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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 351: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:10 pm
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1robin wrote:
I will mention a point I noticed in your original statement above. You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth.
Good point. Of course it is the Christian God who has committed the greatest genocide known so far by drowning practically all humans and animals on the planet.
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Another point would be why do people that exhibit these extraordinary levels of violence or malevolence make satanic references and exhibit characteristics consistent with demonic activity.
You mean they should be referencing God instead?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 352: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:41 pm
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From Post 342:

olavisjo wrote:

...
It is true that dogs adopt other animals, but there is no reason why they "must".

Depends on what one requires out of "must". That the animal sat there and adopted (or kidnapped) another animal indicates the 'adoptor' has a "must", whether we recognize it or not.

For the following, let's note...

1- The video header says this is in Saudi Arabia
2- The narrator mentions "...here in Taif..."

So, in confirming the location we can refer to...


In as good a search as I could, given time and motivation, and from my amateur understanding of this species, I can't confirm the location I present is accurate, nor can I confirm that any Papio species live that far north into Saudi Arabia.

If we accept this though, then we can start narrowing down which species of Baboon we're observing in the following video....


YouTube


I propose we are seeing Hamadryas Baboons (Papio hamadryas), as this species would be the most likely candidate, given morphology gleaned from the not perfect video, and geographic range (I've eliminated the Olive Baboon (Papio anubis) as it is not usually found outside of Africa. Of course, P. cyncocephalus (S Central Africa) and P. ursinus (Southern tip of Africa) are off the map here.

The Hamadryas Baboon (as are all Papio) are almost exclusively diurnal (there are known instances of farm raids at night, though I propose this night behavior will only be specific to those animals adjacent to human activity). I propose, as the narrator mentions, the "must" here is to have a sentry during those times the troop is asleep. Notice also, the dogs are said to aid in protection from other dogs, as well as contributing to hunts.

I propose the average observer must conclude that on the single issue - the benefit of a night sentry - we have shown the "must" our referenced poster requests, while offering two more compelling reasons to conclude a "must" is being met.

olavisjo wrote:

...
But as a command from the supernatural "we must love one another"...

I challenge you to show you speak truth in this regard.

1st challenge.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 353: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:57 pm
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Artie wrote:
1robin wrote:
I will mention a point I noticed in your original statement above. You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth.
Good point. Of course it is the Christian God who has committed the greatest genocide known so far by drowning practically all humans and animals on the planet.
Quote:
Another point would be why do people that exhibit these extraordinary levels of violence or malevolence make satanic references and exhibit characteristics consistent with demonic activity.
You mean they should be referencing God instead?


I am not qualified to JUDGE what God did in the flood. He explains it to be because that every thought of man was continuously evil. I don't know what this has to do with the specific point I was making. Maybe you could clarify it further.

I really don't understand your second point. I was pointing out that extremely evil people consistently displaying demonic behavior and speech is consistent with the biblical narrative. I didn't get your point.

If you are an Atheist why do you sound so angry with a deity you don't believe in.
I am not judging you it just seems inconsistent. All of us have a certain level of frustration with a benevolent God allowing so much evil or even doing things that seem horrible from our point of view but I didn't think that was what you were asking about originally.

Artie, I apolagise I thought your post was from the originator of the thread. My comments may not be as relevant but you should be able to get my drift anyway. I really would like to hear your answers as your comments were very confusing.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 354: Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:47 am
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1robin wrote:
Artie wrote:
1robin wrote:
I will mention a point I noticed in your original statement above. You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth.
Good point. Of course it is the Christian God who has committed the greatest genocide known so far by drowning practically all humans and animals on the planet.
Quote:
Another point would be why do people that exhibit these extraordinary levels of violence or malevolence make satanic references and exhibit characteristics consistent with demonic activity.
You mean they should be referencing God instead?
I am not qualified to JUDGE what God did in the flood. He explains it to be because that every thought of man was continuously evil. I don't know what this has to do with the specific point I was making. Maybe you could clarify it further.
You wrote:

"You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth."

This is a very good argument for the God of the Bible against evolution and is difficult for an evolutionist to refute. God drowned practically every human and animal on the planet and commanded the killing of countless men, women and children in the Bible. Since a Christian says we are made in His image, we are also capable of all the same atrocities, while no animal I know of is. You make a very good point.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 355: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:17 am
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Artie wrote:
1robin wrote:
Artie wrote:
1robin wrote:
I will mention a point I noticed in your original statement above. You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth.
Good point. Of course it is the Christian God who has committed the greatest genocide known so far by drowning practically all humans and animals on the planet.
Quote:
Another point would be why do people that exhibit these extraordinary levels of violence or malevolence make satanic references and exhibit characteristics consistent with demonic activity.
You mean they should be referencing God instead?
I am not qualified to JUDGE what God did in the flood. He explains it to be because that every thought of man was continuously evil. I don't know what this has to do with the specific point I was making. Maybe you could clarify it further.
You wrote:

"You point out that some people behave in ways so absolutely evil that it is mind boggling. I would suggest that the seeming infinite level of evil that humans can exhibit that doesn't seem to exist in the animal kingdom would be an argument for the biblical narrative and not for atheistic evolution. Sure a tiger wants to kill a deer but has a tiger ever decided to wipe out every deer on earth."

This is a very good argument for the God of the Bible against evolution and is difficult for an evolutionist to refute. God drowned practically every human and animal on the planet and commanded the killing of countless men, women and children in the Bible. Since a Christian says we are made in His image, we are also capable of all the same atrocities, while no animal I know of is. You make a very good point.


I appreciate your considering my point a good one. I may be wrong but I suspect there is a vailed point behind your comments. If so would you state it plainly, if not then please ignore my assertion. What was the meaning of your comment about should really evil people actually reference God instead of Satin. I am still not quite sure what your point of view is. As far as evolution goes I will make one more point. Why is there such an astounding gap in the intellectual capability between humans and whatever our ancestor is supposed to have been. No gap of even a fraction of this magnitude exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 356: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:22 am
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JoeyKnothead wrote:
From Post 342:

olavisjo wrote:

...
It is true that dogs adopt other animals, but there is no reason why they "must".

Depends on what one requires out of "must". That the animal sat there and adopted (or kidnapped) another animal indicates the 'adopter' has a "must", whether we recognize it or not.

For the following, let's note...

1- The video header says this is in Saudi Arabia
2- The narrator mentions "...here in Taif..."

So, in confirming the location we can refer to...


In as good a search as I could, given time and motivation, and from my amateur understanding of this species, I can't confirm the location I present is accurate, nor can I confirm that any Papio species live that far north into Saudi Arabia.

If we accept this though, then we can start narrowing down which species of Baboon we're observing in the following video....


YouTube


I propose we are seeing Hamadryas Baboons (Papio hamadryas), as this species would be the most likely candidate, given morphology gleaned from the not perfect video, and geographic range (I've eliminated the Olive Baboon (Papio anubis) as it is not usually found outside of Africa. Of course, P. cyncocephalus (S Central Africa) and P. ursinus (Southern tip of Africa) are off the map here.

The Hamadryas Baboon (as are all Papio) are almost exclusively diurnal (there are known instances of farm raids at night, though I propose this night behavior will only be specific to those animals adjacent to human activity). I propose, as the narrator mentions, the "must" here is to have a sentry during those times the troop is asleep. Notice also, the dogs are said to aid in protection from other dogs, as well as contributing to hunts.

I propose the average observer must conclude that on the single issue - the benefit of a night sentry - we have shown the "must" our referenced poster requests, while offering two more compelling reasons to conclude a "must" is being met.

olavisjo wrote:

...
But as a command from the supernatural "we must love one another"...

I challenge you to show you speak truth in this regard.

1st challenge.


This post seems to make the point that objective morality posits a "must". And since by intellectual gymnastics it can be shown that "musts" exist in nature that that rules out a deity.

My counterpoint is that objective morals don't impose a "must" they impose a "should". If I have understood your point correctly then this makes a huge difference, if not then just ignore this.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 357: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:45 am
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From Post 356:

Referencing my Post 352...
1robin wrote:

This post seems to make the point that objective morality posits a "must".

As I said, that depends what one wants to get out of "must". Morality is in the eye of the beholder.

1robin wrote:

And since by intellectual gymnastics it can be shown that "musts" exist in nature that that rules out a deity.

I see no "intellectual gymnastics" in my post, but a reasoned and logical conclusion drawn from observing the data I presented. The poster I responded to wanted a "must". I offered what I feel is a compelling argument that "here's ya a 'must'". Must the baboon kidnap the puppy? Maybe not. But that puppy is gonna do his own "musting" when a stranger comes around, in the form of barking to warn others. So then, the baboon "must" kidnap the puppy, if that baboon wants to strenthen his defenses. Circular argument sorta, but the nature of the issue creates the circularity.

1robin wrote:

My counterpoint is that objective morals don't impose a "must" they impose a "should".

I'm closer to the "should" side of it then.

1robin wrote:

If I have understood your point correctly then this makes a huge difference, if not then just ignore this.

I'm not sure if I understood yours correctly, so you might now be wantin' to do some ignorin' of your own Smile

I'm of the opinion that morals are a personal, subjective reaction to a given deal. I'm unaware of any objective morality.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 358: Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:59 am
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1robin wrote:
Artie wrote:
This is a very good argument for the God of the Bible against evolution and is difficult for an evolutionist to refute. God drowned practically every human and animal on the planet and commanded the killing of countless men, women and children in the Bible. Since a Christian says we are made in His image, we are also capable of all the same atrocities, while no animal I know of is. You make a very good point.


I appreciate your considering my point a good one. I may be wrong but I suspect there is a vailed point behind your comments. If so would you state it plainly, if not then please ignore my assertion. What was the meaning of your comment about should really evil people actually reference God instead of Satin.
Because God killed millions of people directly or indirectly as described in the Bible and as far as I know Satan only killed 10 (The family of Job).
Quote:
I am still not quite sure what your point of view is. As far as evolution goes I will make one more point. Why is there such an astounding gap in the intellectual capability between humans and whatever our ancestor is supposed to have been. No gap of even a fraction of this magnitude exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom.
I don't think I can put it much more succinctly than what I wrote earlier. You have a deity capable of murdering and ordering the murder of millions of people and animals. This deity creates humans, who also have the ability to commit atrocities way beyond anything in the animal world possibly because we were made in His image? Would that be logical?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 359: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:00 pm
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Artie wrote:
1robin wrote:
Artie wrote:
This is a very good argument for the God of the Bible against evolution and is difficult for an evolutionist to refute. God drowned practically every human and animal on the planet and commanded the killing of countless men, women and children in the Bible. Since a Christian says we are made in His image, we are also capable of all the same atrocities, while no animal I know of is. You make a very good point.


I appreciate your considering my point a good one. I may be wrong but I suspect there is a vailed point behind your comments. If so would you state it plainly, if not then please ignore my assertion. What was the meaning of your comment about should really evil people actually reference God instead of Satin.
Because God killed millions of people directly or indirectly as described in the Bible and as far as I know Satan only killed 10 (The family of Job).
Quote:
I am still not quite sure what your point of view is. As far as evolution goes I will make one more point. Why is there such an astounding gap in the intellectual capability between humans and whatever our ancestor is supposed to have been. No gap of even a fraction of this magnitude exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom.
I don't think I can put it much more succinctly than what I wrote earlier. You have a deity capable of murdering and ordering the murder of millions of people and animals. This deity creates humans, who also have the ability to commit atrocities way beyond anything in the animal world possibly because we were made in His image? Would that be logical?


I think I finally understand why you said things the way you did but it still strikes me as if you are making the point that God is evil which would quite a different conversation. Your facts about Satin are not quite right according to the bible Satin is responsible for leading 100s of millions of people who ejected God into eternal damnation but like I said this is a huge seperate subject. I however do appreciate your comments. What did you think of the disparity of intelligence point I made.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 360: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:18 pm
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1robin wrote:

I think I finally understand why you said things the way you did but it still strikes me as if you are making the point that God is evil which would quite a different conversation. Your facts about Satin are not quite right according to the bible Satin is responsible for leading 100s of millions of people who ejected God into eternal damnation but like I said this is a huge seperate subject. I however do appreciate your comments. What did you think of the disparity of intelligence point I made.


Well, according to Christian theology

!) God is all knowing, and all powerful.
2) God created Satan.
3) Satan is responsible for evil.

If god wanted to avoid all that, all he would have had to do is no create Satan.

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