First, I’d like to sincerely thank you and RWNJ and others for having this discussion with me. I think of RO kind of like a virtual organization where most of the people here people share similar ideas. As corny as this sounds, I take it as a compliment that you would even entertain me in this subject as I recognize that it is central to everything you believe. You’ve allowed me to stay and voice my (usually) unpopular opinion. It’s not easy when people question the foundations of your beliefs. For that, you all have my deepest respect. Understand, that even though I disagree with you, I respect your right to believe what you wish (within reason).
Next sorry about the length…Yikes…
And as soon as you can demonstrate this as an empirical fact you will have my attention. Until then that is little more than your subjective opinion and something you choose to believe.
Ok, but the point of that line of debate is the word “god” was purposefully omitted for the DOI and the Constitution. The founders, Deists and Christians alike understood the danger of a national religion and how it affected the governments of other nations in the past. The idea of a creator (or lack of a creator) is an individual choice and therefore should not be defined by a government.
If you believe that what good chooses by definition is “good” rather than something being good because of the results it produces, then how can god’s choices be anything but arbitrary?
I think something is “good” if it results in increased happiness, health well-being or any combination of the three and something is “bad” if something results in pain, suffering sickness or any combination of the three.
My definition relates the objective experiences of human existence, your belief relates to what a god says. RWNJ has admitted that God could if he chose to, make dishonesty “good”. Just because god says he wouldn’t do that, the fact is he could if he wanted to (unless you think that he cannot, which has its own implications), that, by definition makes his choices arbitrary, unless you think that God chooses to make honesty good because of the objective results that valuing honesty provides.
Thus, either god:
- Can make any choice he wants.
- He has made a choice based on values.
For example. If you believe that God values the life of humans, then morality isn’t the beginning of good and bad, it is the framework upon which we judge good and evil based on the things that god values, that is, unless you don’t think that god values human life.
In which case, things aren’t good because God says so, they are good because of how they relate to the experience of humans and god is just letting us know what things we should value and those we should avoid based on the objective outcomes they produce.
The only way you could call gods choices “objective” without relating to the outcomes they produce is to make them objective by definition in which case you are committing the logical fallacy of “special pleading”. Of course, that is your choice and you can deny that violates the laws of logic, or god isn’t subject to them, but the fact remains that it violates the laws fo logic and without logic, we can quite literally believe anything.
Now there is often, in other conversations I’ve had with Christians on this topic, some confusion about the term “arbitrary” and “subjective”.
I have chosen my ideas of right and wrong subjectively, not arbitrarily, agreed?
Because I value human life, that has objective consequences just like not valuing human life has objective consequences.
Do you deny that being burned causes harm or that people that experience being burned describe it as bad, or do you think it’s mealy a choice to call it bad? I believe that suffering and pain really happen and I value freedom from states of suffering and pain. I recognize that virtually everyone who can contemplate their existence would rather live than die (unless they are suffering or in dreadful pain or lack the capacity to make reasoned choices).
You asked me how I establish they are true, that is my answer, but I think your question isn’t how I establish, but why I establish that some choices are bad and others are good.
That’s easy. I value my life, I value the life of those I care about and I am empathetic and value the lives of others. Even those without empathy realize that if they don’t value the life of others and they cause others harm or allow harm to come to others when they could have done something about it, others will seek to isolate and punish them.
Hitler didn’t value life. He knew that his lack of values would lead to the risk of his own life, as it did.
Kim Jung Un does not value life or the pain and suffering of others. Kim suffers as a result. He is the maniacal dictator of an entire nation. The only reason he isn’t dead is that killing him might result in the deaths of a LOT more people. People literally call him god, but I can travel to places he can only dream. Why? Because if given the opportunity there are lots of people that would kill him or imprison him for the rest of his life for what he has done. With the exception of religious zealots and perhaps primitive peoples of the world, most people don’t want to kill me because I respect and value the lives of others and they reciprocate. That means I can go lots of places without fearing that most people want to kill or hurt me.
Can you acknowledge the very real, objective outcome of valuing the life of others? Sure it’s a choice, but it’s NOT an arbitrary choice, it’s subjective based on real objective results.
Would I rather be Kim Jun Un or me? Me of course, I can visit the Gand Canyon or visit the Colosseum in Rome, or swim in the waters off Aruba. Can Kim do this? No, not because of any religious idea, but the very practical reason that he does not value the lives of others and as a result, others do not value his life in turn.
Pigs do not have the same level of awareness as humans, nor do they understand cause and effect. Which brings us back to values.
Ever notice that we (as in everyone, not just me and u) tend to value the lives of non-humans based on our perception of their experiences?
If we believe that something is capable of suffering, or that it can contemplate the loss of its child or others it cares for,
we tend to value it more. We kill bugs and rodents without a second thought, but how many people could crush the head of a primate or an elephant and not feel bad? Not feel that what they had done was wrong?
Well, it’s human-centered because that’s all we know. When hypothetical aliens land on earth, I’m not sure how anything changes. If those aliens are intelligent, are aware, value their own lives and can experience pain and suffering, then we’d do exactly what I’ve said all along. We’d try to convince them that they should value our lives and in turn, we’ll agree to value theirs.
Now it’s no longer “human-centric”, but nothing has changed from my point of view.
As far as the objectivity of it, things objectively happen to us, fire burns us and water replenishes us…It is only our experience of those things that subjective.
For example. There is a condition called Pica. Where people eat non-foods. Like for example, someone might eat cornstarch (there are documented cases of this). Subjectively they may enjoy it, but regardless of their subjective experience, it can cause objective harm.
The point is, don’t confuse our subjective interpretations of our existence with what is objectively happening.
I’m not saying it isn’t subjective. It is, but you act as if the term “subjective” is a random choice made without any consideration. Subjective isn’t arbitrary.
Let me see if I can explain it this way.
Why is 10 yards a first down? Why is a basketball hoop 10’ off the floor, why do baseball players use bats and not toothpicks?
You understand that all of these choices are subjective, but they aren’t chosen at random. If 1 yard were a first down or a basketball hoop was 25’ off the floor, or a home run was anything beyond the pitcher’s mound, how do you think choosing these metrics at random would affect the games?
We chose 10 yards in football and 10’ in basketball and 300-450’ in baseball relative to objective facts about humans.
The same can be said for morality, we choose ideas of right and wrong based on things we experience subjectively, but that are objectively happening.
You don’t need an objective definition of what it means when someone is sick in order to determine that they are sick, why do you need something to be objectively wrong in order to determine it’s wrong?
Just as our subjective experiences of illness don’t change the objective reality, our subjective choices about right and wrong, do not change the objective consequences of what we choose to call "good and “bad”.
The difference is that you CHOOSE to believe that concepts of right and wrong are out of your hands, but that’s a choice based on a belief that cannot be empirically shown to be true.
Any evidence you give can just as easily be given to prove someone else’s idea of god exists. In the end, you have to admit that you’ve simply chosen to believe something subjectively.
I just skip the god part and simply choose to believe in right and wrong based on how those things objectively affect the lives of living beings.
This is the best explanation of relativism I could come up with:
The results of relativism are self-explanatory. I’m not a relativist because I believe the consequences of our actions matter. I don’t think might makes right and even though I do believe that society sets laws, I think the right and the wrong of societies decisions should be based on the moral principles I’ve already laid out.
There is no such thing as a correct or incorrect definition.
First, that was a statement not a definition. Second, you understood what I meant, even though all the words in that sentence were chosen arbitrarily. The evidence for this is that other cultures choose different words to mean the same thing and they communicate with equal efficiency.
We choose the combination of letters and sounds to represent ideas arbitrarily and subjectively.
Because we choose to agree what phenomenon or explanation fits a word chosen at random. The important thing isn’t the word, it’s the ability to choose to agree what those words mean. That’s what definitions are.
Definitions aren’t arbitrary, they are subjective, what isn’t arbitrary or subjective is the phenomenon that fit those definitions once we’ve agreed on what objective phenomenon fit the definition.
In other words, www.republicanoperative.com was chosen subjectively, once the web address has been established and linked to the server that runs this site, that web address objectively takes you to this website. The reality is that the creator could have chosen any combination of letters, numbers or symbols that can be recognized by your computer as a web address, what important is that you know when you type it where it (should) take you…
The fact that the choice could have been totally random, does not take away from the objective reality of where this link goes once it’s been established.
- Do you believe that the experiences of everyone and their accounts of it are objective and true?
- Do you think it’s possible that someone can believe they’ve had an objectively true experience that, in fact, has not?
If the answer to #1 is “no” and #2 is yes, then how do we determine reasonable truth?
In logic, we call that a circular argument. I can think of lots of examples where you’d point out an argument is wrong because it’s circular, I’m not sure why you’d believe that a circular argument is acceptable as evidence to your point.
Basically what you are saying is that to believe, you must believe.
THus, you cannot rationally eliminate the claims of any dogmatic belief or religion if that is what constitutes acceptable evidence when trying to determine the truth.
And that is a subjective choice and that makes your justification for what you believe no better than mine (I’d argue it’s not as good as mine, but that’s why we’re debating :).
What defines “better” (a subjective idea) is based on subjective values (something I said at the beginning of this conversation). My explanation then is the same as it is now. Humans can choose to value things that cause objective harm. If people fail to convince each other to value the kinds of things that lead to health and well-being, then as a species we will fail to live up to our potential or worse, wipe ourselves out.
As I’ve said, we should convince each other to value both potential and actual health, well-being and happiness and freedom from both potential and actual pain, sickness, and suffering.
Tell me, where does my choice to define morality in this way go wrong? If everyone believed this, would that be “bad”?
See, there is objective evidence that supports my conclusions. Believing that honesty is good and rape is bad produces quantifiable empirical results. When I try to convince others in society to beleive as I do, I don’t point to a god, but the real results.
To be clear, my comment had nothing to do with whether God exists, but why if He did then He may be the foundation of morality. Your response slides right by mine.
In order to be right, his god must exist. I’ve seen nothing that would offer empirical evidence of the existence of a god or more specifically, the Christian god. Thus RWNJ’s argument lies on a presupposition. It is his presupposition that colors his argument.
But neither can you offer empirical evidence, or even tell me why someone cannot justifiably believe in any god based on the criteria of God’s existence that you’ve given me. Specifically, that to believe, one must believe (i.e. if you convince yourself that God exists, he exists). To say nothing of how you jump belief of God’s existence to all the things that you believe that god desires.
Yes, it is subjective, however, you can choose to believe that the objective experiences of living beings is a good place to start as a stable point of reference.
The reality is that my morality is 100% consistent with yours (save the sins of not declaring that god exists and that Christ was his son…).
I believe that Christianity is largely founded on the principles that I’ve laid out. People have learned through experience the very real and objective consequences of their actions and over 6-10,000 years have documented it in ideas, parables, psalms, stories, and metaphor ways to teach people to do things that result in positive outcomes and avoid negative ones. Of course, I think Christianity fails in some areas, but then, so does secular morality.
Thus I don’t deny Christianity as a source of morality, I simply deny that god is necessary to realize that morality if he exists or not.
Well, I suppose that’s true of all non-believers were nihilists, but they aren’t so…To the contrary, the fact that it’s the end, gives my actions MORE meaning, not less. It means I have but one chance to get it right. It means that I don’t have a chance to repent, to fix things after I die. I must do them here and now. I must live this life and enjoy it because when I’m gone that’s it.
Is it futile to love my children?
Is it futile to enjoy a vacation?
Is it futile to save a life?
It’s hard to believe that you could believe the answer is yes without eternal existence, though I do understand that some people fear a limited existence and believing there is more is a way to cope with that fear.
Having said that, I don’t really have a problem with people that believe it. I know believing in life after life helps people cope with a loss.
I’ve quite literally lost everyone that knew me before I was 12 years old. Both of my grandparents, both of my parents, all of my aunts and uncles I spent time with as a child (which amounts to about 6 people). Do I believe they are in heaven? Nope, I believe they are in the same place they were the moment before they became conscious of their existence. And personally, I’m ok with that. I miss them all and I mourned deeply the loss of everyone I cared about, but I never needed to believe they were in “heaven”. But that’s just me personally, and I would NEVER, EVER try to take that away from someone if they needed it as a way to deal with loss. So if you believe it, I hope it brings you happiness.
(Edit: I fixed a quote tag for you there. FC)
I don’t think so, but I think my refutation of Pascal’s Wager would probably be considered offensive, thus I will just agree to disagree as you’ve been gracious enough just to have this conversation, which frankly I find hard to believe doesn’t offend you in some small way.
Citing scripture (circular arguments) and being right by definition doesn’t really compel me.