'lo folks.

So I got into it on Twitter with some nut that said "atheists can't have any morality" because he thinks the only logical source for morality is Yahweh (go figure). I'd been meaning to write on the topic (yes, it's been covered multiple times, I'm aware), so I made this.

Now he's claiming it's "the most fallacious thing" he's ever read, that it's full of begging the question, and somehow proves "absolute morality". Since I'm too close to my work, does anyone want to take a crack at it and confirm either that he's full of shit, or I am?

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Sure, I'm open to those improvements; if you care to post in the comments what that might be, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks. That's a good point to be aware of. Been pondering a rewrite, so I'll consider that, although I don't feel I relied exclusively on evolution to explain morality. I do think I didn't do enough to address what to do about cheaters.

I'm wondering if because I didn't give more explicit definitions of "morally right" and "morally wrong" he's complaining, but eh.

Alright, thanks. I probably will try a rewrite in the future, but break it up into a series so I can better focus on the different topics.

Common sense

A theist pointing to something being fallacious, especially the fallacy of begging the question, is unbelievably rich.

Yes, I am sorely tempted to reply with that, but he'd probably cry more.

@Zivaeros, you seem to be a gamer and a scifi enthusiast, so you must have seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, even if only on DVD. Remember the scene where, under the influence of the black obelisk, the ape/proto-man grasped the tapir bone and began brandishing it as a club? Somehow knowledge was telepathically imparted to his primitive brain by this alien artifact, left on earth.

Well, we both know that's not real. But around 600 BCE, something similar seemed to happen throughout the then civilized world. People began searching for absolute moral values. The Greek philosophers were working hard at it, the Zoroastrians in Persia (Iran), were doing the same, as was Confucius, in China. Different gods had different rules, but on an almost world-wide basis, during that time period, deep thinkers were looking for moral values that would be independent of the capricious whims of the gods, values that would stand the test of time, and regime changes in the pantheon of gods. I would suggest researching this time period for the beginning of the concept of "good without god(s)."

Most of us are aware that Yeshua (Jesus) was quoted as saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," but few are aware that Confucius said the same thing, hundreds of years earlier.

To my mind, the Bible would have to be the worst source of morality to be found anywhere. How does anyone equate the commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" with the later, supplemental commandment, "Thou shalt not suffer (allow) a witch to live"?

The Bible is loaded with mass murders of men, women and children, not only sanctioned, but ordered by the Bible's god. Daughters getting their father drunk and having sex with him, god's "Chosen Ones" being deceptive and cowardly - don't get me started. The Bible is one of the worst sources of moral inspiration I can imagine.

pax vobiscum,

I mentioned Confucius in there as predating the gospel authors, as well as a smidgen (smidgin?) of the atrocities put across as good in the bible.

Thanks for the research suggestion. It may be useful background material for a further writeup.

For bonus points, here's a resource I saw for killings post-Bible: http://notachristian.org/christianatrocities

Zevaeros - here's some more - look for my post about a third of the way down the page:


That should keep you supplied for a while --

Zevaeros, the problem is that once again the argument is being misunderstood.

This is an articulate version of the argument:

"Being a good person is the right thing to do because right and wrong are tied to some ultimate spiritual truth. It doesn't matter what our individual religions teach. All of us adhere to a very similar archetype and this archetype justifies our acceptance of the very concept of morality. We see no justification for your present acceptance of the very concept of morality in the first place. Morality can't be justified because it is natural. It can be accepted, it can have utility, but no logical justification can be provided to justify any case where morality is no longer advantageous to an individual."

So basically what they are contending is that if you do not believe in the supernatural, you need to pull a Descartes, and throw out all morality.  When you point out things from the bible that appear immoral, the reply is then that you haven't really done a Descartes, and proved that morality is a rational concept to accept in the first place.  The contention is that  without an archetypal justification, morality is logically good only as long as it is advantageous.  This is because without an archetype, morality is reduced to personal benefit, rather than being adherence to something bigger.

I, however contend there is something bigger, and that is why morality works in the first place.  And it is really rather big.

HE'S full of it!

We know morality has a natural basis, but my take is that morality needs a philosophical basis for the sake of greater inspiration.  I can't spend too much time explaining this because of classwork I need to do, but here is where I am at right now in discovering the basis.

I believe that morality works so well, because it is tied into a the orderly principle of the universe.  Orderly things are functional, this is why we value morality.  It is attached to something bigger and we need to find that connection.

I think I am getting closer to finding that.  Value is measurement.

Morality is a system of values. Between order and disorder, only order can be given value because disorder has no measurable properties so disorder can't be given value.  Value is a measurement, but value has its limitations in functionality for finite beings.  

So morality is grounded at the intersect between order and functionality.  This makes pure order, like stasis not a good thing, and disorder have no value.


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