psiloiordinary, thankfully shortened to PSI here, asks some excellent questions and between the two of you there looks to be five to ten posts worth of material or… if it were a forum… several threads worth of fodder to talk about. Makes it hard to jump in here, but maybe if I work backwards on it I can add my two cents… which looks like it could compound in interest quickly.
““Does god say something is right because it is right?…
Or is something right because god says so? ””
Actually the way to view this is to go back to the earlier questions in which the need for a standard in determining right/good and wrong/bad makes appearance. It isn’t just because it is said to be so (the first part of the assertion in which right and wrong stand outside of God)… and it isn’t simply because the most powerful in the room submits it that makes the intrinsic quality of “right” (the alternative choice).
In Biblical world view the standard comes from the nature of God. What God says is right arises from what God’s nature is… He can’t go against His nature which is defined as good…love…light…truth. All good and right things in our human estimation. We immediately run into some problems when we find we have arguments with the account of God’s actions. We begin to question how good God is if… fill in the blank.
So we now have to insert ourselves in the place of [god] in the questions. I’ll switch to the first person singular here….
“do I say something is right because it is right?” when calling God into question or “is it right because I say so?” because I’m a free moral agent and I can say God is wrong ( unjust, unfair, whatever) because I have decided to see it that way.
Now I am left searching for a basis , a standard to justify my judgments. Back to where the conversation started.
At some point you need an expert… actually an authority. We started out with questions about God that ask whether He is benign or not [(in which case god telling you to do evil acts would be OK) (oops look at history and or the old testament for a few examples of this) and then whether He has an authority higher than Himself to answer to [right and wrong exist separate from god.]
In seeking to make a case along with the questions Psi is forced to revert to some sort of standard … like God telling you to do evil acts. Well, what makes those acts evil? How do you know evil and good? Only subjectively if you are human, and than relatively, and pretty soon you are without a standard for yourself, let alone sufficient for judging a divine, immortal being.
Biblical worldview starts with the nature of God being good, and then interpreting the interactions between God and man in that light, trying to synchronize the two. Eventually we are given what is basic for many of us believers: God ways are not our ways. We are working with two different systems. And we have to choose one.
That simply states some of my thinking. have at it.
As I was reading through posts and comments, some terms came up. Moral evolution and absolute morality. I find it hard to believe there is such a thing as either of them.
absolute morality to me smacks of that something the psi states in his god and right questions… as if morality somehow stood outside of God. And moral evolution? forgive me if I laugh, but on what basis do we state that we have moved higher in evolution in morals and ethics? I believe in cause and effect, and if good is followed a civilization will move upward in moral character and social ethics… but it is easier to find the opposite since it is a hard thing with huge effort to make even small strides upward. And societies are prone to decadence quite quickly. So much for their “moral evolution”.
that is a long enough byte for now.]]>
You’re correct, I’m not surprised that you remain unpersuaded (dogmas are difficult to let go of!).
“You haven’t addressed several of the central points I make.”
My post addresses what I consider to be the crux of the matter, the central point to the issue and, imo, the Achilles heel of the naturalist’s argument – that of the mere existence of not only the abstract, but the common understanding of morality.
You seem to ignore that.
“How does your particular interpretation of one particular translation of a nearly two thousand year old text give you any kind of “absolute”?”
That’s off-topic from my post, which is not about how one goes about interpreting literature. What needs to first be addressed is whether or not morality exists.
“You ignore vast swathes of scientific research which sheds light on the evolution of morals.”
I ignore evolutionary just-so stories which have yet to provide anything remotely resembling a conclusive basis for the emergence of morality, much less the abstract.
“If we start by using rationality and democracy to decide moral issues then we are destined to Nihilism. You give no evidence to back this up.”
No, my contention is that a worldview of relative morality gives no basis with which to reject Nihilism. I do argue for a “pragmatic Nihilism” as consequence (not a necessity) from a relative moral stance.
“There is lots of evidence which shows that the less religious a society is then the more civilised it is with less crime, violence, better education and healthcare for its citizens. Basically the opposite to your suggestions as to what we should see.”
I don’t believe I argued that a more religious society is more civilized, etc. My post has to do with the notion of mankind being endowed with the notion of right & wrong. BTW, how do the communist (i.e., atheistic) regimes of the 20th century stack up against more religious societies?
“An irrational, faith based system using authoritative interpretations of old texts seems to produce death and evil in the world around us.”
You mean like what ProjectRescue, a Christian organization, is up to?
“Does god say something is right because it is right?…
Or is something right because god says so? ”
Good questions which, unfortunately, would require another post to fully answer. Suffice it to say that such questions need to consider the context of our existence in light of the context of God’s. For instance, is it wrong for me to allow my child to be killed when I have th power to stop it? Yet, what are we to make of God sending Jesus to die for humanity’s sins?
“On another point I note in passing that we still have no evidence of anything supernatural at all to get our teeth into”
And you still have no evidence (empirical) that other minds exist.
“Sunning himself in one of the most secular and atheist countries in the world i.e. France”
…which, if they’re not careful, will age themselves out of existence by not replacing their population with enough children.
Sorry for the short answers… life is VERY busy right now.
Perhaps you can guess that I wholly unpersuaded.
Throwaway comments such as – you can only prove rationality using rational arguments seem to be silly “pull the rug from any and every world view” attempts.
I leave the room by the door not the window – so do you.
You haven’t addressed several of the central points I make.
How does your particular interpretation of one particular translation of a nearly two thousand year old text give you any kind of “absolute”? Which contradicting bits of the bible do you follow?
Without using your inate evolved moral sense how do you pick wether baby smashing is good or bad?
It is interesting that many of the examples of bad behaviour are either in the bible (actually carried out by god or demanded by and for him) or are very similar.
You ignore vast swathes of scientific research which sheds light on the evolution of morals. I presume you have neither read it nor care to. Fair enough. But to claim it does not exist is a little strong.
Your arguments seem to centre around a kind of slippery slope argument. If we start by using rationality and democracy to decide moral issues then we are destined to Nihilism. You give no evidence to back this up.
There is lots of evidence which shows that the less religious a society is then the more civilised it is with less crime, violence, better education and healthcare for its citizens. Basically the opposite to your suggestions as to what we should see.
Yet you ignore all this.
So yes, I do prefer an appeal to pragmatism and the democratic process, based on the fact that we can see how morality plays a part in the evolution of many parts of the natural world – even if you choose to deny it – not only looks like it should work, but seems to be working in the world around us.
An irrational, faith based system using authoritative interpretations of old texts seems to produce death and evil in the world around us.
This all seems much more important than assuming your answer in your question i.e. there is a god. So that you can at least tie everything up in a neat circle and not have any unanswered questions like “why are we here?”
– – –
Another interesting point for you to consider which I have learned of since writing my original posts is this;
Does god say something is right because it is right? (in whihc case right and wrong exist seperate from god.
Or is something right because god says so? (in which case god telling you to do evil acts would be OK) (oops look at history and or the old testament for a few examples of this)
Which is it to be Rusty?
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On another point I note in passing that we still have no evidence of anything supernatural at all to get our teeth into 🙁
Sunning himself in one of the most secular and atheist countries in the world i.e. France – with one the best records for health care, crime, education infant mortality etc. etc. in the world.]]>