Metacrock In Action

Here are a couple of my battles on the internet archived for the instuction of anyone who finds them instructive. It is not that I think I'm so brilliant, or that I think my apologetics are better than anyone elses. But I do think that even blind dog finds a bone. However, these are good posts but they demonstrate me in action against my best arch nemesis who I shall call Dr. M., for Moriarity. This guy is a professional acadmeic, and he's the best sketpic I've seen on the Net. I will not make any claims to beat him, I would feel lucky if anyone thought I merely held my own. But I will leave it to the reader to decide who got the better of whom in these these exchanges.

The main content of these posts deal with science and religion, the argument form religious experience and the moral argument.

I.Argument from religious experience

This first one comes after a long struggle that lasted almost two months on science and the argument form experience. They were the most intensive running battle I've had on the internet and really I wish I could archieve the whole thing but they would contain at least 100 posts! This is probably the best compartment of my view on the argument. I leave it to the reader to decide what was the outcome. I merely want to point out that I do have great respect for this opponent and I in now way mean to deal with him unfairly in archiving this post. Dr. M's words in white, mine in other colors.

Final Debate on Argument From Religous Experience.

M's responses are in white, mine are other colors.

You have continually looked at this GC [God consciousness] business as though it is an argument for the exitence of God.I've told you

repeatedly that it is not but you presist in treating it as though it is.That's one of the major reasons I say you are

distroting my arguments.


I just say that in instances where you wish the results of an argument to be able to freely interact with the body of human knowledge (including science) you cannot assert God Consciousness as a defining element of that argument or a necessary attributive quality of that argument because it's validity presupposes the existence of God.


NO, it does not. What it assumes is that the interpritation of the experience is accurate, and than as a means of explaining the rationale for the experience it assumes God. But this is only after the initial phenomena has been experienced. Moreover, there is nothing about that that cuts it off from logic. IT is the same kind of thinking that leads us to conclude that life is real or that we are on track in juding the external world. To cut us off from that leaves us with solipism.


Let's try it like this:

in instances where you wish the results of an argument to be able to freely interact with the body of human knowledge (including science) you cannot assert Superman's invulnerability as a defining element of that argument or a necessary attributive quality of that argument because it's validity presupposes the existence of Superman.


OK, let's try it like this: The other day I was balancing on a scaffalding washing windows on a sky scrapper, and i fell off. As I plumetted to the ground a man came flying through the air, dressed in blue tights with red cape, and bore me back safely to the building top. As he flew away I asked his name but all he said was "Up up and away." Now i've heard of a guy called superman who flys thruogh the air and fits this description. I'll just bet this was him. Now I sware this really happened. Superman is real! I'm not joking or lying. Now why is this anything less, assuming it really happened in my experience, than an honest account of somehting I experienced. Now you can choose to think I'm nuts, but you cannot say that it is presuppossing anything. IT just happened.

[explaintion of how GC came into this debate; not as a stairghtforward proof for God's existence, but an explaination as to why there is no physical data confirming God's existence; because the trace of God in the universe is not physical but expirential, pehonmenological]


Again, believe what you want, but do not mandate the results of that belief onto the body of valid epistomological thought if your intent is to permit these spurious aprioris.


YOU are the one who is stipulating. You are merely stipulating that religious experience cannot be a valid reason to believe. You are stipulating that no experience can be evidence of truth, and you are stipulating that experience must be viewed as excentric, ect. in short, you stipulate that only science and only phenomena that back your view have any validity.


I Said there was no evidence available to us to support God Consciousness. There is evidence available to you. That is valid phenomenological inference TO YOU and to no one else. It interacts with Logical thought not at all. What you espouse is in incorrect use of the idea of propositionally positing events. You don't do so and then proceed with an argument, like the results and then attempt to apply them universally.


I know. I don't. I didn't claim to or try to. That is your assumption. All I said was that you cannot dismiss GC as though it is merely some little excentricity. And you can't. You are sore because you can't. It has import because it is reason to believe. If one finds me a credible witness than it is valid for them as well as me. IT is inter-subjective. IF you don't find it so, than don't believe. that's all I said.


You do so and then argue to reductio ad absurdum thus disproving the position or argue to a definitive position provably unnatainable any other way thus proving the value assigned to the predicate.


That's just a lot of hoooey. that is not at all what I'm doing. Now you have to come to terms with William James and I haven't seen you address him once. What I'm suggesting is no different form anything James says. Where do I argue to absurdity? Why do you say that? IT is simpley absurd to think that you can disprove someone's experience. It is equally absurd to think that such experience proves anything, unless one finds it credible!. IF another human being decides that I seem to know what I'm talking about and they decide to believe me, than it is also meaningful to them and no amount of logical argument can destory that. Now if you want to call that being cut off in a comic book world fine. I love DC comics.


You are a grad student. If you don't know better, who will? Once again formal logic is not just one kind of logic and non-formal logic another. There are rules we attach to logical discussion because they have worked. If they are in error, please discuss where but be prepared to accept the consistent application of your appended systems as they apply to other belief systems thus freed from their burdens of application to logic.


Mut, you are the one who is acting like different logics deserve some formal presentation. I never said non-fomral logic is a different set of rules, it still requires that an argument be logical. But the difference is it doesn't require a fomral presenation.NO symbols, no numbers, it proceeds discoursively. You seemed t be demanding that I pick between modal logic or non-modal and present it formally. I'm saying if you think I have an illogical argument then tell me and I'll argue about it.

[still Metacrock]

I think the thing you are having trouble coming to grips with is that I'm not trying to prove anything by logic! You are so chomping at the bits for an argument about God you just can't accept when you have a non-argument on your hands. IT's my new appraoch to zen apologetics. But really, it's nothing more than good old fashioned witnessesing. This is what happened to me, and this is why I believe. deal with it.


(this includes white supremacists who, all data to the contrary, claim mental superiority over Blacks)


I haven't claimed anything that's contradicted by data. you don't have any data that says I didn't have my experiences. You are arguing form a lack of data. Your whole argument just amounts to saying there is no scinetific proof for God. And I say, yea, that's right. So what?

[still Metacrock]

I say bosh and bunck! (but not to be insulting about it). I say by the standard of your own analogy, that of everdayexpereince, there is rational reason to believe; not demonstrative evidence, and not scientific evidence. But thenature of science as inductive and natural observation means that there are corners of experience which leave outthe traces of God which do exist in the unvierse. They cannot be assertained by scientific methods. They must be gleanedthrough a phenomenolgoical apprehension of reality.


You introduced that as a standard, I did not. Not once have I required that an anecdotal situation or my inference deriving from one be given an advantaged position or that conditions statistically irrelevant be given a high priority due to their "everydayness". Once again, you are welcome to your phenomenological aprehension of reality, but it never really stays there, does it?


I seem to recall someone saying that If my tv goes out I check to see if its plugged in and that's a testing and that's scienific like thinking and the everydayness of that sort of testing shows that science is good and true ect ect. Why is that differnt? We all have that everydayness. And it's the only proof there is for the reality of life. You can't prove life is real by modal logic or scientific study, we all affirm its reality because we experience it consistantly and thus have no reason not to.


Now, it's much the same with religious experiences, depending of course upon the nature of the experience. But given a religious life over time, consistancy and regularity create signposts of reality. Now I have not stepped over any kind of line to try and argue "therefore, God exists QED." As much as I would like to I have not tried to push that this is a logical proof and have denied it everytime. So I don't see how you can scold me as though I'm in your class or something. I have advanced this purely as inter-subjective at best and purely a matter of "witness." You want to call it anectotal (Holy dismissell Batman) that's fine.


You are a funny guy. I prmoise I haven't been doing this on purpose, but you go through so much rigamarole when all you have to do to beat the "arguemnt" or "non-argument" is just say "I don't buy it." Ok, I can't do anymore, fine.


Now you try to point out that the GC is the assumption of a co-determinate and that is God. So it could beadvanced as a logical argument for God. But that would be a mistake for several reasons. You have admirablypointed out many of the problems with doing it that way, and that's why I dont'.

Dr. M:

You do. You pretend not to. Would your god consciousness be of the same quality in the abscence of a god? If you answer yes, then it is unconnectable in reality to god in any way.


That's unanswerable. How could I possibily know that? All I know is that this is my experience and this is what I came to believe as a result of it. Now the only reason I seem to go beyond that is because I think that's pretty good in and of itself. But you want to consign it to comic book land. So in trying to say why I think it is more than that (more than a mere excentricity--which doens't make it a logical demonstration) you blow my position up in your mind until you imagine that I somehow sneakily think it is a logical demonstration. I don't. I never said that and I don't think it. Now I grant you I dont' think it's illogical. That is,taking that term to mean "crazy" or "insane" or "non-sense." I certainly wil argue that in that sense it is logoical in the sene of everydayness of experience but not in the sense of a logial demonstration. And another thing, go read Alston. I can't pull off all he says about it but he make basically the same argument.

Dr. M

If no, then you presuppose an existent god every time you mention it within the context of logical discourse and someone has the right to call you on it. I don't usually do this but I have to add these to that statement - !!!!!!!!!!


So let me get this stairght. Yes and it's not connected to God, no and it presupposses God. So it's wrong either way, and therefore is wrong to begin with. That's nothing more than double bind. Now it seems to me that if it is illogical or wrong headed to begin with than there should be some reason you could point to apart form this dilemma. I mean, since I'm not saing it's a logical demonstration it can't be its' lack of demonstrability. What it really amounts to is you want me to say experience is always wrong. Sorry, that's not a logical assumption. Why should experience always be wrong? To answer that will only lead to a circular argument, because since I've already concluded that it's God I'm clealry suppossing that God is in the experience, so without God, having already concluded that, I guess it wouldn't be the same, But then that assumes that I'm right in thinking it God. IF it isn't God and I'm wrong it would be the same, but doens't the fact that it's an expost facto surpmise make any difference? I mean I"ve had the experience, and concluded what I concluded. I didn't start out thinkging I'm going to believe in God now. I had the experiences first and then became convienced that it was God I experienced.

[not formal proof]


Superman's invulnerability (or any other character trait) may be equal reason to believe. I've had this argument. Every quality we attribute to superman gives us ample reason to believe that he is capable of transcending whatever barriers limit him from possibly existing in this universe. And I can really argue with that position. the position espouses a possibility, which is a reason to believe only assuming the rejection of the most available and likely possibilities. Still, if you choose to call it that, fine. To an outside observer it is an affection to a principle that allows an individual to believe what is essentially a less likely set of conditionals attached to an event.


To you outside observer maybe. Also, we know that Supes was invented by two Jewish guys form Newyork (Schuster and somebody I think. I keep wanting to call them Simon and Schuster but that's not right). IN any case that's rather begging the quesition. You know you have hold a fictional character. You are just doing the same thing you accuse me of doing and projecting it on to my arugment. Now supposse I really thought I had been saved by some flying guy in tights? Proabably that would prove i'm nuts, but what if millions of others said the same things? And what if their descriptions were all basically consistant about this guy. And what If I just didn't seem as nutty as I do? And since I had no belief prior to that and no expectation of meeting this would-be superhero I couldn't pre-supposse his existence so wouldt that make a difference?


And as far as my first trying a and then b until my options expire... you know as well as I do that that is intellectually disingenuous. Did I ever attribute your belief to an eccentricity?


What do you call a growen man reading comic books? What do you call comparing it to comic books?

Dr. M:

No. Do I perceive your belief set as a compendium of least likely or less likely compunded conditions for which no evidence exists? Yes.


Why is experience not evidence? Anecdotal if you will, but why is anecdotal evidence not evidence? It's not "the best" but then something tells me nothing would be short of a study.And don't accept phenomenology anyway. But that just cuts back full circle. You only accept one thing as evidence, it has to be science and it has to exclude what you dont' agree with metaphysically. IT is in fact a meaphysical predillication masqarading as objectivity. But that just cuts to the heart of all of our disagreements. i believe faith is valid a prori and you don't.

Dr. M:

Have you presented reason to believe otherwise? No. Is the constant positioning of God consciousness in an argument of this nature, regardless of what you are intending it to do, constitute a tautology? Oh Yes. I discussed that in a different post. It very nearly doesn't even meet the conditions of the first definition of tautological- asserting the logical form over the content of the predicates- because it's weak in asserting the form either, but it's exceptionally adept at satisfying the second definition of tautological insomuch as it redundantly asserts a position you are unable to introduce on it's own without additionally supportive data.


It can't be the former, since I dont cliam it as a logical proof. It's really closer to being an empiracal claim since it rests on experience rather than logic. But its an empiracal cliam with no supporting tangible evidence that's true, but not without any supporting evidence. It's just not evidence I can' show you. But if you knew me before and knew me all these years you might think it differenlty. Changed life, ect. I'm the evidence. As all Christians are.Now i fail to see how this is tautology.

[say, you don't think i come accross as a bit of a hot head in that one do you?]


Posted by Metacrock

for Dr. M:

That ending got chopped off and I can't remember my pearls of wisdom so they are lost to posterity forever. O, well. If we made no other headway form that I think there is one thing that makes me feel better, and if you got nothing esle form that post I hope you picked up on the idea that the sense in which I sepak of the GC (and other experiential phenomena) as "lgoical" is in the sense of "I'm not nuts" not in the sense of "here is a logical proof." I wish I had claerified that sooner.

NOw here is a Gardner parable to further illustrate the sense in which I think this non-proof has any validity above and beyond being a mere "Blick." Because I do think it means something that I have a GC, but what it doens't prove is a logical demonstration of God's existence.

Well it offers an illustration of the trace of God in the universe as phenomenaological and offers therefore an object of discourse, but beyond's the parable.

I'm sure you are familair with John Wisdom's Gardner parable. I think there are three, one by Hare, one by Wisdom, and maybe by Flew. I always thought that Hare's was more fair to the beiever. IT does afford some reason why they would think there was a Gardener. But Wisdom's doens't. So If ind it loaded against the beleiver. IN fact the makes his garden to all practicle purposes seem un-kepmpt which means it's irrational for them to even supposse there is a gardener.

Now here's my parable:

Two men (or two women whatever) walking along see a garden out in the middle of nowhere. One finds a tabaco pouch and observes that the garden is weeded and planted in rows. The other observes that the rows are not very stairght so it's really hard to tell, and that in many sections the weeds are overgrown. Observer A says "maybe someone planted this." B says "there's no data! It's a tautology, you are presuppossing a gardener and you dont' go t the university of Chicago so you can't know anyhting (just kidding just kidding).

They scoure the coutnryside and find no gardener.They camp out and wait and find no gardener. They examine all the plants carefully and find no trace of a gardener.

B goes home. A sits around and suddenly a man comes up, tells him he is the gardener and they talk about flowers for a long time. The man wont explain why the garden is so untended in sections and he wont explain why the rows are so uneven, but he assures A that he is the gardener and he does seem a prince of a fellow and knows all about flowers.

The next day A goes to B and says "there is a Gardener I met him." B says "ther's no proof of that. IF there is a Gardener why didn't he explain his methods?" A says "I assume he has his reasons" B says "O, that old saw, all the gardener believes say that!"

Now the real situation with belief is a bit more complex than this. I can't claim to have actually seen God (well mabye just a little bit, but then I cant' explain why he looks so much like Bob Dylan--and it helps if you do two tabs but that's another story). Still, the thing is A couldn't prove that he saw the gardener. The Gardener's presence wasn't detectable, he didn't alter the garden in any way that B could detect. He didnt' give A an autographed picture, and let's also say that he didn't tell him where he lived and mysteriously vanished when A wasn't looking. But A is totally convenced that he did in fact see him. And the knowelge of gardening that was imparted to A did make him a superb gardener.

Now, is there really no reason for B to decide that no gardner was seen? There is no logical proof that he was seen,but A is totally sincere abou having seen him. Is it really so illogical to assume that A merely pre-suppossed it? He coud have made it up or dreamed it, but is it really so illogical to think that he did actually see the gardener?

Now I think that, apart form believablity of the witness, kicks it back into the realm of believability of the concepts and the sense that they make as concepts. The sense they make of the world. In other words, it offers one an opening into the inner logic in a way that wasn't there otherwise,but it doesnt demonstrate the truth claims in a logical argument.

Unless you are willing to believe that inner logic a pariori can't have corrospondence to the truth; but then what about the inner logic of your metaphysical assumptions? They have no inner logic, they are objective and proven right? But I think Kuhn would suggest that even though scientific data is, but in as much as data must be interpreted and data does not give us metaphysical assumptions but is interpreited by them to the extent that scinece is culturally constructed, there is an inner logic to your metaphysical assumptions.

BE that as it may, the inner logic of belief can have openings accorss liminal space, into the shared world of unbeleif.Perhaps not the kind that force assent, but the kind that allow access. After that point the struggle becomes one of explianing the concepts and demonstrating the inner consistency.


This is a post to internet atheist, He began with a post saying that Christianity is anti-intellectual. Than a Christian responded by saying Christianity gave birth to modern science.


Sketpical type:

: gave birth to science my ass, considering a huge range of scientific discoveries where made BEFORE CHRISTIANITY WAS EVEN FOR OF.


>>What does "for of" mean?

skeptical type:

: Dimwit.

>>You are not one to talk.

Skeptical type:

: Ever wonder what created the dark ages? Christianity.

The rest is all me.

>>That is total BS and if you knew even a 6th grader's level of history you would know better. No historian worth his/her salt would try to pull that off.

First: Dark ages created by power vacuum left with fall of Rome, and Barbaric invasions from the east pushed on by Mongals. Feudalism created by Germanic inheritance laws which were broguht into force in the absence of Roman authority, and the Germanic invasions. The empire was inherited by Germanic tribes that invaded Rome, and they combined their inheritence laws with what was left of roman law and created fuedalism which set up the basic social structure of the middle.

Secondly, there weren't that many big technological invensions before Christinity. But that has nothing to do with anything. Learn what science is! Science is not technology.Science is a theory of looking at the world, a method for understanding certain kinds of knowlege and for understanding the workings of the physical world. Greek scinece had discovered many things and laid the basis for modern science, but it could not have gone much futher. According to R.G. Collingwood and A.N. Whitehead, two leading historians and philsophers of scinece, it was the seperation of mind from mahcine which Chrsianity made possible (in its view of God as distinct from but rationally creating the mechinistic universe) which allowed the mechinistic model that created modern scinece.

Thirdly, Greek scinece died with the fall of Rome. But historians now understand the Renaissance and middle ages to be not so clearly divided. IN the 11th centry a new well spring of scientific curiosity began in Europe in monistaries like Chartre in France and St. Victor in England. This led to a vast scientific movement that only fell apart with the callapse of the mideval synthesis in the 13th-14th century.

But when it re-emmerged, the re-birth of modern science was due also to Christianity.All the major figures of early modern science up to and including the enlghtenment were christian: Capernacus, Galileo, Hoygens, Keppler, and latter most espcially Newton who invented modern science and who was a most devoit Christian, and Boyle and others.

The thing that makes modern science and seperates it from previous versions of science--the culmenation of the big sceintific revolution, is the method of reductionism, which was invented when Newton invented the inverse squar law.

Now, if you don't believe me check it out. Some basic texts: The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern SCience by A.E. Burtt, The Construction of Modern Science Richard Westfall. The Newtonians Margaret Jacobs.

Intellectuals do not rest with surface readings and popular assumptions. Just so you know what the word implies, one who lives the life of the intellect, and that does not mean sticking to popular surface readings.


This is a debate with a friend, one of my regular athesitc advaseries and one I respect, but not M.His name is Nicholas.The question was, is morality moral because God says so, or is it a standard to which God must comply. The latter, and God could arbitrarily change the rules and make murder moral, the latter, and God is not absolute.


God's nature and Moral Law

(N.)This does seem to be a tactic of yours, Meta. You come up with an abstract concept that we all talk about as existing, and then you stipulate that that is "God." You did this before when you were debating with me and you defined God as "Being."


It's not a tactic. IT's basic theology. I didn't come up wiht it, it goes as far back as John of Damascuss in the second century I think (?) but it's a tennet of the Orthodox chruch and of many modern day theologians (Tillich, MacQuarry, and others). You can hardly blame me for applying what I learned in seminary. It's also logical; if God exists than logically all being stemms form God who creates all being, and not only actual beng but all potential being as well. Now in the "non-time" "before" God creates anything, the only being there is is God, and the only being that will come to be is from God--so in that sense God is being itself, or the ground of being.


In one way, this is clever.


thanks. Now i wish i invented it.


If "Being" means "existence," then I would have to contradict myself to say that existence doesn't exist. However, my counter to that would be to just call "Being" "Being." There is no need to anthropomorphize it, give it human like characteristics, and call it "God."

It's not. I explain above my own take on the matter. Now McaQuarry says (John MacQuarry: Principles of Christian Theology that God is beingitself in the sense that one finds aspects of being that imply a speical quality which might be called "holy bieng" there is a numenous, a sense of the Holy for those that experience it which reflects the being-making aspect of being (being "let's be" is his phrase). This is a phenomenologial apprehension of being, the myterious element of being spoken of by Gabriel Marcell for example, and akin to Heidegger (MacQuarry is the first and greatest translator of Heidegger in English). But I prefurr the above version, which I base more on the Orthodox understanding.


But you are assuming it's anthropomorphized, that assumes that one really equates God with human qualities. I see those as more or less metaphorical. I accept Tillich's view that God is Transpersonal, and the anthro. qualities are merely our symbolic understanding.

Now, you are doing the same thing but using the concept "Love." I can ask the same thing, "Why not just call "Love","Love"?


I dont' mean to offend, my friend, but you must not be very familiar with the "B" book. It says in I John 4 something "God is love." In fact it says it several times in that epistle.


That word is complex enough without conflating it to encompass the definition of God. The effect of this tinkering, however, is to make both "Love" and "God" meaningless, to destroy effective communication and thinking about these concepts, and thus set back intellectual gains made in this area. Let me demonstrate this thesis with yopur own words:


NOt at all. It's logical just as the being aspect is logical. Love is a moral principle. This is assuming Agope not merely eros or other forms of love. So this moral principle is not just an abstract principle, by defintion it implies feeling. How could Love itself be impersonal and unaffected? But in fact it's a simple move which was originally made by St. Augistine. The forms are in the mind of God. Love being the background of the moral universe (which I take to be true wheather God exists or not) it is equivolant to the forms and thus, if God exists, love is in the "mind" of God. PS saying that God is transpersonal assumes basic personal structures without personality problems, so it assumes God is center of consciousness, so no contradiction with speaking of mind of God.

(Metacrock)NOpe! I dont' think so. The solution that God is love and that is synonimous with his character so the standard is in side him, is a perfect solution to the problem. Why? Because the standard is not above God, but God is compelled to follow it since it is his own character. God is consistant with his character. The question what if God started telling us to kill babbies, ect. is illogical since it would contradict God's charcter. In a technical sense sure it would than be moral to kill becasue God said to, and the reaosn we abhor that is not because there is an idependent satndard through wich we judge God, but because God put it into us to abhor it.

(Nicholas)If "God" is synonymous with "Love," then it would not be logical to say that "Love" is both "inside God" and part of "God's character or nature."


Man you act like you have never heard of a metaphor! And you teach! That's absurd. Think about it, to say that God "is love" doesn't mean God is the act of loving that I engage in when I love, just as "God is being itself" doens't mean God is the act of existing that I engage in--God is the soruce of love, the source of being. The originator, the standard, the cause of, the motive force of love and being not litterally the things themselves!


An entity cannot both be something and also be inside something or only part of something. Do you see how non-sensical this becomes, how it just messes up the language, our tool for thinking.


That's not true first of all. water is water and is inside water. ligt is light and is inside light. But that just ignores the metaphorical nature of the statement. The reason for putting it that way is to emphasize the metaphysically different nature of God from other eixting things. IN the cours of the arguments on ontology and cosmology you were thinking of God as being another existing thing along side other existing things and thus needing a casue. One reaosn for keeping the metaphor is to empahize that God is beyond the level of existing things metaphysically and thus beyond the level of cause and effect. But another reaosn is simpley to indicate that here we are dealing with a special category.

(Metacrock: formerly)But that couldn't happen because God is true to his character and consistant with who he is. Now of course you can go into a lot of doubting questions like "how do you know God will be true to his word?"

(Nicholas): No, that's not actually my question. You are setting up a straw-man here.

Yea, maybe, but just trying to pre-impt.


My question would be, "How do we know anything about morality if there is no standard other than God's will? We would be slaves to God's judgment, not our own. We would be mindless followers, like Abraham marching his son, Issac up the hill to be sacrificed.


No, this is exactly the point I'm getting at. you tend to think of these things on such, no offense, but fundamentalist level. You think God is just this big judge in the sky, which is still a thing along side other things in creation. God imparts knowlege through revelation, but also gives us reason to use ourselves. Because these things are principles and we can reason about them. They apply wihtin human culture and so we are uniquely equipt to understand them as they apply within culutral life ("them" being moral questions). The basic moral law is written on the heart (Paul--Romans 2) so we are equipted to understand aspects of moral thinking naturally. And we have revelation to further guide us. But in the final analysis sure we have free will and can make choices ourselves, but only God can judge the ultimate meaning of those chocies. Existentialism is selfishness pure and simple. If I was the only being in existence I could blithely make up my own morlaity, but I have to live with others and I have prcinciples which are imparted through God who is the final judge of how I lived up to thsoe principels. But I am left my own freedom to decide how best to do that, and since God knows the heart he knows if I was true to my own understanding or not.

(Metacrock)i really can't see what value this line of querry has. Either it is a mere logical puzzelment, or a tool to provoke doubt.Either way it it not productive.

(Nicholas)You don't think provoking doubt is productive? Clarence Darrow said, "The fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom."


Yea I knew a guy who knew Darrow, he was an alchoholic asshole who chassed ambulances. He knew nothing about wisdom.


There is a gut reaction against killing babies. That is why I say some things are self-evident. However, some people overcome their gut reactions, and that is why we have morality.


Hate to turn fundie on you, but just out of curiosity how would you deal with it if I said "what if you felt that it was self authenticating to kill babbies?


If we all knew what was good and automatically did it, there would be no "ought" or prescription.


NO that's not true at all! Where do you get that? But the point is, it's not all the ten commandments you know. STop thinking of God is the big guy on the mountin with the tablets and try to think in terms of trasencendent reality! That's another reason for preserving the metaphorical speech: God is being itself (and the istself emphasizes that more is being said than just that God = being per se).


Everything would be "is" or description. I agree with Adrian to some extent that Kant's ethics can be Godless. There are other ethics also, even ends based ethics which encompass values which don't require God.


In my view ends based ehtics are the death of humanity. And I would say that if I weren't a christian. Please read John Rawls! Look, I have taught ethics classes as a TA. IT's not just that easy. IN the final analysis teleoglical ethics forces you to do things that are abhorently immoral under deontologically based ehtics. But I'm not the one arguing that atheists can't be moral (although I'm temepted to start) but I was just answering the thing about is God independent of the standard he


This next debate is a long series of exchanges on the moral argument. That is the moral argument on the existence of God page on this board. I chose it becasue I had my doubts about its ability to stand up to scientific data or to prove its objective, but I think it may prove more resilient than I thought at first. This debate is also with the diabolical Moriorti.

1) Universal moral exists and is evidenced by our moral outrage at injustice and human compassion; 2) the Christian doctirne of moral law and fall is more explainitory of human moral condition and is thus indicative of God's existance as the moral law giver.

Moriorti had 3 arguments against moral law; 1) no universal root words for good and evil; 2) morality is genetic and some animals are more moral than humans. 3) human morality differs so between cultures there is no universal standard.


This led to several previous posts in which we discussed the Germans in the holocaust, their cooperation and lack of outrage vs. the German confessing church.


I. Counter on philological argument



First of all, where is the historical innacuracy? The bulk of christian churches in Germany during the Holocaust released no statements condemning the genocide in it's various forms and were actively involved in supporting the action,


What do you mean by "actively?" They were living in a facist police state by that time. Bonehoeffer's sister said that when the Gashtapo would come to check up on them they would give a good line about supporting Hitler and then in secret go on with their resistence stuff. So making a big stand and getting killed may not have seemed like the best way to conduct the resistence to a lot of people.But it is not true that there were no other martyrs among Christian ministers.There were, and many of them did refuse to support Hitler and were sent t camps.


but the Pope did release a biting indictment of the people responsible for the attempted assasination of Hitler... No one ever said that certain agencies did not attempt to support the rescue of Jews.


The Pope's tacit support of the Nazi's was unconscienable and hypocritical, he was also not invovled in the confessing chruch. And institutions were not the only one's to support rescue of the Jews, there were many individuals and chruch that did as well. Shindler was nominal Christian.


I've even signed various petitions to the Yad Vashem to sign Bonhoeffer to the Righteous among the nations.


Good for you.


The point is not, did some people act in a certain way. The point is were there nearly an infinite number of ways to act, all of which were possibly adherent to a particular moral code, perceived by the individual in many cases to be universal? It seems that the answer is yes.


I don't really see how that negates the notion of a universal moral law. I never said this universal moral law was one single standard to which all give assent in every detail in every question. In trying to define it so far I've said: the humane quality in humans, the basic concept that there is a "right" and a "wrong" concieived and justified along any particualr lines, and the basic human emotions of love and compassion.


It's not my intention to demonstrate that all religious institutions condone or have condoned moral imperatives not supported by us here on this board. I wouldn't and couldn't do that. The initial question of endemic moral imperatives asked here on this board had to do with the putatively morally self-evident nature of torturing babies.My goal here is to demonstrate that not only is it possible for people concerned with morality and immersed in the function of a moral code to believe that torturing babies is moral, it is possible for them to believe it to be PART OF THE SAME ILLUSORY ABSOLUTE MORAL IMPERATIVE you are advocating.


So when are you going to prove that?


Nowhere do we see any evidence whatsoever of an absolute code that describes any actions taken by humans that do not correlate reasonably and with close proximation, what might be expected of animals immersed in a cultural iconography with the same functioning biological set of imperatives available to all animals dependant on physiology.


I'm not so sure that matters, since I already included genetic basis as evidence of the moral law I would think we could expect to find some basis for it in animals and that that is actually evidence for it rather than against. Moreover, I have yet to see anything that proves that. Do young apes resuce old apes who are through producing? Do bees deliberate about moral issues? Acting on instict is one thing, being able to think morally is another.


Humans respond less "humanely" to each other and other animals than hundreds of other species I could name off of the top of my head resident in the wild.


Now don't forget the other half of our argument is that humans are also "fallen" creatures, human depravity opporates as a negating force on the moral law. So we have a concept of moral law which we can't always live up to. That seems a more accurate apprasil of what we find among people. Nevertheless I doubt that.If so only because they don't aren't as developed. We have cluture and bigger brians so when we are bad we are very bad indeed, and when we are good sometimes manage to be pretty decent. But, what about Jane Goodall's chip wars? They were pretty savage.


IF the moral imperative is there but not composed of a detailed set of unique imperatives or even, as you say, a dichotomous relationship beteen good and evil, and is found only in the way people are capable of understanding innately how to be good to one another, How do we explain the fact that a chipmunk, or a bonobo, or a macaw, or a vervet, appears better able to respond this way than a human?


Do they? How so? And if so, as I say, because they don't have the fallen side of nature negating it.


Are they privvy to the universal moral code, and if so, what about the number of other animals who commit acts heinous to our sensibilities, are they just removed from the etheric absolute?


Well I would assume that if the moral code is inate than it is part of evolution, and if so than it must be nested in all biological mamals and perhaps even all biological life on earth since it all goes back way way back to some basic common ancestors, or at least seems to be programed into all speicies. why not? and why do other animals behave worse than we do? Hmmmmmm, not because they are fallen form grace too I trust. That's a good point, but I'm not so sure it really proves anyhting. The basis in the moral law, if it is evolutionary may be found in animals but not necessarily in euqual protions. Perhaps some speicies survive becase they can grow beyond it or something. woulnd't that just depend upon the speicies?


The position that there is a universal moral code provides no insight into the actions of human beings,


That is certainly a specious argument. Clearly it provides insight since it explains how we can have such extremes of bad and good.


calls for conditions not in evidence,


What condiditions would those be? We have evidence of human depravity and of human virtue. Unless of course you are saying it calls for assumptions about man as spiritual being and thus existence of God ect, I thought we agreed to brackett that as a given for the sake of argument? I remind you I have stated that I do not see the moral law as a great argument for the existence of God. But assuming it is such an arugment, how can it be an argument for the existence of God and than require proof of the thing it is trying to prove in order to prove it?


and supplies no suplementary information whatsoever.


Such as what?


Analogously, the position that our moral presentiment is biologically motivated and culturally colluded or mitigated allows that the relationships between animal and human behaviour be as consistent as we find them, explaining countless conditions freely available to even a casual investigation into anthropology, and provides a host of supplementary information concerning mathematical assumptions about behavious that are borne out consistently in the behaviour of organisms.


I think those same conditions argue for a moral law, since it may be biolgoically based, I do not see why that is inconsistant. So it may well be that sure we find it in nature and we find it in culture. That in no way means it is not universal. We also find it in humanity in a different way than in nature becasue we are able to develop moral reasoning and ethical theories.

Still Metacrock:

The Self In India and Japan, Alan Roland, demonstrates that cultures taken to be as diverse as India and Japan, and the West have enough bridges between them and share enough basic concepts in the self that psychotherapy works in all three and some basic notions of the self are shared; so the basic human quality of humanity is as well, and since the self is the basic link to the moral through constituative frameworks there is a basis for thinking these are evidence of a moral law in humanity.


The inhumane actions of most people is a pretty good argument against a moral law. But the fact that there are always some who find that shocking and who work agaisnt the evil of the day speaks to the notion that this is an example of depravity. It is over the top. It goes beyond mere self-interest and because clear evil. That it comes through self interest shouldn't surprize us, that's probably what evil is, when we are able to rationalize our self-interest and thus do injustice to others becasue we are more concerned with our own interest, but why are we also able to stand back from that attitude and judge it?


2 on moral law

In one of the posts prior to these an analogy about Color by Charles Taylor in Sources of the Self was used to illustrate how relativists think about the moralists look at morality; that they think color=morlaity is in the objects but it is really in the wavelengths of light and is seen as different colors by different speicies.



1. Colors:

The quantifying elements of color are in the universe. They cause individuals over every community on the planet to develop linguistic roots for colors and understand innately the nature and quality of color. Color roots are consistent and rule-oriented in every culture. this is the opposite of morality. It's just a bad analogy. I don't care if it's a scientist who said it or not. No one is stupid enough to not draw the correlations between the quantifying conditions that produce color in the human and color.


That is totally irrelivant. Why can't you understand these words? The analogy is about how relativists see morality and how they think of moralistic arguments, nothing to do with how color really works


You HAVE to get off of your soapbox about science. We're not talking about science. We're talking about any method of epistemic inquiry that creates truth more often than not. Find an analogy that works. I was not asserting x. find an x that works then to describe this or accept that it is not there.


No, in this case we are talking about Taylor's analogy and you apprently haven't read it, cause that's not really germine to it.


2. Community:

Humans act better than some animals- worse than others- even by dint of our cultural standards. Any theory of morality has to include that data. We are not qualitatively different than animals in that respect. We are part of the same process.

But that assertion is based upon nothing more than bebavior. YOu read into a behavior a human quality like compassion with no knolwege of what an animal feels, understands, or senses. When animals just do by blind instict what hmans struggle with and than do because they come to a decision that it is right to do it, that makes the hman more of a free moral agent than is an animal.

That much is made abundantly clear by the evidence available. Non-community-seeking animals do not exhibit compassion for other members of their species. Communal animals do. That level of compassion is dependant on the level of commodification of their social structure.

Hey! What do you mean by "commodification?" That's my word, where did you get it? And no, that's an assertion. IT is not abundantly clear, it is read into the mere behavior what it means. How do you know they actually feel compassion? Like with my dog, when you stick your face down to Metapup he sticks his face back up and looks real soulful withis big brown eyes. Everyone thinks he's being loving, but I know he just expects his doggie mommy to regergitate food for him.

We fall directly into that statistical cycle. "And how do you equate what we observe with what we feel as compassion."- you assume that we can do that with fellow humans. The inter-subjective nature of love is a convenient illusion. I mentioned this in another post. There is ample evidence of that in every relationship. I love my children, wife, et al. in my own subjective way. They love me in theirs. I am not able to quantify the correlation between the two although there is the subtle illusion that it is the SAME love.

But humans can ask each other. Humans can say "I love you." And if romantic relationship, if they say that and they don't blow you off, than there's ample reason for hope. But if I asked Metapup and he said "No, I just want you to regurgitate some food" than would I have as much a basis for thinking he loved me? (NOw don't get me wrong, my argument is not that my dog and Kittie too don't feel love, I know they do in a fashion, but I'm saying we have more reason to think it among humans becasue we can communicate linguistically about our feelings.

3. I'm not telling anyone what they think.

Thanks for assuming I have no contact with or ability to discuss Indian linguistics. I do.

I didn't assume that. You must have misunderstood. You are quite an accomplished guy and I wouldn't assume anything. But that is still not as good as evidence as the word of Indians themselves.

I extrapolate nothing. There are reams of data on the disparate value predicates of different cultures. Many of them deal with moral instances. Many with just other intangibles. They provide similar inference.

I'm sure that that really speaks to my point. All cultures do not vest moral content with the same "moralism" in a Western fashion. That in no way means that they do not have moral motions.

4. "You dont' save an elderly person froma burning building to further the gene pool."

that sentence describes an incomplete understanding of the way behavioural involutes evolve in social animals. Acts of reasonable altruism create a genetic "prisoner's dillema" with the positive conditionals creating a distinct Nash equilibrium to the degree to which individuals are expected to mate within their gens or localized community.

I admitt that argument was more for E.O. Wilson than for you. His descripton of alturism as genetic would have to rule out altruistic acts that are performed all the time--at least up to a point I'm sure he's updated it sense I read that book--can't think of the title.

This is why I began the itroduction to the biological phase of this discussion attempting to explain why vervets create situations that reduce their personal viability in order to increase the chances of survival of the group. Don't reduce genetics to a single dynamic. It is much more complex than that.

IN my view, genetic basis for morality is not counter evidence to moral law, but actually supports it. The old days, guys like Huxley would say morality is purely cutlural and has no basis in nature because evolution couldn't produce it. But he was wrong!. So I don't see a genetic base as any kind of contradiction to moral law and so that is not an issue. The issue is limitations and universality. We do in fact try and save old people and others. But the point is because there is greater complexity in our thinking it is more than just survivle oriented behavior. It may be based in survivle of the hive on the bee level, but on the human level it is much more than that. We sacrafice our selves to save others.

5. "If not in lanaguage than not through culture."

"If not in the language than not" there is generally what is considered of philologicaly absent roots. non-cultural recognized conditions appear in the language before cultural ones. In language does not mean just cultural.

That's a Pinkham assumption. That doesn't prove it's just cultural. because that means nothing can prove it. Absence of evidence is proof, presence of evidence is proof. it's always proven regardless?

6. "Becasue at the human level it is qualitatively differnt"

How. I see no evidence. Humans act better than some animals- worse than others- even by dint of our cultural standards.

Because our actions are complexly linked to our attitudes, understanding of the world and the diliberative process. Mere behavior in and off itself is not moral behavior--you have to have a moral understanding to act morally. To merely act by instinct is not moral action.

7. "we can generalize and universalize it,

we can coceptualize it in philsophical terms and diliborate about it, and we can balance it

agaisnt other moral concepts such as duty and obligation. If you want to pin those things

entirely to data than humanity is doomed."[not sure who said this]

As self-aware animals we should reasonably do this. If we want to ignore reason and assert vague moral imperatives in which individuals are too invested to examine in depth we are doomed.

Yea, I agree. Fortunately that's not what I'm saying otherwise you would be right. We don't ignore reason to assert vague moral imperatives yada yada; the nature of moral thinking is thinking, we have to undertand it, we have to examine ourselves are we aren't thinking morally. And who says the moral imperative is vague? I think I've defined it fairly clearly; compassion, a sense of moral diliberation; moral agency, will for the good of the other; a sense of duty and obligation; and a conception framework in which to diliborate about it.

8. Humanity.

Is a quality. Not a superior moral state.

It is not a quality. It's a "condition." And I didn't say it's a Supirior moral state, but it is a moral state.

9. Again there is no evidence.

of a universal moral imperative. WE CAN ISOLATE A GENE FOR IT. (in essence) we can describe what's happening through logically consitent extrapolations of studies done an animals begun hundreds of years ago. No one is trying to manipulate the data here.

YOu just persist in ignoring the evidence for it, which is abundantly clear. IT is self-evident. When every culture has a concept of what to do and what not to do, and they wind up condeming the same range of things and lauding basic qualities of compassion--that they dont' live up to these does not errase the fact that they have them. Animals are irrelivant. Animals are part of the evolutionary process too, and if morlaity is based in evolution than we should expect animals to exhibit some basic behaviors that strike us as moral--but there is no way we can read true moral behavior into that because we do not know what they feel, and I doubt that they diliborate about it. The point is you have a pre-set notion of what to look for as moral evidence. And that is based on the wrong things. But also you are just shrinkulating the moral deminsion to one of mere behaviors.


no. 3 on moral law

10. Pinning it down.

I'm saying if it can be pinned down scientifically, then it is a violation of the laws of parsimony to additionally include a universal imperative of which there is no evidence.

Yea that's a real fair assumption.If I can pin it down by my rules than it's off limits to your interpretation! What kind of thinking is that? And your continual assertions that there is no evidence for is just beging the question.

This thread has nothing to do with God. Have we agreed that there are things that really happen? Do we really want to know what has really happened? Than we apply tools that provide the greatest amount of correlation with a map of the event and the event itself. That means being harsh about evidenciary exclusion and analysis. If we don't care, we can jsut say Santa did it. it doesn't matter.

Hahahahaha! That is the most insultingly biased and self serving position! IF we dont reduce morality to mere behavior and interit it my way than we are just saying Santa did it? So why even discuss anything at all? Everything that isn't your view is just an irrational appeal to majgic and Santa Clause a priori, what's the point of even making an argument? We can never discuss arguments for the existence of God because a priori they must fail because everything that isn't your method of understanding is wrong from the outset. What you don't seem to get is that we can use the same data! It's a dispute about interpretation of data, it's not a dispute about different sets of data. That means you just self-servingly decide you have the only proprer interpretation. Now I grant you that most Christian apologists just fold up in to little boxes when it comes to the moral argument. Most of them are not very good and don't really understand the issues. And Frankly one of my profs who is gay and an agnostic is more help on the subject than most Christian apologists I've read. But that doens't mean that no one has a handle on the issue.

11. And you are merely refusing to grant coherence of a concept to the concept itself without due consideration.

MY concept is coherent!

I am refusing to allow an advantaged state to a single concept out of billions that are equally poorly demonstrated. That is good epistomology.

It's lousy epistemology, because you are privilaging your own interpritation just because you think it is inherenlty corrolated to your data. That is, you think they come as a set. You have to see this data in this way because that's what it's for.

12. "All of these considerations of culture are merely intervining variables that come into play."

The fact that you can say that means you should get out of this country more often. The evidence is clear. Humans are no more moral than many animals and considerably less than some. Their moral predicates are skewed and in no way consistently realized toward each other or with respect to some universal imperative.

I grant you I should travel more often. Send me the bucks and I'll be gald to go. But the point is, you are merely refusing to accept moral diliberation as a real process, you "do the r thing" to morality and reduce it to mere behavior and then stick your own interp on that behavior which you privilage by the fact that it's not vested with trasncendent or moralit notions so you figure it must be right.

Even people who have an interest and a goal to interpret and abide by this illusory imperative consistently define it alternately than their neighbors and many cultures have described, over and over, situations in which toruring babies spoke to what they percieved of as some ephemeral good, indistinct and discretely packaged from what another culture might describe and so on and so on.

thereby revealing some notion of God, even though it is screwed. But 1) that is accounted for in my reading of human nature as also fallen; 2) just having some counter evidence doesn't deal with the evidence that I did present. IF they found a Hutoo babbie and didnt' know it was Hotoo (sp) they would keep and nurture it. It's only when they can plug in their schitzy propaganda of self-interest demonizing "the enemy" that they are able to justify their behavior.What would the Tutsi themselves do in a case where one Tutsi kills another for some posession or other, would they agree that that is wrong?

Human compassion is completely understandable in the context of human's involvement in the dynamics at play across the animal kingdom.

Which in no way disproves any sort of moral law.

An alien could determine from observing a statistical set of human families what their diet most likely consisted of and what the nature of their community consciousness was, including socially relevant mores. It is not inconsistent in any way.

You are assuming an alien with your way of looking at things. And so what? that doens't disprove my position at all. Anyone can figure our what people eat and what their mores are, what kind of argument is that?

why would you imagine I would balk at you introducing ethical reasoning when I have said in evry post that the moral imperative we perceive in our consciousness is illusory and not valued, should be reasoned constantly and not subscribed to without investigation. Can you please READ WHAT I AM SAYING. It's really frustrating. You say "ought from an is" like reason doesn't provide that consistently.

Obvisouly it doesn't. I see no analysis here that comes to terms with Humes observation.

We want to create x, reason and experience indicates that if we do p and q happens we then do r which may lead to x. Call anything you want consequentalism, but if we have goals, we must be honest about their realization. Should we advantage our general feelings over the exectution of our reason? You tell me.

That is just consequentialist ehtics. And it's Dewy personified. So you just assume that anything that isn't Dewy ethics is vague and unthinking. Thank you G.E. More. Why don't you try reading some real ethical theory instead of just making a bunch of prejudicial assumptions. There are two seperate issues involved here and two seperate moral arguments; one is an argument for the existence of God (althoug Im' doubtful as it's efficacy; the other is an argument aout what ethical thinking needs to be embraced for society to have a valid and workable ethical view point. The latter would argue that belief in God as the ground of ethical axioms is the best advantage ethically, but it doens't prove there is actually a God. The former is merely an argument about the nature of moral thinking, and in that sense it does involve feelings as evidence of moral states, not as a paradigm of diliberative process.

Now when I say that the pardigm choosing process is the same for scinece as for other congnative changes you say what you say above in number one which is totally irresponsive. That shows a certain emotive reaction on your part. So you are confussing categories, mixing my arguments, ignoring half of what i say, and assuming you are right come hell or high water. That's the best way to think scientifically?


Next to last post on Moral Argument



When you say evolution unaided, it sounds like there's a guy in a goatee running around evolving biological creatures randomly with a little yum yum stick. "There you go---got you. You're evolved- aha, I gave you a funny tongue, you little snake. "

He doens't have a goatee! What's a yum yum stick? And that is a pretty curious form of bagage to attach to the word "aid" that tells us more about you than abaout theoistic evolution.

There's no such thing as evolution unaided. The evolution of a system is influenced by every single condition that affects that system in any way.

Yes, but by that obviously I mean that the moral code was loaded into the system at some point, by God, as is my assumption. yea, since I believe in God and I believe God created than I assume that God created things his way! That's only illogical if you have some hangup about God.

Doesn't it seem just a little bit coincidental that random evolution would produce genes for eyes, ocular interpretive areas in the brain, nerve ganglia capable of transmitting that information and a visible environment. There are two additional factors at play.

1. Behaviour and bio systems proveably generate engrammatically- which is in clusters. There a survival failure mechanism on the system level, the subsystem level, etc that encourages certain traits to manifest in tandem. You are not going to find carnivorous jaws on an animal without the intestinal ability to eat meat. This appears designed but is actually the result of a "fallof" at various systems stages- a potentially monumnental number of system stages are possible from the gene makeup (and lower) on up to organism level and arguably beyond.

Those things are obvious. But that in no way means that ideas can be loaded into the system. No inate ideas remember? And yet, not that we have inate ideas, but the content of morality at a basic level is loaded into it, and it's not moraltiy if dilberation and feeling aren't invovled. So that would require that somehow the attitudes of morality are also genetic. That's on a totally different level than physical charactoristics.

2. We recognize the moral imperative internally as an interconnected web which implies a cerain intrinsic consistency. That consistency is an illusion, as indicated by it's relative pervasiveness in people or cultures with markedly different moral conditionals. The truth is that these moral mandates are separable into involutes themselves. These involutes develop alongside thir campatible engrammatic physiology. An aversion to killing infants is not going to develop in a mammal with an intrinsic linear-scenting mechanism that also hierarchically group mates. It won't happen. An animal in the same environment with no patrilineal-scenting mechanisms will aver towards killing infants. We've discussed over and over again the mathematical certainty with which animals (in cohesive unchanging group situations where the intent to breed inter-gens) protect and even sacrifice themselves for others, regardless of nubility. One action in regards to cooperation or defection in a community can represent one engrammatic evolution concurrent with physiology.

either way it rests on an assumption. If I say it's design or you say the fac that evolution works in this way proves it's not design either is a logical inference and neither can be proven. I dont' think my argument rests souly on the statement about evolution anyway. But what it rests on is the fact that morality is much more than just survivle and to reduce it to that is merely to lose the phenomena. Merely sacraficing yourself for a member of the pack is not moral. IT's merely a proto moral behavior. but where no agency is invovled no moral decision has been made. To then say evolution could produce this because it has is just begging the question. The argument that you wont find this sacraficial institinc in a non-social animal is no proof either because we are social animals, so if th plan was to produce social animals (not necessarily man, we re just the ones that got there first to the top of the food chain and thus devleoped civilization) than we can expect to find traces of it in the food chain at differing degrees moving up the social ladder through social animals. But that still doens't tell us how it is or if it is that mere blind random chance and nothing else could load moral motions into an organisms evolution without it being set up that way to beginin with.

And yes, there is a tremendous cultural implication as well as an added element of brain function that accompanies these acts in all animals and most demonstrably to us- in humans. It's difficult to observe animals in nature and not attribute to them quantitatively differing degrees of the same volition, feelings, imperatives that we humans enjoy. Not qualitatively seperate.

But not moral agency either

Saying it's cultural doens't exaplian it either. IF it isn't unviersal you would expect to find several cultures with no


No, you would expect to find diverse sets of differently packaged moral imperatives, described by different evolutionary envvironments and disparate cultural conditions. And you do.

That's just describing the facts and cliaming it a result of predictive power. And i dont' think so. That's not what I woud expect to find. I woud expect to find many cultures that shed their moral motions because they are inefficient and get in the way of various tidy mindedness.

True the content differs somewhat, but all cultures have morals and all peple (just about) have that basic


And all Gorillas have that basic Gorillaness. This doesn't imply that there is an etheric gorilla consciousness that affects all gorillas.

NO,and it doens't because Gorillas exhibit no moral agency, no undertsanding of tanscendent meaning, no longing for the infinite, no sense of astheitics, no notions of the sublime, in short, there is no reason to suspect that the evolutionary process has vested them with any universal qualities that evolution could not have given a universe void of meaning and purose. But humanity does posses such qualities. and yes, it's true, I'm privilaging trasncendence,and art and music and thinking and moral angency, sorry, I just have this illogical and irrational notion that those things matter.

Small groups of Bonobos are demonstrably more stable and altruistic then similarly sized groups of humans in the way they mate (no jealousy or possesiveness- even toward males from other tribes mating with their pair partner), share food (democratically enough, if a piece of very desirable food is found, the individual who laid claim to the prize the last time may step aside, regardless of size), treat their mates (no recorded instances of partner-beating or rape), and many other elements of their behaviour. To suggest that a moral imperative isn't a worthwile evolutionary gamble denies that community is a mitigating factor for social animals.

Again, this is merely a case of reducing everything to behaviors. When you consider the moral dilemmas and differnt senses of agency ect going on in all those cases with people they are not analogous at all. You have no evidence that that is anything more than instinct, but when people are able to to be good to one anther its because they have a genuine feeling that it is right and genuine concern for the good of the other.

It also reminds me of how people were scrambling to deny that there could be an evolutionary facet to homosexuality a hundred years ago. It's very demonstrably there as well....(Female Chimpanzees have genitals evolved to be more conducive to Lesbian encounters for very logical and intelligible reasons.) How can an animal be encouraged by evolution to perform an act that may limit it's own reproductive viability in the short term (altruistic acts, homosexuality) ? We can continue along this line of inference and talk about how if it's still not

Hmmmm, this presents a whole new argument I hadn't thought of, the argument from gayness. God exists because there are gays. I'm sure my gay freinds will be pleased. I don't think that affects anything. The animals that are "gay" (if they attach that term) are not moral agents and not undergoing the social and moral impoications that gay humans do.Its the added human dimension that makes it a moral issue and makes how we respond to them a moral issue.

And now you have left out the whole other dimension of the argument. The moral diliberation side of things. We have this ability, it arizes out of our constituative frameworks, so it's cutlural and social as well as natural and spiritual, and through this sense we have a profound revulsion for evil moral outrages (although not always opporative but certainly time tested and present in all cultures if not permiating all) and this abilityt o reason on the moral level. and yet what "puts the fire" in the axioms? What raises an is to an ought? merely describing behavior doens't.

If when Sartre said I must care for my mother and she asks me t remain with her but the country demands that I go to war and fight the Nazi's and they are the enemies of France and I want to go, but to whom do I owe the higher obligation? Just saying "x % of all males in meat eating social cultures go to war and x % dont'" doenst tell us what should be done. To understand that you have to understand what an obligation is, and to know that you have to undertand a whole host of things which biology doens't tell us.

So the confulence of this visseral level where we know in the gut that it's wrong to cut off little girls heads to scare people out of supporting the Sandinistas, and this abstract level where we can make ehticals theories about why it's wrong an write briefs for the world court on it suggests that we should be fit for knowing moralty, and yet without something of a metaphysical assumption about the nature of the unvierse there is nothing to put an ought into the equasion. That suggests that God is necessary both as an explaination and a regulative concept to ground our axioms.


Last post on moral argument


[this one is all me]

Do you think I don't see the circular reasoning in this moral argument? Didn't I say from the outset that I wasn't sure it could prove the existence of God? But there is an equally circular line of reasoning involved in your position as well: anything that can be demonstrated as "natural" or mirroring animal behavior proves the genetic basis, but anything that doesn't is the addition of culture.So nothing can ever count against it. Anything that drifts toward "higher" thought is merely priliaging higher thought as "humans being more sepcial than animals."

But the problem with this is, it allows for the reduction of true moral motions to mere behavior and that creates the illusion that anything beyond that level is merely the product of culture and an illusion itself. How does one ever get a point of leverage from which to break out and decide either way?

I think that is demonstrated by the fact that moral motions in themselves must of necessity be more than mere behavior. By definition they invovle moral thinking--diliberation. To that extent animals never exhibit any moral agency. Now that is more curucail than it seems because without that there is no actual morality. I'm willing to think that basic moral urges are evolutionary and thus present in animals. And since present, present in varying degress. IT just makes sense that social animals would have more of a sense of moral urges because there is no real need for those urges in non-social so they would not be selected for through natural selection (those that didn't have them survived and any that tended to exhibit them in that speicies didn't survive becuase they weren't fit for the niche occuppied byt that speicies). But on the other hand, if social interaction selects for moral motions, because the herd survives better when it pulls together than we can expect to see some basis in moral tendencies.

But that doesn't expalin several things:

1) it seems that this is just a reduction to real moral thinking to the consequentialist level and than enshirining consequentialism in nature as a natural selection; as though it's written into the law of the unverse that consequentialist ethics is the proper way to think.But it's conclusions are still morally banckrupt; it is not moral thinking. IT's just an enshirenment of a particualr take on ethics.

So the assumption is made that morality is merely survivle value and helping others is merely for the good of the pack, and than any animal behavior that exhibits those tendencies can be called moral.

2) All of these expalinations that rule out human moral motions beyond the level of survivle value are merely refusing to take account of what morality is. It is duty and obligation. I'm not trying to say that ethics has to be a priori de ontological, but de ontology is necessarily moral thinking,and consequentialism does reduce moral thinking to immoral thinking and behavior.

3) Arguments about God aside, science cannot give us an ought. It cannot tell us anything beyond the level of is. For the ought we have to make metaphysical assumptions.

4) If there is a proof of God here, it is probably not from the origin aspects of morality, at least not in by themselves. Although

A) I would expect to find that some significant development of complex human thought in more than one culture would have followed the line of amorality: some sort of Skinnerian byond freedom and dignity line (not that some haven't tried). But why has moral thinking stuck with humanity every step of the way form the lowest level to the highest, if not because it is intrensic to humanity even in its abstract nature?

B) The Kantian moral argument at least; God as a postulate of practical reason for grounding axioms.

C) As a logical inference from the nature of moral motions, the need for grounding axioms, and the ability think at that level--

D) perhaps at an intuative level that we know self-evidently this is right, it requires a metaphysical assumption to ground it, and God is the grounding.


This is a post to a non-sketic liberal sort of Christian, I think, who I don't know too well. But what he's saying is like what many net atheists say, that if the Bible contains erros and is not 100% historically ture, than it must be a lie.




It1s interesting that anyone would say that the New Testament is 98%

accurate. How could anyone make that claim? Is it historical fact

: >>As BK points out below that 98% means within 2% the text can be restored

t its original reading with virtual certainty.

: : That Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes?

: : That Jesus was born of a virgin?

: : That Jesus turned water into wine?

: : That Jesus rose on the third day?

: : That Jesus walked on the waters and commanded the wind to be still?

: : No, it is not historical fact. More correctly stated &endash; 98% of the New

Testament cannot be confirmed by any means other than faith! So, where would

one get the notion that the NT is 98% without error?


: >>That is probably an overestimation too. I doubt that 98% of the NT is miracles. And most of it is archaeologically validated in terms of names, dates, persons, places, events (other than miracles). So in that sense it's probably a lot more than 2% factual. The rest (apart from assumptions about the supernatural which must be decided by the ideology of the individual) can be taken on historical probablity based upon the trust worthiness of the validated bits.

: Nothing in history can be "proven. Historians always have to judge by probablity and evidence since we can never go back and objserve it. Natually that doens't put the Bible in the same catigory as the battle of Waterloue or the spanish and American war, but it mens that within a range of probability and given our attitudes about the supernatural we can trust it. Than the issue of "historical" events, you should read Jurgen Moltmann's Theology of Hope in which we addresses this probem vis the resurrection; he introduces his category of history making. The ressurection is not an "historical events" but change the rules in favor of belief. The nature of modern history is to exclude the supernatural based upon naturalistic biases. We cannot write history inclusive of the supernatural a priori so no miraculous happening could ever be "historical." But it is History making in that the calim of it changed the course of history.From an existential view point easter faith launced Christianity and created the "great world religion" and the reality of that faith within its phenomenological "space" bears its own reality that makes the "historical" question (with all of its assumptions) inappropirate.


: In terms of the statement if it is 98% true than it is 2% "lie" (and you did use the term lie) this is a false dichotomy. I don't see why the choices are "true" or "lie." The notion of "historical" is not a notion of "true" or ":false" but of probablity and assumptions. When an historian says "this is not historical" he/she is not saying "this is a lie" but that "we as historians cannot comment on this becuase it is beyond the perview of what history is about" and that because a priori history excludes the supernatural.

: Moreover, this assumes the fundie notion of inerrancy which the Bible itself never claims for itself. IT assumes the fundie notion of inspriation which the Bible never spells out. Why assume that inspiration is a ver batum reproduction of some sort of words in the head of the reciever? Inspirtation works thorugh human subjects; it is not an objectified distillment of God's very words, but a reflection of the affects of God events upon the lives of the authors.

: So we should assume that thing stated in scripture are not historically accurate, some things, or not historical statements at all. That is not the same as saying they are "lies." That is not the same as saying that the "Bible is untrue or untrustworthy."


: Now often I've been asked by Skeptic when I argue this (by many Skeptics but one in particualr who bares that screen name, "how can we turst the bible then?" But that question assumes that same kind of fundie way of looking at the question--that it has to reflect accurate historical fact, and that it has to reflect the verbal plenary inspiration.The way we know to trust it is becasue we know to trust the lives through which the inspiration is reflected, and we know to trust them because we know to trust the tradition though which that reflection has come down. But it is not a question of did they litterally storm Jericho, did Peter litterally walk and sink on water with Chrsit? The quetion is about the process of relating to God as reflected through the tradition that is based upon the lives that reflect Jesus' teachings. So ultimately we are trusting the deposit of truth left to the Apostles by Christ and passed on through the chruch. But we dont' trust it in a vacuum, we trust it as it guides us through our own experiences of the same relationship with God.


The Religious A priori