MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Loose Morality

April 21st, 2008 Visited 2277 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Comments on Atheism

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There’s this weird convergence on this topic on this blog such that it makes sense to clarify what I’m trying to say here because it’s foundational to what I’m saying elsewhere.

So, what do I mean when I say that Atheism has no basis for a moral code?
Let’s start with what I’m not saying and go from there.

What I’m not saying

I’m not saying that Atheists cannot be good people or do good things. Neither am I saying that they should be looked at with derision, or considered lesser people. That is apart from my point entirely because my point is less of a practical one (in one manner) than it is a philosophical one.

What I am saying

Simply put, morality seeks to declare a given action, activity or thought either right or wrong. It does not, directly, address consequences or rewards. It may be perceived in levels, though at its foundation it is either right or wrong (perhaps neutral, but that’s beside the point).

In the case of the Bible (and other moral codes derived from other religion’s books), morality is defined by a higher power, a Creator– one whose right it is to set rules. To bring this concept home better, think about the contract that you sign when you go to work for an employer. You agree to do a certain set of things and they agree to pay you for them. The employer then has the right to tell you what’s right or wrong in terms of your contract (ex. It’s right for you to work on project X, and wrong to work on project Y).

Same thing with a Creator God– He has the right because we are His creation to declare right and wrong, and regardless of whether we can meet the standard, the standard has been set.

When you take away a “holy book” or a set of standards by a higher power, what are you left with? You are left with a group of equals that must decide morality based on personal preference, conscience, etc. The problem with this is two fold.

  1. The obvious– God created a moral standard, and regardless of whatever standard man comes up with, if it does not match God’s it is flawed.
  2. The less obvious– Since it’s man that can come up with a moral standard arbitrarily, something that is right for one man maybe wrong for another man. This leads to chaos.

You lost me

Ok, a plain example. In some countries where missionaries have gone in, the native tribes accept and consider right the theft of another person’s property. We here in America believe theft to be wrong, but these people believe it to be right. Who is right?

Naturally, our American perspective says we are. Taking someone else’s property must be innately wrong because we know it to be so. But the problem is that if there’s no higher power or higher morality, why should any one person’s opinion of morality (or people group for that matter) be above any other person’s opinion of morality.

This is exactly the point. It’s not that Atheists won’t be moral, it’s that the definition of morality is worthless apart from a higher power because morality can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean– logically and rationally.

This is why we can now have discussions where we can say that discrimination is a higher wrong than infringing on a right to property, association and liberty. Because morality is whatever a group thinks it should be. But it’s irrational to have this thought, and conversations will go nowhere with this as a basis, because there can never be a winner.

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  • onein6billion says on: June 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm

     

    “morality seeks to declare a given action, activity or thought either right or wrong”

    No ambiguity allowed? And the “thought police” will send you to hell?

    “It does not, directly, address consequences or rewards.”

    Why not? Maybe a two-year-old does things without thinking about the consequences, but we expect more from a three-year-old.

    “God created a moral standard, and regardless of whatever standard man comes up with, if it does not match God’s it is flawed.”

    Which “God”? Yours? Islams? Buddha?

    “Since it’s man that can come up with a moral standard arbitrarily, something that is right for one man maybe wrong for another man. This leads to chaos.”

    Riiight. Our laws are not properly enforced and therefore we have “chaos”. I don’t think so. Explain to me why a professor was fired when he refused to explain his reasons for a divorce. Seems awfully arbitrary to me.

    “Because morality is whatever a group thinks it should be.”

    Unless, of course, some Supreme Court overrules that law as unconstitutional. Now what do you do? Set up a theocracy? Pass an amendment to the Constitution that would make abortion illegal?

    Deny the right to vote to those who believe in evolution?

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....-shou.html

  • MInTheGap says on: June 13, 2008 at 1:56 pm

     

    @onein6billion: Morality is a metric of right and wrong. Perhaps right could also be determined as permissible. For example, a code of morality would say that adultery is either right or wrong– permissible or impermissible. It attaches ethics and stigma to a given action.

    When it comes to “thought police,” the ones I fear are on the side of hate crimes and what’s going on in Canada at this juncture, thank-you-very-much.

    Why doesn’t morality specifically address consequences? Because there are differences of opinion on how to rectify the matters. For example, two people may agree that murder is wrong (a moral decision) but disagree on what should be done about it (capital punishment or life in prison).

    I’m not saying that there’s not a good discussion in the place of what should be the response to something that is deemed immoral, I’ve divorced the topics so that we can examine moral codes and what people believe is right or wrong.

    The God I reference is the God of the Bible– the Creator God. However, much of the moral codes between the monotheistic religions are the same.

    Law enforcement is application of a moral code on a society. If the moral code is undefined, or arbitrarily based on what an individual believes is right or wrong, then one would not know what laws to enforce.

    Clear example: Michigan has a law making adultery a felony. In the course of a case, the state found out that they could easily rule that adultery could be equivalent with jail time, and that the prosecutor himself could be placed in custody. Did it happen? No. Why? Because the moral code of Michigan said that adultery either (a) was permissible or (b) even if it was wrong, it didn’t warrant the punishment that the law stated. I would argue that b implies a, but that’s a topic for another time.

    Law enforcement, in this case, was in chaos because it doesn’t know what to do when the moral code does not match what law is on the books. You can look through all the states and find laws that support a moral code the state or populace no longer believes in.

    If not chaos, we at least have dissonance.

    As for the Supreme Court– again, it should not not rule on issues of morality. It issues rulings based on the law, or at least that’s what we as a nation commissioned it to do. I will grant you that the latest ruling on GITMO was more a moral ruling than a law ruling because they didn’t base their decision on law, but on their moral code.

    And yet that still goes back to my point. Laws are written to enforce a moral code. When the moral code is not anchored, and can be defined at will by the mood of the country (or 9 people in white robes) you end up having laws that support a moral code no longer in place, and hence you have dissonance or chaos.

    Why was a professor fired for refusing to explain his reasons for a divorce? Because the moral code said that divorce was wrong except for certain cases. Just as murder is not wrong in the case of self defense, divorce is acceptable in the case of infidelity. That he did not want to say why he divorced made him implicated by the more general rule. What’s not to understand?

    You need to apply their moral code and rules instead of applying your own.

    Christians, or those with a Christian worldview and moral code, set up this country with your right to vote, so your argument about having your vote taken away is ridiculous.

    If an amendment to the Constitution was passed making abortion illegal, how is that inconsistent with what I’ve presented? It would be the manifestation of the majority opinion of the fluid moral code of a society that is getting more secular.

    I would not set up a theocracy. They corrupt just about as easily as democracies. The only reason we’ve lasted this long is that we’re not a true democracy.

  • alicia says on: June 13, 2008 at 6:52 pm

     

    See, it’s that type of knee jerk response (onein6billion)that tells me Christians spend waay too much time moralizing. No intelligent conversation can be had because people automatically assume Christians are going to start hollering about hell and capital punishment.
    The cool thing about Christianity is that we believe in free will. “Our” God tells us what is moral, and offers His love whether we follow His rules or not (ie, forgiveness). Good and evil exist whether we accept it or not, and natural consequences also exist. And with all that, life is still not fair. The Christian rules were intended by God as a guideline for us to show love to one another, not to show hatred and judgment. We were not intended to wag fingers in faces and say “you’re being bad!” As Christians, we do have the responsibility to point out that there is a better way, to share the Bible’s teachings and open that door.
    God gives each human being the opportunity to make the right choice, but it won’t ever work until we ALL do. And that terrifies many Christians, and non-Christians too, that a few bad people can ruin it for everyone. But that is the world God gave us. So what are we going to do with all that freedom? Are we going to throw stones at each other, or are we going to start embracing each other and showing everyone what it means to love?

    alicias last blog post..No Worries

  • onein6billion says on: June 14, 2008 at 12:17 am

     

    “much of the moral codes between the monotheistic religions are the same.”

    It seems to me that the Islamists might not agree with you. Death to an apostate?

    “Michigan has a law making adultery a felony.”

    Well, if I remember correctly, there is a “commandment” about this. So, since it is obviously immoral, why shouldn’t it be against the law? Would you like to ask an Islamist what the penalty should be?

    “When the moral code is not anchored,”

    But my point is that even when you think the moral code is “anchored”, there will be those who will disagree with your anchor and then dissonance. And when the moral code is “anchored” in religious teachings, who gets to interpret those religious teachings? Once again, the laws enforced by the Islamists are instructive.

    “If not chaos, we at least have dissonance.”

    Agreed, no matter who decides “morality”, there are going to be disagreements bringing dissonance.

    “so your argument about having your vote taken away is ridiculous”

    You should tell that to the Christian who is advocating a law to that effect:

    http://www.csama.org/csanews/nws200807.pdf

    After all, “an evolutionist has no sane foundation upon which to base laws” etc.

    What do you think about Louisiana passing a law to encourage teachers to present “weaknesses” of evolution? Purely religiously motivated and obviously unconstitutional:

    http://www.badastronomy.com/ba.....anas-doom/

    “and natural consequences also exist”

    I’m not too worried about “natural” consequences. I’m worried about laws enforced by a theocracy or passed by silly Louisiana.

    “Are we going to throw stones at each other,”

    Are we going to fly airplanes into the WTC buildings? Are we going to send nuclear missiles to destroy Israel? It would seem that some of them think that their moral code supports things like this.

    “So, what do I mean when I say that Atheism has no basis for a moral code?”

    What you mean is that a theocracy would be a good system of government. Then there would be a clear basis for “right and wrong” and the laws would be unambiguous and … No, wait. You’ve said you are not in favor of a theocracy. So you want a religious moral code enforced by a constitutional republic? But the Supreme Court did rule against the laws against abortion. But if the non-Christians could not vote, maybe a Christian President could appoint new Justices that a Christian Senate would approve and we could have a constitutional theocracy?

    I’m now reading “the telling”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Telling-.....0151005672

  • MInTheGap says on: June 14, 2008 at 7:02 am

     

    @onein6billion: One branch of Islam does say death to the apostate– but I didn’t say that every monotheistic religion agreed in all forms. You need to look at moral codes rather than enforcements. Islam’s “death to apostates” is a reflection of its moral code that “Allah is the only god.”

    I’m not saying I’m against the law against adultery. What I’m saying is that the current moral code of the U.S. doesn’t consider it that big a deal. In fact, it bothers me more that there was a clear law that needed to be enforced there, and yet people are selective. I have two political beliefs on this subject:

    1. We have way too many laws.
    2. If you no longer believe what the law is trying to enforce you should not ignore it, but remove it.

    There is not so much a difference in the code as there is in the enforcement of the code. Again, all monotheistic religions believe adultery and extra-marital sex is wrong, they differ on how to enforce it.

    As for the rest of your arguments, whether or not Christianity does a particular thing is not equivalent to one group trying to do a particular thing…

    And I’ll have to get back to the rest.

  • onein6billion says on: June 16, 2008 at 10:58 am

     

    “Allah is the only god.”

    It seems pretty clear that Christians consider their god the only god. So someone who does not believe in that god should not be allowed to vote? Certainly don’t bother to run for high political office without claiming you are a Christian. But be careful about exactly which extreme pastors you are associated with!

    “There is not so much a difference in the code as there is in the enforcement of the code.”

    But, of course, your claim is that your moral code is right and everyone else’s is wrong. So, are you really going to try to enforce your code? Or are you happy with the current situation where a lot of the code is ignored by both Christians and non-Christians?

    “what do I mean when I say that Atheism has no basis for a moral code?”

    Why should you care about a “basis” if you’re not going to bother to actually enforce any moral code using any real laws? “Shunning” just doesn’t have the impact that it had 200 years ago.

    “And I’ll have to get back to the rest.”

    I think it’s time for you to ban my posts from your blog – every other Christian has – usually a lot sooner than this. After all, you can’t actually support your nonsensical religion and it’s bound to be embarrassing to have comments like this appear. Make them all “disappear” and set “moderation” and make sure no contrary opinions are allowed. After all, it’s YOUR blog – as I have been told when I am banned. And then the cheerleaders applaud that I am no longer a nuisance.

    “the telling” was an attempt at a “third way” – neither theocracy nor suppression of a very Buddhist-like religion by an all-powerful Corporate State. I was not impressed.

  • MInTheGap says on: June 16, 2008 at 11:56 am

     

    @onein6billion: I’m tempted to start responding to your comments in the same way you do. This whole concept of “someone that does not believe in your god should not be allowed to vote” is pure strawman. You’ve not made the case in any argument to state that this is anywhere near what I’ve said, and I’ve said the exact opposite. You quote-mine better than any of your stereotypical “fundamentalist” strawmen. Congratulations.

    I don’t know that there are many that would not think that they’re moral code would be the correct one. Can you? There’s another strawman– inventing something to apply it only to me when it can be applied to the collective whole.

    Am I trying to enforce my code? I believe I spent a good deal of time discussing this topic. But since you have a problem actually digesting a complete argument instead of zoning in on a few words of one, I’ll try to boil it down for you again.

    I believe that moral codes are internal, and, as such, cannot be changed externally, but need to be changed internally. It is futile for me to attempt to “enforce my moral views” on anyone, because that would not accomplish a change, but rebellion. I seek to introduce people to Jesus Christ– a Person that died in their place and offers people a relationship with God– the Creator God. Through that relationship, a new life and a changed heart that desires the right moral code.

    Am I unhappy about the current situation in America in regards to the moral code presented in the Bible? Obviously– it’s the whole reason for this blog. But it’s because “I’m right and you’re wrong.” I believe that we, as a people, are shortchanging ourselves by doing things that our not in our best interests simply because we believe that we can.

    To put it more concretely, the cohabitating couple is missing out on the commitment that comes through marriage. The man that commits adultery affects not only his wife, but his children, etc.

    Why do I care about the lack of a basis for a moral code in Atheism? Because Atheism cannot have a moral code and yet claims that it has one. It’s irrational, and yet it’s one of “new arguments” against the Christian moral code. And it is part of the discussion that provoked this set of posts.

    And then we greet yet another one of your strawmen– the one that says that I’m not “going to bother to actually enforce any moral code using any real laws?” What site are you reading?

    First, I’m not in a position to make laws. Second, I’ve stated all along that the moral code of a given society should be enforced with laws. Though I’ve argued that there are aspects of the original American moral code that have changed and the laws have not kept up, you’re arguing from silence when you suggest that I state we should abandon all laws, or that there shouldn’t be any.

    There needs to be a defined moral code, and it should be enforced. It’s obvious which moral code I would choose, but I will not force my moral code on others.

    I don’t know what “the telling” is. Was that a Google ad that popped up?

  • onein6billion says on: June 17, 2008 at 2:18 am

     

    not “what I’ve said”

    I confused you by giving you links to what someone else said. Apparently you ignored those links.

    The Christian who is advocating a law to that effect:

    http://www.csama.org/csanews/nws200807.pdf

    “Because Atheism cannot have a moral code and yet claims that it has one.”

    Anyone can have a “moral code”. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not copyrighted by any particular religion. Atheists have an incentive to be cooperative, helpful, productive members of society. So choose a “moral code” that fits that goal and it’s likely that atheists would agree with it. Why pick on atheists? Why not Zen Buddhists?

    “There needs to be a defined moral code, and it should be enforced.”

    Well, who is going to define this moral code and how are they going to define it? If politicians are going to make the laws enforcing this moral code and atheists don’t have any basis for a moral code, why should atheists be allowed to vote?

    “I don’t know what “the telling” is.”

    The link that I provided above works ok. You seem to have ignored it.

    Back to the fundamental points:

    “morality is defined by a higher power, a Creator”

    I say this is arbitrary because it depends on who is interpreting the so-called holy words. And the holy words could be wrong or contradictory. And there’s no evidence that the holy words are any wiser than non-holy words. And if the holy words are the basis for the laws for enforcing this morality and the laws are written by the “priests”, then that is a theocracy. But if the laws are written by elected lawmakers, then the laws that are actually enforced may fall short of what the holy laws might seem to require. So then there’s not necessarily any special privilege for your holy laws.

    “God created a moral standard”

    This is your assertion. I continue to ask which god? Why your god?

    “and regardless of whatever standard man comes up with, if it does not match God’s it is flawed.”

    Well, welcome to the real world – it has a lot of flaws – what do you want to do about it? Convert everyone to Christianity? Which sect? It seems that Baptists did not allow dancing for a long time.

    “The less obvious– Since it’s man that can come up with a moral standard arbitrarily, something that is right for one man maybe wrong for another man.”

    So what? So some moral standards are ignored by some people. But are these moral standards actually backed by enforced laws? If not, then only the “shunning” is available. If so, then those who break the laws may get caught and be sanctioned. So we are back to “why should anyone think that the laws made and enforced by your moral code are really better than some alternatives?”

  • MInTheGap says on: June 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm

     

    @onein6billion: I believe that I did ignore the links, but not out of any animosity. I’m aware of the existence of people that espouse those types of beliefs. It’s foolish to confuse the movement with its adherents.

    You’re right that anyone can have a moral code in that they can believe that a given set of things are right and a given set are wrong. Where it becomes foolishness is when something that is wrong becomes right or vice versa. Then you must start to question whether it really was wrong/right in the first place.

    Why pick on atheists? Because the foundation for a purely atheistic definition of morality is irrational. Since there is no outside body providing guidance, then right and wrong are not anchored to anything. Since right and wrong can be decided by the individual, it’s irrational that anything be purely right or wrong.

    The country chose to adapt the moral code from Judeo-Christianity, which would be a logical thing to do– or at least logically consistent thing to do given the irrationality of atheism. Why should atheists vote? This goes back to the problem of worldviews.

    In an atheistic worldview, all moral codes are equivalent, and logically, any individual can define right or wrong. Therefore, excluding people that disagreed with your moral code would be the logical outgrowth– to avoid dissonance.

    But in a theistic worldview that believes in a common Creator, a person can believe that even an atheist has an inner sense of right and wrong (however skewed), and that there is no reason to deny an equal creation of the right of representation or a say.

    This is part of what makes the American Republic different than everything that came before it. The Founders that were influenced by Christianity and wanting freedom of religion, made sure that all voices could be heard– rather than in the secular and other “religious” nations of the past that only let their voices be heard. We owe our freedom to believe what we wish to our Christian founding.

    The critique about holy words being interpreted and possibly contradictory is one I’ve heard before. It’s nice to state in the abstract, but fails when examined in closer light. Yes, there are people that will take passages and read them in multiple different ways. But that happens with the Constitution as well.

    Just this past week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that enemy combatants have all the rights of American citizens. (I really think someone should tell the illegal Mexican immigrants about this!) So, some believe that it is in the Constitution and some believe (I would be one of these) that it is not.

    Should we scrap the Constitution since people will interpret it different ways? The truth is that we deal with documents, laws, etc. that have all the inherent problems that you recommend. And yet when it comes to these documents there is no problem allowing for interpretation.

    Again, what I’m not proposing is a theocracy. I’m not interested in having the entire law of Moses enacted in the U.S. tomorrow. It was given to a specific nation for a specific point in time. Can we learn from it? Yes. It’s part of the current tort and law system in America. Can we glean from the Bible what is right and wrong? Yes. But if we keep in mind that different holy books have different sets of rules for adherents vs. non-adherents, it’s far less of a problem than it is made out to be.

    Which God? The God of the Bible. Why? A whole different discussion.

    You’re right, I believe that the world is fallen– fallen short of God. I prescribed the remedy multiple times. Reaching people with the Gospel of Christ and seeing Him change hearts. This is done through the preaching of the Word– not by the sword like Islam. It’s done through love.

    This discussion has never been about comparing moral codes. It’s only tangentially related to that topic in so much that the comparisons illustrate the dissonance that occurs when two codes have different values, and to show that the concept is foolish if morality is arbitrary based on the given individual. Comparisons would be a different topic.

  • onein6billion says on: June 19, 2008 at 10:55 am

     

    “It’s foolish to confuse the movement with its adherents.”

    Note that in many cases, when one “adherent” says something nasty, other members of the movement are called upon to repudiate that person. And sometimes presidential candidates reject their pastor supporters. So yes, the movement is not the same as its extremists. But is that extremist’s argument illogical?

    “You’re right that anyone can have a moral code in that they can believe that a given set of things are right and a given set are wrong. Where it becomes foolishness is when something that is wrong becomes right or vice versa. Then you must start to question whether it really was wrong/right in the first place.”

    Around and around we go. How do you really know if something is really right or wrong? You claim some sort of absolute Christian standard. I say you cannot really define your standards all that accurately and that there could be “gray areas” or “undefined” areas.

    “Why pick on atheists? Because the foundation for a purely atheistic definition of morality is irrational.”

    Your opinion is irrational.

    “Since there is no outside body providing guidance, then right and wrong are not anchored to anything.”

    Obviously “society” is providing “guidance”. Obviously society’s guidance is not all that well “anchored”. Obviously many Christians go along with society’s guidance without much complaint. What are you going to DO about this? Write letters to the editor? Create a blog that is ignored by 99.9999% of the US population?

    “Since right and wrong can be decided by the individual, it’s irrational that anything be purely right or wrong.”

    I find your generalization to be irrational. Obviously society has quite a few things that are considered wrong.

    “The country chose to adapt the moral code from Judeo-Christianity, which would be a logical thing to do– or at least logically consistent thing to do given the irrationality of atheism.”

    Well, the First Amendment provides separation of Church and State. If there’s no real difference between society’s “moral code” and Christianity’s moral code, why do you claim it’s one and not the other?

    “Why should atheists vote?”

    Members of a democratic society should wish to select the people who will make their laws.

    “This goes back to the problem of worldviews.

    In an atheistic worldview, all moral codes are equivalent,”

    My opinion is that your opinion is silly. No rational person would ever claim that “all moral codes are equivalent”.

    “and logically, any individual can define right or wrong.”

    And go to jail if they violate society’s laws or be “shunned” if they violate society’s norms. Does that provide someone with motivation to not make wrong choices? So this seems like yet another irrational statement.

    “Therefore, excluding people that disagreed with your moral code would be the logical outgrowth– to avoid dissonance.”

    So atheists should not be allowed to vote?

    “But in a theistic worldview that believes in a common Creator, a person can believe that even an atheist has an inner sense of right and wrong (however skewed), and that there is no reason to deny an equal creation of the right of representation or a say.”

    How tolerant of you. No religious test for voters?

    “This is part of what makes the American Republic different than everything that came before it.”

    Nah. We had tests for land-owners, slaves, and women. But we have evolved in 200+ years.

    “The Founders that were influenced by Christianity and wanting freedom of religion, made sure that all voices could be heard– rather than in the secular and other “religious” nations of the past that only let their voices be heard. We owe our freedom to believe what we wish to our Christian founding.”

    Riiight. The idea of a democratic republic is entirely due to Christianity? So what? Seems irrelevant to me. It’s a good idea regardless of who gets the credit for it. And now that we have had it for 200+ years, it still seems like a good idea. And freedom of speech is right there next to separation of church and state. So what? This is irrelevant to the current discussion.

    “The critique about holy words being interpreted and possibly contradictory is one I’ve heard before. It’s nice to state in the abstract, but fails when examined in closer light. Yes, there are people that will take passages and read them in multiple different ways.”

    So you admit that it’s a potential problem.

    “But that happens with the Constitution as well.”

    So what? You’ve now admitted that both your holy words and the Constitution are not perfect.

    “Just this past week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that enemy combatants have all the rights of American citizens. (I really think someone should tell the illegal Mexican immigrants about this!) So, some believe that it is in the Constitution and some believe (I would be one of these) that it is not.”

    But illegal immigrants do get to go before a judge before legal action against them is permanent. The enemy combatants have never been presented before a judge. So the situations will now be similar. Why are you trying to rely on the Constitution for this instead of your Christian moral code? Should someone be locked up forever without appearing before a judge? Is that justice? Habeas Corpus dates from 1215? The king can’t lock someone up and throw away the key any more.

    “Should we scrap the Constitution since people will interpret it different ways?”

    Silly strawman. No, we should elect presidents that will appoint judges that will interpret the Constitution the way I want it interpreted. A political solution to a political problem. Now how does the Christian moral code fit into this?

    “The truth is that we deal with documents, laws, etc. that have all the inherent problems that you recommend. And yet when it comes to these documents there is no problem allowing for interpretation.”

    What? No problem? Shirley you jest?

    “Again, what I’m not proposing is a theocracy. I’m not interested in having the entire law of Moses enacted in the U.S. tomorrow.”

    Wait, that’s Jewish law, not Christian. And those interesting dietary restrictions?

    “It was given to a specific nation for a specific point in time. Can we learn from it? Yes. It’s part of the current tort and law system in America.”

    Not the dietary restrictions.

    “Can we glean from the Bible what is right and wrong? Yes.”

    Well, maybe sometimes kinda sorta possibly. But those guys didn’t worry much about patent law or physician malpractice suits. So what does the Christian moral code say about patent law? Is 50 years of protection enough? Disney says no.

    “But if we keep in mind that different holy books have different sets of rules for adherents vs. non-adherents, it’s far less of a problem than it is made out to be.”

    Wait, we don’t have different laws for Christians and non-Christians (unlike Saudi Arabia). So now you are saying that your Christian moral code does not have to apply to non-Christians?

    “Which God? The God of the Bible. Why? A whole different discussion.”

    Yes, and a rather fundamental discussion. Why should your religion be “privileged”? Why should any religion be “privileged”? Why is your moral code better that some other moral code?

    “You’re right, I believe that the world is fallen– fallen short of God. I prescribed the remedy multiple times. Reaching people with the Gospel of Christ and seeing Him change hearts. This is done through the preaching of the Word– not by the sword like Islam. It’s done through love.”

    So, if every person was a Christian, no one would ever do something “wrong”? Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I have a lot more faith in “law enforcement” than I do in “Christian love” when it comes to motivating people to not do wrong.

    “This discussion has never been about comparing moral codes.”

    “what do I mean when I say that Atheism has no basis for a moral code?”

    So, atheism has no “basis”. But atheists could have a “moral code”? Or not? But there’s no need for comparison?

    “It’s only tangentially related to that topic in so much that the comparisons illustrate the dissonance that occurs when two codes have different values,”

    Reality is dissonance and dissonance disappears only when one leaves reality. So if codes have different values, what are you going to DO about it? Grin and bear it?

    “and to show that the concept is foolish if morality is arbitrary based on the given individual.”

    Strawman. I never claimed that morality is “arbitrary”.

    “Comparisons would be a different topic.”

    Riiiight.

    “It’s not that Atheists won’t be moral, it’s that the definition of morality is worthless apart from a higher power because morality can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean– logically and rationally.”

    So an atheist’s definition of morality is worthless and you don’t want to discuss comparisons.

    How about “society’s definition of morality is worthless”? Why is an atheist’s definition different from society’s? You wish to make a blanket generalization (Christian versus society morality) without discussing actual differences?

    Contraception? (Catholicism) Abortion? Same-sex marriage? Patent law? Libel and slander law? Fraud? Malpractice? There is a lot of dissonance in this world. More consistency under the Spanish Inquisition?

    You seem to be stuck on “the irrationality of atheism”. I find this to be backwards. I’m stuck on the irrationality of faith in a supernatural fairy godmother that never actually does anything.

  • MInTheGap says on: June 19, 2008 at 1:06 pm

     

    @onein6billion: Your quotemining gets better every reply– congratulations.

    How do we know if any given thing is truly right or wrong is foundational to the discussion, but probably not in the way that you think. It’s foundational because this post and my part of the conversation have been about the philosophy of a moral code, and the need for it to come from an outside source in order to be rational. If there is no outside source, then all moral codes come from individuals with no reaons why one’s moral code should be greater than another, and there can be no true right or wrong– only one’s opinion of such.

    Hence the answer to your question is, it’s only right or wrong if God says that it’s right or wrong, else there is no basis for determining an absolute right or wrong.

    You can hold to your opinion of my opinion, but you have provided no grounds to determine this opinion as irrational, and yet I can prove my view is rational.

    If X = TRUE and Y = FALSE for P1 and X = FALSE and Y = TRUE for P2 is P1 right or is P2 right? It’s an irrational system. However, if I, being the creator of the variables, declare that P1 is the correct representation and P2 is not, P1 is truth and P2 is not.

    Similarly, if two people have two views about a given topic– i.e. abortion– and one person believes that it’s right and one believes it’s wrong if there is no external operator than this discussion is irrational. It is right to one and wrong to the other. However, if there is a Higher Power that determines that it is wrong, then the person that believes abortion is wrong has the right moral view.

    It does not matter what society believes, thinks, etc. In fact that is exactly the point. Without a moral code anchored in something bigger than society’s opinion, right and wrong are up for grabs. Take slavery, for instance. At one point in time society believed it was right to enslave people. Slavery was right. Now slavery is wrong– so we free people. So, which is it? And could slavery be right again someday? Theoretically, yes. Why? Because of a lack of a moral foundation– which is a byproduct of democracy I might add.

    The First Amendment does not provide for the separation of Church and State, it provides for protection of the church from the state. Congress cannot establish a religion, but it also cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion either. If you’d said recent Supreme Court rulings have provided for separation of Church and State you’d have been more accurate.

    If all people are equal free-moral agents, and all can have an opinion of whether a given act A is right or wrong. Since we’re all equal (unless you’re arguing that some are more equal) then all opinions about whether A is right or wrong are equal. If you define a moral code as the opinions about whether acts A, B, C, … are right or wrong (or collection D), then all collections D (D1, D2, D3) as representatives of different people’s views must be equal.

    Therefore an atheistic philosophy must consider all codes as equal, regardless of why a person believes A, B, C, … may be right or wrong.

    Obviously it’s irrational, but that goes back to my point. Atheism is based on all sorts of irrational assertions that when exposed have to be defended by throwing around names like “strawman” and deflecting criticism by not presenting any evidence. Atheism attempts to deflect from its irrationality by focusing on Christianity and attempting to make fun of what it doesn’t understand by name calling, poisoning the well and dismissing out turn the arguments that make sense…

    You’re right– at one point the American Republic did not allow non land-owners, slaves and women the right to vote. However, landowners are out of place in this list. Two of these are by virtue of station, but one by actual investment.

    America recognized the equality of all individuals. That was part of the reason that these people got the rights. And personally, I’m not sure that we’re the better for letting everyone vote. That too is a topic for another time.

    The idea for the kind of government that we have and the protections in that government come from a people’s desire for freedom. Our forefathers came to this continent for different reasons, but a big one was religious freedom. If you’ve ever looked through the early readers, did any study into the founding state charters or the university’s creeds you’ll find that this was a country bathed in Christianity and dedicated to exalting that Higher Power. This country’s founding owes a lot of its legal jurisprudence to a firm foundation in Biblical study.

    If you’re having trouble understanding my argument about needing people to interpret the Constitution, go back and read my previous comment again. Obviously you have problems differentiating between illustrations, supporting arguments, examples, and main arguments. Or it’s just more evidence of your quote mining.

    And as for the military combatants, they did see a judge. As prescribed by a previous court ruling the Legislative and Executive Branches created a law (as prescribed by the Supreme Court) to try these combatants with military tribunals. Many have been freed (only to fight against us on the battlefield again!). All the Supreme Court did was given them the rights of full American citizens.

    In case you haven’t read the Bible lately, the Mosaic code is in the Bible, and many people like to go to it and quote mine it for rules that Christians “should support.” I’m glad to see you aren’t one of these.

    Moral code and patent law are at different detail levels. Moral code can say “it’s wrong to steal.” It’s up to the law to figure out when it’s stealing– is taking something someone else created stealing? After how long is it common knowledge?

    With the Christian/non-Christian laws I’m again attempting to head off a common argument that goes like this “The Bible says that men should have short hair and the women should have long hair. Does this mean that we should enforce this by law?” If you’re not into that argument, good deal.

    So, if every person was a Christian, no one would ever do something “wrong”?

    I never said that. I said that the opinion of the moral code would be corrected, but not about actions. I do not claim to be without sin. What I do claim is to know what sin is.

  • onein6billion says on: June 20, 2008 at 7:51 pm

     

    “Your quotemining gets better every reply”

    I don’t think you know what a quote-mine really is.

    “How do we know if any given thing is truly right or wrong is foundational to the discussion, but probably not in the way that you think. It’s foundational because this post and my part of the conversation have been about the philosophy of a moral code, and the need for it to come from an outside source in order to be rational.”

    Ok – but what outside source? Your holy book or society’s thousand+ years of experience? Aren’t parents and teachers supposed to teach their children the difference between right and wrong? Do they have to use your particular book?

    “If there is no outside source,…

    Not interesting.

    “Hence the answer to your question is, it’s only right or wrong if God says that it’s right or wrong, else there is no basis for determining an absolute right or wrong.”

    Well, that’s your assertion and obviously you’re sticking to it. Do we really need an “absolute” right and wrong? I think it’s silly to try to have such a standard. God doesn’t actually make societal laws and enforce them, so you’re only going to get people to do your right actions if you scare them with treats of hell? But you don’t care if they do wrong as long as they know that they are doing wrong?

    “You can hold to your opinion of my opinion, but you have provided no grounds to determine this opinion as irrational, and yet I can prove my view is rational.”

    Riiight. You’re going to prove that your supernatural being has given your religion the one true moral code (trademark and copyright pending). How are you going to do that? Don’t go to Saudi Arabia or Iran to do your proselytizing.

    “If X = TRUE …”

    Riight.

    “Similarly, if two people … and if there is no external operator …”

    Well, society is an external operator.

    “However, if there is a Higher Power that determines that it is wrong, then the person that believes abortion is wrong has the right moral view.”

    Tell that to the Supreme Court. Humans make laws and humans enforce them and society is the product of humans. You say you don’t want a theocracy, but if you actually wanted the correct “results”, it seems to me that a theocracy is the way to go. Not to mention a “police state” that watches everyone all the time.

    “It does not matter what society believes, thinks, etc.”

    Well, it might well determine whether or not you go to jail for your actions. What about “assisted suicide”? Lots of actions are legal in one society and illegal in another.

    “In fact that is exactly the point. Without a moral code anchored in something bigger than society’s opinion, right and wrong are up for grabs.”

    I agree. So what are you going to do about this dreadful situation? Elect people to go towards a theocracy? Ignore it? Scare people by claiming they will go to hell?

    “Take slavery, for instance….”

    Why was it abolished? Because your holy book said so? Or because one society thought so and managed to win the Civil War? Why were segregated schools abolished? Because your holy book said so? Seems like it took a long time for people to realize that. Or maybe our society evolved and it became clear that it was the right thing to do.

    “If all people are equal free-moral agents, and all can have an opinion of whether a given act A is right or wrong. Since we’re all equal (unless you’re arguing that some are more equal) then all opinions about whether A is right or wrong are equal. If you define a moral code as the opinions about whether acts A, B, C, … are right or wrong (or collection D), then all collections D (D1, D2, D3) as representatives of different people’s views must be equal.”

    Yes. Different societies could have different moral codes. How terrible. What are you going to do about it?

    “Therefore an atheistic philosophy must consider all codes as equal, regardless of why a person believes A, B, C, … may be right or wrong.”

    There’s no such thing as an “atheistic philosophy”. But there obviously are theocratic societies – and every one of them thinks that its moral code is the right moral code. Maybe some are more rational than others. So what? Why is your moral code better than theirs? Why is your holy book better than theirs? And very few laws in the US are both based on Christianity and irrational. A member of this US society better live within those laws or else – regardless of what religion they may practice (polygamy?) or no religion at all.

    “Obviously it’s irrational, but that goes back to my point. Atheism is based on all sorts of irrational assertions that when exposed have to be defended by throwing around names like “strawman” and deflecting criticism by not presenting any evidence.”

    You seem to be confused. Atheism is the completely rational opinion that there are no supernatural beings out there messing with reality. I don’t believe in UFOs, astrology, fortune telling or unicorns either. Atheism doesn’t need to present any “evidence”. Those with extraordinary claims like supernatural beings, UFOs, astrology, etc. are the ones that need to present their evidence for their extraordinary claims. What “evidence” do you have that a supernatural being exists? Why isn’t the evidence for UFOs much stronger?

    “Atheism attempts to deflect from its irrationality by focusing on Christianity and attempting to make fun of what it doesn’t understand by name calling, poisoning the well and dismissing out turn the arguments that make sense…”

    There’s focus on Christianity because it seems that Christianity is the main threat to the proper teaching of evolution in the public schools. Or because Christian evangelists seem to have too much influence over the Bush Administration’s “war on science”.

    “America recognized the equality of all individuals.”

    Because that’s been part of your holy words for a thousand years or because society finally realized that it was the right thing to do?

    “… this was a country bathed in Christianity and dedicated to exalting that Higher Power.”

    Quite true, but maybe we will outgrow this silliness in another few hundred years.

    “And as for the military combatants, they did see a judge.”

    Riight. A completely unbiased “judge”?

    “All the Supreme Court did was given them the rights of full American citizens.”

    Was this right or wrong? Why? Because your holy book said so? Where is your “absolute” moral standard?

    “I said that the opinion of the moral code would be corrected, but not about actions.”

    I say that actions are more important than opinions. Is this a “quote mine”?

    “I do not claim to be without sin. What I do claim is to know what sin is.”

    Riiiight. Your holy book is such a reliable indicator of exactly what is a sin and what is not he said sarcastically. And it seems very clear that adultery is a sin. And the punishment is? Death by stoning? Shunning?

    Well, you may know what a sin is, but it does not seem to be anything that’s guaranteed to be useful for avoiding jail or not avoiding jail. I think a lawyer might make a better “moral” reference point compared to a pastor.

    So, religion versus freedom from religion. Moral absolutes versus moral relatives. Wishful thinking versus reality. Everyone can chose, but some are indoctrinated when they are really too young to make a wise choice.

  • onein6billion says on: June 22, 2008 at 7:58 pm

     

    When I read this, I thought of you, so I have copied it here for your benefit:

    “Probably because of the fundamental truth in what Steven Weinberg once noted: “With or without [religion] you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.””

  • onein6billion says on: June 22, 2008 at 9:15 pm

     

    I found another interesting comment:

    “But, then, who cares about harm in a world without moral absolutes?”

    This statement belongs to a well-known creationist nutjob. Do you agree?

  • MInTheGap says on: June 23, 2008 at 8:53 am

     

    @onein6billion: I think I know quite well what it means to Quote Mine. You take what I say out of context– sometimes mid-sentence– in an effort to portray what I’m saying as substantially different than what I am saying. While it may be true that you do not go as far as to make what I say the opposite of what I’m saying, you do misrepresent my position at different points.

    This discussion is getting wildly out of hand– not because of the topic (per se), but more the forum for the discussion and the constant wandering off topic. That, and we’re saying pretty much the same things that have been said from the beginning of this discussion.

    This is a philosophical discussion about the foundations of a moral code, and where talking with you about laws, about where right and wrong come from, etc. is interesting, the conversation has not gone anywhere. You have not proved your point– nor is it coherent which point you are trying to make.

    You have not proffered a coherent counter argument, but have instead opted to attack my argument. Sure, it’s been fun, but since you’re not willing to address the bigger thoughts of my arguments, but simply address them with “Riiight”, I’m not that inclined to continue our conversation.

    If you want me to write something about practical application of morals– since that’s where you seem to be stuck because you can’t seem to grasp the more esoteric and philosophical aspects of rational deduction and existential truth, then I can see what I can come up with.

  • onein6billion says on: June 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm

     

    “God created a moral standard, and regardless of whatever standard man comes up with, if it does not match God’s it is flawed.”

    But that’s not actually an argument – it’s a ridiculous religious assertion.

    “have instead opted to attack my argument”

    No, since you have not presented any argument, there’s no way I can attack your argument. But since you have made ridiculous assertions, I can point out how ridiculous they are.

    “This is a philosophical discussion about the foundations of a moral code”

    Well, you can have an irrational religious foundation or a rational irreligious foundation. Pick a philosopher and he is likely to pick one or the other. Pick a scientist and he is almost certain to pick the rational choice.

    “nor is it coherent which point you are trying to make”

    My point is that philosophy is for dreamers that don’t actually have to live in the real world.

    “If you want me to write something about practical application of morals…”

    What? You might write something about reality? Nah. Your religious mind is made up and you could not possibly write anything about reality that I might find interesting.

  • MInTheGap says on: June 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm

     

    @onein6billion: This is the second time that you’ve indicated that you are not here for constructive conversation, so by virtue of your own statements that you do not wish to be a part of the community but to be a dissident, incapable of rational and constructive conversation, I will be happy to comply with moving your comments to the moderation queue.

    Just like the comment policy at Atheist Revolution, I recognize that there are some people around the blogosphere that don’t get staying on topic, the basic flow of a blog, and are only here to cause strife. And since Atheists have this policy, and recognize it to be true, it must be, eh?

  • onein6billion says on: June 28, 2008 at 12:03 pm

     

    There could never be a constructive conversation. You are on one side of the chasm and I am on the other side. You are irrational in my opinion and I am irrational in your opinion. And ne’er the twain shall ever meet.

    “They are not here to learn but to argue, and the nature of their argument is irrational.”

    But I am not a troll because my arguments are rational. 🙂

    You go put your “arguments” on his blog and you will see that he will quickly label them as irrational. 🙂

  • MInTheGap says on: June 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm

     

    @onein6billion: The problem is not that of rationality, except as it touches experience and expected results. Rationality includes an logical component– and here is the grounds where conversation could have been had, but it was rejected at every turn.

    Rationality as it comes to personal experience is certainly the place where our paths appear to be at an impasse. This is what I term “worldview”. We will continue to look at the world and interpret the data based on that worldview. However, the logic contained inside the worldviews are sound.

    If you’re copying from the Atheist’s blog I referenced, then you’re absolutely right in your jest, but wrong in that I do not term you a troll because of a degree of rationality or irrationality, but because of your stated desire to do nothing but stir up strife. Your declared intent has labeled you, not your opinions.

  • onein6billion says on: July 24, 2008 at 9:08 pm

     

    “We will continue to look at the world and interpret the data based on that worldview.”

    I agree. And one is religious and irrational and the other is scientific and rational.

    “However, the logic contained inside the worldviews are sound.”

    Well, maybe. But since your worldview is based on what seems to be a faulty premise, sound logic inside that worldview is irrelevant.

    “because of your stated desire to do nothing but stir up strife”

    But it seems to me that the purpose of your blog is to “stir up strife” by making religious assertions. So yes, it is very kind of you to allow me to post my non-religious assertions that are contrary to yours. Yes, religion and science have often been in “strife”.

  • MInTheGap says on: July 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm

     

    @onein6billion: You can’t just say my view is irrational. You have to prove it. And you seem to hint at this with this quote:

    But since your worldview is based on what seems to be a faulty premise… (emphasis mine)

    Obviously it either is or it is not. You have not proven that it is not, so the rest of this sentence is just bluster trying to mask itself as intelligence.

    Your last sentence is great comedy. The purpose of this blog is to stand in the gap against the culture with a Christian message to be sure. The question is “who is the intended audience?” If I were truly trying to “stir up strife”, I’d be hunting down atheists sites to comment on, not writing posts about families and visiting Christian sites.

    You came to me, remember. I did not seek you out.

    As far as religion and science, most of the time it’s scientists playing catch up.

  • onein6billion says on: February 13, 2011 at 12:47 am

     

    “You have not proven that it is not, so the rest of this sentence is just bluster trying to mask itself as intelligence.”

    Well, of course, we have finally gotten to the fundamental point. Where is the “burden of proof”? You seem to think that I need to “prove” that your worldview is irrational. But, of course, I am convinced that my worldview is rational and that automatically makes your worldview irrational. So, I think you have failed to “prove” that my worldview is irrational. My worldview really works in this world – it is pragmatic. Your worldview is simply “pie in the sky” claims that your Christianity-based morality would somehow be “better” because it is “based” on your religion or religious book or some interpretation thereof. But I assert that your have absolutely no “evidence” in your favor. And there is a lot of evidence that a theocracy is not a better system of government. Therefore I reject your assertion due to lack of evidence and contrary evidence.

    “If I were truly trying to “stir up strife”, I’d be hunting down atheists sites to comment on”

    And they would reject your assertions just as I have.

    “morality is defined by a higher power, a Creator”

    Your assertion is rejected. There is no evidence of such a “higher power” and there is no well-defined morality by any such “higher power” and the only way to enforce such a morality would be a theocracy.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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