I've left church, and I'm concerned with some things now.

Hello to all TA inhibitors. Hope everyone is having a great 2012 so far. 

Late last month I posted a blog about me thinking about leaving a church group I was attending for almost a year. Well, I've left. I haven't ditched anyone's friendship since I still enjoy their company very much. I've told a few people whom I were close to in the church group about my departure. Some of the things they've said to me are things I'm very curious in learning about. One of my friends stated the following: Atheists have no foundation of morality, but since many of them are moral, that is just God working through them. Another one of my friends stated the following: Since Atheists are morally anarchic, I am not a true Atheist, but a Christian in denial (I guess?) about the Truth of God.

There's a few things in these statements that interest me: (1) moral foundation(s) of Atheism; (2) Christian concept of free will; (3) any/all logical fallacies that may be at work here.

Looking for some tips on how to go about tackling these issues. If anyone could help me in any way, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading,

- Branden 

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Comment by Simon Paynton on January 13, 2012 at 4:39pm

“I happen to think that this is a trick of language … that … this notion of “ought”, falls very much into Vickensteins notion of philosophy as a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language …”

Say it again, Sam? 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 13, 2012 at 4:48pm

#  I can say that all humans will value x, but I cannot say that x is generally valuable.

Who else is capable of valuing x?  Animals are, also.  Apart from humans and animals, there is no more valuing going on in the known universe.  x cannot be valued by anyone else. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 13, 2012 at 4:51pm

We need a way to package this fact to the public that is simple and clear, and not a put off. I don't know if that is possible.

I agree, that's the situation.  I need to expose it to as many different questions as possible, so as to be able to cover all aspects which people want to know about, succinctly. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 17, 2012 at 7:05pm

Thanks for your comments Paul & Kir, they've been very helpful.  The whole argument is taking shape in my mind and soon I'll write it all out in as canonical a form as possible. 

Comment by Stutz on January 20, 2012 at 3:04am

I think Harris' equation to "health" holds up. I can say that all humans will be made more healthy by doing x, but I cannot say that doing x is generally healthful. That sentence is valid, but it does not disqualify "health" as an intelligible concept. Besides, Harris' point is not that morality consists in what we value (whether arbitrarily or rationally), but that it consists of what actually aids our well being. "Morality" in your sense doesn't exist, but morality in the sense of "that which in fact aids the well being of conscious creatures" exists. The "ought" comes from that which demonstrably aids our well being, not from what we place value on. It is independent of our opinions, just as facts are.

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 25, 2012 at 11:55am

Thanks Stutz, I appreciate your comments. 

If that's what Harris says, then I agree with him.  However, I feel that the terms "health" or "well-being" are a bit loose and imprecise and not the whole story.  Also a bit medical and clinical.  What we're really after is the instinct for survival / flourishing which is the inevitable result of evolution and natural selection.  This instinct operates on all levels, not just the physical.  I believe that the Christians have a much better handle on it than the atheists, because atheists concentrate on the purely scientific material level, and there's more to life than that.  I've been trying to find a snappy descriptive name for it.  Perhaps "the instinct for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". 

"Morality" in your sense doesn't exist

What do you mean?  You're not telling me anything.  I need you to give me details so I can answer you. 

morality in the sense of "that which in fact aids the well being of conscious creatures" exists.

That's my whole point.  It seems that my "theory" (or analysis as I prefer to call it) is already kicking around all over the place, but it just needs to be put on a full, firm, rigorous footing.  Thanks to the help and ideas I've received from Kir and others, I feel I've been able to do that, and I've just got to crank the whole thing out.  It ends up in some surprising conclusions. 

I believe that the difficulty with "ought" is that it can never be objective.  What people should do about something is just too infinitely variable, depending on the physical situation.  Moral values on the other hand are a much more simple, platonic affair.  Since "ought" is directed by moral values, that's all fine and clear. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 25, 2012 at 12:01pm

#  Harris' point is not that morality consists in what we value (whether arbitrarily or rationally)

In my opinion there's a confusion here between "worthwhile" or "useful" and "moral belief".  [D'oh!]  I would still like you to expand though. 


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