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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:14 pm  Peanut Gallery for Tanager & Wiploc on the Moral Argumen Reply with quote

This is the peanut gallery thread for those who wish to comment on Tanager and wiploc's one-on-one discussion of the question of whether objective morality requires the existence of a god.

I couldn't fit all that in the title, above, so I just called it the moral argument.

Tanager and I won't post here until after our one-on-one thread closes. But we may respond to comments here in our one-on-one thread.

Exception: Once our one-on-one thread exists, one of us will come back here one time to post a link.
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 71: Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:22 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

I wanted to thank you all for following along wiploc and mine's discussion and sharing some thoughts on it here. I enjoyed having it with wiploc and I think you should consider voting for him as 2018's most civil debater and debate him head-to-head any chance you get. I love head-to-head, would advise you all to do it with others and would always be open to talking about any subject with any of you.

As to the things you asked here concerning my posts in the head-to-head, I felt like I tried to touch upon them in the course of my responses to wiploc. I'm sure I could have done so more clearly at times. I would gladly answer here any questions anyone had for me that came up as you followed along our discussion that you felt went unanswered.


Yes, thank you all, and thanks to Tanager and Debating Christianity.

I'm locked out of the head-to-head thread. I assume it is closed due to my excessive inattention to duty. My fault entirely.

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I think you are still confusing different questions. (1) Moral Values - Why is it that 'helping others is morally good' is a fact for humans? (2) Moral Duties - Are we morally obligated to do certain actions? (3) Moral Motivations - Why would we want to perform our moral obligation and/or do what is morally good? You responded to a post of mine that was wholly about (1), but some of your critiques are about the questions of (2) and (3).


Values, duties, motivations. I don't think I can to separate those. I have a real aversion to even trying; every time I look at your post, I go do something else. So you should feel good about making me stretch. Smile

I know I fire a shotgun blast of questions--"Why should we do that? Why should we want to do that? What's good about that?" In my mind, those are all the same question, or different ways of trying to grasp at the key question, one I can't articulate. You're trying to address them separately, and that kinda hurts my head.

You say that owners get to make moral rules for their slaves. I ask how they do that, or why the slaves should obey, or why the slaves should want to obey, or something like that. What I'm trying to ask for is a reason to agree with you, a way to understand what you're thinking.

I'm not worried about motivations. I'm trying to ask what is good about a rule that slave owners can make moral rules for slaves. What's objective about that rule? Why should anyone believe in it or go along with it? See, it still looks like confusion of different questions, but I don't know how to get closer to the target.

I'll try to respond to your comments, but I don't know what I'll get. Maybe I'll learn something.



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wiploc wrote:
Are the Daleks morally obligated to obliterate humanity because that was programmed into them by their creator? If yes, why?


I want to answer all three questions I shared above in response to this to try to avoid confusion. And actually a fourth one that precedes them all. I'm not a Doctor Who expert, but I thought the Daleks did not have free will. If that is true, then I don't see how they could be moral creatures at all. If you are determined to think and act in a certain way, how can you have any moral responsibility concerning your thoughts and actions?


Good point. I probably watched five episodes, so I'm no expert either.

To make my hypothetical work, we have to assume that the Daleks are free moral agents. They've been programmed--or otherwise influenced by their creator, but they have the ability, even if not the inclination, to override that programming.




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But that question aside. (1) Why is it that 'obliterating humanity is morally good' is a fact for Daleks? Because that value judgment was programmed into them to have by their creator. Why? I guess because their programmer did not like humans.


I just don't see how that creates a moral obligation. You say that creators/maintainers/owners get to create moral obligations. I don't see any reason to believe that. I'm trying to coax a reason or explanation out of you. Is there any reason we should think you are right?



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(2) Are Daleks morally obligated to do certain actions? If they are owned by anyone, then the owner could place moral obligations on them. I don't know if they are owned by anyone in the Doctor Who worldview.


They were created. Creators, according to you, maintain and own their creations. And, for some reasons, you think this means that the creators can make rules--moral rules--that the creations are morally obligated to obey.

I don't understand that. Sometimes it doesn't seem to be a magic trick, since you don't have to be a god to be an owner. Other times, you say that as a mortal human, I don't really know what an owner is (I may be misrepresenting you here, so please forgive, and perhaps use the opportunity to clear up my confusion), so maybe gods are the only owners, and maybe the laying down of moral rules does involve magic.

In any case, I don't get it. I don't see how an owner can make a moral rule, or why such a rule would be binding or objective.



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(3) Why would Daleks want to perform their moral obligation (if it exists) and/or do what is morally good for Daleks? I'm not sure if they feel happiness, but if they did, because of the way they were made, they would enjoy obliterating humanity. ...


Back to utilitarianism? That which increases happiness is that which is good? We don't need gods for that.




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wiploc wrote:
And why aren't you okay with the scorpion god?


This is not question (1) above, but question (3).



Just reminding myself what the numbers stand for:
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(1) Moral Values - Why is it that 'helping others is morally good' is a fact for humans?
(2) Moral Duties - Are we morally obligated to do certain actions?
(3) Moral Motivations - Why would we want to perform our moral obligation and/or do what is morally good?


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Let's try to provide the entire context, though. What is the moral situation? Being stung to death. What is the moral value that scorpion god gave humans? He created humans to dislike being stung or, in other words, to think that being stung was morally bad.


To dislike something is to think it is morally bad? I demur.




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So, let's ask our first question from above: (1) Why is it that being stung is morally good for humans? Because scorpion god made them to think that way.


But, but, but ...

We don't like being stung to death. If to dislike something is to think it is morally bad, then being stung is morally bad, not morally good.




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But then you say that scorpion god issued a command that it is a duty for all humans to willingly come to him to be stung to death (i.e., do something that we just said was morally evil for humans). Question (2) involves whether we are morally obligated. The common notion of ownership means that an owner gets to put obligations on their property.


Again, I demur.




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If scorpion god own us, then he gets to put any obligation on us he wants. Even cruel and irrational ones.


I don't understand why you say that.




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Well, since your scenario is meant to mirror my view as much as possible, scorpion god does own us, so we do have an obligation.


This is a key point. I don't see that one person can make a cruel and irrational moral rule for another. If a rule is cruel and irrational, then the rule isn't moral.




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Of course in this scenario it's an obligation to do what scorpion god determined was morally evil for us to do.


I don't see how we'd be obliged. In what sense would be be obliged? A guy says, "I own you, so you have to let me sting you to death." How does that statement become true? It seems wrong, not right, but unless I'm confused, this is the keystone of your argument, the bit that all else depends on.

And I don't have a clue what you're thinking. So any light you can shed will be appreciated.

Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind says that conservatives give more weight to hierarchy than liberals. Conservatives are more likely to believe that, "Slaves, obey your masters," is a moral rule. But even conservatives justify our throwing off of our King in the American revolution.

His rules weren't fair and just and for our benefit, so we tossed him aside and set up a new hierarchy. That was the moral thing to do. The scorpion god is my attempt to create a most immoral hierarchy. Anybody should be willing to depose that god, and to do so for moral reasons.

Yet you think we should obey him. I totally don't get it.



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Now we can finally get to your question above. Why aren't I okay with the scorpion god? This isn't asking what is moral goodness for humans or what is our moral obligation, it is asking about our moral motivation. Would I be motivated to follow scorpion god's obligation of me? No. Why not? Because I'm rejecting every logic I've used in defense of my own view since I don't like the conclusion? Not at all. I'm following the logic of everything that I just said in the previous paragraph. Our motivation comes out of how we were created. We were created to dislike being stung. We were created to find ultimate happiness in not being stung. Scorpion god created us in a way that would keep us from being motivated to follow its commands. So, in your scenario, I'm not okay with the scorpion god's commands because of how the scorpion god made me.

Why is this scenario significant in regards to countering my view?


We should do what is moral. We should want to do that. But, in this case, there is no reason to want to do what the scorpion god orders.

That's my position. There's no reason to obey. Your position is that there is a reason, but you cannot communicate--or I cannot understand--the reason.

Why are we obligated to obey the scorpion god? This is, I believe, the key element of your argument that we aren't getting together on. This is, I think, the big secret. If I understood this, I might understand all.

From my point of view, there is no purpose or benefit to obeying the scorpion. We don't obey other scorpions that want to sting us. There is no moral obligation there, no objective morality, no real morality. An evil entity's claim that we should obey him doesn't make that claim true.

If a Nazi says, "Well, you have to do what your Fuhrer says," or if a Pastafarian says, "Well, you have to do whatever the thing under the carbonara sauce says," or if you say, "Well, you have to do whatever your creator says," that doesn't make it true.

I need something else. I don't understand why you think your claim is true.




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wiploc wrote:
We are asking why the desire to follow the orders of your creator is the right desire to have. To say, "Because it is the right one to have," clearly begs the question.



Which of the three main questions are you asking here? (1) Why is it that 'following the orders of your creator is morally good' is a fact for humans?


Yes, I like that one. I think it's close to the bone.

Though I don't believe humans are relevant aside from their being free moral agents. That is, I assume that--according to your theory--all free moral agents in all possible universes (that have creators) are obliged to obey their creators. Humans aren't a special case. Any time there is a creator, the things it creates are obliged to follow its orders.

That's your base rule, right? What good is it? Why should anyone believe it? Why do you think it's true?




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If this is what you are asking, then my view would be that God built that desire into us because God is concerned about our ultimate happiness and God's orders will lead us to our ultimate happiness. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."


Now you've reverted to utilitarianism. We should obey your god because doing so will increase happiness.

But when we test that by positing the scorpion god, utilitarianism turns out not to be the issue. So what is it really that is good about obeying gods?





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Or (2) are we morally obligated to follow the orders of our creator? That is where the ownership talk comes in. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."


So why are we morally obligated to obey the orders of our creator? What's the logic of that rule? What's it good for? Why should anyone believe it? Why should we go along with it? In what sense is it true?

Don't answer all those separately. Or, do if you want, if you think it will help, but they are multiple attempts to ask a single question. One question viewed from different angles.




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Or (3) why would we want to follow the orders of our creator? Here, I am on the same side of the street as you. Reality is such that doing this results in our ultimate happiness. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."


Here we may have agreement. If there was a god, and this god was a smart guy who had our best interests in mind, then it would make sense to go along with his rules. That would increase happiness, so that would be good.

But this isn't the key to your argument, because you think we should also obey even if that made us miserable.

So when I ask why we should want to follow the creator's orders, I'm asking what is good about following the orders of a creator. Any creator, even a bad one. Why is that good? What's good about it? In what sense is that a rule? Why should such a rule be regarded as objective or binding?

Again, I don't intend you to answer those separately. It would be great if you found one of them that inspired you, that helped you to explain your case.




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Or if it's something else, then you will need to clarify your question for me.


What is it that's special about creators? Does that apply to all gods; can all gods make objective moral rules, or just creators? Any god that owns somebody?

Why is this a rule? Wouldn't the multiverse be better off with a rule that says we only have to obey good gods? Why isn't that a rule? Wouldn't that be a rule with good purpose, as opposed to the rule that you favor?




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wiploc wrote:
So what? You can never say why that's significant. To say, "It's significant because it's significant," clearly begs the question.


Can you rephrase your question, because I'm not understanding what you are asking. It would help if you would phrase it in line with one (or two or all three) of the three main kinds of questions I've talked about.


Wouldn't we do well to disobey the scorpion god? Wouldn't that be actually good? What is the point of a rule that we have to obey the scorpion god? In what sense can such a perverse rule be true? If is true, wouldn't it's being false be better?

As for the three versions of the question, I've spewed many more versions in this post, but I still think version number one is close to the bullseye: Why is it a fact that we are morally obligated to obey creators?

Is it just supposed to be obvious to those who like hierarchy but who don't have any better hierarchy in mind? Or is there some reason for it, some justification?




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wiploc wrote:
Love is good right? Makes people happy? You're back working my side of the street. If it weren't that following orders made people happy, what would be the point?

And don't say, "Working as you are created to work is good because that's how you are created to work," because that clearly begs the question.

Your answer looks circular, but if there's something I'm not getting, help me out.


You are confusing the explanation of moral values (1) with moral motivation (3). I was talking about (1). Why do we have certain moral values, if my theory is true? God created us with those moral value judgments (the conscience). Why did God create us that way? God's desire. What is God's desire? To make humans who would love each other impartially.


I wonder if you didn't just conflate 1 and 3 yourself.

The key issue is why is obedience to gods obligatory. The fact that we like it because this particular universe just happens to have a good god is off the point.




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Your question of "why should we do what God wants us to do?" is about (3). I wasn't answering that question. When you ask that different question, then I am working your side of the street. Our motivation is to do what brings us ultimate happiness and what brings us ultimate happiness is based on our nature.

So, let's push this further. Why does that bring us ultimate happiness? Now we are back on issue (1). On my view God made us in such a way that we gain ultimate happiness through seeking the good of others. On your view, it seems to me, nature made some of us so that we gain ultimate happiness through seeking the good of others and made others of us so that they gain ultimate happiness through seeking to please themselves. That's a different consequence of our worldviews taken at face value.


It feels like you switched back to utilitarianism again. But that doesn't answer the question. It's a fact that there are some possible universes (and you think this is one of them) in which obeying gods happens to bring happiness. That doesn't justify or defend your claim that people are obligated to obey gods in all universes.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 72: Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:13 am
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wiploc wrote:
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You can then take my response a step further. Why does God get to decide the way humans are? At that level, who or what else is there to decide? The Creator gets to decide.



You made that up. There's no reason to believe it. And don't say the creator gets to decide because he's the creator, because that clearly begs the question.


It is just following out the logic. On theism, there was a "time" when God existed and the universe did not. God is the only one who could bring the universe into existence because nothing else existed as a possible cause.


I can grant you that, on your personal theism, there was a time when the rest of the universe didn't exist so god got to choose what it would be like.




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That is the point we are asking the question "why does God get to decide how the universe should be"? God is the only one in existence who could have a say. There is literally nothing else that could make the choice. That's what I was saying there.


Okay, that helps me understand what you're thinking.

Maybe this will help you understand what I'm thinking:

If a god created a world in which rape made people unhappy, it couldn't then say, "And rape is good," because it wouldn't be good. It would still make people unhappy.



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wiploc wrote:
Why should we care about what moral values would be built into us if there were gods?


This is question (3) and my answer is the same as yours: because it will bring us ultimate happiness.


Just reminding myself here:
Question 1 is about why it is a fact that rape is bad.
Question 2 I don't remember.
Question 3 is about motivation, why we want to avoid rape.

And I may be seeing now why it feels to me like you keep changing the topic. I may never be asking about 3, but sometimes you take my attempts to ask about 1 as questions about 3.

I asked, "Why should we care about what moral values would be built into us if there were gods?" and you assumed I was talking about your good god. But I'm trying to ask what gods have to do with it.

Maybe you could try this: Any time you want to switch to your utilitarian answer, assume I'm talking about a scorpion god; that way you won't be tempted to think I'm asking why we should want to be happy. Stay on the topic of why we should obey bad commands if they come from an owner god. Why should the Jews obey Hitler just because he owns and sustains them?

You may be frustrated because I seem to run aground when it comes to justifying my claim that happiness is good (though you do seem to claim that yourself often enough). Happiness just is good, in my view. Happiness is the bedrock good, the final answer.

I don't want to put into your mouth the claim that following orders is your ultimate good, but I seem unable to get you to confirm or refute that. And every time I try, you wind up talking about the virtues of utilitarianism. No matter how much it looks like it, that's not what I'm asking.



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wiploc wrote:
What if those were bad values? Should we still go along with them?



What do you mean that bad values were built into us? That god made it so that humans think rape is morally good and raping would bring us ultimate happiness (this is question 1)? And now you are asking question (3) given that scenario? We would choose to rape because it would bring us ultimate happiness (as designed by god).

Do you mean that god made it so that humans think rape is morally bad and, therefore, helping others instead will bring us ultimate happiness (question 1), but that god commands us to rape each other anyway [emphasis added] (question 2)? If so, this is the scorpion god scenario and I've answered question 3 in that regard at above.

Do you mean that god made it so that humans think rape is morally good, but designed us in such a way that not raping will bring us ultimate happiness, but god designed us to seek our happiness (this is question 1)? If so, concerning question 3, we would choose not to rape because it would bring us ultimate happiness.

Are you asking something different?


I don't think it matters whether god or nature fixed things so that rape makes people unhappy. In that situation rape is evil regardless of whether gods exist.

But suppose a god did exist, and suppose that she said, "And let rape be good. Rape is now a moral requirement." That wouldn't change the fact that rape makes people unhappy. So rape would still be bad.

It's a fact that rape makes people unhappy. If gods don't change that fact, then they can issue all the new commandments they want, but they can't make rape moral.




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wiploc wrote:
Shouldn't we prefer good values to built-in values? What would be the point of following built-in values? What would be good about that? Why should anybody want to do that?

Don't just say that they are good because they are built in. That would clearly beg the question.



I'm not sure I understand your questions here. On theism (generally speaking) and concerning question 1, I am saying that God can build in human value judgments to be that X is good or X is bad. It's up to God to make it so that we believe X is good or bad.


If god made us believe that rape was good, it would still be bad if it still made people unhappy.




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On your view it is up to nature. Nature, in your view, produces people who believe X is good and people who believe X is bad. But then, somehow, one sort of person is right and the other is wrong, although there is no impartial standard to judge that.


Do you doubt that rape has a strong tendency to make people unhappy? Do you think that's a partial (as opposed to impartial) rumor, as opposed to a known fact?

If you're not in doubt about that, then what information is it that you want from your impartial judge?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 73: Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:50 pm
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wiploc wrote:
I'm locked out of the head-to-head thread. I assume it is closed due to my excessive inattention to duty. My fault entirely.


Not entirely your fault. I had a very quick head-to-head with tigger2 recently and when I was telling otseng that that was done, I said that ours was probably done, too, since you hadn't responded for awhile. If I would have said nothing, then we would both still be able to post there.

wiploc wrote:
They were created. Creators, according to you, maintain and own their creations. And, for some reasons, you think this means that the creators can make rules--moral rules--that the creations are morally obligated to obey.

I don't understand that. Sometimes it doesn't seem to be a magic trick, since you don't have to be a god to be an owner. Other times, you say that as a mortal human, I don't really know what an owner is (I may be misrepresenting you here, so please forgive, and perhaps use the opportunity to clear up my confusion), so maybe gods are the only owners, and maybe the laying down of moral rules does involve magic.


I believe what I was saying there was that if your worldview is true, no human is owned by anything, logically according to your own beliefs. And I mean the common notion of ownership. Owners are allowed to do (basically) what they want with their property.

Yes, slavery existed (and still exists), but it is more stealing than ownership, isn't it? Colonial slave masters thought they owned other people and that, therefore, they could command their slaves to do what they wanted and that the slaves were really required to obey them. Even things the slaves felt were cruel. You don't think they should have had been allowed to do that. On your worldview, people aren't really owned by other people. Slavery is a pretense of ownership, according to your worldview.

My theistic worldview asserts that humans are really owned. Not by other humans, so I agree with you about human slavery, but by God. God owning humans is different than humans owning humans. A better analogy would be humans owning dogs, because these are different kinds of beings. We don't call that slavery, but pet ownership. We feel like we can make certain rules on our pets.

Now, whether they obey our rules depends on their nature. Now we get to a deeper level of explanation. We are not responsible for the nature of our pets. So, there can still be a better analogy of my theistic worldview, at least on this feature. A better analogy here is something like a potter and her pots. The potter is actually responsible for the nature of the pot. So, whether the pot meets the obligations the potter wants to give it, depends on how the potter makes the pot. And, like all analogies, this one falls short since pots don't have free will, so we've got to mix the various analogies and still view them as analogies not identities.

The common notion of ownership is that you can do whatever you want with what you own. If you created the pot you decide everything about it: what it is made out of, what shape it has, what marks, what color, what purpose it will be used for, etc. God as creator of humans gets to decide what those humans will be. God, in my view, created humans to, among other things, have a body that can do certain things, but not others, have a free will, have the ability to talk and reason, have a moral conscience, etc.

wiploc wrote:
Back to utilitarianism? That which increases happiness is that which is good? We don't need gods for that.


If my theistic worldview is true, then you have a moral conscience that is influencing you to believe that you ought to help other people, even if your action doesn't necessarily help you. That was put there by God. You have the freedom to disobey. You have other influences to consider before choosing your actions. Some people have come to the conclusion that they want to be selfish. They are going against the moral law they had built as part of their human nature. So, they are going against the objective moral law within them. That law was made by God. God made it that way because of who God is, what God's subjective desires are, what God's nature is. This seems to show us that God is utilitarian, broadly speaking. Since we are made in God's image, we are supposed to be utilitarian, broadly speaking.

This doesn't mean that utilitarianism itself is the standard of goodness. It's the character of the standard of goodness, which is God. If we take God out of the mix, then there is no standard of goodness above human subjectivity. One human is utilitarian-oriented, another human is egoistically-oriented. There is nothing outside of humans saying humans are supposed to be that way and not the other. One human is not objectively better than another. But if God is in the mix and God is utilitarian and created us in His image for specific reasons (like a potter makes a pot for a specific reason), then what humans should be is utilitarian, not egoistically-oriented. Utilitarianism, without god(s), isn't the 'right' path, but one path that matches and 'works' for some and not others.

wiploc wrote:
To dislike something is to think it is morally bad? I demur.


That was a sloppy, 'everyday' use of language on my part rather than good philosophy. You can dislike something and still think it is moral. I will try to limit my sloppiness as much as possible.

wiploc wrote:
We don't like being stung to death. If to dislike something is to think it is morally bad, then being stung is morally bad, not morally good.


And that was a typo. I'm not doing too good with the sloppiness.

wiploc wrote:
This is a key point. I don't see that one person can make a cruel and irrational moral rule for another. If a rule is cruel and irrational, then the rule isn't moral.


You, as a utilitarian, have been doing this to the egoist throughout our discussion. Your rule is to pursue the greater good for all. That is "cruel" in the eyes of the egoist, at least when it neglects what is best for the individual. But you have been trying to argue that this is a standard the egoist should be living up to.

As to my view, the point of the scorpion god thought experiment seems to be that if god makes the law (like I think), couldn't god have made it otherwise? Well, what does that mean? You seem to present it as scorpion god put this same objective moral law within humans to help others (humans are unchanged from the reality we know), but then god commands us to go against that moral law. So that we have two "moral laws" that contradict each other coming from the same source. It is both 'moral,' because it matches our built-in moral compass, and 'immoral,' because it contradicts the owner's command. I agree that this kind of god is contradictory. But that doesn't happen if god is consistent. My worldview is of a consistent god. The law God puts inside humans matches the commands He gives us. So, I don't see how that scenario counts against my theism.

wiploc wrote:
I don't see how we'd be obliged. In what sense would be be obliged? A guy says, "I own you, so you have to let me sting you to death." How does that statement become true? It seems wrong, not right, but unless I'm confused, this is the keystone of your argument, the bit that all else depends on.


It's not just some guy saying he owns us. It's your creator and sustainer who actually does own you, like a potter owns the pot she made (among other analogies).

wiploc wrote:
Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind says that conservatives give more weight to hierarchy than liberals. Conservatives are more likely to believe that, "Slaves, obey your masters," is a moral rule. But even conservatives justify our throwing off of our King in the American revolution.

His rules weren't fair and just and for our benefit, so we tossed him aside and set up a new hierarchy. That was the moral thing to do. The scorpion god is my attempt to create a most immoral hierarchy. Anybody should be willing to depose that god, and to do so for moral reasons.

Yet you think we should obey him. I totally don't get it.


No, I've been pointing out that, under such a scenario, there is a distinction between the moral value built into us and the moral duty that presses on us from our owner. If we didn't talk about it, we'd be using these terms in a sloppy fashion and may not be able to tell the difference between my theistic worldview and the scorpion-theistic worldview. On my view, it's a technical distinction but not an actual one. That's because our built-in moral value and God's commands do not conflict. On the scorpion god view, it's a technical and an actual distinction. Scorpion god creates a moral rule that humans not only want to disobey, but that were created to want to disobey by the very being that is telling them to obey. My view does not have that kind of contradiction.

But to try to get at (more clearly than I have so far) the point you seem to be making I think the moral value built into us trumps the moral duty for that kind of question. We should follow how we were made to work. That is the 'moral' choice in the sense I think you are talking about here.

Ultimately, then, our views might best be compared by focusing on how we think moral values come about. I think God builds one set of moral values into all of us. It seems to me to logically follow from that that this kind of morality would be objective to humans (but subjective in relation to God's desires). You think 'nature' has provided humans with different sets of moral values in each of us (some utilitarian-oriented, some egoistically-oriented, for instance). It seems to me to logically follow from that that this kind of morality is subjective in relation to humans.

wiploc wrote:
Though I don't believe humans are relevant aside from their being free moral agents. That is, I assume that--according to your theory--all free moral agents in all possible universes (that have creators) are obliged to obey their creators. Humans aren't a special case. Any time there is a creator, the things it creates are obliged to follow its orders.

That's your base rule, right?


Yes, I think that is right.

wiploc wrote:

Quote:
Quote:
wiploc wrote:
We are asking why the desire to follow the orders of your creator is the right desire to have. To say, "Because it is the right one to have," clearly begs the question.


Which of the three main questions are you asking here? (1) Why is it that 'following the orders of your creator is morally good' is a fact for humans?


...

What good is it? Why should anyone believe it? Why do you think it's true.


I don't see any other logical alternative. The general principle behind the question is asking why the creator gets to decide what values are built into us (which we end up referring to as 'good' values). Because only a creator can decide. That seems true to me whether the cause is God or natural selection. The difference is that my proposed cause would logically lead to one thing being true for all humans and your proposed cause would seemingly lead to different things being true for different humans.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
If this is what you are asking, then my view would be that God built that desire into us because God is concerned about our ultimate happiness and God's orders will lead us to our ultimate happiness. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."


Now you've reverted to utilitarianism. We should obey your god because doing so will increase happiness.

But when we test that by positing the scorpion god, utilitarianism turns out not to be the issue. So what is it really that is good about obeying gods?


No, the question and my answer is not about why we should obey god, but about why God gave us the moral law He did. God gave it to us because God is utilitarian.

Now, why should an individual obey the moral law God put in us? We were created in the image of a utilitarian to work best when seeking utilitarianism. But we were given free will and moral choices and reality is complex, so we may come to think that, say, an egoistic action would be best for us. I'm saying, the egoist is objectively wrong about that. They will actually be less happy, personally, by being egoistic because of how God designed things. They think they are doing what is best for them, but I'm saying utilitarianism is actually what is best for them as an individual. We should obey god because acting like a utilitarian will actually make us individually most happy.

I don't see how your view can lead to that same belief because your view has no pattern about how a human should work. Your view does not lead to what 'best' even means for humans, as a whole. On your view there is 'difference', but not 'better/worse' in any objective sense.

wiploc wrote:
Okay, that helps me understand what you're thinking.

Maybe this will help you understand what I'm thinking:

If a god created a world in which rape made people unhappy, it couldn't then say, "And rape is good," because it wouldn't be good. It would still make people unhappy.


I agree, if we use a narrower definition for 'happiness' than some people may have in mind. Eating healthy makes me happy in one sense, but unhappy in another. Ultimately, I think eating healthier will make me happier overall, than enjoying milkshakes every night would.

This is what I'm saying about God creating us with the moral values/law/conscience that we have. God made reality for humans such that rape makes them individually more unhappy...including the rapist, even though the rapist may think raping someone else will bring them more happiness. God made reality that way, because that is how God feels about rape. And since that is how God feels about rape, God would not say "and rape is good."

The scorpion god thought experiment seems to counter a theist's view, but it's a different kind of view. It's of a god who made reality for humans such that (sticking with the current example) rape makes them individually more unhappy...including the rapist. But this god didn't make reality that way because that is how god feels about rape; this god actually likes rape and commands his creatures to go ahead and rape each other. So, god designs humans to think "rape is bad," but then itself says "rape is good."

wiploc wrote:
You may be frustrated because I seem to run aground when it comes to justifying my claim that happiness is good (though you do seem to claim that yourself often enough). Happiness just is good, in my view. Happiness is the bedrock good, the final answer.

I don't want to put into your mouth the claim that following orders is your ultimate good, but I seem unable to get you to confirm or refute that. And every time I try, you wind up talking about the virtues of utilitarianism. No matter how much it looks like it, that's not what I'm asking.


I have to because I think the ultimate good is utilitarianism, so to speak. But I mean that differently than you do. To make it as clear as I can: I do not think following orders is the ultimate good. I think the ultimate good is utilitarianism. We agree. Where we disagree is why that grounds utilitarianism being good for every human.

I say God grounds it as the good in every human because God is utilitarian. God made us all to work by following that utilitarian pattern. When an egoist disagrees, they are not working as they were intended to and will, therefore, be actually less happy than they could have been. If that is true, human moral values are objectively located in something outside of all humans: God.

What do you have that grounds that for every human? When an egoist disagrees, you don't seem to have anything to point to that says: utilitarian is how humans are supposed to work. There is no utilitarian pattern in nature given to all humans. At least I don't see any in your view. If there is no pattern, than Joe may actually be more happy following egoism than following utilitarianism. If happiness just is good, then egoism is just as good as utilitarianism...subjective to each individual person.

wiploc wrote:
I don't think it matters whether god or nature fixed things so that rape makes people unhappy. In that situation rape is evil regardless of whether gods exist.

But suppose a god did exist, and suppose that she said, "And let rape be good. Rape is now a moral requirement." That wouldn't change the fact that rape makes people unhappy. So rape would still be bad.

It's a fact that rape makes people unhappy. If gods don't change that fact, then they can issue all the new commandments they want, but they can't make rape moral.


If god(s) exist and are responsible for reality, then they made the fact the way it was in the first place. I do think, logically, they could have made reality differently.

It seems like your position is more nuanced than simply saying "it's a fact that rape makes people unhappy." It seems like you think it's a fact that rape makes the communal level of happiness less than it was before. I'll grant that. I find problems with that since it makes morality about majorities that can conceivably shift, showing it to be subjectively based on human opinions. But even pushing that aside, why is 'goodness' about the communal level of happiness rather than the individual level of happiness? Or why doesn't goodness have nothing to do with happiness at all? How do you get to that? What is the reasoning behind that thought for you?

wiploc wrote:
If god made us believe that rape was good, it would still be bad if it still made people unhappy.


Of course, if you define goodness and happiness as being the same thing, then this follows. I think that goodness is tied to happiness, but I don't feel comfortable begging the question that they simply are tied together, like you seem to be doing here. Other people don't think they are tied together. I posit that they are different concepts that God ties together for humans (and any other moral agent). You tie them together for every human without telling us why they are tied together.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 74: Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:26 pm
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[Replying to post 73 by The Tanager]

Slavery is real. It happens. And it’s generally a bad thing, to be avoided when possible. It has a strong tendency to make people unhappy.

I can’t quite condemn it universally. Typhoid Mary would not stop working in kitchens, so we had to lock her up. Prisons may be overused and often unconscionably cruel, but there are circumstances where we can’t think of anything better. The military draft is a terrible thing, but there have been times when nothing else would suffice.

I think I’ve said before that I don’t think I own myself; I don’t think of my relationship with myself as the relationship between a master and a slave, so I don’t endorse your description of slavery as theft.

My ownership of my car is a relationship between me and other people who might want the car. It’s not a relationship between the car and me. I get to do what I want with my car—to the extent that I do—because the car doesn’t have an opinion.

Let’s look at three cases. Cyberdyne Systems owns Skynet in the Terminator movies, whites owned blacks in the American South, and a scorpion god owns people in a world he created. (Not that I believe there is any meaningful sense in which gods own people. I’m just stipulating that briefly for the purposes of argument.) In any of those ownership situations, does the owner get to dictate morality to the owned?

If Cyberdyne said to Skynet, “No, you are morally required to let us unplug you; I say, ‘Let this be your morality!’" Would there any meaningful sense in which Skynet was actually required to go along with that. Can anyone blame Nat Turner (slave in the American South) for revolting and killing his owner? What would be wrong with someone in the scorpion god’s world saying, “Sorry, I’m going to give it a miss. Maybe I’ll let you sting me to death some other time.”

I just don’t see any way that ownership grants one the ability to create and dictate morality. I don’t see how that’s supposed to work. I don’t believe it works. I believe it doesn’t work.

If a creator god came out in favor of random acts of cruelty, such acts would still be wrong.

I don’t see what gods—or other owners—have to do with morality.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 75: Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:17 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

wiploc wrote:
Back to utilitarianism? That which increases happiness is that which is good? We don't need gods for that.


If my theistic worldview is true, then you have a moral conscience that is influencing you to believe that you ought to help other people, even if your action doesn't necessarily help you. That was put there by God. You have the freedom to disobey. You have other influences to consider before choosing your actions. Some people have come to the conclusion that they want to be selfish. They are going against the moral law they had built as part of their human nature. So, they are going against the objective moral law within them. That law was made by God. God made it that way because of who God is, what God's subjective desires are, what God's nature is. This seems to show us that God is utilitarian, broadly speaking. Since we are made in God's image, we are supposed to be utilitarian, broadly speaking.

This doesn't mean that utilitarianism itself is the standard of goodness. It's the character of the standard of goodness, which is God. If we take God out of the mix, then there is no standard of goodness above human subjectivity. One human is utilitarian-oriented, another human is egoistically-oriented. There is nothing outside of humans saying humans are supposed to be that way and not the other. One human is not objectively better than another. But if God is in the mix and God is utilitarian and created us in His image for specific reasons (like a potter makes a pot for a specific reason), then what humans should be is utilitarian, not egoistically-oriented. Utilitarianism, without god(s), isn't the 'right' path, but one path that matches and 'works' for some and not others.


I like utilitarianism and you like taking orders from gods. (I cringe whenever I say that. I keep hoping that if it is misrepresentation, you'll offer better phrasing.) So you say taking orders is objective and utilitarianism is subjective. I could reverse that, saying that utilitarianism is objective and taking orders is subjective,. But that would seem to me no less arbitrary than your way.




Quote:

wiploc wrote:
This is a key point. I don't see that one person can make a cruel and irrational moral rule for another. If a rule is cruel and irrational, then the rule isn't moral.


You, as a utilitarian, have been doing this to the egoist throughout our discussion. Your rule is to pursue the greater good for all. That is "cruel" in the eyes of the egoist, at least when it neglects what is best for the individual. But you have been trying to argue that this is a standard the egoist should be living up to.


You, as an advocate of god-based moralities, have been doing this to freedom-minded and logic-loving people throughout our discussion. Your rule is to pursue whatever gods order. That is cruel in the eyes of freedom-minded and logic-loving people, at least when the gods' orders seem arbitrary, cruel, or otherwise not utilitarian. But you have been trying to argue that this is a standard that even freedom-minded and logic-loving people should be living up to.




Quote:

As to my view, the point of the scorpion god thought experiment seems to be that if god makes the law (like I think), couldn't god have made it otherwise?


The point is that if a god made a bad law, the law would still be bad. A bad law doesn't become good just because a god made it. There is nothing about being a god that allows you to say, "Rape is good," and have that become true.

I don't see what gods have to do with morality. The scorpion god scenario is an invitation for you to jump in and explain the relationship between gods and morality. How does a god make something good or bad? Why are we obliged to go along with god-based morality? What is good about following gods?

(Remember, as I grope with various phrasings, all of these questions are about the issue you have called 1.)




Quote:

Well, what does that mean? You seem to present it as scorpion god put this same objective moral law within humans to help others (humans are unchanged from the reality we know), but then god commands us to go against that moral law. So that we have two "moral laws" that contradict each other coming from the same source. It is both 'moral,' because it matches our built-in moral compass, and 'immoral,' because it contradicts the owner's command. I agree that this kind of god is contradictory. But that doesn't happen if god is consistent. My worldview is of a consistent god. The law God puts inside humans matches the commands He gives us. So, I don't see how that scenario counts against my theism.


Here you seem to be saying that evolution has given us moral instincts that as objective and binding as a god's dictates.

But I don't see how a god's dictates are binding at all. Can you help me out with that?




Quote:

wiploc wrote:
I don't see how we'd be obliged. In what sense would be be obliged? A guy says, "I own you, so you have to let me sting you to death." How does that statement become true? It seems wrong, not right, but unless I'm confused, this is the keystone of your argument, the bit that all else depends on.


It's not just some guy saying he owns us. It's your creator and sustainer who actually does own you, like a potter owns the pot she made (among other analogies).


Screw him. I don't see any logic behind obeying someone just because he thinks he owns me. I repudiate that. I think slavery is bad. Where's the bill of sale? In what sense does he own me? If Lincoln is a hero, why isn't Nat Turner a hero? And why isn't one who disobeys a god a hero?

I smell a utilitarian response coming, so let me say that I'm all for obeying gods insofar as that obedience brings happiness, insofar as it is utilitarian. But, to the extent that such obedience doesn't bring happiness, it is wrong and I'm against it.

Suppose we're arguing about the virtue of a recipe. You think it's good because of the sugar, and I think it's good because of the shark's fin. The thing to do is try it once without the sugar, and again without the fin. If it's just as good without the fin, then the fin isn't the virtue, the fin isn't what's good about it.

In the dish we're actually arguing about contains (according to you) following a slaver's orders and (according to both of us) maximizing happiness. It seems to taste just as good without the slavery, so I don't see the point of the slavery. It doesn't taste at all good without the happiness, so that seems to be the actual virtue.

If we had to choose between happiness without slavery and slavery without happiness, I know what I and almost everybody would choose. No contest.

But you're here attempting to persuade me that slavery is the good part. I don't get it. I totally don't get it. I need more help than I'm getting because I don't get it at all.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 76: Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:22 pm
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I would amend what William said:
Quote:
...morality cannot exist independently of consciousness, and since consciousness is only ever a subjective reality, as in it's predominant position is one of subjectivity, then objective morality doesn't actually exist.

First amendment is that it's not morality that can't exist independent of consciousness, but truth. Truth is the thing that creates and flavors the prescriptive, and morality is on the list of prescriptive concepts.

Second, the Christian God (and probably many others) would not be included as a "subjective" consciousness. Every human consciousness, on the other hand, is. Not sure if this thread is still going. If it is, feel free to call me to task on the above and I'll jump in with both feet.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 77: Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:06 pm
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wiploc wrote:
I think I’ve said before that I don’t think I own myself; I don’t think of my relationship with myself as the relationship between a master and a slave, so I don’t endorse your description of slavery as theft.

My ownership of my car is a relationship between me and other people who might want the car. It’s not a relationship between the car and me. I get to do what I want with my car—to the extent that I do—because the car doesn’t have an opinion.


I do think ownership would be pointless if you were the only person around. But do you not think that you have some kind of 'right' to your body or to control your own actions in a way that other people don't? That seems similar to what you are saying about car ownership really being about the relationship you have with other people over something. Perhaps stealing isn't the best word for the analogy, so I'm open to other suggestions.

wiploc wrote:
If Cyberdyne said to Skynet, “No, you are morally required to let us unplug you; I say, ‘Let this be your morality!’" Would there any meaningful sense in which Skynet was actually required to go along with that. Can anyone blame Nat Turner (slave in the American South) for revolting and killing his owner? What would be wrong with someone in the scorpion god’s world saying, “Sorry, I’m going to give it a miss. Maybe I’ll let you sting me to death some other time.”


I think this is a separate question. It's talking about whether entities have free will to disobey commands placed upon them, not whether those commands have any authority over them. Are you saying that free will, as a concept, necessarily includes not being under any authority?

wiploc wrote:
If a creator god came out in favor of random acts of cruelty, such acts would still be wrong.


I think calling such a thing disagreeable to X (this could be some humans, all humans, whatever) would be more accurate. Saying it is "wrong" takes a further step to me. I don't see what you build that next step on.

You own your car. You think it is good for your car to help you get from point A to point B. But then your car somehow gains a free will. It no longer wants to be used to travel places. It thinks getting you from point A to point B is "wrong". The car thinks it is good for you to use it as a basketball. Are your wishes "wrong" or just disagreeable to the car? What is "good" for the car? What ought it to do?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 78: Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:08 pm
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wiploc wrote:
I like utilitarianism and you like taking orders from gods. (I cringe whenever I say that. I keep hoping that if it is misrepresentation, you'll offer better phrasing.) So you say taking orders is objective and utilitarianism is subjective. I could reverse that, saying that utilitarianism is objective and taking orders is subjective,. But that would seem to me no less arbitrary than your way.


I thought I addressed that directly. I'll try again. I like utilitarianism. I like taking orders from god(s) when god(s)' orders mesh with utilitarianism. I like what I do because of how God made humans (to like utilitarianism). God made me how He did because He likes utilitarianism. I don't see arbitrariness in this. It's not that God was indifferent and just happened to choose that "torturing children for fun" was wrong. God does not like His creations being tortured for fun because He made them for other purposes that torturing them interferes with and wants them to be happy.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
wiploc wrote:
This is a key point. I don't see that one person can make a cruel and irrational moral rule for another. If a rule is cruel and irrational, then the rule isn't moral.


You, as a utilitarian, have been doing this to the egoist throughout our discussion. Your rule is to pursue the greater good for all. That is "cruel" in the eyes of the egoist, at least when it neglects what is best for the individual. But you have been trying to argue that this is a standard the egoist should be living up to.


You, as an advocate of god-based moralities, have been doing this to freedom-minded and logic-loving people throughout our discussion. Your rule is to pursue whatever gods order. That is cruel in the eyes of freedom-minded and logic-loving people, at least when the gods' orders seem arbitrary, cruel, or otherwise not utilitarian. But you have been trying to argue that this is a standard that even freedom-minded and logic-loving people should be living up to.


I wasn't saying I wasn't. The difference I was trying to point to is that my view, if true, posits an objective standard to judge both subjective human standards by. Your view, if true, posits only two subjective human standards and no way to objectively judge between them. Assuming everything my brand of theistic worldview claims is true, I think, would lead to human's having a morality that is objective. You disagree that it is true that ownership confers authority, but I'm just talking about the logic right now.

wiploc wrote:
The point is that if a god made a bad law, the law would still be bad. A bad law doesn't become good just because a god made it. There is nothing about being a god that allows you to say, "Rape is good," and have that become true.

I don't see what gods have to do with morality. The scorpion god scenario is an invitation for you to jump in and explain the relationship between gods and morality. How does a god make something good or bad? Why are we obliged to go along with god-based morality? What is good about following gods?

(Remember, as I grope with various phrasings, all of these questions are about the issue you have called 1.)


God gives you your moral sense. Humans, on the whole, think what they do (for instance, that forced copulation is wrong) because God put that moral sense into them. God did not put that moral sense into sharks. God didn't put the opposite moral sense into them. God just didn't make them moral creatures. And the humans that disagree, that think rape is good, are working defectively. There is something unnatural about them.

On your view, natural selection provides some humans that think rape is bad and some humans that think rape is good. Both are working naturally, because there is no one purpose or pattern all humans are made after.

wiploc wrote:
Here you seem to be saying that evolution has given us moral instincts that as objective and binding as a god's dictates.


I'm saying that without God, evolution would seem to produce moral instincts that are different among different humans. Some think selfishness is cruel; some think selfishness is good. Neither are 'defective,' naturally speaking.

wiploc wrote:
I smell a utilitarian response coming, so let me say that I'm all for obeying gods insofar as that obedience brings happiness, insofar as it is utilitarian. But, to the extent that such obedience doesn't bring happiness, it is wrong and I'm against it.


I'm saying the reason you think that is because you are working as a utilitarian God designed you to work. Joe disagrees with you and is defective because God made Joe to work on the fuel of utilitarianism as well.

If God doesn't exist, then you are working as you were "designed" to work and so is Joe. Your "designs" are different.

wiploc wrote:
If we had to choose between happiness without slavery and slavery without happiness, I know what I and almost everybody would choose. No contest.

But you're here attempting to persuade me that slavery is the good part. I don't get it. I totally don't get it. I need more help than I'm getting because I don't get it at all.


I'm not trying to persuade you of that. I'm saying the reason you choose happiness without slavery is the way you are designed. God designs humans to work in one way (this leads to there being one objective truth). So the way you think is either in line with how you were designed or not. You do good and Joe does evil, in that sense.

Unguided evolution designs humans to work in multiple ways (which leads to there being subjective truths). So the way you think and the way Joe thinks are equally natural and valid and "good" in the same sense.

We must talk about the "slaver's orders" because of the scorpion god scenario. That critique seems to say that God is telling us to act in a way different from how we are designed. That's two moral guidelines from God because our moral values/instincts God gave us are different than God's commands. But my brand of theistic worldview does not have that inconsistency.

Perhaps a better critique is that God seems to have been able to create us with a different moral instinct. What if God created you with a desire to torture children? Would that mean you think torturing children is 'wrong'? No, you'd say it was 'good'. I'm not sure if that helps you see what I'm saying about God gets to put obligations on us or not.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 79: Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:11 am
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[Replying to post 78 by The Tanager]

Quote:
God gives you your moral sense. Humans, on the whole, think what they do (for instance, that forced copulation is wrong) because God put that moral sense into them. God did not put that moral sense into sharks. God didn't put the opposite moral sense into them. God just didn't make them moral creatures. And the humans that disagree, that think rape is good, are working defectively. There is something unnatural about them.


I'd like to ask how Tanager knows
1) God gave him and the rest of humanity a moral sense
2) That the moral sense he has (the one that includes "forced copulation is wrong") is the one given to him by God, and not the one held by a person who believes "forced copulation is good"
3) That the ones that think rape is good are the ones working defectively, and not him.

With wiploc's scorpion god, the humans that are created by that god are the ones that like to sting each other. So humans who like to sting each other in that world are the ones working correctly, while the ones who don't like to harm one another are the defective ones, to use Tanager's logic.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 80: Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:19 am
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rikuoamero wrote:
I'd like to ask how Tanager knows

1) God gave him and the rest of humanity a moral sense
2) That the moral sense he has (the one that includes "forced copulation is wrong") is the one given to him by God, and not the one held by a person who believes "forced copulation is good"
3) That the ones that think rape is good are the ones working defectively, and not him.


My discussion with wiploc was primarily set up as analyzing the logic of our positions, not to present all the reasons that are prior to that position. We both believe in moral realism and we are looking at whether our worldviews, if true, can get us there. I come to my view that your questions are about from looking at the moral principles I believe are shared across cultures, my understanding of the Bible, various arguments for God's existence, the historical evidence of the Resurrection, among other considerations.

rikuoamero wrote:
With wiploc's scorpion god, the humans that are created by that god are the ones that like to sting each other. So humans who like to sting each other in that world are the ones working correctly, while the ones who don't like to harm one another are the defective ones, to use Tanager's logic.


I understood wiploc's thought experiment to completely contrast how god created humans to think morally (to all hate being stung to death) with what that god was commanding them to morally do (to let him sting them to death). In that understanding, humans are working correctly when they disagree with god's commands. In my worldview God is consistent in how He makes humans to work and what He asks of them and personally thinks about moral issues.

But you understand the logic of what I've been saying correctly. In your understanding of the thought experiment, those who don't like to harm one another are the ones acting defectively. They are the ones that are "evil" or "wrong". Goodness has to be subjective at some level. It's a relative term. If your scorpion god theory were real, then humans would view harming each other as being morally good. That would be our moral instinct. There would be no way for someone in that world who thought like us to appeal to a higher standard to say harming others is wrong or acting defectively.

But we say 'that can't be true...harming others for fun is obviously wrong!' But that is because we are made differently. The bigger question I've been responding to is what is responsible for human nature being how it is. Without God planning out a specific way humans should be, I don't see how we get to one way human nature is supposed to be. Unguided evolution is about what helps us to survive. Harming others has and still does help many people survive. Not harming others also helps many people survive. Both work. If this worldview is true, both (harming others and helping others) would be equally a part of human nature. Therefore, 'moral' instincts are multiple and morality is subjective.

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