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Resources to defend the biblical gospel against the WMSCOG.
Centralizing Christ in sovereignty, predestination and election.
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I recently entered into a conversation with a person on the comment sections of one of our videos whose YouTube name is “Beetle Bobber” about moral absolutes as an evidence for the existence of God. This person is intelligent and respectful and I thought that the conversation would maybe be beneficial for others to read through and see both sides. So below I will be posting the full exchange between us directly from the comment section of the YouTube video. I’ll start with the very first comment that this person began the conversation with. His posts will have a red background and mine will have a blue background.
Beetle Bobber – The whole Bible lacks a moral compass, and not to be rude or anything, but if someone were to raise questions about the horrendous genocides that took place in the old testament, the xenophobia, the multiple acts of taking the women and children and literally treating them like property, or how the new testament justifies slavery, y’all would be stumped as well and would have to really try to justify these acts and it would sound absolutely ridiculous. I understand that energies were high but how you guys laughed at Seasonal sometimes really threw me off, because his explanations were how the church conditions them to be. It’s so difficult to break out of the loop that you’ve been subject to for years and years. It really does mess up your perception.
To be kind to one another should always be a priority.
Jordan Hatfield – Thanks for your thoughts. I don’t recall personally laughing at Seasonal for his responses at any point in this conversation. If I did then I would most definitely own it and apologize. — Your examples of problematic questions for the Bible are good ones. And I don’t have all of these questions fully solved in my own mind, but I have in my own studying found a lot of very reasonable and helpful answers to these questions. I’m continuing to search some of these things out… particularly the OT violence commanded by God. — I am curious about your first sentence. You said the Bible lacks a moral compass. It seems that when you make this statement you are assuming that there exists some sort of moral standard by which you are measuring the Bible’s morality by. Where do you get this moral standard? Do you believe in a different religion besides Christianity?
Beetle Bobber – Great Light Studios I apologize to you too, if me bringing up the ‘laughing at Seasonal’ thing seemed accusatory. Maybe I read too much into the gestures. You’ve found reasonable explanations? Looking forward to what you’ve found, also the fact that you’re trying to research it and stuff is pretty cool! Now, coming to the standards of morality, I do not believe in a completely objective sense of morality, neither do I believe in a completely subjective sense of morality. It’s in between but what I’m certain of is the fact that we all have a certain inner telling regardless of the religion we follow or the lack of it thereof. We cannot fully explain why we think certain acts are good or bad, it’s all a little ambiguous. It’s evolutionary wiring. There’s this book by Marc Hauser called Moral Minds – How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. If I had to put it shortly, judging from what I’ve seen in Bible (God driving the people absolutely crazy to the extent of women cooking up their own children and eating them) I would say the very fact that me, you, Kelsey and many others can admit we do see that certain acts in the Bible are utterly disturbing to the psyche does show that we do not get our morality from there.
To answer your question, I was a devout Protestant Christian for 14 years of my life and the next 4 years, immersed myself in the wmscog (I’m still in there, really don’t want to disappoint my parents and the like) but now I’m 18 years old, and no, not religious although I do attend, I’m very passive there. I’m leaning toward agnosticism and atheism.
Jordan Hatfield – (Sorry, this is kind of a long reply) Sounds like you are definitely on a journey! It’s good to hear your honesty in all of this. I most definitely get that there are some confusing things in the Old Testament, however I would be interested to know exactly what passages you are referring to that cause you to dismiss the Bible. Much of the time those instances of graphic judgements of God come after the Bible describes God giving significant time for repentance. I believe it was Canaan for example that was given 400 years to turn away from their wickedness. I believe that the evil that these nations were committing and the atrocities being committed were horrendous. God wasn’t simply wiping out an “innocent” people at random. He waited centuries giving them opportunity to repent. Now, I think this is very far away from solving the problem… and I don’t for a second think that it does. But it is just an example that I think it is an oversimplification to simply say “God did horrible things in the Old Testament” without looking at the specific examples and unpacking all the context surrounding these “horrible” events. I have other thoughts about this, but too much to share in this thread.
I would recommend you reading a book by Paul Copan called “Is God A Moral Monster.” The book is written to deal with these exact issues. He provides some very interesting and significant points… some of what he argues for is that there is a lot of hyperbole that was used in ancient times when speaking about war. It is a possibility that some of the statements in the OT about “slaughtering woman and children” was understood in the period these things were written as “exaggerated” language intended to communicate the FULL and COMPLETE victory that Israel was given over its enemy nations. For instance, when speaking about a victorious sports team, someone may say – “they obliterated the other team.” Obviously this doesn’t mean that one team literally exploded the blood and guts of the other team, but simply that they thoroughly and completely defeated the other team. I haven’t done enough personal researching of this to personally conclude if I fully embrace this view or not, but it has shown me that there are at least good arguments and explanations of some of the more difficult passages in the Old Testament.
You seem to have a good heart. You recognize evil for what it is. Good and evil seems to be an inescapable reality for all of us. One of the top 3 reasons I continue to be a Christian is precisely for this reason. I do not know of any worldview that better accounts for things like intrinsic human worth, love, truth, justice, etc. If I left faith in God, I feel that I would be eliminating the possibility of having any real, ultimate foundation for the most important values in my life — Loving others above myself, faithfulness to my wife and family, valuing every other human no matter their race, sex or social status, and so on. If I leave faith in God, then I don’t know how I could ultimately justify me pursuing things like kindness, humility and love as if these virtues held any more ultimate worth and significance than things like hate, selfishness and arrogance do.
I wrestle with my faith often. It can be tormenting at times actually… but at the end of the day, I feel like there is just something about Jesus that I can’t ignore. Even with all the unanswered questions I have about different things in the Bible, it doesn’t change the fact that when I look at the person of Jesus, I see a “self-authenticating evidence” that he is who he says he is. When I look at him, it is truly like a light shining in this dark world. When Jesus says he is “the light of the world,” I believe him, because when I look at the world and my own life and then look at him, I see light. I see that what he says about himself makes sense. What he says about me, the condition of the world and the condition of my own heart, it lines up with what I actually experience in reality. Not to mention, there is pretty remarkable and compelling historical evidence for the resurrection. Not 100% proven… but certainly compelling. Enough to make belief in the resurrection intellectually “reasonable” at least.
There’s a lot of questions and doubts I have about my faith… but I feel like Christianity answers more questions than it doesn’t. And I feel like it certainly answers more of the important questions than naturalism can. I often feel like Peter when Jesus stated some hard and confusing teachings in John 6. Many of his disciples left him because of their offense and confusion about what he was saying. It didn’t make sense to them. Jesus asked the 12 if they also wanted to stop following him. Peter said “where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68 —— I can really relate to this. I don’t always have all of the answers that I’d like, but I’ve found God faithful in my life and I’ve found Jesus to truly be light, truth and a rock to stand on. He’s the only thing I’ve found so far that helps make any sense of this reality that I wake up in every day. And the only thing who gives me answers and hope, even if I continue to have other things that go unanswered.
Sorry this was long. Hopefully something in all of this is helpful in some way.
Beetle Bobber – my answer is probably going to be even longer, so our “sorries” will cancel out 🙂 I know I might give one too many examples but I think it’s necessary to establish a clear understanding of what drove me away. Now, this might not sound like something debatable, but in hindsight, it’s a pretty important point.
1. God claims to be UNCHANGEABLE. (Mal 3:6, James 1:17, Num 23:19 among many others) I do not know what your standpoint on the Trinity/Triune God is, but I will use the more common explanation. We see a significant shift in the nature of God in the OT and NT. Jesus (who is Jehovah) is a watered down version of the fiery, jealous God who we are exposed to in the OT. Jesus rebukes certain commands (while saying he’s come to fulfill the law), and stresses on the importance of justice, mercy and compassion, whereas in the OT, in-group morality was the focus. Be nice to people of your land, but it’s okay to kill the others who don’t share your views on religion, eating habits, ways of worship, etc. Also, I’m not sure where, but in the NT, I’ve read something along the lines of “the law was not perfect so it was impossible to attain salvation through those rules” and we see a pattern where literally 90% of the law is abolished. Faith and Grace and belief in Jesus Christ becomes the new doctrine. Looks like God’s views and God himself did change a little bit if not a LOT. And we’re talking about an all powerful, all loving, all KNOWING, unchanging God.
2. Genesis 1:3, 14 – What was the ‘light’ that God created which he divided into night and day? How do THREE DAYS pass without the Sun or the Moon? Genesis 4:14 Who would kill Cain? What was he talking about, since neither Seth not Enoch were born yet. If we were to believe the Bible fully and take it as it is, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel were the first family. Abel’s dead, so Adam and Even remain. Where did his wife come from? This raises so many other questions about the existence of man. (I know it’s a famous debate topic, but I do have these thoughts) Were Adam and Eve really the first people to ever be created? But there’s proof of man existing for thousands upon thousands of years. We’re talking about a book that was divinely inspired by GOD himself and the very path to our salvation.
3. Exodus 13:17 PHARAOH let the people go. Exodus 14:4 I WILL HARDEN Pharaoh’s heart. It’s literally not even in Pharaoh’s control what he’s doing because the Lord is hardening his heart time and again. (In almost all the plagues, you will see this line) All of this grand ensemble to prove to the Egyptians and Israelites that he is the True God. So many soldiers and horses are buried underwater only because God wanted a little bit of, I don’t know, for everyone to acknowledge him. Could’ve parted the Red Sea without killing off so many people and horses.
4. Num 33:51-56 – killing off of the innocent and powerless, the children and babies. Num 31:17-18 this is atrocious, I can’t even fathom it. These are a set of clear instructions and instructions can’t be allegorical or in hyperbole. Ex 21:20-21 is a rulebook on how to engage in slave trade, buy and sell other living beings like yourself so that they can do all your work for you and on top of that, how to get away with capital punishment, physical harassment and abuse. The “masters” are to punished ONLY IF THE SLAVE DIES AS A DIRECT RESULT. So here, we have an all loving, omnibenevolent, just and compassionate God instructing people that it is okay to physically harm and beat them how much ever they wanted to, lest the victim should die. No, no, they cannot die but you can beat them with a rod to the brink of death and it will be okay. No one has been able to get around this, you simply cannot. You can say that it’s hyperbole, but again, no, it’s a CLEAR SET of instructions, clear. Deut 22:28-29 justification of rape and the fact that the victim can be bought by the rapist.
5. On Human Sacrifice : Lev 18:21 condemns human sacrifice to Molech because apparently, it profanes YHWH. But cut to Gen 22, it’s God asking Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac. You can say that God was just testing him and the important point is that Isaac wasn’t sacrificed because God was pleased with the his faith. Judges 1:19 takes a different, tragic and darker turn. Jephthah does end up sacrificing his one and only daughter to God. So what I’ve gathered from this is Human Sacrifice is okay as long as it’s an offering to the God of the Bible. Since God knows the end from the beginning, he knew that Jephthah would make a statement saying he’ll sacrifice whatever comes out of his house, he knew that the daughter would come, and he knew that Jephthah would end up having to kill his own daughter, but didn’t stop him.
6. Matt 16:28, Lk 21:32-33, Rom 13:11-12, James 5:8, 1st Jn 2:18, 1st Pt 4:7 The End Of the World and coming of God. These words were said to people who were there in real time with Jesus Christ and the disciples, these words were said around 2000 years ago, in the letters written to THOSE people, the people in those times, addressing them, but they’ve all passed and gone long back, and we’ve yet to see any of this transpire.
7. A Bible contradiction just to prove that the inconsistencies are right there, throughout. I found this when I was reading a compilation. Rachel’s burial in two different places, Gen 35:19 1st Samuel 10:2. There are many more, but this is the one I remember since I came across it recently.
8. Judges 18 – the People in Laish were minding their own business, living their lives and they didn’t even have a connection to any other kingdoms, neither did they have a relationship with anybody else but the Danites went ahead and burned down the city. Like, why?
9. Incest – Deut 27:22, Lev 18, Lev 20:17 all show that incest is detestable to the Lord. But the Father of our Faith, Abraham married his father’s daughter, who is literally his half-sister. Gen 20:12. There’s also a bunch of seven Sisters that marry their cousins from their father’s side, I forget the verses.
10. Noah’s flood. The animals, how did they live in harmony, how did he manage to travel whole world and gather the animals? Besides, the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh has the same exact trope, except it is way, way older than the Bible. The whole point of the flood was to eradicate all evil, clearly, the plan failed because there’s tons of evil even after that, till today. It just didn’t work in God’s favour at all. We are to bear in mind at all times that we’re talking about an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God.
11. I’ll just say one sentence – Homosexuality and how it’s supposedly “evil” In the eyes of God.
When you say that the Canaanites were punished for doing horrific things I’m assuming you’re pointing out the fact that they lived lives pleasurably, didn’t accept the God of the Israelites and worshipped multiple deities. This to me, comes off as religious intolerance. If you switched GOD with the IS or Al Qaeeda or Trump or Putin or anybody else, it would sound ridiculous and unreasonable. If God commanded you to slaughter the kids of the people around you who didn’t accept your faith, would you do it? The football team analogy is not claiming to be the divine, holy inspiration that promises to lead people to the Kingdom of Heaven. Besides, analogies work well rarely, on a small scale. See I know it’s not like that anymore, but we’re talking about a perfect being, the Bible is a book that so many households teach their children to live by, and that it is the absolute truth. But the inerrancies, inconsistencies, contradictions and questionable in-group morality is GLARING. The Bible only dates back to 6000 years ago, whereas the first religion came about around 300,000 years ago, around the Paleolithic age. The first monotheistic religion was Zoroastrianism, from which Judaism, Islam and Christianity derive a lot of principles. I also think that Geography plays a huge role in how religions develop. All three Abrahamic religions were developed in the middle East, which is why they take and give from each other. We don’t see the same happening in Asia. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, focus on being good human beings and how to live a righteous, dignified, wise life here on earth. Again, they give and take from each other.
if faith in Jesus Christ drives you to be loving, truthful, just and so on, that’s awesome, it’s great! But if God didn’t exist, wouldn’t you still continue to be good, kind, loving and compassionate? This is my opinion, and I feel like, to be good at all times even if no one’s watching me from above is the ultimate challenge. I’m from India and there’s an age old doctrine here called “Sanatana Dharma” which teaches people to GIVE, be good and kind. And these people don’t believe in a God but they are more loving, compassionate and kind than most people who follow a specific religion. If God was the reason we all have the sense of good and bad in us, I feel like atheists, people from other religions and stuff should all have different ideas of what good and bad is! We are all inherently, biologically wired the way we are, which is why we cannot explain fully why we think certain acts are good and bad. Besides, there’s the moral ambiguity situation that focuses on the circumstances. I’ve seen people from different religions, agreeing on a large scale on what is bad and what isn’t, without following that same belief systems and it’s beautiful.
Your journey toward your salavation is yours alone and I hope you don’t wrestle with your faith that often, that can be tiring. I was in such a state of confusion and blurriness that I used to stay up all night contemplating my faith and not being able to sleep because of the struggle. But it’s great that you have found your truth in Jesus Christ and his teachings, there’s a lot to take away from there if I do say so myself. Timeless teachings. I see where the name “GREAT LIGHT STUDIOS” comes from, it’s pretty cool to think about the light you see in your life and to live it everyday! You’re doing great service to God and the dedication you have is inspiring. If the God of the Bible does exist, I’m sure he’s proud of everything you’re doing and the extensive amounts of research you might’ve been putting into all this.
The way you represent the Christian faith is so mature and humbling, and even if we cannot agree on our views, I do respect what you do and your beliefs!
what’s this proof you talk about? Regarding the resurrection? I’d like to see it.
I don’t quite agree with you on that, Christianity according to me raises more questions than it answers. Religion is the root cause of all terrorist activities, ostracism and conflicts all over the world. Syria, Libya, Palestine, Israel, Pakistan, India, at the top of the list. I know this is more of a worldview, but it’s relevant. It’s different for each of us, you wake up with Jesus as your light, some others wake up with Allah as their light, some believe in the Universe and it goes on. Ultimately, if that’s your truth, live it unapologetically.
Jordan Hatfield – Thanks for taking the time to share all of that. It seems that maybe you have been reading Dawkins or Hitchens? Maybe not? You are definitely well-spoken and articulate. More-so than most 18 year olds I have known.
Again, I recognize there are some problems in some of the OT (Old Testament) references you brought up that need good answers. You are justified to have confusion and even some frustration over it. But I do feel that many of the examples you gave were given a spin to them that I think are not accurate. I feel like there is a lot of context around these stories and the rest of the OT that have to be looked at and considered. I understand that your purpose here is just to give quick snapshots of why you left Christianity and not to fully expound upon the meaning and context of each of these OT passages. But, I think that these examples represent only a narrow-visioned focus in on the more negative details of these stories while not adequately taking into account the rest of the who, what, when, where and how. I know it probably sounds like a bit of a cop-out to simply discredit what you said by touting “a lack of context.” And that’s not at all what I’m trying to do! I don’t claim this is discrediting everything you said at all. I’m just saying that there is MORE to be said than what you have said about these examples. I’m saying this as much for other possible readers of this conversation as I am for you.
Again, I think you made a handful of valid points from the OT that I’m not sure if I have great answers for right now. But you also gave a handful of OT examples that I feel didn’t fairly take into consideration the broad picture of both the immediate context and overarching themes and stories. I don’t have time to go into every example you gave, but hopefully I can touch on a few before our conversation ends.
First though, I want to point out that most every argument you gave against the Bible is coming from your “assumption” that there IS in fact morality. Good and evil. Right and wrong. You are very disturbed and distraught about supposed “evil” in the Bible, and I think that ultimately this is a good quality in you, but yet I can’t see how you have any rational justification to be so offended by this “evil.” What is evil in your worldview?
You just got done telling me you don’t believe in objective moral standards, but now the basis of much of your argument against the OT largely relies on moral standards actually existing!
Let’s just assume you are right in the direction you are headed. There is no God. Religion is all simply the invention of man. There is no ultimate purpose, meaning or destiny for humanity. Intrinsic human worth is a man-made construct, holding no actual, ultimate truth or scientific evidence to support this idea. We are the product of a random explosion and mindless, purposeless, un-guided processes. If that’s the case… then so what if “God” commanded one nation to kill another? Survival of the fittest. This is evolution 101. This is how we got here. To take issue with one tribe or nation ruthlessly slaughtering another is to take issue with the very means of your own existence.
So what if “God condoned rape” as you say? — (which is one example where I think further examination of the context is helpful). Who sets the standards to say that rape is more wrong than consensual sex? What right do you have to tell the rapist that he is “wrong?” Rape-like activities often take place in the animal kingdom, so when men or woman rape other men or woman or children, they are simply acting out their natural animalistic nature. How bizarre to act as if there’s some “invisible standard” that somehow makes this “wrong.” I don’t get it. I’m not trying to be harsh, snarky or belittling to you in any of this. I just hope that some of my bluntness will help you think about things that perhaps you haven’t before.
Another example you brought up was slavery, but… so what about slavery? Since when is it “wrong” for one highly evolved piece of dirt and chemicals to own another highly evolved piece of dirt and chemicals? Who says it’s wrong? Why should I care what “they” say? To westernized culture and society it’s agreeably “wrong” but to the ancient civilizations it was “right.” Why do you feel that your opinion of right and wrong in this case is a more accurate reflection of actual “right and wrong” than theirs?
You asked if I would continue to be moral. Again, I feel that if we are removing God from the picture, then your question here becomes a bit unintelligible and meaningless. Would I continue to be “moral?” Again, what is morality? To me, this question would be no different than asking me – “if God doesn’t exist would you continue to be figglethwarporsmeous?” (I just made up this word by the way). Do you see my point? Both questions ultimately contain the same weight in value, meaning and significance. That is, they contain no weight. Morality is simply a human invention just as “figglethwarporsmeous” is. Neither mean anything ultimately besides whatever “meaning” you choose to give them. But to me, this is an untenable way to function as a human being in a society with other human beings. And it seemingly contradicts in such extreme ways so much of what I see and experience in my existence every day. To say that morality can be reduced to simple human preference and whatever the current societal standards are just doesn’t work for me. It’s incredibly non-compelling and unconvincing. It just didn’t jive with the reality that I live in every day.
I will answer your question though just for the sake of the conversation. “Would I continue to be moral without God?” I hope so. I think in many ways I would. But probably not in every way. I would definitely change in many ways I think. But the point isn’t whether or not I or you would continue to be moral without God. The point is would we have any rational, logical basis for continuing to be moral? Would their be any ultimate, valid purpose or reason to do so? My answer is an emphatic “no.” If I chose to continue to be the same “moral” person apart from God that I am with God, I would be doing so in spite of logic and reason and not because of them.
Side not: Now keep in mind, when I say that God gives me logic and reason to be moral, we aren’t yet discussing whether or not the God of the Bible can be thought of as moral superior in light of the OT. That’s beside the point for now. I bring God into the equation at this point not to assert that there are not moral problems that need solving in the OT, but simply to say that I believe there must be a transcendent, non-physical person, like the God of the Bible, in order for me to have any rational basis for holding morality as something that is objective.
If there is no God, then my “morality” would be necessarily reduced to nothing more than my “personal preference.” But I certainly would have no rational justification to argue that my morality is “better” or “more valuable” than others. Or that all people everywhere should agree with my standard of morality. Or that there is any “actual,” “real” significance, worth or value to whatever moral behaviors I attempted to live by.
If I believed there was no God and that the Bible is all false, I certainly don’t see how I could logically and rationally justify sitting in the position you are in now, attempting to discredit the Old Testament God on the basis of “moral arguments.”
Another important point to bring up that has to do with this issue of morality is the question of where our societal standards came from. Good arguments are made that much of the ideology of intrinsic human value, dignity and worth have largely come about in western civilization as a result of the teaching of Jesus and the influence of Christianity in the world. Tom Holland, a non-Christian historian recently wrote a book arguing for this very point. If this is the case, then it would seem that in trying to discredit the Bible you have to rely on Biblically rooted ideologies of human worth and value in order to make your case. In other words, in your arguing against the Bible, you seem to actually be arguing against yourself and against your own arguments. The bulk of your arguments seem to be rooted in an ideology of intrinsic human worth and value, but as you are arguing against the Bible, I feel you are arguing against the very source of those ideologies! This presents an obvious dilemma that I don’t think I need to explain.
Hopefully all of this makes sense and doesn’t come across as brash or snarky. That isn’t my attitude or desire. I feel passionate about this because this is a very big part of why I continue to have faith. And I feel that a naturalistic framework becomes a self-contradictory mess when trying to answer and explain many of the things I have brought up.
There’s so many other things I want to respond to, but to keep the convo productive it’s helpful for me to try to stay more focused on one particular point at a time. So, I’m gonna pause there for now.
Beetle Bobber – yes I do read and listen to Dawkins’ lectures among many others. Hitchens? No, he was a master of rhetoric and a great debator, but I’m not into his stuff. I seriously don’t think I gave any of these stories a “spin”. All I did was, compare them to today’s moral standards, they’re wrong. Now, what is evil/bad? I would define evil or bad according to most philosophies which state that that which negatively affects us, and minimise happiness, maximise pain is what is evil.
Moral standards DO exist. Morality does exist. Just not “objective morality”. I will get to that in a bit. But first, what is morality? I couldn’t find the right words to put it into a short sentence, so I’m just going to borrow the definition that Alex, an intellectual has used. “Morality is the intuition that we ought to do that which is good and ought not do that which is bad.” We will go in an endless cycle, “what is good?” Well, good is that which maximises pleasure, happiness (survival, sustainability are requirements to be happy)
Being “good” is literally what you’re doing for yourself, your own instict to save yourself from danger. I don’t want people to be raped/killed/sold off as a slave because I DON’T want to be raped/killed/ sold off as a slave myself. And it causes me great grief and hurt to see others going through that.
Doing what is good or right without falling victim to fear of supernaturally charged retribution or even just to supposedly be eligible to enter Heaven (as is the case with monotheism) is “morality” in my humble opinion. Through religion, so many actions can be classified as good and bad without detailed analysis, discussion or even thinking through it. If the book says it’s wrong it’s WRONG.
Yes, your Westernized culture, values and ways of living come from the Bible, but the life lessons in the Bible aren’t found ONLY in the Bible. Any culture, tribe, or even religion have these lessons ingrained into them though stated and framed in their own ways. The thing is if you’re growing up within a society, you learn these things, through personal experience and your own feelings.
Religion does play a huge role in how we live our lives, but then again, our socio-cultural backgrounds and Geographical standards play a role in WHICH religions we are born into. And it’s astounding how all over the world, we can agree on majority of what we call good and bad. (Again, there are exceptions, but I said MAJORITY). There’s the Bible that apparently influenced your Western culture, Buddha’s timeless teachings influence Nepalese people, the Bhagavad Gita influences Indian culture and so on, but we see good people everywhere. It’s almost a global standard.
When you boil down what “good” means, it ultimately comes down to YOU, ME our personal feelings that you so easily dismiss. Morality simply cannot be objective. Even if it comes from God himself, it cannot be objective because religion and feelings go hand in hand. You BELIEVE in the religion that you follow because you FEEL it is valid, and the absolute truth, it’s your FEELING. The people who believe what ever religions they follow do so because they have FELT something about it that has moved them, and feelings are HIGHLY subjective, very individualistic. Ultimately, morality is subjective, philosophically and religiously looking at it, but that doesn’t mean we cannot treat it as though it were objective. Practically, if we all agree on something it is objectively true because ALL of us agree (in an ideal situation) but philosophically, it’s still subjective to it’s core, because we all agree due to our FEELINGS toward the situation. The source of our morality is innate human nature. How do you explain why we feel empathy? (Exceptions : psychopaths and sociopaths) We can’t, because we don’t know!
What we do know is that we are social animals who depend on our high brain power and interaction with others of our kind to survive and protect ourselves. Animals like fish, ducks, bees, ravens will die out if their community dies. Natural selection and survival instinct is not killing everyone and everything so you can survive. Co-dependence is a necessary factor in some species, ours being one of them. We cooperate with each other so we can experience collective growth and sustainability. From philosophical and religious points of view, it’s easy to think that we were all put here for a reason; that there’s someone out there. It’s a much easier explanation that caters to a wider section of people because the question of “origin” disappears, God is the endgame. That which we haven’t discovered yet – God is our answer to it.
But as individuals and collectively as a species, we engage, find relatability and establish governing systems that evolve over time. Exactly my point! Whatever you pointed out about slavery being okay back in those days.
Women’s rights, slavery, children’s rights, racism, homophobia, etc have all evolved greatly over time (the laws and rules and tolerance concerning them)
The morals of the people who believe in the Abrahamic God (Christians, with respect to current topic) have changed a lot over time. Paul says that Women shouldn’t speak in the church and be quiet, but we see so many great, female evangelists who cater to the ministry of the Bible today. (We had Deborah in the OT). If the religion you follow needs to be updated periodically with respect to societal standards of what is acceptable behavior and what is not, surely, that in itself is proof that you can have moral standards outside of religion. These acts do not lose significance just because there’s no one up there who can give us the final verdict of whether we will go to heaven or burn in hell forever.
Morality is constantly (although periodically) changing and that is what evolution is, its an ongoing process. It comes from our cultures, essential human needs and is the result of thousands of empirical discussions and philosophical discourses. Man evolved into a social animal so as to form bands and protect/attack; there was the threat of predators. They had to come together in order to survive. Even today, if we all were to go individually into the forest or whatever, we’d get eaten alive really quick. There is power in numbers. Survival was a struggle but that has again, evolved into something more than just staying alive.
Morality been around for longer than we can accept, long before supernatural standpoints were attatched to it. Morality is a direct result of evolution.
We learn about our bodies, our psyche, how the universe works, what drives us to be motivated, etc, over time. It is not a “boom” process. Also, the “explosion” that you referred to, isn’t really an explosion, it’s more of a steady expansion. The point at which the expansion began is called Time Zero. We simply do not know what happened before that, but again, science is working on it.
There’s a lot of things we don’t know today for example – WHY do we have the basic instinct to survive and be alive? Why? We don’t know yet! Learning and acquiring knowledge is am evolutionary process. We know today that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but the Church killed Copernicus and many others who challenged the view that they had. But now we all agree, WHY? Because there is objective, verifiable proof.
And maybe, one day we’ll find that for morality as well, but so far, it hasn’t happened.
If religion was to dictate our morality and what is good and bad, how would you explain the fact that the least religious countries have the least crime rates? Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, etc. These are highly secularised countries that have lower crime rates and in which very few people are religious. On the other hand, the Middle Eastern regions are 90% religious, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, but we see what’s happening there. It’s not always a good thing. You can cherry pick the Bible and say, “Hey look! Jesus is telling us to give to the poor, he’s telling us to show the other cheek, he’s telling us to be kind and graceful!” but that doesn’t eliminate the rest of what is in there.
Christianity has a higher crime rate than the Jewish religions although Jesus is the Prince of Peace and he teaches kindness. Let’s not even get started on Islam. The thing is, religious people can be bad even if they are highly religious, same goes the other way round!
you kinda misquoted me, I never said “would you continue to be moral” for the same reason that you’d pick out that word and base your question of off it! If I remember correctly, I said “would you continue to be kind, good and compassionate” or something along those lines which is the same as being moral in it’s essence, but the switching of words will change the way you look at it! You must’ve overlooked it, but I didn’t use “moral” instead of “good, etc” for the very reason that it can be torn apart by a cyclic questioning pattern.
And I’ve already said in the previous comment what “good” is, universally (in majority atleast) if you were to ask “what is good then? Who are you to decide what is good?” I’m not trying to be patronizing or annoying but it’s what I believe in because it feels right.
And yes, I do understand that the nature of the conversation does call to be harsh sometimes, but I fully understand that you do not intend to be so! It’s all good.
As for condoning rape, again, we’ve evolved from rape-like activities into being empathetic and considerate of others but rape still happens in our society, it happens in the animal kingdom too. I don’t know if you know this but animals have evolved to be empathethic as well! There are rapists in human society and rape does take place in the animal kingdom too, that doesn’t mean you can disregard it completely. ( I know that you haven’t disregarded rape, but I’m referring to your comment) I do not want others to be raped for the same reason that I WOULD NOT want to be raped, co-existence. It hurts me too see others getting raped, is that not a reason enough to say the rapist is “bad”? If it’s not, then I don’t know what to say. Why do you need an ultimate, higher reason to be a decent human being? Are you only going to be good if your ulterior motive is to gain approval from God to enter Heaven and supposedly live forever? Are you even actually good if you’re not good without bringing God into the picture? I’m not trying to be condescending, I just don’t know how to word it differently.
Okay, let’s assume that you are right, God DOES exist and the Bible and Christianity have shaped all our views and all that jazz, but again, the socio-cultural and geographical constraints and even the times we are born in will have a significant role. If God exists, why should it be your God? Why not the others that were there from way before 6000 years ago where the Biblical timeline starts? Since they also have these teachings about being good, kind and compassionate?
Jordan Hatfield – So morality for you is defined basically as “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” I’ve heard this before from someone… I think he was Jewish… Hmm… 😉
I think that is a pretty good definition of morality that you have given, but you must see that at the end of the day, this is simply a personal preference on your part. There are many people who would define morality much differently. Some would define “good” as being whatever makes them personally happy, even if it is at the expense of others. If you truly believe that what you say is true (that objective morals do not actually exist) then you have absolutely no basis to assert that those who believe in an entirely different, and perhaps even an exact opposite standard of morality than you, are “wrong.” You can say that you personally prefer “your standard.” But it would be completely irrational and self-contradicting for you to claim that your standard of morality is actually the correct one. The moment you do this, you are arguing for an “objective” morality, which you have repeatedly told me you do not think exists.
As an example, you should look into some of the quotes of the famous American mass rapist and murderer, Ted Bundy. He opens up in different interviews while in prison about how his moral subjectivity largely influenced his actions. What was “right” for him was the personal fulfillment, pleasure and enjoyment he got from doing the horrific things he did against many woman. His standard for what was “good” was about his own personal fulfillment. If morality is truly subjective as you say, then you have no logical or rational basis to say that he was actually “wrong” for what he did. Maybe he was wrong according to your standard, but not to his own. If you then move to saying – “well my standard is the correct one,” then you again, you have just argued for “objective morality” of which you claim you don’t believe in. You can’t have your cake and eat it too in this case. That’s the harsh and unsettling reality about where this rabbit hole of subjective morality ultimately leads to.
YOU: “When you boil down what “good” means, it ultimately comes down to YOU, ME our personal feelings that you so easily dismiss.”
ME: I completely disagree. Morality does not have its basis in “feelings.” Feelings are a terribly dangerous standard for good and evil. What one person feels is completely different than another. I just mentioned Ted Bundy as one example of where basing morality on “feelings” logically leads to. How can you possibly say “feelings” are the basis for morality? There is a whole mass of people in this world who “feel” that a life of crime, violence, addiction, sexual exploitation of others, etc, is what they “should” be doing. I would recommend you watch the documentary film I recently directed and produced on my channel called “Metamorphosis.” I interviewed a friend of mine who spent decades of his life pursuing crime and violence. To him, pounding in the face of another man was what gave him his sense of fulfillment, purpose, and identity. He “felt” that this is the sort of way that he should live. If feelings are the standard, then this sort of lifestyle is “good.”
The fact that you may “feel” differently means absolutely nothing. You obviously feel that loving others as yourself is the moral way that you want to live. I think there are many others who feel the same way as you do. But there are many who don’t feel that way. What or “who” gives you the right to determine that your “feelings” of right and wrong are more “true” or “valid” than the person whose feelings are the exact opposite of yours? There are people who “feel” at their core that certain races are less valuable and less human than others. By your definition of morality then, they are “right” and “good” to fully embrace a racist attitude and to carry out racist actions.
YOU: “You BELIEVE in the religion that you follow because you FEEL it is valid, and the absolute truth, it’s your FEELING.”
ME: You have me pegged entirely wrong friend. I believe in Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings because it is the most “rational” worldview to me. My feelings play a role in my beliefs in various ways, but they certainly are not the basis for my faith. My faith in Christianity is rooted in a conglomeration of experiences, facts and evidences of which “feelings” are just one part of many. I continue to believe Christianity because it continues to be the most rational understanding of the reality that I wake up in every day. If I discovered that Christianity and the claims it makes are irrefutably invalid and irrational, then I will abandon it. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul appeals to the “evidence” of Christ’s resurrection as the ultimate basis for Christian faith.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one of untimely birth.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
He boldly claims that the Christian faith entirely stands or falls on whether or not the resurrection of Jesus ACTUALLY happened.
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith.” – 1 Corinthians 15:14
Here, the Bible itself is telling us that Christian faith has next to nothing to do with “feelings.” It is entirely based on an actual historical event and the veracity of that event. If Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead, then my “feelings” involved with my faith mean nothing. My whole faith is a sham… A farce… A human invention with no ultimate truth value to it. Paul doesn’t mince his words here. In this statement he is holding up Christianity as a truth claim that should be tested by reason and facts, and entirely abandoned if shown to be false. I’m no expert on comparative religion, but I believe this sort of standard is quite unique amongst other religious claims.
What other religion entirely bases the truthfulness of their claims on a historical event and the truthfulness of it while seemingly inviting investigation of whether or not that event actually happened. Notice in verse 5 he specifies that most of the “500 witnesses” to the resurrected Christ were “still alive.” This feels like Paul was openly inviting his audience to search out the claims about the resurrection to to investigate whether it actually happened or not. “Don’t take my word for it…” It’s as if Paul was saying… “Most of these witnesses to the resurrected Jesus are still alive. Go talk to them. Go ask them about it. Go see if they are lying or if they really saw him.” In my experience with groups like Mormons and the WMSCOG, this is quite a bizarre and unique thing for Paul to be doing. If you have invented a fake religion based on a fake event, you will not be so encouraging toward objective examination of the claims you are making.
I’m saying all this to say, I feel it is quite presumptuous for you to assert that my faith is largely rooted in my “feelings.” This simply is not true.
YOU: “morality is subjective, philosophically and religiously looking at it, but that doesn’t mean we cannot treat it as though it were objective.”
ME: Of course you can treat morality as if it is objective. But you have to depart from logic, rationality and in a sense “reality” when you do so. You can choose to treat it as objective, but being that it is in fact NOT objective, you are simply embracing another form of “faith” when you treat it as such. You can choose to embrace your form of morality as “objective” and the Ted Bundys in the world can continue to embrace their version of morality as “objective.” At the end of the day, you cannot rationally condemn Ted Bundy’s horrific actions as “wrong” in any meaningful way. You can tell me that “in your opinion” you don’t “prefer” Ted Bundy’s actions. But you can’t say that he was actually “wrong” for what he did.
YOU: “Practically, if we all agree on something it is objectively true because ALL of us agree”
ME: I could not possibly disagree with you more. If we all agree that 2 plus 2 equals 11, we are wrong, no matter how many people agree. Now you seem to be making “majority opinion” the basis for morality. This is hugely problematic.
The majority opinion in Nazi Germany was that the Jews should be exterminated. By the standard you just set, the Holocaust was morally right.
The majority opinion in many middle eastern countries is that woman are less valuable, less important and more expendable than man. If your standard is correct, then this is morally “right.”
The majority opinion in various locations in Africa is that certain indigenous peoples are less valuable because of of their race or genetics. Because of this they are subjected to harsh mistreatments and abuse. If majority opinion sets the standard, then it is morally right to mistreat and abuse these people.
YOU: “The thing is, religious people can be bad even if they are highly religious, same goes the other way round!”
ME: The whole paragraph where you talked about non-religious countries having lower crime rates and religious people being just as capable of being evil is quite irrelevant to anything I’m trying to argue for here. The question we are discussing is not whether or not religious or non-religious people are capable of doing both “good” and “bad.” Again, this is entirely irrelevant to me. The question is, is there actually “good” and “bad” in the first place. In any meaningful sense I mean.
If you reduce morality down to being simply an evolutionary instinct, that’s fine. If God does not exist, then you are probably correct and morality is simply one aspect of our evolution. But this doesn’t solve the problem that I originally presented… It simply re-states the problem. If morality is only an evolutionary instinct, then morality is ultimately meaningless. What’s to stop a person from simply going against that instinct? Is “instinct” now the standard for right and wrong? If so, then this creates just as many problems as “feelings” and “majority opinion” being the standard.
“Instinct” is also quite subjective. What might feel instinctive to you will not be instinctive to everyone. I take issue when you make it out as if human beings “instinctively” are loving, compassionate, selfless, etc. Many humans feel aspects of these things, but I don’t believe that selfless behaviors and emotions are the predominant and most “instinctive” ones that humans experience. Maybe this isn’t what you are trying to say, but it certainly seems like it. In my experience, both in my own life and in observing others around me, the instinct for selfish ambition, self-preservation and self-fulfillment are much stronger and much more influential than any supposed instinct toward the opposite. Most of the time I have to fight to restrain my natural inclinations in order to do what I feel is “right.” Doing “right” does not seem to come naturally to me as an “instinct.” Again, I take great issue with this idea of that is what you are trying to argue for.
But in any case, even if it could be shown that the predominant natural instinct in the majority of humans is toward selfless acts of love, goodness and faithfulness (which I see no evidence that this is actually the case) it still doesn’t make those instincts an objective standard. It still boils down to personal preferences. You “prefer” that people follow those certain types of instincts and behaviors. And maybe even the majority of people prefer it to be that way. But at the end of the day, if there were no God, and there is no actual objective standard of right and wrong, then you and the rest of the world could tell me till you are blue in the face that I should follow your preferred “instincts.” And I’d just shrug you off and say, “thanks but no thanks.” I think I’ll do what I want, cause none of it ultimately matters anyways. It matters to you cause you are choosing to give certain meaning to certain behaviors. Someone could simply choose to give meaning and value to an entirely different set of behaviors. But there is no ACTUAL or REAL meaning to those behaviors beyond the subjective “meaning” that one chooses to either give or not give them. I can help an old lady across the street, or push her in front of a moving bus, neither are ultimately more or less valuable or more or less good in any real, meaningful sense. It’s just preferences. Societal norms. “Feelings” as you say.
YOU: “It hurts me too see others getting raped, is that not a reason enough to say the rapist is “bad”?”
ME: No. It certainly is not. It’s reason enough to say that rape “hurts me, and I don’t prefer it.” You could even say that “to me, and in MY OPINION it is bad. But it is not ACTUALLY and UNIVERSALLY bad for every person.” You have to realize, the moment you make a claim that the rapist’s actions are “bad” you are asserting an objective standard. Whether this standard is yours or someone else’s, it is objective. If morality is not objective as you say, then I feel it would be much more honest and consistent of you to word it more in terms of “your opinion” or “your preference.” But, you cannot logically apply dogmatic and non-negotiable moral terms to certain behaviors and actions simply because they make you personally feel a certain way. This just simply is not rational.
In other words, you can’t say that rape is “bad” in any “meaningful” sense to me. In your worldview, you telling me that rape is “bad” means nothing more to me than you telling me that you prefer apples over bananas. You are communicating to me a “preference.” Rape makes you “feel bad.” Ok, so what. It made the person who committed it “feel good.” Using your rational, the rapist has just as much of an argument to defend their actions as you do to condemn their actions.
I’m not trying to be difficult here with any of this and I don’t just want to win the argument. I think you know that. This is just the rational, logical part of my brain that makes it impossible for me to just let these things slip by. I’m going to give you an honest challenge as a person who genuinely cares about you… I believe you are letting a lot of rationality, logic and consistency slip out the window in so many of the things you are saying in this conversation. You are a smart guy, I can tell. And I think you know better 😉 — I feel like so much cognitive dissonance is involved on the part of the naturalist/atheist when they have conversations about this specific point. And it honestly baffles my mind a lot of the time. When it comes to morality, atheism often wants to “have its cake and eat it too.” And they are quite illogical, inconsistent and self-contradicting in their attempts to do so.
YOU: “Are you only going to be good if your ulterior motive is to gain approval from God to enter Heaven and supposedly live forever?”
ME: I don’t take this as you trying to be condescending, so no worries there! But again, you do have me pegged wrongly, and you presume to know so much about me that you could not possibly know. You claiming that the only possible motive for Christians to live good lives is to “gain approval from God and enter Heaven” is a straw man. It’s an uninformed and narrow-scoped perspective of the inner working of myself and many other followers of Jesus and a misguided understanding of what the Bible and Jesus actually taught. And I think that it’s an unfair characterization of Christians rather than an honest reflection of and desire to know what we actually believe and think. Perhaps in your experience with “Christians” this has been their motives. But that is not an accurate reflection of what Christianity itself and Jesus himself actually teach. One of the clearest and most straight forward teachings of the New Testament is that “love” should be the primary motivation for ALL that we do. If there are followers of Jesus (including myself) who do not always represent this perfectly, that doesn’t implicate the teachings themselves. Actually, it confirms another clear and straight forward teaching of the Bible; that we are all sinful, and ultimately incapable of moral perfection without God.
The biblical motivation for doing good is multifaceted. Love is a big and core aspect, but there’s much more. It would require a whole other conversation to dig into all of that though. If you want to know more about my actual motivations, you can ask.
In the WMSCOG, I’m sure you experienced many negative things that put a bad taste in your mouth for Christianity. But the WMSCOG, their teachings and their practices have little to no semblance of the actual teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately, this is not only the case for the WMSCOG but many other self-proclaimed followers of Christ. I just hope you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water in these cases.
Sorry if you have seen a thousand replies pop up in your notifications. This keeps deleting my responses so I had to keep posting them over and over. Also, I’m sharing this conversation in article form on my website. I appreciate the intelligent and respectful way you handle yourself and I think it would be beneficial for others to be able to see both sides of this conversation.
Bettle Bobber – yes I did receive 9 notifications, to be exact! But that’s alright, it’s all good! Also, just a little clarification is that I’m a girl not a guy haha XD. And yes, it’d be great to share it on your website because I feel like it is an insightful conversation.
“do unto others as you would have them do to you” is literally the most common, basic teaching among most religions. The earliest records of this is 2000 years before Christ was even born. The Egyptian Goddess Ma’at says it, the Chinese scholar Confucius teaches it, the renowned philosopher made it popular in metaethics – “The Golden Rule”, In the Indian Mahabharata and Tirukkal scriptures, this is a prominent teaching, Greek thinkers Thales, Sextus and Isocrates have passages dedicated to the subject, then there’s Seneca from Rome. It is a basic rule in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism. Not exclusive to Jesus Christ only. In fact, all of these that I mentioned existed BEFORE Christ was even born.
Now, coming to Ted Bundy, I mentioned twice in my precious comments that exceptions WOULD be there. Ted Bundy was a sociopath. I’d like to give you an example for other instincts, hunger for example. It’s innate, when we’re REALLY hungry, it’s ALL we can think about, because it’s our basic need to survive so as to propagate our kind.
But then, we do see exceptions, eating disorders like anorexia.
Another instinct, sexual intercourse, this is another innate, very strong desire that we have in order that we may multiply. Again, there’s exceptions. 1% of the world’s population is asexual. Asexual people have existed since aeons ago. (I don’t think you’ve heard of them since a lot of people cannot fathom it or even believe that some people just don’t want to do it). Homosexuals, their intercourse doesn’t produce offspring but it exists. Like I stated before EXCEPTIONS will be there. For example, Genghis Khan, he went around killing people because it gave him joy, he’d be the ancient equivalent to a psychopath. Ted Bundy is one of those exceptions.
But that’s the thing he WAS wrong according to my standards and many others. I didn’t for once say MY STANDARD IS THE CORRECT ONE did I? If I made such a claim, the burden of proof would automatically fall on to me. I accept that I made the error of not including “to me” in the sentences I used but I just wasn’t thinking too much into how I was framing my sentences, should’ve been careful with that 🙂
The example you gave does NOTHING to prove that morality is not subjective. In fact, it supports my claim because there are people who think Ted Bundy was WRONG but Ted thought he was doing RIGHT. There may be others who support Ted Bundy. That’s EXACTLY my point, it just goes to show that our morality is subjective. What’s good and what isn’t is subjective. I hope you can see where I’m going with this because frankly, to quote you “my logical and rational brain doesn’t allow me to-” you take one look at what’s happening around you, everybody has their own ideas of what is and what isn’t, these views are SUBJECTIVE.
I might be making a bold claim here but even God has moral subjectivism. Because if God and I disagree on something, be it anything how is God going to prove that his view is objectively right without threatening eternal damnation because I don’t agree with him, (doesn’t this in itself show that morality is subjective?) His standpoint on morality would be an opinion and cannot be demonstrated as objective, ultimately making it subjective to HIM only.
In Genesis, there’s this scene where God wants to destroy everything ( Sodom and Gomorrah) and he tells Abraham just that. If our morality came from God, Abraham would agree with him and say YES LORD DO IT. Instead, we see Abraham saying to God that it is unfair to kill the righteous people, after which God thinks it over and agrees with Abraham. Are you seeing my point here? If objective morality existed, it would apply to God as well right? Even if it came from God. If it’s immoral for me to kill, it’s immoral for God to kill 50,000 men just because they looked at the altar. (I’m not trying to judge here, nor offend your belief system, but that’s literally what OBJECTIVE means, you cannot kick God out of the equation because he’s powerful and can do anything.)
Feelings do have a basis, quite an important one in morality. There is no external imperative for any of us to survive or desire well being. Because it all stems from within us. We are subjects and our imperatives and views are subjective. And although we do share some views in a widely common worldview, it doesn’t make it objective, it’s still subjective to it’s core because there’s ALWAYS going to be exceptions. This is a fundamental law that I learnt in my 9th grade chemistry class.
I hate analogies, but I’m going to have to use one here. Basketball rules wouldn’t exist or hold any ground if NO ONE played basketball. This might be confusing, but think about it. Same goes with good and bad. We can all agree that (most of us) murder is bad, (to each of us subjectively, which comes together as a mass view) but is murder bad if no human beings existed? These rules of good and bad hold no ground if we the SUBJECTS didn’t exist. Whereas the Sun would continue to rise and set even if we weren’t there to see it (as in, disappeared from the earth). That is what is an objective truth. Regardless of anything, it will stand. Atleast for a few million light years.
You boil it down just to my personal preference, and a random outcome of evolution (which by the way, evolution isn’t random in it’s principle at all) but I can flip it over to you and say that you, as a spiritual person believe that morality comes from an invisible being who lives in the sky for who’s existence there’s literally zero proof except for a book compiled throughout 3,500 years or so. I can boil it down this way right? That’s the problem.
Without life, there IS no morality. You can only do something good or bad if SOMEONE is there. The only transient energy through which we can perceive morality is literally our own selves, our own well being, our own survival as a species.Because all human beings do have and feel empathy (excluding psychopaths and stuff, assuming they lose it through traumatic experiences which is again, the majority of the reason) our survival is determined by the survival of others. Morality exists because outcomes and effects exist. A society can thrive better if everyone gets along with everyone else and trust each other.
If objective morality did infact exist and we got it from Jesus Christ, “love your enemies, love they neighbours” would be followed by most people and even everyone, because supposedly, it’s “objective” and we would’ve had world peace, religious tolerance, no poverty, etc. The thing is, we run into problems if we think that morality is completely objective because like you pointed out, the Ted Bundy case. It clearly shows it’s subjective. In theory, it does sound chaotic and very weird and plain dumb, but that is what is literally happening around us. Western countries are tolerant of homosexuality, but people are literally put to death in places like the middle east. Women still don’t have rights in remote places. Patriarchy still exists in my society although not that much in yours. This just goes to show the harsh reality we do live in.
Just because the vast majority of people agree that something is wrong is does NOT make it objectively wrong. It’s a collective subjective view of many individual thinkers. Because again, rapists exist, murders happen on the daily, so on and so forth.
Good and bad are fluid terms, I know I’m making a statement here but it is what it is, even though most of us agree on certain things (the things that our wired into us and feel as though they might well be objective) Again, I’m borrowing Alex’s definition for what good and bad essentially means to me without “moral context”. Good is what he calls beneficial and bad is what he calls detrimental. Now, I cannot explain WHY these things feel beneficial or detrimental or why I have the instinct to survive, it’s just THERE, I don’t know how to explain it but I can tell you why we think it’s good and bad assuming that well being IS a good thing (again, I just cannot explain why) if we keep going “why why why why” we move in a circular fashion that will never end.
Yeah you could say “thanks but no thanks” and do your own thing, if you want to do it, then be my guest. But know that you wouldn’t be the first one, because we see people breaking the law EVERYDAY. There are people who DO follow their preferred instincts, do you really not see that around you? Regardless of how many laws we do have, do we not still see murders and rapes and sex trafficking and child molestation on the daily? How are you going to tell me that you’re going to do what you want cause none of it matters anyway and act like it’s a hypothetical situation when people are doing it quite literally all around us? (I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what is happening, the situation you described, except YOU aren’t doing it, but many others are)
Yes EXACTLY my point, societal norms, feelings, experiences. These constantly evolve and I will be humble and honest enough to ask this question for the sake of being fair about it – why should we trust whatever our brains formulate? Why should we trust anything at all if it’s all a result of evolution? – see, I don’t have the answer to that, there’s something that’s biologically wired us this way, and also the things we learn at church, in schools, in temples, in mosques, with our friends, through death of a loved one, etc. You might say why be good or whatever if God doesn’t exist, do you even have meaning in your life, is there a higher purpose? Frankly, I do have a lot of meaning in my life, just not the kind of meaning you have, again, that is a case-by-case situation.
I’m accountable for my own actions, the good and the bad and all the irresponsibility in between.
YES that is exactly my point, they are not objective standards not by ANY means. And that is what I’m trying to say.
There IS no absolute, objective morality.
Slavery is wrong isn’t an objective statement, because in the first place, if it was an objective statement and if our morality was objective and came from a higher divine entity, everyone would inherently recognize it IS wrong because God says so but that is clearly not that case.
Slavery is wrong is an idea and view that is accepted by majority of the inhabitants today, which is why it becomes the moral standard by which we establish governing systems and the like. That does NOT make it an objective truth.
Whatever the collective morals that a society or a community agrees upon are generally the ones that are accepted by everybody else EVEN if their personal opinions differ, again, that does NOT make these morals absolute objective truths because society evolves with time and the morals change.
Selfish ambition and greed are individualistic desires which only prove that our moralities and ideas of what is good and bad differ vastly, from end to end.
Instincts are subjective? Yes in that broad classification, they are. I’ll simply have to agree with you on that although I will state some instincts that the MAJORITY of us share, (note that objective means ALL whereas I’m not for once using all, always using majority and exceptions because we do not live in an ideal world where ALL of us can agree on something, that’s literally impossible although, it is probable).
Self preservation (exception : suicidal)
Hunger (exception : eating disorders)
Procreation (exception : asexuality, infertility)
Social ( exception : anti-social behaviorism)
Sympathy ( exception : sociopaths and psychopaths)
there’s many more but I will stop
There will ALWAYS be exceptions. You can understand this through Mendel’s laws of dominance and recession. Mutation is another explanation.
how do you determine rationality? Ultimately, reason is only a means to arrive to the conclusions that we do arrive to.
For years, I’ve been trying to find historical, archaeological evidence outside of the NT that does prove Jesus’s resurrection and have failed to find any compelling evidence. You cannot convince someone that doesn’t believe in the Bible FROM the Bible, which is what I’ve seen most Christian apologists do, they will either do that, or answer your question with another question. Paul himself couldn’t have said for sure that he has risen, because he wasn’t witness to the resurrection. (Although the Bible mentions him seeing him in Damascus). By the logic of witnesses, I can say that Bellatrix killed Sirius; Harry and Remus were witnesses to the murder; therefore it actually happened back in the 1900’s because it’s right there, in print, millions of copies have been sold.
(That’s a Harry Potter reference btw)
Ah, the Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini approach. Whenever the moral argument comes into play, people defending objective morality WILL always bring this up.
Ah, the Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini approach. Whenever the moral argument comes into play, people defending objective morality WILL always bring this up. Which only proves that morality is again, subjective. All three of them thought and genuinely believed they were doing right, whereas there were people who disagreed, but couldn’t do anything because they weren’t in power.
No, what Hitler did isn’t objectively wrong. No, the Holocaust is not objectively wrong.
Although, majority of us today, do think he was wrong right? Subjectively, coming together as one view. I’m sure his followers will defend his stance which leads us to this. The argument that morality is objective and firm, and comes from a higher power will crumble, because we see people disagreeing everyday.
If morality was objective, we all would agree.
“Then again, if we were to in any way, talk to the people who supported Stalin and Mussolini and Hitler, we could discuss, and go on with the “why why why” until we hit common ground” – Alex
Because most people would understand the situation in seconds if you put them in the victim’s shoes. We could convince them that is was not okay to do it and so on. However this STILL doesn’t make morality objective. The Nazis thought they were doing right because they were brainwashed into thinking so.
If majority of society thought it was okay to rape, kill and abuse children and that was how our laws were based, that STILL wouldn’t make these views the OBJECTIVE, ABSOLUTE truths, because there would be a minority of people who simply cannot, and do not agree. Hence, breaking it down to subjectivism. Another famous thing people like to bring in when we talk about objectivity and subjectivity is that 2+2=5 is logically fallacious and wrong. But no, you can arrive at 2+2=5, you can prove it in advanced mathematics. You can prove that 1+1=11. In binary mathematics, two literally doesn’t exist.
Morality is something that works for that time for that culture at that time. (A YouTube comment I came across years ago) I wouldn’t call myself a naturalist by the way. But it does seem like the best bet if it comes down to religion and naturalism. Speaking of cognitive dissonance, religious people saying that there’s more to the commands of condonement of rape and slavery etc, than what is given is an example of it isn’t it? Why do religious people believe in a certain religion rather than the other?When religious people believe in supernatural entities, magical healing, miracles, psychic abilities that don’t have strong evidence. When religious people have to find ways to get around the fact that a supposedly all loving God allows so much suffering and does nothing about it – poverty in Africa, children diagnosed with cancer, etc.
“Has prayer ever regrown a limb?”
I apologise that one of my questions came across as Strawman logic or Ad hominem. That wasn’t my intention, I was posing a genuine question. I wasn’t trying to come off as ‘holier-than-thou’. I sincerely apologise for that.
P.S I’m sorry I reply so late, but it’s because of the time zones lol.
Jordan Hatfield – I think maybe I should have been more clear at the beginning about what I mean by “objective morality.” I think some of the arguments you are making are coming from you having a different idea than I do of what I mean by “objective.” In discussing whether or not objective morality exists, I’m talking about a “law” of morality that is as true and binding as other laws like… laws of logic and laws of mathematics. You seem to be arguing that the fact that many people around the world have many different understandings of morality is somehow evidence that morality is truly subjective. You said that the example I used of Ted Bundy having his own ideas of morality that are much different than most people’s just goes to show that morality IS actually subjective. I don’t really see it this way, and don’t feel like that conclusion is required at all. Having different opinions about what true morality actually is doesn’t necessitate that there isn’t actually a real, absolute standard that exists in the universe that every person universally SHOULD operate by in order to be in line with that standard.
I’ll go back to the example I used before. A person could have the opinion that 2+2 = 7 while someone has has the opinion that 2+2 = 13. The fact that there may be different opinions about these things doesn’t serve as evidence that math is then subjective. If someone’s opinion about mathematic calculations do not actually line up with the “law” of mathematics that actually exists, then they are simply “wrong.” Absolutely and universally. That there may be different opinions about how math actually works doesn’t demand that therefore there is no actual standard of “true” and “right” ways to do math. So there is seemingly a law of mathematics in place that holds true universally regardless of whether there are opinions that do not fully align with that law.
Another example. There are many people out there (bizarrely enough) who are convinced that the earth is flat. The fact that there are differing opinions about the shape of the earth doesn’t therefore mean that the actual shape is “subjective.” The actual, real shape of the earth is “objective.” It is what it is completely independent of the differing views and opinions that there may be about it. Differing opinions about the earths shape doesn’t indicate that the earth is not actually, objectively round. It just indicates that there are many people who are out of touch with reality in this way.
When I talk about whether or not objective morality exists, this is what I’m talking about. Is there a “law” of morality that exists and is binding and true and constant regardless of differing opinions or views about how it works and what the exact details of it are?
I believe that there IS a law of morality in place that is as equally objectively true as laws of mathematics and logic. Obviously, as you have said, you do not believe that there is such a law in place. And that’s ok. I’m not even necessarily trying to prove in this conversation that my views are correct. I’m more so just trying to make sure we are both on the same page that if naturalism/atheism is true, then there is in fact no objective moral standard. And that brings me back to what initiated the conversation in the first place when you attempted to discredit the Bible based primarily on “moral grounds.” As if in your worldview there is actually any significant meaning to terms like “good” and “evil” in the first place. So again, I’m not really trying to prove that objective morality exists. I’m telling you that from my perspective, it seems most rational to me to say that this is the case. But I definitely don’t think I can “prove” it to you in any rational or scientific sense. And so that is not my intention. I was simply pointing out what I saw as a somewhat glaring inconsistency in the way that you were arguing. The whole basis of your main arguments against the Bible seemed to be relying largely upon a necessity that there is a moral law, or standard that every person truly ought to live by.
If your worldview is correct, and there is no God, then when you try to make a case against the Bible by telling me how immoral, evil and wrong it is, I hear irrationality and inconsistency. I don’t feel like you can stand on atheistic ideas of the universe and try to make that case. That’s why I think so much of Dawkins writings are pure nonsense. When he uses words to define God like “mean,” “cruel,” and “evil,” he is being incredibly inconsistent and irrational based upon the ultimate implications of what his worldview actually are. He writes books that in essence say that morality is nothing more than an illusion. Yet in order to make this case, he often resorts to using arguments that are entirely based upon the necessity that morality DOES actually exist! He is very brilliant and I think makes a strong case for evolution. But when it comes to this area, he speaks absolute nonsense in my opinion.
So hopefully that helps to clarify what I mean by objective morality, and also what my goal is in this conversation—not to prove my views, but to simply point out what I saw as an inconsistency in many of the points you were trying to make to discredit the Bible.
YOU: “In Genesis, there’s this scene where God wants to destroy everything ( Sodom and Gomorrah) and he tells Abraham just that. If our morality came from God, Abraham would agree with him and say YES LORD DO IT.”
ME: I appreciate you being concerned about offending me, but don’t worry, you definitely aren’t. As I’ve said before, I’m not pretending that I don’t personally have to wrestle with many of the issues you have brought up from the Old Testament. So when you bring them up, I don’t see you as trying to belittle Christianity, but rather you are just sharing what in your perception are genuine problems.
Your perspective of this passage seems to assume that what you see of God on the surface here is all that there is. Often times instances like this in the OT have so much more deeper meaning and lessons packed within them than what a simple, surface level reading of them will give. In this example, I do not see this conversation between God and Abraham as being a conversation that “God needed” in order to be convinced to “do the right thing.” I think that if we actually consider the God that this is, who is described not only in this instance but throughout the rest of the Pentateuch, then this conversation is more for Abraham than for God. If God is all knowing, then he knew that Abraham was wrestling and struggling with the judgement God was pronouncing. My perspective is, God wanted to use this as a sort of test for Abraham as well as an opportunity to more fully reveal the kind of God he really is—merciful and long-suffering. Abraham was hesitant and fearful to initially ask God to spare the city for 50. But Abraham found that each time he whittled the number down, God did not become outraged but quickly and easily agreed. I think God wanted Abraham to learn something about who he really was.
I see an example in John 6 as being very similar to this— as far as it being a test for the purpose of Jesus revealing something about his disciples own hearts as well as revealing something about himself. Maybe it will help give some clarity to what I feel is going on in this scene in Genesis.
“Now the Jewish Feast of the Passover was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?” But He was asking this to test him, for He knew what He was about to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a small piece.” – John 6:4-7
The key part that stands out to me here is when it says “He was asking this to test him, for He knew what He was about to do.” I feel pretty certain that this phrase represents exactly what was going on in the mind of God in this instance with Abraham that you brought up. God knew he wasn’t going to destroy the righteous with the wicked, that would have been unjust and contrary to his character. But he said what he said to Abraham to test him, knowing it would produce a certain response in Abraham, revealing something about Abraham’s own hearts and thoughts about God as well as revealing something of God himself.
Obviously in John 6, Jesus wasn’t actually concerned or unaware of where the bread would come from. He knew he would ultimately provide it. But He intentionally set up the situation in the way he did in order to teach his disciples something deep and significant about who he was.
You probably weren’t necessarily wanting an exposition of this Genesis passage, but oh well. You got one anyways 😉
YOU: “If objective morality existed, it would apply to God as well right? Even if it came from God. If it’s immoral for me to kill, it’s immoral for God to kill 50,000 men just because they looked at the altar.”
ME: Hmm, I’m not sure I agree. I think I do to an extent. But I think there is a lot that we would have to discuss to fully flesh all of this out. It may be too much to get into at the moment so I’ll just say a couple things. It seems like maybe your are assuming that the moral law is something that is “separate” from God and distinct from him. I don’t think I really see it that way. God and “holiness” are actually one and the same thing in my view. Morality is not a set of standards that God “invented” and it’s not a set of standards that exist above and outside of him. I think moral good is actually just an expression of God himself. The apostle John says in 1 John that “God IS love.” The virtue of love is not a moral virtue or “standard” that exists independent from God. Love is God himself. The very nature of who he is IS love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, truthfulness… and all the rest of the fruit of the spirit.
I’m not sure if this does anything to answer your question, but hopefully it at least clarifies some things about my perspective here.
I think that God can do certain things like destroying the 50,000 for their sin, while still being consistent with his good and perfect nature while at the same time commanding that we do NOT ourselves do the same. God has the right to do certain things as God while still maintaining his holiness that we do not have. This probably sounds like a silly cop-out, but I think if I explain with some examples from real life it actually makes a lot of sense.
If you were a child looking through a glass window into the operating room of an open heart surgery, you would likely perceive that the doctor who was cutting and wounding the patient was evil and committing a horrible crime. The child would see the “violence” and “bloodshed” and know that this is behavior that they have been taught is wrong and evil to do to others. They would likely then assume that if the doctor is doing that sort of behavior, it must mean that the doctor is evil. But, because the doctor is who he is, and does what he does, he has “the right” to cut into the body of this patient without it being evil.
Another person, in a much different context than an operating room, may be performing similar kinds of “incisions” into a person but yet they are entirely evil and wrong to be doing so.
The doctors intentions might appear to be cruel and evil from the perspective of a child who has a very shallow and limited understanding of what is actually happening. But the truth is, the doctor is actually doing what is absolutely right and necessary to do, even if it doesn’t appear to be that way on the surface. The doctor has a “right” to “violently” cut into the body of another person because of who he is. So it is totally moral for a doctor to engage in this kind of activity, which, if being done in a much different context by a different person, would be totally evil. God has the right to do certain things that we are not permitted to do simply because of who he is. But, I think that in many of the instances where we may feel God is being unfair or evil, we are coming to these conclusions having a similar limited understanding and perspective as that child looking through the glass into the operating room. Obviously, this analogy has flaws, and this sort of perspective at the end of the day requires a lot of faith that God is in fact “good” in his actions and intentions even when it seems he is not. Like I said before, I’m not really trying to “prove” that my views about God that I’m sharing here are true. I’m more just hoping to clarify what some of my views actually are in regards to the questions you are asking.
YOU: “if it was an objective statement and if our morality was objective and came from a higher divine entity, everyone would inherently recognise it IS wrong because God says so but that is clearly not that case.”
ME: Hmm… I don’t think so. Again, the earth is round. This is objectively true. Yet, there are different opinions about its shape. Does that mean then that there is not actually an objective shape to the earth simply because some people do not “recognize” that is is round?
I picked up on the Harry Potter reference. Nice 🙂 I think it’s a bit of a silly comparison though. It assumes as obvious that both the New Testament writings and Harry Potter have an equal lack of evidence for their historicity… As if they are both on the same level of credibility. This is just plainly incorrect, even if only for the simple reason that Harry Potter is a self-proclaimed work of fiction and the New Testament is not. Maybe you were only aiming this at the resurrection claims of the NT specifically rather than the entirety of the NT? That would maybe make it a little bit less of a bad analogy, but I think it would still be one. You said you’ve been trying to find evidence for the resurrection and haven’t found any. I’m not trying to corner you here, I’m just genuinely curious. Have you read any books about the resurrection from people like N.T. Wright, Gary Habermas or even William Lane Craig? If you’re on a search about this, you should check out some of what they have to say.
YOU: “No, what Hitler did isn’t objectively wrong. No, the Holocaust is not objectively wrong.”
ME: And this is why naturalism/atheism just simply is not a feasible option for me. Truthfully, it is a bit of a disturbing conclusion. Not that this necessarily proves anything, but it is disturbing. I would think you would probably agree with that to some measure?
A worldview that would render me incapable of rationally and meaningfully condemning such horrific atrocities as the holocaust, is a worldview that in my opinion is significantly lacking substance. And honestly, I think our condemning of the holocaust goes much deeper than societal norms and feelings. We condemn the holocaust because it was actually wrong. Truly wrong.
Thanks for being honest at least. And again, this brings us back to what originally started the conversation. Your argument against the OT was primarily based on objections to the Bible’s morality. Based on your comments above about Hitler and the Holocaust, I cannot possibly see how you can with any consistency or rationality complain about or argue against the “evil” behaviors of anyone. Whether from the Bible or elsewhere. And that’s all I really wanted to get at in this conversation. And it seems that you have for the most part conceded this point. So maybe our conversation (at least on this particular subject) is coming to a close?
Beetle Bobber – you cannot change the meaning of what the word “objective”.
“not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”
“not dependent on the mind for existence”
Before anything, I’ll have to defend myself (possibly Dawkins) if you’re calling it irrationality and inconsistency, bear in mind that he’s talking according today’s standards and today’s society and what is largely acceptable TODAY. What HE personally (and a lot of people) feels about God’s character.
That’s the thing, morality DOES exist, just not objectively. He’s merely talking about the standards of today and how if morality came from an absolute source, it wouldn’t be changing every few centuries.
One of his chapters called “The Moral Zeitgist” expounds on EXACTLY this view.
The laws of logic and even mathematics are unchanging, the laws are there but the methods you use can differ, but you will end up with the same answers. The basic laws of math aren’t constantly changing. For example, one apple plus another apple WILL give you two apples. Looks like you didn’t catch what I was trying to say when I said that 2+2=5 can be proven in the world of numbers, about binary math and all that.
Exactly my point when I mentioned that the Sun will rise and set (or more accurately we revolve around it) is an OBJECTIVE truth.
My main arguments against the Bible are based on MY subjective morality, because you asked me what made ME dismiss the Bible. And also, if it were objective, why is everybody’s opinion so different?
I’m basing it off of MY moral grounds. I find it nearly impossible to keep remembering to add “according to me” in each sentence because that’s not how we usually converse 😉
Also, about “if atheism is true”.
That statement itself doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Time and again, people forget the simple definition of what it is to be atheist. (I apologise for not being able to put it nicely) I’m simply not convinced that God exists, that’s all there is to it, it cannot be true or false. If there is sufficient proof, I will believe, I’d be stupid not to.
The only way to recognize if a moral is objective is to be able to measure it, verify it with valid evidence. But morality is literally based on human emotions, reactions and such. (Break it down even more, you’ll get chemical changes in the brain and body).
Even if we did have a scale for measurement, it would need to be universally recognized as objectively true.
We’re dealing with metaphysical concepts, metaethics and stuff. How are we even going to lay a foundation when acceptable standards are constantly changing?
If objective morality does exist, you should make a list of these laws that you say DO exist, and you will automatically see that it’s not universal at all.
We as a species, learnt that we would survive for longer and more sustainably if we cooperated with each other and trusted each other. Communities that live in harmony will thrive for longer compared to those that are always fighting and trying to one up each other and trying to get an edge over each other. They will eventually end up dead.
These are altruistic behaviors that make sure we will survive. None of that can be completely segregated into bad and good which is why morality is so grey and so circumstantial, case-by-case basis.
This is where the conversation left off for now. I will continue to post more here as the conversation continues.
In John 6, it is mentioned that it was a test, it’s clearly mentioned it was a test. Wherever God was testing people it’s mentioned in the Bible that it was a test, that’s how we KNOW it’s a test, because it’s written in there. But in Genesis in that passage you cannot see that it was a “test” anywhere. If it was, it would’ve been mentioned. If God would mention that sacrificing Isaac was a test, why wouldn’t this have it too?
But he did destroy the righteous didn’t he? Lot’s wife. (Idk if she was righteous, but the fact that God allowed her to run) he froze her into a pillar of salt because she turned around to look while running. What? Anyone would’ve done that, sometimes it happens involuntarily. Anyway, the point is, it wasn’t mentioned that it was a test. Other examples : Numbers 14, Jonah 3:10, Jeremiah 18:5-10, Gen 6:6. (I’m not trying to drag this, but like, giving more examples. That’s all haha)
But if you’re claiming that objective morality exists, it must exist outside right? Otherwise it’s subjective to God, it’s based on what God thinks is good and bad, ultimately making it subjective.
Yes yes I understand your perspective completely. Because I’ve once been on the side that you are in and this was exactly my view. But it has since changed.
Also the doctor and child analogy is different, now again, I’m not trying to steer this away into another direction but it’s relevant. The doctor is visible, the child can see, and if the child talks to the doctor later, the doctor will answer him. But there’s no proof of God existence. Like, zilch. Other than the Bible.
Divinely inspired commands are arbitrary. I cannot say that slavery shouldn’t be practised because it’s wrong if “wrong” means that God says it’s wrong. How does God decide what is wrong? (I know and understand that we are limited. But we can understand math and logic) We can say God is moral if he follows a certain moral code which implies that it exists outside of him even if he made it. For example, mathematicians cannot go against the fundamental rules even if they are the ones who discovered these laws, they have to follow it.
Does God command something is wrong because it is wrong? Or does God command something as wrong because he thinks it’s wrong? If it’s the first one, that implies that there is an independent code, if it’s the second one, it makes it a subjective pov.
For me, I cannot justify my moral stance.
Whereas ultimately, your justification ends with God’s word.
And that’s cool, we agree to disagree! Whatever works for each of us, works 🙂
Yes but that’s the thing, morality is a grey area even if it came from God. “Do not commit murder” but so many people are infact killed. Because the circumstances demanded it to be that way. For example take self defense. If you’re trapped in a cellar with a serial killer, you will try to survive, even if it takes murder.
Morality is ambiguous and arbitrary.
We condemn the Holocaust because we feel inside of ourselves that it WAS horrible and completely wrong. But there are people who think it IS JUSTIFIED.
Yes, I can “rationally and consistently” complain about the genocide in the Bible just as I will complain about the Holocaust and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In my worldview, these acts were atrocities and totally not justified. But like I said, to keep saying “according to me” will take a lot of getting used to because I’m not used to talking like that at all haha.
Yes I know that was a terrible analogy, but that was the best I could come up with because I’m so bad at that stuff and it even kind of proves my point. It sounds absurd!
I’ve read two books so far, one by Michael Lincoln (the last name I’m unsure of) and one by Gavin D’ Costa. And I’ve watched most of Gary’s videos and stuff.
And yes, I can see what you’re trying to say and I understand it. But just as whatever I’m saying doesn’t make sense to you and seems irrational and inconsistent, whatever I used to believe in doesn’t make sense to me and I have a lot of unanswered questions that literally have no justifiable answer (according to me).
And yes, I think it has come to a close, this conversation! It was a pleasure talking to you about all of this Jordan and I commend and respect you immensely for how you carried this conversation and thank you for treating me like how you’d treat any other adult if you were to engage in conversation.
I will stop here so you can have the last line because I have the tendency to keep replying Bye as many times as you’d say bye 😀
YOU: I’m basing it off of MY moral grounds. I find it nearly impossible to keep remembering to add “according to me” in each sentence because that’s not how we usually converse 😉
ME: Right, I get that both you and Dawkins are basing it upon your own personal opinions and standards for morality. I get that you find it difficult to keep including “according to me” or “in my opinion,” but I think it’s probably because you intuitively know that there is deeper meaning to your morality than simple opinions. But, that’s not for me to assume I suppose 😉
I emphasize that you should be phrasing it more in terms of “my opinion” because It think it would be a more clear and accurate representation of yours and Dawkins worldview. To simply say that “God did such and such” and “those actions are evil, cruel and immoral” certainly seems to imply an objective standard. But ultimately, it’s no different than you sharing an opinion about your preferred color, music style or instrument and then dismissing something as being “not true” simply because it doesn’t share the same preference of those things as you do. Can you see how irrational and baseless this sort of argument would be? And this is why I keep stressing why I think it is much more honest and consistent to speak in terms of your opinion and preference.
As an example: The Bible often speaks about the musical instrument, the harp, but it never talks about the piano. What if in Dawkin’s book, rather than dismissing the Bible on the grounds of “immoral actions” he dismissed it on the grounds that he prefers the piano over the harp. What if Dawkins strongly dislikes harps but strongly prefers pianos and argued something like this…
“I prefer the piano as an instrument over the harp. The harp is a stupid and worthless instrument. I don’t like it. And since the Bible never discusses my preferred instrument — the piano — but often discusses the harp, an instrument that I do not personally prefer, the Bible must not be true.”
If Dawkins made a case like this, you would laugh it off just as much as I would. Being that it is purely based on his subjective preferences, his argument is entirely nonsense, meaningless and useless for arriving at any actual truth. In order for him to have any sort of rationality at all in his argument, there would need to actually exist an absolute standard in which the piano is ACTUALLY better than the harp. But, obviously, since no such law exists, Dawkins making a case against the Bible based purely on his preference would be ridiculous. But for some reason, when it comes to his arguments (and yours) concerning morality— arguments which in their essence are really no different at their core than the silly one I just presented to you— you for some reason feel that you have a “more valid” argument and you seem to assume that there is for some reason more meaning or substance contained in your preferences of morality than there are in your preferences of a certain musical instrument. But, ultimately, there is not.
>> “I don’t prefer the style of morality in the Bible, therefore it’s not true.”
>> “I don’t prefer the style of instrument in the Bible, therefore it’s not true.”
Both arguments are entirely based upon a preference. A preference which you say has nothing objective or absolute as its base. The arguments might look different on the surface, but at the bottom, they are both resting on the same measure of irrationality as their base.
YOU: “Yes, I can “rationally and consistently” complain about the genocide in the Bible just as I will complain about the Holocaust and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
ME: Maybe. I suppose that depends on our definitions of the words “rational” and “consistent.” But, let’s not go there. Sure, you CAN absolutely complain about genocide or the holocaust. But ultimately, it’s no more meaningful than you complaining about a certain style of music. When you object to a certain moral behavior, it is simply your brain chemicals “fizzing” a certain way. It doesn’t actually mean anything. It doesn’t actually matter.
As I’ve said before, none of this proves my worldview, and I don’t intend it to. I suppose I just don’t get this aspect of atheism. Atheists often act as if it is the religious people who are emotionally-driven and blindly living by faith in something that ultimately exist only in their minds. Christians are determining their behaviors and lifestyle on what atheists would say is an “illusion.” A God who actually isn’t there. But, how is it any different for the atheist in how they treat morality?
You just called the Holocaust and Hiroshima “atrocities” and “unjustified.” I know I’ve said this a million times and in a million different ways, but I suppose it’s a good way to close this conversation… Fortunately, you did specify “in my worldview.” Which I appreciate! 🙂 — But, you have to consider, that based on everything you argued for in this conversation, when you call these things atrocities and unjustified, you are ultimately saying nothing. Nothing that is truly “meaningful” anyways. It holds no more ultimate weight than you passionately exclaiming that you prefer blue over red, and that it is an “atrocity” to wear blue and is “unjustified.” In both cases, you didn’t say anything that is actually “truthful” or that holds any significance. Perhaps it’s truthful and significant TO YOU. But not truthful or significant by any relevant or meaningful definitions of these words. I’ve come to like that word “meaningful” in this conversation. Forgive the over-usage of it. But I think it it’s a word that does a good job at summarizing a big lack in “substance” that I see within atheism to explain the world around me in a way that adequately makes sense of what I see and experience. The fact that atheism is a worldview devoid of resources to provide any actual meaning to morality— or anything else —makes it a worldview that to me is insufficient.
I don’t know that you ever FULLY expressed that you FULLY embrace atheism. Maybe you did… I got more of the impression that you are “leaning” that way. Either way, I hope none of what I just said about atheism comes off as an attempt to insult your intelligence or to gaslight you. If you embrace atheism, I know you are doing so from an attempt to make the most rational sense of your world. But, you have strongly expressed areas of Christianity that you perceive as insufficient, and I have acknowledged certain of those points and agreed that indeed Christianity raises some questions that I don’t claim to have all of the answers for yet. So is Christianity 100% provable? No worldview is. But it certainly is rational.
So, since you shared insufficiencies with Christianity to me, I simply want to make sure to share where I also see significant weaknesses and issues within atheism. And I hope that you would also be honest enough to at least acknowledge that there are legitimate problems and challenges within atheism, and not just Christianity. I have presented what in my opinion is a significant problem or “weakness” within atheism. Some people may not see it that way — as a “problem.” But some people also don’t perceive certain violence in the Old Testament to be a problem. The point is, I presented a problem with athesim – which from what my take on this conversation is – remains unsolved. I know there is much more you could have said, but I don’t feel that there was ever really any sort of significant solution to this problem. Every worldview is going to have its apparent holes and flaws. And none can provide you with 100% certainty. I just hope you land on a worldview that is as capable of answering the “why” questions as it is the “how” questions.
You have definitely given me some good things to think about and consider. And I hope I’ve done the same for you.
P.S. – I hope to continue to see you around in the WMSCOG comment sections. The point you brought up about Jesus and his quotes at the Last Supper was very helpful!
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