Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Standard Dialogue With an Atheist on Ethics:

What follows is a dialogue I have had with an Atheist on the subject of ethics. You the reader are seeing what appears to be the dusk of the dialogue (This is generally where the Ad hominem insults start to fly). I would post the whole thing but this is long enough as it is. To bring the reader up to speed, the general argument has gone:

1) I asked for a foundation for ethics based upon Atheist Materialism

RE: "Do unto others"

2) Why based upon Atheist materialism should I practice a do unto others ethic?

RE: "Because that is the way you would like to be treated."

3) That simply begs the question.

RE: I hate God.

This is the structure the dialogue goes nearly every time I talk about ethics with Atheists. You will see a nearly identical dialogue to the one I am posting here between me and an Atheist "Jody" in the comment thread of my prior post "Fundamentalist Atheism". What I generally do is bring up something that anybody who is not a full blown Nihilist will find morally wrong and press them as to WHY based upon their worldview. In the following dialogue I have brought up a hypothetical where the Atheist needs to explain why molesting children is wrong. The sad thing is they never can do so. And in attempting to do so they are borrowing from Christianity, and divorcing the ethics from their base which gave them meaning.

Anyway here's the dialogue, I have changed the names a bit:

Mat (short for Materialist):

You again are just begging the question as you say:

[In referring to the supernatural events recorded in the Bible "never happening" because there is no evidence that supernatural things happen]

"No, it’s because there is no evidence for these things having actually happened."

The point is that you reject the Bible's testimony that these supernatural events happened because you say there is no evidence that supernatural events happen. That is the definition of the logical fallacy of begging the question. This discussion could serve as an example in formal logic books of this fallacy because you continue to commit it so brazenly.

"It has nothing to do with “supernatural testimony” (there’s no evidence that the Bible even IS supernatural testimony in the first place, apart for its claiming so and lots of people believing it)."

I don't know what you are saying here. I guess my question is simply what kind of "evidence" do you want or would find adequate to verify supernatural events like walking on water that happened 2000 years ago?

You continue in response to how to deal with the Nihilist:

"Well, the man’s obviously a screwed-up arsehole. What do you want me to say to him?"

Well, you need to be able to give him a reason WHY he should care about his neighbor at all, that's not too much to ask I don't think. It's really the foundation of any ethic. Screwed up seems to be a relative term until you can provide some objective footing for why his Nihilism is "bad" and Altruism is "good". It simply isn't enough to just utter "You should do unto others", that may have worked based upon a Christian foundation, but when you try to apply it to a materialist foundation it simply is a subjective ethic to be taken or left by personal preference.

Do unto others fits the Christian worldview because we believe:

A)Man has intrinsic worth and value because he is made in the image of God.

B) That being the case man's life is precious because man is unique in the universe. Therefore any abuse toward man is not just horizontal against a creature but against God who made man.

C)The ethic is universally binding because it is based upon God's character which is unchanging. Thus, it is not subjective or arbitrary (to be taken or dropped at a whim) because it is based on God who created the universe and is above the universe (transcendent).

D)God owns us and has the right to tell us how to live.

" But is that "morality" in the sense that we're talking about? Has morality simply become what God finds pleasing? Ted [Ted is the Nihilist example I used who is wondering why if materialism is true it is "wrong" to molest children], the jerk, would still be a jerk. He'd just refrain from doing what he was previously doing because of fear of being punished. So all you've really been talking about is how to bring delinquents under control, in the only language they understand: threats of violence."

Well, as you can see from above there's more to Christian ethics than threat, that's a rather crude understanding of Christian ethics. The point is that man has value (Which materialism can never really ascribe to man) and crimes against man are crimes against God who made man in His image. So the message is: Don't do harm to your fellow man because life is precious, it is a gift from God. And yes there is threat of judgement from the God who owns us upon those reject the view of the preciousness of life and break ethical laws.

"So basically, if you didn’t believe in God, you’d see no problem with torturing babies? I don’t think so. I think you’re just more interested in scoring points in this debate."

No, that's not my point at all, I don't think all atheists are horrible people. Some of them are actually more moral/loving than some Christians I know, so it is NOT my point that unless you believe in God you will be a complete wreck morally.

My point is that unless you believe in God you simply can not account for WHY you should be moral to begin with, not to mention what IS moral in any non-subjective sense. So, no I don't think that if you don't believe in God that you will become a baby torturer (My account for why the vast majority of Atheists are moral is because they are made in the image of God and by that fact intuitively know right and wrong although they suppress the truth in areas) I do think that you can't provide any real reason WHY you shouldn't without Christian Theism.

"It’s amazing how preachy fundamentalists can get when discussing morals, but take away God, and they sound more like sociopathic delinquents. They lose their bearings when they don’t have to. Sometimes I almost wish them to stay religious, because goodness knows what they'd do if they took their own rhetoric about the necessity of belief in God seriously."

This again simply is NOT my point as I stated above.

"It is if it invokes unsubstantiated entities. Note throughout all this that, even IF religion gives us a better moral foundation than naturalism/atheism, it still has no bearing on the truth claims of religion. I admit from the outset that the problem of ethics is a hard one, because you have to get into how ethics should even be defined, when it's applicable, whether there are any absolutes or if it's context dependent, where we get our ethics from in the first place, how they change through time, and so on. Perhaps it's an intractable problem."

Yes it is, for the non-Christian. I would also argue you have no standard by which to use the term "better" in regards to comparing ethical systems.

"Saying that God endowed us with kindness isn’t any sort of an answer, though. We just pass on the problem to a supposed higher arbiter, and declare it to be a mystery anyway, because God is profoundly mysterious. It just means that God endowed us with kindness. Why did God do it? Because kindness is “good”. Why is kindness good? Because God endowed us with it."

Saying God endowed us with kindness isn't an answer...Well actually it is, it explains where man's moral sense came from, his Creator. God also isn't shrouded in mystery He has revealed Himself, He has not been silent. "Good" is that which is in alignment with the character of God (who is perfect).

"I wasn’t borrowing it, I just happened to hold it myself, and merely expressed it. That it's stated in the Bible in those words was useful for me because I intended it as a rhetorical overture to show that almost anyone can adhere to it, whether or not they are religious. Please don't flatter yourself by thinking that you own the issue, simply because a manifestation of it appears in your holy book."

Well, it's more than that. My point has been that although you may hijack "Do unto others" it really has lost all true meaning when you set it up on a materialist base. By that I mean you simply can not answer WHY "Do unto others" should be obeyed without begging the question (see the first paragraph). So although you may live out "Do unto others" (and I am sure you strive to, and you should) your materialism can not give you any real reason WHY you should follow this ethic to begin with.

" Obviously if you define “dignity” as being in God's image, then you've won the argument by default, because if there is no God, therefore their can't be "dignity". You’re grasping for wishy-washy, vague definitions that no one can rebuke, and to do that you’re assuming the existence of an unsubstantiated entity from the very outset, without providing any independent reasons to take such an idea seriously. You're using the Bible as a blunt weapon to try to get me to admit that atheism and morality can't peacefully coexist."

Well, actually my point in part is that because we live as though man has dignity, and morals exist, that the only thing that can rationally account for these phenomena is the existence of God. My reason for starting presupositionally with the existence of God is that without Him you can't really sufficiently prove anything whether its ethics, uniformity of nature, epistymology, or the laws of logic. Without the existence of God all of these concepts which we assume and use every day crumble to pure relativism and nothing can really be proven.

As far as trying to get you to think Atheism and morality can't exist, my point is a bit more sophisticated than that. My point is yes you may live morally as an Atheist but you can't be rationally justified in doing so, all you can do is chew the scraps from the table Christian ethical table in our post-Christian age.

"Okay, but since I’m not in the business of violating other people’s dignity, I have nothing to worry about."

Well, you aren't rationally justified for not violating a person's dignity. You probably are a fairly moral person but again you can not rationally account for WHY based upon your worldview you should live in a loving man. That's something to worry about, and again it should concern you that you can't provide any real reason based on your worldview why Ted shouldn't molest kids for fun.

"Strange, I don’t find myself raping and molesting, which I should be given that I don’t have a true moral foundation by which to live by. Oh well, sorry to disappoint you. You probably can’t stand the fact that I’m not doing those tings, because then it would give you so much more ammunition to use against atheism."

Oh no I praise God that you haven't done those things, it shows that you are still in touch with reality to some degree even though you are a Materialist. Again, my point isn't that if people become Atheists they automatically cast of all moral regard, my point is simply they have no objective reason to live morally.

"So basically, it’s either your way, all the way, or chaos and mayhem. It’s not going to happen. If you really need God to tell you how to act decently towards someone else, you have some real problems. I suspect that this isn't in fact the case, but if you're going to use these sorts of piss-poor arguments, it might as well be."

Again NOT my point, that was never my point. I never said anything that would give you the notion that that was my point. My hangup is that if you cant tell a Nihilist WHY it is wrong to molest kids you have a big problem.

"Evolution via natural selection. Yours is nothing but an argument from incredulity. "I can't imagine how we can possibly be endowed with these faculties for morality and kindness, therefore God did it". You ask the question as though yours was the only explanation available, which it most certainly is not. The evolution of altruism and emotions, and what selective pressures favoured them, is a hot topic n evolutionary biology. Your question is banal by its implicit assumption that it somehow CAN'T be answered, unless of course we adopt your explanation."

And here's the rub. Evolution is the magic word that makes all of the Materialists problems go away. Well, if you want to say that I am leaving you with one option as to how ethics can be accounted for, I would simply say the same of you. You leave me to accept a Materialist view and abandon any Theistic one. Evolution may or may not have happened but that does not inherently eliminate Theism.

"Obviously you’re utterly ignorant of human psychology, sociology and history. This is another incredulous type of question. You see absolutely everything through a religious lens, to the detriment of everything else....
No, it’s an appeal to modern science. Appealing to authority is what theists do, and the authority they appeal to is not even required to verify its extravagant claims. (in fact, it’s nothing more than claims) Science, on the other hand, at least provides actual evidence to back up its claims."


Pheh, and the ad homimens start to fly...yawn. Your scientific and I inherently am not because I am religious (false dichotomy), two fallacies here. By the way psychology is pretty weak science if you spent any time studying the philosophy of science.

"Or some nomads who wrote a book centuries ago. And yet, we're to believe that they're more well informed than those "big brained fellows". (could this just be anti-intellectualism on your part? Or do scientists not know a shit about what they're talking about?)"

No anti intellectualism at all, I was just saying you made an appeal to an authority to bolster your argument. You still haven't pointed me to any studies to verify the stuff you said about mirrors in the brain and ethics. Left at that what you said is simply an appeal to an authority which is still uncited.

"“Objective meaning”. Fundamentalists seem to be obsessed with “objective meaning”, as though proximate, human meaning wasn’t enough."

Well, apparently it isn't if you can't explain to a Nihilist Ted WHY he shouldn't molest kids for fun. So I think an "obsession" with objectivity is warranted if without it we can't explain why molesting kids is wrong and sheer relativism is all we are left with.

"They want to believe that somehow the universe owes them something, and that without this something, morality and stability are impossible. Instead of learning to live in the real world like grown-ups and dealing with it, they prefer to talk down to others with their childish myths, holding themselves up as authorities on everything (even those things they wouldn't have a clue about, like biology) and that only they can save the world from God's wrath. Fear and intimidation, basically, and not a shred of credibility. That's a corrupt, perverted foundation for ethics. It's really no ethics at all."

Ad hom, and straw-man in one. Firstly, I absolutely love the natural sciences. I find no problem whatsoever with them and my Christianity, you assume that I am against science because of all the rhetoric of the war between faith and science.

Also, am I trying to scare people with fear and intimidation? Again I don't think "behave or you'll burn" is a Biblical way to account for ethics at all, so this is simply a straw man. And again you might think that fear and intimidation are "perverted" in your subjective little universe but that doesn't make them so....that's that pesky lack of objectivity creeping up to make your moral sentences meaningless.

"Oh yeah, how? I know that fundamentalists like to feel superior to others ("People criticise what you say, but they don't give you credit for how loud you say it" - The Daily Show, of course) and like to view everything through a tiny little lens where things are nice and simple, and there are no greys, just black and white, and absolute certainties. (as if just saying so made it true)"

Ad Hominem again. I really don't think I am better than you Mat, honestly. The only difference is that I have stopped hating God, by His grace alone. Also, you seem to have a LOT of assumptions about Christians that simply are unfounded, maybe you should take some time to really get to know some.

"And you’re yet to demonstrate that yours is anything other than subjective, however much it might be dressed up in the language of being “objective”. I'm asking for independent verification, not just claims of its own pre-eminence."

Well, my point is that without Christian Theism objectivity with ethics is simply an illusion. I have not quoted the Bible and told you "There you go!", I have merely referred to it's claims. So, everything I have said is "independent verification" via indirect logical proof.

You say you are a man of science, when you have two theories explaining some phenomena and 1 has multiple anomalies when it tries to explain the phenomena, and 2 has none which one do you go with? So it is with this discussion of ethics.

" That’s because Ted is a mutt, and if I ever have to deal with him he’s getting a boot up the arsehole. If he were to become a Christian and stop doing these things, he would still be a mutt, because someone who's not a mutt won’t do these things in the first place. You’re only bringing up ways for PSYCHOPATHS to be brought under control, not you and me. (not me, anyway, because I'm quite resistant to mythology)"

Well, the point is that you in your Materialism can't furnish what could be considered an answer as to WHY he should behave differently than a Nihilistic ethic. As for how this relates to you and me, you have a gross inconsistency in your philosophy, you can't account for ethics in any sense that is binding upon others. Yet, you insist that molesting children is wrong for Ted, and would never do so yourself, in thinking this way you are being inconsistent with your materialism. I would submit to you that this inconsistency arises because you are made in the image of God and know right and wrong, yet you have rejected the God who made you.

So, you are like a man who sitting on a tree limb (called ethics) decides to cut the branch from the trunk (called God). Now on the ground (called Materialism) the branch has lost all vitality and life because there is no sap in its veins. So now though you cling to you precious branch of ethics it has lost all vitatlity and based uont your materialism it is simply dead. Ethics is dead when based upon Materialist philosophy, they are the true Mythology, just words without any real life or meaning. So, far from being against mythology you have actually embraced mythological notions of right and wrong when your worldview can give them no base on which to thrive.

"And you’ve failed to demonstrate why this has to be so. You basically just threw around a bunch of self-glorifying statements about “objectivity”, without actually thinking about how you can make these statements truly meaningful in the ways that matter to human beings. You've only alluded to blind sycophancy, not why rational people should take your view of morality seriously."

Well, my point is that there is no morality in any objective sense apart from Christian theism. Anyway, put simply I have not just claimed objectivity I have pointed to it, His name is God. He exists outside the natural world which He made, He owns us because He made us, we are made in His image hence we are moral beings, He has also not been silent but has revealed Himself through His word. It is this God (who you hate and are at war with) that gives moral objectivity to us His creatures.

No rational person would reject this in favor of Materialist ethics which can not tell us WHY Steve should refrain from horrible acts. The problem is that man is fallen, and hates this God and labors with all his might to supress the knowledge of Him like Paul the apostle said. You know this God though you deny Him. My plea with you is to lay down your autonomy and come under His Lordship. It is this God to whom you will give an account, yes there is judgement.Without Him, you have no real moral compass, and with Him you do.

You ask how can a rational person accept this? I ask how can a rational person refuse?

18 comments:

natamllc said...

Bobby

blessings upon you and Lisa and the babies!

I have come to this this morning in prayer:::>

Joh 16:5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
Joh 16:6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
Joh 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
Joh 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Joh 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Joh 16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
Joh 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.


I see that the only way athiests will ever come around is when we pray to the Father in the Name of Jesus that He would send the Holy Ghost to them to convict them of their sins.

Consider those words in John?

What does it say?

It says that the reason is clear why God must come to the world to convict them by the Hand of the Holy Ghost.

Why?

verse nine: Joh 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

hmmmmmm

What does that mean to me?

Well it means I have already passed from judgment and wrath to Life because I was convicted of my sins and I am continually being convicted of sin because I, as Paul and you have come to see this:::>

Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

I come to this also, JESUS CAME IN THE FLESH and DWELT AMONG US!

He also had the same LAW OF SIN AND DEATH TO DEAL WITH IN HIS FLESH.

He, unlike me, was successful in putting down the law of sin and death in His flesh, you?.

I leave you with these words of Paul:::>

1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

michael

Jody said...

Bob, adjust your dress.

Your Slip-o'-the-Straw-Man is showing again.

Ubersehen said...

Yes, Bob, I asked this question on Dani's blog, but the thread quickly moved to later comments. I'll repeat that bit here just in case you missed it:

Phronk and I both laid out fairly detailed explanations for how we could account for why people are generally "moral" [and the origin of ethics] a while back. My question, therefore, is:

How did you (or anyone else) refute these explanations, again? I seem to have forgotten the reasons you stated for their being impossible.

Bob said...

Jody:
I find it absurd that you would call this a straw man, I am honestly wondering if you even know what that means or if you just use that phrase to give the illusion of refuting someone's argumen. This really simply CAN NOT be a straw man because I have all of the Materialists words here, there is no paraphrase of his beliefs. I also as I pointed out in the post had a nearly identicle conversation with you on the comment thread of the other post.

Uber:
Hey nice to hear from you again, you stated:

"Phronk and I both laid out fairly detailed explanations for how we could account for why people are generally "moral" [and the origin of ethics] a while back. My question, therefore, is:

How did you (or anyone else) refute these explanations, again? I seem to have forgotten the reasons you stated for their being impossible."


Well, as I recall you being a Materialist (and hence out of necessity) explained the origins of ethics somewhat evolutionarily. I don't recall the details, but leaving whether or not that it was possible for ethics to evolve this would merely leave us with a relativistic ethical standard. With such a void and need for an ethical standard all we can have is an authoritarian elite govern people and what they say is right is right, a kind of might=right ethic. OR a democratic ethical relativism (like we see growing in the United States) where ethical rights and wrongs are determined by popular vote. Either way we are left with no real ethic or standard and no real right and wrong....we are just left with moral words that have really lost their meaning because they are purely arbitrary.

As far as refuting it, I would say it is just the best you can do the give an explanation for the existance of anomolies in your Materialistic worldview. The problem for the Materialist is simply this: ethics transcend what is, in that they say things in this world should be different from what they are, and ask for things like justice (wherever that comes from in a Materialist worldview). It just seems kind of like an irrational leap to say that an impersonal, a-moral, non-thinking, and unloving universe can produce beings that are moral, loving, thinking and personal. Of course though there are the social/psych-darwinists who say that all of what I just said is just chemicals bouncing around in our brains. Love between a mother and daughter are just chemicals in her brain to insure survival. We are just meaningless bags of chemicals.

What a sad way to see life.

Michael:

Hey thanks for the Words, and yes babies, my wife had our first son last night 8lbs of baby! He is named Caleb.
God bless you Michael.

Jody said...

Bob,

When you take names a person... such as myself...and attach it to a long dialogue that springs from your pen, then refute that with a few more waves of your pen, then yes, you are creating and subsequently burning, Straw Men.

It just seems kind of like an irrational leap to say that an impersonal, a-moral, non-thinking, and unloving universe can produce beings that are moral, loving, thinking and personal.

Irrational? No.

Rare? Uncommon? Exceptional? Extraordinary? Mangnificent, even? Oh, yes. That and so much more.

Love is "...just chemicals in [our] brain to insure survival." But man, what a wonderful adventure that takes us on, time and time again.

p.s. Congrats on Caleb!

natamllc said...

Jody,

question:

Do you know what a CRIME OF PASSION is?

That's when those chemicals take a turn for the worse and you die a violent death because of LOVE!

Bobby,

Add an M, I before C, put an H after C, move the A to before the E and the L, then a space, then put a dot before the B and capitalize it and you get michael b.!!!!

thanks for thinking of me, you low life x hippie freak! see if I am going to do anymore praying for your wretched soul!!!!grrrrr

Jody, that's those chemicals turning against bobby for not naming CALEB michael!!!!

How's Lisa?

Tell her she and the babies are always welcome!

Oh yeah, bobby, it occurred to me these two guys are in the "kind" of THOMAS, won't believe until I put my finger in them holes and hand in that side, if you know what I mean?

mb

Bob said...

Jody said:

"Bob,

When you take names a person... such as myself...and attach it to a long dialogue that springs from your pen, then refute that with a few more waves of your pen, then yes, you are creating and subsequently burning, Straw Men."


So you just call me a liar. No this conversation did take place and yes it did bear great resemblance to yours and mine it too place in the comment thread of this blog's post called "The Rainbow":

http://www.worstgenerationseed.blogspot.com/

I don't know how you can dub yourself as the rational atheist when all you have done in our conversations is call my arguments straw-men and not explain why/how, and particularly with this post which is a conversation between me and an Atheist where I have quoted him directly leaving almost no room to misrepresent what he thinks. To say this is a straw-man is either to be ignorant of what a straw man argument is or to just throw mud at me using logical fallacy terms that don't at all apply.

And to try to make them apply you make wild unsubstantiated charges that I just made this whole dialogue up. I didn't want to use the persons real name in case they would feel uncomfortable getting posted on a blog really haveing no idea what to think about ethics. It was out of respect for the Atheist that I changed his identity.

Jody, you are free to comment or critique my ideas, but why don't you do just that critique my ideas instead of just continuing to make up trumped up charges of straw men. I really want you to feel welcome to comment on and critique anything I have to say, but charging me with lying is simply insulting and below the belt.

But anyway just for fun you also said:

"Love is "...just chemicals in [our] brain to insure survival." But man, what a wonderful adventure that takes us on, time and time again."

Yeah but if it's just chemicals in our brains then it really is absolutely meaningless.

Oh thanks for the congrats though.

Michael:

"Oh yeah, bobby, it occurred to me these two guys are in the "kind" of THOMAS, won't believe until I put my finger in them holes and hand in that side, if you know what I mean?"

Probably so. I miss hanging out with you guys in Eureka, God bless you Michael.

natamllc said...

bobby,

be careful now, if you MISS me too too much I might have to do something about it:)

you know those chemicals in my brain might just act up and ah, what was your street address?

:)

Jody said...

So you just called me a liar.

Poor writing and formatting on your part does not constitute an error on my part.

You introduced your "Standard Dialogue," enumerated your points, then went on to say that the dialogue you and I engaged in was "nearly identical." The only link I can find in that post is to our conversation. Now, in the comments section, you've referenced not only a previous post on your blog, but a post on a second blog, above and beyond your own.

Ugh.

Bob, link.

Be clear in your writing.

Yeah, you do create a virtual opponent there.


Yeah but if it's just chemicals in our brains then it really is absolutely meaningless.

Umm... no. Your conclusion doesn't follow, logically or otherwise, from your statement.

Though I do think we've found the crux of your belief. Specifically, if you aren't told what the meaning of something is, you can't discover it for yourself.

Bob said...

Jody,
Well, like I said it is really an issue of decency. I don't know how this person would feel about me broadcasting our conversation we had in a different forum. You on the other hand came onto my turf.

But I suppose you are right in the future I will be more upfront about who I am referencing. Sorry for any confusion.

Bob said...

>Yeah but if it's just chemicals in our brains then it really is absolutely meaningless.<

"Umm... no. Your conclusion doesn't follow, logically or otherwise, from your statement."

Really? You don't think reducing the concept that humans have sought for millenia called love to a chemical released in our brain strips the concept of love of any real meaning? So when people say that they love their spouse they really mean they are just experiencing a chemical release in their brain around that person...but the word love hasn't lost any meaning. Huh.

So when your mother kissed you good night and said "I love you Jody" the feelings she had toward you which she called "love" were just chemicals in her brain that made her feel attatched to you, nothing more. But again this doesn't strip love of any meaning right?

Ubersehen said...

Well, as I recall you being a Materialist (and hence out of necessity) explained the origins of ethics somewhat evolutionarily.

I did, yes.

I don't recall the details, but leaving whether or not that it was possible for ethics to evolve this would merely leave us with a relativistic ethical standard.

It would, again, yes. The details, in sum, were as follows:

For two individuals to co-exist peacefully, some basic rules need to be in place. If they are not, then one or both of the individuals will feel uncomfortable or threatened enough that they will simply elect not to co-exist anymore. Since peaceful co-existence provides advantages for humans, not to mention most other forms of life here on Earth, it is beneficial to develop these rules instead of simply giving up. We observe this phenomenon all the time, while sitting on the bus, when rooming with another student in college, or when working in an office with one's co-workers. All of these arrangements can confer benefits of some kind on those people involved. When we enter into a new social situation with a stranger, we typically verbally and unconsciously create rules that allow us to exist as peacefully as possible with that individual. The same can be applied to our ancestors when they first began living together. Moral/ethical values, thus, can be explained as learned behaviour passed down through the generations in a combination of conscious choices and unconscious beliefs. That is to say, we are aware of some of our choices, and act on many of our unconscious choices as well, since they have been present all our lives and we haven't necessarily given much thought to them.

With such a void and need for an ethical standard all we can have is an authoritarian elite govern people and what they say is right is right, a kind of might=right ethic. OR a democratic ethical relativism (like we see growing in the United States) where ethical rights and wrongs are determined by popular vote.

Authoritarian elite governments do already exist, if I'm not mistaken, in the form of dictators and the like. And indeed, a certain form of "democratic ethical relativism" has been in existence in the United States, Canada, and most Western countries for a long time now. Obviously, we haven't established a system where there's simply a free vote on every matter, but that was the choice of the founders of the country, and it has worked well enough since that there haven't been too many revolutions. So, since our governments didn't simply spring into existence one day, we can safely assume that our countries' political and ethical systems are founded upon a wealth of knowledge about what worked and what didn't work in previous governments. They're obviously not perfect, but many of the laws that have been put in place are still based upon those basic agreements that were the most advantageous and necessary that individuals made back in the very beginning of co-existence. The rest has been trial, error, and reflection.

Either way we are left with no real ethic or standard and no real right and wrong....we are just left with moral words that have really lost their meaning because they are purely arbitrary.

When you say "real", aren't you actually saying "absolute"? It's not that our ethics and standards aren't "real", it's only that they're relative to our society and circumstance. The thing with humans, however, is that we are inherently aesthetic creatures. We find beauty and meaning all over the place, and have throughout all of history. These "moral words" have substantial historical and social precedence given that they form the backbone of what our society believes. They are not idle opinions that anyone would feel free to change any time they please. Understanding that a held view is relative to the social context in which you hold it does not mean that it is any less binding in a person's mind. This is why we, as members of our particular society, can and do say that murder and rape and the like are wrong, because those beliefs are so deeply held and have so much precedence in the collective beliefs of our society that to contradict them is typically a highly unpleasant experience.

The problem for the Materialist is simply this: ethics transcend what is, in that they say things in this world should be different from what they are, and ask for things like justice (wherever that comes from in a Materialist worldview).

Indeed, ethics provide a framework by which we say "things should be like this". But in the end, they are only as effective and applicable as the societies and people who put them into action. As far as where justice comes from, I'm sure you can extrapolate that from what I've said above, if you've completely forgotten the replies Phronk and I have already given several times on this matter where we accounted very well for where justice comes from.

It just seems kind of like an irrational leap to say that an impersonal, a-moral, non-thinking, and unloving universe can produce beings that are moral, loving, thinking and personal. Of course though there are the social/psych-darwinists who say that all of what I just said is just chemicals bouncing around in our brains. Love between a mother and daughter are just chemicals in her brain to insure survival. We are just meaningless bags of chemicals.

And so, because it seems silly to you, that means it can't be true? That's a textbook argument from personal incredulity, mixed in with a bit of an appeal to ridicule at the end, there.

This argument has been used by so many ill-informed religious proponents that I'm a little disappointed to hear it from you, Bob. You're a smart guy, you should know that you or I feeling that something is ridiculous has no bearing on its accuracy.

What a sad way to see life.

The pity's unnecessary. To me, and many others, it's a very exciting way to look at life. The complexities are invigorating.

Ubersehen said...

Hey Bob, I get the feeling that you're not too keen on responding to me on this one. Am I getting too impatient here, or are you through with this discussion?

Bob said...

Sorry Uber,
I have been pretty busy, you haven't been impatiant. I have honestly thought about what you said a good bit. I honestly do greatly enjoy our talks, you are pretty intellectually honest with your ideas and I really appreciate that.

Anyway you write:

"For two individuals to co-exist peacefully, some basic rules need to be in place. If they are not, then one or both of the individuals will feel uncomfortable or threatened enough that they will simply elect not to co-exist anymore. Since peaceful co-existence provides advantages for humans, not to mention most other forms of life here on Earth, it is beneficial to develop these rules instead of simply giving up.

We observe this phenomenon all the time, while sitting on the bus, when rooming with another student in college, or when working in an office with one's co-workers. All of these arrangements can confer benefits of some kind on those people involved. When we enter into a new social situation with a stranger, we typically verbally and unconsciously create rules that allow us to exist as peacefully as possible with that individual. The same can be applied to our ancestors when they first began living together.

Moral/ethical values, thus, can be explained as learned behaviour passed down through the generations in a combination of conscious choices and unconscious beliefs. That is to say, we are aware of some of our choices, and act on many of our unconscious choices as well, since they have been present all our lives and we haven't necessarily given much thought to them.",


I highlight the first sentence because this is your fundamental presupposition in your view of ethics. Ethics are just something we put in place in order to make society work. To use this as a foundation of ethics will only leave us with hollow moral words. My point is that anytime we make ethical judgements they are not really rational, there really is no such thing as right and wrong just irrational leaps into a pseudo-notion of right and wrong in order to make society work.

So can you explain ethics this way? Sure. But in doing so you have actually gutted ethics of any real meaning higher than this is what we do to make society work better. Rape is wrong not because it is degrading and hurtful and cruel and ultimatly a crime against a person made in the image of God who has dignity and worth, no rape is only "wrong" (a man made catagory) because if don't say it is "wrong" the widespread practice is damaging to society.

Do you see what happens here? The individual is lost. Utilitarianism is modern mans ethical final gasps for any real ethical meaning. This really is tragic. Murder is not wrong because it is a horrible crime against man who is made with dignity and has worth because he is a creature made in God's likeness, NO again if we adopt what you are saying murder is really only wrong because if we don't make up a pseudo-catagory of wrong its uninhibited practice will be damaging to the whole of society.

Again the individual is lost in this notion for the greater good being the foundation for our ethics.

I would also raise the point of a Nihilist and say why should I as an individual give a rip about the welfare of society and others? Sure those you are presenting ideas mave have helped make society stable, but why should I care about that at all? You have freely admitted Uber that ethics is just man-made to make society work, so why should I as an individual man really even care about being ethical/making society work?

You said a very interesting thing in the paragraph I quoted:

" it is beneficial to develop these rules instead of simply giving up."

My heart really goes out to you. I would say in all of this you are really fighting the logical conclusions of your Materialism which really leads to a giving up on the hope of any uniformed definition of ethics. So the best you can do to keep from just giving up is say we should be concerned about society and thus ethics. This is an irrational leap given your materialism. Why should we care about other and society at all? You leap into non-reason and say that we should.

I would say that in leaping into non-reason and being incosistant with your materialism is really you being a man in the image of God. You are an ethical being because God is ethical, you know things are really wrong because God has put a moral sense in you. Now having rejected God you can't really give a genuine account of why we as men think the way we do ethically you create an ethic without God and really one that has no real meaning. All we are left with is arbitrary hollow ethical words.

Ubersehen said...

I highlight the first sentence because this is your fundamental presupposition in your view of ethics. Ethics are just something we put in place in order to make society work.

Right, ethics are a system designed by a society to both explain and regulate their behaviour. They're based on logical extensions of agreed-upon moral beliefs.

My point is that anytime we make ethical judgements they are not really rational, there really is no such thing as right and wrong just irrational leaps into a pseudo-notion of right and wrong in order to make society work.

I'm going to have to contest this presentation of the issue because it isn't quite accurate. Our notions of right and wrong are not irrational; they follow quite logically from the context of the society that expresses them. Each society that expresses its own unique moral perspective does so as a result of the process I've described before. As a result, the ethical standards we, as a society, establish to sustain and regulate these morals are perfectly rational. If we are able to identify what our particular beliefs are, and what values we hold as a society, then a standard of ethics will ultimately follow from there. These ethics are not universal, which is where I suspect part of the hangup lies.

But in doing so you have actually gutted ethics of any real meaning higher than this is what we do to make society work better.

In going by your interpretation of things, you can certainly make the argument for the purely utilitarian perspective on ethics. However, as I explained above, ethics stem from founding moral principles, which are relative to specific societies and, often, subgroups therein. Since these moral principles are derived from the agreements and practices of individuals within those societies (who, likely, have very strong attachments to those practices), we can say that the society's moral principles have not been gutted of any real meaning beyond social maintenance or betterment. Since the moral principles retain their meaning, so too do the ethics that stem from them. This is all very abstract, but I think responding to your next point will illustrate what I mean.

Rape is wrong not because it is degrading and hurtful and cruel and ultimatly a crime against a person made in the image of God who has dignity and worth, no rape is only "wrong" (a man made catagory) because if don't say it is "wrong" the widespread practice is damaging to society.

Indeed, according to the system I've outlined, human society's notions of "right" and "wrong" are man-made categories. They're not exclusive to man, either, since other species have displayed some limited moral traits of their own, but they were certainly developed by humans somewhere far back at the very dawn of humanity.

Now, ethically speaking, you're right about rape. Rape is ethically wrong, according to our society, because it is harmful to our society. This ethical position is arrived at by analyzing the effects of the occurrence of this criminal act on our citizens, where we determine the outcomes based on our moral reactions to it. It's those moral reactions that are the key here. Morally, we are outraged by it. Our developed faculties of empathy allow us to both sympathize with the victims of such crimes and fear for our own safety when we hear of them. These faculties of empathy, I posit, are direct results of the ingrained decisions our ancestors made long ago regarding peaceful co-existence.

So, the moral stance we take on rape informs our ethical decisions about rape and leaves them invested with the meaning that their moral roots afford them.

I would also raise the point of a Nihilist and say why should I as an individual give a rip about the welfare of society and others? Sure those you are presenting ideas mave have helped make society stable, but why should I care about that at all?

This is the point where you veer (as you have in the past) from the now old Descriptive VS Proscriptive morality issue. The issue here that I'm discussing concerning morality has nothing to do with why you "should" do anything at all. You'd be perfectly able to stroll down the street and rape and murder a busload of gradeschool kids and their adorable puppies if you're honestly predisposed towards that kind of behaviour. Just don't expect the rest of society to agree, and certainly don't expect to get away with it. Learned and developed morality can allow for moral stances that deviate strongly from the norm. But the norm is still in place, since morality is developed as a system of behavioural consensus. There are plenty of cases that we can observe of individuals who, for any number of reasons, have defied moral and ethical boundaries and done some really hideous things. But since our social morality rejects this kind of behaviour (as reflected in our laws), we punish those who contradict it.

The ultimate point here is that the moral system I'm describing doesn't function to tell you how you should act. It explains why you act the way you already do. Our ethics stem from a rational and logical analysis of those descriptive moral foundations to determine what we value, and what behaviour will allow us to retain and maintain what we value.

So the best you can do to keep from just giving up is say we should be concerned about society and thus ethics. This is an irrational leap given your materialism. Why should we care about other and society at all? You leap into non-reason and say that we should.

I don't say anything at all about what we should or shouldn't do. Only that we do, and why. As a result, my "leap" is founded purely on observation and explanation and is anything but irrational.

Bob said...

Uber,
Hey unlike most atheists I converse with you are not afraid to follow logically where your views lead, an arbitrary moral relativism. That is why I like to talk with you, you are honest.
Your first to paragraphs in response to me are clearly that, relativistic and ethics based upon man's arbitrary reason.

I wrote:

"Rape is wrong not because it is degrading and hurtful and cruel and ultimatly a crime against a person made in the image of God who has dignity and worth, no rape is only "wrong" (a man made catagory) because if don't say it is "wrong" the widespread practice is damaging to society."

"Indeed, according to the system I've outlined, human society's notions of "right" and "wrong" are man-made categories. They're not exclusive to man, either, since other species have displayed some limited moral traits of their own, but they were certainly developed by humans somewhere far back at the very dawn of humanity."

See this is what I like about you Uber, I am serious, most Atheists would never say what you just said. But what you said is the logical outcome of Materialistic ethics. Most Atheists fight the logical relativistic ethical outcome kicking and screaming, but you are embracing the consequences of your worldview. At least in writing. I would also assert that you don't really live here in relativistic land, you make moral judgements upon other people all the time and believe those judgements to be meaningful, I know this because you are a man. So whether it is the war or some tragedy in the news you make moral judgements upon others and in doing so you are inconsistant to your relativism.

To be fully consistant you need to give up moral judgements all together. If you hear a women being raped in the alley outside your house you can either A)help her in some way or B)turn up your music to drown out the noise both are equally "right" choices in a purely relativistic universe. This would be consistant. Neither A or B is any "better" a choice than the other in a universe where ethics is defined by the finite individual.

Now, ethically speaking, you're right about rape. Rape is ethically wrong, according to our society, because it is harmful to our society. This ethical position is arrived at by analyzing the effects of the occurrence of this criminal act on our citizens, where we determine the outcomes based on our moral reactions to it. It's those moral reactions that are the key here. Morally, we are outraged by it. Our developed faculties of empathy allow us to both sympathize with the victims of such crimes and fear for our own safety when we hear of them. These faculties of empathy, I posit, are direct results of the ingrained decisions our ancestors made long ago regarding peaceful co-existence."

Now Uber, here's the leap I talked about. You don't want to live in the world I just described above where turning up your music to drown out the noise of a rape is equally as valid an ethical choice as calling 911 and getting your baseball bat and driving away the attacker. You don't want to live there and I don't blame you, you are a man made in the image of God and such a world should be repulsive.

Now you make a leap into non-reason here because you assert that society somehow has the RIGHT to dictate ethics onto the individual. The individual is trapped by the consensus of society. And come on lets face it Uber just because the 51% say X is wrong does not make it so! Morality is again just an illusion if it is just based upon consensus we might use moral words but they are just arbitrary and hollow.

Again rape isn't wrong because it harms individuals who have dignity and worth because they are made in the image of God, it is only wrong because the majority think that if the behaviour of rape is left unchecked it could be damaging to society. Again the individual is destroyed by this consensus based morality.

As for our "developed faculties of empathy" they too are meaningless. We have a chemical release in our brain when we see a thing man has arbitrarily defined as "injustice", how sad that is really all empathy is in a materialist worldview, just chemicals in our brains making us feel like we are having a meaningful experience when really we are just fooling ourselves into thinking there is meaning behind our feelings.

So lets sum up where we are:

1)"Ethics" is a catagory arbitrarily invented by men to make society work. (Relativism)

2)Things like rape are wrong not because human beings have any real dignity or worth but because 51% of society thinks it will be helpful to outlaw things like rape. (loss of individuality)

3)Empathy, or compassion for our fellow men in straits really is just an evolved chemical reaction to give our moral judgements a sense of meaning when really any moral judgement we make is arbirtrary (One is equally justified in turning up his music when he hears a rape in the alley as to call 911), so we have over time learned to fool ourselves into thinking our moral volitions are meaningful when they are arbitrary and meaningless. This is empathy.

This is tragic, but this is what happens when we reject the God who made us.

"
This is the point where you veer (as you have in the past) from the now old Descriptive VS Proscriptive morality issue. The issue here that I'm discussing concerning morality has nothing to do with why you "should" do anything at all. You'd be perfectly able to stroll down the street and rape and murder a busload of gradeschool kids and their adorable puppies if you're honestly predisposed towards that kind of behaviour. Just don't expect the rest of society to agree, and certainly don't expect to get away with it."


Well this is my point Uber, you simply cant give a real reason why doing those above actions is in fact wrong. Sure I might go to jail but did I do anything that is REALLY wrong?

You see Nihilism is the logical end of Atheism. But you don't want to go there, you don't want to live in that world again because you still have God's stamp on you. Your outrage over the horrible tragedies you here about is not just because you have been conditioned to think a certain way and now when you hear of a school shooting you have an evolved chemical reaction that we call sorrow. You feel sorrow and outrage because you are made in God's image and are a moral being, that is why you care for others, not because of some conditioning or chemicals in your head (although I think that is half the picture we do have chemical releases for certain emotions, the funny thing is that it's often the same chemical for polar emotions like joy and sorrow).

Nihilism is the logical outcome of your Materialism. The idea that right and wrong really exist when it is just 51% votes arbitrarily deciding upon catagories of right and wrong is the leap into non-reason. Morality is a facade in such a system, Nihilism is the logical end.

"The ultimate point here is that the moral system I'm describing doesn't function to tell you how you should act. It explains why you act the way you already do. Our ethics stem from a rational and logical analysis of those descriptive moral foundations to determine what we value, and what behaviour will allow us to retain and maintain what we value."

Then it is an utter facade. You are just toying with moral words with no real meaning.

"I don't say anything at all about what we should or shouldn't do. Only that we do, and why. As a result, my "leap" is founded purely on observation and explanation and is anything but irrational."

Then I would say you were just playing games with ethical words. If your ethical system can not answer why man should be moral what good is it at all? That's fundamental to any ethical system.

All we are left with is power, the power of the 51% enforcing their arbitrary ethical opinions upon everyone OR like we see in the Communistic and Totalitarian countries an elite by brute force making a society comply to their arbitrary ethical system.

But in admitting you can not answer the fundamental why's you are being consistant, when ehtics and morals is just a made up system with no real meaning they whys can never be answered. Most Atheists haven't faced up to this and keep irrationally fighting to be able to answer. So you are closer to full blown Nihilism and thus closer to being fully consistant. My prayer is that God would open your eyes, and that you would see that the Bible does answer all of modern man's questions if we honestly come to it. It and it alone answers the why's which you admit you can not.

Ubersehen said...

Bob,

A nice thorough swing at my argument, I appreciate it. All in all, however, I don't think you fully grasp the realities and implications of the position I'm taking on this matter. Hopefully the responses that follow will clarify this.

Most Atheists fight the logical relativistic ethical outcome kicking and screaming, but you are embracing the consequences of your worldview. At least in writing. I would also assert that you don't really live here in relativistic land

No, I most certainly do live in "relativistic land". The problem I see has to do with your limited view of what this "relativistic land" actually looks like. Indeed, the picture you paint based on your interpretation of my point sounds awful and barbaric. Fortunately for all of us, it's not quite accurate.

you make moral judgements upon other people all the time and believe those judgements to be meaningful, I know this because you are a man. So whether it is the war or some tragedy in the news you make moral judgements upon others and in doing so you are inconsistant to your relativism.

Haven't I already described where these moral judgments come from? Simply because a moral judgment is relative, doesn't mean that it is not widespread. A moral belief can be expressed by 99.9% of the population of our planet and still be relative (In fact, I'd posit that this is often the case). It also doesn't mean that it isn't deeply ingrained in our respective psyches, since the vast majority of these moral stances have been ingrained in us since birth, a trend that goes back for generations upon generations.

To be fully consistant you need to give up moral judgements all together. If you hear a women being raped in the alley outside your house you can either A)help her in some way or B)turn up your music to drown out the noise both are equally "right" choices in a purely relativistic universe.

I think that you confuse "relativistic" with "amoral" or "unfeeling". Relativism does not automatically imply some sort of moral vacuum where everyone makes completely objective conscious choices about how to approach moral issues every time one arises. That is the sort of situation you're describing, and it simply doesn't represent what I'm saying. In fact, I think I've been pretty clear already about how widespread moral agreement can arise in a relativistic society.

Now you make a leap into non-reason here because you assert that society somehow has the RIGHT to dictate ethics onto the individual.

I've never made a statement about society's "right" to do anything, on a universal scale. I've merely described how and why it does. The closest a society comes to achieving a "right" to do something is through the general consensus of its members. You mention this, too, but then go on to say "And come on lets face it Uber just because the 51% say X is wrong does not make it so!. And this is the bit that strongly misrepresents the argument I'm trying to make here. Morality is not a democratic process where a 51% majority gets to have their views established as the unconscious founding principles practiced by a society. If you recall, I started off my explanation of the origins of relative morality by talking about agreement between individuals on specific behaviours. If three of our ancient ancestors got together and discussed whether or not it would be best to live together for protection, and one thought it would be a good idea that he should be allowed to kill one or both of the others if they pissed him off while the other two disagreed, well, then, the three of them probably wouldn't be living together. The two that agreed would form a micro-society based on their collective ideas and the third would be left to his own devices, and the weaker for it. Where there are moral beliefs in a society, particularly those supported by ethical conclusions, it is typically in the presence of overwhelming agreement in the order of 99+%, not the laughable 51% you suggest. Oftentimes, the view is so widespread that it appears absolute.

Again rape isn't wrong because it harms individuals who have dignity and worth because they are made in the image of God, it is only wrong because the majority think that if the behaviour of rape is left unchecked it could be damaging to society.

Hold on a second here, I didn't say that it's wrong only because of the damage it inflicts on society. Did you miss or just ignore the part where I distinguished between a society's ethical perspective and their moral perspective?

As for our "developed faculties of empathy" they too are meaningless. We have a chemical release in our brain when we see a thing man has arbitrarily defined as "injustice"

This is just a rewording of the appeal to ridicule you made a few comments back, not to mention a gross oversimplification of the chemical process you're attempting to address. Even if we were nothing but a bag of meaningless chemicals going through a series of reactions, the important point is how these reactions affect us, and how we feel and behave as a result. Not liking it as an explanation doesn't affect it's accuracy, or the way it feels to experience it.

So lets sum up where we are:

1)"Ethics" is a catagory arbitrarily invented by men to make society work. (Relativism)


I get the feeling that you're not reading some of what I've said too clearly, or are deliberately misrepresenting the argument out of contempt. The creation of human "Ethics" is not arbitrary. It is derived from the real and defined moral beliefs and practices of the respective society that is creating them.

2)Things like rape are wrong not because human beings have any real dignity or worth but because 51% of society thinks it will be helpful to outlaw things like rape. (loss of individuality)

See my previous comments regarding this "51%" business. Relative morality is not democratic, and has far more personal and emotional ties than the utilitarian slant you've put on it. Remember, from the bottom up, not from the top down.

3)Empathy, or compassion for our fellow men in straits really is just an evolved chemical reaction to give our moral judgements a sense of meaning when really any moral judgement we make is arbirtrary (One is equally justified in turning up his music when he hears a rape in the alley as to call 911), so we have over time learned to fool ourselves into thinking our moral volitions are meaningful when they are arbitrary and meaningless. This is empathy.

So, for something to be meaningful, in your eyes, it must be meaningful to every living being everywhere? The moral judgments that we, as a race, make are most certainly not arbitrary within the society that makes them. That society might be my neighbourhood, my country or my planet, but views developed and held within a given social context have plenty of meaning within that context.

Well this is my point Uber, you simply cant give a real reason why doing those above actions is in fact wrong.

When you use the word "wrong" this way, you load it secretly with the preceding companion term "absolutely". With this in mind, I would answer: Yes, I simply can't give a real reason why doing the above actions is absolutely wrong. But since we're both well aware that I don't go in for moral absolutes, this shouldn't come as a surprise. The time you spent in jail as a result of your child-and-puppy rape-and-murder would be as a result of the views of the society you committed the act in. If you did such a thing in a society that condoned that sort of behaviour, obviously you'd be morally in the right from their perspective. The odds of such a society existing are ludicrous to consider, but the point still remains.

Then it is an utter facade. You are just toying with moral words with no real meaning.

If by "real", you mean "absolute", then I'd agree, they have no absolute meaning. But the meaning, whether you like it or not, exists within their respective social contexts, if only because those very societies give them that meaning. Again, self-ascribed, from the bottom up.

Then I would say you were just playing games with ethical words. If your ethical system can not answer why man should be moral what good is it at all? That's fundamental to any ethical system.

My ethical system can answer why man should be moral within the social context from which his morals stem. The authority of a set of ethics only reaches as far as the societies whose beliefs agree with their foundations.

All we are left with is power, the power of the 51% enforcing their arbitrary ethical opinions upon everyone OR like we see in the Communistic and Totalitarian countries an elite by brute force making a society comply to their arbitrary ethical system.

I hope I've already shown, now, how this is a false dilemma.

But in admitting you can not answer the fundamental why's you are being consistant, when ehtics and morals is just a made up system with no real meaning they whys can never be answered.

Another misrepresentation. Morals and ethics are not "just made up"; they are, first of all, two distinct sets of values. Morals, as I've explained, developed (as opposed to being "made up") by providing biological advantages and through experience, while ethics are logical conclusions and extensions designed to explain and proscribe the morals that already exist.

One of the main difficulties that we're experiencing here (that I need to reinforce again) is that we're also arguing from two different views on the nature of ethics. I've been speaking largely from the perspective of Descriptive Ethics, whereas you've been replying in terms of Normative (Prescriptive) Ethics.

And, ultimately, the prayers regarding God opening my eyes are appreciated, but unnecessary. That's all for now.

Ubersehen said...

On a side note, I just discovered that I've been using the the term "proscribe" all this time when I should have been using the term "prescribe". The two have different meanings, and so the instances where I've used "proscribe" and any of its variants should be thought of as "prescribe" instead.

My apologies.