Monday, July 24, 2006

Blinkered atheism

Daniel Morgan said:

“This question you've asked seems to ruminate around presuppositionalist circles, but few of the philosophers I know seem impressed with it.”

Daniel has not been paying attention to this thread, which began with my post on Sam Harris vis-à-vis the problem of evil, and continued with “George” before Daniel entered the fray.

I have not been judging secular ethics by the yardstick of Christian ethics. There’s nothing wrong with that tack, but that’s not the tack I’ve been using in this thread.

Rather, I’ve been judging secular ethics by its own yardstick. I’ve been citing secular schools of moral relativism. I’ve been quoting secular philosophers who embrace moral relativism.

Moreover, I haven’t been name-dropping. My argument hasn’t been that a famous atheist was a moral relativist. This is not a bare appeal to authority or atheistic opinion.

Rather, I’ve been quoting their arguments for moral relativism.

But, as usual, the details sail right over Mr. Morgan’s head.

“We have empathy. We understand pain, and we have an inbuilt aversion to it, and to causing it in others unnecessarily. “

Other issue aside, human beings also have a propensity for violence—for inflicting pain.

So which “inbuilt” impulse should we indulge? Sadism or altruism?

“Survival is not value-neutral.”

Yes, that’s why a secularist who’s not a moral relativist must be able to justify the value of individual and/or collective survival.

“Steve wants justification for why we should want to survive. Why we ‘ought’ to. This sort of thing makes me roll my eyes.”

Why should this make his eyes roll? Secular humanism claims to be intellectually superior to the Christian faith. So, yes, we expect you to make good on your claims.

Some unbelievers admit to moral relativism, but if you’re an atheist who subscribes to objective moral norms, then you have your own burden of proof to discharge.

Secular ethicists understand this. They are not rolling their eyes at the need for philosophical justification.

It’s only the village atheist like Danny who acts as if this were an unreasonable demand.

“Especially when he admits that egoism is found in Xianity as well -- that Christians don't just obey God because they are interested in what God wants, but because of what may happen to them otherwise, etc. Rational self-interest is enough for me. How hard is it?”

This fails in several respects:

i) As needy, contingent creatures, we depend on God for both our being and our wellbeing.

So, yes, there’s an element of self-interest in Christian ethics. But unlike Danny’s ad hoc position, this has a principled basis in Christian anthropology.

ii) By the same token, Christian self-interest is the opposite of personal autonomy. Rather, it’s predicated on our creaturely finitude.

iii) There are also occasions when a Christian is obligated to sacrifice his immediate self-interest for the welfare of others.

Self-interest is not the only value. For we must take into account the self-interest of our fellow man.

This also has a principled basis in the Christian anthropology, unlike Danny’s ad hoc altruism.

iv) There is no tension between what God wants for the Christian and enlightened Christian self-interest.

v) There’s nothing hard about Danny’s appeal to self-interest. But raw self-interest is not a prescription for objective moral norms. And it’s often at odds with altruism.

“As hard as it is for you to accept, it's quite that simple for me.”

Yes, “simple” is the operative word—as in simplistic.

“Perhaps my answer is not intellectually rigorous enough to satisfy you, but that's fine.”

i) As usual, he dodges the issue. This is a question internal to secular ethics. It isn’t just Christian ethicists who think that secular ethicists have a problem. Rather, this is a much-vexed question in secularism itself.

ii) I’d add that if Danny is going to take the lazy way out, then he forever forfeits the right to raise the problem of evil against Christian theism.

“I don't seem to need to go through a treatise to know why I won't and don't cheat on my wife, or hurt her.”

Thus saith the village atheist.

Bertrand Russell, for one, didn’t suffer from Danny’s quaint old scruples about womanizing.

“I don't seem to need a deep philosophical reason to spoil my Saint Bernards, and enjoy their kisses.”

Of course, this is a trivial example. But the larger point is that Danny, having lost the argument, is making a virtue of anti-intellectualism.

“Humans are like many other social animals, stabilized by their societies, and they learn from behaviors what is ‘good’ within the context of that society, or that relationship, depending on what they want from it, and what it will cost them.”

Yes, and what’s “good” for a member of the Hitler Youth is defined by his social conditioning as well.

“I don't think any of you really see it as much more complex than that in your own life, you just add on...’plus, God commands it’. I mean, if I could somehow, in some way convince you that Jesus never walked the earth...would you abandon your children? Would you stop loving them? Would you start beating your wife, and being unfaithful to her?”

A couple of problems with this hypothetical:

i) There is often a lingering influence of Christian morality on the apostate.

Indeed, one of Danny’s intellectual impediments is that he, along with many other apostates, continues to bask in the afterglow of the Christian tradition he left behind.

They’ve led a charmed existence, and so they’ve been spared the dire consequences of a truly secular outlook.

ii) An unbeliever will maintain the status quo as long as he’s happy with the status quo.

But what happens when he becomes bored with his wife, and leaves her for a younger, sexier woman, and deserts his kids to shack up with his new girlfriend?

“It's like you need to believe that people and their pain aren't enough, aren't valuable enough, to build a moral philosophy around. Why? It's quite enough for me. It's quite enough for many others. Arbitrary? No more so than your God's supposed decision that ‘shrimp is an abomination’ and so are rabbits, and that it's "okay" to kill the infants of enemies (1 Sam 15:3, Num 31:17).”

i) The kosher laws never were moral absolutes. That’s why, in the NT, Gentile converts to the Christian faith are not bound to keep kosher.

ii) Does Danny disapprove of infanticide? What about abortion?

iii) Danny doesn’t bother to interact with the stated rationale for holy war in the OT.

iv) Children are killed whenever we wage war—whether it's conventional warfare or holy warfare. Tragic, but inevitable in a fallen world.

v) And since Danny has abandoned any pretense of defending secular ethics by rigorous argumentation, he has sawed off the very perch from which he could render a value-judgment regarding OT holy war.

“Sorry, but your supposed ‘base’ is a tenuous one -- what you believe that God spoke to people, who wrote it down, who copied it untold times and revised it untold more...”

Which disregards the supporting arguments for what we believe.

“My ‘base’ is what I know and experience. The tears of children invoke a biological sympathy from me. It isn't something I have to intellectually justify.”

i) Consider all those movie scenarios in which the protagonist has been conditioned to be an assassin. Say his mission is to assassinate the child of a military dictator.

The sight of the child evokes antipathy in the assassin.

Because his conditioning is subliminal, he’s unaware of his conditioning.

But due to some accident, he discovers that he’s been brainwashed.

The sight of the child still evokes antipathy in the would-be assassin, but now that he’s conscious of his conditioning, he’s in a position to override his conditioning.

Should he follow his feelings and pull the trigger, or should he rebel against his psychological conditioning?

ii) And notice, once again, how Danny fails to prioritize the frequent tension between altruism and self-interest.

When the Titanic hits the iceberg, should the father sacrifice his personal welfare by putting his wife and kids on the lifeboat while staying behind?

Or should he sacrifice his wife and kids?

If there’s not enough room for everyone, who gets the heave-ho?

After all, he can always marry again and sire a new batch of kids. Wives and kids are a dime a dozen. They’re expendable and easily replaceable, but there’s only one of him.

Or which of his kids does he throw to the sharks?

“Those persons with whom empathy finds no root we call ‘sociopaths’ and ‘psychopaths’, and we tend to treat them according to a different legal standard than normal persons.”

Why should the law treat them any differently if Danny has resigned the intellectual responsibility of rationally warranting his ethical intuitions?

“Secular humanism, the values of the Enlightenment, teachings of philosophy, all of these come together to form a coherent and cogent ‘basis’ for ethics.”

They do nothing of the kind. This is a monumentally ignorant statement. There are many competing versions of secular ethics, including many variations on moral relativism.

“Our politics and civil law depend on the same sort of secular justification that you can read in Plato or Aristotle. Is it really so hard as you theists want to make it?”

It’s pretty hard when you consider how few contemporary secular ethicists are either Aristotelians or Platonists. That’s just for starters.

“This canard is wearing thin.”

No, what is wearing thin is Danny’s paper-thin morality, which is full of holes from cigarette burns caused by contact with the pitiless flame of atheism.

It is only a canard if, like Danny, you live in a fool’s paradise by freeloading on the borrowed capital of a Christian heritage while remaining illiterate to the raging debates within secular ethics.

“Other people, and their pain, are the basis for my ethics. I can't speak for all atheists.“

That’s true. For another atheist like the Marquis de Sade, other people and their pain was the basis of his ethics as well.

Danny’s basic problem is pretty straightforward: having turned his back on the Christian faith, he’s crossed the line of no return—at least in his own mind.

So he has no pressing incentive for find fault with secular humanism. If he can’t go back, then he’s stuck with his atheism.

Even though he’s dealt himself a losing hand, the only cards he has are a pair of Pyrrhic deuces. He has no other deck from which to draw his cards.

So he plays his miserable hand and makes his miserable excuses. And he can get away with it in this life because he lives in a nominally Christian country like the US rather than a militantly atheistic country like N. Korea where we see the payoff when you gamble with atheism and lose.

21 comments:


  1. Daniel has not been paying attention to this thread, which began with my post on Sam Harris vis-à-vis the problem of evil, and continued with “George” before Daniel entered the fray.

    As with most of your musings Steve, there is very little substance to “pay attention to”.
    You enjoy pontificating at a high level and making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what this or that group must believe, but you are typically short on any specific arguments that support your vacuous babble.

    You're a typical smug, pretentious prig in love with the sound of your own voice and the idea that you're a brilliant philosopher.

    It's amusing to watch you preen your shallow, superstitious intellect and your huge ego.


    I have not been judging secular ethics by the yardstick of Christian ethics.


    Well that’s a good thing Steve…since there is no such thing as “Secular ethics” or “Christian ethics”. If there was, there would be no disagreement over any ethical questions within these two broad groups of individuals.

    So, if you think there is such a thing, then please write an article describing in detail, the alleged “secular” and “Christian” ethics, as it relates just to when killing another human is justified.


    I’m sure you should have no problem, seeing how easy it is for you to pretend that you speak for all secular and Christian people who have ever lived, and made such a value judgment.

    Thanks for amusing me Steve.


    There’s nothing wrong with that tack, but that’s not the tack I’ve been using in this thread.

    Rather, I’ve been judging secular ethics by its own yardstick. I’ve been citing secular schools of moral relativism. I’ve been quoting secular philosophers who embrace moral relativism.


    Ahem...I’m not familiar with the “secular ethical yardstick”. Perhaps you could link us to a picture of it, so we know how all “secularists” must “measure” any moral situation’s "length".

    I’m also not familiar with the “secular schools of moral relativism”. Perhaps you could also link us to these “schools” and their specific moral curriculums? Are they accredited by the Secular Board of Morality?

    LOL!

    Sigh…poor, poor Steve, so full of wretched metaphor and shallow clichés, and so short on anything dealing with any specifics.

    You see Steve, the phrase “moral relativism” simply refers to the metaethical position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to genetic, social, cultural, historical or personal references. Moral relativism also suggests that no single standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth, but rather ethics are always being compared to inter-subjective group standards.

    It's a pretty obvious concept supported by the incredible amount of change that has taken place in our Western societies evolving moral standards over the last 500 years.

    It's the reason Steve doesn't think it's "right" to burn blasphemers to death, but he would have been right there with the torch as one of Calvin's "reformed" henchmen.

    Moral relativism therefore is not a code of ethics, it is simply a statement that ethics are clearly subjective and inter-subjective human concepts.

    So it really doesn’t matter if you quote Bertrand Russell or Mark Twain or Ayn Rand or Thomas Edison or Epicurus. They all had different subjective ethical value systems, and none of them are a “standard” for all people who consider themselves secular or non-religious.

    In much the same way, there is no pragmatic system of “Christian ethics”. Over the course of their history, Christians have consistently disagreed on a wide range of ethical and moral questions, including political systems, freedom or religion and speech, slavery, women’s rights, premarital sex, birth control, divorce, war, homosexuality, and when is the appropriate age to sprinkle “holy water” on their offspring.

    The same bible that inspires the Quakers to extreme pacifism, also inspires Calvin to burn people at the stake. The same bible that inspires monks and nuns to vows of poverty, inspires television evangelists to amass great wealth.

    So please, if you want to discuss some ethical question, please be specific, because this nebulous tripe that their exists a single "Christian" or "Secular" ethical system is just so much meaningless twaddle.


    Rather, I’ve been quoting their arguments for moral relativism.

    The argument for moral relativism is simple. Human judgments of behavior or any aesthetic is a subjective mental phenomenon influenced by genetic and social programming.


    But, as usual, the details sail right over Mr. Morgan’s head.

    Your trite attempts to degrade those that disagree with you speaks volumes about your own special brand of “Christian ethics”


    “We have empathy. We understand pain, and we have an inbuilt aversion to it, and to causing it in others unnecessarily. “

    Other issue aside, human beings also have a propensity for violence—for inflicting pain.

    So which “inbuilt” impulse should we indulge? Sadism or altruism?

    Perhaps you are mistaking an explanation of “why” humans exhibit certain behaviors versus what behaviors we “ought” to indulge?

    Again, I’m sorry if you’re trite understanding of human behavior allows you to neatly bifurcate all behaviors into “sadism” and “altruism”, and that everyone must agree with your assessments.


    Why should this make his eyes roll? Secular humanism claims to be intellectually superior to the Christian faith. So, yes, we expect you to make good on your claims.

    “Superior” in what way? Another vacuous claim.


    Some unbelievers admit to moral relativism, but if you’re an atheist who subscribes to objective moral norms, then you have your own burden of proof to discharge.

    Again, Steve confuses the word “objective” with “inter-subjective”. Human beings, those of secular or any religious traditions, can have strong inter-subjective moral opinions about any number of things, because they broadly share a common genome and their cultures may have similar moral traditions.

    Thus prohibitions against things like murder, stealing, and incest are moral norms that are broadly shared by many different people of different cultures and unique genomes.


    Secular ethicists understand this. They are not rolling their eyes at the need for philosophical justification.


    There are many different forms of secular ethical systems, and they are all “justified” by the same method, reason, argument and appeals to what results any specific behavior is likely to produce.

    Unfortunately, it seems secular people can’t resort to Stevey’s famous wail of:

    ‘It's wrong or right, 'cause my personal god said so!’

    ReplyDelete
  2. George said, "You enjoy pontificating at a high level and making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what this or that group must believe, but you are typically short on any specific arguments that support your vacuous babble," as he ponitificated at a low level and made sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what Steve must believe while remaining typically short on any specific arguments that supports his vacuous babble.

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  3. i) As needy, contingent creatures, we depend on God for both our being and our wellbeing.

    LOL!

    Like most needy, contingent creatures without a job, Steve relies on his mom going to the supermarket and buying him microwave pizza and pop tarts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. While Georgie-Porgie, rather than pontificating, indulges in pointless personalities ('You live with your Mom...') May I ask, George, if I may be so bold, why Steve's living arrangements, whate'er they be, have the slightest bearing on the issue of ethics?

    Or can it be that, like most Luddite Atheists, you never saw a belt without being seized by an unconrollable urge to hit below it?

    Come on, my dear, if you want others to get of their high horses, real or imagined, surely you must first come off yours?

    The problem is that your rhetoric is self-defeating:

    'You're a typical smug, pretentious prig in love with the sound of your own voice and the idea that you're a brilliant philosopher.

    It's amusing to watch you preen your shallow, superstitious intellect and your huge ego.'

    From where I'm sitting, if I take you by your own standards and wordage, thy name is hypocrite. Trouble is, the moment you, as an atheist, turn on the patronising rhetoric, you are yourself demonstrating egotism, while your use of crude personalities and that wonderful, question-begging word 'superstitious' reveals a shallow intellect. Once we seek to speculate beyond our experience, we all become vulnerable to the charge that we are egotists. By posting this, I open myself to the same charge, for I clearly think other people, people I do not know would wish to read this.

    As for the claim that there is 'no such thing as "Secular ethics" or "Christian ethics"', what you mean is that there is no single thing bearing either name. Clearly there are those who approach ethics from a Christian or secular point of view.

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  5. George,

    I thought this blog no longer held any interest for you. Just couldn't pass up on some mudslinging no doubt. Same rhetoric, zero substance.

    ReplyDelete

  6. While Georgie-Porgie,

    LOL!

    When a full grown man calls me "Georgie-Porgie", it's usually a sure sign he's a quart low on testosterone...



    rather than pontificating, indulges in pointless personalities ('You live with your Mom...') May I ask, George, if I may be so bold, why Steve's living arrangements, whate'er they be, have the slightest bearing on the issue of ethics?

    I was just poking fun of Steve, and his pretentious rhetoric. I really don't think he lives at home with his mom, nor do I assume he's unemployed; it was all done for rhetorical effect.

    If it's actually true...well then it's all the more hilarious.

    I think you pompous twits take yourselves Waaaay too seriously.

    Plus, the other reason I do it, is I like to see the responses I get from those who swear to uphold the ethics of "turn the other cheek and love your enemies"

    LOL!


    Or can it be that, like most Luddite Atheists,

    Gasp! Are you calling me a "Luddite" Gerard!?! Wait a sec while I go look that up...

    ...um...okay, Well, I assure you, I'm not "opposed to technological progress and change", and I'm not sure what that has to do with "atheism"...perhaps that word doesn't mean what you think it means Gerard!

    LOL!


    Come on, my dear,

    Are you now calling me "my dear"? Are you coming on to me Gerard?
    Fred Phelps wouldn't approve.


    The problem is that your rhetoric is self-defeating:

    Actually, it's got you and "CalvinDude",(SMIRK!)… all upset. So I’ll just claim victory.

    It’s funny how when Steve repeatedly calls Daniel the "Village Atheist"(SNORT!), and constantly patronizes him and implies he’s stupid, his "brothers in Christ" don't get on his case.

    Perhaps he's just following those elusive objective ethics of Jesus?


    From where I'm sitting, if I take you by your own standards and wordage, thy name is hypocrite.

    I'm not preening, I'm not pretentious, and I'm not a pompous blowhard pretending I'm some philosophical, theological genius.

    I'm just me.


    ...and that wonderful, question-begging word 'superstitious' reveals a shallow intellect.

    Oh my! Now even single words beg a question!

    You're another genius!


    As for the claim that there is 'no such thing as "Secular ethics" or "Christian ethics"', what you mean is that there is no single thing bearing either name.

    Correct. So clearly Steve is a bonehead for expecting Daniel to have the same ethical viewpoints as Betrand Russell, his favorite atheist.


    Clearly there are those who approach ethics from a Christian or secular point of view.

    LOL!
    Oh my so now there is an agreed upon “point of view” instead of a clear ethic!

    Now I see! You’re semantics are brilliant!

    You see Gerard, it’s clear, that everyone approaches ethics from a human point of view. And these myriad, ever changing views are influenced by our unique genetic programming, social programming and life experiences.



    It's just that some of us feel more special by claiming our subjective ethics are exactly the same as a Canaanite tribal deity.

    ReplyDelete
  7. George said:

    “As with most of your musings Steve, there is very little substance to ‘pay attention to’.”

    I gave a point-by-point response to Danny. So my reply is at least as substantive as Danny’s original series of comments.

    I think you need to cut your fellow infidel a little slack and not come down so hard on the insubstantial character of his original remarks.

    “You enjoy pontificating at a high level and making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what this or that group must believe.”

    Notice how George is making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about my allegedly sweeping, ignorant generalizations.

    “But you are typically short on any specific arguments that support your vacuous babble.”

    Notice that George is typically short on any specific arguments that support his vacuous babble.

    As I say, I pitched my reply at the level of Danny’s original comments.

    And I typically substantiate my claims with corroborative evidence and supporting arguments, as the archives will abundantly attest.

    “You're a typical smug, pretentious prig in love with the sound of your own voice and the idea that you're a brilliant philosopher.”

    George has a habit of imputing claims to me that I never made for myself, and then expressing moral outrage at the words he put in my mouth.

    “It's amusing to watch you preen your shallow, superstitious intellect and your huge ego.”

    Keep in mind that whenever George utters one of his thunderous value-judgments, it’s with fingers firmly crossed behind his back since he denies objective moral norms.

    So every one of his disapproving value-judgments should be accompanied with an asterisk and a disclaimer: *According to George’s subjective value-judgment.

    “Well that’s a good thing Steve…since there is no such thing as “Secular ethics” or ‘Christian ethics’.”

    George is unacquainted with the nature of collective nouns. But what can you expect given our secularized public school system?

    “So, if you think there is such a thing, then please write an article describing in detail, the alleged ‘secular’ and ‘Christian’ ethics, as it relates just to when killing another human is justified.”

    Why should I reinvent the wheel?

    “I’’m sure you should have no problem, seeing how easy it is for you to pretend that you speak for all secular and Christian people who have ever lived, and made such a value judgment.”

    Notice how easy it is for George to pretend that he speaks for all secular and Christian people who have ever lived, and made such a value judgment when he generalizes about my generalities.

    “Thanks for amusing me Steve.”

    Thanks for making a fool of yourself, George.

    “Ahem...I’m not familiar with the ‘secular ethical yardstick’. Perhaps you could link us to a picture of it, so we know how all ‘secularists’ must ‘measure’ any moral situation’s ‘length’.”

    I see that George is a wooden literalist. He must be a closet Fundy.

    Did he attend Liberty University or Bob Jones U?

    “I’m also not familiar with the ‘secular schools of moral relativism’. Perhaps you could also link us to these ‘schools’ and their specific moral curriculums? Are they accredited by the Secular Board of Morality?”

    I see that George is unacquainted with a school of thought.

    Apparently, George learned English as a second language, and has yet to master idiomatic usage. I’d suggest he begin with Sesame Street.

    “LOL!”

    George’s customary substitute for reasoned discourse.

    “You see Steve, the phrase ‘moral relativism’ simply refers to the metaethical position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to genetic, social, cultural, historical or personal references.”

    File that away for future reference the next time George renders a value-judgment about Christianity.

    “Moral relativism also suggests that no single standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth, but rather ethics are always being compared to inter-subjective group standards.”

    “Intersubjective groups standards”? Hmm. Like the Hitler Youth?

    “It's a pretty obvious concept supported by the incredible amount of change that has taken place in our Western societies evolving moral standards over the last 500 years.”

    Mere “change” is morally neutral.

    An evolving standard is an oxymoron.

    George would need a universal and invariant standard to measure moral progress. If he thinks that contemporary Western civilization is morally superior to what it was 500 years ago, then he’s applying his own yardstick to the evolving standard of morality in order to deem it progressive rather than regressive.

    “It's the reason Steve doesn't think it's ‘right’ to burn blasphemers to death, but he would have been right there with the torch as one of Calvin's ‘reformed’ henchmen.”

    This is chicken feed compared to secular atrocities like abortion, euthanasia, child pornography, organ harvesting, the Holocaust, the Stalinist and Maoist purges, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, and other poisoned produce of secular morality.

    “Moral relativism therefore is not a code of ethics.”

    True, amorality is not a code of ethics, but the very negation thereof.

    “It is simply a statement that ethics are clearly subjective and inter-subjective human concepts.”

    Like the Hitler Youth?

    “So it really doesn’t matter if you quote Bertrand Russell or Mark Twain or Ayn Rand or Thomas Edison or Epicurus. They all had different subjective ethical value systems, and none of them are a ‘standard’ for all people who consider themselves secular or non-religious.”

    i) I quote them for their arguments.

    ii) George continues to make a case for relativistic ramifications of atheism. In so doing, he’s merely corroborating my own case for the relativistic ramifications of atheism.

    Varieties of moral relativism have this much in common—they are all relativistic, and their relativism derives from their secular outlook.

    “In much the same way, there is no pragmatic system of ‘Christian ethics’. Over the course of their history, Christians have consistently disagreed on a wide range of ethical and moral questions, including political systems, freedom or religion and speech, slavery, women’s rights, premarital sex, birth control, divorce, war, homosexuality, and when is the appropriate age to sprinkle ‘holy water’ on their offspring.”

    This disregards a couple of elementary distinctions:

    i) The division between the religious left which denies the authority of Scripture as its standard of morality, and the religious right which affirms it.

    ii) The division between theological traditions which affirm sola Scriptura and those that deny it.

    “The same bible that inspires the Quakers to extreme pacifism, also inspires Calvin to burn people at the stake. The same bible that inspires monks and nuns to vows of poverty, inspires television evangelists to amass great wealth.”

    Quakers are not inspired by the Bible, but by the “inner light.”

    Catholicism is not inspired by Scripture alone, but by tradition.

    Televangelists are not inspired by Scripture, but by greed.

    “So please, if you want to discuss some ethical question, please be specific, because this nebulous tripe that their exists a single ‘Christian’ or ‘Secular’ ethical system is just so much meaningless twaddle.”

    I was responding to Danny, not to you.

    And when I ‘ve responded to you, I have given specific examples.

    But George speaks with a double tongue. For if you give him specific examples, he will dismiss them as unrepresentative. Or he’ll complain about cut-and-paste prooftexting.

    “The argument for moral relativism is simple. Human judgments of behavior or any aesthetic is a subjective mental phenomenon influenced by genetic and social programming.”

    George continues to mount an argument for moral relativism.

    But, of course, that was my point all along. Atheism and moral relativism go together.

    “Your trite attempts to degrade those that disagree with you speaks volumes about your own special brand of ‘Christian ethics’.”

    *According to George’s subjective value-judgment.

    “Perhaps you are mistaking an explanation of ‘why’ humans exhibit certain behaviors versus what behaviors we ‘ought’ to indulge?”

    Atheism is unable to draw this distinction.

    “Again, I’m sorry if you’re trite understanding of human behavior allows you to neatly bifurcate all behaviors into “sadism” and “altruism”, and that everyone must agree with your assessments.”

    I was responding to Danny, not to you. Danny was the one who framed the issued in terms of pain.

    Again, I’m sorry if you’re trite understanding of human behavior prevents you from being able to track the interaction with a disputant other than your egotistical self.

    On second thought, you’re no better at maintaining your own train of thought.

    “Human beings, those of secular or any religious traditions, can have strong inter-subjective moral opinions about any number of things, because they broadly share a common genome and their cultures may have similar moral traditions.”

    The operative word here is “opinion.”

    “Thus prohibitions against things like murder, stealing, and incest are moral norms that are broadly shared by many different people of different cultures and unique genomes.”

    Which, according to George, reduces to sheer opinion.

    “There are many different forms of secular ethical systems, and they are all ‘justified’ by the same method, reason, argument and appeals to what results any specific behavior is likely to produce.”

    Secular ethical systems are not all justified by appeal to the consequences of personal or corporate behavior.

    Not all secular ethical systems are teleological. One of George’s many ignorant and sweeping overgeneralizations.

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  8. I gave a point-by-point response to Danny. So my reply is at least as substantive as Danny’s original series of comments.

    LOL…is that your “objective” opinion Steve?


    Notice how George is making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about my allegedly sweeping, ignorant generalizations.

    I’m sorry Steve, but my charge that you made “sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what this or that group believes” in your post, was specific to you, and that specific habit of yours. Thus it is neither sweeping or a generalization.

    Perhaps you should keep a dictionary handy when reading my replies if I use words you don't understand?


    Notice that George is typically short on any specific arguments that support his vacuous babble.

    Sigh…another parrot…Stevey want a cracker?


    And I typically substantiate my claims with corroborative evidence and supporting arguments, as the archives will abundantly attest.

    Is that your “objective” opinion Steve?


    Keep in mind that whenever George utters one of his thunderous value-judgments, it’s with fingers firmly crossed behind his back since he denies objective moral norms.

    I have no fingers crossed behind my back, and I don’t require the oxymoron of “objective moral norms” to make my value judgments.
    All I need is my brain.

    You see...unlike you, I'm quite humble. It’s just me and my opinion Steve. Perhaps you’re upset because you think I meant that you were an “objective” smug, pretentious prig in love with the sound of your own voice? And that some god must agree with me?

    LOL

    So every one of his disapproving value-judgments should be accompanied with an asterisk and a disclaimer: *According to George’s subjective value-judgment.

    Unlike your value judgments which are accompanied by the hilarious delusion:

    “I am Steve, I speak for a bronze age Canaanite tribal deity who is the one true god, and all my value judgments match his perfectly”


    George is unacquainted with the nature of collective nouns. But what can you expect given our secularized public school system?

    George is very acquainted with Steve’s habit of making sweeping, ignorant generalizations about what this or that group must believe.

    I’m also amused to watch Steve try and create distractions, when he’s exposed doing it. But the charge remains.

    I’ll just be happy to note that when Steve is pressed to detail just ONE aspect of his alleged "objective, absolute morality" as it pertains to the one TRUE “Christian” worldview, he can’t.

    Yet this is the same preening blowhard who claims the archives are full of his brilliant, substantiated arguments.

    “So, if you think there is such a thing, then please write an article describing in detail, the alleged ‘secular’ and ‘Christian’ ethics, as it relates just to when killing another human is justified.”

    Why should I reinvent the wheel?

    And there you have the sum total of why all of Steve’s posturing about “relativism” or “objective morals” or “Christian ethics”, or what some atheist philospher said is nothing more than empty tripe.

    He has no ability to provide us any pragmatic detail on just ONE aspect of his alleged "Christian" morality.

    And the reason is, his claim that there exists a “single Christian ethic” or “objective morality” will quickly be exposed for what it really is, if he dares to give any details. Because then we will see it doesn't match other Christians views, and doesn't even match the views of hero John Calvin.


    Notice how easy it is for George to pretend that he speaks for all secular and Christian people who have ever lived, and made such a value judgment when he generalizes about my generalities.

    Again, more parroting and more dodging, but no answer.
    It is not I who is claiming to speak for ANYONE else, or any god. I have no problem with the FACT that Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins might have different moral opinions about this or that value than I do.

    I also have no problem with the FACT that Fred Phelps and Gene Robinson have different moral values, but both call themselves 'Christian'.

    That's YOUR problem Steve. The one YOU can't resolve. The one you can only dance around.

    Because that’ the REALITY of the world we live in. People have different moral value judgments, and this gets Steve upset, because he wants to be able to declare that HIS personal moral values are the RIGHT ones, the TRUE ones, the ones that have ALWAYS been right and WILL always be right, forever and ever.

    So the way he does this is by appealing to his invisible, powerful, authority. The ugly little god of his imagination, that he’s created in his own image.

    But Steve’s ugly little god is such a nebulous figment, that when pressed for details on just ONE aspect of this god’s “objective moral value system” as it pertains to killing other humans, Steve has NO answer, just a nervous dodge:

    “why should I reinvent the wheel?”

    Should heretics and blasphemers be executed? Like Calvin and certain OT authors thought? Or should there be freedom of speech and religion, like most modern, Western Christians believe?

    Should adulterers be stoned to death as some OT writers believed? Or should they be forgiven and told to “sin no more”, as certain NT authors believed?

    There is no “objective” standard of moral behavior to be found in the bible, because the bible was written and redacted by countless anonymous men, with various agendas over hundreds of years.

    Show me what a man gets out of his bible, and I will show you the measure of that man.

    Steve hates homos and is against abortion...what a surprise.


    Thanks for making a fool of yourself, George.

    Are you calling me a “fool” Steve? Tsk…tsk…I see you are breaking another clear biblical moral law.

    LOL
    I see that George is a wooden literalist. He must be a closet Fundy.

    I’m a pragmatist who enjoys exposing the meaningless, wretched metaphors of babbling dolts like you Steve. I think its fun. I like watching you and your fanboys get frustrated.

    So I guess there really is no “secular ethical yardstick”…is there Steve?

    That was just more of your empty, babbling rhetoric, wasn’t it Steve?


    Did he attend Liberty University or Bob Jones U?

    Those are fundy schools Steve. I attended Cornell.

    I see that George is unacquainted with a school of thought.

    I see Steve still can’t support his ignorant, sweeping generalizations.

    “You see Steve, the phrase ‘moral relativism’ simply refers to the metaethical position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to genetic, social, cultural, historical or personal references.”

    File that away for future reference the next time George renders a value-judgment about Christianity.

    Steve…it doesn’t bother me that my value judgments don’t match yours, nor does it bother me that there is no “objective standard” to arbitrate between them.

    It bothers you…remember?


    “Moral relativism also suggests that no single standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth, but rather ethics are always being compared to inter-subjective group standards.”

    “Intersubjective groups standards”? Hmm. Like the Hitler Youth?

    You can tell how desperate Steve is in trying to create distractions, by how many times he squawks “Hitler” like a trained seal. Here Steve...have another fish.

    Yes Steve, the “Hitler Youth” had intersubjective group standards just like the “Calvin Youth” of Geneva did. In both cases, these children were indoctrinated into a moral system that told them they were absolutely right, and their political, cultural and religious enemies were absolutely wrong, and needed to be eliminated to keep the flock “pure”.

    And I'm sure many of both groups came to reject that idea later in life.

    Does that bother you Steve?

    “It's a pretty obvious concept supported by the incredible amount of change that has taken place in our Western societies evolving moral standards over the last 500 years.”

    Mere “change” is morally neutral.

    LOL…the dramatic moral change from the religious persecutions of Calvin’s Geneva, to the freedom of speech and religion we enjoy today in the Western world, is hardly a “morally” neutral change Stevey.

    As usual, Steve is dodging here, and desperately looking for any semantic crack to hide his cherished, ignorant, simpleton view of the world in.

    An evolving standard is an oxymoron.

    LOL!
    That must be why everyone still thinks those 1970 fashions are “da bomb!”
    Sorry Stevey, you live in a country where we have outlawed slavery, given women the right to vote, and we’ve decided the Federal government should be able to tax income and provide health care for the elderly, all in the last 150 years.

    Oops…I know how much you dream you’re still living in a Puritan colony in the 17th century!


    George would need a universal and invariant standard to measure moral progress.

    Nope…I only need my inter-subjective standard and my ability to reason.

    Like evolutionary biology, human moral values are changing Steve, sorry you can’t come to grips with the OVERWHELMING evidence.

    And like evolution, the word “progress” doesn’t apply to understanding the FACT that they are changing. The word "progress" implies a value judgment.

    Perhaps Steve would prefer living in a Puritan colony in the 17th century?

    But then he might actually have to get off his fat behind and do some honest work...so I doubt it.

    If he thinks that contemporary Western civilization is morally superior to what it was 500 years ago, then he’s applying his own yardstick to the evolving standard of morality in order to deem it progressive rather than regressive.

    I’m just pointing out the CHANGES Steve, it’s you pretending that there is an absolute, objective, unchaning standard. Yet it’s clear that Christians had radically different standards in Geneva in 1556, then they do in the Geneva of 2006.

    Sorry that you can’t come to grips with REALITY Steve. Sorry your living in some deluded fantasy world Steve.

    “It's the reason Steve doesn't think it's ‘right’ to burn blasphemers to death, but he would have been right there with the torch as one of Calvin's ‘reformed’ henchmen.”

    This is chicken feed compared to secular atrocities like abortion, euthanasia, child pornography, organ harvesting, the Holocaust, the Stalinist and Maoist purges, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, and other poisoned produce of secular morality.

    LOL…so “burning someone at the stake” is now justified because of what Stalin did! What a wonderful relativist you’ve become Steve!

    I wonder...is it only “secular” people getting abortions Steve? I think not.

    A study published by an affiliate of Planned Parenthood says almost a quarter-million abortions are performed each year in the U.S. on women who identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.

    Oops. Fundies getting abortions and getting divorced...thank goodness they are all "saved" and being guided by god's magical spirit!

    LOL!

    Like the Hitler Youth?

    Baaawk! Hitler! Hitler! Hitler Youth! Baaaawk!

    Stevey want a cracker?


    I must have missed the post I made where I said I was a member of the ‘Hitler Youth’, or supported them in some way. But thanks for amusing me with your routine. Goodwin would be proud of your skill.


    Varieties of moral relativism have this much in common—they are all relativistic, and their relativism derives from their secular outlook.

    Relativism is just the result of the empirical observations of sciences like neuroscience, pyschology and anthropology.
    Sorry Steve…all it means is that human value judgments are subjective and inter-subjective and that they don’t exist outside of human minds.

    Anytime you want to offer any empirical evidence for an “objective moral standard” that exists outside a human mind, and you can provide us details on EXACLTY what it’s moral precepts are as they relate to the killing of another human being…

    ...then we’ll have something to talk about.

    In the meantime, please continue this hilarious “Hitler Youth” song and dance revue…it’s quite hilarious .

    ReplyDelete
  9. More irony for Steve...

    It turns out that the original membership of the Hitler Youth was confined to Munich, and in 1923, the organization had just over one thousand members. In 1925, when the Nazi Party had been refounded, its membership grew to over 5,000. Five years later, the national Hitler Youth membership was at 25,000, at the end of 1932 it was at 107,956, and at the end of 1933, the Hitler Youth held a membership of 2,300,000. This large rise in membership came from the Hitler Youth merging with the membership of the "evangelische Jugend" (600,000 members at the time), the youth organization of the Evangelical Church in Germany, which included the Reformed Churches of Germany.

    Imagine, that nice little teenage boy "Rolfe", portrayed in the Sound of Music, and you have a good idea of what a Christian Hitler Youth was like.

    Yep, it seems the "Hitler Youth" was comprised of nice little Reformed Christian boys, with the blessings of their parents and pastors...and I'm sure everyone of them must have had the exact same "objective" Christian values as Steve. And it turns out that "killing Jews is a good thing" was one of those objective morals.

    So is Steve bragging about his standards with all these references to "Hitler Youth" he keeps making?

    Thanks Steve. it's rare I can be treated to this much irony and hypocrisy from a single moron.

    You're quite talented.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Steve,

    I'd like to apologize for being an idiot. I've had problems why whole life really. I'm just a loser. You see, I struck out in the ninth inning with the game on the line in 6th grade. My dad was very disappointed with me. Then in 11th grade I was stood up right before the prom by my one true love, Jeanie Nipschitz. I've never gotten over it really. My therapist says I should just let her go, but what does he know about true love? Anyway, sometimes my medication wears off and I turn into a real jerk. I don't know any other way to deal with people. Life is so unfair, the world so cruel. One of my favorite things to do to Christians is to treat them like dog doo and then call them hypocrites when they don't respond to me with love and kindness. Diabolical isn't it? Well, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry. At some point in life I hope to get a clue. I've been studying real hard for my upcoming IQ test, and I'm gonna pass it this time. I know I can do better than 58! Thanks for listening, Steve. Hopefully I won't turn into a werewolf later and bite your head off.

    Sincerely,

    George

    ReplyDelete
  11. George,

    You're right, Wikipedia is probably the most scholarly work you can find on any subject, written by the most respected scholars.

    To quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler_Youth
    This rise for a large part came from the members of several other youth organizations the HJ had (more or less forcefully) been merged with, including the rather big one of the "evangelische Jugend" (600,000 members at the time), the YO of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

    I guess your copy and past doesn't work to well. It excluded the (more or less forcefully)

    How convenient for you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey, what's a little manipulation of the truth to make it seem like my point is valid? I have no problem with that in my inter-subjective value judgments....

    Sincerely,

    George

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  13. Hey Warren...

    Are you claiming that the article is incorrect in some way?

    Are you claiming that the "Hitler Youth" didn't have any Christians amongst it's two million people?

    Are you claiming that Germany wasn't primarily Christian nation of various Protestant denominations during the 1930s?

    Are you claiming you'd have not joined the Hitler Youth if you were a good little Reformed Youth memmber raised on the anti-semtism of your religion?

    Sigh...so many fanboys...so little refutation of anything I've claimed.

    Run along now fanboy.

    ReplyDelete

  14. Hey, what's a little manipulation of the truth to make it seem like my point is valid? I have no problem with that in my inter-subjective value judgments....

    Sincerely,

    George


    Oh look... another Christian forgery...ho hum!

    ReplyDelete
  15. George "the animal" Steele7/25/2006 2:08 PM

    Me say you wanna fight? I eat Christians for breakfast like scrambled eggs. SNORT! LOL! ho hum! Sigh, my medication is wearing off....

    ReplyDelete
  16. non-George anonymous7/25/2006 2:14 PM

    Actually dimwit, we're claiming that your scholarly aptitude is summed up by the fact that you cut and paste snipets from wikipedia.org, and then alter them to make it appear as if they support your point. That's called deception, but I'm sure that doesn't offend your inter-subjective value judgments. Now, back to your abyss Apollyon...

    ReplyDelete
  17. To try to rescue this thread (which may be futile) -- if we could return to the subject of survival as a moral absolute...please?

    I would argue that:
    1) Values and goals are not capable of being fulfilled unless we survive
    2) Noble values (the virtues) and goals which confer benefits to self and others (such as meeting needs and desires) ought to be fulfilled and practiced
    3) The ability to do what ought to be done is dependent upon survival
    4) Therefore, we ought to survive, and foster survival in others around us

    I know that the old "dirty words" of the Enlightenment -- esp. egalitarianism, self-interest (egoism) and individualism (as it relates here), will probably incite someone here to start slinging mud again, but I figured it would be better to sling mud over ethical disputes than over, well, nothing but ego.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Stevey's Fanboi7/25/2006 2:38 PM

    Oh look! More of the "Calvinist Youth" are here passing judgment!

    Can anyone of you actually present any evidence that the "Hitler Youth" weren't predominantly Christians?

    No...I didn't think so.

    Shouldn't you boys be out beating up fags, or shooting abotionists?

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  19. George,

    In light of your obvious exceptional scholastic skills I don't have anything to claim except perhaps that I hear the sound of an attempted recovery.

    (SNORT) sigh, LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  20. As Warren points out, when you go back to the original article, you'll see that George paraphrased the material to leave out the coercive adjective: "forcefully" merged.

    Such a dishonest manipulation of the source material shows you just how desperate and unscrupulous he is.

    But then, we'd expect a moral relativist to be unprincipled, now wouldn't we?

    ReplyDelete
  21. According to The Holocaust Chronicles, Published by Louis Weber, Publications International Ltd., total deaths from Nazi Genocidal Policies (p699) include:

    Polish Catholics - 3,000,000
    Germans (political, religious and resistance) - 80,000

    Can anyone of you actually present any evidence that 2nd group contained no Christians?

    ReplyDelete