• Thorongil
    3.2k
    For example, no being could know more, or love more, or have more creative power than God.cincPhil

    Why is it "greater" to know, love, and be powerful, than not?

    In other words, do you believe morality is objective?cincPhil

    I do. But that doesn't mean I have to accept, or in this case, will understand, the idea of infinitized great-making properties somehow cohering in a single, immaterial being.
  • JWK5
    4
    (1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    Not exactly. Outside of religion morals serve the purpose of fostering cooperation and cooperation is essential for any social species to thrive. We have a lot of hard-wired system in the brains that are geared towards sensing each other's pain, pleasure, etc. and inflicting guilt when we feel we have violated the integrity of our group. Morality is just the codified extension of what we already have built in us. Fear and stress are usually what drive people to violate these in-built moral functions (for example, the fear of scarcity which is tied to the fear of death leading to the urge to rob another or the thrill of shoplifting as relief from the pressures of restrictive social norms). You don't need a concept of "God" to have a sense of "morality".

    (2) Objective moral values and duties exist.
    They exist in the sense that they are a kind of collectively agreed upon contract wherein everyone in the group agrees this is good and that is bad as a means of keeping everyone on the same cooperative page. They are a fairly nebulous series of collective concepts manifested from social-oriented functions in the brains of those in the group.

    (3) Therefore, God exists.
    God is not needed for "morality" so this is a faulty argument. I am a bit of an "apatheist", so the way I see it if "God" exists things are the way they are, and if "God" doesn't exist things are the way they are. I am okay with either because regardless of which case is true I will do the best I can to be a "good" person and if that is not good enough I accept whatever consequence comes of it.

    Not to go on a tangent, but personally while I don't necessarily believe "God" exists in the form of a person-like entity, it is observable even through science that we are connected through all things. I mean, everything we are made of exists on its own out there in the universe. There are precursors to us (if you believe in evolution). Life exists as one big web of things that make up things that make up things. There is a creator there, whether it is the "big bang" (if you believe that theory) or all things collectively as one big existence.

    To say it is or is not intelligent is an effort in futility because we only understand intelligence so far as the human mind is capable of understanding intelligence, anything beyond that scope is outside our ability to define. So though I am not really concerned one way or the other when it comes to whether "God" exists, at least observably I can see that there is definitely creative forces at work.
  • Henri
    87


    Whatever you would call "objective morality" in atheistic universe is an illusion, since said "morality" would have to ultimately come from non-living unconscious processes, by chance. Basically, it would be a result of a role of a dice, and as such, what's it's inherent value? Plus, there is no known natural law that says that since certain distribution of morality states within human beings is as is today, it has to be like that in the future. Process that comes about by chance is probably going to continue by chance, and change states during time.

    Even more so, in an universe where every being ultimately came to existence from unconscious processes, by chance, however such being is, that's fine. Some humans would be rapists and hateful because that's how they feel most fulfilled and driven. Others would be peaceful because that's how they like it the most. And both would be equally "moral", since both ultimately came from what can be described as nothingness, by chance.
  • JWK5
    4
    Adjective: moral
    Concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behavior and character based on those principles


    Right and wrong are primarily established by the group/tribe collectively. It's not a roll of the dice, it is based on what ensures the best cooperation between the group as a whole. We didn't arrive at what is commonly accepted as a general sense of morals (don't murder, rape, steal, etc.) today by accident, they are based on past mediation and arbitration. We collectively came to the conclusion these things are harmful to our ability to cooperate. There is nothing illusory about it.

    Yes, morality does change with time, culture, etc. A lot of what is commonplace today was very amoral in the past. Morality changes with society. Social animals have morality as well, in a lot of different species violating the morals of the group/troupe/herd/etc. can result in exile or death.

    Morality is strictly about cooperation, it is religion that associates it with divinity. Religion goes the extra step of instead of arbitrating behavior with a physical worldly judge it implies there is also a supernatural judge. Even without religion, you can still experience guilt for carrying out acts that go against the morals of your group. The whole point of guilt as a feeling is likely to keep you cooperating with your group which ultimately is essential to your own survival (and survival as a species).
  • Henri
    87
    Right and wrong are primarily established by the group/tribe collectively.JWK5

    Then those are not right and wrong but utility contracts. That's why in atheistic universe objective morality is illusion. It's just about utility - don't do harm to me, I won't do it to you.

    But some people do like to do harm others, and they are not objectively bad in atheistic universe, they are just bad for people whom they harm. Unless they are harming masochists, in which case they both enjoy it.

    On the other hand, what God reveals about morality is not about utility, but about inherent nature of existence. You cannot use secular definition for moral to describe God given morality.
  • t0m
    319
    Why is it "greater" to know, love, and be powerful, than not?Thorongil

    Exactly. That's where what we already understand as virtue comes in.
  • t0m
    319
    On atheism, it seems me, we are just animals, and anything goes. You don't try to read morality into the animal world.cincPhil

    This move from atheism to 'just animals' is (as I see it) trapped within an unconsidered framework. You basically split the field into theism and scientism, since you seem to be identifying atheism and scientism. There's no more reason for an atheist to take the biological interpretation of the human more seriously than he takes the traditional religious understanding of man. In my view we humans are always still interpreting ourselves and the world we find ourselves in. One could argue that the concept of animal is therefore not even stable.

    It's true we don't hold animals to human standards. But that's because their nature seems relatively fixed. We humans however are constantly revolutionizing what it means to be human. We are the 'animal' that largely fashions its own nature --an ascending spiral as opposed to a circle. For this reason the 'animal' conception of man is suspect when applied metaphysically.

    Do you apprehend at least a loose set of objective moral values, such as love, freedom, equality, tolerance, etc? Now, what if society as a whole decided to replace them with greed, narcissism, bigotry, and malice? Does that mean that those things are good? In what possible world is malice good? Don't some values seem necessary, like love for example?cincPhil

    Malice would be good in precisely the world of your hypothetical society, which we arguably find offensive from the perspective of this society. But most of would probably agree that culture can only oppose our social instincts so much and no further. The idea that there is no definite metaphysical ground of our decency or current understanding of virtue can be unsettling. But, as I argued before, God doesn't obviously provide such a ground. The notion of a metaphysical ground is questionable in the first place, as I see it. It sounds better than "it's just the way we do things," I agree. But is this God more than a projection of the society agrees is virtuous in the first place? Is God just the idea of a metaphysical ground? Less solid upon analysis?
  • SophistiCat
    405
    It seems that you haven't made much progress in developing your argument, so let me try to prod you along, starting with premise 2: There is objective morality.

    You have gestured towards an argument with your references to moral evils, such as the Holocaust. This is a common road to take for those advocating "objective morality," and it generally takes the form of an ad hominem. Now, don't cringe: ad hominem is not necessarily something bad and fallacious; it can be an effective strategy in an argument. In this context it means just this: Suppose you have a contested thesis, such as your premise (2). You then show by way of an argument that rejecting this thesis inevitably leads to accepting some proposition that most people would be loath to accept (e.g. "Perpetrating the Holocaust was not wrong.") Now your opponents face a dilemma: either they concede and accept your thesis or they bite the bullet and accept the unpalatable consequences of rejecting that thesis.

    So let's take me for example. I am strongly convinced that the Holocaust was an evil. (And I also think that any person ought to have this attitude, not just me.) At the same time, let's say that I do not believe in "objective morality" (if nothing else then because I don't have a very clear idea of what it is.) But I am not laying any other cards on the table: I am not claiming a commitment to any particular system of morality, nor for that matter any other metaphysical system.

    So how am I wrong? Based on what I said above, am I committing myself to some untenable position? Or perhaps I really do believe in (what you take to be) "objective morality" without realizing it?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Exactly. That's where what we already understand as virtue comes in.t0m

    What are trying to say? Are you trying to defend the claim by an appeal to intuition here?
  • t0m
    319


    On this issue I'm coming from a Feuerbachian perspective. 'Intuition' is not the perfect word, but it's not wrong either. God only makes sense as something to worship or revere in terms of his ultimately human predicates. For instance, it would be absurd to worship a powerful alien invader whose motives we could not understand. We might obey and fear, but this would be a sad form of religion.

    As far as 'intuition' goes, that connects to how we want to conceptualize the experience of value. I like the word 'feeling' as less metaphysical. Understanding religion in terms of knowledge claims (making it about epistemology) obscures the feeling that gives it whatever life it has --at least as I see it.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    And I know that if God did not exist, then I would embrace my animal instinct, you know? I would live like the animal that I am. I would rob banks, and maybe worse.cincPhil
    You cannot know this. The only way to know it is for it to happen and for you to know that it happened. But it didn't happen, so you can't know it.

    All you can say is that you imagine that if you didn't believe in God then you would live without morals. Imagination of counterfactuals doesn't count for much in a philosophical argument.

    Also, people have lived with morals and without God since time immemorial.

    Also, it might help to know that the argument for God from morals via Nazism has been made by Christian apologists for yonks. It has been rebutted so many times that it's often not even considered worth acknowledging by some philosophers.
  • Henri
    87
    People have lived with morals and without God since time immemoria.andrewk

    In universe that God created, everybody have some morals, regardless of their relationship to God. God gives, or decrees, some morals to everybody, just as everybody gets a heart, brain, air to breathe etc.

    In universe that got to exist from basically or literally nothingness, by chance, your opinion about morals is ultimately worthless, serving your personal purpose in life, which is random, since you came from ultimately nothing, by chance, just like everybody else. You are neither morally better nor worse from the rest, you are just living through your randomly given state of existence.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    In universe that got to exist from basically or literally nothingness, by chance, your opinion about morals is ultimately worthless, serving your personal purpose in life, which is random, since you came from ultimately nothing, by chance, just like everybody else. You are neither morally better nor worse from the rest, you are just living through your randomly given state of existence.Henri
    That is a statement of a dogma, not an argument.

    You believe it. I don't. Except for where you say that I am morally no better nor worse than anybody else. While I wouldn't put it that way, I believe moral comparisons between people, and especially assertions of moral superiority, are unhelpful, so I'm supportive of your making that claim.

    If you believe the rest of it, and that belief brings you joy, more power to you.
  • Henri
    87


    So, what do you believe? You don't believe in atheistic big bang and evolution, nor do you believe that those are most probable explanations of how universe got to exist, as far as you can tell? If you believe in it, than you believe that you came from what is essentially nothingness, by chance. And if that would really be the case, your opinion about morals, mine too, would be ultimately worthless.

    I understand that God exists, so I do see each of us living morally better or worse relative to inherent nature of reality. Everybody falls short, though.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    You don't believe in atheistic big bang and evolutionHenri
    'atheistic'?!?

    Were you aware that the big bang theory was developed by Georges Lemaitre: a Roman Catholic priest?
  • Henri
    87


    No need for ?s and !s really. In order to shorten back and forth, which didn't work, I asked if you believe in big bang and evolution as an atheist, because there are people who believe both in God and big bang and evolution, but with different explanations about it. You still didn't say what is it that you believe.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    What makes you think I'm an atheist?
  • Henri
    87


    I don't know if you are. I'm asking a question. If you care to answer, answer, if not, don't.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    Were you aware that the big bang theory was developed by Georges Lemaitre: a Roman Catholic priest?andrewk

    Careful now. Long after LeMaitre’s theory was published, the then-Pope learned about it and formed the view that it was compatible with Catholic doctrine as it appeared to support the notion of creation ex nihilo. However, LeMaitre was embarrassed by this development, as he wished to keep his scientific work strictly separate from his religious faith. He prevailed upon the then Papal Scientific Adviser to the Pope to ask His Holiness to refrain from referring to his work in support of the faith, which he apparently assented to. (This is documented in Simon Singh’s book Big Bang.)
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Good thing he did, for the pope clearly had a confused notion of creation ex nihilo and the big bang.
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