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Is "Objective Morality" evidence of God? (cont. from FRDB)

Atheos

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I was going to let Ed have the last word as FRDB gasped its last breath, but his final post left me with an unsatisfied feeling. I just can't seem to let go and leave this unchallenged. It is of course up to Ed whether he wants to join the discussion here and continue it, but here is my rejoinder if he wants to continue defending.

Ed said:
Atheos said:
I see why you think that is an argument for the christian god, but the actual evidence indicates that this is the result of evolutionary development. During harsher periods such as ice ages the only way for small pockets of our ancestors to survive was to work together to their mutual benefit. Those who were predisposed to be uncooperative either failed to survive because they didn't willingly join the group or were possibly killed for the greater good by the group itself. A combination of natural and artificial selection ensured that over time our ancestors became more and more predisposed towards social cooperation. This became the dominant survival strategy.

If all people were created in the image of god and were freebasing a set of absolute objective morals inherited from god himself then there would be no variance in those moral standards. Slavery would still be perfectly acceptable (after all, God obviously approved of it, why shouldn't we) and stoning people for working on the Sabbath day, committing adultery or practicing witchcraft would be commonplace.

But more importantly not one of us would lack this moral blueprint. It would be as fundamental a part of our nature as the need to breathe.

Yet approximately 4% of the human population are born without the capacity to appreciate social norms (morals). As adults such individuals feel no more personal remorse for maiming a child than most of us would feel for squashing a cockroach. They cannot develop a conscience anymore than the rest of us can grow a third arm. The capacity to feel empathy is lacking in these people in the same way that the capacity to solve relativistic equations is lacking in people who suffer from severe mental retardation. These people have a very real and genetically programmed condition that has been named "Antisocial Personality Disorder." Behavioral training can help such an individual coexist in society but it can never give him the ability to feel remorse for atrocities.

All of this evidence is completely consistent with the robust theory of common descent. It is not consistent with the claim that an all powerful god created us "in his image" with an exact copy of his objective moral standards. Your argument is defeated.

On a side note, as posting to this forum concludes I'd like to say that in spite of our differences it has been enjoyable arguing with you. Not everyone here obviously feels that way, but I've always been of the opinion that it's the open exchange of radically different ideas that helps one sharpen one's wit and examine the reasons one holds the beliefs one does. You've always remained civil in spite of the not-so-subtle wisps of acrimony wafted in your direction, and I think all of us can admire that.

No, actually there is general agreement on certain morals worldwide, it is wrong to murder a member of your tribe, it is wrong to lie to a member of your tribe, it is wrong to torture babies, it is generally wrong to commit adultery, it is generally wrong to steal from members of your tribe and etc. The reason it is more general now is because of man's sinful nature, originally our moral conscience was perfect and perfectly matched God's moral laws but over time our consciences have become corrupted. But if you become a Christian and the Holy spirit lives in you, your morality gradually starts returning back to its original state but we never reach it in this life, only in the next life does it fully return. As far as that 4%, because of our presently fallen and abnormal world there are people that are born both physically and mentally mutated, and that is the case with the 4%, they are spiritually damaged to the point that they don't have a conscience, though with God's help I believe God can create them one and they can become more normal like the rest of us, though all of us still have a sinful nature, theirs is just much worse. Thanks for the small compliment. I have generally enjoyed our discussions but there are few here that are not as enjoyable as others and it becomes a little frustrating but I am used to it.

I guess my first question is, "How is 'General agreement on certain morals worldwide' evidence that an objective moral standard exists?" General agreement on certain morals is not the same nor does it approach an objective moral standard. The second question is, "How is this general agreement not in complete compliance with the dynamics of natural selection as described in evolutionary theory?" If it is completely explained via evolutionary theory then it is not evidence of an objective morality from elsewhere.

My third question (and the successive ones) are more direct. Are you saying that this objective standard of morality applies to murdering a member of my tribe but does not apply to murdering a member of another tribe? God's objective moral standards break down at the tribal level? Is it objectively wrong to lie? Human beings do not have a problem with lying, they have a problem with lies that end up with adverse consequences. From parents telling children that Santa Claus delivered their presents all the way to the President of the United States rattling sabers and threatening military action he has no intention of following through with, the entire gamut of human interaction runs on a steady diet of lies. There is no evidence that anyone anywhere considers lying to be objectively wrong, and there is no evidence that anyone anywhere considers truth to be objectively right. All of us constantly hide truths and tell lies to lubricate the mechanisms of social dynamics.

Regarding adultery, not all human societies have laws or morals that encompass that concept. As but one example, the Mosuo tribe, an isolated culture in the Himalayan Mountains, developed a matriarchal society that is very different from cultures familiar to most of us living in western civilizations. They do not use marriage or pair bonding to form family structures. A young woman will have a sexual relationship with one or more males whom she finds attractive. When she becomes pregnant her immediate family (including her brothers) take care of the resultant child / children. This arrangement has served that culture well for thousands of years, and it eliminates all the hardships involved in broken homes, custody battles, etc. It is several orders of magnitude more efficient than the forced pair-bonding we use and it accommodates the sexual needs and behaviors of young people without causing stress on the children. You'd think a god would be wise enough to have figured that out rather than hand down non-negotiable laws that undermine the fundamental changing needs of people as they age. Short answer, "No. Laws about adultery have nothing to do with a moral imperative, the evidence suggests they are entirely man made and relate more to property rights."

Regarding stealing, the man-made laws that protect property are completely consistent with individual desires to be able to have some help protecting their ownership of said property. Everyone wants to be able to keep their shit, so it makes sense that large groups (societies) would be eager to work together towards that end by enacting laws and providing means to punish those who disobey said laws. You don't need a god to explain that.

In fact you don't need a god to explain any of the generally accepted moral behaviors. Natural selection explains all of it with much greater succinctness. The selection pressure for those who protect and nurture babies was extremely intense during harsher periods of our heritage. Those who neglected or mistreated their young did not propagate.

On the other hand, one cannot defend the moral principles of the Judeo/Christian god as objective. At one time it was an abomination to eat shellfish. Later it became perfectly acceptable. At one time it was perfectly acceptable to buy, sell and breed human beings as if they were just another form of livestock. One could beat their human livestock to within an inch of their life and so long as the human livestock didn't actually die under their hand they would not be punished. And if the human livestock died a day or two later (even if it was obvious that the death was directly due to the injuries sustained in the beating) the owner could not be punished because (as god's law said) "He his his money." The loss of the monetary value he had invested in that bit of human livestock was enough punishment. The bible never addresses the subject of slavery in any manner other than to sanction its practice. Never once in all of the bible is slavery condemned. Yet modern societies have all realized that the practice is barbaric and immoral.

The god of the bible ordered at least one man to kill his son on an altar for no other reason than as a human sacrifice. This god sat tacitly by while another man killed his daughter as a human sacrifice to himself. This god ordered 6 men to be hanged for no other crime than being sons of Saul. This god ordered the brutal extermination of many towns full of people including women and children. This god sanctioned the pillaging of some towns, including taking the virgin daughters for themselves (wink, wink) and summarily killing all the mothers and young boys. This god is a horrible example of atrocity after atrocity, no standard by which humanity should take example. In fact is is only because we are civilized enough to realize how horrid some of those moral principles are that we have developed societies that ignore them and accept only those principles that actually do make sense.
 

Keith&Co.

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I guess my first question is, "How is 'General agreement on certain morals worldwide' evidence that an objective moral standard exists?"
Yeah, 'general' is a weasel word in that claim. He can pretend that a majority view is the same as an objective standard.
Gravity is objective. If three people measure the gravity at a certain point on Earth's surface (such as the reference point for Refit Wharf 2, on Kings Bay Naval Base, for values used in calibrating the missile guidance system), then differences in the results are not differences in their objectivity. It's a difference in the sensitivity of their equipment.
And even if they all agree, that's still a matter of the equipment. The reading, to five or ten decimal places, is not the same as the gravity itself.
Are you saying that this objective standard of morality applies to murdering a member of my tribe but does not apply to murdering a member of another tribe?
Either way, the abortion rate in this country disproves a claim of general agreement.
Is it objectively wrong to lie?
You know, you really don't need to hammer out every one of his examples. His basic premise is fucked in the head, and even if his examples were to support his premise, it wouldn't fix his basic error.
General agreement, or even complete and total unanimity of any opinion, does not make it a universal, objective trait.

Unless you're going to use some sort of 'special' definition of objective. Ed's been fond of using a special language code to support his claims.
 

Atheos

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You know, you really don't need to hammer out every one of his examples. His basic premise is fucked in the head, and even if his examples were to support his premise, it wouldn't fix his basic error.
General agreement, or even complete and total unanimity of any opinion, does not make it a universal, objective trait.

Unless you're going to use some sort of 'special' definition of objective. Ed's been fond of using a special language code to support his claims.

Yeah, guess you're right. One black sheep is enough to defeat the argument that all sheep are white.
 

Underseer

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I have to confess that I sometimes get fast and loose with the definition of "objective" myself.

In the strictest sense, something that is objective is what it is regardless of what sentient beings think about it, but the understanding of sentients is part of the definition of morality. If someone doesn't understand that an action is wrong, we do not hold them as being as culpable as someone who understands why something is wrong and does it anyway. That's why other animals are generally not regarded as moral agents.

But if human understanding is intrinsic to what we identify as moral or immoral, then morality can't really be objective.

Followers of the Abrahamic faiths insist that they can resolve this by inserting a magical, all-knowing, all-powerful, infinitely good being as a moral authority, but the Euthyphro dilemma shows that this just leads to more moral relativism (e.g. "It's good if god does/commands it, but not when you do/command the same thing").
 

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You know, you really don't need to hammer out every one of his examples. His basic premise is fucked in the head, and even if his examples were to support his premise, it wouldn't fix his basic error.
General agreement, or even complete and total unanimity of any opinion, does not make it a universal, objective trait.

Unless you're going to use some sort of 'special' definition of objective. Ed's been fond of using a special language code to support his claims.

Yeah, guess you're right. One black sheep is enough to defeat the argument that all sheep are white.

There is a kind of confusion between the notion of objective and the notion of absolute. This comes into play when discussing morals for which there are no absolute proofs. The word "general" is a pure weasel word in this respect. If some moral principle were absolute, then there would be no reason to worry about being "objective." Objective implies openness to new information, but if you discuss morality with those who feel there is an "objective morality," they are not open to new information that might refine their moral behavior.
 

boneyard bill

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An objective morality, as I see it, would have to be a morality that can be shown to be true without recourse to any subjective sentiments. A morality based on "compassion" would not be an objective reality because one cannot show that I am under any obligation to be compassionate. A morality based on the Biblical scripture is not objective because I must first establish the truth of scripture.

Such a morality, therefore, would have to be based on reason and logic. In the Greco-Roman world and within the Catholic Church, this became known as Natural Law as distinguished from positive law which is the law of human societies. Natural law involves reasoning from the "is" to the "ought." But presumably, if a person is truly objective and does not let his personal preferences get in the way, then everyone, following the logical development of the issue can agree on the conclusion just as we can agree on the conclusions of Euclid's geometry. It is easier to suggest this than it is to work out so natural law arguments do not always achieve consensus. The problem is actually agreeing on the "is" part. But that is incidental to my point.

If God is good, then can God command evil? Presumably not. So if God commanded it, it is good. Therefore morality cannot be separated from God's will. But if morality cannot be separated from God's will it is not an objective morality because it still depends upon one's subjective belief in God or a particular God. If we agree, through the objective process involved in determining morality that X is evil, than if God commands it, how can it then become good? It cannot. Therefore a moral and all-powerful God cannot co-exist with an objective morality because if God is all-powerful, he must be able to change what is moral. But if he changes what is moral, then objective morality cannot be determined.

So how do you reconcile this? What did the Catholic Church conclude? It concluded this. There is one thing that even an all-powerful God cannot do. He cannot contradict his own nature. He cannot be "not-God." If God is a moral being then, despite his omnipotence, he cannot will that which is immoral.

God is the author of good, but that good is embedded in the creation. It isn't simply a matter of God's will from moment to moment. Therefore God and objective morality can co-exist.

But what about all those massacres in the Old Testament? Not a problem for, as St. Augustine had claimed very early on, much of the Old Testament is "figurative." So the Catholic church theologians, steeped in Greek philosophy, were able to solve this problem. But, of course, they had to concede that not everything in the Old Testament that was attributed to God was necessarily so.

Nor was this that much of a problem for early Protestants despite their emphasis on the bible. They also accepted that parts of the bible were not meant to be taken literally. The book of Genesis was "baby talk" according to John Calvin. The bible was inerrant but not necessarily always literal.

It is only with modern fundamentalism that this problem arises because they insist that anything that God commands must necessarily be moral. If that is the case, then it is not possible for an objective morality to carry any weight. You cannot learn morality by studying the nature of the creation because God could command otherwise, and therefore what logically developments out of the creation could be contradicted by the creator.

Therefore an objective morality developed through the study of nature is possible without reference to God although not inconsistent with the existence of God. But when we study nature with the idea of learning about morality, we are also then learning about God's true nature as a moral being. So, for the believer, studying morality leads to knowledge about God and not the other way around.
 

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Therefore an objective morality developed through the study of nature is possible without reference to God although not inconsistent with the existence of God. But when we study nature with the idea of learning about morality, we are also then learning about God's true nature as a moral being. So, for the believer, studying morality leads to knowledge about God and not the other way around.
Except, to BE a believer, they have to have some knowledge of God, which will affect their study of nature in any attempt to find out about their God.

Which would make the logical deduction of objective morality more than a little subjective. Such as a Believer who observed how some species treat hybrids and deduced that miscegenation was wrong because that's how God set up Nature. But then, other Believers countered him with the observation that other species do not automatically kill hybrids, thus Nature taught a different moral. Or at least, did not teach a morality that matched the bigot's desired moral code.

And still, if God decided to set up nature to reflect a moral code, that's still his opinion. I'd be willing to accept that a perfect being has perfect morality. Or that a tri-omni's morality is ultimately good. Or that an omniscient being would know what objective morality is, if it exists.

But not that one person's opinion can ever be objective.
 

boneyard bill

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Therefore an objective morality developed through the study of nature is possible without reference to God although not inconsistent with the existence of God. But when we study nature with the idea of learning about morality, we are also then learning about God's true nature as a moral being. So, for the believer, studying morality leads to knowledge about God and not the other way around.
Except, to BE a believer, they have to have some knowledge of God, which will affect their study of nature in any attempt to find out about their God.

Which would make the logical deduction of objective morality more than a little subjective. Such as a Believer who observed how some species treat hybrids and deduced that miscegenation was wrong because that's how God set up Nature. But then, other Believers countered him with the observation that other species do not automatically kill hybrids, thus Nature taught a different moral. Or at least, did not teach a morality that matched the bigot's desired moral code.

And still, if God decided to set up nature to reflect a moral code, that's still his opinion. I'd be willing to accept that a perfect being has perfect morality. Or that a tri-omni's morality is ultimately good. Or that an omniscient being would know what objective morality is, if it exists.

But not that one person's opinion can ever be objective.

Natural law does not simply say that we should look at nature and decide that this or that must, therefore, be moral. Nietzsche said, "How can cruelty violence and rape be wrong when nature IS violent, cruel, and rapacious?"

That is the answer you will get if you simply look at nature directly as Nietzsche did. But somehow we believe that it is wrong for humans to be violent, cruel, and rapacious.

With natural law you apply reason to nature, and seek to discern what is moral. After all, if nature were completely moral, why would we even have a word for morality?

The Catholic Church says that the fetus is an unborn child. Being a child it is a human being, it is wrong to kill another human being without justification. The reasoning here is objective and perfectly rational. The controversy arises only over the initial, factual, claim. But that is a problem with much of natural law. It is difficult to find first principles that everyone will agree upon. Once you do that, however, the rational part is easy, and objective.
 

Keith&Co.

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That is the answer you will get if you simply look at nature directly as Nietzsche did. But somehow we believe that it is wrong for humans to be violent, cruel, and rapacious.
Because all three pose threats to the gene pool. To us, with enlightened self-interest, thus it is in our interest to limit them.
With natural law you apply reason to nature, and seek to discern what is moral.
Neh. We're inventing morality, all to protect ourselves and those we care about. Why do we need to look farther?

And every believer i've ever known is sure God agrees with them. Even if their Bible tells them what they do is wrong, they can justify why God would forgive them for taking that action.
I'm sure anyone looking to Nature to find morality will find that the Nature they see supports the morality they already have. Just like the God they see agrees with their morals. Making the whole effort somewhat masturbatory....
 

Angra Mainyu

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I was going to let Ed have the last word as FRDB gasped its last breath, but his final post left me with an unsatisfied feeling. I just can't seem to let go and leave this unchallenged. It is of course up to Ed whether he wants to join the discussion here and continue it, but here is my rejoinder if he wants to continue defending.

Ed said:
Atheos said:
I see why you think that is an argument for the christian god, but the actual evidence indicates that this is the result of evolutionary development. During harsher periods such as ice ages the only way for small pockets of our ancestors to survive was to work together to their mutual benefit. Those who were predisposed to be uncooperative either failed to survive because they didn't willingly join the group or were possibly killed for the greater good by the group itself. A combination of natural and artificial selection ensured that over time our ancestors became more and more predisposed towards social cooperation. This became the dominant survival strategy.

If all people were created in the image of god and were freebasing a set of absolute objective morals inherited from god himself then there would be no variance in those moral standards. Slavery would still be perfectly acceptable (after all, God obviously approved of it, why shouldn't we) and stoning people for working on the Sabbath day, committing adultery or practicing witchcraft would be commonplace.

But more importantly not one of us would lack this moral blueprint. It would be as fundamental a part of our nature as the need to breathe.

Yet approximately 4% of the human population are born without the capacity to appreciate social norms (morals). As adults such individuals feel no more personal remorse for maiming a child than most of us would feel for squashing a cockroach. They cannot develop a conscience anymore than the rest of us can grow a third arm. The capacity to feel empathy is lacking in these people in the same way that the capacity to solve relativistic equations is lacking in people who suffer from severe mental retardation. These people have a very real and genetically programmed condition that has been named "Antisocial Personality Disorder." Behavioral training can help such an individual coexist in society but it can never give him the ability to feel remorse for atrocities.

All of this evidence is completely consistent with the robust theory of common descent. It is not consistent with the claim that an all powerful god created us "in his image" with an exact copy of his objective moral standards. Your argument is defeated.

On a side note, as posting to this forum concludes I'd like to say that in spite of our differences it has been enjoyable arguing with you. Not everyone here obviously feels that way, but I've always been of the opinion that it's the open exchange of radically different ideas that helps one sharpen one's wit and examine the reasons one holds the beliefs one does. You've always remained civil in spite of the not-so-subtle wisps of acrimony wafted in your direction, and I think all of us can admire that.

No, actually there is general agreement on certain morals worldwide, it is wrong to murder a member of your tribe, it is wrong to lie to a member of your tribe, it is wrong to torture babies, it is generally wrong to commit adultery, it is generally wrong to steal from members of your tribe and etc. The reason it is more general now is because of man's sinful nature, originally our moral conscience was perfect and perfectly matched God's moral laws but over time our consciences have become corrupted. But if you become a Christian and the Holy spirit lives in you, your morality gradually starts returning back to its original state but we never reach it in this life, only in the next life does it fully return. As far as that 4%, because of our presently fallen and abnormal world there are people that are born both physically and mentally mutated, and that is the case with the 4%, they are spiritually damaged to the point that they don't have a conscience, though with God's help I believe God can create them one and they can become more normal like the rest of us, though all of us still have a sinful nature, theirs is just much worse. Thanks for the small compliment. I have generally enjoyed our discussions but there are few here that are not as enjoyable as others and it becomes a little frustrating but I am used to it.

I guess my first question is, "How is 'General agreement on certain morals worldwide' evidence that an objective moral standard exists?" General agreement on certain morals is not the same nor does it approach an objective moral standard. The second question is, "How is this general agreement not in complete compliance with the dynamics of natural selection as described in evolutionary theory?" If it is completely explained via evolutionary theory then it is not evidence of an objective morality from elsewhere.

My third question (and the successive ones) are more direct. Are you saying that this objective standard of morality applies to murdering a member of my tribe but does not apply to murdering a member of another tribe? God's objective moral standards break down at the tribal level? Is it objectively wrong to lie? Human beings do not have a problem with lying, they have a problem with lies that end up with adverse consequences. From parents telling children that Santa Claus delivered their presents all the way to the President of the United States rattling sabers and threatening military action he has no intention of following through with, the entire gamut of human interaction runs on a steady diet of lies. There is no evidence that anyone anywhere considers lying to be objectively wrong, and there is no evidence that anyone anywhere considers truth to be objectively right. All of us constantly hide truths and tell lies to lubricate the mechanisms of social dynamics.

Regarding adultery, not all human societies have laws or morals that encompass that concept. As but one example, the Mosuo tribe, an isolated culture in the Himalayan Mountains, developed a matriarchal society that is very different from cultures familiar to most of us living in western civilizations. They do not use marriage or pair bonding to form family structures. A young woman will have a sexual relationship with one or more males whom she finds attractive. When she becomes pregnant her immediate family (including her brothers) take care of the resultant child / children. This arrangement has served that culture well for thousands of years, and it eliminates all the hardships involved in broken homes, custody battles, etc. It is several orders of magnitude more efficient than the forced pair-bonding we use and it accommodates the sexual needs and behaviors of young people without causing stress on the children. You'd think a god would be wise enough to have figured that out rather than hand down non-negotiable laws that undermine the fundamental changing needs of people as they age. Short answer, "No. Laws about adultery have nothing to do with a moral imperative, the evidence suggests they are entirely man made and relate more to property rights."

Regarding stealing, the man-made laws that protect property are completely consistent with individual desires to be able to have some help protecting their ownership of said property. Everyone wants to be able to keep their shit, so it makes sense that large groups (societies) would be eager to work together towards that end by enacting laws and providing means to punish those who disobey said laws. You don't need a god to explain that.

In fact you don't need a god to explain any of the generally accepted moral behaviors. Natural selection explains all of it with much greater succinctness. The selection pressure for those who protect and nurture babies was extremely intense during harsher periods of our heritage. Those who neglected or mistreated their young did not propagate.

On the other hand, one cannot defend the moral principles of the Judeo/Christian god as objective. At one time it was an abomination to eat shellfish. Later it became perfectly acceptable. At one time it was perfectly acceptable to buy, sell and breed human beings as if they were just another form of livestock. One could beat their human livestock to within an inch of their life and so long as the human livestock didn't actually die under their hand they would not be punished. And if the human livestock died a day or two later (even if it was obvious that the death was directly due to the injuries sustained in the beating) the owner could not be punished because (as god's law said) "He his his money." The loss of the monetary value he had invested in that bit of human livestock was enough punishment. The bible never addresses the subject of slavery in any manner other than to sanction its practice. Never once in all of the bible is slavery condemned. Yet modern societies have all realized that the practice is barbaric and immoral.

The god of the bible ordered at least one man to kill his son on an altar for no other reason than as a human sacrifice. This god sat tacitly by while another man killed his daughter as a human sacrifice to himself. This god ordered 6 men to be hanged for no other crime than being sons of Saul. This god ordered the brutal extermination of many towns full of people including women and children. This god sanctioned the pillaging of some towns, including taking the virgin daughters for themselves (wink, wink) and summarily killing all the mothers and young boys. This god is a horrible example of atrocity after atrocity, no standard by which humanity should take example. In fact is is only because we are civilized enough to realize how horrid some of those moral principles are that we have developed societies that ignore them and accept only those principles that actually do make sense.

Ed is using the word "objective" equivocally, but the "objective morality" argument that he's apparently taking notes from, while obscure, tries to use morality as evidence for the existence of God. Craig also claims that God is Yahweh, but "God" in the context of the "objective morality" argument does not mean Yahweh. It's unclear what it means, but Craig considers "Greatest conceivable being" as either equivalent or entailed by the concept of God. Ed is mixing different already obscure arguments, adding more layers of obscurity.

The argument was poorly made by Ed (well, it's also poorly made by Craig, for that matter, but on a different level), and that explains some of the confusion, but denying objective morality in the relevant sense might be a significant problem for your position, especially given your own use of moral language (then again, Craig himself is plays fast and loose with "objective", so grasping the relevant sense is an arduous task of looking through the word salad; but it's still possible to consider one candidate based on Craig's explanation of the claims, Whether in the end denying it is a problem for your position depends on what the relevant sense turns out to be, but it seems it is a problem).

By the way, the use of pieces of evidence like "Hitler was evil/did wrong" is not an appeal to consequence in the context of Craig's argument or similar ones (though Craig does appeal to alleged consequences elsewhere in his ethical and metaethical arguments for God's existence). The problem is that Ed wrote it in a particulary obscure manner, by talking about what atheists have allegedly no right to say.

Essentially, the idea would be something like:

P1: If God did not exist, then none of Hitler's actions would be immoral.
P2: Some of Hitler's actions are immoral.
C: God exists.

That would be akin to:

Q1: If God did not exist, then there would be no life.
Q2: There is life.
C: God exists.

So, that Hitler behaved immorally - or generally, that morality is objective in some sense - is used as purpoted evdence for the existence of God.

The premises one should reject are P1 and Q1.
 

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Ed's post read like one of Tom Sawyer's. He's arguing that the holy spirit is literally some kind of magic which affects the functioning of the human brain. This sort of claim should be empirically verifiable. This is a person with whom you think continued discussion is worthwhile?
 

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Ed's post read like one of Tom Sawyer's. He's arguing that the holy spirit is literally some kind of magic which affects the functioning of the human brain. This sort of claim should be empirically verifiable. This is a person with whom you think continued discussion is worthwhile?

Not sure why this is being asked, but I personally enjoy discussing and refuting irrational claims. Without people who make irrational claims I wouldn't have anyone to carry on such discussions with, so from my perspective continuing such a discussion is worthwhile. Not everyone feels that way, which I respect.
 
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Everyone who claims to know what objective morality is the same. 'Objective morality' is MY morality. Subjective morality is YOUR morality. In almost 60 years on this planet, I've never heard different.

Eldarion Lathria
 

Angra Mainyu

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Everyone who claims to know what objective morality is the same. 'Objective morality' is MY morality. Subjective morality is YOUR morality. In almost 60 years on this planet, I've never heard different.

Eldarion Lathria
I have, many times.

If you read philosophy papers defending moral realism or objectivism in their different variants, you will find plenty of examples (even though they often define "realism" and "objectivism" in non-standard ways, they imply that morality is objective in the usual sense).

In fact, in any of the senses of "objective" in this context, in metaethics or in philosophy of religion, or in the usual sense of the word "objective", it wouild not be coherent to say that a person's morality is objective, but another person's morality is subjective, and plenty of people realize that.

In addition to philosophy papers, you can find plenty of examples in blogs dedicated to philosophy, and even in plenty of threads in the "Moral Foundations and Principles" forum, back at IIDB or FRDB, in which - regarding the matter of the original OP -, the debate turns to a debate about whether morality is objective; in some of them, specific theories were defended as well.
 

doubtingt

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To summarize the points already made: Ed's argument fails on 3 major counts, with the first 2 being how most arguments for objective morality of all types fail:

1) Universality does not exist. We don't even have to go outside the US to see the extreme degree of disagreement over something as basic as the morality of killing another person. There is huge disagreements over where, when, how, and who can be killed.
2) Universally held subjective preferences of sentient beings is not the same as objective. Objective truths have zero dependence upon whether they are accepted by any sentient minds. Truths can be believed by no one, and falsehoods can be believed by everyone.
3) Universality does not require a God to create that universality. The preferences are products of brains, thus similar brains can produce similar preferences.
God is required no more than God is required to explain why our brains are all so darn similar.
 

Cheerful Charlie

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...
You know, you really don't need to hammer out every one of his examples. His basic premise is fucked in the head, and even if his examples were to support his premise, it wouldn't fix his basic error.
General agreement, or even complete and total unanimity of any opinion, does not make it a universal, objective trait.

Unless you're going to use some sort of 'special' definition of objective. Ed's been fond of using a special language code to support his claims.

Yeah, guess you're right. One black sheep is enough to defeat the argument that all sheep are white.

We have problems like the stanford Prison Experiments and the Milgram Obedience to Authority Experiments to consider. See also the Hofling Hospital Experiments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofling_hospital_experiment

If somehow, all our morals derive from God, how do we explain such screwups on God's part? Evil acts by humans seem in some cases, hardwired as a tendency, hard to explain if God creates us all, designed us and is all knowing and wise.

Its not a case of black sheep, its a case of an incompetent God. Of course the sure answer will be "original sin". Begging the question of why a perfectly good God tolerates original sin even for a second There is no original sin in Genesis.

But there are many built-in failings that lead us to do morally stupid things in complex situations, which is what you'd expect from blind evolution.
 

Underseer

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Objective morality itself is a problematic concept
To be objective, it needs to be completely independent of the understanding of sentient minds, but the understanding of sentient minds is inherent to the way most of us define morality. If someone is unable to understand the consequences of his decision, we do not hold that person as morally culpable as someone who understands what's wrong with a decision and makes it anyway. Yes, there are elements of our morality that are generally non-negotiable due to our complex (and sometimes conflicting) instincts, but I think the concept of truly objective (in the philosophical sense) morality is incoherent. I'm guessing this is why Sam Harris throws around the word normative so often in discussions about morality.

You can't get objective morality from an external authority
Even if we allow for objective morality, you can't get there from an external authority, as per the  Euthyphro dilemma. If something is moral just because the authority demands it, then that is the very definition of moral relativism rather than objective morality. In order to demonstrate that the authority actually is moral, you need to come up with a definition of morality that does not require the commands of the authority, but once you have that, then the authority is no longer the source of morality, your definition is. Put another way, if you can define morality without the authority, there's no reason to insert him/her/it back into the definition of morality.

The moral authority in question isn't actually moral
Most of those making the "objective morality, therefore god" arguments are Christian or Muslim, and one need only read the relevant holy texts to figure out that the moral authority in question is obviously immoral. In fact Divine Command Theory is practically the only moral definition that would define god as good. Even William Lane Craig has been forced to argue that killing children and babies is a good thing in order to convince people that god is good.



William Lane Craig arguing that it is infinitely good when children are butchered at God's command or by God's actions.
 
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