CSB, I finally got my response done (alas, long-winded like yours):
I don’t necessarily see a division between what God calls good, and outcome (although I believe that the former preceeds the latter). I do believe that humans (including myself) are often lousy at predicting outcomes of choices and situations, and that God, being all-knowing, knows exactly what He’s doing.
On the subject of “logical fallacy,” did you know that logic sometimes fails? Scientists and mathematicians have uncovered any number of paradoxes that logic cannot explain. I have no doubt that there are explanations; but for now at least, the paradoxes remain.
As to “arbitrary” vs. “subjective,” I do indeed believe that your human-centric premise is indeed arbitrary, unless humans have innate value. How can you objectively determine that? How can we assigned value to ourselves without conflict of interest issues getting in the way? 'Nutjob used the biblical illustration of the potter and the clay; I submit that only the Potter is in an objective position to determine our value.
Can I acknowledge the objective outcome of valuing life? Sure; but I still believe the subjectivity of the choice which is inevitable from a secular worldview is based on an arbitrary assigning of value to life. And I insist that an objective basis for valuing life is necessary, or the resulting moral concepts are unstable. Obviously, I believe that our innate value comes from the God who created us.
So pigs lack moral value because of low level of awareness? How much awareness is necessary for value? Does a Down’s Syndrome person fail to qualify? An infant? The unborn? The elderly with dementia? A certain I.Q. level? I know that many on the left use some or all of these as disqualifiers. This question must be answered soundly if the resulting morality is to be meaningful. The Christian answer is that we’re made in the image of God.
As to the hypothetical alien scenario, you felt that humanity would in turn respect the aliens’ value. How so? Half the time, we don’t even respect each others’ value (wars, crimes, and other cruelty attest to this). We make a lot of bad choices when left to our own devices. We’re like an inflated and unknotted balloon that is released; we fly around rapidly and completely aimlessly, making a noise like flatulence, until we fall uselessly, helplessly, and ridiculously to the ground on our rear ends.
As to realizing our human potential (through your premises of morality), how can there be any meaningful realization when, outside of supernatural intervention, the universe and everyone (individually and collectively) in it is going to die of entropy? In the godless context, we, the universe, and everything in it will be too dead to care. How, then, does it matter whether we wipe ourselves out, or the death of the universe does? Wiped out is wiped out.
I can’t remember enough of the context (I only have your post here on my own computer, to type up the answer offline) to go into detail, but I do recall that I felt certain that 'Nutjob’s comment did not depend on the presupposition of God’s existance; I believe it stood on its own.
As to verifying God’s existance, I have a bunch of points to offer (what preceded is half of my post; here’s the other half).
I cited scripture, but that scripture relates to a basic fact that anyone can confirm: That a vast and wonderous universe exists. Its very existance demands an explanation. I submit that it can only be accounted for by a supernatural event (which implies a supernatural source; admittedly, that doesn’t in itself specify the Judeo-Christian God, but I’ll get into more specific evidences later); I’ve never heard a sound explanation for the origin of the universe without one.
I can also cite in my own life things that have changed in my heart for much the better since I turned to God (a couple of which were addictions of the heart which I’d tried more than once to beat on my own, and couldn’t; Alcoholics Anonymous operates on the premise that addictions can only be conquered with the aid of a higher power, although they don’t specify that power).
Also, I submit that biblical scripture isn’t a case of it’s-true-because-it-says-so. I don’t claim to understand it all (and will admit to even having discomfort about some elements), but it isn’t just a fairy tale pulled out of thin air. Whether on not one believes the supernatural elements (I’ll get into that in a moment), it’s a historical document of real people, places, events, governments, etc. frequently supported by outside documentation and archeology.
Except perhaps recently (generally, atheists seem more aware that Jesus’ very existance presents them with problems that their atheism can’t answer, so they have to attack it), the vast majority of secular historians accepted the biblical scriptures in a general historical sense. They agreed that Jesus did exist, that his disciples believed he was the son of God, that he did many miracles, and that he rose again after he died on the cross (as well-known Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias stated, there’s more documentational evidence for the existence of Jesus than for Plato).
And that most of those disciples were put to death for refusing to recant that belief. I can’t remember if he was quoting someone else or not, but there’s a preacher on the radio who pointed out that man will die for a conviction, but they won’t die for a concoction. If the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were a fabrication for their own gain, why would they die for it? Self interest argues against it in that context.
And if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders themselves had strong interest in proving he didn’t. And the most conclusive way to do so would have been to have presented Jesus’ dead body. Certainly they had the power to find it if it were to be found; and they couldn’t do so.
Another thing is that the biblical account of the first person to see Him was a woman. Even in the Jewish culture of the day which was head and shoulders above the rest of the world in terms of respecting women, a woman was not considered a valid witness. If the disciples concocted the resurrection, it’s unlikely that they would have claimed that a woman was the first to see him, because they would have wanted to present someone who would have been deemed a valid witness.
Jesus’ own remarkable teachings also argue that He was very much out of the ordinary. And contrary to those who claim he was merely a good teacher, He made claims that don’t leave room for that. He made unprecedented claims of deity which could not be mere mistake. Either He was nuts, or engaging in blasphemous deceit, or He was Who He said He was. Or as Christian apologist Josh McDowell put it: Lord, liar, or lunatic. There is no room for mere “good teacher.”
All this is just a taste of the many arguments (objective, I submit) that have been made for the existance of God. I submit that the only way they (and the scriptures) will mean anything to you is if you’re genuinely open to the possibility of God’s existence and sovereignty.
I could go on, but I think I hit the main points.