Defending the Faith: Is morality mere illusion?

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  • Objectified Tooele, UT
    March 24, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    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.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 22, 2014 4:34 a.m.

    Morality is an illusion only to the extent that happiness and justice are illusions.

  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    March 18, 2014 8:44 a.m.


    I 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.

  • bolshaya_kartina Boise, ID
    March 18, 2014 1:19 a.m.

    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!

  • Ranch Here, UT
    March 17, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    @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 "right direction"?

  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    March 17, 2014 9:47 a.m.


    Thank you for quoting a bunch of scriptures that do not answer my question. Now would you like to answer it?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 17, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    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

  • Bob K portland, OR
    March 17, 2014 12:15 a.m.

    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 Commandments
    The 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 God
    Placing one religion above others
    Insisting 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 SLO, CA
    March 16, 2014 12:22 p.m.

    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 special?

  • Spellman789 Syracuse, UT
    March 15, 2014 7:33 p.m.

    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.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    March 15, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    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.

    March 15, 2014 6:38 a.m.

    @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 that love.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    March 14, 2014 10:10 p.m.

    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.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 14, 2014 5:04 p.m.

    @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.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    March 14, 2014 4:28 p.m.


    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 Phoenix, AZ
    March 14, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    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 aint.

  • Candide Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    @ mhenshaw

    As 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.

  • Candide Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    @ The Caravan Moves On
    You 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?

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    March 14, 2014 12:44 p.m.

    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 by?

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    March 14, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    >>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.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 14, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    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 is not.

  • Justin Orem, Ut
    March 14, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    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).

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 14, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    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.

    March 14, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    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.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 14, 2014 10:41 a.m.


    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.

  • Deanvrtc Vancouver, WA
    March 14, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    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.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    March 14, 2014 10:28 a.m.

    @Church member - North Salt Lake, UT - "To: The Caravan Moves On - "And yet every religion "knows" they are truly the correct one."


    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.

  • ultragrampa Farmington, UT
    March 14, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 14, 2014 10:12 a.m.

    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.

  • illuminated St George, UT
    March 14, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    "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.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    March 14, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    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 within"?

    March 14, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    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 me.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    March 14, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    >> ... 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.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 14, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    "...>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?

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    March 14, 2014 8:56 a.m.

    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").

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 14, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    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.

    March 14, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    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 Thomas Hobbes.

  • CynicJim Taylorsville, UT
    March 14, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    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."

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    March 14, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    @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.

  • Lilalips Attleboro, MA
    March 14, 2014 7:27 a.m.

    @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.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    March 14, 2014 5:30 a.m.

    @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.

  • Linguist Silver Spring, MD
    March 14, 2014 5:23 a.m.

    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.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    March 14, 2014 2:44 a.m.

    “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.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 1:02 a.m.

    The problem with this analysis is:

    1. If there is no God, objective morality and moral obligations don’t exist.

    is false.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:29 p.m.

    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.

  • mauister Wailuku, HI
    March 13, 2014 9:14 p.m.

    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.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:02 p.m.

    To: The Caravan Moves On

    And 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.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    March 13, 2014 8:24 p.m.

    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).

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    March 13, 2014 7:40 p.m.

    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.

  • Tim Dean Sydney, 00
    March 13, 2014 6:18 p.m.

    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.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 13, 2014 5:42 p.m.

    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!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 13, 2014 4:56 p.m.

    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 last one.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    March 13, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    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.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    March 13, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    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 interesting.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    March 13, 2014 3:19 p.m.

    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.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    March 13, 2014 3:12 p.m.

    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.


    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.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 13, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    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).

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    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.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 13, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    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.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 13, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    @ 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 Vader

    It’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 discussion… peace!

  • Rob_ Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    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.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    March 13, 2014 2:18 p.m.

    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?

  • Kazbert VAIL, AZ
    March 13, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    "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.

  • Kazbert VAIL, AZ
    March 13, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    "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.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 13, 2014 1:50 p.m.

    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.


    See 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.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 13, 2014 1:50 p.m.

    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!

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 13, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    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?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:55 p.m.

    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!

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    March 13, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    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)

  • Heresiarch Roy, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    “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, 1842

    Joseph 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.

  • Rob_ Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:26 p.m.

    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.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 13, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    Tyler D
    I 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.

  • bc_pg pleasant grove, UT
    March 13, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    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.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 13, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    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.

  • Candide Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 11:20 a.m.

    You 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 Lights
    You 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.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 13, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    @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?

  • tellitstraight Hurricane, UT
    March 13, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    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.

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    March 13, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    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.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 13, 2014 10:43 a.m.


    You 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 Lights

    To 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.

  • Sister Gemma Tallahassee, FL
    March 13, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    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.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    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.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    March 13, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    >>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.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    March 13, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    >>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; and
    3) "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.

  • Justin Orem, Ut
    March 13, 2014 10:19 a.m.

    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."

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:17 a.m.


    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.

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    March 13, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    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.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:16 a.m.


    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.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    Tyler D

    What 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?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 13, 2014 10:10 a.m.

    Tyler D

    Pascal’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 reality

    If God is acting out of caprice, then you are right. If God is acting for our best eternal outcome, then no.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    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.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    “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.” ― Marcus Aurelius

  • GameTheory Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:03 a.m.

    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.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    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?

  • Rob_ Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:51 a.m.

    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 intuitive.

  • bc_pg pleasant grove, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    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.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    March 13, 2014 9:36 a.m.

    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.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    March 13, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    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?

  • Candide Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    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.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    "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...

  • Ed Firmage, Jr. Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    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.

  • scwoz gambier, oh
    March 13, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    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.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 13, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    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 necessary.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    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.
    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.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 13, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    "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.

  • Rob_ Lehi, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    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.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    March 13, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    Happy Valley Heretic

    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?" If so then would you agree with the needs of the many (religious) outweigh the needs of the few (athiests)?

  • John Marx Layton, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    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]."

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    March 13, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    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.

  • Justin Orem, Ut
    March 13, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    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 essay
    Ruse 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 essay
    Quotation from Romans 2:14-15: found on p. 110 of Meister's essay
    Moral argument: page 18 of Craig's essay titled "Richard Dawkins on Arguments for God"

  • DocHolliday reno, NV
    March 13, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    Joseph 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.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 13, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    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 conflict

  • Chinfat Sandy, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    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.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:28 a.m.


    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?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    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 911
    Morals 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.

  • Kimber Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    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.

  • Mayfair City, Ut
    March 13, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    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 source.

  • windsor City, Ut
    March 13, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    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."


    My own Atheist tries hard to answer this but he himself as an Atheist cannot come up with a cogent reason.

  • jn540 Austin, TX
    March 13, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    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.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    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 perplexed.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    "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.

  • Brian Westley St. Paul, MN
    March 13, 2014 8:00 a.m.

    "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.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    March 13, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    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.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 13, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    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 of us.

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    March 13, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    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.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 13, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    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 religion.