He is conflating moral relativism with moral skepticism. I'm a moral skeptic, which means that, ultimately, I don't believe there are universal moral truths. Moral facts don't exist as Christians define them. That doesn't mean I give up the option of asserting value claims or engaging in value discussion.
However, I think he is ultimately correct. When I say "Child molestation is wrong," I really _do_ mean "It is (strongly) my preference that child molestation not happen, that people be punished for it, etc." I'm not universally justified in that assertion, but who cares - particularly because no such universal justification is possible anyway. Expecting an atheist to produce such is kind of like saying that because an atheist doesn't believe in Santa Clause, and because we know our parents were Santa Clause, then we must believe our Parents don't exist.
Of course, my statement must be more than just "I don't like X" for it to mean anything. I must extend that statement to "I don't like X, and I have an understanding of my interlocutors which leads me to believe that they should not like X either, if I remind them of Y contingencies." That is, moral skepticism forces me to _justify_ my suggestion that people conform to my opinions by acts of mutual understanding, communication, and negotiation. I'd trade some asinine absolutism any day for this rich, dialectical discussion of virtue.
Anyway, I'm kind of glad this guy is making this argument. Atheist circles are replete with very poor understanding of philosophy, particularly as it applies to the question of morality (see Sam Harris' book for an example of what is, at the very least, very sloppy language).
For you, notascientist. I teach philosophy and that is a damn fine answer to the video.
His, the preacher in the video, argument completely bypasses the question of why an all-powerful and all-good god would allow evil to occur and instead tries to show that atheists lack any sort of foundational basis for morality. That is a fine debate tactic but it in no way helps the Christian deal with the problem of evil.
Unless the argument were then to go something like this: Christians get their morality from God who defines what is good and evil. This implies that God only allows good to occur and so we are wrong about is evil (and, thus, Christians should be willing to define all acts as good, even child molestation). Therefore there is no problem of evil as there is no evil.
That, of course, is not what almost any Christian would want to maintain and so they instead turn to 'evil exists for the greater good' or 'evil is the result of free will' but those are argument best dealt with in another lecture.
It's meaningless to hold God up as the pinnacle of a moral standard unless that standard is external to God, or else he can only be 'perfect' in way that's as arbitrary as anything a moral skeptic could come up with. At best, G is just better positioned to know what really is right and what really is wrong - and according to the bible, it's aok to fuck children (conditionally).
Re: Moral skepticism: I think there must be, as a logical necessity, morality (defining morality as 'that which is best or best-equal') - but we may never know what it is.
"that which is best or best-equal" might be something most people would like (but, I think you'd find surprisingly few), but it doesn't constitute morality in the sense of the word most people want. A person who simply doesn't care about what is best or best-equal won't be compelled by reasons predicated on it, but most people want morality to mean something compelling regardless of any feelings of the subject whatsoever.
Hundreds of years of experiments have actually shown that the more religious you are, the more likely you are to rape kids. Or even if you don't rape kids yourself, cover up for the kiddy rapists.
What i think is so interesting is that christians just assumes that god is a moral absolutist. Of course, the "christian" CHURCHES are all about moral absolutism because it helps them maintain power. However, if you look at what jesus actually taught, it sounds a LOT more like moral relativism. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" means that morality really IS "what you prefer".
Jesus has quite a few vague "Be excellent to one-another" teachings.
The church has done a great job of paying lip service to Jesus (particularly his horrible death) while ignoring most of his teachings in favor of the Old Testament's moral absolutist, God-is-pissed-at-everything model.
This in spite of the fact that one of Jesus' primary goals seems to have been to tell everyone that they were chucking the old testament playbook in favor of a sleek new compassion-based model. One way to interpret Christ's primary commandment is that you DON'T need God to determine right or wrong, because basic human decency TELLS you what is wrong: specifically, any action that knowingly causes harm to others.
Jesus seems to have a lot more faith in people than Old Testament God did. Good idea? Bad idea? That's for Jesus Court to decide.
"You sure are indignant about child molestation," he said as if this was something unusual.
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'Atheist arguments PWNED' would be a more fitting title.
|Abstract Fainter |
This isn't even close to the lamest evangelical arguments I've heard... in real life, let alone on the internet. Still pretty dumb.
Mary was 12 when she got knocked up by God. I don't think God has a problem with raping kids.
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