Monday, December 13, 2010

Godlessons Slips Up Again

I decided to watch one of Godlesson's videos on youtube where he goes on about his moral relativism and how there's no proof of objective morality. Of course I had to challenge that. Some cliche things regarding the moral argument were said, but it got to a point where we began discussing one aspect of his video where he criticizes another video blogger for arguing from emotion. I asked him what was wrong with that. He responded:

Do you understand what 'argument from emotion' is? It is a logical fallacy. It doesn't help get to the truth, and if the truth is the ultimate goal, you should avoid it. If the ultimate goal is to sway weak minds, make use of all the logical fallacies you want.

Apparently he hadn't gotten my point yet, so I pressed him on it:

What's wrong with logical fallacies? Who says they are wrong? Who says the truth is what we should get to? Why is it wrong to come to false conclusions?

To which he responded:

I think the fact that you even ask why it's wrong to come to false conclusions shows how little you care for the truth. Why do you argue if you don't think it matters? If you don't think what you believe is true, why argue about it?

I think most of you can see where I was trying to lead the conversation here. He's saying it is wrong to reason incorrectly. As my logic teacher said, there is a moral component to reasoning. It is wrong to not try to discern the truth. My point is that godlessons is adhering to an objective standard here, when he says one doesn't exist. But these moral relativists always become moral objectivists at some point. Just like the Arizona Atheist got upset when he thought I was being rude to him, so has godlessons in the past. They don't really believe this drivel, they only say they do to avoid the truth of the divine judge who sees the sins they commit.

15 comments:

Byron said...

There is another possibility here as well, which does not require the theistic view of a divine being observing and judging "sins" (transgressions against its stated requirements or failure to measure up to its standards of behavior). I think it is possible that objective morality and ethical systems of reasoning can and must exist simply because we are finite creatures with limited abilities. There are only so many variations of possible ethical reasoning, due to the finite nature and neural limitations our brains at the current point of human evolution. We reason the way we do, with the limitations and motivations we possess, because of our evolutionary status. As we evolve our capabilities and therefore our systems of reasoning will most likely change, but, if we had complete knowledge of how our brains operated in the past at the level of neurons and nerve impulses, and the ability to analyze that information, we would very likely have the ability to quantitatively define our system of ethics (in the past) and also possibly predict our future development.

Just thinking out loud, but it's a thought.

bossmanham said...

But that's not objective, and you really have nothing that would tell people that they ought to adhere to the definition that could be developed.

Byron said...

But, I do not need anything to tell people "they ought to adhere to the definition" because in my thinking, my view is simply an appeal to our basic human nature. It would be much like holding a conversation with a puddle and trying to convince it to adhere to its current shape determined by the type of depression in the ground, though admittedly, it is not determined that exactly.

I mean, what is objective? What is your reference point? Why does it have to be god, in general, or the Christian god in particular? The reference point could simply be an appeal to the state of the naturalistic universe as it currently operates, and be no less objective for what we can measure with our five senses and capability of reason. A supernatural reference point does not seem necessary for objectivity to exist, and must be assumed (even presupposed) it seems to me, because physical evidence of it seems lacking (even with Romans 1 to the contrary). The only possible explanation is not "god" and it's certainly not the most probable one in this case, I think.

Anyways, I'm not trained in logic or philosophy, so I am just tossing our my thoughts (consider them questions without the proper punctuation if that helps).

bossmanham said...

Byron, the reason morality is discussed is because people don't always adhere to it.

Your thoughts are purely speculative and really doesn't advance the discussion. I understand you were just thinking out loud, but it doesn't really solve anything Human nature, on atheism, is contingent on our evolution. Therefore, any morality that emerges from that nature is purely subject to that contingency. That isn't objective, it's subjective.

Also, human nature couldn't be normative on this view. Each individual would have their own nature (since it would be material), and while many natures would be similar, none would be the same and there would always be the mutant with a different genetic strain completely changing that nature. But if morality flows simply from this material nature, then it's relative to the individual and can't be normative. So you'd either need to convince these mutants that they ought to act as others do, which you have no grounds to do, or accept their morality, since they can't not have it; it's their nature!

Something that is objective is something that is true no matter what anyone thinks. Whether you think it or not, there is a tree in my front yard. Something that is subjective depends on what people think about it. Chocolate is delicious depends on people actually thinking that. If we had evolved slightly differently, there may be no person that could stomach chocolate. Therefore, chocolate would not be delicious. But there'd still be a tree in my front yard.

If God exists, and morality is measured by His essential moral nature, then that would be an objective morality. It's true no matter what anyone says or thinks, and it's a necessary truth. Not only that, all would be under that morality in light of being in God's universe and under His laws.

The operations of the universe are completely amoral. Only people can perform moral actions. Rotating planets are neither morally good nor bad. Nor can they hold anyone morally responsible for something. Only a person can do that. Material processes simply cannot be considered a moral basis. And if all we are is material processes, then we couldn't be moral either.

A supernatural reference point does not seem necessary for objectivity to exist

For moral objectivity it would.

Anyways, I'm not trained in logic or philosophy, so I am just tossing our my thoughts (consider them questions without the proper punctuation if that helps).

That's fine. You seem quite thoughtful.

Byron said...

But chocolate has a certain "taste" (according to our taste buds and tasting abilities) but even besides that, it has certain chemical properties. Taste could be scientifically defined in terms of quantitative properties, when given all the necessary data: chemical properties, taste bud functionality, chemical interactions, etc. With this knowledge, it could be known exactly what chocolate would "taste" like given all the relevant properties and functionality of the objects involved. And it could be done in purely naturalistic terms. I agree the existence of a god would be an objective reality, but so are the chemical properties of chocolate.

Morality can still exist simply as an invention of the human mind, as well, or rather, as an extension of our evolved system of ethics. Some morality use human interactions as the reference point. But some use a particular concept of god as the reference point. The key here is the *concept* of the god(s) being referenced, as being all that is necessary for the existence of the religious morality in question. A(n) actual god(s) referenced by that particular concept simply is not necessary for the religious morality built upon that concept to exist. So my concern becomes more than, is this religious reasoning properly defined and consistently applied, but also whether or not its foundation is likely, or even plausible.

I have to agree that the operation of the planets and all that would be considered amoral, but then again that is also only from the human reference point. From God's reference point in Genesis, everything that He created was deemed very good. That seems to me to be a moral statement from a particular god singularly responsible for creating the universe. But then again, that seems to be a presupposition that this god exists and everything refers ultimately to his nature and morality. I'll have to think more about that.

The Apologetic Front said...

Its amazing how atheists just don't get it sometime. When you challenge their epistemology, they act as if we are the ones advocating rational absurdities. But the point is, their epistemology is essentially arbitrary and baseless.

Byron said...

Hello, TAF. I'm sure there are many things I don't get. But would you care to interact with anything I actually wrote? Theists seem very strong on claims of objective truth, but they are often, without realizing it, arguing from subjective interpretations of their own holy books and religious dogma, i.e., religious concepts. Can a theist prove that his religious morality is truly objective? I doubt it, personally. But I just like talking about this stuff.

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Bryon, my comment was a response to the blog itself, not anything you had written in the comments.

As for my proving that my religious morality is objective, I have an objective source as my ultimate authority: the Bible. It is objective on the basis of its role as the authority whether everyone agrees with it or not.

That is, I can say that its objectively wrong to molest and murder children for fun. Can you say the same?

bossmanham said...

But whether chocolate is delicious or not is up to the individual. That it has taste is not the issue. That an action is done isn't either. It's whether the action is right or wrong.

Morality can still exist simply as an invention of the human mind, as well, or rather, as an extension of our evolved system of ethics.

Not an objective morality. That's the point I've repeated three times.

From God's reference point in Genesis, everything that He created was deemed very good.

Yes, what God had done was morally good. Also the quality of creation was good. But what the impersonal parts of creation do is amoral.

Byron said...

bossmanham,

But "objective" does not have to be defined absolutely, with reference to a superior relationship to humans. When one makes appeal to something that is "objective," they do so using limited capabilities of sensory input and/or reason. I cannot prove that the "tree" actually exists, and neither can you, even if we both experience and agree that it is there, and find out that the existence of the "tree" is both repeatedly testable and able to be verified independently of our own being by others. Naturally, I don't want to go that direction. I am just bringing it up because I think that your standard of what is "objective" or not is itself subjective due to our own inherent limitations of being. I have no problem, however, conceding to you that if the Christian god exists, then he is the absolute standard of reference for all objectivity, but I think the burden of proof is on the theist to prove that he exists, and not simply quote favorite portions of Romans 1 in response. I say that respectfully.

TAF,

Now I grant that you do have a point, if and only if the Bible is true (actually, it would have to be more than true, I think, and must possess the qualities of being infallible and inerrant in that case). However, I believe that the assertion that the Bible is an objective and supreme source of authority is a presupposition, very similar to claims for other holy books. Can a Christian objectively prove that the Bible is objectively true? I say no. But apologetics says yes, and there are many attempts to prove so (BTW, I like William Lane Craig, though I prefer the theology of James White of AOMin). With what I said to bossmanham above, I would say I know that it is wrong to "molest and murder children for fun" or for any other reason, but due to the ethical system I possess psychologically and socially thanks to evolution. I might be force to concede that such is not entirely objective by your standards and that of bossmanham, but I would say that true objectivity cannot be known because we cannot measure it or prove that it exists with our limited capabilities in such a way that would satisfy your requirements. It's a thought, anyway.

The Apologetic Front said...

Byron, I am one of those that hold that the truth of the Bible is an essential presupposition that one must hold to have a consistent and rational epistemology. In other words, without the Bible, you can't prove anything. This is different from other holy books because I know of no other religion that presupposes their books in this sense.

I don't doubt that you see molesting children for fun is wrong. But the problem is, your assertion is based upon the firing of neurons in your brain. Therefore, your "morality" cannot go beyond what you posit to be good or bad. Thus, when I argue for an objective morality, on what basis can you disagree with me? Your epistemology ultimately reduces to absurdity because on one hand, morality is subjective. But on the other hand, you disagree with my stance on objective morality because...it disagrees with your subjectivity?

It sounds to me like you argue for subjectivity until you get challenged on it. So in the end, you have no basis by which you can know which is correct: subjective or objective morality. Each is simply the product of evolution.

Byron said...

TAF, OK, I see your point, I think. My question would concern whether or not I have any good reason for accepting and sharing your presupposition concerning the Bible. My own presupposition would be that the universe is purely natural, and that your own thought processes have subjectively defined and asserted your concept of "objective" truth. I certainly can't prove my assertion, unfortunately. But mine would even allow for the false concept of "objectivity" due to our own restraints of intellectual function and ethical logic. In order to accept your presupposition, no offense, but I would have to just decide I wanted to do so, in the absence of evidence or reasoning in its favor best that I can tell. But you have given me something to think about; thanks.

The Apologetic Front said...

Byron, points taken. Thanks for the interaction :-)

bossmanham said...

But "objective" does not have to be defined absolutely, with reference to a superior relationship to humans.

I've already defined what an objective morality would be. Any other morality would be subject to the whims of people.

When one makes appeal to something that is "objective," they do so using limited capabilities of sensory input and/or reason. I cannot prove that the "tree" actually exists, and neither can you, even if we both experience and agree that it is there, and find out that the existence of the "tree" is both repeatedly testable and able to be verified independently of our own being by others

None of this is really relevant.

I am just bringing it up because I think that your standard of what is "objective" or not is itself subjective due to our own inherent limitations of being

No, it would be objective because it would be true no matter what I or you think.

but I think the burden of proof is on the theist to prove that he exists,

You can check out a lot of good stuff on the existence of God in many many places. The moral argument is one of those. I have found that the Christian worldview is the only one that allows me to have a consistent set of beliefs. Plus it just makes a lot of good sense.

Byron said...

bossmanham,

Yes, you have already defined objective morality, and I conceded that if your definition of it describes something that actually exists, then it would indeed be authoritative. I think though that all forms of morality are subjective according to your standards, because they are all based on the "whims" of the people. The assertion of objective morality requires the presupposition of a being you call god.

Then the whole paragraph you marked irrelevant is actually relevant, though I was just saying that to illustrate a possibility, not as a position I necessarily wish to argue.

I agree that Christianity, in most expressed forms that I have seen (such as yours), is consistent and even makes "lots of good sense." I concede that. The problem for me is that it also required me to accept a host of presuppositions that I despaired of finding enough evidence to support when I finally decided these beliefs needed to be tested by reason and available evidence and not simply accepted "by faith" as it were.

My fatal flaw has been my ultimate inability to exercise and sustain saving faith according to Christian theology. Because I was a Calvinist, I have pondered whether I was simply not a member of the elect at all, currently saved but experiencing a very dark spiritual time in my life lately, or that god simply is not there. So far I have chosen door number three. A true Arminian of the classical stance may say that I have genuinely lost my true faith. A Southern Baptist might make appeal to the ultimate efficacy of the "sinner's prayer" regardless of my current lack of belief or future actions (something I think is unbiblical personally, and I would hope you would agree), or more likely, that I was never saved in the first place due to lack of sincerity and genuine repentance. All I can do is question the wisdom and/or goodness of the Calvinist/Arminian god whom possesses the omniscience to foresee my eternal destiny, and even if it is to be forever damned, decided to create me anyway (for the Calvinist god's glory, or for the Arminian god's eternal regret). I am sorry, but I simply do not get it.

Anyways, best wishes. Thank you for your interaction. Sorry for trying so hard to press a certain point, but I was trying to make myself understood. I am not familiar with the Arminian position, so I may have been guilty of putting words in your mouth. That's not my intention.