Dec 152006
 

I am going to offend a few people who read this blog. My intention really is not to offend anyone. I am not being deliberately provocative. I am simply worried. I am going to worrying out loud. I am going to deal with belief, specifically the problem of religious belief. Because I happen to think how we deal with religious belief, or fail to criticize the belief of other human beings at this moment has more to do with the maintenance of civilization than anything else that is in our powers to influence. Our world has been Balkanized by incompatible religious dogmas. We have Atheists against Christians against Jews. The books themselves make incompatible claims. We have this founding notion that Darwin wrote one of our texts. Unfortunately we have many such books on hand. I see no reason to survive our religious differences indefinitely. The fact that a few short years from now, you will be able to sit in a cave in Afghanistan and with your thousand-dollar laptop, you will essentially have a supercomputer that can kick off its genetic algorithms, its malicious code, to the rest of society. You would be able to buy this malicious code from some atheist hackers here in the U.S. This alone makes this Balkanization of our world, the separate moral identities, the fact we are not identified just merely as human beings but we are Atheist and Muslims. It makes it untenable.

What does it mean to believe something to be true? To believe is to think that a certain proposition actually map on to reality. What do we believe? Well, 38% of Americans believe that your grandfather and grandmother were monkeys or they were very much like monkeys. They believe that it was once perfectly moral and reasonable for a primate to take a stick and beat it over the head of another primate and then take their food. They call this survival of the fittest. These beliefs have consequences. Consider this, a Muslim get on an airplane and crashes it into a skyscraper because he believes that there are 72 virgins waiting for him in heaven. We would say this kind of belief is crazy and irrational. But if you go rape and kill 72 virgins because you know there is no God that you must answer to, you are your own god and create your own morality. If killing is fun and exciting for you, then that is suppose to be rational and moral? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who committed the Columbine school massacre believe they were doing humanity a favor by eliminating the bad religious genes from the gene pool. Each atheist has their own religious text, some agree with others and some don’t but they are all correct unto themselves. After all what makes one random collection of stardust more significant than another random collection of stardust.

Faith in Darwinism and Atheism is really a conversation stopper. We have come to think that the appropriate accommodation with modernity is Darwinism, Atheism and science is equivalent. It’s fundamentally taboo to criticize someone’s faith in Darwinism and Atheism. This political correctness, where everyone should be free to believe whatever he wants about Darwinism, that there is no harm no foul, beliefs are private. Let me tell you why this is a dead end. First of all, religious moderation gives cover to atheist fundamentalism. Because we cannot criticize atheist extremism, atheist literalism, it’s political taboo. It is considered uncivil and this is really enforced by atheist moderates. Atheist fundamentalists, they will criticize every faith but their own. They will say Islam is an evil religion. Atheist moderates balk at that. The ACLU will now sue every cross and manger scenes on public grounds. They say this is establishing Christianity as the official religion. It seems to me that the next sensible question would be how is that different than establishing Atheism (no god) as the official religion? This is not data that we have that the Biblical God doesn’t exist and Atheism is affirmed. We can’t call a spade a spade, because of this taboo around criticizing Atheism. Where else in our discourse do we encounter this? When was the last time anyone was admonished to respect another person’s belief about biology, physics, or history. We do not respect people’s beliefs. We evaluate their reasons.

It is just not rational for atheists to say that Darwinism is science. We don’t have any empirical evidence to show that random mutations can turn a monkey into a human being. Yet the atheist would say just trust us it happened because it is science. Atheists have abuse the meaning of science.

It doesn’t make sense when an atheist fundamentalist like Sam Harris, doctoral candidate in neuroscience, says that our thoughts and neural pathways are the result of random arrangement of molecules based on his faith in Darwinism. He then turns around and complain this random arrangement caused a Christian or Muslim to think the way they think and their thinking is immoral. Is this really the logic of a rational human being? I would say Harris is more than just a master of building straw man. He is a master of the Reductio ad absurdum argument. He pigeonholes an opponent’s view, amplifies a distortion and compares that to some absurd example.

This post was inspired by DonaldM’s post on Harris.

  27 Responses to “Atheism, Not Science Verses Religion”

  1. Well, 38% of Americans believe that your grandfather and grandmother were monkeys or they were very much like monkeys.

    You shoot yourself in the foot here. You cannot resist ridculing Darwinism, and so you end up telling a lie. No one believes our grandparents were monkeys, the claim is simply not true. And this is a post about morality. Why is it that Christian creationists think it is okay to bend the truth?

    The practice of quoting-mining seems endemic, with the latest example I have heard of by Edward T. Oakes, reported at Strange Fruits:

    Darwin actually, if unwittingly, promulgated the charter for all later social Darwinists: “Let the strongest live and the weakest die… . Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”
    Astute readers may recognize the latter part of the quote comes from the final paragraph of Origin. The earlier part comes from chapter VIII (‘Instinct’). Yes, folks. Oakes has constructed a quote from two statements seven chapters apart, possibly the longest ellipsis known to scholarship.

    Personally, I think deliberately twisting someone’s word to misrepresent them is dishonest. But then, I am only an atheist, so what do I know about right and wrong?

  2. You cannot resist ridculing Darwinism, and so you end up telling a lie. No one believes our grandparents were monkeys, the claim is simply not true. And this is a post about morality. Why is it that Christian creationists think it is okay to bend the truth?

    Hi Pixie, can you comment on anything without a blind double standard? You mischaracterize ID all the time do I call you a liar? I’ve employed a bit of literary hyperbole to illustrate a point and you accuse me of quote mining? Even so, for the sake of argument, Darwinists have such a convoluted primate evolutionary tree; who really knows what your putative direct ancestors were. Beyond that if we are suppose to be 99% chimp the distinction between primates are really insignificant wouldn’t you say? As matter of fact, isn’t Richard Dawkins the one who wants to eliminate the distinction between species of primates? Why don’t you jump on him for being a liar?

    The practice of quoting-mining seems endemic ” Personally, I think deliberately twisting someone’s word to misrepresent them is dishonest. But then, I am only an atheist, so what do I know about right and wrong?

    Are you accusing me of quote mining? Whom am I suppose to be quote mining from? Besides, maybe you should point the finger back at yourself with the quote mining you did on the other thread.

  3. Sorry, I was not accusing you of quote-mining; I should have made that clear. My point was that it is a dishonest practice, and yet big name creationists/IDists seem to do it a lot. And it is very rare for the other creationists and IDists to condemn it. Strange that you feel you can then take the moral high ground.

    What is your opinion of what Edward T. Oakes did? Do you think what he did was morally right?

    Hi Pixie, can you comment on anything without a blind double standard? You mischaracterize ID all the time do I call you a liar? I’ve employed a bit of literary hyperbole to illustrate a point and you accuse me of quote mining? Even so, for the sake of argument, Darwinists have such a convoluted primate evolutionary tree; who really knows what your putative direct ancestors were.

    I do not deluberately mischaracterize ID. Can you point to one instance, and we can discuss where I got that idea from. Part of the problem is that different IDists have different ideas about exactly what ID is, I suspect.

    Beyond that if we are suppose to be 99% chimp the distinction between primates are really insignificant wouldn’t you say?

    Are you aware of the difference between a monkey and a primate?

    As matter of fact, isn’t Richard Dawkins the one who wants to eliminate the distinction between species of primates? Why don’t you jump on him for being a liar?

    I disagree with Dawkins, but I see nothing untrue in his claim.

    By the way, where did the 38% figure come from?

  4. What is your opinion of what Edward T. Oakes did? Do you think what he did was morally right?

    I don’t see anything wrong with what Oakes quoted. Do you deny the quotes as representative of Darwinism even as part of MET?

    I do not deluberately mischaracterize ID. Can you point to one instance, and we can discuss where I got that idea from. Part of the problem is that different IDists have different ideas about exactly what ID is, I suspect.

    Just look at your own comments on the December 7th thread. You take quotes from Creationists talking about Darwinism and maybe sometimes, how Christians should view ID and turn those quotes into ID as religious. The only problem is you will not find any IDist ever used religious arguments to support ID. Therefore, ID is not a religiously based theory and that is where your mischaracterization comes in.

    Are you aware of the difference between a monkey and a primate?

    Of course I am aware of the classification of species. The question is that are you aware that there is no definitive evidence that you can use to trace the direct ancestors of the human lineage?

    By the way, where did the 38% figure come from?

    I am glad you asked. The truth is that I wonder how many people are actually offended by this post, since I tried to mimic the type of sophistry that Sam Harris used in his attack on religion. Do you think he is over the top with this inane and sophomoric diatribe?

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with what Oakes quoted. Do you deny the quotes as representative of Darwinism even as part of MET?

    The fact that Oakes had to take sentences from different chapters to support his claim tells me it is not representative of Darwinism. If Darwin had really been trying to say that, it would be there in the book, and would need no distorting by Oakes. I suspect what happens is that creationists have already decided what Darwin meant to say (in this case that he wants to show a link to Hitler), without bothering to read it. They have feel it is okay to pluck quotes out of context to support the claim. The problem is that often Darwin did not mean that. Upon finding he never said anything to support your claim, the honest approach is to accept you were wrong. The dishonest approach is to quote-mine, to represent what he said in a way that changes the meaning.

    Dembski started a thread at ARN about his own quote-mining in which he clearly presented Ward as holding the view that the Cambrian explosion was a problem for MET, and yet if you read the whole chapter Dembski quoted from you would find Ward held the very opposite view, that the Cambrian explosion was readily explained. Dembski had deliberately misrepresented Ward. And several IDists posted on that thread to support Dembski!

    You take quotes from Creationists talking about Darwinism and maybe sometimes, how Christians should view ID and turn those quotes into ID as religious. The only problem is you will not find any IDist ever used religious arguments to support ID. Therefore, ID is not a religiously based theory and that is where your mischaracterization comes in.

    I actually said ID was apologetics for Christianity, not that ID is religion. Can you see the difference? I said ID is used to argue for religion, not that religion is used to argue for ID. Again, do you understand the difference?

    Of course I am aware of the classification of species. The question is that are you aware that there is no definitive evidence that you can use to trace the direct ancestors of the human lineage?

    I ask because you started talking about the relationship between monkeys and humans, and when queried about it, you changed to the relationship between primates and humans. An interesting debating tactic or “clever switcheroo” if you prefer.

    … I tried to mimic the type of sophistry that Sam Harris used in his attack on religion. Do you think he is over the top with this inane and sophomoric diatribe?

    I found Harris’ talk to be interesting and well thought out. If he is right about only 38% of US people believing in common descent, then that is a horrifying figure. Even IDists like Mikes Gene, Denton and Behe believe in common descent (but of course, of all the IDists, these three perhaps have the best eduction in biology). Interesting he mentioned the morality of God. It is disturbing that Christians do not even think this is questionable – he is God, how dare you judge him.

    Was it over the top? I think to a degree, yes. He set out to wake people up about what religion is doing. As far as I know, he did not feel the need to claim the equivalent to people beliving their grandparents are monkeys. He seemed to be happy to get his message across without that sort of literary hyperbole.

  6. I found Harris’ talk to be interesting and well thought out. If he is right about only 38% of US people believing in common descent, then that is a horrifying figure. Even IDists like Mikes Gene, Denton and Behe believe in common descent (but of course, of all the IDists, these three perhaps have the best eduction in biology). Interesting he mentioned the morality of God. It is disturbing that Christians do not even think this is questionable – he is God, how dare you judge him.

    Why is the 38% figure “horrifying”? And so what if Mike Gene, Denton and Behe “believe” in common descent? (I believe the word you’re looking for is “accept” not “believe”…one doesn’t “believe” in common descent…one either accepts or rejects the scientific claims for it). It constantly amuses me how Darwinists simply can not accept the fact that a large number of people (38%) might actually reject their scientific claims. I guess to them that is “horrifying”. Even worse, a large number of the 38% are educated and have quite a bit of time examining the evidence and found it to be wanting. What would be so “horrifying” if it turned out that life really was intelligently designed? It would only be horrifying to those who want to protect naturalistic dogma at all costs.

  7. Why is the 38% figure “horrifying” ?

    Because of the (wilful) ignorance it implies.

    And so what if Mike Gene, Denton and Behe “believe” in common descent?

    These are some of the very few IDists who have (I think) Ph.D. degrees in biology. Although Wells has a Ph.D., he did it specifically to destroy Darwinism, not to learn; he had already rejected common descent before learning the evidence, and (I suspect) no amount of evidence was going to change his religious views. So even within ID, the proportion of people accepting common descent is considerably higher in those that know what they are talking about.

    It constantly amuses me how Darwinists simply can not accept the fact that a large number of people (38%) might actually reject their scientific claims.

    And it saddens me that so many people reject those scientific claims when there is so much evidence for them.

    Common chimp-human DNA endogenous retroviral (ERV) sequences
    Human-Ape chromosome map (karyotype) comparison
    Vitamin C pseudogene (how does creationist explain that?)
    The distribution of eyes
    Molecular evidence in proteins like cytochrome-c (“jewel of perfection”)
    Nested hierarchy (Linneous, a creationist, assembled the nested hierarchy; common descent requires and explains it)
    See also here

    Here is what Behe says:
    “Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it.” (Behe, M.J., “Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,” Free Press: New York NY, 1996, pp.5-6. My emphasis) Taken from here.

    Some aspects of modern evolutionary theory have much less evidence, but the case for common descent is about as proven as it gets in science. If you want to discuss this, you might like to start a new thread.

    What would be so “horrifying” if it turned out that life really was intelligently designed? It would only be horrifying to those who want to protect naturalistic dogma at all costs.

    Personally, I find nothing horrifying in that idea. I also see nothing to suggest it has any merit. Would you be horrified to find life was not intelligently designed?

  8. The fact that Oakes had to take sentences from different chapters to support his claim tells me it is not representative of Darwinism.

    They may be from different chapters but they are representative of the process of Darwinian evolution. I frankly don’t see his usage as distorting the central message of Darwinism. If by piecing these sentences Oakes was able to alter the message of Darwin’s mechanisms then I would say that is quote mining.

    Tel: You take quotes from Creationists talking about Darwinism and maybe sometimes, how Christians should view ID and turn those quotes into ID as religious. The only problem is you will not find any IDist ever used religious arguments to support ID. Therefore, ID is not a religiously based theory and that is where your mischaracterization comes in.

    I actually said ID was apologetics for Christianity, not that ID is religion. Can you see the difference? I said ID is used to argue for religion, not that religion is used to argue for ID. Again, do you understand the difference?

    Actually, I was referring to the quotes that you thank daron for. You use people like Behe and Dembski to suggest their view on ID is not in conflict with MET. You are doing the same thing that you accuse Dembski of doing with Ward.

    “clever switcheroo”

    If I was doing this, I was merely mimicking Harris. Will you chastise him for being far more imprecise with his attack on Christianity?

    I found Harris’ talk to be interesting and well thought out.

    Oops strike the last question. You call me a liar when I blur the classification lines on evolution, but you thought his comparison of Christians to the fanatics in Afghanistan was well thought out? He calls God a real estate broker was accurate? He makes the claims of all religious text are conflicting and equivalent is well thought out? Thank you Pix, your blind bias toward atheism and Christianity is very insightful.

    Interesting he mentioned the morality of God. It is disturbing that Christians do not even think this is questionable – he is God, how dare you judge him.

    What makes you think Christians do not question God morality? Again, this shows that you have many preconceived biases and misconceptions. The point is not whether we question God but under what construct do you approach these questions. This is the reason why Harris’s talk was ignorant and trite. He has the same problem that you do when you make moral judgment against God or anyone. On what basis do you make your judgment? What you are essentially doing is that your moral values are superior to God’s or mine. Why? What give Sam Harris the right to set the standard for all other moral values to measure against? This goes back to Lewis’s argument that you can’t challenge the morals of an Absolute Lawgiver while denying that there is such a thing as an Absolute morality.

    But even if I were to consider Harris’s moral as a standard, can I question that standard. Under Harris’s standard, it would be immoral to kill off the Amorites, Canaanites, Jebusites or any of these groups. So Harris would condone their practice of rape, torturing and mutilating their enemies, human sacrifices to idols and sexual debauchery. If you are going to assume the inferiority of God’s morality then you must also assume that He is the Creator that formed you from the dust. As such, does the Creator not have the right to do with His Creation what He pleases? When they refuse to acknowledge Him as God and turn their back on God to commit all sort of sins that is affront to God’s Holiness, does He not have the right to punish them? If you deny that right to God then where is the moral justification the denial? Christian apologists have been writing volumes on these issues before Harris was born. Do you really thinkHarris’s entire talk was filled with this sort of contrive and over simplistic diatribe against Christianity. And it never occurred to him or you to present the “perceived” positive side of Christianity. I use “perceived” in the sense that certain attributes of God that even atheist would deny such as love, patience, kind, gentle, faithful and above all else gave His son to die on the cross so that we may be reconcile to Him. If you are going to complaint about God judgment as something that is real then at least present his love and salvation also as real.

  9. They may be from different chapters but they are representative of the process of Darwinian evolution.

    No they are not, they are from a strawman representation Darwinism. If they were honestly representative of the ideas Darwin was presenting, Oakes could find something in the book that would support that representation. We are taking about a book here, not a two page article. In that whole book – how many pages long – Oakes cannot find anything Darwin said to support his claim. Hmm, maybe that is because Darwin did not think that? Is that possible? Not for Oakes. Oakes does not seem to care what Darwin said, for Oakes knows in advance what Darwin’s position is without having to read about it!

    Actually, I was referring to the quotes that you thank daron for. You use people like Behe and Dembski to suggest their view on ID is not in conflict with MET. You are doing the same thing that you accuse Dembski of doing with Ward.

    Ah, sorry. And I have addressed this on the other thread.

    If I was doing this, I was merely mimicking Harris. Will you chastise him for being far more imprecise with his attack on Christianity?

    Ah, two wrongs make a right. And so we see where Christian morality is superior to atheist morality.

    Oops strike the last question. You call me a liar when I blur the classification lines on evolution, but you thought his comparison of Christians to the fanatics in Afghanistan was well thought out? He calls God a real estate broker was accurate? He makes the claims of all religious text are conflicting and equivalent is well thought out? Thank you Pix, your blind bias toward atheism and Christianity is very insightful.

    He compares Christian fanatatics to Muslim fanatics. There are similarities and differences. He discusses why there are similities.

    He calls God a real estate broker because the Bible says God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. What bit of that do you dispute? Is Israel real estate? Did God broker it?

    He says the religious texts of different religions are conflicting. Can you think of two religions that have non-conflicting religious texts? I cannot.

    What makes you think Christians do not question God morality?

    That would be because on the Pearl Harbour thread where you said “Are you God? You must be, because your statement is a judgment of value. It would also follow that you are omniscient and have the authority to dictate what the God of the OT did was right or wrong. Or else, you statement of value is meaningless.” This lead me to think that only someone who is God, omniscient and with a certain authority can judge if God is doing right or wrong. What am I missing here?

    Again, this shows that you have many preconceived biases and misconceptions. The point is not whether we question God but under what construct do you approach these questions. This is the reason why Harris’s talk was ignorant and trite. He has the same problem that you do when you make moral judgment against God or anyone. On what basis do you make your judgment? What you are essentially doing is that your moral values are superior to God’s or mine. Why? What give Sam Harris the right to set the standard for all other moral values to measure against? This goes back to Lewis’s argument that you can’t challenge the morals of an Absolute Lawgiver while denying that there is such a thing as an Absolute morality.

    There are certain moral standards that pretty much everyone agrees on. It is pretty much universally agreed that murder is wrong, so is genocide, lying for personal gain, bullying, slavery and so on. Sure there are some areas that are debatable, but broadly we agree. It is this standard, this universal morality that we judge God against. If God engages in genocide, then that is wrong. Or do you think genocide is acceptable in some situations?

    Lewis’ argument fails, because it is based on the unsuupoorted assumption that God is the Absolute Lawgiver. That is what we are trying to decide. By the way, what is the difference between the Absolute Lawgiver and the Absolute Tyrant?

    But even if I were to consider Harris’s moral as a standard, can I question that standard. Under Harris’s standard, it would be immoral to kill off the Amorites, Canaanites, Jebusites or any of these groups. So Harris would condone their practice of rape, torturing and mutilating their enemies, human sacrifices to idols and sexual debauchery.

    Ah, so genocide (including killing of children) is acceptable if the race practices rape, torturing and mutilating their enemies. Is that right?

    If you are going to assume the inferiority of God’s morality then you must also assume that He is the Creator that formed you from the dust.

    Why?

    As such, does the Creator not have the right to do with His Creation what He pleases?

    No! Quite the opposite, it gives him the responsibility to look after them. How do you treat your children?

    When they refuse to acknowledge Him as God and turn their back on God to commit all sort of sins that is affront to God’s Holiness, does He not have the right to punish them?

    The Bible does instruct us to stone to death children that do not respect their parents. Personally, I disagree.

    DonaldM, I started a thread at ARN about the evidence for common descent, rather than go any further off-topic here.

  10. No they are not, they are from a strawman representation Darwinism. If they were honestly representative of the ideas Darwin was presenting, Oakes could find something in the book that would support that representation. We are taking about a book here, not a two page article. In that whole book – how many pages long – Oakes cannot find anything Darwin said to support his claim.

    Let’s discuss what Oakes said. ” Darwin actually, if unwittingly, promulgated the charter for all later social Darwinists: “Let the strongest live and the weakest die” . Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.” As I understand this what Oakes is saying is that Darwin’s idea of evolution were later used to support social Darwinism. The first sentence Oakes quoted reflects Darwin’s understanding of natural selection at the time. Those organisms that are better suited for the environment survives and the less well suited dies. The second quote is Darwin promoting the idea that through the adaptation to changing environments the diversity of life resulted. I don’t see anything in Oakes’s quote that is a straw man or in conflict with Darwinism.

    Can you give an example of what else Oakes could have quoted to give a fuller or different meaning on Darwinism?

    Ah, sorry. And I have addressed this on the other thread.

    You did? I don’t think so. You claim that Denton’s fine tuning fits with MET, but you did not address you misrepresentation of Behe and Dembski. It doesn’t matter if you think MET is compatible with ID, (I disputed this on the other thread) but Behe and Dembski does not. Your quote mining is misrepresentative of their views.

    Ah, two wrongs make a right. And so we see where Christian morality is superior to atheist morality.

    If it makes you feel better as an atheist by tearing Christians down then more power to you. Being a Christian does not make me perfect. It only shows me that I am not perfect and in need of a savior. Besides, what I did was not a moral issue. I was mimicking Harris to exposing the kind of double standard that you are exhibiting.

    He compares Christian fanatatics to Muslim fanatics. There are similarities and differences. He discusses why there are similities.

    What similarities are there other than his hatred for both? Is this really a fair way to make comparison?

    He calls God a real estate broker because the Bible says God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. What bit of that do you dispute? Is Israel real estate? Did God broker it?

    I dispute the entire caricature. I guess it must be a lot of fun and boost your faith in atheism to ridicule other people’s belief. If you are interested in being accurate, what brokerage firm does God work for? Was there a contract? What was the title company involved? To refer to God as a real estate broker is completely inaccurate, but I guess accuracy is not important when an atheist is involved right?

    That would be because on the Pearl Harbour thread where you said “Are you God? You must be, because your statement is a judgment of value. It would also follow that you are omniscient and have the authority to dictate what the God of the OT did was right or wrong. Or else, you statement of value is meaningless.” This lead me to think that only someone who is God, omniscient and with a certain authority can judge if God is doing right or wrong. What am I missing here?

    The question from the other thread which you continue to dodge was to indicate that you are assuming your role as God when you make you own moral Absolute. And don’t deny you make moral Absolutes.

    For the record I never said Christians judge God. I said we ask the question under the construct if God is real or not real.

    There are certain moral standards that pretty much everyone agrees on.

    Who is everyone? There are cultures and societies that think it is moral to torture and mutilate their people for sport. Are they wrong under the standards of their society?

    It is pretty much universally agreed that murder is wrong, so is genocide, lying for personal gain, bullying, slavery and so on.

    Not to Saddam Hussein, not to serial killers like the Nightstalker, not to Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mae Tse Tong. Are these morals just a matter of popular votes?

    If God engages in genocide, then that is wrong. Or do you think genocide is acceptable in some situations?

    Do you have to assume God is real before this question is valid? If God is real then do you have to right to tell the Maker from which you came that He has no sovereignty over you? e.g. If you’ve made some computers when the concept of a computer never even existed. Some computers malfunctioned and refuse to be repaired. It starts to attack and destroy other computers. Do you as the Creator of these malfunctioned computers have the right to destroy them? Can one of these malfunctioned computer say to the Maker that it is immoral for the Maker to exercise judgment on the computer’s immoral behavior?

    Lewis’ argument fails, because it is based on the unsuupoorted assumption that God is the Absolute Lawgiver.

    Your argument fails because you are taking the unsupported role of an Absolute Lawgiver as you’ve tried to do with your declaration above.

    Ah, so genocide (including killing of children) is acceptable if the race practices rape, torturing and mutilating their enemies. Is that right?

    By whom? By you, absolutely not. By the omniscient Creator of a rebellious Creation, yes.

    No! Quite the opposite, it gives him the responsibility to look after them. How do you treat your children?

    No! You must hate your children a lot. If you have 12 kids, one of them starts killing the others off one by one. What do you do? Put him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life? When you talk to him, he denies that you are his father. He insults you and would probably kill you too if he could.

    I guess you are a much more loving father and let this one child kill the other 11 because you have a responsibility to look after him. What a good father you are.

    The Bible does instruct us to stone to death children that do not respect their parents. Personally, I disagree.

    As an atheist you can do whatever you want. In the context of the Jews at that time, they believe in God. They have the 10 commandments, one of which is to obey your parents. They’ve seen numerous acts of miracles parting of the sea, manna from heaven and water from rocks. They have pillars of fire by night and cloud by day. After all these signs from God, they were still disobedient and in the context it is clear that they are not just disobedient to their earthly parents but it was covenantal against God. There was no indication that they would repent. This is a case where God is more concerned over the influence bad behavior becoming infectious and causing more people to sin. Israel was a very small and close society at that time.

    The truth to the matter is that, it is within God’s justice to wipe us all out at the first sign of sin. He allowed us to live in the hope that some may be saved.

  11. Can you give an example of what else Oakes could have quoted to give a fuller or different meaning on Darwinism?

    The honest approach was, at the very least, to present the two sentences as two separate quotes, and not to pretend that one followed on almost directly from the other.

    I dispute the entire caricature. I guess it must be a lot of fun and boost your faith in atheism to ridicule other people’s belief. If you are interested in being accurate, what brokerage firm does God work for? Was there a contract? What was the title company involved? To refer to God as a real estate broker is completely inaccurate, but I guess accuracy is not important when an atheist is involved right?

    To be honest I am not that familar with the process that I can comment on whether a brokerage firm is required, etc. Personally, I have a problem with God picking out one people as his chosen, and given them a certain bit of land. You do not pick a favourite son or daughter, you treat them all equally. Also, that land gifted from God is a major cause of trouble right now. It is a shame God could not foresee that Oh, well.

    Pix: That would be because on the Pearl Harbour thread where you said “Are you God? You must be, because your statement is a judgment of value. It would also follow that you are omniscient and have the authority to dictate what the God of the OT did was right or wrong. Or else, you statement of value is meaningless.” This lead me to think that only someone who is God, omniscient and with a certain authority can judge if God is doing right or wrong. What am I missing here?

    Tel: The question from the other thread which you continue to dodge was to indicate that you are assuming your role as God when you make you own moral Absolute. And don’t deny you make moral Absolutes.

    You replied to my comment: “Point 3 would seem toundermine Christianity, as the God of the Old Testament does some pretty nasty things.” Looking back, it still seems to me you were refering to my value judgement on God’s acts in the OT. What am I missing here?

    For the record I never said Christians judge God. I said we ask the question under the construct if God is real or not real.

    What does that mean?

    Who is everyone? There are cultures and societies that think it is moral to torture and mutilate their people for sport. Are they wrong under the standards of their society?

    That is right; it is not straightforward is it? There have been Christian cultures where they believed it was okay to burn people to death for having a different religious opinion (same religion, but a different opinion about that religion), where slavery was acceptable. A lot of the Nazi’s were Christians (Hitler made reference to the Christian God numerous times to appeal to them). Are they wrong under the society of their times? And, yes, of course there have been plenty of nasty atheists too. All of us operate in the restrictions of our culture.

    I think (and I accept I could be wrong) that nowadays we have a better morality back then, a morality based on respect for property and person that applies to all people. I judge people agaiost that standard. If you have another standard, we can judge God against that.

    Do you have to assume God is real before this question is valid? If God is real then do you have to right to tell the Maker from which you came that He has no sovereignty over you? e.g. If you’ve made some computers when the concept of a computer never even existed. Some computers malfunctioned and refuse to be repaired. It starts to attack and destroy other computers. Do you as the Creator of these malfunctioned computers have the right to destroy them? Can one of these malfunctioned computer say to the Maker that it is immoral for the Maker to exercise judgment on the computer’s immoral behavior?

    Personally, I can judge people in fiction, in a story, so no I see no need to assume he is real before judging him.

    I am not quite talking about sovereignty here. Does sovereignty put one above the law? I do not think so. I believe in judging everyone to the same standard. So let us suppose we accept God’s sovereignty over us. But let us also judge whether that God is a good one or a bad one.

    As the creator you have the responsibility of stopping them. We are implicitly talking about sentient computers here, right? Do you have the right to destroy all the computers you created, because some or even most were destructive? No! At least, not if you can possibly avoid it.

    I take it I am one of the malfunctioning computers? Well I am not saying the Maker must not exercise judgement; that is not my point at all. This malfunctioning computer is looking at the past history of the Maker’s judgements, and pointing out that they leave a lot to be desired. Why does the Maker feel it is right to destroy so many computers that are operating acceptably, just because some are malfunctioning? How come he has not done anything about any of the malfunctioning computers around today? Have the rules changed?

    No! You must hate your children a lot. If you have 12 kids, one of them starts killing the others off one by one. What do you do? Put him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life? When you talk to him, he denies that you are his father. He insults you and would probably kill you too if he could.

    Actually I would bring them up to respect other people, so one of them does not start kiling off the others one by one. Human parents can do that. Why can God not?

    As an atheist you can do whatever you want. In the context of the Jews at that time, they believe in God. They have the 10 commandments, one of which is to obey your parents. They’ve seen numerous acts of miracles parting of the sea, manna from heaven and water from rocks. They have pillars of fire by night and cloud by day. After all these signs from God, they were still disobedient and in the context it is clear that they are not just disobedient to their earthly parents but it was covenantal against God. There was no indication that they would repent. This is a case where God is more concerned over the influence bad behavior becoming infectious and causing more people to sin. Israel was a very small and close society at that time.

    God is eternal. Surely God’s morality must be too? How then get you talk about “the context of the Jews at that time”?

    The truth to the matter is that, it is within God’s justice to wipe us all out at the first sign of sin. He allowed us to live in the hope that some may be saved.

    That is shocking. Think about the parenting analogy again and see how horrific this really is.

  12. Hitler made reference to the Christian God numerous times to appeal to them

    I see, so now you know that God told Hitler to do it? I guess if someone kills in the name of Pixie (hopeless that’s not your real name) then you must be responsible. I like how the atheist mind works.

    I think (and I accept I could be wrong) that nowadays we have a better morality back then, a morality based on respect for property and person that applies to all people. I judge people agaiost that standard. If you have another standard, we can judge God against that.

    At the end of the day you are very good at pontificating baseless gibberish. What makes your assertion of what better is, better? If you can’t defend why your morality should universally be accepted as better then you are just a member of an atheist group that likes to kill over 90 million people in the name of eradicating evil or what you call “better” . Pixie wants to force his better morality down everyone’s throat. Sure, I can see how your morality works.

  13. I see, so now you know that God told Hitler to do it?

    Do you honestly consider that to be what I was saying? For the benefit of others, this was the complete paragraph:

    That is right; it is not straightforward is it? There have been Christian cultures where they believed it was okay to burn people to death for having a different religious opinion (same religion, but a different opinion about that religion), where slavery was acceptable. A lot of the Nazi’s were Christians (Hitler made reference to the Christian God numerous times to appeal to them). Are they wrong under the society of their times? And, yes, of course there have been plenty of nasty atheists too. All of us operate in the restrictions of our culture.

    I will spell it out. My point was that morals vary from culture to culture, even among Christians. How you get from “Hitler made reference to the Christian God” to “God told Hitler to do it” I really do not know. Maybe I should point out that I do not believe God exists so if does not even make sense that I think God told Hitler to do it.

    I am not posting here just so you can score points. If you want to discuss these things openly and honestly, you can go back and think about what I was saying and respond to that. On the other hand, if you just want to twist my words show your friends how evil the atheists are, I will not bother to post again and I will hope they notice how low you have to sink to make that point.

  14. Personally, I can judge people in fiction, in a story, so no I see no need to assume he is real before judging him.

    Let me put it this way, since we are talking specifically here about the God of the Bible. If you are going to judge Him based on what you read in the Bible then you must also accept the other aspect of this God based on the Bible. IOW, if you assume the actions then you must assume His divinity. My personal view is that any action that God does must be interpreted with the consideration that His omniscient and have full rights over the things He has created.

    I am not quite talking about sovereignty here. Does sovereignty put one above the law?

    I disagree. Sovereignty is above the law. We are referring to divine sovereignty and not human or governmental sovereignty. As a sovereign Creator God sets the laws. Since we are all created beings, which means that any sense of conscience and morality that we have and have not destroyed through our sins, comes from God.

    I do not think so. I believe in judging everyone to the same standard. So let us suppose we accept God’s sovereignty over us. But let us also judge whether that God is a good one or a bad one.

    This is not only at the height of arrogance but at the height of ignorance. If there were any ability for sound judgment that you have not corrupted because of your sin still exists in you, it would be given to you by God. Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who made you? IOW, would you have the same omniscient ability to differentiate what is better or worst the God’s decision? I don’t think so.

    As the creator you have the responsibility of stopping them.

    Now it is a responsibility? What give Him the right to stop them? According to you, they have the ability to judge God and determine if He is right or wrong. Which is it? Does God have the right to rule over the things He created or not? Or do these computers have the right and ability to tell their Maker what His responsibilities are?

    We are implicitly talking about sentient computers here, right? Do you have the right to destroy all the computers you created, because some or even most were destructive? No! At least, not if you can possibly avoid it.

    Actually I think I do have to right to destroy all the computers that I’ve created. However, you are right, not if I can avoid it. And certainly we are not talking about destroy the non-destructive computers because some are destructive.

    I take it I am one of the malfunctioning computers? Well I am not saying the Maker must not exercise judgement; that is not my point at all. This malfunctioning computer is looking at the past history of the Maker’s judgements, and pointing out that they leave a lot to be desired.

    I assume this is the judgment of a malfunctioning computer with very limited knowledge? Are we supposed to take the opinion of a defective created object over the judgment of the Person who made it?

    Why does the Maker feel it is right to destroy so many computers that are operating acceptably, just because some are malfunctioning?

    As far as I know only malfunctioning computers are destroyed. If the Maker’s quality control requirement is 100% error free operation then any malfunctioning computer will have to be discarded.

    How come he has not done anything about any of the malfunctioning computers around today? Have the rules changed?

    The rules never changes. The requirement is and always will be 100% error free operation. But the Maker in His desire to avoid destroying all the computers made great sacrifice and became one of these computers. This Great Computer is able to cover for all the malfunctioning computers who will accept the Great Computer’s help.

    Actually I would bring them up to respect other people, so one of them does not start kiling off the others one by one. Human parents can do that. Why can God not?

    I don’t know why God can’t. Maybe you can help me out with this question. Do you honor God, your Maker? Did you never lied? Did you never coveted? Did you never lusted? Did you never cheated? Did you never use the Lord’s name in vain? Can you tell me why you didn’t keep all or some of these requirements by God? Do your children or other children always accept everything their parents tell them? Part of the risk of having a free will is rebellion.

    God is eternal. Surely God’s morality must be too? How then get you talk about “the context of the Jews at that time” ?

    As I’ve said God requirement has always been the same. How God choose to interact with human can change over time. Israel was living under a theocratic government at that time, now they are a democracy. To those much has been given, much is required.

    tel: The truth to the matter is that, it is within God’s justice to wipe us all out at the first sign of sin. He allowed us to live in the hope that some may be saved.

    That is shocking. Think about the parenting analogy again and see how horrific this really is.

    I disagree that it is shocking. To me if God is truly the Creator of heaven and earth include this speck of dust, I don’t understand why He doesn’t have the right to discard me. After all, I did not come into existence due to any power of my own. Nor am I able to sustain my existence due to any power of my own. Nevertheless, that is not what God did. He provided a symbol of salvation at the very moment of Adam and Eve’s fall. As a parent, I am sure you will appreciate this, would you not sacrifice your life to save your children’s? This is precisely what God did. He sacrificed Himself to satisfy the consequences of our sins. Therefore punishment only comes to those who thumb their noses at God and obstinate in their rebellion.

  15. pix: That is right; it is not straightforward is it? There have been Christian cultures where they believed it was okay to burn people to death for having a different religious opinion (same religion, but a different opinion about that religion), where slavery was acceptable. A lot of the Nazi’s were Christians (Hitler made reference to the Christian God numerous times to appeal to them). Are they wrong under the society of their times? And, yes, of course there have been plenty of nasty atheists too. All of us operate in the restrictions of our culture.

    tel: I see, so now you know that God told Hitler to do it?

    Do you honestly consider that to be what I was saying? For the benefit of others, this was the complete paragraph:

    I don’t know what to make of it. All your criticisms are not teachings in the Bible. When you try to link Christians who are suppose to follow the teachings of the Bible with these actions, it does seem to me as a attack toward God. What am I missing?

    My point was that morals vary from culture to culture, even among Christians.

    First, Christians do not have a culture per se. We have the Word of God and that’s it.

    Do you think the Nazis were morally justified to do what they did according to their cultural beliefs?

    I am not posting here just so you can score points.

    Thank you, nor am I. Besides I am not sure what points are being scored anyway. I do appreciate your dialog. I probably would have prefer to have this on my personal theology blog because this is so much more involved in religion than ID, but that’s alright.

    If you want to discuss these things openly and honestly, you can go back and think about what I was saying and respond to that. On the other hand, if you just want to twist my words show your friends how evil the atheists are, I will not bother to post again and I will hope they notice how low you have to sink to make that point.

    I think distrust and some animosity goes both ways. At times, I think you are just trying to throw flames at my belief system. I do think about what you said. For the record, I don’t think I have ever tried to make you look evil, but I do think the atheistic system is evil or at the very least grossly illogical.

    With that said, let me get back to my point that I been trying to get you to answer. I’ve made the assertion that Atheism is illogical because it is internally inconsistent. This is my working premise.

    My reason is this, since Atheist denies an Absolute then everything is relative. Therefore, there is no fixed reference point to measure against. This would be true for value, morality, good and evil. When you say something is good, you have to compare it to something else. This is still true if you are comparing 2 objects against each other. The comparison would be meaningless unless one of the objects can be established as a reference. The analogy would be in Einstein’s theory of relativity. When you measure the speed of a moving object, you need to know the reference point from which you are measuring against.

    Let’s put this in a realistic context. You would say that it is immoral to murder. Someone like Klebold and the Nightstalker thinks that it is moral to murder. It is obvious that there is a moral contradiction. Using the law of non-contradiction, you can’t both be right. In an atheistic framework, how can this paradox be solved?

  16. I don’t know what to make of it. All your criticisms are not teachings in the Bible. When you try to link Christians who are suppose to follow the teachings of the Bible with these actions, it does seem to me as a attack toward God. What am I missing?

    That does not explain how you got “I see, so now you know that God told Hitler to do it?” from anything I said. If you can explain how you interpreted what I said to mean that, or just acknowledge you made a mistake, we can continue. Otherwise I have to assume you are deliberately distorting my words, and then, what is the point of continuing?

  17. That does not explain how you got “I see, so now you know that God told Hitler to do it?” from anything I said. If you can explain how you interpreted what I said to mean that, or just acknowledge you made a mistake, we can continue. Otherwise I have to assume you are deliberately distorting my words, and then, what is the point of continuing?

    I’ve already said I was not deliberately distorting your words. I will admit to a mistake if I’ve made one but maybe the way you presented your argument had an unintended consequence because you don’t understand Christianity. You presented a list of what Christians believe and their actions because of those beliefs. You said, “Hitler made reference to the Christian God” . As a Christian how am I suppose to interpret that, if you are not suggesting that Hitler is appealing to the authority of God for his actions.

    You said that was not what you meant, so I will accept that, but don’t use this point to avoid our continue debate. I am looking forward to hearing your answer to my challenge that Atheism is illogical because it is internally inconsistent. I am very anxious to see how you will solve this paradox that none of the great atheist philosophers like Sartre, Nietzsche and Camus or any scientists have been able to solve.

  18. I’ve already said I was not deliberately distorting your words. I will admit to a mistake if I’ve made one but maybe the way you presented your argument had an unintended consequence because you don’t understand Christianity.

    I will accept that. But you really need to explain your reasoning when you make leaps like that.

    This is not only at the height of arrogance but at the height of ignorance. If there were any ability for sound judgment that you have not corrupted because of your sin still exists in you, it would be given to you by God. Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who made you? IOW, would you have the same omniscient ability to differentiate what is better or worst the God’s decision? I don’t think so.

    Firstly, as I understand it, the Bible says God did not give us the ability to judge right and wrong; Adam and Eve stole that when they ate the forbidden fruit.

    Is it possible to make something that is better than oneself? Personally, I believe so. Mankind an certain make things taller and strong and faster than a man. That is not to say I think I am better than God, but casts doubt on your claim “Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who made you?”.

    Also, you assume God has the “omniscient ability to differentiate what is better or worst”. That is what we are arguing about.

    Now it is a responsibility? What give Him the right to stop them? According to you, they have the ability to judge God and determine if He is right or wrong. Which is it? Does God have the right to rule over the things He created or not? Or do these computers have the right and ability to tell their Maker what His responsibilities are?

    Sorry, I do not see these things as exclusive. My children have the ability to tell right from wrong, but I am still responsible for their actions (they are all under 10), and it is up to me to stop them from harming others. Are they allowed to judge my actions? You bet! One way that they learn right from wrong is (I hope) from my example.

    I assume this is the judgment of a malfunctioning computer with very limited knowledge? Are we supposed to take the opinion of a defective created object over the judgment of the Person who made it?

    Yeah, a defective created object made by the Perfect Creator. That is the one. You are not obliged to take the opinion of the defective created object, but accept that it has an opinion; do not say it arrogant for the defective created object to ever form an opinion. Then explain why the opinion is wrong.

    As far as I know only malfunctioning computers are destroyed. If the Maker’s quality control requirement is 100% error free operation then any malfunctioning computer will have to be discarded.

    So during the Noachian flood, only the sinful were killed?

    The rules never changes. The requirement is and always will be 100% error free operation. But the Maker in His desire to avoid destroying all the computers made great sacrifice and became one of these computers. This Great Computer is able to cover for all the malfunctioning computers who will accept the Great Computer’s help.

    At the Noachian flood you got killed just for having sinful thoughts (even the evil babies). Today, you can murder and rape, and live to an old age. However you look at it, there are double standards there. God exists outside of time, as I understand it, so before the cruxification is the same as after it. And yet those babies were still killed during the Noachian flood, despite Christ’s sacrifice.

    Tel: If you have 12 kids, one of them starts killing the others off one by one. What do you do? Put him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life? When you talk to him, he denies that you are his father. He insults you and would probably kill you too if he could.

    Pix: Actually I would bring them up to respect other people, so one of them does not start kiling off the others one by one. Human parents can do that. Why can God not?

    Tel: I don’t know why God can’t. Maybe you can help me out with this question. Do you honor God, your Maker? Did you never lied? Did you never coveted? Did you never lusted? Did you never cheated? Did you never use the Lord’s name in vain? Can you tell me why you didn’t keep all or some of these requirements by God? Do your children or other children always accept everything their parents tell them? Part of the risk of having a free will is rebellion.

    Sorry, I do not understand how what you posted responds to my point. Sure people have free will, and sure they can rebel. And it is human nature to lie occasionally, lust, cheat and so on – that is just the way we are made. Even so,most parents (I am hoping me, but itsearly days) manage to raise their children so they do not kill each other. And that is without omniscience!

    First, Christians do not have a culture per se. We have the Word of God and that’s it.

    Of course you do! I bet you live a very different life to Christians in the fifteenth century. I bet you wear different clothes, listen to different music, etc.

    Do you think the Nazis were morally justified to do what they did according to their cultural beliefs?

    No. But I will acknowledge that it is harder to do right when everyone else is doing wrong.

    My reason is this, since Atheist denies an Absolute then everything is relative. Therefore, there is no fixed reference point to measure against. This would be true for value, morality, good and evil. When you say something is good, you have to compare it to something else. This is still true if you are comparing 2 objects against each other. The comparison would be meaningless unless one of the objects can be established as a reference. The analogy would be in Einstein’s theory of relativity. When you measure the speed of a moving object, you need to know the reference point from which you are measuring against.

    Can you expand on your first sentence, in particular exactly what you mean by an Absolute, as I am not convinced of the logic here. Personally I hink there is an absolute morality.

    Let’s put this in a realistic context. You would say that it is immoral to murder. Someone like Klebold and the Nightstalker thinks that it is moral to murder. It is obvious that there is a moral contradiction. Using the law of non-contradiction, you can’t both be right. In an atheistic framework, how can this paradox be solved?

    One way would be to see what works. How does society cope if murder is permitted? My intuitive feeling is that it would not work at all. All the successful cultures have had laws against murder.

    Here is another paradox to ponder. You would say that it is immoral to own a slave. A Christian from the twelth century thinks that it is moral to own a slave. It is obvious that there is a moral contradiction. Using the law of non-contradiction, you can’t both be right. In a Christian framework, how can this paradox be solved?

  19. Firstly, as I understand it, the Bible says God did not give us the ability to judge right and wrong; Adam and Eve stole that when they ate the forbidden fruit.

    That is a misunderstanding of what the Bible said. Adam and Eve certainly had the ability of moral discernment before the fall otherwise the forbidden tree would be pointless. Their sin was to think that by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would be like God. They would have the ability to choose what is moral or immoral, instead of relying on God’s revealed will. This should not be surprising because this is precisely what you and every other atheists are doing.

    Is it possible to make something that is better than oneself?

    That depends on oneself. If that oneself is infinite can you make something bigger than infinity? If God’s judgment is the perfect judgment, can you make a judgment that is better than perfection? You argument is terribly flawed.

    Also, you assume God has the “omniscient ability to differentiate what is better or worst” . That is what we are arguing about.

    That is correct. We are arguing about 2 positions, my position is that God exists and these are His attributes. Your position is that God does not exist and I contend that would be illogical and absurd. So far, I’ve done my best to address your questions but you have not forwarded an iota of argument for Atheism.

    Sorry, I do not see these things as exclusive. My children have the ability to tell right from wrong, but I am still responsible for their actions (they are all under 10), and it is up to me to stop them from harming others. Are they allowed to judge my actions? You bet! One way that they learn right from wrong is (I hope) from my example.

    I didn’t say they were exclusive. You had protested against God for stopping a certain groups of people from killing each other. Now you said God has a responsibility to stop them. I am merely pointed out your contradiction. Of course they are allowed to judge you because you are not perfect.

    Yeah, a defective created object made by the Perfect Creator.

    Did I say that? Is this your attempt at humor?

    Then explain why the opinion is wrong.

    That is what I’ve been trying to find out from you. On what basis can you use to support your opinion as right or wrong over another’s right and wrong? If you are a collection of stardust, what make your opinion more right or wrong over another collection of stardust?

    So during the Noachian flood, only the sinful were killed?

    That would appear to be the case.

    Today, you can murder and rape, and live to an old age. However you look at it, there are double standards there.

    Let me get this straight. You are complaining that God is giving our societies grace instead of justice? I am sorry I will take His grace and mercy over justice any day.

    Sorry, I do not understand how what you posted responds to my point.

    You are implying that you can do it better than God. All I am doing is that you are a rebellious child and God is your Creator. He gave you His guide on what would be good for you, which you did not follow. He became man, walked on earth as an example to you and died for you, but you rejected Him. Until you have a child that is as rebellious to you as you are to God. You question “Why can God not?” is vacuous.

    Of course you do! I bet you live a very different life to Christians in the fifteenth century. I bet you wear different clothes, listen to different music, etc.

    Oh I didn’t know clothes and music is the same as murder and slavery. I was referring to moral culture. To a Christian our moral culture comes from the Bible and that hasn’t changed. People can change, believe, and do anything they want but the Bible hasn’t changed.

    No. But I will acknowledge that it is harder to do right when everyone else is doing wrong.

    Why No! You said, ” My point was that morals vary from culture to culture” In the Nazi’s culture it was moral to kill Jews. Why do you say that is wrong? On what basis do you impose your morality on them?

    Can you expand on your first sentence, in particular exactly what you mean by an Absolute, as I am not convinced of the logic here. Personally I hink there is an absolute morality.

    Sure. Actually, you said what I meant. Atheism that is no absolute morality, IOW, there is no universal truth that everyone must follow. You personally think there is an absolute morality. Is everyone required to follow this absolute morality? On what basis do you form this absolute morality against another?

    One way would be to see what works. How does society cope if murder is permitted? My intuitive feeling is that it would not work at all. All the successful cultures have had laws against murder.

    I guess that would depend on you definition of success. If longevity is the criterion, there are some civilizations with atrocious practices, lasting up to thousands of years.

    More importantly, your answer does not solve the paradox. Even if it works, why would that make it a universal truth? An absolute moral truth is one that is true even if no one agrees that it is true. e.g. Gravity is a universal truth even if no one believes it. The fact remains that if you jump off a skyscraper thinking there is no such thing as gravity. You will still fall to the ground and die. I keep going back to my question, on what basis are you able to impose your morality on others?

    Here is another paradox to ponder. You would say that it is immoral to own a slave. A Christian from the twelth century thinks that it is moral to own a slave. It is obvious that there is a moral contradiction. Using the law of non-contradiction, you can’t both be right. In a Christian framework, how can this paradox be solved?

    First of all this is not a paradox from a Christian framework. This is a paradox for Atheism. Putting the term Christian aside, I can replace it with Pixie and Klebold. I am not trying to duck your question but I’ve been waiting a long time to get you to address this paradox. I need you to address this directly. Why does Pixie think that it is wrong for Klebold to think that it is moral to own a slave? Whether you have to power to stop Klebold or not is not the point. You are making a moral judgment against Klebold. On what basis are you able to impose your view of morality on Klebold?

  20. Hi Pixie,

    A Christian from the twelth (sic) century thinks that it is moral to own a slave.

    I am interested to know what is your definition of a Christian.

    At the Noachian flood you got killed just for having sinful thoughts (even the evil babies). Today, you can murder and rape, and live to an old age. However you look at it, there are double standards there.

    I am not sure at what level your knowledge of the Bible stands. But these claims of yours show that basic understanding is not there. Noah’s “job” was not only to build the ark but also to invite everyone to join him (and repent). He did that second part for over 100 years. So murderers and rapists lived to an old age even than. Did you miss that point? We Christians believe that Second Coming of Jesus is at the door (one can draw parallel to the flood). And “job” of all Christians is to invite everyone into God’s family. You should also note that we believe that Jesus died so that everyone can have eternal life. Hence, God’s intention was (and still is) to save everyone. So how is this double standard?

  21. That depends on oneself. If that oneself is infinite can you make something bigger than infinity? If God’s judgment is the perfect judgment, can you make a judgment that is better than perfection? You argument is terribly flawed.

    If this is your argument, then it should have been mentioned first time around. You said “Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who made you?” Among other things we were talking about the maker of computer programs; your argument is not applicable in that case. It seems that what you actually meant was: “Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who made you, when that Person has perfect judgement?” And of course the fact that this Person made you is irrelevant. You might as well say: “Therefore, how could your judgment be better than the Person who has perfect judgement?”

    The problem now is that you have built your argument of the assumption that this Person has perfect judgement. This is unproven.

    I didn’t say they were exclusive.

    You said: “Now it is a responsibility? What give Him the right to stop them? According to you, they have the ability to judge God and determine if He is right or wrong. Which is it? When you ask “Which is it?”, that sounds to me like an either or choice.

    You had protested against God for stopping a certain groups of people from killing each other. Now you said God has a responsibility to stop them. I am merely pointed out your contradiction.

    I see a contradiction in God stopping people killing each other by killing them and any associated innocents. It would also concern me that the only way we know how mad these people were is by God’s word to his people.

    Of course they are allowed to judge you because you are not perfect.

    Are you implying that I am not allowed to judge a perfect being?

    Is there a paradox here in trying to determine if said being has perfect moral judgement? Or do we just take the being’s word for it?

    Pix: So during the Noachian flood, only the sinful were killed?
    Tel: That would appear to be the case.

    So the new born babies were sinful?

    Let me get this straight. You are complaining that God is giving our societies grace instead of justice? I am sorry I will take His grace and mercy over justice any day.

    What I would demand is consistency and mercy. Punish harshly the murderers and rapists, not just the ones in Old Testament times, but all of them. Look with mercy upon those who occasionally tell lies, have lustful thoughts and so on. This is what own justice system is based on; equal treatment for all, and punishment according to the severity of the crime. That is how I raise my children.

    Perhaps the justice system should learn from the Perfect One. Execute anyone who committed any crime, no matter how petty, before a certain year, but therafter, leave everyone to do as they please without punishment.

    You are implying that you can do it better than God. All I am doing is that you are a rebellious child and God is your Creator. He gave you His guide on what would be good for you, which you did not follow. He became man, walked on earth as an example to you and died for you, but you rejected Him. Until you have a child that is as rebellious to you as you are to God. You question “Why can God not?” is vacuous.

    There are a whole raft of assumptions in that statement. If I have a child, and I never let the kid see me, never talk to the kid, or give the kid any good reason to believe I exist, I would not be too surprised when he refuses to acknowledge me as his father.

    Oh I didn’t know clothes and music is the same as murder and slavery. I was referring to moral culture. To a Christian our moral culture comes from the Bible and that hasn’t changed. People can change, believe, and do anything they want but the Bible hasn’t changed.

    Clothes, music, morality and much more make up your culture.

    But Christian morality has changed. The fifteenth century Christian will see nothing morally wrong with slavery. That is exactly the point. How can that be if the Bible hasn’t changed?

    Why No! You said, ” My point was that morals vary from culture to culture” In the Nazi’s culture it was moral to kill Jews. Why do you say that is wrong? On what basis do you impose your morality on them?

    I believe everyone has the right to an opinion on morality, everyone has the chance to say why their opinion is right (most closely resembles the absolute morality). Sometimes those disagreements are so big and so important that it is worth going to war over it.

    Sure. Actually, you said what I meant. Atheism that is no absolute morality, IOW, there is no universal truth that everyone must follow. You personally think there is an absolute morality. Is everyone required to follow this absolute morality? On what basis do you form this absolute morality against another?

    I believe everyone should follow the absolute morality, they are required to in the sense that you are required to keep to the law. I form an idea of what I believe this absolute morality and you do the same. We have different ideas of exactly what it is, but there is only one.

    I guess that would depend on you definition of success. If longevity is the criterion, there are some civilizations with atrocious practices, lasting up to thousands of years.

    Hey, I never said it was a perfect system. Civilisations are good at devising rights for its own citizens, not so good at the rights of others.

    More importantly, your answer does not solve the paradox. Even if it works, why would that make it a universal truth?

    There is no guarantee it is. How do you get by? You have to decide for yourself what is right or wrong, and hope your answer is the same as God’s. What guarantee do you have that what you think is right is the same as what God thinks is right? Sure, we can agree about the bigs things, but are there situations when it is okay to kill (for example, war against the Nazis)?

    An absolute moral truth is one that is true even if no one agrees that it is true. e.g. Gravity is a universal truth even if no one believes it. The fact remains that if you jump off a skyscraper thinking there is no such thing as gravity. You will still fall to the ground and die.

    Yes

    First of all this is not a paradox from a Christian framework. This is a paradox for Atheism. Putting the term Christian aside, I can replace it with Pixie and Klebold. I am not trying to duck your question but I’ve been waiting a long time to get you to address this paradox. I need you to address this directly. Why does Pixie think that it is wrong for Klebold to think that it is moral to own a slave? Whether you have to power to stop Klebold or not is not the point. You are making a moral judgment against Klebold. On what basis are you able to impose your view of morality on Klebold?

    As I said before, it is my opinion. I have a right to judge others, and they have the right to judge me. I think I can justify my opinion in a way that implies equality for all, and respect for others, which I believe is part of the absolute morality. I also believe society has the right to defend itself, to protect itself from those who threaten its members. That gives society the right to stop Klebold.

    Now how about you address my question.

  22. Hi inunison,

    I am interested to know what is your definition of a Christian.

    Someone who believes Christ is the son of God, that Christ died on the cross, and that if they believe in Christ, their sins will be forgiven. Why is this relevant?

    I am not sure at what level your knowledge of the Bible stands. But these claims of yours show that basic understanding is not there. Noah’s “job” was not only to build the ark but also to invite everyone to join him (and repent). He did that second part for over 100 years. So murderers and rapists lived to an old age even than. Did you miss that point?

    This is true of some of the murderers and rapists, but I am guessing here that life went on for those 100 years. People kept marryng, having families, raising children, right up to the deluge. There were, I assume, some babies born the days before the flood.

    We Christians believe that Second Coming of Jesus is at the door (one can draw parallel to the flood). And “job” of all Christians is to invite everyone into God’s family. You should also note that we believe that Jesus died so that everyone can have eternal life. Hence, God’s intention was (and still is) to save everyone. So how is this double standard?

    Because some people, those born the day before the flood, get to live one day, then drown, without the potential for sinning. Some people become murderers, rapists, and live to an old age. As I understand it, none get eternal life (assuming the only way to eternal life is through Christ).

  23. As I said before, it is my opinion. I have a right to judge others,

    Why? What gave you that right? The U.S. constitution? If you lived in Atheistic Russian a few decades ago, you would have been executed for judging some folks.

    and they have the right to judge me.

    Really? If Klebold’s judgment were that, it would be good to kill you and your family. You would obviously say Klebold has the right. I see.

    I think I can justify my opinion in a way that implies equality for all

    I disagree. We have different understanding of justice, morality, and equality. Your statement is completely meaningless.

    which I believe is part of the absolute morality.

    What are you saying? I don’t want to misrepresent what you said. Are you saying that you can have your absolute morality, I can have a different absolute morality and that is the absolute? Essentially what you are saying is there is no absolute morality, except the absolute of, no absolute morality, right?

    I also believe society has the right to defend itself,

    Why? This right you keep talking about is unproven.

    Now how about you address my question.

    To be honest I’ve already answered your question. In the Christian framework, God is the Universal Moral Lawgiver. Therefore, there is no ambiguity to what is moral and what is immoral. You don’t have to agree with it but there is no contradiction in terms of a reference point.

    Atheism on the other hand has no reference point. This is where the paradox comes in. Throughout the exchange you keep referring to “I” or “my opinion” , this is meaningless. With all due respect, your opinion is vacuous. Your opinion has no more significance than another, no matter how smart or great you think you are. One way to make your Atheistic system work is for you to declare yourself as the universal moral lawgiver. Others may disagree but that would solve the paradox.

  24. Why? What gave you that right?

    Me and society between us. It is part of free speech.

    Really? If Klebold’s judgment were that, it would be good to kill you and your family. You would obviously say Klebold has the right. I see.

    I said he had the right to judge, he has the right to judge killing is okay. Most societies have outawed murder, so he does not have the right to kill.

    Pix: I think I can justify my opinion in a way that implies equality for all
    Tel: I disagree. We have different understanding of justice, morality, and equality. Your statement is completely meaningless.

    My understanding of equality (in this context) is that everyone is judged to the same standards. Why do you disagree with that?

    What are you saying? I don’t want to misrepresent what you said. Are you saying that you can have your absolute morality, I can have a different absolute morality and that is the absolute? Essentially what you are saying is there is no absolute morality, except the absolute of, no absolute morality, right?

    No, I am saying there is only one absolute morality. My morality will hopefully be a fair approximation of that absolute morality, as will yours, but there will both undoubtedly be different.

    Why? This right you keep talking about is unproven.

    Like that God you keep talking about…

    To be honest I’ve already answered your question. In the Christian framework, God is the Universal Moral Lawgiver. Therefore, there is no ambiguity to what is moral and what is immoral. You don’t have to agree with it but there is no contradiction in terms of a reference point.

    And yet the twelth century Christian will tell you slavery is acceptable, while you would not. Both of you would claim to be Christians, upholding the morality of the Bible. But you disagree. How can that be when there is the Universal Moral Lawgiver?

  25. Hi Pixie,

    I thank you for your participation in this debate. I think it is now time to bring this to a close, because we are just going in circles. Let’s each post a closing comment. To make this fair, I will give you time until 1800GMT/1000PST tomorrow to post your last comment on this thread. I will also have my post ready at that time. I will close the comments 2 minutes after 1800GMT. This will prevent us from targeting each others closing remarks and entice us to further rebuttal.

  26. Thanks Teleologist, that seems a good idea. I am posting earlier as I will be busy later; you can please yourself if you want to read what I post first or not. The problem with summing up is that we have drifted around a bit, and it is hard to know what to include.

    Where Does Morality Come From?

    It is my belief that people have evolved empathy, an appreciation for how other like-individuals feel. Cows and sheep have a natural instinct to stick together, as there is safety in numbers, buy I suspect that in more intelligent animals, you need something else to keep them together. Imagine a primitive tribe when the members are able to lie, cheat and murder, but feel empathy towards each other, compared to a similar tribe where they do not feel empathy. The former will survive, because they will not want to lie, cheat and murder so much, and so can cooperate far better. The ability to cooperate (including the use of language) is one of the fundamental abilities mankind has for survining in a harsh world.

    As mankind started to live in larger groups, large enough where the members of the group will not know everyone, this empathy had to be codified in law. Consider now two civilisations, one that has outlawed cheating and murder, and raises children to believe they are wrong; and a second that permits cheating and murder. I think the former will be more stable, and more economically viable.

    An Absolute Morality?

    Even though I think our sense of right and wrong evolved, I still believe in an absolute morality; an ideal of what our morality should be. You asked; Where does it come from? I do not know, but I suspect it just is. We are talking about a mental construct, like geometry. Plato worked out the number of Platonic solids, but no one invented them, they just are.

    Religions (some, anyway) tap into this idea (from my perspective, this is exclusively mankind’s doing remember), creating the concept of God as the perfect morality, and then looking at what that morality actually says. Different religions come up with different answers, just as different cultures do, and different people.

    Who is wrong and who is right? You have to take each moral question on its own and judge the merits of the argument for each side. My view is that one of the basic precepts of the absolute morality is equality; everyone is judged to the same standards and has the same worth.

    Christianity: A Changing Morality

    Christians do not all follow the same morality. A few centuries ago, Christians felt it was okay to burn witches to death, and to keep slaves, but would consider usury a sin. Nowadays, Christians say it is wrong to burn witches to death, or to keep slaves, but have no problem with usury.

    I suggest that Christians get their morality from their parents, their culture and their own conscience, and use the Bible to rationalise their decisions. The Christian from five centuries ago believes slavery is acceptable, because he was raised to believe that, and he can justify that belief by reference to the Bible. Today’s Christian believes slavery is wrong, because he was raised to believe that, and he can justify that belief by reference to the Bible too!

    I do not mean to suggest Christians are wrong to do that. Atheist morality is exactly the same, without the Bible to rationalise it afterwards.

    Morality of the Bible

    In the Old Testament, the most important moral commands (as far as I understand it) are the Ten Commandments. It is interesting that only 2 of these are illegal. But what is puzzling here is what is absent. Why did God not include “Thou shalt not rape”? You cannot have sex with a married woman, whether she agreees or not, but unmarried women are fair game. Does He feel rape is less of a sin than taking the Lord’s name in vain, or than coveting your neighbour’s house? Another odd absentee is “Thou shalt not own a slave”. Rightly or wrongly, the Bible has been used to support slavery for centuries. A clear command on this to Moses would have made God’s position clear, and saved a lot of human suffering.

    In Exodus, God tells the Hebrew women to break the eighth commandment; 3:22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

    How about this for clear condoning slavery (and indeed treating your slaves with cruelty): Exodus 21:20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21:21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

    And this moral lesson on genocide, from Isaiah 13:15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.. Nice. So God is ordering the Hebrew men to rape the women. More importantly for God, these are married women, so this is adultery. God also orders the Hebrew men to kill the children. That breaks another commandment. There is an argument I have heard that the enemy tribe were all sinful, and the world is better off without them. They were probably rapists and child killers, that sort of thing. Even the children were so awful that they deserved being dashed to pieces. How very humane of a loving and merciful God.

    You probably know that there are a slew of web sites that list Biblical atrocities, such as this one. Of course, the Bible has much that is good in it too, I will happily concede. And undoubtedly, all these dubious passages can be explained away. But this book purports to be a moral guide, indeed, the moral guide. How can the perfect moral guide have so much that at first glance is morally wrong? At the very least, a Perfect Being writing the Perfect Moral Code should make it clear what behaviour is right and wrong, so we can make an informed decision.

    But then, we do not necessarily have the choice… Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.. So let me see if I have this right. God gave us free will, so that we could choose between right or wrong. But sometimes he just makes us choose wrong! See also Judges 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: 9:24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.

    I suggest that Christians get their morality from their parents, their culture and their own conscience, and use the Bible to rationalise their decisions. Of course most Christians aremoral people, perhaps more so than atheists. I think that is because they have a greater fear of getting caught (with God always watching) than because they have access to an absolute morality.

    The Same Morality?

    I believe our ideas on morality are not that different. We both agree there is an absolute morality (though you say yours comes from God), and I suspect neither of us is sure exactly what that morality is. We both try our best to guess what it is, and live according to that. And we do that, at least in part, for fear of being found out if we do not, either by our peers or (for you) by God.

    I suspect that the basis of Christian morality comes down to “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” and forget the rest of the Bible. As a morality goes, it might be unrealistic, but is a pretty good absolute morality for us all to aspire to.

  27. Hi Pixie,

    The debate here as I see it revolves around two system of thoughts. The Christian Worldview and the Atheistic Worldview. The Christian Worldview being that God is the Universal Lawgiver and thereby is the constant reference point for all moral, value, and ethical views are judged. The Atheistic Worldview denies the existence of a Universal Lawgiver and thereby having no reference point to compare values, morals and ethics. Each person is free to determine what his or her values are. This lack of an absolute reference point results in an irrational paradox of epistemology.

    In an atheistic worldview, how can two opposite views of morality coexist? If one person view murder as moral and another view murder as immoral. Whose morality is correct? Pixie like other atheists have tried to circumvent this paradox by throwing up smokescreens, such as, what he thinks is reasonable and what he thinks is practical. The key to the paradox for the atheists does not start with epistemology. It starts with, WHAT INTRINSICALLY makes one moral standard more significant than the other?

    For example, I think murder is immoral; another thinks murder is moral, which is right?

    The atheists will appeal to some form of utilitarianism i.e., something that produces a desire result. An atheist will appeal to some practical aspect of a decision. The problem with this is that none of these reasons are sufficient to answer the question of what makes one choice superior to the other. If atheism is right, the animal kingdom is filled with one animal killing another. Many species have thrived amidst of this life and death struggle, maybe Homo sapiens would be better off if murder is considered moral. Homo sapiens is an animal, what makes one individual’s moral choice more significant than another’s?

    The atheists may insist all morality is subjective. I believe that it is wrong but I can’t impose my morality on someone else. Consider these words from an atheist physicist, Steven Weinberg,

    There is no way a scientist [science] can ever tell you how you ought to behave. It may tell you, if you have some fundamental moral principles, how you can satisfy them, how you can bring about what you take as a desired goal. But it can never tell you what your goals ought to be.

    There is a moral order. It is wrong to torture children. And the reason it is wrong to torture children is because I say so. And I don’t mean much more than that. I mean that not only I say so, John says so, probably most of us say so but it is not a moral order out there.

    This is not only an unrealistic position but also an academically erroneous one. For instance, If someone thinks that it is moral to torture Weinberg’s children. Will Weinberg say that I think it is wrong but if he thinks it is moral then let him carry out his moral desire? He will do everything in his power to stop the murderer from carrying out his moral view. Does this mean whoever has more power is the morally superior individual? At some point, subjectivism will always give way to objectivism, as in the case of Weinberg imposing his morality on to the potential murderer. This is effective objective morality.

    At this point, Weinberg becomes the ultimate lawgiver, but this would trigger the logical paradox. The paradox being Atheism denies the existence of an Ultimate Lawgiver, on the basis that there is no God and unable to establish the supremacy of one collection of atoms over another collection of atoms. In the last lines of Being and Nothingness, Sartre wrote, “it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone or is a leader of nations.”

    Now an honest atheist like Weinberg would recognize this contradiction but he doesn’t care and continues to live as if this contradiction does not exist. He is willing to embrace something that is irrational. He is not alone in this madness. I would say that all atheists who denies an Ultimate Lawgiver and behaviors as an ultimate lawgiver is irrational.

    Getting back to the Christian Worldview, which posits a Universal Lawgiver, is entirely rational and logically consistent. The theist has an objective reference point to judge what is moral and immoral. In the same example of torturing children, the determination that it is wrong does not have to stop at Weinberg but it will also apply to someone who thinks that it is moral to torture children.

    It is logically impossible for atheist to attack objective morality in a theistic framework. Their only recourse is to attack objective morality epistemologically. IOW, find some flaw in the objective morals based on subjective moral judgments. Many of the atheist attacks on the Bible are based on ignorance of what the Bible actually said. e.g. slavery, genocide, hell, inequality of women and any such complaints.

    There are a couple of fatal problem with is argument. The most obvious one is the same paradox that it had before i.e., there is no way to establish the supremacy of a subjective morality. These type of attacks on the Bible are rhetorical and not a logical one. Because even if the atheist’s jaundice view of the Bible is correct, there is no way for them to prove their subjective morality is better. When atheists attack the Bible, they are appealing for consensus rather than seeking the truth.

    The most an atheist can do is to hope for a draw. IOW, changing the objective morality into a subjective morality, because an atheist’s morality can never usurp supremacy over a Christian’s morality, otherwise it would become an objective morality. This is important because throughout this debate, Pixie have been saying things like “I think” or “my opinion” . His opinion about what is wrong with the Bible is meaningless unless he can demonstrate what intrinsically makes his judgment better than the Bibles or mine. I’ve asked him repeatedly to show support for his superior morality. He is either too dense or he is deliberately evasive, because he always returns thought process of how he came to his opinion, but never on why his opinion is superior to mine. I will probably post more on the atheist’s epistemological challenges to the Bible on my personal theology blog.

    My conclusion is this, I do not dispute that Christians and atheists can lead a moral lives. An atheistic worldview denies the existence of a Universal Lawgiver and thereby having no reference point to compare values, morals and ethics. This in and of itself is not a problem of the atheistic framework. The paradox comes when the atheists are compelled to live by an effectively objective morality. Objective morality would be irrational in an atheistic framework because there is no way to prove superiority of one collection of particles over another collection of particles.

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