Daniel Morgan said:
“Careful Steve, or you'll be starting down the slippy slope towards establishing a moral realism that your divine command theory prohibits.”
Explain how “my” divine command theory prohibits moral realism?
What Danny is trying to do here is to disprove my position, not by engaging my actual argument, but by classifying my position in a certain way, which he defines as inconsistent with moral realism.
My argument was that certain commands are grounded in the nature with which God has endowed human beings.
There is nothing arbitrary about commands that are preadapted to the nature he’s given us.
Danny hasn’t laid a glove on my actual argument.
“Subject-object relationships are required for logic to exist. The only intelligible definitions of logic thus require a subject (observer) and objects (A) to make remarks such as, ‘A is A’ and ‘A cannot be A and B’. They don't require a subject/object to be God, unfortunately for you.”
Unfortunately for Danny, this is an argument for theistic conceptual realism.
If the subject-object relations of logic are limited to human observers (or ETs), then there was no logic before intelligent life evolved in the universe. In that event, Danny’s oscillating theory of the universe wasn’t true before intelligent life evolved in the universe. Indeed, the proposition that intelligent evolved wasn’t true before intelligent life evolved.
If the laws of logic, like the law of identity, or the law of non-identity, are contingent laws, dependent on the human mind, then nothing was true before intelligent live evolved. There was no third planet around the sun before primates evolved to the point of entertaining that proposition. There was no Big Bang before primates evolved to the point of entertaining that proposition.
If, on the other hand, the laws of logic are constituted by the mind of God, then God is the “observer” who grounds the necessity and universality of logic.
“Obviously, one possible world is the world of the naturalist, a world in which matter and energy have no need of ‘creation’ and undergo transformations without a divine mind willing them.”
i) Since Danny, unlike Witten, is not a quantum geometer, his appeal is a blind argument from authority.
ii) Some cosmological arguments, like the Kalam argument and the argument from the principle of sufficient reason, are a priori arguments. A posteriori developments in modern cosmology do nothing to invalidate a priori arguments.
“A creature which cannot access decisions or actions which are wrong/evil/immoral is completely amoral, just as a rock is. If a creature cannot choose wrongly, it cannot choose rightly in the moral sense.”
This is an assertion that requires a supporting argument. A man who cannot bring himself to be a child rapist is completely amoral? A man who cannot choose to murder his mother cannot rightly choose to let her live?
“This was an odd sentiment to read in coming from someone whose blog hosts presuppositional apologists who insist that we ‘account for’ logic/morality/X, and insist that Christianity supplies the only coherent "account of" X.”
Not odd at all. The question at issue is not whether X may require a source or standard outside of X in Y.
Rather, the question is whether this must devolve into an interminable process. You’re the one who’s setting up a false dilemma, as if the only two options are either to say that a drinking fountain must be its own source of water or else a drinking fountain has no ultimate source of water. But we don’t require a source of the water supply ad infinitum.
“On the one hand, you demand rigorous transcendental defenses of the existence of logic and morality, and on the other hand, your God is allowed to sneak under the radar. When God does/is/has it, it just IS, but if I say, "logic exists", Manata et al ask, ‘WHY?’ Your axioms are unassailable, but I am not allowed axioms at all (undefended foundational premises).”
Once again, Danny is ducking the argument by trying to classify the opposing position out of existence rather than directly engaging the argument.
i) One the one hand, transcendental theism does not commit us to a vicious infinite regress. On the other hand, it is not arbitrary to stop with the ultimate standard or source of something if, indeed, that is the ultimate source or standard of something. The error only lies in stopping short of the ultimate explanation, not in supposing that there is an ultimate explanation.
ii) Transcendental theism is not an axiomatic system with unprovable first-principles. Not the Van Tilian version.
The Clarkian version is axiomatic, and you’re more than welcome to attack that version.
“Classical foundationalism denies that you can use your God's existence as an axiom*, but you presuppose it nonetheless.”
This claim goes astray in several directions:
i) A Classical theistic foundationalist like Descartes would take issue with your interpretation.
ii) One can be a non-classical theistic foundationalist. Cf. N. Kretzmann, Our Knowledge of God: Essays on Natural & Philosophical Theology, K. Clark, ed. (Kluwer 1992).
iii) What makes you think that Van Til’s epistemology should be classified along the lines of classical foundationalism rather than, say, coherentism?
iv) Speaking for myself, I favor exemplarism, which involves a two-term relation (exemplar-exemplum), not an infinite regress.
So Danny’s objection falls flat on all possible counts.
“And subsume all subsequent questions into these meaningless propositions: God is good, God is logical, etc.”
If these are meaningless terms, then why does Danny act as if they’re meaningful for purposes of disproving Christian ethics?
“I understand quite well the need to stake out certain premises in our worldview without support.”
Transcendental theism, at least of the Van Tilian variety, does not posit an unsupportable or indefensible premise or set of premises.
Rather, these premises are confirmed by the coherent explanatory power of one’s worldview as a whole.
“But the circularity of your premises (God exists, we know this and God's character by Scripture, we know by Scripture that you know this as well, thus God's existence is self-evident).”
You seem to be confusing the presuppositionalism of Gordon Clark with the presuppositionalism of Van Til.
Van Til never limited our knowledge of God to special revelation alone.
“It seems that theists such as yourself attempt to hide behind the sort of vacuous certainty you are afforded by saying that somehow, some way, i) things are evil because God commands them, ii) things are evil because of man's nature, iii) and things are evil because they just are (see first comment above) -- the latter of which is of course my position.”
Once again, you’re setting a false dilemma.
To say that God prohibits sodomy, and to say that sodomy is unnatural, are hardly unrelated propositions.
To say that God prohibits sodomy because sodomy is unnatural, and sodomy is unnatural because it does violence to the way in which God designed human beings to interact at a physiological, psychological, and sociological level is not a circular argument, but a linear argument.