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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 361: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:21 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.
How would you measure and evaluate animal and human intelligence for a comparison?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 362: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:54 pm
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Goat wrote:
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.


I knew this was the point you were driving at. This thread was about objective morality. I don't mind discussing the character of God but that is a vast subject and quite a tricky one. If God is who Christians claim and if you are honest you will see the ability of a human to judge God is fraught with problems, and to think you have the capacity to easily sum up God is arrogance. If you want to discuss this particuklar thing then start a thread for it. It will require one of it's own and I don't want to derail this one. All this aside I do aknowledge that in our limited nature and understanding many things that God has done are upsetting so please understand I am not judgeing you.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 363: Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:30 pm
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1robin wrote:
Goat wrote:
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.


I knew this was the point you were driving at. This thread was about objective morality. I don't mind discussing the character of God but that is a vast subject and quite a tricky one. If God is who Christians claim and if you are honest you will see the ability of a human to judge God is fraught with problems, and to think you have the capacity to easily sum up God is arrogance. If you want to discuss this particuklar thing then start a thread for it. It will require one of it's own and I don't want to derail this one. All this aside I do aknowledge that in our limited nature and understanding many things that God has done are upsetting so please understand I am not judgeing you.


Can you show ANY way to show ANY moral is 'objective'. What is your definition of 'objective moral'. Are you claiming God is the source of the 'objective moral', and if so, is it because God is dictating it , or is it objective independent of God.

Or, perhaps, 'objective morals' don't exist at all.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 364: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:30 am
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Artie wrote:
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.
How would you measure and evaluate animal and human intelligence for a comparison?


There are many ways to test intelligence, but I would leave the details up to someone who was qualified in that field. With or without a test the obvious disparity of intelligence in comparison between humans and the next smartest being is so vast that I can't imagine how evolution could account for it.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 365: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:37 am
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1robin wrote:
Artie wrote:
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.
How would you measure and evaluate animal and human intelligence for a comparison?


There are many ways to test intelligence, but I would leave the details up to someone who was qualified in that field. With or without a test the obvious disparity of intelligence in comparison between humans and the next smartest being is so vast that I can't imagine how evolution could account for it.


Ah yes, the argument from personal incredulity. "I can't imagine xxxxxx therefore God'.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 366: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:41 am
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Goat wrote:
1robin wrote:
Goat wrote:
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.


I knew this was the point you were driving at. This thread was about objective morality. I don't mind discussing the character of God but that is a vast subject and quite a tricky one. If God is who Christians claim and if you are honest you will see the ability of a human to judge God is fraught with problems, and to think you have the capacity to easily sum up God is arrogance. If you want to discuss this particuklar thing then start a thread for it. It will require one of it's own and I don't want to derail this one. All this aside I do acknowledge that in our limited nature and understanding many things that God has done are upsetting so please understand I am not judging you.


Can you show ANY way to show ANY moral is 'objective'. What is your definition of 'objective moral'. Are you claiming God is the source of the 'objective moral', and if so, is it because God is dictating it , or is it objective independent of God.

Or, perhaps, 'objective morals' don't exist at all.


I have heard ways philosophers use to indicate the presence of objective moral values in many debates, I can't remember them at this time but I am sure researching William lane Craig or even Ravi Zacharias will get you what you want.
It is interesting though that humans seems to take for granted that they exist. For example you could never conclude that Hitler's actions were wrong without them. Also if you believe there are none how could you justify stopping by force, cannibals from eating their neibors kids. How could you declare ritual sacrifice to be actually wrong if you actually don't believe in objective morals. Would you seeing this happen say to yourself well there is nothing actually wrong with what they are doing and just sit and watch. Object morals would seem to be self evident to some extant.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 367: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:51 am
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1robin wrote:
There are many ways to test intelligence, but I would leave the details up to someone who was qualified in that field. With or without a test the obvious disparity of intelligence in comparison between humans and the next smartest being is so vast that I can't imagine how evolution could account for it.
But you see, we can't base our evaluation of whether something is true or not on whether you can imagine it or not. You have to provide us with evidence showing this disparity to be vast.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 368: Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:03 am
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1robin wrote:
I have heard ways philosophers use to indicate the presence of objective moral values in many debates, I can't remember them at this time but I am sure researching William lane Craig or even Ravi Zacharias will get you what you want.
It is interesting though that humans seems to take for granted that they exist. For example you could never conclude that Hitler's actions were wrong without them.
Why not? What or whose objective morals do you employ to conclude that Hitler's actions were wrong?
Quote:

Also if you believe there are none how could you justify stopping by force, cannibals from eating their neibors kids.
What or whose objective morals would you employ to stop the cannibals?
Quote:

How could you declare ritual sacrifice to be actually wrong if you actually don't believe in objective morals.
What or whose objective morals would you employ to stop ritual sacrifice? If you had lived in Biblical times would you have used those objective morals to stop the ritual sacrifices demanded by God?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 369: Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:14 am
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1robin wrote:
For example you could never conclude that Hitler's actions were wrong without them. Also if you believe there are none how could you justify stopping by force, cannibals from eating their neibors kids. How could you declare ritual sacrifice to be actually wrong if you actually don't believe in objective morals. Would you seeing this happen say to yourself well there is nothing actually wrong with what they are doing and just sit and watch. Object morals would seem to be self evident to some extant.

Time to pimp my thread again. Go here to see the answers these common questions.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 370: Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:35 am
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1robin wrote:
Goat wrote:
1robin wrote:
Goat wrote:
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.


I knew this was the point you were driving at. This thread was about objective morality. I don't mind discussing the character of God but that is a vast subject and quite a tricky one. If God is who Christians claim and if you are honest you will see the ability of a human to judge God is fraught with problems, and to think you have the capacity to easily sum up God is arrogance. If you want to discuss this particuklar thing then start a thread for it. It will require one of it's own and I don't want to derail this one. All this aside I do acknowledge that in our limited nature and understanding many things that God has done are upsetting so please understand I am not judging you.


Can you show ANY way to show ANY moral is 'objective'. What is your definition of 'objective moral'. Are you claiming God is the source of the 'objective moral', and if so, is it because God is dictating it , or is it objective independent of God.

Or, perhaps, 'objective morals' don't exist at all.


I have heard ways philosophers use to indicate the presence of objective moral values in many debates, I can't remember them at this time but I am sure researching William lane Craig or even Ravi Zacharias will get you what you want


I am not debating Craig, or Zacharias, they are not on this forum. You are the one making the claim. BTW, I have zero respect for either of those two people when it comes to common sense and rational claims. It appears to me that with Craig in specific, his arguments consist on untestable premises' , and untestable conclusions. It appears his arguments are designed to come to a predetermined conclusion, yet, there is nothing that can be confirmed or tested, but it plays one huge word games with leaps of logic.

Quote:

.
It is interesting though that humans seems to take for granted that they exist. For example you could never conclude that Hitler's actions were wrong without them. Also if you believe there are none how could you justify stopping by force, cannibals from eating their neibors kids. How could you declare ritual sacrifice to be actually wrong if you actually don't believe in objective morals. Would you seeing this happen say to yourself well there is nothing actually wrong with what they are doing and just sit and watch. Object morals would seem to be self evident to some extant.


Ah yes, let's bring up Hitler.


If anything, Hitler SHOWS there are not objective morals. He , and the entire Nazi movement thought he was right. By the sensibilities of everyone else he was wrong, and everyone else won.

The desire for morality is an instinct in social animals,.. examples can be shown in fruit bats, dolphins, other primates, large cats, and of course, humans. WHAT that structure is varies from culture to culture, and can even change over time within a society. It has been suggested that morality is a cultural conditioned response.

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