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November 17, 2019, 07:11:35 am
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  Richard Dawkins: A world with no God would be immoral
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Author Topic: Richard Dawkins: A world with no God would be immoral  (Read 674 times)
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« on: November 02, 2019, 10:19:47 pm »
« edited: November 02, 2019, 10:24:15 pm by Scott🦋 »

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Speaking to The Times, Dawkins said he fears the removal of religion would be a bad idea for society because it would give people "license to do really bad things."

He likened the importance of a higher power informing our morality to the presence of surveillance cameras to prevent shoplifting, warning people would feel free to commit crimes if the need to obey the "divine spy camera in the sky, reading their every thought" was removed.

"People may feel free to do bad things because they feel God is no longer watching them," he said.

...

Dawkins concluded that "whether irrational or not, it does, unfortunately, seem plausible that, if somebody sincerely believes God is watching his every move, he might be more likely to be good."

"I must say I hate that idea," he added, "I want to believe that humans are better than that. I'd like to believe I'm honest whether anyone is watching or not."

Although Dawkins said he doesn't think the "Great Spy Camera theory" is "a good reason" for him to believe in God he acknowledged that a society that affirms God's existence can be effective in "keeping the crime rate down."
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Interesting to see these words from the granddaddy of "New Atheism," though I do question the notion that one who is acting in good will only out of fear of hell/punishment or the expectation that will be rewarded for it is truly being 'moral.'
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 10:21:22 pm »

Interesting turnaround, but I just don't think Dawkins has much credibility on this particular subject. He didn't convince me when he used to insist the opposite of this, and he doesn't convince me now.
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 12:22:37 am »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 05:04:59 am »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.

     That we see Christians propounding this type of argument points to a major failing in catechesis in this country, and one that has been important to the decline of religion in the United States. About three-quarters of Americans say they are Christian, but a far lower proportion has a grasp on what that means. If you have been raised into a secularized mindset, it is easy to adopt secular apologetics that seem convenient to the theist position at first blush, even though they undercut it in the long run by implying a materialist paradigm denuded of spiritual power.
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2019, 10:58:44 am »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.

     That we see Christians propounding this type of argument points to a major failing in catechesis in this country, and one that has been important to the decline of religion in the United States. About three-quarters of Americans say they are Christian, but a far lower proportion has a grasp on what that means. If you have been raised into a secularized mindset, it is easy to adopt secular apologetics that seem convenient to the theist position at first blush, even though they undercut it in the long run by implying a materialist paradigm denuded of spiritual power.
Imagine being born into a blind mindset, seeing the horror all around you, and then trying not to just completely lose your sh**t while they throw rocks at you for making them actually feel the consequences of their own actions.

Yeah, I don’t have time for that.  Ban my account.
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 10:59:36 am »
« Edited: November 05, 2019, 11:15:10 am by Ban my account ffs! »

But i bet you wont!  People obese with illigetimate power need they wallet and car and phone and shoes!

Ban my account!

Most of all, dey need dey keys.  Jingle jingle!  Boy these are heavy keys.
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2019, 12:10:02 pm »

Even if we take this argument at face value, people fear social and personal repercussions for bad behavior. Murder is immoral, yes, but it's the legal strictures in place that make murder a very unattractive action.
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2019, 02:19:49 pm »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.

     That we see Christians propounding this type of argument points to a major failing in catechesis in this country, and one that has been important to the decline of religion in the United States. About three-quarters of Americans say they are Christian, but a far lower proportion has a grasp on what that means. If you have been raised into a secularized mindset, it is easy to adopt secular apologetics that seem convenient to the theist position at first blush, even though they undercut it in the long run by implying a materialist paradigm denuded of spiritual power.

Agreed.

Now I would posit that for most secular people there exists er... tension between their ethics and cosmology/anthropology, but nothing about that stops them from acting morally.
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2019, 10:40:02 pm »
« Edited: November 07, 2019, 10:44:46 pm by RFayette »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.

     That we see Christians propounding this type of argument points to a major failing in catechesis in this country, and one that has been important to the decline of religion in the United States. About three-quarters of Americans say they are Christian, but a far lower proportion has a grasp on what that means. If you have been raised into a secularized mindset, it is easy to adopt secular apologetics that seem convenient to the theist position at first blush, even though they undercut it in the long run by implying a materialist paradigm denuded of spiritual power.

Agreed.

Now I would posit that for most secular people there exists er... tension between their ethics and cosmology/anthropology, but nothing about that stops them from acting morally.

This.  People, especially those who are secular who reject an absolute and transcendent source of moral truth, are often far more influenced in behavior by their cultural environment and basic biological impulses than whatever views they have concerning how morality is grounded and whether it exists at all.  Even the most consistent moral relativist will be outraged if he heard a child was being sexually abused.  One needn't have a coherent, consistent account of why murder is wrong to know intuitively that it is evil and to refrain from it . For this reason, the God/morality debate often ends up in a logjam, since there is a difference between having true moral knowledge and acting on it vs. actually being able to ground it.  
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2019, 11:22:37 pm »

That actually doesn't surprise me all that much, all considered.

The kind of morality that Dawkins is talking about is the shallow utilitarian-behaviorist version of "morality" that the ~Rational Community~ has long tended to gravitate towards. If one takes that perspective, then yes, obviously the prospect of supernatural reward and punishment is going to have an impact on one's actions. Utilitarianism is all about human actions as rational responses to incentives, after all.

At least I can respect this argument coming from Dawkins, since it's consistent with his intellectual premises. On the other hand, people who claim subscribe to an orthodox Christian theology and parrot these lines of argument are making a mockery of their faith.

     That we see Christians propounding this type of argument points to a major failing in catechesis in this country, and one that has been important to the decline of religion in the United States. About three-quarters of Americans say they are Christian, but a far lower proportion has a grasp on what that means. If you have been raised into a secularized mindset, it is easy to adopt secular apologetics that seem convenient to the theist position at first blush, even though they undercut it in the long run by implying a materialist paradigm denuded of spiritual power.

Agreed.

Now I would posit that for most secular people there exists er... tension between their ethics and cosmology/anthropology, but nothing about that stops them from acting morally.

This.  People, especially those who are secular who reject an absolute and transcendent source of moral truth, are often far more influenced in behavior by their cultural environment and basic biological impulses than whatever views they have concerning how morality is grounded and whether it exists at all.  Even the most consistent moral relativist will be outraged if he heard a child was being sexually abused.  One needn't have a coherent, consistent account of why murder is wrong to know intuitively that it is evil and to refrain from it . For this reason, the God/morality debate often ends up in a logjam, since there is a difference between having true moral knowledge and acting on it vs. actually being able to ground it.  


The problem with that is "what is murder?" At it's core, murder is any homicide not sanctioned by society. But if you're part of a society that sanctions dueling, lynching, genocide, or "honor" killings, then you likely won't consider such actions to be murder unless you reject the standards of your society.
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« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2019, 02:54:35 am »

DC and RFayette are getting to the key point.

The dumb version of the God-and-morality argument is the one Dawkins made, that belief in God is necessary for people to act morally. This is an insult to both nonbelievers whose morality is negated despite clear evidence to the contrary, and to believers whose morality is reduced to a transaction. It's a thoroughly contemptible line of argument.

The more interesting version of the argument is the one about the conceptual foundations for morality. It speaks to the underlying question, "what does it mean for something to be right or wrong?" Abrahamic religions provide a clear and decisive answer to that question, which is usually called divine command theory: right is what God wants, wrong is what God doesn't want. This clarity is very useful for those of us who feel the need to truly understand morality as something universal that transcends material reality, rather than just following our intuitions. I don't think there's any secular moral theory that provides this kind of clarity, although some IMO do provide for a solid basis (I'm especially fond of ideal observer theory and its potential connection to virtue ethics).
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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2019, 05:09:00 am »

DC and RFayette are getting to the key point.

The dumb version of the God-and-morality argument is the one Dawkins made, that belief in God is necessary for people to act morally. This is an insult to both nonbelievers whose morality is negated despite clear evidence to the contrary, and to believers whose morality is reduced to a transaction. It's a thoroughly contemptible line of argument.

The more interesting version of the argument is the one about the conceptual foundations for morality. It speaks to the underlying question, "what does it mean for something to be right or wrong?" Abrahamic religions provide a clear and decisive answer to that question, which is usually called divine command theory: right is what God wants, wrong is what God doesn't want. This clarity is very useful for those of us who feel the need to truly understand morality as something universal that transcends material reality, rather than just following our intuitions. I don't think there's any secular moral theory that provides this kind of clarity, although some IMO do provide for a solid basis (I'm especially fond of ideal observer theory and its potential connection to virtue ethics).

Following our intuitions (if that is what we do) is a more moral foundation for ethics in that case?

I keep returning to this but it tends to be left hanging when I do;

Sin by it’s definition is an action against god; a sin need have no grounding in whether that action is right or wrong. If things are ‘good’ because god says that they are good, or because they line up with his will things are ‘good’ or just, then morals are arbitrary and subjective.

'Good’ means nothing. Saying ‘god is good’ is simply saying he is god. It says nothing meaningful about his actions because god would be ‘good’ no matter what he does.

Not only does this rob good of its goodness, it also robs god of its glory. Why should there be praise for god if he would be equally praised even if he did the complete opposite? If what is arbitrary replaces what is just or reasonable, then all justice is, if anything, is what is pleasing to god.

So if things are good for another reason, if goodness needs to have value, then it cannot come from god.  Saying that morality is actually grounded in god’s nature and expressed in his commands and we run off and ‘betray that’ by sinning doesn’t avoid this problem. Whatever it was god’s nature to prefer would still be right by definition and still diminish the significance of moral terms. So saying god is good would just be saying that god accords to his own nature which isn’t really an accomplishment. I accord to mine.
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2019, 07:18:05 am »

afleitch, you're assuming voluntarism has to be true. It's not the mainstream view among educated Christians.
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2019, 07:39:55 am »

This isn't really shocking; his entire "philosophy" is just that religion man dumb and trapped. Makes sense he would think free dumb man dangerous.
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2019, 12:55:23 am »
« Edited: November 09, 2019, 12:59:51 am by Mangez des pommes ! »

Sin by it’s definition is an action against god; a sin need have no grounding in whether that action is right or wrong. If things are ‘good’ because god says that they are good, or because they line up with his will things are ‘good’ or just, then morals are arbitrary and subjective.

They aren't arbitrary and subjective because God is not an arbitrary and subjective being. God in the Abrahamic religions is all-knowing, all-powerful and, you know, the creator of everything. From these premises, it's reasonable to come to the conclusion that what He has to say matters in a more fundamental way than what anyone else does. If He designed the very plane of existence we exist on, then His will is its very organizing principle, and therefore can claim the status of a universal law.


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'Good’ means nothing. Saying ‘god is good’ is simply saying he is god. It says nothing meaningful about his actions because god would be ‘good’ no matter what he does.

Well yeah, from a DCT perspective it's obviously impossible for human beings to assess God's actions morally. "God is good no matter what he does" is a really improper way to say it, though, because God isn't just acting randomly. God has a will which is eternal and unchanging in pursuit of His purposes, and which explains all of His actions. "No matter what he does" implies that God would just do anything, but no serious Christian believes that. God would only do certain specific things that accord with his will.

Besides, this focus on God's actions really misses the point. If you're going to be bringing up all the horrible stuff God does in the Old Testament, I'm afraid I'm not interested in following you here. Christians have plenty of discussions and disagreements about how to grapple with that, but none of them have much bearing on Christian moral thought as such. And since I don't believe in the Bible myself I don't really care.


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Not only does this rob good of its goodness, it also robs god of its glory. Why should there be praise for god if he would be equally praised even if he did the complete opposite? If what is arbitrary replaces what is just or reasonable, then all justice is, if anything, is what is pleasing to god.

See my earlier point. It makes no sense to say "if he did the complete opposite", because God isn't just acting randomly. Whatever He did is the only thing he would have done in the given circumstance. I'm genuinely surprised that you're having trouble grasping this.


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So if things are good for another reason, if goodness needs to have value, then it cannot come from god.  Saying that morality is actually grounded in god’s nature and expressed in his commands and we run off and ‘betray that’ by sinning doesn’t avoid this problem. Whatever it was god’s nature to prefer would still be right by definition and still diminish the significance of moral terms. So saying god is good would just be saying that god accords to his own nature which isn’t really an accomplishment. I accord to mine.

Good is what ought to be. Saying God is good is saying that God is the judge of what ought to be. You're perfectly in your right to find that definition unsatisfying (so do I, in case that wasn't clear), but it is a logically consistent and meaningful definition. Secular morality still has trouble coming up with one.
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2019, 12:19:47 pm »

Secular morality has no problems coming up with the final five commandments (Reformed numbering). It's the first five that are dependent upon how society and theology are viewed.

It's my view that the Fifth Commandment: "Honor thy mother and father." is not a self-evident rule of morality and hence why I group it with the previous commandments rather than the latter ones.
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2019, 02:26:07 pm »
« Edited: November 09, 2019, 02:45:58 pm by afleitch »


They aren't arbitrary and subjective because God is not an arbitrary and subjective being. God in the Abrahamic religions is all-knowing, all-powerful and, you know, the creator of everything. From these premises, it's reasonable to come to the conclusion that what He has to say matters in a more fundamental way than what anyone else does. If He designed the very plane of existence we exist on, then His will is its very organizing principle, and therefore can claim the status of a universal law.


How are gods laws not arbitrary when it is arbiter of the laws? That doesn't follow. There's no other overseer.

Quote
Well yeah, from a DCT perspective it's obviously impossible for human beings to assess God's actions morally. "God is good no matter what he does" is a really improper way to say it, though, because God isn't just acting randomly. God has a will which is eternal and unchanging in pursuit of His purposes, and which explains all of His actions. "No matter what he does" implies that God would just do anything, but no serious Christian believes that. God would only do certain specific things that accord with his will.

Which is what I argued. Whatever god determines is 'good', so there's nothing exceptional or praise worthy about what god choses to do. If it's constrained by an 'eternal and unchanging will' then if anything it's less equipped to situationally react than we are. Unless you think god has established morality which it is
now bound by which means it exists outside of god.

Quote
Good is what ought to be. Saying God is good is saying that God is the judge of what ought to be. You're perfectly in your right to find that definition unsatisfying (so do I, in case that wasn't clear), but it is a logically consistent and meaningful definition. Secular morality still has trouble coming up with one.


Is god 'good'?

Theistic morality is a form of subjectivism. Saying that morality is actually grounded in god’s nature and expressed in it's commands doesn’t avoid this problem. Whatever it was god’s nature to prefer would still be right by definition and still diminish the significance of moral terms. Hence god simply 'accords'. If it's nature were different, or the complete inverse; if it was omnimalevolent god would still be 'good'.

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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2019, 09:09:31 pm »
« Edited: November 09, 2019, 09:15:55 pm by Eastern Kentucky Demosaur fighting the long defeat »

Unless you think god has established morality which it is
now bound by which means it exists outside of god.

It's my understanding--I'm hoping one of our Jewish posters can correct me if I'm mistaken about this--that in certain currents of Jewish thought this is the position of the Torah, a covenant binding on God as well as on humanity; the moral logic underlying the mitzvot isn't conditional on God's continuing to uphold it, it just is, the way laws of physics just are (or, for that matter, the way God Himself just is). I was saying to Antonio privately the other day that I think this is at least as strong an a priori definition of what morality is as divine command; he observed that the problem with it is that it still doesn't provide any non-revealed grounds for getting at the content of moral facts.
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2019, 10:26:17 pm »

How are gods laws not arbitrary when it is arbiter of the laws? That doesn't follow. There's no other overseer.

I mean, fair, you can argue it's "arbitrary" in the sense than it has an arbiter. It seemed to me like you were using a different definition of "arbitrary" (ie, as meaning "capricious or random"), but my bad if I misunderstood.

Anyway, yeah, I understand why this bothers you since (as I said later in that post) it bothers me too. All I'm saying is that I understand why people might prefer a morality grounded in divine arbitration over a morality grounded in nothing at all.


Quote
Which is what I argued. Whatever god determines is 'good', so there's nothing exceptional or praise worthy about what god choses to do. If it's constrained by an 'eternal and unchanging will' then if anything it's less equipped to situationally react than we are.

I mean it would be a better argument for you to say that everything about God is so exceptional and alien to our understanding that, yes, giving Him praise can feel kind of incongruous. What could our praise even mean to such a being? I'm sure some Christians can answer that, but that is something that leaves me perplexed too.

And God doesn't need to "situationally react" in the sense human beings do, since He transcends time. Everything that will ever happen has already happened as far as He's concerned.


Quote
Unless you think god has established morality which it is now bound by which means it exists outside of god.

Nathan has made a fascinating point in that respect and I'd love to learn more about the perspective he brings in. From my perspective, though, the premises of your argument simply don't hold up. Yes, God has established morality and it is unchanging, but saying he's "bound" by it makes no sense, since by definition His own will is to follow it. Questions of will are logically antecedent to questions of freedom: if there's something I would never want to do, I'm not "free" or "not free" to do it. Freedom is simply not a relevant parameter here.


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Is god 'good'?

Theistic morality is a form of subjectivism. Saying that morality is actually grounded in god’s nature and expressed in it's commands doesn’t avoid this problem. Whatever it was god’s nature to prefer would still be right by definition and still diminish the significance of moral terms. Hence god simply 'accords'. If it's nature were different, or the complete inverse; if it was omnimalevolent god would still be 'good'.

You can call it subjectivism if you want to, sure, but you have to admit that being omniscient and having created reality itself means that God's "subjectivity" is very different from ours, different in a way that affords it a special moral place.

And if God's nature were different, He wouldn't be God, so again you're constructing a hypothetical that violates the premises of the argument you're arguing against.
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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2019, 12:27:09 pm »

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Anyway, yeah, I understand why this bothers you since (as I said later in that post) it bothers me too. All I'm saying is that I understand why people might prefer a morality grounded in divine arbitration over a morality grounded in nothing at all.

I don't think the alternative to divine arbitration is 'nothing at all.' Even if it was 'nothing at all' why is that necessarily a bad thing? if there is no third party, then goodness is already arbitrary as you can't defer to anything else to morally rationalise god's command as that deferral would not require there to be a god. Interesting, we can do that as a species and I think we do it quite well, so I don't see why it's really a problem. Unless people really are arguing that 'there must be a definite source for right and wrong otherwise I'm going to go mad and kill you all.'

The reason I asked, 'is god good' is because if you accept that god has love and compassion and other affirmative characteristics, there're not good because of any other reason than because god has them; they 'reflect god.' So when you and I are are doing good things, you're not 'doing' them, there's no moral reasoning going on; you're just 'reflecting god.'

So you aren't providing any reasoning for those moral actions and it also flows from this that god cannot have reasons behind what it is doing because otherwise you're grounding the moral value of the action.


Unless you think god has established morality which it is
now bound by which means it exists outside of god.

It's my understanding--I'm hoping one of our Jewish posters can correct me if I'm mistaken about this--that in certain currents of Jewish thought this is the position of the Torah, a covenant binding on God as well as on humanity; the moral logic underlying the mitzvot isn't conditional on God's continuing to uphold it, it just is, the way laws of physics just are (or, for that matter, the way God Himself just is). I was saying to Antonio privately the other day that I think this is at least as strong an a priori definition of what morality is as divine command; he observed that the problem with it is that it still doesn't provide any non-revealed grounds for getting at the content of moral facts.

It's something I'm a little familiar with (and the closed model Islamic tahwid too which has been something I've enjoyed this year) which is why I threw it in there. One of my concerns with divine command theory is that it's a piss poor model for Christian ethics (and I have some sympathy with Aquinas here) Christianity has 'divided' god, and has given a New Testament. So DCT doesn't tie this together as adequately as it tries to ascertain.
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2019, 03:27:04 pm »

Do we really have so little faith in humanity that we think the only thing keeping everyday people from raping and murdering is that they believe they'd be punished by God if they did so?


Most Christians believe all/almost all sins are forgivable if the sinner repents, so why couldn't somebody go on a killing spree and feel no fear knowing they can just repent and not have to worry about any form of punishment in the "afterlife"?
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Statilius the Epicurean
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2019, 06:22:25 pm »

Do we really have so little faith in humanity that we think the only thing keeping everyday people from raping and murdering is that they believe they'd be punished by God if they did so?

I did briefly date a Polish girl who told me that she had no conscience and would act in total amoral fashion were she not Catholic.
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Antonio V
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2019, 07:43:08 pm »

I don't think the alternative to divine arbitration is 'nothing at all.'

Neither do I. What I was saying in my first post is that the alternatives we have so far are missing critical pieces would give them the clarity and universality of DCT. I believe that secular ethics can do better, but it's not there yet.


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Even if it was 'nothing at all' why is that necessarily a bad thing?

It's a bad thing for those of us who want to live in a world where moral statements mean something beyond a mere statement of personal taste. Because we have an intuitive sense that good and evil do exist, and we want to believe that this intuitive sense speaks to something greater than ourselves. If it doesn't, then we lose the ability to say anything meaningful about morality that has any bearing on others.


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if there is no third party, then goodness is already arbitrary as you can't defer to anything else to morally rationalise god's command as that deferral would not require there to be a god. Interesting, we can do that as a species and I think we do it quite well, so I don't see why it's really a problem.

I've read this over and over and I'm still not sure what you're trying to say. I hope I clarified the semantic difference in the use of the word "arbitrary" in my previous post, so we don't have to go over it again. And what is it that we "do quite well" as a species exactly?


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Unless people really are arguing that 'there must be a definite source for right and wrong otherwise I'm going to go mad and kill you all.'

Did you even read my first two posts in this thread? Hell, even DC agrees with me that Christians who argue that are terribly catechized.


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The reason I asked, 'is god good' is because if you accept that god has love and compassion and other affirmative characteristics, there're not good because of any other reason than because god has them; they 'reflect god.' So when you and I are are doing good things, you're not 'doing' them, there's no moral reasoning going on; you're just 'reflecting god.'

God having them is how we know they're good under DCT, yes. I'm not sure how you make the leap from that to "...and therefore they're not truly good". You're acting as if the word "good" has some inherent meaning that trying to reformulate in any way is tantamount to erasing - but that's not how words work. I'm sure you've had far more extensive discussions about Wittgenstein with Nathan, but his point, that words' meaning is inherently situational and defined by their relationship to one another rather than to abstract concepts, bears repeating here.

So if you're defining good on the basis of God, then yes, saying "God is good" is tautological, but that doesn't mean that no meaningful conclusion can be derived from it. For example, speculating on God's purpose for giving us moral intuitions probably leads us to the conclusion that He intended us to exercise some degree of autonomy in forming moral judgments (which doesn't preclude morality from being universal, of course).


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So you aren't providing any reasoning for those moral actions and it also flows from this that god cannot have reasons behind what it is doing because otherwise you're grounding the moral value of the action.

God's personhood is something I have trouble wrapping my head around either, so I don't necessarily want to defend Christianity on this point, but I don't see how it flows from it, no. God can have reasons for doing what He does, and those reasons in turn form the basis for morality. I don't see what's incoherent about that.
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afleitch
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« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2019, 04:35:14 am »

Hang on. Are you arguing in favourof DCT all this time? I was wondering why you were getting overly defensive. Let me think about this.
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Antonio V
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« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2019, 03:03:27 pm »

Hang on. Are you arguing in favourof DCT all this time? I was wondering why you were getting overly defensive. Let me think about this.

I'm trying to explain why DCT is attractive to many people, and in some respects a more complete and coherent moral theory than most secular alternatives. And I'm being defensive because I don't think that your criticisms of it are fair.

I don't subscribe to it myself, I thought I'd made that clear. Even if I wanted to (which I don't) it would be hard as an agnostic. Tongue
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