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12-10-2016, 11:58 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
Dear Mr. Slick:

If you think that a flood-causing, firstborn-assassinating filicidal deity can be described as "good" by any stretch of the imagination, you have no fucking business discussing morality.

At all.

Stuff your questions back up your sigmoid colon whence they came.
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12-10-2016, 12:16 PM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
I'm only going to answer a few i think hobbit nailed most of them

First his crooning about Stalin is silly we can't blame Stalins atheism for his murders any more then we can blame the fact he was white . atheism is a disbelief in something how you get the idea to kill people from that it's silly .No Stalin's actions were dictated by his beliefs and very religious ones they were. He essentially took the idea of the divine right of kings and replaced it with the communist Utopian right of Stalin and used it as an excuse to kill millions.And the peasants who for generations were told to obey there overlords by the church and threatened by it's thugs.Went along with it because they had replaced one religious icon with another and one divine monster with another.


As for his question about abortion most abortions a early the few that are not a minor in number and the brief suffering they would endure pales in comparison to reducing half the worlds population to second class citizens. With no ultimate right to themselves.

As for his argument about charity historically atheists have been persecuted and even now coming out is a risky affair for many let alone openly running a charity .And also the simple fact there are not a great many of us factors in but as hobbit said as our numbers grow charities follow.

As for his supposed examples of Christian charity a civilization for the most part these acts had little to do with an interest in suffering. Most of there" help" comes with strings attached it's more about promoting dogma then helping people. and it often brings hateful and harmful idea's with it .

As for the war no getting engaged in the war will cause a great deal of suffering i agree Isis must be beaten. But war will not end this we tried that it failed .Peace and stability will be the ultimate winner and finding ways to promote that is far more important. But i find it interesting is slick planning on marching off to war will he demand such of Christians is his lack of doing so a admission of his support of Isis.

As for the Ten commandments it's violation of constitution which gives us our freedoms a violation of that is harmful indeed .As for promotion of the contrary no more so then not allowing Hindus to promote there rules about beef .

As for the last question any person who would even consider such an act is clearly unwell and thus is probably a danger to society regardless of the victims condition

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12-10-2016, 08:22 PM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
It's pretty hilarious for any Christian to ask how an atheist knows rape is wrong, umm, well logically we know it hurts people, both emotionally and physically. We've done studies, we see people suffer, they can't hold down a job, they become suicidal, etc. Is that not enough to know it's bad? You need an invisible person to tell you? Even a child could understand this, why a grown person needs to ask is beyond me but a more important question is:

Why do wrongful acts matter if we can be forgiven for anything and still enter the splendorous paradise of Heaven when we die?

Hey I know no one is perfect, we all fuck up but I'm totally sure our entire race doesn't need the ultimate whipping boy to suffer and die and then magically come back to life to somehow forgive us so we can enjoy perfect bliss forever, it's not right. Nothing about the premise of Christianity teaches morality or even cares if you're moral. You can be the biggest asshole who ever lived and still go to Heaven, you just gotta be sorry. That's not fucking moral, it's human blood sacrifice nonsense.

I do think some of these questions are funny and asked so improperly...it's like he's never even met an atheist:

From the perspective of an atheist, is the action of rape wrong even if it furthers the species?

Why is furthering the species so important? I don't remember a population crisis so dire that we needed to start raping each other. I think I'd rather let our species end entirely than go around sexually violating each other. Extinction is a part of nature, if we gotta go, we gotta go.

If you believe something is morally wrong (like rape), "ought" you do something about it and impose your value on others?

Yes, I "ought" to but I'm only one person, clearly I would need quite a bit more people in a community to agree that something is wrong. I can't just say " My invisible God friend who is all powerful says this thing is wrong, let's not do that thing!" That would be crazy.

Was the atheist Joseph Stalin wrong for killing over 42 million people in the 1900s? If so, why? If not, why not?

Was the Catholic Adolph Hitler wrong for executing millions of Jews, he believed in God, is that ok? Let me ask it a different way, was the vegetarian Hitler wrong for killing the Jews? Was his vegetarianism to blame? If so why? If not, why not?

How do you know if a society is improving morally?

When we start to pay more attention to each other and our collective needs and stop paying attention to bronze age nonsense that has only held back our species for thousands of years. That would be a good start.

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12-10-2016, 10:17 PM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
Okay, for our CARM observer(s)...

Opening with what has already been stated, that atheism is not a "thing" (simply the rejection of an assertion by others) and therefore cannot have its own standards of behavior, I will try to answer these from the perspective of what you really are asking, which is essentially, "If you do not accept Biblical principles of morality, then how can you say you are moral people?"

I have bolded your questions, to distinguish them from my answers:

What makes something moral?

Intent. If one intends to gratify one's own desires at the expense of a fellow human being, then it is immoral. This standard causes observable variation from culture to culture, but the basic principles of harm avoidance are pretty much a universal moral concept anywhere one looks.

If you deliberately flick me on the ear, causing very little pain, then you have committed an immoral act because you have caused harm to me in order to amuse yourself (or whatever other motive)... but if you accidentally kick me in the shin, causing great pain, you have not committed an immoral act because it was not your intent to hurt me.

Intent is no small matter; there have been psychology studies that have shown that the ability to distinguish moral intent resides in a particular part of the frontal lobe, and that it can be damaged in such a way that the person loses the ability to distinguish between deliberate and accidental harm done, measuring their indignant reaction by the amount of harm they have suffered, rather than trying to determine the moral intent of the person acting upon them. (You can find an excellent example of this, regarding a railroad foreman who took a spike through the skull, in the book almost every Psychology major must read, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat).

Essentially, it comes down to a question of will: does the person being hurt consent to the action? If so then it is not an immoral act. If they do not consent then you have the exertion of the will of one individual over another, the gratifying of one person's desires through the violation of the will of the other. That is "harm" and it is the basis for pretty much every standard of personal morality I've ever heard of. Group dynamics (such as national/state/municipal laws) are a slightly different matter, and consist of an unspoken agreement--called the Social Contract--to conform to a set of agreed-upon rules in that society to help everyone get along more smoothly.

Do you have any objective moral standard, or are all your morals subjective?

Sam Harris has argued that one can use the scientific method to determine an objective set of moral standards; I am pretty sure I disagree with him, as varied cultural values make the idea of reducing harm difficult to standardize. What is seen as harmful in one society (from the perspective of an individual in that society) may not be so in another society.

Generally, when I hear a Christian claiming they possess a set of objective moral standards, they mean, "...because I have these Instructions from God™ which tell me they are", even though it is plain to us that many of those instructions are actually just a preservation of some pretty barbaric tribal social mores from the Bronze/Iron Age, such as slavery, misogyny, and genocide, and we reject both the claim that they are from God (objective) and that this book is a moral guide.

Do any actions automatically have moral value, such as rape being wrong, or is the moral value assigned by people?

I notice you focus on rape quite a bit, in the following questions. Presumably this is because you have chosen something that no one could possibly argue was a moral good. I say this because I agree that people assign the morality of actions, and that there's pretty much no scenario under which I could imagine rape (the violent kind) being condoned by a society. A society that tolerates members who wantonly harm other members against their will cannot function well, or for long. This is why we create laws, or "group dynamic" standards, when some will not follow the basic principle of moral action toward their fellow human beings.

Why ought a person not steal?

Because stealing is, by definition, taking something without the permission of the victim. It is, as I said above, subverting the will of one for the gratification of another.

Was the atheist Joseph Stalin wrong for killing over 42 million people in the 1900s? If so, why? If not, why not?

"Killing 42 million people" is a bit of a stretch. Read a book on the subject. The numbers were heavily inflated by Western researchers during the Cold War, and have since been heavily revised. Most of the people who died under Stalin died from hunger and/or because their government was neglectful of the needs of its people. Of those who were "purged" in the name of the state, yes, I would say no government ever has the right to kill its citizens.

From the perspective of an atheist, is the action of rape wrong even if it furthers the species? In atheism, if you say rape is wrong because it harms someone, why is harm the standard of morality?

What the hell does this even mean? Who cares if we "further" the species? I believe I have already explained, above, why this is unacceptable.

If you believe something is morally wrong (like rape), "ought" you do something about it and impose your value on others? If you "ought" to impose your moral value on others (like stoping a rape), what gives you the moral right to do that?

I am not "imposing my value on others" when I stop a rape, I am stopping the person who is trying to harm the other person by violating them against their will. Because I know I would not wish to be harmed in that way, if I see someone who is obviously being harmed in that same way, my sense of empathy for a fellow human being would compel me to intervene.

Do you believe that the subjective opinions of a society offer proper basis for morality?

I have never, ever seen any other system. Ever. That includes your Bible, which is quite obviously the subjective (and quite barbaric) value-set of the priest class of the Israelites.

But that is not an insult. Subjective morals mean that they can be altered for the better, with time, as people who are suffering continued harm can speak up and convince others that their suffering is immoral. We ended slavery for this reason, even though we had to fight a war to do it. Examples in the 20th century include the Civil Rights Movement, in the USA, and the ending of Apartheid in South Africa.

How do you know if a society is improving morally?

When fewer people say, "I am not free because I am harmed in ____ way(s)", then our society has improved, morally. Thankfully, it is clear that we are doing just that. As one Christian preacher of whom I am rather fond once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

How do atheists define harm and what justifies their definition as being the right one?

I don't think it's fair to say "atheists", here. I think everyone uses a pretty standard set of moral principles within a society, which may then be further altered in the individual by religious or other cultural teachings as they are raised. No one wants to live in a society where the stronger are free to take from the weaker, as pretty much everyone is weaker in some way than someone else, and it would be miserable anarchy if we allowed that. Stopping people from harming others-- violating their will, except as prescribed by laws upon which we vote and/or elect representatives to vote-- is the entire basis for civilization.

How is appealing to the majority desire not committing the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum to determine morals?

Have I done so? I don't believe I did.

I have spoken of the near-universal desire of all people not to have their will subverted by others, and the recognition by anyone with empathy (that is, all non-sociopaths, or roughly 98-99% of humanity) that everyone else feels like they do.

You may be confusing "morals" with "laws", which are pretty much by definition ad populum, and is one of the reasons we live not in a democracy but a Constitutional Republic. If you want to know why ad populum is unacceptable as the basis for moral reasoning, read the US Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers, in which they had quite an insightful discussion of the issues, there. Many of the participants in that discussion were Deists or Unitarians (in other words, not Christians) and would likely be agnostics/atheists, today, if they were alive... you might find their perspective helpful.

If it is a logical fallacy, then why do atheists appeal to it?

Do we? Thanks for letting us know.

Why "ought" atheists work to reduce harm?

Because this is the only life we get. There is no such thing as good or evil, in the external sense... there is only how we treat others and how we are treated in this life. Humans make all the good or evil there is, through our actions. Working to make the world better helps me, helps my society, and helps my descendants/friends/family live better lives.

We're all in this together.

How is it not a double standard when defining good as that which reduces harm, and that which reduces harm as good, yet atheists complain when Christians say that God is by nature good and what is good is what reflects God's nature?

Whoa, there, buddy. "God is by nature good" is far from demonstrated. If we go off the claims of your Christian Bible, then your God is a monster, as far as I can see. If I take you at your word that the Bible comes directly from this being you call "God", then I see that your God condones permanent, inheritable chattel slavery for foreigners (but only indentured servitude for fellow Israelites, so that's nice), suppression of free speech by way of stoning, suppression of religious liberty by way of stoning, and so many other things I consider outrageously barbaric that I would say your God is by nature evil, not good. You choose to look at your deity through rose-colored glasses; I am not so constricted, and I see clearly that the "objective standards" to which you refer come from scriptures that are abhorrent to almost every value I hold as an American. Yes, there's some good stuff in there, too, but not so much that I'd even begin to agree with your claim that "God is good".

Your entire principle of salvation from hell is based on a principle I consider very much like rape. God creates the punishment, says that we have offended him, and says that the only way out of the punishment is to subvert our will to his own desires (that we worship and avoid "sin", which is defined as things God doesn't like). This is morally indistinguishable to me from a rapist who says you have dressed so desirably that he will give you a million bucks if you let him have sex with you, but if you won't then he will have to shoot you with his gun for offending him by being sexy and yet rejecting him-- but hey, it's your "free choice", he says.

If reducing harm is morally good, then shouldn't atheists work to stop abortion since it causes the greatest harm to a life by killing unborn babies?

As with many moral issues, there is a balance of harms that must be weighed. There are plenty of atheists who are anti-abortion, so it's not an atheism issue. That said, I consider it a far worse harm for people to tell women that they must reproduce against their will.

If reducing harm is morally good, then shouldn't atheists be morally obligated to join the military and go to war with radical Islam so as to stop its spread and thereby reduce harm to millions of people?

Morally obligated? No. Atheism is not a thing, it's a not-thing. Atheism has no doctrines of its own, and therefore cannot impose any obligation on a person.

That said, many of us here are veterans for that or similar reasons.

If reducing harm is morally good, then does it imply that the ends justify the means as long as harm is reduced? If the ends justify the means, then are lying, adultery, cheating, stealing, etc., all okay if they reduce overall harm?

That's a really complicated question with no simple answer. The shortest answer I can give is that yes, there are situations in which things which would be immoral in other contexts might become moral, if they are done for the purpose of mitigating a greater harm. One example would be lying to the Nazis about the Jews I have hidden in the attic. There are entire college classes dedicated to discussing these complex answers, such as the ethics classes that potential doctors must take.

That's not to say "the ends always justify the means". Some things always cause harm to our fellow human beings, and cannot be justified.

If an atheist believes that religion causes harm, then shouldn't he use lies with religious people in order to undermine their religious presence and expansion and reduce harm?

Why would we need to lie, in order to do that?

It also potentially could undermine our whole case, if we were caught in the lie. Lying is rarely a good idea. Besides, activist atheism is generally built on the idea that we have either demonstrably better ideas or that the ideas of religious persons are demonstrably false. This is the Age of Google... it's much better to show the other person how to reason for themselves, and find the answers they seek through methods that eliminate human bias. I highly recommend Carl Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, which talks quite a bit about how to learn to think in such a way that we minimize our own biases and avoid being fooled by arguments which sound good but have no true substance.

If reducing harm is morally good, then how many hospitals have atheists built, or wells have they dug, or cultures have they taught agriculture, and provided electricity to, etc.?

You're kidding, right? Many of the greatest philanthropists of the past couple centuries have been atheists, from Dale Carnegie to Bill Gates. And they did it without the ulterior motive of spreading a religion to (or as you would say, trying to "save the souls" of) the people they were helping.

Since Christians build hospitals, dig wells, visit 3rd world nations and upgrade their technology, thereby reducing harm, then why are atheists increasing their attacks on Christianity?

We do not "attack Christianity". We try to stop Christians from inserting their religion into our ostensibly secular government or otherwise using our tax dollars to spread their religion. The "wall of separation" protects government and religion, both.

Why do atheists work to get the 10 commandments removed from public areas since those same 10 commandments reduce harm when followed?
If atheists are routinely getting the 10 commandments removed from public places, then are they advocating lying, stealing, adultery, and theft since they don't want those prohibitions posted publically?
What is it about not lying, stealing, murdering, and committing adultery that are unconstitutional? (This question only applies to the U.S.A.)


Again-- you're kidding, right? Saying I don't want a religious monument placed on government property doesn't mean I object to every single word it says. If your 10 Commandments contained the phrase, "But atheists are still good people, and thou shalt not harm them in any way, thus saith the LORD.", I would still object to them being placed on a government building.

But as it is, those 10 Commandments are themselves unconstutional in almost every instance. Basically every commandment EXCEPT the ones you mentioned (perjury, stealing, and murdering) are unconstitutional. It contains Commandments that would violate the right of everyone who isn't Christian to have free religion ("no other gods before Yahweh"), right out of the gate.

It's genuinely amazing to me that you can take a couple of items off the list and ignore the fact that the others all are in direct opposition to our country's entire concept of liberty and justice for all.

If reducing harm is morally good, then shouldn't atheists appreciate Christians who seek to reduce the greatest suffering of people by trying to get them saved in order to avoid eternal damnation?

Um, if we believed that was a real thing then we'd be Christians. We understand that you think you're doing a good thing, and in general we don't object to your attempts to save souls. We do object to some of the means by which you try to go about doing that. There's a difference.

Would it be okay to rape a woman in a coma if she doesn't know about it and no one ever finds out since no one is harmed but it gives the rapist pleasure?

I have to be honest with you... it bothers me quite a bit that you could even ask this question.

Consent (affirmation of the will and desire to have sex) must be affirmatively given. There is no scenario in which a person in a coma can do this. This is the reason that having sex with an unconscious person is still rape. This is the reason that having sex with a child is rape (they are not of an age to freely consent to the act, due to a number of factors). Consent is not the default position in lieu of an objection.

That so many people can't seem to understand this very basic principle is a major factor in why we have a rape epidemic on American college campuses.

Okay, that's the list. In closing, I'd like to remind you that none of these are "atheist" answers because there is no such thing as an atheist code of any sort. Atheism is the rejection of claims of people who say there are gods/goddesses/spirits (which they generally claim talk to us and want us to do things). That's it. But I have answered, as I said, under the presumption that you meant, "since you reject Biblical Moral Law, how do you form your own set of morals in its absence?"

I hope you have found my particular take on morality without gods to be helpful.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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13-10-2016, 02:08 AM (This post was last modified: 13-10-2016 02:20 AM by Szuchow.)
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
(12-10-2016 10:17 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Was the atheist Joseph Stalin wrong for killing over 42 million people in the 1900s? If so, why? If not, why not?

"Killing 42 million people" is a bit of a stretch. Read a book on the subject. The numbers were heavily inflated by Western researchers during the Cold War, and have since been heavily revised. Most of the people who died under Stalin died from hunger and/or because their government was neglectful of the needs of its people. Of those who were "purged" in the name of the state, yes, I would say no government ever has the right to kill its citizens.

First, question should be phrased differently: How many people communist Joseph Stalin raised in religious environment and who was seminary student killed? But that's religious apologists for you.

As for numbers it is more than stretch, as shown below:

- Estimate of number of people who died in Soviet camps from 1930 to 1953: 2 749 163 [Anne Applebaum, Gulag. A History, p. 529, 530 of Polish edition].

- Estimate of number of people who died during Great Hunger: 5 to 7 million [Oleg Khlevniuk, Stalin, chapter 3 His Revolution, sub chapter Famine,English, Epub edition], 3,3 million [Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands, p. 75, 76 of Polish edition].

- Estimate of number of people killed during Great Terror: 681 692 [Richard Overy, The Dictators, p. 207, 208 of Polish edition]. Additionally number of people executed in years 1930-1953 is estimated at 786 098 [ibid].

About neglect - I would say that it was deliberate policy. Here's the appropriate fragment from Oleg Khlevniuk Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator, English edition, 2015, chapter 3 His Revolution, sub chapter Famine:

"This famine, which reached its peak over the winter of 1932–1933, took the lives of between 5 million and 7 million people.31 Millions more were permanently disabled. In a time of peace and relatively normal weather, agriculturally rich regions were ruined and desolated. Although the famine was a complex phenomenon, posterity has every right to call it the Stalin Famine. The Stalinist policy of the Great Leap was its primary cause; moreover, it was Stalin’s decisions in 1932 and 1933 that, instead of easing the tragedy, made it worse.
The famine was the inevitable result of industrialization and collectivization. From a productivity standpoint, the kolkhozes were a poor substitute for the destroyed farms of those who had been branded “kulaks.” The only advantage of the kolkhozes was that they gave the state a convenient means of channeling resources out of the countryside. The exceptional exploitation of peasants had two effects: agricultural workers were physically weakened by hunger, and they were deprived of any incentive to work, leading to despondency and apathy. They knew in advance that everything they grew would be taken by the state, dooming them, at best, to semi-starvation. Several years of this policy led to a gradual decline in output. In 1932 the crops did not grow well and were also poorly harvested.
The state’s interests and those of the peasants were diametrically opposed. The state was extremely aggressive in taking from the countryside as many resources as possible. The peasants, like famine victims all over the world, used “the weapons of the weak.”32 They sabotaged the fulfillment of their obligations to the state and tried to stash away stores to feed themselves. Stalin was well aware of the hostility of the forcibly collectivized countryside, but he placed the blame fully on the peasants’ shoulders. They had declared war, he proclaimed, against the Soviet government.
The looming crisis was obvious to everyone, including Stalin, long before the famine entered its most critical phase. There were obvious steps that, if they did not prevent the famine altogether, could at least have diminished its impact. The first would have been to establish set norms for grain deliveries to the state—in other words, a move from a system of confiscation to a system of taxes. This step would have given the peasants an incentive to boost production. Stalin, however, rejected this approach.33 He preferred to take as much as possible from the countryside without any constraints. Another step to alleviate the famine might have been to reduce grain exports or even buy grain abroad. Such purchases were made on a limited basis during the spring of 1932, so they were in principle possible.34 But Stalin refused to make further purchases. Any concessions that hinted at the misguidedness of the Great Leap were contrary to his nature and politically dangerous to his dictatorship. To alleviate the pressure on the peasants there would have to be a reduction in the pace of industrial growth. Reluctantly, Stalin did agree to such a reduction in 1933, but his slowness to take action cost millions of lives".


Other numbers such as victims of revolution or Civil War obviously can not be blamed on Stalin. There is issue with wartime dead and how much Stalin can be blamed for them, but I decided to not include them.

Ps. Hope longer citations are allowed.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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13-10-2016, 02:18 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
The questions make a lot of assumptions and argue from that.

For example, they assume that there is a god, that hell exists and that there is an objective morality rather than judgements that we make based on the pack instincts that have evolved.

It also seems like the person asking the questions really wants to rape women and it's only because he follows rules that he doesn't. The rest of us have something called EMPATHY. This means that we can imagine what it must feel like for another person and therefore DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS TO SOMEONE ELSE.

This is probably because the person asking these questions is a sociopath and therefore whatever you say they won't be able to understand the answers. So it's best if someone like that has rules to follow and just accepts them. The rest of us can just avoid people like that. They're easy to recognise. They're most often chief executives, politicians and zealous Christians harping on about objective morality and rules.
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13-10-2016, 03:32 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
(13-10-2016 02:18 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  The questions make a lot of assumptions and argue from that.

For example, they assume that there is a god, that hell exists and that there is an objective morality rather than judgements that we make based on the pack instincts that have evolved.

It also seems like the person asking the questions really wants to rape women and it's only because he follows rules that he doesn't. The rest of us have something called EMPATHY. This means that we can imagine what it must feel like for another person and therefore DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS TO SOMEONE ELSE.

This is probably because the person asking these questions is a sociopath and therefore whatever you say they won't be able to understand the answers. So it's best if someone like that has rules to follow and just accepts them. The rest of us can just avoid people like that. They're easy to recognise. They're most often chief executives, politicians and zealous Christians harping on about objective morality and rules.

I agree with all you say except the last part (though I think Penn Jillette put the same argument quite hilariously). While I agree with you about the most awful people, which you listed, I'm simply not convinced that this particular line of questioning, which we so often get from Christians, is the product of an evil heart in the questioner(s).

There is an alternative explanation: that the person is not himself a sociopath, but has been conditioned by his religious upbringing to think that all humans are inherently evil (sociopathic) unless they have the salvation of Jesus in their hearts, to paraphrase Romans. They think everyone is awful and that only their religion can bring salvation from this awfulness-- that's literally its entire basis. They see themselves as "good people" for seeking to turn away (repent) from this awfulness that they have been convinced is inherent in them, even if the reality is that they'd be good people even if they'd never heard of the Bible. To them, God is Good™, and everything not of God is awful.

And here we are, not only refusing salvation but actively opposing their efforts to use coercive tactics and even our government to "help" "save" others from this awful nature they've been taught that everyone possesses. Therefore, it's easy for them to imagine the actively irreligious to be unregenerate or even degenerate-- the worst things they can humanly imagine, which would include the awfulness of rape (to a decent person).

That this defies everything we see in the real world is immaterial to a person who has been subjected to such social conditioning. Observer bias is a powerful thing, especially when a person has been conditioned for years, often from birth, to see things through the lens of a religion.

Of course, he really might be just as frightening of a person as it seems to us, based on the seeming preoccupation with rape in that list of questions, but as someone who was raised in what was likely a very similar Christian environment to the one in which he lives, I try to give the benefit of the doubt.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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13-10-2016, 08:44 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
One thing that I think is important to remember is that Matt Slick is a presuppositionalist. He has already presupposed that what ever answer an atheist gives to his questions is wrong, before he even hears it. He assumes that he knows what the atheist's world view is because he confuses a negation with a full set of positive ideas. I know for a fact that he's been corrected on this many times but he continues to treat atheism as a worldview.

He's not asking these questions out of any genuine desire to learn, but in order to uncover areas of ignorance that he can wedge his imaginary god into. Presuppositionalists want to catch people off guard and undermine their confidence in their own mind's ability to know things and they are in fact counting on the fact that the vast majority of people they will encounter have not thought deeply about the issues they raise and have no ready answer. They want you floundering and grasping so that they can step in and rescue you with their fantasy beliefs. They've got a script they go by and as soon as they see the slightest hesitation or uncertainty they pounce like a cat on a mouse and beat you down with a flood of questions you can't answer.

When you ask them how Christianity answers these questions you will discover their answers are empty and often they must borrow from other worldviews that are opposed to Christianity in order to answer. They will often appeal to Kant or Hume. They speak a lot about the laws of logic, but where does the Bible define logic or reason let alone discuss its method. It doesn't.

So these questions are really dishonest and if they ever do encounter someone who can answer their questions cogently and validate their answers with facts they will flee. I've seen it many times. Objectivists can do this and that is why I hope to find the time to answer each of his questions in detail, not that he'll ever know, but just because I find it pleasurable to do so.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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14-10-2016, 10:17 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
Matt Slick: Would it be okay to rape a woman in a coma if she doesn't know about it and no one ever finds out since no one is harmed but it gives the rapist pleasure?

I'll start with this question because it tells us a lot about the person who is asking, about his character. He apparently thinks it would be pleasurable to rape someone.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a blatant strawman here but I don't think so. I think we're seeing a window into the soul of someone who has bought into a morality of self sacrifice, self abnegation, even to the point of giving everything including ones's life to serve others. Implicit in such a moral code is that anything one does for one's self is evil. This naturally leads to a snatch as one can as long as you don't get caught approach to life. That bit about if "no one finds out". It's clear to me that the pleasure he would derive from such an act would be in "getting away with it". I distinctly remember when I was a believer feeling fear that God was watching me and disapproving of what I did, so that I never had a moment's peace.

He thinks that "no one is harmed" in a rape. This, I think, is another psychological effect of the morality of self sacrifice on a person. People are just sacrificial animals to be used.

To me, this question seems to be dripping with resentment. What He resents is the fact that atheists have shrugged off or never have been subjected to a moral code that makes one a slave to all. What he and other theists resent is that the atheist is free to choose his own values and happiness and to pursue them without guilt.

The joke's on him though, because while many atheists have abandoned their irrational belief in gods, they retain their acceptance of the morality of self sacrifice. They've not adopted a rational morality.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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14-10-2016, 11:25 AM
RE: CARM has more questions for us!
I'm going to answer the questions that I think are more interesting/more important/make sense.


What makes something moral?

I don't think I can answer this perfectly, but I use generally the same idea that most other people have. I'll take "something" to mean "an action" for right now, because the different ways moral can be used (to describe a person as moral vs an action) can become confusing. So an action is moral if it promotes well-being in a community, and something is immoral if it introduces harm in a community. However, the idea of intent is important, as RocketSurgeon pointed out.
Actions can only be quantified as moral or immoral if said action is a product of our "will" (one could argue, like I would, that "will" doesn't exist, but let's just accept such an idea as true for now). Non-man-produced phenomena, like natural disasters and the actions of animals, can not be viewed with morality because there is no human will involved. Human actions that have accidental consequences also can not be assessed on a moral scale because the action was not produced with intent of the consequence.


Do you have any objective moral standard, or are all your morals subjective?

YES, I have an objective moral standard. This is where I think I disagree with most like-minded people, though I also think it's mostly a semantic issue. What I call my "objective moral standard" is precisely how I define morality itself. Like I said, I believe to be moral is to promote the well-being of a community. Now, there is tons of subjectivity when it comes to things like: a community's own views on morality, how a particular action affects one community vs how it affects another, the laws created in communities, etc. etc. However, the method of determining morality always remains the same, it is objectively true. Let's look at some examples:
----A community can have it's own views on morality, such that it believes murdering non-believers is moral. However, they'd simply have an incorrect view of morality, the same way one society can believe the geocentric model is correct, but they'd simply be wrong. And you could show that it is wrong by the suffering of the people and how it ruins the harmony of a productive, well-kept community where all participants feel positive emotions.
----Actions are moral relative to their community, so as long as different actions within each community are beneficial to their respective community, then both are moral. Now, if the two communities weren't isolated and had to interact with each other, then they would become a single community, and actions that were moral when isolated may not remain moral, because this is a new community.
So even though actions themselves do not have objective moral values beyond a community, the method of assessing their morality within a community is always the same. It is an objective method, and so morality is always objectively determined. Which leads into...


Do any actions automatically have moral value, such as rape being wrong, or is the moral value assigned by people?

No, actions DO NOT automatically have a single moral value. However, it is also not assigned by people. Like I've just stated, "actions themselves do not have objective moral values beyond a community". The moral value of an action is determined, objectively (not subjectively, not assigned by people), by whether or not it "promotes the well-being of a community". This necessitates a community in order to assign an action a moral value, which means an action does not have moral value outside of a community, and it can also be different within different communities.
Also, I have to note that the term "action" I've been using doesn't necessarily correlate to a general action such as "theft". What I mean is, even within the same community, "theft of a rich person" might be morally different from "theft of a poor person" (and I'm not claiming that to be the case, just for the purpose of example), so "theft" as an action may be morally dependent on an even more refined context. However, assessing its moral value always follow the method of figuring out whether or not it "promotes the well-being of a community".


So now I'm going to skip a couple of the questions because they refer to specific instances of moral evaluation, of which I think I've clearly defined the process by which I might answer them. The next question is a hugely important one, because it addresses some of the assumptions I slipped into my previous answers.


In atheism, if you say rape is wrong because it harms someone, why is harm the standard of morality?
How do atheists define harm and what justifies their definition as being the right one?

I think these questions can be accurately reduced to this:
----"Why? Why is your standard of morality what it is, and how do you know it is correct?"
Take a part of my second answer for example:
----"And you could show that it is wrong by the suffering of the people and how it ruins the harmony of a productive, well-kept community where all participants feel positive emotions."
The questions are effectively asking, "Why do you assume these things to be indicators of morality?" This question goes deep into the heart of humanity, one concerning our roles as humans. What does it mean to be human? Is there such thing as "meaning"? If not, why should we care about things? And if we don't care, how do we consider morality? I think there is one concept that is key to all of these questions:
Emotion.
Emotion is one of the most fundamental properties of a human. And by emotion I don't just mean "feeling" like happy or sad. I mean any sensation, perception, physiological response, cognitive appraisal--everything that makes up the experience of a person. It allows humans to "do" and makes them "do". Even a sociopath has urges, interests, reasons for doing what are only caused by their response to internal and external stimuli. This is the root of what makes humans "people". And so to be human means to "feel" and within this feeling, we are able to differentiate between what different things "feel" like, which we then consider to "want". What we "want" is what we define as "good". What we actively "DO NOT want" is what we define as "bad".
It's from the fundamental human quality of "want" that we get harm, because harm can be defined as what we "DO NOT want". Now, understanding "intent" and "will" fundamentally would be a far greater task, so for now I will assume the understanding of their intuitive meanings (which may be completely or nearly identical). I will also assume the social nature of humans that causes us to form communities and interact with each other. Not only such nature, but the necessity for human beings to interact. If necessary that human beings interact with each other, then one human's actions produce stimuli that is responded to by another human. Every human's actions, determined through intent and will, influences the emotions of other humans. Morality is an emergent property of this system that acts to maintain the functioning of its conscious, willful parts.
So that is my standard of morality. How do I know it is correct? By knowing that the fundamental constituents (will, emotion, social nature) of it are correct. Now, that only begs the question further, "How do you know those ideas are correct?". But the question here was "Why?" and I answered why. And of course I don't know these things, I don't believe anything can be known for certain. But absolute uncertainty doesn't stop me from looking for truth.
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