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Discussion 3 on Talk Back 105
You did not make a point to misunderstand

by: JT

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In your original comments you clearly stated that atheists would consider "what the Germans did to the Jews in the Holocaust was morally acceptable." And that in itself justifies my response which I deliberately titled "The abysmal ignorance of linking atheism to the Holocaust." I see no reason to retract a word.

In your reply. you state "I was not accusing atheists of being responsible for the Holocaust, so why are you lying?" No lies, Anthony. I did not say you accused atheists of being responsible for the Holocaust. What I did do was accuse you of linking atheism to Holocaust - something you did in your unwarranted unsupported claim that atheists would find the Holocaust morally acceptable. That deliberately linked atheism and support for the Holocaust when no association exists. And you admitted making the link immediately following the accusation of lying by saying "I said that under atheism's position, there is nothing objectively wrong with what Hitler did." Again - you link the evils of Hitler to atheist morality, deliberately.

You are claiming that atheists see nothing wrong with evil, thereby linking them to evil. You are completely and utterly wrong. Whatever point you attempted to make in your original article was missed because no point was made other than you did not know what you were talking about.

Now in your latest, you say your point (that I supposedly misunderstood) was that "without God, there are no objective moral values." Notwithstanding the fact that this "point" appeared precisely nowhere in your initial comments, nor did you provide a scintilla of evidence in support of this bald assertion in your follow-up, I will deal with it quickly. It was debunked by Plato about 2,400 years ago, and no-one has successfully refuted Plato on this since then.

A quick summary in a Christian context is Leibniz's version: "It is generally agreed that whatever God wills is good and just. But there remains the question whether it is good and just because God wills it or whether God wills it because it is good and just; in other words, whether justice and goodness are arbitrary or whether they belong to the necessary and eternal truths about the nature of things."

For a detailed examination of the argument, see Euthyphro dilemma as discussed in Wikipedia or Philosophy Index.

But if those readings are too heavy for you, consider this, Anthony, when you examine your supposedly god-given objective morality.

Are you for or against slavery?

I will presume you are against it. I will presume you regard it as morally wrong. Possibly you even might regard it as objectively morally wrong.

Why are you against slavery?

Consider this - nowhere in the Bible is slavery identified as morally wrong. Indeed, the God of the Bible encourages the Israelites (who had been enslaved) to enslave others. The Bible, both old and new testaments, contains injunctions on how slaves should treat their masters and how masters should treat their slaves. Not once is Jesus or any other biblical character on record opposing slavery. Based on the Bible and based on the Bible's reports of God's commands, slavery is morally right and actively encouraged. Thus, by your standards, slavery must be objectively moral.

Is it? Or isn't it?

And I'll point out that the Christian churches fought and argued for over 18 centuries to support this vile institution. And only towards the end of that period did a few brave Christians join forces with freethinkers to oppose slavery, which still remained supported by the overwhelming majority of Christians for far too long. Because the Bible required they treat this evil as "objectively moral."

Now tell me Anthony - on what basis do you oppose slavery?

I suggest that this moral determination comes from outside of the bible, and outside of the Judeo-Christian God. It comes from a realization of a common humanity*, not from any god.

One last point, Anthony, if you have borne with me this far. Your final comment - another unsupported assertion - was that atheists "don't believe that there is any objective reason to me(sic) 'moral.'" I invite you to read Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape in which he attempts to make a case that "in principle, science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible."

Yes - he is proposing the possibility of an objective morality without God. I'm not going to argue he successfully makes the case, but in terms of identifying the possibility of an objective morality, Harris succeeds far better than does any unsupported religious claim of objective morality depending on a deity.



* Morality arising out of a recognition of common humanity is expanded upon in Reflections on Ethics 98.