On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
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21-03-2017, 08:35 AM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 08:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 07:48 AM)morondog Wrote:  Morality is subjective does not imply that *laws* are a pick-and-choose affair. So I fail to see the utility of fooling people?

Because not all moral dictates, or principles are reducible to legal laws, past or present. Living and behaving within the limits of the legal law doesn't necessarily make you a good or moral person.

That's only a problem for religious people. I don't care if you don't think I'm a good person. I think people who think keeping the masses fooled is a good idea because "it's better for them" are pretty scummy, myself.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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21-03-2017, 12:37 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 08:35 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 08:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Because not all moral dictates, or principles are reducible to legal laws, past or present. Living and behaving within the limits of the legal law doesn't necessarily make you a good or moral person.

That's only a problem for religious people. I don't care if you don't think I'm a good person. I think people who think keeping the masses fooled is a good idea because "it's better for them" are pretty scummy, myself.

This is because some of us use our brains Wink we know that "good" people simply aren't always what they appear to be, nor are "bad" people. I'm generally suspicious of those who place too strong emphasis on appearing to be a "good" person. My first reaction is "Ok what are they hiding"

"I believed that you were a friend before the letter came," he said, "or at least I wished to. You have frightened me several times, tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would – well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand." Frodo Baggins, Lord of the rings


After all, people who say fuck are more honest, isn't statistics fun? Source

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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21-03-2017, 12:44 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 08:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 07:48 AM)morondog Wrote:  Morality is subjective does not imply that *laws* are a pick-and-choose affair. So I fail to see the utility of fooling people?

Because not all moral dictates, or principles are reducible to legal laws, past or present. Living and behaving within the limits of the legal law doesn't necessarily make you a good or moral person.

You know, you've changed positions, and been rather vague about what exactly what your position is. It feels like you've moved the goal posts many times in this discussion.

I mean I'm not sure if you've yet given a clear concise statement of exactly what your position is. By what standards you would judge a person to be "good" or "moral?" By what standards would you judge a god figure to be "good" or "moral"

I mean for the record could you state exactly what your position is?

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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21-03-2017, 02:50 PM (This post was last modified: 21-03-2017 02:55 PM by mordant.)
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 12:37 PM)JesseB Wrote:  I'm generally suspicious of those who place too strong emphasis on appearing to be a "good" person. My first reaction is "Ok what are they hiding"
Well I don't know that my first reaction would be that they are hiding something, but it does erode their credibility.

I have had a dream gig with a great client for about eight years now. This past year they acquired a new subsidiary which they are in the process of merging with. The president of this acquired company is apparently going to be our new corporate sales guru. I like him as a person, at least he seems kind and isn't running a death march environment from what I've seen after a visit to the new subsidiary's offices; if anything he runs it too loosely; his people seem to wander into work at 10 am and quit promptly at 4. BUT, he is a wear-it-on-your-shirtsleeve and stop-just-short-of-proselytizing kind of evangelical Christian, which gave me some pause due to the smarminess factor. He (or rather his stay at home wife) home schools three teens. Not necessarily bad that she's stay at home or home schooling but doing it through high school age strikes me as rather extreme.

Comes the annual company meeting and his PowerPoint presentation with which he introduced himself to all the people he was meeting mostly for the first time leads off with the claim that he is "a man of deep faith". My eyes nearly rolled totally backwards in their sockets. I closed my eyelids so no one else would see. Again, not necessarily anything but a verbal tick but Not a Good Sign.

None of this is conclusive but it would not surprise me to find that this guy is some combination of out of touch with reality, sloppy / careless or clueless, and it will relieve me to find that he's none of those things. My guess, if I were pressed for one, is that he'll be good at selling our products and services because he's had lots of practice selling his faith, which is a much harder sell indeed. He will probably be good at getting heard and making persuasive presentations, and terrible on tactical execution, I'm thinking. He's already asked me to undertake projects to support his efforts that are an ill-advised and wasteful use of my time, and which were tactfully countermanded by my direct report, the CEO, when I touched based with her.

This may all look terribly prejudicial to a theist reading these words but I am speaking from personal experience and my perspective as a former evangelical myself. There is something about being an ardent follower of the fundamentalist Christian faith that affects your judgment and authenticity, particularly if you are in upper management. Maybe it's because too many decisions arise from prayer -- er, the gut -- rather than mindful consideration of the facts at hand in any given situation. I'm not sure, it's just been a consistent tendency in my experience, with a particular "vibe" that is different from just normal mediocrity.
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21-03-2017, 03:16 PM (This post was last modified: 21-03-2017 03:45 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 04:49 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  You're confused, it's the other way around. The only standard that's relevant is the biblical standard, and criteria. Since the folks here are trying to appeal to the Bible's subjective criteria for goodness, and not their own as the basis for claiming God is not good.

What?! I think you're the one that has it backwards. We atheists are not trying to appeal to the Bible's moral criteria. We're taking the words and deeds of God as described in the Bible and evaluating them by humanist moral criteria.

I would argue that theists, or at least moderate theists such as I presume you to be, ultimately apply the same or at least very nearly the same basic moral criteria that we secular humanists use. Why else would they feel the need to re-contextualize, re-interpret, or otherwise rationalize those parts of the Bible that call God's moral infallibility into serious doubt? How else do they decide which parts are straightforward in their meaning and which parts are not?

The answer seems quite clear. They feel the need for rationalization because, without it, God falls short of the core moral directive that they share with atheists, and deep down, they know it. Biblical passages are interpreted in whichever way makes God look best, but in order to make that determination, one must first have an external moral standard against which to judge how God looks in each of the various possible interpretations. Only in light of such independent criteria can you decide which interpretation or context casts God in the most favorable light.

The difference is that non-believers are honest, both with themselves and with others, about the nature of their moral bedrock, whereas believers are always attributing it to their deity. If the theist wants to insist that God is perfectly good, then attributing the very criteria by which you make that assessment to God himself is begging the question.

Atheists, whatever the details of their moral philosophies may be, do not generally try to ground their moral guidelines by interpreting their supposed source according to those very guidelines, but theists must do exactly that if they are to avoid descending into Divine Command Theory and thereby fundamentalism.

The problems with fundamentalist theists are, I hope, self-evident, but this is the moderate theist's dilemma. The only why to escape the circular reasoning laid out in my original post and described again here is to admit that they are appealing to moral criteria which are entirely external to God and Scripture. Doing so, however, deals a serious blow to their ability to disavow Biblical atrocities via convenient and contrived hermeneutics. The believer must either defend a fairly straightforward reading of his holy text or ensnare himself in a vicious cycle of question begging.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  The claim is entirely dependent on what goodness, compassion, fairness, mercy etc meant for the writers and communities of the scriptures.

You're still trying to act as if the consensus on what such words mean is far weaker and blurrier than it is.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Cherry picking here is in regards to dealing with the standard of Goodness implied by the Bible, which you earlier tried to dismiss as irrelevant, when in facts it's the only standard that's relevant.

Again, I haven't cherry-picked anything from the Bible in terms of any moral criteria prescribed within it. What I and other atheists have done is take independent moral criteria and apply them to specific acts of God. If your claim is that those divine acts are what I'm cherry-picking, then how do you establish that without arbitrarily presupposing God's perfection to begin with?

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  If you're accusing God of not being subjectively good based on your own subjective liberal humanistic standards, I'm not going to dispute that, since that's just your subjective opinion. And my disagreement with a subjective opinion, is not a factual disagreement, but a subjective one.

I'm accusing God of violating moral criteria that are so utterly basic and universal that disagreement over them between individuals or whole cultures is rare and negligible if it even exists at all. I'm accusing God of ultimately failing to meet both the theist's and the atheist's most fundamental moral precepts.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Same way you can accuse people of cherry picking any other written texts, since we're speaking of the Bible.

But when you try to use supposed guidelines within the text itself to judge when cherry-picking has or has not taken place, that's when the problem arises.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Morality is subjective, full stop. An argument atheists have been making for centuries now, but apparently many still have a hard time swallowing.

Okay, let me try this from a different angle. Let us assume that morality can be reduced to a single core directive, expressed as an "ought" statement, and that all moral reasoning can ultimately be traced back to this foundational ought. There are two main proposals on the table for what that ultimate ought actually is.

1) We ought to do that which fosters the well-being of sentient creatures and prevents the unnecessary suffering thereof.

2) We ought to do that which God commands and/or that which is consistent with God's nature.

There are investigations and evaluations that can be made with respect to the first one which are very objective. Sentience can be measured, assessed, and agreed upon by multiple observers. The same can be said about well-being or suffering. In the event of a disagreement over whether any given course of action enhances or reduces well-being or whether those affected by that action are sentient, clear tests and observations can be carried out to settle that disagreement to the satisfaction of all who are both honest and lucid.

Now, in order to evaluate a course of action relative to the second ought, we must be able to examine and determine just what God's will and/or nature is, and this is where things fall apart. While material creatures can be probed in order to assess their sentience and/or well-being, God stubbornly resists being put under the proverbial microscope. This means that any disagreement over the will and/or nature of this God, which is the very thing we presumably need to know with as much certainty as possible, cannot be definitively resolved. No single believer's opinion on just who God is and what he wants can be unambiguously verified or falsified. This remains true even if all parties are well-meaning and in full possession of normally functioning faculties.

Secular moral systems may ultimately be at least slightly subjective, but for the above reason, theistic ones are far more subjective, and that subjectivity is far closer to the surface. With at least some secular moralities, you have to dig deep down to the absolute bedrock assumption(s) before you reach anything that could be argued to lapse in objectivity. Even there, the arguable universality of those bedrock assumptions probably make them as close to objective as we can ever get.

And yes, objectivity/subjectivity can indeed be a gradated spectrum rather than just a binary thing.

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Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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21-03-2017, 03:30 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 03:16 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 04:49 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  You're confused, it's the other way around. The only standard that's relevant is the biblical standard, and criteria. Since the folks here are trying to appeal to the Bible's subjective criteria for goodness, and not their own as the basis for claiming God is not good.

What?! I think you're the one that has it backwards. We atheists are not trying to appeal to the Bible's moral criteria. We're taking the words and deeds of God as described in the Bible and evaluating them by humanist moral criteria.

I would argue that theists, or at least moderate theists such as I presume you to be, ultimately apply the same or at least very nearly the same basic moral criteria that we secular humanists use. Why else would they feel the need to re-contextualize, re-interpret, or otherwise rationalize those parts of the Bible that call God's moral infallibility into serious doubt? How else do they decide which parts are straightforward in their meaning and which parts are not?

The answer seems quite clear. They feel the need for rationalization because, without it, God falls short of the core moral directive that they share with atheists, and deep down, they know it. Biblical passages are interpreted in whichever way makes God look best, but in order to make that determination, one must first have an external moral standard against which to judge how God looks in each of the various possible interpretations. Only in light of such independent criteria can you decide which interpretation or context casts God in the most favorable light.

The difference is that non-believers are honest, both with themselves and with others, about the nature of their moral bedrock, whereas believers are always attributing it to their deity. If the theist wants to insist that God is perfectly good, then attributing the very criteria by which you make that assessment to God himself is begging the question.

Atheists, whatever the details of their moral philosophies may be, do not generally try to justify their moral guidelines by evaluating their supposed source according to those very guidelines, but theists must do exactly that if they are to avoid descending into Divine Command Theory and thereby fundamentalism.

The problems with fundamentalist theists are, I hope, self-evident, but this is the moderate theist's dilemma. The only why to escape the circular reasoning laid out in my original post and described again here is to admit that they are appealing to moral criteria which is entirely external to God and Scripture. Doing so, however, deals a serious blow to their ability to disavow Biblical atrocities via convenient and contrived hermeneutics. The believer must either defend a fairly straightforward reading of his holy text or ensnare himself in a vicious cycle of question begging.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  The claim is entirely dependent on what goodness, compassion, fairness, mercy etc meant for the writers and communities of the scriptures.

You're still trying to act as if the consensus on what such words mean is far weaker and blurrier than it is.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Cherry picking here is in regards to dealing with the standard of Goodness implied by the Bible, which you earlier tried to dismiss as irrelevant, when in facts it's the only standard that's relevant.

Again, I haven't cherry-picked anything from the Bible in terms of any moral criteria prescribed within it. What I and other atheists have done is take independent moral criteria and apply them to specific acts of God. If your claim is that those divine acts are what I'm cherry-picking, then how do you establish that without arbitrarily presupposing God's perfection to begin with?

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  If you're accusing God of not being subjectively good based on your own subjective liberal humanistic standards, I'm not going to dispute that, since that's just your subjective opinion. And my disagreement with a subjective opinion, is not a factual disagreement, but a subjective one.

I'm accusing God of violating moral criteria that are so utterly basic and universal that disagreement over them between individuals or whole cultures is rare and negligible if it even exists at all. I'm accusing God of ultimately failing to meet both the theist's and the atheist's most fundamental moral precepts.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Same way you can accuse people of cherry picking any other written texts, since we're speaking of the Bible.

But when you try to use supposed guidelines within the text itself to judge when cherry-picking has or has not taken place, that's when the problem arises.

(20-03-2017 07:56 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Morality is subjective, full stop. An argument atheists have been making for centuries now, but apparently many still have a hard time swallowing.

Okay, let me try this from a different angle. Let us assume that morality can be reduced to a single core directive, expressed as an "ought" statement, and that all moral reasoning can ultimately be traced back to this foundational ought. There are two main proposals on the table for what that ultimate ought actually is.

1) We ought to do that which fosters the well-being of sentient creatures and prevents the unnecessary suffering thereof.

2) We ought to do that which God commands and/or that which is consistent with God's nature.

There are investigations and evaluations that can be made with respect to the first one which are very objective. Sentience can be measured, assessed, and agreed upon by multiple observers. The same can be said about well-being or suffering. In the event of a disagreement over whether any given course of action enhances or reduces well-being or whether those affected by that action are sentient, clear tests and observations can be carried out to settle that disagreement to the satisfaction of all who are both honest and lucid.

Now, in order to evaluate a course of action relative to the second ought, we must be able to examine and determine just what God's will and/or nature is, and this is where things fall apart. While material creatures can be probed in order to assess their sentience and/or well-being, God stubbornly resists being put under the proverbial microscope. This means that any disagreement over the will and/or nature of this God, which is the very thing we presumably need to know with as much certainty as possible, cannot be definitively resolved. No single believer's opinion on just who God is and what he wants can be solidly falsified. This remains true even if all parties are well-meaning and in full possession of optimally functioning faculties.

Secular moral systems may ultimately be at least slightly subjective, but for the above reason, theistic ones are far more subjective, and that subjectivity is far closer to the surface. With at least some secular moralities, you have to dig deep down to the absolute bedrock assumption(s) before you reach anything that could be argued to lapse in objectivity. Even there, the arguable universality of those bedrock assumptions probably make them as close to objective as we can probably ever get.

And yes, objectivity/subjectivity can indeed be a gradated spectrum rather than just a binary thing.

Gloss this is excellent. Especially that last segment.

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21-03-2017, 03:50 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 03:16 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  “What?! I think you're the one that has it backwards. We atheists are not trying to appeal to the Bible's moral criteria. We're taking the words and deeds of God as described in the Bible and evaluating them by humanist moral criteria.”

I didn’t know you represented all the atheists voices in this thread, apparently you haven’t been paying attention to whats been said by them:

Like: “Cheerful Charlie: “No matter how you twist and turn, once one realizes that God is not good, by the Bible's own standards”

“These sub-goodnesses are defined in no uncertain manner in the Bible. Not my definitions, but the definitions found in the Bible.”


He’s clearly appealing to the biblical standards, and not as you put by his subjective “humanist moral criteria”

Quote:I would argue that theists, or at least moderate theists such as I presume you to be, ultimately apply the same or at least very nearly the same basic moral criteria that we secular humanists use.




No, I don’t, because I’m not a liberal humanist. I sit more on the conservative perspective. My own moral outlook is based on perceived intentions and character, where as your humanistic criteria is very likely consequentialist. Secondly I’m perfectly fine with genocide, violence, war, capital punishment, given particular situations and conditions, such as the brutal choices made by those in the ancient world. It’s also more tribal than universal. My concerns primarily for my family, my friends, and my community, than humanity as some abstract whole.

Quote:They feel the need for rationalization because, without it, God falls short of the core moral directive that they share with atheists, and deep down, they know it.




I don’t share this moral directive you think I do with atheists. In fact I’m consistent in my judgments of the early hebrews, as I would be of any other ancient culture, non-christian, non-jewish who committed similar acts, for similar reasons. In fact if we returned to similar conditions of the ancient world, I’d likely advocate and support these same practices. This may offend your humanistic sensibilities, but hey, it is what it is.

Quote:1) We ought to do that which fosters the well-being of sentient creatures and prevents the unnecessary suffering thereof.

2) We ought to do that which God commands and/or that which is consistent with God's nature.

I can think of a variety of other ones: 


Or 3.) That we ought to do whats best for our tribes, our family, our friends, and our community, regardless if it comes at the expense of other communities and people, or the rest of humanity. If we have to kill another community, eveyr man woman and children, to insure the survival of ours, then so be it. If others have to suffer in order for us to survive and thrive then so be it. 



Or 4.) We ought to do what best promulgates, a given set of values, conducive to producing a certain type of characters, such as those who are honorable, strong, masculine, powerful, confident, heroic, etc… That the morality actions and deeds are to be judged by how conducive they are to nurturing these values. For some of us the material well being, or the survival of humanity is not the ultimate value, that drives their moral views.

If it were fight between the values one holds, and the very life of humanity. That one had to sacrifice his values in order for humanity to survive, in 4, humanity is left to die, to perish, to go extinct.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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21-03-2017, 04:15 PM (This post was last modified: 21-03-2017 04:18 PM by JesseB.)
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 03:16 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  “What?! I think you're the one that has it backwards. We atheists are not trying to appeal to the Bible's moral criteria. We're taking the words and deeds of God as described in the Bible and evaluating them by humanist moral criteria.”

I didn’t know you represented all the atheists voices in this thread, apparently you haven’t been paying attention to whats been said by them:

Like: “Cheerful Charlie: “No matter how you twist and turn, once one realizes that God is not good, by the Bible's own standards”

“These sub-goodnesses are defined in no uncertain manner in the Bible. Not my definitions, but the definitions found in the Bible.”


He’s clearly appealing to the biblical standards, and not as you put by his subjective “humanist moral criteria”

Quote:I would argue that theists, or at least moderate theists such as I presume you to be, ultimately apply the same or at least very nearly the same basic moral criteria that we secular humanists use.




No, I don’t, because I’m not a liberal humanist. I sit more on the conservative perspective. My own moral outlook is based on perceived intentions and character, where as your humanistic criteria is very likely consequentialist. Secondly I’m perfectly fine with genocide, violence, war, capital punishment, given particular situations and conditions, such as the brutal choices made by those in the ancient world. It’s also more tribal than universal. My concerns primarily for my family, my friends, and my community, than humanity as some abstract whole.

Quote:They feel the need for rationalization because, without it, God falls short of the core moral directive that they share with atheists, and deep down, they know it.




I don’t share this moral directive you think I do with atheists. In fact I’m consistent in my judgments of the early hebrews, as I would be of any other ancient culture, non-christian, non-jewish who committed similar acts, for similar reasons. In fact if we returned to similar conditions of the ancient world, I’d likely advocate and support these same practices. This may offend your humanistic sensibilities, but hey, it is what it is.

Quote:1) We ought to do that which fosters the well-being of sentient creatures and prevents the unnecessary suffering thereof.

2) We ought to do that which God commands and/or that which is consistent with God's nature.

I can think of a variety of other ones: 


Or 3.) That we ought to do whats best for our tribes, our family, our friends, and our community, regardless if it comes at the expense of other communities and people, or the rest of humanity. If we have to kill another community, eveyr man woman and children, to insure the survival of ours, then so be it. If others have to suffer in order for us to survive and thrive then so be it. 



Or 4.) We ought to do what best promulgates, a given set of values, conducive to producing a certain type of characters, such as those who are honorable, strong, masculine, powerful, confident, heroic, etc… That the morality actions and deeds are to be judged by how conducive they are to nurturing these values. For some of us the material well being, or the survival of humanity is not the ultimate value, that drives their moral views.

If it were fight between the values one holds, and the very life of humanity. That one had to sacrifice his values in order for humanity to survive, in 4, humanity is left to die, to perish, to go extinct.

You're quite right on 3 and 4, however. Most don't see it the way you do as those have been played out in practical applications in Nazi Germany, and are thus not considered to be ethical, or moral standards by any who have bothered to follow them to their logical conclusions.

In short I'm saying if you or anyone honestly thinks those are viable positions, you simply haven't spent enough time considering the subject. They are as reprehensible as the morality spouted by the holy book of your god.

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21-03-2017, 05:22 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 04:15 PM)JesseB Wrote:  In short I'm saying if you or anyone honestly thinks those are viable positions, you simply haven't spent enough time considering the subject. They are as reprehensible as the morality spouted by the holy book of your god.

Judging that I subscribe to some version of 3 and 4, and I live a pretty good life, with strong friendships, a strong community, a wife, etc..., and do pretty well professionally, etc... And in no way shape or form worse than an individual who subscribes to your secular humanistic version of morality, then how exactly it's not viable is not clear.

If I'm suppose to imagine that I would be better off subscribing to secular humanism, I'd like to hear exactly how so?

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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21-03-2017, 06:38 PM (This post was last modified: 21-03-2017 06:43 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  I didn’t know you represented all the atheists voices in this thread, apparently you haven’t been paying attention to whats been said by them:

Like: “Cheerful Charlie: “No matter how you twist and turn, once one realizes that God is not good, by the Bible's own standards” [...] He’s clearly appealing to the biblical standards, and not as you put by his subjective “humanist moral criteria”

Of course I don't speak for all atheists here, but given that atheists don't believe in the authority of the Bible, it's a pretty safe bet that none of them make any moral evaluations according to its standards. If I understand him correctly, Charlie was pointing out that, even if we accept God's words and deeds in the Bible as our moral guide, that guide is self-contradictory. He was not saying that the Biblical example is the usual standard choice for atheists whenever they criticize God's character as shown by his actions (of course, I invite Charlie to correct me if I am indeed misrepresenting him).

(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  My concern [is] primarily for my family, my friends, and my community, than humanity as some abstract whole.

Right, and what is it exactly that you want for your family, friends, and community? Maximal well-being and minimal suffering, that's what. You're not concerned with making them suffer as much as possible, are you? Of course not. Once again, any real difference between my core moral directive and yours lies strictly in how broad our spheres of moral consideration are.

(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  I don’t share this moral directive you think I do with atheists.

See the immediately preceding quote and response. At the most basic level, you do, and you've just inadvertently admitted it. You've proven my point in the very attempt to refute it.

(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  In fact if we returned to similar conditions of the ancient world, I’d likely advocate and support these same practices.

And why is that? Why would you support, for example, the slaughter of the Canaanites? Most likely because your tribal religion would've convinced you that the foreign heathens are somehow sub-human (i.e. diminishing their sentience relative to yours), enabling you to place them outside your sphere of moral consideration. Yet again, it traces back to the "sentient creatures" part of my proposed moral axiom.

(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  3) That we ought to do whats best for our tribes, our family, our friends, and our community, regardless if it comes at the expense of other communities and people, or the rest of humanity. If we have to kill another community, every man woman and children, to insure the survival of ours, then so be it. If others have to suffer in order for us to survive and thrive then so be it.

The problem here is that, as soon as someone argues that any single community fares best when it treats other communities with the same consideration that it does its own members, we have solid grounds for doing "what's best" for all of humanity, and at that point, the difference between my (1) and your (3) becomes little more than a matter of phrasing.

And such an argument can be made. If Tribe #1 subordinates the interests of all others to its own and thus slaughters Tribe #2 in a wave of violent conquest, then it is both possible and legitimate for Tribe #3 to turn the tables and do the same to Tribe #1. Tribe #1 can complain all they want, but under proposed moral axiom (3), they cannot say that Tribe #3 was really wrong.

This is precisely the same reasoning that recommends individuals within a community to treat each other unselfishly, which is what your (3) above suggests. It's just applied on a larger scale.

(21-03-2017 03:50 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Or 4.) We ought to do what best promulgates, a given set of values, conducive to producing a certain type of characters, such as those who are honorable, strong, masculine, powerful, confident, heroic, etc… That the morality actions and deeds are to be judged by how conducive they are to nurturing these values. For some of us the material well being, or the survival of humanity is not the ultimate value, that drives their moral views.

If it were fight between the values one holds, and the very life of humanity. That one had to sacrifice his values in order for humanity to survive, in 4, humanity is left to die, to perish, to go extinct.

Proposed moral axiom (4) seems circuitous and vacuous, as it is vague about what the values to be promulgated actually are. The notion that we should do our best to promulgate that which we value is practically tautological. The purpose of a moral axiom is to lead us to discover what we should value.

Still, let's be generous and take your one example of values "conducive to producing...those who are honorable, strong, masculine, powerful, confident, heroic, etc." First of all, "honorable" and "heroic" ultimately reduce to my original axiom, since any act which is either of those things inevitably enhances well-being or reduces suffering in some way. Second, if in any scenario, humanity must go extinct, then humanity was not maximally "strong" or "powerful," was it?

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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