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Thread: Is there such a thing as absolute morality? - Battle Royale II - Knight vs. Zakath

  1. #16
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    DING DING DING

    End of round two. Zakath is back on the clock.
    - Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. - Proverbs 27:5

  2. #17
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Does Absolute Morality Exist?

    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: Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa! (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…

  3. #18
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    Post Post #3

    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?
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    Exclamation DING DING DING

    End of round #3. Zakath is back on the clock.

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  5. #20
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    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.
    - Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. - Proverbs 27:5

  6. #21
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    “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.

  7. #22
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    Arrow Knight's POST #4

    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?
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  8. #23
    Pain Killer Prisca's Avatar
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    I can't believe I finally get to do this!

    Ding, ding, ding...end of round four. Zakath, you are now back on the clock!

  9. #24
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    “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.

  10. #25
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    Arrow Knight's Post #5

    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?
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  11. #26
    Pain Killer Prisca's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Ding, ding, ding! End of round five. Great battle combatants! Zakath, you’re on!
    For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
    Galatians 5:13-15

  12. #27
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    "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"?


    • 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!

    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...

  13. #28
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    Cool Post #6

    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?
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  14. #29
    Axe dropper webby's Avatar
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    Talking DING DING DING....

    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.
    - Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. - Proverbs 27:5

  15. #30
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    "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? 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.

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