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webby
July 22nd, 2002, 12:21 PM
Battle Royale II - Knight vs. Zakath

TOPIC:
Is there such a thing as absolute morality?

Have both combatants read, understand and agree to the battle Royale Rules (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2629)?

I need a post from each combatant stating "YES" regarding the rules.

This will be a 10 round battle and will be refereed by me and by Becky.

webby
July 22nd, 2002, 12:29 PM
ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (webmaster), Becky, Zakath or Knight. You may discuss Battle Royale II here. (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2795)

Knight
July 22nd, 2002, 12:35 PM
I understand the rules. I better - I wrote them! :D

Zakath
July 22nd, 2002, 01:22 PM
Nice logo! :D

Zakath
July 22nd, 2002, 01:24 PM
Originally posted by webmaster
...Have both combatants read, understand and agree to the battle Royale Rules (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2629)?

I need a post from each combatant stating "YES" regarding the rules.

You've got it. Consider this my "YES" regarding the rules... :)


This will be a 10 round battle and will be refereed by me and by Becky. Looking forward to it...

Prisca
July 22nd, 2002, 03:49 PM
Okay, get ready for the coin toss! I’ve got Knight as “tails” and Zakath as “heads”. Here goes….and “heads” it is. Okay Zak, you go first!:)

webby
July 22nd, 2002, 04:16 PM
From this point on any posts by Knight or Zakath will be counted as a "round" in the Battle. Therefore post wisely. Remember you only have 2 minutes to edit your post after posting it or it will be deleted (as the rules state).

ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (webmaster), Becky, Zakath or Knight. You may discuss Battle Royale II here. (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2795)

Zakath is on the clock and has 48 hours to make his first post.

BATTLE ROYALE II - Is there such a thing as absolute morality?

Lets get it on!

Zakath
July 23rd, 2002, 11:45 AM
Does absolute morality exist? Zakath's Post #1

This is the question to which the "goode Sir Knight" and I will address ourselves for the next twenty posts to this thread.

There are any number of ways we could proceed, but I'd like to start out by examining the term "absolute morality" and explaining what I understand it to mean. Then, I'll raise a couple of potential conflicts between Christian theology and the concept of absolute morality.

Since morality is a "system of ideas of right and wrong conduct" (1), we are then looking for a system that is "absolute" or one that is "... regarded as independent of and unrelated to anything else." (2) Putting these two concepts together, we come up with this definition:

Absolute morality - a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct that is independent of and unrelated to anything else.

This definition would agree with Richard Swineburne's (a well-known contemporary Christian theologian) ideas. Swinburne asserts that atheists and religionists can both argue in favor of some of the same moral positions since those positions are not dependent on any command of God for their truth. (3)

As I see it, this view raises several potential problems for the religionists, particularly Christians. I'll discuss two of them briefly here:

Problem One: How can absolute morality be created?
The Christian Bible teaches that YHWH, the deity of the Bible, has created all things (Eph. 3:9, Col. 1:16, Rev. 4:11). As we demonstrated above, if absolute morality exists, it is independent of anything else. Thus, to be absolute, it must be independent of deity. The Christian Bible also asserts, in Col 1:17, that "all things are held together in him". This means that morality is dependent (past and present) upon YHWH. If YHWH created everything, that means he made morality, if morality depends upon him for its continued existence, it cannot independent of him and is not absolute.

Problem Two: How can absolute morality and an omnipotent deity exist simultaneously?
Suppose we ignore Ephesians, Colossians, and Revelation and hypothecate the existence of some set of absolute morals. Christians claim their deity is omnipotent (Lk. 1:37). Christians also claim their deity cannot commit an evil action (Num. 23:19, James 1:13). How can a deity be omnipotent if it must obey an absolute law external to itself? This is similar to the difficulties the Greek, Roman, and Norse deities had with "fate" or "the fates". In those religions, even the gods cannot contravene fate since it was absolute. By insisting in absolute morality, Christians demote their deity to a secondary position of authority to a universal absolute morality. He remains powerful, but is not omniopotent. It appears they cannot have their cake (an omnipotent deity) and eat it (absolute morals) too.

<hiding folding chair behind his back...>
There are other issues, like the Euthyphro dilemma, but we'll save those for future posts. ;)

==============================================
References:
1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
2. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
3. Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford University Press, 1977, pg. 204

Knight
July 23rd, 2002, 03:29 PM
You know throughout the years I have grown to like our old friend Zakath. At times me and Zakath have agreed very strongly on certain subjects, I think several of Zakath's posts have been very well written and raised some excellent questions. However.... as of late, Zakath seems to have lost his edge and struggles sometimes to comprehend the argument on the table. This is evidenced by his opening statements in this very debate. I will comment on some of Zakath's opening statements and then make a few comments of my own and finally close with a simple question for Zakath to respond to.

Zakath defines Absolute morality as....
Absolute morality - a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct that is independent of and unrelated to anything else."Independent and unrelated to anything else"??? I think that is a pretty careless definition of Absolute Morality. When defining a common phrase you can't always look up the definitions for the individual words within the phrase and stick the definitions together to make a reasonable definition for the phrase itself. I think most people would agree that Absolute Morality means that there are certain morals (behaviors and actions), that are wrong even if society, government or individuals deem those behaviors or actions to be "not wrong". In other words... absolute morality means that there is a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong. Now keep in mind this debate is not to determine what specific morals are absolute. This debate is to determine IF there is such a thing as absolute morality. If there exists just ONE item, (behavior or action) that is absolutely wrong (or right) then absolute morality exists and Zakath has lost the debate.

In Zakath's first post he goes on to site what he calls "potential problems for the religionists, particularly Christians." I knew going into this debate that Zakath would have a hard time making his point and conducting this debate without attempting to discuss the Bible and Christianity. Unfortunately for Zakath the question of "Does absolute morality exist?" is not necessarily a Christian issue. What this issue/debate really boils down to is....... if we can determine that absolute morality exists, (which reasonable people can do) THEN we can determine that a god(s) exists. After that determination has been made then we can go on to discuss what sort of attributes that god must have based on many factors, but the latter is not at issue in this debate.

In the following debate I will demonstrate several things such as:

- If one argues against absolute morality they have no standing to argue for ANY type of morality, they might think they have standing, but ultimately they do not and I will show that.

- Those who argue against absolute morality consistently contradict themselves by borrowing from existing moral (and even absolute moral) standards in order to at least have SOME standard of right vs, wrong (the consistently logical stance for the moral relativist would be to have NO standard of morals whatsoever, but that's just downright embarrassing and unworkable even for the moral relativist!).

- The consequences of TRULY having no moral absolutes is totally unworkable, unnatural and contrary to the reality in which we all live.

- Those that argue against moral absolutes trick themselves into thinking certain things are not absolutely wrong. I will expose their "trick", and once I expose this "trick" it will be easy for you to spot the "trick" and you will then know how to combat this "trick".

- Moral relativists often accuse Christians and other religious groups of doing things that are wrong and even absolutely wrong! How does that fit in with their moral relativists stance?

- Moral relativists know full well the logical consequences of moral absolutes which is the only reason that they are silly enough to argue against them.

- And much much more!!!!

Battle Royale II - a note about this battle -
If you are judging this battle upon who has the largest vocabulary or who can quote the most philosophers and theologians then I am sure Zakath has the advantage. But if you are a truth seeker and are more interested in which argument is the most logical, true and in harmony with reality you will quickly see that Zakath will fail miserably.

To summarize our differences....
The moral absolutist:
The moral absolutist believes that there are things (behaviors and actions) that are absolutely wrong, wrong EVEN in the face of how society, government or individuals feel about these behaviors and actions. Moral absolutists believe that there is a standard of right and wrong that supercedes mankind's standards of right vs. wrong. Moral absolutists believe that mankind's standard of right and wrong is often in error and we can ONLY determine these things are in error because there is such a thing as ABSOLUTE MORALITY.

The moral relativist:
The moral relativist believes that actions and behaviors are only right or wrong based on what is right or wrong in the eyes of the society, government or the individual. In other words.... what is wrong in ones eyes might be OK - or even right - in another's eyes.

Ask yourself.... which of the above are you?


My closing question for Zakath....
Zakath, in your heart of hearts, deep in your gut and entrenched in your brain, do you honestly believe that there is NO action or behavior (none whatsoever!!!) that is wrong, EVEN if that action or behavior happens to be accepted by any given society, government or individual?

A "YES" or "NO" answer with additional explanation would be great.


And now look below for the fun part........ :D ;)

webby
July 23rd, 2002, 03:36 PM
That's the end of round #1. Zakath is back on the clock - great first round!!!

And remember....

ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (webmaster), Becky, Zakath or Knight. You may discuss Battle Royale II here. (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2795)

Zakath
July 24th, 2002, 11:36 AM
Does Absolute Morality Exist? Zakath's 2nd post

I thank my opponent the "goode Sir Knight" for his first post and will take this opportunity to say that he played it true to form and did not disappoint us. He went straight for the emotional appeal. ;)While I found his pseudo-altar call at the end humorous, it was disingenuous and, if I didn't know him better, would be insulted. He is merely "playing to the gallery" by indirectly accusing me of believing that "there is no action or behavior (none whatsoever!!!) that is wrong...". I'd like to answer his final question first with a simple yes; and further clarify it by saying that if I did not believe that some actions were wrong, I wouldn't be wasting my time debating this topic with him. :)

Now, to address his other points.

1. First Knight attempts to seize the high moral ground by discounting my proposed definition of "absolute morality". I could quibble about this, but being the delightfully gracious fellow that I am, I will willingly yield and accept his definition. :D

I can afford to be generous here, particularly since the definition he proposed is quite adequate for me to prove my point. That said, for the rest of this discussion we will use the following definition of "absolute morality" provided by Knight himself:

"Absolute morality means that there is a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong." - Knight 7/23/02

2. Knight then assures us that "this debate is not to determine what specific morals are absolute." He then proclaims that if he can accomplish just that, by proving the existence of a single absolute right or wrong action or behavior, that I will have lost the debate!

In his exuberance, Knight has thereby accepted the burden of proof in this debate. I encourage him to go for the kill! I, and any number of readers, will be waiting to see Knight prove the existence of a single absolute right or wrong behavior or action without determining a specific moral as absolute... ;)

3. In the following paragraph, Knight "takes the bait" and spends a bit of effort attempting to sidestep my two theological propositions. He appears to feel it was inappropriate for me to use Christian theological points on a Christian discussion board. Perhaps he would rather I used Hindu, Zoroastrian, or Celtic theology?:confused: I would warn him to be very careful trying to use his Christian Bible to support his side of the argument. He would do well to remember that his Bible can be a "two edged sword", meaning in this case, it can cut both ways...

On a more serious note, in the fourth sentence, Knight engages in a standard tactic here on TOL when he attempts to refocus the debate from the original point to his own issue:
"What this issue/debate really boils down to is....... [sic] if wecan determine that absolute morality exists, (which reasonable people can do), THEN we can determine that a god(s) exists." I have no wish to refocus the debate. I think we have plenty to discuss with the current topic and would suggest we shelve this new one for later...

4. Knight lists six additional items that he claims he will demonstrate during the debate. Since this is the preliminary statement and he presented no supporting argument for these statements, I will be interested to see his points fleshed out and will discuss each one as he presents it.

5. Thank you Knight for the compliment about my vocabulary and sources (even if it was backhanded;)). I'm sure that with a bit of study you could be even more facile than I. :) He did hit one point right on the money; those seeking truth have a lot to gain from reading discussions like this. This discussion will provide readers an opportunity to compare secular logic with emotional religious appeals and see which one better fits the real world in which the reader dwells.

Lastly, I find Knight's definition of moral absolutist intriguing. He claims the existence of a set of absolute morals and I am waiting with interest his attempt to demonstrate evidence of their existence without determining any single one to be absolute.

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, the ball is in your court, Sir Knight! :D

webby
July 24th, 2002, 09:06 PM
Zakath, why did you break the "Don't edit your posts rule"?

The rule is pretty clear....
NO POSTS CAN BE EDITED
Once a response has been made each combatant will have exactly 2 minutes to make any edits to their post. After that the "last edited by...." message will be posted on the post and the moderator will delete the post and the combatants turn will be forfeited. IS THIS RULE CLEAR? This rule will be strictly enforced and will have ZERO exceptions!

Basically make sure you are ready to post your response when you post it because we do not want combatants editing their posts after they have been posted.However, in light of the fact that Knight has not responded yet and you are the first to break the rule I am going to make an exception this one time and let your post stand. Maybe this will help to make future battle combatants understand the rule.

This rule is place so that combatants do not waste time responding to points that have been changed or deleted after the fact by the other combatant. It should be pretty obvious as why we have the rule.

I happen to have inside info that Knight has not started his POST #2 so it wont matter this time. However, this will be the only time we make an exception to this rule. The next offense will result in a deletion of the post all together. Thanks in advance for your time.

Zakath
July 25th, 2002, 07:04 AM
Webmaster,

I was not aware that I had edited outside the two minute period. The screen shows the time listed on my post is 6:36 AM and the edit time is 6:38 AM. As nearly as I can tell that is two minutes. It appears we are discussing a matter of seconds here... Would you please reveal how long a period transpired between my initial post and my edit? How many seconds was I over? :confused:

Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

webby
July 25th, 2002, 09:05 AM
Come one Zakath you could have private messaged me your last post! The rules clearly state...
NO combatant will be allowed to post TWO posts in a rowWhen you said "YES" that you understood the rules, I assumed that you meant "YES - I understand the rules". Get with the program!!!! :down:

Knight
July 25th, 2002, 11:02 AM
Wow... I guess that shot to the head with the folding chair was pretty effective! There is almost no substance whatsoever is Zakath's post #2. However the small bit of substance that I could find within his post shatters his side of the argument! TKO in the second round???? :D

I asked Zakath....
Zakath, in your heart of hearts, deep in your gut and entrenched in your brain, do you honestly believe that there is NO action or behavior (none whatsoever!!!) that is wrong, EVEN if that action or behavior happens to be accepted by any given society, government or individual?And he answered....
I'd like to answer his final question first with a simple yes; and further clarify it by saying that if I did not believe that some actions were wrong, I wouldn't be wasting my time debating this topic with him.I am pretty sure Zakath meant to answer "No". Because by answering "YES" he is saying he believes NO action or behavior is wrong (none whatsoever). But in his clarification he stated... "if I did not believe that some actions were wrong, I wouldn't be wasting my time debating this topic with him." Therefore Zakath believes that some things ARE wrong even though they are accepted by a given society, government or individual. Either Zakath meant to answer "NO" or he is psychotic :D ;) I know Zakath well enough to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant to answer...
I'd like to answer his final question first with a simple no; and further clarify it by saying that if I did not believe that some actions were wrong, I wouldn't be wasting my time debating this topic with him.

So Zakath believes that some things are wrong.

REVIEW:
In this debate Zakath is arguing that what is right and what is wrong is relative to the individual, society or government, yet Zakath claims that some actions and behaviors are wrong even if the individual, society or government have accepted them as right! Apparently Zakath does not adhere to the standard of morality he is debating!

Said another way - Zakath himself doesn't even believe (or at least practice) what he is arguing! If he DID believe his own argument he would accept that the individual, society or government could rightfully determine what is right and what is wrong relative to themselves.

Ultimately the readers of this debate will see (if they haven't already) that this monumental contradiction in Zakath's world view is a hurtle to large for him to ever clear.

I had so much more planned for post #2 but there really isn't any need for it right now.

The only logical thing to do at this point in the debate is to ask Zakath a follow-up question.....

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION FOR ZAKATH:
In light of your answer that you believe some actions and behaviors are wrong even if the action or behavior happens to be accepted by any given society, government or individual on what basis or standard can you
determine that such an action or behavior is wrong?

Asked in another way.... If you, (Zakath), determine that an action or behavior is wrong, what makes that action or behavior wrong?

webby
July 25th, 2002, 03:37 PM
End of round two. Zakath is back on the clock.

Zakath
July 25th, 2002, 06:27 PM
Does Absolute Morality Exist?
- Zakath's 3rd post

I'd like to thank Knight and the readers for his and their forbearance on my previous post. I did post in a bit of a rush and did not read his question thoroughly. I did indeed mean what Knight finally divined:
So Zakath believes that some things are wrong. The appropriate thing to say at this point is: :o Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa! :o (If you don't know what it means, ask a Roman Catholic older than 40...;))

Now, let's reply to the remainder of Knight's second post. He wrote:

In this debate Zakath is arguing that what is right and what is wrong is relative to the individual, society or government, yet Zakath claims that some actions and behaviors are wrong even if the individual, society or government have accepted them as right! Apparently Zakath does not adhere to the standard of morality he is debating!
This is appears to be a misrepresentation of my position as presented in this debate.

To clarify, my position is that absolute morality does not exist. The existence or non-existence of any other standard of morality than "absolute morality" is not at issue in this debate. All I have done so far, is indicate that I believe in a relativistic (i.e., non-absolute) morality. The burden of proof is on Knight to demonstrate the existence of absolute morality, according to his definition.


FOLLOW-UP QUESTION FOR ZAKATH:
In light of your answer that you believe some actions and behaviors are wrong even if the action or behavior happens to be accepted by any given society, government or individual on what basis or standard can you determine that such an action or behavior is wrong?

Each normally developed adult human being has within them a set of moral standards to which they adhere. (I specified “normally-developed” to exclude extreme fringes of the population with mental pathologies that inhibit with the development of or interfere with the functional use of a set of moral standards.) For many of us such standards are an amalgamation of those we absorbed during our upbringing; those we studied along the path of our life to the present moment. We each take that mass of sometimes-conflicting information, internalize it, and construct a set of moral standards by which we judge right from wrong and attempt to live our lives.

For most adults, these moral standards are generally reflective of the society in which they live but may be at variance in individual cases. In the U.S. for example, we have a number of activities that are considered morally wrong by some (or even many) individuals but are not considered illegal by society. Examples might include prostitution and casino gambling, both of which are legal in some places but not others. I’d like to consider, two other examples that are more universal and may be more troubling to the moral absolutist.

Recently the news media has held forth at great length on issues dealing with accounting by large corporations such as Enron and WorldCom. While much (maybe most) of the behavior their leadership engaged in was not strictly illegal, the general feeling among the populace is that it is considered morally wrong to handle corporate finances in ways that produce inaccurate messages for auditors and investors. Public outcry is so intense that Congress is currently in the process of considering new legislation to force more clarity in those kinds of situations. While there may not be specific laws criminalizing such practices, they are definitely considered wrong by many people. Thus, these individuals who believe these executives were wrong to do what they did are morally at odds with the government's view of law.

An older historic example might be the keeping, purchasing, and sale of human beings as slaves. For hundreds of years, Americans (both religionists and non-religionists) kept humans as slaves. Such a practice was legal, yet to some number of people slavery was immoral. In spite of thundering assertions of the morality slavery and the deity’s support of it from hundreds of church pulpits, the numbers believing the practice to be immoral grew with passing generations until the society generally recognized the issue as immoral. The ownership of human slaves in the United States and its territories was eventually criminalized. Ask most U.S. citizens today and you will be told that human slavery is immoral as well as illegal.

These are only two examples of situations where individuals’ concepts of right and wrong were at odds with institutional ideas of right and wrong. The individuals who were out-of-synch with society based their activities and beliefs on their own internal system of beliefs about right and wrong.. In these cases, the institutions were lagging behind the developing "conscience" of the people and eventually came to parity.

Using those issues to provide background, my answer to Knight's question is this: In some cases, individuals looked beyond the current laws and regulations to see the potential (and actual) injury to their fellow human beings caused by misuse of power. This perceived injury offended their internal moral standards and was perceived by them as wrong. Their love and concern for their fellows (or themselves in some cases) provided the primary motivators for their actions of protest, petition, and even (in the case of slavery) civil disobedience, resulting in the eventual change of the laws to reflect the evolved moral sense of the people.

Were they appealing to something that moved them as individuals? Yes

Something that made some of them willing to risk their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor"? Yes.

Were they appealing to an absolute? There is little evidence that were appealing to anything other than their internal moral standards.

As human beings, we must each determine what is right and wrong based upon our own combination of logic, training, and life experience. This makes the standard subjective, not objective or absolute. Sometimes this internal standard agrees with the laws of our social group, our religious group, or our government, sometimes not.

People's views change over time. This moral “evolution” presents a significant difficultly in using Knight’s definition of “absolute morality”. By making “absolute” dependent upon dynamic human morality, there is no basis for humans to assess what “absolute” actually means. History demonstrates that what is considered wrong today may be viewed as right tomorrow. “One man’s “terrorist” is another’s “freedom fighter.” The period of change may be months, years, or even lifetimes. Not many reading these words are old enough to remember Menachem Begin, the terrorist who masterminded the 1946 bombing of the British Army headquarters in Jerusalem (killing 86 people) yet thirty-two years later he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a different role with a different enemy. On a note closer to home, the same patriots who revolted against their king and country to found the U.S. made those very activities against the government they created punishable by hanging. ;) Such was their belief in the applicability of moral absolutes...

All Knight’s definition does is claim there is “something better” than the best mankind has at a given moment.

Now that I have endeavored to answer Knight's question, it's his turn... :)

For clarity, let's reword the primary question of the debate by using Knight's definition of absolute morality. Does absolute morality exist? now reads this way:

Does "a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong" exist?

I am waiting to see Knight address this issue and unveil this “something better”. Can he provide one or more examples for us to discuss? With that in mind, my question for Knight is:

Knight, can you provide some instances or examples of what you consider to be "a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong"?

After all, that is what we're here to discuss... :)

Awaiting your reply…

Knight
July 26th, 2002, 04:57 PM
First things first....
The appropriate thing to say at this point is: Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!That's OK Zakath, your original clarification explained your answer sufficiently.

Zakath states...
All I have done so far, is indicate that I believe in a relativistic (i.e., non-absolute) morality.Actually Zakath has gone great lengths in his posts to demonstrate the opposite!

Or at the very least, Zakath has argued that a relativistic view of morality isn't a very good one. Why do I say that? Well think about it..... in a relativistic view of morality, the determining factor of what is morally right or morally wrong is RELATIVE to the individual, society or government (which Zakath fully admits). Yet Zakath has now admitted that he often rejects what has been determined right or wrong relative to individuals, societies and governments. A TRUE moral relativist would be forced to (at very least) admit that ANY morality is "as good" or "as right" as any other moral standard.

To put a finer point on it....

Zakath stated in his last post...
As human beings, we must each determine what is right and wrong based upon our own combination of logic, training, and life experience.How then can Zakath determine the "rightness" or "wrongness" of what other individuals, societies or governments have determined right or wrong using a "combination of logic, training, and life experience."? His relativist or subjective stance affords him no right to make such a judgment. He might then claim, "Well it's just my personal opinion that certain individuals, societies or governments are wrong." I would then rightfully respond..... ”Who cares what your OPINION is?” That sounds somewhat harsh, but it’s true. If morals are set "relative" or "subject to" the individual, society or government, any individual’s personal opinion regarding right and wrong would hold no more weight than my claiming I like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla ice cream. Hey, it’s my opinion!

Ultimately, moral relativism or moral subjectivism fails due to the almost limitless amount of counter examples.

And this is where the moral relativist plays a "trick" on himself and others. The moral relativist searches for moral examples that might be viewed "either way", maybe right, maybe wrong. Which is why Zakath brought up the Menachem Begin issue. Zakath wants to demonstrate that certain actions might not necessarily be wrong or later overlooked because the character or popularity of the individual, society or government changed over time. Zakath IS indeed showing that certain actions might not necessarily be wrong, which I think anyone would agree with, but that does NOT show (or mean) that certain other actions are not absolute.

For instance.... the moral absolutist might assert "murder is wrong" or "rape is wrong", and the moral relativist might begin searching for examples that may or may not be considered murder or rape, by doing this the moral relativist is thinking that they are proving their point that murder and rape are not absolutely wrong. This relativist "trick" is quickly thwarted if one realizes that the moral relativist hasn't shown that murder and rape are not absolutely wrong but that some actions are indeed murder or rape, and some are not! In a discussion on the absolute morality of murder or rape, what is really at issue is viewing a specific example of an action that is clearly murder or rape, even by the most liberal definition of the terms and then determining if that specific action is absolutely wrong or if its only wrong relative to the given individual, society or government.

So the question becomes, “Can we determine that there is such a thing as murder or rape?” And if we can, is murder and rape absolutely wrong? This is where I restate.... Ultimately moral relativism or moral subjectivism fails due to the almost limitless amount of counter examples.

Zakath asks...
Knight, can you provide some instances or examples of what you consider to be "a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong"?Murder and rape, when properly defined are both absolutely wrong. For instance.... when the Nazi's slaughtered 6 millions Jews, I can determine that was murder and therefore absolutely wrong, even in light of the fact that the Nazi government had determined that it was the right thing to do. Can you make that same determination Zakath?

QUESTION FOR ZAKATH:
Is there such a thing as rape? And if so, is raping a woman absolutely wrong or just wrong relative to you?

webby
July 26th, 2002, 05:05 PM
End of round #3. Zakath is back on the clock.

Don't forget to order your limited edition "Battle Royale II" 100% cotton t-shirts! The shirts feature the cool Battle Royale II color logo on the front and the new TheologyOnLine color logo on the back!

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webby
July 26th, 2002, 09:16 PM
ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (webmaster), Becky, Zakath or Knight. You may discuss Battle Royale II here. (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2795)

Zakath
July 28th, 2002, 05:54 AM
“Does Absolute Morality Exist?
Zakath’s post #4

Knight’s previous response demonstrates his unwillingness, possibly his inability, to address the primary question of the debate as he chooses to attack the relativist position, hoping to prove his position by default. Unfortunately he fails, and I will continue to bring him back to his burden: prove that absolute morality exists. It is only in doing so that he will disprove my position.


... in a relativistic view of morality, the determining factor of what is morally right or morally wrong is RELATIVE to the individual, society or government (which Zakath fully admits). Yet Zakath has now admitted that he often rejects what has been determined right or wrong relative to individuals, societies and governments. A TRUE moral relativist would be forced to (at very least) admit that ANY morality is "as good" or "as right" as any other moral standard.Knight appears to be so totally indoctrinated into his absolutist view of morals and ethics that appears to miss his own point here. After describing his “determining factor” as relative, he then castigates me for choosing a relative stance on the question of moral right or wrong. But, as I remind him, I am a relativist. As such, it is my prerogative to choose the morals or ethics that agree with what I think are right or wrong…

Knight then goes on to attempt to subvert a relativist’s ability to determine whether or not someone else’s viewpoint is right or wrong. To a great extent that is the crux of the argument of one whose moral and religious views appear rooted in attacking the beliefs and practices of others as “wrong”. Knight must believe in absolute right or wrong or he has no basis upon which to feel superior to, and to attack others.

Knight intones his final (ultimate?) pronouncement on the subject,
”Ultimately, moral relativism or moral subjectivism fails due to the almost limitless amount of counter examples.” This interestingly enough draws us, round about, to the initial point of the debate:

When will Knight prove the existence of absolute morality?

As nearly as I can tell, we’re still waiting for proof…

Knight then attempts to play James Randi, famous (or infamous) debunker of the paranormal, by asserting that I am playing a trick on the readers when I illustrate that some moral examples might be viewed as good or evil, depending on the viewpoint. I hate to disappoint our readers, but this is no trick, it is merely providing examples of why relativistic morality is such a common viewpoint. Knight, as with many of his religious fundamentalist brethren, appears to be searching for a simple universe where answers are all binary (yes or no, black or white). No matter how much he wishes to believe otherwise, the real world in which he and I live is full of doubt, uncertainty, and gray areas. Relativists did not create the “almost limitless amount of counter examples”, we merely point a few of them out to illustrate the point that if there is a single example where an allegedly “absolute” point or belief is not true, then it is not absolute.

After all his “counter examples”, I still wonder when will Knight prove the existence of absolute morality?

At the end of my previous post, I asked Knight to provide one or more examples of what he considered absolute morality. He kindly provides the examples of “murder” and “rape”. Now that we have two examples to discuss, I had assumed that he would describe the authority upon which he based his assertion that these wrongs are “absolute”. Notice that he did not do so. He immediately attempted to steer the discussion away from his need to prove his point by playing a few tricks of his own…

Knight engages in his own two timeworn tricks: playing with definitions of words, and trying to maneuver his opponent into accept the opposing viewpoint without having to provide a convincing argument.

First, Knight hedges his answer by hinting at a limiting definition, without providing the definition himself.
Murder and rape, when properly defined are both absolutely wrong. (Emphasis mine – Z) Note his use of the words “when properly defined”. He clearly intends a specific definition of the words “rape” and “murder”, yet does not provide them, preferring to leave the defining of his own examples to his opponent. If his opponent were foolish enough to provide a definition, Knight will rush in, proclaiming that his opponent did not understand the point and ridicule him.

My response to Knight’s first “trick” is: Knight, please explain what you mean by “properly defined” in your response to my previous question. To be more explicit: Since they are your examples, provide your definitions of the words “murder” and “rape”.

Second, Knight then asks his opponent, an admitted moral relativist, to accept a morally absolute premise. He writes:
I can determine that was murder and therefore absolutely wrong…Can you make that same determination Zakath? Unfortunately that’s a bit like a completely colorblind person who sees the world only in black and white asking a normally sighted individual to agree that color doesn’t exist…

While I agree that the German Holocaust was wrong, I cannot speak to the absoluteness of what I consider a crime against my fellow human beings.

Knight leaft me with two questions to answer.
QUESTION FOR ZAKATH:
Is there such a thing as rape? And if so, is raping a woman absolutely wrong or just wrong relative to you?
To answer the first, I need to wait upon his definition of the term. As for the second, it is moot. Since I am a moral relativist, he already knows the answer.

Knight, at this juncture, has two tasks:

1. Provide his “proper” definitions of “rape” and “murder” so we can all be discussing from the same perspective.

2. Provide some authority for his assertions that what he defines as “rape” and “murder” are actually absolutes and not merely relative.

Knight
July 28th, 2002, 09:08 PM
Zakath states...
When will Knight prove the existence of absolute morality?Proof is: the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact. - Merriam Webster

In other words.... for many, I have already "proved" my side of the argument and for some you may have "proved" your side of the debate, which is why I wouldn't be so silly as to continually ask you to "prove" your side of the debate. However, some compelling evidence from Zakath might be nice ;). The last time I checked both I AND Zakath are involved in this debate and Zakath has done little if anything to demonstrate any evidence to compel me to accept that murder or rape are NOT absolutely wrong but wrong only as a matter of personal preference.

What set of circumstances could exist that could make murder or rape right???? That is after all what Zakath is ultimately arguing.

If there really is such a thing as murder or rape can it ever be right? Or is murder and rape always wrong? If murder and rape are always wrong - under EVERY circumstance - then murder and rape are absolutely wrong and therefore absolute morality exists.

When someone asks...."Is killing wrong" and then someone rightfully responds "it depends on the circumstances" that answer is reasonable and correct. But that answer is also an admission that there must be some cases in which the killing is wrong. Otherwise we would simply have answered "no, killing is never wrong." Therefore we have a different word for killing, when the killing is wrong and that word is murder.

So when someone determines that killing is sometimes wrong they are referring to murder.

We must then ask "is murder ever NOT wrong"? And the answer must be NO otherwise we would refer to it as "killing" and we would have no reason to answer "it depends" when asked if killing is wrong. Therefore murder is absolutely wrong.

Zakath states...
While I agree that the German Holocaust was wrong, I cannot speak to the absoluteness of what I consider a crime against my fellow human beings.In other words Zakath himself may not have chosen to support the Holocaust or be a part of the holocaust operation had he been there, but he cannot absolutely condemn the actions of the Nazi's because according to Zakath the Holocaust was not absolutely wrong, just wrong relative to Zakath. To Zakath the Holocaust was only wrong as a matter of personal preference and he cannot make any further claim against it than that. Zakath's disapproval of the holocaust holds no more weight whatsoever than my choosing chocolate ice cream over vanilla.

I asked Zakath...."Is there such a thing as rape? And if so, is raping a woman absolutely wrong or just wrong relative to you?"

And Zakath responded....
To answer the first, I need to wait upon his definition of the term. As for the second, it is moot. Since I am a moral relativist, he already knows the answer.I did not define "rape" because I wanted to let Zakath use his own definition so we would not waste anytime debating the definition of rape. Which is why I phrased the question... "Is there such a thing as rape?" Zakath does indicate his answer..."Since I am a moral relativist, he already knows the answer." Apparently Zakath feels even if there is a proper definition of rape, rape isn't absolutely wrong but only wrong relative to Zakath. The choice as to whether to rape or not to rape is no different than choosing between driving a red van or driving a blue van! If Zakath is correct then rape is only wrong relative to all of us individually and then what right do we as individual's, societies or governments have in legislating against the act of rape? Is rape really something that could just as logically be legal as it is illegal?

Early on in this debate Zakath claimed he believed some things were wrong even when individuals, societies or governments had deemed them "not wrong". Is Zakath claiming that rape is NOT one of those things???

A SPECIFIC ACTION:
A 40 year old man watches a 9 year old girl walk past his house everyday on her way home from school. On one day, the man decides to grab her off the sidewalk against her will. She struggles but the man is much stronger and successfully pulls her into his house. The man holds his hand over the girls mouth to prevent her from screaming. The man drags the girl into his basement where he proceeds to violently rape her several times. When done, the man decides it would be best to place a pillow over the girls mouth and nose and hold it there until she eventually suffocated. When the man felt the girl no longer breathing he placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to a remote location where he dumped the girl's body.

Was this man ABSOLUTELY wrong for doing this or was he only wrong relative to US as individual's? Asked another way... were the man's actions ABSOLUTELY wrong, or was it just a matter of the man's personal preference to do these things?

Prisca
July 28th, 2002, 09:18 PM
Ding, ding, ding...end of round four. Zakath, you are now back on the clock!

Zakath
July 29th, 2002, 12:02 PM
“Does Absolute Morality Exist?”
Zakath’s 5th post

My opponent has apparently lost track of his purpose during this debate. Since he is arguing the affirmative, he is to attempt to prove that absolute morality exists. He has repeatedly made the claim that it exists without backing up his claim. Thus far he as limited himself to attacking my position and merely asserting that his view is correct without providing any logical or authoritative citation to support those assertions. While that may pass for effective argument in the circles he frequents, “because I say so” is hardly convincing to one’s opponents unless you are a demonstrated authority in the field under discussion. In spite of his allegations that he may have convinced some of the readers of his position, this reader remains unconvinced. If he has real evidence and authority to demonstrate, now is the time for him to bring it out.

To attempt to resolve the deadlock I proposed two questions to Knight at the end of my previous post. In summary, I asked Knight to:
Define two words he used (murder and rape) for which he insisted there was a “correct” definition; implying that understanding that correct definition was necessary for him to prove his assertions about absolute morality.

Provide authority for his assertions about absolute morality.
After reading his response I believe he provided neither definition, nor authority.

Without those two items, I am left with the assumption that his argument must be based on his own human authority, as was his definition of “absolute morality”. If this is incorrect, perhaps Knight can actually demonstrate that I am wrong…

Basing his argument on his own authority contradicts Knight’s definition of absolute authority. Looking back to his first post, we find that definition requires him to demonstrate the existence of “a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong”. So far, he has demonstrated no superhuman standards of right and wrong (or anything else superceding human ability or reason). We have, thus far, read nothing but Knight’s own assertions and emotional pleadings. Where's the standard, Knight???

Knight does come close to providing a definition for murder by saying it some type of “wrong killing”. He states:
We must then ask "is murder ever NOT wrong"? And the answer must be NO otherwise we would refer to it as "killing"… Without an absolute standard to define murder (which Knight refuses to provide) all we can say is that it is wrong to kill people when it is wrong to kill them. Knight's example also begs the question of without a standard, who determines when it is "right" to kill someone or "wrong" to do so. If this is how murder is defined in Knight’s superhuman standard of right and wrong, then it sounds very subjective to me. This definition, while simple, may not be universally applicable to the same act. Let me illustrate…

Recent events in the Middle East have repeatedly shown us that certain deaths deemed “killing” by one side, are viewed by the other side as “murder”. These are the same acts, viewed by two different groups of people who come up with two different moral descriptions of the acts. Knight’s traditional way of dealing with such issues as the slaughter of innocents is to trivialize them as “collateral damage”, a US Department of Defense euphemism for unintended deaths related to combat. Are such deaths “wrong”, making them murder? In Israel, that appears to depend entirely on which side of the border you live. Again, Knight asserts the existence of an “absolute” point of view, but does not provide any absolute standard to conclusively demonstrate it.

Knight then presents a favorite Christian example used in discussion of absolute morality; the rape example. After erecting a straw man argument, by refusing to define what he means by rape, he then happily demolishes some mythical opponent’s arguments without providing a single reference to his “superceding authority”. Nor does he provide a single authoritative reason, no appeal to a superhuman standard, for why he believes rape should be considered “absolutely wrong”. Until he provides this standard, Knight appears to be merely another moral subjectivist who considers an act wrong because he personally finds it distasteful.

Knight then presents what I presume is a fictional tale combining several of his favorite themes: sexual deviance, rape, and murder. Finally, Knight asks yet again whether I believe some action is a moral absolute.

I believe that rape, murder, and kidnapping are wrong. If the individual described in the story was arrested, tried, and convicted, I’d willingly participate in the execution of such a person. That said, I still do not believe in absolute morality.

Until I see some demonstration by Knight of this alleged standard he claims as authority for his classification of acts as “absolutely right” or “absolutely wrong”, I cannot speak to that part of his question.

Knight
July 29th, 2002, 02:34 PM
Is Zakath conceding that absolute morality exists???

Zakath's entire post #5 is a request that I discuss the origin of absolute morality. If Zakath rejects absolute morality, why investigate its origin? I waste no time discussing the origin of little green men from Mars because I know that little green men from Mars do not exist. If I remember correctly, the topic of the debate was "Is there such a thing as absolute morality?" NOT "What is the origin of absolute morality?"

Zakath states...
Since he is arguing the affirmative, he is to attempt to prove that absolute morality exists. He has repeatedly made the claim that it exists without backing up his claim.This is untrue. I have asserted that rape and murder are absolutely wrong. It is now up to Zakath to provide examples of rape and murder that are not wrong.

Zakath makes the following statement:
I believe that rape, murder, and kidnapping are wrong.There are a couple possible ways to interpret Zakath's statement:


Zakath believes that rape, murder and kidnapping are ALWAYS wrong. Yet that would be a statement of absolute morality and Zakath would even further concede the debate.

Zakath believes that rape murder and kidnapping are only wrong "relative" to Zakath. For that to be true, he would have to argue that rape murder and kidnapping are just as "right" as they are "wrong". After all, what right would Zakath have to tell the perpetrator that he is more "right"? Can Zakath appeal to a different standard of "rightness" than the perpetrator?

Keep in mind, in a "relativist" worldview, the "wrongness" or "rightness" of an action cannot ultimately be determined by an external source (and from the perpetrator's perspective Zakath represents an external source).

SUMMERIZATION
Apparently Zakath must believe that rape, murder and kidnapping are not always wrong, otherwise they would be absolutely wrong. If Zakath would give us some compelling evidence to demonstrate that rape, kidnapping and murder are NOT always wrong it would be much appreciated! What circumstances have to exist that would make rape, murder and kidnapping NOT wrong? Do such circumstances exist without leaving the realm of rape, murder and kidnapping?

Think of it this way.....
I can indeed provide circumstances to demonstrate that killing is not always wrong, but I cannot provide circumstances that demonstrate that murder is NOT always wrong.

Moreover....
If Zakath can indeed give evidence that murder, rape and kidnapping are NOT always wrong, why didn't Zakath state..."I believe that rape, murder, and kidnapping are wrong sometimes" ?

And here we have it.....
The argument laid out so plain and simple. I have asserted that rape and murder are absolutely wrong. Zakath agreed that rape and murder are wrong and even added kidnapping to list. The only thing left for Zakath to do is give us compelling examples of when rape, murder and kidnapping are not wrong without using examples that aren't rape, murder and kidnapping!

Of course that would still leave Zakath with one monumental task. Let's assume for sake of argument that Zakath could provide examples of rape, murder and kidnapping being NOT wrong. To remain completely relative wouldn't Zakath have to show that EVERY rape, murder and kidnapping example isn't absolutely wrong? Why? Well because if a single case of murder or rape is absolutely wrong then that single case represents a single case of absolute morality and therefore absolute morality exists and Zakath loses the debate. This, of course, is where my example of the 40-year old man raping the 9-year old girl comes into play. Can Zakath demonstrate effectively that this example is not absolutely wrong?

Prisca
July 29th, 2002, 03:08 PM
Ding, ding, ding! End of round five. Great battle combatants! Zakath, you’re on!

Zakath
July 29th, 2002, 06:50 PM
"Does Absolute Morality Exist?"
Zakath's sixth post.
In his reply to my fifth post, Knight heads off on an interesting tack...

Zakath's entire post #5 is a request that I discuss the origin of absolute morality...
As Will Shakespeare used to say, "me thinks the man doth protest too much..." It's not the origin of Knight's alleged moral standard I care to see, it's the standard itself.

As I feared, Knight appears to have taken one too many head shots. Like Don Quixote charging off to do battle with the windmill he sees as an evil giant, Knight continues to miss the point of the debate. Every debate with him on this subject is ultimately reduced to him repeating the same question endlessly, "Zakath, do you believe that (fill in the blank) is absolutely wrong?"

We have exposed Knight's word games and attempts at diversion, dismantled his straw men, pointed out his logical fallacies and he continues to try to shift the burden of proof to his opponent, forgetting that he took upon himself the burden to prove that "absolute morality" exists when he agreed to take the affirmative side of the debate. All he has done toward that end thus far is to confuse making an assertion with proving his point.

"How has he done that?" you may ask. Well, compare the definitions of the words "assertion" (what Knight has done thus far) and "proof" (what he must do to win the argument):

"assertion" - Something declared or stated positively, often with no support or attempt at proof. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

"proof" - The evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
By his own admission, he has not furnished proof, merely assertions. He wrote:
I have asserted that rape and murder are absolutely wrong. It is now up to Zakath to provide examples of rape and murder that are not wrong.
Why is Knight reduced to posting a few assertions without substantiating information?
Why is Knight asking his opponent to prove his point?
Why does Knight refuse to show us his standard for his "absolute morality"?
:confused:
Could it be that the “goode Sir Knight”has realized that he's shooting from an empty quiver...
Could it be that Knight will not show us his "absolute morality" because he cannot?
Could it be that Knight cannot show us his vaunted superior moral system because it does not really exist?
Knight does exhibit a serious problem in this debate; limited imagination. He complains:
I can indeed provide circumstances to demonstrate that killing is not always wrong, but I cannot provide circumstances that demonstrate that murder is NOT always wrong.
He has missed the point. We don't want more examples, we don't want more circumstances, what we want to see is THE REASON WHY Knight considers murder absolutely wrong instead of merely wrong. For someone who alleges the existence of, and claims to judge by a moral standard above and beyond that of humans, he suffers from a curious inability to show this marvelous morality to us mere mortals.

On the other hand, I offered to provide him with several examples from his own Bible which would adequately demonstrate the point that what I (and many others) would consider murder (e.g., genocide and killing of the unborn) is not always considered wrong by the followers of YHWH.
He conveniently ignored the offer...

Of course that would still leave Zakath with one monumental task. Let's assume for sake of argument that Zakath could provide examples of rape, murder and kidnapping being NOT wrong. I would do so, if Knight would merely provide definitions of the three words "rape", "murder", and "kidnapping" so that I could be sure to provide accurate examples of what he is discussing. I am attempting to avoid the old "bait and switch" where I provide an example based on a standard denotation of the words and he replies with, "Well that's not what I meant by (the word in question)". I've been around this mountain too many times with Knight and his ilk already. So I ask him, again, to facilitate communication by providing the definitions he uses for those three words.
Of course, he could always just tell us why those particular acts are considered "absolutely" wrong by showing us the source of his standard of "absolute morality".

Will he do it? Not likely! :nono:

Why? He dare not use the Bible or some other religious text (for reasons he and I both know), and without it he cannot provide evidence of a morality above human reason, since any allegedly absolute moral structure he would provide can be deconstructed to show it to be the same relativistic morals he has used as examples thus far...

If there is an absolute morality, then all he needs to do is show it to us. Until then, I assert that his allegedly "absolute morality" is merely a figment of his imagination.

So, Sir Knight. Prove me wrong. I ask you again to show us the exalted moral standard by which you measure all human actions. Show us why you believe that rape is absolutely wrong.

If you won't (or can't, it doesn't really matter), you have failed to demonstrate the existence of "absolute morality".

If this is the case, I assert that you have demonstrated yourself to be merely another relativist using a religious measuring stick in place of a secular one and the debate is finished.

Check! Your move, Knight...

Knight
July 29th, 2002, 09:37 PM
Ha! Typical Zakath waddling in obfuscation, unwilling to face his flawed world view.

I will only comment on a couple of points that Zakath made in his last post since the rest of his post was meaningless obfuscation.

Zakath posted...
On the other hand, I offered to provide him with several examples from his own Bible which would adequately demonstrate the point that what I (and many others) would consider murder (e.g., genocide and killing of the unborn) is not always considered wrong by the followers of YHWH.
He conveniently ignored the offer...LOL! So Zakath we could end this debate right here if you like, you simply admit that you believe certain things in the Bible were absolutely wrong and concede the debate to me. Is that what your trying to do?

Or.... you could retain your relativistic stance and have no argument against any story within the Bible whatsoever.

Next point...

I would do so, if Knight would merely provide definitions of the three words "rape", "murder", and "kidnapping" so that I could be sure to provide accurate examples of what he is discussing.Zakath I am allowing you to define rape, murder and kidnapping! Use any definition you like! Why argue definitions? Use the dictionary definitions if you like!

Next topic...
Zakath in your opinion is the following specific example absolutely wrong or not? There is no reason you cannot supply a YES or NO answer.

A SPECIFIC ACTION:
A 40 year old man watches a 9 year old girl walk past his house everyday on her way home from school. On one day, the man decides to grab her off the sidewalk against her will. She struggles but the man is much stronger and successfully pulls her into his house. The man holds his hand over the girls mouth to prevent her from screaming. The man drags the girl into his basement where he proceeds to violently rape her several times. When done, the man decides it would be best to place a pillow over the girls mouth and nose and hold it there until she eventually suffocated. When the man felt the girl no longer breathing he placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to a remote location where he dumped the girl's body.

Absolutely wrong or not?

webby
July 29th, 2002, 09:48 PM
That's the end of round #6. Since we have 10 rounds let's have a quick 6-7th inning stretch....

"Take me out to the battle,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some t-shirts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for my world view,
If they it doesn't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old Battle Royale game!"

OK, Zakath your back on the clock.

Zakath
July 30th, 2002, 08:29 AM
"Does Absolute Morality Exist?"
Zakath's seventh post

It would appear I hit close to a nerve with my last post, since Knight begins his post with an immediate insult:

Ha! Typical Zakath waddling in obfuscation, unwilling to face his flawed world view."Waddling in obfuscation?" I think Knight has me confused with goose! ;) I have never claimed to have a perfect worldview. I normally leave such absolute claims to the religionists, like Knight;).
He continues on...
I will only comment on a couple of points that Zakath made in his last post since the rest of his post was meaningless obfuscation.Either Knight doesn't undersand my request that he show us his alleged "absolute morality" or he's dodging the question again...

Reread his previous post and notice that he does three things to avoid winning the debate:
1. He refuses to show us why he thinks rape is absolutely wrong. He merely asserts that it is so.
2. He refuses to show us his allegedly absolute moral standard. He merely asserts that something exists.
3. He continues to ask me the same questions, ignoring my answers.

Think about it, all he would have to do is respond to item #2. If what he shows us is actually absolute by his own defnition (by which I agreed to abide), then he wins the debate. Yet he still refuses to show us his "absolute" moral standard.

Knight is beginning to sound a like a person who claims his currency backed by a "gold standard" but when asked to show the gold, changes the subject. Knight claims his morality is backed by an "absolute" standard, but when pressed, he will not (or is it cannot?) show us the standard.

My normally suspicious nature would assume that his vault is empty and he's in denial, avoiding the acknowledgement of his bankrupt status...


...So Zakath we could end this debate right here if you like, you simply admit that you believe certain things in the Bible were absolutely wrong and concede the debate to me. Is that what your trying to do?What an astounding conclusion! Knight again demonstrates his ignorance or unwillingness to actually debate the topic he chose. We are not here to debate the absolute rightness or wrongness of Knight's Bible, though I am quite willing to debate that at some other date. To assist the goode Sir Knight, I will repeat the premise of my side of the debate once again, since he does not seem to be able to process this simple point: As a moral relativist, I do not believe in moral absolutes. No matter how many times he asserts otherwise, or asks me to confirm that something is "absolutely right" or "absolutely wrong" he will receive the same answer.

Note also that Knight still refuses to show us his allegedly absolute moral standard.


Zakath I am allowing you to define rape, murder and kidnapping! Use any definition you like! Why argue definitions? Use the dictionary definitions if you like!
Since he insists...
rape - noun -
The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse. The act of seizing and carrying off by force; abduction.
rape verb -
To force (another person) to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse; commit rape on. To seize and carry off by force.

murder - noun -
The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.
murder - verb -
To kill (another human) unlawfully.

kidnap - verb -
To seize and detain unlawfully and usually for ransom.

Source for all three definitions: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. - emphases mine - Z
Knight wants to know on what basis I think these things are wrong. There are two primary reasons: the definitions will tell you one reason - they are all crimes in the country in which I live. Secondly, they are all unecessarily injurious to my fellow humans. Since I am a relativist, those provide sufficient reason for me at this time.

That wasn't difficult, was it, Knight? :rolleyes: Now suppose you tell us why you believe these things are "absolutely" wrong...

Finally, Knight ignores my previous response to his kidnap/rape/murder scenario and once again asks me to determine if some action is absolutely right or wrong. He even insists
"There is no reason you cannot supply a YES or NO answer." Unfortunately, Knight is wrong again. If Knight really understsood moral relativism, then he would understand that holding that philosophical position provides all the reason in the world not to answer his endlessly repetetive question as a simple yes or no.

If he does understand what a moral relativist espouses, then why does he keep repeating the same question? Could it be because he is only prepared to debate one answer; the one, as a moral relativist, that I'm not giving him?

Well Knight's repeating the question over and over won't accomplish his goal in this venue. I'm not one of his preschool children, nor one of his Sunday school classmates. I am a cognitively aware adult. My response has been stated repeatedly, but Knight does not seem capable of understanding me. Either that or he is not mature enough to understand that not every question regarding human behavior can be satisfactorily reduced to a simple "yes" or "no" answer. As I mentioned previously, Knight expresses the religious fundamentalist's desire to reduce every human action to a binary choice by imposing an allegedly absolute set of moral values upon it. Since I do not accept the existence of (and Knight has, thus far, failed to prove the existence of) his moral absolutes, his question is as meaningless in this situation as asking a man who doesn't read or speak Japanese about the sublime beauty of a haiku written in kanji.

While I agree with Knight that the actions of the adult in the scenario are wrong. I do not believe in absolute morals.
No matter how many times he asks the question, he'll get the same answer.

BTW, Knight. We're still waiting for you to provide some proof or evidence to support your claim that absolute morality exists. Show us the standard or we will be forced to assume that it is nothing more than typical theological smoke and mirrors.

Knight
July 30th, 2002, 02:10 PM
Zakath states...
It would appear I hit close to a nerve with my last post, since Knight begins his post with an immediate insultYour right, you did strike a nerve, you struck my funny bone. :D ;)

Zakath continues...
I have never claimed to have a perfect worldview. I normally leave such absolute claims to the religionists, like KnightGee I didn't realize it took a "perfect worldview" to be able to determine that murder, rape and kidnapping are always wrong! :rolleyes:

Zakath continues...
1. He refuses to show us why he thinks rape is absolutely wrong. He merely asserts that it is so.LOL! I have made myself very clear. Rape, murder and kidnapping are always wrong for two reasons... 1. There are no circumstances that could be present that could make those actions "right". 2. By their very definitions the words indicate these are wrong actions. I.e. if we were to describe an "un-wrong" death we would use words like "kill" or "die" not "murder".

Rape, murder and kidnapping are absolutely wrong, unless Zakath can give us compelling evidence that shows these things are not wrong.

The burden of proof is now (and has been for about the last four rounds) upon Zakath to give us compelling evidence that demonstrates that rape, murder and kidnapping are not necessarily wrong. He has yet to do so.

Zakath continues...
Think about it, all he would have to do is respond to item #2. If what he shows us is actually absolute by his own defnition (by which I agreed to abide), then he wins the debate. Yet he still refuses to show us his "absolute" moral standard.Now Zakath has really gone off the deep end. The debate is "Is there such a thing as absolute morality?" I have demonstrated that absolute morality must exist since we can point to absolute moral's such as rape, murder, kidnapping that by definition can never be "right".

Moreover....
If two gentlemen were arguing the existence of gravity the "pro gravity" side would only need to point to sufficient evidence that gravity exists to win the debate. There is no reason whatsoever that the "pro gravity" side would have to then go on to show the "source" of the gravity. If gravity exists, it exists!

Zakath continues...
What an astounding conclusion! Knight again demonstrates his ignorance or unwillingness to actually debate the topic he chose. We are not here to debate the absolute rightness or wrongness of Knight's BibleHmmmm funny... it was Zakath who brought this topic up in the first place! :rolleyes: Zakath's age and faulty memory are beginning to show. :D ;)

Zakath defines rape, murder and kidnapping and then says....
Knight wants to know on what basis I think these things are wrong. There are two primary reasons: the definitions will tell you one reason - they are all crimes in the country in which I live.Would these actions still be wrong if these actions weren't criminal?

Asked another way... is Zakath asserting that something which is criminal is absolutely wrong?

If not, why would Zakath use this standard?


Secondly, they are all unecessarily injurious to my fellow humans. Since I am a relativist, those provide sufficient reason for me at this time.A moral relativist has no right to appeal to another apparent absolute standard to show a relative moral standard. Said another way... Zakath, is in essence arguing that the standard "unnecessarily injuring a human" is an absolute standard NOT a relative one, as evidenced by his using this standard to deem rape, murder and kidnapping as always wrong!

Zakath continues...
That wasn't difficult, was it, Knight? Now suppose you tell us why you believe these things are "absolutely" wrong...ROTFL :D :D why should I do that when you just did it for me?

I asked you to provide examples as to why rape, murder and kidnapping were NOT always wrong, but instead the only thing Zakath did was affirm that these actions ARE ALWAYS WRONG!

Was there any evidence from Zakath in his explanation that showed that rape, murder and kidnapping were NOT necessarily wrong? Nope, not a shred!

Zakath ends with...
While I agree with Knight that the actions of the adult in the scenario are wrong. I do not believe in absolute morals.
No matter how many times he asks the question, he'll get the same answer.Why not just answer the question???? Absolutely wrong or not???

A SPECIFIC ACTION:
A 40 year old man watches a 9 year old girl walk past his house everyday on her way home from school. On one day, the man decides to grab her off the sidewalk against her will. She struggles but the man is much stronger and successfully pulls her into his house. The man holds his hand over the girls mouth to prevent her from screaming. The man drags the girl into his basement where he proceeds to violently rape her several times. When done, the man decides it would be best to place a pillow over the girls mouth and nose and hold it there until she eventually suffocated. When the man felt the girl no longer breathing he placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to a remote location where he dumped the girl's body.

Absolutely wrong or not?

I (and even Zakath) have demonstrated that there are actions that are never right, such as rape, murder and kidnapping. Therefore absolute morality exists! It is up to Zakath to give us compelling evidence as to why those very actions could also somehow be "right". He has yet to even come within a million miles of doing so.

webby
July 30th, 2002, 02:15 PM
End of round 7. Three posts left for each combatant.

Zakath is back on the clock.

Zakath
July 30th, 2002, 07:21 PM
"Does Absolute Morality Exist?
Zakath's eighth post.

Knight keeps hounding this single question, so in the spirit of debate, let’s answer it…


Why not just answer the question???? Absolutely wrong or not???
Wrong? Yes! Absolutely? Maybe not...

The absolutes that you are stating are: it is absolutely wrong to kidnap, commit multiple rape and finally murder a 9 year old girl. A truly horrific scenario, when seen only from the limited imagination of a religionist like Knight.

But, dear readers are you aware that Knight withheld certain critical information from his audience? I have it on good authority that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Let’s look at, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story…

The forty year old man, let’s call him Ted, was contacted two weeks ago by a person identifying himself as a terrorist who claims to have planted two nuclear devices in New York City, where Ted and the young girl both live. The individual on the telephone told Ted that if he did not snatch, violently rape, and kill this child that he would detonate the devices on Christmas day and kill tens of thousands of Ted’s fellow New Yorkers. Ted is given a remote location to take the body for disposal and was also cautioned against calling the police.

Ted thought the fellow was a nutcase and told him so. The “terrorist” then called the NYPD and gave them the location of one of the weapons. That night, Ted watched on the news as police, acting on an anonymous tip, located and attempted to disarm what turned out to be a nuclear device. Even if they disarm it, a second still awaits to fulfill the “terrorist’s” threat.

Ted is beside himself. Another week has passed and he hasn’t slept in days. Ted watches a 9 year old girl walk past his house everyday on her way home from school. The terrorist calls him periodically to describe what Ted is wearing and things in his apartment. Things he can only know if he has some sort of monitors planted. Ted believes that if he does not fulfill the demands of the voice on the telephone that most of the people he knows will cease to exist in a few moments on Christmas Day, only two weeks away.

Finally, … [Ted] decides to grab her off the sidewalk against her will. She struggles but [he] is much stronger and successfully pulls her into his house. [Ted] holds his hand over the girls mouth to prevent her from screaming. The man drags the girl into his basement where he proceeds to violently rape her several times. When done, [Ted] decides it would be best to place a pillow over the girls mouth and nose and hold it there until she eventually suffocated. When [he] felt the girl no longer breathing his phone rings. It is the "terrorist" assuring him that he has done well and reminding him where to take the body.[Ted] placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to a remote location where he dumped the girl's body following his instructions. That afternoon, the police received a second anonymous call which described the location of a second nuclear device which they successfully disarmed.

As a postscript to this gruesome scenario unbeknownst to Ted, the 9-year-old girl is the daughter of an Arab diplomat whose security forces tortured and killed the wife and infant son of the “terrorist” ten years before. And as horrible as the ordeal was to poor "Ted", if the "terrorist" had detonated the bomb, the girl (and several thousand other New Yorkers) would have died anyway...

Not that motives should matter for the purposes of this discussion.

Knight
July 30th, 2002, 10:06 PM
I hope everyone has read Zakath's last post in this "Battle Royale II". Message to all moral relativists.... look what your world view does to you!!! It turns you into a raving lunatic!!! I am still laughing!

In an attempt to prove a that a horrible action might not be absolutely wrong Zakath invents an even more horrible and more absolutely morally wrong circumstance and adds it to my hypothetical scenario!!!! I couldn't have imagined I would get this type of assistance from my opponent!

A truly unbelievable twist to this debate! Zakath is literally destroying his side of the debate in plain view of everyone to see! I guess Zakath decided if he is gonna go down in flames he may as well go big!!

Think of it this way....

Firstly Zakath has still avoided the question of the specific example as originally stated (without his addition), more on that later. But more importantly.... what will Zakath have to argue next??? Argue that the actions of the terrorists that forced poor Ted into committing this awful crime were not ABSOLUTEY WRONG??????? I suppose if someone asked Zakath if the actions of the terrorists in his hypothetical scenario were absolutely wrong for what they did Zakath would be forced to invent an even wackier scenario in which aliens from the planet "Htakaz" performed mind control upon the terrorists which in turn forced Ted to rape the little girl and therefore the actions of the terrorists were not absolutely wrong. :rolleyes:

But wait, it gets even worse for Zakath....

I asked Zakath...
Why not just answer the question???? Absolutely wrong or not??And Zakath actually answered...
Wrong? Yes! Absolutely? Maybe not...Maybe not? Maybe not?????? Maybe not????? In other words, MAYBE YES!!!! [voice of Harry Caray]Cubs win, Cubs win!!!![/voice of Harry Caray] :D :D :D

If you deconstruct what Zakath is saying, it goes something like this....

The actions of Ted raping the young girl were not absolutely wrong in Zakath's eyes - ONLY- when he added his crazy hypothetical about Terrorists forcing Ted to rape the girl or they would blow up New York City.

But if Ted had no ulterior motive and just kidnapped, raped and murdered the young girl for nothing more than sadistic pleasure than Ted's actions ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Zakath has completely conceded the debate.

Zakath you should fire your manager for not throwing in the towel in round 7!

Oh well, I guess I can keep his feet to the fire (he may as well get used to it! :) )

Zakath I have two questions based on the specific example we have been discussing that goes:
A 40 year old man watches a 9 year old girl walk past his house everyday on her way home from school. On one day, the man decides to grab her off the sidewalk against her will. She struggles but the man is much stronger and successfully pulls her into his house. The man holds his hand over the girls mouth to prevent her from screaming. The man drags the girl into his basement where he proceeds to violently rape her several times. When done, the man decides it would be best to place a pillow over the girls mouth and nose and hold it there until she eventually suffocated. When the man felt the girl no longer breathing he placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to a remote location where he dumped the girl's body.1. If the 40 year old man "Ted" had no motive other than sadistic pleasure were his actions ABSOLUTEY WRONG? - YES or NO????

2. If your additional circumstances were added to the example, were the actions of the terrorists that manipulated "Ted" into kidnapping, raping and murdering the girl ABSOLUTELY WRONG? - YES or NO?

webby
July 30th, 2002, 10:21 PM
End of round 8. Zakath is back on the clock.

ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Me (webmaster), Becky, Zakath or Knight. You may discuss Battle Royale II here. (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2795)

Zakath
July 31st, 2002, 06:46 AM
"Does Absolute Morality Exist?"
Zakath's ninth post

We are two posts from the end of the debate and I have to admit that I am a bit bewildered at Knight's tactics. He was asked, back at the beginning of the debate, to provide the standard by which he claimed moral absolutes can be determined. Post after post, he steadfastly refuses to do so.

Instead he plays storytelling games. During the last post, I volunteered to play along and he appears somewhat discomfited. One can always tell when Knight is at a loss for real content. He goes immediately to insults, like calling me a "raving lunatic". I think his attitude of laughing at the murder/rape scenario we are discussing speaks volumes about his moral character. Time will tell, I suppose...

Well, on to Knight's post:


I am still laughing!Well, Knight. Now you can gain a bit of understanding about how I feel when I deal with your baseless assertions that a specific action is "absolutely" wrong merely because you say so.

Knight, in your first post you provided this definition of "absolute morality":
...absolute morality means that there is a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong...
We have patiently (or impatiently in my case) waited for you to produce even a glimmer of this standard. For six succeeding posts all you have done is assert (without proof) that some act or other is "absolutely" wrong without referring once to this alleged standard.

To demonstrate your case, you propose an outlandish scenario.

To demonstrate the flaws in your case, I propose an even more outlandish scenario.

Your response? Ad homimen and insults, but still no standard.
Where's the standard that you allege exists, Knight? Upon what do you base your claim to absolute morality?


Firstly Zakath has still avoided the question of the specific example as originally stated Untrue. I answered it from the perspective of a moral relativist. Your question is a rough moral equivalent of my asking you whether it is absolutely right to worship Vishnu or Odin. Since it is unlikely that you believe that either of them are deities, the question is nonsensical to you. Likewise your question to me about whether or not something is "absolutely" wrong is nonsense to someone who does not believe in the existence of the concept you are proposing.

If you deconstruct what Zakath is saying, it goes something like this....

The actions of Ted raping the young girl were not absolutely wrong in Zakath's eyes - ONLY- when he added his crazy hypothetical about Terrorists forcing Ted to rape the girl or they would blow up New York City.Well, it's good to see you got that much of my point.:rolleyes: My egregious example does serve to demonstrate that the actions you cited were not absolutely wrong. If they were "absolute", there would not be a circumstance in which they would be morally acceptable. I merely provided such a circumstance. Remember, your question was about the actions, not the motives.


But if Ted ...than (sic) Ted's actions ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Zakath has completely conceded the debate.You can propose more and more hypothetical situations until you run out of posts. But, since each is a hypothetical, you can no more be certain of "Ted's" "real" motives than can I. One completely fabricated story is as good as another in the story telling game.

My use of the word "maybe" does not indicate that I have conceded any point, at present. Your intense desire to see the entire world as black and white is causing you to put words in my mouth, Knight. Go back and read my reply. I have still not acknowledged that absolute morality exists. All that "maybe" indicates is that I'm still willing for you to convince me.

I'm still waiting to see this alleged standard which supercedes human wisdom. All you've done is show us a scenario which, if interpreted in a certain perspective, can demonstrate a completely different set of moral elements. A villain in your scenario, Ted, becomes an unwitting hero in my scenario as he saves a sizeable chunk of NYC from firey nuclear destruction. Good or evil is sometimes merely a matter of perspective. Is it wrong to sacrifice the life of a single individual to save thousands? It seems to those of us looking in from the outside that your entire religion is based upon a similar torture/murder scenario. Was it "absolutely" wrong to allow the Romans to torture Jesus of Nazareth to death to save the human race? If not, then is that not another example where torture and murder are not "absolutely" wrong?


1. If the 40 year old man "Ted" had no motive other than sadistic pleasure were his actions ABSOLUTEY WRONG? - YES or NO????
My previous answer stands. Wrong, yes. Absolute? I cannot speak to that since I personally do not believe in asolute morality and, after eight posts, you have not yet revealed by what standard of absolute morality by which you claim to be measuring.


2. If your additional circumstances were added to the example, were the actions of the terrorists that manipulated "Ted" into kidnapping, raping and murdering the girl ABSOLUTELY WRONG? - YES or NO?You must be more clear on your question, Knight. Which "actions of the terrorists" are you questioning? You are now expanding your "absolute moral standard" to include what? Seeking retribution? Punishing wrongdoers? Vengance on those who destroy your family?
To answer your question, I need to see this alleged standard that is so broad that it includes whatever items you happen to find objectionable at the moment. Keeping us in the dark means I cannot answer your question the way you'd like.

Your question will remain unaswerable until you show us your "absolute moral standard" Knight...

Knight
July 31st, 2002, 11:05 AM
Zakath stumbling and groggy attempts to erase the bad memories of round 8!

Zakath states...
He was asked, back at the beginning of the debate, to provide the standard by which he claimed moral absolutes can be determined. Post after post, he steadfastly refuses to do so.Nice attempt at a diversion. But incorrect, I have been asked to provide evidence that absolute morality exists. NOT the source of the absolute morality. Again this debate is like proving gravity exists, not demonstrating the source of the gravity. If absolute morality exists the source of the absolute morality is a great topic for another debate but irrelevant in this debate.

I have provided the evidence of absolute morality in the form of actions like: rape, murder (and Zakath added kidnapping) as evidence that absolute morals exist. Rape, murder and kidnapping by their very definitions are always wrong and therefore absolutely wrong.

Zakath has not argued otherwise.

Zakath states...
Well, Knight. Now you can gain a bit of understanding about how I feel when I deal with your baseless assertions that a specific action is "absolutely" wrong merely because you say so.Gee Zakath don't give me all the credit, you have been a wonderful assistant in demonstrating rape, murder and kidnapping are always wrong and never "right".

Zakath states...
Knight? Upon what do you base your claim to absolute morality?Simple! Upon the fact that rape, murder and kidnapping are by definition always wrong and therefore absolutely wrong! Zakath has failed to demonstrate that these actions are somehow only wrong relative to the individual, society or government. In fact, Zakath has gone to great lengths to demonstrate the opposite. For Zakath to win the debate he would have to give compelling evidence as to why ANY imaginable (specific or non specific) case of kidnapping, rape or murder is just as right as it is wrong or at very least morally neutral.

Zakath states...
Your question is a rough moral equivalent of my asking you whether it is absolutely right to worship Vishnu or Odin.That isn't a tough question for me to answer! I simply answer NO! It is NOT absolutely right to worship Vishnu or Odin. There is only one true God and that is the Lord Jesus Christ therefore the answer to your question was no dilemma at all!

You continue...
Likewise your question to me about whether or not something is "absolutely" wrong is nonsense to someone who does not believe in the existence of the concept you are proposing.No, that is untrue! The answer you would provide if you REALLY believed in moral relativism would be "no - the actions are NOT absolutely wrong!" There is no trick to that!

But you have already admitted the actions were "wrong" - even "maybe absolutely wrong" so you have got yourself stuck in the corner and now have no idea on how to get out!

Zakath continues...
Well, it's good to see you got that much of my point. My egregious example does serve to demonstrate that the actions you cited were not absolutely wrong.Huh? Your point showed nothing of the sort! Now your delusional! You didn't demonstrate that the crimes were not wrong you simply added that coercion is also wrong.

Zakath continues...
You can propose more and more hypothetical situations until you run out of postsI think the one hypothetical I provided will be sufficient. :D

Zakath continues...
My use of the word "maybe" does not indicate that I have conceded any pointActually it does. Words have meanings and "maybe" means "maybe no", "maybe yes", therefore you have conceded that unless there were extenuating circumstances in your opinion Ted was absolutely wrong. Game over, I win! :D

I asked.....
1. If the 40 year old man "Ted" had no motive other than sadistic pleasure were his actions ABSOLUTEY WRONG? - YES or NO????

And Zakath responds...
My previous answer stands. Wrong, yes. Absolute? I cannot speak to that since I personally do not believe in asolute moralityThen simply answer "NO"!!!!! If you really do not believe in absolute morality then Ted's actions cannot be absolutely wrong therefore you should answer "NO"!

Ask yourself.... why Zakath's unwillingness to simply answer "no"? I know why. :D

P.S. Did you notice this time Zakath left off the "Absolutely? Maybe not..."?

I then ask...
2. If your additional circumstances were added to the example, were the actions of the terrorists that manipulated "Ted" into kidnapping, raping and murdering the girl ABSOLUTELY WRONG? - YES or NO?

And Zakath responds....
You must be more clear on your question, Knight. Which "actions of the terrorists"Let's make it easy... let's just say.... was it absolutely wrong of the terrorists to coerce Ted into kidnapping raping, murdering the little girl? Assuming the motive for the terrorists was nothing more than retribution towards the little girls relatives.

So the question could be phrased like this....

Is coercing a man into kidnapping, raping and murdering a young girl in order to seek retribution upon the young girls relatives absolutely wrong? YES or NO?

webby
July 31st, 2002, 11:09 AM
End of round 9.

Each combatant gets one final post.

Zakath, is up first.

I want to thank BOTH Zakath and Knight for their efforts in this Battle!

webby
August 1st, 2002, 02:02 PM
Before Battle Royale II began Zakath informed Knight and I that if the debate extended into Wednesday night July 31st he would need to get an exception to the 48 hour posting rule. The debate did indeed extend into Wednesday and Zakath will be away on business until Saturday afternoon or so.

Therefore we have decided to allow Zakath until midnight Sunday August 4th to make his final post in the Battle Royale II, hopefully this extended period will allow Zakath ample time to get back from his trip and compose his closing argument. I hope everyone is enjoying the battle!

Zakath
August 4th, 2002, 07:58 PM
"Is there such a thing as absolute morality?"
Zakath's tenth post

During this debate, my opponent has been long on promises and short on substance. Knight took the affirmative side to answer the question "Is there such a thing as absolute morality?" or, in Knight's own words,
This debate is to determine IF there is such a thing as absolute morality.
1. Knight proceeded to define "absolute morality":
"...absolute morality means that there is a standard of right and wrong that supercedes - or is greater than - man's standard of right and wrong..."
2. Knight then states his strategy:
If there exists just ONE item, (behavior or action) that is absolutely wrong (or right) then absolute morality exists
3. Finally Knight reminds us that
Now keep in mind this debate is not to determine what specific morals are absolute. Totally ignoring his own point, Knight then proceeds to spend the rest of the debate attempting to prove specific morals (proscriptions against murder, rape, and kidnapping) are absolute! :doh:

I submit that Knight's preoccupation with his example of deviant behavior is a blatant attempt to divert our attention from his lack of proof of his point. In this final post, I will provide examples of instances where each of Knight's three suggested "absolutely wrong" actions (murder, rape, and kidnapping) can be considered right.

If any action that can be shown to be the right thing to do, even once, that action cannot be absolutely wrong.

In the following examples, I will demonstrate that murder and kidnapping are wrong, except when done by the order of the deity. Rape is wrong, except when suggested by a "just" and "righteous" man.

We will demonstrate that Knight has failed to show any act that is absolutely wrong according to a standard that "is greater than man's standard of right and wrong" (his own definition).

We will then provide examples where each act is performed at the order of divinely appointed leadership or by the deity himself, and thus cannot be considered "absolutely wrong".

Murder
Murder, is defined by Knight as "wrong" killing. Unfortunately the word "wrong" is not a word with a single absolute meaning, but a very subjective one.
wrong - adjective - Contrary to conscience, morality, or law; immoral or wicked. Unfair; unjust.
Source: (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition) Not a single one of these definitions is absolute. Conscience is relative, it is purely human and subjective. (For a Jew or Muslim to eat pork is against their conscience, while Christians flock pork barbeques in the southern U.S.)
Morality and immorality are relative, they vary from culture to culture and age to age. What is wrong in one age may not be so in another. (While animal sacrifice in the Old Testament dispensation was pleasing to the deity, Christians assure me that in the current dispensation it is no longer so. Remember, the entire theory of biblical dispensationism hinges on relativism!)
Law changes from year to year, and generation to generation.(Abortion was illegal thirty years ago and is now legal.)
Fairness and justice are both subjective since the first is dependent upon one's point of view and the second is dependent, for humans, on human law. (Do you suppose the Amelekites believed it was fair and just for their pregnant women and children to be slaughtered by Jewish soldiers at the order of YHWH in I Samuel 15?)

When Knight calls some killings "wrong", this does not automatically define them as "absolutely wrong". To do that he must demonstrate by what standard he considers murder to be absolutely wrong. Since he has not done so, he has failed to demonstrate that "murder" is absolutely wrong.
When was murder not absolutely wrong? When Knight's deity orders it. Abraham was ordered by YHWH to murder his own son (Gen. 22). YHWH himself murders the firstborn children in the nation of Egypt (Ex. 11 and 12). Knight's deity also orders the killing of anyone who does not worship him (Ex. 22), etc.

Rape
Knight never offers a definition of "rape" at all, a common tactic for Christians arguing our topic. Why is it so common? Because this tactic allows Knight to appeal to human emotion instead of forcing him to prove his point. Rape is considered a crime by most people and most governments. That's human beings and [/b]human governments[/b]. But recall that Knight is agruing that his absolute moral standard is greater than that supported by human beings. Knight cannot prove that rape is absolutely wrong since his "proof" must depend on mere fallible human insight and human law to prove his point.

There certainly is no biblical proscription against rape. Nowhere in the bible, the great moral standard for the Judeo-Christian faith, is rape ever condemned. In two separate (but similiar) incidents in Judges 19 and Genesis 19, householders offer young girls in their care to be gang raped by a mob to protect their guests. One of these householders is praised by the apostle Peter as a "just" and "righteous" man (2 Peter 2). It seems the definitions of "just" and "righteous" back in the old days weren't quite absolute either... :rolleyes:

Kidnapping
Kidnapping, while not one of Knight's intitial points of concern, is actually condemned both legally and scripturally. But, as with many proscripted activities in the bible, when the leaders of "God's chosen people" order the kidnapping, it's accepted as morally correct. When an act is morally correct under one set of circumstances and morally incorrect under others, it is not absolutely wrong.

You want a scriptural example? Well, it seems in Judges 21 that after a horrendous war (ordered by YHWH) in which eleven tribes ganged up on the tribe of Benjamin (killing 25,000 of its men, destroying its cities and their inhabitants), in addition the other tribes of Israel had sworn an oath that none of them would allow their women to marry a Benjamite. When the elders of Israel is realized that such mass slaughter of women and childern would potentially destroy the tribe, the leaders from the other tribes decided to help out by ordering an attack on nearby Jabeshgilead, slaughtering all the men and married women, then kidnapping the virgins and delivering them to the Benjamites. Unfortunately, it was discovered that this did not provide enough women for the entire tribe. So the Benjamites were instructed to kidnap women from the town of Shiloh and carry them off.
Both instances provide examples that kidnapping is not absolutely wrong.

Thus we have examined Knight's three actions (murder, rape, and kidnapping) and found that not one of them is "absolutely" wrong since his own Bible demonstrates his deity's hand in examples of all three actions. I think that even Knight would find it difficult to convict his deity of performing or ordering an action that is "absolutely" wrong.

Knight
August 5th, 2002, 03:35 PM
A hill too big to climb!

So we have reached the end of Battle Royale II. I want to start by thanking Zakath for all his efforts in this debate. These debates take a good deal of time and a lot of work! Zakath has spent much time and effort in crafting his replies and that effort does not go unappreciated.

Zakath didn't struggle in this debate because he is not a good debater, and Zakath didn't struggle in this debate because he is not intelligent. Zakath is both, a good debater AND intelligent. Zakath struggled in this debate because his side of the debate is a losing argument!

After all, how do you try to convince the world that 6 million Jews being slaughtered is not absolutely wrong?

How do you try and convince the world that the racially motivated brutal murder of James Byrd was not absolutely wrong?

And how do you try to convince the world that the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 9 year old girl is not absolutely wrong?

You can't!

In fact Zakath himself couldn't even bring himself to admit these things!

ITS ACTUALLY PRETTY SIMPLE
Ultimately, if only one specific or non-specific action or behavior exists that is wrong under ANY circumstance, then absolute morality exists.

In the first round of this debate I asked Zakath....
Zakath, in your heart of hearts, deep in your gut and entrenched in your brain, do you honestly believe that there is NO action or behavior (none whatsoever!!!) that is wrong, EVEN if that action or behavior happens to be accepted by any given society, government or individual? And he answered....
I'd like to answer his final question first with a simple *no; and further clarify it by saying that if I did not believe that some actions were wrong, I wouldn't be wasting my time debating this topic with him. [* he actually answered "yes" but later admitted he meant "no".] Like it or not Zakath's answer undercut the very foundation of his argument. Zakath's answer was appealing to a standard that was certainly NOT relative to the individual, society or government.

DO ALL TRIANGLES HAVE 3 ANGLES AND 3 SIDES?
If a shape has only 3 angles and only 3 sides, that shape is by definition a triangle. If a shape does not have 3 angles or does not have 3 sides by definition that shape IS NOT a triangle.

Murder is like a triangle! By definition murder is the taking of life in an unlawful, wrongful, malicious way. If the taking of life does not have this element of "wrongness" it is NOT murder.

Therefore if such a thing as murder exists, it must always be wrong.

The relativists only logically consistent argument is to argue that there is no such thing as murder.

As it turns out... it might be easier for the relativist to argue there is no such thing as a triangle.







I will close on a slightly different note....

I STAND ON THE ROCK
It pretty clear that dragging a man behind a truck until his body is torn apart for no other reason than the perpetrators disliked the color of his skin is murder! It's wrong! Nothing could make those actions tied with that motivation right! Thankfully our reality, emotions, rationality were created by a righteous, just, loving and merciful God who in turn created us with the ability to determine that some things are right and some things are wrong! God, was also loving enough to allow us the TRUE ability to love one another and love Him. But with this ability comes ultimate responsibility. Sadly some use this ability to choose to ignore Him, His mercy, His righteousness and His love. Sadly some will use this ability to sear their conscience and deny what is so clearly true.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! - Isaiah 5:20

Woe to Zakath!
Ultimately it is God's truth that flattens the relativist's non-compelling argument. But it is also God's truth that tells us that it is never too late for the unbeliever to turn from his wicked ways and choose God. I pray that Zakath softens his heart and sees the failure of the argument he has been fooled into accepting. I pray that Zakath turns to God, admits his sinful nature and asks God to forgive him. I pray that Zakath accepts what Christ did for Zakath and accepts Jesus into his heart. I also pray for Zakath's wife and children and I pray that someday they will spend eternity in heaven fellowshipping with one another in love. I pray this in Jesus name - Amen.

webby
August 5th, 2002, 03:42 PM
That’s it! Battle Royale II is OVER!

I want to personally thank both Knight and Zakath for all their effort and time in this battle. It was a good one!