Let's do better on the moral argument for god

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Let's do better on the moral argument for god

Post  Marky on Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:37 am

Hi all!

I would ask that you consider addressing the following point in your "Counter-Apologetics" section... Hitchens is very, very good at explaining how you don't need god to be good. However, everything I have read, listened to or watched from him, left me disappointed with his ability to justify the use of the word "good", i.e. defining the moral foundation of atheism. Let's just stop using the word "good" and start using the word "preferable".

Clearly you do not need god to be good. Also clearly, a good person who is also a theist is capable of "evil" acts only because of religion. No new ground to cover here.

I would like to suggest we replace the word "moral" or "good" with "preferable" for many reasons:

- If absolute morals existed, how would we come to know them? The bible is filled with truths so sublime that they seem inspired, and also horrors so extravagant they offend at a glance..... Why do christians easily cherry pick the good stuff from the bible and leave the horrific statements? If the totality of the bible is not accepted, what "yardstick" is used? Regardless of revelation, we are left on our own to make value judgments. Even if "absolute" morals existed, we have no way to 100% verify what they are. So the claim that objective morals exist is useless.

I will suggest that the moral "yardstick" each of us has an internal preference on how we would act, bet treated, etc. Generally, this preference is to avoid suffering and maximize pleasure/happiness. Given that we are an evolved, social species, we have obtained the ability "guess" what is in the minds of others (empathy). As a social species, those that project and act on perceived "preferences" of others are more likely to survive. Our conscience is not "god written on our hearts", it is our ability to "know" that our preferences are the same as others in our species, and are programmed to feeling "bad" when we act counter to this knowledge.

- This view kills William Lane Craig's argument (without god, absolute morals do not exist, objective morals do exist, thus god exists). No morals are objective, only internally (to each of us), preferable. Many actions are (near) universally preferable, like the golden rule. This is because these morals are those that lead to the survival of our species, so we shouldn't be surprised that we (almost) all have them. Still, there are folks in the margins who have different preferences (sociopaths, etc), but anti-social behaviors would not be selected for in evolution thus they are marginalized and unusual.

Note:Craig's argument is a bad argument anyways, i.e. without chemistry, alien life does not exist, chemistry exists, thus alien life exists.)

- The bible is filled with truths so sublime that they seem inspired, and also horrors so extravagant they offend at a glance.... why do christians easily cherry pick the good stuff and leave the horrific statements... they use their internal "yardstick. The bible supports slavery, genital mutilation, etc. People do not (currently) prefer these things, and with empathy, assume that their fellow citizens also do not. Nothing "absolute" here

- Christians disagree on many "moral" issues. Should society support gay marriage? How could we ever determine if a yes/no answer is objectively right or wrong? Impossible, and right back to what each of us finds "preferable".

- There is a danger to succumbing to moral relativism. I am not overly concerned about this. Even Hitler would have agreed that he would "prefer" liberty, "prefer" not being tortured, etc. He did not look at his perceived enemies as human, thus felt no empathy. This point alone is a strong one for adopting a humanist philosophy, as any humanist by definition considers the feelings/opinions of others.

- (thinking) theists long for a transcendent basis of morality, but make value judgements in identical ways as atheists


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