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Old 01-05-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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There is a very important distinction here that seems to get overlooked a lot of the time, especially during heated debates.

An argument in favor of the adoption of theism or a particular doctrine such as Christianity does not need to depend on the actual existence of God.

Let me explain that a bit. Let's say that you believe the following claim: "Atheism is bad because atheists have no moral compass. Therefore, people should believe in God."

That argument is agnostic toward the actual condition of God. Which is to say, the argument does not change if we assume that God does not exist.

That's because it is a purely normative argument. The argument says that belief itself is beneficial. If God does not exist - but people believe anyway - the argument has the same effect.

The problem comes when people confuse these purely normative arguments with arguments that would actually support the existence of God.

Those arguments are quite different.

Imagine a world where God exists, but people who believe in God are overtaken by madness and mayhem and murder.

In such a world, the negative social effects of belief are still irrelevant when it comes to the fact of God's actual existence. Just as positive benefits would be irrelevant. God either exists or does not exist. That would not change due to normative social factors.

I know this thought has been pointed out before by other posters, but I'd like to rehash it in my own words. I just see a lot of confusion that keeps popping up here when it comes to this particular distinction.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:29 AM
 
Location: Victoria, BC.
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"Atheism is bad because atheists have no moral compass. Therefore, people should believe in God."
The falseness of this statement negates your entire argument. Atheists moral compass comes from the same source as everyone else....We call it conscience. One certainly cannot use the bible as an example of morality.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:05 AM
 
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Atheists moral compass comes from the same source as everyone else
Well, that sort of goes to my point.

The question of atheist morality is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not God exists.

Which is to say, the moral disposition of theists/atheists makes no difference to God's being or non-being.

Moral dispositions go toward normative arguments.

Think of a philosopher like Leo Strauss. He was Jewish by birth and probably an atheist in religious terms, or was at the least not terribly convinced by religious arguments.

Leo Strauss argued that "the masses" needed a religious structure such as Christianity in order to guide moral behavior, along with other cultural elements such as popular TV shows that would promote "good morals."

Leo Strauss did not say that people should become Christians because Christianity is "true" and that God exists. God's existence was irrelevant to him. His argument was based on a normative premise which did not assume the existence of a God.

But on this forum, I often see people confusing those arguments, or offering up a normative argument to support an unrelated proposition.

It amounts to the difference between these two claims:

Claim One: Atheism among the masses leads to rootlessness, anomie, and immorality - therefore, they should be inculcated with religion and a strong belief in God.

Now, that claim is purely normative and does not care about the actual existence of God.

Claim Two: Atheism among the masses leads to rootlessness, anomie, and immorality - therefore, since atheism is bad, and belief is good, God must exist.

This claim makes a totally unsupported logical leap. The behavior of atheists is simply not relevant to the question of God's existence. It implies that a world could not exist in which God does not exist, and atheists are immoral. And there is simply no real logical basis to make such a claim.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:27 AM
 
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Without the authority of some deity, in this case Jehovah, there is no basis for the authority of the morals themselves.

Remove deity from Christianity and the religion simply ceases to be, they are simply too closely intertwined.

In other words, remove the authority of Jehovah, then those morals (most of which are mere theopolitical tools anyways) are created by mere men (which they are anyways) and therefore there is no compelling force urging people to follow said moral set.

And lets face facts, a moral set that places women in the realm of mere property and creates an atmosphere of hate towards those who are different, gays and also people who look to other deities, or none, isn;t a moral set to write home about.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:49 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
The behavior of atheists is simply not relevant to the question of God's existence.
I get your point. But the idea that there are things universally accepted as bad moral behavior by atheists and theists alike could be used to argue for the existence of a created soul as opposed to (simply) the existence of a highly evolved chance chemical reaction.

I am aware that the converse argument would be all the atrocities allowed/accepted through social conditioning - but it seems odd to me that there are always those who recognize that practices (for instance) like spending time and resources caring for the poor, feeble and sick are the 'right thing' to do even if the society they grew up in taught them the opposite. For example - Gandhi opposed the cast system of his own religion - seeing that it was immoral to let an entire segment of the population languish without aid due to ignoble birth.

It always bugs the hell out of me when some atheists say (for example) that murder is only wrong because it is contrary to the survival of the species when actually society could do well with a few less billion people eating up resources not to mention that the euthanizing the non-productive old and sick would be very helpful and yet it cannot be practiced in good conscience. Why is that?

So, I agree with your premise in one way but in another way I do think that human behavior could be used in the "does God exist?" argument.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by firstborn888 View Post
I get your point. But the idea that there are things universally accepted as bad moral behavior by atheists and theists alike could be used to argue for the existence of a created soul as opposed to (simply) the existence of a highly evolved chance chemical reaction. .....
Only in the manner of the finest examples of Apologetic twisting and writhing, certainly.

Morals, including prohibitions against cold-blooded murder, outdate teh Abrahamics by many millenia.

The onyl "morals" the Abrahamics introduced intot he human equation involve theopolitical tools such as those surrounding sex.

Grabbing the flock by the shorts, litterally.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
An argument in favor of the adoption of theism or a particular doctrine such as Christianity does not need to depend on the actual existence of God.

...

The argument says that belief itself is beneficial. If God does not exist - but people believe anyway - the argument has the same effect.
An example of this is that study done a few years ago claiming that people who are religious and who believe in God tend to be happier and to live longer, healthier lives than people who aren't religious. If true, that's an argument showing that theism has benefits, yet it doesn't prove the existence of God.

Being conscious of our own mortality and having the ability to reflect on our past and extrapolate into our future, as opposed to living completely in the present, is something that separates us from other animals (as far as we know), but it has its drawbacks. I can see how believing that we have a purpose handed down by a God who created us, and that we have an eternal afterlife, are conducive to happiness, which in turn is conducive to good health and longer life. Realizing that there may be no God, no external purpose to life, no externally imposed justice or fairness, and no eternal afterlife is a shock, and some people never get over their existential despair. It takes another shift in consciousness to find happiness in the now, to create one's own sense of purpose, and to accept the universe as it is, despite its lack of fairness.

On the other hand, religion makes many people miserable, especially those brought up in "sin and guilt" versions of theism.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by AxisMundi View Post
Only in the manner of the finest examples of Apologetic twisting and writhing, certainly.

Morals, including prohibitions against cold-blooded murder, outdate teh Abrahamics by many millenia.

The onyl "morals" the Abrahamics introduced intot he human equation involve theopolitical tools such as those surrounding sex.

Grabbing the flock by the shorts, litterally.
Of course - I never mentioned the Abrahamics but I think I understand why you would go thre since C/I/J (all Abrahamic) seem to dominate. You may be oversimplifying the contributions though?

I have beem wanting for some time to study more on pre-Abrahamic morals (thanks for bringing that up). Do you have any links or suggestions on that?
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by firstborn888 View Post
Of course - I never mentioned the Abrahamics but I think I understand why you would go thre since C/I/J (all Abrahamic) seem to dominate. You may be oversimplifying the contributions though?

I have beem wanting for some time to study more on pre-Abrahamic morals (thanks for bringing that up). Do you have any links or suggestions on that?
Mostly book learning and documentaries, knowledge gained over decades on my part.

Should be plenty on the internets for you though, just make sure you stay away from Fundie sites.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:21 AM
 
Location: Texas
4,346 posts, read 5,342,688 times
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Originally Posted by AxisMundi View Post
Mostly book learning and documentaries, knowledge gained over decades on my part.

Should be plenty on the internets for you though, just make sure you stay away from Fundie sites.
Awwww... fundie sites are FUN though. I love the drawings of people riding on the dinosaurs And the alien/demon/angel half breed reptilian exposées.

You're no fun Axis!
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