I checked with Reg before posting this, but if any mods feel it's contrary to house rules, I understand if it needs to be deleted.

I've been a member here for more than a year, though I don't post often. I mostly read the "Sunday School" links, but I've appreciated the thoughtful and civil conversation the few times I've jumped into a thread with a Christian perspective. I'm a part-time Christian blogger and podcaster, and I've wanted for some time to do a debate/discussion video series with folks coming from different perspectives. Sort of a "2am at college"-style informal debate where both sides can respectfully discuss disagreements. I finally have time to put something like that together and TA came to mind because of the quality of discussion here.

I want to invite anyone who is interested to join me in a recorded debate/discussion via Skype which I would then post to YouTube. I'd also post the link here for discussion, if anyone wanted. Ideally, the video would include a split-screen webcam view of both of us, since that's more interesting to watch, but it's fine if you would rather stay anonymous.

The format I have in mind is that we pick a general topic and each come up with a couple questions to get the conversation started. We share the questions ahead of time so it's not gotcha stuff. Then we schedule a Skype call and talk about your questions and then mine, or vice versa. Some topics might work better with a different format -- I'm not wedded to that exact approach. 

Here's my YouTube channel, though it doesn't have much there at this point. If you are interested in this, let me know at david@davidvogel.net. My blog is at davidvogel.net. (I share it for informational rather than self-promotional purposes, as I'm pretty sure none of you will be interested in becoming regular readers. :-) [Though I do welcome constructive criticism.])

Possible topic ideas:

* Christian vs. atheist understanding of morality
* Evidence for God's existence
* Historicity of the Bible
* Possibility of miracles
* Anything else you want to talk about

Views: 760

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The "feeling" that something is right, or wrong, IS morality.

This is WHY a monkey or a wolf knows, in their world, what is right or wrong.

Its ALSO why we can, for example, consider pulling a trigger to kill one innocent person to save 5 innocent people to be "wrong", but pulling a lever to kill one innocent person to save 5 innocent people to be "right".

Morality CAN grow, and, I wholeheartedly disagree with you about slavery being moral.

Apologists tend to apply historical salve to the wounds of slavery, and try to portray biblical slavery as "just a job", etc....while, at the same time, the bible discusses how its essentially ok to beat a slave as long as it doesn't take more than 3-4 days or so for the slave to recover.

I've had some bad jobs before...but I could quit if the conditions were unreasonable/not worth it...or even if a better offer came along.

I have NEVER had a job where the boss could beat the employees so bad they could not work for days, or died, etc.  If I HAD, those bosses would NOT get off by saying the bible said that was OK...they'd most likely be locked up.

So, history is not supportive of your sugar coated "Slavery as a job" propaganda....in any way shape or form.

Would it be moral for me to say to you, OK, you are my slave, and, you have to do whatever I say, no matter what, and I can beat you, torture you, feed you as much or as little as I choose, make you work as hard as I choose, etc...but, don't worry, its OK because I will provide food, clothing and shelter?

Really?

You'd be OK with that?

You would not feel that it was unfair that I get to own you?

Christianity was the last BASTION of slavery, used to justify it until the bitter end in the US...so pretending its the solution to eradicating slavery, while AT THE SAME TIME pretending its moral to have slaves?

The "biblical model" never existed as representative of slavery any more than the antebellum south's "house niggers" were representative of slavery in the US.

And, those house slaves were often raped and abused as well...just indoors instead of in a cotton field.

There is NO historical evidence that 5,000 - 2,000 years ago, slavery was any different.

Remember, when Noah and his family got off the ark, at that time, right then and there, there was no slavery.  If god wanted there to be no more slavery, job done.  All he'd need to do, is not allow new slaves to be created.

Now, if slavery was a REWARD, a good life guarenteed, and NOT a bum deal, why were Noah's kid's offspring sold into slavery as A PUNISHMENT?

And to WHOM were they "sold"?

They get off the freekin boat and make their nephews their slaves?

Come ON, does that make ANY sense?  There are no OTHER PEOPLE, they are IT...

IF you think slavery even MIGHT be moral, you are either so brainwashed that you are beyond hope as human being, or, evil.

Which are you?

Its still immoral, was always immoral, and will always be immoral.

If you think its a fair deal, volunteer to be my slave right now and right here.

I might sell you to another master though, who might be cruel...and, if you have a wife or kids, they are mine too, and, if I wish to, I could sell your kids off separately, and, sell your wife somewhere else, and so forth.

Just warning you that once a slave, its out of your control.

But, since you think slavery is moral...you should be OK with being one, right?

:D

I gave a false dichotomy, as it was too late to finish editing it.

Its possible that you are merely brainwashed sufficiently to allow you to currently think slavery is moral, albeit not so badly that you could not reconsider your position for example.

As a monkey or wolf, etc, can demonstrate morality, if morality can only come from a supreme being, then the supreme being had to have also given the critters morality.

On the other hand, there is no need to make up a supreme being, if we can expect the same morality to arise from simple life experiences.

If "given" by a supreme being, then, it would be a universal constant...with all people and societies being given the "morality".

Instead, what we see is localized morality, as if it instead developed as a result of experiences.

This is why some people consider an exposed lip to be immoral, and others are ok with a lip, but not a nipple, and others are ok with lips and nips, but not genitalia, and others are ok with female genitalia, but not male genitalia...and so forth.

Why "honor killing" is a moral duty for some, and a moral abomination for others, and so forth.

Humans developed what they individually consider to be morals, and, by consensus, other humans agree or disagree.

To say most christians DON'T cherry pick is ludicrous.  Most DO.

The reason they do, is that they KNOW the immoral parts are in conflict, deep down, and ignore them...looking for the parts they know ARE moral, and, only allowing those to be considered as representative of the bible.

YOU are doing it in this thread for example.

Show me your unrefuted geological proof that there was a global flood as depicted in the bible if its 100% true.

You will find that the ONLY sources will be from fundimentalists, and, 100% already refuted.

:D

It is curious to me that you say "The 'feeling' that something is right, or wrong, IS morality" and then become indignant with me for having different feelings from you. Are you saying that your "slavery is always wrong" morality is better than my "slavery is not necessarily wrong" morality? If so, how do you determine that, if morality is nothing but how we feel about something? 

For that matter, isn't it arrogant and irrational for you to criticize biblical morality if you're doing so merely based on how you feel about it? If other people feel differently, how can you determine whose feelings should be preferred? 

(To be clear, my understanding of morality says that it's just fine for you to do so, because I believe there is an objective moral law which lets us judge things like the morality of slavery. What I don't see is how your moral indignation makes sense within the definition of morality which you espouse.) 

The reason they do, is that they KNOW the immoral parts are in conflict, deep down, and ignore them...looking for the parts they know ARE moral, and, only allowing those to be considered as representative of the bible.

YOU are doing it in this thread for example.

How am I doing that? 

Show me your unrefuted geological proof that there was a global flood as depicted in the bible if its 100% true.

You will find that the ONLY sources will be from fundimentalists, and, 100% already refuted.

This is a red herring. I wouldn't mind talking about it elsewhere, but it's unrelated to morality. 

Hi David, sorry to butt in on your discussion with TJ but I've always been interested in this idea of an objective morality. When I spoke to another Christian on this site about it it turned out what he meant by objective morality was that arrived at by society after generations of experience and wisdom, etc. That is what I call a morality by consensus.

Is that also your concept of an objective morality or do you see it as something that exists truly objectively (such as mathematics or logic)? If your answer is the latter how do we mere mortals access this morality?

@Simon, I like clarifying questions. :-)  No, I don't mean morality by consensus (a good label for it). I mean objective morality in the same sense as mathematics or logic. Christian ethics is based on the idea that moral laws are grounded in God's nature. We know moral truths through the innate "law written on our hearts" (Romans 2:14-15) which is part of the image of God, but that intuitive knowledge is imperfect because of the Fall. We also learn morality through the Bible, such as the Ten Commandments. So, basically, I would say that mere mortals access morality through revelation. 

So would you say that objective morality was unavailable to gen pop until scripture was published?

No, like I said, we all have an intuitive moral code. That's why Buddha, as one of many possible examples, said a lot of stuff that's pretty much like what the Bible says. 

So monkeys had a revelation (Being mortal monkeys), as they obviously have morals.

Good to know.

As for looking for red herrings that didn't drown in "the flood", no, they are not red herrings in the usual sense, they are real fish in this case.

YOU STATED that the bible is 100% true.

I stated that there was no flood as depicted in the bible, therefore, the bible is not 100% true.

That is a point of discussion.

------

I am NOT indignant for you having a feeling.  I am instead wanting you to explore that feeling, and recognize that it IS a feeling.

My point on that issue is that ALL of what humans call morals are based upon how we FEEL about the issues.

I gave the example of how most humans FEEL pulling a trigger is wrong, but pulling a lever that causes the EXACT same outcome is wrong.

I gave the example of how in one society, it is immoral to show your lips, but its not immoral in another society, and so forth.

It IS, and, always WAS moral by consensus.

There is no such thing as objective morality in the bible, as that means no morals that were objective would be conditional/based upon interpretation of the circumstances...

...and ALL morals in the bible are subject to interpretations, making them all subjective.

Is Saturday, or Sunday, immoral to work on?

Is it OK to eat bacon?

Is it ok for a woman to go in public w/o her head covered?

Should a disrespectful child be stoned to death, or mauled by bears?

"God's Nature", essentially, said for people to behave as was considered appropriate in the Bronze Age, when written in the Bronze Ages...and as appropriate 2,000 years ago, when written ~ 2,000 years ago, NOT with wisdom or guidance that was able to transcend the ages.

Nothing in the old writings represents anything not already known to the ancient writers.

If god was going to give OBJECTIVE guidance, it would not keep expiring/going obsolete...if he was good at it.

As ancient wisdom can include some good stuff, and some clunkers that end up proven useless/wrong...from human writers...and...the bibles all contain the same proportion of good stuff/clunkers...its seems odd that god himself didn't communicate anything of value for the future, that wasn't already known before written in the bible?

Where was the prophesy that CRISPR would allow gene splicing to make giant leaps?

That Einstein would discover Relativity?

That any where existed other than the middle east?

That slavery was WRONG?

Why is not coveting your neighbor's stuff one of ten commandments, but rape was not?

Why wasn't owning other people a sin?

What Revelation revealed that rape was A-OK?

and so forth.

So, we do NOT "know moral truths" because they are written on our hearts by divine revelation...we know them because we were raised to learn what society considers ok and not ok.

The bible doesn't say not to rape....god orders it from time to time.  There's no commandment against it, etc.

HOW did we find OUT that rape was not moral, if not revealed to us by god?

How did we find out slavery was immoral, if not revealed to us by god?  There's no commandment against it, and, how to be a good slave is offered as guidance in the new testament too, etc.

How did we mere mortals find OUT about morals that were NOT in the bible?

The answer is the same way we figured out what morals to put IN the bible back when we wrote it.

The same way we read the bible today, and do NOT consider the advice on how to be a good slave to be relevant, and ignore it.

The same way we learned the other morals, some of which are in the bible, such as the subjective commandment to not kill (Except in army, police, self defense, and so on)...

We learned what OUR society considers to be moral, and what OUR society considers to be immoral.

So, if raised in a society that considers disagreement with an interpretation of the bible to be a crime, blasphemy or example, it is immoral to question the CURRENT interpretation of the bible/koran, etc.

If raised in a society where it is NOT immoral to discuss interpretations of the bibles, then what is moral there, would still be immoral elsewhere, and so forth.

So, if the society considers throwing your daughter into a volcano to improve crop yields to be moral, and refusing to toss her into the lava as immoral...THAT is your society's morality....that you learned.

Not revelation.  Learning.

The feeling part is the empathy we can feel for others, we can recognize another's needs, and, act to comfort them, provide assistance, or mug/victimize them, depending upon our personal disposition, etc.

We are social critters though, so, MOST of us WANT to do the right thing, to help our fellow man, and, protect the weak from those exceptions with the nasty dispositions.

We can tell if something is fair, or, unfair....even if we are wolves or monkeys.  THAT is the basis of morality unless politically designed.

After "being fair", its all just details.

:D

------------------

I just want to clarify/add:

Please do not confuse an attack on a statement or position as an attack on yourself.

You are a good guy, despite what I ASSUME is a position on slavery that seems counter to what a good person would hold.

I know other people who are in the KKK, Mafia, or who are just prejudiced, etc, who have specific feelings about specific issues...but, other than that, are quite nice people.

If you were indoctrinated to repeat that slavery was merely a wonderful career choice prior to the US south, etc, I get it...its the indoctrination, and not who you are otherwise.

I see your humanity through the haze of your Christianity, and, that is what I am trying to reach out to.

Please take what I say in the manner in which it is intended.

TJ, thanks for the friendly clarification about your intentions in disagreeing with me. I always appreciate the respectful conversation here at TA. 

So monkeys had a revelation (Being mortal monkeys), as they obviously have morals.

No, a monkey's "moral" behavior is different from ours, despite looking similar, because theirs is the result of evolution. While you and a monkey may look similar when doing something moral, you experience morality very differently. (See the end of this post.) 

YOU STATED that the bible is 100% true.

I stated that there was no flood as depicted int he bible, therefore, the bible is not 100% true.

Fair enough. However, it doesn't seem quite fair to expect me to defend every possible factual objection to the Bible at once. (It would hardly be fair if I posted every argument for theism and expected you to individually rebut all of them.) The question of the Bible's moral teaching is separate from its factual historical claims, so if you don't mind I'd rather stick to the former for now. 

There is no such thing as objective morality in the bible, as that means no morals that were objective would be conditional/based upon interpretation of the circumstances...and ALL morals in the bible are subject to interpretations, making them all subjective.

Yes, but objective morals can be complex. For example, the Bible says to honor the Sabbath by not working, but then qualifies it by saying that necessary works of mercy (e.g. lifting livestock out of a hole) are acceptable. I think you're confusing complexity with subjectivity. To take your examples: 

Is Saturday, or Sunday, immoral to work on?

It was Saturday in the Old Testament. Most Christians, including me, believe God changed it to Sunday in the NT. It's debatable, but "Don't work on the Sabbath [whichever day that is]" is still an objective rule. 

Is it OK to eat bacon?

Yes, in the New Testament (see Acts 10); no, if you were an Old Testament Jew. Objective, in both cases. 

Is it ok for a woman to go in public w/o her head covered?

Yes. The Bible never says otherwise. Objective lack of rules. 

Should a disrespectful child be stoned to death, or mauled by bears?

No. The former was an Old Testament civil law which was only given to the Jewish people, and the latter was never offered as normative. On the other hand, the command to "Honor your father and mother" is an objective rule. 

Where was the prophesy that CRISPR would allow gene splicing to make giant leaps?

That Einstein would discover Relativity?

You're criticizing the Bible for not including an exhaustive record of every important future event? 

That any where existed other than the middle east?

I don't know what you're talking about here? Where does the Bible say that nowhere but the Middle East exists? 

That slavery was WRONG?

See my earlier comments on this topic. 

Why is not coveting your neighbor's stuff one of ten commandments, but rape was not?

Why wasn't owning other people a sin?

What Revelation revealed that rape was A-OK?

The Ten Commandments are representative of major categories of sin. They are surrounded by other moral commands throughout Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy which included prohibition of rape. (Also, rape is a combination of sexual violation and wanting what isn't yours, which are addressed in the 7th and 10th Commandments.) 

We learned what OUR society considers to be moral, and what OUR society considers to be immoral.

Is this a new definition of morality that you're offering? Because earlier you said it was what we felt was wrong. That is different from saying it's what our society considers to be wrong. 

If this is your new criteria for determining what is right and wrong, then I have two questions: 

1. Why should I care what my society thinks is right? 

2. Can a society ever be wrong? Is female genital mutilation fine if I'm from a culture where it's accepted? 

Back to the slavery issue: If you want me to admit that slavery is always wrong, categorically, and in every possible scenario, upon what basis should I reach that conclusion? The fact that you feel that way? (That seems rather arrogant.) The fact that our society feels that way? (If society changes its mind, does slavery become fine again?) 

Is it OK to eat bacon?

Yes, in the New Testament (see Acts 10); no, if you were an Old Testament Jew. Objective, in both cases.

And…..at the end

(If society changes its mind, does slavery become fine again?).

Hi David  - you are not claiming that there are any moral absolutes? That is an argument I have frequently heard from Christians (and Muslims). I think “relative morality” would be a more correct term to use rather than "objective".

If it was once acceptable to keep slaves why is it no longer so? What changed to make it unacceptable? What is different about the Bible now compared to (say) 300 years ago? What drove that change?

@Reg, Yes, I am saying that there are moral absolutes. However, in the case of eating bacon, the only relevant moral absolute is "Obey God." There isn't anything inherently immoral about eating bacon, obviously. (Unlike, say, murder.) That is why God never condemned non-Jews for eating bacon (or other violations of the Jewish ceremonial law), while he did condemn them for violations of the universal moral law, such as child sacrifice. 

Thus, if God tells Jews not to eat pigs and then later repeals that prohibition for Christians, there's no change in the underlying, absolute moral principle of "Obey God." 

If it was once acceptable to keep slaves why is it no longer so? What changed to make it unacceptable? What is different about the Bible now compared to (say) 300 years ago? What drove that change?

The short epistle to Philemon is a pretty good pointer on this. In it, Paul writes to Philemon to urge him to give up his claim to Onesimus, his escaped slave. Paul grounds his request in their equality before God. Similarly, in Ephesians 6 Paul writes, "Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him." 

In the cultural context, the "fear and trembling" bit basically just means with respect. Paul would say the same thing about an employee's attitude toward his boss. The key is to note the part I bolded. Once you start thinking about slaves that way, slavery is on its way out. (As it has died in every part of the world where Christianity arrived, though it has sometimes awkwardly coexisted for a time, like in the American South.) 

So, I would say (1) slavery within the parameters the Bible establishes would not be inherently immoral and (2) the moral principles which kill slavery in the long run are built into biblical morality. 

RSS

© 2021   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service