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  • #31
    On morality

    Bob's argument is that there exist absolute moral standards about right and wrong. Even assuming that such is the case, how can we as humans know such absolute moral standards, from where would they come then?
    From God, supposedly would be the answer from Bob.
    And how do we know that a specific absolute moral standard comes from God, cause all we can bear upon are the words written or spoken by humans. Even when these humans claim they tell the word of God, we can never be sure that is the truth. So, we still need to make a personal judgement as to wether or not such is the word of God or not.
    This therefore means that we can never distinguish between the true word of God, and a human claim about the word of God, which is altogether not different from the situation in which neither God, not absolute standards would exist.

    Therefore, no absolute moral standards can be assume.

    The important part is however, what to conclude from that. Does the absence of any absolute moral standard means that it is completely arbitrary as to what moral standard should be hold up. Everything would be as arbitrary as anything else. It's the "all or nothing" point of view: either an absolute moral standard exist, or there is absolutely no moral standard at all.

    The slightest insights in the development of moral values throughout the history of mankind could show however that such is not the case.
    The absence of an absolute moral standard gives no indication that moral standards are completely arbitrary, as if any moral standard would be as good as any other moral standard. Any historic formation of a society contains within itself a range of moral values and codes. For instance in the ancient Greek antique slave-holder society, holding slaves was not considered something wrong.
    Current society however has abandoned slavery. The point is that the change in this morality viewpoint has not so much to do with moral viewpoints as such, but in societal changes. Current technology enables us to use machines and energy in large quantities, which makes the use of slaves no longer ncessary.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by jeremiah
      I thought that Bob's fourth post was excellent! I am glad that he was able to explain his position, even more clearly, and refute most of Zakaths, without referring to the Bible. I think that it is time for Zakath to make his own compelling case for atheism. Thus far he has only made an intellectual case for agnosticism. His atheism is simply what he chooses to " believe", it seems to me. I don't think that one should believe in something just because they do not "want" to believe in the alternative.
      For instance, every baseball season I start out thinking, anyone but the Yankees, yet they are usually the best team with the most talent, but that does not ever keep me from always rooting against them. I think that atheists can be the same way in regards to God. The answers to life's dilemnas will eventually be found, "but it just can't be God!"
      The case for atheism is quite simple. The viewpoint on the world in total is that that what exists in primary instance is matter in eternal motion / change. Matter was neither created nor can it be destroyed, so everything what happens are transformations and changes that take place in the material world.
      This assumption about the world, that the world in first instance is matter in eternal motion set humankind into a deep research into the material world, and so far our knowledge has greatly improved, based on this assumption.

      I do not know of any instance in which the alternative explenation (God did it, or a fundamental principle, or absolute idea) for any known phenomena brought us any factual knowledge about anything.

      For sure one can adapt the "God did it" explenation for any instance or event we do not have factual knowledge about, problem is however that it does not increase your factual knowledge. The "God did it" answer may be satisfactory for dissatified minds that want their answers "here and right now", but for an actual inquiry and investigation on the problem at hand, long and tedious reserach work is necessary. For some people this waiting for these answers, is more as they can endure.

      Science therefore keeps a healthy distance towards theism, as the historic development has proven that the materialist assumption opened up the way for factual knowledge about the world.

      If one is a small child, wanting to know everything instantaniously, I can admit, the "God did it" answer is in fact sometimes a solution, namely to keep the kid happy.

      For grown up people, we have to admit, childish answers do not suffice, we need the real answers!

      Comment


      • #33
        Can anyone help me identify ZQ9 through ZQlast please? I'm trying to read through it all, but am getting a bit confused.

        Comment


        • #34
          Good luck!

          I gave up on the good pastor's arcane numbering system a couple of posts ago.

          And I'm his opponent!

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by heusdens
            I do not know of any instance in which the alternative explenation (God did it, or a fundamental principle, or absolute idea) for any known phenomena brought us any factual knowledge about anything.

            For sure one can adapt the "God did it" explenation for any instance or event we do not have factual knowledge about, problem is however that it does not increase your factual knowledge. The "God did it" answer may be satisfactory for dissatified minds that want their answers "here and right now", but for an actual inquiry and investigation on the problem at hand, long and tedious reserach work is necessary. For some people this waiting for these answers, is more as they can endure.

            For grown up people, we have to admit, childish answers do not suffice, we need the real answers!
            100% agreement here, heusdens. The theistic worldviews is actually pretty nihilistic, even assuming they are right. Unless a theist wants to engage in heresy, they have to admit that humans (physical and "souls"-- to use their asserted term) can never become god. By their own criteria, to understand god's ways and methods is wholly beyond us, would be so even if god were to try to enlighten us thus-- at some level, we still would not be able to understand god's inner mechanisms.

            This means there are questions we can never hope to attain true knowledge about, and that means our place in the universe is hopelessly obscured. This is a sweepingly nihilistic point of view, and theists don't connect the dots to this inescapable conclusion. The cul de sac remains forever in place-- "God did it, and that's that."

            How this suffices as an answer to anything is beyond any reasoning I can come up with. I understand that those three words, "God did it" are enough for a lot of people, but people of careful thought should be deeply dissatisfied with it. that they are not smacks more of a desire to keep a comforting myth as opposed to facing a cold-- but understandable-- reality.
            Last edited by TreMor; June 30th, 2003, 01:51 PM.
            ===TreMor===

            A little boy sat in the audience with his father, watching a magician. "Dad, how does he do that?" the boy asked.

            "Magic," the father replied.

            "But how did he do it?" the boy repeated.

            "Magic", his dad answered.

            "But..."

            "Magic, I said! MAGIC! That's the answer-- MAGIC!!"

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by heusdens
              On morality

              Bob's argument is that there exist absolute moral standards about right and wrong. Even assuming that such is the case, how can we as humans know such absolute moral standards, from where would they come then?
              From God, supposedly would be the answer from Bob.
              And how do we know that a specific absolute moral standard comes from God, cause all we can bear upon are the words written or spoken by humans. Even when these humans claim they tell the word of God, we can never be sure that is the truth. So, we still need to make a personal judgement as to wether or not such is the word of God or not.
              The problem goes deeper still than that. For instance, assume the god of the bible is real and someone here, let's choose my friend Hilston, actually is "in the spirit" and has direct connection from god. What then are we to make of moral absolutes?

              It would seem one would need to look to the author of such morality-- and what are we to make of this morality? Well, assuming the OT guildelines are in effect (and some are, while others have been discarded, which is a pick-and-choose topic that belongs perhaps to another thread), we have clearly gone in the wrong direction by ending slavery, not sentencing homosexuals and adulterers to death, allowing our fashion to move away from the more pious to the more exploitive. Even the eating of certain foods carries with it certain restrictions that no longer hold sway. And all of these by theistic definition, are part of the "absolute moral code" of theism's god(s).

              But one cannot even hope to use god as a yardstick for moral behavior, because god's moral behavior is quite questionable. Even Satan didn't decide to drown the entire world, but god did and theists must term everything god does as "good". So god --even though he's the author of the moral code, is wholly and completely without morals -- despite having created Satan and allowing him to perpetrate evil. If you define everything a being does as "good", you've abdicated any right to a "morality" because there is nothing to compare the good against-- it's all good, even the evil, and that's that.

              Actually, in the context of the debate, if I were Zakarth I would turn the "is there an absolute moral code" right back at Bob: If there is, then how can it be authored by an amoral (not immoral) being, and even supposing it could have been so, why -- if it is "absolute" -- did things change?
              ===TreMor===

              A little boy sat in the audience with his father, watching a magician. "Dad, how does he do that?" the boy asked.

              "Magic," the father replied.

              "But how did he do it?" the boy repeated.

              "Magic", his dad answered.

              "But..."

              "Magic, I said! MAGIC! That's the answer-- MAGIC!!"

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by TreMor
                But one cannot even hope to use god as a yardstick for moral behavior, because god's moral behavior is quite questionable. Even Satan didn't decide to drown the entire world, but god did and theists must term everything god does as "good". So god --even though he's the author of the moral code, is wholly and completely without morals -- despite having created Satan and allowing him to perpetrate evil. If you define everything a being does as "good", you've abdicated any right to a "morality" because there is nothing to compare the good against-- it's all good, even the evil, and that's that.
                Excellent point Tre...Another story that has always bothered me was Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, God decimates two entire cities full of the "children he loves", and to boot, he turns Lot's wife into a pillar of salt just for taking a peek.

                If predestination does not exist in the christian worldview, then where was the "choice" these people may have otherwise had to turn their lives around? God gave no warning to anyone other than Lot.

                Are there moral absolutes in the real world, no, there are not. Morality is relative. Are there moral absolutes in the theistic worldview? According to this and other biblical teachings, yes there is one absolute....
                It's God's way or the highway.

                Talk about "do as I say, not as I do". God certainly never lead by example. If one is going to assert a supreme being, then fine, I suppose this would be within his right. But call a spade a spade. A set of moral standards laid down by a being that, by definition, has no inherent morality itself (God can not be "bad", only "good"), must be purely arbitrary, and therefore, relative.

                Getting back to topic...Bob's examples of absolute morality (rape and murder) are easily shown as relative.
                • Rape - Of course it is a terrible thing, to us. But, what if humanity was faced with an epidemic that killed almost all the women on the planet. The few women that were left decided not to breed. Would rape be immoral in this instance? What is more immoral? Raping the women, or allowing the species to die out?
                • Murder - Would it have been immoral to murder Hitler? How about a terrorist carrying a backpack nuke 3 minutes from detonation. Is it more immoral to murder the terrorist in order to stop him? Or is it more immoral to allow 500,000 lives to be extinguished in a nanosecond? What if you were able to travel back in time and shoot John Wilkes Booth before he was able to fire his pistol. Would that also be immoral? In other words, is murder immoral if it prevents another murder?

                Admittedly these are far fetched examples, but by no means is either scenario impossible. Morals are relative to the inherent danger of the action in question to the best interests of the species. Unless you are a theist. In which case, they are absolute because....you guessed it...God said so.

                Comment


                • #38
                  who's winning?

                  As expected, Bob has presented much stronger, detailed, organized, and abundant arguments for his position than Zakath has. Zakath's only mildly good argument is the 'God of the Gaps' one. He seems to be desperately clinging to it so I think Bob should take a post to address it thoroughly.

                  It annoys me when atheists say they're 'unbelievers' and 'have no faith', because they certainly do have a faith. Zakath has, honestly, made it very clear that he has no answers for how complex biological systems, human conscience, and so many other things could have come about by accident through strictly natural process. This shows that he has a hope, a faith that somehow someday fundamental laws of the physical sciences will be found to have been radically misinterpreted and that complexity and matter CAN spring up on its own from nothing.

                  It would be more rational to believe that a Spiderman comic or tricycle with the words 'Junior's Trike' written on it sitting in the desert
                  would someday be proven to be the result of random natural process. Sure, some say they were created, but science will eventually fill in the gaps!

                  -- TEXT REMOVED BY MODERATOR -- OFF TOPIC

                  EA
                  Japan
                  Last edited by bob b; July 3rd, 2003, 04:58 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    I would remind all here that this thread is to be used to discuss the specific points raised in the debate and not to pontificate on one's own view of the "Does God Exist?" question.

                    There is a separate thread available for this latter purpose.

                    Bob B. - moderator of this particular thread
                    Random changes are destructive to any carefully crafted piece of work, such as a computer program, a novel or the genome of a lifeform.
                    Matt 23:24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: who's winning?

                      Originally posted by Ash1
                      It annoys me when atheists say they're 'unbelievers' and 'have no faith', because they certainly do have a faith.
                      I think one should not call it 'faith' in the case of atheist, but conviction. That is a conviction based on knowledge.

                      Zakath has, honestly, made it very clear that he has no answers for how complex biological systems, human conscience, and so many other things could have come about by accident through strictly natural process. This shows that he has a hope, a faith that somehow someday fundamental laws of the physical sciences will be found to have been radically misinterpreted and that complexity and matter CAN spring up on its own from nothing.
                      Not from nothing, but from something less complex.
                      Well the fact is indeed Zakath does not proceed in even in outline or concept to explain how in general development in the material world takes place, both in anorganic matter, in organic matter and life forms, and in the human mind and society as well.
                      But this then would necessitate that his position would be established not only based on materialism, but also on dialectical and historic materialism, which show how in general development takes place.


                      It would be more rational to believe that a Spiderman comic or tricycle with the words 'Junior's Trike' written on it sitting in the desert
                      would someday be proven to be the result of random natural process. Sure, some say they were created, but science will eventually fill in the gaps!
                      As you perhaps know, the randomness of evoultion is only a very small fraction of how evolution works, the most important and non-random feauture is that the chances for sustainence of mutations are established by the environemental factors, which make this process not exactly a random process at all.
                      Look at for example the phenomena of weather, the patterns the weather form are ordereded, but show as well signs of randomeness and unpredictability. it would be good if you would take in mind both sides of these phenomena, and not just look at the random part.

                      I have read many theist interpretations of evolution, and they all try to focus on just one aspect of evolution, take that out of context, thereby creating their own version of evolution, and then work on that some more and conclude: look, that can not possible work!

                      But all they do is simply show that they do not have a profound idea of how evolution in fact works, and how all the different factors at work there come together to produce the result of a slow and gradual change and transformation of life forms.

                      I don't consider myself a specialist on chemistry, biology or evolution, in fact my knowledge about these fields of knowledge are not much more as average, but even with my minimal knowledge and use of good sources, I would not misinterpret evolution theory so much as they do.
                      Last edited by heusdens; July 1st, 2003, 03:58 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Michael12
                        [*]Rape - Of course it is a terrible thing, to us. But, what if humanity was faced with an epidemic that killed almost all the women on the planet. The few women that were left decided not to breed. Would rape be immoral in this instance? What is more immoral? Raping the women, or allowing the species to die out?[*]Murder - Would it have been immoral to murder Hitler? How about a terrorist carrying a backpack nuke 3 minutes from detonation. Is it more immoral to murder the terrorist in order to stop him? Or is it more immoral to allow 500,000 lives to be extinguished in a nanosecond?

                        I don't think either one of your questions even hold water Not only is you rape example so far fetched its nuts, but it is totally wrong to even think about raping the women. Your murder thing about Hitler, it would be wrong right up to the point where he either killed or ordered the killing of a single person. After that point it is not murder its an execution and that is perfectly fine! I think that might be where Bob is coming from. Zakath wants to put conditions on everything which is fine, but the conditions either do or don't justify the actions.
                        Last edited by AROTO; July 1st, 2003, 03:45 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by AROTO
                          I don't think either one of your questions even hold water Not only is you rape example so far fetched its nuts, but it is totally wrong to even think about raping the women. Your murder thing about Hitler, it would be wrong right up to the point where he either killed or ordered the killing of a single person. After that point it is not murder its an execution and that is perfectly fine! I think that might be where Bob is coming from. Zakath wants to put conditions on everything which is fine, but the conditions either do or don't justify the actions.
                          This is exactly where Bob is showing his short-sightedness. If it's an absolute, it's an absolute. It applies to any circumstance, no matter how far fetched that circumstance may be. If a circumstance can arise in our universe, then Bob's absolutes must, by definition, apply to it. Clearly they do not. Here is one for you and Bob...What if God told you to rape some woman? Let's set aside the likelihood that you are crazy, and say that it really is God talking to you. Is it now immoral? Or did God just command you to do something immoral? The quick response is "God would not command such an act". That is irrelevant, not only has he done worse himself, but the fact is, he can do it. So the possibility must be considered when contemplatling absolutes.

                          The mistake Bob is making, that I think Zakath is trying to demonstrate, is that you can't just consider the things we understand and accept when defining absolutes. One is forced to consider every conceivable circumstance.

                          The onus is clearly on Bob to demonstrate an absolute moral. One that is clearly wrong given any conceivable situation. In fact, I would like to see Bob demonstrate an absolute "right", or "good". An example that can not be turned around by situation imaginable. Good luck Bob.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Michael12

                            The mistake Bob is making, that I think Zakath is trying to demonstrate, is that you can't just consider the things we understand and accept when defining absolutes. One is forced to consider every conceivable circumstance.
                            I think this is where we disagree, God who is all loving and above all Just would not just decide to have me rape a woman. Where you do not see an absolute I do, in reading scripture it is clear that God is just. Yes often harsh, but always just. You find it hard to put an absolute on human behavior because it challenges your way of thinking and maybe your way of life Bob is proving a valuble point, atheists can not allow themselves to believe in absolutes for the simple fact of where the absolute comes from, and they will do flips trying to get out of the argument with some sort of half baked scheme by trying to put every condition on an action. Is it absolutely wrong to shoot a homeless person in the head while he is sleeping on the sidewalk?

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Aroto: Is it absolutely wrong to shoot a homeless person in the head while he is sleeping on the sidewalk?
                              No.

                              I would considder it wrong, and I think most people would considder it wrong to shoot him. However, I think there are some people who do not considder it wrong to shoot a homeless man.

                              Now, since there are conflicting opinions about this, how are you going to objectively determine who has the correct opinion?

                              Lets take another example: the lynching of a black man in Mississippi? I think its wrong, but obviously the people who do it do not considder it wrong. Again, how are you going to objectively determine who is correct and who is not?

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by shima
                                No.

                                I would considder it wrong, and I think most people would considder it wrong to shoot him. However, I think there are some people who do not considder it wrong to shoot a homeless man.

                                Now, since there are conflicting opinions about this, how are you going to objectively determine who has the correct opinion?

                                Lets take another example: the lynching of a black man in Mississippi? I think its wrong, but obviously the people who do it do not considder it wrong. Again, how are you going to objectively determine who is correct and who is not?
                                Again I think you are just proving Bob's point, Athesists and will all jump thru hoops trying to avoid an absolute issue, this way you can justify anything, ANYTHING.

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