What if God Disappeared?

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 14, 2009 in Funny,Video

This is brilliant.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

ayer October 14, 2009 at 6:14 am

Ah yes, atheist humor…strikingly similar to the humor of 13-year-old boys. The “issue” addressed in this video is best imbibed straight from Nietzsche, who proclaimed “God is Dead”:

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_dead:
“Nietzsche recognizes the crisis which the death of God represents for existing moral considerations, because “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.”[1] This is why in “The Madman”, a work which primarily addresses atheists, the problem is to retain any system of values in the absence of a divine order.

…The death of God will lead, Nietzsche says, not only to the rejection of a belief of cosmic or physical order but also to a rejection of absolute values themselves — to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals. In this manner, the loss of an absolute basis for morality leads to nihilism. This nihilism is what Nietzsche worked to find a solution for by re-evaluating the foundations of human values. This meant, to Nietzsche, looking for foundations that went deeper than Christian values. He would find a basis in the “will to power” that he described as “the essence of reality.”

Nietzsche believed that the majority of people did not recognize this death out of the deepest-seated fear or angst. Therefore, when the death did begin to become widely acknowledged, people would despair and nihilism would become rampant…”

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John D October 14, 2009 at 7:24 am

Ah yes, Christian moral superiority: all the intellectual honesty of a 12 year old.

I find the faithful always speak of ‘absolute’ and ‘objective’ morality as though the terms were interchangeable. They are not. ‘Objective’ denotes something that can assessed, interrogated, challenged and accepted by everyone; ‘absolute’ describes something unchangeable and immutable. Something can be objective without being absolute and vice versa.

Anyway, it strikes me that in trying to live a moral life, the Christian is forced to be a moral sceptic. Why? Because, presumably, they believe moral prescriptions are derived from the divine reason operating beyond space and time (Aquinas’s position) and at that at least some moral prescriptions are revealed to us. Assuming the bible is the source of revelation, and accepting that the bible offers conflicting and sometimes ambiguous moral advice (genocide seemed to be okay at one point in the past, is it okay now?), you must be, at a minimum, uncertain or sceptical about the content of morality.

Likewise, if moral prescriptions derive from the operation of divine free will, there is no reason to believe that moral revelations are final. God may have more commandments in store for us in the future, of which we know nothing. He may even be revealing these commandments to some illiterate peasant as we speak.

An additional problem arises from the doctrine of redemption. If it is true that the acceptance of Jesus will lead to my salvation, then surely I can do this at any point in my life. And if this is true, surely I have no reason to be moral for the time being. I can expect to live for about 80 yrs. Thus I can rape, pillage and defraud all I like for 79 years, only to recant and start loving Jesus in my final year.

A final problem arises from the problem of evil. If you rationalise the compatibility of suffering with the existence of a good God through some sort of theodicy construction, then you are, in effect, saying that God has some moral reason for allowing suffering to take place. But does this not imply that I have no reason to prevent suffering? After all, what are my moral reasons when compared to those of God.

It seems to me that if you accept a naturalist ontology (i.e. that whatever the fundamental nature of existence is, it is not a personal being) you are in much better shape from a moral perspective. If you accept the existence of moral facts then you can at least say that these are necessary and immutable features of the universe, i.e. not subject to divine whimsy. Better still, if you accept Luke’s desirism (which I see as a form of humanism) then at least you have can base your moral decisions on real reasons for action.

Nice video, btw.

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Lee A. P. October 14, 2009 at 8:36 am

Ayer is nothing more than a 3rd rate Christian troll.

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Steven Carr October 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

You mean if God died, athletes would have to make that touchdown pass by themselves?

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Steven Carr October 14, 2009 at 8:57 am

‘…to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals.’

You mean people would then be able to decide for themselves which book they are going to read to tell them if eating pork is immoral or not?

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Hermes October 14, 2009 at 9:21 am

This video was posted as a serious comment at WWGHA’s forum by a Christian today;

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?action=profile;u=2100;sa=showPosts

Note: I’m starting to think that this person may not be a Christian and is trolling, but it’s so hard to tell. Definite POE material.

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Penneyworth October 14, 2009 at 10:13 am

Ayer,

Why do you think the christian moral viewpoint is preferable to nihilism? I’m a nihilist in that I think morality is a vague term that doesn’t refer to anything that exists, so I just value things like empathy and kindness (which exist).
My mom has always had this fantasy (and she isn’t the only christian like this) of taking all the gay people in the world, putting them on an island, and then blowing up the island. I on the other hand, employ empathy and kindness to see how horrific it would be to be blown up and to reach the conclusion that I would never do such a thing to anyone. When I say “mom, you want to murder them?” she just looks at me funny for daring to question biblical morality.

Now, imagine: you wake up late… you have to make an important flight in half an hour… your business suit is at the cleaners one block away… you are naked… but all the clothes in the house are dirty… wait, your wife’s most outrageous negligee is clean… you make a quick decision to just put on the negligee and run to grab your suit at the cleaners… to get to the cleaners, you must pass through a dark alley… … … now, the question is, who would you rather encounter in that dark ally: me, or my mom?

Scott Adams said once: If your neighbor is religious, he may or may not try to put you to death for heresy. If your neighbor is an atheist, he may or may not help you set up a wireless network.

Or something… anyways, what’s so bad about the rampant spread of nihilism?

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Paul October 14, 2009 at 10:18 am

Luke -

Does WordPress provide a tool or mechanism that would allow me to ignore posts by specific commenters?

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Ben October 14, 2009 at 5:55 pm

lmao, sometime Current has really good material. Sometimes he doesn’t.

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ayer October 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Penneyworth: “now, the question is, who would you rather encounter in that dark ally: me, or my mom?”

Has your mom ever read the parable of the good Samaritan, or perhaps the verse that says “love your neighbor as yourself,” or “love your enemies”, etc., etc., etc.

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ayer October 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm

“I’m a nihilist in that I think morality is a vague term that doesn’t refer to anything that exists…what’s so bad about the rampant spread of nihilism?”

I applaud your candor and consistency, since nihilism is the only moral theory that makes sense on atheism (John D doesn’t seem to recognize that). As to what’s wrong with it, as Nietzsche says, it ultimately reduces to the “will to power,” because if there is no objective standard of morality, who then can tell, e.g., the Nazi that his morality is objectively inferior to any other morality? If the Nazi wins the power struggle, then his morality is “correct” from the nihilist point of view; if he loses, then his morality is “incorrect.” It’s all quite frightening and disturbing.

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Bill Maher October 14, 2009 at 7:12 pm

ayer,
I guarantee those Nazi soldiers were Christians, not atheists. Hitler himself was a Catholic and spoke openly in speeches about eradicating atheism in Germany and had an open endorsement by the Church. Nietzsche was also about creating new values and the Nazis were about reinstating ancient, conservative values. They are very different things.

And even if might makes right is disturbing, that has nothing to do with its truth. No one has been able to properly answer the question since Plato first brought it up in The Republic.

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drj October 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm

I applaud your candor and consistency, since nihilism is the only moral theory that makes sense on atheism (John D doesn’t seem to recognize that). As to what’s wrong with it, as Nietzsche says, it ultimately reduces to the “will to power,” because if there is no objective standard of morality, who then can tell, e.g., the Nazi that his morality is objectively inferior to any other morality? If the Nazi wins the power struggle, then his morality is “correct” from the nihilist point of view; if he loses, then his morality is “incorrect.” It’s all quite frightening and disturbing.

One need not tremble in fear of a potentially ought-less universe..

If all the sought after oughts turn out to be totally false, we still have the is. It is an empirical fact of our universe and our natures, that we will tend to value most of the good things that our moral theories have generally been trying to justify all along (whether they admit to it or not)… the best strategies for well-being. Less efficient strategies will eventually be filtered out, or we might just go extinct. Altruism, cooperation, and empathy are all strategies that seem to encourage well-being more than most other things… if there are different, yet unknown traits or behaviors that encourage more well-being, well… I look forward to the day when we see them.

We should be thankful that we live in a universe where raping, killing, genocide, lawlessness etc, seem to be the least effective survival strategies.

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lukeprog October 15, 2009 at 12:09 am

Paul,

I don’t know of any plugin that does that, no.

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majinrevan666 October 15, 2009 at 1:23 am

The ability to understand how this comedian can make silly
jokes using the problem of evil is beyond me.

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one more clay figurine October 15, 2009 at 1:38 am

If God disappeared, it would be fantastic. Moral law would all be but a lie, so all the sexual frustrations I feel toward attractive women that stroll by could finally be relieved. I would be able to indulge in their bodies against their will, because I don’t need to be held accountable to anyone. And all respect for them as human beings can simply be rationalised as a hallucination of the brain. Hey, it might not be to your taste, but as long as I avoid getting thrown in jail it will be a grand ol’ time.

It’s incredible this guy assumes theists think atheists live empty lives, because I certainly don’t subscribe to that. Theists believe everyone have meaning in their life. Atheists are the ones who think that theists lead empty lives, because the theist believes and lives their life according to a non-existent magical creature.

Sure, you could save people’s lives from disease and starvation. But I don’t see how people have any value beyond their physical bodies. I may as well become a vet. Or better yet, write atheist blogs accusing Christians of helping out only because God says to. Christianity understands there’s more to human beings than merely flesh, so saving lives is as much for the love of humanity as it is for God.

The football problem is simply hilarious. I can’t imagine God would help anyone in such a trivial thing as a football game. What do they teach you guys at Sunday school, honestly?

I’m pretty sure farming, harvesting and raising chickens produces food for Thanksgiving.

Natural disasters striking at random? Wow, what a thought! For a minute there I disregarded all theory in the fields of meteorology and geology, thinking that God did absolutely everything.

Beauty is all air vibrations and light shows. What we perceive to be “beauty” and “meaning” is all an illusion; the accidental by-products of evolution. Let’s be scientific here, please.

The only thing preventing you from doing evil is that you have a sense of morality. If we were to realise that morality was all an illusion, we could emancipate ourselves from it and do what we like. The greatest thing about this point is how sarcastic you are; pondering what a ludicrous point it is to make, taking the moral high-ground. But morality doesn’t exist, so what point are you even trying to make?

Pretty sure oxygen keeps us breathing.

And you thought this was brilliant? All this video does is believe (belief, ha!) that Christians disregard everything in science and attribute it to God. Maybe back millenia ago, but we know better. I find it rather insulting you think theists are this backward-thinking. All this video is is a bunch of juvenile frat-boy gagging and whining. It’s coming to the point soon when a question like “why won’t God wipe my own arse?” will become killer atheist rhetoric.

Well, what if everything that can’t be scientifically proven was a really all a myth? Well, by all means, go on living in your fairy-tale world where beauty, morality, altruism and other wonderful things exist. Fine by me. Live your life of delusions.

Just don’t go telling me what’s right and wrong.

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Kiwi Dave October 15, 2009 at 4:07 am

Nietzsche is a famous philosopher and I’m not, but in the quoted passage and the interpretation given by Ayer he gets a lot wrong.

‘This [Christian] morality is by no means self-evident.’ Actually, a good deal of Christian morality is found in other beliefs and societies, especially if we think of the golden rule as embodying Christian morality. To anyone with a modicum of empathy and faced with the problems of living as a social animal, morality is fairly obvious; or are we supposed to believe that Christians, without divine direction, are incapable of working out for themselves that there are advantages to living in society which respects people and their property.

Ditto John D’s remarks about conflating ‘objective morality’ and ‘absolute morality’. ‘…the loss of an absolute basis for morality leads to nihilism…’ Does it? Again human empathy fills the gap. And we can lose an absolute basis for morality only if it was there in the first place. Was it, or is this just wishful thinking? Moreover, given the history of European colonialism, slavery and wars, this basis of morality seems of little practical significance.

If we’re going to invoke the Nazis as the embodiment of atheism’s alleged moral bankruptcy, in contrast to the wonders of belief, shouldn’t we also invoke their contemporaries, the worshipful Japanese Shintoists on the other side of the world doing their bit for god and country?

I don’t confuse Ayer and his fellow believers with religious moral defectives; I would be grateful if they don’t confuse me with Pol Pot, Stalin etc.

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TinaFCD October 15, 2009 at 5:25 am

This is so funny, even the comments. There are no gods in my life. :)

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Penneyworth October 15, 2009 at 5:41 am

Oh hai ayer,

You said: “Has your mom ever read the parable of the good Samaritan, or perhaps the verse that says “love your neighbor as yourself,” or “love your enemies”, etc., etc., etc.”

Have you read the bits in the bible where it says homosexuality should be punished by death?

Since apparently the bible can’t clearly show you the objective moral rule, you are forced to choose the version you think is best. ur a nihilist 2 lol!!1

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ayer October 15, 2009 at 6:35 am

Penneyworth: “Have you read the bits in the bible where it says homosexuality should be punished by death?

Since apparently the bible can’t clearly show you the objective moral rule, you are forced to choose the version you think is best. ur a nihilist 2 lol!!1″

Since in Christian orthodoxy the Old Testament is interpreted in light of the New Testament (this is known as “progressive revelation”) it makes me wonder: perhaps your mom is really an adherent of Judaism and doesn’t know it?

You also seem to be confused as to the difference between moral ontology and moral epistemology.

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Penneyworth October 15, 2009 at 8:07 am

Ayer,

Ok, I’m listening. Use progressive revelation to interpret this verse:

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13)

Have you met any christians from the deep south? They don’t like gays and they don’t like jews neither. Then again… my mom… a jew? She did approve to have my genitals mutilated when I was an infant… so you may have a point there.

Look dood, I know you aren’t a nihilist. I was being facetious. Your real situation is the following: your bible tells you to put homosexuals to death but then tells you to love your neighbor. You choose the version that makes the most sense to you based on your emotions and social consensus. You then merge this decision with your belief in immutable moral facts by projecting your decision about what is right onto the fantasy of the immutable moral fact. This fantasy of having direct access to moral facts strengthens your confidence in the infallibility of your moral decisions. Since your decisions match up good enough with the social consensus, you are able to function in society. All the outcomes of your “progressive revelation” are simply going to match up with the consensus of your current cultural context. Notice how the church of england has decided that hell no longer involves torture. An evolving society is dragging the church kicking and screaming toward better moral standards. You can no longer burn witches or execute guys like Thomas Aikenhead. Pretty soon, you may wind up like the church of england, unable to even threaten people with torture (hell) or accept the idea that a human sacrifice atones for sins. Your grandchildren may laugh at you and feel sorry for you for maintaining such horrific fantasies.

You do not have access to moral truths. Your superfluous holy book and subsequent process to “reinterpret” it to fit current ethical standards only serves to delay your acceptance of what is agreed upon to be correct behavior. Srsly

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Steven Carr October 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

I wonder what Ayer thinks of people who only have an Old Testament. Presumably they are living by the absolute moral rules that his imaginary god allegedly rescinded, replacing them with different absolute moral rules.

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MacGuy October 15, 2009 at 8:27 am

What if God disappeared? Everything would cease to exist. Despite atheism being assumed here, it was entertaining to say the least. I’m the kind of guy who enjoys satire, even from an atheist. Unfortunately I’d call this satirical lunacy, instead of satirical truth but that’s just me ;) But I enjoy both forms equally, if done properly.

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Anonymous232 October 15, 2009 at 11:51 am

“What if God disappeared?” The video is nonsensical. It’s as if nobody was brilliant enough to ask that question before among Christians themselves and it is worse because the video is addressed to Christians and NOT Muslims. By nature, the Muslims will not show any weakness, while Christians question their faith constantly.

The comedic stuff about killing and cannabalism safely ignores Atheist genocidal governments in the 20th Century. How convenient!!! Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao must be smiling.

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ayer October 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Penneyworth: “Ok, I’m listening. Use progressive revelation to interpret this verse:

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13)”

Are you not familiar with Christian theology at all? You do realize that the New Testament supersedes Leviticus, right? Again, I think your argument is with orthodox Jews.

Penneyworth: “Since your decisions match up good enough with the social consensus, you are able to function in society.”

The idea that the “social consensus” is what determines the correctness of moral value is what is horrifying. So if the social consensus is a Nazi consensus that says all Jews should be exterminated, then that controls. Yes, that’s nihilism all right. (And on that score, consistency would require you to refrain from judging the Levitical rules of the ancient Israelites as objectively wrong since that was the social consensus of that time and place, right?)

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ayer October 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Carr: “I wonder what Ayer thinks of people who only have an Old Testament.”

They need to know about the New Testament; that’s the whole purpose of Christian missionary activity, you know–to spread “the Gospel.”

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Bill Maher October 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Anonymous232, that was a small period of dictators and is nothing compared to a prosperous millennium and a half of Christian brutality that it is still going on today. You forgot the other two dictators of the 20th century, who were Roman Catholics.

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Jeff H October 15, 2009 at 6:18 pm

ayer,

By saying that “the New Testament supersedes Leviticus”, you realize you directly contradict Jesus himself, right?

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:17-20)

So according to Jesus, the Law still lives on. The New Testament never says, “Don’t stone gays,” so I think that law is still in effect.

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ayer October 15, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Jeff H: “So according to Jesus, the Law still lives on. The New Testament never says, “Don’t stone gays,” so I think that law is still in effect.”

Of course, why didn’t I see it before? All that theological disagreement between Jews and Christians over “law and gospel” has just been one big misunderstanding!

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one more clay figurine October 15, 2009 at 9:01 pm

So according to Jesus, the Law still lives on. The New Testament never says, “Don’t stone gays,” so I think that law is still in effect.

How about “he who has not sinned cast the first stone”? It may sound like I’m saying homosexuality is a sin; however, take this passage literally, and we really can’t stone anyone!

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Penneyworth October 16, 2009 at 6:49 am

“And on that score, consistency would require you to refrain from judging the Levitical rules of the ancient Israelites as objectively wrong since that was the social consensus of that time and place, right?”

The levitical rules were part of the social consensus of the time? Exactly. That’s exactly what I think. Why does the social consensus of nazi germany horrify you so much while the social consensus of the ancient isrealites does not bother you? The earth is a horrifying place.

Were those levitical rules objectively wrong? I never said that. You just strawmanned me as a moral realist. You forget that I am a moral nihilist. I don’t believe that objective morals exist. I value empathy, generosity, creativity, humor, and other things that exist.

Since you made no attempt to interpret that verse, would you say that it is null and void? If so, why do christians not prefer a bible that has all the voided verses removed? Also, since you probably believe that the ten commandments are objective moral facts, how are you able to decide which parts of the old testament are to be crossed out, and which parts are immutable? How does “progressive revalation” work exactly?

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ayer October 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

Penneyworth: “The earth is a horrifying place.”

And it is even more horrifying if we cannot condemn anything as objectively immoral, which is the moral nihilist position.

Penneyworth: “You forget that I am a moral nihilist. I don’t believe that objective morals exist. I value empathy, generosity, creativity, humor, and other things that exist.”

Yes, and the Nazi values hate, arrogance, genocide, etc.–also things that “exist.” And as a nihilist, you have no standing to say that the Nazi is objectively wrong.

Penneyworth: “Since you made no attempt to interpret that verse, would you say that it is null and void? If so, why do christians not prefer a bible that has all the voided verses removed? Also, since you probably believe that the ten commandments are objective moral facts, how are you able to decide which parts of the old testament are to be crossed out, and which parts are immutable? How does “progressive revalation” work exactly?”

I don’t get the impression that you have a sincere interest in the in-house Christian theological discussion on biblical hermeneutics. And since you reject the existence of objective moral values anyway (the existence of which can be shown philosophically, regardless of special revelation; see http://www.4truth.net/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=hiKXLbPNLrF&b=778665&ct=1264233), there would be little point.

But if you are really interested, you could begin your research with a series of posts by theologian Greg Boyd from 2008; see:
http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/what%E2%80%99s-at-stake-in-trying-to-explain-the-violent-god-of-the-old-testament/

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Penneyworth October 16, 2009 at 10:04 am

Ayer,

Are you under the impression that I value things that exist just because they exist? Do you assume that I value toothaches just because they exist? No, there are reasons for valuing certain things over others. For instance, cake tastes good, toothaches hurt. Please don’t drag this discussion to that level.

The world is not more horrifying without the ability to condemn things as objectively immoral. The consensus is that we don’t desire nazism. We want to prevent it. Calling nazism objectively immoral adds nothing to the validity of action against it. Calling hate and genocide objectively immoral just makes one wonder why you don’t call the hate and genocide of the ancient isrealites objectively immoral. Again, it doesn’t seem to bother you. If you say “yeah well you have to understand their cultural context…” of course, I say: exactly.

If the nazis did manage to subjugate the whole world and brainwash everyone, you would easily be able to call the extermination of the jews objectively moral according to the bible by using the verses about how the killing of jesus caused a curse on the jews and their descendants. Your fantasy of objective morality would fit that consensus, were you in that situation. If you were a soldier in the (most likely fictional) army of the ancient isrealites, and your leader joshua issued orders to kill all the women and children in a city, you could see a teenaged girl carrying a 5 year old, running away in terror from you, and you would chase them down and hack them to bits knowing that it was objectively moral. In any situation, the will of the consensus you recognize is what you will project onto your fantasy of objective morality.

Thanks for the links to the apologetics, but it would be nice if you could step through the interpretation process for this one example: the order to execute people for being homosexual.

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ayer October 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Penneyworth: “Calling hate and genocide objectively immoral just makes one wonder why you don’t call the hate and genocide of the ancient isrealites objectively immoral.”

To the extent that the ancient Israelites engaged in hate and genocide, it was objectively immoral. I have no problem with that; I am not an inerrantist.

Penneyworth: “The consensus is that we don’t desire nazism. We want to prevent it. Calling nazism objectively immoral adds nothing to the validity of action against it….If the nazis did manage to subjugate the whole world and brainwash everyone…”

Interesting thought experiment. Since you say it is the consensus of what we desire that determines morality, then if everyone on earth were brainwashed by the nazis, the consensus of desire would be Nazi morality. And on your view there would be no basis for saying Nazi morality is objectively wrong even if everyone on earth agreed with it. Which is absurd, since it is like saying if the Nazis brainwashed everyone on earth to believe 2+2=5 that would make it true since it reflects the “social consensus.”

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Kiwi Dave October 16, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Ayer, I went to this site http://www.4truth.net/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=hiKXLbPNLrF&b=778665&ct=1264233) for the philosophical justification of objective morality, but couldn’t find any article which looked relevant, and didn’t fancy reading them all, including archives,to find it.

Can you give the article’s title, or a distinctive phrase I could search for?

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ayer October 16, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Kiwi Dave: “Can you give the article’s title, or a distinctive phrase I could search for?”

You’re right, that’s the wrong link. The following one should work:

http://www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.2832571/k.7E46/The_Moral_Argument_for_Gods_Existence.htm

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Kiwi Dave October 17, 2009 at 5:08 am

Ayer, thanks for the corrected link. It’s a brief and very clear statement of the theist case for the divine origins of morality. I don’t agree with it, but since you are obviously familiar with the case for the natural origins of morality it would be tedious and insulting of me to repeat it in my mangled words.

All the best.

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Penneyworth October 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Ayer, mathematical statements are nothing like moral statements. Saying that it is moral to exterminate slavs is just an assignment to the word moral of an opinion. 2+2=5 is testable for anyone who can count. The analogy does not work.

I checked out your link to the philisophical argument for moral absolutes. It claims that morality is instincual, but it is not. Morality is learned behavior. It claims that one should trust his inate sense of morality just like one trusts his five senses. This is false. Two different people can grow up with utterly different moral standards based on their environment, while one cannot learn to do anything with his eyes but collect visual information. The article claims that moral reforms require objective morals, but offers zero support for this claim. The whole thing is just an example of typical apologetics, and only makes baseless assertions.

Just out of curiosity, if someone who is raised as a devout muslim tells you that it is a moral fact that one cannot make a human sacrifice to “pay” for sins, and they know this because of a deeply felt sense of truth (etched on their heart by God), how do you respond?

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ayer October 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Penneyworth: “Ayer, mathematical statements are nothing like moral statements. Saying that it is moral to exterminate slavs is just an assignment to the word moral of an opinion. 2+2=5 is testable for anyone who can count. The analogy does not work.”

2 + 2 = 5 is “testable” in the sense that it is obvious to anyone with a nondefective mind. Similarly, the statement “torturing babies for fun is morally wrong” is also obvious to anyone with a nondefective mind.

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ayer October 18, 2009 at 10:07 am

Penneyworth: “Just out of curiosity, if someone who is raised as a devout muslim tells you that it is a moral fact that one cannot make a human sacrifice to “pay” for sins, and they know this because of a deeply felt sense of truth (etched on their heart by God), how do you respond?”

That I agree with them, since at the cross God was sacrificing himself to pay for sin, not plucking out a random hapless human who was not an incarnate person of the trinity.

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Penneyworth October 19, 2009 at 6:41 am

ayer,

A person can have a defective mind and therefore be unable to count, or a person can have a defective mind such that they are unable to learn the behavior that is considered correct. These conditions are not similar in any way.

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ayer October 19, 2009 at 7:03 am

Penneyworth: “These conditions are not similar in any way.”

Yes, they are, because in both cases the person grasps the statements “2 + 2 = 4″ and “torturing babies for fun is morally wrong” as obviously true (not a matter of opinion, like “X prefers vanilla, Y prefers chocolate ice cream). If X believes 2 + 2 = 5 and that torturing babies for fun is good, X is wrong, and does not simply hold a different opinion about a matter of taste.

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Penneyworth October 19, 2009 at 9:27 am

noap, “torturing babies for fun is morally wrong” is not obviously true. It is just a statement of opinion. You and I share the opinion about baby torture, but you don’t gain anything by adding “IT IS OBJECTIVELY WRONG.” If you, instead, said “I want to stop the torturing of babies because I feel empathy for those babies,” I’d be with you 100%, and so would almost everyone. The vast consensus on this issue is why you say it is “obviously true.”

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