know hunting near-extinction species increases human flourishing? I don’t think it does.

        You said “Human flourishing… cannot be the standard for the action itself.”
        That’s just your opinion. Just apply human flourishing as a standard if you should kill a person as see if it works as a standard.

        You said “Who has made the claim that unicorns were our moral source?”
        I think you missed my point that if you don’t believe in something then you don’t consider that as a source of anything. It is also irrelevant if anyone makes a claim or not. Claim does not make anything more probable.

        Murder, mayhem and driving on a wrong side are not a correct code of contact (those are morally wrong). Again see if it increases human flourishing or not.

        If you would be able to save the whole human race by torturing one child (or one person like Jesus) you could convince me that it is the correct code of conduct. And obviously it is irrelevant what I subjectively think if you try to make a case for objective/absolute morality. So no point to this question.

        You refer to standards that are true for all men in all places and times as absolute objective standards. What are these standards? Where can I confirm your strange claim?

        You agree that in some cases society defines what the correct code of conduct is, but you also claim that “we don’t define morality”. We actually can change the morality of extra-marital sexual activity. Different societies have different view of this so what is the absolute morality on this? Where can I confirm this absolute truth claim?

        You said: “The moral law is not a list of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, but the character of a person”
        This is just your opinion. You suddenly want to redefine word to mean a completely different meaning. This is the point were your logic breaks up and argument fails. Your claim “moral law seems to point to a moral lawgiver” fails on three levels. You haven’t demonstrated “moral law”, you redefine words and you have not demonstrated a need for lawgiver.

        You said:”[a person] Who always has the same opinion on moral issues irrespective of the person committing the act”
        I guess this excludes biblical God as source of morality. His gay killing orders change in different times. And you are right that morality is somewhat fluid. Followers of biblical God have changed their morality regarding killing of gays.

        We have bases why dictators were wrong and BTW their societies did not applaud them. Strangely Christians seem to have bases to applaud and call Moses a hero when he ordered genocide exactly like 20th century dictators. You did say that “[God’s] character and behavior are the standard by which all behaviors will be judged” so I guess you support occasional genocide? Strangle you claim genocide is ok in some cases but not in all cases. It looks like you are a relativistic genocide supporter. Really strange moral ideas you have.

        You asked “Have you any idea what has been done to Christians (and Jews) over the centuries?”
        No Terry, I don’t know. Can you please tell us what horrible things gays have done to Christians over the centuries?

        I don’t how killing gays or peaceful Christians ever helped human flourishing. I see that you don’t accept my standard, but it is better than genocides and bible based gay killings. If you think your standard is better just imagine living in your standard. You would not know if tomorrow’s God ordered genocides and gay killings’ are morally right, and are those right today and tomorrow. You don’t know if tomorrow you are in God’s hit list because someone else has committed “sin”. You’ll soon realize you your standard is baseless nonsense.

        I’ll glad you acknowledge that in your world view gay killing being morally right depends on time and place. You are a moral relativist.

        Reply
        • Terry L says:

          I’m glad we agree that society is a source of correct code of conduct (=morality), and we don’t need God to make those rules.

          Society can make amoral rules; they cannot change the moral law. You didn’t answer my questions: “if society agrees that it is “right” to kill homosexuals, then it’s ok? If society agrees that it’s “right” to burn atheists at the stake, then it’s ok?”

          You said “Several endangered species that we’ve hunted to near-extinction would disagree with you!”
          That’s just your opinion. How do you know hunting near-extinction species increases human flourishing? I don’t think it does.

          I didn’t say “hunting [species to] near-extinction increases human flourishing”. I was pointing out that your species-ist claim that humans should flourish is based on the assumption that it is a good thing for humans to flourish and thrive. Were you one of the last of your (non-human) species, you might find human existence abominable. Why should humans be the ones who flourish?

          Just apply human flourishing as a standard if you should kill a person as see if it works as a standard.
          No, it doesn’t. “Human” flourishing refers to mankind as a whole. The death of one human may or may not make any difference at all in the big picture. It might even improve it.

          What might have happened had Hitler been murdered during the time he was imprisoned? If that action could have prevented World War II and saved the lives of millions upon millions, would it have been moral?

          Using the standard of human flourishing, Hitler’s murder would seem to have been justified and moral. Yet, the inmate with the shiv that had the opportunity to do so had no idea of the horrors that were to come because of his inaction. We don’t know enough about what actions result in human flourishing to make correct decisions based on this standard.

          I think you missed my point that if you don’t believe in something then you don’t consider that as a source of anything.

          I think you missed my point that disbelief in something doesn’t make it not exist! You have to look at the evidence. If you (and I) are wrong and unicorns do exist and ARE the source of our morality, then we will both answer to the King of the Unicorns for our disbelief and our immoral actions. Rejecting God as the source of morality won’t save you if God does exist.

          Murder, mayhem and driving on a wrong side are not a correct code of contact (those are morally wrong). Again see if it increases human flourishing or not.

          See my question re: Hitler, above.

          You agree that in some cases society defines what the correct code of conduct is, but you also claim that “we don’t define morality”.

          Correct. Clearly, driving on the left-hand side of the road is not immoral.

          U.S. Society says that in the U.S., one drives on the right side of the road. It could have just as easily been the left. In Britain, one does drive on the left, according to their societal rules.

          But driving on the left or right is not in and of itself immoral. What is immoral, in all times and places for all men is to needlessly (excluding ambulances during emergencies, etc.) drive in an unsafe manner to endanger others.

          “Aha”, you might say. “Human flourishing wins again!”

          Of course, moral conduct leads to human flourishing… but morality cannot be grounded by human flourishing. On secular, atheistic humanism, there was no guarantee that humans would ever arise in this universe (unless you want to claim design… in which case, you’re back to God). So it is illogical to believe that moral laws existed in an atheistic, primordial universe if human flourishing is the basis of morality. They had to arise sometime after mankind himself, or at least as mankind arose.

          But again… why human flourishing? Why not earthworm flourishing? Who said humanity should flourish?

          We actually can change the morality of extra-marital sexual activity. Different societies have different view of this so what is the absolute morality on this? Where can I confirm this absolute truth claim?

          No, that’s not true. What you’re describing is different cultural attitudes to the action, which can and do change. Extra-marital sexual activity is either right or its wrong. What one believes has no impact on truth. Two plus two is always four, even if the whole world believes it’s five!

          You said: “The moral law is not a list of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, but the character of a person”
          This is just your opinion. You suddenly want to redefine word to mean a completely different meaning.

          No, it’s actually quite logical. How could a ruler measure the correctness of a length if it had no length? How could a weight measure the correctness of a mass if it had no mass?

          How can the moral standard measure the correctness of a behavior if it has no behavior?

          Your claim “moral law seems to point to a moral lawgiver” fails on three levels.

          You haven’t demonstrated “moral law”

          So if the moral law does not exist, it’s fine to kill and torture babies for pleasure?

          you redefine words

          I’ve clarified my terms. I’m not averse to explaining what I mean.

          The word “morality” gets thrown around a lot without many persons fully thinking through what it means. If you disagree with my definition, please provide your own so that we can both understand exactly what the other is talking about.

          you have not demonstrated a need for lawgiver.

          Only persons have behavior; behavior is required to be the standard of a behavior.

          You said:”[a person] Who always has the same opinion on moral issues irrespective of the person committing the act”
          I guess this excludes biblical God as source of morality.

          The moral argument for God’s existence does not identify the God of the Bible as the only possible deity; only as one of three likely contenders. Other arguments are required to narrow the field down to the God of the Bible.

          Rather, the moral argument is an argument for the existence of a God. Specific attacks against the God of the Bible cannot remove the implications of the moral argument.

          No Terry, I don’t know. Can you please tell us what horrible things gays have done to Christians over the centuries?

          Ah, ah, ah! You redirected my question! I never mentioned the sexual orientation of the persecutors.

          Let me ask you this… is there any sexual activity (incest, rape, bestiality, necrophilia, etc.) that you find immoral? If so, why?

          I see that you don’t accept my standard.

          That’s why we have these discussions. I’m just trying to understand why you believe what you believe. And I’m not asking you to accept “my” standard… MY opinion doesn’t count for much. I’m asking you to consider THE standard that must exist if morality is to have any meaning at all.

          Regarding the rest of your post, you are conflating several ideas together. Allow me to simply ask some questions to see if we can untangle them all:

          1. IF God created all that there is, then does he have the right to do with it as he pleases?
          2. IF the penalty for sin is death, and all have sinned, then isn’t one’s death the natural outcome of our sin?
          3. IF God can take the life of any man at any time (I could have a stroke before I finish this post), then does it matter what method he uses to take that life?

          Reply
        • Jon says:

          Terry said: “Society can make amoral rules; they cannot change the moral law. You didn’t answer my questions: “if society agrees that it is “right” to kill homosexuals, then it’s ok? they can change the moral law. Only if you redefine “moral” then you are correct. ”
          It is never “right” to kill homosexuals even if God tell Terry to do it. It does not increase human flourishing.

          You said: I was pointing out that your species-ist claim that humans should flourish is based on the assumption that it is a good thing for humans to flourish and thrive.
          Yes. The assumption is that it is a good thing for humans to flourish and thrive. It does not exclude animals to flourish.

          You said: Were you one of the last of your (non-human) species, you might find human existence abominable. Why should humans be the ones who flourish?
          Often flourishing is making compromises. Maybe there is space for humans and non-humans to coexist. The death of one human may or may not make any difference at all in the big picture, you need to do it case by case.

          You asked: “What might have happened had Hitler been murdered during the time he was imprisoned? If that action could have prevented World War II and saved the lives of millions upon millions, would it have been moral?”
          Well we don’t know if killing Hitler had prevented World War II and saved the lives of millions upon millions. Germans were not happy and there were a lot of radicals at the time. Japan was aggressive in the 30s and if WWII has been in 50s when both parties could have had nuclear weapons. And Hitler was not the best commander in chief. It is hard to know what the alternative would have been.

          You said “Rejecting God as the source of morality won’t save you if God does exist.”
          Who knows, maybe your saving does not exist or moral judgment will not happen. It’s all speculation.

          You said “but morality cannot be grounded by human flourishing.”
          That is just your opinion

          You said “On secular, atheistic humanism, there was no guarantee that humans would ever arise in this universe (unless you want to claim design… in which case, you’re back to God).
          No system has a GUARANTEE that humans would ever arise in this universe. And if it is a design it’s not back to God. That’s just your opinion; it could be gods or universe designing machine.

          You said “[the morality of extra-marital sexual activity] is different cultural attitudes to the action, which can and do change. Extra-marital sexual activity is either right or its wrong.”
          You just redefine the word morality. I said it is the correct code of conduct.

          You said: “The moral argument for God’s existence does not identify the God of the Bible as the only possible deity;”
          Sure, but it excludes biblical God as source of morality, because His laws depend on place and time.

          You said: “You redirected my question! I never mentioned the sexual orientation of the persecutors.”
          Nice dodge, but you did raise the homosexuality. You did say “Yet Christians, who typically view homosexuality as a sin, are bashed for being homophobic bigots.”

          You asked: “is there any sexual activity (incest, rape, bestiality, necrophilia, etc.) that you find immoral? If so, why?”
          Those don’t seem to increase human flourishing, so those are immoral. I have read Peter Singer’s bestiality arguments and counter arguments, but I’m not convinced that Singer is right.

          Answer to your three questions:
          1) Why does he have those rights? It is not obvious to me. Did hypernatural being give those to Him? So I’d say no, he does not have the right to do with it as he pleases.
          2) It does not follow. If the penalty for sin is death, and all have sinned – then the penalty is death. I don’t see how “natural outcome” fits in that logic.
          3) Yes it does matter. Method of death matters to most people including me. It matter to me.

          I notice that you did not comment that you are a moral relativist.

          Reply
  12. Greg says:

    Terry you say:
    “But if our rights are merely the opinions of men, then men can simply change their minds… and our rights vanish like the wind! They were never real to begin with”. Just like the rights of the slaves disappeared like the wind prior to the founding of our nation. Disappeared like the wind at the hands of the men that “claimed” that our rights are god given. But I guess just the rights of white men were god given back then. And don’t give me that BS that antebellum slave owners misappropriated biblical texts to justify their oppression. On the contrary, they took a page right out the ancient Israelite playbook and subjected the “other” to oppression. I noticed you did not respond to my challenge regarding your desire to conflate the two types of slavery articulated in the old testament. You can’t even condemn chattel slavery without an extra-biblical morality. And Wilberforce’s campaign to end slavery, although noble, was based on a supra-biblical morality not any explicit biblical text condemning it because such a text does not exist. Apparently, if Yahweh thought slavery was wrong it didn’t dawn on him until sometime post new testament canonization since it doesn’t appear he “inspired” anyone to flat out condemn slavery anywhere in the bible. And contrary to your reading of Phil 1:16, Paul’s admonition to Philemon did absolutely nothing to mitigate slavery. Onesimus might have been treated better but he was still a slave. Why didn’t Paul defy Philemon and say, “Philemon, I’m keeping Onesimus and turning you over to Satan for the destruction of your flesh so that your soul might be saved”? The answer is, Paul just as other ancients, did not think slavery was wrong. How could he have, he was an observant Jew and his own Hebrew bible condoned it. So once again I ask you Terry, “IS CHATTEL SLAVERY WRONG, EVERYWHERE, ANYWHERE AND UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE?” I suspect you are hesitant to condemn it because you know you will find yourself on the horns of a dilemma because your bible advocates it. Why did Yahweh tell the Israelites they could pass their slaves down to their children as PROPERTY? If you insist that god’s law is perfect and our only source of objective morality then I must insist that slavery is not wrong. And where does that leave the slave in god’s economy, at the mercy of the opinions of man, right where you mistakenly claim a rejection of god’s law will leave us.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Just like the rights of the slaves disappeared like the wind prior to the founding of our nation. Disappeared like the wind at the hands of the men that “claimed” that our rights are god given.

      You are clearly incorrect, sir! Had their right to freedom disappeared, then it would have been improper to say that they ought to be free. Outrage against slavery only makes sense if it falsely deprives one of a right with they truly possess… that cannot be taken away by the whims of men. Slavery doesn’t take away a right, it denies the ability to enjoy a right. Which leads to the question, “Where did that right come from?”

      And don’t give me that BS that antebellum slave owners misappropriated biblical texts to justify their oppression.

      Let’s assume for a moment you’re right. All you would prove is that either a) the scriptures are not inerrant, or b) the God described in them is not the God that defines morality. You still have not defined why slavery is wrong without a transcendent source of that law. As the moral argument is not used to defend Yahweh/Jesus as the true God, but only the necessity that God exist, in granting that assumption, the theist doesn’t actually give up much ground.

      I noticed you did not respond to my challenge regarding your desire to conflate the two types of slavery articulated in the old testament.

      I think you’re using the wrong word; I clearly view them as separate things.

      Most importantly, you’re attacking points that I haven’t made. I have never claimed that the moral argument identifies any specific God as the true God. It does narrow the field to a monotheistic universe, implying that Islam, Judaism or Christianity are the leading contenders. Yet, you’re wanting to move to saying, “Well, THIS GOD can’t be the moral lawgiver because he is immoral”. How can you make such a claim unless you can define what is and is nor moral? So again I ask, WHAT STANDARD ARE YOU USING?

      So once again I ask you Terry, “IS CHATTEL SLAVERY WRONG, EVERYWHERE, ANYWHERE AND UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE?”

      I’m probably going to draw some fire here… but here’s what I think. I don’t know how close to truth I am on this… this just the best I can do with what I know now.

      While God permitted slavery, he carefully regulated it. Were a slave in that period, I would much rather have been the slave of a God-fearing Jew than any other nation around them! Now I won’t pretend I understand the mind of God, and exactly why he set things up as he did. But I do understand from scripture that God sometimes tolerates practices among men that he abhors (ref: Jesus explanation of divorce in Moses day).

      Slavery is not in God’s design for mankind. He opposes slavery, just as he opposes divorce. (I’m NOT including indentured servitude as practiced in ancient Israel in this discussion). However, God is dealing with fallen humans. Sometimes when our children are young and ignorant, we overlook some things, and may give rules/laws based on their inability to comprehend and/or conform to the rules we truly want them to follow. As they learn, we lead them slowly and steadily toward the full realization of how we want them to be. As they grow, we expect more and more of them. Although our own attitudes and preferences may not have changed, their ability to comprehend and follow has changed.

      Even God doesn’t get everything he wants! He could, but he’s chosen to allow mankind freedom to choose good or evil. If he interferes with those choices, then he must violate a person’s will… something more abhorrent than rape! So God isn’t free to destroy sin carte-blanc. That won’t even happen in eternity–sin isn’t destroyed, it’s quarantined away from his presence, along with those who desire it more than they desire God.

      This means that God has to work through the ways remaining to him; ways that do not involve overriding the free-will of men. It’s quite possible that God understood that even an outright ban on slavery in Israel would have been fruitless; therefore, in order to achieve the greatest good, he worked with his people where they were morally and gave them the laws they could handle. That doesn’t mean that slavery was right, but that the practice was going to happen regardless of whether or not it was banned.

      God also permitted Israel to fall into captivity as punishment for their own sin. Although he abhors the evil that men do to each other, he allows men the freedom to do what they will, and he then uses that evil to accomplish his own purposes. For instance, while God may not have caused the Persians to conquer and carry Israel into captivity, he permitted it and used it to discipline his people because of their sin.

      If you insist that god’s law is perfect and our only source of objective morality then I must insist that slavery is not wrong.

      This only true IF Yahweh/Jesus IS the God that defines morality, and IF you’ve correctly interpreted what the scripture says in the context of the time and culture in which it was given.

      But if no God, or other transcendent moral lawgiver exists to ground an absolute, objective moral law, then I must insist that the claim that ANYTHING is wrong is meaningless! It’s nothing more than opinion.

      And where does that leave the slave in god’s economy, at the mercy of the opinions of man, right where you mistakenly claim a rejection of god’s law will leave us.

      Our rejection is irrelevant. What we believe does not change what is true. If absolute, objective morality exists, we will all be held accountable to it, regardless of what we believe. We’re free to ignore the moral law, and act immorally toward others… for now. But you won’t get a pass because you claim not to believe in it; I won’t get a pass because I misinterpret it. Either it is what it is, and cannot change, or it does not exist at all.

      Reply
      • Greg says:

        But don’t you see Terry, your making a special concession for slavery, an excuse for God, because you know in your heart slavery is wrong yet God doesn’t condemn it. God said thou shalt not kill knowing that people would still kill. Should he have been a concessionist on murder also because he knew men would still murder? He knew people would commit adultery, steal, cheat, lie, covet and all the other things banned in the ten commandments but he still supposedly gave the commandments. You say, “Slavery is not in God’s design for mankind. He opposes slavery.” How do you know God opposes slavery Terry? Where does he say, “thou shalt not own slaves”? If you were passed down from an Israelite slave owner to his son would you still claim that Yahweh opposes slavery? If an Israelite beat your parents to death with a rod and suffered no consequence, except the loss of them as his property, would you still claim that God opposes slavery. If you did, on what basis would your claim rest? Because Yahweh said both of the examples I gave were ok. Like I said above, a strictly biblical ethic will not get you there. Condemnation of slavery requires a supra-biblical ethic. That’s why I believe that, although the bible has some valuable teachings on morality and good will it falls short of an unassailable, objective morality. That’s why I can no longer believe that the bible is inerrant. Your refusal to question the bible, even when it paints some very disturbing portraits of god, forces me to conclude that you must be an inerrantist.

        One other point, how can you say that God gives man free will? If I hold a gun to your head and tell you to love me could your future behavior towards me be interpreted as a true expression of your affection for me or simply your fearful reaction to a grossly coercive action on my part?

        Reply
        • Terry L says:

          Your refusal to question the bible, even when it paints some very disturbing portraits of god, forces me to conclude that you must be an inerrantist.

          Wow! I’ve been called both a relativist and an inerrantist on the same day! 😉

          I don’t deny that the Bible “paints some very disturbing portraits of god”. I’ve already said several times that I don’t understand all that there is to know. If I did, I would BE God! I don’t know exactly how all of this works out, especially as I am no expert on the culture, times, how God’s commands and restrictions would have been perceived by Israel, etc. I’m no expert on this area, but I’ve been asked questions regarding it, and I don’t like to not try to give an answer as best I can when directly asked a question, although that courtesy is not often returned to me.

          I haven’t the hubris to say that in my ignorance, I know better than God what was best for Israel (and the gentiles) in that day. I’m in the position of a child who is horrified to learn that his father killed a man today. Yet what I didn’t understand is that the man was a convicted killer, and the father was the executioner. What the father did was justified, but I in my ignorance of the situation, can’t understand why.

          No man can know everything, but I do know this. You yourself has said that condemation of slavery requires a supra-biblical ethic. No one I’ve interacted with has been able to describe where such an ethic could come from in a way that stands up to scrutiny.

          One other point, how can you say that God gives man free will? If I hold a gun to your head and tell you to love me could your future behavior towards me be interpreted as a true expression of your affection for me

          No. And I think that largely explains the “hiddenness” of God. God could easily overwhelm us with his glory and force us to love him. He could overwhelm us with his might and force us to obey him, whether by his power, or by threat. He does neither. He has told us, quite simply, what our options are, and left the choice up to us.

          You see, the gun is already pointed to our heads; and it’s in our own hands! We ARE going to pull the trigger! God is trying desperately to place himself (in the person of the crucified Christ) between the gun and our head so that He takes the bullet. But unless we allow him to do so, he will not force us.

          In more theological terms, we’re already bound for hell. God is doing all that he can to save us from that fate… but if we choose not to allow him to do so, then he will honor that choice. He’s already “taken the bullet” so that we don’t have to, but he won’t force us. He won’t draw us to himself so strongly that we cannot resist (obviously, I’m not a Calvinist); he won’t frighten us so badly that we simply obey out of terror. He wants us to follow him and love him the way a child loves a parent.

          Reply
          • greg says:

            Terry, you’re acting like god didn’t set up the system. That his only option is to abide by the system.

            Orthodox Christian theology says that God is self sufficient, completely content, in need of nothing and supremely happy within the perfect union of the trinity. In other words, he did not create man to satisfy some unfulfilled need.

            Orthodox Christian theology also says that god is everywhere present, all knowing, all loving and all-powerful. That he knows the beginning from the end. That he knew man would fall before he created him. Yet this knowledge did not prevent him from placing the serpent in the garden to tempt Eve.

            Orthodox Christian theology also says that the majority of all creation will end up in hell suffering eternal conscious torment. Jesus makes this clear in his “narrow and few and broad and many” proclamation.

            So if I have all of this right, Orthodox Christian theology affirms that Satan will win in the end. That more souls will end up in hell than in heaven and that God created a race of individuals knowing they would fall, the majority of which would spend an eternity in hell, to meet a need that he does not have. This is not a mystery Terry, it’s illogical. If my logic is correct, and the bible is the inspired word of god you believe it is, I would have to conclude that the preceding facts make the creation of man an evil act. There’s got to be a better way to interpret the bible than in a traditional, orthodox way.

            Also, you say: “he won’t frighten us so badly that we simply obey out of terror”. What more frightening consequence could he (the authors of the NT) have come up with than eternal conscious torment? Are you sure Christians aren’t just suffering from Stockholm syndrome?

  13. Toby says:

    “Most persons these days view tolerance as the highest virtue. Yet Christians, who typically view homosexuality as a sin, are bashed for being homophobic bigots. How is that tolerant?”

    Because you can be christian (a majority in this country) all the live long day and no one will tell you that the way you’re living your life will end in your eternal torment. and no one will try to change laws so that you can’t live your life as you want in reference to your christianity. Not many will also protest you and hold up signs that say, “God hates Jesus freaks.”

    “You see, you and I may disagree completely about the morality or immorality of a given action (i.e. homosexuality); but what neither of us is saying is that right and wrong do not exist! ”

    yep, but you’re saying there’s an other worldly standard for it and resorting to the scare tactics of “you can’t say anything is really wrong!” and we’re saying that morality is a reasoned process based on situations and information. In fact most morality is best reasoned after the situation and consequences are played out. Let’s imagine a world where everyone is highly allergic to peanuts. Eating peanut butter would be morally wrong. so if an alien with no knowledge of the people of that world came down and fed them peanut butter would that alien be accountable for the deaths of thousands? Nope. Because he lacked valuable information that would have prevented those deaths. Born into all of us is the push for self-survival. We also have empathy. It’s not so friggin’ hard to understand how we hear, “Don’t torture children for fun” and get the heebie-jeebies. because we were once children ourselves, some of us have children, and torture on our own person is distasteful to us. This idea that we need some supreme standard for morals to be able to arrive a solution which we call “moral” (more likely feel that it’s moral) is silly. that we can know what is objectively moral is laughable. you can’t even provide any kind of logical proof of it beyond, “your senses! so there!” I don’t see the point of something needing to be wrong forever and always. you can say, “The holocaust was wrong.” Means nothing. You have to give reasons why it was wrong to justify saying that it was. Hitler thought jews were evil and trying to take over/ruin germany and were at fault for the treaty of Versailles…oh, and that there was a master race. These things are demonstrably false. so the holocaust was wrong strictly on the basis of faulty reasoning. “We have to do x because y!” Well y is complete BS so find another means to justify x! Just throwing a label of right or wrong at something is useless. “God says this is right” is not an explanation.

    “But if our rights are merely the opinions of men, then men can simply change their minds… and our rights vanish like the wind! They were never real to begin with!”

    Yep! and history glaringly points to ideas of right and wrong shifting through the ages. It’s a great thing that minds change in light of new knowledge. The formerly enslaved probably thought it was a good thing. Objective morality is a boogie man argument. you can’t make an argument for a supreme being with supposedly impeccable morals who couldn’t convey them clearly so that any one group, let alone his “chosen people”, would be able to clearly discern them and bring peace to the world. spare the free will fallen world garbage.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Because you can be christian (a majority in this country) all the live long day and no one will tell you that the way you’re living your life will end in your eternal torment.

      So? You claim not to believe in such a place. Why should you worry that someone threatens you with a fiction?

      Further, our discussion shouldn’t be about what causes people discomfort… it should be about what is true. And truth often does cause discomfort!

      I used to tell my great-aunt that smoking would send her to an early grave. (It did… she died of emphysema.) Was I wrong to do so? Should I have refrained from telling her an uncomfortable truth just because she didn’t want to hear it?

      and no one will try to change laws so that you can’t live your life as you want in reference to your christianity.

      Er… This is already being done. Wedding photographers successfully sued because they refuse to photograph a homosexual “wedding”. The Catholic church and its institutions being forced to close rather than offer contraception in violation of their understanding of the moral law (not necessarily one I agree with, but this is still an imposition on their conscience.) How long before preachers are told they can’t preach what the Bible says about homosexual behavior in the name of “hate speech”? Oh… that’s happening already in Canada!

      In states that allow homosexual “marriage”, you can’t opt your child out of a class that teaches that homosexuality is morally correct, because the state has endorsed it. That’s a scary thought; consider your own position if Texas suddenly decided that being an atheist was punishable by imprisonment for life or until one recanted their atheism. You can’t have your child opt out of a class where they teach that those bad atheists are corrupting the world! If the state decides what is moral and good, then that is a perfectly reasonable scenario.

      But should we change the laws so that pedophiles can live the way they want? How about serial killers? Polygamists? If not, why not?

      Who says one has the “right” to live as they please? No society can survive without law. And by creating any law, we are affirming a moral standard; all laws legislate morality. The question should be, “how closely does this civil law match up to the moral law?”

      Not many will also protest you and hold up signs that say, “God hates Jesus freaks.”

      Perhaps not… but I would be willing to hold one that says “God hates the hatred shown by WBC”, or “Jesus loves you in spite of your sin”!

      You can find all sorts of examples of “Christians” not acting like Christ. They’re not the standard! All you’re showing is that we all are flawed beings in need of a savior. We get that already!

      you’re saying there’s an other worldly standard for [morality]

      Guilty as charged. Nothing in this world is stable enough to be a standard, and a mutable standard is worthless.

      and resorting to the scare tactics of “you can’t say anything is really wrong!”

      If it’s just “scare tactis”, then prove me wrong. You have written that you don’t believe objective morality exists, so it seems that you would agree with me on this point. Why would you be “scared” of the truth?

      [W]e’re saying that morality is a reasoned process based on situations and information.

      The moral action is often not the most logical or reasoned response to the situation.

      In fact most morality is best reasoned after the situation and consequences are played out.

      [I]f an alien with no knowledge of the people of that world came down and fed them peanut butter would that alien be accountable for the deaths of thousands? Nope.

      I agree. But don’t you see that you’re requiring a judge who can see into the hearts and minds of men and know their knowledge and motives? You understand that it’s not just action that defines our moral character, but our motives… our character! But who but God can truly know the hearts and minds and motives of men to judge them? WE certainly cannot do it! I might feel that your hapless alien was innocent, while you believed he really did know that his actions would result in the deaths of thousands. (He’d heard that peanut butter-stuffed humans were quite tasty!)

      Born into all of us is the push for self-survival.

      I agree, but you’ve made an unfounded assertion. Where did this push come from? Do you believe rocks have this same “push” and do not wish to be submitted to the rock crusher?

      Is it murder to kill a suicidal person without this desire for self-preservation?

      We also have empathy. It’s not so friggin’ hard to understand how we hear, “Don’t torture children for fun” and get the heebie-jeebies. because we were once children ourselves, some of us have children, and torture on our own person is distasteful to us.

      Distasteful? Or wrong? If it happens to be tasteful to someone, does that make it ok?

      This idea that we need some supreme standard for morals to be able to arrive a solution which we call “moral” (more likely feel that it’s moral) is silly.

      Defend this point.

      If society someday decides to burn all atheists at the stake, you think there’s no higher law to which you can appeal to say they’re wrong to do so?

      Unless you’re willing to say that all is acceptable, I don’t see how you’re going to get away from a universal standard that all men must follow. Even to say that men should follow the rules of society implies that that rule is universal. This isn’t silly… it’s reality! It’s silly to claim that there is no obligation placed upon men when all men feel such an obligation, and all men live as if this obligation is a real, tangible thing, not an illusion. No man born acts as if all actions are amoral.

      [T]hat we can know what is objectively moral is laughable.

      You deny then that we can know that the torture of babies for pleasure is morally wrong?

      I don’t see the point of something needing to be wrong forever and always.

      You think that the torture of babies for pleasure might be morally wrong today, but it will be OK in another 100 years, perhaps? Or perhaps it was OK 100 years ago?

      Hitler thought jews were evil and trying to take over/ruin germany and were at fault for the treaty of Versailles…oh, and that there was a master race. These things are demonstrably false. so the holocaust was wrong strictly on the basis of faulty reasoning.

      So if he had been right, that makes everything OK? His actions were wrong because his logic was flawed?

      What if he had been right about all of those things, but he did what he did simply because he hated the Jews? Would he have been right or wrong then?

      Yep! and history glaringly points to ideas of right and wrong shifting through the ages.

      Careful… we’re not talking about what men hold to be right or wrong… we’re talking about what is actually right or wrong.

      The formerly enslaved probably thought it was a good thing.

      Are you saying that slavery was right in the south because society accepted it, then became wrong because the south lost the war?

      It’s a great thing that minds change in light of new knowledge.

      New knowledge of what? Aren’t you really saying that we discovered more closely what the moral law actually is and modified our actions to align more closely with it?

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        Terry, just want to say that when you put marriage in scare quotes when referring to gay marriage, it just makes you look foolish. It’s snarky and doesn’t help you get across any of your points any better. They’re married, not “married”. Just as much as I’m married and (I’m guessing) you’re married. You may not like it, but you might as well get used to it, because it’s not going away.

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          I disagree. Terry obviously holds true to biblical teaching, the bible defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Now people are changing the definition to mean something else, and that “something else” is in direct opposition the the new testament teaching. If homosexuals want to get united, hitched, or whatever; fine, do it. Label it as something else & give them the papers and tax credits. Don’t redefine the word and spit in the face of christians. When people decide its okay to kill, do we need to just accept that too, because it won’t go away?

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            Gays getting married gets compared to legalising murder. See why you’re losing the argument among the general population? Feel free to think in your head that they’re not married, just like others figured interracial marriage was despised by their God. But like I said, the scare quotes does nothing to help your argument.

          • Toby says:

            The bible defines marriage, but marriage itself predates the bible. Why should anyone, other than a follower of the bible, care about the opinions expressed in it about a matter than is not the invention of the god of the bible?

          • Stephen B says:

            Imagine someone from a different, non-Christian, religion saying that only members of their own religion genuinely has their marriages recognised by God. Because of that, they’ll refer to Christian “marriage”, and atheist “marriage”, and Hindu “marriage” – putting scare quotes around marriage each time to make it clear none of those people are actually married as far as they’re concerned. I’d say that was pretty moronic, wouldn’t you? Certainly I’d see it as a pointless distraction in a discussion, and one that didn’t help advance their argument at all.

            “Don’t redefine the word and spit in the face of christians”

            That’s like saying when a Christian gets Baptized they’re ‘spitting in the face’ of Muslims. If you see a wedding ceremony – two people who love each other declaring their union to the world in front of friends and family – and to you that’s like being spat at in the face, then I genuinely feel sorry for you.

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            From the standpoint of a christian, both are sins and lead to hell. Anyway, step back, and look at it from a perspective like this…
            a) christians believe in biblical inerrancy
            b) marriage is biblically defined as a union between a man and woman.
            c) the bond of marriage is sacred
            d) homosexuality is a sinful thing in bible
            Taking these items above, society has taken a sacred thing and a sinful thing and defined them the same. To a christian, this is highly offensive. Why do we need to label it the same thing?

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            To you last point, I agree, call it a union & I think christians would back off. Another way of looking at it, when you see two people who love each other heading toward a sunset, its beautiful. When you see two people who love each other heading toward hell, the beauty is lost. The later is what would be seen by a christian in this situation.

          • Stephen B says:

            “The later is what would be seen by a christian in this situation”

            Not among any Christians I know. Forty years ago it was pretty prevalent for Christians to be just as sure that inter-racial couples were heading to hell.

            “Christians believe in biblical inerrancy”

            But Christians disagree with each other all the time on what the bible actually says. So you can’t refer to what Christians believe with regards gay marriage as if they’re all believing the same thing, any more than one can confidently say that all Christians are against inter-racial marriage.

            “Call it a union & I think christians would back off.”

            Would you agree to all Christians no longer calling their marriages ‘marriage’ so as not to offend people of other religions who think only their own marriages are accepted by God?

          • Stephen B says:

            Louie, I can guarantee there are plenty of Christians out there who would disapprove of many things you do, and would be convinced YOU are heading for hell too for activities you don’t see as against God at all – in fact I bet there are millions of them. And I can think of Archbishops who would disagree with you profoundly that gays are heading for hell (Desmond Tutu for a start).

            But if putting the scare quotes in marriage makes you happy, go knock yourself out. Perhaps it’s churlish of me to try to take that away from you when you’re in the process of completely losing the argument on a national level. I guess that’s all you guys will have left soon.

          • Luke says:

            Louie and Stephen,

            I’m asking this because I’m just not sure, and while I can try to find it, if you know the answer, you can just tell me. 🙂 Where does the idea that the Bible defines marriage as one man and one woman come from, as in chapter and verse? I’m just thinking of some of the laws, like in Deuteronomy 21 where polygamy is discussed and outlined (Exodus 21 as well). Is it defined later and some older definition discarded? I know a lot of scripture, but this one escapes me. Thanks! If you guys don’t know, I’ll find out and tell you!

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            I would question the christians you know then. I don’t care about 40 years ago, christians should look to the bible for guidance, primarily the new testament. The book of romans, chapter#1 is very clear about homosexuality. You can be a homosexual and a murderer and be a christian, but you cannot be a practicing homosexual or murderer and be a christian. What you say it true, I do many things that are sinful, but I don’t go and obtain a certificate that says its now okay. I realize the short comings, and try and get better. I am not going to rewrite the bible (alter Gods word) to allow homosexuals to use the word marriage. This is my first encounter with the term “scare quotes”, they don’t look scary to me at all.

          • Louie says:

            Luke:
            The old testament uses the word marriage often, as the fathers have their daughters in marriage. In those times, it could mean more than one partner. Then when the word appears in the new testament, it is clearly stated that it is one man and one woman. Hebrews 13:4, I believe states that, the first half of 1st Corinthians 7 does this as well. My time is up, I need to go, but there are many places on-line to look this up as well.

          • Stephen B says:

            “I would question the christians you know then.”

            And they would question you.

            “The book of romans, chapter#1 is very clear about homosexuality”

            And the bible very clearly condones slavery too, and yet here we are. If you wanted to square those passages, you would, just as other Christians do who have no problem with gay marriage.

            “I don’t care about 40 years ago”

            Cool, as long as you don’t expect others to care any more about your opinions now.

          • Louie says:

            They also kill off entire ethnic groups in the old testament, yes I know. Back to the subject at hand. Any Christian that argues for homosexuality is not a Christian at all. Sorry if that disturbs you, but the bible is clear on this subject. Just like its clear about adultery and worshiping other Gods.

  14. Luke says:

    Terry,

    First of all, I have to give you credit and say a good word about you for the way you take on everyone’s questions for you and try to actually answer them. Many people on this forum do not do the same, and simply repeat the little points they want to make and outright ignore questions, even when asked very directly. So… kudos!

    I asked you about whether you had your own personal preference against child rape (which just served as an example of a moral issue) in addition to acting on G-d’s feelings about it.

    You answered that: yes, you did.

    That’s interesting (I honestly had no idea what your answer would be, so either would have been interesting to me.) Let me follow up with two more questions, based on that.

    I. Can you give an example of (or just tell us if such a thing even exists) where your personal preference does NOT allign with G-d’s preference or feeling? (I’m not sure what word you would use for G-d’s view there; consider preference a placeholder for the word you think is correct, and let me know what the proper word would be.)

    If you have a preference on a moral issue, and G-d does as well, then it seems to me only 4 things are possible. 1. G-d thinks it’s okay, but you don’t. 2. Both of you think it’s okay. 3. G-d thinks it’s not okay, but you do. 4. Neither you, nor G-d think it’s okay.

    This would be true for any moral question out there. So I guess I am asking for examples, or even if there are examples of 1 and 3.

    II. If you can imagine, for a second, a hypothetical world in which you had all the beliefs and preferences you do now, but did not believe moral laws were objective. Whether that means you got a knock on the head and didn’t think G-d existed for the day; you thought He existed but moral laws were relative; whatever that may be. I’ll leave you the latitude to imagine what this world would be like, because I don’t won’t to propose one you will reject even hypothetically.

    So in this world where you have the same preferences, but objective moral laws do not exist (or you don’t believe them to exist), let’s say you happen upon a scene where a child rape is taking place. Would your actions in regards to that case (whether on the spot, or actions such as reporting it to the authorities later) be in any way different between this hypothetical world and the one we now inhabit (one with objective moral laws), and if so, how?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      First of all, I have to give you credit…

      Much appreciated, and considered high praise, coming from you!

      Your first question does not lead to the four scenarios you posit. Let me explain:

      You asked for an example of where my personal “preference” did not align with God’s “preference”.

      First of all, let me say that I do not pretend to know on every issue what God’s “preference” (we’ll keep this term for now, although like you, I don’t think it’s fully accurate) would be. That’s part of the result of our fallen nature. We no longer have direct access to that perfect image of God that mankind was given. So these may well exist, but be invisible to me, as I would have to know the full mind of an infinite God to answer fully.

      I’m certain there are instances of all four combinations of “preferences”. However, scenarios 1 and 3 lie in the portions of the moral law that I have not yet successfully discovered, or have either blindly or willfully rejected. Therefore, I cannot give examples of those. I will not presume to say that I think something is moral when God thinks it is not, or vice versa .

      I could easily give examples of things that God thinks are wrong that I wish were not (and the opposite, as well), but that doesn’t address your question. For either scenario 1 or 3 to truly exist, then I would have to feel that I knew morality better than God does–I would have to think that God could be wrong about a moral question! I’m not that crazy! I’m not the standard, and I fully realize that what I think about the morality of a given situation is irrelevant to the truth of its morality. If I were to discover that I had been wrong about God’s opinion of the morality of given issue X, then it might devolve to me wishing that X was or was not moral when God says differently; but it could not devolve to scenario 1 or 3.

      So the actual scenarios would be:

      A. God says X is moral; I believe God says X is not moral.
      B. God says X is moral; I believe God says X is moral.
      C. God says X is not moral; I believe God says X is moral.
      D. God says X is not moral; I believe God says X is not moral.

      In NO case do I believe that my opinion on the matter trumps God’s standard.

      In two of the cases, I am right; in two I am wrong. In all, I *believe* I’m right, or I would hold the opposite opinion.

      Would your actions in regards to that case (whether on the spot, or actions such as reporting it to the authorities later) be in any way different between this hypothetical world and the one we now inhabit (one with objective moral laws), and if so, how?

      I’ll have to clarify your universes to answer fully.

      A. In a universe where absolute objective moral values do not exist (absolute meaning “unchanging”… morality grounded in a mutable object can change, and is irrelevant to our discussion), then the rapist (if the one can be called such in such a world) is doing nothing wrong. Why would I interfere in any way? What grounds would I have for doing so?

      In our own world, I see parents “disciplining” their children by slapping them (lightly, not abusively) in the face. I don’t find this appropriate, but I’m not about to call DHS on them

      Now you’ve indicated that my preferences are the same in your proposed world. Let me give you a real-world example of how I view my “preferences”. I don’t believe that interracial marriage is wrong. I fear I am still in a minority in my small southern town, especially among my friends and family. However, my “preference” is to marry within my own race. I would “prefer” this for my children as well, though I would not stand in their way if their own preference differs from mine.

      I also do not “prefer” to forcibly copulate with young children; but I also believe that this is morally wrong as well. The moral dimension is what separates something that demands action from something you simply do not prefer. Change your rape to a mugging (in our own universe); we’re caught between the instinct for self-preservation, and the instinct to help the victim. There’s something inside of us that tells us we “ought” to help, even at great personal cost. But this third voice cannot be either the instinct for self-preservation, or the instinct to help; it is distinct from both. We don’t have that when we see someone making a choice that we do not prefer; only when we perceive a moral issue.

      You may object that by “preference” you meant the moral values that I have now. I simply don’t know where those would come from in universe A, and I’m loath to simply import them from our own universe with no justification for doing so… without showing how such could arise in that world. In any case, I would not be doing wrong to allow the “rape” to continue, as “wrong” does not exist in this universe.

      B. Considering a universe with absolute objective moral values and a situation in which I deny the existence of the same, I honestly don’t know how to answer your question. I would think my attitudes would be similar to my last paragraph of the previous scenario. If wrong does not exist, what business is it of mine what anyone does? I have no moral obligation if morality does not exist! I might be compelled by personal interest, if the child is my own, or by the law to intervene, lest I become an accessory to a criminal act and suffer criminal penalties that I would rather avoid, but that doesn’t mean that I would find the action in and of itself to be wrong… as I deny in this world that “wrong” actually exists.

      But you (and our readers) must fully understand… in both scenarios, you have assigned to me a belief in the non-existence of morality. I’ve tried to frame my answers in accordance with your scenario. Any outrage one feels at my apparent lack of concern for the hapless child is in fact an importation of values from our own universe into the one you have outlined. I share this abhorrence with the lack of concern by… myself… (this is confusing), but by definition, the action (not) taken by my alter-ego in universe A [Me(A)] is not wrong! Though ignoring the victim would be wrong in universe B, my alter-ego in that world [Me(B)] doesn’t recognize this, and is in much the same position Me(A); the difference being, Me(B) was wrong and doesn’t realize it, while Me(A) did nothing wrong.

      Does that answer your question?

      Reply
  15. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Thanks for your response. There’s a lot there to digest (which is good), so it may take me a little while to think through a worthwhile response. Let me ask another question, if I may, which may sort of clarify some of what you mean for me.

    My example here may seem trivial, but in some sense it needs to be, so just bear with me, if you please.

    Let’s say that you have a “preference” for things being straight. (You probably know some people who have a preference for this that is quite strong.) On your bookshelves, you don’t like it when the books lean, you like them upright. Your pictures hang exactly parallel to the walls, and your rug is evenly spaced between the walls of your room. You like order and you like things to look “right” (at least you consider it “right”).

    Now, here I’m putting forth a hypothetical you, but I think the real you and the hypothetical you would agree that this is not a moral issue. If the bookshelves on your bookshelves lean, it is not “objectively” wrong in any way, you just prefer them to be straight, but you (hypothetically) prefer it pretty strongly.

    Am I making sense so far?

    Now to relate this to your response, when asked about stopping a rape, you said that “in a universe where absolute objective moral values do not exist… the rapist is doing nothing wrong. “Why would I interfere in any way? What grounds would I have for doing so?

    I certainly understand that’s your view in such a universe and it’s one you’ve expressed before. So is this the same kind of response that you have in this world, regarding straightening the books or picture frames? It’s not wrong for them to hang in a non-parallel way, so, to be precise: “why would [you] interfere in any way?” and “What grounds would [you[ have for doing so?”

    I’m not really sure what your answer will be (hence the question), but I do foresee an objection. You may say that my question is quite different because while the original scenario (rape) involves other people whose will your actions would potentially be violating, this (straightening) photos, does not.

    I just wanted to point out that I too recognize this difference, but still think that the original question matters. The reason for this is that if you have no grounds for straightening the photos, then you have no grounds for interfering with the rape, whether or not you’d be interfering against another will. I hope that makes sense. If the grounds exist for you to straighten a picture, what are they? (To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what this question was asking.) If the grounds are simply that you own the picture, so you may do with it as you wish, would you say you have no grounds at all to straighten a crooked parking sign in your neighborhood, or to pick up leaves or trash from a sidewalk — any scenario where you straighten or straighten-up something that is not explicitly yours. If you do, what grounds are those?

    I think getting this straight will help me respond to you without putting too much work into thinking through something based on a faulty assumption. I’m also just interested because I have no prediction as to what you might answer.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    PS You asked three questions in your response to me, I don’t want you to feel as though I’ve ignored them and I will certainly answer them fully in my proper response. To give you very quick (therefore incomplete) answers, you asked “Why would I interfere in any way? What grounds would I have for doing so?” regarding stopping a rape in a world with no objective values.

    I’d first comment that you take an interesting starting/neutral position. In such a world, doing something is just as right/wrong as NOT doing something. This may be simpler if I lay out some of the facts.

    1. You have a preference against child-rape taking place in the world.
    2. You see a child rape taking place and have the ability to stop it.
    3. Stopping the rape and not stopping the rape (walking away from it) are both actions.
    4. Both actions described in 3 are morally equivalent (as are all actions in this universe)

    Given these facts, you would interfere because interfering is equally moral to not interfering, but brings the world closer to your preference.

    This is why I said that your neutral position is interesting. Given the facts above, your preference, and the moral equivalency of interference/non-interference, it seems to me the questions would be “why would I not interfere?” That would be the neutral and starting position.

    It’s as if you like baked apples and rice much more than sour-krout, (you have a preference for the dish) You have the ability to eat both, but ask: why would I choose the baked apples and rice? It seems an odd question. “Why wouldn’t I choose the apples and rice?” seems like the more rational starting position. “Why would I choose the apples and rice?” seems like an odd question with an obvious answer.

    Okay, I said short answer, and I didn’t give one. I will stop now though, and move on. I’ve highlighted the actual answer above.

    You next question was “What grounds would I have for doing so?”

    I wasn’t sure what you were asking, exactly, so I looked up “grounds” in the dictionary. The definition which fit was: “the foundation or basis on which a belief or action rests; reason or cause.” I hope this is basically what you had in mind.

    If so, this is largely answered above. The basis and foundation is your preference. Your reason is that of two morally equivalent actions, you would naturally choose the one that aligns with your preference.

    Within a world with objective moral laws, but in which you denied them,you asked: “If wrong does not exist, what business is it of mine what anyone does?

    Well, they live in your world. Their actions affect you, weather strongly and directly, or almost imperceptibly. If something affects you in a negative way (shapes the world in a way that is non-aligned with your preferences), and you don’t believe it’s wrong to intervene, why wouldn’t you? You can refer to my first answer above, as this is basically the same thing.

    I hope that answers your questions.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      I certainly understand that’s your view in such a universe and it’s one you’ve expressed before. So is this the same kind of response that you have in this world, regarding straightening the books or picture frames? It’s not wrong for them to hang in a non-parallel way, so, to be precise: “why would [you] interfere in any way?” and “What grounds would [you[ have for doing so?”

      I might straighten my own books, pictures, etc. I’m not certain I would go into my neighbor’s house and straighten THEIRS! I would have no grounds for doing so; perhaps they prefer disorder as much as I prefer order. It’s a matter of opinion. There is no overarching law to which I am accountable that compels me to straighten my neighbor’s items, or indeed, my own.

      If the grounds are simply that you own the picture, so you may do with it as you wish, would you say you have no grounds at all to straighten a crooked parking sign in your neighborhood, or to pick up leaves or trash from a sidewalk — any scenario where you straighten or straighten-up something that is not explicitly yours. If you do, what grounds are those?

      I would claim no grounds for doing so. There is no compelling reason to straighten or to misalign such object. If I felt free to straighten them, then one who preferred disorder would be just as free to undo my work.

      In my work as a software developer, I prefer a different code-format than most of my coworkers. My tools are set up to reformat my code into my preferred format whenever I open a file. I doubt that any of my coworkers have their tools configured to do the same. We have no in-house coding style standards to which we must adhere; therefore I’m free to write my code as I wish, and to reconfigure existing code as I wish. My coworkers are free to do the same.

      Given these facts, you would interfere because interfering is equally moral to not interfering, but brings the world closer to your preference.

      Incorrect. This statement is meaningless. The term “moral” has no meaning in this world.

      Well, they live in your world. Their actions affect you, weather strongly and directly, or almost imperceptibly. If something affects you in a negative way (shapes the world in a way that is non-aligned with your preferences), and you don’t believe it’s wrong to intervene, why wouldn’t you?

      Thought experiments like this are interesting, but it’s always tempting to import our own values. Let’s remove the assumption (though it doesn’t change much):

      Well, they live in your world. Their actions affect you, whether strongly and directly, or almost imperceptibly. If something affects you in a negative way (shapes the world in a way that is non-aligned with your preferences), why wouldn’t you?

      Oh, I don’t know… perhaps I fear the rapist has a weapon and I’ll be shot. That affects me much more negatively in this universe than any amoral action.

      In our own world, there is much around us that doesn’t align with our preferences. We hardly feel the need to make the entire world conformant to our own idiosyncracies, especially when the topic is amoral. I don’t like the flavor or smell of Wintergreen, but I’m not going to trash the (fictional) Wintergreen candy our company places out for any employee to take simply because I don’t like it. My aversion is so strong that I would prefer it not be in the same room with me, but I don’t feel the need to continuously make that state a reality.

      Reply
  16. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Thanks. Let me add a quick clarification, or two. I think once I have that, I’ll be able to respond to you fully. Thanks again.

    You said: “I would claim no grounds for doing so. There is no compelling reason to straighten or to misalign such object. If I felt free to straighten them, then one who preferred disorder would be just as free to undo my work.

    What do you mean by compelling? Or rather, are you saying that if your preference were stronger, you would then straighten the object? I tried to say that your preference is very strong, but did a poor job of that. Imagine what many colloquially call OCD for things being straight. Yes, someone could undo your work, but they may not. (In reality it seems quite unlikely someone would do so purposefully.) Either way, if you fix it, the world will be closer to your strong preference for a longer period of time. If that’s not a compelling reason, then how it is a preference; wouldn’t that be better described as apathy?

    Should you not code the way you like to, knowing someone may reformat it later? What is the “compelling” reason that you code this way. If it’s just a preference, then why does this preference provide a “compelling” reason, but the other preference does not?

    (Similarly, I have a neighbor who spends her time cleaning graffiti in our neighborhood. She knows it will come back. Is she dumb, in your view? )

    I said: “Given these facts, you would interfere because interfering is equally moral to not interfering, but brings the world closer to your preference.”

    Terry answered: “Incorrect. This statement is meaningless. The term “moral” has no meaning in this world.”

    I’m not sure how it’s incorrect. If the word moral has no meaning, then surely they are not unequally moral! In a world with no water, every cup has an equal amount of water: zero. Either way, what I was trying to say was that the morality of the actions cannot be used the determine which you should undertake. That’s what matters in the argument! So without taking the special care to point that out, I could just say “you would interfere because interfering brings the world closer to your preference.”

    Thanks,

    I will follow with a full reply as soon as I can. You’ve given me a lot to think about, so that’s great.

    Luke

    Reply
  17. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Okay, now I’ll try to through your post and respond. I am going to try really hard to just be very concise and resist the temptation to over-explain everything. I hope this will actually make my post easier to understand. If you would like any more detail on anything at all, please just ask!

    In my response to comparing your preferences to G-d’s moral laws, you said my options were incorrect. You offered some of your own.

    What it seems to me you’re saying is that G-d’s preferences (as we’re calling them) are not fully known to us, but whatever you believe them to be, you make them your preference. In some cases, you may be wrong about what G-d prefers, and therefore your preference will be incorrect. Do I have this right?

    You said, for example: “I will not presume to say that I think something is moral when God thinks it is not, or vice versa.”

    But your preference is not “what is moral”, and I was asking about the former only. Why could you not have immoral preferences? They are just your preferences. It doesn’t mean they are right, nor that you believe them to be. Does that make sense?

    It doesn’t seem to me that you can really call these your preferences. It reminds me of when a child asks her father “Daddy, do you like pineapple” “Yes, I do” “Then I like pineapple too!”. I’m sure you’ve had or seen such a conversation many times. I just wouldn’t really call that the child’s preference. Would you?

    Now, the child may find her own liking for pineapple, and at that point we could call it HER preference. But if she says “I would never think that my taste for pineapple trumps my daddy’s, and I think what I think he thinks” it would be hard to say she has her own preferences. (I am analogizing this to your:”In NO case do I believe that my opinion on the matter trumps [His] standard.”

    (The other side of this is that you could say “I disagree, but He wins; I do what He says, no matter what I think” but you haven’t done that either, and seem to say such a thing is not possible. I don’t see why. a Secretary of State, for example can’t say “I think we should try one more resolution at the UN, but in NO case do I believe that my opinion on the matter trumps the President.” That seems perfectly sensible to me. Could you see one saying such a thing?

    It would be odd for the Secretary to say “I think whatever the president thinks, but I might sometimes misunderstand what he thinks and therefore think wrongly.” Please correct me if I’m wrong, but to me this is exactly what you appear to be saying.

    All of that said, in your writing you have given hints that you do, in fact, have preferences apart from G-d.”

    Here are some things you’ve said:

    “I could easily give examples of things that [He] thinks are wrong that I wish were not.”

    “I don’t deny that the Bible ‘paints some very disturbing portraits of G-d'”

    I am not sure how you can find something disturbing if you don’t have a “preference” against that thing. Likewise, I don’t see how you can “wish” that something was wrong, when G-d says it isn’t, without having a “preference” against that action. Can you explain that, please?

    Let me talk about the word preference for a bit.

    The only reason I am using this word, is that this is what you have labelled a subjective moral view. I don’t like the word, personally, and I don’t think it fits well. I actually think apologists use this word on purpose, in order to convey a certain idea. It’s a fine word though, as long as we are clear in how it is used, and don’t let ourselves be biased by a colloquial understanding.

    Think about it. Let’s say I absolutely hate bananas. I hate, hate, hate them. The thought of them makes me want to vomit. When I see them, I want to destroy them. I do, however, like strawberries. When you apply the term “preference” to this, you introduce some confusion.

    Yes, you can defend a dictionary definition to say that this is a preference of strawberries over bananas, but it’s not the best way to describe the feeling.

    Yet when someone says “I prefer strawberries to bananas” what most of us hear is: “he likes both okay, but likes strawberries a bit more. It doesn’t quite get across the deep, deep hatred and aversion to bananas.”

    So why would apologists use this? When you say “Paul prefers no child rape to rape” it sort of hits our ear the same way’ It sounds like “Paul is pretty okay with either child-rape or no child-rape, but he likes no child-rape a bit more.” That makes Paul sound like a terrible person. If I were Paul, I would want to try to have something stronger than a preference.

    I think this is very smart rhetorically. But it gets confusing. For example, when you say you have a preference against interracial marriage, you DO mean a slightly better liking for one thing over another, while you’re generally okay with both. When we talk about someone’s “preference” against child rape, we mean the nausiating physical revoltion. You do NOT mean that for you, subjectively, interracial marriage is nausiating and revolting, but you realize G-d makes it objectively moral. In other words, in your answer, you’re using the word to refer to something different than I asked about (moral preferences). I don’t think you do this on purpose; it’s just confusing. This is why I think “preference” is not the best word.

    (Actually, I just looked this up in Webster, and I’m not sure that you could defend that usage at all. It would be a stretch, at best. The definition my dictionary has is: “to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else” which literally means that both things are liked to some extent. You might argue that a dislike, or negative like is “some extent” of liking, but I would say it’s a stretch.)

    Would you agree that perhaps the term “utter hatred” might be better?

    Hatred is also not something that needs to be based on an immutable standard, so it’s still perfectly apt, but it would alleviate confusion and I think more properly describe the feelings we are talking about.

    (Though from the apologist standpoint, Paul would probably be fine with you saying “oh, so then you just have an utter hatred for child rape!”.)

    Let me know your answer to the above question. If there is another word that you think is even better, I’d be glad to hear it and perhaps use it. Either way, I think getting away from the confusing term “preference” might make understanding eachother much easier.

    Let’s take my straightening example from above. You said there was no compelling reason to act on this “preference”. If this is just a mere preference, I can sort of see that. But if you have an utter hatred, your apathy-in-action would be confusing to me.

    Let me know what you think.

    I think I’ll stop at this section. I don’t want the conversation to get too unwieldy, and I think there’s a lot here already. I also still have a couple of clarifying questions up for you on that section.

    If there are any question you have for me, I’ll be glad to answer. I checked for ‘?’ in your last post, but didn’t see any. (I usually use the find function, so if you accidentally put a period, I might miss it inadvertantly.)

    Thanks so much for the conversation,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Luke:

      Sorry to take so long to reply… hope you haven’t given up on this thread yet. My employer has been purchased by another company so things are hectic these days.

      Now, let’s see if I can remember where we were…

      What do you mean by compelling? Or rather, are you saying that if your preference were stronger, you would then straighten the object?

      When we speak in this world of our desire to prevent a rape or a murder, I cite as compelling the moral law that makes it not only desirable, but incumbent upon us to do so. We OUGHT to act, even if our desire is to refrain from action.

      In your scenario, my preference is for neatness (you obviously don’t know me personally!). But what is the driving force that makes me straighten your carefully-misaligned pictures? It’s coming from within myself. My reasons for acting are based solely on what I desire to do, not out of an obligation. Why OUGHT I straighten the pictures? Only because, in my own opinion, I think pictures should be straight.

      Either way, if you fix it, the world will be closer to your strong preference for a longer period of time. If that’s not a compelling reason, then how it is a preference; wouldn’t that be better described as apathy?

      Personal preference can be very compelling… to that person. But why should anyone else adhere to another’s personal preferences? And if that’s all that we have, then whose preference is it that people not murder or rape, and why should anyone else pay any attention to that preference at all?

      So the question is, is there anything that men ought to do, or ought not do? If you answer yes, then you’ve established a principle that governs all men, and therefore cannot come from a man. Where does this principle come from?

      I’m not sure how it’s incorrect. If the word moral has no meaning, then surely they are not unequally moral! In a world with no water, every cup has an equal amount of water: zero.

      Not quite; in order to say the cup has no water, the word “water” must have meaning. You’ve described the lack of a concept, not a lack of meaning.

      Either way, what I was trying to say was that the morality of the actions cannot be used [to?] determine which you should undertake.

      If a moral action is an action that you should do, and an immoral action is an action you should not do, then how does it not follow that men should follow the most moral action?

      That’s not to say that we fully comprehend at all times which action is the most moral. Which is a perfect seque into…

      What it seems to me you’re saying is that G-d’s preferences (as we’re calling them) are not fully known to us, but whatever you believe them to be, you make them your preference. In some cases, you may be wrong about what G-d prefers, and therefore your preference will be incorrect. Do I have this right?

      Pretty close. I think the nuances will come out below…

      But your preference is not “what is moral”, and I was asking about the former only. Why could you not have immoral preferences? They are just your preferences. It doesn’t mean they are right, nor that you believe them to be. Does that make sense?

      We can, and obviously do, have immoral preferences. Anything that we desire that is not in accordance with God’s will is immoral, because it is by definition out of sync with God’s character. That’s what happened in the Garden of Eden; Adam wanted a shortcut. He was told that he could be like God by disobeying God, and he believed the lie… just like we all do.

      The other side of this is that you could say “I disagree, but He wins; I do what He says, no matter what I think” but you haven’t done that either, and seem to say such a thing is not possible.

      More like, “God says don’t lust after your neighbor’s wife, but my neighbor’s wife is REALLY hot, so I’m going to do what I want.” You might even agree with God that it’s wrong, but you do it anyway, because that’s your preference. You’ve put your desire for your own way about your desire to conform to God’s character.

      It would be odd for the Secretary to say “I think whatever the president thinks, but I might sometimes misunderstand what he thinks and therefore think wrongly.” Please correct me if I’m wrong, but to me this is exactly what you appear to be saying.

      You’ve committed a category error, assuming that the president is a standard. Now for his staff, he may be the definer of the standard, but as a fallable human, the standard he sets may not be what’s best for our nation. Still, those on his staff are obligated to support his agenda, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the greater standard of our Constitution.

      Consider this statement: “I agree with the Metric System standards. They are always right. A meter is 2 inches long.”

      We know that the standards board accurately defines, and is the appropriate standard for metric units of measure. I fully agree with this standard (even though it is man-made, and could theoretically be redefined at any time). However if I, as stated above, thought that the standards board had defined a meter as only 2 inches, then I’m wrong. The standard says otherwise, but I’m wrong about what the standard says. I would be foolish to claim that my own thoughts trumped those of the qualified authority.

      Likewise, I’m foolish if I think my own ideas about what is and is not moral trumps what God says in his word.

      Likewise, I don’t see how you can “wish” that something was wrong, when G-d says it isn’t, without having a “preference” against that action. Can you explain that, please?

      You give me too much credit! I’m not perfect. My own preferences are far from what God wants them to be, but he’s changing me, slowly, to be conformed to his own character. But I’m still human; I’m still a man. I won’t deny that there’s a part of me (I’d say, a part of most every man) that wishes that God had not said that pre-marital sex was wrong. That might be MY preference, but God says “No”. And after over 20 years of marriage to one wonderful woman, after both of us had obeyed God’s command on this issue, I can see the wisdom in his way of doing things.

      Now regarding “preference”…

      Would you agree that perhaps the term “utter hatred” might be better?

      I think you’ve missed the point a bit. The question is about where the obligation comes from, or does an obligation exist at all.

      Either all men are subject to a moral law that prescribes what they should and should not do in all times, places, and circumstances, or they are not.

      If they ARE, then this moral law cannot come from themselves. If it did, then why would it bind other men?

      If they are NOT, then any feelings we have about what any man (including ourselves) should or should not do is applicable only to that one person (a preference). Men are free to behave in whatever manner they choose. These feelings are simply a personal idiosyncrasy (how’s that instead of “preference”?), not anything binding on themselves, or anyone else.

      But if you have an utter hatred, your apathy-in-action would be confusing to me.

      Question: In this person’s world do all men have an obligation to straighten pictures? OUGHT all men to straighten pictures, or is it just this person’s idiosyncrasy?

      In our world, do all men have an obligation to stop a rapist if possible? OUGHT all men to assist victims of violence?

      Good questions! Hope to hear back from you soon, my friend!

      -tl

      Reply
  18. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Argh, that looks way longer than I wanted. Let me see if I can distill everything I’ve written into some much simpler questions.

    Do you, personally, based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, utterly hate child rape, or do you only utterly hate it because you think G-d does (you’ve said you can’t know G-d does)?

    If you do personally utterly hate it, but didn’t believe in objective moral values, all you had to go on was your utter hate, why wouldn’t you stop it if you could?

    (I’ve answered the: ‘if it’s not wrong why would I?’ above. Since there is no moral reason not to, and you have this utter hate, the correct question is “why wouldn’t I?” On one side you have your utter hate for something, on the other side you have nothing. You’re being irrational if you side with nothing.)

    If you wouldn’t stop the rape, though you could, how can could you claim to utterly hate it? What would you call the feelings of someone who did feel strongly enough to stop it?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      We’ve had the same argument discussed on this board before, when the apologist draws up a scenario of coming across a child rape ‘in an Godless universe’. The apologist argues that you ‘cannot’ intervene because you ‘don’t have the right to’ and ‘it would be immoral to’, despite saying this is happening in a reality where they they believe ‘rights’ and ‘immoral’ have no meaning.

      It’s contradictory. They seem to be saying there’s nothing stopping the rapist from attacking the child, but everything stopping you from intervening. It makes no sense at all.

      Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Do you, personally, based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, utterly hate child rape, or do you only utterly hate it because you think G-d does

      This is actually a VERY complex question, and I don’t have time for it now, but I will return to it.

      (you’ve said you can’t know G-d does)?

      No… actually, I said (or at least meant to say) we cannot perfectly know God’s will in every single situation anymore. Not since the fall of man.

      If you wouldn’t stop the rape, though you could, how can could you claim to utterly hate it? What would you call the feelings of someone who did feel strongly enough to stop it?

      Are we in a moral, or an amoral universe?

      Reply
  19. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I’m going to respond to you in several posts, to help with clarity. I will try to keep them short.

    In this first post, I just have a general question about how this discussion should proceed, which I will illustrate with an example.

    In the second, I will go through your post and try to answer each question you posed. I will not seek to make any points or have any overarching theme to the post. I will just answer your questions, since I assume you’ve asked them for a reason. This can just be a reference post for you to refer to and respond to, only if you find it necessary.

    I will then try to write a third post with an actual response to the points you’ve raised, but I may wait until some commentary on the first question before doing so.

    Okay, so I think if I answer every point you’ve raised, the post will be overly long and what is important will simply get lost among the less important. At the same time, you’ve said so much that I would like to clarify or comment on. If I think you’re wrong about something, but don’t say so, you may think that I concede the point, even when I don’t. That could breed confusion. Both options strike me as sub-optimal.

    So I’m not sure of the best way around that.

    As an example, we had this exchange:

    I said: “I’m not sure how it’s incorrect. If the word moral has no meaning, then surely they are not unequally moral! In a world with no water, every cup has an equal amount of water: zero.”

    Terry responded: “Not quite; in order to say the cup has no water, the word “water” must have meaning. You’ve described the lack of a concept, not a lack of meaning.”

    So this isn’t really a big deal and I don’t want to overshadow the larger points by devoting words to it. At the same time: I think you’re absolutely wrong. My point is that the difference in the objective moral value of two actions cannot be used to distinguish between them, if we are in a world with no objective moral values.

    I can see that I could have stated it better — I should have said something like “only has values of zero”, perhaps. I meant “no meaning” in a way one might say “this wedding ring no longer means anything to me”, in other words assigns no value or has no effect, rather than “I find this piece of shaped metal confusing, what could it possibly symbolize?” Still, I doubt you were just trying to nitpick wording and I assume that you disagree with the actual point.

    So, I don’t want my lack of response to indicate to you or anyone that I in fact, agree with you. And maybe you’re not wrong (and I am!) and I’m just misunderstanding what you’re saying or not reasoning it through properly. In that case, it’s worthwhile for me to learn that.

    Therefore, as an example, I will respond, and maybe we’ll see if it was worthwhile. Please tell me what you think.

    For a noun to exist, does not mean that thing it labels needs to actually exist or to have existed at some point. I feel like the examples here are endless.

    I don’t believe ghosts exist or have ever existed in this world.

    I can say “each house is haunted by an equal amount of ghosts” and I know what that means. I don’t need ghosts to actually exist to say that each house has exactly none of them.

    I don’t see how you can point to that as “not quite” correct.

    Likewise, I don’t need objective moral values to exist in some hypothetical world in order to say that each action has the same amount of moral consequence in said hypothetical world. (Again, this is in an hypothetical world where objective moral values don’t exist.)

    Either the two actions are morally equal (they both have a moral value of zero, or the same positive or negative value) or they do not. It doesn’t matter who understands this or what words they use to describe it. Those are the only two possible outcomes. Do you disagree with this?

    Do you tell me, is there a point to such a clarification? It would do no good for me to simply say: ‘No, I’m right about this’ without explanation as to why. That would make me seem quite dumb, actually. So, I don’t know…

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      I make this about six or more exchanges just arguing over whether one can say “these two actions are NOT unequally moral”. Luke has made his point several times very clearly, and Terry’s responses have been consistently obtuse.

      Terry, either one believes one can say ‘these two actions are unequally moral’ or one doesn’t. You’ve said that such a statement would be meaningless in a world without morals. Therefore you are AGREEING with Luke! You are saying that one can NOT say ‘these two actions are unequally moral’, which was Luke’s whole point.

      You both agree that one cannot offer ‘these two actions are unequally moral’ as a reason to rule out one of the two actions.

      Yet despite agreeing with Luke on that point, you’ve forced him to clarify three times or more! If you’re going to argue so hard on points you agree on, how on earth is any productive discussion possible?!

      Reply
    • Toby says:

      “I will try to keep them short.”

      I really like reading your posts luke, but I don’t think you know what short means. Insert smiley here. It’s good though. You’re thorough. In the land of the twitter the one who can exceed 140 characters is king.

      Reply
  20. Luke says:

    Okay, now to go through any questions you asked.

    When I asked you what you meant by a ‘compelling reason’ you in turn asked me:

    “But what is the driving force that makes me straighten your carefully-misaligned pictures? ”

    Your strong preference, as I said.

    Continuing this topic, you asked: “Why OUGHT I straighten the pictures?”

    Then you seem to have answered your own question, saying: “Only because, in my own opinion, I think pictures should be straight.”

    That seems a perfectly good reason to me. According to Webster, ought (verb) is: 1. used to indicate what is expected; 2.used to say or suggest what should be done.

    As I said above, (a)given your preference and (b) the lack of any reason not to straighten the pictures we’ve discussed, I would expect you to straighten them.

    Now, I think you are talking about ought as in “should”.

    If we take that second definition (basically ought = should), then… well, as I explained already, this is really the wrong question (I gave the reasons why that is). You shouldn’t ask “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”. I won’t go into depth again here, but if something about it didn’t make sense, please ask.

    In short, this question goes back to the idea that on one side of the scale you have some reasons (your preference, your instinct) and on the other you have nothing (again, all else being equal). When you have reasons you should, and no reasons you shouldn’t — should wins.

    You then said that the “preference can be a very compelling reason to that person”, but asked: “But why should anyone else adhere to another’s personal preferences?”

    1. The only point I was trying to make is that the person’s preference is reason enough for that person to act (assuming that person is rational). That is all and I am glad you agree.

    2. Lacking some other reason (let’s say threatened punishment from a king, as one example), no one else “should” adhere to another’s personal preferences. I have never said, claimed, or argued otherwise.

    You then asked: “And if that’s all that we have, then whose preference is it that people not murder or rape”

    It is the preference of anyone holding that preference. (This seems obvious, so perhaps I’ve misunderstood the question…)

    The question continued: “and why should anyone else pay any attention to that preference at all?”

    I’m not sure if you are asking theoretically or practically. Theoretically, all else being equal, there is no reason they should. They can only be responsible to their own preferences (all else being equal).

    Practically, there could be many reasons. Let’s say that this was an overwhelming preference in society, and so society created laws and punishments prohibiting it. That would provide a reason. The person could simply fear that the family of the murdered would take revenge. Like I said there could be many reasons. Either way, There is no reason at all, for anyone to say “Terry thinks this, so I will do it” unless they have some preexisting reaon to trust or listen to you.

    Let me clarify something at this point.

    I HAVE MADE NO CLAIMS HERE ABOUT WHAT OTHERS SHOULD DO. You may be raising interesting points and questions, but they are of a subject other than the one we are currently discussing. I am only interested in the person with the so-called preference here.

    This discussion could be titled “How will one act based upon one’s personal moral preferences?”

    This discussion is certainly not “How should others act based upon another person’s personal moral preferences?” Your question belongs to the latter discussion.

    You then asked: “So the question is, is there anything that men ought to do, or ought not do?”

    It really depends how you are using the word ought. If you are defining ‘ought’ as actions required by a transcendental standard, then no, there is no such thing. For other uses, I think this is answered above. If that answer wasn’t clear, please ask a clarifying question.

    You went on:“If you answer yes, then you’ve established a principle that governs all men, and therefore cannot come from a man. Where does this principle come from?”

    Again, I think the way I understood you to ask the question, the answer was no, rendering this question non-applicable. I think the premise contained in the question is wrong though. Speed limits govern all men, but they come from men, for example.

    Again, to simply say “people ought to do what they think is right” is not to establish some transcendent standard saying they must do so. It simply says that I would expect them to (Webster definition 1) and recognizes the reality that if they posses reasons they ‘should’ but no reasons they ‘should not’, the ‘should’ wins (this falls under Webster definition 2). (You could refer to this as a “positive should score”.)

    Again, I’ve discussed several times above why this entire question is backward and not very useful. The proper question is not “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”.

    On a different topic you asked: “If a moral action is an action that you should do, and an immoral action is an action you should not do, then how does it not follow that men should follow the most moral action?”

    If phrased this tautological way, it does follow, but it has no explanatory power. I’ve asked this question before, but: “why should I do what a good G-d says?” The only answer that I’ve seen or come up with is a simple, because I want to. And I find nothing wrong with that, but at the very bottom, there is no should the way you define it, in any belief system. You can create one through definition, but notice who creates that “should”.

    You didn’t ask a direct question here, but mentioned one, so I thought I would clarify. You said: “I think you’ve missed the point a bit. The question is about where the obligation comes from, or does an obligation exist at all.”

    I disagree. I started this discussion on July 3 at 9:56. The questions under discussion are: whether you (or anyone else who wanted to answer), personally, shared the moral preferences which G-d held. Whether and when your preferences (if any) differed from His, or if perhaps you were just a passthrough for His preferences.

    This was the introduced topic of discussion to which you responded. Within this discussion, I have no interest in the question or where obligations come from or whether they exist. My interest is in the questions above. I’m sorry if there was some miscommunication on that topic.

    Terry asked: Either all men are subject to a moral law that prescribes what they should and should not do in all times, places, and circumstances, or they are not. If they ARE, then this moral law cannot come from themselves. If it did, then why would it bind other men?

    The answer depends on what you mean by bind, but on any transcendental level, it simply wouldn’t (in a world with no transcendental moral law). Who here, or anywhere, has said it would? (Again, this is a total tangent to the discussion, but I didn’t want to ignore your questions, since you did write them.) (As I said on a previous question, I also don’t think the premise is correct. I’ve answered just granting the contained assumption, though I think it’s incorrect.)

    You asked: “These feelings are simply a personal idiosyncrasy (how’s that instead of “preference”?), not anything binding on themselves, or anyone else.”

    By it’s definition, idiosyncrasy means something is unusual, so I think it’s not the right word to use. Sorry.

    You also asked: “Question: In this person’s world do all men have an obligation to straighten pictures? OUGHT all men to straighten pictures, or is it just this person’s idiosyncrasy?”

    Again, I think idiosyncrasy is not a good word here, but no, not all men have an obligation to straighten pictures. (I’m sorry that this wasn’t clear. I thought it would have been obvious, I will re-read my posts to see what caused the possible confusion.) No, not all men ought to straighten the pictures (just those that have a preference for straight pictures and lack a reason to not straighten them). Yes, it is just the person’s personal individual preference that person is responding to.

    You asked: “In our world, do all men have an obligation to stop a rapist if possible? OUGHT all men to assist victims of violence?”

    In our current world? Personally, I believe yes on both. I just wish more people agreed with me on the second part. I don’so much care why they think they ought to do it, but care very much that they do. See the conversation I had with Louie about assisting the victims of violence (we shouldn’t, apparently!). It makes no difference to me why Louie doesn’t want to help the victims of violence (G-d would prefer he take care of his own family, he said), it bothers me that he just wants to send them back to the violence they escaped. My personal beliefs are not really interesting though. I am trying to test the things I believe against ambitious and thorough critiques.

    Reply
  21. Luke says:

    Terry, to get back to the main point of discussion:

    I asked: Do you, personally, based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, utterly hate child rape, or do you only utterly hate it because you think G-d does?

    You answered: This is actually a VERY complex question, and I don’t have time for it now, but I will return to it.

    Thanks. As I said above, this is basically the original question I asked all those weeks ago. This is the thing that really interest me. I’m curious to map out the consequences of the answer, whatever it may be. If you don’t wish to talk about your views or hates, that’s fine too, but the consequences of this answer are what I am interested in.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  22. Terry L says:

    Luke:

    My point is that the difference in the objective moral value of two actions cannot be used to distinguish between them, if we are in a world with no objective moral values.

    Agreed. It’s like saying zurple is better than floop! In this world, the concept of such a difference is meaningless.

    Likewise, I don’t need objective moral values to exist in some hypothetical world in order to say that each action has the same amount of moral consequence in said hypothetical world.

    Agreed. As stated above, the entire concept is meaningless. Which is stronger, Superman or the Hulk? In the real world, the question is meaningless. You have to answer the question in-universe for it to have any meaning at all.

    Either the two actions are morally equal (they both have a moral value of zero, or the same positive or negative value) or they do not. It doesn’t matter who understands this or what words they use to describe it. Those are the only two possible outcomes. Do you disagree with this?

    I’m assuming, by this you mean to type, “Either the two actions are morally equal… or they are not.” I’m proceeding on this assumption.

    And I do disagree. You have explicitly set the scenario in an amoral universe. NO action has any true moral value; the “moral value” of both is the empty set–actions do not even have a property called “moral value”. Therefore while all may be equal, it’s impossible for them to differ. There’s actually only one single scenario.

    (And so, Stephen, it looks like there was an underlying point on which we disagree! 😉 )

    It’s like comparing (in our world) the number of horses two dogs can give birth to at one time!

    1. The only point I was trying to make is that the person’s preference is reason enough for that person to act (assuming that person is rational). That is all and I am glad you agree.

    But you’ve so narrowly defined the preconditions that the answer must be what you’re looking for. I’m questioning the preconditions.

    We seem to be morally-equivocating the act of straightening pictures and the act of preventing a rape. In an amoral universe, these actions are, in fact, morally equivalent. I agree that in THAT world, if you prefer neat pictures, straighten all you want. If you prefer sex from unwilling participants, rape all you want. There is no moral difference in the action.

    But my questions go to why one would violently hate crooked pictures. (Even the term “hate” has moral connotations to it and really should be avoided in discussions of an amoral universe.)

    This discussion could be titled “How will one act based upon one’s personal moral preferences?”

    This discussion is certainly not “How should others act based upon another person’s personal moral preferences?” Your question belongs to the latter discussion.

    Wrong title, friend! You’ve specifically made your universe amoral.

    You see, when you bring morality into it, then you necessarily bring in the “ought” factor. But an “ought” imposed on oneself is no “ought” at all… just one’s own ideas that can be changed at any time.

    You then asked: “So the question is, is there anything that men ought to do, or ought not do?”

    It really depends how you are using the word ought. If you are defining ‘ought’ as actions required by a transcendental standard, then no, there is no such thing.

    Assuming you are speaking of our universe, you would say that serial killers are under no obligation, other that that imposed by society, to refrain from killing? There’s no obligation on men not to murder?

    The proper question is not “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”.

    Self defeating. Why SHOULDN’T I ask, “Why should I”?

    I’ve asked this question before, but: “why should I do what a good G-d says?” The only answer that I’ve seen or come up with is a simple, because I want to.

    The answer to this question, again, takes a lot of time to explore fully. But it goes back to the question, “what is the purpose for man?” If all things are created with a purpose, then we will be judged on how well we fulfilled our purpose. Why should an acorn become an oak? Why should a puppy become a dog? Because that’s their purpose. (Apologies to Thomas Aquinas, whom I’ve not studied in depth, for what is likely a poor presentation!)

    Man was made a little differently, because our purpose was not so simple. Man was created in the image of God… meaning we were made moral beings capable of choosing good or evil. We were meant to reflect God’s goodness… that was our purpose. We should be good because God, in whose image we are made is good. But sin shattered the image of God in us, rendering us incapable of fulfilling our purpose. That’s why all men are destined to the universe’s landfill like a broken, useless mirror. Jesus came to restore what we lost and to offer us the chance to once again be capable of fulfilling our purpose, not through our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ.

    (What do you make of the statement, “Free will is only useful in a moral universe.”? This is just the start of an idea that just came to me. I haven’t fully explored it, and even the words used aren’t terribly accurate to what I’m trying to say…)

    In the last part of the post, you said, No, not all men ought to straighten the pictures (just those that have a preference for straight pictures and lack a reason to not straighten them), and personally, I believe yes[, all men have an obligation to stop a rapist if possible; all men ought to assist victims of violence.].

    I find this most curious, especially given your claim that, If you are defining ‘ought’ as actions required by a transcendental standard, then no, there is no such thing.

    You obviously find a difference in the “oughtness” of straightening pictures and helping victims. Yet, you deny that this difference comes from any external entity. That would leave it up to the individual, but in that case, how can you claim that there is a difference?

    Now to your main question:

    I asked: Do you, personally, based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, utterly hate child rape, or do you only utterly hate it because you think G-d does?

    I’m assuming our own universe.

    The broad answer is no. None of us are in a vacuum. Many factors contribute to our hatred of such an action, including societal mores, ecclesiastical and parental teachings, personal experience, etc. So no, I do not hate child rape only because it’s condemned in scripture. But I don’t think that’s really the answer you’re looking for…

    But beyond that, I honestly don’t know how to fully answer this question, because I don’t believe any of us are abandoned to “nothing but [our] own thoughts, ideas and feelings”. In Romans, Paul refers to the fact that all men are aware of the moral law, and that many follow it (or at least it’s larger precepts) having never had access to either the Old or New Testament scriptures. How much of my hatred is my own thoughts, how much has been taught, and how much is due to the moral law is impossible to discern.

    I’m not certain to what consequences you refer. The reason you or I hold a belief has no bearing on whether the belief is true (genetic fallacy). It only says something about us, not about truth. Could you elaborate a little on what you’re looking for?

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “(And so, Stephen, it looks like there was an underlying point on which we disagree! )”

      I’m baffled Terry – you just clearly stated you DO agree.

      You said the following, which was exactly compatible with what both Luke and I were saying. For you then to say therefore I was wrong, leaves me very confused. I can only assume you still haven’t understood what we’re saying:

      “NO action has any true moral value; the “moral value” of both is the empty set–actions do not even have a property called “moral value”. Therefore while all may be equal, it’s impossible for them to differ. There’s actually only one single scenario.”

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “But my questions go to why one would violently hate crooked pictures. (Even the term “hate” has moral connotations to it and really should be avoided in discussions of an amoral universe.)”

      What term would you prefer? This seems a bizarre objection. If a dog gets an electric shock every time it touches a fence, we could say it hates the fence, will shun it. A person with OCD might hate crooked pictures – they might genuinely cause him discomfort. Why figure there’s moral connotations to this?

      Reply
  23. Luke says:

    Terry

    I’m going to go ahead and skip some of what you wrote (unless you’ve asked a question) because I think it’s clear what each of us have said at this point and I want to keep this as short as I can. That said, if you want me to respond to something specifically, please let me know.

    I.
    Terry said:: “I agree that in THAT world, if you prefer neat pictures, straighten all you want. If you prefer sex from unwilling participants, rape all you want. There is no moral difference in the action.”

    Okay, good! Progress! 🙂

    Let me ask to clarify, since I’ve assumed things were clear and obvious before only to be proven wrong.

    Earlier we didn’t really talk about raping, but instead of stopping rape (I find the fact that you made the switch odd, but it’s not important why you made it). So to clarify: you also agree that one can stop rapists ‘all [one] want[s]’, correct?

    II.
    I said: “This discussion could be titled ‘How will one act based upon one’s personal moral preferences?’ This discussion is certainly not ‘How should others act based upon another person’s personal moral preferences?’ Your question belongs to the latter discussion.

    Terry responded:“Wrong title, friend! You’ve specifically made your universe amoral.”

    Sorry, I’m confused. By amoral universe, we mean one without “objective moral laws”, correct? In such a world, all we have are preferences, that’s the term you’ve coined and used for such a circumstance (!). I think Dr. Turek prefers ‘opinion’ as in ‘that’s just your opinion’. (In other words, this isn’t something I made up, it’s something I got from you.)

    It was clear by the title that I was not referring to transcendental, objective moral law, but simply ‘personal moral preferences’. I’ve acquiesced to your term to prevent confusion, but it seems that failed!

    In other words, it seems to me that you’re saying that the thing YOU told me existed, doesn’t exist!

    Terry said:“You see, when you bring morality into it, then you necessarily bring in the “ought” factor. But an “ought” imposed on oneself is no “ought” at all, just one’s own ideas that can be changed at any time.”

    And that’s all I’ve ever said it was. An ought imposed on oneself. 🙂 (I’ve also argued that those are in fact the only oughts/shoulds that exist, but that’s another discussion, which we’ve only tangentially touched on. I know you disagree.)

    You seem to think that’s a bad thing, but haven’t given us reason yet. We can work through that later, but I’d like to settle my original questions first and I think we’re getting closer to that.

    I would comment though, I’ve consulted three dictionaries just now and none of them mentioned that once an ought is laid down, it can never change. I think if that’s what you seek to say, you may need to add an adjective to express that. It’s just not contained in the word itself.

    As far as your comments on why I should do what G-d says, you seem to say “because that’s what you’re meant to do” but why should I do what I’m meant to? You haven’t seen the large REBEL tattoo I have on my neck, have you? 🙂

    III.
    Terry said: “So the question is, is there anything that men ought to do, or ought not do?”

    I answered: “It really depends how you are using the word ought. If you are defining ‘ought’ as actions required by a transcendental standard, then no, there is no such thing.”

    Terry commented and asked: “Assuming you are speaking of our universe, you would say that serial killers are under no obligation, other that that imposed by society, to refrain from killing? There’s no obligation on men not to murder?”

    Sorry, I was speaking of the hypothetical universe we were discussing. One in which there is no “objective moral law”; one in which people ‘merely’ have ‘preferences’ and ‘opinions’. I’ll try to be clearer about this in the future.

    IV.
    I said: The proper question is not “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”.

    Terry answered: Self defeating. Why SHOULDN’T I ask, “Why should I”?

    I’ve already answered this question. More than once.

    I have explained (at least) three times (!) in depth the reasons that “why shouldn’t I” is the proper question and “why should I” the wrong one.

    I’ve literally answered this very question — 3 times!

    I won’t do so again, because the answer is already there. (I even coined the handy phrase “should score” which helps determine which question is the right one! Come on, I should get at least some credit for that.

    Your response might make sense if I had just flipped a coin to decide which way to phrase it, but that is far from the reality. I’ve phrased it that way for a reason, and thrice gave the reasons why this is the proper phrasing and question.

    V.

    You asked me a question, so I’ll answer: “What do you make of the statement, ‘Free will is only useful in a moral universe?'”?

    It doesn’t seem right to me. My family is free to get a house in a condo in my city’s downtown, or a house on a piece of land by the nearby river. I can see value in such freedom (as I can in choosing between a Milky Way and a Twix), and such freedom seems useful even without a moral component. (I am not free to live in the suburbs. I’m revolved by them, and I don’t seem to have the free will to change that. Bummer, housing is so much cheaper there…)

    VI.

    You asked me a question about why I said that only men with such a preference ought to straighten pictures, but also why I believed all men had an obligation to stop a rapist or assist victims of violence.

    Sorry for any confusion. The first answer was referring to the universe we’ve been discussing, one lacking an ‘objective moral law’. The second I was responding to what I personally think, within the world I believe we inhabit (I tried to clarify the second by writing: “In our current world? Personally, I believe…”)

    You also said “I find this most curious, especially given your claim that, If you are defining ‘ought’ as actions required by a transcendental standard, then no, there is no such thing.

    Honestly, I’m not really sure what you’re asking here, and maybe it’s already clarified above. I think the key is in my use of the word “if”. Under that definition certain things are true, that may not be true under another definition. That’s why I’ve tried to be very clear to be clear about the definitions I am working under, but I know I’ve sometimes failed to do so adequately.

    Maybe this will help:

    In a universe with no Objective Moral Law (OML), a guy that hates crooked pictured ought to straighten them (though not a transcendent ought, since those don’t exist there).

    In a universe with no Objective Moral Law (OML), a guy that hates rape ought to stop it (though not a transcendent ought, since those don’t exist there).

    In a universe with an Objective Moral Law (OML), which is one I personally believe we inhabit (whether I’m right or wrong), we all have an obligation to stop rape and assist victims of violence. (Assuming the OML in this universe condemns rape.)

    Does that help?

    We both agree on each of these statements, correct?

    You asked: “You obviously find a difference in the “oughtness” of straightening pictures and helping victims. Yet, you deny that this difference comes from any external entity. That would leave it up to the individual, but in that case, how can you claim that there is a difference?”

    Where in the world did you get the idea that I deny that this comes from any external entity? It’s been said here about a million times that I am a theist, and I believe that we (here, in this universe) live under an objective moral law. Where in the world have I ever denied such a thing?

    Again, this seems to stem from the fact that we are discussing one type of world (one without OML) and my personal beliefs about our world (which I believe contains OML).

    VII.

    You answered my question about whether you have a personal preference against child rape.

    You said: “The broad answer is no.”

    You then went on to comment that (for example) “many factors contribute to our hatred of such an action, including societal mores, ecclesiastical and parental teachings, personal experience, etc.” and “I honestly don’t know how to fully answer this question, because I don’t believe any of us are abandoned to ‘nothing but [our] own thoughts, ideas and feelings'”

    So, I guess I should clarify. I’m really not sure why these ideas that seem so clear when I write them fail to get across that way…

    Let me give the background, we’ve been discussing two broad universes, one in which there is no OML (objective moral law) and in which people only have their personal preferences (your term for this) regarding moral choices. We also have briefly mentioned the other universe (the one both of us believe we live in) that does have an OML, but in which people may or may not still have their own personal preferences.

    The words I used (based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings) were meant to indicate that I was looking for whether you had this preference (as you call it), or if you were simply just a passthrough (another word I used) for G-d’s preference.

    Again, I thought this would be very clear, and I’m sorry it wasn’t.

    I don’t think, nor have I ever suggested that our thoughts and opinions form without outside influence, but once they are formed, they can stand on their own and no longer need that influence. At least, that’s self-evident to me, and I can’t see anyone disagreeing. (You need an architect and his plans to build a building, but once the building stands — is formed — the building is there on it’s own.) (Thoughts can of course be further influenced and change, just as a building can be modified.)

    Again, I’m really sorry this was not clear.

    Terry said:
    How much of my hatred is my own thoughts, how much has been taught, and how much is due to the moral law is impossible to discern.

    If you’ve learned it it’s now your knowledge, so that doesn’t matter to the question.

    Terry said:“I’m not certain to what consequences you refer. The reason you or I hold a belief has no bearing on whether the belief is true (genetic fallacy). It only says something about us, not about truth. Could you elaborate a little on what you’re looking for?”

    Basically, you’ve said many times that in a world with no objective moral law, you would not intervene to stop a rape. As I’ve made clear above, if you held such a preference you would (doing so that would be a consequence of holding such a preference).

    (Even if you didn’t hold such a preference you might (based on other preferences), or there could be some preference which would prevent you from doing so.)

    The way that preference against child rape works for me, and I would bet that it’s the same for Stephen and Toby, is that there is no question whatsoever that we have such a preference, and we would definitely stop such a thing, if we could.

    Now, on the other side of this, if you do have such a preference and would fight to stop a rape if you could (in a world without an OML), then I would wonder what the consequence of the OML really is (what’s different about a world with OML?).

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  24. Luke says:

    Let me ask this question about whether you have a moral preference in three new ways. Maybe these will be clearer.

    I. Symbols are fun!

    In a world with an OML, the moral law saying that “rape is wrong” we shall call A.

    In a world without an OML, the preference that most individuals hold that “rape is wrong” we shall call B.

    My question is, do you have B, or do you simply act on A (which we’ve also called ‘G-d’s preference’)?

    II. I just don’t understand how calculator watches fell out of fashion!

    A person can find the answer to 3×3 by using a calculator, something which is outside of themselves.

    A person can also learn the concepts behind that question and, once learned, find the answer using only their brain.

    My question is, when confronted with 3×3, I’m sure you can either turn to the calculator, or turn to your own self for the proper answer. They will both give you the same answer. (I’m just assuming you can do early level maths properly.)

    When confronted with the question “is rape wrong” do you have to turn to G-d to find the proper answer, or can you turn only to yourself.

    By the way, I totally love this illustration. I can’t wait to read the reply that will show me how confusing and misguided it is. 🙂

    III. Don’t ask me man, I’m just doing what I’m told!

    I’m reminded of an example provided by people I know. If one is a Christian, one is bound by the Bible to both give to the poor (most of the thing) and to do so secretly (Mat 6:2). I know those who give abundantly, but always anonymously. On a personal level (I know this only though discussion of the topic and what is right in these cases), they think it would be fine to donate publicly — even good. For one thing, doing so might encourage others to give as well (these people are respected by many). On the other hand, giving anonymously might lead people to think that these friends don’t give at all. This might perversely influence others into thinking that giving is not that important. You can see the problem. In the end though, for these friends, the Bible is the Bible. In other words “Don’t ask me man, I’m just doing what I’m told.”

    Likewise I know people who give anonymously, but they believe pretty firmly that this is the right thing to do. They see the praise one might receive from giving as corrupting and impure. They’re not just doing what they’re told. They are acting upon what they believe.

    When it comes to child rape, which are you?

    IV. In conclusion, I just want to premtively say that you can find differences between these analogies and conclude they they all have different answers. I would urge to ignore the differences and simply focus on what they have in common and answer based upon that if possible.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  25. Terry L says:

    Stephen:

    Luke said, “Either the two actions are morally equal (they both have a moral value of zero, or the same positive or negative value) or they do[are?] not. It doesn’t matter who understands this or what words they use to describe it. Those are the only two possible outcomes. Do you disagree with this?” (Emphasis in original.)

    I do not agree with this statement. The second outcome cannot exist in an amoral universe. Nonsense of any sort equals any other nonsense. To speak of the “moral” value of an action in an amoral universe is nonsense; therefore all actions are “morally equivalent” (whatever that means in an amoral universe). There is exactly one possible outcome, not two.

    What term would you prefer? This seems a bizarre objection.

    Honestly, it’s extremely difficult to find an amoral term for a discussion like this. We’d almost have to invent an entire vocabulary that doesn’t exist. “Hate”, for instance, is very morally charged; just google the term “Hate Group”, “Hate Speech”, “Haters”, and see what you find! They’re all used to discredit the receiver of that title, whether the term is rightfully or wrongly applied. To use that term in a discussion of an amoral universe is rather, as you put it, bizarre!

    But I’m not certain what to put in its place. I fully understand the resistance to the term “preference”, although that term is not nearly so morally charged (in my own view) as “hate”. Unfortunately, I haven’t a better term at this point.

    Luke

    (I find the fact that you made the switch odd, but it’s not important why you made it).

    I did so only because in such a world, to rape would be morally equivalent to preventing a rape (that is, both are amoral actions). It’s healthy to the discussion to keep that in mind, as I’ll point out below.

    So to clarify: you also agree that one can stop rapists ‘all [one] want[s]‘, correct?

    I agree that in an amoral universe, no prohibition exists against rape, nor against stopping rape.

    Terry responded:“Wrong title, friend! You’ve specifically made your universe amoral.”

    Sorry, I’m confused.

    You said, “This discussion could be titled ‘How will one act based upon one’s personal moral preferences?’.”

    Yet, you specifically placed the actor in an amoral universe. Just as you cannot have a moral or immoral action in an amoral universe, neither can you have a moral preference. Nothing can be moral if morality itself does not exist! To call them “moral preferences” is misleading, because the term implies that some preferences are morally “better” than others. That’s why I strenuously object to the use of the term “moral” to describe anything in an amoral universe. It’s nonsense!

    I would comment though, I’ve consulted three dictionaries just now and none of them mentioned that once an ought is laid down, it can never change. I think if that’s what you seek to say, you may need to add an adjective to express that. It’s just not contained in the word itself.

    But it is implicit in the moral sense. I’ll swap to WLC’s term “moral duties” here, because I think that accurately captures the sense of something that one ought to do. If the moral duty not to murder innocents is not unchanging, then it cannot be true in all places and times for all men. Therefore, any murder can simply claim that he was not bound by that law at that time. It would then be immoral to punish him, as he did nothing morally wrong.

    You haven’t seen the large REBEL tattoo I have on my neck, have you?

    Rebellion requires an authority against which you rebel. If you believe that our world has no transcendental moral standard, you are denying the existence of such an authority. Against whom, then, are you rebelling? 😀

    I said: The proper question is not “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”.
    Terry answered: Self defeating. Why SHOULDN’T I ask, “Why should I”?
    I’ve already answered this question. More than once.

    There is no “answer” to a self-defeating statement! It’s a logical fallacy, a self-destructive concept that cannot even meet its own requirements, and requires special pleading to have any meaning at all.

    In a universe with an Objective Moral Law (OML), which is one I personally believe we inhabit (whether I’m right or wrong), we all have an obligation to stop rape and assist victims of violence. (Assuming the OML in this universe condemns rape.)

    Thank you! I was losing track of which world you were speaking about. That helps very much, and should also explain why I asked the next question you mention; I was under the wrong impression that you consider this universe to have no OML. I’m aware that you are a theist, so I was really getting confused…

    Basically, you’ve said many times that in a world with no objective moral law, you would not intervene to stop a rape.

    Well, not exactly. I might or might not. To me that isn’t the most important question, but because you’ve asked, it would, as best I can imagine, be based on whether I thought I could make a difference, whether I feared for my own safety, whether I had something more important to do. In truth, I don’t think in that world, the event would be as important as rescuing a pet cat from a storm drain in this world! Now you’ve front-loaded my alter-ego in this universe with a loathing for rape; that would, of course, make this alter-ego more likely to act.

    I would wonder what the consequence of the OML really is (what’s different about a world with OML?

    Now THAT’s the question I find to be important!

    I think it’s simply this: Consider the consequences of breaking man’s law… the speed limit for instance. Where there is no law, there is no punishment. In our amoral universe, if I walk right on by with my fully-loaded Uzi in my hand while a thug beats and rapes a child, I’ve done nothing wrong. With no law against what I’ve done, I’m accountable for nothing! Any action is permissible.

    In our world, it doesn’t work that way. (Well, I really should say ‘universe’, not ‘world’, for not all wrongs will be addressed in this world… but I’m getting ahead of myself.) There is a moral law to which all men are accountable, and we will give an account for our actions someday.

    NEXT

    I. My question is, do you have B, or do you simply act on A (which we’ve also called ‘G-d’s preference’)?

    I think both, to some degree. Obviously some people have -B, or rapes would never happen. There are some things (not rape!) where I (and you also, I’m certain) have -B, but I try to do A, because I believe what the Bible teaches is more accurate to moral truth than my -B. I’ve found a few times where I held -B, and did -B until I discovered A… then I tried to stop -A. Does this make sense? I’m short of time and trying to rush…

    II. When confronted with the question “is rape wrong” do you have to turn to G-d to find the proper answer, or can you turn only to yourself.

    For most people, the image of God in themselves is, I believe, still intact enough for them to understand that rape is wrong… until they’ve done it a few times and shattered that image so far that they don’t realize that it’s wrong anymore. Then they would have to be convinced by the “calculator”.

    III. I think that what’s important, according to scripture, is the attitude of one’s heart. In Matthew (IIRC), the big givers were having parades so that everyone in town knew that they were giving. They wanted the fame more than they wanted to help. The widow giving her pennies didn’t hide her action, but she did it out of a desire to give and to honor God. So it’s not so much whether it’s done openly or in secret. An humble rich man can give openly without drawing unnecessary attention. A proud man can boast about giving a dollar in the plate on Sundays while bringing down a six-figure income!

    Gotta run!

    -tl

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “I do not agree with this statement. The second outcome cannot exist in an amoral universe. Nonsense of any sort equals any other nonsense. To speak of the “moral” value of an action in an amoral universe is nonsense; therefore all actions are “morally equivalent” (whatever that means in an amoral universe). There is exactly one possible outcome, not two.”

      But Terry – you were refusing to pick EITHER option! In response Luke pointed out that you had to pick one of the two options, that logically you had to say either one was true or the other was true. This is quite valid – he was saying you can’t refuse to pick either, as logically one of them HAS to be true. In response you again refused to pick either.

      Now, after SEVERAL posts back and forth between you and Luke, you are saying you DO pick one of them!

      Luke has the patience of a saint, because you’ll keep arguing over and over about the smallest of points, making any kind of progress in the discussion next to impossible, often contradicting yourself from one post to the next.

      “therefore all actions are “morally equivalent””

      Yes, that’s what Luke has been trying to get you to agree on for several days and several posts! Why have you been fighting against it for so long?!

      Reply
  26. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I’m just going to focus on one or two things you’ve said in order to clarify. Tomorrow I will try to search for any questions in your post and answer those, but once we come to an understanding on the issue I’ll outline below, we can continue discussing, I think.

    Terry said: “Yet, you specifically placed the actor in an amoral universe.”

    I think we are using the word amoral differently. (I explained above what I meant by it.) I’ve placed the actor in a universe with no Objective Moral Law (OML) — this is what I wrote above.

    — Edit: It looks like I haven’t used the word amoral to describe this universe at all. You are the only one who has (I used it in a question asking something like ‘is this what you mean by amoral?’). I’ve only mentioned that it lacks OML. If you call this ‘amoral’ that’s fine, but you have to stick with that meaning throughout the discussion (or alert us to a change in usage).

    As shorthand, many people call this an amoral universe, but something like aobjectivemorality universe would be more accurate; that doesn’t quite roll of the tongue as well. I asked a specific question in my last post as to whether you agreed and if this is what it meant to you. I didn’t see your response (maybe I missed it), so I can’t say for sure what you think or where the confusion now is coming from.

    Again though, I’ve explained above what I meant, so I’m not sure why the confusion persisted. (EDIT: I didn’t use the word amoral, so the confusion cannot stem from us using that word differently.) We may be speaking past each other somehow, but to me your response here makes no sense at all given my prior clarification.

    To say it again simply, just because there are no objective moral values, does not mean that there cannot be subjective moral values. Do you agree with this? Again, I will turn to the dictionary. One of Webster’s definitions for moral is “based on what you think is right and good” another says “sanctioned by or operative on one’s conscience or ethical judgment” — there are many definitions that involve the person’s subjective views.

    Let me reverse the question this way, if the only possible morals are the objective ones, why would you ever need to apply that adjective? By using it, you seem to admit quite readily that you do in fact find non-objective (i.e. subjective) morality possible.

    Luke said: “I said: The proper question is not “why should I?” but “why shouldn’t I?”.
    Terry answered: Self defeating. Why SHOULDN’T I ask, “Why should I”?
    Luke replied:I’ve already answered this question. More than once.
    Terry countered:There is no “answer” to a self-defeating statement! It’s a logical fallacy, a self-destructive concept that cannot even meet its own requirements, and requires special pleading to have any meaning at all.

    I really don’t know what to say about this.

    I think if you read what I said, you will find that I gave an answer to the “why should I?” question, and simply noted that given the information I provided, it is easier and makes more sense to ask “why shouldn’t I?”. It does’t ultimately matter which way you ask it, because the answer will be the same (all other things being equal). The “why shouldn’t I? question is just a faster way to think through to the place you are trying to get to. (This is true if the ‘should score’ is positive. “Why should I?” would be the easier question when the ‘should score’ is negative.) I haven’t just asserted this, but given reasons for it.

    I’ve reread what I originally wrote and it seems very clear. I’m not sure where I’ve gone wrong.

    Again, I’m not saying that “why should I?” doesn’t have an answer (it does and I’ve given it many times now). I’m only saying that it’s easier and more informative to ask the other way.

    To give an analogy, I’m saying that long addition of 0000000000001.000000000000 + 0000000000008.000000000000 is not really the proper way to do it. 1 + 8 is. It’s not that only the proper way gets you there, it’s just that it’s the best way to get there (that we can come up with).

    Like I said, I just don’t know what to say. I’m not frustrated with you, just with myself for not being able to make something that is so simple and straight-forward in my head come out that way when I write it down.

    I’ll go through and answer any questions you asked tomorrow.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  27. Luke says:

    Terry, just to go through and answer your questions. It doesn’t look like you had too many ‘?’ this time. 🙂

    Terry asked:“Rebellion requires an authority against which you rebel. If you believe that our world has no transcendental moral standard, you are denying the existence of such an authority. Against whom, then, are you rebelling?”

    I’m rebelling against greed, corruption, racism, sexism, homophobia; against our self-absorbed parenting and our fear-obsessed, vacuous, meaningless celebrity-obsessed popular culture; against our flippant dismissal of suffering and our abandonment of the needy; in other words I’m rebelling against our general desire to be bettter than our neighbor overwhleming our desire to love him.

    Should I go on?

    Again I just get confused when you say things like “If you believe that our world has no transcendental moral standard” when I’ve said so many times that this in not what I believe.

    I am also confused by your seeming insinuation that this is the only authority possible. Do you really think this?

    We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teacher leave them kids alone.

    Terry stated and asked:“I think both, to some degree. Obviously some people have -B, or rapes would never happen. There are some things (not rape!) where I (and you also, I’m certain) have -B, but I try to do A, because I believe what the Bible teaches is more accurate to moral truth than my -B. I’ve found a few times where I held -B, and did -B until I discovered A then I tried to stop -A. Does this make sense?”

    Yes, I understand what you’re trying to say here.

    Reply
  28. toby says:

    Terry has said that some of the passages of the bible have to be read in the context of the time, like slavery and such. My question is how is anyone to know what verses in the bible only apply to the time of the bible. because to me that seems like picking and choosing your religion based on your subjective biases. Why don’t you stone homosexuals?

    Reply
  29. Terry L says:

    Luke:

    You said, I’ve placed the actor in a universe with no Objective Moral Law (OML) — this is what I wrote above.

    In my mind, an amoral universe is a universe with no immutable Objective Moral Law.

    I asked a specific question in my last post as to whether you agreed and if this is what it meant to you.

    Apologies… I was extremely short of time and was trying to complete as much as possible…

    To say it again simply, just because there are no objective moral values, does not mean that there cannot be subjective moral values. Do you agree with this?

    Something doesn’t seem right with this statement….

    To revert to an old analogy, there is no “best” ice cream flavor. In my mind, the subjective best ice cream is Butter Pecan. You might think it to be Vanilla. But both of these say nothing at all about the ice cream itself! Rather, they describe us!

    The adjective “subjective” means that the other adjectives applied to the concept it is describing are only applicable in the mind of the beholder. It is fallacious to say that a subjective opinion says anything at all about the concept itself. While you may have a value that one subjectively believes is moral; that doesn’t mean that the value is moral. Even in the case of God, it is not what God thinks about the morality of his actions that is the standard of morality, but the character of God itself, apart from any opinion about it. (Although God’s opinion would certainly align perfectly with his character.)

    Of course, you and I might differ on whether an action is moral; in that sense, then yes, subjective moral values do exist… in our minds.

    Let me reverse the question this way, if the only possible morals are the objective ones, why would you ever need to apply that adjective?

    “Immutable Objective Moral Values” (which is what most persons mean when they speak of OMV) are those values and duties that spring from the character of an immutable God. The moral argument declares that without God, all that you are left with is “Mutable Subjective Moral Values”, which are actually, no values at all. If you don’t like MSMV X, then change it! It’s subjective (meaning it’s only your own thoughts about X anyway), and it’s mutable (changeable), so make it whatever you desire! Any prohibition against murder and/or rape can come into and go out of existence faster than Krauss’s particles in a quantum vacuum!

    A standard that you can change whenever you wish for whatever reason you wish and has no impact on anyone but yourself is no standard at all. You’re left with no morality at all; therefore if IOMVs do not exist, MSMVs may as well not exist, because they have no value (or worse, they have ANY value) and can provide no instruction to how we should live.

    Question: You said earlier, “An ought imposed on oneself. 🙂 (I’ve also argued that those are in fact the only oughts/shoulds that exist…)”

    Would you agree that these “ought[s] imposed on oneself” are equivalent to MSMVs?

    To formalize my statements above:

    1. Given Mutable Subjective Moral Values (MSMV),
    2. Given Immutable Objective Moral Values (IOMV),
    3. MSMVs can be changed at any time for any reason (definition of “mutable”)
    4. MSMVs only exist in the mind of the observer (definition of “subjective”)
    THEREFORE:
    5. MSMVs can be whatever their holder wants them to be.
    6. Any outside influence that directs MSMVs toward a fixed goal requires IOMVs to exist.
    THEREFORE:
    7. MSMVs alone provide no guidance for how one should behave.

    Where do you think this goes wrong?

    To continue…

    Again, to simply say “people ought to do what they think is right” is not to establish some transcendent standard saying they must do so. It simply says that I would expect them to (Webster definition 1) and recognizes the reality that if they posses reasons they ‘should’ but no reasons they ‘should not’, the ‘should’ wins (this falls under Webster definition 2). (You could refer to this as a “positive should score”.)

    So it seems your formula is :

    If SHOULD is greater than SHOULD NOT then YOU SHOULD;
    If SHOULD NOT is greater than SHOULD than YOU SHOULD NOT;

    You have a bit of a recursive definition here! You have to know whether you SHOULD to determine whether YOU SHOULD. How do you deal with this?

    Against whom, then, are you rebelling?…

    I really didn’t expect an answer to that one, but thanks anyway!

    Again I just get confused when you say things like “If you believe that our world has no transcendental moral standard” when I’ve said so many times that this in not what I believe.

    I am also confused by your seeming insinuation that this is the only authority possible. Do you really think this?

    I understand now what you believe. I don’t mean to imply that you believe otherwise; although some of my (too-frequent) rhetorical questions might seem to do so.

    However, authority, like morality, must originate from somewhere. If there is no ultimate authority, then all other authorities are, well… not illegitimate, because there can be no law to make them illegitimate.

    Yes, I understand what you’re trying to say here.

    Whew! I’m glad… that’s about as confusing as Paul’s discourse on what he would do and would not do! 😉

    Toby:

    To whom were these commandments and punishments given? You’re looking in the Old Testament at laws given specifically to Israel at that point in history. Read the book of Hebrews in the Bible. Technically speaking, the ten commandments do not specifically apply to us anymore.

    Rather, we were given the two commandments: to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. If you examine the ten commandments closely, you’ll see that they are all actually contained in these two. “Thou shalt not murder”, and “bear no false witness against thy neighbor” is implicit in “love your neighbor as yourself”. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” is implicit in the commandment to love God with all of our being.

    Under the new covenant provided by Christ, the commandments went from being restrictive to being prescriptive. “Thou shalt not murder” is much easier to live by than “love thy neighbor”! And we can’t meet the requirements of either one!

    So what of the old law? Did Christ abolish it or set it aside? No! He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He lived his entire life in accordance with both the old and the new covenants. By accepting his sacrifice as payment to God for our sin, God sees his life… his righteousness… instead of our own sin.

    -tl

    Reply
  30. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I have about 5 minutes so I won’t give you a complete response now (maybe this will help with my brevity), but maybe this will move forward at least a bit for now.

    I. You first claim a problem with the idea of subjective (a term we can use for now) morality.

    You say, for example:> ” It is fallacious to say that a subjective opinion says anything at all about the concept itself.”

    I ask, who has said this (that a subjective opinion says anything about the concept)?

    To be honest, I am not sure what this really means. Your example of ice cream is not quite apt, because it is describing feelings toward an object, not toward an action (which morality deals with).

    Let’s just take an example, like rape, which we’ve already mentioned.

    You say that if Bob believes rape is wrong, that tells us something about Bob, but not something about rape. I can see your point here, but at the same time, if G-d believes its wrong, isn’t that just telling us something about G-d (or G-d’s nature)?

    You may say that if G-d says it’s wrong, it is truly wrong, but you can only do so if you simply define that to be true (what G-d say is wrong, truly is wrong).

    Let me show why I think this is true. This syllogism by itself just doesn’t work.

    1. G-d tells us rape is wrong (premise)
    2. Rape is objectively wrong (conclusion)

    You need another proposition to make the conclusion follow. What is this proposition, in your view?

    Anyway, later you say: “yes, subjective moral values do exist… in our minds.”

    Again, who has said that the subjective values exist anywhere else? Why does this matter?

    If you believe this, why did you argue the point?

    Given this, do you now agree that my title was indeed proper?

    You the go on, oddly in my view: “wthout G-d all that you are left with is “Mutable Subjective Moral Values”

    I distinctly got the idea that you’ve been trying to say that without G-d, you can’t really say anything is moral (such a universe is immoral, and therefore that word has no meaning, etc., etc.). But then you yourself use moral terminology to describe such a world. This is the exact thing you objected to me doing!

    Okay, I have like 90 seconds left.

    You said: “A standard that you can change whenever you wish for whatever reason you wish and has no impact on anyone but yourself is no standard at all. ”

    You have already shown us that this is incorrect! You said you could stop a child rape based on your own preferences in such a world. This has an impact on others, rendering the above statement false. (This is why I was sure to clarify that you agreed with this.) I would also stress that even the terrible reverse (child rape) has an impact on others, I quite doubt you’ll deny that. So again, there is much impact on others, often deep, deep impact. Therefore, the above statement is simply not accurate.

    You then provided a syllogism and asked where it “went wrong”. There are several points:

    3. MSMVs can be changed at any time for any reason (definition of “mutable”)

    This is simply not accurate. I could not simply change my utter hate for child rape. In fact, I feel quite confident in saying that beyond just “any reason”, there exists no reason which could change my mind on this!

    4. MSMVs only exist in the mind of the observer (definition of “subjective”)

    This might be true for a materialist. It’s not necessarily true for all views. I also see no connection between this premise and any conclusions. It seems unnecessary and unimportant.

    5. MSMVs can be whatever their holder wants them to be.

    I suppose this is to follow from 3, though it seems a restatement of 3 to me. Either way, this is most certainly not true, as I’ve already said. Go on, think that child rape is okay for 5 minutes tonight, if you think this proposition is actually true.

    6. Any outside influence that directs MSMVs toward a fixed goal requires IOMVs to exist.

    I see no connection between this conclusion and any of the propositions. How does this follow from any combination of 1, 2, 3, and/or 4?

    As a proposition, I would say its certainly not true. Genetics and instinct seem to direct all sorts of animals to take care of their young (a fixed goal), for example. Genetics and instinct don’t “spring from the character of an immutable [deity]” which is how you defined IOMV. (At best, they would spring from His design, but with such a proposition, you’d really end up begging the question, I think.)

    THEREFORE:
    7. MSMVs alone provide no guidance for how one should behave.

    I think I’ve given you a menu of problems with the propositions and previous conclusions, so I think this is quite invalid. Even if this was a valid conclusion, you’ve already disagreed with it in this formulation. I think you mean to say something like ‘how one should always and eternally behave”. MSMVs, as you’ve termed them, provide plenty of guidance for acting within the moment, even if they were completely changeable by choice (which again, they are not).

    You asked: “You have a bit of a recursive definition here! You have to know whether you SHOULD to determine whether YOU SHOULD. How do you deal with this?”

    I believe at this point, I’ve explained this 4 times exactly how this is determined (though maybe last time I just said I explained 3 times, and didn’t repeat). Either way, I will be glad to repeat the explanation again, but do not have the time just now, sorry.

    I’ll double check tomorrow to make sure I answered all of your questions.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  31. Luke says:

    A couple of clarifications:

    1. When I ask “Why does this matter?” I am referring to the “in our minds” part, not the fact that they exist. I understand why the existence matters, but I’m confused as to why the location does.

    2. I criticized your premise that “MSMVs can be changed at any time for any reason (definition of ‘mutable’)” by saying it wasn’t accurate. I just wanted to clarify that if we accept that ‘Mutable…” is a perfect descriptor (I don’t think it is!) and that the definition you use captures the entirety of the word, you would be right. But we are arguing about the core concept, not the description of it.

    In other words, I don’t want to have an argument over the definition of mutable. If we accept a certain definition, my criticism may be wrong on that definition. That doesn’t really matter, however.

    I’m not arguing that your definition is wrong. I’ve simply accepted your term for an abstract concept, but the definitions used in the words of that term do not add up to equal the concept. I don’t want that to be confused.

    One definition of mutable is “prone to change”. I just don’t think this is applicable to people’s subjective moral views. People tend to spend their lives believing the same thing on a large majority of moral questions. When people do change their minds — on something like the death penalty say — it’s a profound thing. It’s been a big deal how drastically views on marriage have changed in the last 10 years, but it’s a big deal precisely because these sort of changes are rare; they’re not prone to just change ‘willy-nilly’ (for lack of a better term).

    Secondly. just because something is mutable, doesn’t mean it can change ‘for any reason’. A conviction is mutable, but it takes a pretty limited, powerful and specific set of reasons to overturn one.

    To conclude, my criticism is of your idea, not of the term. It doesn’t matter how we define mutable, it matters what we mean by the entire term — that is, the idea it symbolizes. We are talking about people’s ‘preferences’ or ‘utter hatreds’ and that is what I think you are wrong about.

    3. I think I made a few simple grammatical mistakes (its vs. it’s). I was in a hurry. I’m not extremely bright, but I’m smarter than that — I hope!

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  32. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I’ve gone through and looked for ‘?’ in your post, so here are the answers to your questions:

    Based on my observation that in the end, the only oughts are ones we impose on ourselves, you asked: Would you agree that these “ought[s] imposed on oneself” are equivalent to MSMVs?

    I can see how they sometimes might be related, but I think they are always different, and sometime not related at all.

    Let me give you an example of what I mean by an ought one imposes on oneself.

    Let’s say I want to drive a car from Pensacola to Vancouver. If I want to do that, then I ought to fill up the car with gas at some point. That desire creates an obligation, or an ought. If one wants to live, one ought to breathe. If one wants one’s children to grow up to be healthy and happy, then one ought to take good care of them. If one wants to live a life in accordance with Christ, then one ought to follow scripture.

    Let’s take the example of child rape, which we’ve just used as an example throughout this discussion.

    One might have a an utter hatred of child rape (this would be your ‘MSMV”, but as I’ve said before, I think you’re quite wrong about one just being able to ‘change it’ whenever one likes).

    One might have a desire to see the world be more in line with their preferences. (I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have this desire, I’d even say before birth.)

    The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.

    Oughts therefore come about as a (logical) consequence of beliefs and desired, and are different from the beliefs themselves. I hope that helps.

    I’ve already answered your question about where your syllogism goes wrong.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  33. Terry L says:

    Luke

    You said, “To be honest, I am not sure what this really means. Your example of ice cream is not quite apt, because it is describing feelings toward an object, not toward an action (which morality deals with).”

    The point is, it’s only describing feelings, not the object that the feelings are about.

    You say that if Bob believes rape is wrong, that tells us something about Bob, but not something about rape. I can see your point here, but at the same time, if G-d believes its wrong, isn’t that just telling us something about G-d (or G-d’s nature)?

    Yes. The fact that God believes that X is wrong says something about God. But as I stated earlier, God’s opinion will always align with his character. He (unlike humans) never does anything that he feels is wrong, because it’s not in his nature to do wrong. So God’s opinion also reveals his character, which is the true basis of morality. God’s thoughts about morality are a reflection of, not the basis of, the standard.

    Furthermore, God is immutable, so he would always say that X is wrong, given identical circumstances. Men can simply change their mind about whether X is or is not wrong. Therefore, God provides a stability to the moral law that no other object in the universe can provide.

    You may say that if G-d says it’s wrong, it is truly wrong, but you can only do so if you simply define that to be true (what G-d say is wrong, truly is wrong).

    If God says X is wrong, then X is wrong; not simply because God says so, but because X is incongruent with God’s character. Our purpose was to be a reflection of that character; any deviance from that standard is wrong. God will not claim that such a deviance is not wrong.

    1. G-d tells us rape is wrong (premise)
    2. Rape is objectively wrong (conclusion)

    You need another proposition to make the conclusion follow. What is this proposition, in your view?

    This is hastily done, but…

    GIVEN:
    1. that Action X is something that God would never do.
    2. that Action Y is something that God would always do.
    3. that men sometimes do Action X.
    4. that men sometimes do not do Action Y.
    5. that God is immutable.
    6. that Men were meant to be an image, a reflection of God.
    THEN:
    5. To be an reflection of God, men must never do X and must always do Y (from 1, 2, 5, and 6).
    6. Men do not never do X and always do Y (from 3 and 4).
    THEREFORE:
    7. Men have failed in their purpose to reflect God’s perfect holiness.

    Question: What we’re really discussing here is, “what is the definition of sin|wrong|evil” (take your pick of the word). What is your definition of “wrong”? What makes an action wrong?

    My (working) definition is, “Any action that is incompatible with the purpose for which we were made is wrong.”

    Anyway, later you say: “yes, subjective moral values do exist… in our minds.”… Why does this matter?

    Because we can change our minds. If SMVs only exist in our mind and we can change our minds, then SMVs can be changed on a whim. You believe in a “transcendental moral standard”… how can this exist only in our minds? What grounds such a standard? What evidence do you have to show that something immutable can exist in a mutable mind (or do you claim that the transcendental moral standard is mutable)?

    3. MSMVs can be changed at any time for any reason (definition of “mutable”)
    This is simply not accurate. I could not simply change my utter hate for child rape. In fact, I feel quite confident in saying that beyond just “any reason”, there exists no reason which could change my mind on this!

    YOUR mind! That’s the point! But obviously, not all people share your point of view, or child rape would not exist!

    Besides that, why would you not change your mind?

    4. MSMVs only exist in the mind of the observer (definition of “subjective”)

    This might be true for a materialist. It’s not necessarily true for all views…

    Question: What do you mean by this? Please elaborate…

    5. MSMVs can be whatever their holder wants them to be.

    I suppose this is to follow from 3, though it seems a restatement of 3 to me. Either way, this is most certainly not true, as I’ve already said.

    I’m not saying that MSMVs are typically changed on a whim. I am saying that it doesn’t matter if you change them on a whim, because without an IOMV to back it up, the MSMV is of no value.

    We have a lot of people in this country on both sides of the homosexuality argument, on both sides of the abortion argument, and any other civil issue you can think of. I’m not so interested in those as arguments now, but rather the fact that you have millions on both sides who are absolutely convinced that they are right!

    Both sides cannot be right! So taking two opposing views (A. Homosexual behavior is not immoral, and B. Homosexual behavior is immoral), obviously one of them is right, and one is wrong. (Law of Non-Contradiction, Law of the Excluded Middle). If a transcendental moral standard exists (as you and I both claim), then the one that aligns with this standard is correct. If such a standard does not exist, then neither of them are more “correct”… there’s no standard by which you can judge them.

    But what of the other view? We’ll assume for the sake of argument that I’m in the wrong on this one–So assuming that A is the correct view and B is incorrect, where did view B come from? Does it not exist solely in the mind of it’s holder? It cannot be a part of the transcendental moral standard, for it directly contradicts view A.

    The holder of such a view is either lying to themselves (fully knowing the truth) or is mistaken. Either way, they are in the wrong.

    But why is the other person right? They are not right because they hold view A, they are right because view A (which they hold) more closely matches the transcendental moral standard. In either case, it’s not the MSMV that determines what is right, but the IOMV.

    6. Any outside influence that directs MSMVs toward a fixed goal requires IOMVs to exist.

    I see no connection between this conclusion and any of the propositions. How does this follow from any combination of 1, 2, 3, and/or 4?

    What else could the fixed (immutable) goal be, if not an IOMV?

    At best, they would spring from His design which would spring from and be compatible with his character.

    MSMVs, as you’ve termed them, provide plenty of guidance for acting within the moment, even if they were completely changeable by choice (which again, they are not).

    Did I say by choice? I do agree that this is possible, but I certainly didn’t mean to imply that this was the only factor. But let’s face it, we humans are nothing if not experts in rationalization! We can come up with excuses for anything!

    “I was justified in cutting that car off because they shouldn’t have been texting while driving.”
    “I was justified in beating up that guy because he was checking out my girlfriend!”
    “I killed him because he was going to report me to the cops for having pot!”
    “I shook my kid to death because he wouldn’t stop crying!”

    How is this rationalization not modifying one’s MSMV to fit the behavior the person wanted to do? How many criminals now commit heinous crimes and never show or seem to feel any remorse or guilt at all?

    I believe at this point, I’ve explained this 4 times exactly how this is determined…

    And my question quotes one of those times. I was reading your explanation when I asked the question. It still seems recursive to me…

    1. When I ask “Why does this matter?” I am referring to the “in our minds” part, not the fact that they exist. I understand why the existence matters, but I’m confused as to why the location does.

    Because your mind is not my mind. My thoughts are not your thoughts. If you claim a transcendental moral standard, then how is it possible for it to exist only in the human mind, when each mind is so vastly different from others?

    One definition of mutable is “prone to change”. I just don’t think this is applicable to people’s subjective moral views. People tend to spend their lives believing the same thing on a large majority of moral questions.

    Agreed. But here’s the issue: If this standard exists only in my mind, then I know my mind can change. Does that not mean that the standard can change also? And if my MSMV-based standard on murder changes, then is there or is there not anything wrong with my murder of my neighbor?

    “Mutable” in computer science (I’m a programmer, remember) simply means “capable of change”. I think this is an accepted definition outside of my field, and is the sense in which I’m using the word. “Immutable” simply means something that cannot change. Ever.

    “It’s been a big deal how drastically views on marriage have changed in the last 10 years…”

    True. But does that speak to what is moral, or to men’s views of what is moral?

    The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.

    I understand what you’re saying, but what I don’t understand is this:

    “Let’s say I want to drive a car from Pensacola to Vancouver. If I want to do that, then I ought to fill up the car with gas at some point. That desire creates an obligation, or an ought.”

    But are you morally wrong if you don’t do what you “ought”?

    “If one wants to live, one ought to breathe.”

    But are you morally wrong if you don’t do what you “ought”?

    “If one wants one’s children to grow up to be healthy and happy, then one ought to take good care of them.”

    But are you morally wrong if you don’t do what you “ought”?

    And can I add one?

    “If one wants to kill their neighbor then one ought to do so discreetly so that they are not caught.”

    Does this match your theory?

    Obviously, on some of these, I would answer yes, you morally wrong if you don’t do what you “ought”. But you’ve introduced a HUGE escape clause in your formulation:

    What if one does NOT want to drive from Pensacola to Vancouver?
    What if one does NOT want to live?
    What if one does NOT want their children to grow up healthy and happy?
    What if one does NOT want to live in fellowship with Christ?

    Are any of these desires morally wrong? Is it morally wrong to not want your children to be healthy and happy?

    If so, then you’re caught on both sides. If you DO want your kids to be happy, then you have an moral obligation to take good care of them. If you DO NOT and you feel that this apathy is morally wrong, then you seem to have a moral obligation to WANT what you do not want. Where does that obligation come from?

    You say that “Oughts therefore come about as a (logical) consequence of beliefs and desired, and are different from the beliefs themselves.”, but are those beliefs and desires not also moral in and of themselves?

    -tl

    Reply
  34. Robert says:

    I shouldn’t have to pint out that salt is very bad for you. It causes cancer, high blood pressure and all sorts of their maladies. So Christians, stop trying to spread your salt. It’s poison!

    Reply
  35. Luke says:

    Terry, let me go through and answer your questions. You had a lot this time. Then I’ll comment a bit in my next post.

    I.

    Terry said: “Question: What we’re really discussing here is, “what is the definition of sin|wrong|evil” (take your pick of the word). What is your definition of “wrong”? What makes an action wrong?”

    I will answer the question, but let me repeat (I’ll just quote myself from before) what it is that I wanted to discuss. I started this discussion some time ago with a few questions since. I’ve tried to clarify what it is I am interested in. Here is what I said a week ago:

    “I HAVE MADE NO CLAIMS HERE ABOUT WHAT OTHERS SHOULD DO. You may be raising interesting points and questions, but they are of a subject other than the one we are currently discussing. I am only interested in the person with the so-called preference here. This discussion could be titled ‘How will one act based upon one’s personal moral preferences?’ (The other side of this coin is what is the consequence of the existence of OML. What does it’s existence change about the world?)

    The other topic I’m interested in is whether you yourself have these preferences apart from G-d. This is closely related and I think we’ll return to it to tie all this together.

    Referring to YOUR preferences, I said: “This is basically the original question I asked all those weeks ago. This is the thing that really interest me. I’m curious to map out the consequences of the answer, whatever it may be. ”

    If you are interested in discussing “what is the definition of sin/wrong/evil?” then that’s a different discussion, one which I am currently not having.

    Secondly, I am not sure how my views matter here. That said, you asked, so I’ll answer.

    Morally speaking, I think actions that are wrong are actions that go against moral law. This is my definition of wrong, in the context of morality (as opposed to ‘wrong’ as in an answer to a maths problem).

    II.

    Terry asked: “You believe in a ‘transcendental moral standard’. How can this exist only in our minds? What grounds such a standard? What evidence do you have to show that something immutable can exist in a mutable mind (or do you claim that the transcendental moral standard is mutable)?”

    1. It can’t (I never said it could).
    2. G-d.
    3. None. I’ve never said it can. I haven’t thought about it, honestly.
    4. I don’t claim this.

    I’ll comment more on this in my next post. I just wanted to go through and answer your questions here.

    III.

    Terry asked: “Besides that, why would you not change your mind [about child rape]?”

    I honestly can’t begin to know how to answer this question. To be honest, I’m a bit offended by it. Because I can’t! That’s why! NOR WOULD I EVER WANT TO. The idea of changing my mind physically sickens me. Literally, I am a bit nauseus typing this. I’m so baffled as do why you would ask this.

    There is a reason Hume called these passions.

    IV.

    Terry said: “MSMVs only exist in the mind of the observer (definition of subjective).”

    I replied: “This might be true for a materialist. It’s not necessarily true for all views.”

    Terry asked: “Question: What do you mean by this? Please elaborate.”

    There are lots of different views on this within philosophy. As an example, I’ll mention Plato, who was one of the first to ever talk about this stuff. Plato argued that there was a realm of ideas, which exist independently of the people who think them. Lots of people still believe things like this, or variations of it.

    V.

    You then asked some questions that I’m not sure I understand, but I’ll do my best to answer:

    1. But what of the other view? We’ll assume for the sake of argument that I’m in the wrong on this one. So assuming that A is the correct view and B is incorrect, where did view B come from?

    Where do people get objectively wrong views? I think you said already that the way these views form is rather complicated and involves lots of factors. I won’t relist them, but will say that I think you basically got it right.

    2. Does it not exist solely in the mind of it’s holder?

    Are you asking me what I think personally (if so why does it matter what I think?)? I’m not sure what else you might be asking. I was once a firm believer in dualism, with some belief in the transcendence of ideas. I’m really not sure I am anymore. So I don’t really know, I suppose. Helpful, eh? (Like I said, I don’t see how it matters what I think, which makes me feel better for having such worthless thoughts.)

    VI.

    On my critique of point 6 in your syllogism, we had this exchange:

    Luke said: “I see no connection between this conclusion and any of the propositions. How does this follow from any combination of 1, 2, 3, and/or 4?”

    Terry asked: “What else could the fixed (immutable) goal be, if not an IOMV?”

    You haven’t answered my question, but I’ll answer yours. First, a clarification: point 6 was listed in your syllogism under “THEREFORE” so point 6 should be something I can deduce from from the above propositions. You asked where your syllogism went wrong, and this was one place.

    To answer your question, well… actually I don’t know what that even means.Sorry. If you clarify, I will be glad to answer. Can I ask though, what in the world this has to do with the discussion we’re undertaking (whether people who believe in objective morality also hold subjective moral preferences and how people would act in a world with no OML, based upon their subjective moral preferences)?

    Again though, the problem wasn’t that the proposition was weak (I don’t know if it is), but that you labelled it as a deduced conclusion, and it was not one.

    VII.

    Luke said: “MSMVs, as you’ve termed them, provide plenty of guidance for acting within the moment, even if they were completely changeable by choice (which again, they are not).”

    Terry asked: “Did I say by choice?”

    Yes. But one example: “A standard that you can change whenever you wish for whatever reason you wish and has no impact on anyone but yourself is no standard at all.” (emphasis mine)

    VIII.

    You then asked regarding, for example, someone assaulting someone for ‘checking out their girlfriend’:

    1. How is this rationalization not modifying one’s MSMV to fit the behavior the person wanted to do?

    If the person wanted to do it, it seems that they don’t have a “preference” against it, or an “utter hate” for it. People rarely want to do things they utterly hate. It seems that their preference for not having their girlfriend looked at is stronger than their preference to avoid violence. This can be true throughout the person’s life though. I see no need for change (views could change, but they don’t need to for this scenario).

    I don’t want to spend too many words on this, but if you’d like more detail on what I mean, feel free to ask.

    2. How many criminals now commit heinous crimes and never show or seem to feel any remorse or guilt at all?

    Quite a few. I don’t think we could say that they have a “preference” against those crimes, or an “utter hate” for them.

    IX.

    Terry asked: “If you claim a transcendental moral standard, then how is it possible for it to exist only in the human mind, when each mind is so vastly different from others?”

    I’ll answer this in more detail later, but this is not something I’ve ever claimed, in short. I’m not sure where you’ve come up with this!

    I would say that what matters to you, it seems, is that the idea is not immutable, no matter where it is. If they were all on Mars, but were immutable, would it matter? My question is why does it matter to you where the “mutable idea” idea is?!? I get why it matters that it’s mutable, but who cares where?

    All that said, yeah, I’ve never claimed or argued for anything like this.

    In a world without an Objective Moral Law (OML) there is no transcendent moral standard. Only subjective ones, which some would take to exist in one’s mind. Again, you seem to have confused the fact that I personally believe in a transcendent moral standard, with the fact that we are not positing one in the world we’re discussing. In short, I can talk and think about things I don’t personally believe in. You ask a lot of questions about what I think. But as you’ve smartly said, that just says something about me, not about the world. I’m just not that interested in me.

    X.

    Terry asked: “But here’s the issue: If this standard exists only in my mind, then I know my mind can change. Does that not mean that the standard can change also?”

    This again seems to stem from your confusion that I’ve claimed that a transcendent standard is a mutable standard that exists in the mind.

    If we accept your ‘if’ then, self evidently, yes, Here is what you’re asking: I’ve used your words, edited slightly for clarity and replaced ‘standard’ with ‘X’. “If X can change, does that not mean that X can change also?”

    Ummm… yes.

    XI.

    Terry asked:“And if my MSMV-based standard on murder changes, then is there or is there not anything wrong with my murder of my neighbor?”

    Our confusion begins to get the best of us here.

    To reiterate, we are talking about how people will act in a world without an Objective Moral Law (OML). We have both accepted the premise (which coincidentally, we both actually believe in) that without G-d, there can be no OML, and are discussing a world without OML.

    We’ve already agreed that in such a world nothing is objectively wrong.

    Since we’ve agreed on that, I assume you are not asking if there is anything objectively wrong with murdering your neighbor. (If you are, then in the world under discussion, clearly the answer is no.)

    You must therefore be asking if there is anything subjectively wrong with it. That depends then on the subject (almost by definition). It seems that it’s not subjectively wrong to (this hypothetical) you, but I would assume it is wrong (subjectively) to almost everyone around you.

    XII.

    Luke said: “It’s been a big deal how drastically views on marriage have changed in the last 10 years.”

    Terry said: “True. But does that speak to what is moral, or to men’s views of what is moral?”

    As a comment, I am really befuddled by these questions that seem so remotely detached from the discussion at hand. I’m glad to answer them, but they seem to take up a lot of time and effort and don’t advance anything in the discussion. If they are and I am simply missing something, can you help me identify it, please? Again, we are trying to determine if those who believe in OML also hold subjective moral preferences, and how people would act upon their subjective moral preferences alone.

    To answer the questions: mankind’s views.

    XIII.

    Luke said: “Let’s say I want to drive a car from Pensacola to Vancouver. If I want to do that, then I ought to fill up the car with gas at some point. That desire creates an obligation, or an ought.”

    Terry said: “But are you morally wrong if you don’t do what you ‘ought’?

    No to all of these.

    On the one related to taking care of children you may say this is is moral and I’m wrong! But you are referring to a different, overlapping ‘ought’ in which you believe. If you believe that the ‘ought’ I presented is moral, I would be very happy to see why.

    Terry asked: “And can I add one?”

    Sure!

    Terry asked: “If one wants to kill their neighbor then one ought to do so discreetly so that they are not caught.” Does this match your theory?

    No.

    I would say that if one wants to escape detection for killing their neighbor they ought to do it discreetly. Just because you want to kill your neighbor, does not automatically mean that you don’t want anyone to find out you did it, which is what your ought assumes.

    XIV.

    Terry asked:
    “What if one does NOT want to drive from Pensacola to Vancouver?
    What if one does NOT want to live?
    What if one does NOT want their children to grow up healthy and happy?
    What if one does NOT want to live in fellowship with Christ?

    Are any of these desires morally wrong? Is it morally wrong to not want your children to be healthy and happy?”

    Back to me, that was a long quote.

    My personal views: Depends, yes, yes, depends.

    Let me go back to what I’m saying: there really are no oughts without desire.

    Do I personally think one ought to do some of these things? Yes, sure.

    But let’s take your last one, if one does not want to live in fellowship with Christ, then what oughts exist?

    We can’t say “you should do what G-d says, because G-d says you should” that’s circular and therefore worthless. We’ve already settled that.

    You answered this by saying “you were created to do it” but Why should one do what one was created to do?

    In the end there is no answer unless you insert a desire. (Or maybe you will find an answer! That would be a treat!)

    XV.

    Terry said: “If so, then you’re caught on both sides. If you DO want your kids to be happy, then you have an moral obligation to take good care of them. If you DO NOT and you feel that this apathy is morally wrong, then you seem to have a moral obligation to WANT what you do not want. Where does that obligation come from?”

    What? 🙂

    You seem to say, if you DO want your kids to be happy, but then also if you DO NOT. You are describing someone who is at best conflicted, or at worst unable to think rationally.

    I will go with conflicted, so let’s say you have someone who thinks:

    “Man, I really want to be a good dad; I should go read with my daughter.”

    and also

    “Man, I’m really tired from work, I want to play that new Kim Kardashian game.”

    I guess whichever desire is stronger would win. The obligation would be formed from the winning desire.

    XVI,

    Terry asked: “[Luke] say[s] that ‘Oughts therefore come about as a (logical) consequence of beliefs and desired, and are different from the beliefs themselves.”, but are those beliefs and desires not also moral in and of themselves?

    They are not *also* moral, but simply are the subjective morals one holds.

    I’ll post something of a response soon (hopefully much shorter than answering these questions) and see if we can get back on track.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  36. Terry L says:

    Luke:

    I think most of my confusion stems from trying to keep up with which universe we’re discussing!

    I’m a little surprised at your fascination with a view of the world that neither of us believes in! You’ve said that you consider God to be the source of the transcendental moral law. It would seem then that in a world where God exists, we would both agree that that world also contains a transcendental moral law.

    In our conversation, you refer often to God:

    “When confronted with the question “is rape wrong” do you have to turn to G-d to find the proper answer, or can you turn only to yourself.”

    “You may say that if G-d says it’s wrong, it is truly wrong, but you can only do so if you simply define that to be true (what G-d say is wrong, truly is wrong).”

    Even in what you called the “main point of discussion”, you once phrased it thusly:

    “Do you, personally, based on nothing but your own thoughts, ideas and feelings, utterly hate child rape, or do you only utterly hate it because you think G-d does?”

    or as restated this last post:

    Again, we are trying to determine if those who believe in OML also hold subjective moral preferences, and how people would act upon their subjective moral preferences alone.

    But you then make this statement:

    “To reiterate, we are talking about how people will act in a world without an Objective Moral Law (OML). We have both accepted the premise (which coincidentally, we both actually believe in) that without G-d, there can be no OML, and are discussing a world without OML.”

    I’ve tried to answer your questions in the context of the world I felt we were discussing; but as each of the quotes above refer explicitly to God, I assumed a world that also has OML, as I have done for most of the discussion.

    Further, you seem puzzled when I ask how you define “wrong”, saying “I am not sure how my views matter here”. Likewise, I’m puzzled by your formulation of your question. A “belief in OML”, or a “belief that God thinks rape is wrong” seems most irrelevant to the reality of the situation. Either God exists or he doesn’t. Either OML exists, or it does not. Are you questioning how people who believe in OML in a world where OML does not exist would be influenced by that belief?

    I don’t have a lot of time, but I want to clarify some things:

    First…

    [Terry] said: “A standard that you can change whenever you wish for whatever reason you wish and has no impact on anyone but yourself is no standard at all. ”

    [Luke said:] You have already shown us that this is incorrect! You said you could stop a child rape based on your own preferences in such a world. This has an impact on others, rendering the above statement false. (This is why I was sure to clarify that you agreed with this.) I would also stress that even the terrible reverse (child rape) has an impact on others, I quite doubt you’ll deny that. So again, there is much impact on others, often deep, deep impact. Therefore, the above statement is simply not accurate.

    I didn’t make the claim that one’s actions had no impact on others! That would be silly! The claim is that such a “standard” has no impact on others… a claim with which I believe you will concur.

    Second…

    Terry asked: “Besides that, why would you not change your mind [about child rape]?”

    I honestly can’t begin to know how to answer this question. To be honest, I’m a bit offended by it. Because I can’t! That’s why! NOR WOULD I EVER WANT TO. The idea of changing my mind physically sickens me. Literally, I am a bit nauseus typing this. I’m so baffled as do why you would ask this.

    Luke… did you not say in bold that you’re discussing a universe without an Objective Moral Law? In this instance, so was I… or at least, I was addressing the point of view of one who claims that no such OML exists!

    The question is not intended to be read, “c’mon… child rape is FUN! Just change your mind and we’ll go have a blast!” That’s not what I had in mind, and had I read it with that interpretation I would have reworded it.

    Think of your reaction–the deep, visceral repugnance to the horror that is child rape! But why do you have that reaction? You’ve answered the question well… there’s something deep inside you that is horrified at the thought of declaring something so evil to be good.

    Simply declaring that you would not change your mind because you have a deep-seated hatred of the act says nothing about the action itself; it says something about you. It doesn’t declare the action good or evil, it simply says that you abhor it. But if the action is neither good nor evil, then why are you so offended when I ask why you wouldn’t change your mind? (I ask this in the context of the universe of your question… a world with no OML.) It seems that no reason exists why you couldn’t change your mind. You might prefer not to… and again, that speaks to your attributes… but all things being equal, what would be so horrible about changing your mind if the reason you find child rape abhorrent is only in your mind? Why would that thought offend you?

    Does this theory not essentially make anything you desire “good” and anything you do not desire “evil”?

    You asked about how men would act in a world without OML… if they did not have the deep-seated hatred of the action that you have, then they would (and you seem to say, should) indulge in the action. You would, on the other hand, try to to stop them.

    It may be true that in such a world as you’ve described (I have my doubts about whether this world could actually exist), one’s actions might closely match the actions of one in a world with OML. Your theory above can tell you what might make you most comfortable in this environment, but it doesn’t tell you if such comfort is right or wrong. The child rapist is doing good by raping, because he’s following his own MSMVs. If you were to change your mind in such a universe, would you not also be doing good to join him?

    That’s why, in a universe without IOMVs, MSMVs have no meaning or value. They can’t tell you what you should do, just how you and others feel about it. More importantly, they can’t tell you how you should think, because they’re based on what you do think! Unless there is an immutable, objective moral value to which you can compare your own moral thoughts and feelings, you can’t say that any one person’s moral thoughts, feelings, and values are better or worse (closer to the standard) than someone else’s.

    Thirdly…

    Terry said: “If so, then you’re caught on both sides. If you DO want your kids to be happy, then you have an moral obligation to take good care of them. If you DO NOT and you feel that this apathy is morally wrong, then you seem to have a moral obligation to WANT what you do not want. Where does that obligation come from?”

    What? 🙂

    You seem to say, if you DO want your kids to be happy, but then also if you DO NOT. You are describing someone who is at best conflicted, or at worst unable to think rationally.

    It’s an either-or.

    Some people want their kids to thrive and be happy. By your theory, they have an obligation to care for them.

    Some people could care less what happens to their kids. Should they?

    If you say yes, then you’ve introduced a moral obligation to think and believe in certain ways. But your entire moral theory that we’re exploring seems to say that morality is based on thoughts and beliefs.

    If you have a moral obligation to think and believe in a given way, then morality cannot be based on thoughts and beliefs.

    Hope that clarifies some things without adding too much new material.

    -tl

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Some people could care less what happens to their kids. Should they?

      I would hope that MOST people could care less what happens to their kids. If you could care less then you at the very least care a little, and possibly care a lot. It’s if you could NOT care less what happens to them then it’s a problem.

      I care a LOT what happens to my kids, so it is certainly true that I could care less.

      “The child rapist is doing good by raping, because he’s following his own MSMVs.”

      Where on earth did you get that idea from? In what sense would he be ‘doing good’?

      In a world without OML, hating rape would be similar to us hating the smell of excrement. The latter is something we most likely evolved – it’s full of disease so the more we distance ourselves from poo, the better. In a world without OML we would still almost certainly evolve a hatred of rape, as it’s similarly bad for the species, just like poop. Couples raising their kids in a loving environment give those children a far better chance than one woman raising the product of rape.

      Given that, positing an OML-less world and saying people might just change their mind about rape is like imagining that you or I might suddenly decide we want to start eating excrement all the time.

      Reply
  37. Terry L says:

    Stephen:

    I would hope that MOST people could care less what happens to their kids.

    Well, yes, but where I’m from (oddly enough) “couldn’t care less” and “could care less” are used interchangeably, even by well-educated, literate persons. I think the sense in which I intended it is obvious from the context. I usually try to use what I consider the proper form, but occasionally I get sloppy.

    “The child rapist is doing good by raping, because he’s following his own MSMVs.”
    Where on earth did you get that idea from? In what sense would he be ‘doing good’?

    In a world without OML, all you have is MSMV. Luke seems to be making the point that these MSMV arise from our thoughts and desires, and can be used to guide your actions. Therefore, if a child rapist desires to have violent, non-consensual sex with a minor, according to this theory, his MSMV would be “Child Rape = Something I Should Do”. By the definition of MSMV Luke has given, it seems that, to this person, child rape is a moral action. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to say he is acting morally, rather than doing good, although I tend to use the two terms interchangably.

    In order to say this rapist was not acting morally or doing good, you’re going to have to appeal to a standard outside of this man that always applies to him. But by definition, this is a world without OML.

    If you, as we have discussed in the past, decide that because of your hatred of child rape, you’re going to stop him, then you’re in the curious position of morally acting to stop a man from committing a moral action!

    Again, morality in such a world is utterly meaningless!

    In a world without OML, hating rape would be similar to us hating the smell of excrement.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with this in one sense. There is no moral component to either, so neither are good nor bad… just something to be liked and embraced, or disliked and avoided. However, to be completely analogous, you would have to say that some have a preference to smell excrement, some have a hatred of it. More on this later…

    Couples raising their kids in a loving environment give those children a far better chance than one woman raising the product of rape.

    Is this not assuming however that these couples should desire to provide for their children in this manner? That it would be wrong for them not to care about their children’s welfare? In a world without OMV, it couldn’t be wrong for them to be so apathetic, so if they choose to drink their paycheck rather than feed their kids, aren’t they just following their own unique MSMVs, and thus, acting morally?

    Given that, positing an OML-less world and saying people might just change their mind about rape is like imagining that you or I might suddenly decide we want to start eating excrement all the time.

    Perhaps not all the time; I doubt that most rapists rape every day, or even every week.

    But Stephen, you are forgetting that many people in our own world don’t have to “change their mind” to think rape is good. Rape happens all the time, including one case a few years back of a drunk in a neighboring county who, along with a couple of his buddies, DID actually rape his own infant daughter… after mutilating her with a knife so that he could complete the deed!

    You think that’s not the moral analogue of eating excrement?

    (I actually don’t know that I would say they think rape is “good”… they just have no interest in doing what is good.)

    Furthermore, you guys are getting hung up on the rapidity of the change of opinion about rape. Yet, you said in this very post, “In a world without OML we would still almost certainly evolve a hatred of rape…”. Evolution is change! You’ve already admitted that in this world, these thoughts can change and evolve; what difference does it make if it takes generations, or if it happens overnight? In either case, you must be prepared to say that at some time in the past, present or future, child rape could be a virtue!

    We seem to have only two options here:

    1. Morality is based on opinion, and this change in opinion changes morality itself.

    This seems highly unlikely, given that one man’s opinion is certainly not the same as another man’s opinion on every moral issue. In this case, I don’t see that moral categories would even be useful; we could completely throw away the concepts of right and wrong, because they have no actual reality.

    2. Morality is based on something fixed, and this change in opinion reflects true moral progression toward or regression from that fixed standard.

    In this case, we’d better understand what that “something fixed” is, because our own opinions have no influence on what is moral, but they do influence our whether our own behavior is moral.

    -tl

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Terry, as I suggested in my previous post, there’s so many misconceptions in your reply to me that it’s hard for me to find the time to address them all in one go.

      Regarding evolution, you talk about ‘presuming’ that parents would want to care for their children. Parents who don’t care for their offspring don’t have as good a chance of passing on their genes. We are the end result of hundreds of thousands of years of our species caring for our offspring. We get exceptions, but for the most part parents have a very strong desire to look after their kids. It’s in our DNA.

      You say ‘Oh there might have been a time when child rape was good’ (or whatever). That’s like saying there might have been a time when we saw horse manure as a tasty meal. In short: Nope.

      And I’m not forgetting anything about our own reality. You can toss up anomalies but they’re just as problematic for you as anyone else. The evidence people like William Lane Craig offer for OMV is that we all agree that certain acts are immoral. That some people do NOT agree on this (child rapists etc) is a problem for Craig and you, not me. The anomalies are no under cutter of my argument.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “then you’re in the curious position of morally acting to stop a man from committing a moral action!”

      This is utter nonsense. We already established this is a world with no OMV, so saying ‘morally acting’ means nothing. Further, by what metric are you saying he’s committing a moral action? There’s a child being raped, and a man raping that child. Why are you valuing his desire to rape over the child’s desire NOT to be raped? Even if you take the strange position of saying both desires are equal, you still have the deciding vote of my own ‘preference’ against child-rape (if such a word is appropriate to describe a hatred of causing such suffering).

      I detest the action he’s committing, he’s causing suffering, I empathise with the child, ergo I’d stop him raping her. The suffering of the child would be exactly the same as in the world you live in now – how do you figure that the suffering shouldn’t be stopped in THAT world?

      Reply
  38. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I don’t want to jump in on a conversation you’re having with Stephen, but you mentioned my name and then said some really odd things, so I just wanted to clear them up.

    Terry said: “Therefore, if a child rapist desires to have violent, non-consensual sex with a minor, according to this theory, his MSMV would be “Child Rape = Something I Should Do”. By the definition of MSMV Luke has given, it seems that, to this person, child rape is a moral action.”

    If you mean morally significant then yes.

    If you mean morally good or positive, then absolutely not. Someone like you, or Stephen, or me who has an utter hatred of such things would not call it moral, but morally repugnant.

    It’s baffling to me that this is not clear to you.

    (Yes, the rapist themselves would likely say they are not doing anything immoral, but why would you give any value to his/her thoughts on the subject? That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.)

    Terry said:“Perhaps it’s more appropriate to say he is acting morally, rather than doing good, although I tend to use the two terms interchangeably.”

    How in the world is it appropriate?

    You seem to have created an objective moral value (in a world without objective moral values) which says “it is good to do what one desires.”

    (Of course, by creating an OMV in a world where no OMVs exist, you’ve done something illogical.)

    Without such a value though, what you’ve said makes no sense.

    There is no such thing. There are no objective values, so this certainly can’t be one, just by definition.

    Unless you, personally, think child rape is great, then the only appropriate thing to say is that he/she is acting horribly!

    Terry said:“In order to say this rapist was not acting morally or doing good, you’re going to have to appeal to a standard outside of this man that always applies to him.”

    No, you would only need to appeal to your subjective moral views. If you think something is terrible, what prevents you from saying that, or acting on it? (Again, this is a real question, not a hypothetical one.) If the only morals that you have to judge by are your own, then you can only judge by them. Only if YOU think child rape is acceptable, could you say that the rapist is acting morally. If you think virtually anything else, you could only say they are acting horribly.

    Again, you seem to have added a OML that says, if you are doing what you want you are acting morally.

    No one has ever said that.

    I’m going to assume that you have made this mistake innocently. You’ve done nothing to earn my bad faith.

    I’ve said that people will follow their moral instinct (whether you or I agree with it). This is a just a fact, not a moral judgment!

    But by definition, this is a world without OML.

    In such a world, the only moral judgments I can make are based against my own moral views.

    Terry said:“If you, as we have discussed in the past, decide that because of your hatred of child rape, you’re going to stop him, then you’re in the curious position of morally acting to stop a man from committing a moral action!”

    This sums up the mistake you are making really well.

    This is literally what you are saying:

    1. I believe X to be deeply immoral (premise)
    2. Tom is doing X (premise)
    3. I believe Tom is are doing something moral (conclusion)

    Seriously, this is what you are saying!

    Surely seeing it this way, you realize this makes no sense. Right?

    How have you come to this conclusion Terry? Can you please tell me if you think this is the proper conclusion, and if you think it is not, can you state the proper conclusion for us?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Of course, by creating an OMV in a world where no OMVs exist, you’ve done something illogical”

      Yup, absolutely, my thought too. Too busy right now for a proper reply, but when I read Terry’s post a few hours ago I hoped you would have the opportunity to point out how illogical he was being. More from me later, as you only just scratch the surface of addressing his bizarre reply to my last post.

      Reply
  39. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Okay, now to reply to your post to me:

    Terry said: “I’m a little surprised at your fascination with a view of the world that neither of us believes in!”

    I’d just say interested. If I don’t understand the consequences of a world with no OML, then I can’t fully understand the consequences of a world with it.

    Let me see if I can help alleviate the confusion about the “worlds” we’re talking about.

    I’m interested in whether people who feel themselves to be guided by OML, still hold subjective preferences.

    I’m also interested in how people will act upon their subjective preferences in a world with no OML.

    Those are the two main points of discussion, which I think will tie together as we continue to look at the consequences.

    Make sense?

    You made this statement:

    Terry said:“I’m puzzled by your formulation of your question. A ‘belief in OML’, or a ‘belief that [a Deity] thinks rape is wrong’ seems most irrelevant to the reality of the situation. Either God exists or he doesn’t. Either OML exists, or it does not.”

    Right! Those things are either true or not, no matter what I think. Therefore what I think is inconsequential. I’m looking for a logical framework that works, but does not depend upon my opinion in any way.

    Terry asked:“Are you questioning how people who believe in OML in a world where OML does not exist would be influenced by that belief?”

    No. I hope the way I said it above is clearer than it was before. Sorry.

    I.

    Terry said: “A standard that you can change whenever you wish for whatever reason you wish and has no impact on anyone but yourself is no standard at all.”

    Luke responded: “You have already shown us that this is incorrect! You said you could stop a child rape based on your own preferences in such a world. This has an impact on others, rendering the above statement false. (This is why I was sure to clarify that you agreed with this.)”

    Terry said: “I didn’t make the claim that one’s actions had no impact on others! That would be silly! The claim is that such a “standard” has no impact on others, a claim with which I believe you will concur.

    I do not concur at all. Look, if Bob holds a standard that “X is wrong”, he will act to prevent X. If Bob does not hold this standard, he will not. Therefore, Bob’s standard impacts how Bob acts, and how Bob acts has an impact on others. No standard — no impact. Standard — impact.

    Turn this around though, the fact is that an OML exists, does not impact anything either, the way you’ve defined impact. Only the actions based on OML would affect others. Not the standard itself.

    You simply can’t have this both ways. The skeptical claims you apply to SMV (Subjective Moral Values), you need to also apply to OML.

    II.

    Terry asked about why I wouldn’t change my view on child rape. I said that I couldn’t imagine such a thing. Terry replied: “Luke: did you not say in bold that you’re discussing a universe without an Objective Moral Law?”

    Yes. What difference does that make? If you transported me, as I am now, into such a world, I would, by definition have the same feelings I do now.

    Terry continued: “In this instance, so was I, or at least, I was addressing the point of view of one who claims that no such OML exists!”

    Are you now saying that people living in a world where no OML exists can’t be repulsed by child rape? I thought you had already accepted that people can have such feelings.

    Terry went on:“Think of your reaction:the deep, visceral repugnance to the horror that is child rape! But why do you have that reaction? You’ve answered the question well, there’s something deep inside you that is horrified at the thought of declaring something so evil to be good.”

    Why do I have such a reaction? Ummm… I’m not a psycopath so I have empathy. I’ve been a child. I’ve had and have children.

    I know you’re not saying “if it wasn’t for G-d, I’d be fine with child rape” but unless you draw that conclusion, you accept that very good reasons exist, even without G-d.

    Terry continued: “Simply declaring that you would not change your mind because you have a deep-seated hatred of the act says nothing about the action itself; it says something about you. It doesn’t declare the action good or evil, it simply says that you abhor it. But if the action is neither good nor evil, then why are you so offended when I ask why you wouldn’t change your mind?”

    Ummm… because I abhor it. The idea of changing my mind therefore seems abhorrent to me.

    Terry continued:“(I ask this in the context of the universe of your question: a world with no OML.) It seems that no reason exists why you couldn’t change your mind.”

    Yes, one does. Several actually! As I said, I’m not a psychopath, so I have empathy. I’ve been a child. I’ve had and have children.

    I know you’re not saying “if it wasn’t for G-d, I’d be fine with child rape” but unless you draw that conclusion, you accept that very good reasons exist, even without G-d.

    Terry continued:“You might prefer not to — and again, that speaks to your attributes — but all things being equal, what would be so horrible about changing your mind if the reason you find child rape abhorrent is only in your mind?”

    I asked about this before why the location matters; I don’t get it. It’s like you’re saying if it was in my closet, you’d understand. If it was in my car, that would make sense. If I had it in a safety deposit box, it would be obvious. If it’s in my mind, then the idea that it’s a deep, visceral belief all of a sudden stops making sense. Sorry, I don’t get it.

    To me, the reason and how valid it is is what matters — not where it is.

    (Earlier, I said it seemed to matter that the thing is mutable, not where the mutable thing is, but you’ve returned to the location again, so it seems you disagree.)

    It’s as if you’re saying: man, that’s a really great argument, if only you hadn’t made it in Oregon. I’m using hyperbole for effect here, but I hope my point comes across clearly.

    Anyway, back to your question: what would be so horrible about that? Well, since I’m not a psychopath, I have empathy. I’ve been a child. I’ve had and have children. It seems horrible to me.

    Terry asked:“Why would that thought offend you?”

    I’m not a psychopath so I have empathy. I’ve been a child. I’ve had and have children.

    Terry asked:“Does this theory not essentially make anything you desire “good” and anything you do not desire “evil”?”

    Certainly not universally! There is no OML to state such a thing.

    I also think it’s a poor description of how one might subjectively feel. To say I “don’t desire” to rape children is to — at best — capture only a sliver of how I feel about it. It’s not that I don’t desire it. It’s that I find it horrible, abhorrent, and repugnant. At the very, very best, this is a very, very poor description.

    Terry said:“It may be true that in such a world as you’ve described… one’s actions might closely match the actions of one in a world with OML.”

    Yes. I’m beginning to think so too. Let’s return to this.

    Terry said:“Your theory above can tell you what might make you most comfortable in this environment, but it doesn’t tell you if such comfort is right or wrong.”

    Terry said:“The child rapist is doing good by raping, because he’s following his own MSMVs.”

    I already addressed this in my last post. So I won’t rehash it again.

    Terry said:“If you were to change your mind in such a universe, would you not also be doing good to join him?”

    Certainly not universally. There is no OML to state such a thing.

    Virtually no one around me would believe so. Virtually everyone around me would think I was doing something evil.

    Do you agree with this?

    Terry said:“Unless there is an immutable, objective moral value to which you can compare your own moral thoughts and feelings, you can’t say that any one person’s moral thoughts, feelings, and values are better or worse (closer to the standard) than someone else’s.”

    Of course you can!

    You can say they are better or worse than someone else’s according to what you believe! Why should the fact that you can’t say “G-d thinks” stop you from saying what you think? (Seriously)

    Imagine this:

    You are having a conversation with a young woman. She says: I got pregnant by some random dude after a party. I kept the baby for 5 months, but then decided I just didn’t want it. I had an abortion.

    Do you think:

    a. Oh, that’s so sad and terrible.
    b. Oh, G-d thinks that’s so sad and terrible.

    a or b?

    Now, let’s say you thought the first, would you later think: “Oh man, earlier I didn’t say “G-d thinks that’s terrible. It had no value!” Yes or no?

    Let’s take another. You walk by an alley and see someone raping a child. You start running over to stop him. Do you shout:

    a. Stop!
    b. G-d thinks you should stop!

    a or b?

    This is the thing I’m trying to wrap my head around. Either you have these preferences yourself, at which point, they seem sufficient to motivate and explain behavior (as you’ve already said, actions would “closely match” with our without OML, or you don’t have them, which I think we would agree is a worrisome prospect.

    I totally get the idea that G-d may be source of the moral intuitions and passions we have. That’s a different argument, and we can talk about that too, at some point. But if our starting point is that we have them, what does OML actually change in a tangible sense? How is the world practically different?

    Terry asked:“Some people could care less what happens to their kids. Should they?”

    Yes. I think that people should care for their kids.

    Terry said:“If you say yes, then you’ve introduced a moral obligation to think and believe in certain ways.”

    No I haven’t! It’s not an obligation. It’s my view! They are not “obligated” to follow my view.

    How does “I think people should take care of their kids” obligate anyone except myself?

    I hope that’s helpful and clears up some things. There’s one thing I still wanted to clear up from a previous post.

    About the idea of the ‘should score’, etc., you said:
    “And my question quotes one of those times. I was reading your explanation when I asked the question. It still seems recursive to me.”

    You quote from the section where I say I’m not repeating the explanation again. Given that, I’m not sure how you thought this was the actual explanation. So just for clarity, what you’ve quoted is not the explanation, but the conclusion drawn from it.

    Here’s the basic explanation. I’ll try to be quick. Given the facts that: 1. Bob utterly hates child rape. 2. There is no moral reason for Bob to not stop a child rape, if Bob sees one taking place.

    We can conclude:

    Bob has a reason to stop it (1).
    Bob does not have a reason not to stop it (2).

    So Bob has reasons he *should* and *no* reason he *should not*. Therefore we can conclude that he indeed should. I’ve referred to such a situation as a ‘positive should score’.

    I hope that helps.

    To help again with your earlier confusion: this isn’t a moral judgment saying: therefore it is “good” for Bob to stop it. This is just an acceptance and description of Bob’s actions and motivations.

    Reply
  40. Terry L. says:

    Luke, Stephen:

    I think this one line is potentially the crux of the matter:

    Luke said, ” If you transported me, as I am now, into [a world with no OMV], I would, by definition have the same feelings I do now.” (Emphasis modified.)

    EXACTLY! You are entering this mythical world while carrying into it all of your existing values based on our world that does have an OMV! By doing this, you are importing the OMV that exists in this world into that world.

    In other words, your abhorrence of child rape is not a product of that world, but of this one! You’ve said nothing about the inhabitants of that world, only you, existing just as you are now, in that world.

    On the other hand, I’m trying to establish, using only the options available to me in that world, whether child rape would be Good, Bad, good, bad, or neutral, where:

    Good -> IOMV-based moral action
    Bad -> IOMV-based immoral action
    good -> MSMV-based moral action
    bad -> MSMV-based immoral action
    neutral -> amoral action

    I think we all agree that the action could be neither Good nor Bad in a world without OMV.

    So what, in that universe, makes an action “good” or “bad”?

    Luke has offered the ‘should score’, which, to my current understanding has our hero Bob evaluating his own personal opinions on the action taking place, and then placing all of his opinions, positive and negative, on the scales. His MSMV is then determined by which side holds the most weight. Is this a, perhaps crude, but reasonable explanation?

    Luke also said earlier:

    One might have a an utter hatred of child rape (this would be your ‘MSMV”, but as I’ve said before, I think you’re quite wrong about one just being able to ‘change it’ whenever one likes).

    One might have a desire to see the world be more in line with their preferences. (I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have this desire, I’d even say before birth.)

    The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.

    You seem uncomfortable with the implications of this, however. Before I explain, allow me to bring in one more quote from Stephen: “Parents who don’t care for their offspring don’t have as good a chance of passing on their genes.”

    I’ll note in passing that your response didn’t address the issue that we were discussing… that morality can change in a world without OML, which would mean that at some time in the past, present or future, child rape could be a virtue!

    But beyond that, let’s put these two quotes together.

    In a world much like our own but without an OML, and assuming evolution to be true, those men who can more successfully pass on their genes to the next generation will have a greater impact on the gene pool.

    Is it not true that for men to have sex with as many women as possible would greatly increase their chances of passing their genes along? Why wait 9 months for your mate to have a child when you could try to impregnate a different woman every month? or week?

    Assume that in such a world, a powerful man has a strong desire to father as many children as possible. He’s not so concerned about the “how”… rape is fine if the woman he’s selected for his next son or daughter isn’t so excited about the idea.

    He’s the product of many generations of men who held this same belief. “It’s in his DNA.”

    So this man has a strong preference to reproduce, an indifference to rape, and no reason to avoid rape. He desires to see the world more in line with his preferences, so he either uses stealth to avoid those who utterly hate rape, or force to prevent them from enforcing their own preferences onto him.

    What is the Should Score produced by these factors?

    Per Luke, “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.”

    What ought this man to do?

    Stephen said, You say ‘Oh there might have been a time when child rape was good’ (or whatever). That’s like saying there might have been a time when we saw horse manure as a tasty meal. In short: Nope.

    This cannot apply in a world with no OML. We have an objective reason why eating excrement is not good. By definition, no objective reason exists in this world to say child rape is not good. All you have are subjective reasons.

    Luke, quoting me at first, says: “By the definition of MSMV Luke has given, it seems that, to this person, child rape is a moral action.”

    If you mean morally significant then yes.

    If you mean morally good or positive, then absolutely not. Someone like you, or Stephen, or me who has an utter hatred of such things would not call it moral, but morally repugnant.”

    Luke, please note that I explicitly said, “to this person, child rape is a moral action.”

    In this world with no OMV, this MSMV is this person’s guiding morality. “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.”

    Further, you said, “(Yes, the rapist themselves would likely say they are not doing anything immoral, but why would you give any value to his/her thoughts on the subject? That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.)”

    But then you say, I asked about this before why the location matters; I don’t get it. It’s like you’re saying if it was in my closet, you’d understand. If it was in my car, that would make sense. If I had it in a safety deposit box, it would be obvious. If it’s in my mind, then the idea that it’s a deep, visceral belief all of a sudden stops making sense. Sorry, I don’t get it.

    To me, the reason and how valid it is is what matters — not where it is.

    Apparently, this is not true. You don’t value the reason and how valid the rapist’s MSMV’s are that are held in his mind, because of your own MSMV’s held in your own mind!

    Terry said:“If you were to change your mind in such a universe, would you not also be doing good to join him?”

    Certainly not universally. There is no OML to state such a thing.

    You’ve avoided the question. We’ve established that Good does not exist. But if you (somehow) came to desire non-consensual sex with children, would your MSMV not also change? Would that not also create an ought? “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.” Should you not do what you ought to do?

    Virtually no one around me would believe so. Virtually everyone around me would think I was doing something evil.

    So? There is no OML to state such a thing.

    You can say [one person’s moral thoughts, feelings, and values are better or worse (closer to the standard) than someone else’s] are better or worse than someone else’s according to what you believe!

    If a standard doesn’t exist, then your statement is illogical. You can claim that there is a difference, but you have no reason to say “better” or “worse” without manufacturing some sort of standard to which both apply.

    But ignore the “(closer to the standard)” parenthetical for a moment. You’ve said, Lacking some other reason (let’s say threatened punishment from a king, as one example), no one else “should” adhere to another’s personal preferences. I have never said, claimed, or argued otherwise.

    I can’t reconcile these statements. You seem to be saying, “You have no reason to act as I want persons to act, but the way I act is better [whatever that means], and if I dislike your actions enough, I’ll try to stop you… even though you have no reason to act as I wish!”

    So let me get this straight… you’re saying I have no reason not to do X, but you’re going to try to prevent me from doing X, even though my MSMV says I ought to do X?

    Luke said: This sums up the mistake you are making really well.

    This is literally what you are saying:

    1. I believe X to be deeply immoral (premise)
    2. Tom is doing X (premise)
    3. I believe Tom is are doing something moral (conclusion)

    But this isn’t what I’m saying.

    This is what I’m saying.

    Given:
    1. a world with no OMV
    2. that I believe X to be deeply immoral based on my own MSMVs
    3. that Tom believes X to be either moral based on his own MSMVs
    4. that Tom is doing X
    5. that it is moral to stop an immoral action
    Therefore:
    6. Tom is committing an immoral action in my opinion (from 2, 4)
    7. Tom is committing a moral action in his opinion (from 3, 4)
    8. Neither my opinion nor Tom’s opinion is objectively correct (from 1)
    9. It is moral for me to stop Tom from doing X (from 5,6)
    10. Tom doing X is both moral and immoral (6, 7, 8)
    11. [It is moral (from 9)] for me to [stop Tom (from 9)] from doing a [moral action (from 7)]
    12. 11 is not supported by the givens: It is not stated that it is moral to stop a moral action.
    13. 11 is supported by the givens: it is stated that it is moral to stop an immoral action.

    There’s an absurdity lurking in here somewhere…

    Luke said: Either you have these preferences yourself, at which point, they seem sufficient to motivate and explain behavior (as you’ve already said, actions would “closely match” with our without OML, or you don’t have them, which I think we would agree is a worrisome prospect.

    I didn’t say “would” closely match; I said, “It may be true that in such a world as you’ve described (I have my doubts about whether this world could actually exist), one’s actions might closely match the actions of one in a world with OML.”

    Luke said: I totally get the idea that G-d may be source of the moral intuitions and passions we have. That’s a different argument, and we can talk about that too, at some point. But if our starting point is that we have them, what does OML actually change in a tangible sense? How is the world practically different?

    You’re assuming that we have moral intuitions and passions. (“But if our starting point is that we have them…”), then you ask “what does OML actually change in a tangible sense?”

    I think the “different argument” is exactly what OML changes.

    You’re assuming that one can have MSMV without OML. I don’t believe that’s possible. Oh, certainly, one would/could follow their passions, but they would never call anything “good” or “evil”, or “Good” or “Evil”. I don’t think such distinctions would ever occur to the inhabitants of such a world. We find it nearly impossible to think in terms of an amoral universe, because we live in a world with moral distinctions.

    Remember the movie “Pleasantville”? Even there, before the arrival of the siblings, they had shades of gray! Color existed. The siblings didn’t introduce color, they introduced colors other than gray. They had a concept of color, but they didn’t understand the full spectrum. Nor do we… we can’t see infrared or ultraviolet.

    Trying to explain morality to the inhabitants of a universe with no OMV would be more akin to trying to explain color to a man blind from birth. This man truly has no concept of color… there’s nothing in his experience by which he can make distinctions between colors, no matter what terms you use to describe them to him.

    We can plainly see some of the spectrum of morality. Barring some moral analog to blindness (psychopathy or something), men know deep down that child rape is wrong. Theft is wrong. Murder is wrong. However, after the fall in the Garden, we can no longer see the entire spectrum. The ultraviolet and infrared fringes evade us, just as we cannot fully comprehend what “color” x-rays are. Our incomprehension does not mean that the standard doesn’t exist!

    Furthermore, doing wrong is akin to knowing a color is red and acting as if it is blue. Men know it’s wrong to steal, but they steal anyway. And the more they do it, the easier it gets.

    We know that, chromatically speaking, red is red and green is green. My boss, however, is color-blind. He has no idea what we mean by that… it all looks the same to him. Yet, if he says that red is green, he’s wrong. Red is not green. We know this because we better comprehend the standard than he. The evaluation of red and green by one with normal color vision is objectively better than that of the color-blind man.

    We use color codes to know how to wire computer network cables. If someone calls the red wire a green wire, and wires a cable based on that statement, then the network will not work. For the network to function properly, every wire in every cable must be wired perfectly according to the standard. Any cable not meeting the standard is useless, and will either be discarded…

    … or remade! That’s what Jesus offers us. We’ve called evil, good, and good, evil. Worse, according to the Bible, we started out with faulty wiring. Just as the cable cannot re-wire itself, neither can we rewire our own lives. Jesus offers to remake us according to the standard so that we can function properly.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “This cannot apply in a world with no OML. We have an objective reason why eating excrement is not good. By definition, no objective reason exists in this world to say child rape is not good. All you have are subjective reasons.”

      The reason you don’t eat excrement is because the thought of it makes you feel sick, and doing so would make you sick. Likewise child rape. The analogy holds fine. If you’re saying you’d have extra reasons not to eat horse poo, the same would hold for child rape too.

      Reply
  41. Terry L. says:

    Clarification of a few points:

    I refined this a little…

    Given:
    1. a world with no OMV
    2. that I believe X to be deeply immoral based on my own MSMVs
    3. that Tom believes X to be moral based on his own MSMVs
    4. that Tom is doing X
    5. that it is moral to stop an immoral action based on my own MSMVs
    Therefore:
    6. Tom is committing an immoral action in my opinion (from 2, 4)
    7. Tom is committing a moral action in his opinion (from 3, 4)
    8. Neither my opinion nor Tom’s opinion is objectively correct (from 1)
    8a. Tom’s MSMVs are no more and no less valid than mine, and are of equal moral value (nil) to my own. (from 1)
    9. It is moral for me to stop Tom from doing X in my opinion(from 5,6)
    10. Tom doing X is both moral and immoral (6, 7, 8)
    11. [It is moral (from 9)] for me to [stop Tom (from 9)] from doing a [moral action (from 7, 8a)]
    12. 11 is not supported by the givens: It is not stated that it is moral to stop a moral action.
    13. 11 is supported by the givens: it is stated that it is moral to stop an immoral action.

    The addition of 8a makes it clear that step 11 is justified in equating the immoral action in 6 to the moral action in 7. It is a statement based in the reality of the world described in step 1, rather than the subjective opinions held by Tom and myself in this world.

    This is a rather long way around to simply say what we all seem to agree on; our opinions about reality do not alter reality. I’ve reiterated over and over Luke’s assertion that The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought. However, is this not more correctly stated:

    “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates a justification for the performance of a certain action.”

    If opinions cannot alter reality, then the “ought” created by our desires and MSMVs cannot exist in reality. It’s only an illusion, and one who bases his life on illusions is called delusional!

    That being said, I don’t disagree that a lot of people live this way. They justify what is “right” in their own mind, and live as if no external standard exists to which they should conform. This was man’s original problem:

    Standard: Don’t eat from the tree.
    Man: I’ll do what I think is right!

    Reply
  42. Luke says:

    Terry,

    You said::”We have an objective reason why eating excrement is not good. By definition, no objective reason exists in this world to say child rape is not good. ”

    So according to you, if G-d did not exist, you would have no good reason to not rape children or to protect children from being raped. Is this correct?

    Yet, you do believe you still would have reasons to not eat poo? <bIs that correct?

    I just want to make sure.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  43. Luke says:

    Terry, to answer your questions:

    Terry asked: So what, in that universe, makes an action “good” or “bad”?”

    Objectively — nothing. Subjectively — our views.

    Terry answered:“Luke has offered the ‘should score’, which, to my current understanding has our hero Bob evaluating his own personal opinions on the action taking place, and then placing all of his opinions, positive and negative, on the scales.”

    This is not to determine if something is good or bad. It was designed to answer a specific question you asked, nothing more. It is not used to answer the question you asked.

    Terry asked:His MSMV is then determined by which side holds the most weight. Is this a, perhaps crude, but reasonable explanation?

    I’ll give more detail later. In short, this helps determine what Bob will do (as in: he will do it, because to him he should), but does not determine if it’s good or bad. I’m not sure if you’d call it reasonable. I would say you’re committing a category error. Like I said, more later.

    Terry asked: “Is it not true that for men to have sex with as many women as possible would greatly increase their chances of passing their genes along?”

    It could be, but the opposite could be true as well.

    Terry asked:“Why wait 9 months for your mate to have a child when you could try to impregnate a different woman every month? or week?”

    Well, to ensure that your genes pass on through the generations, you need more than an offspring to be in the womb, or even born. They need to be nurtured, protected, etc., etc. Spreading seed is just one aspect, and that gives you many potential reasons.

    Terry asked: “What is the Should Score produced by these factors?”

    Not to answer your question with a question, but if you have all of the factors, why can’t you figure it out? All else being equal, it seems positive to me.

    Terry asked: “Per Luke, ‘The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.’ What ought this man to do?”

    You’ve discussed just one side, I think, so I can’t answer. If you’ve gotten both and I’ve missed it, I just you and answer he ought to do whatever you came up with.

    Terry asked:You’ve avoided the question. We’ve established that Good does not exist. But if you (somehow) came to desire non-consensual sex with children, would your MSMV not also change?

    Yes.

    Terry asked: “Would that not also create an ought?”

    Not a moral one.

    Within a specific defined context, it should.

    Terry asked:“‘The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought.’ Should you not do what you ought to do?”

    Sure!

    Terry asked: “So let me get this straight… you’re saying I have no reason not to do X, but you’re going to try to prevent me from doing X, even though my MSMV says I ought to do X?

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. You should re-read what I said.

    To go back, you said:: “I can’t reconcile these statements. You seem to be saying ‘You have no reason to act as I want persons to act, but the way I act is better [whatever that means], and if I dislike your actions enough, I’ll try to stop you’ even though you have no reason to act as I wish!”

    Here is your first clue. You state that I am saying Y whatever Y means. Since this makes little for me to say, you must be misunderstanding. You should re-read!

    Since you can’t reconcile it, let me help. Rewrite it thusly: If Tom is a child rapist in a world with no OML, there is no OML to say Tom should not be a child rapist. Bob believes that his way (not-raping children) is a better way to be — Bob thinks, subjectively, that child rape is wrong. If Bob feels strongly enough about this, he will try to stop Tom, based on his subjective belief, even though no OML stating such exists.

    Does that help?

    You’ve already said everything contained here makes sense.

    I think the problem is you’ve tried to turn everything into pronouns and written the sentence in an unclear way. When you have this confusion, don’t tell the world of your inability to reconcile it right away. Insert specifics for pronouns, and see if it helps. If it doesn’t, try to find something that makes it irreconcilable — or self-defeating — and make an argument that it is so, if you believe it is so. If you can’t do either of those things, only then ask for help.

    Terry asked: “Remember the movie ‘Pleasantville’?”

    Yes.

    I think that answers all of your questions in that post. I’ll have some commentary shortly.

    Reply
  44. Luke says:

    Terry,

    Terry said:“In other words, your abhorrence of child rape is not a product of that world, but of this one! ”

    Like I said, we can talk about this later. (In fact, we have before, and I’ll be glad to quote you from before, when we get around to it.)

    As I’ve said, right now I’m interested in two other things and I’d like to resolve that discussion.

    Terry said: “I think we all agree that the action could be neither Good nor Bad in a world without OMV.”

    No. We can agree it is not objectively (as in transcendentally) good or bad, but nothing more than that.

    Terry asked:“So what, in that universe, makes an action “good” or “bad”?”

    Objectively as in transcedanly? Nothing.

    That doesn’t mean that you or I can’t think certain things bad or evil, or good and wonderful.

    Terry asked:“Luke has offered the ‘should score’, which, to my current understanding has our hero Bob evaluating his own personal opinions on the action taking place, and then placing all of his opinions, positive and negative, on the scales. His MSMV is then determined by which side holds the most weight. Is this a, perhaps crude, but reasonable explanation?”

    This was offered to help you understand why Bob would stop a child rape. It does nothing to tell us what is “good” or “bad”.

    It answers the question you asked then: why should he? It’s not intended to assign or convey any moral message. In short, this helps determine what Bob will do (as in: he will do it, because to him he should), but does not determine if it’s good or bad. It’d say it’s a barely reasonable explanation, but I think you’re trying to apply it outside of the question it was meant to answer, which is not reasonable, really. You’re commiting a category error, I think.

    About some of the oughts I discussed, Terry said: “You seem uncomfortable with the implications of this, however.”

    How so? I’ve only clarified that these are not moral oughts (since those don’t exist in the world under discussion). You commit a category error when you treat them as such. (You’re using a formula to answer a question it was not designed to answer.)

    Terry asked about genes being better passed on through rape:

    I don’t think this is the best way to pass on genes in the long run. There are various reasons for this you are smart enough to figure out. I’ll give you one hint. Polling usually finds huge majorities who believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape (e.g. 83% in a CNN survey from August 24, 2012).

    Terry said:“This cannot apply in a world with no OML. We have an objective reason why eating excrement is not good. By definition, no objective reason exists in this world to say child rape is not good. All you have are subjective reasons.”

    This is extremely revealing, so it will certainly receive some focus. I will come back to this question at the end, and we can discuss it further.

    Terry then quotes me and says: “Further, you said, (Yes, the rapist themselves would likely say they are not doing anything immoral, but why would you give any value to his/her thoughts on the subject? That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.)”

    Sadly, you’ve missed this question.

    Terry then says it is I who care about the location of an idea, saying:
    “You don’t value the reason and how valid the rapist’s MSMV’s are that are held in his mind, because of your own MSMV’s held in your own mind!”

    Where do you come up with this ‘because’. It is certainly not because of where it is that I don’t value it.

    Here is how I think you came to this conlusion:

    1. Luke doesn’t value Tom’s belief that child rape is okay.
    2. Terry believes that Tom’s belief about child rape exists in Tom’s mind.
    3. Luke doesn’t value Tom’s belief about child rape because it exists in Tom’s mind. (from 1,2)

    Maybe I’m wrong. But if I’m right, then I think you know you are smarter than this. I hope that you are not pretending not to be so you can try to prove me wrong.

    I think I already mentioned that various philosophies hold the view that ideas exist separate from minds (many Christians would take this view as well). What’s important to me is that this is an idea that the rapist is using. Where it exists, I could not care less. It’s so odd to me that you are so hung up on location.

    Terry then accuses me of avoiding a question:

    Terry said: “If you were to change your mind in such a universe, would you not also be doing good to join him?”

    Luke answered: “Certainly not universally. There is no OML to state such a thing.”

    Terry said: “You’ve avoided the question.”

    I see that I’ve answered it above. Do you mean, “would one not also be doing what one believes to be good?” If so, then, yes.

    Terry continued:“We’ve established that Good does not exist. But if you (somehow) came to desire non-consensual sex with children, would your MSMV not also change?”

    Not necessarily. I often desire things I believe are wrong. It, my “MSMV” could also change, but that does not mean it has to change for me to have this desire! That’s why action requires both desire and belief. That was actually a good way to clarify the difference.

    I answered this incorrectly in the previous post, due to my haste. I apologize. The above answer is the proper one.

    Terry continued:“Would that not also create an ought? “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought. Should you not do what you ought to do?

    If the MSMV also changed, then:

    Yes, but not a moral one (see above).
    Yes, within the context, which I clarified again above.

    I said: “Virtually no one around me would believe so. Virtually everyone around me would think I was doing something evil.”

    Terry asked: “So?”

    So, as we’ve already seen and as you’ve already agreed, they and you would try to stop me.

    Terry said: “There is no OML to state such a thing.”

    My turn: so?

    What does this change, in any practical sense?

    Everyone’s beliefs and desires are the same (again, it’s a hypothetical, you can believe it can’t be real). What are the differences in how things will play out in the world with OML, vs. the world without it?

    (So in both worlds huge majorities think that child rape is horrible. most people have children who they wish to see protected from such things, etc., etc. What are the practical differences?)

    Terry said: “You can say [one person’s moral thoughts, feelings, and values are better or worse (closer to the standard) than someone else’s] are better or worse than someone else’s according to what you believe! If a standard doesn’t exist, then your statement is illogical. You can claim that there is a difference, but you have no reason to say “better” or “worse” without manufacturing some sort of standard to which both apply.”

    What is illogical about it? I don’t understand. The standard you are usuing to determine “better” and “worse” are your MSMVs.

    Terry asked: So let me get this straight: you’re saying I have no reason not to do X, but you’re going to try to prevent me from doing X, even though my MSMV says I ought to do X?

    I’ve already answered this. Simply because you can write a clear concept in a confusing way, does not render the concept itself confusing, it only speaks to your writing. If you’ve written something and it doesn’t make sense, re-write until it’s better or you put your finger on the thing that is self-defeating and illustrate it for us. Don’t make us do all of your work. Please!

    Luke said: “This sums up the mistake you are making really well.

    This is literally what you are saying:

    1. I believe X to be deeply immoral (premise)
    2. Tom is doing X (premise)
    3. I believe Tom is are doing something moral (conclusion)”

    Terry replied: “But this isn’t what I’m saying.”

    Sorry Terry, but that’s exactly what you said. I’ll go through your syllogism though. about which you said “there’s an absurdity lurking in here somewhere.” You stated that this is what you were really saying. Unfortunately, it’s no better.

    Luke said: “Either you have these preferences yourself, at which point, they seem sufficient to motivate and explain behavior (as you’ve already said, actions would “closely match” with our without OML, or you don’t have them, which I think we would agree is a worrisome prospect.”

    Terry said: “I didn’t say “would” closely match; I said, “It may be true that in such a world as you’ve described (I have my doubts about whether this world could actually exist), one’s actions might closely match the actions of one in a world with OML.”

    Terry, I apologize for misquoting you. You’ve avoided the point though. You’ve agreed you would act in this way. You’ve given no reason why anyone would not act this way. My point that “either you have these preferences yourself, at which point, they seem sufficient to motivate and explain behavior, or you don’t have them.”, remains undressed.

    Terry said: “You’re assuming that one can have MSMV without OML. I don’t believe that’s possible.”

    I think that’s crazy, but it’s a discussion I would love to have when this one is concluded. It sounds very interesting. (As I mentioned, we’ve touched on it before.)

    Terry said: “Trying to explain morality to the inhabitants of a universe with no OMV would be more akin to trying to explain color to a man blind from birth.”

    How do you explain why we shouldn’t eat horse poo? You’ve already said we shouldn’t even with no OML. It seems that you believe we can explain this, but not other “things one should and shouldn’t do”. That’s the problem, you’re not dispensing with all behavioral guidelines, just some. Why can we explain some behavioral guidelines and not others?

    Now, back to your syllogism, which you clarified in a later post:

    Terry said:“5.that it is moral to stop an immoral action based on my own MSMVs.”

    Terry, I honestly don’t know if you make this mistakes out of confusion or because you’re purposfully trying to confuse others and obfuscate. You’ve done nothing to make me think you act in bad faith (more on this later), so I assume it’s the former.

    This is wrong. It’s not that it’s moral. It’s that the word doesn’t apply. This is what we’ve said all along. Nothing is moral or immoral, objectively (in the world under discussion). If you are using it subjectively, it’s still wrong, because you’re changing subjects without recognizing/labelling you are doing so. This leads to mistakes later on. (If it’s subjective, the statement is ‘moral according to’ — it’s fine to use “moral” as a shortcut when it’s clear who the subject is. It’s not fine to use the short version in the same sentence for two different subjects.)

    Terry said: “11 is not supported by the givens: It is not stated that it is moral to stop a moral action.”

    My comment on point 5 should point out why this is wrong. I won’t be pedantic and go through it. If you don’t see why, just ask and I’ll clarify further. These mistakes lead your whole point completely astray. Also, just because something isn’t stated outright, doesn’t mean that it’s not true. It’s your syllogism, maybe you just forgot to include it. We can’t draw conclusions from your mistakes! If you think proposition is wrong, tell us why. You can’t not state it yourself — not tell us why you’ve left it unstated — and draw conclusions from the fact that it’s been left out.

    Terry said: “This is a rather long way around to simply say what we all seem to agree on; our opinions about reality do not alter reality.”

    This is also not correct. I don’t agree with this. I agree that our opinions of/about reality, don’t change the nature of that reality. Our opinions in general are part of reality, so different opinion yield different realities.

    Let me give an example to make this easy: A reality in which Stephen loves ice cream is different from one in which Stephen hates it. (In one reality he loves ice cream, in another, he doesn’t. These are different realities.) However, whether Luke thinks Stephen loves ice cream, does not change the reality of whether Stephen indeed does.

    Make sense?

    Terry said and asked: “I’ve reiterated over and over Luke’s assertion that The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought. However, is this not more correctly stated: “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates a justification for the performance of a certain action.”

    There’s no justification needed in a world with OML. There is no prohibition, the breaking of which needs to be justified. I wouldn’t say it provides personal, subjective, justification either, because none is needed, since this already aligns with the given preferences and desires.

    You’re bringing in language of an OML world, into a world without OML.

    Terry said: If opinions cannot alter reality, then the “ought” created by our desires and MSMVs cannot exist in reality.

    Incorrect. See above, you’ve confused the difference between Stephen’s view of ice cream and my view of Stephen’s view of ice cream.

    Terry said: “That being said, I don’t disagree that a lot of people live this way.”

    And I think all people live this way.

    This bring me back around to my not having any reason to think you are acting in bad faith. I’ve noticed that more and more often, you skip through the questions in my posts, and go on to just make your own points. I ask these questions for a reason, and it’s getting difficult for me to see what you are saying. Your posts have started to consist of you putting together various statements of mine and trying to find inconsistancies. This is because I’ve gone through mostly answering your questions, but you’ve stopped answering mine, it seems. (Am I wrong on this? Maybe the answers are just more hidden — this is why I try to quote your questions.) Because I spend so many words just answering you, I end up making few points on my own. Plus, I’d like to build my points on your responses, but I’m not able to.

    I’ll repost a question I asked below this post. I’ll add one here though. I said just a second ago that: I belive all people think this way. I asked you before: why should one do what one was designed to do? I mean this in a moral sense, how is one objectively obligated to do so.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  45. Luke says:

    Terry,

    To repost my question from earlier, since it was important, and to ask another:

    I.

    You said: “We have an objective reason why eating excrement is not good. By definition, no objective reason exists in this world to say child rape is not good.”

    So according to you, if G-d did not exist, you would have no good reason to not rape children or to protect children from being raped. Is this correct?

    Yet, you do believe you still would have reasons to not eat poo? Is that correct?

    II.

    You make a point that OML can never change, it’s always been, is, and always will be.

    Let me take an example from the Bible:

    Num 31:7-19 or Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18.

    G-d commands that children be killed.

    This isn’t a case of G-d killing children, but asking soldiers to do so.

    Therefore, there can be no OML as follows:

    “Soldiers ought not target kill children in war.”

    If they sometimes should, we cannot say that they never should.

    Do you agree with this?

    Yet, surely you don’t think this is always okay for soldiers to do.

    Where do the reasons to not do so come from? You can be specific if necessary (“from the Bible” won’t help me here).

    (The reason that I am asking this question relates closely to section I above.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  46. Terry L. says:

    Stephen:,

    You said, “The reason you don’t eat excrement is because the thought of it makes you feel sick…”

    Not really, but we’ll allow it for the sake of argument.

    “and doing so would make you sick.”

    Bingo! There’s a real, physical, negative consequence to this action.

    Likewise child rape.

    To me, yes, mentally, here in my world with OML, the thought is repugnant and turns my stomach. John Q. Rapist on the other hand might have no mental qualms about such an action.

    What real, physical, negative consequences is he going to face? This is a world without OML, so if you’re going to say that society will turn on him and injure him, you must first establish that the society would develop this “utter hatred”. I’m not certain that this world would view this action with the same sense of loathing as our own world, but all things considered, I’ll agree that it’s at least a possibility that this would happen.

    Luke says that we should, “Insert specifics for pronouns, and see if it helps”, so let’s insert another specific case: what if the rapist is simply a pedophile? He doesn’t violently harm children, he just likes having consensual sex with toddlers. He always takes a “no” to mean “no”, and he even takes them out for ice cream afterwards! The only difference between what we would call a nice (but sexually promiscuous) young man and this man is that he prefers children to women his own age.

    So there’s no violence perpetrated against the child. The act of child sex (in this world) is free of any absolute, objective moral implications. He doesn’t physically harm the children; in fact, he’s rather nice to them.

    You’ve made the point that physical harm causes revulsion, and I think that’s a fairly sound argument. So what if the action causes no physical harm? Is it still loathsome, or is it now neutral? Do you find it logical that a citizen of this world would intensely hate a nice, gentle, man who buys kids ice cream after he has sex with them? The society he is in would seem to have little interest in stopping a man who plays such “games” with kids and rewards them with ice cream.

    If this is true, then it is unlikely that this man would suffer any immediate physical harm from his actions (leaving out the known dangers of promiscuous sex with many partners). If you feel differently, then what reason could his peers give for their hatred?

    And without societal pressure, what motivation then would he have to avoid sex with toddlers? Asking Luke’s question, “Why not have sex with kids?”, it seems he has reasons to do so: “I enjoy it, and they don’t complain. If they do, I immediately stop what I’m doing. I try my best to take care of my partners, and I treat them to gifts afterward.”, and little reason not to do so.

    Luke said, “Again, to simply say ‘people ought to do what they think is right’ is not to establish some transcendent standard saying they must do so. It simply says that I would expect them to (Webster definition 1) and recognizes the reality that if they posses[s] reasons they ‘should’ but no reasons they ‘should not’, the ‘should’ wins (this falls under Webster definition 2). (You could refer to this as a “positive should score”.)”

    Luke, does this pedophile have a “positive should score” for child sex?

    Now if this logic is sound, then it follows that what really turns the stomach of the person desiring to stop child rape in this world is not, in fact, child rape, but violence.

    Luke:

    So according to you, if G-d did not exist, you would have no good reason to not rape children or to protect children from being raped. Is this correct?

    I object to your using the term “protect”. This is at least somewhat loaded with moral implications; it assumes that the children need to be protected from evil. How about:

    So according to you, if G-d did not exist, you would have no good reason to not rape children or to [prevent the rape of] children. Is this correct?

    Pretty much the same thing, but a little more morally neutral.

    You should know me well enough by now to know that I’m pretty big on the Moral Argument for God’s existence.

    As framed by WLC (with a slight addition from myself in brackets):

    1. If God does not exist, then [absolute], objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. [Absolute], objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    You might want to stop the rapist simply because he’s doing something you hate, but you asked about a good reason. What do you consider a “good” reason? Especially in a world where good and evil do not exist? (Yes, I understand that you’re using “good” to mean “sufficient”…)

    I don’t consider opinion A to be more valid than opinion B when there is no objective standard by which you can measure the two. If God does not exist, then the standard does not exist. Therefore, there is no good reason to stop the rapist.

    “But, how can you let him inflict pain on a child?”

    This question makes the assumption that it is better to prevent pain than to allow pain. This is an unfounded value judgement in a world with no OML.

    “But what of the Should Score?”

    Oh, if enough factors (including the child’s pain) were strong enough, you could make the case that one “should” intervene. But that can easily be outweighed by other factors

    The bottom line is that you’ve removed the moral aspect from the action of child rape, or pedophilia, or murder, or torture. I submit that a VERY large part of what makes these actions… especially the act of rape… so abhorrent is not the physical component, but the moral component of the action. Our laws against rape often reflect this truth, prescribing harsher punishment for rape than for simple assault and battery.

    This abhorrence is not necessarily, “Oh, no! I can’t rape this child because God says it’s wrong!”, or “I hate rape because God hates rape!” Rather, it’s the fact that rape is an aberration! It is a violation of the image of God in the victim, and a violation of the way God wanted the universe to be. Even in our fallen state, most of us (who haven’t seared our consciences to the point that we can’t recognize rape as the evil it is) plainly understand that rape, especially the rape of a child is absolutely, positively WRONG! You don’t even have to believe in God (right, Stephen?) to perceive this!

    It is the fact that rape is not how God intended sexuality to work… but a perversion of how sexuality should work that makes it wrong. It is the fact that

    Yet, you do believe you still would have reasons to not eat poo?

    Of course! That’s going to make you physically sick in either world. There’s no real moral repercussions; I don’t think this action would be necessarily immoral in our own world. A sign of acute mental instability, perhaps, but not necessarily immorality (unless you want to say that God never intended for men to ingest waste. I’ve heard of times when men had to drink their own urine to survive in wilderness situations… I think this was conditioned on the motivation of the ingester at least.)

    Luke said,

    [The Should Score] is not to determine if something is good or bad. It was designed to answer a specific question you asked, nothing more. It is not used to answer the question you asked.

    Very well. I’ve already said that I think it’s a misnomer, and I really think the term “Should” is horribly misleading when used in this context. The score doesn’t tell you what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do… it describes what you’re more motivated to do, so it’s more of a “Motivation Score”.

    In the world you describe, however, with no OML, it seems to be the best its hapless citizens have!

    So back to our favorite scenario: the rapist’s Motivation Score (MS) leads him to rape. The victim’s MS would likely cause them to try to avoid being raped (but perhaps not… they *might* enjoy it!) The passerby’s MS score (who utterly hates rape, for whatever reason… it’s not important at this point) motivates him or her to intervene. And none of this says anything to what actually *should* happen in this incident, because by definition, what *should* happen does not exist.

    Here is your first clue. You state that I am saying Y whatever Y means. Since this makes little for me to say, you must be misunderstanding. You should re-read!

    The “whatever that means” was intended as a real-world parenthetical from me. It was not intended to be attributed to you. I used the term “better”, but there is no “better” in a world with no OML, so I qualified it with “whatever that means” to indicate that I recognized this fact. Perhaps I would have been clearer to simply put the term in scare quotes??

    You’ve already said everything contained here makes sense.

    Except for “Bob believes that his way (not-raping children) is a better way to be — Bob thinks, subjectively, that child rape is wrong.”

    Not to cover old ground, but as I just said, “better” cannot be defined, as it assumes three things: two items to be measured, and a scale on which they can be measured. Of course, the scale can be his own opinion. And I’m not certain how that belief would arise in a world with no OML.

    I think the problem is you’ve tried to turn everything into pronouns and written the sentence in an unclear way.

    I use symbols to see things more clearly. Using a specific case… child rape, for instance… leads us to instantly import our own values about the action. I was trying to steer clear of that. Leaving out the poorly-conceived parenthetical, we have:

    1. You have no reason to act as I do.
    2. I prefer the way I act to the way you act.
    3. Because I dislike your actions so much, I’ll try to stop you, even though you have no reason to act as I wish!

    Would you say this is accurate?

    I still have a difficult time reconciling (1) and (3). I fully get (2)… that one’s easy! However, to say that you have no reason to act as I do, but I’m going to force you to do so is an illogical step.

    I think that’s because (1) is a lie. In truth, (1) should be replaced with all of the reasons behind (2) that fuels his preferences. To borrow Stephen’s list from August 2, 2014 at 9:06 am:

    1a. I detest the action of [child rape].
    1b. Child rape causes suffering.
    1c. //later//
    1d. I empathise with the child.
    1e. //later//
    2. I prefer the way I act to the way you act.
    3. Because I dislike your actions so much, I’ll try to stop you, even though you have no reason to act as I wish!

    But now, we have another issue. It’s not sufficient for our would-be hero to recognize, “Hmmm… that man is raping a child. Boy, I wouldn’t do that!” He’s actually intervening to remake the world according to the way he believes it actually should be! (There’s that pesky little word again!) Implicitly, he’s added point (1c): “One should not cause suffering.” and point (1e): “One should protect children.”

    So let’s assume that this is not a “moral” should, but more akin to “I SHOULD practice guitar if I want to get into the band.” I’ve noticed something about all of the examples of this kind of “SHOULD”: they all have a goal.

    The correct formulation then would require a reason:

    “If one wants X, one should not cause suffering.”

    “If one wants Y, one should protect children.”

    What is X and Y?

    As I pointed out also, our hero must also assume that the rapist SHOULD want X and Y.

    What is our hero’s goal? The only possible answer I can think of is, “to remake the world according to his own preferences.” He cannot have a higher purpose, because no higher purpose exists. He has (somewhat rightly) declared himself to be the measure of what should be.

    And by the use of force, he is, quite literally, telling the rapist, “you should conform to these values”. Does he not, in fact, believe that the entire world should conform to those values?

    But that would also be the goal of the rapist; to remake the world according to his own preferences. This makes the attempt to stop him self-defeating. At the risk of being utterly confusing again, by attempting to remake the world according to the hero’s preferences by stopping the rapist, the hero is denying the rapist the opportunity to remake the world according to the rapist’s own preferences; and this without justification. The statements, “All Men should be allowed to make the world match their desires” is incompatible with “Child rapists should not be allowed to make the world match their desires.”

    And I thought this was going to be short!

    -tl

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Even there, before the arrival of the siblings, they had shades of gray!”

      Strictly speaking I don’t think grey counts as a color. Shades of grey is what you get on a TV after you’ve turned the color down. If you can discern different shades of grey then you’re discerning the difference between light and dark. This is brightness, not hue.

      I said: “The reason you don’t eat excrement is because the thought of it makes you feel sick…”
      You said: “Not really, but we’ll allow it for the sake of argument.”

      Ask a child why they don’t eat poop. They’ll tell you it’s disgusting. It stinks. It makes them feel sick. We avoided poop long before we had a germ theory of disease. It’s primal, inbuilt – we don’t need to rationalise it. Our reaction to the harming of children is the same. We CAN offer good rational reasons to prevent the harming of children too – this is our ‘slow brain’ thinking. But long before that we have our lizard brain guy-reaction, which makes us react much more quickly. This can be explained with no reference to a divine being’s morality, and so there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be the case also in a world without that divine being.

      Reply
      • Terry L. says:

        Strictly speaking I don’t think grey counts as a color. Shades of grey is what you get on a TV after you’ve turned the color down. If you can discern different shades of grey then you’re discerning the difference between light and dark. This is brightness, not hue.

        Black and white count as colors. Yes, they are either the presence or absence of all colors, but if that’s the case you must have color to have them both. And without both, you cannot have grey.

        Our reaction to the harming of children is the same. We CAN offer good rational reasons to prevent the harming of children too

        So you’re saying that the harm is the problem, not the sex? I don’t think this is what you’re intending to say, but that’s the implication you’re leaving behind.

        This can be explained with no reference to a divine being’s morality, and so there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be the case also in a world without that divine being.

        Funny… I’ve been told that this can be done many times, but I’ve never seen it done successfully. I’m willing to consider any evidence you offer.

        Reply
  47. Luke says:

    Terry said: “he just likes having consensual sex with toddlers.”

    What a sick, sick idea. I hope with all of my heart you’ve simply made a mistake and typed something you don’t come anywhere close to meaning. I hope it just sounds horrible, but you meant something completely different.

    We all make mistakes (I make a lot!).

    Please tell me this is the case.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  48. Terry L. says:

    Luke:

    Terry said: “[this man] just likes having consensual sex with toddlers.”

    What a sick, sick idea. I hope with all of my heart you’ve simply made a mistake and typed something you don’t come anywhere close to meaning. I hope it just sounds horrible, but you meant something completely different.

    Why? Why shouldn’t he? Check your God-based, objective moral values at the door, and tell me why this man should not do as he pleases in a world with no Objective Moral Values.

    I won’t pretend that, in our world, I don’t find the man who wants to do this worthy of death (or worse)! But I am not defending (and WILL not defend) that man. And the man in a world with no Objective Moral Values man needs no defense. To what can anyone appeal to say that he shouldn’t act on his desires?

    Do you realize now what it means to live in a world with no objective moral values? I’ve tried to follow your guidelines for decision-making… the Should Scale or Motivation Scale…, as closely as I understand it. His Motivation Scale would lead him to act. He is committing no moral wrong (for that doesn’t exist). He is harming no one. He is coercing no one. Why would anyone hate his actions? Given your framework, I can’t find anything, any reason at all, that would induce him to refrain from acting on his desires.

    And that’s all we’re left with, isn’t it? A world with no objective moral framework is a world without rules. One man’s desire is another man’s disgust, and no one is right or wrong, because right and wrong do not exist! There ARE no shoulds! There ARE no shouldn’ts!

    In this world, consensual sex with toddlers is not wrong. If they agree, you’re not overriding their will and their desires. If you don’t harm them, then you’re not causing unnecessary pain. There go the two biggest sources of atheistic morality out the window. You can’t rely on them to back up your revulsion.

    If you disagree that this man is justified to act on his desires, then you’ll have to explain why, according to the attributes of that world, not ours! If you can’t, then you’ll have to admit that it could only be wrong in a world with Objective Moral Values, for that is the only difference we’ve specified between the two worlds.

    Most every culture, ours included, puts some sort of guidelines around sex. Some are more liberal than others, but I know of none that says you should be allowed to have anyone you want at any time you want in any way you want. If these restrictions are not illusions, with no basis in reality, then who makes the rules? You and I would say God… the atheist doesn’t recognize that option.

    Many people in our own culture don’t see anything wrong with sex outside of marriage. But who sets the age of consent? In my state, if you mess around with a girl 17 or under, you get hit with statutory rape, even if the “victim” consents. But why is it suddenly OK at 18? Are you really more capable one day after your 18th birthday than one day before? I know some 20-year-olds who don’t have the mental capacity to really make a wise decision in this are, but they can still legally have extramarital sex. I have known some very mature 12-year-olds who are more capable of choosing wisely than the aforementioned 20-year-olds, but if they have consensual sex, someone is getting in trouble. So why 18? Why not 15? Or 12?

    People are currently pushing for homosexual marriage; why not multiple marriage? Why not marriage between siblings? or father/daughter? or adult/toddler? or man/sheep/car? If marriage is defined by the culture, then we are free to redefine it to be anything we want it to be! If, however, marriage is defined by God, then we cannot redefine it; we can only discover what it truly is. Any union that differs from this true definition of marriage, no matter how “right” it might feel, is a perversion of the real thing.

    What society defines, society can change. What society discovers is immutable. Speed limit laws are set by society; if we want to raise a limit from 55 mph to 70 mph, we can do so. The speed of light was discovered by society. We can no more change that speed by legislation than we can change the law of gravity.

    But society is just a plural of man. A single man is just a small society. If man defines marriage, and the chap above decides that for him, marriage can be him and his neighbor’s (or his own) 8 year old girl, is he wrong to act on this?

    Reply
  49. Terry L. says:

    Just a few quick thoughts regarding your questions re : “Soldiers ought not target kill children in war.” I haven’t thought these through deeply, so keep that in mind:

    You said, “You make a point that OML can never change, it’s always been, is, and always will be.”

    True. Given the same circumstances. War is a set of extremely unusual circumstances. Things must be done in war that are unthinkable at other times.

    There are times when we as humans face a choice that we did not choose, and did not create, where there seems to be no completely moral action. War is one of those times. Soldiers often must take life, sometimes even innocent life, in order to win the greater good. Jesus never told a soldier that he had to lay down his sword to follow him.

    And no, I would NOT say that “Soldiers ought [never] target and kill children in war.”

    In Vietnam, I’ve read of children who would approach soldiers, and then explode the grenade they were carrying, killing the soldiers. At that point, they became combatants, regardless of their age. While I abhor the notion of killing children, I would not condemn the soldier who killed the child he thought was approaching on such a suicide mission. Self-defense has always been a valid defense against murder. And in times of war, killing is the soldier’s business. Our country has forgotten that, and because of that, we’ve largely lost the will to win a war. You don’t go to war to be nice, you go to war to win. You can be nice after you win.

    Now I don’t know the circumstances around this passage. Sometimes I know the bible uses the word “children”, but the better translation would be “youths”. Perhaps even toddlers could be trained to approach with knives (as hand grenades hadn’t yet been invented).

    I also know this:

    * I don’t depend on the Bible to support the moral argument.
    * I don’t trust that God is moral because of the Bible, but because it’s the only logical conclusion.
    * I don’t trust myself to know all of the details of this event the way God did.
    * God has the right to take any life he chooses in any manner he chooses.
    * God doesn’t see death as an end, but a transition. Murder is not a greater sin than any other.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Consensual sex with toddlers”

      Like Luke, I’m getting seriously worried about you, Terry. How on earth can a toddler consent to sex? They have no knowledge of what they’re consenting to. It’s still statutory rape, as we all accept that they cannot give genuine consent.

      “This is a world without OML, so if you’re going to say that society will turn on him and injure him, you must first establish that the society would develop this “utter hatred”

      What difference does lack of OML make? I don’t believe in Divine Command Theory, yet I don’t want people raping kids. I want kids protected – I’m a fellow human being, I have empathy for suffering. You’re talking like a psychopath who doesn’t understand basic human emotions!

      In short, we developed a hatred of child rape for the same reason, as I already pointed out, we developed an aversion to excrement – plus other reasons too. OMV are not a necessary component for either development.

      Reply
  50. Terry L says:

    Stephen:

    You said:

    How on earth can a toddler consent to sex? They have no knowledge of what they’re consenting to. It’s still statutory rape, as we all accept that they cannot give genuine consent.

    Can’t give consent?

    You ask your child if they want ice cream… do they give consent?

    You ask if they want to go to the park… can they give consent?

    Are you insinuating that there is something more here? That these actions are somehow different?

    I used the toddler at first to make a point. Then I switched to a 12 year old… or 15… what criteria does this man use to identify those whom he shouldn’t have sex with? Remember, you’re in a world where “SHOULDs” and “SHOULD NOTs” do not exist. How then can you say he can have sex with a 20 year old, but he SHOULD NOT have sex with a 3 year old?

    And please, just stop making this personal! This is a thought experiment about a fictional child and a fictional adult in a hypothetical world. My opinions of what that world would be like IN NO WAY reflect my opinions of what this world is like. How many times do I have to point out that I ABHOR the thought of this action! I can identify why… can you?

    Rather than answering the questions I’ve asked, you’re comparing me to a psychopath and giving answers to questions we’ve covered already!

    You said,

    [Terry] “This is a world without OML, so if you’re going to say that society will turn on him and injure him, you must first establish that the society would develop this “utter hatred”
    [Stephen] What difference does lack of OML make? I don’t believe in Divine Command Theory, yet I don’t want people raping kids.

    But we’re not talking about rape now are we? (And for the record, I haven’t mentioned Divine Command Theory either). We’re speaking of consensual sex between two consenting human beings. Yes, one is not an adult. We’ve stated several times in this discussion that in this world, no action is better or worse than any other. (You even chastised me once when you thought I obtusely didn’t agree). Do you now believe that consensual sex between a child and an adult is somehow worse than consensual sex between two adults?

    You said,

    I want kids protected – I’m a fellow human being, I have empathy for suffering.

    And I addressed all of these points. Restating them doesn’t help.

    “You’re talking like a psychopath who doesn’t understand basic human emotions!

    What does human emotion have to do with your opposition to consensual sex between an adult and a child in a world with no OML? Are you going to tell me that your emotional reaction is an indicator that men should not have sex with children? You’ve argued against me for quite some time that one’s emotions were no indicator of a moral law.

    I’m speaking as one who recognizes all actions to be morally equivalent… which in the hypothetical world we’ve created, they are! So long as you think of this in the abstract, you seem fine with it; but when you apply it to a specific case, you want to call me a psychopath because I’m being consistent.

    You, on the other hand, are speaking FROM your emotion. Use your head. Answer the questions from the point of view of that universe, not our own.

    Would you stop this man? Would you use force… inflict violence against him for his actions? Would you harm him when he harms no one?

    You said,

    In short, we developed a hatred of child rape for the same reason, as I already pointed out, we developed an aversion to excrement – plus other reasons too. OMV are not a necessary component for either development.

    Assuming your theory is correct, we developed an aversion to excrement because it can be harmful to us. Are you saying that consensual sex between two other persons is harming you in some way?

    If so, would you push for the reinstatement of Sodomy Laws?

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “You ask your child if they want ice cream… do they give consent?”

      Terry, I’m afraid I’m not going to read any further. I can see that you’ve written “NOTHING in this post reflect my attitudes and opinions about our own world, unless our world is explicitly referenced”, but that’s no excuse for writing completely crazy things like the above.\

      You try making “The kid said yes” stand up in court. I already pointed out that we accept that children cannot give consent even if they say ‘yes’. We accept that they cannot give INFORMED consent. It’s still statutory rape.

      I’m honestly at the stage now when I think proper discussion with you is impossible. It’s like a fractal argument, where each thing that is explained to you just throws up another objection from you that in turn also needs explaining, and we go further and further down a rabbit hole. You question even the most basic of concepts.

      I’ll check in to read if Luke has any further responses, cos right now his posts are the only reason I’m still here.

      Reply
  51. Terry L says:

    One other point…

    How on earth can a toddler consent to sex? They have no knowledge of what they’re consenting to.

    [Sigh. Just because I know how this is going to sound, let me put in the disclaimer: NOTHING in this post reflect my attitudes and opinions about our own world, unless our world is explicitly referenced.]

    Neither does a 20 year old virgin. Perhaps second-hand knowledge, but that’s hardly enough to communicate the totality of the experience. Given that criteria, no one in this world would ever have sex!

    Neither does a toddler have knowledge of a park in which they’ve never played. Yet I daresay you wouldn’t have a problem with them visiting.

    Some people in our own world today want to teach my kids about homosexuality in Kindergarten; do you oppose that?

    Ignorance is temporary and correctable. So long as the education inflicts no harm, why (given a lack of OML) would you oppose such education?

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Stephen, this post may get rather pointed at times. I sincerely don’t mean to be insulting, I’m just trying to express how I see things.

      You said, You question even the most basic of concepts.

      Of course… in our fictional universe! Our thought experiment changes the very fabric of reality, so it’s obvious that even the most trivial of concepts might be different between the two worlds. (Imagine a world, in every way just like our own, but with no law of gravity!) If we don’t seriously question what the implications of such a change are, then how are we to understand our own world? That’s ALL I’m doing!

      Why would you think you could change something as fundamental as the existence of Objective Moral Laws and not have to question the most basic of concepts?

      Luke said himself on July 30: The other side of this coin is what is the consequence of the existence of OML. What does it’s existence change about the world?)

      If you don’t really want the answer, then why ask the question? If you’re not willing to discuss the answer, then why get involved in the first place? I’ve invited you to tell me where my logic is wrong. I’m still engaged in the dialog… but all I’m getting is emotional responses, not reasoned arguments.

      You said, that’s no excuse for writing completely crazy things like the above.

      I thought the atheist believed that it was the theist who accepted “facts” without evidence. All I’m asking you for is evidence for the claims you make. If my posts are crazy, then they should be easy to refute!

      I’m honestly at the stage now when I think proper discussion with you is impossible. It’s like a fractal argument, where each thing that is explained to you just throws up another objection from you that in turn also needs explaining, and we go further and further down a rabbit hole.

      Yes. Just as Luke and yourself do with me when I explain something to you. That’s the nature of a dialog. Do you consider a “proper discussion” to be simply a monolog where you do all the talking and never have to defend your views? You’re not going to find that with me.

      Luke also said, (and you agreed with him):

      [Luke (to Terry)] “Of course, by creating an OMV in a world where no OMVs exist, you’ve done something illogical”

      [Stephen (to Luke) Yup, absolutely, my thought too.

      Unless you can provide a reason why sex with children is wrong (something akin to causing harm to others), based only on the attributes of a world with no objective moral law, then you are creating an OMV in a world where OMV does not exist.

      Stephen, you seem to think me an immoral degenerate cad because I question how consensual child sex would be viewed in a world with NO Objective Moral Values. But all moral thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. must be left at the door between the universes.

      Do you think me to be immoral in this world? I’ll readily admit to more moral imperfection than I want to have, but at no time in my adult life have I wanted to have sex with a child!

      Do you think me to be immoral in that world with no OML? That’s an impossibility. You might think subjectively based on your own personal should/motivation score that in that world was immoral, but that only says something about you… not about me. Your thoughts about me do not change who or what I actually am. In fact, my own thoughts about myself do not change what I actually am.

      The only way that the statement, “Terry is immoral” can say anything at all about me is if OML exists, and I am in violation of it.

      I already pointed out that we accept that children cannot give consent even if they say ‘yes’.

      It seems that you’re arguing that there’s something that separates the act of sex from the act of sharing an ice cream. When a child tells me he wants an ice cream, I assume ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘no’. Can you explain the difference, based on the world we’re discussing? (I know, it sounds like a ridiculous question… but as we’ve changed the very fabric of the universe, we have to examine everything closely, making no assumptions. All of the rules are different in this world… or rather, non-existent!

      You try making “The kid said yes” stand up in court.

      In this world, or the world without OMV?

      If you’re going to have a law against it, shouldn’t you first establish why the law exists? You’re assuming the law without providing an explanation for why that law would exist. In that world, the act is not immoral or wrong, there is no physical harm, and no mental coercion involved. Why then have a law?

      More than that, ALL laws legislate morality! If OMV does not exist, and laws do exist, then the can be nothing more than the will to power. But you seem to believe that our taboos against child sex are not just a social convention, but that the act is truly wrong. Which is it?

      We accept that they cannot give INFORMED consent. It’s still statutory rape.

      It is statutory rape in this world. We recognize in this world that men should not have sex with children; thus we protect children from that action by making it illegal, even in the case of a consenting minor who IS old enough to understand what they’re doing. Try sleeping with MY daughter the day before she reaches the age of consent, and I’ll PROMISE you, you’ll be tried for statutory rape, if I have ANYTHING to do about it!

      In that world, we’ve all already agreed, right and wrong does not exist. If wrong does not exist, then it simply cannot be wrong for men to have sex with children. Why would that world have a statutory rape law, if there is nothing wrong with their men having sex with their children?

      I’ll check in to read if Luke has any further responses, cos right now his posts are the only reason I’m still here.

      Stephen, I hope you don’t stop interacting! I don’t want to accuse you of ragequitting, but I’ve asked some very hard questions about a world without Objective Moral Law. I’d hate to think you were abandoning the conversation because you find the answers uncomfortable.

      I really wish Toby would chime in; he claims to honestly believe that we DO live in a world with no Objective Moral Values. I’d really like to hear his thoughts on these questions.

      Reply
  52. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I’ve tried to write two posts now defending you, because I do believe that your real thoughts are not as they come across on paper. Each time, I’ve run into trouble, because your statements are sometimes simply indefensible, but too reinforced to come off as misunderstandings.

    Let me very succinctly give you two problems that Stephen and I see. These are by no means the only problems but I hope they will help you understand. I’ll put these together, and talk a bit about the rhetoric you’ve used. If you are simply repeatedly misspeaking or simply came to the wrong conclusions, perhaps this will help you correct that.

    I. Consent

    I think it’s logical to say that:

    To give consent to X, one must have some understanding of X. Otherwise one may be consenting to something, but it cannot be X.

    You say clearly, that in a world with no OML a toddler can consent to sexual activity. (You speak of “consensual sex with toddlers” as if it were somthing that was possible and later ask, seemingly increduously, “can’t give consent?”)

    Now, this leads us to two possibilites.

    A.In a world with OML you also believe that toddlers can consent to sexual activity (i.e. “consensual sex with toddlers” is something which can logically exist in a world with OML).

    B.In a world with OML you believe that toddlers cannot consent to sexual activity.

    A. is a freightening prospect. I hope it is self-evident why this is.
    B. is problematic becuase you must then have a theory as to what enables consent in one world when it is not possible in another. This means that if you strip away OML, you must be adding something at the same time — something that enables consent. What could this be? Given what we know that consent to X requires knowledge of X, this option seems to require that stripping away OML from this world, results in knowledge that would otherwise not exist to come into the world. (Or that introducing OML somehow obfuscates existing knowledge.) But how would this come to be?

    Put more simply, Option B requires that stripping away OML, but also brings something in. But where does it come from? Something has to enable or create the possibility of consent where it would otherwise not exist. In other words, option B doesn’t make much sense, given what you’ve said, but then that leaves us with option A.

    I hope you can see the problem.

    II. Harm

    You are now stating that that an adult having sex with a toddler — a toddler, just to remind you, this is what you said — does not cause harm to that toddler.

    Now, perhaps you only believe this in the context of a world with no OML. (EDIT: You say things, discussed later that seem to discount this possibility.)

    Let’s look at the two scenarios.

    A. Do you think it — an adult having sex with a toddler — would cause harm in a world with NO OML?

    B. Do you think it — an adult having sex with a toddler — would cause harm in a world with an OML?

    Now, it seems the answer you give to the first question is no.

    I’m not sure what the answer to the second question you give. (For the record, the answer is obviously yes to both. There is obvious physical and psychological damage, which so much academic literature, common knowledge, and common sense corroborates!)

    If your answer to B. is no, well I won’t obfuscate here. That’s honestly frightening, and I hope you will seek help. Like right now. Stop reading. Go!

    If the answer to B is YES, then it seems the existence of OML creates harm where it would not otherwise be. This is a claim I have never heard. It’s hard to beleive this is your claim. Think of what it takes for this to be actualized. You’ve created a world in which G-d seems to say:

    “I said X was wrong, Tom didn’t listen, therefore I will harm Billy.”

    Or at least some logical equivalent, since this is what we are left with:

    No G-d (No OML): Billy is unharmed
    With G-d (With OML): Billy is harmed

    Or put another way, you’re saying “the existance of OML creates harm where it would otherwise not exist”.

    I think it’s hard to believe this would be your claim. But that leaves us with an answer of NO to B, which is frightening. I hope you can see the problem.

    (EDIT: You seem to quite explicitly say that your view is indeed NO on B. I don’t really know what to say to that. How I came to this conclusion is quoted in section V.)

    III. Now put these two things together.

    I’m going to leave aside the most freightening possibility — that you think in our OML endowed world toddlers can consent to sexual activity, and that you believe that sex with toddlers causes them no harm. Again, if you think this, you need to seek out help. Like right now.

    So that leaves us with a belief that:

    Adding OML to a world creates harm where it would otherwise not exist, and takes away knowledge where it would otherwise exist.

    Taking OML away from a world, removes harm where it existed, and endows knowledge where it did not exist before.

    This is a pretty tall order for a set of moral guidelines.

    Honestly, it’s rather non-sensical. But again, that takes us back to the very freightening other set of options.

    I hope you see the problem. (Again, given that you fairly specifically say the answer to II-B is NO, it’s very problematic.)

    IV. I and II give you a bit of the logical consequences of what you’ve said, but let me also give you a bit of the visceral view. Here I’m not making very specific arguments relating to very specific things you’ve said, but rather discussing the impression that you’ve left and why it strikes people as very problematic.

    Here’s where I think things began to get off track, and you left a problematic impression on your readers.

    Stephen said:“and doing so [eating excrement] would make you sick.”

    Terry said:“Bingo! There’s a real, physical, negative consequence to this action.”

    Stephen replied:“Likewise child rape.”

    Terry said:“To me, yes, mentally, here in my world with OML, the thought is repugnant and turns my stomach.”

    You did not mention the child.

    Stephen wasn’t talking about “real, physical, negative consequence” to you. He was talking about the child.

    The fact that this was not clear to you — as I bet it was to anyone else reading — that your mind jumped to ‘how does it hurt me?’ could have easily made one wonder about your empathy.

    But that was just the beginning.

    Later, you introduced this idea of a rapist raping a child, where the child (toddler, you said) does not resist. (Most of us would clarify that as ‘not aware enough to resist’ or ‘too scared to resist’ or ‘too trusting to resist’ or some other such thing.)

    You then directly state that sexual relations with a toddler do not harm a toddler.

    You described this thusly: “He always takes a “no” to mean “no”, and he even takes them out for ice cream afterwards! … So there’s no violence perpetrated against the child. The act of child sex (in this world) is free of any absolute, objective moral implications. He doesn’t physically harm the children; in fact, he’s rather nice to them.

    Think about this, you describe violating a child — a toddler — sexually not only does not cause harm, it can be “nice” for the child.

    That is sick Terry. Removing any moral component, it’s horribly factually incorrect. And it’s wrong on a topic with such horrid consequences. How have you gotten such a thing so badly wrong?

    (Here you seem to say that your answer to part II, question B, is NO, since you clearly state that it’s the moral implication which you now consider to be gone. You do not say that the harm to the child to be gone as well, with OML’s removal. The way you have worded this, leaves the explicit conclusion that you believe the harm does not exist, whether OML is there or not..)

    Honestly Terry, that’s worrisome. That’s horrible actually.

    You will not find any medical professionals who share this view. (Nor sane adults, for that matter.) I’ll quote wikipedia, which I think dryly underplays the terrible consequences here, but states: “The effects of child sexual abuse can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, propensity to further victimization in adulthood, and physical injury to the child, among other problems. Go there. Follow these links. Talk to doctors. Volunteer for various support groups..

    (I’m worried you’re going to glob on to the word ‘can’ so let me just say that “Russian Roulette can result in a bullet through the brain”.)

    I’ll be honest, I can’t read some of this — the descriptions of harm — because the real harm and injury is so terrible.

    And it seems that you actually believe this ‘there is no tangible harm’ argument. Here is what you said:

    Terry said:“You’ve [Stephen has] made the point that physical harm causes revulsion, and I think that’s a fairly sound argument. So what if the action causes no physical harm?” (emphasis mine)

    Here is what it seems like you’ve said:

    Yes, the violence causes harm and is bad. So I’ll separate that out. I’ll take the harmful violence away, but leave the “non-harmful” sex with a toddler.

    How can you not see how wrong — all kinds of wrong — that is?

    (Again, this certainly makes it seem that your answer to II-B is NO. This whole section of your post would make no sense otherwise.)

    Again, it’s not some subjective idea that it is harmful, it simply is — horribly harmful.

    Ask yourself this, quite honestly.

    Would you rather eat a handful of poo or have been sexually assulted as a toddler? What would you rather have a child you care about have to go through? Yeah, the first is gross, potentially sickening, degrading, etc. The second though, is unimaginable horrible.

    How you can think that the latter is not only better than the former, but not at all harmful?

    Seriously.

    Again, this isn’t a matter of opinion or value judgment. It’s an objective fact.

    V.
    The typical argument and criticism of a world with no-OML is something like:

    Yes, of course sex with toddlers causes them harm, but why should anyone care or be concerned that they are causing harm?

    You’ve gone far beyond this.

    You’ve essentially said, yes there is a reason to avoid and stop harm (“[Stephen] made the point that physical harm causes revulsion, and I think that’s a fairly sound argument. So what if the action causes no physical harm?.”

    So you wanted to come up with something that was morally wrong, but caused no harm.

    The example you chose to illustrate something where “no harm” takes place is sex with a toddler.

    (Again, unless your answer to II-B is NO, whole argument doesn’t make sense.)

    But you chose something which objectively and unequivocally causes harm. Something we all see as horrible because of the dreadful, heartbreaking harm it causes — yet you seem to see no harm in it at all. In fact, it’s your example of a harmless activity!

    Can you see why people would be horrified to see you say this?

    Sorry this is so long. I wanted to be succinct. I hope my propensity to over-explain doesn’t stop the points from getting across, because I think this is important. I’ve done my best.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  53. Terry L says:

    In response to Luke, from August 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm. I somehow overlooked this post:

    Terry said: “I think we all agree that the action could be neither Good nor Bad in a world without OMV.”
    No. We can agree it is not objectively (as in transcendentally) good or bad, but nothing more than that.

    Notice my definitions, given in the Aug. 2 post:

    Good -> IOMV-based moral action
    Bad -> IOMV-based immoral action
    good -> MSMV-based moral action
    bad -> MSMV-based immoral action
    neutral -> amoral action

    Terry asked:“So what, in that universe, makes an action “good” or “bad”?”
    Objectively as in transcendently? Nothing.

    That doesn’t mean that you or I can’t think certain things bad or evil, or good and wonderful.

    Terry said: “You’re assuming that one can have MSMV without OML. I don’t believe that’s possible.”

    I think that’s crazy, but it’s a discussion I would love to have when this one is concluded. It sounds very interesting. (As I mentioned, we’ve touched on it before.)

    What we think about certain things was not the question. The only way that the statement, “Sex with a child is immoral” can say anything at all about the actual action is if OML exists, and sex with a child is in violation of it.

    Your opinions about an action say what you THINK about the action, but nothing about the action itself.

    Which is a perfect segue into discussing the “location” of an idea. “Only in one’s mind” is not a location. It’s a metaphor meaning an idea that is not applicable universally. For instance, you might think the speed limit on the road by my house to be 15 mph. That law would exist only in your mind. The actual speed limit is 30 mph. The law that exists only in your mind doesn’t apply to anyone… INCLUDING YOU! You won’t be ticketed for driving 25 mph and violating the law that exists only in your mind.

    If, however, you believe the speed limit to be 55 mph, and you drive 50 mph down my road, you WILL be given a ticket. You’re judged based on the law that exists in reality, not the law that exists in your imagination.

    Terry continued:“We’ve established that Good does not exist. But if you (somehow) came to desire non-consensual sex with children, would your MSMV not also change?”

    Not necessarily. I often desire things I believe are wrong.

    Wrong? In a world with no OML? Did I miss something since I’ve been away from this thread for a few days? Or are you using this to mean a “wrong” based on MSMV?

    What does this change, in any practical sense?

    I think your scenario was preloaded… which is why I swapped child rape to adult-child sex.

    Everyone’s beliefs and desires are the same (again, it’s a hypothetical, you can believe it can’t be real).

    And I do. With such a fundamental change to the universe, you can’t possibly believe that everyone would have exactly the same ideas about the universe. As you and I both believe that God is the source of OMV, this scenario would be more plausible if it were phrased, “What would be the implications if it were possible for God to die, and the rest of the universe to continue on without him?” Then you have a society brought up in our world with OMV suddenly being thrust into a world without OMV.

    What is illogical about it? I don’t understand. The standard you are using to determine “better” and “worse” are your MSMVs.

    Ok… but we cannot communicate anything of value. You’re giving me metric measurements and I’m using English measurements. The scales are completely and totally different. The only way we can have a meaningful exchange of ideas is if we’re speaking of the same thing.

    I’ve never been to Texas. My wife has. We both have ideas of what “Texas” means in our mind, and we can discuss those ideas. However, her idea of Texas is closer to the real, objective Texas than mine is. She’s seen the real thing. I’ve only heard about the real thing.

    In the scenario you describe, there IS no real thing. There’s your ideas about this thing that doesn’t exist, and my ideas about this thing that doesn’t exist. I can’t say, “My ideas about this thing are closer to the real objective thing than yours are.” (But that seems to be what you’re doing when you impose your morality onto someone else in this world.)

    You’ve avoided the point though. You’ve agreed you would act in this way. You’ve given no reason why anyone would not act this way.

    Yes, but you front-loaded the morality into the question by insisting that I have an utter hatred of the action. I have to answer the question given the conditions you provided; I reserve the right to question the validity of those conditions.

    My point that “either you have these preferences yourself, at which point, they seem sufficient to motivate and explain behavior, or you don’t have them.”, remains undressed.

    And my question speaks to whether it is logical to assume that one would have them in a world with no objective moral values.

    How do you explain why we shouldn’t eat horse poo? You’ve already said we shouldn’t even with no OML.

    Because of the external motivating factor. Eating horse poo makes us physically ill. One has a negative physical reaction when one eats things not intended for consumption, and one learns to avoid those things in order to avoid illness.

    Why can we explain some behavioral guidelines and not others?

    Assuming you mean in our world with no OML, it’s obvious! You removed an external motivating factor when you redesigned the universe. You removed any objective moral law; therefore the inhabitants of this world have no external motivating factor of morality to influence their behavior. With no moral external motivating force, it’s difficult to see how they would even conceive of a moral internal motivating force.

    I agree that our opinions of/about reality, don’t change the nature of that reality.

    Opinions influence us, and we influence reality. I’ll agree with that. For what I meant, refer to the speed limit example above.

    Terry said and asked: “I’ve reiterated over and over Luke’s assertion that The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates an ought. However, is this not more correctly stated: “The desire, combined with the belief (or MSMV), creates a justification for the performance of a certain action.”

    There’s no justification needed in a world with OML. There is no prohibition, the breaking of which needs to be justified. I wouldn’t say it provides personal, subjective, justification either, because none is needed, since this already aligns with the given preferences and desires.

    The fact that we’re having so much trouble defining what these things are without resorting to morally-loaded language is enlightening!

    Terry said: If opinions cannot alter reality, then the “ought” created by our desires and MSMVs cannot exist in reality.

    Incorrect. See above, you’ve confused the difference between Stephen’s view of ice cream and my view of Stephen’s view of ice cream.

    Your opinion that the speed limit is 15 mph doesn’t change the reality that it’s 30 mph. The opinion, “I ought to drive 15 mph or less”, exists only in your mind. It doesn’t change the reality of the actual law. It might change the reality of how fast you drive. You said earlier that I was switching subjects; you’re switching direct objects.

    I asked you before: why should one do what one was designed to do? I mean this in a moral sense, how is one objectively obligated to do so.

    Will you allow me to clarify exactly what your asking, as my previous answer seems to have been insufficient?

    What do you mean by “objectively obligated”?

    I’ll try to reply to your post above soon… haven’t had time to read it yet, and I have to leave now.

    Reply
  54. Terry L. says:

    Luke:

    A.In a world with OML you also believe that toddlers can consent to sexual activity (i.e. “consensual sex with toddlers” is something which can logically exist in a world with OML).

    This isn’t a belief, it’s a fact! In any world, toddlers can consent to baking cookies. Toddlers can consent to playing dolls. Toddlers can consent to playing doctor. Toddlers can consent to having sex. How could one deny otherwise?

    To say they can is not to say they should, or that they should even be asked the question, at least in this world.

    Consent isn’t the issue; nor is knowledge. A toddler can consent to baking cookies even though they’ve never baked, or even seen a cookie. They’d probably ask questions for more details, but our odd man in the world with no moral law could easily explain clearly what they were going to do, and the toddler could say yes or now.

    You say that A is a frightening prospect, and that the reasons are self-evident. And in our world with objective moral laws, I agree, but humor me and explain those self-evident reasons in a world with no objective moral values.

    But the real issue is that sex with children is simply wrong. It is a violation of God’s design for sexuality. You removed that design from our mythical world by removing the moral law, seemingly leaving sexuality nothing more than a physical activity, no better or worse than baking cookies or playing with dolls. (More on this later, if I have the time…)

    B.In a world with OML you believe that toddlers cannot consent to sexual activity.

    Are you sure you’re not confusing “cannot” with “should not”? That’s the whole point of morality; to differentiate between what one “can” do, and what one “should” do. In our world, one shouldn’t rape, but it’s done. One shouldn’t have sex with children, but we have children having sex with each other! Years ago, I knew a kid in kindergarten who talked a girl into going into the classroom closet with him and removing all of their clothes. I don’t believe for a second that his actions were not, at least in part, sexually motivated.

    You are now stating that that an adult having sex with a toddler — a toddler, just to remind you, this is what you said — does not cause harm to that toddler.

    Not quite. I defined that an adult having sex with a toddler in this world with no objective moral values causes no harm to the child, just as you defined in your scenario regarding child rape that I would have an utter hatred for such an action, even if that universe has no objective moral law. You gave me no choice but to hate the action, even if there were no justification for such a hatred. If you can set such a parameter in your world, I reserve the right to do the same in mine.

    A. Do you think it — an adult having sex with a toddler — would cause harm in a world with NO OML?

    Not in my world, but only because I defined it so. My express purpose in this scenario was to remove the element of harm that I felt was clouding the issue. I wanted to get past the empathetic reasons to take action and focus on the action itself.

    B. Do you think it — an adult having sex with a toddler — would cause harm in a world with an OML?

    Of course! I’m actually a little offended that you’re asking such questions. How much more plain can I make it… ADULTS SHOULD NOT HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN!

    There is obvious physical and psychological damage, which so much academic literature, common knowledge, and common sense corroborates!)

    If the answer to B is YES, then it seems the existence of OML creates harm where it would not otherwise be.

    Have you never read Hebrews?

    Or put another way, you’re saying “the existance of OML creates harm where it would otherwise not exist”.

    Of course it does. It’s another set of restrictions against what men should do, and when they violate that restriction, harm is done. What else would you expect?

    If there is no law against an activity, then one is free to do that activity. When we create a law, then harm is done when the law is broken

    Adding OML to a world creates harm where it would otherwise not exist, and takes away knowledge where it would otherwise exist.

    Taking OML away from a world, removes harm where it existed, and endows knowledge where it did not exist before.

    This is a pretty tall order for a set of moral guidelines.

    Almost. You’re backward on the knowledge. OML introduces a knowledge… not knowledge of to what one is consenting, but knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. With no OML, Ralph (who likes consensual sex with children… I’m tired of typing so much to identify him) doesn’t know that he should not do such a thing… because in his world, it’s not wrong.

    We have the greater knowledge in our world; we know that what Ralph desires is truly wrong because of the OML in our world.

    Rather than elaborate on this myself, I’ll defer to Charles H. Spurgeon:

    The first thing the law does to most men is to develop the sin that is in them. Paul writes, “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” But, as soon as he found that there was a law against a certain sin, by some unhallowed instinct of his unrenewed nature, he wanted to do the very thing that he was forbidden to do. It was like that with us, the first effect of the entrance of the law of God into our hearts was to develop the sin that was already within us. “That is a dreadful thing,” says one Yes, it is; but look at the matter from another aspect. Here is a man who has within him a dire disease which will be fatal if it is allowed to remain, so the physician gives him some medicine which throws the disease out. The man used to have a beautiful complexion, but after he has taken that medicine, his face is covered with blotches. Is that a bad thing? Yes, the blotches are bad, but the hidden disease was worse. While that disease was concealed within his system, and was killing him, he probably did not even know that is was there. He knew that he was not well, and perhaps thought that he was dying as the result of some other complaint; but now he sees what the disease is, and everybody sees it, and now that which looked like an evil thing may turn out to be for real good to the man. So does it often happen mentally, morally, and spiritually. A man’s wicked heart is full of enmity against God, yet he thinks—and perhaps he is right in thinking—that he is outwardly a strictly moral man; but, lo! the law of God, with its requirements of perfect purity and Absolute obedience, enters his heart, and he rebels against it, and now the sin is apparent, even to himself. It is likely now that this man will repent of sin, it is highly probable that this development of his latent sin will lead him to form a different opinion of himself from any that he ever had before; and therefore, though the sin is evil, and the development of it is evil, yet, where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound, and so good shall come out of the evil after all.

    http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3115.htm (Emphasis mine)

    Regarding your discussion of the dialog between Stephen and myself, methinks thou dost protest too much. Here’s why:

    Stephen said:“and doing so [eating excrement] would make you sick.
    Terry said:“Bingo! There’s a real, physical, negative consequence to this action.”

    Yes, that action would make the actor sick. I didn’t mention the effect on the object of the action. I don’t have any idea how the excrement would feel about being eaten!

    Stephen replied:“Likewise child rape.”
    Terry said:“To me, yes, mentally, here in my world with OML, the thought is repugnant and turns my stomach.”

    Again, I’m speaking of the actor, in our world with OML. No, I did not mention the object of the action.

    You did not mention the child.

    Stephen wasn’t talking about “real, physical, negative consequence” to you. He was talking about the child.

    The fact that this was not clear to you…

    It’s still not clear to me. This is Stephen’s original statement–the entirety of his original material in his post on August 2:

    The reason you don’t eat excrement is because the thought of it makes you feel sick, and doing so would make you sick. Likewise child rape. The analogy holds fine. If you’re saying you’d have extra reasons not to eat horse poo, the same would hold for child rape too.

    He mentions…

    1. The thought of it makes you feel sick
    2. Doing so would make you sick.

    He didn’t mention the child either. Are you as concerned for him as for me?

    Later, you introduced this idea of a rapist raping a child, where the child (toddler, you said) does not resist. (Most of us would clarify that as ‘not aware enough to resist’ or ‘too scared to resist’ or ‘too trusting to resist’ or some other such thing.)

    Do you mean Ralph? If so, then I object to your use of the term “rapist”. If you have your original child rapist in mind, then please give me the time and date of my post so that I can understand which post you’re referring to.

    You then directly state that sexual relations with a toddler do not harm a toddler.

    Yes. I defined that these sexual relations will not harm the toddler.

    Think about this, you describe violating a child — a toddler — sexually not only does not cause harm, it can be “nice” for the child.

    “Violating” implies a moral dimension that simply is not there in a world with no OML. And I intentionally went over the top in that particular post to prove my point… and you and Stephen have helped me do just that. I’ll explain in a bit.

    I’ll quote wikipedia, which I think dryly underplays the terrible consequences here,

    Need I remind you yet again that you’re quoting a document drafted in a world with OML? I firmly agree with you that this is horribly understated, but it has absolutely no bearing on the world of our thought experiment. You’ll have to consult the Wikipedia in that universe!

    The effects of child sexual abuse…

    Case in point. “Abuse” implies that the activity is wrong. By your definition, it cannot be morally wrong. By my definition, no physical or mental harm comes to Ralph’s little friends. Are you prepared to describe other reasons why this action would be wrong?

    Here is what it seems like you’ve said:

    Yes, the violence causes harm and is bad. So I’ll separate that out. I’ll take the harmful violence away, but leave the “non-harmful” sex with a toddler.

    It was exactly my intention to remove any physical and mental violence against the child. And I’ve asked you and Stephen repeatedly to identify what makes Ralph’s actions bad in a world with no OML. No one is getting hurt, so that’s not the problem.

    How can you not see how wrong — all kinds of wrong — that is?

    Of COURSE it’s wrong… until you declare that wrong does not exist, as you did when you first described this world with no OML.

    Again, it’s not some subjective idea that it is harmful, it simply is — horribly harmful.

    And this was my point! I think the harm is simply obfuscating things; that’s why I defined it away. Is the harm done to the child the ONLY reason that this action is wrong? There’s NO OTHER REASON why one shouldn’t have sex with kids? You seem to think so, yet haven’t explained why.

    Do you honestly believe that if it were possible to have sex with a toddler in our world without causing physical or mental harm, that it would be OK? Would it be OK in a world with no OML? Explain your answer please!

    Would you rather eat a handful of poo or have been sexually assulted as a toddler?

    Actually, one of these I know about firsthand. If you think for one second that I don’t believe that sexual abuse of toddlers is wrong, then you have no idea what happened to me before I was even in Kindergarten. My case was very mild, compared to most cases, and I don’t feel that I’ve been permanently scarred by it; but I wouldn’t wish even what I went through on anyone. And as mild as it was, I’d NEVER say it’s “not at all harmful”. If you want to imply that I don’t have empathy with these kids, well, perhaps you’re right. I don’t have to have empathy… I am one of them! Don’t even try to tell me how horrible it is unless you’ve been there.

    But you chose something which objectively and unequivocally causes harm.

    I promised to come back to this later, given time. So here goes:

    In our world with no OML, no activity is wrong. Morally speaking all actions are equal. We covered this early on. No action is good or bad in and of itself; it is only made good or bad by the opinions of its participants and observers.

    Now let’s address your statement, “objectively and unequivocally causes harm.” First of all, I explicitly defined this out of the equation, but let’s ignore that for a moment.

    Let’s consider the physical harm first. I specified explicitly (and you quoted me) that Ralph “doesn’t physically harm the children”. I will not be more explicit here, but suffice it to say that his contact with them would never involve things that would cause physical damage. I think you would agree that there are some activities that we would consider sexual (and inappropriate) that could meet this criteria, even in our own world. Again, remember the difference between what one can do, and what one should do!

    Regarding the mental damage, I tried to imply that he was just as considerate mentally as well as physically, and again you quoted me: “He always takes a ‘no’ to mean ‘no'”. If he wants to play “Chutes and Ladders” and the child says no, then he doesn’t force the child. The same goes for… other… things that again, I will refrain from explicitly describing. Suffice it to say that the child never feels pressured to do anything.

    If you’re going to make the case that he cannot avoid doing mental damage to the child, then I’ll have to ask where that mental damage comes from? Why does it exist? In our world, baking cookies together doesn’t cause mental damage. Riding bicycles together doesn’t cause mental damage. Sharing a(n appropriate) hug causes no damage. Yet, there’s something about sexual activity that is different. There’s a different “oughtness” with sex than with baking cookies. It’s not just another physical activity–there’s more to it than that! Yet, materialists (not you) would have us believe that all we are is the matter in our bodies. If that were true, it seems that one physical activity would be no different in “oughtness” than any other.

    All I’m trying to do is to identify where that difference in “oughtness” comes from. If, as I believe, that difference comes from the OML, then the absence of the OML would render the act of sex no more damaging than baking cookies!

    You’re welcome to disagree with me on the origin of this “oughtness”, but if you do, you’ll have to justify it based on the features of that world, and without resorting to any damage to the child… because by definition, Ralph does not damage the child in that world. And if you cannot justify such a difference, then isn’t it true that the difference must come from the only difference between the worlds–the existence or lack of OML?

    This has huge implications in our own world! If there’s a transcendent “oughtness” to sex, then there is a design to the way that sexuality “ought” to be handled. Given that, we must consider what other “oughts” there are around sex. “Should people practice homosexuality” “Ought people to have sex outside of marriage?” “Ought men to practice polygamy?” As we’ve established that our own opinions are of no help here, we must try to discover what the OML has to say about such topics.

    Given that, haven’t you answered your own question:

    I asked you before: why should one do what one was designed to do? I mean this in a moral sense, how is one objectively obligated to do so.

    Let’s take your advice and apply a specific case instead of the generic: If sexuality is designed such that adults ought not have sex with toddlers, then why should one do what one is designed to do?

    You’ve given me reason, after reason, after reason why. Reasons that I fully agree with. But I think there’s one huge reason missing from your explanation: Men were never meant to have sex with toddlers! It’s morally wrong to do so. It is this moral wrongness that makes the action so traumatic when it is not done in accordance with its design. It is, in your words (and very accurate words), a VIOLATION of their person. That trauma impacts the participants, and at time impacts those with whom they are close.

    Sorry this is so long. I wanted to be succinct. I hope my propensity to over-explain doesn’t stop the points from getting across, because I think this is important.

    You never have to apologize to me (of all people) for long posts, after some of the epics I’ve written! I suffer from the same tendency to over-explain ad nauseam. And this is important! My only regret is making the chains on Frank’s site so long! Other than that, I enjoy our extended conversations. Well, most of them anyway! 😉

    You’ve misunderstood or misinterpreted the meanings of several of my posts. That’s the danger one runs when one is intentionally provocative as I’ve been, but at least this got a lot of points out on the table in a short amount of time.

    -tl

    Reply
    • toby says:

      “But the real issue is that sex with children is simply wrong. It is a violation of God’s design for sexuality.”

      Your bible says nothing against pedophiles. you’re reading things into your religion to suit your own feelings and views.

      Reply
      • Terry L. says:

        Toby, how big would the Bible have to be if it explicitly said “Thou shalt not…” for all of the “Thou shalt nots”?? There’s be no place left for humans on this planet… it would all be taken up with the Big Book of Prohibitions.

        We were given the knowledge that marriage was to be between one man and one woman. We were told to be sexually pure and a holy people (see below). We were told to love our neighbor as ourselves.

        And as much as you hate to hear it, we were given the moral law… the remnants of the image of God remaining in us that informs us that some things were just not meant to be. Stephen and Luke have demonstrated this admirably, finding the thought of sex with children to be abhorrent, even when discussing it in the context of a world with no objective moral values.

        Also, it was the old covenant that was based on the law… the “thou shalt nots”. The new covenant is based on grace… the “thou shalls”. You shall love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.

        What do you think about this world without OML? Is sex between adults and children acceptable IF no damage is done to either party? If not, then why not?

        Ephesians 5
        3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

        Reply
        • Toby says:

          “What do you think about this world without OML? Is sex between adults and children acceptable IF no damage is done to either party? If not, then why not?”

          If there were a world in which no damage would be done to either party, then probably it would not be a taboo and would be acceptable. But, you would agree, damage is done in this world. If warfarin didn’t effect us, we could go around eating rat poison all the live long day.

          “And as much as you hate to hear it, we were given the moral law… the remnants of the image of God remaining in us that informs us that some things were just not meant to be.”

          I hate to hear it because it’s such a weak, unfalsifiable bald assertion in an old book that has no supporting evidence at all. It’s not much different than asserting that the invisible monster in my backpack would be green if it were visible.

          “We were given the knowledge that marriage was to be between one man and one woman.”

          yeah, I don’t think you can argue this if you’re following an Abrahamic religion with it’s multiple accounts of plural marriage from the biggest names in the business, Solomon, Abraham, David, Moses. Add to that arranged marriages and forced marriages and the good book begins to look like pretty poor model to argue from about “traditional marriage”.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            “But, you would agree, damage is done in this world.”

            And importantly Terry’s not shown why this wouldn’t be the case just because there was no God-caused OMV.

            You can’t just say ‘If we lived in a world with no cats then we wouldn’t wear use umbrellas”, and then when questioned on that reply: “…because it would only rain over the ocean”. That’s introducing an extra element that you haven’t connected to the first. All Luke originally posited was a world lacking OMV’s – specifically OMVs that come from God. No-one mentioned extra details like pedophilia not being damaging in that world. And no-one’s given a reason for why OMVs would be necessary for pedophilia to be damaging.

            Therefore we can assume that it’s as damaging in that world as this one.

          • toby says:

            Yeah, I don’t think he can make the case that a world without objective morality that pain doesn’t exist. I guess he could claim that it wouldn’t be called bad so it would be ignored by all. But we feel pain to prevent damage to ourselves so it seems to follow that in a world where pain is ignored the life would not survive very long and the idea of pedophilia wouldn’t be an issue because everyone died of burn wounds or ignoring that arrow sticking out of their chest.

          • toby says:

            terry, is it your stance that in a world without objective moral values that everyone would be psychopaths? Do you think that it’d be a free for all of steal and murder because they “couldn’t call anything right or wrong”? Would even the concept of right or wrong not exist? If a person feels pain, they’re gonna label it bad.

            I assume that in this world there are no objective moral values because those are theistic/supernatural inventions and we’re operating under a combination of social norms, pressures, genetic makeup, and many other things that lead us to act the way we do. So how do you tell one world apart from another? One world with objective values vs one without.

  55. Terry L. says:

    I REALLY need to clarify something…

    I said above, “perhaps you’re right. I don’t have to have empathy… I am one of them!”

    That was not to imply that I do not empathize with these children; only to say that I do not have to try to feel what they feel. I am one of the “they”; I’ve been there… at least to a limited extent. I edited that sentence several times, and I changed what I was saying during the process, then failed to change the subject to make it clear.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “That was not to imply that I do not empathize with these children”

      You’re doing a great impression of someone who doesn’t even understand what empathy is, let alone is capable of feeling it. This is just how you come across in your posts, so sorry if this isn’t what you’re like in real life.

      Reply
  56. Terry L. says:

    Toby,

    Thanks for your input. It’s often very difficult to see things from another point of view. Luke and I are on record saying that we both believe that OML exists; I believe Stephen also believes that certain things are always wrong, though he disagrees with me and Luke about why they’re wrong. You, on the other hand, have said that you believe that we live in a world with no OML; you’re probably the most qualified of the four of us to speak to this sort of world (whether it’s real or imaginary).

    I want to address one point you made before returning to our discussion:

    “We were given the knowledge that marriage was to be between one man and one woman.”

    yeah, I don’t think you can argue this if you’re following an Abrahamic religion with it’s multiple accounts of plural marriage from the biggest names in the business, Solomon, Abraham, David, Moses. Add to that arranged marriages and forced marriages and the good book begins to look like pretty poor model to argue from about “traditional marriage”.

    I didn’t speak about “traditional marriage”. I simply stated that marriage was to be between one man and one woman. And from what I find in scripture, Solomon, Abraham, David, and Moses (and I’ll throw in Jacob as well) were all wrong to take multiple wives. The Bible records their plural marriages; it does not endorse them. If you look closely, you’ll see that in most (if not all) cases, their multiple marriages were the source of all sorts of trouble, some of which persists to this very day! Had Abraham taken no wives other than Sarah, and had been faithful to her, then we wouldn’t have the entire Jewish/Arab conflict we have today. Not everything recorded in the Good Book was good; some of it was placed there as a warning to us.

    But enough of that topic for now… I’m not arguing from the Bible to establish the existence of OMV, so at this point, that’s a bit of a side trail. Back to our discussion….

    I’ll address several comments that you and Stephen made while trying to explain my position more fully in order to answer those questions.

    You said, “[T]erry, is it your stance that in a world without objective moral values that everyone would be psychopaths? Do you think that it’d be a free for all of steal and murder because they “couldn’t call anything right or wrong”?

    Per that unimpeachable source, Wikipedia, Psychopathy “is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior.”

    So it’s obvious, I think, that in such a world with no OML, psychopaths could exist. We don’t have to have OML to have social norms, so a psychopath would simply be someone who defied these norms, and showed no remorse or regret for doing so. However, the very existence of a social norm means that your question must be answered with a “no”. If there is a social norm, then by definition, a majority of persons are not displaying antisocial behavior.

    IF the social norm in that world (and strictly going by the definition, in this world also) was “a free for all of steal[ing] and murder”, then the quiet, live-and-let-live nice guy who did not steal and murder would be the psychopath. He would be the one displaying behavior that differs from the norm. I think we all agree that this violent society would be less desirable than the society where the nice guy who cares about his neighbors is the norm, but one cannot determine which is “better” than the other. You might prefer one to the other, but the psychopaths in both worlds obviously disagree with you. Neither of your opinions say anything at all about the quality of the worlds, but about your valuation of them.

    Would even the concept of right or wrong not exist?

    No. I don’t believe it would. I’ll explain below.

    If a person feels pain, they’re gonna label it bad.

    Obviously. Pain is less desirable than comfort. Anyone would say that it was preferable to live without unnecessary pain than with pain, but that doesn’t address the question before us. We’re not speaking of preferential goodness and badness, we’re speaking of moral goodness and badness. These are not the same. The doctor who causes you pain (preferential bad or “pBad”) is doing a good (morally good, or “mGood”) thing if he causes pain to save your life.

    Notice that pGood does not necessarily imply mGood, and pBad does not necessarily imply mBad. There is no strict correlation between mGood/mBad and pGood/pBad. In fact, to equate the two is to commit a category error. mGood and mBad addresses the action itself. pGood and pBad speaks to one’s opinion of a given action, and whether one personally finds it beneficial or preferable.

    If mGood and mBad do not exist, then one has to wonder where an idea of mGood and mBad… a concept of right and wrong, as you say… came from. If one’s goal is to dissuade another from pursuing a given action, it would seem sufficient to employ pGood and pBad. And indeed, those who say that morality is simply a product of empathy and societal mores depend on this being true. But we have a higher concept… a concept that some actions, regardless of whether they seem to cause harm, should never be done, and that some actions, even at great personal risk, should always be done.

    I was trying to delve into Luke’s question of (paraphrased), “How does a world with no OML differ from a world with OML?” It is my contention that this higher concept is our perception of an Objective Moral Law; That mGood actions are those actions that one should do, even at great personal risk, and mBad actions are those actions that should never be done.

    Earlier in the discussion, Luke introduced the child rape scenario; but this scenario actually contains two issues; the harm done to the victim (the issue of violence), and the issue of sex with a minor, perhaps even a very young minor. Violence is the poster-issue for those who say that morality is built on empathy, so using any violent act as an illustration to investigate this issue is front-loading the argument. I wanted to separate the two issues, and to move the illustration to a more neutral ground, and so I kept the sexuality issue, removing only the violent aspects of the scenario. Ralph became a “suitor” of a sort, instead of a rapist. This removes the temptation to conflate how we feel about a mugging [violence without (inappropriate?) sexuality] and adult/child sex [(inappropriate?) sexuality without violence].

    And so I described Ralph, a man who prefers sex with children, but who would perhaps even give his own life before he harmed a child. I’ve already discussed the issues of “harm” above, and I won’t repeat myself here, though I’m open to questions on what I’ve written.

    Luke and Stephen’s reactions were interesting, to say the least! They were outraged that I could be so un-empathetic, and could speak so “callously” about such a thing. But is such outrage justified?

    In a world without mGood and mBad, only pGood and pBad are available to use. My statements and questions were all designed to ask, “In this world, would you find adult/child sex to be pGood or pBad (or pNeutral), and why?” Ralph obviously considers his actions to be pGood. He enjoys it (pleasure seems to imply pGood), he inflicts no harm (seems to at least imply no pBad). I could continue here, but I won’t, in deference to good taste.

    The obvious question then is, “why would anyone call his actions pBad?” Luke’s scenario of child rape could be called pBad because of the violence, but with the violence removed, is there reason in this world with no OMV to call child sex pBad?

    I’m not interested in the, “Yeah, you can call ANYTHING pBad?” That’s true, but it gets us nowhere. Is it logical to call baking cookies with Grandma pBad just because you can? Surely if adult/child sex is to be called pBad, there is a logical reason why!

    To this question, you answered, If there were a world in which no damage would be done to either party, then probably it would not be a taboo and would be acceptable.

    Though we may not often agree, on this issue, we are in total agreement. Logically, to say that it would still be xBad (bad of ANY sort) requires a reason. I’ve heard no reasons given that did not refer to harm in some way, but those reasons quite obviously address the wrong issue. To that, you and Stephen wrote:

    [Toby] But, you would agree, damage is done in this world. If warfarin didn’t effect us, we could go around eating rat poison all the live long day.
    [Stephen] And importantly Terry’s not shown why this wouldn’t be the case just because there was no God-caused OMV.

    Yes, damage is done in this world (and possibly in that one), but that’s not the issue at hand. I don’t have to establish whether the action would actually cause damage to ask the question, “If no damage is caused, is the action acceptable?”.

    [Toby] Yeah, I don’t think he can make the case that a world without objective morality that pain doesn’t exist.

    That was never my contention. On the contrary, we have to assume that pain exists in order to ask if pain is the only reason that sex with children is wrong.

    On this question of sexuality, how many of us believe that our conclusion is reasonable? Among the four of us, or any other readers, is there anyone willing to go on record and say that in our world, if an adult and a child has sex (up to and potentially including intercourse) in such a way that neither person is harmed, then it is OK?

    Asked another way, “Are there any conditions under which it would be acceptable for an adult to have sexual relations with a child?”

    Or yet again, “Is child rape only wrong because it is violent?”

    (And to Stephen and Luke: not to throw Toby under the bus after he’s agreed with me, but I’ll point out that, as he is on record saying that we live in a world with no OML, and given his quote above, he has essentially answered these questions with a “Yes”. Do you or do you not find that more disturbing that my emphatic denial that this is true?)

    If you answer “Yes” to any of these, then I repeat Luke’s advice to you. “GO GET HELP! Now! Don’t finish reading, don’t reply, go NOW and get help!”

    But if you answer “No”, then the obvious question is, “Why?”

    That’s quite enough for one post, and I’ve other things to do. I look forward to your answers and feedback. I plan to finish up with an explanation of why I find adult/child sex to be abhorrent. In the meantime, feel free to contribute your own answers.

    -tl

    Reply
    • toby says:

      ” I believe Stephen also believes that certain things are always wrong, though he disagrees with me and Luke about why they’re wrong.”

      I think there are certain things that are wrong the vast majority of the time. I think if we tried hard enough we could come up with “24” moments (the tv show 24 that has crazy unlikely, extreme situations that would cause you to suspend certain norms you usually follow) that would justify an act you normally wouldn’t commit. The wonderboy of apologetics, William Lane Craig, uses what you’d call a front loaded example in his talks of “torturing babies for fun” as an act that is never right. Let’s imagine a 24 moment though. If a terrorist planted a nuclear bomb in a city that would kill 5 million people and the only thing that terrorist cared about was his/her infant child, after exhausting all other options I think most people would at least consider pulling out a baby’s toenails in order to save 5 million people. extreme and rare cases, but ones in which a person could justify behavior they’d never think of otherwise (and thankfully so rare they’ll likely never have to).

      I can’t think of a valid reason to ever have sex with a baby. a person may personally enjoy it, but more than that has to be considered. There is so much more to morality in this world than a label of right or wrong. Those labels are often shortcuts applied to actions that have been thought of in the many circumstances and have found few useful justifications for permitting them. Is there ever a valid reason for having sex with a baby other than personal pleasure? I can’t think of one. I suppose there could be a “24 moment” that you could justify it with, but that would be so rare that it would practically never happen. there are many things to consider in decisions. Outcomes and utility have a large role to play. Good and bad are great rules of thumb labels, but if someone were viciously attacking you I imagine you’d quickly think that murder was justified.

      More later. things to attend to.

      Reply
  57. Terry L. says:

    Toby:

    I like your allusion to “24”. Most people who know anything about that show will instantly know what you mean. I don’t think, however, that Craig uses a “24” moment in his example. You correctly quoted his example of “torturing babies for fun”, but then you compared that to a “24” moment where the protagonist was torturing a child, not for fun, but to gain leverage on a terrorist and to save 5 million lives.

    This is an example of a situation where there are no good options, but it doesn’t qualify as torturing babies for fun!

    Similarly, if I’m being attacked, and I kill the attacker, then I didn’t commit murder, I killed in self-defense. Any sane person I know recognizes the right to defend oneself from attack. It’s permitted by scripture as well as our laws.

    -tl

    Reply
    • toby says:

      “You correctly quoted his example of “torturing babies for fun”, but then you compared that to a “24″ moment where the protagonist was torturing a child, not for fun, but to gain leverage on a terrorist and to save 5 million lives.”

      Can you see how his it is an emotionally loaded debate trick? Why does he not say it’s “wrong to torture enemy soldiers for fun”? Perhaps it doesn’t have the same punch. It’s strange to me that the act itself isn’t wrong across the board (waterboard!) regardless of the circumstances. Morality is made up of actions, basically it’s verbs. are there any verbs that are never correct to perform? You’d think so in world with objective morality, but even you can see there are freak situations that would justify practically any act.

      “Similarly, if I’m being attacked, and I kill the attacker, then I didn’t commit murder, I killed in self-defense. Any sane person I know recognizes the right to defend oneself from attack. It’s permitted by scripture as well as our laws.”

      This is word mincing to justify an act a person normally never do. It’s because of the two different words. Murder is killing for gain (pleasure, money, some other kind of benefit). Killing for self-defense is also killing for gain. In high school art classes when the project being worked on is painting, does it cease to be painting because they are required to do it? Is it not called woodworking when someone forces you to do it? so when someone forces you into killing, it’s still killing. The murder/killing justification is just that, a justification hidden in words.

      So what we’ve come to is that morality is situational and based on reasons and outcomes. and the outcomes that we follow are trying to benefit our existence. I don’t see how you fit objective anything into that at all. Because it’s based on physical reality. If the whole world developed a severe peanut allergy we’d say it’s immoral to grow peanuts!

      Reply
  58. Terry L says:

    Toby

    You raise some very good points, and they provide an excellent opportunity to discuss motives and how they relate to the moral law.

    Can you see how his it is an emotionally loaded debate trick? Why does he not say it’s “wrong to torture enemy soldiers for fun”? Perhaps it doesn’t have the same punch. It’s strange to me that the act itself isn’t wrong across the board (waterboard!) regardless of the circumstances.

    Yes, WLC and I are both intentionally loading emotional content into the argument in order to make the point. However, I would say, (and I believe that WLC would also), that it IS in fact wrong to torture enemy soldiers for fun! If our troops were, to use your example, waterboarding enemy combatants just to watch them panic and for NO other purpose, then I condemn that action as immoral. If, on the other hand, they do so in order to find a bomb that will kill thousands of people, then I support it. (It’s a bit of a rabbit trail, but just to clarify, I’m not a fan of techniques that inflict real damage to the person. From what I understand about it (and it’s not much), waterboarding only simulates the sensation of drowning without any permanent physical side effects. Woefully, there are times when it seems the only choice is to choose the least of two immoral actions.)

    But we’ve discussed before how actions aren’t enough to establish the morality of the action.

    If you take a swing at me and miss, then I feel wronged, even though you’ve done me no harm. If you hit me accidentally, I do not feel wronged, even though you’ve harmed me. The difference is motive.

    You touched on this when you said, “I can’t think of a valid reason to ever have sex with a baby. a person may personally enjoy it, but more than that has to be considered.” I’d think that you can never have sufficient motive for some actions, such as adult/child sex, If that’s true, then that action would always be wrong, regardless of circumstance.

    But if you buy flowers for your wife, but accidentally send them to the wrong office, your wife will be more forgiving than she would have been had you intentionally sent flowers to another woman’s office.

    And that’s why the actions of murder and killing in self defense are not morally equivalent. Murder is motivated by personal gain of some form, it is an immoral action. Killing in self-defense or in the defense of others is motivated by the desire to stop an immoral action. It’s not motivated by personal gain; I’m already living. I don’t gain life by defending myself, I merely keep what I already have.

    It’s the same with accidental deaths such as the accident with Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward, Jr. Tragically, a young, promising racer lost his life, but there are no charges being considered at this time because there is “no evidence to support intent or criminal charges.” (Emphasis mine — http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2014/08/11/what-is-next-for-tony-stewart-kevin-ward-jr-investigation-nascar/13885435/)

    Both are killing, but both are not murder. To your painting analogy, it’s akin to painting a house and painting a portrait. Both are painting, but one is art. (I guess you could call painting a house “art”, but that’s not how we normally think of it.)

    So yes, morality IS based on “reasons” or motives. In an earlier conversation, I think it was you that envisioned a world that would instantly strike the perpetrator of an immoral action with the same action he was attempting to commit; you try to punch me, you feel the pain. I argued then (and I think you agreed, IIRC) that it would take God in order to make that world work because only God knows the hearts and motives of men.

    If the whole world developed a severe peanut allergy we’d say it’s immoral to grow peanuts!

    Possibly the reason they have a ban on owning or selling pythons as pets in Florida! (www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/08/10/python-eating-cats-florida/13876645/)

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