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Why would a Christian want to change the world?
Posted: 01 October 2012 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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Bryan - 01 October 2012 12:44 AM
StephenLawrence - 01 October 2012 12:30 AM

Then God wouldn’t be all knowing.

That doesn’t follow.  God wouldn’t be “all-knowing” in the same way god can’t be “all powerful” if god can’t create a rock so massive god can’t lift it.  I’ve already explained the problem with that.

Yeah, you have “explained” it by calling it a straw man, which it is clearly not.

For that response I am giving you four Dineshes:

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Posted: 01 October 2012 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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Dom1978 - 01 October 2012 01:14 AM

Bryan, let me try to explain why I think the meta-ethical questions are off-topic here.
It could be that values are strange immaterial things like platonic forms or something, and it could be that we were created by a super intelligent being who gave us a moral sense so that we could come to know these values. This whole story could be true, but the fact remains that the fundamentalist Christian world view is completely out of sync with our moral intuitions about death and killing, as Maitzen has pointed out.

Maitzen’s own reasoning about the supposed logical ramifications of Christian morality are themselves internally inconsistent, as I pointed out up above.  Does Christian morality rightly lead to ethical paralysis or a celebration of baby death?  It can’t be both.

Our moral intuitions about death and killing seem to presuppose that there is no heaven, and so they fit well with atheism and possibly some forms of Judaism and liberal Christianity, but not with fundamentalist Christianity.

If you want to make it seem that meta-ethical questions are off-topic then you should abandon the approach of saying that some meta-ethical approaches accord better with our moral intuitions.

Consider abortion for a moment.  We just went through a thread about how it shouldn’t matter to abortion rights if a fetus feels pain.  Do we have any atheists or secularists here who oppose abortion at any time prior to birth?  That’s a pretty low bar, by the way.  Most Americans (and Europeans, iirc) favor some sort of late-term restriction on abortion.  Do you know any fundamentalist Christians who favor abortion at all?  Why are Maitzen’s intuitions about how fundamentalist Christians ought to reason (based on their moral foundations) so wildly divorced from the actual case?  Why does Maitzen contradict himself?

The key point, which I’ve stressed many times already, is that our moral intuitions are out of sync with the fundamentalist Christian world view, and this remains true whether our moral intuitions are evolutionary adaptations, divine gifts, or cultural products.

Well, if you put it that way, so what?  grin
Why would secularists want to see fetuses killed regardless of pain? 
 

However, I do think that Maitzen is dead wrong when he suggests that morality is only possible on an atheistic world view. I just see this as hyperbole on his part. It’s perfectly possible for a liberal Christian, say, to admit that they have no idea what you have to do do get to heaven or whether heaven even exists, and that ethics should be concerned only with this life and this world. So they basically just agree with the secular person that ethics is this-worldy, and they’re agnostic about the afterlife. It’s only because fundamentalist Christians think they know things about heaven and what you have to do/believe to get there that they end up with all these deeply counter-intuitive ideas about death and killing in this world. 

IIRC, Gallup found that a surprisingly high number of Christians (liberal ones?) think morality is subjective.  Perhaps that’s the prevailing intuition.

It was Barna, actually:
http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/67-americans-are-most-likely-to-base-truth-on-feelings 

Your point about relativism is a very important one. It could be that people from different cultures or with different political views differ considerably in their moral intuitions. I’ve heard that people in experimental ethics have discovered that people in the East tend to be more Utilitarian whereas people in the West tend to be more Kantian (and more individualistic) in their ethical reasoning. Despite all the variation, though, I am fairly optimistic that you could get enough common ground on which to build a secular ethics. Something like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights might be an example of this.

Severely punishing or killing those who disagree may also work.  Some famous secularists have used that one in the past (Stalin, Mao).

Finally, I just want to add that one fundamentalist, William Lane Craig, has recently bitten the bullet here and accepted that Christian ethics is counter-intuitive (putting it kindly). If you listen to his Reasonable Faith podcast, you will hear him defending the genocide commanded by God in the OT on preceisely these grounds.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

Apparently, slaughtering children isn’t really bad for the children as they go straight to heaven anyway. It’s only bad for the soldiers who have to do it, since it may damage their souls! This is a perfect example of a guy who actually takes his world view seriously and follows the logic through.

It would be a mistake to think that Craig justifies killing children generally based on their going to heaven.

Minus a reasonable meta-ethical foundation for morality, the approach to argument Maitzen uses amounts to argumentum ad populum.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 07:13 AM
Bryan - 01 October 2012 12:44 AM
StephenLawrence - 01 October 2012 12:30 AM

Then God wouldn’t be all knowing.

That doesn’t follow.  God wouldn’t be “all-knowing” in the same way god can’t be “all powerful” if god can’t create a rock so massive god can’t lift it.  I’ve already explained the problem with that.

Yeah, you have “explained” it by calling it a straw man, which it is clearly not.

For that response I am giving you four Dineshes:

2wg98bp.jpg

The mention of straw men was a caution.  The explanation showed that the approach is self-defeating.

“Note, for example, that if we define “omnipotent” to confer the ability to do absolutely anything regardless of whether it is logically possible the acceptance of that premise negates the conclusion that such omnipotence is (im)possible.”

So.  Explain if you can, George, how your denial that absurd omnipotence is a straw man rescues the argument from the scrap heap against the argument above.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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I want to know how you know what is logically possible for God and if you think that God is a subject to what is logically possible the same way we are. Since God can do anything, he must clearly be able to make it logically possible for us to commit heroism, without us having to suffer at the same time. Really, all he had to do was snap his fingers and say the magic word; like this: “Let it be logically possible for humans to commit heroism, without them having to know evil, abracadabra.” Why didn’t he?

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Posted: 01 October 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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And don’t ask me to explain how such a thing would be possible, since, once again, I am not omniscient.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 12:29 PM

I want to know how you know what is logically possible for God and if you think that God is a subject to what is logically possible the same way we are.

I try to use the principle of non-contradiction to rule out conceptions of god that are self-contradictory.  Usually I find that theologians beat me to it by hundreds of years.  If an all-black and all-white ovoid is contradictory then it is not a “thing” and as such it is not what we should expect from a “being that can create anything.”  I place causally determined free-willed beings in that category because I am not a compatibilist.

Since God can do anything, he must clearly be able to make it logically possible for us to commit heroism, without us having to suffer at the same time.

Clearly?  Then why have you come up with no example of your own other than to rely on god’s ability to do absolutely anything (doubtless including doing handstands while in the form of a dinosaur egg)?

Really, all he had to do was snap his fingers and say the magic word; like this: “Let it be logically possible for humans to commit heroism, without them having to know evil, abracadabra.” Why didn’t he?

Great, let’s say he did that.  And then he can make suffering non-suffering at the same time and in the same sense the whole problem is solved and moot (because the suffering isn’t really suffering any longer when it’s non-suffering).

That’s why we stick with logical conceptions.  Because when we stop doing that it leads to absurd conclusions being possible.  You don’t want suffering to be non-suffering because it ruins your argument.  But if you can use omni- attributes to call absurd conclusions non-absurd then so can I.  So save us from the silliness and just skip it.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 12:33 PM

And don’t ask me to explain how such a thing would be possible, since, once again, I am not omniscient.

If you same something “clearly” follows then I conclude that it is clear to you at minimum.  And in addition to that you’re saying it should be clear to pretty much anybody.  If it’s clear to you how dinosaur egg does handstands then you’ll clearly see that suffering is not suffering and there is no argument from evil that serves to bring into question the existence of god.

(see?  your approach is self-defeating)

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Posted: 01 October 2012 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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Bryan - 01 October 2012 12:57 PM

I try to use the principle of non-contradiction to rule out conceptions of god that are self-contradictory.

But I already told you I am not interested what your ideas of contradiction or logical are. We are talking about the ideas of the omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God. If you want to discuss the logic (that is, our logic) of why people commit heroic acts, we can switch this discussion to evolution and evolutionary psychology. To paraphrase Laplace, I have no need of the God hypothesis to explain either heroism nor suffering. If, however, you insist that God is responsible for our “choice” of committing heroism, then we need to take God into the equation. So I am still waiting for you to tell me if God has a choice to decide what is logical. And if he does (assuming he would be, with all that omnipotence), why doesn’t he make heroism without suffering non-contradictory and logical?

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Posted: 01 October 2012 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 01:32 PM
Bryan - 01 October 2012 12:57 PM

I try to use the principle of non-contradiction to rule out conceptions of god that are self-contradictory.

But I already told you I am not interested what your ideas of contradiction or logical are. We are talking about the ideas of the omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God. If you want to discuss the logic (that is, our logic) of why people commit heroic acts, we can switch this discussion to evolution and evolutionary psychology. To paraphrase Laplace, I have no need of the God hypothesis to explain either heroism nor suffering. If, however, you insist that God is responsible for our “choice” of committing heroism, then we need to take God into the equation. So I am still waiting for you to tell me if God has a choice to decide what is logical. And if he does (assuming he would be, with all that omnipotence), why doesn’t he make heroism without suffering non-contradictory and logical?

Though I’m not omniscient, I’m sure you must be right.  This may well be the best of all possible worlds simply because an omnipotent god makes it so despite what we non-omniscient beings think.

You win.  You lose.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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But I never said that anything was objectively good or bad, or best or whatever. It is you who has a problem here, not me. Don’t forget I am not a moral realist like you. For me the “problem of evil” is not a problem at all. But nice try.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 12:33 PM

And don’t ask me to explain how such a thing would be possible, since, once again, I am not omniscient.

I believe rescuing a deer fallen through ice is an act of heroism. The situation was dangerous to the deer, but not necessarily to the rescuers.  Saw a gorilla rescue a baby duck which could not scramble up a steep slope from the water. After watching the duckling for several minutes, this enormous ape, slowly climbed down and nudged the duckling up the slope until it scrambled to safety.  I saw this little act as heroic and exceedingly moral. 
We use the term heroic only if it involves danger to the hero, but what if the hero just saved people from danger. i.e. any positive action to make life better for someone else is heroic in principle and requires some unselfish sacrifice. It’s humane and moral.

This is why the symbolic representation of the figure of Jesus itself a moral statement. One could say that Jesus, if he existed, was and still is a moral hero by most people’s common standards. But IMO, that simple act of the gorilla was very much equal to the golden rule.
A gorilla knows nothing of god, except perhaps as an unseen potential enemy.

What chemical process compelled the gorilla to help the duckling? Are we all somehow affected by watching and recognizing suffering. IMO, sentience itself has an aspect of order, real or imagined. Disorder is a mathematical disturbance, Distress is an emotional disturbance. Each demands a solution from the sentience. Action to restore order seems pretty universal to me….. smile

[ Edited: 01 October 2012 03:43 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 01 October 2012 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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Natural processes of evolution resulted in the abilities of humans to have morals.  But morals don’t “evolve” by exactly the same processes as do organisms.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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TimB - 01 October 2012 04:04 PM

Natural processes of evolution resulted in the abilities of humans to have morals.  But morals don’t “evolve” by exactly the same processes as do organisms.

Why not?

What makes a mother protect its offspring? Is it a moral obligation? Why can “emotional” equilibrium not be governed by the same laws as “physical” laws of equilibrium. The object of the action is to “restore” order, and is evident even in a termite society, and in the self healing of a wound. Seems to me that our perception of some universal constants confirms the logic. Any disturbance of equilibrium in anything is causal to an event. I see no reason why this principle should not hold in meta-physics.

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Posted: 01 October 2012 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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Bryan - 01 October 2012 12:57 PM
George - 01 October 2012 12:29 PM

I want to know how you know what is logically possible for God and if you think that God is a subject to what is logically possible the same way we are.

I try to use the principle of non-contradiction to rule out conceptions of god that are self-contradictory.


There is nothing apparently self contradictory about God making the world better than this. Clearly this doesn’t seem like a perfect world to us, it seems like it could be better without any contradiction.

How do you know this is the best of all logically possible worlds?

Stephen

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Posted: 01 October 2012 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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George - 01 October 2012 01:51 PM

But I never said that anything was objectively good or bad, or best or whatever. It is you who has a problem here, not me. Don’t forget I am not a moral realist like you. For me the “problem of evil” is not a problem at all. But nice try.

Nice try with what?  You appear to me to have shifted topics.  Where did I say you said something was objectively good or bad?

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