Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Debates, Morality | 264 comments

Still a cracking debate – Kagan vs Craig

This is still a fantastic debate, primarily because of the format. After 40 minutes, they sit down and thrash it out, mano a mano. Do you need God for morality?

In case you were wondering, the answer is no.

  • Luke Breuer

    If I were to try to argue that God is necessary for morality, I would argue that for the universe to have a moral structure—such that moral infractions (sin) have guaranteed negative consequences—means God exists. If there are no such “guaranteed negative consequences”, then I can ‘cheat’ from time to time and never suffer for it. Well, statistically I will not suffer as much as I benefit. After all, I will die at some point, so I won’t be around for the longest-term consequences.

    Whether or not this is a good argument, I do not know. These days, many meta-ethicists don’t think of there being actual moral laws that are like physical laws. Instead, if moral laws exist, they’re kind of like building codes: if you don’t build your buildings according to them, the shoddy construction will be more likely to collapse. But these kinds of morals might be better called ‘ethics’, as in the ethics required for modern science to proceed (e.g. sufficient honesty).

    • Andy_Schueler

      If I were to try to argue that God is necessary for morality, I would argue that for the universe to have a moral structure—such that moral infractions (sin) have guaranteed negative consequences—means God exists. If there are no such “guaranteed negative consequences”, then I can ‘cheat’ from time to time and never suffer for it. Well, statistically I will not suffer as much as I benefit. After all, I will die at some point, so I won’t be around for the longest-term consequences.

      Whether or not this is a good argument, I do not know.

      It isn´t. Your argument boils down to “if there is no guaranteed punishment for every moral transgression, then there is no morality”. Blatant non sequitur.

      • Luke Breuer

        Why not cheat, if I can have high confidence that said cheating will not ever result in me suffering, for my short time on earth? I don’t mean horrific cheating, I just mean little cheating. A white lie, here or there.

        • Andy_Schueler

          Then you should have been clearer in your original comment, because you said “If I were to try to argue that God is necessary for morality…” But what you actually seem to mean is not that a god is necessary for morality per se, but rather necessary for people not transgressing it.
          You ask “Why not cheat, if I can have high confidence that said cheating will not ever result in me suffering” – that is a leading question, you presume that the expectation (or lack thereof) of punishment is what determines whether people tend to cheat or tend to cooperate. Establish that first, then you can ask the question.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m not willing to say that all people are morally motivated in the same ways; some are, I am not. I generally see punishment as a “failure mode” option. If person A is going to murder person B, it would be preferable for the threat of punishment to reduce the chance of person A torturing before murdering. This is, of course, a failure mode.

            This failure mode is very similar to the obedience by fear demanded in the OT, which is contrasted by commands to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” and culminated in the New Covenant, where right action is motivated from the heart (the whole being), and not from outside. So the obedient Christian—to Law, not law—obeys because he/she wants the results of obedience, not out of fear. “Perfect love casts out fear.”

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m not willing to say that all people are morally motivated in the same ways; some are, I am not.

            Then why are you asking questions that presume people are just that?

          • Luke Breuer

            I made a mistake if I implied/presumed ‘all’. Please forgive me.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker
          • Void L. Walker

            Oh my God, how many times are you gonna make me ruin my underwear?! Fucking hilarious!

          • Luke Breuer

            Excellent mockery of stupid-ass Christian forgiveness. Watch forgiveness evaporate when you take a sledge hammer to a pastor’s car while he is standing there, and then just try to ask for ‘free’ forgiveness (or “cheap grace”; see Dietrich Bonhoeffer). It is sad that stories based on mammon are the most effective ones, but we live in a sad time.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Yeah, if only we went back to true Judeo-Christian values our world would be so much better.

          • Void L. Walker

            Wouldn’t it though? We could have Stone Him/Her Sundays!

          • Void L. Walker

            Do you have to be so damn nice all the time? God you need a hug. I mean, really. -gives creepy and unsettling internet hug-

          • Luke Breuer

            Those two sentences appear contradictory. :-p But honestly, many people can only see evil, ugliness, and wrongness in my comments. It is more and more strongly reminding me of:

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

            Where is the eye for beauty? Where is the eye for cooperative construction, yes with criticism, but criticism that helps construct something more excellent? I do find a few such folks—I recall you being one of them—but they seem so rare. :-(

          • Void L. Walker

            My personality is inherently contradictory, Luke. If you knew me well (be glad you do not), then you would see that.

            Yes, I do agree that some people tend to read into things often, but you must also realize that part of that blame could reasonably fall on your shoulders. I realize that your theology is far from complete and there are many things you are unsure of (both of those should be construed as comments, by the way), but you must realize that many skeptics want immediate answers. They pose questions with the expectation that you will generally have clearly defined answers. This, however, is the case with everyone, though, not just the religious (certainly not just you); not having an answer presently doesn’t invalidate all that you say.

            To point, though, I would hope that you can catch my meaning. Frankly, you can be a big vague sometimes, Luke. No hard feelings, I’m just trying to demystify things a bit, if you did not already know this.

          • Luke Breuer

            There is a way to bring contradictory things into increasing order, to increasing levels of beauty. :-)

            you must also realize that part of that blame could reasonably fall on your shoulders.

            Most definitely. It’s just that many assume 100% of the blame falls on my shoulders. That is the tedious thing.

            I realize that your theology is far from complete and there are many things you are unsure of (both of those should be construed as comments, by the way)

            I would appreciate help on (i) when I do the bad thing; (ii) how to stop doing the bad thing. :-)

            you must realize that many skeptics want immediate answers.

            They want something contrary to reality.

            To point, though, I would hope that you can catch my meaning. Frankly, you can be a big vague sometimes, Luke. No hard feelings, I’m just trying to demystify things a bit, if you did not already know this.

            Oh, I have no doubt. But this is actually the result of me trying very, very hard not to state outright wrong things with confidence. Many people ‘snap’ mystery to some defined structure, and say, “That’s all it is!” This is a grave error in my opinion. But this means I can either not speak, or be vague where I don’t actually know the correct structure to put in the vague region!

          • Void L. Walker

            I definitely disagree with your assertion regarding skeptics (you apparently have delved into a remarkably narrow slice of the skeptical pie if that’s what you think).

            To be a skeptic, in my mind, is to question everything. To always ask questions, regardless of where they lead you, how the answers could potentially make you feel. It means probing reality with an open mind, and not working OUTWARD from belief/bias. This is clearly not how all skeptics behave, mind you. But you are wrong about wanting something contrary to reality; the world through your eyes is markedly different from countless other Christians, Muslims, Atheists, etc. Everyone models reality in a different way. Also, it (please correct me if I’m jumping to conclusions!) seems awfully conceited to purport that YOU are closer to the “truth” than anyone else.

            Perhaps you are guilty of a negative skeptic bias? Maybe much in the same way that I am guilty of a negative christian bias.

          • Luke Breuer

            (you apparently have delved into a remarkably narrow slice of the skeptical pie if that’s what you think)

            Very possible! I do seem to attract the harshest of criticism where I do go. Oftentimes it seems like the other folks despise me, or at least the ideas I’m espousing. And yet, there isn’t always a separation between idea and person, like many tell themselves. Some ideas really are treasures we bring out from our hearts, and if they get stomped on indiscriminately, it hurts, and it should hurt. Words are incredibly powerful; they create and destroy worlds (or at least can create hells with people locked inside).

            It means probing reality with an open mind, and not working OUTWARD from belief/bias.

            This is not possible; see the Neurathian bootstrap. Alternatively, one builds in both directions: finding deeper axioms, as well as more glorious theorems. (see my difference between fact and truth) It may be that there is [potential] infinity in both directions, kind of like how there might be an infinite past as well as infinite future. (Cosmology is weird, yo!)

            But you are wrong about wanting something contrary to reality;

            There just aren’t always immediate answers! Every scientist knows this. There exist bad questions; just read Melvin Calvin’s Nobel speech to see how many bad questions were asked of how the Calvin Cycle worked. We do hope to understand everything ultimately, but the human desire to insist on what should be understandable now is just not always a satisfiable or valid desire. It is often opposed to reality.

            Also, it (please correct me if I’m jumping to conclusions!) seems awfully conceited to purport that YOU are closer to the “truth” than anyone else.

            I am often criticized for doing this. And yet, it’s not clear what I have done, except perhaps to distance us all from capital-T Truth.

          • Void L. Walker

            You didn’t catch my meaning, Luke (I’m already aware of the Nuerathian bootstrap!). What I meant was coloring reality with a presupposition that is not really grounded (I.E, believing that the universe is aware of our existence; acting on this and showing continual cosmic adoration in order to appease it).

            We all carry with us presuppositions, this is undeniable. The point I’m making is that, with regard to the nature of reality as we know it, claiming that God did it just doesn’t really fly from a skeptical (honest, inquiring skeptic mind you) perspective. It doesn’t make any sense to me. The more that we observe nature, the more that we find it is perfectly capable of ordering itself, without aid (a fine example is the process by which snowflakes are formed; born from chaotic processes, unguided by God’s “hand”). If we look at the universe, then just say “God did it”, it undermines the very spirit of discovery and mystery. Who really knows how the cosmos came to be? I do not, and I make no claims of absolute certainty.

            I can be vague, too :-p Something that i need to work on.

          • Luke Breuer

            What I meant was coloring reality with a presupposition that is not really grounded

            In that event, I point you to my Phil.SE question “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? I claim it is special-pleading to think that the five external senses can approach objective observation, but that the internal senses (e.g. beauty; see In Search of Beauty) cannot. I claim this is because most skeptics trust their internal-facing senses too much, in violation of The Unreliability of Naive Introspection. You would think that knowledge of “cognitive biases” would help, but I just don’t think it does as much as is claimed.

            We all carry with us presuppositions, this is undeniable. The point I’m making is that, with regard to the nature of reality as we know it, claiming that God did it just doesn’t really fly from a skeptical (honest, inquiring skeptic mind you) perspective.

            Let me try this on you.

                 (1) thoughts supervene on the physical
                 (2) thoughts can become more beautiful
                 (3) beautification is a physical force

            But what is (3)? Surely it isn’t evolution, else evolution would have a suspiciously teleological-seeming character: to increase the amount of beauty in reality. What about the following?

            He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Eccl 3:11)

            The second half is really neat; it kinda indicates that we can look infinitely deep (deeper presuppositions) or infinitely far (more sophisticated theorems), and keep discovering new, awesome things. Wow, this verse blows my mind; the last time I quoted it I didn’t process the second sentence. Thanks for provoking me to post it! My mind is fairly blown right now. :-D

            If we look at the universe, then just say “God did it”, it undermines the very spirit of discovery and mystery.

            This is false; not all people who say “God did it” think that understanding the final cause negates the awesomeness of discovering the efficient cause. (see here)

          • Void L. Walker

            Actually, it isn’t false. Certainly not to me, at least.

            It would be like finding a massive, floating mystery object in the sky, but already knowing HOW it was built and WHO build it (including a fair understanding of the “personality” of the builder). That would defeat most of my curiosity. Sorry, but that’s how I view it. The universe is hardly a mystery at all in through that lens: God made it, he loves us so much, He came to earth and was brutally tortured for us, etc. This knowledge of the architect makes the building a bit drab and cliche, to me. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

            Luke….what is beautiful to you may be ugly to me; there are some in the world who think that death and suffering are beautiful. Beauty is cognitively rooted. It isn’t even close to divine, in any way, and I fail to see the relevance of citing it as an example of what you’re trying to convey to me.

            I’m sorry, Luke, but your view of reality is way, way different from mine (and if you think I chose this, you’re so wrong it hurts). Evolution, in my mind, does not permit the existence of anything less than a crazy mad scientist God (Deism comes to mind). I see no “love” in nature, at all. I see the byproduct of millions of years worth of competition and death, suffering and loss, etc. The few examples of organisms “working together” do little to the realities of mother nature: red in tooth and claw.

            Off topic? Maybe…..but that’s how I operate.

          • Luke Breuer

            It would be like finding a massive, floating mystery object in the sky, but already knowing HOW it was built and WHO build it (including a fair understanding of the “personality” of the builder). That would defeat most of my curiosity. Sorry, but that’s how I view it. The universe is hardly a mystery at all in through that lens: God made it, he loves us so much, He came to earth and was brutally tortured for us, etc. This knowledge of the architect makes the building a bit drab and cliche, to me. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

            So only uncreated objects are beautiful? Or perhaps, only uncreated beautiful objects are worth understanding? These seem like odd conclusions from what you’re saying, so perhaps I’ve misunderstood you.

            Luke….what is beautiful to you may be ugly to me; there are some in the world who think that death and suffering are beautiful.

            Is this part of your “My personality is inherently contradictory”?

            Beauty is cognitively rooted.

            What does this mean? Again, In Search of Beauty argues that there is a kind of objective beauty, where the beauty is as objective as the objectivity of science. Are all scientific laws “cognitively rooted”? If so, have you obliterated the word “objective”, or is it more like each of us has his/her own inertial frame, but there exist Lorentz transforms to translate from one frame to another?

            Evolution, in my mind, does not permit the existence of anything less than a crazy mad scientist God (Deism comes to mind).

            Have you read the beginning chapter of The Silmarillion? You seem to be assuming that only God created; I reject this. See this comment.

          • Void L. Walker

            Um….okay. Several things to address here.

            Beauty IS cognitively rooted, and we have overwhelming evidence of this. what does that mean? Exactly what I said: beauty finds it’s origins in the humans brain. Want a first hand example? My grandma, months before she died (thanks to her dementia and a heart attack, praise God), had a stilted view of things. She thought that dead people were trying to get her to run around the hospital, called me Mikey boy (not my name, by the way) and, notably, did a 180 personality-wise. She suddenly was repulsed by things she at once found beautiful. Her favorite flower? Garbage. Her great grandson, smiling? “Who the fuck is that?” (she never cussed, by the way. Ever). See what I’m getting at? Her perception of beauty changed along with the structure of her brain, as it eroded. Clear enough for you?

            Why do you keep recommending Tolkien and Lewis to me, dude? I grew up with them. They were actually instrumental in the loss of my faith :-P

            When did I say that only created objects are beautiful? Can’t you spot when a person makes an example of something?

            I’m not sure if you were being facetious when you said: “Is this part of your: ‘my personality is inherently contradictory”. What I was getting at (wow we misunderstand each other a lot lol) is how VARIED the perception of beauty is; as above stated, this fits quite well with the claim that beauty (along with personality, “free” will, etc) is rooted in the brain.

          • Luke Breuer

            See what I’m getting at? Her perception of beauty changed along with the structure of her brain, as it eroded. Clear enough for you?

            The same thing happens with visual, auditory, etc. hallucinations.

            Why do you keep recommending Tolkien and Lewis to me, dude? I grew up with them. They were actually instrumental in the loss of my faith :-P

            Because I find that they provide compelling illustrations.

            When did I say that only created objects are beautiful?

            I’m sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say: “So the only beauty worth exploring is the beauty in uncreated objects?”

            I’m not sure if you were being facetious when you said: “Is this part of your: ‘my personality is inherently contradictory”.

            I was not being facetious in the slightest.

            What I was getting at (wow we misunderstand each other a lot lol) is how VARIED the perception of beauty is; as above stated, this fits quite well with the claim that beauty (along with personality, “free” will, etc) is rooted in the brain.

            Variation is fine; see inertial frames of reference & special relativity. The question is whether there exist Lorentz transforms so that one person can verify the observations of the next person. Consider the blind men and an elephant: no single person needs to see all of the elephant; there simply needs to be enough overlap of each person’s observations with at least one other person’s, for the entire outside of the elephant to be pieced together.

          • Void L. Walker

            “the same thing happens with visual, auditory, etc. hallucinations”–what are you getting at? Are you agreeing with me about beauty and the brain (giggle), or…?

            Compelling illustrations, huh? I suppose I would concur with that. The space trilogy was my very favorite series as a child, due in large part to how well he described the world that was born of his imagination.

            So with regard to your last paragraph, you claim that variation is fine. How is it fine? How could one person finding a certain song beautiful, sex, food, art, etc. while another may, for example, find torturing children “beautiful”, rape, theft, evil in general may indeed be beautiful to them. What does this say, if you purport that beauty is linked to the divine and not the brain? You need to clarify a bit here, I’m not really getting your view :-/

            (I’m not trying to be rude, Luke. I like you. But to me you can kinda be a tad vague sometimes)

          • Luke Breuer

            “the same thing happens with visual, auditory, etc. hallucinations”–what are you getting at? Are you agreeing with me about beauty and the brain (giggle), or…?

            I am saying that beauty can be as objective a sense as vision.

            So with regard to your last paragraph, you claim that variation is fine. How is it fine? How could one person find a certain song beautiful, sex, food, art, etc. while another may, for example, find torturing children “beautiful”, rape, theft, violence, evil in general may indeed be beautiful to them. What does this say, if you purport that beauty is linked to the divine and not the brain? You need to clarify a bit here, I’m not really getting your view :-/

            Simply: not all variation is fine. Adam and Eve were to eat of every tree in the garden except for one.

          • Void L. Walker

            There you go again, using Adam and Eve as an example. I understand that you do not take Genesis 100% literally, so why must you retort to it to make a point?

            “I am saying that beauty can be as objective a sense as vision” Wait….you are claiming that beauty is a sense…? Ummm….it kind of isn’t though. Beauty is an experience, not a means of acquiring information about your surroundings.

          • Luke Breuer

            Myth cannot be used to illustrate compelling truth?

            As to beauty, I don’t think you’ve fully processed that when physicists use beauty as a criterion for what would make a good theory, it guides them to better and better approximations of reality. This means beauty can be used to truth-seek.

          • Void L. Walker

            I haven’t fully processed something that one of my own brothers is intimately involved in? Huh. No, I have, actually. You could make the exact same argument about a variety of other emotional experiences, besides beauty. Also, when did I ever say (or even insinuate) that beauty could not be used to truth seek? My sense of sight can, a desire to explore and discover can, hell, a desire to earn money and get lots of woman could conceivably be used to “truth seek” based upon the criterion you’ve given me. I’m still not sure what you’re (ultimately) trying to achieve here, Luke.

            I have only asserted (with plenty of personal experience) that beauty is a naturally occurring, cognitively rooted experience. I never once said that it never had a viable use!

          • Luke Breuer

            Sorry, would you articulate what you mean by “cognitively rooted”? Is there anything which is not “cognitively rooted”, which is knowable to us?

          • Void L. Walker

            Oh, of course. I mean that is begins in the brain. It is a product of the brain. It is a creation of neuro chemicals. Basically, beauty starts in the brain, it is not an acknowledgement of something “else” that God put out there, IMO. Is this clear? Essentially, it is but one of many experiences that evolution has crafted for us that we may more efficiently glean happiness from life, thereby increasing the likelihood of propagation.

          • Luke Breuer

            But is there anything which isn’t “cognitively rooted”, to which our consciousness has access?

          • Void L. Walker

            Is this a rhetorical question?

          • Luke Breuer

            Nope! I still don’t quite understand your use of the term, so I’m asking clarifying questions. Sorry if I’m being obtuse. :-(

          • Void L. Walker

            No, no. Don’t apologize. Basically, I felt that you were asserting that beauty is divine; separate, in certain ways, from our “natural” lives. I was trying to convey that beauty (like all other experiences/knowledge that we possess) is a natural thing. See what I mean here? I was framing it in that way so as to contend your assertion (perhaps I misunderstood you!) that beauty was somehow “unnatural”.

          • Luke Breuer

            Well, consider this. What if beauty is the result of evolution? Then evolution would have an eerily teleological appearance. :-)

          • Void L. Walker

            Well, I do strongly believe that it is the result of evolution. I see no reason why it should be any other way, frankly. Do elucidate me, Luke: what do you believe is the origin of beauty? I’m genuinely curious what your take is.

          • Luke Breuer

            First, consider that my model of divine action (not intervention, just action) is that god works according to infinitely complex Law which we can discover ever more and more. So I have no problem with God using evolution to create beauty. I do think Aristotle was a f*cking genius to come up with his biological teleology, because regardless of the bits he got wrong, if indeed evolution is excellent at producing beauty (perhaps with some help from intelligence, like us humans tending the planet), then it is teleological in my view! What is better than producing more and more beauty, both in complexity and diversity?

          • Void L. Walker

            Then I would add: why would God use evolution (how is another interesting question)? I’m not assuming you have a fully fleshed out answer just yet (maybe you do), but you are begging the question (which isn’t a bad thing mind you). As I’ve said before, God “using” a process like evolution doesn’t make tons of sense to me :)

          • Luke Breuer

            I have a deep suspicion that evolution is more glorious than we currently comprehend. The Malthusian view where it’s just a continual struggle for existence doesn’t seem like a good one. It’s almost like the Satanic side of evolution, with there being a Jesus-side. muahahahaaha

            Have you ever watched Babylon 5? The Shadows wanted progress via competition and survival of the fittest, whereas the Vorlons wanted careful planning and engineering. Now, I believe God does neither, because both the Shadows and Vorlons were excessively controlling.

          • Void L. Walker

            I’m fascinated by your claim that evolution could be more glorious than we yet see. How could this be the case? I don’t know if you’ve taken much time to study A: the fossil record, B: the current state of the natural world (interactions between predator and prey, etc). In the time I’ve spent delving into the topics I mentioned, all that I can see (and trust me, I’m evaluating everything that I see with an open mind) is death, suffering, extinction, basic survival, life doing ANYTHING (however horrendous) to sustain itself.

            I appreciate that you have a somewhat optimistic view of the subject, but I see little room for anything other than what I have pointed out. I could give you examples of animal behavior that would send chills up your spine (humans aren’t the only beings on this planet capable of cruelty!); it follows, for me, that there is scarcely any place in nature for an ultimate, supernatural causation and/or divine interaction with the world as we know it. I see nature operating under the laws that have governed it for billions of years, and basically see the catalyst of generations of random particle interactions and chemical reactions acting under those laws to ultimately produce the aforementioned “struggle for existence”.

            Frankly, Luke, there is nothing really “glorious” (unless you’re using a new definition of the word as yet unknown to modern linguists) about evolution. I see death, suffering, compromise, survival, interaction (both harmless and fatal), reproduction and lastly, the tendency of life to take virtually any measures in order to ensure it’s propagation and survival.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m fascinated by your claim that evolution could be more glorious than we yet see. How could this be the case?

            Have you read the first chapter of Tolkein’s The Silmarillion? The first chapter, Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur, is a story of how the LOTR world was formed. It starts with a monotheistic deity, Ilúvatar, who starts singing the world into existence, along with his created Ainur (“the Holy Ones”). The Melkor arrived.

            But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren. (16)

            Melkor injects his disharmonious, self-aggrandizing song into the symphony of the creation of the world. Finally, after subtly reintegrating Melkor’s song into the symphony:

            Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all theAinur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in teh devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined. (17)

            Really, the entire chapter is beautiful. And it provides a possible answer to your question: what if right now, we see the contributions from Ilúvatar and his Ainur, and Melkor, and cannot (a) distinguish them; (b) see how they can be woven back together? This seems distinctly possible to me, because a good deal of evil has been done to me in my life, and I have managed to redeem a good deal of it it as God’s coworker. A good deal of the evil has been turned to good. I believe this can continue. Sometimes it hurts like hell to do it, but I believe it to be worth the cost, [hopefully] like Jesus.

            I could give you examples of animal behavior that would send chills up your spine (humans aren’t the only beings on this planet capable of cruelty!)

            This very thing was actually done to me lately. And chills actually did go up my spine! It is hard to offend or freak me out, so that was quite the accomplishment. Void Walker, just don’t do too much ugliness-seeking; it makes it hard to see beauty and the light.

            Frankly, Luke, there is nothing really “glorious” (unless you’re using a new definition of the word as yet unknown to modern English) about evolution.

            As best I can understand, beauty comes from evolutionary processes, and nowhere else. So to say that there is nothing glorious in it seems very twisted and wrong, actually! But perhaps you did not see this?

            I want to close by addressing one more bit: the claim that any “cooperation” in nature could somehow “throw a wrench” into the problem of evil (EVO style).

            See cleaner fish for an example. Remember the following:

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

            Make sure enough light is coming in, and that you focus enough time on it!

            Actually were it not for some selfish behavior, I believe many of us would not even be here

            In Enthusiasm and Divine Madness, Josef Pieper says that even loving God does serve the self: it results in bliss. So we should be careful with this word ‘selfish’; it can easily become meaningless by describing everything under the sun.

          • Void L. Walker

            Post Script: you may counter what I’ve said by asserting that our knowledge of both evolution and the history of life on earth is incomplete, and therefore it could be that there ARE “glorious” aspects of evolution. But, even if we were to glean such glorious elements, I would argue that they would be supremely out-weighed by the indifference of nature and general “selfish gene” behavior of life. Frankly Luke I don’t see a way out of this, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. You claim to not probe the theistic evolution waters much, but in my opinion it is of the utmost importance that you, or any evo-theist, do so!

          • Luke Breuer

            If the world were more evil, would there be less reason to do good and bring beauty into the world? I don’t think so. If anything, there would be more reason. So I’m not sure I agree with your analysis, here.

          • Void L. Walker

            What I stated has zero bearing on human action (and a desire to make things good), but rather is a close approximation of the evidence that I see. Nature can be downright ugly, whether we make efforts to better the world or not.

            Stating that beauty is a biproduct of evolution says little about the nature OF evolution, besides that is has wired us with the means of extracting sufficient happiness/pleasure from particular arrangements of matter and/or novel ideas. Whatever floats your boat beauty-wise. To make a claim that evolution necessitates something like beauty does not remove any of the “evil” (or whatever you wish to call it) from the equation. As I said, something like a perception of beauty could have easily been selected for in a social context, as a means of bringing people together, or just because it makes us happy. Happiness is, after all, the ultimate adaptation (I don’t think that I need to elaborate on that, it is self evident as to why it is). Ultimately, nature has given us good and bad. This is what would be expected, in my opinion, if nature were the one in charge of our development. Bad things are eventualities; good things act as counterweights to help alleviate the bad, and drive us towards more efficient survival and reproduction (bear in mind that I’m framing things in a natural, evolutionary way; I’m not saying that modern human interactions are always subject to these “rules”).

            I do tend to see the ugly, Luke, but it’s only because there’s so very much of it to see! Apologies if I came off as negative, though….

          • Luke Breuer

            What I stated has zero bearing on human action (and a desire to make things good), but rather is a close approximation of the evidence that I see. Nature can be downright ugly, whether we make efforts to better the world or not.

            This can be explained by the fact that not everything that exists was created by an omni-deity. Alternatively, going along with Augustine’s privation theory of evil, all that can be done is the twisting and tearing of what was good. A fun fact is that 4-manifolds actually can be twisted and torn in aways that can only be repaired by embedding the 4-manifold in a higher dimension. In a hypomanic state, I wandered into Matilde Marcolli‘s office; she works on noncommutative geometries, and told me about the awesomeness that are 4-manifolds. In case it’s not clear, spacetime is a 4-manifold.

            If you really want your mind blown, see growing block universe. Jonathan re-blogged Time, Free Will and the Block Universe, but that discussion seems to omit possibilities; see Eternalism (philosophy of time)#Determinism and indeterminism, which contains a fascinating exchange between Albert Einstein and Karl Popper. Popper accused Einstein of being “Parmenides” for his determinism. Wow, this gives me an increased appreciation for:

                 (1) Parmenides : nothing is changing
                 (2) Heraclitus : nothing is constant

            Parmenides’ idea matches with that of a block universe, while Heraclitus’ idea ultimately self-destructs, for human comprehension depends on conservation laws (see Noether’s theorem), which produce invariants, without which there are no patterns, no lawfulness. You might like the following two Phil.SE questions:

            Looking for a treatise on philosophy of “smoothness”
            Why do we tend towards discretizing things around and within us?

            These get at universals vs. particulars; are you aware of the problem of universals? Anyhow, there is something deep here, because there is always the threat of (i) universals eating up particulars; or (ii) particulars eating up universals. How can we have both at the same time? How can we have constancy/continuity and change/discretization at the same time?

            Hmmm, somehow I rambled. I think I’ll post the above anyway, and start another comment to the rest of your comment.

          • Void L. Walker

            “not everything was created by an omni-deity”–elaborate. I know you’ve mentioned that God is (in your view) not the only first cause agent, but please unpack this for me.

          • Luke Breuer

            Have you read any of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion? I forget if I quoted bits of the first chapter at you or not. It provides a wonderful metaphor with which to do your requested unpacking.

          • Void L. Walker

            Perhaps I’ll give it a look then, Luke. I believe it’s somewhere around my residence, so I’ll give it a gander. Btw, did Tolkien accept evolution?

          • Luke Breuer

            Just read the first chapter; I hear the rest is boring to most. I do not know what Tolkien thought about evolution.

          • Void L. Walker

            Alright then, I’ll do it a bit later. No plans tonight anyway :)

          • Luke Breuer

            Stating that beauty is a biproduct of evolution says little about the nature OF evolution, besides that is has wired us with the means of extracting sufficient happiness/pleasure from particular arrangements of matter and/or novel ideas. Whatever floats your boat beauty-wise.

            What does this ‘evolutionarily-rootedness’ mean for our ability to properly discern good vs. evil? Why do you trust your ability to discern between them? Why isn’t it “Whatever floats your boat good/evil-wise.”?

          • Void L. Walker

            But can we really properly discern it? There are certainly commonalities between varying cultures regarding what constitutes a “good” v.s an “evil” action, but there is much room for disagreement (an example being cultures that practice cannibalism). How can you argue that these perceptions of good and evil are anything more than evolution at work on highly social beings?

            I trust my ability to discern between them about as well as I trust my eye sight. But as I said, there is so much variance among opinions (culture to culture) that to claim good and evil as absolutes seems untenable.

            When isn’t it “whatever floats your boat good/evil-wise”? Dig a bit more, I’m not following you.

          • Luke Breuer

            I believe that intersubjectivity is key to understanding an objectively ontic reality. I believe that there are knowable turtles all the way up and down: there is an infinite lawfulness to how reality is composed, and an infinite amount of emergent variation that can be created. We need each other to explore this stuff. We need unity and diversity, at the same time, neither eating up the other.

          • Void L. Walker

            Interesting. Certainly not the usual response I get!

          • Void L. Walker

            Luke, when you get around to it I’m curious to see your reply to my last (fairly lengthy) post. No rush, though :)

          • Luke Breuer

            Your comment history is private; would you please provide a link to it?

          • Void L. Walker

            Why, might I ask? I’ll make it a bit less private

          • Luke Breuer

            Disqus makes it a pain to go back in comment history in general. So when you say, “Go to this other comment of mine”, it can be hard to find. :-( I see it now though, and will draft a response.

          • Void L. Walker

            Wait….I asked you to view an old comment of mine? I do not recall that (but I may not have been in my “right mind” at the time, also).

          • Luke Breuer

            You were referring to this comment of yours, right?

          • Void L. Walker

            Not sure if my last comment sent (fucking disqusting) but I think you should be able to view my comment history now. I’m still wondering why you want to though lol

          • Void L. Walker

            Would you like a glass of exquisite, sweet green tea? Perhaps we can light up the old tobacco pipe, what what!

          • Luke Breuer

            Tea yes, pipe no. :-)

          • Void L. Walker

            I was never claiming that there are ways of experiencing/knowing that aren’t neurological :)

          • Luke Breuer

            I suspected that, but wasn’t quite sure. Alas, the method I went to find this out was pretty roundabout. Round, round, round we go!

          • Void L. Walker

            No, don’t worry. I call YOU vague, lol….I need to work on clarification.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          You mean like lying to a Nazi officer that you are hiding Jews in your closet?

          • Luke Breuer

            I recall a story about Corrie Ten Boom telling truth to the Nazis and having them laugh at her as if she were silly.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Oh so we should rely on that for all future instances of this kind of situation?

  • Luke Breuer

    FYI, there’s a Common Sense Atheism review. There are a few problems as I see it. But hey, I’m not a moral philosopher, so maybe I’m being silly. We shall see!

    1. Kagan seems to think he has discovered how to make Kant’s Categorical Imperative binding; is there a reason he isn’t mentioned on Wikipedia’s Categorical imperative, nor SEP’s Kant’s Moral Philosophy, nor SEP’s Kant’s Account of Reason. Kagan does show up on SEP’s Doing vs. Allowing Harm, but not in a compelling fashion. So I’m going to assume that Kagan has not established proper motivation for the categorical imperative.

    2. Kagan is willing to use the word ‘sin’, but does not acknowledge that when a person dies, he/she will likely have left an evil/good imbalance behind, saved as “state” in other people. Consider, for example, how Europeans massacred Native Americans in the continental United States and then gave them pitiful reservations. American benefited profoundly from all that ‘free’ land; it was a major way to pay down Revolutionary War debt, which, combined with only letting landed people vote, meant that a great number of people could vote, in contrast to Europe, where the wealthy owned most of the land. So, is evil still being done to Native Americans in the United States? Is there a moral imbalance? I would say: most definitely. And yet, Kagan didn’t even touch on this. Does he have a category for the consequences of sin that are left over when the sinner dies? Now, around 57m, Kagan says that the [moral] path matters; this indicates that he ought to take into account any and all ‘debt’ accrued by sin. Does he?

    3. Kagan seems to have no method for overcoming dictatorships or other stable systems whereby there is no veil of ignorance-inspired social contract. Now, this social contract sounds great once it has been established, but how does one get there? I suspect that Kagan would have to deal with the ‘sin debt’ problem which I mention above.

    4. Kagan does not have a compelling answer to how murdering someone eliminates his/her moral demand on you. Why not forge a social contract with only some people—those you deem ‘worthy’? He doesn’t seem to have any sort of answer for this whatsoever! Consider, for example, the Greek city-states, where everyone was part of the city. Well, except for slaves, whom the philosopher-kings deemed “fit for nothing but servitude”. Ouch! And yet, Kagan hasn’t provided a solid reason to be impartial. Yep, he mentions Rawl’s veil of ignorance, but he doesn’t motivate it. Only the people who are actively involved in social contract formation will be involved in the veil of ignorance. Why include outsiders?

    5. Kagan did not allow for negligence. Around 44m, he talks about not blaming a 18 month-old child/baby for tearing the pages out of one of WLC’s books. This is an easy situation. What do we do in situations like drunk driving, where there is [probably] no evil intent, but merely not enough good intention? Is there a category for gross negligence? Furthermore, Kagan [I think] said we are only obliged to follow moral codes we can understand. But surely this cannot be the case in all situations, for it does not apply to children. Do we ever ‘graduate’ from being a children, such that we never have to obey a moral rule which we do not understand? This is not at all clear!

    Now some critiques of WLC.

    A. Around 27m, Craig tries to separate out ‘the good’ for humans vs. ‘the good’ for animals. I don’t think this is a valid distinction. I think it commits the same kind of error as 4. Now, I think we can definitely prioritize the welfare of humans over the welfare of animals (see: animal experimentation). But there is still a connection—Buddhist style?—between humans and lower lifeforms. The Bible can be construed as supporting this, via the ‘dominion’ in Genesis 1-2 meant to be more of a ‘caretaker’ role.

    B. Craig did not separate accountability from repentance. Forgiveness is not free; it requires repentance. This means a change of moral (or spiritual) direction. Forgiveness is the canceling of ‘sin debt’, in exchange for a moral redirection. It’s almost as if the ‘sin debt’ can be paid by becoming more Christlike. Who pays it? Well, if Jesus is helping us become more like himself in that process, at least Jesus, and maybe us, too. I’m inclined toward the “us, too” option, especially in light of Colossians 1:24, where Paul says “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. It just makes sense.

    C. Craig had a wonderful opportunity to say that God’s moral, capital-L Law is the ultimate social contract, between not just humans, but all created beings. As every being is added to society, the law required to hold that society together perhaps gets more complicated. Or perhaps more higher-order, emergent structures can come into being. Massimo Pigliucci has some great essays on emergence.

    D. Craig could have made use of 1 John 3:4.

    Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

    Now, the opposite of lawlessness is not legalism. Any man-made set of laws is not the moral, capital-L Law: This is not a pipe. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time had mistaken the picture of the thing for the thing. So, the Bible can easily be construed as a series of better social contracts, with the established hope that the process would continue ad infinitum, kind of like how science models reality better and better. The pictures never become the thing, but they better describe the thing from one iteration to the next.

    E. Craig could have made use of Lex, Rex, in discussing how we transition from dictators to systems of law. How does one attack a powerful king’s claim: “I am God!”? Well, one way—I am not claiming the only way—is to say: “No you aren’t, God is up there and he operates by unchanging rules.” This is in contrast to human gods, whose rules morph with the times and the particular situation. Bend the law here, break it over there, etc. Sin is lawlessness.

    • Andy_Schueler

      How does one attack a powerful king’s claim: “I am God!”? Well, one way—I am not claiming the only way—is to say: “No you aren’t, God is up there and he operates by unchanging rules.” This is in contrast to human gods, whose rules morph with the times and the particular situation.

      Which is why christians stone blasphemers and gays to death, don´t eat shellfish, never work on the sabbath and avoid women who had their period for at least a week and don´t allow them to enter a church. Clearly, those rules are totally not made up and subject to change.

      • Luke Breuer

        Are you asserting that God would never, ever have given a temporary law, which is a finite approximation of Law, intended to pull the Israelites toward Law? (sin is lawlessness, but not-lawlessness ⇏ legalism)

        • Andy_Schueler

          Are you asserting that God would never, everhave given a temporary law, which is a finite approximation of Law, intended to pull the Israelites toward Law?

          Substitute “God” by “King” here.
          Then, look at your original point:
          “How does one attack a powerful king’s claim: “I am God!”? Well, one way—I am not claiming the only way—is to say: “No you aren’t, God is up there and he operates by unchanging rules.””

          - and see how you have just neatly dismantled your own objection against said powerful king.

          • Luke Breuer

            I disagree. When God projects his perfect rules onto very imperfect humans in imperfect societies with frequent famines, I think those rules will look very differently, than when projected upon a time such as ours. Furthermore, I think that in 200-500 years, our own morality (or ethics; I’m not decided yet) will look barbaric in comparison.

            It is not wrong for finite beings to learn about infinite concepts one step at a time. It just isn’t wrong. You want to make it wrong; I refuse. F = ma was not wrong. GR is not wrong. They are merely useful in certain conditions, and not in others. And if you try and use them in the wrong conditions as if they were good, then you will case real harm.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I disagree. When God projects his perfect rules onto very imperfect humans….

            You can stop right there, a powerful king or a mad tyrant like Stalin can claim to be morally perfect / infallible as well, and when they have to change their mind, their followers can defend their alleged infallibility / perfection with the exact same argument that you just used. There would be no relevant difference.

          • Luke Breuer

            If all you can see is darkness, ok. It seems you look on the OT and my own statements to you as “mostly wrong”. Ok.

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

          • Andy_Schueler

            If all you can see is darkness, ok. It seems you look on the OT and my own statements to you as “mostly wrong”.

            Yes, I see the OT as “mostly wrong”, but I have no problems with acknowledging the good bits it has to say here and there. You on the other hand insist on defending every single verseeverything just has to be either good or at the very least progress compared to the status quo at the time / a stepping stone towards later moral improvement. One of us sees the OT very much in terms of black and white and it´s not me.

          • Luke Breuer

            How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’? Why must I explain every single verse, or join you in rejecting it as evil? You seem to want me to make this binary choice, instead of admitting some of the time, “I don’t know.”

          • Andy_Schueler

            How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’?

            That is a killer argument to immediatly terminate every discussion over whether something might be immoral or not.
            Think the holocaust was immoral? Well, how do you know that this isn´t just your example of irreducible complexity, eh?

            Why must I explain every single verse, or join you in rejecting it as evil?

            You don´t. Who said or implied that you have to? And what does “join me” mean? I don´t see the Bible in black and white terms, unlike you.

          • Luke Breuer

            That is a killer argument to immediatly terminate every discussion over whether something might be immoral or not.

            This is patently false, and can be seen so in the ID ↔ evolution shtick. Systems which were claimed to be ‘irreducibly complex’ were shown not to be after all. So the idea that this “immediately terminate[s] every discussion” is simply not true. I know that Justin Schieber makes the jump from “if you cannot explain this single instance, you are reduced to skeptical theism”, but it is a false inference. Consider a recent comment by Schieber:

            Luke, this isn’t an argument from ignorance. It isn’t arguing from a lack of knowledge, it is arguing from seeming states. It plays on a fairly intuitive inductive principle – ‘If X seems like a Y even after thinking very strongly about it, then X probably is a Y.’

            And yet, Behe was arguing “from seeming states”. They seemed to him to be irreducibly complex. This did not reduce all of evolutionary science to skepticism! This just is a false inference on Schieber’s part.

            I offer a longer discussion of this inference to skeptical over on Jonathan’s Evidential Problem of Evil – A highbrow threesome?

            You don´t. Who said or implied that you have to? And what does “join me” mean? I don´t see the Bible in black and white terms, unlike you.

            Really? You said this:

            You on the other hand insist on defending every single verseeverything just has to be either good or at the very least progress compared to the status quo at the time / a stepping stone towards later moral improvement.

            I’m not sure I’ve actually done this; have I? I thought I have admitted that I don’t understand some verses, but am unwilling to condemn them. If I have not admitted this, or if those instances were not clear enough, I will strive to make them more clear!

          • Andy_Schueler

            This is patently false, and can be seen so in the ID ↔ evolution shtick. Systems which were claimed to be ‘irreducibly complex’ were shown not to be after all. So the idea that this “immediately terminate[s] everydiscussion” is simply not true.

            And yet, Behe was arguing “from seeming states”. They seemed to him to be irreducibly complex. This did not reduce all of evolutionary science to skepticism!

            If that is what you mean, then you are overstretching the analogy.
            The way IDiots use “Irreducible complexity” is:
            1. x is “irreducible complex”
            2. Therefore, evolution cannot explain x.
            3. Therefore, x is designed.
            2 doesn´t follow from or is implied by 1, and 3 doesn´t follow from or is implied by 2. The “logic” is essentially “we don´t know how x came to be, and because we don´t know how x came to be, we know that x came to be via design”.

            You cannot compare this to a situation where someone makes a logically valid argument based on reasonable premises, for why a particular part of the Bible is x. You could say that future discoveries might invalidate the premises and thus destroy the argument – but that wouldn´t change the fact that it is a valid and reasonable argument as far as we can tell now. That is not comparable to IDiot logic where you never had any valid argument to begin with. Not comparable at all.

            Really? You said this:

            You on the other hand insist on defending every single verse -everything just has to be either good or at the very least progress compared to the status quo at the time / a stepping stone towards later moral improvement.

            And you parse that to mean “Why must I explain every single verse, or join you in rejecting it as evil?” – which makes no sense.

            I’m not sure I’ve actually done this; have I? I thought I have admitted that I don’t understand some verses, but am unwilling to condemn them.

            And that is an irrational double standard. You would never ever apply the same standard to anything else. If you would apply it consistently, then you could never morally condemn anything. Instead, you would have to always say something along the line “I would condemn it, but maybe I just misunderstand it so I won´t condemn it”.

          • Luke Breuer

            You cannot compare this to a situation where someone makes a logically valid argument based on reasonable premises, for why a particular part of the Bible is x. You could say that future discoveries might invalidate the premises and thus destroy the argument – but that wouldn´t change the fact that it is a valid and reasonable argument as far as we can tell now. That is not comparable to IDiot logic where you never had any valid argument to begin with. Not comparable at all.

            How do you know that you have “a logically valid argument based on reasonable premises”? Have you done the relevant work to place yourself in a culture 2500-3500 years ago before trying to interpret the relevant verses? Have you understood the contemporary culture, the contemporary climate, the contemporary technology, the contemporary laws or lack thereof? Have you done your homework?

            I’m happy for you to say that the ID inference to a designer is invalid, but I’m not happy with a bare assertion that your logic is sound when you critique nasty things in the Bible. You don’t get to assert this, you must demonstrate it.

            And that is an irrational double standard. You would never ever apply the same standard to anything else. If you would apply it consistently, then you could never morally condemn anything. Instead, you would have to always say something along the line “I would condemn it, but maybe I just misunderstand it so I won´t condemn it”.

            False dichotomy. Our options aren’t restricted to:

                 (1) judge thoroughly, separating every statement into true/false, good/evil, beautiful/ugly, etc

                 (2) make no judgments whatsoever

            If you aren’t making this dichotomy then ok, but my best model of you has you making it. It is a false dichotomy!

          • Andy_Schueler

            I’m happy for you to say that the ID inference to a designer is invalid, but I’m not happy with a bare assertion that your logic is sound when you critique nasty things in the Bible.

            Good. That´s how it should be. Then you should focus on criticizing the argument itself when someone raises such an argument against the Bible (or against God, as in your brief exchange with Justin Schieber that you pointed to). Saying “How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’?” is a cop out.

            False dichotomy. Our options aren’t restricted to:

            (1) judge thoroughly, separating every statement into true/false, good/evil, beautiful/ugly, etc

            (2) make no judgments whatsoever

            If you aren’t making this dichotomy then ok, but my best model of you has you making it. It is a false dichotomy!

            You said “I thought I have admitted that I don’t understand some verses, but am unwilling to condemn them.” – and I parsed that to mean that you would never condemn any Bible verse, because future discoveries or insights might show that it is not as horrible as it looks after all. And that also makes sense of your previous behaviour.
            And if I parsed this correctly, then this is most emphatically not “judge thoroughly, separating every statement…”, it is rather an irrational double standard that is applied to the Bible but nothing else, and that, if applied consistently, would mean that nothing could ever be morally condemned for any reason.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Good job, I have this same problem with Luke all the time. It seems as if he just never gets it. He defends what I call, fuzzy-wuzzy theism, which purposely is vague and light on specifics and always complains that things are too complex to make any definitive decision on anything. That way Luke can never be pinned down on anything and he’ll always have wiggle-room to weasel his way out of a dilemma. It’s the old unfalsifiability trick.

          • Luke Breuer

            It’s almost as if you’re describing your own behavior…

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            My behavior is being accurate and specific. That’s not yours. I care about detail.

          • Luke Breuer

            How do you know it is accurate?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I make sense and I comport with evidence.

          • Luke Breuer

            When you care to look at the evidence instead of pretending that all Christians read the Bible like you do. You do a lot of pretending that other people see and think like you—or ought to. It isn’t healthy; I suspect it has made relationships with people sufficiently different from you very hard. Mt 5:43-48 is true, but have you even noticed when you’ve run up against it? I’m guessing not, but I hope I am wrong!

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I fully take into account the wide variety (and contradictory nature) of interpretations of the Bible. What does that have to do with anything? I know you don’t have to be a fundamentalist. I’ve known that for years.

          • Luke Breuer

            And yet you say most Christians hold to DCT without:

                 (1) producing sufficient evidence
                 (2) defining DCT non-vaguely

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            1. There are no stats asking what meta-ethical theory Christians hold to. So what I do is look around at the ethics offered by influential Christian leaders and churches, and denominations today and in the past, and their ethics more or less falls in line with DCT. I don’t hear the natural law proponents making much noise. They usually seem to pop up when secularism forces them to abolish DCT because it’s a violation of the law. I could’ve been easily refuted by you by now. The fact that you couldn’t find any evidence against me shows that you have no legs to stand on.

            2. You’ve never asked me to define DCT, or at least you tried very late in the game, so this is a straw man once again.

          • Luke Breuer

            So what I do is look around at the ethics offered by influential Christian leaders and churches, and denominations today and in the past, and their ethics more or less falls in line with DCT.

            How do you know whether or not there was gross sampling bias in your research?

            I don’t hear the natural law proponents making much noise.

            Why would you expect to hear equally as much from these proponents as others? What makes you think you are exposed to a good statistical sample? Why do you believe this?

            I could’ve been easily refuted by you by now.

            The “burden of proof” wheelbarrow is on your side of the court, my friend, not mine. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

            The fact that you couldn’t find any evidence against me shows that you have no legs to stand on.

            Now you sound like a theist, through-and-through, with rock-steady faith!

            2. You’ve never asked me to define DCT, or at least you tried very late in the game, so this is a straw man once again.

            My apologies; please define it now, along with providing the relevant evidence.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            How do you know whether or not there was gross sampling bias in your research?

            There simply aren’t many churches/denominations who have natural law as their main ethical framework. I combine all the data from religious institutions with the Bible itself, which is clearly DCT. Any look at the OT and even the NT will clearly see that it is based on DCT. That’s why they’re the 10 commandments, not the 10 suggestions.

            Why would you expect to hear equally as much from these proponents as others? What makes you think you are exposed to a good statistical sample? Why do you believe this?

            It’s a combination of history, the Bible’s moral structure and frequent debates with theists who will always resort to “the Bible says so,” or “because God says so,” as the crux of their argument. I’m glad you admit that god has nothing to do with morality however.

            “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

            Oh so you’ve just renounced your faith in Christianity then? My evidence is the Bible and the vast majority of Churches/denominations/institutions who’ve interpreted the Bible.

            Now you sound like a theist, through-and-through, with rock-steady faith!

            Far from it, it’s you who sounds like a theist.

            My apologies; please define it now, along with providing the relevant evidence.

            My definition is really no different from the one found on Wikipedia. Although I would add that god’s nature is supposed to supply the ontological foundation of moral values, while his commands constitute our moral obligations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_command_theory

          • Luke Breuer

            There simply aren’t many churches/denominations who have natural law as their main ethical framework.

            How do you know this? Where is your evidence?

            the Bible itself, which is clearly DCT

            Excellent; your way of reading the Bible is the way of reading the Bible. You are God. By the way, what is your precise definition of DCT? I want your precise, non-vague definition. This doesn’t cut it:

            My definition is really no different from the one found on Wikipedia.

            Wikipedia is sometimes a bad source; here’s the IEP article:

            Roughly, Divine Command Theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. The specific content of these divine commands varies according to the particular religion and the particular views of the individual divine command theorist, but all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.

            Vagueness for the win, The Thinker! So try again, and be precise.

            That’s why they’re the 10 commandments, not the 10 suggestions.

            Wrong; they’re the 10 Words.

            It’s a combination of history

            How sure are you that you have properly sampled history?

            frequent debates with theists

            How sure are you that you have properly sampled theists?

          • Luke Breuer

            Good. That´s how it should be. Then you should focus on criticizing the argument itself when someone raises such an argument against the Bible (or against God, as in your brief exchange with Justin Schieber that you pointed to). Saying “How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’?” is a cop out.

            You seem to want arguments to be linear and clear to you in a way that doesn’t happen in scientific research. There are unexpected twists and turns. Someone manages to say something ‘wrong’ which can be turned into something ‘less wrong’, etc. This just seems to be the nature of truth-seeking. Why are you surprised when this happens in discussions? You certainly seem surprised, or frustrated, or something. You’re sensing something wrong, and yet how do you know it is wrong; how do you know there is a better way to discuss? Remember that other people don’t think precisely like you do, and that is a good thing.

            My bringing up IC caused us to get somewhere good. I call that good fruit. I’m not going to fret about how the good fruit is obtained, if nobody seemed hurt in the process. Or perhaps you do feel hurt from how I went about this? If so, I would appreciate you helping me not to do the same thing again, while still engaging in what is hopefully a truth-seeking enterprise.

            I will note that you utterly ignored my questions:

            How do you know that you have “a logically valid argument based on reasonable premises”? Have you done the relevant work to place yourself in a culture 2500-3500 years ago before trying to interpret the relevant verses? Have you understood the contemporary culture, the contemporary climate, the contemporary technology, the contemporary laws or lack thereof? Have you done your homework?

            You said “I thought I have admitted that I don’t understand some verses, but am unwilling to condemn them.” – and I parsed that to mean that you would never condemn any Bible verse, because future discoveries or insights might show that it is not as horrible as it looks after all. And that also makes sense of your previous behaviour.

            The options aren’t:

                 (1) either bless,
                 (2) or curse (condemn)

            There is a third:

                 (3) unknown

            The third is different in type; it is a different category. For some details on how this can be, see Dempster–Shafer theory, and thanks to Lotharson for pointing that out.

            You are right that I don’t want to condemn or curse any verse in the Bible. You seem to see this as evil, which I find absolutely fascinating. Do you really, truly dislike me choosing option (3)?

            And if I parsed this correctly, then this is most emphatically not “judge thoroughly, separating every statement…”, it is rather an irrational double standard that is applied to the Bible but nothing else, and that, if applied consistently, would mean that nothing could ever be morally condemned for any reason.

            judgment ≠ condemnation

          • Andy_Schueler

            You seem to want arguments to be linear and clear to you in a way that doesn’t happen in scientific research. There are unexpected twists and turns. Someone manages to say something ‘wrong’ which can be turned into something ‘less wrong’, etc. This just seems to be the nature of truth-seeking. Why are you surprised when this happens in discussions? You certainlyseem surprised, or frustrated, orsomething. You’re sensing something wrong, and yet how do you know it is wrong; how do you know there is a better way to discuss? Remember that other people don’t think precisely like you do, and that is a good thing.

            My bringing up IC caused us to get somewhere good. I call that good fruit. I’m not going to fret about how the good fruit is obtained, if nobody seemed hurt in the process. Or perhaps you do feel hurt from how I went about this? If so, I would appreciate you helping me not to do the same thing again, while still engaging in what is hopefully a truth-seeking enterprise.

            How this is supposed to be a response to:
            “Good. That´s how it should be. Then you should focus on criticizing the argument itself when someone raises such an argument against the Bible (or against God, as in your brief exchange with Justin Schieber that you pointed to). Saying “How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’?” is a cop out.”
            - is a mystery to me.
            Maybe you are looking for some hidden meanings in what I write, there are none.

            I will note that you utterly ignored my questions:

            How do you know that you have “a logically valid argument based on reasonable premises”? Have you done the relevant work to place yourself in a culture 2500-3500 years ago before trying to interpret the relevant verses? Have you understood the contemporary culture, the contemporary climate, the contemporary technology, the contemporary laws or lack thereof?

            Have you done your homework?

            No, I am not an expert on every conceivable aspect of a thousand years of ANE history, and neither are you. If I try to make a particular, say, that the OT regulations regarding slavery are morally abhorrent and not even particularly progressive for the time when they were developed, then I don´t need to be an expert on every conceivable aspects of a thousand years of ANE history. I should be aware of the aspects that pertain to the argument I´m making and that´s it.

            The options aren’t:

            (1) either bless,
            (2) or curse (condemn)

            There is a third:

            (3) unknown

            The third is different in type; it is a different category. For some details on how this can be, see Dempster–Shafer theory, and thanks to Lotharson for pointing that out.

            You are right that I don’t want to condemn or curse any verse in the Bible. You seem to see this as evil, which I find absolutely fascinating. Do you really, truly dislike me choosing option (3)?

            That future discoveries or insights could dismantle arguments which seem reasonable now is always true. No matter how much we know about something, this will never change, it will become less and less likely, but it will never become false
            Pragmatically this stops neither your nor anyone else from making moral judgments and calling some things morally good and others morally evil, if you feel that you have enough information to make such a judgment. Unless it´s about the Bible that is – then the “morally evil” option is not even on the table. Bible verses can only be good or unknown, but never evil. That is an irrational standard, one that you would immediatly reject if others used it in a different context. We can strictly never prove that there will never be any discoveries in the future that will lead us to conclude that new world slavery (or anything else that we now consider to be morally abhorrent) was not as bad as we thought it was. We can say that it is astronomically unlikely, but that´s it. If someone would point that out and would refuse to make any moral judgment on new world slavery one way or the other based on that (your “unknown” option), would you consider that to be a) a rational position to take and b) a morally completely unproblematic position?

          • Luke Breuer

            How this is supposed to be a response to:

            “[...] Saying “How do you know that these verses aren’t your example of ‘irreducible complexity’?” is a cop out.”

            - is a mystery to me.

            Because I think differently from you. Why is that so hard to accept? Why can you not respect that my way of thinking brought us to a point we both agree is valid? Why must you criticize it, intimate it is wrong? If you aren’t criticizing it, if you’re just saying it’s a mystery to you and that’s ok, then you may disregard this paragraph.

            Maybe you are looking for some hidden meanings in what I write, there are none.

            I don’t think you are merely a shell. People’s inner lives and thoughts run very deeply; they aren’t these shallow things. There is a difference between “hidden meaning” and “beliefs which caused me to say this”.

            If I try to make a particular, say, that the OT regulations regarding slavery are morally abhorrent and not even particularly progressive for the time when they were developed, then I don´t need to be an expert on every conceivable aspects of a thousand years of ANE history. I should be aware of the aspects that pertain to the argument I´m making and that´s it.

            You have not demonstrated that you are aware of the relevant aspects. Would you fairly comprehensively cite your sources on the slavery issue? It keeps coming up again and again, so it seems like it would be worth really diving into. I’d be happy to read several books on the matter.

            Bible verses can only be good or unknown, but never evil. That is an irrational standard, one that you would immediatly reject if others used it in a different context.

            I do not call people ‘evil’, either. They may have ugly bits to them, but those are often due to evil from outside them. I believe that there is beauty in every human being; do you disagree? I’m not so sure I apply a double standard, Andy.

            We can strictly never prove that there will never be any discoveries in the future that will lead us to conclude that new world slavery (or anything else that we now consider to be morally abhorrent) was not as bad as we thought it was. We can say that it is astronomically unlikely, but that´s it.

            I would like to see a full defense of this “astronomically unlikely”. What lines of evidence and what theory do you use to claim it?

          • Andy_Schueler

            You have not demonstrated that you are aware of the relevant aspects.

            Oh there are probably plenty of aspects that are relevant here and of which I am blissfully unaware.
            But frankly, you are in absolutely no position to judge that. I clearly remember you mixing up the regulations for hebrew and foreign slaves, which is the rookie mistake for this discussion.

            Would you fairly comprehensively cite your sources on the slavery issue?

            I learned most from the back and forth between Paul Copan and Thom Stark. Start with Copan´s book:
            http://www.amazon.com/Is-God-Moral-Monster-Testament/dp/0801072751
            and Stark´s book-length review of it:
            http://thomstark.net/copan/stark_copan-review.pdf
            Copan (and others like Matthew Flannagan for example) addressed the review:
            http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/06/is-god-a-moral-monster-revisited-preliminary-replies-to-thom-stark/
            and it goes on like this. I found the entire back and forth very educational.

            I do not call people ‘evil’, either. They may have ugly bits to them, but those are often due to evil from outside them.

            Do you call some actions, like the holocaust for example, “evil”?
            Do you call some expressions of thought, like Luther´s On The Jews And Their Lies, “evil”?
            If not, do you consider such actions and thoughts to be morally neutral then?

            I would like to see a full defense of this “astronomically unlikely”. What lines of evidence and what theory do you use to claim it?

            I´m not interested in spending the time and effort to do so, so I´ll just grant you that it is not astronomically unlikely. So that means that you do think it would be both reasonable and also morally completely unproblematic for me (for example) to refrain from considering new world slavery to be morally evil and instead settling for “morally unknown / undecidable”?

          • Luke Breuer

            Oh there are probably plenty of aspects that are relevant here and of which I am blissfully unaware.

            But frankly, you are in absolutely no position to judge that. I clearly remember you mixing up the regulations for hebrew and foreign slaves, which is the rookie mistake for this discussion.

            Wait a second, you said this:

            We can strictly never prove that there will never be any discoveries in the future that will lead us to conclude that new world slavery (or anything else that we now consider to be morally abhorrent) was not as bad as we thought it was. We can say that it is astronomically unlikely, but that´s it.

            Do you or do you not have sufficient justification for “astronomically unlikely”? How much I know is utterly irrelevant to whether or not you have sufficient justification. You just attempted misdirection; perhaps this was unintentional. If all you’ve read is that one exchange that you cite, that isn’t very much research.

            I´m not interested in spending the time and effort to do so, so I´ll just grant you that it is not astronomically unlikely. So that means that you do think it would be both reasonable and also morally completely unproblematic for me (for example) to refrain from considering new world slavery to be morally evil and instead settling for “morally unknown / undecidable”?

            I do not see how A ⇒ B.

            Do you call some actions, like the holocaust for example, “evil”?

            Do you call some expressions of thought, like Luther´s On The Jews And Their Lies, “evil”?

            If not, do you consider such actions and thoughts to be morally neutral then?

            Actions are not evil, intentions are evil. Evil is moral and moral is internal. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Now, ideas can certainly be evil. The idea that reality would be better after the extermination of the Jews and the idea that the Jews were responsible for all the Germans’ problems, are both evil, through and through. I can also call the ideas false.

            Only Satan is 100% evil and only God is 100% good. Everyone else is an admixture. Solzhenitsyn understood this thoroughly (from here):

            It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains . . . an unuprooted small corner of evil. (615)

          • Andy_Schueler

            Wait a second, you said this:

            We can strictly never prove that there will never be any discoveries in the future that will lead us to conclude that new world slavery (or anything else that we now consider to be morally abhorrent) was not as bad as we thought it was. We can say that it is astronomically unlikely, but that´s it.

            I have absolutely no idea why you think that this is of any relevance for what you replied to. Well, I have one idea but that depends on you misreading “new world slavery” for “biblical slavery” in what I wrote here. If you didn´t confuse the two, then I cannot follow your train of thought. At all.

            If all you’ve read is that one exchange that you cite, that isn’t very much research.

            It doesn´t interest me enough to spend any more time on it than I already did. If you think there are imporant aspects that are relevant for the position I ended up with, but which I am currently unaware of, then by all means, point them out.

            I do not see how A ⇒ B.

            Do you, or do you not, think it would be both reasonable and also morally completely unproblematic for me (for example) to refrain from considering new world slavery to be morally evil and instead settling for “morally unknown / undecidable”?

            Actions are not evil, intentions are evil. Evil is moral and moral is internal. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Now,ideas can certainly be evil. The idea that reality would be better after the extermination of the Jews and the ideathat the Jews were responsible for all the Germans’ problems, are both evil, through and through. I can also call the ideas false.

            Cool. Then your original point in this strain of the discussion has become moot.
            To reiterate, I said:
            “Bible verses can only be good or unknown, but never evil. That is an irrational standard, one that you would immediatly reject if others used it in a different context.”
            You replied:
            “I do not call people ‘evil’, either. ”

            But you do consider certain ideas to be evil, and ideas can be written down. The ideas expressed in the Bible thus could be just as evil from your vantage point as Hitlers ideas regarding the Jews, but that option is never on the table for the Bible, while it very much is on the table for all other ideas. And that is the irrational double standard I keep pointing out. If you would apply it consistently, you would have to say something along the line “The idea that reality would be better after the extermination of the Jews sounds evil, but maybe I just don´t understand it and future discoveries will show how it is actually good or at least progressive”.

          • Luke Breuer

            I have absolutely no idea why you think that this is of any relevance for what you replied to. Well, I have one idea but that depends on you misreading “new world slavery” for “biblical slavery” in what I wrote here. If you didn´t confuse the two, then I cannot follow your train of thought. At all.

            That is precisely the mistake I made; my apologies, and thank you for discerning it.

            Do you, or do you not, think it would be both reasonable and also morally completely unproblematic for me (for example) to refrain from considering new world slavery to be morally evil and instead settling for “morally unknown / undecidable”?

            It is much easier for me to think about new world slavery than Hebraic slavery, because new world slavery is ≤ 512 years ago, compared to Hebraic slavery, which was ≥ 2500 years ago. Therefore, I am more confident in making claims about new world slavery. Does this make sense, this variation of confidence based on distance from culture/climate/contemporary jurisprudence (or lack thereof)/etc.?

            But you do consider certain ideas to be evil, and ideas can be written down. The ideas expressed in the Bible thus could be just as evil from your vantage point as Hitlers ideas regarding the Jews, but that option is never on the table for the Bible, while it very much is on the table for all other ideas. And that is the irrational double standard I keep pointing out. If you would apply it consistently, you would have to say something along the line “The idea that reality would be better after the extermination of the Jews sounds evil, but maybe I just don´t understand it and future discoveries will show how it is actually good or at least progressive”.

            You make a good point. If I were to find out sufficient information about Israel ≥ 2500 years ago, I could increasingly confidently call that system of slavery ‘evil’. At this point, I haven’t done nearly the requisite amount of research.

            There is, of course, the niggling possibility that our interpretation of the evidence is skewed. Surely you acknowledge this? Surely you acknowledge that you can look at a thing, and see only and exclusively the ugly aspects?

          • Andy_Schueler

            It is much easier for me to think about new world slavery than Hebraic slavery, because new world slavery is ≤ 512 years ago, compared to Hebraic slavery, which was ≥ 2500 years ago. Therefore, I am more confident in making claims about new world slavery. Does this make sense, this variation of confidence based on distance from culture/climate/contemporary jurisprudence (or lack thereof)/etc.?

            Absolutely.

            You make a good point. If I were to find out sufficient information about Israel ≥ 2500 years ago, I could increasingly confidently call that system of slavery ‘evil’. At this point, I haven’t done nearlythe requisite amount of research.

            There is, of course, the niggling possibility that our interpretation of the evidence is skewed. Surely you acknowledge this?

            Again, absolutely. My confidence in this respect is largely based on how absolutely terrible the arguments of christian apologists are when it comes to biblical slavery. Christian apologists have both a very strong interest in defending biblical slavery (because it is one of the favorite targets of skeptics and a common source of doubt regarding biblical authority for believers), and there are some among such apologists who have advanced degrees in relevant fields. If I make an honest effort at looking for the best arguments that they can come up with, and see that they are terrible, then the conclusion that biblical slavery is not rationally defensible seems to be warranted to me.

          • Luke Breuer

            What are your thoughts on Peter Enns’ Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible? There is a common thread in a lot of these conversations, that when a person “hears from God”, the communication is necessarily perfect. If that presupposition is thrown out, I think the landscape changes, perhaps significantly.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I don´t see how inerrancy is relevant here. Where exactly do you think is inerrancy being assumed here and what would change by rejecting the assumption?

          • Luke Breuer

            Most Christian apologists who defend biblical slavery are inerrantists, and this colors the defense immensely.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Example?

          • Luke Breuer

            Was I wrong in recalling Copan as an inerrantist? I read his book a while ago, so I’m largely reconstructing from my “web of knowledge” on people who have defended slavery in the Bible.

          • Andy_Schueler

            That´s not what I meant. I was curious if you could give an example for how you would defend biblical slavery differently depending on whether you do or do not subscribe to some form of inerrancy.

          • Luke Breuer

            When one makes strong affirmations or strong denunciations of a text which is ≥ 2500 years old, one is predicating one’s opinion on a framework of beliefs. Inerrancy is one way to describe the structure of this framework. Different flavors of inerrancy describe different possible structures.

            I subscribe to there being a ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible, which could be described as a kind of inerrancy, but I don’t know if it usually is. One reason I like Peter Enns’ Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible and his bigger approach (especially as seen in his Inspiration and Incarnation) is that he seems to support this ‘moral trajectory’ idea. His rejection of inerrancy is subtle: I think what he is doing is breaking with very common conceptions of inerrancy. He still thinks there is a ‘wholeness’ to the Bible, as I do. But the nature of that ‘wholeness’ is different from what many believe.

            As a scientific analogy, consider how your perception of reality were to change if:

                 (1) the fundamental physical constants were discovered to be slowly changing over time

                 (2) the fundamental physical constants were discovered to be different between locations in space

            These could probably be collapsed into one statement by using the term spacetime, but perhaps things would be less clear. Anyhow, there are two ways that the change I describe could happen:

                 (A) rationally
                 (B) irrationally

            We aren’t guaranteed that our universe is rational down to the core, and neither are we guaranteed that our brains are able to comprehend all of the rationality of our universe. Anyhow, there are ways that (1) and (2) can happen which match (A), and ways in which they would match (B). I wrote a Phil.SE answer which explores this idea. In order for (A) to hold, and assuming humans can fully understand all rationality given enough spacetime (and different perspectives of different humans), what would be required? My answer is:

                 (i) certain smoothness, combined with
                 (ii) certain discreteness

            Ok, maybe I stole some of (i) from the question title: Looking for a treatise on philosophy of “smoothness”. The initial question I had answered was about what happens when you “zoom in” really close to phenomena. Anyhow, invariants in physics are fundamentally related to (i) and (ii); we get conservation laws from invariants. And I think there is something to invariants which allow human cognition to increasingly well-model reality.

            This is fun: (i) and (ii) get at unity and diversity, which I have mentioned before. It’s a very deep concept, it turns out! The ancient Greek philosophers become smarter and smarter the more I learn, hehehehe.

          • Andy_Schueler

            I subscribe to there being a ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible

            I know. Why you think that this allows you to use arguments to defend biblical slavery, which Copan (for example) could not use (or vice versa) is still a mystery to me.

          • Luke Breuer

            Positing a moral trajectory is like positing that the ‘fundamental’ physical constants could be changing. Most people aren’t ready for that idea; most aren’t willing to conscience it. For it posits either chaos underneath, or a deeper lawfulness which we cannot [yet] grasp. Most people these days seem to want to think that they really understand reality. Just observe all the people who use the sentence pattern: “It’s just X.”

          • Andy_Schueler

            Positing a moral trajectory is like positing that the ‘fundamental’ physical constants could be changing. Most people aren’t ready for that idea

            I doubt that, all you have to do to see that there is such a thing as moral progress is to open your eyes, or have a conversation with your parents or grandparents and ask them about the civil rights movement, or the history of women´s rights, or the spread of democracy, and so on and so forth. That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies like salafists or christian reconstructionists for example.

            For it posits either chaos underneath, or a deeper lawfulness which we cannot [yet] grasp.

            No idea what you are talking about and what this has to do with the preceding sentence.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke can’t even say for sure whether stoning to death homosexuals was morally wrong because of his religious views. So much for the claim that Christianity is a useful moral guide.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Yup, there are hard moral problems – but whether you should kill people by stoning for having sex in a way you don´t approve of, or not, is not exactly one of those.

          • Luke Breuer

            When is it ok to kill humans who haven’t been born yet? As long as they haven’t been born yet?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            That’s easy. I answered that above. Now answer me without being vague whether it was morally permissible/obligatory to kill homosexuals.

          • Luke Breuer

            I doubt that, all you have to do to see that there is such a thing as moral progress is to open your eyes, or have a conversation with your parents or grandparents and ask them about the civil rights movement, or the history of women´s rights, or the spread of democracy, and so on and so forth.

            So you understand why so many people are opposed to gay marriage? Ahh:

            That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies like salafists or christian reconstructionists for example.

            It is fascinating that you restrict the badness to religious people. Randal Rauser’s Peter Boghossian’s Manual for Wasting Paper (Part 8): Anti-religious indoctrination might be eye-opening to you.

            No idea what you are talking about and what this has to do with the preceding sentence.

            Beliefs undergird beliefs which undergird yet other beliefs. If there is a fear that admitting that everything might be in flux means that fundamental reality might be unknowable, I think that percolates into one’s higher-level beliefs. If, on the other hand, you believe that reality is rationally understandable infinitely ‘deep’ as well as infinitely ‘far’ (or we could just use all four dimensions of spacetime a la Eph 3:18).

          • Andy_Schueler

            So you understand why so many people are opposed to gay marriage?

            Yes. Your point?

            It is fascinating that you restrict the badness to religious people. Randal Rauser’s Peter Boghossian’s Manual for Wasting Paper (Part 8): Anti-religious indoctrination might be eye-opening to you.

            Oh FFS… Here´s what I wrote:
            “That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies” – and now tell me how the blogpost you link to has ANYTHING to do with that.

            If, on the other hand, you believe that reality is rationally understandable infinitely ‘deep’ as well as infinitely ‘far’ (or we could just use all four dimensions of spacetime a la Eph 3:18).

            Well, maybe that is a coherent thought in your mind, but what you write here is completely unintelligible, at least to me.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yes. Your point?

            I question whether there are many who hold to a lawful moral trajectory, vs. “whatever feels good at the time”. You have the fundamentalists who “teach as commandments of God the doctrines of men”, in Mt 15, as The Thinker so kindly pointed me to. And you have the liberals who just want nice ethical treatment. See What, if anything, is the difference between ethics and moral philosophy? and this answer, which I take to define ‘ethics’ as outward and ‘morality’ as inward. It’s the difference between your behavior toward other beings, and your behavior with yourself, in your head.

            What is generally refused to be done is to connect (i) ethics; (ii) morality. Few people are able to reason from one to the other, in my experience. But then again, my sampling is not guaranteed to be random; I have not explored this issue extensively. I will point out that Kagan focused much more on ethics, and Craig more on morality (but maybe not much more). I would have to re-listen to the entire debate to be more clear on this matter. I do suspect there is something important to Craig’s “cosmic meaning”, but I cannot quite tease it out. My intuition says that it matters whether your “planning horizon” is growing or increasing (I don’t think it stays the same).

            Oh FFS… Here´s what I wrote:

            “That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies” – and now tell me how the blogpost you link to has ANYTHING to do with that.

            You said:

            That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies like salafists or christian reconstructionists for example.

            When you said ‘anyone’, were you selecting out of the population of (1) religious persons, or (2) all persons? I claim that there exist atheist fundamentalists who fall into your “except for” list.

            Well, maybe that is a coherent thought in your mind, but what you write here is completely unintelligible, at least to me.

            It’s really not that complex. Are quarks fundamental, or is there something more fundamental? Call them twerps. Are twerps fundamental, or is there something more fundamental? Are there turtles all the way down, or does it bottom out somewhere? See Structural Realism. We can also go in the other direction: are there ever more complex emergent behaviors, or do we hit a “ceiling” somewhere, perhaps limited by finite energy? (We aren’t given finite energy, but it is often assumed.)

          • Andy_Schueler

            I question whether there are many who hold to a lawful moral trajectory, vs. “whatever feels good at the time”.

            Nobody argues that we should do “whatever feels good at the time”, that is a complete strawman.

            What is generally refused to be done is to connect (i) ethics; (ii) morality. Few people are able to reason from one to the other, in my experience.

            Observe how people come to change their mind on moral issues – it has virtually never anything to do with moral philosophy.

            When you said ‘anyone’, were you selecting out of the population of (1) religious persons, or (2) all persons? I claim that there exist atheist fundamentalists who fall into your “except for” list.

            1. Again, what does this have to do with the post you linked to?
            2. Point to one atheist who does that.
            3. If you cannot point to one, give a plausible reason an atheist could have for denying that moral progress is possible.

            It’s really not that complex. Are quarks fundamental, or is there something more fundamental? Call them twerps. Are twerps fundamental, or is there something more fundamental? Are there turtles all the way down, or does it bottom out somewhere?

            How this is relevant for anything and how it leads to this:
            “Beliefs undergird beliefs which undergird yet other beliefs. If there is a fear that admitting that everything might be in flux means that fundamental reality might be unknowable, I think that percolates into one’s higher-level beliefs. If, on the other hand, you believe that reality is rationally understandable infinitely ‘deep’ as well as infinitely ‘far’ (or we could just use all four dimensions of spacetime a la Eph 3:18).”

            - continues to be a mystery for me.

          • Luke Breuer

            Nobody argues that we should do “whatever feels good at the time”, that is a complete strawman.

            Is it a complete strawman? What’s the opposite, the completely rational person, the Kantian? It seems that most people choose some point between the two poles, endpoints inclusive. Does this make sense?

            Observe how people come to change their mind on moral issues – it has virtually never anything to do with moral philosophy.

            Relevance? Are you making an descriptive statement (this is what happens), and/or a normative statement (this is how it ought to happen)?

            1. Again, what does this have to do with the post you linked to?
            2. Point to one atheist who does that.
            3. If you cannot point to one, give a plausible reason an atheist could have for denying that moral progress is possible.

            1. was the answer to 2. I think we need to distinguish between:

                 (1) progress in conception of ‘the good’
                 (2) progress in approaching an established ‘good’

            Boghossian seems to think he has figured out ‘the good’, or at least, that religion is most definitely not an element of ‘the good’. Unless he can show this in an a priori fashion, I claim he is being a fundamentalist, arguing on faith. And his behavior of saying that anyone who disagrees with him is brain-damaged or grossly immoral (or stupid or uneducated, I suppose) is an extremely fundamentalist claim.

            How this is relevant for anything and how it leads to this:

            “Beliefs undergird beliefs which undergird yet other beliefs. If there is a fear that admitting that everything might be in flux means that fundamental reality might be unknowable, I think that percolates into one’s higher-level beliefs. If, on the other hand, you believe that reality is rationally understandable infinitely ‘deep’ as well as infinitely ‘far’ (or we could just use all four dimensions of spacetime a la Eph 3:18).”

            - continues to be a mystery for me.

            Let’s go back:

            LB: I subscribe to there being a ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible

            AS: I know. Why you think that this allows you to use arguments to defend biblical slavery, which Copan (for example) could not use (or vice versa) is still a mystery to me.

            LB: Positing a moral trajectory is like positing that the ‘fundamental’ physical constants could be changing. Most people aren’t ready for that idea; most aren’t willing to conscience it. For it posits either chaos underneath, or a deeper lawfulness which we cannot [yet] grasp. Most people these days seem to want to think that they really understand reality. Just observe all the people who use the sentence pattern: “It’s just X.”

            I never said others couldn’t use the ‘moral trajectory’ argument; I merely stated that people generally don’t want to. Not very many people are in the habit of asking: “What would happen if the speed of light is slowly changing?” Instead, they tend to believe that things have always been as they are. In some situations, this is a good approximation! But not always. I claim that slavery in the Bible is an example of “not always”. We discussed this:

            LB: It is much easier for me to think about new world slavery than Hebraic slavery, because new world slavery is ≤ 512 years ago, compared to Hebraic slavery, which was ≥ 2500 years ago. Therefore, I am more confident in making claims about new world slavery. Does this make sense, this variation of confidence based on distance from culture/climate/contemporary jurisprudence (or lack thereof)/etc.?

            AS: Absolutely.

            You and The Thinker want me to condemn biblical slavery; I won’t, because I don’t know enough about it to do so. Some seem to think this unwillingness means I am equally unwilling to condemn slavery today, but they forget that I am much closer in spacetime to today, and thus can speak more confidently about today. Such people aren’t aware of how the rules can change further away in spacetime. And what I really mean by “rules can change”, is that “the best rules to enforce in order to make things better” are dependent on cultural, technological, and social context.

          • Andy_Schueler

            1. was the answer to 2.

            So you have no answer to 1.

            Boghossian seems to think he has figured out ‘the good’, or at least, that religion is most definitely not an element of ‘the good’. Unless he can show this in an a priori fashion, I claim he is being a fundamentalist, arguing on faith. And his behavior of saying that anyone who disagrees with him is brain-damaged or grossly immoral (or stupid or uneducated, I suppose) is an extremely fundamentalist claim.

            Incredible…. Absolutely incredible.
            So you read:
            “That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies”
            => and in your mind, this turns into “Aha! Andy says that fundamentalists are necessarily religious.” How the fuck is this even possible to misread something like that? You end up with something that has literally NOTHING to do whatsoever with what has been said except for the fact that your interpretation includes ONE word that also occurs in what I wrote originally. This is your native language for fucks sake.

            You and The Thinker want me to condemn biblical slavery; I won’t, because I don’t know enough about it to do so.
            Some seem to think this unwillingness means I am equally unwilling to condemn slavery today, but they forget that I am much closer in spacetime to today, and thus can speak more confidently about today.

            And I´m sure you won´t condemn human sacrifices by the Aztecs as well because you don´t know enough to do so and it happened a really long time ago.

          • Luke Breuer

            Incredible…. Absolutely incredible.

            Going back to your comment:

            3. If you cannot point to one, give a plausible reason an atheist could have for denying that moral progress is possible.

            In Peter Boghossian’s Manual for Wasting Paper (Part 8): Anti-religious indoctrination, Boghossian claims that moral progress is impossible within religion. Or perhaps more precisely, that as long as one is religious, one will be less able to realize moral progress than if one were to become non-religious. You are correct; I was being a bit too binary.

            The core idea I was getting at is that a fundamentalist makes dogmatic claims, like Boghossian’s claims about religion making you a worse person, including in the moral domain (unless you have neural damage, but perhaps we can ignore that for now). I was really getting after the fact that Boghossian holds to dogma, which is not based on the evidence. That is, after all the fundamental criticism of fundamentalists?

            And I´m sure you won´t condemn human sacrifices by the Aztecs as well because you don´t know enough to do so and it happened a really long time ago.

            How would I or anyone around me benefit from such condemnation? It’s like you enjoy looking through spacetime, separating things into ‘good’ and ‘evil’. That’s kinda weird. Setting yourself up as judge over history?

          • Andy_Schueler

            In Peter Boghossian’s Manual for Wasting Paper (Part 8): Anti-religious indoctrination, Boghossian claims that moral progress is impossible within religion. Or perhaps more precisely, that as long as one is religious, one will be less able to realize moral progress than if one were to become non-religious. You are correct; I was being a bit too binary.

            The core idea I was getting at is that a fundamentalist makes dogmatic claims, like Boghossian’s claims about religion making you a worse person, including in the moral domain (unless you have neural damage, but perhaps we can ignore that for now). I was really getting after the fact that Boghossian holds to dogma, which is not based on the evidence. That is, after all the fundamental criticism of fundamentalists?

            If you are just talking to yourself instead of responding to what I say, then this here is, by definition, not a conversation.

            How would I or anyone around me benefit from such condemnation? It’s like you enjoy looking through spacetime, separating things into ‘good’ and ‘evil’. That’s kinda weird. Setting yourself up as judge over history?

            The president of my country just returned from a visit in another country where he asked for forgiveness for the crimes committed by the Wehrmacht. That´s kinda weird isn´t it? Setting himself up as a judge over history like that. Who does something like that? It is completely obvious that we should refrain from making moral judgments and “seperating the world into good and evil” when it comes to history. The rational thing for my president to do would have been to say “what the Wehrmacht did seems morally wrong to me today, but I am unwilling to condemn their actions in the past because I am much closer in spacetime to today”.

          • Luke Breuer

            If you are just talking to yourself instead of responding to what I say, then this here is, by definition, not a conversation.

            Is not dogma a building block to religious fundies and the badness about them you were pointing to? I was pointing to similar dogma in an atheist which also leads to badness of similar type to your badness. Sure, I went about it in a roundabout fashion, but if you don’t like that I think this way, cease interacting with me. The complaints without effort to help (help which you have expended, from time to time) grow tiring.

            It is completely obvious that we should refrain from making moral judgments and “seperating the world into good and evil” when it comes to history.

            This is binary thinking, unless you make stronger moral judgments about things closer in spacetime, and weaker moral judgments about things further away in spacetime, unless you happen to be an expert in those areas of spacetime. Make sense? This goes under my principle of “don’t confidently talk about things you don’t competently know”.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Is not dogma a building block to religious fundies and the badness about them you were pointing to? I was pointing to similar dogma in an atheist which also leads to badness of similar type to your badness.

            I say “the only people I am aware of who do x are religious fundies.”
            You reply in a way that makes only sense as either a response to “only religious people can be fundies” (which has literally nothing whatsoever to do with what I actually said).
            I point it out that you do that.
            You reply again by saying that atheists can also be fundies.
            This is simply ridiculous.

            This is binary thinking, unless you make stronger moral judgments about things closer in spacetime, and weaker moral judgments about things further away in spacetime

            Good. Then at least be consistent about that. In the past, you pointed to several OT verses that you think are moral improvements over the status quo at the time, but in your framework, it is categorically unknowable whether they actually are moral improvements or not.
            It happened >2500 years ago, ergo, nothing can be said about its moral status one way or the other. Going back to the original point – you are not defending biblical slavery, the OT cannot be defended in principle in your framework, because you try to hide it behind an impenetrable veil of ignorance – it´s very old, ergo, nothing can be said about it one way or the other. If you want to do that, cool, then be consistent and refrain from making any judgment about it one way or the other.

          • Luke Breuer

            Once more into the breach! You said:

            That there is moral progress seems to be a trivial insight to me, I am not aware of anyone who would deny that, except for religious fundies like salafists or christian reconstructionists for example.

            Like Clinton, I think I got confused by “is”. Let’s split it up:

                 (1) there has been moral progress
                 (2) there will continue to be moral progress

            I honestly am not sure very many Christians would assert (1), which is in line with what you have said. Then again, we have the myth of progress and Jared Diamond’s The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race; from the last page:

            Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

            What metric one uses for (1) is very important. I’m currently embroiled in a discussion with The Thinker over Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, which argues for (1) due to the lower percentage of humans experiencing physical violence, on a fractal scale. I offered to The Thinker a scenario to test this:

            Suppose we are well into the future, in a universe with one quadrillion planets, all approximatelly equally populated. Every year, the most evil planet—regardless of how good it is—is obliterated from existence. Compare such a universe with the pretend situation that Earth hosts the only sentient life right now. Which universe is more moral?

            This is deeply reminiscent of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Anyhow, the metric one uses is very important. Is it ‘progress’ if, on the one hand, the US has more civil rights, but on the other hand, wealth disparity is skyrocketing? How do we balance the pluses and the minuses? In the very writing of this post, I wonder whether those fundamentalists are actually onto something!

            Anyhow, I was actually focusing on (2) in this big bolus of bewildernment. And I was suggesting that Boghossian was advocating (2)-stunting dogma, in the form of the idea that all religion hinders (2). But I was measuring moral progress from as objective a standard as I could imagine, while I think Boghossian is measuring moral progress based on his plan of salvation for the world. So I can see how there was a lot of confusing. My apologies.

            I give a fuller treatment of moral progress in this comment, where I argue for infinite possible moral progress as very important, and threatened by any claim that there is only finitely much moral progress to be made. I also question whether we should really be using the term ‘moral’ or ‘just’; I think ‘just’ is better.

            In the past, you pointed to several OT verses that you think are moral improvements over the status quo at the time, but in your framework, it is categorically unknowable whether they actually are moral improvements or not.

            Ummm, I can compare the Code of Hammurabi to the Bible, note that the Code requires fugitive slaves to be returned, and note that the Bible requires slaves not be returned. There’s nothing wrong with this, is there? But this is, of course, a pretty easy situation, as there is knowledge on both sides, not knowledge vs. the unknown.

            It happened >2500 years ago, ergo, nothing can be said about its moral status one way or the other.

            If I implied that, it was meant to hold in the absense of relevant evidence. My apologies for not making that more clear.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Are you will to accept that some of the moral verses in the Bible are man-made?

          • Luke Breuer

            Not yet. Does this infuriate you?

            P.S. I assume you meant 100% man-made; see Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            So stoning to death homosexuals and adulterers was morally good/obligatory?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            There are at least 3 options as I’ve mentioned on our other thread. It does seem as if to you it’s either, perfectly good, or progressive/misinterpreted goodness.

          • Luke Breuer

            I am extremely slow to curse/condemn; once in a while I’ll do it to a terrible thought a la 2 Cor 10:3-6, but very rarely. Usually I condemn statements that indicate a person isn’t beautiful/valuable/etc.

            Cursing and condemning is a great way to make a hell with people inside.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            So is it morally permissible, or was it morally permissible, or obligatory to stone to death homosexuals for their behavior? Since you claim Christianity gives us a worldview that makes reality make better sense, especially in the moral sense, you should very easily be able to answer this question without being vague.

          • Luke Breuer

            Actually, I cannot answer this well. Some things I do not understand; this is one of them. I know this infuriates you; I think my existence infuriates you. Alas, you have not given me sufficient reason to think or reason or act or be different than who I am.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Fuzzy-wuzzy theism at it’s best! If you can’t even answer this basic question, is shows how bankrupt your whole moral framework is. And it shows how Christian morality makes it even harder to approach morality. I’ll stick with my non-theistic morality thank you very much.

          • Luke Breuer

            Ahh, your favorite critique. If someone cannot explain X, and you have decided that X must be defined or the theory falls apart, then that is true and you do not err [often enough to question your judgment]. I don’t know what you mean by ‘morality’ that isn’t covered by exclusively outward behavior and words. Do you know what an ‘inner life’ even is? Do you think there are better and worse ways for that ‘inner life’ to operate? See, for example, my Phil.SE question Are there laws which govern minds?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            All I’m asking for is a simple yes or no answer. I mean after all, you constantly praise the robust explanatory power of Christianity and how it allows you to make sense of the world. Yet it’s this very religion that prevents you from condoning or condemning the stoning to death of a homosexual. Seems like a no brainer to me. Excuse me if I think you’re religion is morally vacuous.

            And so according to you, we have a book from god, yet you can’t even make sense of it. Seems pointless. And it seems that your “inner life” is conflicted.

          • Luke Breuer

            When I don’t know whether it’s “yes” or “no”, I do something that may just utterly shock you: I say “I don’t know.” You don’t seem capable of this, for some reason.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            It’s perfectly fine if you don’t know something. But the fact that you can’t take a stance on a moral issue that is a total no-brainer is a direct consequence of your religion. And thus, you revoke any future ability to assert that Christianity helps us make moral sense of the world and is morally useful. It isn’t. It takes the easiest moral issues and makes them unnecessarily convoluted. That’s what you’d expect from a man-made religion. Don’t you agree?

          • Luke Breuer

            I can take more confident moral stances on issues which are closer to me in spacetime. It gets more difficult further away in spacetime. Is this illogical?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Wait, I thought god “operates by unchanging rules”? Now they’re all contingent upon spacetime? That’s illogical.

          • Luke Breuer

            On Jonathan’s DCT post, I mentioned the possibility that morality is an emergent property of the laws of physics. Do you reject this possibility?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Possibility? Hmm. I personally think objective moral values exist, and that they are not depended on subjective minds. But they are dependent on sentient beings like humans existing. In a universe devoid of life, there would not be a moral aspect to it. So I can’t say they emerge from the laws of physics. I can say that if sentient life emerges from certain laws of physics, then it is a possibility.

          • Luke Breuer

            Possibility? Hmm. I personally think objective moral values exist, and that they are not depended on subjective minds.

            How do you know that objective moral values exist? You might like my How could ‘objective morality’ be known/investigated? I attempted an answer; I’d love to know your thoughts on it. If you have something less-vague than what I stated, I’d love to know it. The following questions of mine might also be relevant:

            Are there laws which govern minds?
            “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses?
            What is the current status of Emotivism?

            As you can see, I’ve been trying to understand this problem for a while now. I might be vague, but I’m trying to be ever-less-vague. It is, however, very hard when others only point out what’s wrong, instead of (i) point out what is on the right track; (ii) encourage more rightness/life/beauty.

            But they are dependent on sentient beings like humans existing. In a universe devoid of life, there would not be a moral aspect to it. So I can’t say they emerge from the laws of physics. I can say that if sentient life emerges from certain laws of physics, then it is a possibility.

            Why do you say this? Is it perhaps the difference between a given Platonic form (or mathematical description) referring to something extant, or not? One of my open questions is whether all minds actually obey the same laws—whether the underlying construct is irrelevant. Massimo Pigliucci’s Essays on emergence, part I argues that phase transitions in matter seem in some way abstracted from the matter itself, almost non-dependent on the specifics. Or you can consider how a given algorithm can be implemented in one of many (a) languages; (b) physical computing platforms. So perhaps the laws which govern minds in some way do not depend on the specific laws of physics. I don’t know. :-)

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            How do you know that objective moral values exist?

            I told you before. I came at this through the Euthyphro dilemma.

            Are there laws which govern minds?

            All minds are dependent on physical brains so they are governed by the laws of physics.

            Is it perhaps the difference between a given Platonic form (or mathematical description) referring to something extant, or not?

            I’m skeptical of platonism. Objective morality is completely dependent on the physical world and the sentient life within it. It emerges once life exists and evolves to a certain point.

          • Luke Breuer

            I told you before. I came at this through the Euthyphro dilemma.

            Care to… elaborate, or link me to where you already have?

            All minds are dependent on physical brains so they are governed by the laws of physics.

            They may not be governed by the laws of physics; you didn’t read what I said, apparently.

            I’m skeptical of platonism. Objective morality is completely dependent on the physical world and the sentient life within it. It emerges once life exists and evolves to a certain point.

            Mathematical truths stay true regardless of whether there are particles and fields which correspond to mathematical truths.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Care to… elaborate, or link me to where you already have?

            This is from my post Why I’m An Atheist

            In the post I write:

            The Moral Argument is just another failed attempt to make god into a required being. How can we have objective morality, it is asked, if there is no god? Thus it is argued that if god does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist, but they do, so god exists. Enter the Euthyphro Dilemma: Is something good because god commands it, or does god command it because it’s good? The first part makes morality arbitrary, and the latter makes god irrelevant to what’s good. The standard response is that god is the good – god is the ontological foundation of goodness because he is intrinsically loving, compassionate and fair, etc. But then we can ask, is god good because he has these properties or are these properties good because god has them? In order to avoid compromising god’s sovereignty and admitting that these properties are good independently of god, the theist who wants to hold to the moral argument must say that these traits are good because god has them. But how is love, compassion, fairness or any other positive attribute good only because god has them? They would be good irrespective of god’s existence, as would be evident by their effects. The theist would bear the burden of proof to demonstrate that they wouldn’t be good without god, which I haven’t yet seen anyone successfully achieve. Thus I say objective moral values exist independently of god. Duties on the other hand are more tricky. I simply don’t believe in objective duties in the sense that they’re issued from some kind of cosmic police officer. Duties arise primarily from social obligations, or obligations to principle. Under secular ethical systems, we need to appeal to reason to understand our obligations to one another, not commandments. Besides, the other major hurdle that divine command theory suffers from is the epistemic problem. That is, even if people believe in god, no one is going to fully agree on what god or what version of god is the correct one, or what commands are authentic and how to properly interpret them. You’re going to be faced ultimately with moral relativism in practice, as is evident from the wide range of beliefs and practices of all religions. Thus the moral argument fails in theory and in practice.

            They may not be governed by the laws of physics; you didn’t read what I said, apparently.

            Try and convince me they aren’t with a compelling argument. Post it HERE, don’t like me to it.

            Mathematical truths stay true regardless of whether there are particles and fields which correspond to mathematical truths.

            True. If Platonism is true, theists can never say the universe came from “nothing” since number would always timelessly exist in the Platonic sense. I’m still skeptical as to whether they exist ontologically, or they are purely mental constructs.

          • Luke Breuer

            Thus I say objective moral values exist independently of god.

            Why? You didn’t actually provide an argument for why. All you said is that if objective moral values exist, then they exist independently from God. But you haven’t established that they exist!

            Furthermore, it’s also not clear what you mean by “moral values”; how would you define them?

            Duties on the other hand are more tricky.

            What’s the difference between “moral values” and “duties”? Do “duties” arise entirely from “moral values”?

            That is, even if people believe in god, no one is going to fully agree on what god or what version of god is the correct one, or what commands are authentic and how to properly interpret them.

            Red herring: full agreement is not required. Again, see those blind men & the elephant.

            Try and convince me they aren’t with a compelling argument. Post it HERE, don’t like me to it.

            I do not [yet] have the expertise to show you how phase changes in matter happen despite a great many difference of microstructure of the things making up the phase changes. If you don’t want to either trust me on the matter or go look it up, we can drop this tangent. It’s not interesting enough for me to do the requisite math (I think statistical mechanics?).

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Why? You didn’t actually provide an argument for why. All you said is that if objective moral values exist, then they exist independently from God. But you haven’t established that they exist!

            I said, “But how is love, compassion, fairness or any other positive attribute good only because god has them? They would be good irrespective of god’s existence, as would be evident by their effects.

            What’s the difference between “moral values” and “duties”? Do “duties” arise entirely from “moral values”?

            This paragraph isn’t designed to be a comprehensive final word on all morality. If you want to read more on my thoughts on morality, see here A Case For Secular Morality

            Red herring: full agreement is not required. Again, see those blind men & the elephant.

            It is required to not have moral relativism in practice.

            I do not [yet] have the expertise to show you how phase changes in matter happen despite a great many difference of microstructure of the things making up the phase changes.

            Fine, we can drop this part.

          • Luke Breuer

            I said, “But how is love, compassion, fairness or any other positive attribute good only because god has them? They would be good irrespective of god’s existence, as would be evident by their effects.”

            Plenty of kings through the ages have thought that not-fairness was just dandy. So I’m not seeing a sound argument for moral objectivity existing. What is your argument? Why are certain effects better than others? What’s the objective standard and why ought people believe that it is the objective standard?

            This paragraph isn’t designed to be a comprehensive final word on all morality. If you want to read more on my thoughts on morality, see here A Case For Secular Morality

            I see that you switched to Disqus; shall I respond on that page?

            It is required to not have moral relativism in practice.

            I am not yet convinced; why can’t there be metaphorical Lorentz transforms?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke, can’t you see that you’ve just been owned and that your own moral system that you’re defending is untenable? If being a Christian means one has to be in your place, and defend the things you’re defending, then I can safely say that I will never ever ever be a Christian.

          • Luke Breuer

            If by “untenable” you mean that it presents an infinitely high standard which I can approach but never arrive at, then I don’t see a problem?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            No by untenable I mean morally absurd and contradictory.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          How do you square the circle of “operates by unchanging rules” with has “given a temporary law”?

          • Luke Breuer

            Because the law is a function of God’s character and human character/society’s character/etc. It is not merely a function of God’s character. We cannot become perfect in a single step.

            How do you explain the fact that science understands reality through successive approximation? Is that evil, too?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke that’s an absurd analogy between science and morality. We are fallible and finite humans, of course our scientific knowledge will grow through successive approximation. God is infinitely wise and all knowing, and “operates by unchanging rules” – that apparently change according to his subjective whims. Temporary laws are not unchanging rules. Is that to hard to swallow?

          • Luke Breuer

            God always operates by the true laws of nature, but we can only see, can only use, can only operate on approximations thereof.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            That does nothing to address the point I made which shows how you’re wrong – Temporary laws are not unchanging rules, they are changing rules. Again, is that to hard to swallow?

          • Luke Breuer

            Would your world be turned upside down if scientists found out that what they think are natural laws aren’t? For example, what if the speed of light were changing ever so subtly? (Scientists have thought about these things.) Would your life fall apart?

            If your answer is “no”, then why does it fall apart when people’s ideas of a good morality morph and change, hopefully for the better?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            No my life would not fall apart. If god is morphing and changing and his “objective” laws change according to his subjective whims, then simply refrain from saying things like god operates according to unchanging rules/morals and we’ll be fine. That’s it. Admit that god’s moral commands are very much like what you’d expect from a king’s, in that they are subject to change and arbitrary. Is that too hard?

          • Luke Breuer

            Actually, the fundamental constants could be changing by an even deeper invariant law. I suggest you read New Theories of Everything; you apparently aren’t up on natural law & associated philosophy, and might enjoy it.

            As to your moral complaint, do you give your children the same morality at age 5 as you do at age 15? Yes or no, please. I want to know if you would change things, and whether you would see that as relativism or whatever word you’d like to use in your complaint.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’m aware that the fundamental laws may have changed. That has nothing to do with god’s morality. If god’s moral laws are like the laws of physics and change, then don’t say that they are unchanging. It’s that simple. Say that they change just like a society’s over time and are relative.

            No. Are you saying that the Israelites were kids? Are you saying that not stoning to death homosexuals and adulterers was too advanced for their underdeveloped brains to handle? And are you saying all of humanity reached maturity when Jesus came on the scene? Seems we’ve progressed much passed Jesus teachings, as you would expect if they were all man-made.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m aware that the fundamental laws may have changed.

            But this is not what I said! If the most fundamental laws change, then all is chaos and reality is not rational. If, on the other hand, the physical constants are changing due to some deeper law, reality is still rational.

            I claim what we see as morality changing in the Bible is merely due to our not seeing the big picture. We think we see the most fundamental bits, but we don’t.

            Do you think that quarks are fundamental particles? Or strings? Would you be so arrogant as to assert this, instead of admitting that it could be turtles all the way down?

            Are you saying that the Israelites were kids?

            Morally, yes.

            Seems we’ve progressed much passed Jesus teachings

            Examples?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            If the most fundamental laws change, then all is chaos and reality is not rational. If, on the other hand, the physical constants are changing due to some deeper law, reality is still rational.

            False dichotomy. Changing physical laws over long stretches of time do not mean the world is awash in chaos any more than the climate changing over time. Rationality doesn’t precede the laws of physics, it is contingent upon them.

            I claim what we see as morality changing in the Bible is merely due to our not seeing the big picture. We think we see the most fundamental bits, but we don’t.

            But since you admit that we can’t even make sense of the Bible, how can you say that? Is it possible that that biblical morality doesn’t make sense because it is indeed the man-made product of an ancient peoples?

            Do you think that quarks are fundamental particles? Or strings?

            I don’t know.

            Morally, yes. And I will note that you did not answer my question. This is telling.

            And supposedly the Israelites got their morality from god. That’s pretty telling. And I did answer your question. Read again.

            Examples that we’ve progressed passed Jesus’ teachings? Easy. We’ve learned its a good thing to wash our hands before we eat and we tell our children this, and we no longer stone to death our cantankerous children, as Jesus reiterated we should do.

          • Luke Breuer

            False dichotomy. Changing physical laws over long stretches of time do not mean the world is awash in chaos any more than the climate changing over time. Rationality doesn’t precede the laws of physics, it is contingent upon them.

            Ahhh, I might see what you mean. But if there is no rationality to how the physical laws change, then can we ever know they are changing? Or would the patternlessness of the change prohibit us from justifiably knowing that anything changed? This is a neat idea; thanks for provoking it!

            But since you admit that we can’t even make sense of the Bible

            False dichotomy; I think we can understand it increasingly well. It isn’t binary.

            Is it possible that that biblical morality doesn’t make sense because it is indeed the man-made product of an ancient peoples?

            Of course it’s possible. What isn’t possible?

            I don’t know.

            If you don’t know, how can you live life? It seems like every time my explanations “bottom out”, you critique it. I’m not seeing the difference between your “I don’t know.” and my “I don’t know.” Can you shed some light on this?

            And I did answer your question. Read again.

            This is why I edited it out. It’s better to respond to the webpage-form or Disqus dashboard-form of the comment, instead of the unchanging, rigid, unable-to-evolve email form. Email is pretty evil (lifeless and life-inhibiting) in a lot of cases.

            We’ve learned its a good thing to wash our hands before we eat and we tell our children this, and we no longer stone to death our cantankerous children, as Jesus reiterated we should do.

            The bit about hand-washing may or may not be true globally; see here. You may also like myth of progress.

            As to stoning, where did Jesus advocate this? I suppose you believe that it’s ok to do as long as the cantankerous child hasn’t yet burst out of the womb? Or perhaps you go back to where the fetus can feel pain or be conscious or something?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            But if there is no rationality to how the physical laws change, then can we ever know they are changing?

            Sure. By comparing the difference over time. It’s the same way we know anything is changing.

            I think we can understand it increasingly well. It isn’t binary.

            I didn’t say we can either understand all of it, or none of it. I meant that since swaths of the Bible are so ambiguous on some of the most important moral issues, and the Bible is your god-given guide to morality, it ceases to be dependable. You’ve offered no speculative theories, however tentative, of how our modern interpretation gets it wrong. You just assert that we can’t see the “big picture.” Am I supposed to hold out on faith that one day the insane biblical morality will all make sense?

            If you don’t know, how can you live life? It seems like every time my explanations “bottom out”, you critique it. I’m not seeing the difference between your “I don’t know.” and my “I don’t know.”

            Yours is moral, mine is scientific. I can live easily without knowing whether string theory is true. But if we’re going to organize an ethical society with a moral framework in the 21st century and you can’t even tell me whether or not we should be stoning to death homosexuals, I think this is far worse.

            The bit about hand-washing may or may not be true globally; see here. You may also like myth of progress.

            I find it sad to see what kind of depths you’re forced to succumb to by having to defend an Iron Age preacher as the greatest moral teacher. Check out The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

            As to stoning, where did Jesus advocate this?

            Mat 15:4

          • Luke Breuer

            Sure. By comparing the difference over time. It’s the same way we know anything is changing.

            This is not necessarily true. We don’t observe absolutely, only relatively. There are invariants which would preserve all of our observations, such that there is change going on that we might not detect. Shall I try and construct a full example for you, one that’s mathematically precise? Before I do this, though, I want to know whether my demonstrating my point to you will matter. I want to know how it would matter. Otherwise I’m just a trick monkey for you.

            I meant that since swaths of the Bible are so ambiguous on some of the most important moral issues, and the Bible is your god-given guide to morality, it ceases to be dependable. You’ve offered no speculative theories, however tentative, of how our modern interpretation gets it wrong. You just assert that we can’t see the “big picture.” Am I supposed to hold out on faith that one day the insane biblical morality will all make sense?

            This is nonsense. See:

            LB: It is much easier for me to think about new world slavery than Hebraic slavery, because new world slavery is ≤ 512 years ago, compared to Hebraic slavery, which was ≥ 2500 years ago. Therefore, I am more confident in making claims about new world slavery. Does this make sense, this variation of confidence based on distance from culture/climate/contemporary jurisprudence (or lack thereof)/etc.?

            AS: Absolutely.

            The closer an ethical situation is to my spacetime locale, the more confident I am in making ethical assertions. I choose the word ‘ethical’ very intentionally.

            You just assert that we can’t see the “big picture.”

            Correct; neither can I. Only all of us can see the “big picture”. See the blind men and an elephant.

            Am I supposed to hold out on faith that one day the insane biblical morality will all make sense?

            If you weren’t The Binary Thinker, you could just leave certain thinks as “unknown; I don’t need to know it right now”.

            But if we’re going to organize an ethical society with a moral framework in the 21st century and you can’t even tell me whether or not we should be stoning to death homosexuals, I think this is far worse.

            Right now, I am certain that executing homosexuals is wrong. I say this within a social/technological/cultural context. I think morality is relative in approximately the sense that my inertial frame of reference isn’t always identically yours. The key is for there to be a Lorentz transform, so that we can accurately communicate to each other.

            Check out The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

            Bahahahaha. According to Pinker, a hypothetical future-state where there are one quadrillion planets and the most evil one gets destroyed (stoned?) every year, would be less violent and thereby better than ours. His metric sucks.

            Mat 15:4

            I see no stoning of homosexuals, there. (I question your implication; please be explicit about it instead of vague.)

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            We don’t observe absolutely, only relatively.

            Yes but we understand relatively, so we can factor in all the observable differences that would involve.

            Otherwise I’m just a trick monkey for you.

            I thought you might have liked being my monkey.

            The closer an ethical situation is to my spacetime locale, the more confident I am in making ethical assertions. I choose the word ‘ethical’ very intentionally.

            OK so what possible reasons could you think of for why slavery in ancient Israel, along with the stoning to death of homosexuals was moral?

            See the blind men and an elephant.

            You’re the guy who grabbed the elephant’s schlong and are trying to make an argument based on the fact that it’s size changes over time. Perfect analogy right there.

            If you weren’t The Binary Thinker, you could just leave certain thinks as “unknown; I don’t need to know it right now”.

            I’m not a binary thinker, I consider your assessment and it makes little sense to me.

            Right now, I am certain that executing homosexuals is wrong.

            OK great. Approximately when did it become wrong, since you think it might have once been right?

            I think morality is relative in approximately the sense that my inertial frame of reference isn’t always identically yours. The key is for there to be a Lorentz transform, so that we can accurately communicate to each other.

            I get the analogy but I don’t think it works. You’d be saying that from the Israelites perspective it was right to do the things they did. On what basis was it right for them to do so? Since you reject DCT, what are your options?

            According to Pinker, a hypothetical future-state where there are one quadrillion planets and the most evil one gets destroyed (stoned?) every year, would be less violent and thereby better than ours.

            Where did you get this?

            I see no stoning of homosexuals, there.

            Learn to read. I said, “we no longer stone to death our cantankerous children, as Jesus reiterated we should do.” Better?

          • Luke Breuer

            I thought you might have liked being my monkey.

            This describes your attitude toward me very well. It’s really fascinating; I’m a plaything for you. It well-models your behavior.

            OK so what possible reasons could you think of for why slavery in ancient Israel, along with the stoning to death of homosexuals was moral?

            I don’t know enough to say; that was 2500-3500 years ago. A lot was different, back then.

            OK great. Approximately when did it become wrong, since you think it might have once been right?

            Approximately when is it ok to kill humans? Definitely ok at blastocyst stage, definitely not ok after birth, except for euthanasia or enemies of the all-righteous state? I’ll answer your question if you answer mine.

            I get the analogy but I don’t think it works. You’d be saying that from the Israelites perspective it was right to do the things they did. On what basis was it right for them to do so? Since you reject DCT, what are your options?

            It is possible that it was the correct next step toward achieving better ethics/morality. I predict at some point it will be utterly immoral to experiment on animals for scientific research. Right now, we consider it moral.

            Where did you get this?

            I made it up to show the absurdity of Pinker’s argument.

            Learn to read. I said, “we no longer stone to death our cantankerous children, as Jesus reiterated we should do.” Better?

            Ahh, sorry. So it’s not ok to stone born children, but if unborn children did nothing wrong except to exist, it’s ok to stone them. Ok then, makes perfect sense.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I don’t know enough to say; that was 2500-3500 years ago. A lot was different, back then.

            Try and think of reasons! This is what it means to be a “Thinker” like me. When I get a challenge in my worldview, I try and think about it. You give up immediately and say, “I don’t know.” How lazy can you get. Trying to seriously find answers to tough questions is one way I can help come to the realization that something I support is absurd. Stop being intellectually lazy.

            Approximately when is it ok to kill humans? Definitely ok at blastocyst stage, definitely not ok after birth, except for euthanasia or enemies of the all-righteous state? I’ll answer your question if you answer mine.

            I have no problem answering questions. When the fetus can survive independently outside the womb I consider it an independent human being. Before that it’s not independent. Now answer mine and as they say in Russia, don’t be a pussy.

            It is possible that it was the correct next step toward achieving better ethics/morality. I predict at some point it will be utterly immoral to experiment on animals for scientific research. Right now, we consider it moral.

            But killing homosexuals was a step down in behavior, since it was common in other societies (ancient Greece, Rome) and the Israelites decided it was OK. That’s not progression, that’s degression. That would be like we think it’s wrong to torture animals, and then the Israelites (via Yahweh’s brilliance) commands that we must experiment on animals. Are you kidding me Luke?

            I made it up to show the absurdity of Pinker’s argument.

            So now we’ve resorted to making shit up? Oh wait, you’re a Christian, you’ve always did that.

            Ahh, sorry. So it’s not ok to stone born children, but if unborn children did nothing wrong except to exist, it’s ok to stone them. Ok then, makes perfect sense.

            Um yeah, there is a huge difference between having been born, and not having been born. I’m sad to see you support stoning to death cantankerous children in the 21st century.

          • Void L. Walker

            I’m not trying to impose myself here, this is NOT my discussion. But I must!

            The Thinker, I respect you a lot (I read your article for why you became an Atheist and can relate to much of it), but I must ask why you feel taking an insult-laden approach is the best route when discussing anything with Luke. I’m not trying to be Big Brother here, but in my experiences the only time there is sufficient reason for insulting/mocking someone is when they are going out of there way to make life shittier for good people (which I do not think Luke is doing).

            I am largely in agreement with you, Thinker, I just don’t think your approach to debating him is very effective. One must remember that when this approach is taken, it can often lead the opposition to believe that they have struck a nerve! I know this isn’t the case with you, but Luke may not know that.

            As I said, I know this isn’t my business, so pardon me for intruding here.

          • Luke Breuer

            Try and think of reasons!

            You really just want me to condemn the Bible, if only one verse. Don’t you?

            When the fetus can survive independently outside the womb I consider it an independent human being.

            What do you mean by “survive”? For example, with or without emergency medical attention? If so, this point would move further and further back the more medical technologies advance. That would seem to be an uncomfortable thing for you to accept, but perhaps you do?

            That’s not progression, that’s degression.

            The word is ‘regression’. And regression from what?

            So now we’ve resorted to making shit up?

            This is glorious! On the one hand you say “Try and think of reasons!” But when I do it in places that threaten your ideas (like that Pinker is uttering anything reasonable), you claim this is bad. The hypocrisy is just staggering.

            I’m sad to see you support stoning to death cantankerous children in the 21st century.

            A+ on your comprehension abilities.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You really just want me to condemn the Bible, if only one verse. Don’t you?

            No. I want you to be a critical thinker like I am and try and justify – to the best of your ability – the positions you hold. Is that too hard Luke?

            What do you mean by “survive”? For example, with or without emergency medical attention?

            In general, when the fetus can survive outside the womb naturally. There are some circumstances where it will need life support. But early stages of the fetus can never live independently of the womb. This usually happens about 6 months.

            And regression from what?

            Moral progress. The same kind you think we’re heading towards. Explain to me using your amazing critically thinking skills how going from not stoning to death homosexuals, to stoning them to death, is moral progression. And don’t be vague – you promised.

            This is glorious! On the one hand you say “Try and think of reasons!” But when I do it in places that threaten your ideas (like that Pinker is uttering anything reasonable), you claim this is bad. The hypocrisy is just staggering.

            No no Luke. See, you’re just making up lies about Pinker, that’s different from critically thinking about things and using logic and reason to come up with answers to tough questions, even if they may be wrong. To you, making up bullshit comes easy, but critically thinking using logic and reason is impossible. No hypocrisy on my part.

            A+ on your comprehension abilities.

            Funny, you can’t even comprehend the Bible. The very book you think is the word of god and is our moral guideline. Ha.

          • Luke Breuer

            No. I want you to be a critical thinker like I am and try and justify – to the best of your ability – the positions you hold. Is that too hard Luke?

            Just to clarify on the “critical thinker” term, you said:

            I make sense and I comport with evidence.

            And yet I’ve made it quite clear that you haven’t produced evidence of proper sampling of all Christians across spacetime, such that you can justifiably say that they all hold to DCT (which I have asked you to define less vaguely). So it is not at all clear that you think critically in all areas. Maybe you just do it in some, and hope that nobody picks up where you slip up. The real icing on the cake, though, is that you:

                 (1) make an assertion without sufficient evidence
                 (2) criticize me for not rebutting your (1):

            The fact that you couldn’t find any evidence against me shows that you have no legs to stand on.

            This is the height of irony, and definitely not critical thinking.

            In general, when the fetus can survive outside the womb naturally. There are some circumstances where it will need life support. But early stages of the fetus can never live independently of the womb. This usually happens about 6 months.

            What if we develop incubation chambers or whatever, such that 3-month fetuses (I forget all the terms, so maybe it’s not a fetus yet at 3 months after conception) can survive outside the womb. Does that shift when it’s ok to abort?

            Moral progress.

            What? To regress, you have to go backwards. Backwards from where? Where’s your evidence that regression happened? This requires two data points, indexed by time and “amount of progress”.

            The same kind you think we’re heading towards. Explain to me using your amazing critically thinking skills how going from not stoning to death homosexuals, to stoning them to death, is moral progression.

            When did the Israelites not stone homosexuals to death?

            See, you’re just making up lies about Pinker

            How am I doing this? What claims did I make about Pinker which are lies? I just produced a hypothetical situation that would be less violent than today according to Pinker’s metric, but would be a horrific universe in which to live. This is one of the purposes of hypothetical scenarios.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            And yet I’ve made it quite clear that you haven’t produced evidence of proper sampling of all Christians across spacetime,

            Oh right, I’m supposed to ask every Christian throughout all of space time. I’ll hop in my time machine right now to get started.

            So it is not at all clear that you think critically in all areas. Maybe you just do it in some, and hope that nobody picks up where you slip up

            Saying that Christianity is based off of DCT is more than justified. There are 613 commandments in the Bible, not recommendations. And this has lead to most Christians throughout spacetime accepting DCT as the major ethical theory. And we know this from the writings of theologians who accepted DCT as the basis for their ethics. And this continues today.

            The real icing on the cake, though, is that you:

            (1) make an assertion without sufficient evidence

            (2) criticize me for not rebutting your (1):

            The Bible is enough sufficient evidence. Why is stoning to death homosexuals mandatory? God said so. Why is stoning to death adulterers mandatory? God said so. These things are not derived through natural law. They are divine commands. Disagree? Then show me your best counterargument. The thing is your “sufficient evidence” is a “proper sampling of all Christians across spacetime” which is absurd. No one could make any claim about anyone with that standard.

            What if we develop incubation chambers or whatever, such that 3-month fetuses (I forget all the terms, so maybe it’s not a fetus yet at 3 months after conception) can survive outside the womb. Does that shift when it’s ok to abort?

            No because god never speaks out against abortion. Exodus 21:22-24. The fetus’ life is not repaid. There.

            Backwards from where? Where’s your evidence that regression happened?

            Because stoning to death homosexuals was a commandment in time that did not exist before. If that’s progress, please justify why.

            When did the Israelites not stone homosexuals to death?

            Before the commandment was invented, when they were pagans.

            What claims did I make about Pinker which are lies? I just produced a hypothetical situation that would be less violent than today according to Pinker’s metric, but would be a horrific universe in which to live.

            It made no sense and Pinker never argued such a thing as far as I can tell.

          • Luke Breuer

            Oh right, I’m supposed to ask every Christian throughout all of space time.

            Red herring. You ought to merely make claims commensurate with the evidence you have at hand. Instead of trying to make a quantitative summary over all Christians across spacetime, you could:

                 (1) describe how you sampled your data
                 (2) describe your data
                 (3) describe your interpretation of the Bible

            But instead of properly scoping your claims to that which you justifiably know, you expanded your claims to all Christians across spacetime, and used the quantifier, ‘most’. This is not critical thinking, it is overgeneralizing. It’s assuming you have a representative sampling, which is extremely unlikely unless you are a scholar or are depending on a scholar’s analysis. Obviously you aren’t, or you would have cited such a scholar long ago.

            Saying that Christianity is based off of DCT is more than justified. There are 613 commandments in the Bible, not recommendations.

            And yet for some reason, the Protestant Reformation was all about salvation by faith and not by works, hmmm…

            The Bible is enough sufficient evidence.

            Haven’t you complained about the myriad of ways that Christians interpret the Bible?

            God said so. These things are not derived through natural law.

            Yep, this is the kind of thing you teach to kids. I’ve already covered this. (that comment also gets at faith vs. works)

            They are divine commands. Disagree? Then show me your best counterargument.

            You tell your kids absolutes as approximations until they can grow up and understand why, at which time the scaffolding comes down and they can learn when to bend or break the rules, kind of like driving through a 10 minute long stoplight in the middle of the country at 3am. See “All things are lawful”.

            If you look at the Ten Words, you’ll see that Jesus bent one of them: the Sabbath. Paul elaborates in Rom 14:5-6. And if you want to know why the Sabbath is important, check out David Levy’s No Time to Think (paper version), and/or Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture, or Pieper’s Knowledge and Freedom. The short version is that Sabbath time allows us the opportunity to imagine how life could be better than it is, instead of being absorbed in a world of 100% pragmatism, where ‘better’ becomes “more efficient ways to achieve established goals”, instead of considering that maybe there are better goals, a la Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue:

            To move towards the good is to move in time and that movement may itself involve new understandings of what it is to move towards the good. (176)

            In Leisure, which Pieper wrote in Germany in 1948, he was worried that the Germans would get absorbed in a society of “Total Work”, and never engage in the above. “Life is just about X” is the lie he wanted to ensure nobody accepted. No, life can always and forever be about more: more beauty, more complexity, more excellence, etc. Or to say it theologically: one can always get closer to God and learn more about God, which John 17:3 hints at.

            The thing is your “sufficient evidence” is a “proper sampling of all Christians across spacetime” which is absurd.

            What’s your definition of “sufficient evidence”?

            No because god never speaks out against abortion.

            Ummm, what? That seemed like a dodge, as if the logical answer to the question would be disturbing to you.

            Because stoning to death homosexuals was a commandment in time that did not exist before.

            And you are sure that whatever existed before, that the commandment to stone homosexuals made it worse, right? See, I’m not willing to make that assertion. But it seems that you are.

            Before the commandment was invented, when they were pagans.

            Are you basing this off of evidence, or some kind of inference? How do you know that e.g. before Lev 18:22 and 20:13, homosexually oriented people were not killed? Those verses only target practicing homosexuals. Maybe the society beforehand thought that even liking people of the same sex was evil and worth being stoned for. Suppose this was the case. Then those anti-homosexual-acts verses could be seen in a whole new light! But perhaps you don’t see that. Perhaps the Israelites could have been given perfect moral laws and obeyed them immediately, not necessitating laws “due to the hardness of their hearts” (see Jesus & divorce).

            It made no sense and Pinker never argued such a thing as far as I can tell.

            I never claimed Pinker argued it. I said that his measure of “society has become less violent” would imply that the universe I described would be “less violent” than ours. And yet the universe I described is patently horrible. Therefore, Pinker’s metric is not as good a metric as he thinks.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You ought to merely make claims commensurate with the evidence you have at hand.

            The Bible isn’t enough and the historical approach Christians have had to morality? Sorry, there are no polls on what ethical theories Christians self-identify with. Their behavior and attitudes is what I go by, and what the Bible says.

            But instead of properly scoping your claims to that which you justifiably know, you expanded your claims to all Christians across spacetime, and used the quantifier, ‘most’.

            Most is not all.

            And yet for some reason, the Protestant Reformation was all about salvation by faith and not by works, hmmm…

            They didn’t deny that god’s commandments still held moral authority over them. They just said works alone will not get one into heaven.

            Yep, this is the kind of thing you teach to kids. I’ve already covered this.

            I know you reject DCT. I’m glad to hear that. But yet you still can’t disown killing homosexuals/adulterers for some reason. Is it because you think god commanded it and the Bible is accurate in those verses?

            The short version is that Sabbath time allows us the opportunity to imagine how life could be better than it is, instead of being absorbed in a world of 100% pragmatism,

            If this is your best argument I’m confused.

            What’s your definition of “sufficient evidence”?

            Oh we’re back to the human dictionary game. You want a poll showing more than 50% of Christians saying they use DCT. Not gonna happen.

            That seemed like a dodge, as if the logical answer to the question would be disturbing to you.

            Nope. I just wanted to you to get a taste of your own medicine.

            And you are sure that whateverexisted before, that the commandment to stone homosexuals made it worse, right?

            Well we have homosexuality now and is it worse than if we stoned ‘em all to death? There is no evidence that the Israelites were worse off because of NOT stoning to death homosexuals.

            Are you basing this off of evidence, or some kind of inference?….Maybe the society beforehand thought that even liking people of the same sex was evil and worth being stoned for.

            Well we have good reason to believe the Israelites were pagans, as were all people at one point. The society did think it was worth stoning to death gay behavior, that’s why they put that command into the text. But once it’s in the text, it can prevent a rational person from refraining from killing a homosexual, because then it became a commandment from god. Thus shows exactly how DCT fails.

            I said that his measure of “society has become less violent” would imply that the universe I described would be “less violent” than ours. And yet the universe I described is patently horrible.

            You said:

            According to Pinker, a hypothetical future-state where there are one quadrillion planets and the most evil one gets destroyed (stoned?) every year, would be less violent and thereby better than ours. His metric sucks.

            Your hypothetical is bizarre. How is it different in principle from killing the Canaanites, Midianites and Amalkites in the OT? Pinker is looking at the decline in violence over time, while factoring many variables, including the percentage of the population killed/harmed. If it used to be, given your hypothetical, that 1000 planets were destroyed ever year, then yes, it would be better. But you can’t compare that to our world. That’s ridiculous.

          • Luke Breuer

            The Bible isn’t enough and the historical approach Christians have had to morality?

            Your projecting of your interpretation of the Bible on most other Christians is precisely one of the things I take issue with.

            Their behavior and attitudes is what I go by, and what the Bible says.

            Which behavior, sampled how? Be precise.

            Most is not all.

            Reading comprehension: “you expanded your claims to all Christians across spacetime, and used the quantifier, ‘most’.” In other words, your ‘most’ must be in reference to something, and that something is “all Christians across spacetime”. The correct statement is to identify your sampling method, and say that the ‘most’ is in reference to “Christians identified with The Thinker’s sampling methods”. But this is, of course, a much weaker claim than you wanted to make.

            They didn’t deny that god’s commandments still held moral authority over them. They just said works alone will not get one into heaven.

            They said works played no part in getting one into heaven. The Roman Catholics have always, to my knowledge, held that works+faith get you into heaven, not works alone.

            If this is your best argument I’m confused.

            I gave you plenty of additional reading. I am not your tutor.

            Oh we’re back to the human dictionary game. You want a poll showing more than 50% of Christians saying they use DCT. Not gonna happen.

            Dictionary game? Hah, right. I’ve been asked for “sufficient evidence” so many times that it’s just pitiable that you won’t provide it. You keep setting up straw men as to what would constitute “sufficient evidence”. I merely want to know what your sampling method is, to properly evaluate your claims. I clearly cannot trust the bare form of your claims, as I’ve very clearly explained by now.

            Nope. I just wanted to you to get a taste of your own medicine.

            Dodge #2.

            Well we have homosexuality now and is it worse than if we stoned ‘em all to death?

            Reading comprehension fail. And I was precise, that time.

            There is no evidence that the Israelites were worse off because of NOT stoning to death homosexuals.

            There is, shockingly, no evidence either way, regardless of whatever exists in your imagination. But The Thinker doesn’t need evidence, all he needs is his own, infallible interpretation!! After all, he’s called The Thinker. He thinks critically, his thoughts comport with the evidence, he is usually right, and has never been wrong on an important issue when discussing with Luke Breuer. This is so close to ‘infallible’ that the difference between whatever The Thinker is and ‘infallible’ is irrelevant for these discussions! Hail The Thinker, king of thought and understanding!

            The society did think it was worth stoning to death gay behavior, that’s why they put that command into the text.

            Wait, so they did this before the command? Seems like a goalpost change from before, but you do explain:

            But once it’s in the text, it can prevent a rational person from refraining from killing a homosexual, because then it became a commandment from god. Thus shows exactly how DCT fails.

            Funnily enough, you reminded me of the following:

            Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

                “‘This people honors me with their lips,
                    but their heart is far from me;
                in vain do they worship me,
                    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
            (Mt 15:1-9)

            The commandments to stone homosexuals could easily have been commandments from men. Have I said anything which would rule this out? I don’t think so. Indeed, I’ve linked to Peter Enns’ Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible on multiple occasions.

            Your hypothetical is bizarre. How is it different in principle from killing the Canaanites, Midianites and Amalkites in the OT? Pinker is looking at the decline in violence over time, while factoring many variables, including the percentage of the population killed/harmed. If it used to be, given your hypothetical, that 1000 planets were destroyed ever year, then yes, it would be better. But you can’t compare that to our world. That’s ridiculous.

            The reason it’s ridiculous is because Pinker’s metric is ridiculous. I did a reductio ad absurdum, but because of your emotional attachment to Pinker’s claims, you resist it with all of your Thinking Feeling. Oh and P.S., one planet out of one quadrillion destroyed per year, assuming sufficiently even population distribution, would be fantastically less “percentage of the population killed/harmed” than experienced on earth. It would, by Pinker’s metric, be a better universe than a universe in which Earth hosts the only sentient lifeforms.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Your projecting of your interpretation of the Bible on most other Christians is precisely one of the things I take issue with.

            It’s not my interpretation that you have issue with, it’s the interpretation of your Christian brethren throughout most of spacetime. Historically speaking, Christians have gotten their ethics in terms of divine commands.

            Which behavior, sampled how? Be precise.

            Most Christians throughout history have said that the same things are wrong that god also happens to have said are wrong. What a fucking coincidence.

            The correct statement is to identify your sampling method, and say that the ‘most’ is in reference to “Christians identified with The Thinker’s sampling methods”.

            The prominence of DCT in ethical discussions from theologians is evidence enough, especially because they have sway over their sheeple. And the fact that there are apparently no prominent natural law proponents today (certainly not as much as DCT proponents) except a few Thomists, is further evidence.

            They said works played no part in getting one into heaven.

            Oh right. So I can torture you and kill you and your entire family and I’m guaranteed a spot in heaven. That’s the Lutheran interpretation. It’s sick. But no Protestant who takes the Lutheran interpretation would say we have no obligation to god’s commands. They just say that obeying god’s commands is not what ultimately gets you into heaven.

            I’ve been asked for “sufficient evidence” so many times that it’s just pitiable that you won’t provide it.

            Would you admit that it seems that most Christians who argue morality do so on the basis of DCT over any other ethical theory?

            Dodge #2.

            LOL. Let’s see, for you we’re up to dodge #85. Don’t like it huh?

            Reading comprehension fail. And I was precise, that time.

            Dodge #86.

            There is, shockingly, no evidence either way, regardless of whatever exists in your imagination.

            On what basis do you make the claim that stoning to death homosexuals may have been necessary for moral progress? It is patently absurd and you know it. It’s pulled out of your ass to save your refusal to disown the absurd morality of the Bible. Now if you reject DCT and support natural law. What’s your natural law argument for killing the gays?

            The Thinker….thinks critically, his thoughts comport with the evidence, he is usually right, and has never been wrong on an important issue when discussing with Luke Breuer.

            The only time you’ve been right so far. I totally agree.

            Hail The Thinker, king of thought and understanding!

            Oh stop it. You’re make me blush.

            Wait, so they did this before the command? Seems like a goalpost change from before,

            How so?

            Funnily enough, you reminded me of the following:

            You just quoted the very same lines where Jesus says stoning to death cantankerous kids is permissible. Are you saying I should be stoned to death.

            The commandments to stone homosexuals could easily have been commandments from men. Have I said anything which would rule this out?

            Yes. You’ve spent days arguing that it’s just our failure to see the “big picture” on why all these morals make sense. Here you actually make progress.

            The reason it’s ridiculous is because Pinker’s metric is ridiculous.

            Describe for me what you think Pinker’s metric is?

            Oh and P.S., one planet out of one quadrillion destroyed per year, assuming sufficiently even population distribution, would be fantastically less “percentage of the population killed/harmed” than experienced on earth.

            Where does Pinker say that would be a better universe. Show me the page or video where he says/writes this.

          • Luke Breuer

            It’s not my interpretation that you have issue with, it’s the interpretation of your Christian brethren throughout most of spacetime. Historically speaking, Christians have gotten their ethics in terms of divine commands.

            Burden of proof? Oh wait, you don’t have it.

            Most Christians throughout history have said that the same things are wrong that god also happens to have said are wrong. What a fucking coincidence.

            Burden of proof? I know this is true for some, but ‘most’? Where’s your evidence? You probably don’t have any! Instead, you probably have just generalized from history class you attended in school. If you e.g. read books, you would cite them. Instead, you distract from the fact that you do not base all your ideas on the evidence. You overgeneralize. That’s not what a Critical Thinker does, but perhaps that’s why you’re just The Thinker?

            The prominence of DCT in ethical discussions from theologians is evidence enough

            And you have properly sampled all theologians? Citations, please, because it is highly unlikely you are a scholar.

            I skimmed the rest of your post; I’m going to be extremely selective in responding until you:

                 (1) either admit you have grossly overgeneralized
                 (2) or produce an appropriate burden of proof

            I’m always asked to present the burden of proof when I make positive claims. Why should you be any different?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Burden of proof? Oh wait, you don’t have it.

            You know what you don’t have? A reason to doubt my claim.

            I know this is true for some, but ‘most’? Where’s your evidence?

            The history of Christianity. It’s really only been recently, post-enlightenment that Christians now are coming to accept the moral progress that differs from their Bible. But even still today, a very large percentage of Christians still hold that what is right and wrong is learned via the Bible in the form of god’s commands. Just look to Sub-Saharan Africa to see what a literal interpretation of biblical law looks like.

            And you have properly sampled all theologians? Citations, please, because it is highly unlikely you are a scholar.

            No. But I don’t hear many arguing natural law. The moral argument is the most popular ethical argument used by theists and it is based on DCT. Name one theologian who debates using natural law.

            (1) either admit you have grossly overgeneralized

            (2) or produce an appropriate burden of proof

            1.No I think my comments stand. You’ve given me no reason to doubt them.

            2.What evidence would you accept?

            I’m always asked to present the burden of proof when I make positive claims. Why should you be any different?

            You’re claims are usually about things that exist, and are often so vague and fuzzy that they say next to nothing and they’ve been made to be unfalsifiable. I don’t think you’ve ever spent much time justifying your claims.

          • Luke Breuer

            You know what you don’t have? A reason to doubt my claim.

            “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

            The history of Christianity.

            You have not given me sufficient reason to believe that you have a sound understanding of “The history of Christianity”. Many people have very twisted, contorted ideas of “The history of Christianity”. Statistically, you will be one of them. Why should I believe that you are a statistical aberration, in the ‘better’ direction?

            It’s really only been recently, post-enlightenment that Christians now are coming to accept the moral progress that differs from their Bible.

            Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs may be a fantastic resource for critiquing your claim, here. I have only read a little bit of it, but you may provoke me to learn more. Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue may also be very good; I didn’t read it with rights and law in mind, so I’d have to re-read it or closely examine my notes.

            Would you assert that the best moral progress differs from the Bible, instead of the Bible setting a kind of “moral trajectory”, which we can continue? The strictest reading of the text I quoted merely asserts that there is another method for moral progress, it doesn’t assert either that (i) it is the only valid one; or (ii) this “moral trajectory” idea in the Bible is an invalid one. So I would like some clarification of your stance.

            But even still today, a very large percentage of Christians still hold that what is right and wrong is learned via the Bible in the form of god’s commands.

            A lot of Christians are very liberal these days, especially in Europe. Are you aware of this? How have you accounted for this in your thinking? Do you essentially approximate them away as “not Christians”?

            Just look to Sub-Saharan Africa to see what a literal interpretation of biblical law looks like.

            Very true. And we must ask what came before the application of a literal interpretation of biblical law, to ask if that thing was worse. Do you know the relevant history of the relevant geographical areas and the cultures they contained?

            But I don’t hear many arguing natural law.

            But this entirely depends on whom you listen to, and how you find people to listen to! So: how do you find them? How do you intentionally expose yourself to them? What methods do you use? How much of the “landscape” or “space” have you actually explored? And how do you know?

            The moral argument is the most popular ethical argument used by theists and it is based on DCT.

            You simply do not have justification for this empirical claim—or you do but refuse to post it, for some reason.

            Name one theologian who debates using natural law.

            First, define “natural law”. Again, you haven’t accepted the different kinds of DCT, expressed nicely in IEP’s article. If God chose the physical laws of reality and this determined the moral laws of reality, then can his communicating to us of these moral laws be categorized under DCT? If so, you have problems, because you’re portraying DCT as something different from this—as far as I can tell. You’ve been a bit… vague.

            1.No I think my comments stand. You’ve given me no reason to doubt them.

            2.What evidence would you accept?

            1. I’ve given you no reason to doubt your faith, you mean?
            2. Evidence that you’ve properly sampled Christians/theologians throughout time. Evidence that you aren’t subject to a ginormous sampling bias.

            You’re claims are usually about things that exist, and are often so vague and fuzzy that they say next to nothing and they’ve been made to be unfalsifiable. I don’t think you’ve ever spent much time justifying your claims.

            Are you saying that you only hold yourself to my standards? But you keep demanding that I adhere to higher standards. I appreciate this, as long as I know how to take the next steps toward those higher standards; if the steps are too big, it becomes increasingly frustrating to be told to adhere thusly. But it seems almost hypocritical that you can ask me to adhere to higher standards, and yet you only hold yourself to my standards. Would you disagree?

            P.S. I recently responded to your blog post “A Case For Secular Morality”.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

            So you’ve given up Christianity?

            You have not given me sufficient reason to believe that you have a sound understanding of “The history of Christianity”

            When I read the Bible is see DCT everywhere. There are many things that are only right or wrong because god commands them. All Christians would pretty much say that sacrificing your child, committing genocide, killing homosexuals/adulterers would be wrong bereft of god commanding that they’re ok. And throughout history, the majority of Christians have interpreted the Bible using this way of thinking and this has lead to DCT. It’s that simple. Natural law is the minority view among Christians who make a moral argument with god, DCT dominates. I’d like you to offer a sampling of prominent Christians who reject the DCT.

            Would you assert that the best moral progress differs from the Bible, instead of the Bible setting a kind of “moral trajectory”, which we can continue?

            Yes. The Bible contained some progress in some areas, as did the Qur’an, but overall, they’re both hopeless outdated and now stand in the way of moral progress.

            But this entirely depends on whom you listen to, and how you find people to listen to! So: how do you find them?

            In searching the arguments for and against god, I’ve found that DCT is more popular over natural law. I’ve read a book about Aquinas’ natural law and a few other websites of devout Thomists. They seem to be in the minority. Perhaps DCT theory dominates because it is simpler? I’m not sure. But here’s a good opportunity to
            expose ME to some natural law proponents that you can find since according to you they’re everywhere.

            You simply do not have justification for this empirical claim—or you do but refuse to post it, for some reason.

            Sorry, there are no statistics on what arguments theologians use. I’m judging by my 5 year obsession with the arguments for god. DCT comes up way more often than natural law.

            If God chose the physical laws of reality and this determined the moral laws of reality, then can his communicating to us of these moral laws be categorized under DCT? If so, you have problems, because you’re portraying DCT as something different from this—as far as I can tell.

            I’ve already given you my definition of DCT a few days back. What you described sounds more like natural law, and would take the second horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, that god commands something because it is right/wrong. I simply don’t buy natural law or DCT at all. Naturally, our evolutionary behavior would be the opposite of many Christian morals.

            But it seems almost hypocritical that you can ask me to adhere to higher standards, and yet you only hold yourself to my standards. Would you disagree?

            Of course I disagree. That DCT is the dominant ethical theory among Christians is obvious, even though there are no official stats to back it up. Mind you, in the west, many Christians are so liberal, and so secularized that they in some ways can barely be called Christians. Most have no idea about any ethical theories, let alone DCT. So I would not really count them. I would count Christians who have learned about ethics and who are interested in their religion enough to have learned about it. Ask them to justify morality, and most will make some version of DCT because without DCT, you really cannot justify many of the morals within Christianity. Natural law fails because it was invented at a time in the middle ages when we knew nothing about how nature even works, particularly in biology.

          • Luke Breuer

            So you’ve given up Christianity?

            Last time I checked, Jesus existed and altered the course of reality. So in addition to my understanding of how the Bible describes reality (like Shrödinger’s equation describes reality), there’s evidence. More here.

            When I read the Bible is see DCT everywhere.

            I understand this. What you also do is assume that you are a god, and get to decide that your interpretation is the right interpretation. Non-gods admit that they could be wrong.

            And throughout history, the majority of Christians have interpreted the Bible using this way of thinking and this has lead to DCT.

            You do not know this—knowledge requires appropriate justification—you merely think this, for reasons I dont’ fully understand. Maybe because they don’t exist.

            And throughout history, the majority of Christians have interpreted the Bible using this way of thinking and this has lead to DCT.

            The person making the positive assertion is the one responsible for providing the first set of evidence. So, show me and any lurkers that you have done a proper analysis of a non-biased selection of the evidence. Surely you have done this? After all, you have laid claim to thinking critically and in accord with the evidence. Show your work. Otherwise, the only rational conclusion is that you’re probably full of it and making shit up to build a nice, pretty, small world where you can pretend that you understand reality much better than you actually do.

            Yes. The Bible contained some progress in some areas, as did the Qur’an, but overall, they’re both hopeless outdated and now stand in the way of moral progress.

            It’s almost as if the Mosaic Law was never meant to be the be-all and end-all of laws…

            I’ve read a book about Aquinas’ natural law and a few other websites of devout Thomists. They seem to be in the minority.

            You don’t seem to understand how much the Roman Catholic Church stands on the shoulders of Aquinas. See here. And this is just Catholics! You could take a look at Lex, Rex, and then trace its impact on the development of law. I could go on, but that would be doing your homework for you. It’d be like a theist trying to get an atheist to prove that God exists. Unless you’d like to do that?

            But here’s a good opportunity to expose ME to some natural law proponents that you can find since according to you they’re everywhere.

            Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs would be a place to start. He goes through the history of conceptions of ‘rights’.

            Sorry, there are no statistics on what arguments theologians use.

            Why are you hung up on this being the only way you could provide evidence? It’s like you see my question, immediately think of one single way to answer it, see that you couldn’t answer it that way, and decide that it is unanswerable. You understand how crazy this would be if you were thinking this way, right?

            I’m judging by my 5 year obsession with the arguments for god. DCT comes up way more often than natural law.

            What’s your bibliography? This would be an excellent way to show your sampling, and for others to point out gaps.

            I’ve already given you my definition of DCT a few days back. What you described sounds more like natural law, and would take the second horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, that god commands something because it is right/wrong. I simply don’t buy natural law or DCT at all. Naturally, our evolutionary behavior would be the opposite of many Christian morals.

            Where did you define DCT? I don’t recall it. I do recall posting this from the IEP:

            Philosophers both past and present have sought to defend theories of ethics that are grounded in a theistic framework. Roughly, Divine Command Theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. The specific content of these divine commands varies according to the particular religion and the particular views of the individual divine command theorist, but all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.

            You write as if there were no variety, no ‘or’.

            That DCT is the dominant ethical theory among Christians is obvious

            Yep, and things which appear obvious to you surely are obvious in reality. Hello, mr. god.

            Mind you, in the west, many Christians are so liberal, and so secularized that they in some ways can barely be called Christians.

            Ohhhhh, ok, so they aren’t true Christians. Hello, No True Scotsman.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Last time I checked, Jesus existed and altered the course of reality.

            Checked what? The Bible? What’s your source that he actually existed?

            What you also do is assume that you are a god, and get to decide that your interpretation is the right interpretation.

            I don’t assume I am god, I look at what kind of ethical system can be derived from the Bible. Let me ask you these easy Q’s.

            1. If god commanded that homosexuals needed to be put to death today, would we have an obligation to do it? Yes or no?

            2. If god commanded that adulters needed to be put to death today, would we have an obligation to do it? Yes or no?

            3. What reason other than divine command justifies the genocide against the Canaanites, Amalekites and Midianites by the Israelites?

            4. If natural law holds true, what do you do when nature and god’s commands conflict, like on sexual matters? Does DCT take precedence over NL? Please explain.

            So, show me and any lurkers that you have done a proper analysis of a non-biased selection of the evidence. Surely you have done this?

            Like I said the Bible and the history of Christianity show that I’m right.

            It’s almost as if the Mosaic Law was never meant to be the be-all and end-all of laws…

            Would you agree with me that Yahweh was a moral compromiser?

            You don’t seem to understand how much the Roman Catholic Church stands on the shoulders of Aquinas.

            I do. My mother is a devout Catholic. I actually have dozens of books about Catholicism and morality.

            Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs would be a place to start. He goes through the history of conceptions of ‘rights’.

            I think the utter failure of natural law is one reason why so many theists adopt DCT instead. It’s simpler and easier to defend. But still wrong.

            It’s like you see my question, immediately think of one single way to answer it, see that you couldn’t answer it that way, and decide that it is unanswerable.

            The only answer you seem willing to accept is a poll that shows the majority of Christians hold to DCT over others.

            What’s your bibliography?

            Craig, Plantinga, Phil Fernandes, James White, Aquinas, John Lennox, and so many others I can’t name. Why are you so obsessed that most Christians accept DCT? If you think I’m wrong, then on what basis? Why don’t you try and prove me wrong. It might give you the opportunity to be correct about something for the first time with me.

            Where did you define DCT? I don’t recall it.

            Several days ago I did. I only added that god’s nature is supposed to ground moral values, and his commands ground moral duties.

            Yep, and things which appear obvious to you surely are obvious in reality. Hello, mr. god.

            You just hate DCT, and are ashamed that it dominates Christian ethics. But Natural law fails perhaps even worse, so I’m not sure why you’d be jumping with joy over NL.

            Ohhhhh, ok, so they aren’t true Christians. Hello, No True Scotsman.

            I knew this was going to come up. Let me elaborate. Liberal theists still hold to DCT, even though many don’t even know what that is or anything about ethics, most of them simply just reject 90% of biblical morality and keep the fuzzy shit that’s compatible with liberal secular values. That doesn’t mean they reject DCT, it just means they also reject inerrancy.

          • Luke Breuer

            Checked what? The Bible? What’s your source that he actually existed?

            See here.

            I don’t assume I am god, I look at what kind of ethical system can be derived from the Bible.

            And you assume you are competent at doing so.

            1. If god commanded that homosexuals needed to be put to death today, would we have an obligation to do it? Yes or no?

            This goes back to my DCT comment:

            I’m sorry, I gave two possibilities:

                 (1) chosen physical laws ⇒ moral laws
                 (2) chosen physical laws ⇏ moral laws

            Are you saying that Euthyphro applies to both (1) and (2), or just (2)?

            If (1), then the death penalty for homosexuality ought to be derivable from first principles and the cultural/technological/social specifics of ancient Israel, 2500-3500 years ago. If we cannot perform such a derivation, I claim we do not understand the prohibition. You’re welcome to slap on a just-so story, but I am not a fan of just-so stories. If I don’t understand a situation, I force myself to admit I don’t understand it; I don’t immediately assume that I am right and that situation is wrong. You seem comfortable with doing this.

            I hold to (1):

            It strikes me that while (2) might be possible, it could be argued that it is against God’s nature. On (2), we have no way to derive objective moral laws. You might like my Phil.SE questions How could ‘objective morality’ be known/investigated? and Are there laws which govern minds? Anyhow, (2) would require divine revelation for us to know what is right and wrong, instead of it being empirically discoverable. That seems a bit icky to me.

            This utterly guts your 1. – 4.

            Like I said the Bible and the history of Christianity show that I’m right.

            Let me fix this for you:

            Like I said my interpretation of the Bible and my cherry-picked selection of the history of Christianity show that I’m right.

            It doesn’t look so good when I correct your statement now, does it? Once I make you not-God, I reveal the possible errors you’ve made. You’ve done extremely little to demonstrate that these errors are anything but highly probable. Recently, you did post a list of authors (that’s not a ‘bibliography’, by the way); it seemed extremely selective, and almost if not completely exclusively modern.

            Would you agree with me that Yahweh was a moral compromiser?

            Define “moral compromiser”.

            I do. My mother is a devout Catholic. I actually have dozens of books about Catholicism and morality.

            So do you think Aquinas held to DCT of the (2)-kind? If not, do you think the RCC holds to DCT of the (2)-kind?

            I think the utter failure of natural law is one reason why so many theists adopt DCT instead.

            Explain this “utter failure of natural law”:

            No results found for site:www.atheismandthecity.com “natural law”.

            The only answer you seem willing to accept is a poll that shows the majority of Christians hold to DCT over others.

            A good, comprehensive, non-cherry-picked bibliography would probably do the trick. The fact that you couldn’t figure this out yourself is a little odd, unless somehow I missed you providing an actual bibliography? It really seems like you don’t understand the incredible importance of bibliographies, but perhaps we just haven’t covered the right topics to expose your views on bibliographies.

            Why are you so obsessed that most Christians accept DCT?

            I want to know what evidence points to this conclusion. I’ve said before that you might be right, but I’m not going to accept your word for it; I’m going to examine the evidence that you have used to conclude it, unless it turns out that your evidence is terribly cherry-picked.

            Several days ago I did. I only added that god’s nature is supposed to ground moral values, and his commands ground moral duties.

            Let’s try this again; from IEP’s Divine Command Theory (Wayback Machine 2013-10-17 version, since the site seems to be having issues as of late):

            Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. The specific content of these divine commands varies according to the particular religion and the particular views of the individual divine command theorist, but all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.

            You do realize that the above definition, and the bolded&underlined sections work for both (1)- and (2)-type DCT, right? And yet, these two types are fantastically different in terms of our ability to know what is right and what is wrong. You seem in perpetual denial of this difference. Why?

            You just hate DCT, and are ashamed that it dominates Christian ethics.

            I see nothing wrong with (1)-type DCT. The programmer of a simulation can tell the digital, sentient, sapient beings facts about their simulated world. Furthermore, the programmer can teach them finite approximations of much larger (if not infinite) concepts, pushing them slowly from F = ma to GR, for example, even though GR isn’t the full story, but merely an approximation that works fantastically well in some domains.

            Liberal theists still hold to DCT

            (1)-type or (2)-type DCT? And what’s your evidence? Be specific. Cite your sources.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            See here.

            Could you highlight the minute that Lennox makes the relevant points?

            And you assume you are competent at doing so.

            And you assume I’m not.

            If (1), then the death penalty for homosexuality ought to be derivable from first principles and the cultural/technological/social specifics of ancient Israel, 2500-3500 years ago.

            If 1, homosexuality is natural and therefore proper natural law would say it is perfectly normal.

            I claim we do not understand the prohibition.

            I’d at least ask if you could provide some plausible theories instead of just saying “we do not understand.” Because then, since Christians argue over almost all the morality in the Bible, we could then say that no one understands it, and the Bible becomes a useless practical document on morality. Certainly not one that should be cited on moral issues, since no one can understand it.

            You’re welcome to slap on a just-so story, but I am not a fan of just-so stories.

            Aren’t all of your interpretations just-so stories?

            If I don’t understand a situation, I force myself to admit I don’t understand it; I don’t immediately assume that I am right and that situation is wrong. You seem comfortable with doing this.

            What I do is I try my best to hear the opposing arguments and the relevant facts, and then I take a position. I don’t claim infallibility with it, but I don’t want to be an agnostic on everything. When one takes a position and defends it, one might be forced to realize that the position is untenable based on the arguments/evidence from the other side. That’s why I like to debate. It helps me see where the weaknesses are in my POV and I also get to hear my detractor’s best arguments/evidence against mine.

            This utterly guts your 1. – 4.

            Not sure what you mean by my 1.

            It doesn’t look so good when I correct your statement now, does it?

            Because your statement is a caricature of what I said, that is incorrect.

            Define “moral compromiser”.

            One who purposely holds/espouses moral positions that are less than ideal in order to compromise given a situation.

            So do you think Aquinas held to DCT of the (2)-kind?

            No I think Aquinas held to the 1 under your two options.

            Explain this “utter failure of natural law”:

            Let’s just say that Aquinas’ assessment of nature was done at a time of incredible ignorance to what was actually natural. It is essentially a flawed ethical theory, based on ignorance.

            It really seems like you don’t understand the incredible importance of bibliographies,

            There is to my knowledge no bibliographies that exist to cite in how common/uncommon DCT is to Christian theologians and practitioners. Natural law is pretty much the only game in town as far as competition goes for DCT, and it makes little noise. Perhaps you know otherwise?

            I want to know what evidence points to this conclusion. I’ve said before that you might be right, but I’m not going to accept your word for it;

            Then tell me why I should be skeptical that DCT dominates Christian meta-ethics? I see no reason to see why it does not.

            You do realize that the above definition, and the bolded&underlined sections work for both (1)- and (2)-type DCT, right?

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re complaining about. I don’t care that there are varieties of DCT, because “all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.” That’s enough for me. Do you hold to the view that executing homosexuals is a moral obligation because of the laws of physics, and that no command from god is even necessary to reach that conclusion? Are there any moral obligations without a divine command? And if so can you name any and why we are obligated to do them bereft of divine command given whatever ethical theory you hold to? (which you still haven’t told me.)

            See the problem I have with you is you have no answers – not even personal answers (not that they must be right). I like people who aren’t afraid to take a position and defend it. You seem afraid to do that.

            I see nothing wrong with (1)-type DCT. The programmer of a simulation can tell the digital, sentient, sapient beings facts about their simulated world.

            Then you should have no problem answering my above questions.

            Furthermore, the programmer can teach them finite approximations of much larger (if not infinite) concepts, pushing them slowly from F = ma to GR,

            This assumes that divine command a la the Bible is always progressive. It’s not. It’s sometimes regressive. Its attitudes towards sex is a perfect example of that. And let’s not forget what started this riff. It was my criticism of DCT and how stupid it is, which you seem to agree with but you are too scared to put forth another ethical theory a Christian can follow as an alternative. I want to know your ethical theory. Where are moral values grounded and what moral obligations exist (if any) and what grounds them? Can you answer these two simple questions without being vague?

          • Luke Breuer

            Could you highlight the minute that Lennox makes the relevant points?

            I did, in that comment: 35m. The copy of Borchert’s The Original Jesus I ordered just arrived today; in the coming weeks, I should be able to tell you more about it if you’re interested. I ‘randomly’ met a now-agnostic, used-to-be-orthodox Jew, who mentioned that Christianity was incredibly egalitarian before it got in bed with Caesar. I haven’t yet checked this; perhaps Borchert provides citations. It would be a profound fact, if it were true.

            And you assume I’m not.

            I try and require evidence for positive claims, unless they’re supported by a surrounding plausibility structure, and then I either do nothing with those claims, or attempt to test them and falsify them. You haven’t given me any reason to trust your abilities to interpret the Bible well. I cannot recall a single profound connection you’ve made. Actually, I think it’s been mostly vagueness. :-|

            If 1, homosexuality is natural and therefore proper natural law would say it is perfectly normal.

            Because nothing could possibly go wrong in an ancient society which needs high birth rates, where there were no protections against STDs except for monogamy, which is hard to enforce when there is no evidence that sex took place. Because it isn’t possible that ‘homosexuality’ included pederasty. Hell, it isn’t even clear they had the concepts of gender identity we have now. It’s really quite hard to figure out exactly what was being said in a text written/orated 2500-3500 years ago. But you, The Thinker, clearly read all texts from all cultures across spacetime. Or, an omni-deity would make everything clear to you, and not just the things you need to take the next steps forward in promoting human thriving for all humans, without partiality. Assumptions proliferate in your mind without you knowing it, The Thinker!

            I’d at least ask if you could provide some plausible theories instead of just saying “we do not understand.” Because then, since Christians argue over almost all the morality in the Bible, we could then say that no one understands it, and the Bible becomes a useless practical document on morality. Certainly not one that should be cited on moral issues, since no one can understand it.

            This is simply false. We can talk more intelligently about things closer to us in spacetime and therefore in culture. It is much easier to understand NT documents, given the plethora of knowledge we have of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In many respects, they are as morally advanced as we are, especially if you understand that “I am better than you” is a fundamental requirement for slavery to continue. Slavery starts from heart-attitudes, and nothing short of talking about heart-attitudes will prevent slavery from arising in some cloaked form. Ever hear of wage-slavery? How about de facto slavery which produces some of the nice things that we consume in the US and Eastern Europe? Our hands are not nearly as clean as you might think.

            Aren’t all of your interpretations just-so stories?

            Not when I can start connecting them to reality and improving my ability to think about and act in reality. The acid test is whether it helps you better navigate reality. Down with metaphysical tyranny, up with empirical testing of whatever the hell hypothesis you want to try out, as long as you don’t force others to sacrifice in said testing.

            What I do is I try my best to hear the opposing arguments and the relevant facts, and then I take a position.

            Do you have a sense of when “the opposing arguments” are weak, and thus your position must be weakly held?

            That’s why I like to debate. It helps me see where the weaknesses are in my POV and I also get to hear my detractor’s best arguments/evidence against mine.

            This is one reason I like to debate as well; I also like trying to understand other people’s points of view. Sometimes those points of view are better than my own. For example, I used to make plenty of assertions without evidence on the internet; I’ve been trained, almost exclusively by atheists and skeptics, to be very careful about when I do this.

            Many arguments become relatively uninteresting if only a few people somewhere hold a viewpoint. So if I’m going to predicate something important on “many people believe this!”, I force myself to drop that claim if (a) I don’t have evidence to support it; (b) the other person doesn’t want to proceed with said evidence. Sometimes people are happy to work with assertions which have not been empirically supported, but oftentimes they are not. Too often, people think they know shit that they simply do not, and this arrogance can waste everyone’s time. Better to admit what is known empirically and not known empirically, and move on from there. The more we argue from positions of solid truth, the more we are likely to discover new truth, or that what we thought was truth, wasn’t.

            Not sure what you mean by my 1.

            I hold that if any type of DCT holds, it is the kind where a parent tells his children how to behave, adding in some bowling lane bumpers, until the child grows up enough to know which rules can be bent and which rules can be broken. The parent is describing objective, derivable morality, but the child cannot always do the derivation quite yet, thus needing some ‘scaffolding’, scaffolding which will ultimately be taken down.

            While I can conceive of possible reasons for 1. 2500-3500 years ago, none of those reasons hold for now. And therefore, I would very likely not trust a being who ordered 1. Much of this reduces to trust. The instant you require full comprehension before ‘trusting’, you are not trusting. And boy, can I tell you of plenty of young men who shoot themselves in the foot by thinking that they won’t have to trust anyone on anything. That’s called “learning the things the hard way”. I prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants; one can move forward more quickly and less painfully that way.

            Because your statement is a caricature of what I said, that is incorrect.

            You have yet to show that you’ve conducted a non-biased sampling. Why don’t you provide a bibliography? Then I can compare it to what I think a decent bibliography might contain. If I find too many items in my set which are not in your set, I can justifiably show that your sampling is biased, in a way that I can show to you.

            One who purposely holds/espouses moral positions that are less than ideal in order to compromise given a situation.

            “Less than ideal” for what purpose? What if “compromising” laws would more quickly help a society become more moral, than “ideal” laws? The idea would be that these “compromising laws” could easily be temporary, as a kind of scaffolding. See, for example, today’s news, Iraq law would allow 9-year-old girls to marry. Will this make the situation worse, better, or neither? Beware of answering before you learn the relevant information. I could imagine a modification of this law which incremented the age over a number of years, to slowly transition Iraq away from the idea that it’s ok to marry off 9-year-old grils. I could imagine a scenario in which this is the optimal way to change their idea of what is moral, such that one isn’t just dropping a frog in boiling water. But perhaps you could not.

            No I think Aquinas held to the 1 under your two options.

            Are you aware that Aquinas shows up prominently both in The Natural Law Tradition in Ethics as well as Divine Command Theory? You could also look at Duns Scotus on natural law—or is it DCT? The issue is not as clear-cut as you seem to think. And here we have two great thinkers who don’t seem to think it’s either NL or DCT. This really makes me question your understanding of the issue!

            There is to my knowledge no bibliographies that exist to cite in how common/uncommon DCT is to Christian theologians and practitioners.

            I just want your bibliography. Show what you’ve actually read, what you actually know about. We’ll see if it’s representative, or if it has big gaps.

            For example, Nicholas Wolterstorff’s 2010 Justice: Rights and Wrongs has a wonderful historical overview of rights, and is the kind of thing that would provide reason to think one has good, unbiased sampling, on that issue. Given that this is definitely a philosophical work, one could look at reactions by scholars to it. And so forth.

            Then tell me why I should be skeptical that DCT dominates Christian meta-ethics? I see no reason to see why it does not.

            The funny thing is, I see no reason why it is, because currently, your claims have infinitesimal weight. You haven’t given me reason to trust your judgment on this matter.

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re complaining about. I don’t care that there are varieties of DCT, because “all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God.”

            If physical laws ⇒ moral laws, and God created the physical laws, both [at least some flavors of] DCT and NL can obtain simultaneously.

            Do you hold to the view that executing homosexuals

            Why are you so hung up on this? Jesus wasn’t in the habit of killing his enemies, he was in the habit of loving his enemies, and told me to “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me”. Honestly, it sounds like you’re trying your darnedest to find some crack in the Bible, insert some dynamite, and watch the whole thing fly apart. That motive seems to well-model my interactions with you.

            And if so can you name any and why we are obligated to do them bereft of divine command given whatever ethical theory you hold to? (which you still haven’t told me.)

            I was under the impression you wanted me to disprove your claim that “most Christians across spacetime hold to DCT”, not that you wanted to merely hear my view, which may or may not be representative. I already linked you to the comment where I said I hold that physical laws ⇒ moral laws, and I had a bit of discussion after that—on Jonathan’s [first] DCT post, in the last month.

            See the problem I have with you is you have no answers – not even personal answers (not that they must be right). I like people who aren’t afraid to take a position and defend it. You seem afraid to do that.

            Bullshit.

            This assumes that divine command a la the Bible is always progressive. It’s not. It’s sometimes regressive.

            Empirical evidence or this tangent dies.

            It was my criticism of DCT and how stupid it is, which you seem to agree with but you are too scared to put forth another ethical theory a Christian can follow as an alternative.

            LOL, “scared”. No, actually, according to IEP’s DCT entry, some versions of it are perfectly consonant with physical laws ⇒ moral laws. And according to the research I did above, DCT and NL aren’t nearly so distinct as you seem to think they necessarily are.

            Where are moral values grounded and what moral obligations exist (if any) and what grounds them? Can you answer these two simple questions without being vague?

            It all depends on who’s “in” and who’s “out”. Consider Boghossian, for example, who thinks all religious believers (to the extent that they all have ‘faith’) are brain-damaged if they cannot be argued out of their beliefs. He thinks that public health resources should be pressed into service of his ideology. I, on the other hand, think those who are “out” are those who choose to impose their wills on others, except to the extent that those being imposed upon have treated others likewise.

            Once you know who’s “in”, you can form a shared telos, which is strongly reminiscent of Aristotle’s polis. There is a public good, vs. a set of somewhat mutually exclusive private goods which are competed for, with winners and losers. Individuality is not destroyed; instead there is unity in diversity. What guarantees this? Beliefs about how the universe was designed; see these two comments.

            Really, you ought to read Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. It is a monumental work in ethics and the fact that it isn’t in your bibliography is a gaping hole. To be less vague than I am above, I would probably have to read it again. I have offered to read it with you; you declined, at least in part to starting a new job. Perhaps when things settle down?

            You will charge me for being vague for no reason other than it took you massively more text to state what you consider not-vague. So why ought I even try, except if I am going to write an essay-length treatise? Your bibliography for that treatise, by the way, is pretty laughable. Because of how few original thoughts each human seems to have in his life, it is likely you didn’t add much original to scholarly thought on the matter. This isn’t so much a derogation as a fact. We stand on the shoulders of giants; you seem not so interested in doing so. I know it’s very fun to develop my own ideas, but there comes a time when you either compare your ideas to the masters, or stay in the kid’s sandbox.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            The copy of Borchert’s The Original Jesus I ordered just arrived today; in the coming weeks, I should be able to tell you more about it if you’re interested.

            Sounds good. On the issue of Jesus’ historicity, I remain an agnostic.

            I try and require evidence for positive claims, unless they’re supported by a surrounding plausibility structure, and then I either do nothing with those claims, or attempt to test them and falsify them.

            In the IEP article you linked me, the author makes a claim. They say, “Most advocates of Divine Command Theory do not want to be stuck with the implication that cruelty could possibly be morally right”. Now did the author provide a citation of this claim? No. They said most people who hold this belief are a certain way. They were making a claim based on a common understanding of the DCT proponents in much the same way that I claimed Christianity strongly implies DCT and most Christians have adopted DCT whether they know it or not. There’s no controversy here, except in your mind.

            You haven’t given me any reason to trust your abilities to interpret the Bible well.

            Likewise, you haven’t done so with me. I read it like it is, and I pay attention to all the historical and contemporary interpretations. I know that theists are all over the place with their interpretations. So you could argue that my interpretation is no better than yours or anyone else’s. However, I can definitely see the desire many contemporary theists have to make the wicked passages of the OT a bit lighter in the eyes of our contemporary moral views and the lies they pull in order to do that. Paul Copan is a perfect contemporary example of that.

            Because nothing could possibly go wrong in an ancient society which needs high birth rates, where there were no protections against STDs except for monogamy, which is hard to enforce when there is no evidence that sex took place.

            Oh right, and the perfect remedy for these alleged problems was to command the execution of all adulterers and homosexuals. God couldn’t think of a better way, like say, making no one born homosexual in the first place, since you know, he’s the fucking designer. First of all, homosexuals are never more than 5% or so of the population, so their existence is not going to depopulate a society. And pederasty or not, this has nothing to do with it. The Bible says when a man lays with another man….not when a man lays with a boy.

            Or, an omni-deity would make everything clear to you, and not just the things you need to take the next steps forward in promoting human thriving for all humans, without partiality.

            I would expect an omni-deity to be able to communicate his thoughts to at least someone accurately. You claim all his communications are fucked up. Some deity. Here’s a question: can an omni-god communicate his ideas perfectly to human beings? If not, he’s not omnipotent, if so, we’d have a perfect communication. it’s another dilemma for you.

            We can talk more intelligently about things closer to us in spacetime and therefore in culture. It is much easier to understand NT documents, given the plethora of knowledge we have of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire

            Therefore enlightenment age philosophers and contemporary philosophers should be privileged over Jesus and the OT, perhaps to such a degree that we ignore biblical morality altogether. After all, no one can interpret the Bible correctly, not you, me, or the theologian.

            Slavery starts from heart-attitudes, and nothing short of talking about heart-attitudes will prevent slavery from arising in some cloaked form. Ever hear of wage-slavery?

            Well since the Bible condones slavery cover to cover, I would agree with you that we shouldn’t be using it as a moral guide in this area. I would just extend this to all areas, since the Bible is fuzzy, and since no one at the time knew anything we know now.

            Not when I can start connecting them to reality and improving my ability to think about and act in reality.

            But you never do this. You’re stories are all fuzzy on details and lacking empirical basis.

            Do you have a sense of when “the opposing arguments” are weak, and thus your position must be weakly held?

            If the opposing arguments were weak, that would not convince me that my position was weak too, but perhaps stronger. If the opposing arguments were weak, that would convince me that my opponent’s position was weak.

            I hold that if any type of DCT holds, it is the kind where a parent tells his children how to behave, adding in some bowling lane bumpers, until the child grows up enough to know which rules can be bent and which rules can be broken.

            And you derive this how exactly from the Bible?

            It seems you kind of think that biblical morality was really just a set of training wheels god gave us, until we morally progressed on our own to realize that the very commands god gave us were themselves immoral. I see it as the man-made morality of an ancient and ignorant peoples which one would fully expect to be absurd in some areas.

            “Less than ideal” for what purpose?

            For living in a just, and moral society with the greatest amount of equality, love, compassion, fairness and so forth, and the least amount of unnecessary harm/suffering. Is that too hard for god?

            What if “compromising” laws would more quickly help a society become more moral, than “ideal” laws?

            Now it seems you’re forced to adopt skeptical theism. A position which I recently critiqued here “What if” is a huge what if. I could just as easily say, what if it’s all just “the man-made morality of an ancient and ignorant peoples which one would fully expect to be absurd in some areas.” When I compare your “what if’ to mine, I find mine much more plausible. Yours takes a whole lot of faith. Faith that I don’t have.

            Are you aware that Aquinas shows up prominently both in The Natural Law Tradition in Ethics as well as Divine Command Theory?

            A NL proponent who is a theist is not going to dismiss divine commands, they will usually just think that those divine commands would mostly hold in the absence of them being commanded due to the structure of nature. That’s fine with me.

            I just want your bibliography. Show what you’ve actually read, what you actually know about. We’ll see if it’s representative, or if it has big gaps.

            Since you’re so passionate that Christianity and DCT are not inextricably linked, why don’t you provide me a bibliography? This seems to be something you’re deeply passionate about.

            The funny thing is, I see no reason why it is, because currently, your claims have infinitesimal weight. You haven’t given me reason to trust your judgment on this matter.

            Why don’t we debate our interpretations of the Bible on whether it implies DCT or NL or whatever it is you hold to, which you still havent’ told me?

            If physical laws ⇒ moral laws, and God created the physical laws, both [at least some flavors of] DCT and NL can obtain simultaneously.

            The questions is, are god’s commands needed to have certain moral obligations that would otherwise not be moral/immoral without them? If Abraham chose on his own to sacrifice his son, would it have been perfectly Ok without god commanding him?

            Honestly, it sounds like you’re trying your darnedest to find some crack in the Bible, insert some dynamite, and watch the whole thing fly apart.

            The better question is, why are you so fond of avoiding the troubles with your ethical foundation?

            I was under the impression you wanted me to disprove your claim that “most Christians across spacetime hold to DCT”,

            Ok then disprove it.

            Empirical evidence or this tangent dies.

            Do I really need to provide empirical evidence that you claim the biblical morality is progressive? I mean, if we’re going on empirical evidence, I can dismiss ALL of your claims about almost anything. Tell me how commanding the killing of adulterers, homosexuals, cantankerous children, witches, people who worship false gods and child sacrifice was a step up in moral progression?

            And according to the research I did above, DCT and NL aren’t nearly so distinct as you seem to think they necessarily are.

            But my question above holds: are god’s commands needed to have certain moral obligations that would otherwise not be moral/immoral without them? If Abraham chose on his own to sacrifice his son, would it have been perfectly Ok without god commanding him? Is killing homosexuals something one can come to based on NL or does it take divine command?

            It all depends on who’s “in” and who’s “out”.

            So it doesn’t depend at all on god’s existence?

            You will charge me for being vague for no reason other than it took you massively more text to state what you consider not-vague.

            Well I have a bone to pick with DCTists who assert that DCT and only DCT can have any objective basis for morality, In doing so I had to lay the groundwork to preempt many common questions I would be asked. That said, it is not the bibliography that counts, it’s my arguments, many of them I though of my own. So if you got a problem with what I wrote, then debate me on it and we’ll see where it goes.

          • Luke Breuer

            On the issue of Jesus’ historicity, I remain an agnostic.

            I haven’t been bothered to really examine, and here’s why. First, finding balanced sources on this issue is incredibly hard. You find either die-hard Christians bent on proving Jesus existed, or die-hard atheists bent on proving he is a figment of our imaginations. Dealing with crap like that is arduous. Second, suppose it were shown that he exists. How would that change people’s lives? Not very much. More important is all the claims about him, you know, the whole God-thing, the whole “I will never leave you nor forsake you” thing, etc. Do these mean anything? Do they contact reality, or is it all just a castle in the air? Sure, objective proof that Jesus never existed (to the extent that such a thing is even possible) would dash the castle, but proof that he did exist wouldn’t immediately connect that castle to the ground. This is a very lopsided issue, and atheists/skeptics often pretend it isn’t. That’s devious of them.

            There’s no controversy here, except in your mind.

            If that’s really your attitude, then this tangent dies. You seem so utterly confident in your claims about DCT, requiring me to do an incredible amount of research to challenge them. And you know what? I have no reason to trust what you say because of your utter unwillingness to provide a bibliography. I have every reason that you’re making shit up based on an extremely selective reading of certain people, mostly moderns. You’ve given me no reason to doubt this. So why waste a ton of time on an issue that isn’t at the top of my priority list, when the other guy isn’t going to contribute anything objective to the research?

            I read it like it is

            LOL, everyone claims this.

            like say, making no one born homosexual in the first place, since you know, he’s the fucking designer.

            I wonder if you realized the double-meaning of your “fucking designer”… Anyhow, I claim that God isn’t the only one involved in what exists; I claim that Satan, among others, have actively damaged creation as it otherwise would have been. I claim this based on my plausibility framework; it is analogous to dark matter.

            I would expect an omni-deity to be able to communicate his thoughts to at least someone accurately.

            And I think all he has to do is pull us toward ‘better’, which probably clashes with your definition of ‘accurately’. For God to teach us F = ma would be inaccurate in some domains, after all. Far be it for God to lie to us, about science!!!11

            Here’s a question: can an omni-god communicate his ideas perfectly to human beings?

            See here.

            Therefore enlightenment age philosophers and contemporary philosophers should be privileged over Jesus and the OT, perhaps to such a degree that we ignore biblical morality altogether.

            Read After Virtue, and perhaps Ten Philosophical Mistakes as well. The Enlightenment folks really screwed some things up. I’m actually not aware of anything Jesus said which ought to be obsolete now. But go ahead and find some examples; you’ll be better at it than I, given our respective confirmation biases.

            Well since the Bible condones slavery cover to cover

            It’s just adorable that you think all that is needed to get rid of slavery is to outlaw it. Read up on Jim Crow laws as well as the Civil rights movement. This goes back to your response to my comment on your “A Case For Secular Morality”. You think “morality is dealing with external behavior”. This is just hilarious. It’s as if you are utterly ignorant of the inner worlds of humans—the worlds inside their heads—from which they generate their thoughts and their actions. It’s as if you are completely ignorant of the fact that slavery can only exist if one group of people think they deserve more freedom than the other. And yet the Bible dashes this to pieces, with Mt 20:20-28 being only one of the instances.

            You’re hung up on the bits where Paul mitigates against a repeat of Spartacus’ Third Servile War. Because that ended well. So what to do? Ahh yes, target the root cause of slavery, not the behavior result. Are you a fan of BF Skinner’s Behaviorism, by chance? If so, I suggest reading Philip Pilkington: Falling for Behaviourism – The Neoclassicals Join a New Cult, which spends a lot of time gutting BF Skinner and his stupid-ass ideas.

            since the Bible is fuzzy

            And you think life ain’t fuzzy? Precious.

            But you never do this. You’re stories are all fuzzy on details and lacking empirical basis.

            Have I not connected any of the following triads to reality for you? Want me to?

            Mt 5:43-48, Jn 13:34-35, Jn 17:20-23
            Mt 5:23-24, Mt 18:15-20, Eph 4:25-27
            Mt 7:1-5, Mt 23:1-4, Gal 6:1-5

            If the opposing arguments were weak, that would not convince me that my position was weak too, but perhaps stronger. If the opposing arguments were weak, that would convince me that my opponent’s position was weak.

            Sigh. Most of the arguments out there for anything are crappy. That you don’t realize this means that all you have to do is find some crappy argument out there, develop something better than it, and feel good that you have found The Truth. This is boring. I can see why you don’t have good bibliographies; reading those books and articles would challenge your beliefs too much! And so you just cherry-pick, such that your beliefs aren’t too threatened.

            And you derive this how exactly from the Bible?

            But understanding the NT as flowing continuously from the OT. To actually demonstrate this would require a lot of work, probably an essay the size of your “A Case For Secular Morality”. I’ll put it on my list; once I develop a better commenting system than Disqus, I’ll start a blog other than my blog with one post, and get on this. I made this a few years ago as a way to better navigate and search a forum I used to spend a lot of time on. It lets you quickly move from quoted text to the original text, see which bits of a post were quoted, etc. Imagine being able to see a ‘heat map’ of a blog post, and see which sentences or even fragments of a sentence are being hotly discussed. I think something like this will promote the best kind of discussion, discussion that has a hope of advancing the state of the art, instead of running in circles.

            Briefly though, see New Covenant as well as Jer 31:31-34, Ezek 36:22-32. This gets to the core of your DCT worries: God wants proper behavior to flow from the heart. Here, “the heart” likely means “the entire being”, but it definitely includes that “inner world” that you seemed to deny as important in your reply to my comment on your “A Case For Secular Morality”. The New Covenant is a strong yes to my Phil.SE question Are there laws which govern minds? Critically, part of having God’s laws written on our hearts is that God is continually enhancing those laws, making the more complex, kind of like science is continually discovering more intricacy and subtleness to nature. This intimacy with God was roundly denied in Deut 5 by the people of Israel. The reason there was a veil separating the outside from the Holy of Holies was that people did not want interaction with God. It was this veil that tore at Jesus’ death, meaning that now “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the father but through me.” More in an essay.

            It seems you kind of think that biblical morality was really just a set of training wheels god gave us, until we morally progressed on our own to realize that the very commands god gave us were themselves immoral. I see it as the man-made morality of an ancient and ignorant peoples which one would fully expect to be absurd in some areas.

            It’s not all training wheels. I don’t see anything in the Decalogue which is obsolete, except for the modification of the Sabbath that Jesus enacted and Paul described in Romans 14. Josef Pieper, in Leisure: The Basis of Culture, provides fantastic support for the sabbath being important not as a day that was set aside, but as a time to reflect and consider life, instead of just working our butts off and then being wanly entertained. In an agrarian culture, having it be a specific day made a lot of sense. Now, it’s not so important, especially given the Diaspora.

            For living in a just, and moral society with the greatest amount of equality, love, compassion, fairness and so forth, and the least amount of unnecessary harm/suffering. Is that too hard for god?

            Virtually everyone wants this end result, The Thinker. Nietzsche can probably be excepted. The question is how do we get there? For example, you are happy to make wide, sweeping claims without the burden of proof that atheists and skeptics repeatedly asked me for in my 10,000+ hours of discussing online with them. I now understand the importance of this: the logical possibility space is just so large, that unless I’m fairly well attached to empirical reality, I’m too likely to come up with hypotheses which do not lead from ‘wrong’ → ‘less wrong’. You are too busy to read a book with me; this is fine, but you might consider how this limits your personal ability to make the world a better place in a way that you think you are.

            Now it seems you’re forced to adopt skeptical theism.

            Completely false.

            A NL proponent who is a theist is not going to dismiss divine commands, they will usually just think that those divine commands would mostly hold in the absence of them being commanded due to the structure of nature. That’s fine with me.

            Wait, so do you critique DCT proponents who also buy into NL? You seemed to think that DCT and NL were mutually exclusive. What’s your third option? That blog post of yours?

            Since you’re so passionate that Christianity and DCT are not inextricably linked, why don’t you provide me a bibliography? This seems to be something you’re deeply passionate about.

            LOL. Trying to compel me to be your research assistant, eh?

            Why don’t we debate our interpretations of the Bible on whether it implies DCT or NL or whatever it is you hold to, which you still havent’ told me?

            I’ll only debate if you acknowledge when I do something you say I didn’t.

            The questions is, are god’s commands needed to have certain moral obligations that would otherwise not be moral/immoral without them? If Abraham chose on his own to sacrifice his son, would it have been perfectly Ok without god commanding him?

            Part of morality (as I define it) is interacting with other people. So to the extent that God is interacting with us, there is morality that exists, which wouldn’t exist if he were a deist god. This answers your question about Abraham. God was giving Abraham a kind of cost of discipleship test. Cling more tightly to your family than what is right, and you’ll create lots of the terrible shit we see strewn all over history. And yes, it was right because Abraham believed God would fulfill his promise of progeny through Isaac, therefore guaranteeing Isaac’s eventual survival of the ordeal, somehow. See Hebrews 11.

            The better question is, why are you so fond of avoiding the troubles with your ethical foundation?

            The same reason many evolutionary biologists aren’t disturbed by ‘irreducible complexity’. They believe those problems will ultimately be resolved, and know that they don’t have to be resolved at the ID advocate’s beck and call.

            Ok then disprove it.

            Burden of proof.

            Do I really need to provide empirical evidence that you claim the biblical morality is progressive?

            No, you need to provide empirical evidence that “[The Bible]‘s not [always progressive]. It’s sometimes regressive.” Holy shit dude, do you really not understand what “the burden of proof” is?

            Tell me how commanding the killing of adulterers, homosexuals, cantankerous children, witches, people who worship false gods and child sacrifice was a step up in moral progression?

            Tell me how abiogenesis happened, precisely, with no vagueness whatsoever. Take me through it, tiny step by tiny step.

            Is killing homosexuals something one can come to based on NL or does it take divine command?

            Why are you so worked up about the homosexual issue? I rarely think about it—and I live in San Francisco—other than when discussing with people who are hung up about it. You are really reminding me of Michael J. Behe and his ‘irreducible complexity’. Are you a closet ID advocate?

            So it doesn’t depend at all on god’s existence?

            Well, if part of morality is how we interact with God, it does. If God is a deist god, then it doesn’t.

            That said, it is not the bibliography that counts, it’s my arguments, many of them I though of my own. So if you got a problem with what I wrote, then debate me on it and we’ll see where it goes.

            I have a lot more hope to learn something from a bibliography you cite, than what you write. If you aren’t standing on the shoulders of giants, you’re probably not contributing much that is new or interesting, and you’ve probably said stuff in less of an elegant, coherent, consistent way than someone whose work has been criticized by scholars.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            proof that he did exist wouldn’t immediately connect that castle to the ground.

            Not at all, because even if Jesus existed he was just a man who, like many others, has been deified by his followers.

            I have every reason that you’re making shit up based on an extremely selective reading of certain people, mostly moderns.

            What reasons? Do you have ANY?

            LOL, everyone claims this.

            Which further emphasizes my point that no one’s interpretation of scripture is right, and therefore it’s useless as a document because whatever you can bring from it, I can find a contradictory verse or a reinterpretation, and we get moral relativism.

            I wonder if you realized the double-meaning of your “fucking designer”…

            Tell me.

            Anyhow, I claim that God isn’t the only one involved in what exists; I claim that Satan, among others, have actively damaged creation as it otherwise would have been. I claim this based on my plausibility framework; it is analogous to dark matter.

            Oh so here we get an explanation, Homosexuality is due to the devil. Sounds like a Baptist explanation to me. What evidence do you have that this is true? When did the devil do this and by what means does he achieve this? And why doesn’t god just fix the damage the devil does? And why does the devil bother with homosexuality at all? Is that to say homosexuality is inherently evil? You just opened up yourself to more questions than answers buddy. And I bet you have no answer to a single one of them, which is why it’s really you who’s just making shit up.

            And I think all he has to do is pull us toward ‘better’, which probably clashes with your definition of ‘accurately’.

            This would mean that the NT is also a moral compromise, that we should shake off like our training wheels. That’s pretty much what modern secular humanism is about, except the fact that we don’t except the Bible as divinely inspired.

            See here.

            So the answer is no apparently. God is all-powerful, but he’s a really bad communicator. Go figure.

            The Enlightenment folks really screwed some things up. I’m actually not aware of anything Jesus said which ought to be obsolete now. But go ahead and find some examples;

            Never said they were perfect, but if the enlightenment philosophers screwed things up, then Yahweh really screwed things up in the bible. Jesus said to kill cantankerous kids. I believe that’s obsolete.

            It’s just adorable that you think all that is needed to get rid of slavery is to outlaw it.

            I don’t hold that view, straw man on your part. I do hold to the view that a morally perfect god would not condone it, especially when he never said its institution was wrong, ever.

            You think “morality is dealing with external behavior”. This is just hilarious. It’s as if you are utterly ignorant of the inner worlds of humans—the worlds inside their heads—from which they generate their thoughts and their actions.

            That’s because I don’t hold to your religious metaphysics and notions of sinful thoughts that Jesus allegedly espoused. Morality only deals with external behavior. Our thoughts are not generated by anything we can control, and pure thoughts alone are not wrong.

            It’s as if you are completely ignorant of the fact that slavery can only exist if one group of people think they deserve more freedom than the other.

            You mean like when the Israelites forced the Canaanites into slavery because they thought they were superior by being god’s chosen people and the owners of the lands the Canaanites lived on? And what about all the Israeli laws permitting the different treatment of non-Israelite slaves like Lev 25:44-46? OT law allegedly commanded by god reinforces the very racism that upheld slavery in the American South.

            And you think life ain’t fuzzy? Precious.

            I’d expect god to be a bit more of an effective communicator, and not resemble the ignorant ramblings of an ancient peoples.

            Most of the arguments out therefor anything are crappy.

            Not true, there are very good arguments in science and philosophy for various things. You just prefer things be fuzzy since taking a position on something is apparently an allergy for you.

            I can see why you don’t have good bibliographies; reading those books and articles would challenge your beliefs too much!

            I’m always up for a challenge, and I read theistic based literature all the time, I’m actually obsessed with finding the best arguments against mine. But, given your inability to articulate your POV properly, I have little hope that your recommended books will do that work for you. Like Keith Ward for example, he’s an idealist and bases his whole worldview on an implication of the Copenhagen interpretation of QM, in the same way that people like Deepak Chopra do it. It’s woo woo.

            What I want you to do is present me with the arguments you’ve gotten from your sources and challenge me with them, since apparently, they’ll destroy me.

            Here, “the heart”likely means “the entire being”, but it definitely includes that “inner world” that you seemed to deny as important in your reply to my comment on your “A Case For Secular Morality”.

            I make strong mention of intentionality and the role it plays in morality, so I don’t ignore the “heart” – so to speak.

            Critically, part of having God’s laws written on our hearts is that God is continually enhancing those laws, making the more complex, kind of like science is continually discovering more intricacy and subtleness to nature.

            I’d fine the idea of god’s law written on our hearts given theistic evolution to be problematic because our nature is largely due to our evolutionary past. Where did god’s law come from, and when did it enter into our evolutionary history. Did Neanderthal’s have it too? What about homo erectus? You probably don’t care about these things but I do because it’s part of having a robust worldview. I’ve never seen any theist give a plausible answer to any of these questions and I know you are totally incapable of it. That’s why theism and theistic evolution, and all the religious utterances you hold to make absolutely no sense.

            I don’t see anything in the Decalogue which is obsolete,

            Commandments 1,2,3,4 and 10 certainly are obsolete.

            Virtually everyone wants this end result, The Thinker. Nietzsche can probably be excepted. The question ishow do we get there?

            It is certainly not by following biblical morality, that’s for sure. I’d say the basic values of secular humanism are the best I’ve heard so far to achieving this goal.

            Completely false.

            I don’t see how you avoid skeptical theism since you claim no one knows the reasons behind why god does what he does and we are not in an epistemic position to know. To blame quantum mechanics and human action of evil is absurd. That can be easily falsified with this argument:

            (1) God (an omnipotent, omniscience, omni-benevolent being) exists.
            (2) Natural evil exists.
            (3) God is the creator and designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it.
            (4) Natural disasters, and the evil they cause, are a direct byproduct of the laws that govern our universe.

            If you deny (2) you must justify why.

            Wait, so do you critique DCT proponents who also buy into NL?

            Yes NL and DCT are both bullshit. If you want to debate me on this, go ahead.

            Trying to compel me to be your research assistant, eh?

            Thought you needed a job.

            I’ll only debate if you acknowledge when I do something you say I didn’t.

            What did you do that I said you didn’t.

            God was giving Abraham a kind of cost of discipleship test……And yes, it was right because Abraham believed God would fulfill his promise of progeny through Isaac, therefore guaranteeing Isaac’s eventual survival of the ordeal, somehow.

            Then you hold to DCT at least a little bit.

            So god make anything right so long as he backs it up with promises and rewards?

            The same reason many evolutionary biologists aren’t disturbed by ‘irreducible complexity’.

            Scientists have a clear record of showing there are no real irreducible complexities. What’s your track record?

            Holy shit dude, do you really not understand what “the burden of proof” is?

            Yes I do, you’ve never met yours.

            Tell me how abiogenesis happened,precisely, with no vagueness whatsoever. Take me through it, tiny step by tiny step.

            False analogy. You can’t even begin to give me a vague outline of your thoughts, whereas scientists have detailed hypothesis backed up by evidence. Your answer is, “I don’t know it just is, and I have no interest in even trying to find an answer.” Can you see why fewer and fewer people are holding to this view? You’re a real class act Luke.

            Why are you so worked up about the homosexual issue? … Are you a closet ID advocate?

            LOL. No. What I am is an opportunist. And homosexuality, and sexuality in general is one of the easiest ways for me to show how your biblical morality is absurd. So I use it as a sharp knife. Perhaps you don’t think about it because you live in SF, but if you witnessed the kind of nonsense going on in modern day Africa, whose lawmakers get their morals from the same book you do, then you might take it more seriously.

            Well, if part of morality is how we interact with God, it does. If God is a deist god, then it doesn’t.

            I think you might be in the closet about your relationship with DCT, perhaps you hate the label so you suppress it. But if god’s commands hold authority on what is or is not morally right or wrong, and certain actions are only right or wrong because god commands them, that otherwise wouldn’t be, then you hold to the DCT on some level. Which you do.

            I have a lot more hope to learn something from a bibliography you cite, than what you write.

            Judge that by what I write and my arguments. Scholars sometimes fail to make their cases less esoteric, which is one of my goals when dealing with highly esoteric subject matter. They also refrain themselves, unlike me who likes to hit arguments straight on with a hammer.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m curious, have you had productive conversations on the internet with any theists? As in, more productive than any you have had with me? I’d like to see them, if so. If not, I’m inclined to cease discussions with you and read more books, where I have a higher chance of learning something. Being grilled is fine, but when that is all the other person does, it gets tiring. All you can see is errors, ugliness, and fuzziness. See:

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

            If you’ve had better conversations with another theist, perhaps I can learn from his/her interactions with you. Otherwise, I’m tired of your constant badgering and all the other crap you pull. Now watch you try and goad me into responding more. Ain’t gonna work, unless you say something sufficiently interesting, something that promises that I might learn something, instead of continue to be interrogated.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Tell me Luke, what is a productive conversation when one person’s worldview isn’t well thought out? I can’t have a reasonable conversation when you assert nonsense beliefs, and when I ask you the easiest question on it, your response is, “I haven’t thought of that yet. Still working on it.”

            ???

            What I’ve done in the past few years is really try to challenge myself by taking on the biggest challenges to atheism that I can find. I want to know that my worldview is rational, consistent and makes sense, because I take my worldview very seriously. You apparently don’t care much for this. You accept Christianity for some reason, and you’ve molded it to your liking, and you don’t even care whether it makes sense or not. I don’t know about you, but I could never live like that.

          • Luke Breuer

            What you consider “well thought out” are essays, not comments. Essays are for bloggers, not commenters.

            It is telling you cannot point to better interactions with another theist. Perhaps the problem doesn’t lie with me, after all.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            What do you consider “better conversations”?

          • Luke Breuer

            I dunno, you can’t think of a decent definition of ‘better’? Someone whose responses you liked better, who wasn’t as vague, etc. You’ve made a boatload of criticisms of me; are there theists with whom you’ve conversed who weren’t so critique-able?

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’m a polemicist. I enjoy debating, I like to challenge and be challenged. I’ve challenged dozens of theists online. Very few can handle me. Most give up, or start asserting their dogma when my challenges get too hard. That said, I like to debate evidentialists who claim that there is evidence from nature that god exists. I’ve been searching the internets for such a theist, and sadly I haven’t really found a theist who had the time and the passion to properly debate me on the arguments for/against god.

            As far as an informed theist who knows the arguments and evidence backing them up, there’s a blog that I’m currently “debating” a theist on the kalam, time, god’s temporal nature over here. He’s very serious about the arguments and is pretty well informed on the philosophy/science behind it. There are others but not too many good ones. Go check it out and you be the judge on whether it is “good”.

          • Luke Breuer

            Very few can handle me.

            I can see you wear this as a badge of pride. And then I go to the website you mention, after correcting the URL, and find you clinging, desperately, to the denial of simultaneous causation. That wasn’t debating, that was you refusing to let go of some claim that has your fancy. Just like most Christians holding to some form of DCT that you see as bad, with you being unable to give an unambiguous definition of DCT, nor provide a bibliography or other evidence of this “most Christians” claim. But once you are challenged on that, instead of backing down from “most” to “some”, you staunchly cling to your “most”, despite the fact that you cannot muster a burden of proof.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Btw, simultaneous causation is nonsense, and Craig clings to it incoherently. Without checking the URL, I would estimate that the person adhering to SC would be hard pressed to show it makes sense, especially in light of GR.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yep, let’s pretend we understand entanglement and other nonlocality.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            See DH Mellor in Real Time II and The Facts of Causation as he casts some good light on this issue.

          • Luke Breuer

            Thanks; I’ve requested it from my local public library. I doubt that Mellor really understands entanglement and nonlocality though, given how little physicists understand it. I just checked on Bernard d’Espagnat’s On Physics and Philosophy, and he likely makes a fundamental error, according to some research I’m privy to which may cause people to… rethink their ideas.

            My biggest point here is that I think we’re being like the physicists at the end of the 19th century: arrogantly thinking that their picture of the thing was close to the thing. Ceci n’est pas une pipe. It’s not problematic to say that we have a hard time conceiving of simultaneous causation, and likewise it is not problematic to not utilize that idea in near-term research. But to use induction from here and say the idea is nonsensical or whatever is, to me, very iffy business. It seems awfully like hubris and arrogance.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            The problem is, and I said this on the other blog linked above, that this is exactly the same assumptive and inductive logic used as saying ex nihilo nihil fit, which is used to argue FOR the KCA. In other words, Craig has his cake and eats it. He asserts ex nihilo which is nothing more than an intuition, and extrapolates it across physics to the beginning. In the same way, then, one can extrapolate precedence in causality across physics to show that without time you cannot have causality.

            This is key, and I think Craig fails big time here. I can’t wait to expand my paper on the KCA into a book, I just need the time. It is this and many other things which make the KCA so damned unsound.

          • Luke Breuer

            I don’t know much about the KCA; I’ve seen arguments for and against, but I haven’t sat down to really analyze it, pulling the best peer-reviewed arguments for and against. With that said…

            The idea of ex nihilo, nihil fit doesn’t seem so odd. Lawrence Krauss’ did not have ‘nothing’ = ‘nihilo‘; see Massimo Pigliucci’s Lawrence Krauss: another physicist with an anti-philosophy complex, in which he discusses this interview of Krauss by The Atlantic. Krauss equivocates on the word ‘nothing’, and claims that he isn’t intending to mislead the public while later admitting that if a misunderstanding by the public is a “hook [which] gets you into the book that’s great”. Ummm, right.

            True ex nihilo would likely be a violation of the causal closure requirement of physicalism. True ex nihilo would be a statement of ignorance, not knowledge. “We have no idea what caused this.” is a very different statement from “Nothing caused this.” Krauss, of course, has a quantum vacuum which he deceptively calls ‘nothing’. Francis Schaeffer, in his 1972 He is There and He is not Silent wrote “nothing thing” in order to skirt those equivocating with the word “nothing”. Viewed from today, he seems damn prescient.

            Is it really true that the PSR has been soundly refuted? I wasn’t aware of this. The PSR seems quite important for doing science; the instant we say that “all is random beyond this point”, “this point” is set up as a wall through which we cannot penetrate. The PSR, it seems to me (but I could be wrong; I’m nothing close to an expert on it), is tantamount to insisting (necessarily, if not sufficiently) that reality is rational and increasingly understandable.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce
          • Luke Breuer

            Thanks, but those are nothing like a survey of peer-reviewed work on the KCA. I want to see the strongest arguments for it, the strongest criticisms of it, responses, etc. That is, if I were to dig deeply into the KCA. I don’t find it particularly compelling as I currently understand it, so I think I’m going to stick to stuff like Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles, for now.

            What did you think about the nihilo/nothing discussion? That is but a fragment of the KCA [I think], and I can speak a bit more confidently about it.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Those are broadly speaking areas of criticism against the KCA, or at least a fraction of (see Grunbaum and Morriston. Morriston is interesting because he is a Christian too). Really, the conversation, as with so much to do with abstracts, like morality, comes down to nominalism vs relism. But no one seems to want to tackle that head on, because it is very dry and boring philosophy. However, if Craig or other theists want the KCA to work, they need to establish ontological realism in the world of abstracts.

            I will talk on ex nihilo when i finish some ‘actual’ work I have to do!

          • Luke Breuer

            Is it the case that were “ontological realism in the world of abstracts” to be established, that religion (or at least some religions) would be more likely to be true? Or stated differently, is ¬”ontological realism in the world of abstracts” a detriment to religion? Is this pretty much the problem of universals, is it related, or am I mistakenly associating them? I know you’ve said that you’re a fan of tropes. I’ve been kind of circling the problem of universals, getting closer to understanding why it’s a big deal, and getting ready to really dive into the arguments pro and con, and the history thereof.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I think theism needs realism, and is hindered greatly by nominalism. But I think all of the evidence points in the direction of conceptual nominalism.

          • Luke Breuer

            All of the evidence? That’s a strong claim; what’s the justification for it?

            It seems to me that when it comes to life, day in and day out, for most people, their internal worlds are more important than the particulars. “Am I valued?” “Am I competent at what I do?” The particulars certainly are important, but they seem to build toward universals, universals with which most people are most concerned. Is this a bad analysis? Or perhaps you simply think that most people are wrong, that their common sense is erroneous? As I said, I’m new at this “problem of universals” thing.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            First of all, you have to understand that on that blog, the owner has a gestapo-like comment policy. So I have responded to his claim that simultaneous causality is true, but he can take days to allow it to post. And if you say one thing he doesn’t like, he will refuse to post your comment. So I have to be extra careful. Other than that I’m not “clinging” to anything. All of these topics I have debated numerous times with theists. I wrote a whole blog post about it here.

            In our “debate”, I’ve learned that even you hold to some form of DCT. You’re just clinging to the notion that you’re not. You’re in denial and it proves my point even more. Most Christians hold to DCT even though many are not aware of it. I think I defined DCT pretty easy for you, just look back at our comments. I had to define it twice for you by the way.

          • Luke Breuer

            It sounds like you don’t have a better conversational relationship with any theist; at best you have equally good/bad/whatever conversational relationships. This poster is for you.

            Quantum mechanics tells us that there is no such thing as an unbiased observer. If you expect the polarity of a photon to be up or down, even though it could be linearly polarized, circularly polarized, or elliptically polarized, with many angles (at least two, if not three angles). And yet your measurement ‘collapses’ the photon into ‘up’ or ‘down’—if you measure it at all. The same goes with confirmation bias. I would really suggest you read Grossberg 1999, The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness; he suggests that maybe we only become conscious of things which match patterns already in our brains. This is confirmation bias in the extreme!

            As to DCT, you’re misremembering the facts. I pointed you to this comment, and explained that I hold to (1) chosen physical laws ⇒ moral laws. This can be seen as one of the many flavors of DCT. You, however, seem to have a very restricted view of what DCT could possibly be, despite my linking of the IEP DCT article to you, as well as some views of Aquinas (deeply respected by all Catholics) and Duns Scotus. Things are much fuzzier than you seem to want to admit. And within that fuzz, there does appear to be a version of DCT with which I am perfectly happy. I thought I made that pretty clear on Jonathan’s DCT blog post.

            You seem so bull-headed that you don’t actually stop to realize that maybe the other guy has a good point. Oh yeah, this:

            The Thinker: P.S. I’m usually right, so no I don’t recall admitting with you that I was ever wrong on an important matter.

            The Thinker, nobody wants to converse with a person like this. Nobody wants to converse with someone unable to admit that he was wrong. And you really seem unable; IIRC, you weasel out of any instance where maybe you really did get something wrong with me. It is as if you will be mortally wounded if you do. Maybe your identity is tied up in a way that it would be a mortal wound; I suggest looking into that possibility. I discuss with you to learn, but if you’re going to conveniently forget things I have said, the cost to me is way too high for any benefit that I might achieve.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            It sounds like you don’t have a better conversational relationship with any theist;

            Some are better some are worse. I would describe a “better” conversation as one in which the theist was well informed and had thought out his/her reasons/evidence why they think a certain argument works.

            Quantum mechanics tells us that there is no such thing as an unbiased observer….This is confirmation bias in the extreme!

            Are you implying by this that I have extreme confirmation bias and that I cannot see good evidence I’m presented with that differs from mine? If so, what good evidence has been presented by you or anyone else that differs/contradicts mine that I cannot seem to process? You at least rarely ever present evidence. You do however like to link me to entire books, as a way of outsourcing your argument, instead of what I would prefer, which would be you make an argument against mine using the data you got from that source, perhaps with a quote to reinforce it. I’m not going to read 20 books because I lack the time.

            Confirmation bias goes both ways. I see yours all over the place.

            As to DCT, you’re misremembering the facts. I pointed you to this comment, and explained that I hold to (1) chosen physical laws ⇒ moral laws.

            I know this, and it doesn’t make a difference. You think god’s commands have ultimate authority on what is right/wrong given a situation, that’s a form of DCT. Nature – when properly understood, contradicts many of Christian morals, so I don’t see how you can derive morals from nature that perfectly coincide with Yahweh’s commands.

            Things are much fuzzier than you seem to want to admit. And within that fuzz, there does appear to be a version of DCT with which I am perfectly happy. I thought I made that pretty clear on Jonathan’s DCT blog post.

            You want things to be much fuzzier than they actually are. Given a fuzzy definition of DCT, that makes it more likely that you will fall under it. So you’re actually making my point for me. Again. You’re a DCTist. Thanks for admitting it.

            You seem so bull-headed that you don’t actually stop to realize that maybe the other guy has a good point.

            If ‘the other guy” is you, I rarely have heard a good point. It’s mostly wishy-washy nonsense, like the kind I get from liberal Christians all the time. You don’t even think about the issues of your beliefs, that’s why I have this problem with you.

            The Thinker, nobody wants to converse with a person like this.

            You don’t like being challenged. You’d rather have me agree with you, or simply accept at face value that your point of view might be valid and not challenge you any further. You’d like me to say, “Oh that’s interesting” every time you make a point. You don’t want me challenging you and forcing you to think about the obvious problems your worldview has. Sorry that’s not me.

            Nobody wants to converse with someone unable to admit that he was wrong.

            And when have I been wrong? Can you point to a single example? I can admit when I’m wrong, I just don’t recall you ever having been right on something I disagreed with.

            One of the reasons I like challenging theists, particularly Christians and Muslims is that I know they are full of shit. I just like to make that apparent because it makes me feel good when I utterly destroy a stupid theist who thinks the evidence falls in his favor. Why? Because I see religion as a bad thing and I’m using this as training to help me combat every version of it. I want religion gone and the world to be fully secularized, preferably naturalistic. There is no greater feeling as an atheist than showing a theist how their worldview is bullshit. This is how many theists become atheists.

          • Luke Breuer

            You are probably the most arrogant person I have ever encountered, and this is saying a lot, seeing as I attended (but did not graduate—see Bret Victor’s Kill Math) Caltech, which is similar to MIT and frequently named a #1 school. I’ve interacted with arrogant Nobel laureates. And you, The Thinker, probably take the cake. If you have ever wondered why people do not like interacting with you, it is not because you point out where they might be wrong, it is primarily because of your extreme arrogance.

            You at least rarely ever present evidence.

            Have you ever presented evidence? The most I ever recall you doing is give an author’s name—not a book title. To this day, you will not produce evidence for “most Christians subscribe to some form of DCT”.

            You do however like to link me to entire books, as a way of outsourcing your argument, instead of what I would prefer, which would be you make an argument against mine using the data you got from that source, perhaps with a quote to reinforce it.

            Lies. I have quoted books to you. I have explained, briefly, what was contained therein. Must I enumerate instances of this?

            I’m not going to read 20 books because I lack the time.

            Blatant misrepresentation. My citing a book does not mean I deeply desire you read it. Sometimes I have reached the limit of my knowledge on a topic, but know of resources that talk further about the topic. It is a service I provide to you, to tell you how you could learn more. That you disdain this is a sign of being an utter dick.

            You think god’s commands have ultimate authority on what is right/wrong given a situation, that’s a form of DCT.

            Quote & link me or recant. I am deeply suspicious that you’ve either made shit up, or cherry-picked what I’ve said.

            Nature – when properly understood, contradicts many of Christian morals

            LOL. Really, just LOL. That you think you understand what things were like in the Middle East 2500-3500 years ago is laughable, to the extreme. Your arrogance is legendary.

            You’re a DCTist. Thanks for admitting it.

            Ahhh, I see, you just want to label people. A common fundamentalist trait. If you really, truly want to pursue this DCT line of thought, link to all the times you have defined DCT. Maybe I’ll take the time to research the topic properly—something you clearly haven’t done—and get back to you, or write a blog post on it (essay-length, which is the only thing you will not immediately call ‘vague’).

            You don’t even think about the issues of your beliefs, that’s why I have this problem with you.

            Hahahahahaha, you are so full of shit. The CTO of my startup, who designed one of Caltech’s supercomputing clusters, tells me I’m one of the few Christians with whom he can talk about Christianity intelligently. A Caltech professor, who has been there for thirty years, gave me a similar compliment. A skeptic/atheist on Randal Rauser’s blog said that my comments were a wonderful treat after having had a really rough day. I recently impressed a random musician on agreeing on how many people these days sleep-walk through life. I recently impressed an atheist government worker with principles that are soundly biblical. That you think I don’t “think about the issues of my beliefs” says more about you, than me.

            You don’t like being challenged.

            LOL. By this, perhaps you mean that I don’t like to provide evidence that an un-evidenced claim of yours may not be true. That’s just precious. As to being challenged, I do that all the time online. That is a major reason I participate in online forums and comment on blogs.

            What I don’t like is talking to someone who adds nothing to the conversation. You are commonly that person. Merely critiquing is boring; many more people can just critique, than can actually construct. Constructing coherent systems of thought is hard. You contribute nothing to this endeavor. People who find weak spots can be helpful, but they can also be useless. You are often useless. I well-know where I am being vague, much of the time. I can be extremely analytical, as well. You happen to dislike it when I am; just see the conversation about alternating harmonic series, and how you were unable to process it.

            What you do, The Thinker, is provide people with a Scylla and Charybdis, and claim victory when they cannot sail precisely through the little path you have allegedly provided for them; I say ‘allegedly’, because often there is no path. This is boring as shit, not to mention tedious and a waste of my time.

            You’d like me to say, “Oh that’s interesting” every time you make a point.

            This is bullshit—the “every”. It is common courtesy in conversations to note when you are tracking with the other person; saying “Oh that’s interesting” is one way to do it, some of the time. You don’t do this. You silently track—if indeed you are tracking—and then point out things you think are wrong. And the hilarious thing is, often you are either projecting or applying stereotypes to the person, and calling those wrong—instead of the actual argument being presented. You’ve done this to me several times, and excused this as “I’m just doing the best I can” or something like that—an excuse I disbelieve now, having observed more of your behavior.

            And when have I been wrong?

            You claimed that you analyzed the evidence for DCT, and found that “most Christians” believe it, across spacetime. You presented no such evidence. You didn’t even present a bibliography. You’re full of crap. Your claim might be right, but you aren’t justified in believing it. And yet you believe it. You have Boghossian-faith: pretending to know what you do not know.

            One of the reasons I like challenging theists, particularly Christians and Muslims is that I know they are full of shit.

            This is your purpose in all these discussions. It is reprehensible. See, once more:

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

            How great is that darkness, indeed. Your purpose in life, The Thinker, is not to gain new knowledge. It is to prove yourself right. That is all you seek to do. If you sought to gain new knowledge, you would act differently. You do not.

            I just like to make that apparent because it makes me feel good when I utterly destroy a stupid theist who thinks the evidence falls in his favor.

            At least you admitted this, I’ll give you that much. I have met other people like you. They contribute little, if anything, positive to society. Anyone can destroy. Not very many can build. You have shown little to no ability to build. You are an uninteresting person. There is little evidence you have any competence to make the world a better place.

            Because I see religion as a bad thing and I’m using this as training to help me combat every version of it.

            Yep, you see it this way. Not based on an unbiased sampling of the evidence, just your mythology + your cherry-picking of the evidence.

            There is no greater feeling as an atheist than showing a theist how their worldview is bullshit.

            That you say this, instead of “understanding the world more deeply”, is so entirely telling. You gain your life-energy from death. This is who you are. It is despicable. Few people wish to be friends with this type of person. You don’t have to be this type of person, but you seem happy with it right now. Just keep in mind that there are alternatives. There are life-giving alternatives. You do not have to let darkness dominate your heart.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            You are probably the most arrogant person I have ever encountered,

            You obviously haven’t dealt with many fundamentalist Calvinists.

            If you have ever wondered why people do not like interacting with you, it is not because you point out where they might be wrong, it is primarily because of your extreme arrogance.

            Most don’t like me because when they throw out the usually cookie-cutter challenges to atheism, I, unlike some atheists actually have good answers and I often can turn the tables on them and show how their own challenge actually works against them. No theist is going to like an atheist like me.

            Have you ever presented evidence?

            Like I said, the author of the IEP article about DCT claims, “Most advocates of Divine Command Theory do not want to be stuck with the implication that cruelty could possibly be morally right”. Did they back that up with statistical evidence? No. Why? Because it is commonly understood. It doesn’t need a citation. All one has to be is familiar with the theory and the advocates for it. Same is true with DCT and Christianity. I don’t need to provide a bibliography to prove that most Christians have held to DCT. It’s common fucking knowledge. Only you have a problem with it, I personally think because you are in the closet about DCT and you don’t like it, and this is causing feelings of resentment about yourself.

            Quote & link me or recant. I am deeply suspicious that you’ve either made shit up, or cherry-picked what I’ve said.

            You said:

            And yes, [human sacrifice] was right because Abraham believed God would fulfill his promise of progeny through Isaac,

            God’s command was the only factor making the human sacrifice right, that’s DCT baby. I go into further detail on my post A Case For Secular Morality where I say:

            The theist cannot escape the Euthyphro Dilemma no matter how hard he tries. Take for example the biblical story of Abraham who god commands to sacrifice his son (Gen 22:5-12). Most Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that it would have been immoral for Abraham to have decided on his own to sacrifice his son for god and what made it moral was solely determined by god’s command. Also in the Old Testament, god commands the Jews to exterminate the Midianite peoples (except for the young virgin girls) and he awards the Jews their property (Num 31:2-18). Most Christians at least think it would have been immoral if the Jews had decided to take upon this genocidal conquest on their own, but here again god’s commanding of it makes it moral for the Jews to physically commit these acts. What these two examples illustrate, is that if something is immoral on its own and only becomes moral if god commands it, or vice versa, then the sole factor separating the morality or immorality of the action, is god’s command. This also means that god cannot be following an absolute and non-arbitrary morality: If something is morally good because god commands it, it must also be morally good if you do it on your own, because otherwise if performing these morals on your ownwouldn’t be good unless god commands it, it means you take the first horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma – that something is morally good because god commands it.

            Lies. I have quoted books to you. I have explained, briefly, what was contained therein. Must I enumerate instances of this?

            But you usually just barely mention a few things and link to the book and then leave it at that, instead of making an argument against me using the data from the book you’ve already read which you should know. I want you to challenge me with the argument the author made because if you know it, and agree with it, you should be able to at least defend it a little bit.

            That you think you understand what things were like in the Middle East 2500-3500 years ago is laughable, to the extreme.

            I do claim to know how nature works much more than anyone who lived during the bible’s time. I was not claiming that I knew “what things were like in the Middle East 2500-3500 years ago” so you’ve just made another strawman and a waste of my time.

            If you really, truly want to pursue this DCT line of thought, link to all the times you have defined DCT

            Unfortunately Disqus doesn’t allow us to search through our comment history, which is a shame. I defined it twice for you and so I will do it a third fucking time since I’m so nice. DCT is a meta-ethical theory which says that ultimately morality (what is right/wrong) is grounded in god. His ontology grounds moral values, and his commands ground moral duties. God’s commands would take precedence over all other things. So anyone who believes god’s commands supersede human ethical constructs or nature holds to some form of DCT. And if you think nature is a reflection of god’s nature and think that god’s commands ground moral duties, then you hold to a modified DCT, that is still DCT.

            The CTO of my startup, who designed one of Caltech’s supercomputing clusters, tells me I’m one of the few Christians with whom he can talk about Christianity intelligently.

            Maybe on a personal level you are easy to talk to about these matters. But that you haven’t even bothered to think about the most basic challenges to your worldview is really what’s laughable. Why do you spend so much time on secular blogs? Every challenge I ask of you, your response is “I’ve not thought about it as much as you’d like, because I haven’t really cared…. I still don’t care a whole lot, and you aren’t giving me any good reasons to care.”

            Maybe you’re a personable guy, but you’re not a critical thinker.

            I’m going to skip your ad hominem attacks as they are just you venting at me.

            How great is that darkness, indeed. Your purpose in life, The Thinker, is not to gain new knowledge.

            Wrong. i find that the best way for me to learn about something is to debate it because that forces me to deal with the arguments against mine head on. That’s just the way I like to learn.

            I have met other people like you. They contribute little, if anything, positive to society. Anyone can destroy. Not very many can build. You have shown little to no ability to build.

            Well since you “haven’t really cared” about all the obvious challenges anyone could raise to your worldview, then you will never learn. Your attitude of brushing away problems certainly ain’t going to help you learn. Our worldviews simply aren’t compatible, I’m not going to amend my beliefs to fit yours. We can learn to get along and tolerate one another, heck I have several theist friends, but I’m here to debate worldviews, not to build whatever edifice you have in mind.

            Not based on an unbiased sampling of the evidence, just your mythology + your cherry-picking of the evidence.

            Oh right, because I only just learned the right religion the right way, I’d realize it was all just a good thing. Sorry, you haven’t provided me a reason to think your custom version of Christianity is good. It is better than the YECs but it ain’t good. That you think homosexuality is literally caused by the devil is telling, especially for a man living in SF. Yeah let’s all teach kids the devil makes people gay and spread the word, even though we haven’t got a shred of fucking evidence for it. That will be great for the world!

            Few people wish to be friends with this type of person. You don’t have to be this type of person, but you seem happy with it right now. Just keep in mind that there are alternatives

            Mind you, I am this way only on the internet. I don’t go up to theists in public and mock their stupid beliefs. There is a time and place for a debate, just like there is a time and place for a fight. Punching someone on the street is wrong, punching someone in a boxing ring is fine. The internet and blogs like this is where these kinds of debates should take place and so I search the internet for theists to debate. If they don’t want to debate, I move on. That’s what I’m here for, and in this process I learn. I’ve learned much about science, philosophy, religion, and history through debating. I’ve learned from you actually, as you have enlightened me during our discussions. But I don’t think you have significantly altered my way of thinking because most of your positions aren’t sensible and have obvious problems with them, which you haven’t cared to iron out. I’m only the militant atheist online, and when I’m with people I know like to be challenged, like in my debate club. So don’t think of me as satan incarnate.

          • Luke Breuer

            You obviously haven’t dealt with many fundamentalist Calvinists.

            False. You’re more arrogant. You aren’t a good judge of whether you are more or less arrogant than another person; a third party is best to evaluate. This is true of life in general; if you disagree, then you’re delusional.

            Most don’t like me because when they throw out the usually cookie-cutter challenges to atheism, I, unlike some atheists actually have good answers and I often can turn the tables on them and show how their own challenge actually works against them. No theist is going to like an atheist like me.

            Hahahahahaha, you keep telling yourself that. I’m sure you are a Real Atheist, not one of those sissy atheists who thinks that the theists aren’t completely retarded in the head, in need of public health monies to fix their brain damage.

            Like I said, the author of the IEP article about DCT claims, “Most advocates of Divine Command Theory do not want to be stuck with the implication that cruelty could possibly be morally right”. Did they back that up with statistical evidence? No. Why? Because it is commonly understood. It doesn’t need a citation. All one has to be is familiar with the theory and the advocates for it.

            Hahahaha, you apparently didn’t look at the bibliography. What Michael W. Austin did was quite a lot of books from various people, and made a summary statement based on them. You could even email him if you want, and ask him why he said that. But are you interested in doing this? Of course not!

            This is you: “It doesn’t need a citation.” You’re not a scholar. You don’t have a bibliography like that. (By the way, the bibliography helps one familiar with DCT, which I am not, to see what Austin might have been missing.) Instead, you just accept what your culture spoon-feeds you, instead of testing everything. Maybe you test some things. The things which would challenge your preconceived notions. But everything? Hah!

            It’s common fucking knowledge.

            So was Jesus’ divinity, 500 years ago, in much of Europe. A+ on that argument.

            Only you have a problem with it

            Excellent debate tactic. A+ again.

            this is causing feelings of resentment about yourself.

            Oooh, armchair psychologist, without credentials but with arrogance!

            You said:

            And yes, [human sacrifice] was right because Abraham believed God would fulfill his promise of progeny through Isaac,

            God’s command was the only factor making the human sacrifice right, that’s DCT baby.

            Here’s a quiz: I try my hardest to kick someone in the stomach, a kick meant to be a crushing, debilitating blow. Was I wrong to make this attempt? Answer this, and I’ll conclude the quiz and show why your reasoning is terrible.

            But you usually just barely mention a few things and link to the book and then leave it at that

            You mean I don’t write essays and do all your work for you, acting as your personal tutor? Yeah, no, I’m not going to do that when you provide nothing valuable in return. Try offering valuable things in return, and I might oblige. But you don’t know how to do that. All you know how to do is elevate your feeling of self-worth by convincing yourself that other people are wrong and you are right. At least, this is just about all of you that I have seen.

            I was not claiming that I knew “what things were like in the Middle East 2500-3500 years ago” so you’ve just made another strawman and a waste of my time.

            Maybe you weren’t claiming it explicitly, but your argument very much depends on it, for you said some of the commands in the Bible were regressive. This requires knowledge of a previous state that was known to be better than the state that the Bible brought about. You have no such knowledge. You’re just making shit up.

            Unfortunately Disqus doesn’t allow us to search through our comment history, which is a shame.

            Cry me a river; you can still search for it manually, it’s just harder. For example, you can click on your name in a comment thread, scroll to the bottom of the comments multiple times, and then search all the ones you’ve loaded with your browser’s search function. If you aren’t up for the work, then don’t pretend that you are a Critical Thinker.

            since I’m so nice.

            The most hilarious thing you’ve ever said. And ironic.

            DCT is a meta-ethical theory which says that ultimately morality (what is right/wrong) is grounded in god. His ontology grounds moral values, and his commands ground moral duties. God’s commands would take precedence over all other things. So anyone who believes god’s commands supersede human ethical constructs or nature holds to some form of DCT. And if you think nature is a reflection of god’s nature and think that god’s commands ground moral duties, then you hold to a modified DCT, that is still DCT.

            It’s not as if God designed the physical laws of the universe, such that those laws would cause an objective, emergent morality… As to the rest, respond to my quiz, first.

            But that you haven’t even bothered to think about the most basic challenges to your worldview is really what’s laughable.

            The aforementioned people certain thought I was. Perhaps it’s your definition of “the most basic” that is the problem. I mean, you want to know how God can think outside of time, as if that’s important for my worldview. You just make up what you think is important and what is not, then adopt godhood and claim that what you think is important actually, objectively, is important. You are a puny, annoying, little god.

            Every challenge I ask of you, your response is “I’ve not thought about it as much as you’d like, because I haven’t really cared….

            LOL, “Every challenge”.

            Well since you “haven’t really cared” about all the obvious challenges anyone could raise to your worldview

            Libel.

            Our worldviews simply aren’t compatible, I’m not going to amend my beliefs to fit yours.

            I never asked you to. This is different from learning to simulate another person’s viewpoint. You, though, appear either utterly incapable of this, or vastly crippled in this domain. All you can do is simulate viewpoints that you know, without a doubt, are wrong. This isn’t true simulation. This is the kind of caricaturing that does not need to knowledge. It merely leads to your reinforcing of your own beliefs, not based on evidence, but based on a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I am right, therefore what I see will show that I am right, and hey, I see that I’m right!”

            Sorry, you haven’t provided me a reason to think your custom version of Christianity is good.

            Apparently the only “reason” you’ll accept is my answering all of your questions consistently, coherently, and completely. Which probably means about fifteen books worth of discussion. You enjoy setting impossible goals for people, don’t you? Makes you feel good inside, doesn’t it?

            That you think homosexuality is literally caused by the devil is telling

            Libel.

            Mind you, I am this way only on the internet.

            So, that just means you hide behind a mask IRL. That just makes you a worse person, overall. And your mask won’t keep this nature of yours completely hidden, not from those who are discerning.

            in this process I learn.

            What have you learned, other than that your beliefs are correct?

            I’ve learned from you actually, as you have enlightened me during our discussions.

            And what is it that you have learned? I was unaware that you learned anything but that you are always right and I, always wrong, whenever it is that you and I disagree on a topic.

            So don’t think of me as satan incarnate.

            Ahahahahahaha, you flatter yourself. Satan is much smarter and more devious than you. You’d hardly qualify as a minor demon.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I see I’ve gotten you all riled up. I like it.

            False. You’re more arrogant. You aren’t a good judge of whether you are more or less arrogant than another person; a third party is best to evaluate.

            Yet you contradict yourself in the first two sentences of your response to me!!! A+ logic buddy. Where you learn it from, the Bible? Come back when you have “a third party” to “evaluate”.

            I’m sure you are a Real Atheist, not one of those sissy atheists who thinks that the theists aren’t completely retarded in the head, in need of public health monies to fix their brain damage.

            Just like you’re a real Christian, huh? Not like those posers who handle snakes or permit gays to marry.

            Hahahaha, you apparently didn’t look at the bibliography.

            He doesn’t cite that specific claim and he doesn’t have to. This whole thread is actually based on your skepticism that “most” Christians hold to DCT, and yet you push for a fuzzy definition of DCT, which would actually make it more likely that “most” Christians fall under DCT. The fuzzier the definition the better for you. Are you working for me or against me?

            You’re not a scholar.

            Never said I was. Strawman #2.

            Instead, you just accept what your culture spoon-feeds you, instead of testing everything.

            If I did that I wouldn’t care at all about intellectual topics and I’d be a typical ignorant Christian. So you’re wrong there.

            So was Jesus’ divinity, 500 years ago, in much of Europe. A+ on that argument.

            Yes it was believed by most people that Jesus was divine in Europe 500 years ago. Did that need a citation? No. Because it’s common fucking knowledge. Thanks for making my point for me, again.

            Excellent debate tactic. A+ again.

            Name me anyone who denies that most Christians hold to DCT? Anyone.

            Oooh, armchair psychologist, without credentials but with arrogance!

            And yet you think every atheist “knows” god exists in their heart because you have a book written by an ignorant, superstitious, masochistic, celibate peasant name Paul who wrote this in Romans 2000 years ago. Yeah you’re the much better psychologist than I. It’s funny how during this discussion it turned out you actually were a DCTist all along pretending not to be. Talk about being in the closet.

            I try my hardest to kick someone in the stomach, a kick meant to be a crushing, debilitating blow. Was I wrong to make this attempt? Answer this, and I’ll conclude the quiz and show why your reasoning is terrible.

            And now for your “quiz”. My answer: it depends. Chew on that.

            You mean I don’t write essays and do all your work for you, acting as your personal tutor?

            No, you don’t think at all about the obvious challenges anyone can raise about your beliefs. That’s why you’re not a critical thinker. I don’t expect you to have all the answers, I do expect you to have tried to find that and have at least a few theories on what the answer might be. But with you, that’s asking too much. In that respect, you’re a typical Christian. If you had done this, then we can have an engaging conversation like I sometimes do on other blogs, but with you it’s almost always “I’ve not thought about it as much as you’d like, because I haven’t really cared….”

            but your argument very much depends on it, for you said some of the commands in the Bible were regressive. This requires knowledge of a previous state that was known to be better than the state that the Bible brought about.

            In case you haven’t read, I already linked to you an argument that refutes this claim in my post The Slaughter Of The Canaanites According To William Lane Craig

            I write:

            But many of the Mosaic commandments were inspired from the much more fair, progressive and humane laws found in the code of Hammurabi, of the ancient Babylonians. Stark explains in his book many examples of how Hammurabi was more humane. “In the Mosaic law, if parents brought a rebellious son before the elders, there was no trial, just a swift execution. In Babylon, however, there was a trial. Moreover, if the son was found guilty in the trial, then the father was legally required to forgive him the first time. If the son is found guilty a second time, then the father disowns him. The son isn’t executed, not pummeled with stones. He is disowned. Problem solved.” (pp. 40-41) Craig is either willfully ignorant, or he’s deliberately lying to make Mosaic law appear progressive. Which do you think?

            You want scholarship showing that the Israelites had regressive backwards and increasingly barbaric laws from what existed at the time, go read the fucking code of Hammurabi and compare it to many of the Mosaic laws. There’s your fucking scholarship. You just didn’t bother reading my link. Fine. But it’s you who’s “just making shit up” now.

            If you aren’t up for the work, then don’t pretend that you are a Critical Thinker.

            Um I defined DCT for you 2 times prior. If you can’t remember then go see a neuroscientist. I had to explain it to you a third time because of your absent mindedness.

            It’s not as if God designed the physical laws of the universe, such that those laws would cause an objective, emergent morality… As to the rest, respond to my quiz, first.

            Wait, god didn’t design the the physical laws of the universe, such that those laws would cause an objective, emergent morality? You’re confusing the hell out of me.

            You just make up what you think is important and what is not, then adopt godhood and claim that what you thinkis important actually, objectively, isimportant. You are a puny, annoying, little god.

            Oh right because you don’t care about logical challengers to your worldview because it’s based on faith, not evidence.

            All you can do is simulate viewpoints that you know, without a doubt, are wrong. This isn’t true simulation.

            Can you point to any discussions online that have been “good”?

            You enjoy setting impossible goals for people, don’t you? Makes you feel good inside, doesn’t it?

            Apparently Randy over on “Possible Worlds” is at least up to the challenge. And no, like I said, I don’t expect you to have all the answers, I do expect you to have tried to find them and have at least a few theories on what the answer might be. But with you, that’s asking too much. If you had done this, then we can have an engaging conversation like I sometimes do on other blogs.

            Libel.

            So now you take it back that homosexuality was caused by the devil?

            What have you learned, other than that your beliefs are correct?

            I learn a lot about science, philosophy, and all intellectual topics. Occassionally, I’m wrong. Usually I’m right. I am getting very good and the tricks theists employ to try to fit their square pegs in round holes.

            I was unaware that you learned anything but that you are always right and I, always wrong, whenever it is that you and I disagree on a topic.

            I’ve learned from you some slightly different perspectives on Christianity that I had not considered. That said, I don’t think they’re right.

            Satan is much smarter and more devious than you. You’d hardly qualify as a minor demon.

            Ha Ha. It’s sad that you think these things actually exist and make people gay. Very, very sad.

            Here’s my quiz: Do you have any evidence for this?

          • Luke Breuer

            I see I’ve gotten you all riled up. I like it.

            Why? I thought you were seeking after truth? Don’t emotions get in the way? If so, my getting emotional would hinder your seeking after the truth. Where have I erred? Or perhaps it is the case that your purpose is not seeking after the truth, but proving you are correct? In that case, you could spin up a story that people who lose their cool are demonstrating that you are correct. Perhaps this is what you mean?

            Yet you contradict yourself in the first two sentences of your response to me!!!

            I fail to see it. I have dealt with fundamentalist Calvinists. I have dealt with you. I have compared. You are the more arrogant one, by far.

            Just like you’re a real Christian, huh?

            It is you who appear obsessed with who is a “True Christian”, not I.

            Not like those posers who handle snakes or permit gays to marry.

            Where have I opposed gay marriage? Making shit up again?

            Are you working for me or against me?

            You aren’t Jesus, and you aren’t Satan.

            Never said I was. Strawman #2.

            Actually, by claiming that your reading of literature permits you to say that “the majority of Christians across space and time believe X”, you do claim to be a scholar, or have access to a scholar who has done the relevant survey. Since you cannot point to such a scholar, you’re claiming to be one yourself. Else you wouldn’t make such sweeping claims.

            Yes it was believed by most people that Jesus was divine in Europe 500 years ago. Did that need a citation? No. Because it’s common fucking knowledge. Thanks for making my point for me, again.

            Wow, you just don’t see the irony here. According to you, (i) Jesus’ divinity was common knowledge; (ii) common knowledge is true; (iii) Jesus was not divine, and perhaps doesn’t even exist. Find the contradiction.

            Name me anyone who denies that most Christians hold to DCT? Anyone.

            Burden of proof.

            And yet you think every atheist “knows” god exists in their heart

            I said this, where?

            It’s funny how during this discussion it turned out you actually were a DCTist all along pretending not to be.

            I pretended thusly, where?

            And now for your “quiz”. My answer: it depends. Chew on that.

            Good answer. If I were training in a martial arts studio, that would be just fine. And if Abraham were trusting that God would fulfill his promise through his son, he would be justified in obeying God’s command to sacrifice his son. The author of Hebrews draws this conclusion in Heb 11:17-19. So when is doing crazy shit like attempting to offer your son as a sacrifice ok? Only when God gives you enough reason to believe that he isn’t going to die permanently. Outside of very special situations like this (see Heb 11:8-12), it would be wrong to attempt to sacrifice one’s son. When God is actively in the picture doing things in history, he can change the rules by working miracles. When he isn’t actively doing stuff like this, we default to natural law. It’s not difficult when you analyze it properly.

            I don’t expect you to have all the answers, I do expect you to have tried to find that and have at least a few theories on what the answer might be.

            Yeah, because all Christians need to have “at least a few theories” on how God thinks outside of time. Yep, that ought to be right at the top of everyone’s priority list. If they haven’t tackled that, they just aren’t serious about their faith. No siree.

            If you had done this

            Give me one example of an interesting topic, relevant to one ought to think and act today, that I haven’t wanted to engage in. If you pick out DCT, I’ll just respond that I’ve been having a very interesting time watching you wiggle about your claim that you have justified true belief that the majority of Christians across spacetime have held to DCT, and in particular, a formulation of DCT which you find ‘bad’. I have been made to wiggle when it comes to the burden of proof as well; I ultimately just started admitting when I didn’t have it, and adjusted my claims accordingly. You, on the other hand, don’t think you need the burden of proof. This is very telling.

            Perhaps the DCT discussion will move forward now that I’ve talked about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Perhaps.

            You want scholarship showing that the Israelites had regressive backwards and increasingly barbaric laws from what existed at the time, go read the fucking code of Hammurabi and compare it to many of the Mosaic laws.

            To what extent did the ancient Israelites have access to the Code of Hammurabi? I have done some comparisons; the CoH requires all escaped slaves, while Deut forbids the returning of escaped slaves. The CoH has shorter timespans for ‘slavery’. Critically, the CoH contains laws for three classes of people: nobles, commoners, and slaves. A commoner harming a noble in some way resulted in harsher treatment than a noble hurting a commoner in the same way. The Bible contains no such distinction between nobles and commoners. Indeed, some of the dietary laws may exist in order to lessen distinctions between the rich and the poor.

            Have you done a systematic comparison of the CoH to Torah, or do you know of one? I’d be interested to know what you see as regressive, other than homosexuality. For example, how about this one?

            6. If a man has stolen goods from a temple, or house, he shall be put to death; and he that has received the stolen property from him shall be put to death.

            Death for stealing from the temple? I don’t recall seeing that in the Bible! Or this:

            15. If a man has induced either a male or a female slave from the house of a patrician, or plebeian, to leave the city, he shall be put to death.

            Help a slave escape? Death. That isn’t in the Bible. The CoH isn’t nearly as ‘nice’ as you seem to think.

            You like your “executing cantakerous children” bit; have you ever looked to see how Jewish folk interpreted that bit in Deut 21? For example, see the Jewish Virtual Library’s Rebellious Son. The first thing the article states:

            It appears that this law was intended to limit the powers of the pater familias: the head of the household could no longer punish the defiant son himself, according to his own whim, but had to bring him before the elders (i.e., judges) for punishment. In earlier laws (eg., Hammurapi Code, nos. 168, 169) only the father had to be defied; in biblical law it must be both father and mother, and the father cannot act without the mother’s concurrence. If either was dead (Sif. Deut. 219) or refused to join in the prosecution, the son could not be indicted (Sanh. 8:4), but it was not necessary that father and mother should be validly married to each other (Sanh. 71a).

            Now, Thom Stark talks about CoH 168 and 169, and they don’t seem to include death, unless “put his son out of his house” is a euphemism. I don’t know enough about the CoH to comment. Anyway, here is another source on the rebellious son passage. It’s not at all clear that it’s so simple as you’ve made it out. Now, you can go ahead and dismiss Jewish understanding of a Jewish text in place of your own, but be honest and open that this is what you’re doing. Or be honest and open that you didn’t even look for Jewish interpretations, if that is what is true.

            If you can’t remember then go see a neuroscientist.

            That word… I don’t think it means what you think it means.

            Wait, god didn’t design the the physical laws of the universe, such that those laws would cause an objective, emergent morality? You’re confusing the hell out of me.

            The fact that you cannot deal with the barest of sarcasm from me indicates that you aren’t try very hard to simulate my viewpoint. This matches perfectly your previous statement:

            One of the reasons I like challenging theists, particularly Christians and Muslims is that I know they are full of shit.

            Why would you need to actually learn what the other guy thinks? I mean, he’s just full of shit. You know this, via justified true belief. You are under no burden of proof obligation to show this, you just know it.

            Oh right because you don’t care about logical challengers to your worldview because it’s based on faith, not evidence.

            Where have I said this?

            Can you point to any discussions online that have been “good”?

            Yep, I’ve had fantastic conversations with Void L. Walker, as well as The Counter Apologist over on Randal’s blog.

            So now you take it back that homosexuality was caused by the devil?

            Go find where I claimed that. You won’t be able to, because I didn’t.

            I learn a lot about science, philosophy, and all intellectual topics.

            But without generating any sort of interesting bibliography, I see. Curious, how you manage that.

            I am getting very good at the tricks theists employ to try to fit their square pegs in round holes.

            Funny, I’d say the same thing, with a single added vowel.

            Here’s my quiz: Do you have any evidence for this?

            Oh the irony.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Why? I thought you were seeking after truth?

            I’m fucking with you Luke, don’t be such a lady pisser.

            I fail to see it. I have dealt with fundamentalist Calvinists. I have dealt with you. I have compared. You are the more arrogant one, by far.

            Like you said, if “a third party is best to evaluate” then you failed to realize that you are not a third party. A third party is someone other than you or me. You’d have to find an unbiased third party that I’m “more arrogant” than every Calvinist Christian.

            It is you who appear obsessed with who is a “True Christian”, not I.

            Is there even such thing as a real Christian?

            Where have I opposed gay marriage? Making shit up again?

            So for the record, you support gay marriage?

            You aren’t Jesus, and you aren’t Satan.

            Yeah. I actually exist.

            Actually, by claiming that your reading of literature permits you to say that “the majority of Christians across space and time believe X”, you do claim to be a scholar, or have access to a scholar who has done the relevant survey.

            There doesn’t seem to my knowledge to be any scholars who have gauged what percentage of Christians believe what theory of ethics. The most prominent theory is DCT, followed probably by NL. These are for the most part the only two games in town. Of course a Xtian can embrace any theory they want, but for the Xtians who have a working knowledge of morality, most take DCT as it is easily derived from the Bible. I don’t have proof of this in that I can’t find a statistic to back me up, but it’s not a controversial or sweeping statement at all. Even you hold to a version of DCT, so in all your bickering against it, you’ve turn to be a follower. It’s like the anti-gay politician turning out to be visiting men’s bathroom glory holes.

            According to you, (i) Jesus’ divinity was common knowledge; (ii) common knowledge is true; (iii) Jesus was not divine, and perhaps doesn’t even exist. Find the contradiction.

            Wrong. The common knowledge was that people believed Jesus was divine, not that he actually was. No contradiction.

            Burden of proof.

            So that means no one.

            I said this, where?

            I seem to recall you agreeing with Romans 1:19-21. Do you disagree with it?

            I pretended thusly, where?

            Didn’t you say you thought DCT was a farce?

            And if Abraham were trusting that God would fulfill his promise through his son, he would be justified in obeying God’s command to sacrifice his son.

            If you accept this you accept some form of DCT. It doesn’t matter how you justify it. If something wrong becomes right if god commands it, that’s DCT.

            Yeah, because all Christians need to have “at least a few theories” on how God thinks outside of time.

            No they should ignore all the logical problems with their religious worldview. Oh wait, most do.

            Give me one example of an interesting topic, relevant to one ought to think and act today, that I haven’t wanted to engage in.

            Ahh see you’re using your restricted definition of a good conversation. I agree that it’s beneficial to talk about practical implications of one’s worldview, but it’s also beneficial to talk about how practical one’s worldview is. After all, the social consequences of a belief say don’t necessarily say anything about whether that belief is true or false.

            To what extent did the ancient Israelites have access to the Code of Hammurabi?

            When they were in exile in Babylon.

            I have done some comparisons; the CoH requires all escaped slaves, while Deut forbids the returning of escaped slaves.

            Mosaic law states that non-Hebrew slaves can be kept for life and that they can be treated cruel, unlike Hebrew slaves. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the escaped slaved you mention are foreign slaves who’ve escaped to Israel, not escaped slaves of Israelites.

            I’d be interested to know what you see as regressive, other than homosexuality.

            Capital crimes in Mosaic law include:

             Premeditated Murder (Exod 21:12-14, 22-23)

             Kidnapping (Exod 21:16)

             Striking a Parent (Exod 21:15)

             Premeditated Murder (Exod 21:12-14, 22-23)

             Kidnapping (Exod 21:16)

             Striking a Parent (Exod 21:15)

             Cursing a Parent (Exod 21:17)

             Rebelling against a Priest (Deut 17:12)

             Rebelling against a Parent (Deut 21:18-21)

             Sacrificing to Deities Other Than Yahweh (Exod 22:20)

             Working on Saturdays (Exod 35:2)

             Using Yahweh’s Name in Vain (Lev 24:10-16, 23)

            Being the Owner of a Goring Ox That Finally Gores a human to Death (Exod 21:29)

             Prophesying Incorrectly (Deut 18:20)

             Sacrificing Children to Molech (Lev 20:2)

             Divination or Magic (Exod 22:18)

             Adultery (Lev 20:10-21; Deut 22:22)

             Failure To Scream When Being Raped in the City, If You’re

            an Engaged Woman (Deut 22:23-24)

             Bestiality (Exod 22:19)

             Incest (Lev 18:6-17)

             Homosexuality (Lev 20:13)

             Consensual Premarital Sex (If You’re a Woman) (Deut

            22:20-21)

             Temple Prostitution (Lev 21:9)

             Rape of a Married or Engaged Woman (Deut 22:25)

            The CoH is progressive in some areas, but it’s certainly not progressive enough for today.

            The fact that you cannot deal with the barest of sarcasm from me indicates that you aren’t try very hard to simulate my viewpoint.

            I thought you had made a brain fart.

            Why would you need to actually learn what the other guy thinks? I mean, he’s just full of shit.

            Yeah but it’s fun making them aware that they’re full of shit, since so many theists, like you, never even entertain obvious challenges to their worldview.

            Yep, I’ve had fantastic conversations with Void L. Walker, as well as The Counter Apologist over on Randal’s blog.

            We’ve had fantastic conversations too :(

            Go find where I claimed that. You won’t be able to, because I didn’t.

            Here you said in the context of where homosexuality comes from that you “claim that Satan, among others, have actively damaged creation as it otherwise would have been. I claim this based on my plausibility framework; it is analogous to dark matter.”

            Aside from your questionable analogy, how do you expect me to interpret his as anything other than an admission that you feel satan is at least partly responsible for creating gay people?

            But without generating any sort of interesting bibliography, I see. Curious, how you manage that.

            If I wanted to generate a bibliography, I’d go read other works. I gain knowledge from others who have other POVs, especially when they’re thought out. As Hume said, “The truth springs from arguments amongst friends.”

            Funny, I’d say the same thing, with a single added vowel.

            Then you aren’t learning properly. You don’t even have good reasons to be a Christian. Or apparently, you haven’t thought about that yet.

            Oh the irony.

            We could just cut to the chase right now and acknowledge that you don’t have any evidence for any of your Christian beliefs. If you think you do, by all means lay them out.

          • Luke Breuer

            I’m fucking with you Luke, don’t be such a lady pisser.

            As Hume said, “The truth springs from arguments amongst friends.”

            You are not treating me as a friend would treat another friend. Instead, you have asserted, a priori, that my position is wrong:

            TT: One of the reasons I like challenging theists, particularly Christians and Muslims is that I know they are full of shit.

            Why should I be interested maintaining a debate with someone who:

                 (1) maintains his virtually perfect correctness
                 (2) maintains the other person’s utter wrongness
                 (3) maintains unevidenced assertions
                 (4) repeatedly and unapologetically misrepresents his interlocutor

            ? Furthermore, you cannot appreciate important nuance, such as the various forms of DCT. Some go like this:

                 (A) physical laws ⇒ moral laws
                 (B) without specific divine action, (A) holds
                 (C) the best moral laws may be culture-dependent

            This is a formulation of DCT I can get behind. It can even subsume some secular moralities, in the sense that our inability to merely compute (A), just like we cannot merely compute the results of chemistry experiments, require trusting the self-report of individuals when they are (i) suffering and (ii) experiencing joy. Contra Sam Harris’ TML, in which he seems to (correct me if I’m wrong) want to be able to stick people in MRIs so he doesn’t have to trust their self-reports, I think that trust is an absolutely required aspect of mind-mind interaction, a lesson which exists all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and probably in other creation myths as well.

            A critical question in morality is whether there are winners and losers. Are some people just “evolved wrong”, such that they will be permanently unable to thrive as much as others? If we believe this too strongly, we dangerously approach the ancient Greeks’ ideas that some races were only fit to be slaves, and not to self-govern. Or can we suppose intelligent design, such that if someone’s creativity is being squashed, it is at least partly the fault of society, and not the individual? This requires society to not be the definer of what is good/beautiful and evil/ugly. Society cannot be god.

            You’re hung up on at least the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, your perception of slavery in the Bible, and your perception of homosexuality in the Bible. You use these issues to ignore passages like Isaiah 58; to you, a single atom of arsenic would be enough to poison the entire ocean and make it undrinkable. You cannot tolerate a seeming alloy of good and evil; whenever you encounter such alloy, you reject it entirely.

            What else is there to talk about between us? You have decided what DCT means and that is something you call evil/ugly/bad. You have decided what the Bible talks about with regard to slavery and homosexuality. You are your own little, autonomous god, deciding what is true and what is false. There is no room for me in your world. You already know everything. You discuss with other people to reinforce the conception that you are right and they are wrong. Nobody wants to talk to such arrogant people. I have talked to you so long because I had hopes of learning things. I may have learned some things. But the cost in time and energy is too high, much of the time.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Luke, let’s give this a rest. Or at least let it evolve.

            One question that I thought of during our discussion that occurred to me is that if you accept (A) physical laws ⇒ moral laws, which you seem to do, then do you believe that moral laws are completely contingent? Meaning, if there were different physical laws there could be a much different set of moral laws that contradict those we have now. It seems to be that this is entailed by your ethical position.

          • Luke Breuer

            Before I continue, I was reminded of Roger Olson’s The Almost Completely Unknown Difference that Makes All the Difference…., in which he identifies nominalism as the required philosophical stance of Calvinists who argue that “whatever God does is right”, when they argue that the mere exertion of his will defines what is right. Because of your intense interest in DCT, I suggest you read that blog entry. Part of your objection to DCT seems to be an objection to nominalism; it would be good if you could confirm/deny this.

            In answer to your question, I suggest re-reading my comment on Jonathan’s The Problem with Divine Command Theory #1, and perhaps the entire thread. My second comment in it probably gets directly at your question.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I would think that many Calvinists would be Platonists because many of them are presuppositionalists who rely on the idea that logic exists and is immaterial and therefore god exists. Nominalism would falsify many forms of presuppositionalism, because logic would not be something that exists ontologically independent of minds, it would be something constructed by intelligent beings, contingent on the physical laws. If god’s will determines what is right, then since god’s will changes, right and wrong are contingent on god’s will and thus, in response to the Euthyphro, something is right because god commands it (because god’s commands reflect his will.) That’s clearly DCT.

            I lean towards nominalism myself, but I think Platonism has a few good points.

            In regard to my question, can you answer with a simple yes or a no? Let’s be concise.

          • Luke Breuer

            I refuse to answer questions that embed presuppositions which I reject; nobody in his right mind answers with a “yes or a no” to the question, Have you stopped beating your wife yet?—unless he actually has been beating his wife.

            I do not know if “moral laws are completely contingent”. It could be that they are utterly dependent on the physical laws and the emergent systems which arise from those physical laws. For example, if morality is defined by pain/pleasure and pain/pleasure depend on physical laws, we can theoretically change morality by changing pain/pleasure.

            Alternatively, it could be that the ‘microstructure’ is [largely] irrelevant to morality, just like it is [largely] irrelevant to phase changes. Whether this means that there are many fewer moralities than sets of physical laws, or one morality completely irregardless of particular physical laws, I do not know. Kant seemed to assume that morality is based on a rational mind and a rational mind is independent of one’s body, so we could have the kind of inter-species interactions one sees on e.g. Star Trek and Babylon 5. Then again, this view seems challenged by embodied cognition.

            There’s a lot I simply do not know here, The Thinker. You want precise answers to very complex questions; perhaps you think they aren’t very complex?

            As to nominalism and Calvinism, I suggest you actually read the article I linked you to.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            It would seem that if physical laws ⇒ moral laws, it would entail that physical laws X ⇒ moral laws X; physical laws Y⇒ moral laws Y. Hence, the moral laws are completely contingent on what physical laws exist. If the physical laws are necessary, then you’re saying god had to create those physical laws, he had no “choice”. Otherwise, he could create any laws he wants and morality would be contingent on them.

            I’m just drawing a logical conclusion of your own theory, so I’m sorry if my simple questions are too hard for you. You should have thought of this already, or if not, now would be a good time to think about them. But I dislike it that you simply say “I do not know” and leave it at that. At least try to wrestle with the logical conclusions of your own ethical theory. Do it in the name of reason and philosophy. Do if for god.

            As to your link, I’ve been busy pouring over the new scientific news that we have experimental evidence confirming inflationary theory, which makes the case for the multiverse potentially much stronger. I’ve been reading all the news reports as this is an area of huge interest of mine. Haven’t had the chance to read your link. Could you quote the relevant parts?

          • Luke Breuer

            If you aren’t going to take the effort to understand that:

                 (1) different microstructures of particles can lead to the same phase changes

            , from Pigliucci’s Essays on emergence, part I, then I’m really not interested in continuing to discuss with you. It’s the alternating harmonic series deal all over again. You want precision, until it requires you to learn things, and then you want over-simplicity.

            You’re not “drawing a logical conclusion of your own theory”, you are simplifying, projecting your own ideas onto me, and failing to be a critical thinker. You won’t do the hard work required to truly understand things and advance the state of the art of knowledge. I’m tired of your unwillingness to expend effort. I will refocus my efforts on those who are willing to expend effort, read outside material, understand hard issues, etc.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Wow.

            I would be really wary of articles like that. Something that starts off like this:

            “American nominalism is, of course, vulgarized nominalism. Classical, philosophical nominalism is bad enough. American nominalism is downright poisonous to truth, beauty and goodness and therefore to culture and religion.”

            Should remain at arm’s length at least. In other words, he might as well have said, “If you are a nice person, god-fearing and have any modicum of decency, you will reject nominalism!” It is a presuppositional stance involving some really bad appeals.

            He then continues:

            “some Calvinists (and others) claim that “Whatever God does is automatically good and right just because God does it.”

            This makes God truly monstrous because God, then, has no virtuous character.”

            But then, as Keith Augustine simply points out, he is just shifting the arbitrariness from the command to the nature. There is still no objective third party benchmarking that can be done to assess the morality of God, whether it be command or nature.

            The article gets no better. In fact, I would argue that it is absolutely terrible It is one big appeal to emotion and wishful thinking. There is no argument as to WHY nominalism is false, in any philosophical sense.

            He would need to define what beauty and truth are before making such massive sweeping (and incorrect) generalisations.

            I left a comment saying how poor the article is but I doubt it will get through moderation.

          • Luke Breuer

            It is a presuppositional stance involving some really bad appeals.

            Oh c’mon, in an earlier comment you made a comment about all of the evidence pointing to nominalism; when I asked you for specifics, you didn’t respond. So if I compare a presuppositional stance with an undefended, alleged evidential stance, why ought I prefer one over the other? I realize you don’t have enough time to get to everything, so perhaps now is the time to show that your stance on the problem of universals is more informed than Olson’s?

            But then, as Keith Augustine simply points out, he is just shifting the arbitrariness from the command to the nature. There is still no objective third party benchmarking that can be done to assess the morality of God, whether it be command or nature.

            Keith Augustine’s view of DCT is a subset of all views called ‘DCT’; see IEP’s DCT. Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas both held to both DCT and natural law. Keith Augustine’s description of DCT is a caricature, and it is therefore shameful. He reminds me strongly of The Thinker on this topic; I wonder if one influenced the other.

            It could easily be the case that physical laws ⇒ moral laws, say via emergentism, or perhaps that moral laws are agnostic to the underlying microstruture, similar to phase changes in matter. Furthermore, it could easily be the case that the best morality for a given group of people depends on their position in spacetime, both in terms of their culture, socioeconomic setting, surrounding cultures, technology, etc. Finally, just like a Karate Master can say “try to punch me as hard as you can”, it makes the action morally acceptable, where doing it in most cases is morally reprehensible. Likewise, Abraham was justified in his almost-sacrifice of Isaac if he had sufficient reason to believe that Isaac would not stay dead, which he did. Why? Because God was acting, not seemingly letting nature run its course (see Acts 17:28, Col 1:17, Heb 1:3).

            I do not see how Keith Augustine touches on universals at all. If God’s nature is a universal, then by definition it is unchanging, no?

            There is no argument as to WHY nominalism is false, in any philosophical sense.

            He would only need to argue this if there were a reason to prefer nominalism in the first place. Furthermore, you’ll have to show how our moral analysis of sense-data is less reliable than our ‘scientific’ analysis of sense data; see “I trust my senses” — Why does this tend to be restricted to the external senses? I would also point to In Search of Beauty, which is the best argument I know for how beauty can be pretty darn objective.

            I left a comment saying how poor the article is but I doubt it will get through moderation.

            If you saved it, you could quote it in a comment, here. I often save comments of sites where they might get moderated into the void. Disqus should let you see the comment on your dashboard if it hasn’t been moderated either way.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Sorry for not responding. The problem is that the specifics are FRICKING complex and actually quite boring and dry (anything which involves a lot of reference to Quine…) which is a real shame because, in my opinion, this is THE most important argument in philosophy. I think conceptualism easily explains differences AND similarities in morality and beauty which realism fails to do to the same level (t’s at best coherent).

            I have pored over SEP articles and other writing and, simply put, it is very complex. But folk understanding of the term “objective” leads me to think no such thing can exist. I have written about this elsewhere, particularly with regard to the KCA. I touched on it lightly in my Unholy Questions book and some of my essays up there.

            Whether you believe in DCT alone or DCT plus naturl law is neither here nor there to Augustine’s point, which comes back to the iea of circularity and the need for a third arty benchmark, which is what we all do anyway to moral actions claimed of God.

            See “Does Morality Depend on God?”

            http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2012/11/30/does-morality-depend-on-god/

          • Luke Breuer

            in my opinion, this is THE most important argument in philosophy.

            I might agree. Would you be willing to give me a bibliography to read on the matter? You could pick out the best books and people to read on the matter, something which is not easy for a layman to find.

            Whether you believe in DCT alone or DCT plus naturl law is neither here nor there to Augustine’s point, which comes back to the iea of circularity and the need for a third arty benchmark, which is what we all do anyway to moral actions claimed of God.

            This “third party benchmark” is interesting; does it have an official name, whereby it is discussed in meta-ethics? This is strongly reminiscent of MacIntyre’s After Virtue, which inspires me to say that:

                 (A) virtue ethics talks about the means
                 (B) consequentialist ethics talks about the ends

            Failure to have means or end will cause problems. But if we have means and ends, do we have something surprisingly like a person? That is, can ideas have (A) and (B), or can only people have (A) and (B)? If the latter, then this “third party” is necessarily a person, and we end up talking about what kind of person someone is becoming more like. And then we are right back to talking about Christians becoming more like Jesus. :-p

            FYI, I posted an extensive comment on the Craig vs. Kagan debate, that is probably relevant here.

            P.S. You might like “A New Theory of Free Will” and the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis, plus Downward Causation. Critically, Sean Carroll relies on causal closure in that article. I think it also might bear on universals?

            P.P.S. You might also like this little argument I recently made:

                 (1) Beauty can be truth-seeking.
                 (2) Thoughts supervene on matter (physicalism).
                 (3) Thoughts can become more beautiful.
                 (4) There is an ontic force of beautification.

            Is this ontic force evolution? If so, that makes it suspiciously teleological. For, what better goal of a creator than to increase the amount of beauty in the world? This also makes me wonder about whether universals, or perhaps tropes, are ontic and describe (4).

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Gosh, that’s a lot to be thinking about.

            On the reading list, I would start as you perhaps already have on the SEP. Wow, just checking it out, it’s all spanking new! This is not only z lot of reading, but some of the entries need lots of re-reads and head scratching and pondering. Good luck!

            nominalism
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nominalism-metaphysics/

            abstract objects
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/

            properties
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties/

            natural kinds
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-kinds/

            tropes
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/tropes/

            Types and tokens
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/types-tokens/

            Medieval Problem of Universals
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/universals-medieval/

            Platonism
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism/

            Propositions
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/

          • Luke Breuer

            Thanks! I [try to] apply Richard Hamming’s fantastic You and Your Research to all of life. I also swear I read somewhere that Richard Feynman suggested that you have at least seven different puzzles in your head that you’re working on, anytime new, relevant evidence came in. I haven’t been able to find where he said it, though, so I could be remembering someone else.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I don’t ask for full responses here, I ask that you have thought out possible objections to your own worldview on your own, and then summarize them here as needed. That’s what I do.

          • Luke Breuer

            I know plenty possible objections to my own worldview. You want me to do all the work in these conversations. I refuse.

  • phill

    Sorry Luke, but god does not answer the question of morality.

    Euthyphro dilemma: Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

    You can say god’s nature is good, but that’s simply a tautology. However, even theistics philosophers see how bad this response is, as Christian philosopher Wes Morrison explains, “If we identify the ultimate standard for goodness with God’s nature, then it seems we are identifying it with certain of God’s properties (e.g., being loving, being just). If so, then the dilemma resurfaces: is God good because he has those properties, or are those properties good because God has them.”

    • Luke Breuer

      Hi phill, I’ve actually commented extensively on DCT on Jonathan’s recent The Problem with Divine Command Theory #1. But I’m not so much concerned with God being needed for morality in my comment below (I don’t know why you didn’t reply to it; when you reply directly to someone’s comment, they can opt to get an email notification).

      If you’d like to discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, I think the DCT blog post is a better place for it. Here, I am attempting to analyze the internal coherence of both Kagan’s and Craig’s arguments. I’m not aware of Euthyphro being relevant; neither of them brought it up.

      • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

        Morality is the distinction between right and wrong, ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with morality. The two can be used interchangeably, however there are some that disagree. The Christian concept of sin is not easily defined. There are many things Christians consider sinful that many think are perfectly fine and not in any sense immoral, because they don’t unnecessarily harm anyone.

        • Luke Breuer

          I found the Phil.SE question, . From this answer:

          Morality relies on a transcendent good-evil distinction. Very generally it means a set of constraining rules (a code) consisting in judging actions by relating them to universal values. Morality addresses itself to jurisprudence: “This is right, that’s wrong.”

          Ethics indicates a set of optional rules assessing what we do and say in relation to ways of existing. Ethics addresses itself to the “art of living”: the properly ethical question is which mode of existence, which style of living. An ethical analysis would interpret actions and propositions as so many sets of symptoms that express or “dramatize” the mode of existence of the doer or speaker.

          An ethical analysis seeks to identify different ways of existing and to judge their worth empirically, rather than weigh them abstractly against a set of “universal” values. So ethics is very different than morality. (I believe this can be seen especially clearly in both Spinoza and Nietzsche, who were both called ‘immoralists’ in their time.)

          morality: inward
          ethics: outward

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Like I said, not all people agree that they can be used interchangeably. Ethics is more philosophical.

  • Luke Breuer

    To what extent was Kagan discussing ethics and not morality? I’m reading Josef Pieper’s The Concept of Sin, and hit this part:

    …we are in no position to label any concrete deed by any other person with this name “sin” (needless to say, we are now taking the word in its full, undiminished meaning). For that, a superhuman insight would be required. Of course we fully recognize that “sin,” in its fullest meaning, is far more than just a real “possibility” but is completely familiar to post-Adamic, historical man. From the beginning we have known, however inchoately, that human failures at their root can be something much more serious than mere “blunders” or unintentional behavioral patterns. But for those same reasons—despite sin’s prevalence and the appropriateness of the word in so many situations—we are also well aware that we should not bandy about the term “sin” in ordinary speech, where sit does not quite seem fitting. This is why we so rarely hear the word in ordinary conversation: the word really refers to that place where each human being lives in the innermost secret cell of his person, a place to which no one else has any access whatsoever. (9)

    This definition of ‘sin’ seems very different from Kagan’s repurposing of it. Christian Orthodoxy generally holds sin to be a heart-condition, while Kagan’s view of sin is wrong behavior. I don’t recall Kagan talking about one’s inner life much at all, something Pieper focuses on intensely in the above quotation. Instead, he seems to be advocating on the level of “You have heard it said…”, not “But I say to you…” Is this incorrect? It seems one can maintain the social contract Kagan discusses without necessarily adopting any particular internal [moral] state. You can be as angry as you want as long as it doesn’t turn into hurting/not helping others.

    • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

      Luke, what is the definition of “sin”?

      • Luke Breuer

        Sin is an attitude of our ‘inner life’ which is contrary to Law, to how one’s inner life ought to develop and grow. Why do I believe that there exists this Law (which I hold to be incompressibly infinite in description)? Because I believe everything is ultimately rational, and understandable to us. Just like there are bad outward behaviors, there are bad inward behaviors. This is why Jesus said: “You have heard it said, , but I say to you, .” He knew that outward behaviors come from inward behaviors.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          That’s a very vague definition of sin.

          • Luke Breuer

            Yep. I suggest reading Pieper’s book for more detail. Or perhaps I will be able to be more articulate once I digest it.

            P.S. I fixed the > and <, above.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            So basically: Sin is an attitude of our ‘inner life’ to how one’s inner life ought to develop and grow.

            That says virtually nothing. It’s about as vague as your god.

            I suggest you provide a less fuzzy definition. And if you can’t, the term sin is totally useless,.. I shouldn’t have to read a book to get a reasonable definition.

          • Luke Breuer

            Would you care to take a shot at answering Are there laws which govern minds?? It was a question aimed at trying to understand the structure of our internal lives. It would be a step toward giving you a non-fuzzy definition of ‘sin’.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            I’ve arrived at objective morality, oddly enough, through the Euthyphro dilemma. Both of your questions are answered by the laws of physics, which govern everything.

      • Luke Breuer

        I came up with a simpler definition: sin is that which promotes death.

        The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not a seed-bearing tree; Adam and Eve were allowed to eat of any seed-bearing tree. It did not produce more of itself. It did not promote life.

        Alternatively, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents the idea that evil (e.g. death) is needed to create life. This idea is false.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Why not that which increases unnecessarily harm, suffering and death?

          • Luke Breuer

            Define ‘unnecessarily’. Also, define ‘life’. Don’t be vague.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            LOL. Sure as soon as you promise not to be vague for all future communication. Deal?

          • Luke Breuer

            I will try, but I am not a perfect being. I need help to be less vague; I am not a god, able to do it all on my own.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Unnecessary is simple. It’s the opposite of necessary. That is, avoidable, not required, gratuitous. When I say life I mean sentient life.

          • Luke Breuer

            Required for what? Life? And what does ‘sentient life’ mean? You just added a word, shifting the burden of the definition.

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            That’s completely contingent upon the circumstances. I’ll give you an example. God can magic life into existence, right? There’s no reason why he was required to use a multibillion year process of like evolution that itself required millions of years of conscious suffering to create humans. Does that make more sense?

          • Void L. Walker

            I’ve brought up the (in my mind) glaring contradictions and myriad problems with accepting evolution AND Yahweh to Luke before. But we must give him credit for at least thinking! So many Christians do just the opposite of that. He may not have a cogent response to this question, but we should at least salute him for wrestling with it to begin with.

          • Luke Breuer

            You didn’t answer my questions. Answering in the negative to questions like those often isn’t very useful. All you’re asserting is, “There must have been a better way than my perception of how things played out!”

          • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

            Ok let me give you the special ed version.

            Ready?

            I said, “Why not that which increases unnecessarily harm, suffering and death?”

            You asked, “Define ‘unnecessarily’.”

            Then I gave you a definition of unnecessary that’s almost straight outta the dictionary. And I used the words “not required” because obviously something unnecessary is not required. I also used two other words BTW.

            Then you asked, “Required for what?”

            I said required depends on the context for what you’re using the term unnecessary for. In this context, I’m talking about harm, suffering and death. Sometimes it is required that we harm, like when a doctor has to cut you open to save your life. Is that really so hard to grasp?

            Only with you Luke, only with you.

            As for sentience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

            So, all this and what did I get out of it? Well I got you to promise me you wouldn’t be vague anymore. I’m skeptical you’ll keep it.

          • Luke Breuer

            Have you seen the movie Equilibrium?

  • John Grove

    I’ll be in London in April. maybe we can get together and have a beer

    John G

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      Could be a goer though am a few hours away. Let me know your details.
      JP

      • John Grove

        April 07 – 12 Thistle Marble Arch in London
        Just ask for John Grove or call my room