We know that we think, and in fact it's the only thing we can be truly certain of. Why
we think is a secondary question, as you mentioned earlier in response to my theory on why we have empathy or act 'morally.' However the question which you are persistant in asking is not why, but if
we 'ought' to act in any particular fashion. Unlike thinking, we don't know if we ought to seek/follow the will of some deity, if we're 'responsible' to him, so it's a flawed analogy.
To know that you think, you have to know who "you" are. I wouldn't be so dismissive of such a difficult problem.
Either way, my question as to "why we think" is not analogous to "why we have moral beliefs" (although it could be) but "why we are obligated or ought to do X." Asking "why" we ought to do X is just to ask for the reason we ought to do X, just as asking why we think is just to ask for the reason we think. The reason is the same: God has created us that way. They are aspects of our ontological makeup. This isn't circular.
(1) Do you disagree that the manner in which God created us is an expression of his will?
(2) Do you disagree that responsibility to God means we ought to seek/follow his will?
(3) Do you disagree that we ought to seek/follow God's will because it's God's will that we do so?
(1) seems self-evident. You equated 'ought to' with responsibility in post 148
, hence point (2) - unless I've misunderstood or you've changed your mind? So (3) follows logically; if we're responsible to God because he made us responsible, then we ought to seek/follow God's will because it's God's will that we do so
This is either circular, or an incoherent concept of 'ought to' and responsibility.
You are equivocating on the nature of God's will. Post-apostolic Christians have for a long time recognized a distinction between God's sovereign will (what will occur due to God's determination or ultimate causation of such) and what God commands us to do. Why can what God commands conflict with what He has determined we will do? Because what God commands reflects what men are obligated to do, not what God is obligated to do. God is responsible to Himself (Hebrews 6:13). God ought to uphold His glory as must we. If these conflict, it will be man rather than God who will fail to uphold God's glory, as God will not determine a course of action inconsistent with the fulfillment of His obligation. So I reject either point 2 or 3 or both, depending on which you mean to equate with God's sovereign will.
Ah, I see what you're getting at. But you might want to re-read that original statement. They overlap to the extent that they're both regulators of human behaviour, but moral systems aren't the same as legal systems. And in fact even most moral systems acknowledge exceptions to "do unto others..."
Exceptions? On what grounds? It seems that whatever you would answer would be your actual ultimate moral principle. It's not really the golden rule after all.
Rest assured that there are many Christians who don't understand the difference between the laws which a state makes and enforces, and their own morals.
I don't see how this is relevant.
That's pretty much my view of human behaviour, both 'good' and 'bad.' Of course creating living, thinking beings for the express purpose of destruction would almost universally be considered 'bad' by those who aren't Calvinists. And since those vessels of wrath have no choice - for "who can resist His will" when He wants to harden them? - they also are acting necessarily in accordance with their own (enforced) nature.
A correction: to determine one's course of action is not to say that the person cannot choose. He cannot choose a different course of action, but that's not relevant to the fact he can and does still choose the determined course of action. To "choose" is just to exercise one's will. If one's will can be determined by his desires, God can determine the will by determining his desires. This isn't a free will, but it is a will. It is choice.
In other words, it seems as though your view of God is a being constrained by his nature to keep creating new members of a species born with a morally corrupt nature, including murderers and rapists who are constrained by their nature? And this
is your source of moral inspiration!?
Is this an argument from incredulity?
It sounds to me (and building a little on your earlier posts) as though you're saying that since as human minds we can't truly know anything beyond our own existence, divine revelation is a necessary precondition for any genuine knowledge.
I'm going further than that and saying nothing can be known except by Scripture. Since you're interested, I've been debating with a few atheists (and theists) in this thread
Mithrae wrote:I meant that what you had previously posted did not show anything about lack of empathy; the sister thing obviously does.
Presumably you would credit the progressively increasing 'restraint of sin' in many non-Christian households to God rather than to the family itself?
But you can understand how this could be viewed as simply ignoring evidence which seems more consistent with my view, I assume? As they progress through normal human development, children's sense of empathy and their treatment of others grow progressively more nuanced. A loving, stable and structured environment is generally considered both the norm and the ideal.
It's another correlation = causation or effect-to-cause reasoning fallacy. It's only "ignoring evidence which seems more consistent" if you a priori
assume such. But there isn't any reason for me to do that.
'Human nature' is generally used in reference to psychological or behavioural characteristics of our species, so while it does work in the discussion I avoided that phrase. But by implication, you believe that either that even thinking
is not part of 'human nature,' or that people in a coma are not human? That either arms are not part of our natures, or that amputees are not human?
I think a few questions are begged regarding thinking, as no one can have a first-person perspective of anyone but himself. To be more precise, however, I would say rational equipment is a the essential part of human nature. Arms aren't a part of our natures.
I would guess that there's exceptions to pretty much every trait which the overwhelming majority of humans share, and those few which all
humans share - circulatory, respiratory and central nervous systems, not always functioning - are by no means unique to humans.
Maybe not humans who are living, but remember that I believe in an afterlife.
Sometimes communication can be difficult, but in this case I'm not sure you're even trying to understand me. For starters, I was using the word empathy
, not morality. And if you're saying that sexuality or communication aren't part of our natures then there's really no point trying to discuss anything with you.
Communication may be. Sexuality isn't. At least, not on my understanding of human nature, i.e. the nature of... humans
Furthermore, my point specifically was that (particularly in the case of communication or language) at the species level the two are remarkably analogous. Ask the average Chinese citizen to discuss weather with the average American citizen and you'll see my point. But every Chinese person speaks to others, as does every American - and they all have empathy for others also. This was specifically my point, so I'm amazed that you haven't grasped it:
Well, color me stupid, because I still don't get it. While I may not be able to communicate with a Chinese person about the weather, it isn't precluded that we can discover a means to such communication and agreement. Contrarily, people who have mutually exclusive views as to empathy and morality by definition disagree. Not even moral (empathetic) beliefs qua
moral (empathetic) beliefs are "grasped at the level of species."
Mithrae wrote:Again, I specifically stated that this process of empathy begins with how we want to be treated, then extends to our family, then the community... and apparently we really haven't grasped it at the level of our species yet.
I remember, which is why I said it isn't a part of our nature. Such a process doesn't "begin" in everyone.
Communication and language, empathy, sexuality and no doubt many other characteristics besides have all been traits of the overwhelming majority of humans, in every society, in all periods of history - and evidence suggests in other primate species also. If you want to dispute that these are aspects of our nature, I'd advise doing better than rendering any conception of our natures to be meaningless because of some few exceptions. By that reasoning, you were wrong to say that we have a morally corrupt nature.
The difference is I wasn't speaking about humans in toto
. I was speaking about humans who have been born, and even that has to be further qualified by humans who have human fathers.
Then your only reason for presuming our nature to be morally corrupt comes from the pages of a book? And your reason for presuming that this book is thousands of years old (let alone being God's own word!) comes from...?
The scratches on a page would only represent the truth which is actually efficiently mediated to my mind by God. I never claimed to know how old the book is.
Our only way of understanding our fellow humans' behaviour, as with monkeys, is by observation and analogy. Since you reject that form of understanding as knowledge, it would seem you can't even tell when your own mother is telling you the truth, yes?
I can't know that I have a mother. I can opine that I do. You will not get me to compromise on the meaning of knowledge as a state of belief in which the possibility of error is precluded.
I would respect your rigid scepticism, except that you seem to be putting blind faith in this bible of yours - handed to you by other humans, apparently from your childhood - as the basis for everything else you claim as 'knowledge.'
Blind faith? Lol, step over to the other topic and we'll continue this epistemic discussion. Be sure to include your alternative to knowledge.