Monday, August 05, 2019

Gott mit uns

I got into an impromptu debate with an apostate Christian who is now an atheist.

[How do you know drowning people is morally wrong?] I know drowning is a very unpleasant sensation and can lead to death. As I wouldn’t what it to happen to me I in turn don’t wish it on others. It’s called empathy.

1. So your morality is ultimately based on your intuition? Your sense or feelings? Such as feeling "a very unpleasant sensation". Such as feeling a sense of "empathy". However, you earlier condemned Hitler and the Holocaust. Yet Hitler felt no empathy for the Jewish people. Hence, by your logic, Hitler did not do anything morally wrong by killing Jews in the Holocaust, did he?

2. A person can also feel "a very unpleasant sensation" when they're undergoing euthanasia. Would you therefore argue euthanasia is morally illicit?

hitler was a Christian so....

1. Hitler came from a Catholic background, just like Stalin came from a Russian Orthodox background (Stalin became an atheist), but Hitler persecuted Christians and hated Christians. Philosophically speaking, one could argue Hitler often promoted the views of Friedrich Nietzsche who was an ardent atheist and nihilist.

2. In fact, Hitler considered Christianity weak. A religion only fit for "slaves". And even Joseph Goebbels, who knew Hitler closely, said: "The Führer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race. This can be seen in the similarity of their religious rites. Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end they will be destroyed."

3. However you're missing the actual point. I'm responding to you on your own grounds. This isn't about Hitler, but about your argument. Hitler is simply one example among many. You argued for morality based on feelings like "empathy". Well, if morality is ultimately based on whether or not we have empathy toward another person, then someone who has no empathy toward a group of people - such as Hitler lacking empathy toward Jews, or such as ISIS lacking empathy toward non-Muslims including non-Sunni Muslims - then by your logic how have they wronged the other person?

Euthanasia is a complex issue that requires consent and extenuating circumstances. The right to die for example. Alleviate suffering as such.

1. Again, you missed the point. The point is, by your own logic, euthanasia would be wrong because the person would feel "a very unpleasant sensation and can lead to death".

2. You need to find a better argument if you want to ground objective moral values and duties on atheism. If you can't ground objective moral values and duties, then you have no basis by which to morally judge another person's morality. Such as by calling God a "sadistic jerk" as well as condemning ancient peoples like Israelites and early Christians. At best, it's just your own intuition or feelings or somesuch, but your own personal feelings aren't necessarily a reliable moral compass.

3. Given atheism, what happens to evil people who get away with their evil in this life? Hitler died the way he wanted to die, by suicide, without ever having to answer for his evils. Stalin and Mao got away in the end too. As Dawkins points out: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

Gott Mit Uns which is emblazoned on the SS emblem translates to God With Us. Strange thing for an atheist to attach to his death squads.

1. By that logic, we put "In God We Trust" on our money. Hence the United States is (or should be) a Christian nation. Is that what you're arguing?

2. Besides, as Goebbels points out, Hitler was "religious" but "anti-Christian" and anti-Jewish. So whatever "god" this was, it wasn't the God of the Bible.

3. Plus, the Nazis often co-opted religious symbols for their own propaganda. After all, the swastika was originally from Hinduism. Hence, by your logic, the Nazis were Hindu.

horrible people throughout history have co-opted religion to strengthen their power. It’s almost like political leaders understand that having a god around helps keep people in line. Any coincidence that ancient cultures often had church and government so closely entwined. Makes you think doesn’t it. Can’t get the peasants to listen, threaten them with a fate worse than death. A savvy political move.

1. Thanks for conceding my point. Yes, Hitler and the Nazis were "horrible people" who co-opted religion. They were not Christians like you've been ignorantly alleging.

2. If anything, Hitler was driven by a Nietzschean vision mixed with various myths and religious symbols. (This included Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and related myths, which JRR Tolkien even criticized the Nazis for misunderstanding at the time.) If anything, Hitler was driven by an atheistic and nihilistic vision. God is dead. The will to power. The German and Aryan peoples are Übermensch. That's one reason why Hitler thought Germans could weather the freezing Russian winter wearing lighter and/or less clothing than the Russians since the Germans are Übermensch! That's one reason why Hitler refused to allow his troops to make strategic retreats to fight another day (such as at Stalingrad) since the Übermensch have the will to overcome their enemies and other obstacles. In short, if anything, Hitler was driven by atheistic and nihilistic philosophies.

3. How "kept in line" to Pharoah and the gods of Egypt were Moses and the Israelites? See John Currid's book Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament for a start.

4. Most importantly, given atheism, why isn't nihilism the logical conclusion to your atheism? That's what many atheist philosophers even argue (e.g. Alex Rosenberg). Hence, the question is, given your atheism, how would you ground moral realism? Given your atheism, how would you ground objective moral values and duties? So far, you haven't been able to.

Edit: I added more of the debate below.

You seem to worship a god who is so weak that evil regimes can so easily co-opt him to suit their needs. You’d think an almighty god wouldn’t allow that.

1. Interestingly, given the way you've been talking about God, it seems like you're quite angry and even filled with hate toward the God you don't believe in.

2. What's "weak" is the fact that you base morality in feelings like "empathy". However that just amounts to what you find personally offensive. Why should anyone care about what you find personally offensive? It's not like what you happen to find personally offensive is necessarily objectively offensive. It's just your subjective opinion. And different people can have different opinions about what's moral or immoral. Hence your taking personal offense at the God of Christianity has zero force behind it. As such, it's a truly flaccid or "weak" belief.

Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s it.

1. Rocks lack belief in a god or gods. So by your definition rocks are atheists too.

2. The philosopher Graham Oppy give a better definition of atheism in the Oxford Handbook of Atheism: "Atheism is the rejection of theism: a-theism. Atheists maintain some or all of the following claims: that theism is false; that theism is unbelievable; that theism is rationally unacceptable; that theism is morally unacceptable."

Some atheists are nihilists. The only thing in common we share is a none belief. That’s it.

If there is no God, and if morality is just based in feelings like you say it is, then morality is ultimately relative. A person who has different feelings might very well have a different set of moral values and duties. Therefore, it’s not objective, but subjective. That's a recipe for moral nihilism.

You continue to avoid and deflect my most obvious question. Why is a god who commits genocide worthy of worship? The bible is filled with verses advocating for horrible acts to be committed by it followers. Don’t insult me and say it’s god from which morals are derived from.

1. Sounds like you're psychologically projecting again. It's actually been you who has been avoiding and deflecting. Vaughn has asked you several times. I've asked you several times. Yet thus far you haven't answered. Here's the question again: How do you ground objective moral values and duties given your beliefs (e.g. atheism)?

2. As far as your question, "genocide" is your loaded term. However, let's play along. Suppose one defines genocide as the elimination of a people-group. ISIS are a people-group. Would you find it morally objectionable to eliminate ISIS?

You are intellectually incompetent to answer it as you know it shows in harsh honesty to immorally of the Christian god.

It's a sure sign of defeat when you use invective in place of reason, logic, arguments.

It’s not a loaded term. Killing mass amounts of people is wrong. Do you or do you not agree?

1. You continue not to answer how you ground objective moral values and duties. And now you continue not to answer my question about whether you find it morally objectionable to eliminate ISIS. We've addressed all your questions. Why should you get to always ask but never answer any questions. You're a rich example of how to argue in bad faith.

2. If these "mass amounts of people" are radical Muslim jihadis (e.g. ISIS) who have tortured innocent people, beheaded innocent people, burnt innocent people alive, enslaved innocent women as their sex slaves, killed innocent children, forced their laws upon every people they've violently conquered and subjugated, and committed many other atrocities, then it's not wrong to kill them. Now I've answered your question. Again. You should answer ours, but I won't hold my breath, given how you keep arguing in bad faith (e.g. moving the goalposts every time we answer one of your objections).

the fact that there are approximately 40000 different versions of the religion betray the notion that it’s in any way true.

Where's your source that there are "40000 different versions of" Christianity? I usually hear 30,000, give or take, from Catholics who allege there are 30,000 or so Protestant denominations. However, that's a canard, and many Protestants have already addressed this objection. That's easy to Google. You just refuse to educate yourself. I guess that's why you make so many ignorant statements. You don't care about trying to find the truth. You don't care about arguing in good faith. You don't care about reason. All you care about is your prejudicial partisan commitment to atheism no matter what while lashing out against Christianity and Christians. You're the definition of a village atheist.

How many different versions of a true statement are there? Many different bibles, many different interpretations. Doesn’t sound like something inspired by the creator of everything now does it?

Earlier you said there are all sorts of atheists. One could argue there are many different versions of atheism. Hence, according to your logic, I guess atheism is false because there are so many different versions of atheism! Good job in helping disprove atheism.

oh my god! What a dishonest answer!

1. So says the person who keeps arguing in bad faith.

2. I answered exactly what you asked: "Killing mass amounts of people is wrong. Do you or do you not agree?"

3. What's "dishonest" is you're now pretending you didn't ask about genocide earlier, which has obvious reference to the Canaanites in the OT.

In reference to the biblical flood you still don’t see it. God flooded EVERYONE! Men, women, and children. Your god. The one whom you see fit to worship.

1. You're falsely assuming the people who died in the flood were all morally innocent and didn't deserve to die. Yet, if you're going to attempt to internally critique the Bible, then you have to accept the Bible on its own terms. Gen 6:5 states: "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time."

2. Your objection is confused. God gives life and God takes life. What's necessarily morally wrong about God taking life when he deems it best? Are you attempting to charge God with moral wrong by taking life when he thinks best? After all, everyone dies. Is your objection that it's wrong for people to die earlier than later? What makes you know that's what's best?

3. Take the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami. Many men, women, and children died in that tsunami. That was tragic. However, given Christianity, there are reasonable answers to the problem of (natural) evil.

4. Given atheism, I'll simply repeat what I said earlier to you: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

Edit 2.

1. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were atheists. Same with serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. Atheism was not incidental but central to their worldview. They acted on their belief that no God exists. And they slaughtered millions including men, women, and children. Dahmer sodomized, murdered, and cannibalized little boys because he didn’t believe God exists so he could do whatever he pleased. Dahmer said:

If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what's the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That's how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing. (Interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, Nov. 29, 1994.)

2. Watch this short film called Cruel Logic from Brian Godawa (who was also the screenwriter for To End All Wars):

Edit 3.

yeah, atheists do bad things. So do theists. Atheists share one thing in common, no belief in a deity. After that it varies widely. When you accuse me of repeating “atheist trope” the Stalin/Pol Pot is the theist equivalent. We don’t attribute or actions to a divine purpose. My belief is atheist but my world view is humanist. Understand the difference.

1. It's amusing how you repeatedly miss the argument. It's like watching a hockey player repeatedly miss a goal standing only a foot away from the goal and the goal unattended by a goalkeeper. Likewise you keep missing the argument despite multiple people explicitly telling you what it is and despite a short film spelling it out for you in cinematic fashion. Just like the hockey player repeatedly missing the goal provides low-brow physical comedy, you repeatedly missing the argument provides low-brow "intellectual" comedy.

2. The question isn't whether or not there are good atheists and bad theists. Everyone accepts this to be the case. The question isn't whether or not atheists and theists can hold beliefs inconsistent with their atheism or theism. Everyone accepts this to be the case. Rather, the question is: What is the foundation or basis or grounds for objective moral values if atheism is true?

3. The only answer you've given so far is that morality has to do with "empathy". However that's a weak and insufficient answer:

a. Empathy is a feeling or intuition or instinct. However, our feelings or instincts aren't necessarily morally reliable. Our feelings or instincts could change depending on a host of factors or circumstances (e.g. neurophysiology, socialization). If morality is ultimately based on our feelings or instincts which can vary from person to person, then morality is not objective but subjective.

b. Also, we might feel empathy toward another person when we have nothing to lose. However, in a lifeboat situation, where there's only enough food and water for one person to survive, then a person's empathy could be overruled by the person's instinct for survival. After all, according to evolutionary biology, our instinct for self-preservation is more foundational than most other instincts including empathy.

c. Likewise, there are situations when our feelings or instincts ought to be suppressed. For example, a mother may have strong feelings of empathy for her child who doesn't want to go to school. Moreover, the mother's feelings of empathy may wish to keep her child at home with her rather than let her child go to school. However it'd be in the child's best interests to go to school. In such a case, a mother should suppress her empathy for her child's good. (Of course, I'm assuming it's a good school. But I realize there are significant problems with public education. And I realize homeschooling may be a legitimate option.)

Another example is sexual desire. A married man may have the desire or inclination or impulse to copulate with many women. However, he ought to suppress that desire. However, given atheism and evolution, why should such a man suppress his sexual desire to copulate with many women if he can get away with it without being discovered?

d. There's the instinct for fight or flight. Suppose you and another person are running away from a wild animal. The other person trips and falls; he can't get up without your immediate help. However the wild animal might very well kill both of you unless you duck behind some cover, but then that would leave the other person exposed. You would have two competing instincts - the instinct to run away from danger (self-preservation) vs. the instinct to help the other person (herd instinct).

At the same time, in at least some cases, you might have a third "instinct" telling you to help the other person. The question is, where did this third instinct to help the other person come from? It couldn't have come from the other two instincts. If only these two instincts existed, then obviously the stronger instinct would prevail. However, the problem is that, in a fight or flight situation, the stronger instinct would normally be self-preservation. The major exception is if you're protecting a loved one (e.g. a parent protecting their kids). However, in many cases, people help perfect strangers (e.g. see what happens in some mass shootings). Hence, the question is, what caused you to suppress the stronger instinct for self-preservation in order to choose the weaker instinct to help the herd, given atheism and evolutionary theory? If it's your conscience, then how is your conscience independent of these two instincts if atheism and evolution are true, for your conscience would have evolved as well?

4. If atheism and evolution are simultaneously true, then we're in essence just animals or organisms like bacteria, sharks, or monkeys. A bacteria kills other microorganisms. However, that doesn't mean the bacteria has committed murder. No, the bacteria simply engaged in the process of phagocytosis.

A shark's instinct may be to kill and eat another shark. If a shark kills another shark, that's not murder. Rather, that's just a shark behaving like a shark. Shark gonna shark!

Likewise, if a monkey kills another monkey, then that's not murder. The monkey doesn't feel a sense of guilt and shame. The monkey hasn't violated ethical norms. The monkey isn't put on trial for murder by a community of monkeys condemning the monkey's immoral actions.

If we're just animals like bacteria, sharks, or monkeys, then there is no such thing as murder. It's just one animal killing another animal. What's wrong with that? That's just how nature is.

5. Given all this, what's your foundation or basis for objective morality as an atheist? That's always been the same question we've asked you, but you've never sufficiently answered. The closest you came was your line about "empathy", but you never responded to any of our counter-arguments. I guess the reason for this is because you have no answer.


  1. He still hasn't found a place to ground morally charged language like horrible people. What's he talking about?

  2. Your conversation partner seems to have a rag-bag of mutually-contradictory and under-developed views and hasn't yet begun thinking about that.

  3. He would cut and run from any number of subjects. He started off by saying that Jesus was a mythical figure, then had to admit that the times and places recorded in the gospels were accurate, then conceded that Jesus existed but "didn't have superpowers," and so on. His mind was a train wreck.

  4. Yeah, this atheist is pretty much your typical village atheist. Not much can be said for him.

    Vaughn did a fine job responding to him though.

    And I just added more of our debate.

  5. He drops the ball so many times I have to wonder if he got mittens.

  6. I always find it RICH when modern atheists & secularists point at things like 'Israelites and early Christians' and 'a god who commits genocide' and tut-tut at such backwardness.

    Excuse me, but WHERE do they think they get their moral milieu from? It's all Christian values!

    Rewind back to First Century Greece & Rome, without the Christian influence. Women with no rights, unwanted babies tossed out to die, rape & torture & slavery as military doctrine...

    Without Christianity's influence, these would still be the norm in the West today (in fact, they are still the norm in other places).