1. Joined
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    06 Mar '14 01:53
    One thing I have often seen in this forum is the claim that God's existence is required for there to be "objective" morality. Of course, this is typically issued by a theist who is intent on undermining secular ethical accounts that claim objective foundations. And, of course, this theist typically operates under the assumption that his own account of morality provides for an objective foundation. The really curious thing about this is that, more often than not, if one actually scrutinizes this theist's moral account, it turns out not to be objective. For instance, many of the theists in this forum hold to some type of view that entails that morals depend constitutively on some aspect(s) of God; that His commands, or His essential character, or the content of His will, etc, determine moral status. I think only in bizarro world could this be construed as an "objective" account of morals. On the contrary, it ties morality constitutively to an agent and hence makes morals mind-dependent, or subjective. It is therefore a thoroughly subjectivist view, where essentially only one subject, God, matters. The point of objectivity is that the determination of moral status, the truth values of moral claims, etc, should be constitutively indpendent from any observer attitudes. The theistic account just described obviously does not fit the bill then, since it entails that such things depend on one particular agent. Again, it is a form of subjectivism, and the story of this theist with his objective account is like the story of the emperor with his new clothes.

    But, now, if this theist's motivation were just to have some account that is properly objective; well, they could just claim that moral determination and status are not tied to any persons at all, God included. But, this never seems to satisfy. So my question, then, is what is the actual motivation here? We could say, well, they do not actually require morals to be objective, properly construed; they just require that morals be independent from what any humans think. Okay. But I have thought more about this, and this cannot be all that they require here. For, again, simply saying that moral matters are settled by independent objective facts and do not depend on what anyone at all (including God) thinks get this done nicely; but yet still would not satisfy. So, what more is at issue?

    It seems to me that often what is additionally at issue is some cosmic sense of retributive justice. Morals are tied constitutively to God because in addition to getting that morals are independent of human attitudes, we are also availed, albeit vaguely, of the notion that ultimately our feet can be held to the fire for wrongdoings, irrespective of fallible human justice systems that cannot ensure this. Somehow, if one has a notion of morality, thoroughly objective as it may in fact be, it is not adequate if there is no all-encompassing comeuppance clause.

    Of course, one could object here that I am being very cynical and that perhaps this theist just thinks, on the basis of evidential considerations, that in order to have a moral law there must be some moral law giver. Granted, but that has really nothing to do with the claim that a moral law giver is necessary for there to be "objective" morality. My focus here is more on the intent regarding the term 'objective' here and in what it is supposed in context to require. It seems to me that in many of these discussions it is being used as proxy for something like "binding" in a practical sense, and the claim reduces to the idea that morals fail to bind if there is no eschatological comeuppance clause. This makes God less a souce of objective morality (which literally makes no sense anyway, to say that the source of mind-independent morals is a divine mind) and more an ultimate moral balance restorer, in terms of delivering ultimate retributive justice that would otherwise go unchecked. If so, this plays nicely into my other thread, Thread 157928, which discusses how such theistic ethical views are essentially childish, in part because they are fixated on punishment and retribution.

    I am looking for alternative viewpoints or interpretations....
  2. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    06 Mar '14 05:051 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    One thing I have often seen in this forum is the claim that God's existence is required for there to be "objective" morality. Of course, this is typically issued by a theist who is intent on undermining secular ethical accounts that claim objective foundations. And, of course, this theist typically operates under the assumption that his own account of m ...[text shortened]... on punishment and retribution.

    I am looking for alternative viewpoints or interpretations....
    Yes, the great Fixer of all Moral Injustices comes along and ... well, it depends on who you ask.

    Some say he unconditionally pardons everyone who 'accepts' Jesus. (So what they really want is to escape justice)
    Some say he destroys the souls of the 'bad' people while giving the good people an idyllic existence in the afterlife (so I guess there are no degrees of 'bad'; hmm, not what I pictured when I heard 'perfect justice' )
    Ironically, the Catholics seem to be the main Christian denomination who acknowledge degrees of punishment for wrongdoing (purgatory vs. hell). But they bring other undesirable baggage: "mortal" sins, original sin, indulgences, etc.

    If these theists all want 'perfect justice', it seems they've failed to recognize that they aren't being promised anything even close to it.
  3. Cape Town
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    06 Mar '14 05:46
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    If these theists all want 'perfect justice', it seems they've failed to recognize that they aren't being promised anything even close to it.
    The supposed explanation there is that justice is served by someone else - the sacrificial lamb serves the punishment on your behalf. Does it make sense? No, but if you consider that the sacrifice made was so fantastically large, you might be persuaded not to think to hard on the logic of it all.
    Sacrifice is a remarkably well accepted concept world wide regardless of religion or culture.
    But in many cases it makes more sense. An god/spirit in mythology likes blood/death/ suffering for purposes known only to itself. If you can persuade it to take its 'dues' from elsewhere eg an animal or other human being, then its appetite is filled.
    However this just doesn't work when the reason for suffering is justice.

    I think the theist reasoning goes rather like this:
    1. God requires you to be punished (suffer) for justice to be served.
    2. Forget the reason why this suffering is required, and simply concentrate on the fact that God requires suffering in return for crimes committed.
    3. God gets his 'pound of flesh' from elsewhere, problem solved. Just make sure you don't look to hard at 1.
  4. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    06 Mar '14 06:05
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    Yes, the great Fixer of all Moral Injustices comes along and ... well, it depends on who you ask.

    Some say he unconditionally pardons everyone who 'accepts' Jesus. (So what they really want is to escape justice)
    Some say he destroys the souls of the 'bad' people while giving the good people an idyllic existence in the afterlife (so I guess the ...[text shortened]... it seems they've failed to recognize that they aren't being promised anything even close to it.
    Originally posted by SwissGambit If these theists all want 'perfect justice', it seems they've failed to recognize that they aren't being promised anything even close to it.

    SG, God's Perfect Justice was propitiated [satisfied] by Christ's Substitutionary Spiritual Death [separation from God the Father during three hours while the personal sins of all mankind [past-present-future] were imputed to Christ's Impeccable Humanity [in hypostatic union with His undiminished deity in one Unique Person forever] and judged. There is therefore now no condemnation to any human being who accepts the grace gift of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone [because He took our place in being judged]. However, believers are still capable of any covert or overt sin or breach of morality; as members of God's Royal Family, warning and intensified discipline are administered to awaken their conscience to repent [change their mind: 1 John 1:9] and to stop sinning that category of sin [identical to Christ's words to the woman taken in adultery].
  5. Cape Town
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    06 Mar '14 06:06
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    But, this never seems to satisfy.
    I think in the other thread, the main motivation is to demand the need for God. Sonship will grab at any straw that requires the need for God regardless of whether it makes sense or not.
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    06 Mar '14 10:56
    Grampy Bobby, I think the OP is a fine example of how to start a thread.

    LemonJello has not just cut-n-pasted something he read online, he has actually written his thoughts down in his own words, coherently and logically, and he has asked specific questions of the forum.

    This is in stark contrast to your own style and is a technique you would do well to emulate.

    Note, if the OP actually turns out to be a pure cut-n-paste without even an acknowledgement of the original, then I will take it all back.

    --- Penguin.
  7. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    06 Mar '14 11:11
    Originally posted by Penguin
    Grampy Bobby, I think the OP is a fine example of how to start a thread.

    LemonJello has not just cut-n-pasted something he read online, he has actually written his thoughts down in his own words, coherently and logically, and he has asked specific questions of the forum.

    This is in stark contrast to your own style and is a technique you would do well t ...[text shortened]... e without even an acknowledgement of the original, then I will take it all back.

    --- Penguin.
    Greetings from afar, Penguin.... and thank you for your encouragement. I look forward to your next thread.
  8. Standard memberKellyJay
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    06 Mar '14 11:45
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    Yes, the great Fixer of all Moral Injustices comes along and ... well, it depends on who you ask.

    Some say he unconditionally pardons everyone who 'accepts' Jesus. (So what they really want is to escape justice)
    Some say he destroys the souls of the 'bad' people while giving the good people an idyllic existence in the afterlife (so I guess the ...[text shortened]... it seems they've failed to recognize that they aren't being promised anything even close to it.
    I'm a theist, I'm not asking for perfect justice. I'd prefer mercy and grace
    since justice would demand I pay for my crimes. If all can be forgiven then
    grace and mercy will win out, if those that reject that mercy suffer what
    faith awaits them. You get the best of both worlds.
    Kelly
  9. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    06 Mar '14 12:29
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I'm a theist, I'm not asking for perfect justice. I'd prefer mercy and grace
    since justice would demand I pay for my crimes. If all can be forgiven then
    grace and mercy will win out, if those that reject that mercy suffer what
    faith awaits them. You get the best of both worlds.
    Kelly
    Very well. "Perfect" justice was a concept I heard from jaywill. However, I still fail to see how people can rightly be held accountable for a failure to believe, when 'believing' is not a choice you can make, and I fail to see how the one-size-fits-all punishment of hell is even remotely 'just'.
  10. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    06 Mar '14 13:38
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    Very well. "Perfect" justice was a concept I heard from jaywill. However, I still fail to see how people can rightly be held accountable for a failure to believe, when 'believing' is not a choice you can make, and I fail to see how the one-size-fits-all punishment of hell is even remotely 'just'.
    "'believing' is not a choice you can make..." -SG: please, then what "is" it[?] and/or what is it "not"[¿]
  11. Cape Town
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    06 Mar '14 14:03
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    "'believing' is not a choice you can make..." -SG: please, then what "is" it[?] and/or what is it "not"[¿]
    Try it for your self.
    Believe in unicorns for a day.
    Believe in the Islamic version of theism for a day.
    Do not believe in gravity for a day.
    Do not believe in Christianity for a day.

    Can you make any of those choices to believe or not believe?
  12. Joined
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    06 Mar '14 15:041 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    One thing I have often seen in this forum is the claim that God's existence is required for there to be "objective" morality. Of course, this is typically issued by a theist who is intent on undermining secular ethical accounts that claim objective foundations. And, of course, this theist typically operates under the assumption that his own account of m ...[text shortened]... on punishment and retribution.

    I am looking for alternative viewpoints or interpretations....
    ... This makes God less a souce of objective morality (which literally makes no sense anyway, to say that the source of mind-independent morals is a divine mind) and more an ultimate moral balance restorer, in terms of delivering ultimate retributive justice that would otherwise go unchecked. If so, this plays nicely into my other thread, Thread 157928, which discusses how such theistic ethical views are essentially childish, in part because they are fixated on punishment and retribution.


    I don't think the ultimately subjective nature of an authoritative divinely sourced morality is anathema to the theist, as long as the divine source is their god.

    On the question of objective/subjective, it is easy to equate subjective with relative, but they are not alike. Something may be true for everyone, yet be subjective, for example if everyone were disposed to love chocolate or hate dishonesty. But are you headed toward an argument for an objective non-theistic basis of morality, or not? Maybe not.

    Finally, there is a childish reward/punishment level of moral development; a somewhat more advanced but still childish lever is "blind" emulation of a role model. But I think if you are going to assert that theistic moral development cannot reach as high a level of maturity as non-theistic moral development, that assertion needs some backing. While many theists seem stuck at the hellfire and damnation level, and many seem to use the WWJD approach (at least in their posturing) there is room in theism for social conscience and other more advanced moral levels.
  13. Standard membersonship
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    06 Mar '14 15:351 edit
    One thing I have often seen in this forum is the claim that God's existence is required for there to be "objective" morality. Of course, this is typically issued by a theist who is intent on undermining secular ethical accounts that claim objective foundations.


    I don't think most theist have it in mind to "undermine" secular ethical accounts in some kind of obnoxious way. Rather it is to give adequate explanation to the ultimate foundations of morality.

    It is not even an appeal that all people be theists. It is just an explanation for why we act the way we do and even propose ethical systems as we do.

    Both the theist and the atheist or agnostic are all equally created in the image of God. Belief or non-belief in God does not effect that.


    And, of course, this theist typically operates under the assumption that his own account of morality provides for an objective foundation. The really curious thing about this is that, more often than not, if one actually scrutinizes this theist's moral account, it turns out not to be objective. For instance, many of the theists in this forum hold to some type of view that entails that morals depend constitutively on some aspect(s) of God; that His commands, or His essential character, or the content of His will, etc,


    Sounds ok so far. What's the problem ?


    determine moral status. I think only in bizarro world could this be construed as an "objective" account of morals.


    Perhaps that is because you have convinced yourself, or are trying very hard to convince yourself, that the existence of God is "bizarre."

    I would rather say that God would not exist is far more bizarre. It is as bizarre as human beings tumbling out by a trillion fortunate accidents in a cosmos that created itself (which is impossible) or which was eternal (which we pretty much know is not the case).

    That there are some "self evident" truths known to us about a Creator is far less bizarre than the atheist explanation of our or anything else's being here.


    On the contrary, it ties morality constitutively to an agent and hence makes morals mind-dependent, or subjective.


    Discrimination of right from wrong does require a mind.
    Decision to do right from wrong or vica versa does require a will.
    Personhood of one kind or another is involved in morality.

    It is bizarre to you because you have decided a perfect Person of eternal existence is out of the question. How do you know that philosophy is nothing more than an emotional reaction against the thought that your own ego is not the ultimate reality ?

    Why not simply let God be God ? Why rob God of the attribute which is rightfully His ?

    If you are at school or work on a job, eventually you realize that someone is above you in some capacity. You also are above someone else in some capacity. Instead of robbing your supervisor of the responsibilities which are rightfully his, you could let him simply occupy that position which is his and you yours.

    It is possible to take envy too far.
    You don't have to be a groveling sycophant.
    But neither need you go to the other extreme of robbing someone of the position and responsibility which is rightfully hers or his.

    Do not envy another's burden of responsibility. You might not be able to hold up underneath it.

    Do you really want to shoulder the responsibility of knowing who today should remain alive and who should die? Do you really want to shoulder the responsibility of knowing what baby should survive birth this morning and what baby should not because of circumstances beyond human control ?

    How about we just let God be God ?
    This doesn't mean we have no responsibility.
    It means that we recognize our measure and what has been meted out to us. We have a realistic estimation of our jurisdiction and we do not attempt to go beyond what has been measured out to us.

    The theist has his realistic assessment of his measure as a creator of God. And he has an appreciation of where far greater measure of responsibility lies.


    It is therefore a thoroughly subjectivist view, where essentially only one subject, God, matters.


    I think to convince me of that you would have to convince me also that the creation without that I sense is not there once my subjection apprehension of it goes away.

    Why should I believe that? I arrived on the scene and from all accounts of my elders the universe was already here. Correspondingly, I see no reason to think Ultimate Goodness only exists because of my subjectivity.

    I was born, I'll live, and I'll die.
    The universe will not die with me for it did not arrive with me.
    So also the power and goodness which played a part in its coming into existence.

    Why should I think my subjectivity give existence to ultimate morality ?
    Did right and wrong only become an issue when I was born ?
    From all accounts of history, this was an issue far before I arrived.

    Saying that the absolute moral values are sourced in an eternal God is not a matter of my subjectivity. If I never was the situation would be the same.

    Samantha Shoolamocker has not been born yet.
    Neither has Luigi Brekenridge or Abul Van Quagmire.

    None of these people yet exist. Maybe they will some day.
    Maybe they will never exist.

    But if they do come into existence and are more than just my imagination - their subjectivity will no more be the source of God's eternal attributes than my subjectivity is.

    Take you hint from the universe. And just let God be God without undue envy or resentment. Isn't it wonderful enough that we could be His sons ?

    The point of objectivity is that the determination of moral status, the truth values of moral claims, etc, should be constitutively indpendent from any observer attitudes.


    Maybe you feel that the "observers" are creating the God who is really there. They are not.

    1.) God is really there

    2.) We did not create Him by our observing. We only recognized Him.


    The theistic account just described obviously does not fit the bill then, since it entails that such things depend on one particular agent.


    Ultimate morality exists in the eternal God whether or not other creatures are there to observe.

    In the same way that God's creative power exists in Himself whether or not He created anything.

    These attributes are eternal and flow out His own eternal being.
    The observer did not create them and place them there.

    As an atheist you believe God is the invention of man. So you believe falsely that somehow when we created God (which we did not) we created the ultimate moral values also.

    This is no more true than that if we created God we simultaneously created His creation.


    Again, it is a form of subjectivism, and the story of this theist with his objective account is like the story of the emperor with his new clothes.


    I think that the very proud king who did not realize that he was naked, because all his subjects gave him a nod of approval more accurately resembles the atheist.

    If I recall the tale rightly, some child or clown or less expected person than the surrounding sycophant dignitaries grasped the real humor of the real situation. Am I right ?

    I think a child giggled and pointed out that the king was in fact "in the altogether" as naked as the day he was born. Danny Kay use to sing it that way, that the little child woke everyone up to the real situation.

    In the same way I think a child realizing that God is good has more sense than the philosophical gymnastics you are putting this forum through.

    You built this discussion upon some supposed greater human maturity. It is more "adult like" somehow to eliminate God from our sense of final moral accountability. I don't think you have done this. I think the self proud emperor strutting before the crown in the nude more appropriately describes the atheist.

    By attempting to murder God you dehumanize yourself. That is the problem.

    No matter how you try to slice it, your robbing your Creator of attributes that are rightfully His is to devalue yourself. In attempting to hide God you do become naked.

    Before I said that murdering God was man's ruination, Frederich Nietzsche said much of the same thing. And he was a strong intellectual atheist if there ever was one.


    But, now, if this theist's motivation were just to have some account that is properly objective; well, they could just claim that moral determination and status are not tied to any persons at all, God included.


    Could you point out to us which rock is the most moral ?
    Morality is a matter of life of lives and of personhood.

    Do you evaluate none living things as to their morality, such as a grain of sand or a rock or a pebble ?


    But, this never seems to satisfy. So my question, then, is what is the actual motivation here?


    I think questioning the motivation is leading perhaps to a Generic Fallacy.

    The issue is whether or not morality is based on something of personhood or not. Motivation does not give you the answer to that question really.

    People's motivation for wanting God to come through for them may be questionable at times and has been. That is not the fault of God.
    And that does not make His eternal person without correspondingly eternal attributes such as His righteousness, goodness, holiness and justice.

    I think pursuing "motivation" is secondary and could lead to a Genetic Fallacy.

    On the contrary in many cases. Knowing that though I can hide my sins from my fellow man, but not at all from the eyes of God could give me uncomfort rather than comfort.

    That fact of the matter is that as a big sinner tha...
  14. Standard membersonship
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    06 Mar '14 15:38
    That fact of the matter is that as a big sinner that I am, many times I would prefer that God wasn't that good and would let me slide. I have no immediate motivation to want to give an account to God for some of the things I have done.

    So that God is eternally righteous and pure sometimes I may like and frankly, sometimes it gives me much concern.

    I know people get tired of C.S. Lewis on the Forum. But I think he put it aptly that to speak of him "searching for God" as an atheist was like speaking of a mouse "searching for a cat."

    I do NOT, in fact ALWAYS feel so comfortable that ultimate moral rightness is in God. I have learned on the way in my Christian faith that there is reconciliation, forgiveness, and deliverance from the guilt and power of wrong doing. That didn't come right away.


    We could say, well, they do not actually require morals to be objective, properly construed; they just require that morals be independent from what any humans think.


    I am not so sure I am ready to say "Boy LemmonJello, you took the words right out of my mouth."

    I think so far you took them right our of YOUR mouth.

    Some of this is a bit hard for me to follow.
    Sorry, that does not lead me to imagine the thoughts are therefore more mature.

    They may be hard to follow because they are nonsensical to begin with.


    Okay. But I have thought more about this, and this cannot be all that they require here. For, again, simply saying that moral matters are settled by independent objective facts and do not depend on what anyone at all (including God) thinks get this done nicely; but yet still would not satisfy. So, what more is at issue?


    God is a being for whom a greater being cannot be imagined.

    A being whose thoughts are so powerful that they effect eternity and cannot be imagined to have improvement upon them or be superceded by better thoughts is greater than a incompetent Thinker.

    So, that God thought of moral matters as a Being for whom no greater can exist, I think, destroys your objection.

    Your error seems in wanting to define God as less than a Being for whom no greater could exist.

    Again, the problem I have with your theory has to do with history.. We have in history a demonstration of this Person. Though our reactions to this manifestation vary, the impact of this testimony has changed the world forever.

    You are ignoring the golden elephant in the middle of the living room - Jesus of Nazareth.

    Can you name me another person who in three and one half years had such an impact on people's thoughts about ethics and morality ?

    Sam Harris is no competition I think.

    I stop here.
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Think again.
  15. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    06 Mar '14 16:05
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Try it for your self.
    Believe in unicorns for a day.
    Believe in the Islamic version of theism for a day.
    Do not believe in gravity for a day.
    Do not believe in Christianity for a day.

    Can you make any of those choices to believe or not believe?
    twhitehead, I could and would make all of these choices to believe in a nano second if [Koine second class conditional] the Sovereign, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Immutable, Eternal God I know had in His Veracity and Integrity required me to do so.
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