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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 251: Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:02 pm
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spoirier wrote:
Haven wrote:
Using utilitarian ethics, the most moral thing to do would be to kill the healthy man and use his organs as transplants for your five dying patients, thereby saving five lives. However, doing so would be absolutely evil and morally abhorrent, and everyone knows it. You cannot take the life of an innocent person in order to save other lives -- that is wrong. However, under utilitarianism, it would be right. This entails a contradiction, and this makes utilitarian ethics false.

Would letting 4 people die while it could be avoided, be the right choice ?
Would giving up my own life to save five others be the right choice? That would be suicide.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 252: Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:44 pm
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Artie wrote:
Would giving up my own life to save five others be the right choice? That would be suicide.


In my opinion, yes, it would be the right choice. I would absolutely give up my own life if I had the chance to save five other lives.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 253: Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:10 pm
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JoeyKnothead wrote:
From Post 245:

spayne wrote:

JoeyKnothead wrote:

Where there are starving folks, in the millions, I contend this is not indicative of a "good" God, but of a God that prefers folks suffer over lifting a finger to help.

And I would contend that it is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.

Either way, my point stands.

Now, what we're really getting at here is that the folks in question may not worship the god you prefer to worship, so they're being left to their misery. How might'n we convince them of the worship worthiness of a god that we can't show exists? How might'n we convince them that you, spayne, have confirmed your favored god prefers folks to act or think in a certain fashion?


I think your argument is a classic case of the atheist seeing the misery in the world and blaming God for it. But that is not the Christian worldview. The Christian does not blame God for the evil in the world because God explicitly holds people personally and corporally accountable to make good decisions, and is very clear that He is not going to step in and exert his will over the freedom of choice that people want to have. That would be a dictatorship. It's obviously very hard to undertand the reality of poverty. But I believe that many Christians would confirm that poverty, like so many other social ills, is a consequence or a symptom of a world that is full of greed, pride, selfishness, conquest and conflict. Hence, my statement that starvation is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.

On the other end we have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example. And if they are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

Blessings to you today.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 254: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:26 pm
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Re: I am seriously questioning my atheism

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All Fish live in the sea
All Sea Otters live in the sea
Therefore Sea Otters are fish

Fallacies of relevance…..or conditional statement?
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

If all fish do live in the sea, then Objective morals do exist…….both are conditional of acceptance of the other being true. This could also be defined as begging the question. Petitio principii (Begging the question)
This fallacy occurs when the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached. Typically the premises of the argument implicitly assume the result which the argument purports to prove, in a disguised form. For example:

"The Bible is the word of God. The word of God cannot be doubted, and the Bible states that the Bible is true. Therefore the Bible must be true.”
Of course ALL fish do not live in the sea, nothing is purely objective, and the world is not flat and spiders have eight legs and not for like the bible says.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 255: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:36 pm
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spayne wrote:
JoeyKnothead wrote:
From Post 245:

spayne wrote:

JoeyKnothead wrote:

Where there are starving folks, in the millions, I contend this is not indicative of a "good" God, but of a God that prefers folks suffer over lifting a finger to help.

And I would contend that it is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.

Either way, my point stands.

Now, what we're really getting at here is that the folks in question may not worship the god you prefer to worship, so they're being left to their misery. How might'n we convince them of the worship worthiness of a god that we can't show exists? How might'n we convince them that you, spayne, have confirmed your favored god prefers folks to act or think in a certain fashion?


I think your argument is a classic case of the atheist seeing the misery in the world and blaming God for it. But that is not the Christian worldview. The Christian does not blame God for the evil in the world because God explicitly holds people personally and corporally accountable to make good decisions, and is very clear that He is not going to step in and exert his will over the freedom of choice that people want to have. That would be a dictatorship. It's obviously very hard to undertand the reality of poverty. But I believe that many Christians would confirm that poverty, like so many other social ills, is a consequence or a symptom of a world that is full of greed, pride, selfishness, conquest and conflict. Hence, my statement that starvation is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.

On the other end we have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example. And if they are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

Blessings to you today.
I think your argument is a classic case of the atheist seeing the misery in the world and blaming God for it.

Answer: Religion is to blame; since god doesn’t exist to an atheist, how would an atheist blame nothing? By the way….the bible says misery is great stuff….. 1127 depiction of evil and why one should commit atrocities…… against one of the many versions of the bible counts of love which number a measly 320 in one version and the others trailing along at 112 to 120 accounts….. the bible love misery and evil. So either the bible is false, religion is false for claiming the bible isn’t, or the one true god loves and exploits evil.
Here is a very small list that supports what I’ve just posted…
JESUS ON PEACE AND FAMILY VALUES
JESUS ON PEACE - Matthew 10:34
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

JESUS ON PEACE - Matthew 26:52 (KJV)
Then said Jesus unto him, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

JESUS ON PEACE - Luke 22:36
He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Matthew 8:21-22
And another of his disciples said unto him, "Suffer me first to go and bury my father." But Jesus said unto him, "Follow me and let the dead bury their dead."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Matthew 10:35-37
"For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Matthew 12:46-50
While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, "Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with you." But he answered and said, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, "Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Matthew 19:29 (NIV)
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Mark 3:33-35
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" [Jesus] asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Luke 9:60
"Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Luke 9:61,62
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good bye to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES AND PEACE - Luke 12:49-53
"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Luke 14:26 [What about John 3:15 and 4:19-21 (below)?]
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple."
[NOTE: Buybull thumpers often say that this doesn't really mean “hate,” it just means “love less.” Some translations even word it like that (e.g. Contemporary English Version), because they don't like that nasty word “hate.” The original Greek word “miseo” always means hate; it has no alternative meaning. The prefixes for misanthropy and misogyny come from miseo. This just shows how screwed-up their minds are. If hate equals a form of love, how can we trust anything that those translations say?]

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - Luke 19:27 [In the words of a king in a parable.]
"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - John 2:4
Jesus saith unto [his mother], "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - John 12:25
"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

JESUS ON FAMILY VALUES - John 15:6 (KJV)
"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

JOHN ON FAMILY VALUES - 1 John 3:15 [What about Luke 14:26 (above)?]
"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."

JOHN ON FAMILY VALUES - 1 John 4:19-21 [What about Luke 14:26 (above)?]
"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

JOHN ON FAMILY VALUES - 2 John 1:7
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 256: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:38 pm
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Haven wrote:
Artie wrote:
Would giving up my own life to save five others be the right choice? That would be suicide.


In my opinion, yes, it would be the right choice. I would absolutely give up my own life if I had the chance to save five other lives.
Would you give up your life if you could save those people without giving up your life……because that would be suicide?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 257: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:55 pm
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Oh, I see. Circular reasoning.

Howso?
Your evidence for your God is the Bible. And your evidence for the Bible is?

Autodidact wrote:
Of course. Like most of the world's religionists, you believe what you were taught as a child.


Quote:
My parents aren't Calvinists. And given most =/= all, how is this relevant?
Were they Christians? Are you Christian? Do you think there's any causal relationship between those two facts?

Autodidact wrote:
"Whimsical" would be a kind way to describe your God's treatment of these people. I would choose "cruel" "arbitrary" and "bizarre."

Quote:

It would be a false description. You haven't even attempted to show that the actions in the lives of these persons cannot function as a means to the manifestation of God's glory
.

And apparently, that's what matters to you. Babies stabbed to death, men, women and children drowned, innocent children killed so God can win a bet about their dad, and many, many, innocent children killed for the "sins" of their fathers, such as worshipping the wrong God, and
(1) Your God is glorified by that. That's an immoral God you have there.
(2) That's what matters in your moral system. I think that's all we really need to know about your moral system, Knight.

As I say, Calvinism = evil.

Autodidact wrote:
I don't need one.


Quote:
Then it seems you rather than God act arbitrarily.
Not at all. What kind of life do you want to live, Knight, a good one or a bad one?

Autodidact wrote:
It's simply what our goal is. Is that not your goal? If you prefer to be miserable, and live a lousy life, this system will not help you. Do you?


Quote:
It isn't preferable per se, but it isn't my goal either.
What is not preferable, happiness to suffering? A good life to a bad one?

Quote:
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
Well, since we've shown that your God is a genocidal, vengeful, baby-killer, morality prevents me from glorifying Him. YMMV.

Autodidact wrote:
Great. Go for it. Let's start by having it revealed to me, for example.


Quote:
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Nope. No revelation to me, just an interesting voyage into the Ancient History of an ancient, iron age people. I thought you said you had evidence.

Autodidact wrote:
Well that is simply factually incorrect, as has been shown by reams of research. Even toddlers demonstrate empathy. You see it around you every day.


Quote:
Like my brother who gets my sister in trouble for claiming she did the bad thing he did? Did you ever go to high school?
I didn't say no one ever does anything wrong, just that people have the capacity for empathy. If you dispute it, I will be happy to provide reams of research that demonstrates this fact. Are you familiar with mirror neurons?

Autodidact wrote:
Did you say you're a Calvinist? That is such a evil moral system, I can't imagine how you can discuss the subject coherently. I mean, if you really believe that all people, including newborn babies, are totally depraved, you don't have a good basis on which to respect or, for that matter, feel empathy for them.


Quote:
Other than that I was one?
You believe that having been a baby qualifies you to opine about morality? Well, I think we all meet that qualification. However, many of us have higher qualifications than that.

Autodidact wrote:
And you say this is what God instructs you? He must be evil as well. That fits His actions as described in the Bible. Only a being who believed that babies were totally depraved could command His soldiers to stab them to death.


Quote:
Bait rejected. You have no recourse to an epistemic system according to which you can know what one should or is obligated to do, so any definition of evil you have is purely arbitrary.
On the contrary. Unlike you, mine is objective, and grounded in empiricism, as is my epistemology. Science--it works.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 258: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:01 pm
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This, I contend, is an example of the god concept in action. Notice the change of meaning employed to continue the notion of a "good" God.

Where there are starving folks, in the millions, I contend this is not indicative of a "good" God, but of a God that prefers folks suffer over lifting a finger to help.


Quote:
And I would contend that it is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.


Could you explain how that works exactly? Is God punishing people for rejecting them by inflicting starvation on them? Or what?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 259: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:06 pm
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Autodidact wrote:
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
-Dalai Lama
Quote:
This may work in some cases and also hopefully in the ultimate level of life review after death. However there are also many cases when both purposes do not match. Some ways of practicing compassion may only succeed to make oneself happy at the expense of others
Such as what?That sounds like the opposite of compassion to me.
Quote:
(see there the section "The spiritual ego, in practice"), while some of the best possible actions, such as developing something (a new technology, a piece of art...) that will benefit millions, fails to make oneself happy during this life to any proportional extent, for lack of personally knowing the beneficiaries of one's actions
. I don't think so. I think, for example, that developing the polio made Dr. Jonas Salk very happy.
Quote:
Again, see also that big type of example, of how both purposes may diverge, so that not the same type of compassion would best help either purpose during this life.
I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying.

Here is another way of putting it:
When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. --Abraham Lincoln

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 260: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:10 pm
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Now, what we're really getting at here is that the folks in question may not worship the god you prefer to worship, so they're being left to their misery. How might'n we convince them of the worship worthiness of a god that we can't show exists? How might'n we convince them that you, spayne, have confirmed your favored god prefers folks to act or think in a certain fashion?


Quote:
I think your argument is a classic case of the atheist seeing the misery in the world and blaming God for it
. I think you're confused about what atheism is.
Quote:
But that is not the Christian worldview. The Christian does not blame God for the evil in the world because God explicitly holds people personally and corporally accountable to make good decisions, and is very clear that He is not going to step in and exert his will over the freedom of choice that people want to have
. Yes, it's so funny, but He always acts exactly as if He didn't exist.
Quote:
That would be a dictatorship. It's obviously very hard to undertand the reality of poverty. But I believe that many Christians would confirm that poverty, like so many other social ills, is a consequence or a symptom of a world that is full of greed, pride, selfishness, conquest and conflict. Hence, my statement that starvation is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.
Yes, could you justify your statement with any evidence and logic?

Quote:
On the other end we have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example. And if they are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.
And when He hears them, He apparently does absolutely nothing, again behaving exactly consistently with failing to exist. It's funny how He always acts that way, isn't it?

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