“You Christian theists are in such a funny position. You claim moral superiority, but when we look at your book, we atheists see a morality typical of the time that spawned it, steeped in superstition.”
And if Abraham were looking at your books, he’d see a morality typical of your time, steeped in secular groupthink.
“Would you really defend Leviticus when God (supposedly) says: ‘[Ye shall keep my statutes] neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee’."
Yes, I’d defend it with a view to original intent.
“It doesn't matter who God supposedly told this to, it's just plain nuts! NUTS! ... the law would never make any sense under any circumstances-- let alone your claim that from God comes ‘intrinsic morality’. ‘Thou shalt not eat green jelly beans.’ is just as morally applicable in the REAL WORLD.”
Several problems here:
1.You’d make a lousy anthropologist. Every culture has its symbolic associations. You’re a fool if you think you’re automatically in a position, based on your 21C American point of reference, to declare another culture’s custom “just plain nuts! This would never make any sense under any circumstances!”
Suppose a native from an undiscovered tribe in S. America were brought to the United States. What would he think of those funny colored lights we have at every major intersection? “It’s just plain nuts! Those funny colored lights would never make any sense under any circumstances!”
2.The fact that we believe in moral absolutes doesn’t mean that every law in Scripture is a moral absolute. That was never the claim.
3.And you’ve done nothing to salvage Loftus’ argument from evil, which was the original point of reference.
4.Lev 19:19 is part of the ceremonial law. It deals with ritual purity and impurity. To some extent, categories of ritual purity and impurity are admittedly arbitrary.
That’s no objection to the ceremonial law, for we were never claiming otherwise.
5.However, not everything that’s arbitrary is unreasonable.
Libraries catalogue books according to a somewhat arbitrary classification scheme.
It would be a lot simpler to file books on a shelf without all that effort to order them according to a complicated numerical code.
But while that would greatly simplify the shelving process, it would greatly complicate the retrieval process.
There’s nothing intrinsically evil about mixing books on different subjects, but that would also be extremely inefficient if you were looking for a particular book on a particular subject.
Even a somewhat arbitrary way of arranging books by topic is preferable to randomized shelving.
6.The Bible has a doctrine of natural kinds. God created a variety of things. Things of a kind.
This is important to ontology, epistemology, and morality.
Some things naturally go together, while other things don’t.
7.The ceremonial law has its basis in the moral law. To some extent it parallels the natural order, but it goes beyond the natural order to illustrate ethical distinctions and typological truths by symbolic rites and rituals.
Like any cultural code language, it makes perfect sense if you know the code, and perfect nonsense if you don’t know the code.
“Morality isn't fixed; it's not intrinsic, that's the whole point. We as human beings have to evaluate a given moral position based on real outcomes and evidence as much as it is possible.”
Thanks for that insight. Suppose I lobby for the passage of a law according to which every atheist whose last name begins with “M” will be executed.
Before passing that law, I conduct a feasibility study on the most cost-effective method of executing every atheist whose last name begins with “M.”
Does that satisfy your criterion of outcome-based morality?
“How do we evaluate this evidence? Simple. Based upon the "state of being human" -- a just law is created at an attempt to alleviate human suffering.”
But since, according to you, the alleviation of human suffering is not a fixed value, why should we evaluate the evidence or pass a law with that outcome in mind?
If there’s no intrinsic morality, there’s no intrinsic justice. So much for “just” laws.
“In point of fact, it is you theists who claim there are moral absolutes, so YOU must defend the moral edicts of the Bible which now seem horribly out of date and cruel.”
i) I defend them on a regular basis.
ii) Since, according to you, there is no fixed or intrinsic morally, you may find the edicts of Scripture cruel, but they can’t be intrinsically cruel, now can they?
“We atheists don't need to explain why we don't believe in fixed morality. You do.”
May I quote you on that in case an atheist whose last name begins with “M” complains about the new law we’ve passed?
“We have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why certain laws in the Bible are silly. They were written a long time ago and humanity has moved on... please join us.”
But since, according to you, there is no fixed, intrinsically morality, then the fact that humanity has supposedly moved on since Bible times doesn’t mark a moral advance. So why should we join you?
If morality is extrinsic and fluid, then your humanistic laws are just as “silly” as the laws of Scripture.