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Old 07-25-2013, 10:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
It might lead you to that idea but it is not an idea that my point relies on, implies, or refers to. My point stands entirely apart from that idea.
Well, it lead me to that idea because that is really the consensus amongst physicists. Unless you are a physicist or mathematician, one should not take your assertions too seriously. Scientific claims have to be backed by scientific theories.

However you did imply "multiverse" here:


Quote:
Or simply add or subtract a player from either side entirely. In fact there are any number of infinite combinations of people that could result in a deadlock.

The same is true of "fine tuning".
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
.....The argument invents the concept of an objective morality. Declares it exists. Then demands you explain the existence of this objective morality if there is no god.

The reason the argument fails is that basis I just mentioned.... the existence of objective morality.... is wholly assumed and asserted out of nowhere. Speakers like Wilson are wholesale extracting it from their back orifice.

As they have done neither their argument is essentially a linguistic attempt to pull themselves up into the air by the bootstraps.
Firstly, this Wilson vs Hitchens debate is not really about god! The title is: IS CHRISTIANITY GOOD FOR THE WORLD? (in a way, a response to Hitchen's: Religion Poisons Everything)

And secondly, that's not quite what he is saying. He is challenging what most atheists (like Hitchens and even me) have been saying - that we derive our morality from rational thought (human solidarity - evolutionary reasons).

Allow me to play devil's advocate.

Quote:
Wilson's response: I have been asking you to provide a warrant for morality, given atheism, and you have mostly responded with assertions that atheists can make what some people call moral choices. Well, sure. But what I have been after is what rational warrant they can give for calling one choice “moral” and another choice “not moral.” You finally appealed to “innate human solidarity,” a phrase that prompted a series of pointed questions from me. In response, you now tell us that we have an innate predisposition to both good and wicked behavior. But we are still stuck. What I want to know (still) is what warrant you have for calling some behaviors “good” and others “wicked.” If both are innate, what distinguishes them? What could be wrong with just flipping a coin? With regard to your retort that my “talent for needless complexity” has simply gotten me “God’s coexistence with evil,” I reply that I would rather have my God and the problem of evil than your no God and “Evil? No problem!”
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Staying on topic ...
I did say earlier in this thread that I found theologian Douglas Wilson's arguments to be quite intriguing. While they did not "stump" me ... I think he does try and debate atheism from a very unique angle. And makes some very interesting points.

Here's an excerpt from his debate with late Christopher Hitchens.
Interesting and on topic. It was a stumper for some time, but is not so much now. I wonder whether anyone has the Hitchens answer. There were You -tubes, but no transcript, so far as I can see.

I'll give you a hint as to the response I'd make.

(1) Would we rather that floods, tornadoes and storms were sent by a just God to punish evidoers, or that they happen for no planned reason and can hit the innocent as well as the guilty?

(2) which answer, according to the evidence, is actually the true one?
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Interesting and on topic. It was a stumper for some time, but is not so much now. I wonder whether anyone has the Hitchens answer. There were You -tubes, but no transcript, so far as I can see.

I'll give you a hint as to the response I'd make.

(1) Would we rather that floods, tornadoes and storms were sent by a just God to punish evidoers, or that they happen for no planned reason and can hit the innocent as well as the guilty?

(2) which answer, according to the evidence, is actually the true one?
Why is it not a stumper anymore? And what do floods and tornadoes have to do with the issues raised by Wilson?

Hitchen's responses to Wilson's questions about morality were unintelligible to say the least. He dodges the issue for much of the debate and then finally said that we get our innate morality via evolution - I can post Wilson's response to that issue as well (very interesting).

Quote:
Hitchen's response:
You dilute the purity of this—which is morally intelligible to any atheist or humanist—by saying that there is a millennium and a half delay between the “revelation” of this simple act of charity and its anecdotal fulfillment. You also appear to find no distinction between the intelligible injunction to “love thy neighbor” and the impossible order to love another “as thyself.” We are not so made as to love others as ourselves: This may admittedly be a fault in our “design,” but in such a case the irony would be at your expense. The Golden Rule is to be found in the Analects of Confucius and in the motto of the Babylonian Rabbi Hillel, who long predate the Christian era and who sanely state that one should not do to others anything that would be repulsive if done to oneself. (Even this strikes me as either contradictory or tautologous, since surely we agree that sociopaths and psychopaths actually deserve to be treated in ways that would be objectionable to a morally normal person.)
When you say that men have never known nor yet understood the essential principle, however, you speak absurdly. Ordinary morality is innate in my view. But if, in yours, it is still not known, then centuries of divine admonition have also gone to waste. You are trapped in a net of your own making. Take a look at the list of actual or potential crimes that you mention. Genocide is not condemned by the Old Testament and neither (as you well know and have elsewhere conceded) is slavery. Rather, these two horrors are often positively recommended by holy writ. Abortion is denounced in the Oath of Hippocrates, which long predates Christianity. As for capital punishment and unjust war, the secular and the religious are alike at odds on the very definitions that underpin any condemnation. (When you include “stem-cell research,” by the way, I assume that you unintentionally omitted the word “embryonic.”)

.......................

In closing, I reply to your clumsy observation about my motor vehicle by citing Heine, who said:
In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind old men as guides.
The argument that you have been making was over long before either of us was born. There is no need for revelation to enforce morality, and the idea that good conduct needs a heavenly reward, or that bad conduct merits a hellish punishment, is a degradation of our right and duty to choose for ourselves.
Hitchens finally says this:

Quote:
My answer is the same as it was all along: Our morality evolved. Just as we have. Natural selection and trial-and-error have given us the vague yet grand conception of human rights and some but not yet all of the means of making these rights coherent and consistent. There is simply no need for the introduction of the extraneous or the supernatural.
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:43 AM
 
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Well, it's like this. It might be better if there was a god given morality and a post - death threat to make sure people behaved. It is true that it seems unfair that someone who behaves badly and gets away with it can smirk to themselves on their deathbed, knowing that they won't have to answer for their behaviour.

However, like it would be better if natural disasters were sent by God for good reasons, they are (on all reason and evidence) not and like it or not we have to deal with it as best we can. It is also useful in that we can take precautions. If disasters were sent by God isn't it trying to fight God to do something about it?

Maybe you can see where I am going. That we do not have a God -imposed morality gives us options and flexibility. That we have a God imposed moral code doesn't seem to ensure good behaviour. One might well have some swine who committed atrocities smiling on his deathbed convinced that he was doing God's will.

In his view, his behaviour was beyond human judgement, but without God -morality we can have a very strong concensus about what we agree is the best way to behave for all of us, and to impose it, if we can.

I once accused a theist of only behaving well because he wanted to please God. He denied it and claimed that he did good for its own sake. Well - that's what any atheist does and, because there is no expectation of a reward, post -death, that is rather more praiseworthy without even the hope that good behaviour will ensure eternal life (come on now - don't tell me that isn't a factor )

We have worked out morality for ourselves. There is a social instinct, but like all evolved instincts, they are intended for survival in competition, not an ideal global society. We can solve problems. We can see that evolved social behaviour doesn't answer all problems. Even causes some. So we have to try to agree a concensus of behaviour and it often turns out to be the same rule (the Golden one) in many societies.

Thus, God isn't needed for morality, it isn't helpful for morality and it certainly isn't proved to exist by morality.

P.s I can only say that Hitchen's response only seems unintelligible and dodging the issue to someone who isn't really trying to understand. Perhaps my post will make the issue more intelligible - it might be simpler and even better if there was a god -imposed morality, but there isn't. Evidently there isn't. We have to make the best of what we have got.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Maybe you can see where I am going. That we do not have a God -imposed morality gives us options and flexibility. That we have a God imposed moral code doesn't seem to ensure good behaviour. One might well have some swine who committed atrocities smiling on his deathbed convinced that he was doing God's will.
Yes, I see where you are going. And this is an argument as old as the concept of god itself. But sadly, it does not address any of the issue Wilson was raising. And Hitchens tried to do the same for most of the debate.

Quote:
I once accused a theist of only behaving well because he wanted to please God. He denied it and claimed that he did good for its own sake. Well - that's what any atheist does and, because there is no expectation of a reward, post -death, that is rather more praiseworthy without even the hope that good behaviour will ensure eternal life (come on now - don't tell me that isn't a factor )
Hitchens raises this exact issue in the debate (as you might know) - “name one moral action . . . that could not have been performed or spoken by an atheist”.

But Hitchens misses the point completely. Wilson is simply asking atheists to give an account for why one action is seen as good and the other as evil.

And it is funny to note that Wilson's response to Hitchens could be substituted to respond to your point above.

Wilson says:
It is clear from how you defend your ideas of “morality” that you have not done so. You (Hitchens) are a gifted writer, and you have a flair for polemical voltage. But strip it all away, and what do you have underneath? You believe yourself to live in a universe where there is no such thing as any fixed ought or ought not. But God has gifted you with a remarkable ability to denounce what ought not to be. And so, because you reject him, you have great sermons but no way of ever coming up with a text. When people start to notice the absence of texts, the absence of warrant, the absence of reasons, you adjust and compensate with rhetorical embellishment and empurpled prose. You are like the minister in the story who wrote in the margin of his notes, “Argument weak. Shout here.”

Quote:
We have worked out morality for ourselves. There is a social instinct, but like all evolved instincts, they are intended for survival in competition, not an ideal global society. We can solve problems. We can see that evolved social behaviour doesn't answer all problems. Even causes some. So we have to try to agree a concensus of behaviour and it often turns out to be the same rule (the Golden one) in many societies.

Thus, God isn't needed for morality, it isn't helpful for morality and it certainly isn't proved to exist by morality.
Again, Hitchens raises this point and Wilson gives a very good counter-argument.

Wilson says:

On the question of morality, you again attempt an answer: “My answer is the same as it was all along: Our morality evolved.” There are two points to be made about this reply. The first concerns evolved morality and the future, and is a variation on my previous questions. If our morality evolved, then that means our morality changes. If evolution isn’t done yet (and why should it be?), then that means our morality is involved in this on-going flux as well. And that means that everything we consider to be “moral” is really up for grabs. Our “vague yet grand conception of human rights” might flat disappear just like our gills did.

Quote:
P.s I can only say that Hitchen's response only seems unintelligible and dodging the issue to someone who isn't really trying to understand. Perhaps my post will make the issue more intelligible - it might be simpler and even better if there was a god -imposed morality, but there isn't. Evidently there isn't. We have to make the best of what we have got.
I am not sure why you KEEP making such under-handed comments to ME all the time ....
I am the one who read the exchanges of the entire debate - and while I admire Hitchens and his work, I find his arguments to be weak in this particular debate. In one of his interviews Hitchens actually said that debating Wilson was not easy.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Wilson says:
It is clear from how you defend your ideas of “morality” that you have not done so. You (Hitchens) are a gifted writer, and you have a flair for polemical voltage. But strip it all away, and what do you have underneath? You believe yourself to live in a universe where there is no such thing as any fixed ought or ought not. But God has gifted you with a remarkable ability to denounce what ought not to be. And so, because you reject him, you have great sermons but no way of ever coming up with a text. When people start to notice the absence of texts, the absence of warrant, the absence of reasons, you adjust and compensate with rhetorical embellishment and empurpled prose. You are like the minister in the story who wrote in the margin of his notes, “Argument weak. Shout here.”
So ... an act is worthy and commendable if and only if some absolute and authoritative text, warrant, or reason can be cited to show that it is. This is a curious notion. You acknowledge, in essence, that believer and unbeliever alike are capable of virtue, and you cannot deny that they practice virtue, on balance, to the same degree; but you can't stand the idea that it is not handed down from on high so you have to dismiss the value of any good not done in the name of god.

It's like that cartoon over on the joke thread where the surgeon says, "I swear, if they thank god for this, I'm putting the tumor back in".

Increasingly I now understand why all the time and effort was spent by my church in teaching the utter and total depravity of man. One must render the people incapable of giving credit where it is due because no effort has any merit in and of itself.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:32 PM
 
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The reason one action seems good and another bad is frankly based on how it suits the individual.

Clearly this would be ok, all the time you had only family groups with one individual ruling the group. Others could be ignored or fought if they got too close.

But when ladies discovered that planting seeds was easier than foraging and farming communities developed, rival interests had to be balanced and a way of making fair judgements arrived at. Where both sides though that what they wanted was good, the decision of what was good and bad was not hard. reverse the situation and suddenly the views of what was 'good' was reversed. Thus both agreed that something was bad if they were on the end of it, even if they rather liked doing it to someone else. We had a concensus.

Now I wasn't there taking notes, but that is how we decide what is good and bad. Just as one of these and one of those make Two, and putting something behind a rock doesn't mean it has ceased to exist, reason builds up our concensus of agreed data, method and rules.

That it evolved IS the answer, not an evasion. It is Wilson who is missing the point by demanding that some authority outside of humanity be produced to validate these codes we have evolved. There isn't one, there doesn't need to be one and it is actually better if there isn't one.

I'm sorry if you find my comments underhand, but both you and Wilson have accused me and Hitchens of missing the point, avoiding an answer and somehow being evasive. All I am doing is to point out that you and Wilson can't see that Hitchen's answer IS the answer because you both seem to demand an extra -human arbiter and authority and any response other that than just seems to be rejected out of hand.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Again, Hitchens raises this point and Wilson gives a very good counter-argument.

Wilson says:

On the question of morality, you again attempt an answer: “My answer is the same as it was all along: Our morality evolved.” There are two points to be made about this reply. The first concerns evolved morality and the future, and is a variation on my previous questions. If our morality evolved, then that means our morality changes. If evolution isn’t done yet (and why should it be?), then that means our morality is involved in this on-going flux as well. And that means that everything we consider to be “moral” is really up for grabs. Our “vague yet grand conception of human rights” might flat disappear just like our gills did.
You know on this point, I think Wilson is correct. 200 years ago it was moral to own a man and beat him to death, to deny women equal treatment, and a great many other things. Before that, the inequity between aristocracy and the common man was considered moral, the divine right of kings was moral. Selling indulgences was moral, killing Jews was moral. In another 200 years, maybe owning pets will be considered immoral, or eating real meat will be immoral, or polyamorous relationships will be considered moral. Who knows?

Clearly societal consensus on morality has changed over time. Religion views on morality have changed. Why can we not make moral judgements based on morality as it is currently embodied in our social fabric and culture, while acknowledging that it has changed and will change in the future? I think that for Wilson this is the same as saying there is not morality, and thus moral judgements cannot be rendered at all, ever. I disagree with this absolutist stance. If we can make judgements based on limited knowledge and changing standards in every other aspect of our lives, why is morality any different?

The other problem I have with the whole question is it presumes something vitally important. Wilson and other proponents of a divine morality assume they know what it is. If subjectivity in morality is bad, how does that not apply to religious concepts of morality, which are based on subjective, human judgment of subjective human opinions written by humans, claiming to represent a divine being (or beings) that cannot be objectively shown to exist? Religious morality is every bit as subjective as secular morality, only secular morality is more honest. It is based in the collective opinion of a given culture or society, but is falsely attributed a divine being as the ultimate appeal to authority.


-NoCapo
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
So ... an act is worthy and commendable if and only if some absolute and authoritative text, warrant, or reason can be cited to show that it is. This is a curious notion.
How did you derive that from what Wilson said?

Wilson essentially questions the act itself. He says: "what rational warrant do you have for calling one act moral and another act immoral" ?

Hitchens keeps referring to human solidarity and common good as rational warrants - to which Wilson asks if there was a meeting to discuss such issues? Afterall, who decided these issues?
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