Evil as Apologetic

It is popular amongst the atheist sorts to argue against the existence of God, or His worth as an object of veneration, on the basis that He allows evil, or that His character is, at least by the standards of Christianity, itself evil. This argument is a fairly common one, even cliché, one that has been answered numerous times. Interestingly, atheists seem to think they have discovered it anew, as did Dawkins in  The God Delusion:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

These sorts of arguments however simply beg the question of how it is we are aware of evil at all? Why do we, unlike any other creature in existence, consider a standard of proper behavior? As I have discussed elsewhere, the second we bring notions of evil into the equation, we are considering an objective standard that relies on the existence of a ‘good’ or rightness against evil is understood – and no such standard exists in nature. C. S. Lewis put it this way in Mere Christianity:

 “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man doesn’t call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God didn’t exist he was proving he did- namely with this idea of Justice.”

All humans have an inherent sense that there is something we should be, that there is way we should act. We may not all agree precisely on what that ‘good’ is, or how we should act, but the history of human civilization shows that humans have always sensed its existence. There is no explanation for this in naturalism.

 

But it goes further than that, in a way that shows naturalism to be even more intellectually bankrupt – the reality that we don’t only comprehend a moral reality, or the existence of the good, but that we realize we fail to act in accordance with it. In a brilliant description, the apostle Paul chronicles this struggle in  Romans, Chap. 7:


 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

So then the need for Christ, that is why His existence is a necessity to comprehend reality, and see ourselves as we truly are, derives from the realization that there is a good, and we cannot in and of ourselves do good. This was even a truth the writers of the Constitution incorporated when considering the best way to preserve our liberties, as detailed in Federalist 51:

 But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” 

So the recognition of this aspect of human nature is both an evidence of the necessity of an external and objective entity which we understand as ‘good’, the existence of which the Christian understands to derive, most reasonably, from the existence of God Himself.

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22 Responses to Evil as Apologetic

  1. We may not all agree precisely on what that ‘good’ is, or how we should act, but the history of human civilization shows that humans have always sensed its existence. There is no explanation for this in naturalism.

    Your ‘argument’ is self-defeating. We do not have a single definition of good, thus indicating the subjective nature of humans. Ergo, good – as best as you can define it in this context – is subjective.

    The latter piece of your ‘argument’ is laughable. Despite your creationist claims that evolution leads to Hitler (even though the precise opposite is true (not to mention the fact that his creationism played a philosophical role in his beliefs)), the evolution of altruism points to why a species would tend to act kindly to one another.

    Of course, you never offer a definition of “good” in your entire post. The reason, of course, is that your definition depends entirely on your belief in God. (By the by, using theology to support your argument does not fly because theology – by frickin’ definition – assumes the existence of God.)

  2. Perhaps most importantly, even if this ‘argument’ supported the existence of an objective source for good and evil – God -, it does not support the existence of a benevolent God.

  3. jackhudson says:

    Your ‘argument’ is self-defeating. We do not have a single definition of good, thus indicating the subjective nature of humans. Ergo, good – as best as you can define it in this context – is subjective.

    Bad logic. The fact that there are different ideas about what is good wouldn’t change the objective existence of good anymore than the fact there are different ideas about the nature of the universe changes the reality of the universe.

    The latter piece of your ‘argument’ is laughable. Despite your creationist claims that evolution leads to Hitler (even though the precise opposite is true (not to mention the fact that his creationism played a philosophical role in his beliefs)), the evolution of altruism points to why a species would tend to act kindly to one another.

    Actually, I didn’t say anything in this post about ‘evolution’ leading to Hitler. You are answering points not made.

    Of course, you never offer a definition of “good” in your entire post. The reason, of course, is that your definition depends entirely on your belief in God. (By the by, using theology to support your argument does not fly because theology – by frickin’ definition – assumes the existence of God.)

    Well, I didn’t attempt to offer a definition of good in my post, as my argument doesn’t require it – in fact, when we acknowledge the existence of evil, we automatically affirm the existence of an objective good, and that was my point.

    As atheists identify various ideas and actions as ‘evil’ they are confirming the objective existence of what is good, and they are also demonstrating the human inability to achieve even the good they identify.

    Perhaps most importantly, even if this ‘argument’ supported the existence of an objective source for good and evil – God -, it does not support the existence of a benevolent God.

    How would you know unless you had an objective standard of benevolence by which to measure God?

  4. Bad logic. The fact that there are different ideas about what is good wouldn’t change the objective existence of good anymore than the fact there are different ideas about the nature of the universe changes the reality of the universe.

    You only indicate that we can sense existence of good. This does not offer any proof or reasoning for an objective standard, but simply that humans tend to have common thoughts. Anything from God to evolution to the devil could fill in for the cause here.

    Actually, I didn’t say anything in this post about ‘evolution’ leading to Hitler. You are answering points not made.

    I am pointing out the deeply flawed thinking you rhetorically and politically implore. In other words, ‘Despite all the inane things you falsely think about evolution, altruism is a very real thing.’

    Well, I didn’t attempt to offer a definition of good in my post, as my argument doesn’t require it – in fact, when we acknowledge the existence of evil, we automatically affirm the existence of an objective good, and that was my point.

    Of course, your argument requires it. Your basis is that the acknowledgment of evil automatically indicates the existence of some objective good. This is false, but you need to at least give it the ol’ college try if you want to defend your statement.

    But if you want to make it simpler, then answer this: How do you know it is objectively evil to murder an innocent man?

    As atheists identify various ideas and actions as ‘evil’ they are confirming the objective existence of what is good, and they are also demonstrating the human inability to achieve even the good they identify.

    You also need a definition of “evil”, then. “That which causes undue human suffering” is not a definition which requires an objective standard beyond what might be considered suffering.

    How would you know unless you had an objective standard of benevolence by which to measure God?

    Benevolence is defined by kindness and altruism.

  5. jackhudson says:

    You only indicate that we can sense existence of good. This does not offer any proof or reasoning for an objective standard, but simply that humans tend to have common thoughts. Anything from God to evolution to the devil could fill in for the cause here.

    Well sure; anything from God to the devil to various natural phenomena could be used to account for the existence of the universe as well, but this really has nothing to do with whether it exists objectively.

    There are lots of reason to think good exists objectively, the first, as you intimated, is that it is a universally recognized by humans. There is no reason why this would be so other than the fact that something real exists. We desire milk as infants because milk exists. We desire the love and affection of our parents because that love can exist.

    We also have enough historical knowledge also see the negative effects when we ignore or act contrary to the good. And interestingly (and for no good natural reason) even when we are aware of the good, even when we agree on the good, we fail to act according to the good. That is what makes the Revelatory nature of Scripture necessary; we are not capable of keeping or maintaining the good by ourselves – certain truth about it must come outside ourselves.

    And of course, as a Christian, I believe the power to act in accordance with the good also comes outside myself.

    I am pointing out the deeply flawed
    thinking you rhetorically and politically implore. In other words, ‘Despite all the inane things you falsely think about evolution, altruism is a very real thing.’

    And still you miss the point; why do we even have to identify it as altruism? If we are just naturally inclined to do it, why do we need to recognize it, and even then, often fail to actually be altruistic?

    Of course, your argument requires it. Your basis is that the acknowledgment of evil automatically indicates the existence of some objective good. This is false, but you need to at least give it the ol’ college try if you want to defend your statement.

    No, my argument doesn’t require it, as my argument is “The acknowledged existence of evil can’t be explained through naturalism”

    But if you want to make it simpler, then answer this: How do you know it is objectively evil to murder an innocent man?

    Well as Christian I believe it is wrong because humans are created in the image of God.

    You also need a definition of “evil”, then. “That which causes undue human suffering” is not a definition which requires an objective standard beyond what might be considered suffering.

    It is also not a particularly good definition of evil. When a chimp kills and eats another chimp, is he committing an act of evil? How about when a fish eats another fish? Or a cat plays with a mouse before eating it? Are these acts ‘evil’ because they cause unnecessary suffering? If so, why would similar human acts be evil? You definition is insufficient from a naturalistic point of view.

    Benevolence is defined by kindness and altruism.

    You are simply defining words by themselves. You could just as easily say altruism is defined by benevolence and kindness. Or altruism is defined by benevolence. It doesn’t tell us why one act is ‘kind’ and another isn’t.

  6. There are lots of reason to think good exists objectively, the first, as you intimated, is that it is a universally recognized by humans. There is no reason why this would be so other than the fact that something real exists.

    You’ve already defined “good” to mean something objective in this context. That much is obvious. Such an argument doesn’t fly when the objectivity is something you’re seeking to define in the first place.

    “Good” is commonly defined as something beneficial to individuals or groups without an adverse impact on others. Of course, this is just the common definition. It doesn’t always apply for all people or all cultures. For hundreds of years, it was good for the French when the English were killed. Just the same, it’s good for Americans when terrorists are killed. It’s a relative word dependent upon who is saying it.

    And this all makes sense in the light of evolution. We act kindly and altruistically toward others because we evolved in small groups and tribes where we would see the same people again and again. It simply worked to not kill off your brother or friend. It also made sense to be on guard but not automatically aggressive toward other groups. You may see them again. Or they may cause you harm.

    Human history supports all this. Our in-group morality (which is all the Old Testament is, really) tends to be stronger than our out-group morality. We’re going to help our brother before we help our neighbor tribe; we’re going to help our nation before we help our neighbor nation.

    This is a perfectly valid explanation for the origin of morality and what it means to “do good”. Your claims otherwise are just that – claims. What I have briefly laid out is supported by mounds of evidence, from how natural selection works in the first place, to how animals behave, to specifically how other primates behave, to how children behave, all the way down to how the perception of causality works in animals as intelligent as humans.

    And interestingly (and for no good natural reason) even when we are aware of the good, even when we agree on the good, we fail to act according to the good.

    Again, there is plenty natural reason why we might ignore what we generally consider good. We perceive what is generally good, but we do not act that way because we’re often selfish. While selfishness for other animals usually also entails survival, we get pleasure from material things – and we don’t always care if that causes suffering. Sure, my brother could have shared his Sega with me a little more back in the day, but why do that when he was bigger and the games were fun?

    Well as Christian I believe it is wrong because humans are created in the image of God.

    There! Finally. You know something is right or wrong based on your belief in the existence of God. You do not automatically know what is good or evil before that, thus you cannot say anything about any issue on which God is silent. Of course, you will make normative statements on things on which God is silent. And it there that you undermine your entire case that the knowledge of good and evil come from God.

  7. I hit the submit button on accident. Here’s the rest.

    It is also not a particularly good definition of evil. When a chimp kills and eats another chimp, is he committing an act of evil? How about when a fish eats another fish? Or a cat plays with a mouse before eating it? Are these acts ‘evil’ because they cause unnecessary suffering? If so, why would similar human acts be evil? You definition is insufficient from a naturalistic point of view.

    No, my definition is insufficient from your point of view, which is just a distortion of what naturalism is. In reality, people make distinctions about intention. The cat cannot understand that its actions cause suffering and thus is not culpable. A human doing the same would be culpable. In your view, you apparently think naturalism requires that all living organisms be regarded as equal. That is false.

    You are simply defining words by themselves. You could just as easily say altruism is defined by benevolence and kindness. Or altruism is defined by benevolence. It doesn’t tell us why one act is ‘kind’ and another isn’t.

    Of course it does. We define benevolence largely by unselfish action or concern. That is the dictionary definition of altruism.

  8. jackhudson says:

    You’ve already defined “good” to mean something objective in this context. That much is obvious. Such an argument doesn’t fly when the objectivity is something you’re seeking to define in the first place.

    Well, I certainly consider good to mean something objective; in fact, as I have said before, if it doesn’t exist objectively, it means very little at all.

    “Good” is commonly defined as something beneficial to individuals or groups without an adverse impact on others. Of course, this is just the common definition. It doesn’t always apply for all people or all cultures. For hundreds of years, it was good for the French when the English were killed. Just the same, it’s good for Americans when terrorists are killed. It’s a relative word dependent upon who is saying it.

    Of course, you have proffered a man-derived, subjective definition of good. It would be no different for Hitler to offer that removing undesirables is good for Germany society, even humanity as a whole. Obviously at that point what is good is based on the one whom can impose their idea of good; this is why ultimately good cannot be said to exist, unless it exists objectively; likewise with evil.

    And this all makes sense in the light of evolution. We act kindly and altruistically toward others because we evolved in small groups and tribes where we would see the same people again and again. It simply worked to not kill off your brother or friend. It also made sense to be on guard but not automatically aggressive toward other groups. You may see them again. Or they may cause you harm.

    But that wouldn’t explain why it would be necessary to consider those as moral standards – many organisms do the same without having to adhere to a standard. And it doesn’t explain why we would desire to universalize such standards. Indeed, acting kindly toward relatives isn’t particularly altruistic at all – the most horrible despots did that. True altruism is doing well to one who can offer nothing in return.

    Human history supports all this. Our in-group morality (which is all the Old Testament is, really) tends to be stronger than our out-group morality. We’re going to help our brother before we help our neighbor tribe; we’re going to help our nation before we help our neighbor nation.

    Actually, human history records much of the opposite; in fact the OT begins with one brother killing another. If it was evolved behavior to ‘help our brother’, then one would expect conformity to it – instead one sees it regularly contradicted.

    This is a perfectly valid explanation for the origin of morality and what it means to “do good”. Your claims otherwise are just that – claims. What I have briefly laid out is supported by mounds of evidence, from how natural selection works in the first place, to how animals behave, to specifically how other primates behave, to how children behave, all the way down to how the perception of causality works in animals as intelligent as humans.

    Actually, it’s a shallow ad hoc analysis. As pointed out, humans don’t actually conform to this presumed natural morality, if it were natural it wouldn’t require that we have standards of morality (it would simply be behavior) and we wouldn’t universalize the behavior as an ideal. So the naturalistic explanation fails, if one looks at it with even in the least critical way.

    Again, there is plenty natural reason why we might ignore what we generally consider good. We perceive what is generally good, but we do not act that way because we’re often selfish. While selfishness for other animals usually also entails survival, we get pleasure from material things – and we don’t always care if that causes suffering. Sure, my brother could have shared his Sega with me a little more back in the day, but why do that when he was bigger and the games were fun?

    Well again, animals do the same; the question is why we question why we act in accordance with what you say is ‘natural’ – why is acting naturally ever ‘wrong’? Why do we act selfishly in ways that are actually harmful to our own survival? Again, while you may have accounted for motivation for certain behavior, you have not accounted for why we classify behavior, or why we see such behavior – even our own – as wrong. No other organism (who all presumably evolved as well) does so.

    There! Finally. You know something is right or wrong based on your belief in the existence of God. You do not automatically know what is good or evil before that, thus you cannot say anything about any issue on which God is silent. Of course, you will make normative statements on things on which God is silent. And it there that you undermine your entire case that the knowledge of good and evil come from God.

    No, I know why it is right or wrong – we both know there is right or wrong, humans always have, you and I agree on that. I know why it is so, and because I understand the reason why it is wrong, and because I have been endowed with a mind that can apply principles to various cases, I am free to apply those principles to any number of cases. However, I don’t claim to advance morality outside of that which God has detailed – indeed, I don’t know why I would need to; there is no novel human moral activity that isn’t already commented on by God.

    No, my definition is insufficient from your point of view, which is just a distortion of what naturalism is. In reality, people make distinctions about intention. The cat cannot understand that its actions cause suffering and thus is not culpable. A human doing the same would be culpable. In your view, you apparently think naturalism requires that all living organisms be regarded as equal. That is false.

    Your logic is inherently circular –suffering is wrong because we know suffering is wrong.

    Not only that, but culpability is a legal and moral term, not a biological one. To whom are we ‘culpable’, and why would nature make us culpable in this regard? And why, despite the claim that it is wrong, do some people consider causing suffering perfectly acceptable?

    Again, there are good Christian answers to these questions, no good naturalistic ones.

    Of course it does. We define benevolence largely by unselfish action or concern. That is the dictionary definition of altruism.

    Were aren’t considering how the dictionary defines something (if that was the source of authority in this regard, then there would be no need of morality at all) but rather how we as humans came to define altruism as a notable behavior to begin with.

  9. jackhudson says:

    You seem to equate naturalism with nihilism (which is a blunder, to say the least), but never-the-less, it remains that you’ve already defined good (and evil) to be objective. How you know it is good to help a person in need or that it is wrong to murder an innocent person without first invoking your god still needs explanation.

    Well I think nihilism is the most honest form of naturalism, it doesn’t pretend meaning exists without warrant.

    Nonetheless, in this case I am not interested in defining good and evil to be objective; merely pointing out that anyone who agrees evil exists is in the end assenting to an idea of God, or should if they want to be internally consistent.

    You made a tremendously unfounded jump there. Hitler could define good as genocide of undesirables, but he would need to be internally consistent for that definition to fly. It obviously is not inconsistent to say some human life is better than other human life without offering a fundamental difference. And there are no fundamental differences in humans on that sort of level – any individual can grow to act and behave as any other individual (i.e., a Kenyan can be raised just the same as a German).

    Well obviously there are fundamental biological differences between certain humans (like those with Down’s syndrome, who differ genetically and intellectually) as well as those with other congenital defects. Hitler and German society started there, and then postulated that certain races had similar defects. He may have been wrong about Jews and Gypsies, but the fact is the eugenicists, informed by the science of the day, came to the same conclusion in other countries, including the US.

    The reasoning from there is that these people who detrimental to society and to the future of humanity, and thus it was good to eliminate them. Hitler may have been wrong, but he was motivated by what he considered a good outcome. Presumably we do the same as we abort the vast majority of Down ’s syndrome babies today.

    But then you make this wacky jump to saying it all comes down to who can impose his will on everyone else. It obviously does not come down to that. If a definition of good is internally inconsistent, it doesn’t fly. It doesn’t matter that someone demands that it does. Brute force does not mend philosophical pitfalls.

    If the good is merely a subjective consideration, then it means that one person’s idea of good isn’t superior to another – in which case it’s pretty hard to argue that the guy with the most power should assert his idea of what is good.

    You made a claim of explanation – naturalism does not explain the origins of blah blah blah. Now you’re doing a bait-and-switch and trying to apply normative claims to the explanation. If you want to cede your first point about origins of morality, fine, we can move to the next point. But right now you’re making two entirely separate sort of claims – and I doubt you even realize it.

    No, I am simply avoiding begging the question. Your idea about the ‘origin’ of something is actually a bit of a science stopper – ‘evolution did it, no more questions are necessary’. I prefer a more critical investigation that goes beyond ad hoc explanations. The reality is no other organisms have external rules by which inform their behavior, behavior is never questioned by those organisms, not is it consistently contradicted. While you have explained in perfunctory way why human behavior shares some similarities to typical animal behavior, you have failed to explain why it is different in fundamental ways – and I am just pointing this out.

    So because a bad person did a good thing, that thing isn’t actually good? The badness of a person is conferred into every act, no matter the act?

    No, I am just saying your definition of altruism was conveniently stated to fit your naturalist conclusions.

    The original root causes of our altruism don’t mean that we are therefore purely altruistic, or we need to be purely altruistic for naturalism to work. Obviously, that would actually be a problem, not this tripe you’re arguing.

    You are missing the point; many people are altruistic in this truest sense (kindness to strangers with no hope of return); there is no warant in naturalism for that sort of behavior.

    As for why we might want to universalize our actions, that has been discussed. We no longer operate in small groups and tribes. Our out-group morality is merely an extension of our in-group morality. Same morality, smaller world.

    Except of course when we don’t do this, and question why we didn’t do this, and idealize the fact that we should do this. Ad hoc explanations fall apart quickly.

    …what? Here you go again proposing that naturalism demands that for something to be true in regards to morality, there can be no deviations, no cheaters.
    First, most of history involves people acting in favor of their own village, group, nation, whathaveyou. Second, no brother ever killed any brother in the Old Testament as a matter of fact. It’s a fairy tale. Third, the Old Testament is still a book describing how Jews should act toward each other. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is most easily broken when it isn’t a Jew that will die. Four, it isn’t always best to help one’s brother, and that becomes especially true when “brother” comes to mean more distant relatives or group members. In fact, as a matter of evolution – far from conformity – we actually should expect to see cheaters. This is true of other animals; it’s true of humans.

    I love the way you inconsistently accept what the Bible says for the sake of argument, and then when it is pointed out what it actually says, you try to blithely dismiss it. Won’t fly here – whether or not you accept it, the reality is humans simple don’t act according to the behavior you suggest is merely the product of nature. Humans, as far back as there are records, have both been considering the standards that govern their behavior, and breaking those very same standards. Naturalistic explanations of this are so convoluted as to cause Occam to roll over in his grave.

    There are two ways of looking at this. First is that you’ve argued that your mind has come from God and that is why you know these things. That seems to be the most fair way of viewing what you’ve said. This then means that objective evil or objective good do not act as evidence for God since God is presumed in your premise for why you know of them in the first place. Second, however, is that you use reasoning to determine what is good or bad. This undermines the claim that God is needed to make these determinations, thus offering naturalism a bit of an olive branch. Your choice. I personally would recommend you go with the first one (for the sake of your own position) because the consequences of that are merely that claims of what is good and bad aren’t evidence for God. The other way you can no longer argue naturalism fails at defining good and evil.

    The problem with your understanding is that you think all claims (or all these claims) have to be mutually exclusive. I can have some understanding of the reality of morality because of my design, my reason (which incidentally is related to my design) and because God has told me that such and such is right or wrong. It’s not contradictory to claim all of these as a source for knowing about morality; in fact it’s somewhat expected.

    However, as a Christian, I also believe in a corrupt human nature, one that often subverts my knowledge is what is good to my own selfish desires – this is why my reason alone is cannot be trusted as a basis for this knowledge, and why we require both the stated truth and power of God to act in accordance with the good. This of our disability to do good by our corrupt natures is perhaps one of the most well established truths that exist.

    Is it good to save 1 at the expense of 40? Or 40 at the expense of 1?

    It’s good to attempt to save any number of people at the expense of one’s own life.

    I said no such thing. I made an argument that we differentiate between intention and non-intention. Not knowing is virtually the same thing as an accident. That says nothing supporting your little strawman.

    You said, “The cat cannot understand that its actions cause suffering and thus is not culpable. A human doing the same would be culpable.”

    Culpability means – meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful

    So you are saying essentially causing suffering is wrong because it merits condemnation as a wrong. That’s nonsense. You have to look at the foundations of what you are saying Micheal and stop playing at the surface.

    So semantics prove God? I guess if it was good enough for Anselm, it would be good enough for you.

    What does this have to do with anything?

    Blame? At fault? Demeritorious? Responsible? Do these work for you? There are more in the thesaurus.

    They still amount to you begging the question. You are claiming it’s wrong because we are guilty ; but we can’t be guilty unless it is actually wrong.

    Because people aren’t robots and nothing in naturalism requires that they are?

    Actually, many naturalists would say that it does require that we are.

    No, I was considering that. You started to consider that but then got all fuddled up in the difference between explanatory and normative claims.

    I think you are using the word normative as an excuse not to think it through. Obviously the fact that we as humans suggest certain ideals should be normative is itself something (else) that naturalism fails to explain.

  10. jackhudson says:

    We still aren’t robots. We can think something is right but prefer to do something else. Sometimes the right thing is mentally, physically, or emotionally more difficult. Or the wrong thing holds some other special appeal. It’s so basic, I have no idea how you aren’t getting it.

    This is the only thing I really want to address, because I am tired of the repition and unlike you, I am busy.

    You say here that “Sometimes the right thing is mentally, physically, or emotionally more difficult.”, but in saying that you are saying there that there is an objective ‘right thing’ that exists as an alternative to what we might normally do. If no objective right thing exists, then why in the world would we weary ourselves to do something that does not in fact exist?

    And this is the whole point of everything you don’t even understand about yourself Michael; you pretend you are have a choice even though all you claim to be is a brain and a body, like every other animal. You claim the good is difficult to do even though you don’t believe a good actually exists. You claim the worng thing holds some special appeal, and then claim wrong does not exist.

    You really don’t need me here to contradict you because you contradict your own arguments every other post. The fact is Michael you want to pretend on one hand that certain things ‘just exist’ so you can operate as if they exist – but that requires much more faith than I am willing to have.

  11. jackhudson says:

    Really? I said that? Is that why I said “We can think something is right…”?

    I never said you were consistent, like I said you contradict yourself on this subject regularly.

  12. jackhudson says:

    You have it in your head that morality is defined by being objective. Your philosophy is especially weak here because the very thing you’re trying to show is why morality must be objective.

    Actually, my goal was simply to show that atheists, when they argue that God is unjust or evil, contradict the notion that evil is subjective.

  13. Assuming good and evil are inherently defined by objectivity, something rejected by most atheists. There is an internal consistency you seem to refuse to recognize because it is inconsistent with the external (the things you believe).

  14. jackhudson says:

    Assuming good and evil are inherently defined by objectivity, something rejected by most atheists. There is an internal consistency you seem to refuse to recognize because it is inconsistent with the external (the things you believe).

    Well that is the point; atheists aren’t rejecting it when they call something evil.

  15. That entirely depends on your definition of evil. Other definitions clearly reject your nonsense. Hell, your argument has repeatedly boiled down to the fact that you find an objective definition easy to digest, not that it is actually true. “I say ‘evil’, thus the term is objective because, well, it is. This works because then I can bandy it about as I please, still taking most of my definition from a non-objective source, i.e., Jack Hudson.”

  16. jackhudson says:

    That entirely depends on your definition of evil. Other definitions clearly reject your nonsense. Hell, your argument has repeatedly boiled down to the fact that you find an objective definition easy to digest, not that it is actually true. “I say ‘evil’, thus the term is objective because, well, it is. This works because then I can bandy it about as I please, still taking most of my definition from a non-objective source, i.e., Jack Hudson.”

    So would the supression of individual rights be actually evil, or just evil to you?

  17. jackhudson says:

    Again, you’ve assumed your definition. There is no distinction to be made between “actually evil” and “evil to [me]” because there are not two kinds of evil. If you asked, instead, if that suppression is objectively or subjectively evil, then I would say subjectively. But you didn’t do that. You just assumed a divide in evil that is only consistent under the premises you hold, not the premises in the position you are attacking.

    More dissembling.

    Let me see if you can answer any question without evasion – if you believe the supression of individual rights is actually evil, and another person does not, on what basis could you contend they are wrong in their belief?

  18. jackhudson says:

    I would have to extend to a common denominator. That is, I would have to find a point where we do agree and argue from there. If we both agree, for instance, that human life has any worth, I can then mount my case. That would apply to one who even thought his own life had worth enough to continue because my argument would be that it is internally inconsistent to think that but to exclude other lives. The only position against which this does not work is nihilism. And the counter to that would be that local value (which can include all of humanity) is better than universal (ultimate) value.
    The best one can ask of a moral system is internal consistency. The best ones at this appear to be nihilism, humanism, and extreme religious fundamentalism. Moderate religion tends to be weaker while those with no belief systems at all (which is a very rare breed) are the weakest.

    Interestingly, you basis for deriving morality isn’t all that different from the Bible’s; almost all moral precepts which guide human interactions (don’t murder, don’t steal, love your neighbor, forgive others, etc.) proceed from the notion that humans have intrinsic worth. If that is objective true (that humans have intrinsic worth) then it would seem that much moral precepts which stem from that would be objectively real as well.

  19. jackhudson says:

    If, if, if. I never argued that that worth is intrinsic.

    Then you use of this as a basis for treating people as if they do have intrinsic worth is just as tenative, isn’t it?

    Of course, in your view, the only way you can know if that is objectively true is if you presuppose God. Otherwise, you have no confirmation, just an if/then situation with no support for the “if”.

    Well not neccesarily – I simply say, “For us to claim that is true, it requires God to exist and imbue us with worth” – as you acknowledge, absent that, there is no reason to believe it is true.

  20. jackhudson says:

    It is tentative. Hopefully I can find a common point from which to launch. In any case where an individual finds worth in his life, regardless of whether or not it’s there, I do have that point.

    Obviously an individual values his life; not much use in preventing someone who doesn’t value it from taking it.

    This is still an if/then situation. The “if” in this case is “If it is true…”. You haven’t shown that it is true, and can only attempt to do so by invoking God in the first place.

    It’s an argument from morality (or in this case, the basis for morality, as you note, intrinsic human worth) and assumes agreement that such worth exists. If it doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t exist, and you have no basis for morality subjective or otherwise. But if it is true, then God does seem to be necessary to it being true.

    But there is nothing wrong with invoking God ‘in the first place’ – obviously as a Christian that is exactly where I start, and as now seems to be obvious that is the strongest place to start, unlike your tentative claims which have no basis in materialism.

  21. jackhudson says:

    Then that someone has inconsistent values. Fortunately, most people would prefer to have consistency in their beliefs.

    You are right; a materialist who values his own life is extremely inconsistent.

    So what if it assumes anything? That doesn’t prove that morality is objective. I can assume it’s going to rain tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean anything without further evidence.

    It assumes rain is something objectively real.

    Here you go again assuming in your argument that morality is defined as being objective. If that is the definition, then you’ve got something. It may be the definition, but you can only know as much if you invoke God.

    I am not assuming morality is objectively real – I am saying it being objectively real is necessary to advance a moral contention. You actually agreed with that when you claimed that the first step towards advancing a moral proposition would be to reach agreement on the reality of intrinsic human worth.

    Again, the “it” here refers to morality as defined as objective. You’re still ignoring other definitions.
    You seem very capable of making your arguments, but only within a narrow frame.

    Yes, it’s called the moral argument; if one agrees morals exist, then yes,within that frame an argument for the existence of God can be made.

    There is something wrong with invoking God in the first place (namely his non-existence), but that isn’t my point. My point is that you can’t claim objective morality is evidence for God because the very notion relies on his existence.

    Objective morality is evidence for God – obviously subjective morality is not. But subjective morality as we have seen is ineffective as morality. So if persons agree morality exists, then an argument can be made that God exists. One cannot prove objective morality exists in that case, but it doesn’t matter because the argument assumes agreement on that point.
    One could start with, as you do, by saying well, objective morality doesn’t exist – which if there is agreement leaves us with the freedom to assert all behaviors are equally moral (or immoral, as the case may be) – but as a Christian in that case I would say there are other reasons to believe God exists, and that His existence provides a basis to believe in an objective good, and human worth, and a morality derived from those realities.

  22. jackhudson says:

    Dead horse beaten – time for other concerns.

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