Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moral Hatred?

I came across this picture on Facebook recently that several of my friends and relatives had "liked:"

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed that these people I cared so deeply about could be sucked in by so obvious a straw man version of the moral argument.  For anyone interested in a genuine presentation of the variations on the moral argument for theism, I have written an article here:


I did not know the gentleman who had originally posted the picture, but he had made it open to comment by the public, so I decided to try to engage him in a discussion to at least point out the straw man nature of the argument in his post.  In fact many (but certainly not all) atheistic philosophers have conceded the point I was attempting to make; i.e., without a theistic god there can be no basis for objective moral laws.  This does not mean atheists cannot behave morally.  Of course they can.  Someone does not need to know the speed limit is 55 mph, for example, to be driving below the limit.  Even if the theist is correct and God's character is the source for morality, the atheist's personal moral code may still be largely in line with that objective moral law (in fact, Christian theology actually predicts why it would be so, but that is for another day).

By the time I joined in the conversation, it had already been going on for quite a while.  But what I got in return for my engagement was a reminder of what Jesus meant when He said, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." John 17:14.  The responses the author addressed to me grew increasingly hostile.  Eventually he resorted to flat out insults and cursing.  I have decided to post them here (with the names changed) for two reasons: (1) to illustrate to Christians what they will occasionally face when sharing their faith so you are prepared to greet it, and (2) to also remind Christians that the degree of hostility I witnessed in this individual I have also unfortunately witnessed in many Christians online.  As you will see I reminded one Christian in the course of our discussion, Peter told us, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15.

I am hoping by reprinting this discussion here it can serve as a reminder to people on both sides of discussions such as these as to how far more mileage can be made by behaving with decorum.  I found it ironic that the original purpose of this gentleman's post was that atheists can behave morally.  I agree with that comment, but I cannot help but think that he did not help his cause much by repeatedly and egregiously failing to even show the slightest amount of common courtesy.

Fair warning before you read this.  Other then the names of the parties involved, I have not changed anything.  I have left in all typographical errors, capitalization and punctuation errors, and have not edited anything for content.  Please be aware that I certainly do not condone the type of language used by this gentleman, but I felt that the only way to fully prepare people for what they will face is to be brutally honest and let you see it for yourself.

I have referred to the gentleman who posted the picture as "Mr. Smith."  His comments are in bold.  My comments are in italics, and the other Christian who briefly participated ("Mr. Jones") is in plain text.


Mr. Jones. I am sure you probably have come across some Christians who have told you atheists cannot be moral, but that is due to their misunderstanding of the arguments actually being made in the scholarly marketplace. The point is that on an atheistic worldview there can be no foundation for objective moral values. Morality cannot be derived from mere matter, so if materialism is true, objective morality is a mere illusion. Moral rules are nothing more than opinion. But this means that one person's moral code has no more claim to being "right" than anyone else's. There is no "right" morality, only opinion. So when the materialistic atheist makes a moral judgment (such as strongly implying, as you did in an earlier post, that it is morally wrong to murder, something you believe Christians would still be doing today if they had not been forcibly stopped), thence or she is not acting consistently with his or her own worldview. A consistent materialist would have to say, "It is not my preference that you murder, but I understand your opinion may be different and I have no basis to tell you otherwise." This does not mean an atheist cannot BEHAVE morally. After all, if objective morality exists, a person's opinion of morality can coincide with that objective standard even if he or she does not recognize that standard as the source. But a theistic worldview allows for a source for objective moral values whereas an atheistic worldview does not. As (an earlier commenter) correctly observed, this fact has been recognized and embraced by many leading atheistic philosophers. To the extent your picture creates a caricature of theism and creates the impression that the argument that atheists cannot behave morally is actually being circulated in scholarly circles, it is attacking a straw man and is therefore inaccurate. I thank you, though, for your willingness to open up this discussion. Obviously I believe these are very important topics that deserve our attention and respectful discussion as opposed to the "one liners" and ad hominem attacks that often characterize discussions such as these.

I apologize for the typographical errors, but I am not particularly skilled in typing on a smart phone.

@Mr. Smith: "honor your mother and father", "do not kill", "do not covet your neighbor's wife and property", etc. And let's not forget "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Yeah, the Bible is nothing but garbage and such concepts are too barbaric and disgusting to teach our children.
I'm not saying religions and some religious people don't have their problems but to say that there are *no* moral religious people is false. I mean, I suppose you could try to argue that Mother Teresa and Ghandi were not moral or not religious but I think you'd fail; they were both moral and reliogous. Where there are at least two counter examples, I think it is reasonable to believe that there are others.
@ Mr. Jones. "Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15. Your point is well made, but beware using too much sarcasm. It is difficult sometimes not to allow our emotions to get the better of us, especially when discussing something so dear to us. But we must be cautious of any tactics that tend to send the conversation toward antagonism or else all opportunity for a meaningful dialogue will be lost. People will reject the message because they reject the messenger.

@Ken: I was responding with the level of hostility I perceived in Mr. Smith's posts but you make a good point. To be honest, I wasn't finished my comment when I accidentally posted it and it's too much of a pain to try to undo that action on my mobile device.
quote"The point is that on an atheistic worldview there can be no foundation for objective moral values. Morality cannot be derived from mere matter"/quote
 there is No Foundation of any moral values on the bible. it has but 3 laws. don't kill, don't steal, and don't diddle your neighbors wife.
 aside from that, it is ok to beat your wife, beat bad kids, own slaves, coerce and lie to others to gain power, cause wars, lie to get donations, lie to enthrall soldiers, lie to keep people believing in god, on odd one for you, as for the honor thy mother/father commandments, Jesus himself said in Matthew 10:35-36;
 "For I Have Come To Turn Man Against His Father, And Daughter Against Her Mother, A Daughter In-Law Against Her Mother In-Law-- A Mans Enemies Will Be The Members Of His Own Household."

the bible contradicts the only 3 decent commandments so often, it is as if they are not even there, or they do not apply to the people in the bible.

An Atheistic world view would actually be MORE moral and dignified than you think. as proven above, morals were not derived from religion or bibles. morality and decency comes built into us.
"to coerce good people to do evil, that takes religion"-Steven Weinberg
 to prove this point, I would like to point out all the animals of the jungles and forests that break up fights within their own group.
 if you honestly think morality is just opinion, then obviously you have never felt your heart drop witnessing something tragic.. like loss of a child, or seeing someone immorally killed. you can feel it. That is morality. Not god.

quote"this fact has been recognized and embraced by many leading atheistic philosophers. To the extent your picture creates a caricature of theism..."/quote
 "leading atheistic philosophers.. umm what?
 did you really just lump all philosophers that are not religious all into one lump sum and call act like they sit around circles every weak discussing philosophy like religions do?
 You are Sadly Mistaken Mr. Minister.
 there are No Leading Atheistic Philosophers. Never have been, Never will be.
 ... you are obviously trying desperately to defend the sanctity and dignity of your religion, whichever one that may be, but I digress, Atheists Do No Exist.
 calling people who do not believe in your god, Atheist, is like saying you have a habit of Not-Smoking. or like saying your Hobby is Not Collecting Stamps.
 you are obviously lost on quite a few ideals.. likely misled by the lying churchs you have attended. but if you wish, I will point out as many of your screw ups in human morality I can.
 in the meantime, watch this for homework ;)​watch?v=8QWwzT4ulkA

this one will give you a quick view of the world without christians ;)

I really do not have the time to school yet another christian on these matters, so I will merely link you to videos with more information than I can toss up at will ;)

saying offensive things should never be anyones worry.
offense is only taken by people who demand respect. people who demand respect can suck cock.

not to mention, freedom of speech does not address offensive speech. therefor, I disregard anything anyone takes as offensive. I really don't care ;)

@ Mr. Jones. The golden rule is found in virtually every moral system in recorded history. Some version of it, either phrased in the positive or the negative, can be found in Egyptian, Jewish, Norse, Babylonian, Hindu, Chinese, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Greek and of course Christian moral codes. The point of your original picture was to defend the moral behavior of non-theists. For the record, I agree with you that non-theists can behave perfectly morally and some great acts of altruism have been carried out by people who do not believe in a theistic god. Yet I wonder if, when someone was responding to you, you would appreciate being told that you were “misled” by your “lying” instructors, you are “obviously lost on quite a few ideals,” that your discussion partner will “point out as many of your screw ups” as he or she could or that you need to be “schooled” and given “homework?” I will not repeat what you said in a more recent comment about people who demand respect. I wonder if you were in a court of law and the judge demanded respect, if you would say the same thing to him or her. That being said, you may feel free to use whatever tone you wish in responding to my points. It will not bother me. I am simply trying to make a friendly suggestion that if your goal here is to actually to convince anyone of the truth of your position, your overall tone can often be more powerful than the content of what you say, so you may consider toning down the sarcasm somewhat. The choice is yours, of course. It makes little difference to me either way.

In an earlier comment to another individual you stated, “God is a generic term bro. but thinking about it, why did you jump in screaming its an attack on christianity?” I agree with you that your original picture was aimed at god, not specifically Christianity. Accordingly, my comments to you never mentioned the Bible or Jesus Christ, only general theism. Yet you responded to me by stating, “there is No Foundation of any moral values on the bible.” I never said there was. That actually would be a completely separate discussion (which I would be happy to have, but to launch into it today would sidetrack us from the moral argument which your original picture is addressing). I argued that “a theistic worldview allows for a source for objective moral values whereas an atheistic worldview does not.” You shifted the focus of our discussion from general theism to the more specific Christianity (or perhaps including Judaism as well, having invoked “the Bible”). This is what you apparently criticized the individual with whom you previously spoke for doing. To be clear, I will attempt to keep our focus on theism. Christianity is a particular brand of theism, true. If theism is false, Christianity is obviously false as well. But if theism is true, we would have to examine several other steps in the argument to bring us particularly to Christian theism.

You also stated, “there are No Leading Atheistic Philosophers. Never have been, Never will be.” Respectfully, I believe David Hume, Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell and J.L. Mackie would disagree with you, to give only a few examples. I would refer you to Nietzsche’s famous “Parable of the Madman.” That being said, you seem to disapprove of the term “atheist.” You, like many, believe that atheism is not an affirmative stance but rather simply an unwillingness to believe in something for which you see insufficient evidence. Your position is very similar to Sam Harris here. While I do not accept this position, to explore this path would sidetrack us, and I do not wish to lose focus. So from now on I will use the term “materialist” instead if that is acceptable.

Now to your main point: “An Atheistic world view would actually be MORE moral and dignified than you think. as proven above, morals were not derived from religion or bibles. morality and decency comes built into us.” “if you honestly think morality is just opinion, then obviously you have never felt your heart drop witnessing something tragic.. like loss of a child, or seeing someone immorally killed. you can feel it. That is morality. Not god.”

I never said morality is just an opinion. Quite the contrary actually. Under a theistic worldview there is a foundation for objective morality. Under a materialistic worldview, however, there is not, and only under that worldview did I contend that morality would be nothing more than opinion.

I actually wholeheartedly agree with your statement that “morality and decency comes built into us.” The key question is, “Why?” How did it get there? You are correct that morality is something we feel. Nobody can witness a brutal slaying of an innocent person and keep themselves from responding that it was a morally atrocious act for which the perpetrator deserves to be punished.

My question to you, then, is this. Let us assume for the sake of argument that you are correct. Materialism is the sum total of reality. Everything we see is the result of time plus matter plus chance, so to speak. If that is so, how did this moral sense, which you concede we all feel, become implanted into us? More importantly, what makes your or my moral sense “right” and Hitler’s, for example, “wrong?” On what naturalistic basis can we conclude that Hitler was immoral and we are morally right for calling him so?

I often use the example of a law book. Suppose I walk up to a gentleman and punch him in the face with no provocation. That person believes that I was legally wrong for doing so. I, however, insist that I was legally justified. We go back and forth for hours before someone pulls out a law book and we look to it to find the answer. Lo and behold, it says that I was legally wrong. I may genuinely believe that I was legally correct, but that does not change the fact that there is this objective standard governing us (i.e., the law book) and according to that book I was wrong. As a result, I am punished.

Take this example now to the moral law. Suppose the person I hit says that I was morally wrong for doing so. I insist I was morally right. Where is the materialistic “law book” to which we can turn to resolve this dispute? If all we are left with is the differing opinions of the masses, we have no objective standard. By definition, an objective standard must transcend those who are subject to it. Where do you find that transcendence in materialism? Hume, Sartre and Mackie all concede it is not there.

If you, or anyone else still reading, is interested in researching the variety of moral arguments that have been raised by theists, I have written an article on the subject:


It goes into far more detail than a discussion on Facebook permits and discusses both theistic and materialistic positions.

Thank you again for the use of this forum to discuss these issues. You have been very kind in allowing everyone, including those who disagree with you, to express their positions and for that you should be commended.

@Ken Coughlan; sorry, but none of those religions can be called a "moral system" as they all demand complete obedience of their followers. that is not moral.
 "For the record, I agree with you that non-theists can behave perfectly morally and some great acts of altruism have been carried out by people who do not believe in a theistic god"

For the record, I can agree that Some religious leaders throughout history can be deemed "moral" but not very many. Morality did not come from any religion at any point in history.
 I recently watched a documentary where they were studying the effects of arguments among groups of monkeys and apes. to your dismay, none of them put up with killing each other. most even broke up petty disputes before they got out of hand. it was all very concious thought.
 funny you religious people seem to think that your are the moral guidline for humanity, yet throughout history religious leaders have been guilty of more genocide, racial intolerance, petty hatred, and arrogance than any non-theist leader to this date.

(also, Judges deserve respect. they worked their ass off for that position. he does not demand respect, he deserves it.)

as for your second paragraph;
 "I argued that a theistic worldview allows for a source for objective moral values whereas an atheistic worldview does not."
 sorry, but there is nothing "objective" out any religions. I would love to see you remove all the immoral acts in the bible/qur'an/torah (I tend to lump all religious texts together as bibles my bad) or even fix the wrong/contradictory parts.
 the (holy text) is infallible. meaning that regardless of what it's followers seem to think, their bible is the word of god and Must be treated as such. atleast the Jews have the balls to stick to their story.

third paragraph; there aren't. I argue the existance of the word "atheist" as it's not only derogatory, it is redundant. as I pointed out, it's like saying my habit is not smoking. those philosophers are just that. philosophers. nothing more or less.

"I didn't say morality was an opinion, only under these circumstance would they be an opinion."
 you are not very good at this are you?
 "Under a theistic worldview there is a foundation for objective morality. Under a materialistic worldview, however, there is not, and only under that worldview did I contend that morality would be nothing more than opinion."
 as I pointed out, in religion there is nothing objective. everything is written in stone. and disobedience is the upmost wrong you can ever do. that is not objective morality. that is subjective morality.
under a materialistic (atheist) world view morality would encompass so much more than religions ever could. because Atheists, alike science, allow for future corrections and additions. whereas religions, do not.

"I actually wholeheartedly agree with your statement that morality and decency comes built into us. The key question is, Why? How did it get there?"
 No you don't. you believe some asswipe with a god complex put it there. whereas in the scientific rhealm, you can watch as things like that evolve through time and species. if you open you eyes that is.

seventh paragraph; "time+matter+chance" is not what the scientific rhealm advocates. that is what you are told the scientific community thinks, but it is wrong.
 this moral sense came built into us because if it didn't exist, no animals would exist. they would eradicate themselves and humans never would've evolved. in any society, if you kill more people/critters than are being conceived that society/species is doomed to exinction.
funny you bring up Hitler... why does every theist bring up Hitler like he's some big example of atheist hatred. when the guy was roman catholic and hated the idea of evolution.
 "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.
 - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2"
 religious "moral codes" often allow for this type of hatred.

eighth paragraph; funny you bring up that type of morality, as no where in the ten commandments or various other religious moral codes does it ever bring up random shit like that. that is one of the many things the ten commandments left out.
"if this guys isn't my neighbor, I can punch him out without provocation." this type of justification is what allowed for the crusades and various other genocidal acts perpetrated by various religions.

"Where is the materialistic law book to which we can turn to resolve this dispute?"
 It's called Common Law. and you can find one at any local library or you can stop and ask your local police if your predetermined conduct is allowed in society.

as for a rebuttal from me; none of what you have said disputes my picture at all. religious people seem to think they are the beginning of all human morality. which they are Not.

and you should really stop using this debate as a medium to spam your religious propagandist website. as the Op, I feel it would be my duty to delete them. spam is immoral.

Mr. Jones.  Thank you again for the opportunity to speak on these issues.  Because this is your post and you do not seem to want to hear much more for me I will only make a few closing remarks.  Besides, I do not see the purpose to rehashing the same ground we have already been over.

The moral argument does not claim any “religion,” as you repeatedly refer to, is the source for objective morality.  The argument is that morality finds its source in the character of God, not in the human moral preachings of any religious sect.  Again, we are discussing an argument for theism in general, yet you keep returning to individual religious systems.  If you are interested in learning what the moral argument actually says, I have already referred you to the article.  If not, you are certainly well within your rights to continue to knock down straw men, but this will bring you no closer to truth.

I also never said Hitler was an atheist, although I believe there is strong historical evidence for the possibility that his religious comments were more a deliberate design to appease the Catholic Church into complacency (especially given his obvious influence by Nietzche). However, that is neither here nor there.  I only used Hitler as an example of someone evil.  If you prefer another example, interchange “Charles Manson” with “Hitler.”  The logic of the argument remains the same.

I am aware of how to find a legal answer to the assault dilemma.  My question to you was where to find the MORAL answer.  You referred me to the common law.  By this I can only assume you are equating the common law to the moral law.  The common law changes, however.  Things legal at one time will become illegal at another.  It is not a fixed standard.  Therefore, if you truly believe the answer to my question is to refer me to the common law, then that again leads back to my point: under a materialistic worldview there is no such thing as objective moral values.

Anthony D’Angelo said , “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.”  You are clearly passionate and persistent in your beliefs.  In and of themselves, there is nothing inherently wrong with these qualities.  However, you do not appear to be familiar with even the most basic naturalistic philosophical arguments to support your worldview, to say nothing of the opposing theistic arguments.  You do not need to disagree with everything that comes out of a theist’s mouth just because a theist said it.  As I already mentioned, many of the best philosophers in history who would join you in your rejection of religious systems and the existence of God have conceded the point I have been making.  They do not see it as fatal to their worldview, although it does serve to awaken certain harsh realities.

Your disdain for all things religious has guided every response you present, even when it takes you down a path different from that being discussed.   You repeatedly direct the discussion to what you perceive as the “evils” of religion rather than talking about the subject at hand; i.e., whether materialism can adequately provide a source for objective morality.  Even if every religious system in existence is wrong, materialism is not necessarily correct by default.  It is possible all religious systems AND materialism are equally wrong.  The truth may lie in some (currently unknown) other theistic-based system.  At a minimum you must affirmatively demonstrate that your worldview is internally consistent and has adequate explanatory power before anyone is persuaded it should be accepted.

If you wish to become seriously involved in discussions in this field (rather than simply posting catch phrases that are sure to serve as a rallying cry to like-minded people but do little to convince any genuine seekers to your cause), I would encourage you to begin by reading J.L. Mackie’s “The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God.”  Professor Mackie was one of the leading atheistic philosophers of the 20th century and his work is respected on “both sides of the aisle.”

Thank you again for your time.  Unless invited, I will post no more.

@Ken Coughlan
I never made any attempts at ending our conversation.

morality cannot possibly have anything to do with the "character of god" as god is anything But what we humans consider moral.
in Richard Dawkins words;
... "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

This is not a character anyone should be basing morality off of.

I never said you said Hitler was an atheist, I said most christians always involve that retard somehow.

Common human laws change because we, as well as everything around us, evolve. what was true 2000 years ago, has no relevance today. that means that your morality is derived from people 2000 years ago. who wouldn't have had a chance at understanding the types of laws humans need this day and age. sure, punching someone for no reason was wrong back then, just as it is now. but things need to be updated. ie; hacking. according to biblical law, I can hack anyone I wish. (without stealing that is) there are numerous examples where human morality needed updating. but that is not allowed under religious rule. (if god didn't want us to do that, he would've told us so) so we can do anything we wish, so long as we don't kill, steal, cheat on spouses, or piss off our neighbors.
Religion is outdated garbage. has no relevance in this day and age.

"many of the best philosophers in history who would join you in your rejection of religious systems and the existence of God have conceded the point I have been making."
they have conceded that for morality to exist, there must be a god?
I think you are lying to me now.. stop it.
I would like you to go ask Richard Dawkins that question. or Stephan Hawkins. or Albert Einstein.. you sir, are full of shit.

"Even if every religious system in existence is wrong, materialism is not necessarily correct by default."
Materialism is Not all there is to the scientific explanation of the universe.
quote from wiki;"To many philosophers, 'materialism' is synonymous with 'physicalism'. However, materialists have historically held that everything is made of matter, but physics has shown that gravity, for example, is not made of matter in the traditional sense of an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist So it is tempting to use physicalism to distance oneself from what seems the historically important but no longer scientifically relevant thesis of materialism."

I tend to side with psysicists rather than philosophers.
and to add to "is not necessarily correct by default" I argue the same thing to religious people all the time. when scientists say "I do not know" religious ideologists often cry "That must mean god did it!" and science cannot argue insanity. so the "god did it" crap is ignored until future scientists find the answer that first scientist didn't know. then, of course, those religious folk are no where to be found to retract their arrogant statement "that means god did it"..
"You repeatedly direct the discussion to what you perceive as the evils of religion rather than talking about the subject at hand"
ummm yea.. human morality must not be allowed to mask the evils of religion. religious people seem to think that their bibles are moral. but when you read it cover to cover, your left with much more death and destruction than any morality.

whao.. your last paragraph there is kind of insulting.. I have used no catch phrases, in fact, the arguments you are using are centuries old and have been disproven numerous times, but for some reason, you still seem to think god equates to morality (via his character).. I am not rally crying anything. I care not for convincing anyone anything. I care about the lies being spewed forth by people like you.
I've read many books on debates between reality and theists. and frankly, I am sick of them. they all end the same. reality wins, religious people give no shit and keep on believing. some religious people shift how they think about the bible, ie; some approve of evolution, most don't. this does nothing to sway the fact that god isn't real.
one quote I have always remembered..
"evil people do evil things.
good people do good things.
but it takes religion to coerce good people into doing evil things."
that is my type of philosophy ;)
Mr. Jones:

Most of the points you raised in your most recent comment did not deal with the matter at hand (again substituting the beliefs of particular religions for the general notion of theism).

I will only provide some references fo...r your future reading, if you are interested, in non-theistic philosophers who concede objective moral values would be evidence for the existence of a theistic god and therefore contend that morality must be subjective. Again, the point here is not that non-theists cannot be moral. Nor is it that "morality" in general cannot exist without a theistic god. The point is that "objective" moral values cannot exist without a theistic god. Without such a god, morality must be subjective.

J.L. Mackie:
"If we adopted moral objectivism, we should have to regard the relations of supervenience which connect values and obligations with their natural grounds as synthetic; they would then be in principle something that a god might conceivably create; and since they would otherwise be a very odd sort of thing, the admitting of them would be an inductive ground for admitting also a god to create them. There would be something here in need of explanation, and a being with the power to create what lies outside the bounds of natural plausibility or even possibility might well be the explanation we require...If we adopted instead a subjectivist or sentimentalist account of morality, this problem would not arise."
J.L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the existence of God (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 118.

David Hume:
"There may be four hypotheses framed concerning the first causes of the universe: that they are endowed with perfect goodness, that they have perfect malice, that they are opposite and have both goodness and malice, that they have neither goodness nor malice. Mixed phenomena can never prove the two former unmixed principles. And the uniformity and steadiness of general laws seem to oppose the third. The fourth, therefore, seems by far the most probable."
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (London: Penguin, 1779, 1990), 122.

Even Richard Dawkins' theory of reciprocal altruism reaching a critical frequency in a population is an attempt at explaining morality subjectively. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Mariner, 2006, 2008), 247.

Of course, all of these positions commit the genetic fallacy (confusing epistemology with ontology; i.e., how people arrive at a belief with the truth of that belief), but that is not the point here. I would strongly encourage you to read the resources I have cited and become versed in the moral arguments, both from a theistic and non-theistic perspective, before forming an opinion or assuming that the arguments against your position are equivalent to an easily dismissed straw man.

I do not expect to have convinced you to become a theist in the course of our dialogue. That was never really the point anyway. My goal has only been to point out that your picture introduced a false straw man argument, which of course is easily dismissed (that is the point of a straw man), and instead introduce you to the existence of the genuine argument and encourage you to do the research yourself and come to your own opinions on the matter. If nothing else, I hope you will recognize that I am not "lying" to you. I have been attempting to simply steer you in the direction of the genuine argument and the very thought-provoking points made on both sides.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak. I wish you well.

you aren't doing your homework Ken
Dawkins stance on morality.
quit quote mining and lying to people.

if your god created morality to be one set of rules that would withstand the pressures of human futures, it would be much longer than ten commandments, and would not entail obedience as the first 4 rules of morality.
your religion is Wrong ...Mr. Coughlan.
not only is it wrong, it is absolutely IMMORAL.
teaching children lies about evolution is wrong and immoral.
lying to people to keep them in church is wrong and immoral.
stoning disobedient women is wrong and immoral.
demanding absolute obedience from anyone, is wrong and immoral.
Religion, in itself, is Wrong And Immoral.
in the words of Christopher Hitchens;
"I am absolutely convinced, that the main source of hatred in the world; is Religion."
human decency evolved along with everything else on this planet. if you think god is the source for all human morality, then why didn't he teach his children back 2000 years ago, everything we know today as morality?
why did he force us thr...ough a trial and error stage before we learned that it is wrong to enslave fellow humans?
why does the bible give instructions on how to abuse your slave without killing him?
there is No Morality in religion. there never was.

Thank you again, Mr. Jones. This post is your "basement," so to speak, and I appreciate your generosity in giving me the opportunity to speak.

Again, your comments focus on the "set of rules" allegedly established in Christianity, the t...eachings of particular religions over the years, evolution, etc. This is again shifting the focus from the point of our discussion: Can physicalism (a term of which I believe you approve) provide a source for objective morality? You have yet to present an affirmative case for it. Instead, all of your comments have attacked religion. Even assuming you could disprove your opponent's position, that does not mean you have proven the veracity of your own.

I do not see any new points being raised, so I think this is probably a good time to bring our public discussion to a close. In public arenas such as this, the parties to a discussion are often more concerned with winning points in the eyes of their observers than they are with having a genuine conversation. Neither is willing to concede even the smallest ground for fear of how it will make them look to others. If you are interested in continuing our discussion, feel free to e-mail me at and I would be happy to continue the conversation between the two of us. That way neither of us will be subject to these pressures and perhaps we can openly discuss your objections and both come to understand each other better.

Thank you again, sir.
and quite thanking me like I am permitting you to speak. freedom of speech is freedom of speech. and I am one that dares not oppose that freedom.

come to think of it, you haven't answered any of my questions directed at you, I don't think you have even read any of my responses to you... are you here merely to try and defend the fact that religious people claim that without god there can be no morality?
and this time, answer my damn question instead of posting insanely long responses that have nothing to do with what I asked you.

I have answered that question multiple times. My position has been that without a theistic god (whether that be the God of Christianity, Judaism, or some other theistic god unlike either of these), there can be no OBJECTIVE morality. Subjective moral rules may still exist. Even in a theistic universe people can act according to the objective moral law even if they do not acknowledge the existence of the theistic god behind it; even if they think that all morality is subjective, their subjective beliefs may line up with the objective morality they do not acknowledge exists.

With that, I will be drawing our discussion to a close. I will not be posting here again. If anyone would like to discuss this question with me further, my contact information was included previously. I enjoyed our discussion, Mr. Jones, and look forward to the opportunity should our paths cross on Facebook again.
well then... you can direct yourself back at the picture.
With a theistic deity, there can be No Morality. Morality means YOU decided not to do something evil, religious morality means YOU think your god would not approve of your actions, fear hell, you fear losing your afterlife paradise, and that is what makes you stop. that is not morality, that is being threatened into doing good.
most of the deities I've ever heard of, are sadistic jealous assholes. where you claim to be morality, I can see none. and I don't give a shit how many "atheists" you can dig up that will conceded to "without god, there can be no "objective" morality."
I've even shown you how it is theorized that morality evolved along with humans and animals.. but you disregard that. you keep bouncing back to "my god this, my god that... blah blah blah.."
Your god is a fuckhead. and if he did exist, would do the planet a world of GOOD by killing himself.

I was true to my word and have not posted again.  To date, I have not heard from this gentleman on my e-mail.  I hope if nothing else comes out of this discussion it can serve as a reminder to us all, no matter which side of the debate you are on, that if you are trying to defend your own morality (or that of God), it is a good idea to do your best to behave morally while doing so.  God bless.

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