Bryan, I can tell you’re eager to get me into a discussion about META-ETHICS.
Is that so? I think it’s the most important issue for secularists to address, certainly. On the other hand I started out by saying it isn’t my wish to derail this thread, and I’ve specifically thanked you for addressing (after a fashion) the problem I’m identifying.
Your question of how we can know that our moral intuitions are really really true also falls into this meta-ethical category of things I don’t want to talk about.
You should realize as a basic point of public debate that people will often expect you to defend your own position instead of attacking that of others. That’s where the “throwing stones/glass houses” thing came from.
So let’s get back to the matter at hand, namely Maitzen’s claim that our ordinary ways of thinking about ethics fit much better with atheism/secularism than they do with Christianity.
Maitzen’s using premises from meta-ethics. One of the premises is an apparent lie that the problem you don’t want to talk about has been addressed (“our ordinary ways of thinking about ethics fit much better with atheism/secularism”). If you press the argument your opponent has every right to question the premise.
It seems to me that the Christian should just bite the bullet on this one and admit that Maitzen is right. They could perhaps even come up with some story about how sin has warped our moral sense. So whereas they should as Christians be celebrating the death of the Christian child, they just can’t bring themselves to do this.
Maitzen’s “our ordinary ways of thinking about morality” is an idealized fantasy. Humanity is all over the map regarding many aspects of morality. We had a statement earlier about how people who want to kill other people (forgive any imprecision in the paraphrase) are simply not healthy. But based on what? At the basis of Maitzen’s argument is an unwillingness to use on his own position the logic he would use against Christianity. People who don’t take such arguments seriously are onto something.
Bryan, I didn’t want to ignore your responses. It’s just that I couldn’t make head nor tail of them. All you gave me in response was some story about Jesus crying when someone died. The question is whether the Christian world view as a whole suggests that death is a good thing or a bad thing. If I kill a Christian, then according to secular ethics this is a bad thing because I’ve harmed that person, but according to Christian ethics I’ve actually in some bizarre way benefited this person because he’s now with Jesus in heaven.
Yet by Maitzen’s own argument the Christian is ethically frozen and can’t even make the determination that the person is better off with Jesus because he doesn’t know what that person would have done if allowed to live.
As you wrote earlier: “As Maitzen has put it, the Christian who tries to stop these things from happening could be like a person who goes around trying to stop vaccinations because they hurt people. They think they’re doing the right thing, but they’re actually messing things up really badly.”
So Maitzen thinks that the logical extension of Christian ethics leads to two apparently contradictory ends. Does that seem logical?
This is why Maitzen argues that Christianity destroys morality. You can only have morality if you have some basic starting points that most people can accept, such as the badness of death and the wrongness of killing. Belief in heaven takes away these foundations and thus destroys morality.
Existing morals exist regardless of acceptance by anyone. You get a moral society only to the point that the morals reflected in that society are real morals and not merely subjective morals (otherwise all societies are pretty much equally moral).
You have a tendency to make statements apparently critical to your argument that in turn rely on having a meta-ethical foundation of their own. That thing you don’t want to talk about. If you’re not willing to talk about those things (that is, not willing to support the premises of your own argument) then I suggest you change the argument and adopt the style I recommended to your earlier: Try to make Christian morals contradict one another. That way you don’t need to make statements the other guy can expect you to support like ” (O)ur ordinary ways of thinking about ethics fit much better with atheism/secularism than they do with Christianity.”
So it’s important that we see all of this first and foremost as an attack an fundamentalist Christianity, and not as some kind of argument for atheism or naturalism.
You made it the latter your own self when you evoked the comparison where atheism/secularism supposedly makes a better match for the way we ordinarily think about ethics.
We don’t need to know what the truth is in order to attack Christianity.
Right. I pointed that out ages ago in this thread. You can try to attack Christianity according to its own consistency. But the argument you’ve been using makes claims about how atheism/secularism relates to ethics.
We could say that Christianity is internally incoherent and immoral, but we still don’t have a clue what the truth about the universe is. That is pretty much my position.