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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:04 pm  I am seriously questioning my atheism Reply with quote

Disclaimer: This post may be out of place on the Christianity and Apologetics forum (even though it does have some relation to Christianity), if it is, I apologize and ask that it be moved to a more appropriate place on the forum. However, I do intend this thread to be a discussion, if not a debate, so I felt this was the best place for it.

As many of you know, I am an ex-evangelical Christian and a current atheist. By "atheist," I mean I lack belief in god(s) of any kind, although I do not assert that there are definitely no gods. Since departing from Christianity, everything has made so much more sense: an eternal Universe (defined as the totality of natural existence) explained existence, evolution explained the diversity of life on earth, the absence of god(s) explained the problems of evil, inconsistent revelation, and so on.

However, there is one thing that I have been unable to account for under atheism: morality. Atheists almost invariably state that moral values and duties are not objective facts, but are simply subjective statements of preference and have no ontological value. That is, of course, until we are presented with cases of true evil, such as the Holocaust, the atrocities of Pol Pot, or the horrible psychopathic serial killings of individuals like Jeffery Dahmer. Then we as atheists tacitly appeal to objective moral values and duties, saying that individuals who commit should be severely punished (even executed) for doing "evil," saying that they "knew right from wrong." But if right and wrong are simply statements of subjective opinion, then how can we say that others knew "right from wrong" and are accountable for their actions? If relativism is true, they simply had differing opinions from the majority of human beings. However, it seems obvious to me (and to the vast majority of others, theist and atheist alike) that this is absurd -- the monsters who carried out the aforementioned acts really, objectively did evil.

Given this, the only reasonable conclusion is that moral facts and imperatives exist.

However, atheism appears to offer no framework for moral facts. Because of this, a few weeks ago, I started up a discussion on Wielenbergian moral realism, which states that objective moral values are simply "brute facts" that exist without any explanation. However, others rightly pointed out that the existence of "brute facts" is ontologically problematic and that the best explanation (on atheism) is that morality is simply subjective. Additionally, even if atheistic moral facts existed, the Humeian problem of deriving an "ought" from an "is" would preclude them from acting as moral imperatives; commands which human beings are obligated to follow.

In light of these airtight logical objections to atheistic moral realism, I was forced to abandon my position on moral facts and tentatively adopt moral relativism. However, relativism still seems problematic. After all, if morality is subjective, no one person can accuse another of failing to recognize the difference between "right and wrong," however, it is obvious to me (and, I would suspect, to other atheists as well) that right or wrong really objectively (not subjectively) exist.

The only rational conclusion I can seem to come up with is that there is a (are) transcendent moral lawgiver(s) who both grounds moral facts and issues binding moral commands on all humanity; i.e., God(s). This echoes evangelical Christian philosopher William Lane Craig's moral argument, which syllogism reads:

WLC wrote:
Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists


Premises 1 and 2 seem bulletproof -- (1) was demonstrated earlier in this post, leaving (2) as the only premise to attack. However, (2) seems to be as obvious as a hand in front of my face. The conclusion necessarily follows from (1) and (2), so is there any rational reason for me to reject the conclusion of the argument?

Remember, I am no believer of any kind. I am a staunch, educated, informed atheist, and I am well aware of the philosophical arguments against God(s), such as the problem of evil, the dysteleological argument, the problem of omniscience, etc. I'm also well aware of the plentiful empirical evidence against the existence of God(s), for instance, evolution, mind-body physicalism, etc. These are the reasons I reconverted from Christianity in the first place. However, I don't see way around this problem other than to accept either that our apparently obvious sense of moral facts is somehow mistaken, or that (a) theistic being(s) exist.

Debate question: Are my issues with atheism legitimate? Can atheism provide a coherent moral framework other than nihilism, relativism, or subjectivism? Do these problems really present evidence for theism? Is William Lane Craig right? Is this a real problem for atheism, or are my (our) emotions simply overriding my (our) rationality?

Feel free to present evidence for or against atheism, Christianity, or any religious or nonreligious perspective in this thread.
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 201: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:28 pm
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spayne wrote:
He is literally incapable of doing anything but good.

...with good being defined as what God is. Ok, so again, how is this different from the second horn of the dilemma? There's some subtlety here that I'm missing, I think.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 202: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:30 pm
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Hey Jackelentern,
I just thought I would point out that your response seems to prove what I am saying here.


Umm no it doesn't..
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Your modus operandi on this board has been continually to judge Christians for their beliefs in ways that are often harsh, disrespectful, rude, stereotypical, and mean.


I don't judge Christians for their beliefs, I judge only the beliefs in question. Nor have I ever stated that what I've said magically applies to all Christians... Make sure you know what I am criticizing because it seems you are confused between criticizing a belief vs the person with the belief. And and in worst case here, you are speaking from a position of hypocrisy.. :/
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But yet, all the while, you preach a philosophy of tolerance and peace. Where is the morality in that if you are such a good atheist?


Atheists can be just as bad... Often I have to stand up for you Christians and your religion when some Atheist thinks it should be banned and persecuted... Tolerance btw deals with practical tolerance. I only need respect a certain belief system enough not to seek to ban it, commit violence against those who have it ect. There is nothing wrong with challenging those beliefs in a debate, and do remember that you are on a debating forum to which is a proper venue for this.. And nor am I perfect model, or a perfect person.
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I never stated that atheists don't know what morality is or that Christianity somehow has ownership of some kind of moral order.


That's not the impression I got, but ok.. At least that is clear then and we can move on and accept that. Smile


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I simply said that Christianity, as opposed to making this a philosophical issue, makes it personal. Blessings to you today.


You do realize that is often used as an insult and false argument, but if you were actually sincere, then that is indeed a nice thing to do.. I think anyone that is sincere about being morally nice to each other will express such on a personal level..

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 203: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:03 pm
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Artie wrote:
arian wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
Imagine an experiment where you have some monkeys in a cage. There are two chains. Chain A will provide a large quantity of food for the monkeys. Chain B will provide a small quantity of food. Next the experimenters set it up so that pulling chain A will also give an electric shock to another monkey in another cage. The monkeys can see each other. And in particular the monkeys sees the pain of the shocked monkey. It is easy formulate the conclusion, even for a monkey, that pulling on the chain that gives the large food reward will result in pain for another monkey.

Now the question is whether the monkeys will continue to pull on the chain A to get the large food reward or will the monkeys be sensitive to the other monkey's pain. What is your guess?


I believe the monkey will continue to pull chain A and get the big-reward, as I see humans who have little value for absolute-morals do even if it causes pain and suffering for their fellow man.

Now if you switched monkeys with dogs, ... ?? Think


You didn't actually read the link did you? Go back and do that.


The result as published in a paper by Stephen Preston of University of California at Berkeley and Frans de Waal of Emory University showed that the monkeys no longer pulled on chain A which administers the shock. Two-thirds of the monkey will only pull on chain B which does not administer any shock. And the remaining third will not pull on any chain for as long as 5 days. There was one monkey that refused to pull on either chain for as long as 12 days. Quoting from the paper: "These monkeys were literally starving themselves to prevent the shock to the conspecific."

Next is the opinions, assumptions and guess-so's as if the scientists speak monkey;

This indicates that monkeys exhibit empathy, and some can say compassion, and other say altruism. Whatever term you call it, it is clear that even in primate monkeys, an individual is able to relate to the pain of another individual and will make decisions that will reduce the other's pain.

I'm sure most people here have had two puppies growing up in their homes at once, and when you punish one for pooping on the carpet, the other hides with its tail between its legs. Animals are aware of danger, not some deep emotional feelings for each other. We can 'interpret' the monkeys refusal to pull the chain ANY WAY we want, the monkeys will not object.

When animals sense danger their own or the others of their kind, they recognize and try to avoid the cause. If pulling the chain (or pooping on the carpet) causes the other obvious pain, eventually they avoid that which caused hazard, that's all. Birds in Africa will warn Gazelles, of Lions on the prowl, it's survival in the wild, not some emotional gesture.

I guess after this test they observed the monkey that has been pulling the chain apologize and hug the other monkey, am I right?

They recognize and then try to avoid danger, that's all.

When a Bear attacks one of the wolves, the others scatter, now I could write an entire book making up and listing all kinds of human emotions between the wolf pack. Disney has been doing that for many years, and Stephen Spielberg has done this too with a horse. The attempt here is to brainwash people into believing that animals (or even robots) have more emotion than humans. Rolling Eyes

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 204: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:11 pm
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I'm sure most people here have had two puppies growing up in their homes at once, and when you punish one for pooping on the carpet, the other hides with its tail between its legs. Animals are aware of danger, not some deep emotional feelings for each other. We can 'interpret' the monkeys refusal to pull the chain ANY WAY we want, the monkeys will not object.


Actually, the Monkeys did a better job than the humans did.. :


YouTube


And btw arian. they weren't studying puppies... And of course you seem to need to appeal to a denial of evidence in order to believe that animals are magically emotionless beasts ect and just randomly do things.

Quote:
They recognize and then try to avoid danger, that's all.


This is how it works in humans too silly... However, empathy is shown to be the recognition of danger and danger to those of your own.. Many animals display empathy to which includes dolphins..

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 205: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:30 pm
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Autodidact wrote:
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There's no such thing as moral beliefs other than as a human invention otherwise monkeys wouldn't exhibit moral behavior such as empathy and compassion. Unless you think monkeys have a belief system? Morals are simply a result of evolution just as our bodies are.


Quote:
"I ought to respect the lives of others" or "I ought to treat others as I would like to be treated" are moral beliefs. Are you saying neither of these beliefs have a truth value, that both of these beliefs are false, or something else?


What I'm saying is, if you want to live a happy and fulfilling life, then you ought to do these things.


I have known people who would get sick if they helped someone out, especially if it didn't benefit them in some way.

It's easy to say morals are an option, but watch how those same people will complain if someone breaks those morals and has caused them harm!

Would you consider 'communism' as an expression of a 'happy and fulfilling life'? I know Christian morals can achieve this, and so did hundreds of nationalities who accumulated here in the United States of America. Never in the history since nations existed has so many lived in peace under a set of morals as what we have here in the States. So why destroy it? Why tear it down to some primitive animal state like the 'survival of the fittest'? Why?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 206: Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:19 am
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Would you consider 'communism' as an expression of a 'happy and fulfilling life'? I know Christian morals can achieve this, and so did hundreds of nationalities who accumulated here in the United States of America. Never in the history since nations existed has so many lived in peace under a set of morals as what we have here in the States. So why destroy it? Why tear it down to some primitive animal state like the 'survival of the fittest'? Why?


America wasn't founded on Christian morals and values. It was founded on trying to escape them and keep them out of government. And if you haven't noticed, America is becoming dangerously close to becoming a Religious police state / theocracy.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 207: Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:20 am
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Re: I am seriously questioning my atheism

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Haven wrote:

Debate question: [i]Are my issues with atheism legitimate? Can atheism provide a coherent moral framework other than nihilism, relativism, or subjectivism? Do these problems really present evidence for theism? Is William Lane Craig right? Is this a real problem for atheism, or are my (our) emotions simply overriding my (our) rationality?


Feel free to present evidence for or against atheism, Christianity, or any religious or nonreligious perspective in this thread.


Objective morals not existing do not show that atheism is wrong or false. The reality may just simply be that morals are human derived and not objective. I also see no issue with atheists calling something evil just as long as they acknowledge that they're speaking on the scale of belief and not objectivity. To date, I don't see any examples where everyone agrees on the same morals and that's even with THEISTS because some theists have differing views from other theists.

To my knowledge, there is no objective framework for morality in atheism but throwing God into the picture without evidence of a god is going off of emotion or by what you'd want despite not having evidence. And besides lack of evidence for God, there's also a lack of evidence that objective morals exist so jumping to God is a jump in logic.

So the problem that people perceive with morals and atheism is not being able to have moral justification to call anything evil and to act on stopping it. I don't believe this is a problem for just atheism but really for EVERYONE and their system of belief because at the end of the day we all end up trying to impose our rules on others, and when we have enough strength in numbers we usually end up attacking and forcing others to adhere to our view of right and wrong. Perhaps, if God was more evident and clear on his rules and on enforcing them, then there would not be an issue here.

On a side note.. you mention that you're questioning atheism and based on other information in your post (which I left out from post #1) perhaps you can consider just being an agnostic. In my opinon, if someone finds good reasons on both sides but can't make up their mind as to which side they're on, then the only tenable position may be agnosticism.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 208: Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:42 am
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TheJackelantern wrote:
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I'm sure most people here have had two puppies growing up in their homes at once, and when you punish one for pooping on the carpet, the other hides with its tail between its legs. Animals are aware of danger, not some deep emotional feelings for each other. We can 'interpret' the monkeys refusal to pull the chain ANY WAY we want, the monkeys will not object.


Actually, the Monkeys did a better job than the humans did.. :


YouTube


And btw arian. they weren't studying puppies... And of course you seem to need to appeal to a denial of evidence in order to believe that animals are magically emotionless beasts ect and just randomly do things.

Quote:
They recognize and then try to avoid danger, that's all.


This is how it works in humans too silly... However, empathy is shown to be the recognition of danger and danger to those of your own.. Many animals display empathy to which includes dolphins..


Your Youtube video is a perfect example of a weak mind, and this would never happen to me unless I was in on the joke.

Yes, by the teaching of evolution, people eventually accept that they are nothing but animals, and that even animals can show more compassion than humans.

In school, especially in College, evolution is presented as intelligent rational reasoning, while 'creation' is put down as dumb, unscientific ignorance. This is brainwashing just like you showed in the video, and which college kid would want to be labeled stupid? This also proves that most kids 'know' evolution is a lie, just don't want to be labeled stupid, so they go along with it.

This is also evident on this forum, especially with the creator (OP) of this particular topic we are on. "Since no one could prove one way or another, I will remain an atheist."
Why if no one proved it one way or another?
What happened to 'Seriously questioning my atheism"??

Because you guys make the theory of evolution sound like the 'smarter, more intelligent choice' whether it's true or not, the same result is achieved as in the little experiment in your video, and the poor person is succumbed to 'Indoctrination', or 'brainwashing'.

We Believers are trained to avoid falling into such traps, and if we are sure of something, we are taught to stand on that in faith. I don't care if the entire school claimed that an obvious 2 inch line is a foot long, I would still stand on the obvious and say it is two inches. I would have 'jumped' out of my seat and looked each of my classmates straight in the eyes and would have asked them if they were serious or not? Then I would have taken a ruler, and bring them back to reality.

Eph 4:13-15
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
NKJV

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 209: Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:22 am
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Your Youtube video is a perfect example of a weak mind, and this would never happen to me unless I was in on the joke.


So the Monkeys have a strong mind, and the humans have a weak mind.... Clearly you are not grasping this.. And it's rather interesting how that relates to cults and religions eh?..

Quote:
Yes, by the teaching of evolution, people eventually accept that they are nothing but animals, and that even animals can show more compassion than humans.


You are an animal silly.. Your ego seems to big for it's britches if you think you are not.. That's called narcissism (used in the context of elitism). Especially when you are trying to argue from an appeal to emotion in the highlighted text.
Quote:

In school, especially in College, evolution is presented as intelligent rational reasoning, while 'creation' is put down as dumb, unscientific ignorance. This is brainwashing just like you showed in the video, and which college kid would want to be labeled stupid? This also proves that most kids 'know' evolution is a lie, just don't want to be labeled stupid, so they go along with it.


Again you are appealing to emotion here. And have you scientifically shown creationism? Nope.. Do creationists use dishonesty and appeals to ignorance? Yes.. Does this make them dumb in general? No... And sorry, evolution is evidence based, and not just faith based blind assertion.. But this subject shift you are attempting does not address why the humans failed miserably compared to the monkeys in regards to administering electric shocks, especially supposedly lethal shocks under the knowledge that given that they would be... So your best answer is "oh, they were of weak mind"... Do you have any idea how many tests like this have been done on humans? A lot, and the results are pretty much the same.

So the point of this video I posted arian is to show you that your assessment of the Monkeys is way off, and you can't seem to accept how a monkey or any other animal can be capable of compassion, empathy, or moral fortitude... Yes humans have a higher capacity for these due to higher intelligence. However, we also have a higher capacity to be brutal, ruthless, destructive, and subject to manipulation to which can cause you to do horrible things without much care or consideration.. It's often found in the MOB mentality, and tribal nature.. It's rooted in needing to be accepted and a part of the majority group out of fear of being outlasted or seen as disobedient... You can see this written all over the bible, and inherent in religious dogma ect. And it's not just subject to religion, or the religious. The video shows how such brainwashing works, and it's applicable even to how companies advertise their products ect. When you know how brainwashing works, it's rather easier to pick out when it's being used, or has been used. It offers you some protection against it, and that applies to everyone here.


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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 210: Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:22 am
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Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
Knight wrote:
"Ought to" doesn't imply "ability to." As to why we ought to eliminate our corrupt natures or seek out a theistic moral system, I've already answered that. We're responsible to God because God created us to be responsible. . . .

Responsibility involves obligation and accountability for actions, which doesn't solve the problem I mentioned above: We wouldn't say that a rock is obliged to fall when dropped, or accountable for having done so. Granted, in everyday language we might sometimes project some of our own attributes onto objects due to our close relationship to them: For example, that my computer is 'responsible' for transmitting my thoughts to you through the internet. If that's the kind of situation you're describing regarding God's relationship to us, I'd say that you're misusing the word responsible to imply obligation or accountability where they're really not meaningful terms.

I am in complete agreement with your definition.

Mithrae wrote:
To the extent that responsibility is a meaningful concept for this dicussion, it would have to imply choices which we are obligated and accountable to God for making or not making. But even that doesn't give any truth value to why we ought to make one choice over the other. It's like saying we ought to keep breathing or eating. God created me to be obligated to him? Okay, but why ought I fulfill that obligation? Once again, if we're compelled 'ought' is a meaningless concept, but if we have a choice it's simply a value judgement on which facts will most consistently sway our decisions.

Our responsibility to God is simply a facet of our being. There is nothing contradictory about this. God didn't just create me to be obligated. He actually created me such that I am obligated, regardless of my response to that fact.

Also, determinism doesn't preclude choice.

As anything more than an illusion, it does - that's what determinism means. It may well be that there's nothing contradictory about your views, they're just either circular or meaningless. It seems to boil down to "we ought to seek/follow God's will because it's God's will that we do so." If 'ought to' is a meaningful concept, that's obviously circular.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
There's differences between the two views, certainly, though in general terms I believe that central element of empathy as expressed in the Golden Rule is common to all moral systems.

How would you want to be treated if you were a criminal?

Hard to say. I've heard that some repeat offending criminals may want to return to the stability of prison life. Some religious criminals seek martyrdom and/or media recognition of their cause. But in general criminals presumably want to be treated well, just like the rest of us. Or probably better than the rest of us, no doubt sometimes with more fear, respect or the like.

Would not a criminal like to be treated with mercy? As a sinner, that is my preference.

Okay. I'm not sure what either your preference regarding the treatment of your 'sin' or some criminals' preference regarding the treatment of their crime has to do with the discussion though. I'm sure a lot of people would prefer not to be the vessels of wrath prepared by God for destruction.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
In other words, both views are quite similar in their basis for morality - our nature as human beings and the reason why this is so - and in both views there will be some (or many?) in society who reject or distort the consensus moral views.

Could you expand on what you mean by "basis," particularly as it does or doesn't relate to the concept of the justification of one's morality?

I'm not sure I can, particularly without some further clarification what you mean by justification. "We're responsible to God because God created us to be responsible" does not seem a particularly compelling justification to me - or at least, no more so than "we're responsible to our communities because evolution has made us responsible."

You said both views are similar in their basis for morality. Is this referring to the justification or reasons each view would provide for the moral beliefs each has?

Evolution isn't a thinking entity with purposes and intentions. How would you even be able to infer that, then? It's not analogous to a revelational epistemology.

It may be that I don't understand your revelational epistemology; as above, it seems to boil down to confusion or circularity. Perhaps I'll be able to answer your question when this confusion is cleared up.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
From what I know, Calvin's doctrines are a compelling conclusion if and only if the writings of Paul are taken to be God's own truth. Any non-Calvinist reading Romans 9 will likely see a deity who by human understanding is quite monstrous, creating living thinking beings only for the express purpose of destroying them in order to exalt its own glory and 'mercy' shown to certain others among its playthings.

Well, I am in full agreement with everything you say here. Paul himself says as much (not to be anachronistic).

Mithrae wrote:
While it's possible that someone might indeed reach the conclusion that we're playthings of a cruel and whimsical deity, I can't imagine that anyone would consider this to be a justifiable basis for human morality except by taking Paul's views as God's own - and even then, most Christians balk at the notion.

Nothing in Romans 9 implies God is whimsical. God acts necessarily. You would have to expand on what you think cruelty entails and why you think such is immoral, however.

I'd say that "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden" (v18) is the very epitome of whimsical. Off the top of my head I'm not sure there's anywhere in Paul's writings that he says this behaviour stems from any contraints of necessity on God. As for whether it's cruel as well as whimsical, I said that's a conclusion which someone might perhaps come to for their own reasons - obviously someone reaching their conclusion based on the bible is not likely to think so. I didn't say that cruelty was immoral either (though most folk seem to think so), I said that as a justifiable basis for human morality such a deity doesn't seem very compelling.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
However if my guess is correct, that would mean that before before becoming a Calvinist you believed Paul's letters to be God's own word, yes? Honestly, I don't think that biblicists becoming Calvinists is evidence that they're less persistant in error; on the contrary, it's simply following a previous error to an even more extreme conclusion which, in my opinion, debases or eliminates any moral inspiration or value of this God and of humanity itself.

I would say that for Haven to abandon his moral intuitions and embrace moral relativism would be the clear example of debasement of "moral inspiration." I find it sad that you would consider the side that actually attempts to justify their dogmatic moral beliefs is the side which debases moral inspiration. Almost every atheist here has recommended that Haven accept that no one "ought" do anything (in the appropriate sense of the word you mention in your first part above). That is the extremist view. That is the erroneous view.

Of course we have differing opinions on the merit of each others' moral systems. However my original point stands that a God-centered approach to be morality is a much more obscure and uncertain quest in discovering what this deity actually requires from amongst the myriad of competing claims on the subject, rather than formulating our own codes of behaviour, and likely to be more resistant to change and persistent in error. In going from belief that Paul's letters are the very words of God to believing Calvin's doctrines, you haven't provided a counter-example.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
In what way do your little brother's lies show a lack of empathy?

For starters, he blames my little sister for doing the troublesome things he did.

Mithrae wrote:
Lying to protect himself from harm is not the same as lying specifically in order to hurt others, is it? Does your little brother do the latter also?

Yes, and if you think this is uncommon, I would question to what level you are "socially dense," i.e. involved in society. Especially among people my age and younger, picking on others is very common.

Thanks for the clarification; the information you'd provided showed only your brother's self-interest, not his lack of empathy. Now going back to what I originally wrote:
    I'd suspect that the gaps between "This is how I like to be treated" and "This is how s/he likes to be treated" (in other words, empathy) are based largely on family relationships throughout childhood. The big and unjustified leap in reasoning is "This is how I ought to be treated," which most children seem to infer simply from their desire to be treated thus; but looking back on my own and my friends' and siblings' experiences, it seems to progressively dawn on us that logically you can't have that without subsequently acknowledging "This is how s/he ought to be treated."

Like our bodies, our sexuality, our capacity for abstract thought or pretty much any other aspect of our natures, empathy develops over the years of our childhood - your brother being one such example. The interesting thing is that with the Christian view of a fundamentally corrupt nature requiring regeneration or sanctification, which they claim is exemplified in young children, it seems to follow that even non-Christian households can often make a lot of positive changes to that 'corrupt nature' as the child grows.


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
And what percentage of criminals, do you suppose, don't love their children, their wives or their friends? Again, I specifically stated that this process of empathy begins with how we want to be treated, then extends to our family, then the community... and apparently we really haven't grasped it at the level of our species yet. Even at the community or national level our ability to reflect on how our actions impact others is far from perfect, as the examples of criminals, greed-driven corporate executives and all the rude or inconderate people we meet on a day-to-day basis show. Heck, even in the closest family units there are conflicts of interest; no-one ever said that our desire for other people's good will always over-rule our desire for our own good.


But if we haven't "grasped it at the level of our species yet," that begs the question: how can you claim that it is part of our nature?

As above sexuality, communication and language, abstract thought and so on are all part of our natures too. That doesn't mean that people of any age (or even all adults) are sexually active or curious; it doesn't mean that people of every culture and region can communicate effectively with each other; it doesn't mean that all adults or civilizations through all historical eras have the same development of abstract thought.

Perhaps our understanding of the nature of humans is different, however. Do you believe that something can only be called 'part of our nature' if it's seen in all humans and/or at all levels of society?


Knight wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
But, as the experiment with monkeys which I posted suggests, empathy is indeed part of our nature as primates.

As I've pointed out to others, this is effect to cause and correlation = causation reasoning.

I agree that we can't become a monkey and experience whether or not they feel compassion, if that's what you mean. For that matter, we can only use effect to cause reasoning to infer that other human beings have compassion also. Are you suggesting that we abandon the knowledge we've gained in that manner?

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