Does Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?

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fred barclay
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Does Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?

Post #1

Post by fred barclay »

Hello everyone! I'm Fred Barclay. I am a conservative Christian who takes the Bible at face value. I live all over the place right now, travel a lot, and love learning.

Divine Insight and I will be debating, Does the Existence of Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality? (the original title of this debate, but apparently it was too long.) I will be the protagonist, and he will be the antagonist.

We have agreed to a limit of 24 rounds. At the end, we will both give a closing statement.

My position is that the conscience bears witness of a standard of moral absolutes in the same way a mirror bears witness of you. The image is not you, and it may even be distorted, but its existence shows that you exist--and in fact, it could not exist apart from you. In the same way, the conscience is not a moral standard, but it is an image of that standard, and apart from that standard could not exist. Therefore, just as your existence can be demonstrated by your image in the mirror, the existence of a universal standard of moral absolutes can be shown from the existence of the conscience.

I will emphasize here that I believe that this standard is both universal and absolute. It applies to all humans, and everyone knows of it. It also is unchanging--what's right and wrong has always been that way.

To all my readers, I ask for patience! I am traveling literally 50% percent of the time now, and sometimes I can't make the time to answer in what would ordinarily be considered an acceptable amount of time. I will do my best, but I will not always be quick. :D

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Post #11

Post by Divine Insight »

fred barclay wrote: Don't you see that in proclaiming some acts to be offensive to you, you are espousing the idea of moral absolutism?
No. Absolutely not. In fact, I can prove it.

Let's consider homosexuality. And let's ask, whether or not it is moral?

Well, what do you mean by moral? That's simply a concept of right or wrong.

In that case homosexuality would be wrong for me because I have no interest in participating in homosexuality. But it's only wrong for me because I personally do not wish to participate in it.

However, for other people this may not be the case. They may have no problem with homosexuality and actually find it to be quite enjoyable and an expression of love toward one another. Who am I to say that this should be wrong for them?

Therefore, as far as I'm concerned homosexuality is wrong for me, but right for them.

Where is there any absolute morality in that? It's totally relative and subjective.

So you are provably wrong when you claim that I espouse the idea of absolute morality.
fred barclay wrote: I dislike barramundi, but you eating it is hardly offensive.
So are you then in agreement with me that homosexuality, like eating barramundi, is neither moral nor immoral but instead it is simply a act that may be suitable for some people but not others?

Perhaps we can come to some sort of consensus that not all actions need to even have a concept of morality assigned to them at all. I'll certainly agree to that.

After all I don't "chose" to not be homosexual simply because I believe it to be immoral. On the contrary, I just have no interest in being homosexual, even if I had been taught that it's perfectly acceptable and moral. The thought of becoming sexually intimate with another man still doesn't appeal to me.

So in the case of homosexuality I would be glad to concede that it shouldn't even qualify as an action that can be said to be moral or immoral at all on any level.

This leads us down a path to where all actions don't even require a moral judgment passed on them at all.
fred barclay wrote: But I hate rapists, and you and I will both stop them if possible. When you proclaim that some acts are so offensive that you will take action to stop them, you are placing your morality above that of the perpetrator's. By definition, you are placing your morality as absolute.
No. I'm not placing my morality as "absolute". I'm simply acting on my subjective morality which obviously differs from the subjective morality of the rapist.

If I win the battle than I win. That doesn't make my moral values any more "absolute" than if the rapist wins the battle.

After all, have you even thought about that? What if the man who is raping your daughter shoots you first? And then just keeps on raping your daughter. He wins. Does that make his morality absolute?

But according to you, using your very own words, "By definition, you are placing your morality as absolute" So then according to you, by definition, the rapist who shot you and continued to rape your daughter has placed his morality as absolute.

Do you see the fallacy in your position here?

Your only hope for an "absolute morality" in this case is that some supernatural being exists who sides with your feelings on the matter and deals with the rapist for you.

But then the question comes up, 'Why didn't this supernatural hero intervene a bit earlier and save your daughter from being raped, and you being shot in the first place?"

Your dream of absolute morality is just a dream that someone else will enforce your subjective sense of morality when you are unable to enforce it. And the ultimate dream is that this "someone else" is omnipotent and will always win in the end. The Superhero who enforces your subjective sense of morality.

fred barclay wrote: I said this earlier, but it's worth repeating here. Turning the other cheek refers to not responding to a personal insult. It's not something I'm perfect at yet, BTW. But nowhere does the Bible indicate that we are to let evil have free reign--no, we are to stop it at every turn! I will kill a rapist rather than let him rape my wife or girls. In fact, I will kill him (or her) rather than let him rape anyone!
Christians have for years struggle over whether you can kill another man to save yourself. But they don't disagree that killing to protect others is right. This is according to Jesus' morality. He never at any point forbade killing in self-defense.
Well, you're getting into personal interpretations of religious scriptures now. I have no desire to debate that in this thread. As far as I'm concerned Jesus also taught that there is no need to believe in him at all. So there are many different interpretations of scriptures.

In fact, whilst we're on this topic, people's personal interpretations of scriptures actually gives them license to support their own subjective moral values in Jesus' name.

I can support all my subjective moral values using Jesus as a scapegoat too.

I just don't see any need to bother doing that. I'm quite happy standing up for my own subjective moral values in my own name. I don't feel a need to hide behind an ancient demigod myth to justify myself.
fred barclay wrote: Now, going back to the cultures, if your daughter and you were taking a vacation in one of these areas, and a man tried to rape her, what would you do? Would you say, "I'm sorry, honey, but that's not wrong here. Try to be culturally understanding. I just hope that these people aren't cannibals also." and walk off, leaving her to be raped? I hope--and from your posts I have no doubt that you would--that you would instead run to her rescue with everything you've got. The only way she will be raped is if you're killed first.
What are you doing here? You're placing your morality above that of the natives. Why? If morality is relative, then the morality of the natives should matter just as much as yours. If you feel that your morality should override that of the natives, then you're setting yours up as absolute, i.e. it is right, and the other is wrong.
There are a couple things wrong with your scenario here.

To begin with you are making assumptions about me. I wouldn't personally go off into foreign lands in the first place. I'm an extreme homebody and I could easily live my entire life without ever traveling more than 50 miles from my home.

But just for the sake of argument let's assume that I do go off into lands where people live by totally different rules that I do. To begin with if it's actually the law that people are allowed to rape people in that land, then in theory I would be the criminal if I intervened to stop them from doing what is perfectly legal.

But yes, I probably would break the law in that case. And I would act on my own moral values. That doesn't make my values absolute. In fact, if I went into a country where rape is considered legal and perfectly acceptable it would make me nothing more than an idiot for having gone there in the first place. :roll:

Your scenario here really doesn't even make any sense. Besides, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a country in the world today where rape is actually legal and socially acceptable. Most humans don't care to be raped or see their loved ones raped, so it make practical secular sense that they would make laws to forbid those actions, (no morality even required). All we need in this case is practical common sense.

Why bother even passing moral judgement on this act? Why not just recognize that it's extremely impractical and that people are clearly being harmed in the process. Why even bother with a concept like "morality" at all? All we need is a concept of "practicality" and common sense.

Morality really doesn't even come into play unless you are going to suggest that some supernatural hero in the sky is going to deal with the rapists for their "evil actions". Morality is a judgement call on the intention of the perpetrators.

In fact, think about this whole scenario in terms of a rabid bear.

Suppose instead of a rapist your loved one is being attacked by a rabid bear? Would you protect your loved ones and kill the bear? Of course you would. But you don't even bother thinking in terms of morality. You don't judge the bear to be "immoral".

It's only in the case of humans that you are anxious to pass moral judgments on them.

Actually I think you and I may indeed differ on this point. If I were to kill a human rapist, for me it would be no different from killing a rabid bear. The concept of morality doesn't even need to come into the picture. I pass no moral judgements on the dead rapist. As long as he's dead I'm happy. :D

I have no need to demonize him on top of that.

But apparently you feel a need to bring "moral justification" into the picture.

I don't need "moral justification" my justification has already been taken care of by having saved my loved ones from being raped. No different from having killed a rabid bear. I don't need to also demonize the bear. Having stopped the bear is sufficient.

Same thing holds true for a human rapist. As long as he's dead I'm happy. I you feel a need to demonize him on top of that, by my guest. It's just not important to me. I don't need to go that extra step.
fred barclay wrote:
For people like Sam Harris and myself it's obvious why this would not be good for humanity as a whole. (for humans in general).
So you are going to set up an absolute morality after all!
This type of moral system is not absolute. On the contrary it's entirely subjective to humanity as a whole. Moreover it would be very quick to recognize things like homosexuality to be precisely no different from the example you gave of some people eating barramundi. It would be recognized that there no reason to even place any moral judgements on something like homosexuality at all.

It would be based on logic, reason, and human subjective values. Everyone would offer their subjective values, and then we would put those through a test of reason and logic and discover whether or not they hold up as being valid.

And as I point out something like homosexuality would be quickly exposed as being no different from someone eating barramundi. It's no skin off your nose. Nobody's demanding that you eat barramundi and nobody's demanding that you become a homosexual.

fred barclay wrote:
In fact, in almost every case if you were to force your ways onto the rapists they would not like that either. Therefore they are already not acting in a reasonable and logical manner.
Precisely! Who ever said that the absolute morality I believe in was illogical? If it is worth its salt, it will be as logical as anything. We're supposed to use it as a guide to tell us what to do, right? I sure hope it's logical.
Therefore, anyone who disobeys it IS acting illogically.
Yeah, but don't forget, we're talking about Sam Harris' secular morality here. Not Biblical morality.

Let's not forget that in Sam Harris' secular morality there would be nothing illogical about homosexuality as an expression of intimacy between people who genuinely love each other. That would not be considered to be immoral in a purely secular humanistic morality. Yet it is decreed to be immoral by the Bible.

So the Bible is already illogical.
fred barclay wrote: As a side note, have you ever noticed a difference between Jesus' "Golden Rule" and that of others? Jesus said, "Treat others the same way you would want them to treat you." Other's version was more like this, "Don't do to other's what you wouldn't want them to do to you."
Do you notice the difference? One version is about doing, the other is about not doing. I can avoid doing a lot of things to you, and still have a rather nasty attitude towards you. But if I follow Jesus and actually treat you as I want to be treated, then I can do nothing short of loving you.
And that's not going to work very well if you are gay and I am not. ;)

It's probably far better to actually stick with "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you." That's actually a far wiser rule. ;)

Too bad Jesus wasn't very wise.
fred barclay wrote:
My position is quite simple. In reality there is no absolute morality. Period.
Is this absolute?
For me it is. But it's clearly not absolute morality because it's not a moral statement at all.

In fact, it's a statement of provable fact. I have already demonstrated why morality is necessarily subjective, therefore there cannot be absolute morality since relative subjective morality is already quite apparent. We can't have both. And since subjective morality clearly exists, there cannot be any absolute morality. So we can see that it's already been ruled out. One counter-example that contradicts a claim is all that is required to demonstrate that the claim is false. I've already demonstrated why homosexuality doesn't even qualify as being a moral or immoral concept. You have helped to demonstrate this with your example of eating barramundi. It's neither moral nor immoral, it's just something a person subjectively likes or dislikes.
fred barclay wrote: How are people like you and Sam Harris ever going to convince the world to follow your morality if in one breath you say, "This is relative," and in the other you say, "But it applies for all of you."?
Because we aren't proposing "our" morality. On the contrary we are simply educating people on how a meaningful concept of morality can be constructing using logic, reason, and human subjective consensus. And I think we need to always be aware of the latter element. Not matter how elaborate our system of morality becomes we must always recognize that fundamentally its based upon human subjective consensus. And that itself is not an absolute, it's merely a consensus of a majority. There will always be some humans in the system who are not in consent with the system. And it would be wrong (i.e. logically false) to say that those people who disagree are somehow "absolutely immoral". They would simply be considered to be immoral relative to this human subjective paradigm.

What other choice do we have? :-k

Are you suggesting that we should follow the moral laws laid down by ancient barbarians in the name of their jealous God?

You keep pointing to Jesus. But Jesus is nothing. Jesus has no authority of his own outside of the superstitious rumors that he was supposedly the Son of Yahweh.

And even Jesus is quoted as having said that he did not come to destroy the law, and that not one jot nor one tittle shall pass from law. The only jots and tittles he could have been referring to were the jots and tittles of the Old Testament.

Therefore according to Jesus we should be seeking out heathens who teach of other Gods and stoning them to death along with their families and the entire village from whence they came.

We are to be stoning adulterers to death. And newly wed brides who are discovered not to be virgins are their wedding night.

We are to be stoning our unruly children to death. And let's not forget to stone all the gays to death too.

And unlike how Jesus himself taught, we are not to turn the other cheek but instead we are to demand revenge as in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth as the Old Testament God had demanded in his jots and tittles that Jesus said shall never pass from law. :roll:

In short, where exactly are we supposed to be getting our moral values from if we don't sit down and figure out what's right or wrong on our own?

Certainly not from the Bible, with all it's extremely immoral commandments.

The Bible is a source of immorality, not morality.
fred barclay wrote:
In fact, I would personally think so lowly of the rapist I would kill it as easily as killing a rabid bear and not even think of it as being "human" even though it might genetically be a human.
The apostle Paul would perhaps agree with you. He wrote of God giving people over to their desires if they rejected Him long enough. Many believe this "giving over" is permanent and irreversible.
I think there's a big difference here. Paul is clearly passing moral judgments on people. Proclaiming that they have rejected some God, etc. Unlike Paul, I make absolutely no moral judgments on the rapist at all.

For me, it's not even a question of morality. It's simply a practical question of protecting loved ones. Period.

There's no need to even bring morality into the equation. I'm happy with just assuming that the rapist is as mentally ill and sick as a rabid bear. No need to judge him. If he has a soul, I have no need for that soul to go to hell or be harmed in anyway. On the contrary if the rapist has a soul and that soul can be healed and made well again, that's fine with me.

I have no need to seek revenge on anyone. Or pass judgement on anyone.

In fact, if there is a creator God, I'll leave all that up to him. It wouldn't be my place to judge people anyway.
fred barclay wrote:
Or would you be like me and kill the rapist first and ask question later?
That assumes I'd even ask questions. Don't think too highly of the rapist. Wink
Well, it wouldn't do much good to ask question of a dead man anyway.
fred barclay wrote: This is not a contradiction at all. On the contrary it only seems like a contradiction to you because you cannot abandon the concept of "absolute morality" for even a moment.
That IS a contradiction. You, my friend, cannot abandone the idea that ther are no absolutes to see how absurd such a statement is.
The only think I need to know when debating religion is that the Bible is clearly not even remotely moral to begin with, and that true whether there existed an absolute morality or not.

But the bottom line is that the universe does not display any sense of absolute morality.

Just look around you. The mere fact that animals eat each other is all the proof you should need to recognize that there is no absolute morality in this world. Unless you think it's moral that animals should eat each other.
fred barclay wrote: This will be all for now--I'm pretty tired. On my next post I plan on taking more of an offensive position.
Good luck with that.

fred barclay wrote: I'd like some feedback on how I'm doing. Am I staying on topic, or do my thoughts wander aimlessly? Is this the sort of debate you'd enjoy having, or would you place me on your "Do not debate" list forever? Private message me with your response, please. (This applies to anyone who is reading this, as well as Divine Insight. I want feedback from as many as possible.)
I think you're doing as well as can be expected considering the fact that you have chosen to assert an indefensible concept.

As far as the topic is concerned. You haven't really mentioned Conscience at all in your last post. Yet that's supposed to be the focal point of the debate.

Remember the debate question (which you chose) is: Does Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?

As far as I can see you have already conceded that Conscience is malleable and not the same for everyone. Therefore it seems to me that you have already answered your own question.

If Conscience in humans is not absolute, then it most certainly can't be used as proof of any absolute morality.

Perhaps you'd like to get back on track with your original claim and explain why a conscience that you claim is not absolute could ever prove the existence of an absolute morality?

It seems to me that the very moment you have conceded that conscience is malleable and different from person to person you've already demonstrated the fallacy of your own claim.
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Post #12

Post by fred barclay »

Perhaps we can come to some sort of consensus that not all actions need to even have a concept of morality assigned to them at all. I'll certainly agree to that.
As far as I can see, I'd agree to that. I'd even say that some actions may have some morality attached to them at times, but not at others. For example, I'm in relatively good health. Eating a candy bar has absolutely no moral connotations for me. But let's pick a diabetic who knows that her blood sugar is high and that she should avoid carbs for the next 8 hours. If she were to take the candy bar and eat it, I'd say that there perhaps certain moral implications involved, i.e. self-harm.
This point really isn't worth arguing.
If I win the battle than I win. That doesn't make my moral values any more "absolute" than if the rapist wins the battle.
No--unlike you, I don't believe in "survival of the fittest" and therefore see no reason to espouse a particular morality just because its practitioner triumphed over a practitioner of a different moral system.

The title is this, "Does Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?"
So enough rabbit-holes. I'm going to pick rape as a topic because (a) we've already discussed it a bit; and (b) because no culture on Earth values rape.
Looking at point (b), I challenge you to demonstrate any culture that applauds rape. If there is not one, then (regardless of differences in our definitions of conscience) humans have something they all agree is wrong. If they all agree that it's wrong, then they agree it's absolute. If that is so, my point is shown.

In fact, I doubt that few rapists believe that nothing is wrong with rape. If not, why don't they stand on street corners, proclaiming their deeds to all? Instead, you see them rape a woman and scurry off like cockroaches under a rug. Only in their private circles might they brag about it.
Besides, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a country in the world today where rape is actually...socially acceptable.
Interesting, isn't it?
people are clearly being harmed in the process
Ridiculous! Who are you to determine harm? Unless---UNLESS--you recognize that there is such a thing as "harm". If all you accept is subjective morality, then "harm" is relative. But when you accept the idea of "harm" it begs the question, "What causes it?" Evil does.
But how can you call something "evil" without a sense of absolute morality?
Now in the case of a man losing a finger--harm--to a bandsaw, there might be no evil directly involved. But we live in a messed-up world.
Would you protect your loved ones and kill the bear? Of course you would. But you don't even bother thinking in terms of morality. You don't judge the bear to be "immoral".

It's only in the case of humans that you are anxious to pass moral judgments on them.
Well, after you find me an animal that worries about morality, I'll start judging their actions.
And no, I'm not "anxious" to pass moral judgements. (Getting a little personal here?)
This type of moral system is not absolute. On the contrary it's entirely subjective to humanity as a whole...It would be based on logic, reason, and human subjective values. Everyone would offer their subjective values, and then we would put those through a test of reason and logic and discover whether or not they hold up as being valid.
Oh, okay. So in another words, just the subjective values that you see as "impractical" or whatever would be outlawed.
A. Regardless, you'll still say some things are good, some are bad, and some don't matter. Absolute enough regardless of if you only say 1 thing is evil.
B. Tell me what's "illogical" about rape? Many rapists live happily ever after. It's not as if "logic" is some sort of brute force that will squash him.
And since when have humans acted logically? And yet humans going to determine what they should and shouldn't do for themselves?
C. "whether or not they hold up as being valid." Hmmm... So would they be valid for everyone, or just a few? If every one, then you're setting something up absolutely; and if for just a few, why even bother? Chances are that those who actually behave according to your "logical morality' would have done so anyway.
Yeah, but don't forget, we're talking about Sam Harris' secular morality here. Not Biblical morality.

Let's not forget that in Sam Harris' secular morality there would be nothing illogical about homosexuality as an expression of intimacy between people who genuinely love each other. That would not be considered to be immoral in a purely secular humanistic morality. Yet it is decreed to be immoral by the Bible.

So the Bible is already illogical.
Wait, what?
So "love" excuses all things? THAT"s illogical.
In another words, because Sam Harris say's it's okay, but the Bible doesn't, the Bible is illogical? You'd laugh in my face if I said the opposite.
Glad to see that you recognize that there are absolutes--i.e. two mutually exclusive things cannot both be true, however.
fred barclay wrote:

As a side note, have you ever noticed a difference between Jesus' "Golden Rule" and that of others? Jesus said, "Treat others the same way you would want them to treat you." Other's version was more like this, "Don't do to other's what you wouldn't want them to do to you."
Do you notice the difference? One version is about doing, the other is about not doing. I can avoid doing a lot of things to you, and still have a rather nasty attitude towards you. But if I follow Jesus and actually treat you as I want to be treated, then I can do nothing short of loving you.


And that's not going to work very well if you are gay and I am not. Wink
And this is off-topic (badly) but you're confusing different types of love. If you'll excuse me for using Greek here, we have erros--erotic love (the kind you refer to above), philos--brotherly love (Philedelphia--the City of Brotherly Love--was named for this, agape--sacrificial love; among others.
The kind of love I refer to above would be more in the realm of [i[philos[/i] and especially agape.

Bottom line--My challenge to you is to find me a culture--present or past--that applauds rape. If you can't find one, then that shows that all humans (to date) have at least one thing that they agree or know(conscience) is wrong--therefore absolute.
I do not say "condones rape." Many people condone things that they know are wrong. I'm asking for "applauding rape."



Side note: as I've gotten into this debate, I'm realizing it would have been wiser to pick common ground and then go from there. For example, you and I both have said that humans feel bad when they commit certain acts. Perhaps we could then have discussed whether this is a form of conscience or not.
Anyway, first debate (ever)--I'm not expecting perfection.

Best to you and yours!
Fred

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Post #13

Post by Divine Insight »

I'm sorry for the late reply. I didn't see your last response. I thought you had quit.
fred barclay wrote: Bottom line--My challenge to you is to find me a culture--present or past--that applauds rape. If you can't find one, then that shows that all humans (to date) have at least one thing that they agree or know(conscience) is wrong--therefore absolute.
I do not say "condones rape." Many people condone things that they know are wrong. I'm asking for "applauding rape."
Just because there is consensus doesn't make something absolute. It simply makes it consensual.

You say:
fred barclay wrote: Who are you to determine harm? Unless---UNLESS--you recognize that there is such a thing as "harm". If all you accept is subjective morality, then "harm" is relative.
I don't need to determine harm. Physical harm can be determined by pure secular physics. Emotional harm is a bit more difficult to pin down. In fact, emotional harm is definitely subjective. What might emotionally harm one person may not bother someone else at all.

However harm doesn't automatically equate to morality. We do not even need a concept of morality to discuss "harm". In fact, when we're talking about physical harm all we need is secular physics.

And we've already seen that emotional harm is indeed subjective.

So the concept of "harm" has nothing to do with morality unless you want to push a moral judgement onto the concept of "harm". But if you do, I claim that you are just inventing an unnecessary concept.

Also, humans are biologically a naturally social animal. It's natural for social animals to protect each other and cooperate as a group. In fact, that's what determines that they are indeed a social species.

So in any social species a desire to avoid harm to the members of the species is a perfectly natural behavior. To do otherwise would be "anti-social" (not necessarily immoral). In fact, there's no need to bring a concept like morality into the picture at all. Recognizing that anti-social behavior is not conducive to a social group is sufficient.

Now when you talk about rape, we can see that this is harmful. In many cases, it is accompanied by physical harm, or ends in physical harm. We also know from the victims of rape that they are emotionally traumatized by it as well.

So the fact that a social species recognizes that rape is undesirable in the society does not indicate that there is any sense of "objective morality" going on. Instead all that's going on is a desire to be a social group. And apparently no individual likes the thought of being raped.

So the consensus that rape is undesirable in a social species should not come as any surprise.

fred barclay wrote: Side note: as I've gotten into this debate, I'm realizing it would have been wiser to pick common ground and then go from there. For example, you and I both have said that humans feel bad when they commit certain acts. Perhaps we could then have discussed whether this is a form of conscience or not.
Anyway, first debate (ever)--I'm not expecting perfection.

Best to you and yours!
Fred
I don't deny that humans have a conscience. But it doesn't automatically follow that our conscience has any objective source. To the contrary, our conscience can often be shown to be related to how we were brought up and to what "moral or ethical" standards we were indoctrinated to embrace.

Not everyone feels bad about the same things.

You want to point to rape and then scream "victory" because you found one thing that any sane person would agree is undesirable (and if they don't agree, we simply proclaim that they are indeed insane then).

We could point to many things that any sane person would agree is undesirable. That doesn't prove any absolute conscience.

In fact, when we move on to other things, like homosexual relationships we see a wide diversity of views. And at that point your hopes and dreams of any absolute conscience goes up in smoke.

You want to claim that Conscience "Proves" Absolute Morality. (the topic of our debate)

Yet you can't even show that Conscience is Absolute. If Conscience isn't absolute then how can it be said to prove Absolute Morality?

~~~~~

I put forth to you that your burden of proof is to prove that human conscience is absolutely in ALL matters of morality (not just the most disgusting things you can point to)

And if you can't do that (which I'm quite certain you can't), then you have no case that conscience in humans proves absolute morality.

At best, all you've done thus far is suggest that humans appear to be in agreement on the most obviously disgusting things.

And I would suggest that the reason they are in agreement on those things is precisely because they are disgusting, and can be shown to be disgusting even using secular standards (not because there exists any mystical absolute morality).

On the contrary, if there truly did exist some mystical absolute morality then humans should be in agreement on all matters of morality, not just on the obviously disgusting things.

If you think you can point to just the things that all humans will agree are disgusting and use that as an argument for absolute morality you are sadly mistaken.

Moreover, even if that ideology were to be accepted, then only the most gross things could be considered to be immoral. Things like homosexual relationships could not be said to be immoral by that standard because not everyone agrees that they are wrong.

~~~~~

So where do you hope to go with this in the end?

If you thought you won this debate, what do you think that would mean?

What do you think would follow from that?

And where would you think that absolute morality could be found?

In human conscience?

Is so, then clearly something like homosexually cannot possibly be immoral since there are many people who do not feel that it's wrong.
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of how well they believe they are doing
relative to what they believe a personal God expects of them.
[/center]

fred barclay
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Post #14

Post by fred barclay »

I'm sorry for the late reply. I didn't see your last response. I thought you had quit.
No worries, mate. It's not as if I'm prompt myself. I did figure you had quit, though, since you generally post within a few hours of me.

Now, before I begin, I'll address your highlighted questions. You ask:
So where do you hope to go with this in the end?

If you thought you won this debate, what do you think that would mean?

What do you think would follow from that?

And where would you think that absolute morality could be found?

In human conscience?

Is so, then clearly something like homosexually cannot possibly be immoral since there are many people who do not feel that it's wrong.
1. If I thought I had won, then what? First, I don't think I've won. But let's assume I did:
I would go on my day just like any other. See, if I "win" this, all that means is that I had more facts, or was a better debater (ha! unlikely), or circumstances went my way, etc. It doesn't mean that either you or I have to change anything.
Now granted, this is a higher-stake debate from my perspective than from yours. My beliefs--conservative Christianity--say that those who refuse to acknowledge truth will be punished. So I can hope that your beliefs would change; but "winning" a debate isn't going to do that.

2.What do I think would follow [from winning]. Again, nothing. Winning or losing isn't going to make me a better or worse Christian. It would be presumptuous to predict what effect it'll have on you.

3. Where do I think absolute morality can be found? In God. But this is off-topic, I'm only answering because you asked. I see that you have mentioned about having a problem with the morality of the Bible; you're welcome to start another debate with me, if you like, on that topic.
I do believe that human conscience bears witness about that higher, absolute morality. I don't believe the conscience is] that morality.
It's like mirrors in a fun house. Your reflection in them bears witness that you are there, but the reflection may be distorted. The general idea is there; but the ideals of the conscience can be warped.
So yes, "something like homosexuality" can be wrong, even if many people feel that it's fine, because they're feelings are not the guide. The feelings bear witness of a guide.


Now, for the debate.

Google gives the definition of "absolute" as
a value or principle that is regarded as universally valid or that may be viewed without relation to other things.
So when it is universally valid, it's safe to say that a fair amount of people will agree on it.
You're right that a consensus doesn't make something absolute. Most people thought the Earth was flat 700 years ago (well, most in Western Europe. I'm not sure about anyone else--oh, except the Bible, which mentions at least twice that the Earth is round or must be spherical.) But when you have a wide range of people, from the last 5000 or so years of history specifically have one thing they can agree on, you'd better pay attention to it.
In fact, emotional harm is definitely subjective. What might emotionally harm one person may not bother someone else at all....emotional harm is indeed subjective... We also know from the victims of rape that they are emotionally traumatized by it as well.
I noticed that you didn't say "some victims of rape are traumatized". But yet a few moments before you claimed that emotional harm might not hurt everyone. So are you suggesting that rape is always emotionally harmful? (I am more than suggesting it, I know it is, but this seems like a contradiction on your part.)

Look: in every culture, you can expect to see these things:
1. Some sort of religion or religious beliefs. Even atheists have religious beliefs--they believe that religion is false.; but they don't ignore it. (You can't ignore religion; either you believe in it or not, but you never pretend it doesn't exist.)
2. Some sort of honour code within families. Parents and ancestors are honoured--Parents and living ancestors in every society, and dead ancestors are included in some.
3. Some demands on honesty. Lying is prohibited in every culture.
4. Some demands on human life. Cold-blooded murder is never tolerated. Capital punishment usually is allowed, and capital offenses vary, but murder without a reason has never been permitted.
5. Some demands on property. No culture has ever allowed theft. Even socialist societies punish thieves.
6. Some demands on marriage. Every culture has a definition of marriage, and marriages can be annulled if the definitions are broken.

I could keep on going, but you get the general idea. (And by the way, this looks like a scaled-down Ten Commandments. Just sayin').
It is absurd to believe that humans can determine right and wrong for themselves when humans have always had multiple aspects of morality they agree on. We're talking about thousands of years of history, and never is this standard list deviated from. The standards are certainly broken, but no one has ever denied that they exist. What kind of coincidence is it that everyone has these standards?

I submit to you that from a purely evolutionary viewpoint, rape is desirable. It increases the genetic diversity, and evolution depends on that diversity. So when a supposed product of evolution--man--chooses counter-evolutionary morality, he is supposedly shooting himself and his species in the foot.
Rape isn't the only part of human nature that is forbidden or modified contrary to evolutionary standards. It is harmful for a species to allow weaker members to survive and pass on their genes. That's why we cull cattle and sheep--to rid the herd of undesirables. But we certainly are not--and I hope we never do--ridding ourselves of weaker humans. Instead, we care for them. This is not what you'd expect from evolution.

So, when humans have a standard that they all agree on, and it runs against what an atheist's perceived world (secular evolutionary) would demand, I think we can suspect that some religious force is behind it.

You say that it's no proof that we agree on certain things, because it can be proved "from purely secular physics" that they are harmful.
Look at adultery. No physical harm here. Why, then, does every society forbid it? Yes, the concept of sharing a wife, or of polygamy and polyandry exist, but even in the cultures that accept this, sexual acts of married people outside of these were considered adultery, and punished.
Who does adultery hurt? There's no physical pain or damage. The only damage is emotional. So you can't prove by physics that adultery is harmful. And again, this spreads and diversifies genetics. So actually it should be applauded if humans were purely secular.

Now, I want to ask you some questions:

Do you think you've won, and where would you go from here?


Why is it that people consistently choose the same standard of morality. Also, why do they consistently break it after knowing that it exists?

Do you disagree with any of the 6 items I said were part of any moral code?

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Divine Insight
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Post #15

Post by Divine Insight »

fred barclay wrote: Where do I think absolute morality can be found? In God. But this is off-topic, I'm only answering because you asked.
Yes, this is off-topic in two ways.

1. You cannot even point to this God because your religion demands that this God is invisible and necessarily playing hide-and-seek games where is it impossible to find him in any meaningful way. Therefore we cannot point to this God as being a place where we could find morality. Moreover, even the "Christians" who claim to have found this God and have an active relationship with don't all agree with each other on the details of morality. So clearly they can't all be getting their moral guidance from the same God.

2. The second reason this is off-topic in this particular debate is because in this debate you are claiming that "Conscience" is proof of Absolute Morality. Not that a God is proof of Absolute morality.

Note: I am not suggesting that you are going off-topic here. As you have pointed out I did ask where you believe absolute morality could be found, so your answer is a fair answer to that question. And the reason I asked is because as a Christian I don't see how you can separate your God from your Bible. Everything you know about your God necessarily comes from the Bible.
fred barclay wrote: I see that you have mentioned about having a problem with the morality of the Bible; you're welcome to start another debate with me, if you like, on that topic.
Yes, I would definitely debate against the morality of the Bible. But I agree, that's a totally different topic because in this debate you are claiming that "Conscience" is proof of "Absolute Morality"

Which brings us right back on track to this debate:
fred barclay wrote: I do believe that human conscience bears witness about that higher, absolute morality. I don't believe the conscience is] that morality.
It's like mirrors in a fun house. Your reflection in them bears witness that you are there, but the reflection may be distorted. The general idea is there; but the ideals of the conscience can be warped.
I hold that even you are confession that conscience is not "absolute". You are openly confessing that human conscience is "distorted" and "warped". This is, of course, based on your own belief that there actually resides an "Absolute Morality" on some higher plane.

But from a purely logical and rational perspective can you not see that your claim that "Conscience is Proof of Absolute Morality" has already failed based on your very own claims that conscience is both 'distorted' and 'warped'?

I mean, based on this observation (leaving any extraneous faith-based beliefs out of the picture for the moment), if you concede that human conscience is indeed both morally 'distorted' and 'warped', then at the very best, human conscience could only be 'proof' of the existence of a 'distorted' and 'warped' morality.

It certainly couldn't be proof of an "Absolute Morality".

It seems to me that we are done right here. If human conscience is morally distorted and warped (which you yourself demand), then it's meaningless to claim that human conscience is proof of an "Absolute Morality".

It seems to me that at this point it's "game over". If we need to then start talking about a God or Holy books to continue the discussion, then we've already acknowledged that conscience itself proves nothing.
fred barclay wrote: So yes, "something like homosexuality" can be wrong, even if many people feel that it's fine, because they're feelings are not the guide. The feelings bear witness of a guide.
But their "feelings" is their conscience.

And now you are claiming that their conscience is not the guide.

Moreover, you claim, "The feelings bear witness of a guide".

But how could that be true with a homosexual if you claim that homosexuality is "wrong". Because the homosexual person doesn't "feel" that way. Therefore, if their feelings "bear witness of a guide", then the ultimate guide must not have any problem with homosexuality, and then YOU would be wrong in claiming that homosexuality must ultimately be wrong.

Are you going solely by your own conscience and ignoring the conscience of others? :-k

There are actually very devote "Christian homosexuals" who claim to both, have a relationship with Jesus, and also be totally comfortable being gay. (i.e. they have no negative conscience regarding their homosexuality at all)

In fact, I met a woman on this very site some years ago who was starting up a "Gay Christian Church" because she so loves Jesus that she wants to worship and praise him, yet she is sick and tired of all the hatred and bigotry that other Christians spout against her lesbian relationship. She's sick of the hatred being spread in the name of Jesus.

So here's a woman who is a devout believer in Jesus and yet she sees nothing wrong with an open honest and loving homosexual relationship. She argues that the Bible does not even support that there is anything wrong with this at all.

But clearly you feel that it's "absolutely wrong".

Someone "conscience" can't be working right if you claim that conscience bears witness to a higher guide.

All you can do at this point is to call this woman a liar and claim that she has to know deep down inside that what she's doing is wrong. But clearly she doesn't agree with that charge.

So there's a huge problem here in your claim that human conscience proves absolute morality. This doesn't appear to hold up for humanity in general.
fred barclay wrote: I noticed that you didn't say "some victims of rape are traumatized". But yet a few moments before you claimed that emotional harm might not hurt everyone. So are you suggesting that rape is always emotionally harmful? (I am more than suggesting it, I know it is, but this seems like a contradiction on your part.)
I've actually met women who love to be "raped" as long as there is no permanent physical damage accompanying the act. After all, rape does not require physical damage to be rape. Any physical damage done during rape would be additional "crimes". And of course if the rape victim is also murdered, well that's clearly murder being added to the list of crimes as well.

So there do exist people who wouldn't mind being raped as long as additional crimes aren't included.
fred barclay wrote: Look: in every culture, you can expect to see these things:
1. Some sort of religion or religious beliefs. Even atheists have religious beliefs--they believe that religion is false.; but they don't ignore it. (You can't ignore religion; either you believe in it or not, but you never pretend it doesn't exist.)
2. Some sort of honour code within families. Parents and ancestors are honoured--Parents and living ancestors in every society, and dead ancestors are included in some.
3. Some demands on honesty. Lying is prohibited in every culture.
4. Some demands on human life. Cold-blooded murder is never tolerated. Capital punishment usually is allowed, and capital offenses vary, but murder without a reason has never been permitted.
5. Some demands on property. No culture has ever allowed theft. Even socialist societies punish thieves.
6. Some demands on marriage. Every culture has a definition of marriage, and marriages can be annulled if the definitions are broken.
And nothing on this list implies that anything is going on here other than a social species of animal being social (and superstitious to boot). It's actually natural for humans to be superstitious. Being superstitious actually had survival benefit when humans were still quite primitive.
fred barclay wrote: I could keep on going, but you get the general idea. (And by the way, this looks like a scaled-down Ten Commandments. Just sayin').
And this comment reveals to me precisely the vantage point from which you are coming at this. You have just pointed out that behaviors that are common to humans "just happen" to also look a lot like the Ten Commandment.

However, the reason you pointed this out is because YOU believe that there is something special about the Ten Commandment (i.e. they supposedly came from some God). So you are marveling at how much humans seem to think in similar ways to how the Ten Commandments appear to be suggesting they should think. So for YOU this appears to be some sort of confirmation that humans get their morality form this Biblical God.

However from my perspective things are entirely different. I recognize that humans are the ones who wrote the Ten Commandment into their superstitious religious folklore. So why wouldn't it reflect precisely how human think? :-k

In fact, any correlation between anything written in the Bible with human behavior should not be the least bit surprising. In fact, just the opposite situation would be far more impressive. If we actually saw things in the Bible that weren't common to the primitive men who wrote it, THAT would be impressive. But clearly, we don't see that at all.

So the fact that the Bible contains standard human thoughts, beliefs, and superstitions is not impressive at all. It only confirms that these fables are indeed nothing more than humans writing down their own thoughts, dreams, and imaginings.
fred barclay wrote: It is absurd to believe that humans can determine right and wrong for themselves when humans have always had multiple aspects of morality they agree on. We're talking about thousands of years of history, and never is this standard list deviated from. The standards are certainly broken, but no one has ever denied that they exist. What kind of coincidence is it that everyone has these standards?
What coincidence are you imagining here? :-k

The only "coincidence" I see is that all humans on planet earth are the very same species of animal. Not only are we all the same, but we truly are all 'brother and sisters". We are all related. There is not a human being on the planet that you are not directly related to if you go back far enough in our ancestral tree.

In fact, I just watched a video that suggest that in the world today no matter who you meet, you only need to trace back 50 generations and you will be absolutely guaranteed to have a common ancestor. It works out to necessarily be this way because every person has at least two parents, and they each had two parent, and so on. You finally reach a point where, in order to avoid not having a common ancestor there would have needed to be more people on the earth than the earth could even hold. Therefore you are necessarily never removed by more than 50 generations from anyone else.

So we are one big family. There is not "coincidence" that we all agree on many of the same things.

Also, some things are pretty obvious. You don't see one human culture saying that it's against the law to hit people on the head with a sledge hammer, and other human culture saying, "Oh sure, that's fine. You can hit us on the head all you want with a sledge hammer we don't mind". Of course they would mind. Humans are hurt, and easily damaged if you hit them on the head with a sledge hammer. So where is there any "coincidence" that they would all believe it to be "immoral" to hit people on the head with a sledge hammer?

The fact that humans all agree on similar things stems directly from the fact that humans tend to like and dislike the same things in general. The only "coincidence" in play here is the fact that they all happen to be humans.

There is absolutely no justification for thinking that this implies the existence of a higher being and some sort of "Absolute Morality". Humans don't like being killed so they outlaw murder. It's pretty straight-forward. No divine being required.

So you are wrong in proclaiming that it's absurd that humans cannot determine right from wrong on their own. They not only can determine this, but they clearly do.
fred barclay wrote: I submit to you that from a purely evolutionary viewpoint, rape is desirable. It increases the genetic diversity, and evolution depends on that diversity. So when a supposed product of evolution--man--chooses counter-evolutionary morality, he is supposedly shooting himself and his species in the foot.
This isn't exactly true because you are ignoring the fact that humans are a social species where cooperation within the group is also an important evolutionary factor for "socialization" (where a social structure actually has evolutionary advantages)

At first, I was thinking that when humans were quite primitive "rape" was no doubt a quite common event. However, I'm not sure if having "casual" sex with multiple partners even necessarily qualifies as "rape".

We don't even see "rape" being tolerated among chimpanzees. What we might see is causal consensual sex. But that's hardly rape. If one chimpanzee was harassing another chimpanzee that seriously didn't want to be harassed this would cause commotion within the troop and there can indeed be "social consequences" for this. Other chimpanzees may jump in to stop the "harassment" of the chimp that doesn't want to be harassed. I'm not a chimp expert by any means, but I'm sure that people who do study other social animals recognize that even in those social groups behavior that might be called "rape" may not be tolerated

Don't forget, casual consensual sex is not "rape". In fact, humans themselves do that all the time.

Humans have become highly sophisticated in their social behaviors. So we even favor well-structured 'family units' and monogamy (although not all human societies reject polygamy). In fact, even Biblical Kings had many wives. ;)

But you are thinking in terms of pure raw evolution. I think you are missing the point that social behaviors also "evolved" and are part of the evolutionary picture.

Moreover, everything that "evolves" does not succeed. Evolution is no guarantee of success. There are many species that are examples of "failed evolution". Humans could ultimately end up being one of those. ;)
fred barclay wrote: Rape isn't the only part of human nature that is forbidden or modified contrary to evolutionary standards.
I don't agree that rape is necessary an "evolutionary standard". That's nothing more than your unwarranted claim in the first place. You are missing other potential factors that could be more important than merely spreading genes via rape. And also rape does not equal "casual sex".
fred barclay wrote: It is harmful for a species to allow weaker members to survive and pass on their genes. That's why we cull cattle and sheep--to rid the herd of undesirables. But we certainly are not--and I hope we never do--ridding ourselves of weaker humans. Instead, we care for them. This is not what you'd expect from evolution.
There are two problems with your analysis here.

For one thing you are placing evolution in a box that "you have defined". Who are you to say what might benefit a particular species at any particular stage of its evolutionary development?

Secondly, let's suppose you are right just for the sake of argument. So what? Do you have any evidence that humans are not in fact self-destructing on evolutionary terms? :-k

You seem to be assuming that humans must be doing the "right" things. But maybe they aren't. Maybe in terms of evolution we are in fact slowly working toward our very own extinction. Evolution doesn't always succeed. ;)

The dinosaurs lived for some 300 million years as a species. As humans (in our modern form) we have only been around for about 200,000 years. Not even a quarter of a million years. We could easily become extinct before we even make it to the 1 million year mark.

So your argument that humans aren't doing things to insure their survival may actually be right on the money. ;)

We may indeed be a species heading for extinction.
fred barclay wrote: So, when humans have a standard that they all agree on, and it runs against what an atheist's perceived world (secular evolutionary) would demand, I think we can suspect that some religious force is behind it.
But you are assuming that human behavior is indeed contrary to evolution. That doesn't necessarily need to be the case at all. Our social evolution may be far BETTER than your theory that rape is an evolutionary advantage.

Who knows?

And like I say, even secular evolution does not guarantee that any species will necessarily continue to survive for ever. In fact, MOST SPECIES actually do die out on their own.

You seem to think that if evolution is true then every single living thing "must succeed" otherwise it would be in violation of evolution. But that's not even remotely true.
fred barclay wrote: You say that it's no proof that we agree on certain things, because it can be proved "from purely secular physics" that they are harmful.
Look at adultery. No physical harm here. Why, then, does every society forbid it?
Why do you say there is no physical harm here? One important idea behind monogamy is that you can trust your partner not to be bringing home deadly sexually transmitted diseases. Adultery opens the door for this potential physical harm. Moreover, from a legal standpoint, if a "marriage" had occurred where "vows" were taken in a "marriage contract", then you have a breach of secular law. No moral evaluation even required. Unless you want to call the law "morality". Which you seem to be implying all along.
fred barclay wrote: Yes, the concept of sharing a wife, or of polygamy and polyandry exist, but even in the cultures that accept this, sexual acts of married people outside of these were considered adultery, and punished.
No concept of morality needed. All that is required is that legal contracts have been broken. In fact, when it comes to laws we don't even need a concept of morality at all.
fred barclay wrote: Who does adultery hurt? There's no physical pain or damage. The only damage is emotional. So you can't prove by physics that adultery is harmful. And again, this spreads and diversifies genetics. So actually it should be applauded if humans were purely secular.
Social contracts were violated. No moral judgement require. The whole thing can be handed entirely from a purely secular point of view.

You seem to feel a need to have someone "morally judged". I personally don't think morality is required to make laws.

If the speed limit is 50 and you are doing 70 does that make you an "immoral" person? Do we need to pass judgment on your "morality" in order to give you a speeding ticket?

Morality is not required for laws. If you think it is, then this could be a major reason why you aren't understanding the secular position on things.
fred barclay wrote: Now, I want to ask you some questions:

Do you think you've won, and where would you go from here?
I am absolutely certain that conscience does not prove absolute morality. In fact, as far as I'm concerned you have already conceded to this when you confessed that conscience is itself "distorted" and "warped". Those are your own terms, your own description of conscience, and you even demand that this must be the case.

Therefore, at best, all you can argue for is that conscience proves distorted and warped morality. And that wouldn't be much of an argument. ;)

As far where I would go from here. I would be precisely where I was before I entered this debate because I already knew this to be the case.

Why is it that people consistently choose the same standard of morality.

In is my position that in the details they clearly don't even agree on the same standards. And in terms of the more obvious issues, like murder and rape, I've already answered that. People tend to think that things are immoral if they simply don't want to have these things happen to them or those that they love.

And finally, just because someone puts something into law, doesn't mean that they are even thinking in terms of morality. Laws should not be based on morality in any case. There is no need to even bring a concept of morality into the picture.

Murder would be illegal whether it's immoral or not, simply because people don't want to give other people permission to freely kill them for no apparent reason.

We don't even need a concept of "morality" at all in order to make laws.

Also, why do they consistently break it after knowing that it exists?

Clearly not everyone does. If everyone did then it would be useless to even make laws. In fact, it's typically less than 1% of a population that actually commits violent criminal acts. If we allow for petty crimes we can potentially get as many as 20% of the population breaking the law. But that includes the pettiest of crimes, like traffic violations and even parking tickets, etc.

So since the overwhelming majority of people do not break the laws I disagree with your suggestion that people constantly break the laws.

Do you disagree with any of the 6 items I said were part of any moral code?

I'm not sure what you mean by "disagree".

Are you asking if I personally disagree with any of these? Or if I disagree that every human culture has some form of these moral codes in place?

To the latter, I would say that most human cultures probably do have many of these ideals in place in some form. But again I would argue that this doesn't point to any higher moral values. It simply reflects the fact that all humans are basically the same social animals. It should come as no surprise that we all think very much the same. This is no indication of anything other than this.

I would also argue that being primates we clearly have the common trait of "monkey see, monkey do". So we tend to do what other people do. We have seen how many cultures have copied from one another. Especially in their religious folklore.

On a personal note, I would suggest that your #1 item simply reflects the fact that humans tend to be superstitious. I think also that many religions were invented as political tools to counter act the religions of neighboring cultures. They all use the excuse, "Our God is greater than yours". This is no different from the way children claim to each other "My dad can beat up your dad". :roll:

Religions have often been the source of cultural warfare and political unrest, and continue to be fodder for that to this very day.

Also, on item #6 concerning marriage. This makes perfect sense in a social species that can set up such complex contracts. This insures a "family unit". So it's not surprising that this would evolve naturally in any social animals that is capable of communicating in ways that could lead to such social contracts.

As you point out. Some places allow for polygamy whilst others prefer to enforce monogamy. I think there are practical reasons why monogamous marriages evolved in society. Jealous. Pure and simple. If some men were allowed to have multiple wives whist other men found it difficult to find a woman they want to live with this could create an environment where a lot of "Jealousy Crimes" might be committed. So monogamy has practical value in reducing that sort of thing. I don't think it has anything at all to do with morality.

Why should monogamy be any more moral than polygamy? :-k

What's the difference? As long as the people involved in the contract are happy with the situation then why should one be any more or less "moral" than the other?

If I were "voting" I would vote for monogamy. But these are totally selfish and practical reasons that have nothing at all to do with morality. I would simply be happy and content in a single monogamous relationship. So I have no need to support polygamy. Also if other men are restrained to only have one wife, that leaves more single women for me to chose from. ;)

And yes, I confess that I would be jealous if my next door neighbor had five wives and I had NONE. So I can understand why people might choose against allowing polygamy if they can VOTE for against it.

No need to even bring morality into the picture at all. I can't really offer any reason at all why it should be "immoral" for my neighbor to have five wives.

Why should that be "immoral"? :-k

If that was my argument against it then I would have a very weak argument indeed.

I'd be better off confessing that I'm just jealous and want at least one of them for myself. ;)

I don't see the need for morality when it comes to making laws. We can make laws based entirely on practical reasons. Just like we do with traffic laws. There is no need to consider morality when making traffic laws. You just make the laws based on what would insure SAFE transportation.

No morality required.
[center]Image
Spiritual Growth - A person's continual assessment
of how well they believe they are doing
relative to what they believe a personal God expects of them.
[/center]

fred barclay
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Post #16

Post by fred barclay »

This is a much later reply than I expected--sorry about that. I've been mobile for quite some time, but I'm temporarily stationary. However, I expect to be shipped out within a month again... It never ends!

I've been thinking a lot about this debate. It seems to me that our positions can be summed up in the following:

ME: All humans have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. This is known as the "conscience". While all of us share this knowledge, some of us have warped consciences (purposely warped in most cases is my belief, but I don't care to follow that thought right now.) This conscience points to an absolute standard of right and wrong--something that is beyond us and not defined by us. Our consciences are subject to this standard, or law, and give us knowledge.

DI: The notion of a universal standard pointed to by the conscience cannot possibly be true. If it's universal, all humans should agree. Instead, we see a wide range of beliefs and moralities--pointing to (I suppose) an evolution of belief systems rather than any universal standard.

Now I could be somewhat wrong on your position, but this is the best I could do. :)

I want to ask you a question: Does the wide range of moralities indicate to you that a "real standard" could not possibly exist? In another words, do huge differences preclude a common ground? And is this a reason for your rejection of such a notion?
If so, what do you do when someone remembers an even differently than you do? Do you deny the event ever happened? Do you say it's "illogical"--after all, if it occurred, surely there should be similarities? And then when someone points out the parts that do match up, do you say that they only choose the "most obvious" examples?
And even if you were to be so foolish as to do that (and I certainly don't think you are), do you think your denials would change the existence of that event?
From a "purely logical and rational perspective", can't you see that, just because I claim one particular morality, and you, or an Hindu, or a ... claim a different one, that doesn't mean that there is no absolute standard?
I mean, based on this observation (leaving any extraneous faith-based beliefs out of the picture for the moment), if you concede that human conscience is indeed both morally 'distorted' and 'warped', then at the very best, human conscience could only be 'proof' of the existence of a 'distorted' and 'warped' morality.
And you'd look pretty silly saying the same thing about an event. "At the very best, since you remember xyzt and I remember only xywb, this means the event itself, if it even happened, must have been distorted--i.e. it must not fully exist!"
Try that in a court of law. "Your honour, since witness X remembers it being a cloudy night, but no rain; and witness Y doesn't recall the weather at all, the murder they bear witness of (sound familiar?) mustn't be real."
In fact, I met a woman on this very site some years ago who was starting up a "Gay Christian Church" because she so loves Jesus that she wants to worship and praise him, yet she is sick and tired of all the hatred and bigotry that other Christians spout against her lesbian relationship. She's sick of the hatred being spread in the name of Jesus.
Interesting. Did you tell her that she either loves a dead carcass or a non-entity? I mean, you don't even accept the idea of God, so why are you mentioning this?
She argues that the Bible does not even support that there is anything wrong with this at all.
I guess she never read it. Does "abomination" and "detestable" not at least suggest to her that the Bible doesn't support it? If you don't know what I'm talking about, google it. Actually, I'll save you the trouble: http://biblehub.com/leviticus/20-13.htm
All you can do at this point is to call this woman a liar
Well, her position is false. If she really doesn't know this, than she's mistaken. If she does, than I certainly would call her a liar. And let's be honest, do you think she really doesn't know that?
Now perhaps she is going on the belief that the morality of the NT is different than the OT. But if this was her position, she should have said so. Last time I checked, the OT was part of the Bible...
Wouldn't you say that someone is lying who says that "Fourscore and seven years ago..." is not in the Gettysburg Address? Assuming, of course, that they've taken the trouble to read it.

Now back on topic.
Being superstitious actually had survival benefit when humans were still quite primitive.
Explain, please.
If we actually saw things in the Bible that weren't common to the primitive men who wrote it, THAT would be impressive. But clearly, we don't see that at all.
Such as the Earth being round (both as a table and as a ball), the Sun not hanging upon anything (instead of a giant sky-hook), the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, wind cycles, the importance of blood (as opposed to "bad blood" that needed to be drained), the importance of washing hands under running water, the revolution of the Earth...
Do I need to show you that this was against the standard beliefs of the men you call "primitive"?
So we are one big family. There is not "coincidence" that we all agree on many of the same things.
Really? I disagree with my own family...

Try finding other things that we all agree with. I don't mean, "The Sun is warm" or "Food is necessary for survival." I mean things that aren't scientific facts. Burglary isn't scientifically wrong--it's quite possible. But most or all of us detest thieves--even though, when you look at it, we all are (ever taken a paper clip without asking?) We also detest liars--again, though we all are.
There aren't many things that can't be "proven" scientifically that we agree on. Try discussing politics...
At first, I was thinking that when humans were quite primitive "rape" was no doubt a quite common event. However, I'm not sure if having "casual" sex with multiple partners even necessarily qualifies as "rape".
So, in another words, most of us are primitive? Is that your point?
don't agree that rape is necessary an "evolutionary standard". That's nothing more than your unwarranted claim in the first place
I couldn't agree more, as I don't accept evolution.

In conclusion, I say that you cannot reject an absolute morality simply because many humans have different rules, any more than you could reject the murder of John Kennedy because multiple witnesses contradicted each other and had different memories of the event.
Granted, saying that you can't disprove something is different than saying that it does exist. I'm just trying to clear your most frequent argument out of the way.
All the best!
Fred

PS. I'll hopefully be able to reply at least once before shipping out again. But if not, I know where to find you... :)

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Divine Insight
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Post #17

Post by Divine Insight »

fred barclay wrote: It seems to me that our positions can be summed up in the following:

ME: All humans have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. This is known as the "conscience". While all of us share this knowledge, some of us have warped consciences (purposely warped in most cases is my belief, but I don't care to follow that thought right now.) This conscience points to an absolute standard of right and wrong--something that is beyond us and not defined by us. Our consciences are subject to this standard, or law, and give us knowledge.

DI: The notion of a universal standard pointed to by the conscience cannot possibly be true. If it's universal, all humans should agree. Instead, we see a wide range of beliefs and moralities--pointing to (I suppose) an evolution of belief systems rather than any universal standard.
Yes I would say that this is a fair description. Although my position is that our moral views do not only evolve, but they are totally subjective. In fact, any individual may actually change their mind concerning various moral values over the course of their life.

I also, would like to point out that, for me, the very concept of "morality" is not even an important concept, precisely because it is subjective. I don't value "morality" above all else. Or perhaps a better way to say what I actually mean, is that every possible action or situation doesn't even require a moral evaluation. For example, everyday I wake up there are many different choices I can make. However, it would be foolish to think that only one of those choices is "perfectly moral" whilst all the others are "less moral".

The bottom line is that everything doesn't center on the concept of morality to begin with. Many thing are neither moral nor immoral. They simply don't need to have a moral value associated with them at all.

So for me, morality may not be anywhere near as important as it may seem to be to you.
fred barclay wrote: I want to ask you a question: Does the wide range of moralities indicate to you that a "real standard" could not possibly exist? In another words, do huge differences preclude a common ground? And is this a reason for your rejection of such a notion?
For me, morality is obviously a subject notion. Therefore how could their possibly be an "real standard"? Who is going to be the ultimate judge who's ultimate subjective opinion cannot be rejected?

In fact, even if there was a God who was the ultimate judge then all that would amount to is a subjective morality where a God is the one entity that no one is permitted to disagree with.

So, as far as I can see, all morality necessarily must be subjective, even if a God exists.

There's also a much deeper problem if you want to claim that some sort of absolute morality exist that is even "Beyond" the subjective views of a God. This would require that the God himself would then need to fall in line with some objective morality that is even greater than he is. Thus making the need for a God to supply the absolute morality no longer necessary.

So as far as I can see, there can't even be a religious argument for any "Absolute Morality".
fred barclay wrote: If so, what do you do when someone remembers an even differently than you do? Do you deny the event ever happened? Do you say it's "illogical"--after all, if it occurred, surely there should be similarities? And then when someone points out the parts that do match up, do you say that they only choose the "most obvious" examples?
And even if you were to be so foolish as to do that (and I certainly don't think you are), do you think your denials would change the existence of that event?
From a "purely logical and rational perspective", can't you see that, just because I claim one particular morality, and you, or an Hindu, or a ... claim a different one, that doesn't mean that there is no absolute standard?
I'm not saying that this is the reason why there cannot be an absolute standard.

I'm saying that all concepts of morality are subjective. There would simply be no possible way for morality to be objective since it is nothing more than a value judgement being made by a sentient mind.

At the very best, all you can argue for is a "God" who's subjective opinion rules and trumps all other opinions. But that wouldn't be an absolute morality. All that would be is an extremely arrogant God who is forcing his personal moral values onto everyone else. In fact, many people could argue that this very act would be "immoral" by their standards morality.
fred barclay wrote:
I mean, based on this observation (leaving any extraneous faith-based beliefs out of the picture for the moment), if you concede that human conscience is indeed both morally 'distorted' and 'warped', then at the very best, human conscience could only be 'proof' of the existence of a 'distorted' and 'warped' morality.
And you'd look pretty silly saying the same thing about an event. "At the very best, since you remember xyzt and I remember only xywb, this means the event itself, if it even happened, must have been distorted--i.e. it must not fully exist!"
Try that in a court of law. "Your honour, since witness X remembers it being a cloudy night, but no rain; and witness Y doesn't recall the weather at all, the murder they bear witness of (sound familiar?) mustn't be real."
You are making the grave mistake of not being able to think outside of the box of "absolute morality". You also seem to have grossly misunderstood my point here.

I didn't say that a distorted or warped conscience is "proof" of the existence of a distorted or warped morality. I said, "AT THE VERY BEST" that's all it could be held up to be.

You are the one who is trying to hold human conscious up as being "Proof" that there exists an Absolute Morality.

But that is utterly absurd considering that very few humans will even agree on all questions of morality.
fred barclay wrote:
In fact, I met a woman on this very site some years ago who was starting up a "Gay Christian Church" because she so loves Jesus that she wants to worship and praise him, yet she is sick and tired of all the hatred and bigotry that other Christians spout against her lesbian relationship. She's sick of the hatred being spread in the name of Jesus.
Interesting. Did you tell her that she either loves a dead carcass or a non-entity? I mean, you don't even accept the idea of God, so why are you mentioning this?
I mentioned this because this woman obviously has no "bad conscience" about being gay, yet Christianity in general preaches that it's horribly immoral.
fred barclay wrote:
She argues that the Bible does not even support that there is anything wrong with this at all.
I guess she never read it. Does "abomination" and "detestable" not at least suggest to her that the Bible doesn't support it? If you don't know what I'm talking about, google it. Actually, I'll save you the trouble: http://biblehub.com/leviticus/20-13.htm
So the Bible is filled full of hate?

How does that help your argument that human conscience proves absolute morality?
fred barclay wrote:
All you can do at this point is to call this woman a liar
Well, her position is false. If she really doesn't know this, than she's mistaken. If she does, than I certainly would call her a liar. And let's be honest, do you think she really doesn't know that?
Are you kidding me? :-k

There are many Christians who argue that Jesus brought a "New Covenant", and that the "Old Covenant" no longer applies. Evidently you seem to think that Christianity itself is some sort of "Absolute", but actually it's not. The myriad of disagreeing Christian denominations should be all the proof you need to see that.
fred barclay wrote: Now perhaps she is going on the belief that the morality of the NT is different than the OT. But if this was her position, she should have said so. Last time I checked, the OT was part of the Bible...
Many Christians see Jesus as having changed the rules dramatically. After all according to the Old Testament we are supposed to be stoning sinners to death, but according to Jesus we are to forgive them and not cast the first stone.

So I would say that Jesus agrees with the gay lady and not with you.
fred barclay wrote: Wouldn't you say that someone is lying who says that "Fourscore and seven years ago..." is not in the Gettysburg Address? Assuming, of course, that they've taken the trouble to read it.
That's totally different. In the case of Christianity you are trying to hold Jesus hostage to the Old Testament. Many Christians would disagree with you on that view.

fred barclay wrote: Now back on topic.
I think all of the above is valid for the topic of "Does Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?"

Because clearly the gay lady doesn't have a bad conscience about being gay, but you are not trying to override her conscience by beating her over the head with dogma.

So even though you argue that human conscience proves absolute morality it doesn't seem to be working for you. You still seem to have a need to beat people over the head with dogma when you disagree with their conscience.

I personally don't see where you have had a valid argument from the very beginning of this debate.
fred barclay wrote:
At first, I was thinking that when humans were quite primitive "rape" was no doubt a quite common event. However, I'm not sure if having "casual" sex with multiple partners even necessarily qualifies as "rape".
So, in another words, most of us are primitive? Is that your point?
There's no doubt about that. However, more important to this debate is that humans didn't always have a bad conscience about having causal sex, which pretty much destroys your argument that conscience proves absolute morality.

In fact, many people today don't even feel that there is anything wrong with causal sex as long as it's consensual and done responsibly.

Most people today would place "Responsibility" much higher on the list of "Moral values" than mere actions. Many actions that might be considered "immoral" my religious fundamentalists would clearly have no bad side effects if they are done both consensually and responsibly.

In fact, I think you would be really hard-pressed to make a rational argument against causal sex that is done both consensually and responsibly. And I'm speaking about consensually in all respects (i.e. no cheating on your spouse without consent).
fred barclay wrote:
I don't agree that rape is necessary an "evolutionary standard". That's nothing more than your unwarranted claim in the first place
I couldn't agree more, as I don't accept evolution.
Evolution is a fact of life. It's been scientifically verified. You were just saying that you would consider someone to be a "liar" if they said that "Four score and seven years ago,..." wasn't in the declaration of Independence.

I would certainly consider anyone to be either extremely uneducated, or outright dishonest to suggest that evolution has not been scientifically verified to have occurred on planet earth.

Like it or not, we are indeed "Apes".
fred barclay wrote: In conclusion, I say that you cannot reject an absolute morality simply because many humans have different rules.
I don't need to. I don't need to reject absolute morality at all since no one has ever demonstrated that it even exists.

YOU are the one who is claiming that "Conscience in Humans Prove Absolute Morality?", remember? :-k

But even you agree that Conscience in Humans is not Absolute.

So I don't see where you have anything to even build on.

fred barclay wrote: Granted, saying that you can't disprove something is different than saying that it does exist. I'm just trying to clear your most frequent argument out of the way.
)
I don't need to "disprove" Absolute Morality.

I didn't challenge you to this debate proclaiming that I can "Prove" that there is no Absolute Morality.

You are the one who challenged me to this debate proclaiming that, "Conscience in Humans Proves Absolute Morality?"

So I don't need to prove that Absolute Morality can't exist. All I need to do is show why your claim is invalid. And as far as I'm concerned you have already done that for me by openly confessing that humans don't even share an absolute conscience.

When I mentioned the gay lady who had no bad conscience about being gay at all, you totally ignored her conscience and instead you just beat her over the head with the Old Testament Dogma.

That doesn't help you claim that "Conscience in Humans Proves Absolute Morality?

~~~~

And besides, I've already shown why the very concept of "Absolute Morality" makes no sense.

If morality is objectively absolute, then there would be no need for even a "God" to exist. And if a "God" did exist that God would need to be judged under that Absolute Morality that would even need to be ABOVE God.

And if you argue that God is the absolute judge of morality, then there is no "Absolute Morality". All that exists is an arrogant God who is forcing his subjective opinions onto everyone else simply because he can.

The very concept of "Absolute Morality" is actually a religionist's worst nightmare because it becomes extremely paradoxical in terms of a God anyway.
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Spiritual Growth - A person's continual assessment
of how well they believe they are doing
relative to what they believe a personal God expects of them.
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