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Why would a Christian want to change the world?
Posted: 21 October 2012 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 256 ]
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Write4U - 21 October 2012 05:49 PM

Really?  And is a god (a vague variable belief system) necessary in this equation? 

Yes, really. I’m open to seeing an explanation as to why no god is necessary to the equation.  I can’t imagine one.  It could happen by blink luck, I suppose.  The chances against that would be a challenge for superscripts.

An exercise inlogic based a a false premise is just an exercise in logic. It does not prove anything. If you claim that a god is necessary condition for human ethics to exist, the burden of proof is on the claimant.  You prove to me it does make a difference.

1)  If you think there’s a false premise then identify it.
2)  You say there’s no difference if there’s a god or not.  I say it does make a difference.  So you say the burden of proof is on me.  Seriously?  Look up the burden of proof fallacy.

That’s indistinguishable from word salad.  Please highlight for me the specific epistemological path from cognitive skills to the perception of real existing morals (moral realism).  What part of reality is the cognitive brain supposed to latch onto in hunting for morality?  Would it offer a survival advantage such that an evolutionist should expect evolution to advance in that direction?

Ok, would you put deadly nightshade into your salad?  And if not, why not?  It’s is because putting a poisonous plant into your salad is BAD for you.

That’s either a fallacy of equivocation (bad/unhealthy=bad/immoral) or a case of fallaciously begging the question.  Unless it’s both.  It doesn’t answer my question.

How do we know epistemologically that this is true, regardless of the existence of a god?  People have tried and died. That’s how you learn from experience. It is a repeatable experiment, of course it needs a different subject each time…... cheese
Thus if you purposely put deadly nightshade into someone’s salad you are intending to kill him. That is BAD. There I just used epistemology, founded on experience.

You’ve provided no basis for deriving any kind of moral standard except by assuming that the standard exists (“BAD”).  That’s not epistemology.  It’s assuming things. There’s supposed to be a difference between epistemology and assuming things.

Do we need a god to learn what we can learn from history of human and animal behaviors and their ethical implications.?

What are the implications from history if we don’t start with morality presupposed?  Show me how you get past square one with your atheist system.

Sorry, but that is not logical IMO.

Those are questions.  How can questions be “not logical” unless they’re completely incomprehensible?  If you can’t understand the questions then ask for an explanation.

How did Newton come to his “discovery” of gravity. Not God, not some vague undefinable belief system. It was a rotten apple falling from a tree and Newton asking “why does it fall down, not up”.  Did he need some prior knowledge of a god making things fall down instead of up or do we even need a god to have gravity?

Newton started with an expectation of an orderly universe created by a god of order.  Perhaps chaos theory would have sent him into shock.  wink  In any case, I don’t see how you can make the comparison.  It’s objective whether an object falls according to gravity.  How do you objectively determine that it is morally bad for person to consume nightshade and die?

In know this may diverge from abstract ethics, but the same principle holds true.

Is the burden of proof on me to show otherwise?  grin

Science is based on this principle. We observe a cause and effect and ask why. A theist says “therefore there must be a god”, a scientist says “a massive body has a gravitational field”.

Science supposedly doesn’t deal in morality.  But the same principle holds true, eh?

Bryan, what is the difference between god’s logic and man’s logic. If you cannot tell them apart, where is the need for a god?

1)  Logic is logic except in application.  In application, I expect God commits fewer fallacies than man.
2)  My ability or inability to distinguish between “god’s logic and man’s logic” is orthogonal to the need for god (except perhaps in a completely trivial sense).  If, for example, the universe is incapable of creating itself from nothing, a god might do for the task regardless of my ability to distinguish between two different kinds of logic.

Do you propose that ethical behavior is an aspect of the universe, since it’s beginning?

 

I’d prefer to stick somewhere in the vicinity of the topic.  I’d expect that good and evil exist conceptually eternally along with God, and evil behavior started with the first beings able to freely choose between the two.
 

The entire concept of god stems from observation of unexplainable events and using God as an argument from ignorance. The same thing holds true for ethical behavior.

My burden of proof sure is getting heavy!  Anything else you’d like to add?

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Posted: 21 October 2012 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 257 ]
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Bryan - 21 October 2012 08:09 PM
Write4U - 21 October 2012 05:49 PM

Really?  And is a god (a vague variable belief system) necessary in this equation? 

Yes, really. I’m open to seeing an explanation as to why no god is necessary to the equation.  I can’t imagine one.  It could happen by blink luck, I suppose.  The chances against that would be a challenge for superscripts.

If one of the greatest mathematicians in history does not need a god in the equations why do you? Perhaps your lack of imagination is hindering your understanding.

And, despite your protestations, the person making the positive claim bears the burden of proof. Where is your proof not only of the existence but of the very necessity of a god?

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Posted: 21 October 2012 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 258 ]
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Bryan,
I hold that ethics and morality is an “emergent” quality in several species of mammals. It is a part of the evolutionary advancement in ability to think. This can be empirically proven and successful strategies such as Secularism can be compared to failed strategies such as the Inquisition’s enforcement of Theism (which resulted from your logical argument). IMO, those are instructive historical lessons, from which ethical implications may be drawn.

As time is created relative to space, so do ethics evolve relative to intelligence (power) and the recognition of the need to cooperate.

[ Edited: 21 October 2012 09:12 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 21 October 2012 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 259 ]
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Bryan ,

If something is a moral fact and you know it’s a moral fact then your belief in that moral fact is a justified belief.

So one question is what can justify such a belief?

Secondly we need to know what is the truth maker of moral facts, what makes it true that it is immoral to do x ?

Then we can look to see why we would have sometimes evolved to have some knowledge of moral facts. (that’s if we even have)

It’s not so strange that we would have evolved to be able to make out what is true, this gives us an advantage. If we can do this in general it’s not so strange for us to be able to apply it to morality. Also it’s not so strange in the case of morality because morality is about harm avoidance and that is linked to survival.

That our moral compasses, which are all over the shop, would at times coincide with moral facts is not so strange. Your idea that belief in moral facts can be justified by our moral compasses must be wrong. The interesting cases are ones in which different people, or groups of people have different moral compasses. How do we tell who is right? Not with our moral compasses.

The idea that God would have provided us with these differing wonky moral compasses, seems decidedly odd. Why not just provide us with perfect knowledge of right and wrong?

[ Edited: 21 October 2012 10:16 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 21 October 2012 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 260 ]
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DarronS - 21 October 2012 08:15 PM
Bryan - 21 October 2012 08:09 PM
Write4U - 21 October 2012 05:49 PM

Really?  And is a god (a vague variable belief system) necessary in this equation? 

Yes, really. I’m open to seeing an explanation as to why no god is necessary to the equation.  I can’t imagine one.  It could happen by blink luck, I suppose.  The chances against that would be a challenge for superscripts.

If one of the greatest mathematicians in history does not need a god in the equations why do you? Perhaps your lack of imagination is hindering your understanding.

Indeed.  I should be imagining that the explanations such as the one you offer do not, in actuality, contain flawed reasoning.  Problem solved.

Seriously, is math morality, now?

And, despite your protestations, the person making the positive claim bears the burden of proof. Where is your proof not only of the existence but of the very necessity of a god?

Are you claiming that I’ve claimed either one of those things?  If so, pony up.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 261 ]
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Write4U - 21 October 2012 08:59 PM

Bryan,
I hold that ethics and morality is an “emergent” quality in several species of mammals.

Great.  Do the morals exist in the minds or the creatures or take on reality based on the thoughts of such creatures?  If morality is mind-dependent then it is subjective, which is the position of moral anti-realism we covered earlier.

Can the emergent qualities differ from one creature to another in ways that contradict?  If so, what do you do about the problem of consistency?

It is a part of the evolutionary advancement in ability to think. This can be empirically proven and successful strategies such as Secularism can be compared to failed strategies such as the Inquisition’s enforcement of Theism (which resulted from your logical argument). IMO, those are instructive historical lessons, from which ethical implications may be drawn.

The communist cleansing programs were secular strategies.  Way to cherry-pick your example.

As time is created relative to space, so do ethics evolve relative to intelligence (power) and the recognition of the need to cooperate.

If intelligence is involved then we’re talking about minds, and your solution to the problem of secular moral realism is an anti-realist solution.

That’s a problem.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 262 ]
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StephenLawrence - 21 October 2012 09:35 PM

Bryan ,

If something is a moral fact and you know it’s a moral fact then your belief in that moral fact is a justified belief.

So one question is what can justify such a belief?

Don’t anybody else try to answer it.  Just me.  grin

I’m pointing that that on its face, atheism provides no reasonable foundation for justified belief in moral facts.  I think the atheists who see morality as a convenient fiction are the ones who have the more consistent worldview on that point.  I can be persuaded differently by a good argument.  Using mind-dependent moral systems to argue for moral realism is not a good strategy, however.

Secondly we need to know what is the truth maker of moral facts, what makes it true that it is immoral to do x ?

Right.

Then we can look to see why we would have sometimes evolved to have some knowledge of moral facts. (that’s if we even have)

Okay, if I’m understanding you correctly.

It’s not so strange that we would have evolved to be able to make out what is true, this gives us an advantage.

That’s good for “It’s true that yonder tiger may eat me if I don’t run away quickly” but not as clear for “It’s true that it’s wrong to steal that pack of gum.”  Evolution, as I’ve mentioned to the point of belaboring the point, is a nice guide for morality so long as morality confers a survival advantage.  Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that picking one’s nose is morally wrong.  Where would we ever get an evolutionary pressure to sense that?  What sense are we using and what aspect of the universe are we sensing?  Why would we sense it better than slaver ants, if perceiving the truth offers survival advantages?

If we can do this in general it’s not so strange for us to be able to apply it to morality. Also it’s not so strange in the case of morality because morality is about harm avoidance and that is linked to survival.

“morality is about harm avoidance”—assuming your conclusion, are you?

That our moral compasses, which are all over the shop, would at times coincide with moral facts is not so strange. Your idea that belief in moral facts can be justified by our moral compasses must be wrong.

Stephen, if that idea is wrong then by what means does the secularist figure out what’s right or wrong?  Is anything left once we discount divine revelation or some moral compass?

The interesting cases are ones in which different people, or groups of people have different moral compasses. How do we tell who is right? Not with our moral compasses.

Right.  Instead we use ... a Ouija board?  Dungeons & Dragons dice sets?  The collected writings of Paul Kurtz?  Fill in the blank.

The idea that God would have provided us with these differing wonky moral compasses, seems decidedly odd. Why not just provide us with perfect knowledge of right and wrong?

It’s almost as odd as not giving us perfect knowledge of local weather conditions or perfect knowledge of the fluid level in our bladders.

Is it possible to voluntarily do what you do not think is the right thing to do?  Why doesn’t God have us born as adults out of great big eggs while he’s at it?  Or the stork can deliver children on their 18th birthday instead of that decidedly odd childbirth thing.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 01:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 263 ]
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Bryan - 21 October 2012 10:59 PM
StephenLawrence - 21 October 2012 09:35 PM

Bryan ,

If something is a moral fact and you know it’s a moral fact then your belief in that moral fact is a justified belief.

So one question is what can justify such a belief?

Don’t anybody else try to answer it.  Just me.  grin


Well, I dunno.

I’m pointing that that on its face, atheism provides no reasonable foundation for justified belief in moral facts.

Well, it’s a problem for atheists and theists alike.

It’s not so strange that we would have evolved to be able to make out what is true, this gives us an advantage.

That’s good for “It’s true that yonder tiger may eat me if I don’t run away quickly” but not as clear for “It’s true that it’s wrong to steal that pack of gum.”

The point here is it doesn’t matter, being able to justify beliefs in principle, can be applied to other matters than the reasons we evolved to have the capability.

That our moral compasses, which are all over the shop, would at times coincide with moral facts is not so strange. Your idea that belief in moral facts can be justified by our moral compasses must be wrong.

Stephen, if that idea is wrong then by what means does the secularist figure out what’s right or wrong?  Is anything left once we discount divine revelation or some moral compass?


No idea Bryan but the point is if two groups of people have different moral compasses and one group’s belief is justified, it can’t be justified by the moral compass alone. There must be some reason why they are justified in relying on their moral compass whilst the other is not.

If we can come up with what that way of knowing is we can see how reasonable it is to suppose we would have evolved to possess that way of knowing at times.

The thing is there is overwhelming evidence that evolution is true, so if there are moral facts we are justified in believing it’s most likely that our way of knowing them can have evolved.

The interesting cases are ones in which different people, or groups of people have different moral compasses. How do we tell who is right? Not with our moral compasses.

Right.  Instead we use ... a Ouija board?  Dungeons & Dragons dice sets?  The collected writings of Paul Kurtz?  Fill in the blank.

I don’t know how to fill in the blank. Apparently nor do you, but both groups can’t be justified in their beliefs which would be the case if they can use their moral compasses, alone, so we need something else.

Is it possible to voluntarily do what you do not think is the right thing to do?

Dunno but I think that’s often the general idea. A person is responsible who knew what he did was wrong and freely chose to do it anyway.

Also this all seems to be getting particularly silly as the suggestion is God would make us think something was morally right when in fact it’s wrong in order so that we could voluntarily do the wrong thing and that would give us free will (Lord knows how as God gave us the wonky moral compasses), which would mean more evil in the world but that would be worth the price. grin

Stephen

[ Edited: 22 October 2012 01:51 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 22 October 2012 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 264 ]
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Bryan - 21 October 2012 10:59 PM

The idea that God would have provided us with these differing wonky moral compasses, seems decidedly odd. Why not just provide us with perfect knowledge of right and wrong?

It’s almost as odd as not giving us perfect knowledge of local weather conditions or perfect knowledge of the fluid level in our bladders.

Is it possible to voluntarily do what you do not think is the right thing to do?  Why doesn’t God have us born as adults out of great big eggs while he’s at it?  Or the stork can deliver children on their 18th birthday instead of that decidedly odd childbirth thing.

I’m going to add this post because the above does seem particularly problematic.

Your idea is that God intentionally gives us wonky moral compasses, some people’s much worse than others and so places those people at a disadvantage in order to allow them to freely behave badly.

Stephen

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Posted: 22 October 2012 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 265 ]
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  And, despite your protestations, the person making the positive claim bears the burden of proof. Where is your proof not only of the existence but of the very necessity of a god?

Are you claiming that I’ve claimed either one of those things?  If so, pony up.

Just asking for clarification, (and revealing my lack of comprehension):

If Bryan has never claimed there is a God, than is this argument not about the actual existence of God, but only that the “argument from evil”  does not prove that God doesn’t exist?

If that is so, then, only out of curiosity, do you believe, Bryan, that you could offer a proof of God’s existence?  This is probably off topic for this thread and so I wouldn’t expect you to offer such a proof, if you choose to answer at all a simple yes or no would be indulgent.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 266 ]
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Bryan - 21 October 2012 02:29 PM
TimB - 21 October 2012 12:33 PM

Brian, I truly do not see the value of your argumentative babble.

Apparently you didn’t see the absurdity of claiming that since culture affects our views of morality therefore they’re not subjective (or something)...

 

My exact quote that you are referring to was this:

“Cultures influence the establishment and perpetuation of morals. To that extent they are not subjective.”

Note the phrase “to that extent”.  As you sometimes do, you again changed what I said, in order to refute it.  What I meant there, is that one can accept and follow certain morals that are established and maintained by the group that he is part of, but still have no personal beliefs or feelings that would support following those particular morals, himself.  For example, one might have learned that there is nothing unhealthy about eating pork.  And one might enjoy eating pork.  But due to the moral established by his culture, he refrains from eating pork.

As far as not seeing the value of your argumentative style.  Here is what I have noticed.  You draw people out into making some statement.  Then you take apart the statement (sometimes changing it to suit your purpose of refutation). You seem to do this, at least partially, because you are on a mission to help others develop skills of logical argument. If this is the case, may I suggest that you endeavor to avoid being an ass, in the process.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 267 ]
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StephenLawrence - 22 October 2012 01:47 AM

Well, I dunno.

The honesty is refreshing! (not to suggest you have a habit of doing otherwise).  Kudos.

I’m pointing that that on its face, atheism provides no reasonable foundation for justified belief in moral facts.

Well, it’s a problem for atheists and theists alike.

Epistemology regarding morals is a problem for both, but I’m arguing that the theist at least has the possibility of a path toward knowing moral accurately.  That’s through revelation and whatever extent god permits moral compasses to function accurately.  I doubt a secularist would argue for revelation, and the second seems like a difficult argument on its face for the secularist.

The point here is it doesn’t matter, being able to justify beliefs in principle, can be applied to other matters than the reasons we evolved to have the capability.

I suspect you confuse rationalizing belief with justifying belief.  Perhaps if you make your statement more complete I’ll be able to appreciate better whatever distinction you’re trying to make.

No idea Bryan but the point is if two groups of people have different moral compasses and one group’s belief is justified, it can’t be justified by the moral compass alone.

Is that a problem for what you’re telling me just above about justified beliefs regarding morality?

There must be some reason why they are justified in relying on their moral compass whilst the other is not.

Good point.  A theist can potentially rely on revelation in calibrating the moral compass.  Using a moral compass by itself, one would have to make some inferences about how if the compass is of any use at all then people will agree on at least some things in a majority way.

If we can come up with what that way of knowing is we can see how reasonable it is to suppose we would have evolved to possess that way of knowing at times.

Look, if you’re going to evolve a moral compass that isn’t subjective in a godless universe then you have to be able to detect morality in some objective sense (moral realism).  If human organisms can do that then you should be able to design a machine of some type to likewise measure morality.

The thing is there is overwhelming evidence that evolution is true, so if there are moral facts we are justified in believing it’s most likely that our way of knowing them can have evolved.

That’s too many assumptions, the key one being the one regarding moral facts.

I don’t know how to fill in the blank. Apparently nor do you, but both groups can’t be justified in their beliefs which would be the case if they can use their moral compasses, alone, so we need something else.

If you need something else then you need to fill in the blank with something.  Theists have the potential to rely on revelation.  I wouldn’t ordinarily expect a secularist to spring for that option ...

Is it possible to voluntarily do what you do not think is the right thing to do?

Dunno but I think that’s often the general idea. A person is responsible who knew what he did was wrong and freely chose to do it anyway.

I think there’s another way to look at it.  I think people reason that an action is wrong yet at the same time “right for me.”  It is, in fact, the pattern from the book of Genesis.  God tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit from one particular tree.  The Serpent makes a moral case for eating the fruit (Adam and Eve eat the fruit).  I think every decision is like that.  Everything we choose to do that is “bad” offers some type of reward that we think of as a “good.”  So it seems to me that a “perfect” moral compass would make all but the best action impossible, and as a result no decisions representing a free moral will could take place.

Also this all seems to be getting particularly silly as the suggestion is God would make us think something was morally right when in fact it’s wrong in order so that we could voluntarily do the wrong thing and that would give us free will (Lord knows how as God gave us the wonky moral compasses), which would mean more evil in the world but that would be worth the price. grin

I think the problem lies in your description of a “perfect” moral compass.  That and the fact that your phrasing at the end kind of suggests that the price is also the reward.

I think people inherently see the good in overcoming a challenge.  It’s no challenge to resist doing evil if it never ever could seem like a good idea to do what is evil.  It’s no challenge to climb a mountain if the climber is automatically restored to the spot from which he fell without any harm to his person.  Secularists should stop ignoring that when dealing with the argument from evil.

Character happens when real failure with real consequences is possible.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 268 ]
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StephenLawrence - 22 October 2012 02:11 AM

Your idea is that God intentionally gives us wonky moral compasses, some people’s much worse than others and so places those people at a disadvantage in order to allow them to freely behave badly.

Stephen

My idea is not that God intentionally gives us wonky moral compasses.  My idea is that God does not give us “perfect” moral compasses.  Our compasses are, I think, properly calibrated at birth yet incapable of controlling our actions and at the same time only useful as we obtain the mental faculties to consider the morality of our actions.  Further, the compasses are capable of being corrupted.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 269 ]
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Jeciron - 22 October 2012 03:43 AM

 

  And, despite your protestations, the person making the positive claim bears the burden of proof. Where is your proof not only of the existence but of the very necessity of a god?

Are you claiming that I’ve claimed either one of those things?  If so, pony up.

Just asking for clarification, (and revealing my lack of comprehension):

If Bryan has never claimed there is a God, than is this argument not about the actual existence of God, but only that the “argument from evil”  does not prove that God doesn’t exist?

This thread has turned into an umbrella for many arguments (some of that is doubtless my fault).  One of the arguments is mine that the argument from evil does not prove that God doesn’t exist.

If that is so, then, only out of curiosity, do you believe, Bryan, that you could offer a proof of God’s existence?  This is probably off topic for this thread and so I wouldn’t expect you to offer such a proof, if you choose to answer at all a simple yes or no would be indulgent.

I don’t think a coercive proof is possible in either direction.  I think we’re left with probabilistic proofs and inferences toward the best explanation.  In this thread that was originally about a supposed problem with Christian morality I engaged in pushback against the suggestion that godless worldviews make better sense of our moral intuitions than does a Christian worldview.  The strongest atheist position on morality, IMHO, is that morality is both subjective and ultimately meaningless except as a path toward obtaining goals.  An atheist who can’t live with that should consider a worldview that gives a decent account of moral realism, and I’d argue that theism can offer that.

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Posted: 22 October 2012 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 270 ]
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TimB - 22 October 2012 08:46 AM
Bryan - 21 October 2012 02:29 PM
TimB - 21 October 2012 12:33 PM

Brian, I truly do not see the value of your argumentative babble.

Apparently you didn’t see the absurdity of claiming that since culture affects our views of morality therefore they’re not subjective (or something)...

 

My exact quote that you are referring to was this:

“Cultures influence the establishment and perpetuation of morals. To that extent they are not subjective.”

Note the phrase “to that extent”.  As you sometimes do, you again changed what I said, in order to refute it.

Baloney.  Note the words “Apparently” and the parenthetical “(or something).”  I’ve left you the avenue of clarifying your intent if I got it wrong. 

What I meant there, is that one can accept and follow certain morals that are established and maintained by the group that he is part of, but still have no personal beliefs or feelings that would support following those particular morals, himself.  For example, one might have learned that there is nothing unhealthy about eating pork.  And one might enjoy eating pork.  But due to the moral established by his culture, he refrains from eating pork.

Morality that isn’t moral realism isn’t particularly relevant in this argument.  That’s my point.  You can either offer a secular account of moral realism or hopefully recognize that your contribution doesn’t really further the conversation.

As far as not seeing the value of your argumentative style.  Here is what I have noticed.  You draw people out into making some statement.  Then you take apart the statement (sometimes changing it to suit your purpose of refutation). You seem to do this, at least partially, because you are on a mission to help others develop skills of logical argument. If this is the case, may I suggest that you endeavor to avoid being an ass, in the process.

Sure, you can suggest it.  But if you were to ever get around to actually producing evidence that I present myself as an “ass” then you’d be forced to confront the existence of that evidence on the part of others in this forum.  And then how would we explain your selective counsel?

Seriously, I don’t know what you want from me.  I don’t call people names.  I don’t pussyfoot around when I see a weak argument.  I think I’d be an ass if I used condescending language like “My, that was an awesome effort to make your argument ... but you may have made mistakes A, B, C, D ...”  If you’d like to make concrete suggestions as to how I can appear to be just as kind, friendly, etc. as everyone else around here I’ll be happy to consider each and every one of them.  And you can send them to me via PM so that nobody will make the mistake of thinking you’re engaging in a personal attack.

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