If you found a remote island that had a population that never had contact with
anyone off of the island, they would most likely have rules to live by. Most likely, killing would be wrong (possibly with exceptions). Taking
things that belong to others would probably also be frowned upon.Are
these morals? Is this religion? Or are they common threads necessary to live
among others?It would not be surprising if they had some sort of
"religion" as humans have shown a need to explain the unexplainable.
And they would have been instituted by someone (probably a man) who claimed
superior knowledge which distinguished them from the others.I
sincerely do not understand how someone can be an Atheist. Nor do I believe
those who claim irrefutable knowledge of a supreme being. There has
to be some doubt in both of these groups, although most cant bring themselves to
admit it. Why is that? What is wrong with just acknowledging that
we don't know? Possibly, because "some man who claimed superior
knowledge" told us so.Which is almost a universal theme in
This is absolutely true. Moral absolutes exist, and no one truly and fully
disagrees-even people who completely insist that morality is a human construct
and illusion still advance certain ideas or ways of thought as principally
"good" or "bad". Most notably, belief in absolute good and bad
is often itself "bad" to people who otherwise profess that absolute good
and bad don't exist.This is something I've thought about
recently as I've studied, among other things, the US Constitution, though I
won't derail the core topic by going into detail.
If there is no God, there is no right or wrong. The only imperative that exists
is to do whatever is necessary to survive or satisfy one's own desires. No
other justification is necessary other than to do whatever one wants in order to
satisfy ones own needs or wants. There is nothing more. Ah, but
you see, God does exist and the Light of Christ exists in all of us. It is that
light that informs all of us that right and wrong do exist. There are those who
will chose to ignore this light and commit evil. But that light exists in all
When I was a graduate student (biology) a fellow grad student and I had a
discussion on this. I am LDS, and he is atheist. I said that if there was no
God, and if all we are is a bag of chemicals, and our consciousness was nothing
more than physical electrical impulses, and after death there was nothing left
of us, then there was no right nor wrong. Even murder isn't wrong, since we
are just machines and our consciousness is just an illusion. He disagreed; he
said there is still right and wrong. In that, I believe he was being illogical,
since his belief in morality contradicted his absolute atheism. In spite of his
illogic, I still believe he did believe in right and wrong.
"While nonbelievers can obviously be good people, it's difficult to see
on what basis they can justify their moral beliefs or criticize others who
don't share them."Religion-based morals are worse, as they
can be completely arbitrary. Is polygamy moral? That depends entirely on what
god(s) you believe exist, and what they happen to want.
"If there is no God, objective morality and moral obligations don't
exist."Of course moral obligations exist. Peterson begins with a
faulty premise...that moral obligations don't exist unless one believes in
a supernatural being.Reason is man's basic means of survival
and that which is essential to a rational being's survival is morality, not
in the religious sense, but in a practical sense. It's precisely for the
purpose of rational self-preservation that man needs a code of morality.
Consequently, ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man's
survival, and a code of values accepted by choice rather than through religious
compulsion is a code of morality...all necessary for survival without any
intercession on the part of an indispensable supernatural being.
Athiest philosophers seem to be promoting an interesting argument that morality
comes in the evolutionary genes as a means for survival of the species. The
question then becomes, why is the human animal any different than all other
species on Earth that could care less about another species survival? Plus, if
we as Humans are nothing more than smart animals, why is our effect on the
planet considered any more or less important than that of the rat, ant, or
shark? If we make tools that either do good for our species or kill off the
whole planet, isn't that just what evolution expected? No you say? Well,
then why would the Human animal have the discernment and ability to modify its
natural behavior? Something no other animal does. Answer, because we as Humans
have been given a special ability to understand the world in ways nature alone
could never have evolved. Anymore than nature alone could create an Apple
computer. There is definately something "special" about our Human
existance and that is where religion finds answers, and athiests remain
While I do not dispute that God does exist, I don't think your logic is
correct. If we accepted your reasoning, we might also say the
following:1. If I am overweight, then I do not exercise and eat
well.2. But I do exercise and eat well.3. Therefore I am not
overweight.The first premise is dishonest because it suggests to the
reader that being overweight correlates only with exercise and eating well. Of
course, we know that there are other reasons for why I may be overweight. Why do we need to use logical reasoning to convince ourselves that God
exists? I struggled with this exercise for a long time, but ultimately I
discovered that God's existence is self-evident. By that, I mean we do not
have to piece together the physical evidence around us to prove that God exists.
I know that Italy exists because I have seen it and experienced it. I know
that God exists because I feel him. Sure, morality is evidence of God's
existence, but it is no more a foundation for my knowledge of God than Pizza Hut
is a foundation for my knowledge that Italy is a real place.
article-"But how did she know them? It’s one thing to believe in moral
principles; it’s quite another to be able to justify them, to give an
account of their source. And this seems to me a particular problem for
atheists."Amen. My own Atheist tries hard to answer
this but he himself as an Atheist cannot come up with a cogent reason.
Moral absolutes and morally correct ways of acting are part of the core being of
who we are. You can act against those unconscious, deep, core
absolutes but you can not change them or submit they come from any other way or
There is another aspect of this that I don't think was given light to.
There seems to be something within a large number of people that automatically
believes in treating others the way that we would like to be treated ourselves.
And this is not an easy thing to judge. So, unless given reason to believe
otherwise, I always assume that other people are basically good and I don't
judge that based on what type of God they may or may not believe in.
Morality is objective to what one worships. I believe in a higher power,
however that higher power has extended me the prime directive of Star Trek.Morals relative to religion gave us the Aztecs and their sincere belief
in human sacrifice.Morals relative to religion gave us the Spanish
Inquisition and torture in God's name.Morals relative to religion
gave us 911Morals relative to religion continue to give justification for
all kinds of evil, because religion has a obscure scripture some where that can
be used to relieve ones conscience from the "Natural Guilt" you would
feel for say, murder, theft, rape.Have Atheist's caused mass
death and suffering? You bet, they just don't blame or use a God to excuse
their bad behavior.
JoeBlow:You mentioned, "Nor do I believe those who claim
irrefutable knowledge of a supreme being."Why do you not believe
someone can have irrefutable knowledge of a supreme being? Does that
include someone like Jesus? How about Adam or Eve? It is written they were in
the presence of God at one point? How about other prophets like Enoch and Noah?
It is written that they "walked with God." Or even Moses, who spoke face
to face with God. In modern times, it is recorded that Joseph Smith spoke face
to face with God, often in company with others such as Sidney Rigdon and Oliver
Cowdery.What evidence have you come across that no one has, or ever
had, irrefutable knowledge of a supreme being? What evidence have you come
across that this is not possible?
If Daniel Peterson does not believe in moral relativism, he should read the
bible. There not been a consistent moral code in religion-- ever. Murder was
allowed in the Old Testament, if God "allowed" or "commanded"
it. The simple moral code seems to have always been this-- "If God says it,
it is right." If you say that moral code is based on how God defines it,
then I ask-- Whose God must we base that code upon and who is to say what that
specific God's opinion is? Not that I agree with Richard Dawkins in every
manner, but he does have proof to back up his claims as to why humans act in a
moral way. This is based upon scientific study and results. There is no proof
backing the claim that everyone has "the light of Christ." No proof at
all. Therefore, it is just a statement. That's all.
Morality is a vital component of a stable human society whether you believe in
God or not. Beyond that, values of love, compassion, and caring or others speak
to deeper human needs that we can’t always or easily find words for. This
is at the root of the anthropology of religion. It naturally follows that man
would collectively or even individually attempt to codify a morality system for
the common welfare of all. We’re all in this together.It’s when man attempts to project tribal systems of morality onto an
abstract entity he calls God, that he is venturing into the unknown.
That’s why religion, while well-intended, inveriably erupts into human
1.96 Standard DeviationsJoseph Smith's account of being visited
by beings was reported by himself... There are many others of this day and age
that claim the same types of visitations. Are we to believe all of those tales,
with no proof whatsoever of this visit? The kicker is that the story wasn't
told shortly after, it was told years later from when it supposedly happened.
That is very telling.
I would note Dr. Peterson fails to credit E.O. Wilson as the co-author of the
passage he credits to Ruse. "Note: This column was inspired and
influenced by essays by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan in William Lane Craig
and Chad Meister, eds., 'God is Great, God is Good' (Downers Grove,
IL, 2009)."Actually, Dr. Peterson's column closely mirrors
the essay in that book by Chad Meister titled "God, Evil and Morality."
I don't see how it was "inspired and influenced" by Copan's
essay, "Are Old Testament Laws Evil?" To follow the organization of Dr.
Peterson's column:Hepburn quotation: found on p. 117 of
Meister's essayRuse quotation: found on pp. 115-16 of Meister's
essay (Meister labels Ruse an "[e]volutionary ethicist and atheist
philosopher of science" on 115)"Robot vehicles" quotation from
Dawkins: found on p. 112 of Meister's essay"What natural
selection favors" quotation from Dawkins: found on p. 116 of Meister's
essay"The universe that we observe" quotation from Dawkins: found
on p. 116 n.25 of Meister's essayQuotation from Romans 2:14-15: found
on p. 110 of Meister's essayMoral argument: page 18 of Craig's
essay titled "Richard Dawkins on Arguments for God"
Have you noticed that the religions who haven't been out trying to impose
their version of morals through the rule of law aren't having to constantly
"defend" their faith? That might be something to think about.Many here have said it better than I, but some of us just don't need to
crutch of religion to know how to treat people in the manner in which we'd
like to be treated. And as mentioned before, religion gives people an excuse to
not take ownership of their own actions. They just claim their following their
religious principals, especially when their actions infringe on the freedoms and
principles of others.
If have to agree with the poster "chinfat."Daniel Peterson
repeatedly refers to the existence of "objective morality." But I
wouldn't really call it objective morality, it's more a matter of
morality by divine decree or fiat. After all if we take the Old Testament
literally then at times God commanded his people to commit genocide. Consider
1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they
have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox
and sheep, camel and [donkey]."
Happy Valley HereticInteresting that you chose Star Trek, because I
wonder if you would agree with Spock whose prime directive is "The needs of
the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one?" If so then would you
agree with the needs of the many (religious) outweigh the needs of the few
I disagree that morality is objective, but for the sake of argument let's
pretend I agree with your premise.If morality is objective, why do
Christians justify what today we would label as morally repugnant?The
Bible & Book of Mormon are filled with violent atrocities not only condoned
but prompted by your god, yet you'd say today that murdering every last
man, woman, child, and animal in a city is "objectively" immoral.How can you justify holding both positions? Was god commanding an
objectively immoral act, or was that act moral because of the subjectivity of
culture, time and situations?I believe morality is subjective, and
the easiest way to look at this is to imagine a world where the Nazis (that you
brought up) won. They could easily look back on that as a triumph of the godly
over the inferior, and morality in that alternate reality would be different
than morality today.It is a subjective reflection of our culture. This is
why god-fearing men of the past committed heinous acts in good conscience,
because they were convinced that those acts were not wrong.
"Why do you not believe someone can have irrefutable knowledge of a supreme
being? "I leave open the possibility. But not at all because of
what "is written" or "recorded"Not everything that
is written or recorded is correct. And just because you believe it does not
make it true.Yes, it is possible that someone could have irrefutable
knowledge. But, with so many claiming this knowledge, I am skeptical. I doubt
that you give credence to many of them (jim jones, david koresch, warren
jeffs).Did Adam and Eve exist? I dont know. And you could not
convince me that you do. Did Noah build an arc? I am doubtful. Was the world
created in 6 days as we know it? Why should I believe that?Too many
competing religions with opposing views. Why is that?If I discount
all of the claims of divine knowledge, I would be right far more often then not.
Dr. Peterson: "The logic of the argument is valid, and I suspect that most
people intuitively believe both of the premises. If they are granted, the
conclusion follows."Faulty premises, faulty conclusion.The argument is this:If not-A, then not-B.B.Therefore
A.It only works logically if B is completely contained within A, but
that is not always the case.If there are no dogs, then there are no
pups.There are pups.Therefore there are dogs.Yet other
animals besides dogs have pups, including seals and bats, so the logic fails,
despite its intuitive superficial appeal.Dr. Peterson devotes a
significant portion of his column to reasonable, plausible arguments from Ruse
and Dawkins that refute his initial premise (that objective morality comes only
from God) and he does not adequately define* or establish his second premise
(that objective morality exists), yet he claims that "most people
intuitively believe both." It looks a lot like a case of assuming the
conclusion.* As other commenters have noted above,
"objective" morality seems remarkably fluid through history. Bans on
killing seem obvious, but even then we have capital punishment, justifiable
homicide, just wars, etc.
It never ceases to amaze me the lengths religious folks will go to convince
people to believe in God (which always quickly morphs into the God they
“know”).Pascal’s Wager is my favorite used car
salesman technique but a close 2nd is the “without God all is
permitted” argument for objective morality. First, let’s
dispense with Dr. Peterson’s sophomoric syllogism. His 2nd (minor) premise
is true, but his 1st (major) premise is nothing more than an apologist’s
construct – there is no basis for equating God to objective morality and
simply stating it under the cover of Aristotelian logic doesn’t make it
so.And demonstrating objective morality without positing God is
simpler than many might suppose, and it goes like this – if all conscious
beings were experiencing the worst possible misery for all time, this would be
objectively bad. If anyone thinks otherwise I don’t know what
they’re talking about, and they don’t either.This is the
foundation for objective morality – our morals, ethics, and even
culturally specific codes of conduct are all based on working backwards
(relieving misery) from this irrefutable premise… no imaginary being
The Light of Christ which was given to all human beings, and only human being,
is what allows even the ignorant the ability to understand killing, robbing,
raping, child abuse are wrong even though they have never been taught this. If
a man was left abandoned in the forest as a baby and discovered after he was 20
years old he would still know you could not murder, rob or rape. Morality is a
gift of God and without God what is the point. What punishment or reward awaits
those who have no God? If God did not exist then I would have no worry about
burning down the neighbor’s house and taking what I feel is mine. Oh, the
Love of our Heavenly Gather to give us all the Light of Christ so we would all
have equal footing, anywhere we are born and raised. The Love of one who would
be willing to come to Earth, live with us, be abused, murdered and then hung on
a cross, three days to lie in a tomb and then to miraculously rise and redeem
us. There is no greater love. Thank you for that Love.
If religion is such a good thing for morality, Daniel, then why are so many
religious people immoral? If scripture has a dominant theme, it is that
God's people, the folks who pride themselves on their faith, from
Jeremiah's time to Jesus's, are always the least moral. Show me a
single religion whose people are significantly better than their irreligious
peers, Daniel, and I'll believe you.
"Once I’ve recognized that morality is an illusion, though, why should
I feel bound by it — especially when I can safely ignore it?"It's pretty easy to intuit that if you want to be treated decently you
should treat others decently in kind...
The logic used by the author would also lead to the following conclusion:1. If there is no God, morality and moral obligations would have evolved over
time.2. Morality and moral obligations have evolved over time.3.
Therefore, God does not exist.We do not require gods or religion to
dictate morality. Human beings are social animals and living in a group requires
rules. Those rules lead to the benefit(survival) of the group and individuals in
those groups. These rules become morals. The basis for these rules is the Golden
Rule, treat others the way you want to be treated. Morality has
evolved over time. It was once moral to own other humans, to treat women as
property, to burn people at the stake, and to kill whole groups of people that
God disliked. As society has progressed these acts are now considered heinous
and appalling. Religion and God didn't change, society and culture did
based on the changes in the human environment. We do not need a deity to feel
empathy and compassion for one another, it is an innate part of being human and
living in society.
Suppose that action "A" is objectively immoral. Now imagine God doing
"A", or God commanding others to do "A".If you say
that God doing "A" or commanding others to do "A" makes
"A" moral, then "objective morality" is simply a code word for
obedience to the most powerful being in the universe, who has threatened to
reward or punish based upon whether you fall into line. I wouldn't call
that morality. I'd call it sycophantry. If you say that God
doing or commanding "A" has no bearing on whether "A" really is
moral or not, then it implies that morality transcends the issue of whether or
not God Himself is moral. If A is immoral even if God commands it,
wouldn’t it still be immoral if God didn't exist?
This article is particularly appropriate at this moment. Atheists strain and
practically make their heads explode trying to create a world in which there
exists an absolute morality but yet no absolute truth except science, which is
inherently amoral. Of course then every atheist excludes from the moral code
that which is inconvenient for him or her to follow. The logical contradictions
and fallacies abound in these arguments. If morality exists, it must come from a
source outside and above individual human conceptions of it. If no such source
exists, then morality does not exist either, and relativism must exist in its
place. Relativism inevitably leads to chaos, confusion, and carnage, because
contrary to atheist naïveté, human beings are beastly, and will act as
beasts if released from their cages, which are the moral constraints imposed
upon them in society, which ultimately derive from religion.
Which version of God's morality is the objective one? Will the real God
please stand up? A very cursory look at religion clearly reveals
that morality across religions is anything but consistent. Religious morality
shifts constantly with culture and based on the biases of those defining the
religion. Each flavor of religions claims they have the true flavor of
God's will and morality. The extreme variety of how morality is
defined by different religions and how morality changes over time even with a
given religion, clearly illustrates that man, not God defines the morality of
religion.For example, the morality of Mormonism continues to shift
wildly. Merely 50 years ago racism against blacks was not only accepted but
part of the core doctrine. Also, Jesus made wine at a wedding; Joseph Smith
drank wine; Brigham Young produced and sold wine; yet today, drinking wine is
considered immoral?Obedience is not the definition of morality -
never was, never will be. Mans' definition of morality disguised as the
will of God doesn't make it objective. Religion has a horrific track record
in consistently defining and enforcing morality.
antondav, I don't strain to get absolute morality. When you take invisible
and inexplicable variables like god out of the equation, the world is quite
SCfan said:"Interesting that you chose Star Trek, because I wonder if
you would agree with Spock whose prime directive is "The needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few, or the one?"1st of all, that is
not the "prime directive." Not sure where you get the idea that self
sacrifice has anything to do with the "prime directive" other than to
not reveal themselves to a primitive culture. In the trek movie
"into darkness" which was not about the needs of the many, it was about
a primitive people seeing something they don't understand and worshiping
them as Gods.SCfan said: "If so then would you agree with the
needs of the many (religious) outweigh the needs of the few (athiests)?I'm not sure what your trying to say there, unless your making an
argument for mob rule?
The idea that, because God exists morals do to, is completely shallow minded and
insulting. Religious morals are completely contradictory and have swayed so
often in history that if religious history was a person they would be diagnosed
as bi-polar and psychotic. Religious morals vary around the world.Looking first of all at the churches history; what was once deemed to be
morally correct is now disavowed by church leadership, for example, Joseph Smith
marrying others wives, most would agree this would be immoral in gods eyes today
but it was ok to do then. It was once morally correct that Blacks were denied
the priesthood but of coarse now it is discriminatory and immoral to do so. Going back to the Old testament, it would seem that God/Jehova is not
very good at playing by his own moral rules, murder, rape, genocide, racism,
sexism, abuse, you name it he was involved. We certainly do not get our morals
from the old testament, at least i hope we don't. But yet these things were
considered to be normal and righteous at the time. So what basis do religions
have to go on? a contradictory immoral God.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not
care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you
have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to
worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a
noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ―
I am an Atheist, I chose to live a moral life. I believe in being honest and
respectful to my fellow man. I do this because I think it is the right way to
be, not because I think I will be rewarded for it in the after-life.
Tyler DPascal’s Wager seems a poor reason to believe in
God.Is all permitted without God? No. But, beyond fear of
ostracism or punishment by the society, why is what society wants me to do any
better than I want to do? Society may say X is wrong. But clearly my ethical
determination is equal to anyone’s. Right? Who can authoritatively tell
me otherwise? Note that I don’t think this is a reason to believe in God,
rather simply about morals. As to relieving misery, if these folks are unknown
to me, should I try to care if I do not naturally do so? Why?Ed
Firmage, Jr.For the same reason irreligious people are immoral. We
are all imperfect and learning. The folks you cite are not the least moral -
but more is expected of them.Schnee and Candide,Survival
rules do a good job in smaller, immediate groups. But why do they impel me to
care about a few starving folks half a world away?a bit of
realityIf God is acting out of caprice, then you are right. If God
is acting for our best eternal outcome, then no.
Tyler DWhat about the lengths (from people like you) that have such
a stong need to make people NOT believe in God? In a godless world there would
be much more misery brought by people who did not fear an ultimate judgement.
One can point to much atrocity in the name of God both in the past as well as
today. That however is a debate about the beliefs of "certain"
religions, rather than God itself. I don't think any argument can be made
that people who believe that God will judge them for their actions causes people
to be better than their natures might otherwise dictate. Especially if said
people are following the Judeo/Christian principles, which are mostly
"Golden Rule" based. I can testify to you that going from an agnostic
to a believer helped make me a better person, and I'm happier for it.
President Hinckley of the LDS Church once said, "We try to make bad people
good, and good people better." How can that be a bad thing in this world?
bc,Man, unfettered by morality, has given us the the worst of
nightmares and holocausts. It isn't even close. Religion has it's
own problems, obviously, but it pales in comparison to the carnage wrought by
Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others. The crusades and the inquisition, in sheer
numbers, was nothing in comparison to the misery brought on by man excluding
Deity from public discourse. Don't go there.
I agree with RG 7:48 a.m. Why should bags of molecules, no matter how
they're arranged, need to be kind to one another? It continues
to astound me that so many brilliant people have no problem thinking in terms of
all kinds of exotic theories, multiple dimensions, even multiple universes, but
the notion that there is a spiritual plane that coexists with this material one
-- impossible!For some reason they find it easier to believe that
debris from a big explosion 15 billion years ago just happened to arrange itself
in this intricate form, with conscious beings typing at their computer screens.
JoeBlow:Thanks for your insights. To your question, "Too many
competing religions with opposing views. Why is that?"I propose
some simple models to consider, but are not limited to just these. One model is
the concept of apostasy. The second model is opposition in all things. A third
model combines both. These models assume God exists and moral agency is
permitted to allow one to choose, obey, disobey, etc. Model 1 -
Apostasy: God commands/says something through an authorized spokesperson
(prophet), but people disregard it or twist it in something else. Can be
knowingly or unknowingly. Model 2 - Opposition in all things: There
can be an adversary (a devil) to oppose God and God's purposes. Methods to
disseminate falsities can include, but not limited to, false angels/mortal
messengers or false manifestations of divine power so people are directed to
believe in things not really so.Model 3 - Combines previous
models.These models can explain a large portion why there are
competing religions or opposing religious views. The question then
becomes, how to know if an angel/prophet is an authorized spokesperson for God.
This is an another subject I can address in another post with more space.
Regarding objective morality, Joseph Smith wrote the following in 1842:
"[W]e cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we
cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or
keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance,
may be, and often is, right under another. God said, 'Thou shalt not
kill;' at another time He said, 'Thou shalt utterly destroy.'
This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted--by
revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are
placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may
not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire."
>>If you found a remote island that had a population that never had
contact with anyone off of the island, they would most likely have rules to live
by.The real question is how those rules came about. Most of human
history has been dominated by three justifications of governance:1)
"might makes right"--you obey me because I can kill you if you
don't;2) "divine right of kings"--you obey me because a god
picked me to rule; and3) "all men are created equal"--you obey me
because you and everyone else chose me.#1 and #2 formed the basis
for most of the governing systems in history and still rule over a huge
percentage of the human race. With the exception of the Greeks for a brief
period, the latter is a recent innovation; and didn't really take off until
Jefferson codified the idea that there is a Supreme Being who gave us
inalienable right that no government can rightfully take away.Cultures who don't believe in a Supreme Being tend to degenerate into #1
because the temptation to act in self-interest and not group-interest is strong.
>>if all conscious beings were experiencing the worst possible misery
for all time, this would be objectively bad.Why? If we are randomly
evolved bags of protein and the universe is indifferent to us, then why is it
objectively bad if we suffer? It's bad for us, but it's not bad for
the universe--our suffering would merely be What Is. In the atheist scenario,
the human race could be totally exterminated and the universe would go merrily
on its way, not caring that we're absent."Good" and
"bad" have meaning only within a moral construct. In the absence of a
Supreme Being, any moral construct is necessarily subjective, and no one
construct can be proven superior to another because there's no universal
criteria against which to compare them. Any such comparison requires that you
define the needs of the audience to create measures of merit and detriment, but
such measures change from audience to audience (or person to person) over time.
But the universe will never care what you happen to choose, so a universally
objective moral construct becomes impossible.
Morality is not an illusion. It does not, however, require a religious guilt
trip to make it effective. Indeed, religion is very effective at bringing people
directly to perform immoral acts.
The first premise is flawed. I wonder why Dr. Peterson didn't even attempt
to refute Ayn Rand's ethics where she argues that an objective code of
values and morality can and does exist without necessity for a belief in God and
something similar has been presented more recently by Sam Harris. I'd love
to hear his response to those arguments.
@happy2bhereYou completely misunderstand me. I’m
not troubled by people believing in God and in fact I think there are good
reasons to believe (e.g., personal religious experience). What I take issue with
is believing (and spreading the faith) based on bad reasoning, fear, us/them
tribal thinking, manipulation, coercion, appeals to authority, myths, fairytales
and books written a long time ago – those citing the ubiquitous horrors
and moral relativism found in the OT are absolutely correct.Believe
or not I actually admire the rest of what you say, and if your religion makes
you a better person, more power to you (and peace)!@Twin LightsTo quote Yoda, “there is no why” - at least not in any
absolute/metaphysical sense. I think it’s quite clear that our morals are
evolving simply based moving farther & farther away from what is objectively
bad (see my earlier comment). If your ethics move you (or us) towards what is
objectively bad, then they are objectively bad.And we care about
others (and want them to flourish) because, as we’re learning, doing so
makes us all happier.
Planet earth is a hyper-competitive place. For humans, there were millennia of
group-vs-group struggles. Moral systems are the rules that allow groups to
remain in good shape. When a group decides moral systems are not important,
they also loose internal cohesion. That group is susceptible to nearby stronger
groups. Thus morals have an operational point.
If you want a moral system based on reason and logic, look into Mahayana
Buddhism. It provides, for one, a unique take on the imperative to "do unto
others..." It's the You v. Others dynamic that presents an impasse to
experiencing divine love.
@mhenshaw – “If we are randomly evolved bags of protein and the
universe is indifferent to us, then why is it objectively bad if we suffer?I consider the universal criteria suggested in my first comment to be
about as self-evident as they come, and sorry but I’m utterly at a loss
with how to reason with someone who doesn’t see it.If the word
“bad” means anything surely all conscious beings suffering as much
as they can for as long as they can fits the definition better than any other we
can conceive of (notice we don’t have morals with respect to rocks or any
other conscious-less thing – including the Universe, assuming it is not
conscious in toto). What does “bad” even mean if not this?To ask why is simply nonsensical – which I trust you and everyone else
knows despite your rhetorical exercise. To your point about a
Supreme Being being necessary for objective morality, can you please tell where
we might find examples of this divine absolute (true for all time) ethics? Is
there a book we can consult that would show us?
@JustinYou wrote "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it
is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events
transpire."This is the type of thinking that the 911 terrorist used.
They believed that their god required them to fly planes into buildings. Do you
honestly believe that if god told you to murder your entire family or shoot up
children in a school that it would be the right thing to do? @Twin
LightsYou wanted to know why we should care about starving people that
live a continent away. There is empathy-if I needed help I would hope that
people would be there to help whether next door or a world away. There are also
selfish reasons-maybe that starving child creates a cure for cancer, or nations
with starving people are unstable and cause wars or terrorist attacks that could
impact me and my family, or hungry people don't have the best immune
systems and could be breeding grounds for a virulent strain of the flu. Any way
you look at it caring for peoples well being is in our interest as well as
theirs. No deity required.
To me, the difference between animals and humans is conscience. The word
conscience is interesting. Con is a prefix that often means within. Science
means to know. Combined, the word means "to know within."If
I understand properly, moral atheists believe that somehow a moral code was
embedded into our DNA or our core natures. Religionists believe man was endowed
by his maker with a conscience. Other than semantics, it appears there is
complete agreement that man knows within himself certain basic principles with
regard to right and wrong.It seems we are in violent agreement.
Coach Biff,You missed my point completely that religion provides not
reliable, consistent objective morality.Certainly, evil dictators
with absolute power often abuse that power whether religious or not. Hilter and
Stalin certainly had sick, twisted senses of morality - that occurs both within
and without religion. I don't disagree that a system and society that
teaches and encourages moral behavior is important; my disagreement is that God
and religion has the monopoly on it. Examples of both moral and immoral
behavior exist both with and without the religions. Example of relative
morality exist both within and without religion.Aboslute power
corrupts absolutely. Certainly, fetters of morality must exist - but I refute
the premise that an appeal to God is the only way to establish such fetters -
counter examples on both sides are far too easy to find - both those using
religion to justify immoral behavior and religious displaying great acts of
morality and even self-sacrifice.
Tyler DI know you might be out of posts. I will just say that MHENSHAW
makes some of the best points to my mind. As for "spreading the faith"
as you put it, some very good things can be spread, even if it comes from books
thousands of years old. Spreading the faith is something that, like anything
else in life, can result in positive or negative things. Spreading the faith
in the Muslim world has, as we have seen, resulted in people being motivated to
kill themselves and others, all in the name of doing the will of GOD. However,
that is really no different than doing it for a political cause. The objective
question becomes, how does one know right from wrong without some supreme value,
shared by all humanity? Otherwise, we only have human opinion, and Hitlers
opinion that the world would be better off without Jews and others has as much
rational value in a non God world as the opinion of any other Human being. At
least that is the way "nature" would look at it. Nature doesn't
care if a species is made extinct.
I'm sorry, but this whole debate seems ludicrously simple to me.Do you believe in objective morality & a god who commands his followers to
kill (i.e. Biblical god)?If so, do you hold that killing is objectively
moral?If not, then you do not believe in objective morality, but
subjective morality.You cannot claim BOTH objective morality AND a
god who changes the rules of morality to fit the situation.The whole
article is moot, as it is written from a Christian perspective.
“Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is..." - Joseph
Smith (History of the Church, 5:135)"God said, "Thou shalt
not kill;" at another time He said "Thou shalt utterly
destroy."..." - Joseph Smith, April 11, 1842Joseph Smith had
his cake and was eating it to as illustrated here in the moral relativism of the
Atheist using Revelation as the vehicle to accomplish it. At least an Atheist
will take a stand or at the very least responsibility for their actions as
opposed to saying, "God commanded me to (Insert action here)." There is
no moral high ground in religion, especially in the Latter Day Saint
Corporation. If one truly understands the above quotes, there is no foundation
or rock. It's the sand of the foolish man's house.
Good article and good discussions.Could someone please explain to me
why, if atheism is really just about "not knowing", then why do so many
atheism apologists' posts seem so certain that they are right and
religionists are wrong? Is it just because they enjoy arguing? (JoeBlow being
the one exception)
Mcclark: What is your definition of a moral life, honest, and respectful!
Without that definition, you are only doing the same thing that every other
human is doing, whether that means stealing my neighbor's goods, or my
neighbor's wife's virtue, or bullying someone! your views are totally
subjective to those who believe differently! Yours is a path to nowhere!
The more intelligent of the Animal species (elephants, whales, monkeys) have a
societal structure with pseudo rules of right and wrong, acceptable and
unacceptable.Does that make them religious? Do they have
morals? Do they go to "heaven" when they die? Does the devil tempt
them to do wrong?Or, are they just smart enough to know that when
you live as part of a group that there needs to be some form of structure for
the group to survive and thrive?Isn't it just possible that we,
being smarter, have a more complex set of rules which allow us to live more
peacefully in a crowded society?
joe Blow: your question is meaningless without God! If you can't supply
me a definitive answer to your question, then even asking it makes no sense!
Why would I care-if there is a meaning to that word? It makes no sense!
Without God, I will just do what I want to do to make my life better than the
next guy, which could and would include anything I want, regardless of your
abstract notion of a "structured" society! I am just fine living in a
cave, huddled around the fire! That is all the civilization I need and you
trying to persuade me otherwise would have absolutely no merit with my views on
the matter! Who could say that your "civilized" society is any better
than mine? Now, please get out of my way, I am making rodent stew!
Tyler D,I thought the quote was “there is no try”.But we still come back to the simple question, if I am a chemical
machine of which there are many competing copies and I am concerned primarily
for the survival of those most similar to me (DNA) then what qualifies letting
people starve who are half a world away (and potentially least like me
genetically) as bad? If they are not my brother or sister, then they are
simply competition for scarce resources and I (and my progeny) may well be
better off without them. Why would letting a large scale die-off proceed (with
all of its attendant suffering) not then be moral? Especially if I conclude
that it furthers human survival options.CandideSee
above. Also, the likelihood that most of those folks would ever have access to
the educational resources to even hope to provide a significant scientific
advancement is incredibly low. I will take my chances. Yes nations with
starving people are unstable and disease could hope the oceans. But if I feel
sufficiently protected and calculate that the diminished competition is in my
favor, then this may be a good bet.
JoeBlow"What is wrong with just acknowledging that we don't know?
Possibly, because "some man who claimed superior knowledge" told us so.
Which is almost a universal theme in religion."It is precisely
upon this point that I ceased to be atheist and became a Mormon. Mormons taught
me how to hear God's answers to my prayers. A Mormon doesn't have to
believe anything blindly (though some do). The big limitation is that such
testimonies are personal. No one else can lean upon my testimony (which you
aptly argue would be leaning upon someone else's words). We each must go
out and obtain our own witness. The other side of that coin is that my claim to
have communed with God doesn't justify before men anything that I do. My
testimony doesn't prove to someone else that God exists, but it certainly
proves it to me, and no one can justly claim that I imagined it though men can
certainly hold me accountable to the laws of men regardless of my personal
communing with God.
jn540"If I am overweight, then I do not exercise and eat well."
This is a true statement. It is the law of conservation of energy.
If you consume more calories than you expend, you gain weight. To do otherwise
would violate the laws of physics. You are correct, however, that one's
exercise and nutrition can be influenced by many complex psychological causes,
which only means that the exercise and nutrition being followed are both causes
and symptoms in a chain of cause and effect. A deficiency of exercise and/or a
surplus of food calories likely have psychological root causes, but your
emotional state has no influence on physics.
Let me ask a stupid question. Does it really matter how we come to
the conclusion of morality? Does it really matter our motivation to treat each
other with mutual respect and kindness? Does it really matter why we choose not
to kill each other? Does it really matter if it is an Atheist, Mormon,
Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist that chooses to
live a decent, moral life?
Fred Vader, Atheism isn't "just about 'not
knowing'." While atheism is lacking of a belief in a deity, that
doesn't equate knowing nothing about any supposed deities.
For example, I have very clear scriptural evidences that the gods described in
the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Koran are inconsistent, immoral, and
self-contradictory. These beings are defined as perfect, and therefore cannot
exist. All of my family belong to the LDS faith. I've
explained Biblical and Mormon scripture to them not because I enjoy arguing, but
because they are being tricked out of 10% of their income. They were given
promises based on the truth of the church, and I can show them that those
promises cannot hold up. So while I might not know if *some* deity
exists, I can know that *specific* deities don't exist, because they
don't meet their own scriptural criteria. Caveat- I realize
that many theists do not hold any subset of scripture as completely accurate, so
their god lacks a finite description, so I cannot disprove their god. My family
are scriptural absolutists (as are the majority of faithful mormons) so I can
disprove their definition of god.
@ happy2bhere – “I know you might be out of posts”This is my last…I tried to answer @mhenshaw so without
knowing what you still find questionable I’m not sure what else to say.
And others today (joe5, JoeBlow, Weber State, Chinfat, Candide, etc…) have
expressed better than me why we have objective morality and why asserting that
without God it’s all just “opinions” (and Hitler’s is as
good as anyone’s) is untenable, both logically and scientifically.@joe5 – “It seems we are in violent agreement.”Haha, yes… well said!@Fred VaderIt’s
not so much being convince we’re right (although I am convinced we follow
the evidence, or lack thereof, where it leads), but that we’re pretty darn
sure the religious folks are wrong on many occasions. No doubt it
seems like we’re the arrogant ones but given the incredible hubris of
religious authorities (and apparently Jesus didn’t much care for them
either) for literally thousands of years, the relatively recent pushback from
atheists/agnostics is really just Newton’s Third Law of Motion playing out
in the marketplace of ideas.Thanks everyone for a great
Sorry, Daniel Peterson, but your article doesn’t make much sense.None of the atheists you cited said that morality is an illusion, so you set
up a straw man to knock down there.And there is not much merit in
this statement: “If there is no God, objective morality and moral
obligations don’t exist.”The presence of morality no
more proves the existence of God then the presence of anything else in this
universe.I happen to believe in God, but your morality argument does
nothing to strengthen that belief.
Why does morality have to have a divine origin? Buddhism, Confucianism,
Shintoism and Taoism do not subscribe to a personal, dictating god, yet are
highly moral. Mutual help, protection and cooperation in social groupings, to
insure human survival and perpetuation, was the original morality system. They
were then defined as good or evil and attributed to a God or gods. These
religious edicts were then enforced by expectation of rewards or fear of
punishment. Secular humanism is definitely as sound moral system. It bases
morality exclusively on its consequences of harm or benefit to humankind.
RE:JoeBlow, “Did Adam and Eve exist?” The difference between
Christian thinking and non-Christian thinking is that man is normal now, but
biblical Christianity says he is abnormal now(total depravity), because at a
point in time (the Fall)he changed himself not epistemologically but morally.
The Christian answer: 1. Man is cruel,without God being a bad God.
2. There is hope in the substitutionary propitiatory death of Christ. 3. On
this basis we can have a real ground for fighting evil, including social evil
and social injustice. 4. The Christian has real morals and moral absolutes for
God is absolutely good, with total exclusion of evil from God.RE:
Chinfat, The bible. God Himself can do no evil (James 1:13),The LORD
has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly,he will
not be unpunished.… (Prov. 16:4). As John Calvin,
“ the Fall, indeed all evil, does “not take place except by his
permission.” i.e..(Jesus )forty days, tempted by Satan. (Mark 1:13)
“… the devil prowls around like a lion ..” (1 Peter 5:8).
To anyone of any religion who had heavenly communication or inspiration given to
them and then later on wondered how they felt they "knew" something was
true because they struggled to adequately explain to others HOW they
"knew", I highly, highly suggest you read a sermon called "The
Candle of the Lord" by Boyd K. Packer.It is probably the most
powerful sermon I have ever heard in my life.Why?Because
it explains in childlike wisdom ("salt"), in concepts that cannot be
misunderstood, how one can indeed know something is true and yet not be able to
adequately explain how they gained that knowledge.When you think
about it, as this sermon explains, one can see that it is literally impossible
to use imperfect words from an imperfect world to describe a 'perfect'
experience. We simply do not have the capacity to describe a perfect event
using imperfect words. Where would we get these "perfect" words from?
They simply do not exist. And so we struggle to explain "perfection"
(the heavenly instruction) using imperfect words as best as we can.Just because the 'unknowing' don't know does not mean that
others "can't" know.
My comment about the sermon, "The Candle of the Lord", is imporortant,
or rather, the truth explained in the sermon is important, because it is the
first building block for ALL other heavenly instruction and wisdom: when one
understands and can see that "truth" can indeed be received and
understood, then one understands they have a responsibility to find truth and
wisdom ("morality") wherever they can.It is this morality
that many athiests struggle with. Many athiests claim there simply is no
morality, no right or wrong....that "anything goes". That is false and
is why I said that the truth contained in the "Candle of the Lord"
sermon was the most powerful lesson I have ever learned. It is the lesson, or
piece of wisdom, that makes learning everything else concerning "good"
and "evil", "right" and "wrong" possible.Some on here may claim I )and others) have never tated spiritual
"salt", but I know better.Good luck to us all, the
believing, and the currently unbelieving, to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Rob_ and Tyler D, thanks for the thoughtful comments.Rob_: "So
while I might not know if *some* deity exists, I can know that *specific*
deities don't exist, because they don't meet their own scriptural
criteria....My family are scriptural absolutists (as are the majority of
faithful mormons) so I can disprove their definition of god"I
agree that you may have some luck disproving your family's
"definition" of god, but I don't think that equates to also proving
that "specific deities don't exist."Also, I do not
think it is correct to say "majority" of mormons are "scriptural
absolutists" when by our own Articles of Faith we state we are not. Nor am
I, or my family absolutists.Tyler D: Unfortunately you have used up
your comments, but hopefully you will still read this...your argument above
seems to be saying that it is ok for atheists/agnostics to be arrogant now,
because religionists have been arrogant first. Interesting. A bit jejune. But
Atheists claim that the morals, beliefs, and the like of theists are made up,
created by humans.But where do/did the morals and beliefs and the
like of atheists come from? Were they discovered on a billion year old rock
tablet found on the dark side of the moon. Were they delivered to Oprah in the
middle of her TV show by advanced alien beings from a distant part of the
galaxy. Nope, they are likewise made up, created by humans.So, an
atheist is saying their human created morals and beliefs are better than say a
theists human created morals and beliefs.
Agnosticism simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that for
which he has no grounds for professing to believe.Theists think all
gods but theirs are false. Atheists simply don't make an exception for the
No celeb: Genghis Khan would absolutely love your definition of how to achieve
mutual help, cooperation, and protection in not harming or doing something that
wouldn't benefit society. come to think of it, a lot of gang members use
the same script in winning naive, insecure members to their structured society.
Who is to say that your definition, or your way of achieving unity, is any
better than theirs!
Your argument might be logically valid, but that does not mean the conclusion is
true. Another valid argument is: 1) If dogs have four legs then it's
Thursday, 2) Dogs do have four legs, 3) Therefore, it's Thursday. That
argument is valid, but it is not true because the first premise is false.In any argument, you are required to not only demonstrate validity, but
also the truth of the premises. And taking a premise as self-evident does not
constitute an argument.For example, your first premise is highly
contestable. Contraposing it into a positive rather than negative proposition,
it becomes 1) If objective morality and moral obligations do exist, then God
exists. This proposition can and has been challenged many times
throughout history. Even philosophers who believe that objective morality does
exist have argued that morality has nothing to do with God - Kant (morality
comes from reason), Moore (morality comes from intuitions like maths does), Boyd
& Shafer-Landau (morality comes from natural laws and facts about the world)
and many others.To take your premise as self-evident is to beg the
question. The onus then rests on you to defend the truth of that premise.
Oh the nits we pick and the picks we knit and weave to our own liking. Making a
philosophical blanket to warm the egos. I am not a weaver of truth but a
believer of things outside the physical and sift my heart for all truth.
I'm a faithful Christian, but I recognize that my faith is a philosophical
thing; that it can't be proven. It works for me, but I would never try to
disprove another faith or go on the attack against atheists, agnostics, etc.,
because it is impossible to do effectively and would just make me look
ridiculous. As many have pointed out, the logic used in this piece
is laughable and I hope embarrassing (so further attempts to attack others'
beliefs will not occur).
To: The Caravan Moves OnAnd yet every religion "knows" they
are truly the correct one. And that is why I would be skeptical if I were you.
If everyone is using the same method (prayer) and yet getting different answers
(that THEIR church is true) then maybe the method to find truth is flawed.
The article was a softball to atheists and I have enjoyed their explanation of
why the logic presented in the article is so weak. Thanks everyone, I have
really enjoyed the comments.
In so far as what you call "morality" grew out of a societal need for
order I would say its not an illusion. as to claims of religious roots and
therefore unchanging I would say no. Morality and its most common vehicle
mythology/religion are only useful as long as they reflect the reality people
live with everyday and help guide them through complex social interactions.
The problem with this analysis is:1. If there is no God, objective
morality and moral obligations don’t exist.is false.
“What natural selection favors,” writes Dawkins, “is rules of
thumb, which work in practice to promote the genes that built them."I went to a bank and told the teller my genes would be greatly promoted
by a good food, nice house, plenty of cash... a secure future. She refused to
fill the sack, and pressed the alarm. Leaving in a bit of a hurry, I ran into a
gorgeous lady and told her my genes desired progeny. She slapped me. Tired of
walking, I tried to take a man's Mercedes. He was armed. In
each case, my genes would have benefited greatly and their future survival would
have been secured far better than my existence under the bridge is able to
secure them. My justification for the above behavior, flawless. I was looking
hundreds of years hence; promoting viable genes. A judge would throw
the gavel at me. So would THE judge. Morals have an origin which has nothing to
do with promoting genes. Ask the teller, the lady, the car owner. They
didn't care about my genes.
How is saying "there are moral absolutes because there is a God" any
more convincing than saying "there are moral absolutes because there is a
Universe"? I am a person of faith, but I don't believe
morality rests on God's shoulders. It is and always has been up to
humanity to figure out what it moral and what is immoral.After all,
we have no assurance that God Himself is "moral" other than our belief
that He is. Perhaps He isn't, and we should ignore His dicta-- everything
from the Levitical cleanliness codes to slaves obeying their masters to men
marrying their brothers' widows, and so on.Morality is a
construct. Even if God knows those absolutes, we don't, and whether we
have faith in literal Scripture or simply in our power of observation, it
ultimately comes down to us trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong
--rather than simply following lists blindly.
@SCfan....under your logic the needs the Catholics, Muslim and Jewish faiths
outweigh Mormonism. Correct!There is no "right or wrong"
based on anything factual. Religion being a man made institution to begin
with.What's right for me may not be right for your. At what
level is right or wrong taken seriously. I'm enjoying a cup of coffee
right now. YOU may think that is paramount to being a Son of Perdition. Right is what "works" for you, "wrong" is what does not work
for you. It's really that simple. Regardless of the situation it always
comes down to a personal level. Religion, God and the like have nothing to do
with it other than implied guilt.
@John Marx, a closer read at the Old Testament, shows that the God of the old
testament didn't command the killing people because they were of the wrong
tribe. He specifically commanded that the Caananites be destroyed who were into
idol worship, more particularly, human sacrifice. I majored in History but am
most interested in ancient history. Many of these ancient rituals of idolatry
including the prostitution of men and women. The sacrificing of infants seems
to me, a way to get rid of the unwanted burdens produced in such fashion.
Remember Abraham's plea to God to spare Sodom if God could find more then
10 righteous people in the city. Also remember God saying, "the wickedness
of the Amorites is not yet full". The Old Testament God is more interested
in righteous life than simply "life". A professor of History at U-Mass
Boston once pointed out that the Kingdom of Israel was the only ancient Kingdom
to have a code of ethics outside of the King. The Old Testament God created
life for a purpose, not simply to exist.
@Linguist ... re "How is saying "there are moral absolutes because there
is a God" any more convincing than saying "there are moral absolutes
because there is a Universe""I think morals follow
necessarily from the proposition of God's existence, whereas they are not
necessary in an impersonal universe (are they even possible then?), even for
propagation of the species. All species will reproduce, morals or no. Half the
population may die fighting for mates, but babies will be made unless they are
doomed to extinction by external forces unrelated to morality.
It has always been curious how we give time and money to saving some obscure
fish in the western desert and destroy embryos as a mere inconvenience. We talk
moral imperatives, but in the name of science, religion or politics trample on
our own moral imperatives. I guess the old saw is true, " it depends upon
whose ox is being gored."
Atheists can be "moral" people! Mr. Peterson's "logical
premise" is manipulative and flawed because it uses the concept of
"objective morality" to prove the existence of a God. He doesn't
explain the source of "morality" or an individual's motivation to
act within a set of social/moral rules. While Mr. Peterson "speaks as one
with authority" on the source of objective morality, he clearly hasn't
read much on the subject. The basis of objective morality has been identified
by some as "The Social Contract." For a non-religious take on the
source of/motivation for a common morality, read The Social Contract Essays of
SLC Crew: When you advise someone else to read a series of essays, at least you
can show good faith by reading a brief article in the paper. Your opening
statement is "Atheists can be "moral" people!" which echoes
Peterson's early statement (second paragraph I believe) where he says:
"Plainly, atheists can be, and often are, good people."So
you appear to be picking an argument where there is none. Perhaps instead of the
article, you read some of the comments and made a bad assumption. I don't
know.A better thesis statement to be arguing is at the end of that
same paragraph in the article where Peterson says: "It’s one thing to
believe in moral principles; it’s quite another to be able to justify
them, to give an account of their source."Few of these comments
have tried to tackle that assertion and the ones that have tried have done it
poorly. Nowhere can I find anyone who can give an account of the source of
morality that didn't require as much or more faith that a belief in God.
Faith is not logical, and cannot be reasoned out; attempts have been made to do
so throughout millennia. Either it works for you or doesn't. So it is
somewhat interesting and amusing to read all of the "newbies" (who have
not realized this) attempt to justify their faith through logic. And for Dr.
Peterson to actually go on the offensive and attack another believe system (or
disbelief system) using unsustainable arguments certainly shows a lot of
chutzpah (or "newbieness").
"...>So, an atheist is saying their human created morals and beliefs are
better than say a theists human created morals and beliefs."______________________________Who is making that argument?
>> ... What does “bad” even mean if not this? To ask why is
simply nonsensical – which I trust you and everyone else knows despite
your rhetorical exercise.But it's not nonsensical. Atheists
argue that there is no Supreme Moral Authority, there is only an uncaring
universe and that we are a random byproduct of it. If true, our very existence
is not mandatory, much less our well-being. Joy and pain become random
byproducts ultimately governed more by chance than moral choice. So
under the atheists' construct, suffering might be "bad" for us from
our own point of view, but there's no reason for the universe or any other
race of beings to view our suffering as bad from their own POV. In fact, there
could evolve a sadistic race of beings whose moral construct requires them to
inflict as much suffering on other beings as much possible in the race for
survival and scarce resources--inflicting pain would be a moral good for them.
And without a Supreme Moral Authority to define "good" or "bad,"
who's to say that such a set of morals would be wrong? The universe
wouldn't care one way or the other.
Lilalips: "The sacrificing of infants seems to me, a way to get rid of the
unwanted burdens produced in such fashion."-------------So God wanted the infants killed so that they would not be unwated
burdens, but today he is against abortion? That is another inconsistancy, to
Joe5: Article Synopsis "While nonbelievers can obviously be good people,
it's difficult to see on what basis they can justify their moral beliefs or
criticize others who don't share them." I read the entire article.
The synopsis says it all. You and Mr. Peterson are using the concept of
"objective morality" to support the premise that God exists. In short,
your reasoning is that God is the source of all morality. Therefore, if you
believe in God you can "justify" your "morals." However, if you
don't believe in God your "morals" are unjustifiable. This
doesn't seem to say that atheists who are "good people" are also
"moral people". Apparently you and Mr. Peterson are saying that all
morality comes from God and a belief in God. That is simply untrue and flawed
reasoning. I read the article. Now if you want a non-religious explanation for
objective morality, read Thomas Hobbes. I'm guessing you really don't
want that explanation.
I have always had "intuitive" knowledge and belief in morality, even in
areas that were never discussed, even when just a little child who only knew
that it was "naughty" to hurt other people and that other people had the
same feelings as I did: they experienced the same effects by the same causes:
they hurt physically and emotionally as I did. My father simply asked: would you
like someone else to do that to you? That made perfect sense without any
labored explanations or convoluted philosophies. I concluded in effect I should
love others as I love myself.Someone spoke of mankind as the only
moral "animal". Maybe so, but how do you explain the love, zealous
loyalty, and endless craving, and enjoyment, of affection, of a dog, or the
monogamy of some kinds of birds and other animals, compared to the
indiscriminate matings of other animals. There are more things in heaven and
earth than are dreamed of in the philosophies of men (and women).If
you like the philosophies of men how about Immanuel Kant's two
"wonders", of "the starry heavens without and the moral law
"So, an atheist is saying their human created morals and beliefs are better
than say a theists human created morals and beliefs."Spot on.This is why their argument for gay marriage that morality should not be
legislated is complete bunk. Our country's laws are built on a framework
of morals. Whether you believe those morals come from God or not makes no
difference. They ALL come from the 'belief' in something. And those
moral beliefs are anathema to atheism.If all versions of right and
wrong are invented by humans, they are based in an idea that has no basis on
science. The animal kills and reproduces just fine without need of morals. In
the atheist's mind, the universe didn't need morals for one second to
bring about its creation. If so, why should it need morals now?The
fact is that humans have the ability (God-given or otherwise) to discern good
from bad. Organizations of society are built upon moral ideas. In Utah, most
people believe gay marriage is wrong. Forcing them to accept it simply because
your moral system is different is also wrong.
Where in my statement did you see me making such claims? I hope you don't
pull a hamstring making the huge stretches you make.Furthermore I am
not impressed when someone says: "That is simply untrue and flawed
reasoning." Am I supposed to accept that simply because you or your favorite
philosopher says it's true? It appears you are pretty generous with
yourself yet you hold opposing thinkers to a much higher standard of evidence.
Are we now supposed to square off in the playground and say: "My sources are
better than your sources. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!"If you would
honestly look at your own comments with the same scrutiny that you apply to
Peterson's comments, I think you will find that you provide even less
evidential support for your claims than he does for his. The primary difference
is that you place your unwavering faith in someone else, the
"infallible" (not so much really) Thomas Hobbes.I'm
guessing you really don't want that explanation.
@ CHS 85:I think your question "does it really matter..."
was meant to be rhetorical, but I'll take a stab at an answer anyhow.No, not to me it doesn't; it doesn't matter to me at all which
religion a person belongs to or if she doesn't belong to any organized
faith-based group. But as I understand the doctrine, it matters to Mormons if
someone is not Mormon. I mean otherwise why do they have temples if not to try
to help everyone eventually be Mormon so they can actually be saved? I think
many other organized religions take the same general stance - - our way or the
highway, so to speak.
@Church member - North Salt Lake, UT - "To: The Caravan Moves On - "And
yet every religion "knows" they are truly the correct one."No.Every relgion "claims" to be the correct one but only
one is in fact true. Big difference.Yes, I fully realize it is a
thin line or a dicey proposition to have one religion actually be the
"true" religion since it means, then, that every other religion is not,
in fact, entirely true. That's a bold claim. However, "truth", in
and of itself, is both bold and powerful. "Truth" both demands our
respect and our submission....'submission' in a multitude of ways; you
can't fight it, it is not based upon popular opinion, it is independent of
time. All these things give truth great power.I am in my forties
now and I am shocked at how the world is literally sprinting towards the false
idea that truth is simply based on one's whims, ie, "if I say something
is not true, it isn't true".Does. Not. Compute.
While I do not doubt that the atheist truly believes there is no God because
he/she has not experienced feelings that they attribute as originating from God.
What is perplexing is that the atheist often wants to discount the experiences
of those of us who have had such enlightenment and do attribute it as from God.
Those who have not experienced God,cant possibly understand the feelings of
those who have. Frankly...unless I had experienced it myself...I would not
believe, and this world would make little sense. There is probably space for the
atheist and the believer to kindly co-exist as long as one respects the validity
of the others feelings as equal to their life experience.
"No.Every relgion "claims" to be the correct one but
only one is in fact true. Big difference."Surely you realize
that the "others" would make the same statement about the LDS. And they
would be able to tell you exactly why you are wrong and theirs is "in fact
true". And you would discount their evidences and they would discount
yours.It is really fairly amusing to watch.
There is a curious asymmetry to the discussion. On the one hand, there are those
who "know" that God doesn't exist. Well, of course they can't
know that. It is neither possible to prove nor to know that being X does not
exist. Some have suggested that God is logically impossible because He is
described in ways that are self-contradictory. But that is indistinguishable
from a lack of sufficient knowledge or misunderstanding of what is meant by
"God". In essence it will be a straw man argument unless and until one
possesses all knowledge.On the other hand, there are those who
profess to know God because, well, they have come to know Him in a variety of
ways and at different levels. Are they all liars and charlatans? No doubt some
are, but it is unlikely that all are. If indeed God does exist, He certainly has
to ability to make Himself known to humans. That He should choose not to make
Himself universally known is hardly an argument against His existence. Seek and
ye shall find.
The Caravan Moves On,"....Every religion "claims" to be
the correct one but only one is in fact true...."______________________________So they all say.The
whole idea of a one true religion has done far more harm than good throughout
all ages in human history. That's one critical lesson humans can't
seem to learn.
I see that the "Note" at the end of Dr. Peterson's column has been
edited to reflect that the column was "influenced and inspired" by the
essays by Craig and Meister, rather than Craig and Copan. Having read the
Meister essay, I would say that the sentences in Dr. Peterson's column
regarding "the light of Christ" are the most original content.
Otherwise, the column is essentially a copy and paste job from Meister's
essay (with the moral argument copied from Craig's essay).
I disagree completely with this article. The most essential question was framed
by Plato in Euthyrphro. Is an action moral because God says it is? In that case
anything God commands is moral, but we rebel at that thought. Indeed, many of
the commands made by God in the Old Testament are not considered moral except by
the smallest minority today. Obeying commands such as requiring parents to
stone their disobedient child to death would land you in prison today, possibly
facing the death penalty.Alternatively, does God command an action
because it is moral? In that case, morality exists independently of God and He
merely recognizes it as such. If this is the case, then there is no need of a
God to establish what is moral or not.Personally, I believe that
humans have evolved to live in a society. This is an effective strategy that
has worked very well for us as a species. Part of living in a society is
obeying the rules that make it function well. We are a social species, not a
solitary one, and that is why we feel an innate sense of what is moral and what
>>What is perplexing is that the atheist often wants to discount the
experiences of those of us who have had such enlightenment and do attribute it
as from God.The problem for atheists is that their logic invokes the
conclusion it seeks to prove as an argument in its own support.
"There's no god, so you couldn't have communicated with Him; so
your claim isn't valid evidence; and because there's no evidence of
god's existence, there must be no god."But you can't
prove a negative so the assumption that there's no god could be false, so
they can't prove that spiritual communication with God doesn't exist.
Therefore, they can only accuse people claiming such of deceit or hallucination.
But many people throughout history have testified in plain terms--some at the
cost of their lives--of talking with Deity face-to-face.*That's* what's perplexing. Atheists, who claim to be scientifically
minded, are the ones without evidence. They have only logical arguments based on
an unprovable assumption. It's the believers who have the claim to evidence
in the form of documented revelation.
Under the theory of eternal progression, didn't God once live on an earth
similar to ours and didn't morals exist then? If you believe this then you
can't believe morality began with Him. Otherwise, what rules was he judged
@ The Caravan Moves OnYou wrote " Every religion "claims" to
be the correct one but only one is in fact true. Big difference."I assert that none are true. You state that one is true, I assume it is the
one you belong to, how do you know that it is true and the others are not? Other
people of faith have their reasons, their supposed evidence, their deep feelings
that it is true. How is your belief different from theirs?
@ mhenshawAs an undergrad I studied several cases of individuals
that had been committed to psychiatric facilities. One interesting study
involved three men that all thought they were Jesus. These men all believed that
God had spoken to them and told them that they were Jesus and were to continue
his work on Earth. If you were to run into one of these men would you believe
them?The human brain is a very complex organ. We can easily
misinterpret the external stimuli that is fed into our brain-think magic tricks
and optical illusions. There are also medical and genetic conditions that can
cause us believe that something is real when it is not-brain tumors,
schizophrenia, etc. That is why feelings and beliefs are not considered
evidence. So, even though plain speaking individuals say they have spoken with a
deity doesn't mean that their claims meet the burden of proof.And no atheist I know says that they have proof that god does not exist. What
they do say is that there is no evidence for a god or gods. I also can't
prove that leprechauns don't exist, but I think it highly unlikely.
Too many people speaking for god and putting words in his mouth; the poor guy
can't get a word in edge wise. But, what he may be trying to say is: knock
off all the self centered pretense and show your devotion and believe in service
and love for your neighbor, and stop trying to tell others who I am and who I
Candide:Did any of those three men bring about a book within about
90 days of approximately 500 pages with legitimate ancient linguistic patterns,
or have other individuals view angels in relation to the book, or have someone
mortgage a property to finance its publication, or even have a number of
followers continue to bear witness of the book's truthfulness, even after
disaffecting for a while, and until their death, or cause people to join a
religion which may have meant to sacrifice their lives, property and/or
reputation? Did any of those three man have prophecies that later
came to happen, such as a civil war in a country? Or that their small group of
religious followers would prosper in the rocky mountains? Or did any of these
individual performed miracles, such as healing the sick immediately, or that
these same three men gave other powers to heal and work miracles and it worked?
In sum, there is plenty of evidence for a one true and living God
all around. You just need to know where to look, and be willing to look.
It's been under your nose the whole time.
@skeptic, St Paul, ”the truth about God is known to them instinctively God
has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the
earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence” ...(Rom
1:19-20 LB)"Shame, a sense of guilt, and the consequent desire
to hide from his presence. They prove the loss not only of innocence but of
original righteousness, and, with it, of the favor and fellowship of God. All people, in one way or another, closely associate physical nakedness
and shame. even though our culture revels in the gratuitous display of nudity,
it has not eliminated the shame associated with physical exposure. People still
purchase apparel, curtains, and anything that prevents others from seeing us
without clothing.Shame has not always been associated with
nakedness. Before sin entered our world, husband and wife were in relationship
with each other and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). This shame-free experience of
intimacy was not limited to physical nudity. The close association between
spiritual guilt and nakedness after the Fall (3:6–7). God
clothed Adam and Eve shows us that it is indeed proper for us not to bare our
body and soul indiscriminately.
Deanvrtc wrote:"What is perplexing is that the atheist often
wants to discount the experiences of those of us who have had such enlightenment
and do attribute it as from God. Those who have not experienced God,cant
possibly understand the feelings of those who have."As an
atheist, I discount the claims of Mormons about god because I have studied,
prayed, fasted, and in every wat taken "Moroni's Challenge" - for
three decades - and the promises made by that scripture, as well as those made
by all the faithful Mormons over those years, have gone completely and
absolutely unfulfilled.But the arrogance of the believers destroys
all hope of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect. Every Mormon except one has
always explained the results of my seeking, knocking, and asking as a flaw in ME
- I am unworthy, lack "real intent", am insincere, and otherwise morally
(and intellectually?) inferior to them, who have received a "testimony",
or as you blithely put it, "enlightenment".Yet scripture
says god is no respecter of persons. If so, then why do you get
"enlightenment" and I am denied? A god who would refuse someone so
willing and desirous, is no god at all.
@The Scientist:You apparently believe in God, as you carry a grudge
against Him.I am certain of this: God knows each of us intimately
and comprehensively, and loves each of us perfectly. God deals with each of us
in the manner that is best for our growth and development, just as we earthly
parents strive to treat our own children in a manner that is good for them, as
opposed to doing so in the manner that they might prefer. It's up to each
of us to figure out what God is trying to tell us by His responses, or lack
thereof, to our importunings. Don't give up so easily. I have spent six
decades trying to get to know God and to please Him, and have not always done
well at it. Be patient, be humble, and above all be as forgiving, trusting, and
loving of God as a small child can be of his or her parents. It isn't
necessarily about our intellectual capacity or moral "superiority" -
some of us are deeply flawed, but are nevertheless loved by God and rejoice in
The Scientist wrote:"As an atheist, I discount the claims of
Mormons about god because I have studied, prayed, fasted, and in every wat taken
"Moroni's Challenge" - for three decades - and the promises made by
that scripture, as well as those made by all the faithful Mormons over those
years, have gone completely and absolutely unfulfilled."God has
completely and absolutely fulfilled the promises of Moroni's challenge for
you, but you are looking in the wrong direction. I posit that while you have
spent the past three decades watching the heavens for an angel to appear, and
getting disillusioned for not seeing one, God quietly placed one by your side in
the form of your dear companion. If her presence in your life does not provide
the assurance you seek of God's love and existence, nothing will.
Well, there is either a supreme being, or not. All good and beautiful things
around us are evidence of a supreme being. Someone to have created the earth,
by what method, still to be determined, but just because you don't know
does not mean it is not true. Advances in medicine, technology, etc. does not
mean these things suddenly existed. They were always there waiting for someone
to discover it. Truth doesn't just exist at the time it is discovered.
You posters who continually bear your testimonies (whether relevant to the topic
being discussed or not): please tell us why every religion has people who have
prayed about their beliefs and have received confirmation of their veracity.
"Moroni's Challenge" (although not called that by other faiths)
appears to apply to all religions, so why should we believe that yours is
Another bunch of twiddle-twaddle aimed at promoting conventional beliefs, and,
by extension, the "morality" set up by some churches.Actual
moral values:The Ten CommandmentsThe Golden Rule Many quotes
from Jesus Christ and other spiritual leaders."Values" meant
to make churches successful in growing and keeping their flocks:Saying one
must believe only in one church's vision of GodPlacing one religion
above othersInsisting on love, marriage, and procreation as duties to the
church that one must perform as the church dictates in order to be a full
member.Some churches have promoted (not always in the most
Christlike way) the imposition of some of their values on non-believers.So what are morals? What are values? Do they exist outside rules of a
specific church?I say YES.
Int'l Businessman, The signs of a Christian experience of unity love and
devotion is qualified by an awareness of a great gulf between sinful creatures
and an absolute Holy being. i.e.. Is 6:5 Woe is me! ..for I am a man of unclean
lips(sinner)., “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.”
Proverbs 9:10. A higher devotion for Jesus and a thirst for the Bible. J.
Edwards. … test the spirits to determine if they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world(1 John 4:1) VS,Moroni 10: A testimony of the B of M comes by the power of the Holy
Ghost… Moroni’s words speak from the ‘dust’. KJV
compared to(Latin vulgate, Is 29:4), and thy speech shall whisper out of the
‘dust’. and thy voice shall be from the earth like that of the
“*pythonis=(familiar spirit)”, and out of the earth thy speech shall
mutter.Acts 16:16 And it came to pass , as we went to prayer a
certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination= (*python/Grk,=4436) met
us which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying
@sharonnaThank you for quoting a bunch of scriptures that do not
answer my question. Now would you like to answer it?
@Fred Vader;Your response to Scientist does exactly what he told you
that Mormons do. You place the blame on him (you're looking in the wrong
direction). What makes you think that you're the one looking in the
Some interesting philosophizing. But what of Alma in The Book of Mormon
powerfully teaching us that God WOULD CEASE TO BE GOD if he violated the
morality that exists beyond God! This because the Intelligences of the
Universe, of which we all our part, would no longer accept Him as God! This is
powerful doctrine, directly relevant to the subject matter here. The Greeks are
partly right after all...but so are the believers! For God ceaseth not to be
God! He obeys the laws beyond him, which do exist!Atheists even now
attempt to dethrone God on supposed justification of his errors, not even
glimpsing the disturbing picture in the foreground: unchecked human depravity
which brought God to give the Israelites the responsibility for cleansing it.
It is a hard story to understand--but Nephi helps.Had I not been
touched by the Spirit, I can see myself as agnostic; but the zeal to deny any
spiritual reality which obsesses so many atheists is truly without evidence, and
thereby non-scientific. Such zeal seems to require a source.Truly
the God of the Universe weeps over our self-perpetuated unhappiness on Earth and
rottenness to eachother!
@bolshayaI agree with you that Dr Peterson's thesis goes
against the very tenets of his own religion, however I do not see the
'zeal' that you describe in atheists. Could you please give us some
tangible examples of that 'zeal'? Keep in mind that this article was
written by a believer to discredit atheists, not the other way around.
Morality is an illusion only to the extent that happiness and justice are
It somewhat amazes me how few of those who commented actually understand the
premise of what the article is all about. Critics immediately start attacking it
from a defensive posture. It's somewhat sad to see how many children of God
are still spiritual infants with apparently little desire to further mature...
at least for the time being. The article actually makes some valid
and good points if one can read it with an open mind to morality relative to
divine absolutes and within the context of actual and ongoing revelation from
God. Apparently, many still cannot.