“My argument is that that morale rationale is a good one -- it's clearly to the Judaeo-Christian framework, in my view. But Calvindude, and now Steve, have taken to saying that such a rationale doesn't exist!”
i) You have been changing the subject throughout the course of this thread.
ii) I never denied that an atheist can have a rationale. That’s not the issue.
The question at issue is whether he has a rational rationale. Is his rationale rationally well-founded?
The Marquis de Sade had a rationale. So what?
“But, while take a dim view of atheistic moral rationales, I do grant that they have been formulated and advanced.”
This is a straw man argument since I never said otherwise.
Yes, secular value systems have been formulated and advanced by such secular luminaries as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Herbert Spencer, Peter Singer, and the Marquis to Sade.
“As for restraint making individuals good, I don't suppose that makes one good in the spiritual or righteousness sense. But in the civic sense, as opposed to indulgence in the crime of murder, rape, robbery, or mayhem, I would definitely say that refraining from these acts is good’.”
Touchstone is now reverting to the elementary confusion between the question of whether an atheist (or idolater) can ever do the right thing (or refrain from doing the wrong thing), and whether an atheist has a rationally compelling basis for doing the right thing.
“The atheist says his secular moral framework is true. You say the Christian moral framework is true. I say the Christian moral framework is true.”
i) To begin with, not every atheist is an advocate of secular ethics. Some secular thinkers admit that a secular outlook commits them to some form of moral relativism, viz. Russell, Ruse, Mackie, Dawkins, Nielsen, and Quentin Smith, to name a few.
ii) Yes, Nietzsche and I don’t see on to eye on morality. Singer and I don’t see eye to eye on morality.
Does that mean we split the difference? Nietzsche gets to exterminate half the Jews while I get to save the other half? Singer gets to butcher half the babies while I get to save the other half?
iii) I don’t merely *say* that my position is true. I have often *argued* for my position.
“Is it true because there's two of us, and one atheist? Hope not, or he'll go get two atheist buddies.”
Do you cultivate intellectual frivolity, or does this come naturally to you?
“But what do you mean by ‘normative’? Is Steve Hays now normative? Why isn't Hume normative? I don't see how saying this is a ‘normative issue’ is anything more than begging the question.”
That’s because there’s a problem with your eyesight. You are citing examples of secular ethicists (Hume, Mill) to illustrate the existence of secular ethical systems.
But that’s a purely descriptive exercise. No one denies the existence of secular ethical systems.
Rather, the question at issue is whether these secular alternatives are any good. Do they lay a solid foundation, or a sandy foundation, for morality?
Jeffrey Dahmer was a secular ethicist. He had a moral framework. Social Darwinism. He appealed to Darwinism to justify his mass murder and culinary taste.
The real question is not whether he had a rationale for what he did, but whether his reasoning was sound.
Sorry you’re so offended by my value-judgments. I guess from your pluralistic viewpoint, I get to choose my menu while Dahmer gets to choose his own menu.
Tolerance is a beautiful thing—until you end up in the refrigerator, next to the pork and beans.
“If the Christian God exists as we claim, then the atheists are wrong, and their morality is founded on a lie.”
i) Depends on what you mean by a “claim.” If you’re treating the Christian truth-claim as a defeasible hypothesis, then I disagree.
ii) In addition, these are asymmetrical propositions. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Christianity is false, its falsity would not thereby validate secular ethics.
It isn’t a choice between Christian ethics and secular ethics. Rather, it’s a choice between moral realism and moral antirealism. The alternative to Christian ethics isn’t secular ethics. Rather, the alternative to Christian ethics is moral relativism.
If the Christian is right, then we do have a source and standard of moral absolutes; if the Christian is wrong, then neither the Christian nor the non-Christian (atheist, agnostic, idolater) has a source and standard of moral absolutes.
The Christian worldview has winners and losers; a non-Christian worldview has no winners, only losers.
“If no god exists, then the Christians are wrong, and our morality is based on a lie. Or it could be neither of these ideas is right, and they are *both* based on a lie.”
From your perspective, not mine. No, Christianity cannot be wrong. I’m a transcendental theist. Apart from God, nothing can be true or false, right or wrong. The existence of God is not a falsifiable proposition, for the existence of God is the precondition for anything to be falsifiable. There can be no truth or falsehood without truth-conditions, and there can be no truth-conditions without God.
For supporting arguments, see some of the material by Anderson, Welty, and Pruss, posted on this blog.
“But that's the Big Question, isn't it.”
A question for whom? You or me? You or an atheist (assuming there’s a difference).
“It seems Calvindude is convinced that his pronunciation pretty much settles the matter, for Christian, Buddhist, atheist and Zoroastrian. Are you claiming the same here.”
Yes, Calvindude operates with the eccentric notion that a professing Christian is someone who actually happens to believe that Christianity is true. Where he came by this crazy idea, I don’t know, but life is stranger than fiction.
Based on this utterly eccentric notion of his, he also believes that when he is talking to a fellow professing believer, is okay for both them to act as if Christianity is exactly what it claims to be…as in…you know…true.
I understand how hard it is to get inside such an aberrant mindset, but it’s like one evolutionary biologist talking to another evolutionary biologist, where they think it’s okay to take evolutionary biology for granted. Pretty weird, I know.
But things get even worse. Calvindude is also one of those unconscionably arrogant Christians who thinks it’s all right, when dialoguing with an unbeliever, to maintain his Christian identity.
Calvindude is so arrogant that when he enters into a dialogue with an unbeliever, he takes the outlandish position that it’s permissible for him to continue acting like a Christian, as if the Christian faith were actually true and rationally superior to the alternatives!
Yes, I realize it’s shocking to contemplate the sorry fact that, in the 21C, there are still some backward corners of the world where the Gospel According to St. Spong have yet to penetrate. But with your help we’ll rectify the situation.
“It seems that Utilitarianism per J.S. Mill and friends can lay claim to some level of objectivity -- evaluation of morals empirically, based on outcomes and observations -- but Christian morality is based on subjective belief. Belief in the Christian God is a subjective axiom required for it, and would seem to be make Christian morality fail your own test.”
i) Utilitarianism always falters on the justification of the “good.” What makes the common good “good”?
ii) Is Christian morality based on a subjective belief?
By definition, belief has a subjective dimension. It’s a psychological state.
But there’s also a difference between true and false beliefs, based, in part, on their correspondence, or lack thereof, between the mental state of the subject and the extramental object of belief, as well as the extramental evidence—not to mention the extramental rules of evidence.
iii) You are treating the Christian belief-system as if it were an axiomatic system with unprovable first principles. Maybe that’s your model of the Christian faith.
But it’s not my model—and I daresay that it isn’t Calvindude’s, either.
iv) You’re problem is that you happen to be a judgmental fideist, but if you’re a fideist, you shouldn’t be judgmental, and if you’re judgmental, you shouldn’t be a fideist.
v) You seem to define Christian faith as belief over against knowledge.
Because, according to you, Christian faith falls short of knowledge, and because, according to you, the non-Christian alternatives are in the same boat, you wax indignant whenever you encounter Christians who don’t buy into your fideism and attendant relativism.
But you only have a right to your moral outrage if you subscribe to moral absolutes, and you only have a right to that appeal if you ditch you fideism and relativism.
From what I can tell, your basic problem is that you are a reactionary. You are rebelling against your fundy upbringing, and you get very emotional over any statement you associate with the position you are trying to put behind you as you attempt to stake out some mediating position. Unfortunately for you, any mediating position is going to be an unstable compromise, which is why you constantly contradict yourself and hopscotch from one adversarial posture to another.
One wonders where you will be 5 or 10 years from now. Given your abusive treatment of someone as customarily charitable as Calvindude, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if your current position isn’t a transitional phase on the way to atheism or agnosticism.