January 10, 2013

Why Science Still Cannot Answer Moral Questions


Sam Harris has spent a great deal of effort writing books and preparing seminars in order to present a case that science can offer an objective basis for human morality. An anonymous atheist posting comments at my blog for a number of days has been attempting to prove the same thing. The belief that science can answer all the important questions in life is called Scientism, and secular atheists seem to be a bit desperate at times to try and prove that this view is true.

The myth of Scientism

The belief in Scientism and scientific morality seems to underscore one of the great hopes of atheist secular humanists. Perhaps there is a deep gut-felt conviction that objective moral standards do exist, and they sense the need to address this intuition with regard to Atheism. What is ironic, however, is that the deep conviction that objective moral values exist, coupled with the utter lack of evidence that materialistic science can validate an objective moral standard, ultimately helps to prove God's existence.

Let's begin the discussion by acknowledging that immorality does exist, even within "objective" scientific circles. Natural News pointed out, "Though it barely received any media attention at the time, a renowned British biochemist who back in 1998 exposed the shocking truth about how genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) cause organ damage, reproductive failure, digestive dysfunction, impaired immunity, and cancer, among many other conditions, was immediately fired from his job, and the team of researchers who assisted him dismissed from their post within 24 hours from the time when the findings went public."

This example demonstrates that there is a need to take scientific data with a grain of salt, because one never knows where objective facts end and where human corruption begins with respect to the results of "objective" scientific studies. But this is not a major point. Now that we've taken note an example of corruption in science, let's consider the science of corruption, or, rather, the science of morality.

Sam Harris' moral theory

Let's consider Sam Harris' argument, that objective facts about real conditions determine objective moral values about human lives. The basis of Harris' main thesis on morality according to his TED event, is this: There is a difference in our empathy between living things and non-living things, therefore, this informs the basis of an objective moral system. For example, we don't feel any moral obligation towards a rock, but we do towards living things such as dogs. Sam Harris is correct in stating that we do have real feelings that are tangible and objective, however, his moral view must ultimately be based upon a subjective interpretation of what those feelings mean in terms of concrete values and a system of morality. And this is where Harris has failed to provide a valid, objective and scientific link. Harris offers no tangible example of how this is possible.

The subtitle of Harris' book on morality states, "How science can determine human values" and the title of his TED lecture boasts, "Science can answer moral questions" but, the fact is, even secular humanist atheists, such as Massimo Pigliucci, PZ Myers, and Luke Muehlhauser have pointed out that there is no real basis for morality presented by Harris. There is only a glaring missing link in Harris' theory between "is" and "ought." The same holds true for the anonymous atheist posting comments at my blog. I thought I should post this article so that our continuous online debate could at least be referenced to a relevant article. So far, Anonymous has offered that he has a moral "system" that is based on "happiness" and Abraham Maslow's Hieararchy of Human Needs. Irrespective of morality issues, Wahba and Brudwell found little objective evidence for the priority of the ranking of needs in Maslow's list, or for the evidence of a hierarchy at all. And Geert Hofstede found the list exhibits an ethnocentric slant.

With regard to happiness, the anonymous comment poster offers that smoking is unhealthy and therefore it is immoral because it leads to an unhealthy and unhappy life: "I have proven the fact that smoking is immoral in my objective moral system, since it decreased the happiness of Hitchens."

But this view is problematic on many fronts. Firstly, most smokers understand the dangers of smoking, but they are willing to trade long term health for a short-term nicotine high and other perceived benefits. On what philosophical basis can a secular humanist claim the latter is more moral than the former? Anonymous would offer a pragmatic answer, that long-term health is a prime consideration and a maximal priority. What Anonymous has failed to understand is that he is merely offering a subjective opinion at this point. Anonymous has failed to demonstrate why long-term health should be considered a moral foundation of right and wrong and not merely a pragmatic observation. He has stated that smoking is "wrong" in his opinion, but he has not offered one single objective example of why "unhealthy" = "Immoral" according to his beliefs.

Christopher Hitchens' bohemian lifestyle

A case to consider is  the late Christopher Hitchens. Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist writer and philosopher, chose a certain philosophical and self-destructive lifestyle,  "leading a bohemian existence as a writer..." and this was an influence that ultimately led to his premature death by cancer. According to commonly accepted definitions of the bohemian philosophy of life, "Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people." Passionate individualism, free expression and a disregard for traditional moral mores are all acceptable and even celebrated attitudes. An atheist bohemian in particular might place a great deal of philosophical value in knowing that there are others like him. He might feel a sense of support and philosophical significance in living an unhealthy and hedonistic lifestyle simply because it contradicts the "heard mentality" and there is no objective reason, in accordance with secular atheism, why his lifestyle and values should be be considered any less moral than the moral values of a pragmatic, utilitarian scientist who refuses to smoke for health reasons. And which secular atheist can authoritatively claim that the sum total of happiness gained in a long life as a moral conservative is greater than the sum total of happiness gained in a short-but-intense hedonistic bohemian lifestyle? Based on which objective reference point would secular atheists claim that Niel Young was wrong?: "It's better to burn out than to fade away."

What I find a bit ironic is that Anonymous claims that smoking is immoral, yet he suggests that a lifestyle that embraces smoking and bohemianism is not necessarily immoral: "I have never claimed that his life was immoral." This reminds me a bit of the moral confusion of a comment poster named Reynold. This atheist agreed that "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions", yet, when PZ Myers states, "I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions" without defining what those conditions are, Reynold remarkably claims, "He's responded to you all that he needs to." When I asked PZ Myers his opinion on bestiality I specifically asked if he believed it should be legal. Instead of a straight answer using moral terminology, he did not even state his opinion on the legal question, but attempted to offer a "not for- not against" ambiguous mish-mash of an answer. Because he takes a situational approach to the issue, it seems Myers' opinion more closely resembles that of the Peter Singer than that of PETA. Reynold has yet to acknowledge that his hard-line moral stance against bestiality is different than Myers' situational approach.

Myers' situational approach, at least what we can make of it, leans towards aspects of pragmatic and utilitarian views of morality. These views are ultimately based on a concept of defining what "the greater good" is for the "greatest number of people." As you can imagine, minorities can end up with the shorter end of the stick in this scenario. Questions arise, "Who is to decide how the "greater good of society" is defined? The government? Who has granted such authority? This question helps to discern one of many distinctions between philosophy and science.

The primacy of philosophy in ethics

Philosophy holds metaphysical primacy over science in the area of ethics because, for one thing, philosophy is more objective on a basic metaphysical level. Science today is based on methodological naturalism, a presupposition that God and the supernatural do not exist. Philosophy holds no such presuppositions, nor does it have to. Though philosophy often does depend on empirical observation, it does not depend on science or any specific scientific method or presupposition. Science, however, does depend on its philosophical presuppositions and accepted principles of the scientific method.

Anonymous at my blog has offered that the "greater good" for each person is somehow based on long-term physical health. I could argue philosophically and logically that the central meaning of life is not to merely to live a long and healthy life. I would argue that, as a Theist, there are much greater purposes in life than this. And, even from an atheist perspective, what if a secular humanist would prefer to live a hedonistic lifestyle, even though this type of lifestyle can be a bit self destructive? For one secular humanist a short and hedonistic life may be preferable to a longer life seen to be more boring. What philosophical objective basis can Anonymous offer to challenge this choice? Science cannot define the nature of "true happiness" or what "the most philosophically significant happiness" would look like, because science does not speak this metaphysical language and cannot address these questions.

The world has witnessed the result of atheistic secular utilitarian-based ethics. I saw the Nazi gloves and lamp shades made with human skin in a museum in Kyiv Ukraine. When there is no "speciesism" and humans are considered to be not much different than rats, then all bets are off ethically. I have outlined how the theory of macro-evolution, coupled with atheistic secular humanism, allows for a logical justification of racism and genocide in accordance with utilitarian pragmatism.

Though Anonymous is convinced there is an objective basis for morality and has spent several days attempting to validate his opinion, he has yet to offer one single valid example of how "is" is connected to "ought" as an objective moral standard. And, though Reynold is convinced bestiality is not acceptable under any circumstances, he too has not offered any objective basis for claiming it is morally wrong as a secular atheist. There are two basic secular positions on this subject and both offer subjective foundational opinions.

Individual rights versus utilitarianism

The two main positions regarding bestiality are, first, the animal rights position defending animals against possibly harmful actions, as defended by organizations such as PETA, and, second, the utilitarian position defending the potential for mutual non-harmful pleasure, as defended by Princeton's "Distinguished Professor" Peter Singer. The first case is subjective morally for a number of reasons. In nature we see interactions of various species between extremes of playing together and mauling each other. If the question of morality never comes up with respect to harmful actions between other species, why should it come up when considering actions between humans and other species? Peter Singer refers to this kind of prejudice as speciesism. And, if farm animals are regularly butchered in meat factories, why does it suddenly become an issue when farm animals might be used in a situation that is much less harmful, possibly even enjoyable for the animal? As a theist, I hold to the "human exceptionalism" position and believe that bestiality is never acceptable morally. As a theist, I have a logical basis for human exceptionalism with respect to my worldview. However, as Singer has pointed out, secular atheists have no such logical basis for this hard-line distinction.

The present utilitarian defense of bestiality stems mainly from a reconsideration of Otto Soyka by Peter Singer, as described in Singer's "Heavy Petting" article : "But sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop." What is ironic is that PETA claims it is defending animal rights by taking a strong stance against bestiality, while another animal rights organization, the ARNC, has honored Singer with an induction to their honorable "Animal Rights Hall of Fame" herein described: "The U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of animal rights in the United States for at least ten years." Perhaps ARNC believes that Singer is helping out with "animal liberation" and giving animals the right to a wider range of pleasures.

As you can see, the question of secular morality is fraught with problems because there is no objective standard or reference point. And there are many examples of atheists in denial who are simply unwilling to admit that no such standard is available in accordance with their beliefs. Perhaps, some day, the conviction that there is a universal and objective basis for morality will help them to consider that God does in fact exist. Because, only if God exists, according to this reference point there is an objective and absolute basis of morality. In this article I've presented a few reasons why science cannot answer moral questions grounded in a logical framework. The question of morality is one that stirs up difficult facts and passionate emotions, and this is why William Lane Craig's moral argument for God's existence is so effective.

The more desperate secular atheists become in their attempts to justify Scientism and a valid secular moral system, the more apparent the truth of God's existence becomes. If they were objective on this issue, then they would simply acknowledge, "Yes, there is no agreed-upon universal basis or system of secular morality, but we'll do the best we can." Instead of this, there is apparently a deep need for moral justification based on some heretofore unknown objective standard. Theists already know what that standard is, the loving and just nature of the living eternal God. If you would like to weigh in on this debate, do post a comment in the blog discussion. The Apostle Paul advised people to test all ideas. Though free and open debate is not possible in most public schools and though most secular institutions do not invite it, it's possible here and quite welcome.

Tags: corruption in science, failure of Scientism, failure of atheistic secular moral systems, the failure of utilitarian ethics, argument for God based on morality, atheists in denial, why science cannot answer moral questions, Sam Harris TED presentation on science and morality, Wahba, Brudwell, Abraham Maslow's Hieararchy of Human Needs, morality and happiness, moral is and ought, utilitarianism and the greater good of society, distinctions between science and philosophy, philosophy holds metaphysical primacy over science

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54 comments:

  1. This example demonstrates that there is a need to take scientific data with a grain of salt, because one never knows where objective facts end and where human corruption begins with respect to the results of "objective" scientific studies.

    Can you explain why this is any more true than stories of clergy engaged in wrongdoing or churches kicking people out is a sign that we should take religions with a grain of salt?

    Philosophy holds primacy over science in the area of ethics because, for one thing, philosophy is more objective on a basic level.

    Again, I don't get this. How can something where the basic principles can be made up by whoever is positing them be "objective"? It's more abstract, but that doesn't make it "objective."

    Though philosophy often does depend on empirical observation, it does not depend on science or any scientific method or presupposition.

    But what's the difference between "philosophy dependent on observation" and "science", in this view, except that "science" doesn't let in things that can't be determined by observation?

    The world has witnessed the result of atheistic secular utilitarian-based ethics. I saw the Nazi gloves and lamp shades made with human skin in a museum in Kyiv Ukraine

    I have seen things like that too, but remember that the war was fought by people with "Gott Mit Uns" on their beltbuckles. Calling Nazis "atheistic secular utilitarians" is debatable, at best.

    And I went and looked at Craig's argument, and this is effective?

    Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]


    The first premise needs a lot more proof than you offer. Sam Harris may not have proven his point, but you haven't proven that he can't, which is what you need for 1 to be true.

    And 2 hasn't been proven either.

    So that's not really an effective argument, is it?

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  2. >Can you explain why this [corruption in the scientific community] is any more true than stories of clergy engaged in wrongdoing...

    Do you mind if I reference your comment the next time someone claims that the history of the church or Hitler's Nazi Germany represent true Christianity? :)

    >How can something where the basic principles can be made up by whoever is positing them be "objective"?

    - It's about methodology, not content. If you look up the accepted definition of "critical thinking" you will see there is an emphasis on examining possible hypothesis with an objective open mind. Philosophers are able to do this with regard to the nature of reality. Scientists today are working within a narrow framework of naturalism with certain presuppositions.

    This is a small example of many that can demonstrate why 'scientific' positivism is considered a failed philosophy, even by secular atheists.

    >But what's the difference between "philosophy dependent on observation" and "science"

    - Philosophy is focused mainly on abstract ideas pertaining to reality. Abstract concepts and ideas are considered of prime importance. A lot of time is spent examining formal logical principles and logical arguments, and to a lesser degree, empirical observation is usually seen as a necessary aspect for confirming fairly basic facts.

    Science, on the other hand, depends immensely on observation in testing materials and theories related to the natural world. Falsification usually entails a physical, observable experiment.

    >I have seen things like that too, but remember that the war was fought by people with "Gott Mit Uns" on their beltbuckles.

    - See the first comment I posted at the top of the thread.

    >and this is effective?

    Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]

    The first premise needs a lot more proof than you offer.

    - So far, Anonymous, you and Sam Harris and all the atheists who point out the faults of atheist moral theories, have all been doing a splendid job of supporting premise 1.

    >And 2 hasn't been proven either.

    - It has not been proven by atheists, but why is there an incessant need to try and prove it? And why do people like Reynold insist that bestiality is absolutely immoral under all circumstances where there is no obejective reason for secular humanists to believe this?

    >So that's not really an effective argument, is it?

    - You've been trying to prove for the past several days that you know there is an objective basis of morality. Yet, you have completely failed as a secular atheist to offer a valid, objective example.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you have me confused with your other anonymous.

      That said:

      Do you mind if I reference your comment the next time someone claims that the history of the church or Hitler's Nazi Germany represent true Christianity? :)

      Sure, but what it has to do with it I don't understand. You can't say "Don't trust science because of this" and then come back and say "You can trust Christians, discount that other stuff" because that would be a double standard.

      If you want your example to say that science isn't objective, then the other examples you give show religions as not being objective, and since at least with science other people can reproduce the experiments and get or not get the same result, while with religion it's all trusting someone else's word or some holy book or the voices in your head, this doesn't seem to help your case.

      - It's about methodology, not content. If you look up the accepted definition of "critical thinking" you will see there is an emphasis on examining possible hypothesis with an objective open mind.

      Except that people don't have "objective" open minds. They might try to be open-minded, but that's different, isn't it?

      Philosophers are able to do this with regard to the nature of reality.

      But if they can't verify what they propose, how is it "objective" instead of just "abstract"?

      Scientists today are working within a narrow framework of naturalism with certain presuppositions.

      But aren't most religious figures doing the same, with their presuppositions? Again, I don't see how the one that doesn't make reference to something everyone can double-check is more 'objective'.

      Philosophy is focused mainly on abstract ideas pertaining to reality. Abstract concepts and ideas are considered of prime importance.

      So the abstract idea is more important than the empirical fact? And this is 'objective'? I understand being more interested in the abstract idea, I just don't get claiming it's more objective somehow.

      Science, on the other hand, depends immensely on observation in testing materials and theories related to the natural world. Falsification usually entails a physical, observable experiment.

      Right. So there's less room for disagreement about objective fact, right?

      - So far, Anonymous, you and Sam Harris and all the atheists who point out the faults of atheist moral theories, have all been doing a splendid job of supporting premise 1.

      I guess this is some of the difference between philosophy and science. Because Harris, if I read right, offered a "this is how we might figure it out" knowing we didn't know yet. That doesn't seem the same as saying "they don't exist", just that we don't know for sure what they are. While the philosophers are ready to say "They're *this*" based on, well, their subjective views and axioms from the book they are told came from God or their own axioms.

      - It has not been proven by atheists, but why is there an incessant need to try and prove it?

      Um. Because if you're trying to prove something really big, like the existence of God, then it's kinda important to prove your premises? I mean, would you accept a disproof of god where one of the premises amounted to "Well, why do we need to prove that?"

      - You've been trying to prove for the past several days that you know there is an objective basis of morality. Yet, you have completely failed as a secular atheist to offer a valid, objective example.

      Like I said, I'm a different anonymous than the one you think was proving stuff to you.

      I'm not sure there is an objective basis to morality. Morality might well be a human construct, one that changes and (we hope) improves over history.


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    2. >If you want your example to say that science isn't objective, then the other examples you give show religions as not being objective

      - The main point in that example was to demonstrate that corruption and immorality do in fact exist, even in science.

      >Except that people don't have "objective" open minds. They might try to be open-minded, but that's different, isn't it?

      - True, but philosophy does not limit objective inquiry in any way, while science does.

      >But if they can't verify what they propose, how is it "objective" instead of just "abstract"?

      - Philosophy can utilize observation and very reality this way, if that is what you mean.

      >But aren't most religious figures doing the same, with their presuppositions?

      - You seem to be going off on a tangent. If you want to discuss this subject, another post would seem to be more appropriate:

      If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-god-exists-then-objective-morality.html

      >So the abstract idea is more important than the empirical fact? And this is 'objective'?

      - In some respects, yes. A person can weigh formal logical arguments based on precise formal laws without observing the subject matter discussed at hand at that moment. However, a scientist could not perform observable testing and draw a correct conclusion without using some logical principles, even if the scientists is not aware of the principles.

      >Right. So there's less room for disagreement about objective fact, right?

      - Within the confines of naturalism, natural phenomena are observed and discussed. Yes, there is less room for scientific disagreement, but there's no room at all for philosophical disagreement, because vast bodies of logical and philosophical issues are not even addressed.

      >Because Harris, if I read right, offered a "this is how we might figure it out" knowing we didn't know yet.

      - Funny, you may have missed the main title of Harris' TED show which states: "Science can answer moral questions" and the subtitle of Haerris' book, "How science can determine human values" Maybe I should post these objective facts in the article.

      >Because if you're trying to prove something really big, like the existence of God, then it's kinda important to prove your premises?

      - Atheists posting comments at this blog continue to help validate that premise every day.

      Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.

      Reynold believes they do.

      The 'other' atheist believes they do.

      Also, Sam Harris and other published atheists believe they do.

      >I'm not sure there is an objective basis to morality. Morality might well be a human construct, one that changes and (we hope) improves over history.

      - Do you believe that bestiality is not objectionable under certain conditions, as do PZ Myers and Peter Singer?

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    3. >If you want your example to say that science isn't objective, then the other examples you give show religions as not being objective

      - The main point in that example was to demonstrate that corruption and immorality do in fact exist, even in science.


      I don't think anyone would be arguing that science is free of corruption and immorality. But does something need to be free of corruption and immorality in its human ...incarnation, I guess? to be a basis for morality?

      - True, but philosophy does not limit objective inquiry in any way, while science does.

      No, you're missing my point. What makes philosophical inquiry "objective"? Abstract isn't the same thing as objective. If it's being done by a person without secure anchoring to verifiable fact, isn't that subjective?

      - Philosophy can utilize observation and very reality this way, if that is what you mean.

      It is. But it seems like the philosophizing you're talking about is a long way from objective verification.

      - In some respects, yes. A person can weigh formal logical arguments based on precise formal laws without observing the subject matter discussed at hand at that moment.

      Right, but unless they look at the premises, all they can say is "this reasoning follows if the premises are true", right?


      - Funny, you may have missed the main title of Harris' TED show which states: "Science can answer moral questions" and the subtitle of Haerris' book, "How science can determine human values" Maybe I should post these objective facts in the article.


      Well, to me, saying "can" and "has" are two different things. I haven't read Harris' book, just seen summaries on the Net, and what I read said he proposed "this is how we can figure out what the principles are", not "these are what they are."

      - Atheists posting comments at this blog continue to help validate that premise every day.

      Wait -- how do atheists posting here help validate than an objective morality exists? I'm confused.

      They believe it, but that's not the same thing as showing it. And the objective morality they believe in isn't, according to you, objective. So their posts are either indicating that it doesn't exist, or it does and there's more than one source possible. Otherwise, it seems like you're saying "They believe it does, but they're wrong about how, so that's proof it does exist, but not how they think it does" -- which doesn't make sense.

      - Do you believe that bestiality is not objectionable under certain conditions, as do PZ Myers and Peter Singer?

      I'd object to it. Therefore it's objectionable. Do I raise that to the level of "objective moral law"? No.

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    4. >What makes philosophical inquiry "objective"? Abstract isn't the same thing as objective. If it's being done by a person without secure anchoring to verifiable fact, isn't that subjective?

      - If I rephrase my answer in a segmented format, maybe then we can see where our communication problem is.

      1. Science,as a formal methodology and branch of academic knowledge, begins with certain underlying philosophical presuppositions today as a starting point for inquiry.

      2. Philosophy, as a branch of academic knowledge, does not require any specific methodology or philosophical superimposition as a starting point of inquiry.

      3. Therefore, as a methodology, philosophy offers a more philosophically objective starting point for inquiry.

      4. It is understood that humans all have a certain subjective bias, but the bias of individuals does not change the accepted methodology of academia.

      5. Philosophy tends to be more abstract than science, but abstraction does not imply subjectivity. Logic and mathematics are abstract, yet highly objective and precise.

      >Well, to me, saying "can" and "has" are two different things.

      - Yes, and I never stated that Harris claimed science "has" answered moral questions. But to say science "can" answer such question today is false. Science cannot.

      You had written, "Because Harris, if I read right, offered a "this is how we might figure it out" knowing we didn't know yet."

      Your summary of Harris is false because your summary offers a tone of speculation. "Might" implies a sense of doubt.

      As I noted, there was no sense of speculation in Harris' claims at all. He has been boasting of something that he cannot provide. He is being deceitful, as are all the secular academicians and platforms that boast this same confident opinion.


      >Wait -- how do atheists posting here help validate than an objective morality exists? I'm confused.

      - The 'other' anonymous atheist who posts comments here is convinced there is an objective basis of morality. He has been debating me for several days now at various articles on this subject. Because he is convinced there is such a basis he is helping to validate premise 2:

      Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
      Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
      Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/10/moral-argument-as-proof-of-gods.html

      As I noted, atheists such as Reynold and Sam Harris also evidently believe premise 2 is true and offer a stubborn persistence in attempting to prove it with natural explanations.

      >I'd object to it. Therefore it's objectionable. Do I raise that to the level of "objective moral law"? No.

      - So, you've stated your opinion that there is no objective reason as to why bestiality should be considered immoral. You seem to share the opinion of Peter Singer. This leads me to a couple of other questions.

      1. Would you want your peers and the general public to know your opinion, or would that make you uncomfortable?

      2. Would you also claim, as Peter Singer does, that infanticide is morally acceptable?

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    5. - If I rephrase my answer in a segmented format, maybe then we can see where our communication problem is.

      Sure, let's give it a try.

      1. Science,as a formal methodology and branch of academic knowledge, begins with certain underlying philosophical presuppositions today as a starting point for inquiry.

      Agreed.

      2. Philosophy, as a branch of academic knowledge, does not require any specific methodology or philosophical superimposition as a starting point of inquiry.

      Agreed.

      3. Therefore, as a methodology, philosophy offers a more philosophically objective starting point for inquiry.

      Agreed.

      4. It is understood that humans all have a certain subjective bias, but the bias of individuals does not change the accepted methodology of academia.

      Here we are. Here's the communication problem.

      You see, "Philosophy" as this big abstract thing doesn't have the presuppositions, since nihilism and process philosophy (say) fit under the same umbrella.

      But philosophers all have presuppositions. All instances of philosophy have presuppositions. Which is why philosophy, unless it's grounded in material and objective fact, is more subjective than science -- since anyone doing it can take their own presuppositions as true and start from there.

      5. Philosophy tends to be more abstract than science, but abstraction does not imply subjectivity. Logic and mathematics are abstract, yet highly objective and precise.

      But mathematics isn't part of "philosophy" unless you go all the way to calling science "natural philosophy" again, and then we don't have a distinction between the two to argue.

      The mathematicians have been teaching the philosophers about logic lately, instead of vice versa.


      >Well, to me, saying "can" and "has" are two different things.

      - Yes, and I never stated that Harris claimed science "has" answered moral questions. But to say science "can" answer such question today is false. Science cannot.


      Not today. But I don't think Harris said they could today, at least from the summaries I've read; he called for a research programme.

      You had written, "Because Harris, if I read right, offered a "this is how we might figure it out" knowing we didn't know yet."

      Your summary of Harris is false because your summary offers a tone of speculation. "Might" implies a sense of doubt.


      Are you familiar with the idea of an existence proof?
      Again, I'm not sure I agree with Harris, but he seems to be saying "There is a way to determine correct objective morality", while acknowledging we don't know how to do it, yet, since terms like "well-being" need more exploration.

      That's uncertainty as to result, not as to possibility.

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    6. >Wait -- how do atheists posting here help validate than an objective morality exists? I'm confused.

      - The 'other' anonymous atheist who posts comments here is convinced there is an objective basis of morality. He has been debating me for several days now at various articles on this subject. Because he is convinced there is such a basis he is helping to validate premise 2:

      Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
      Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
      Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]


      Only if you believe premises are validated by general opinion. If objective moral values exist because enough people agree that they do, then they're consensual subjective moral values.

      So, you've stated your opinion that there is no objective reason as to why bestiality should be considered immoral.

      I'm not sure the concept "immoral" can be grounded "objectively". I don't think it's moral.

      You seem to share the opinion of Peter Singer.

      From what I understand, Singer does not believe "It's not objectively immoral because morality is hard to call 'objective'", but instead "It's not immoral."

      Those are different things, and if you can't see that, why are you having philosophical and logical discussions?

      1. Would you want your peers and the general public to know your opinion, or would that make you uncomfortable?

      Do you mean this to come across as a veiled threat?
      I would be fine with my peers knowing my true opinion; I think it's immoral, but am not sure I could raise morality of any sort to the level of "objectivity" that, for example, the laws of physics possess. What you are trying to say I believe is, I think, different.

      2. Would you also claim, as Peter Singer does, that infanticide is morally acceptable?

      No.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous 2,

      >Which is why philosophy, unless it's grounded in material and objective fact..

      - Both the laws of logic and empirical observation are available as reference points of truth. These are the same kinds of reference points used in science. But, as I noted, science begins the process of inquiry with serious subjective presuppositions, while philosophy does not.

      >The mathematicians have been teaching the philosophers about logic lately, instead of vice versa.

      - That is excellent and sounds interesting. Do you have a link that demonstrates how?

      >Not today. But I don't think Harris said they could today...

      - I just quoted some titles of Harris' books and seminars. Do the titles suggest, "maybe, at some future point, science will be able to..." No, not at all:

      "Science can answer moral questions."

      False, misleading, disingenuous.

      Why is it so difficult to acknowledge what is plainly written?

      >If objective moral values exist because enough people agree that they do, then they're consensual subjective moral values.

      - The moral convictions that people hold are usually strong and convincing and this suggests two possibilities:

      1. Most people have a conscience that is correctly tuned into a universal standard of right and wrong that is absolutely fixed and unchanging.

      2. Most people are completely deluded in their consciences, because all morality is absolutely subjective due to the fact there is no ultimate reference point.

      What counts as proof for one person may not count as proof for another. It is all a matter of what a person holds to be the most convincing phenomena and ideas.

      You seem to be an exception to the rule because most people are convinced deep down that there is an objective basis of morality. Most people are convinced there are certain acts that are always wrong for humans to commit and that there is an objective standard. You, however, are not convinced:

      "I'm not sure the concept "immoral" can be grounded "objectively".

      Yet, when asked if infanticide is morally acceptable you answered with an unqualified, No.

      I'm not sure if you are aware, but many animals eat their offspring:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=spiders+eat+young&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

      Do you believe it is objectively wrong for humans to cannibalize their babies or is the idea simply that it is "yucky" to a very high degree for you?

      As a more tangible scenario, if remote cannibals have adopted this practice and the world has an overpopulation problem, then,from a pragmatic standpoint, should cannibalism within such a remote culture be morally acceptable in your opinion?

      >Do you mean this to come across as a veiled threat?

      - No, not at all. I am wondering if you are comfortable with what you claim you actually believe in terms of morality. Our fear of, or acceptance of our beliefs in the face of the opinions of others can help us to discern if we are truly comfortable with our own convictions and beliefs.

      Delete
    8. >Which is why philosophy, unless it's grounded in material and objective fact..

      - Both the laws of logic and empirical observation are available as reference points of truth. These are the same kinds of reference points used in science. But, as I noted, science begins the process of inquiry with serious subjective presuppositions, while philosophy does not.


      You cut out my point about the difference between "Philosophy" and philosophers. Is that because you don't have a response to it? Or did you not understand the relevance?

      And it's also worth noting that the presupposition of ruling out supernatural causes has been *good* for science; narrowing the range of explanations has allowed science to make progress, rather than relying on "Well , something supernatural made it happen".

      >The mathematicians have been teaching the philosophers a
      bout logic lately, instead of vice versa.

      - That is excellent and sounds interesting. Do you have a link that demonstrates how?


      Go look up Kurt Gödel.

      The major philosophical contributions to logic have been in the area of multi-valued logic and non-traditional logics, which make the idea of "truth" even more nebulous than before, since they allow for fuzzy answers and contradictions.

      >Not today. But I don't think Harris said they could today...

      - I just quoted some titles of Harris' books and seminars. Do the titles suggest, "maybe, at some future point, science will be able to..." No, not at all:

      "Science can answer moral questions."

      False, misleading, disingenuous.

      Why is it so difficult to acknowledge what is plainly written?


      Because not all knowledge can be summed up in 5 words? And look at this:

      "Science has the answers to moral questions"
      "Science can answer moral questions"

      Do you see a difference between these two?

      Does the world have to fit in headlines?


      >If objective moral values exist because enough people agree that they do, then they're consensual subjective moral values.

      - The moral convictions that people hold are usually strong and convincing and this suggests two possibilities:

      1. Most people have a conscience that is correctly tuned into a universal standard of right and wrong that is absolutely fixed and unchanging.

      2. Most people are completely deluded in their consciences, because all morality is absolutely subjective due to the fact there is no ultimate reference point.


      What about

      3. Most people grew up in cultures with a similar set of values, and their consciences reflect that general environment?

      or

      4. We as a species are attuned to small-group empathy, and our consciences reflect that.

      And what about moral convictions that are strongly held on both sides? Like, say, gay marriage, or abortion? Is the strong conscience on both sides a sign that there is no universal morality on this point?

      What counts as proof for one person may not count as proof for another. It is all a matter of what a person holds to be the most convincing phenomena and ideas.

      But in the beginning of your article you go on about logic, and now you are saying that what matters as proof as what is convincing to one person.

      This doesn't counter my argument that these may not be "objective" values, but subjective and common ones.

      You seem to be an exception to the rule because most people are convinced deep down that there is an objective basis of morality.

      Most people were once convinced that the earth was 6,000 years old. "Most people" are not the source of objectivity.

      Delete

    9. Most people are convinced there are certain acts that are always wrong for humans to commit and that there is an objective standard. You, however, are not convinced:

      "I'm not sure the concept "immoral" can be grounded "objectively".
      Yet, when asked if infanticide is morally acceptable you answered with an unqualified, No.


      There's no contradiction here. You asked once if I thought it was objectively wrong. Then you asked if I thought something was wrong. You got different answers.

      I'm not sure if you are aware, but many animals eat their offspring:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=spiders+eat+young&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

      Do you believe it is objectively wrong for humans to cannibalize their babies or is the idea simply that it is "yucky" to a very high degree for you?


      You get different answers when you ask "objectively" vs. "wrong".

      As a more tangible scenario, if remote cannibals have adopted this practice and the world has an overpopulation problem, then,from a pragmatic standpoint, should cannibalism within such a remote culture be morally acceptable in your opinion?

      I don't have enough to answer that question. I think it's stupid, since it objectively produces bad results. But are we talking about killing and eating people for food, or eating the already-dead? It's different.

      >Do you mean this to come across as a veiled threat?

      - No, not at all. I am wondering if you are comfortable with what you claim you actually believe in terms of morality.


      I am. I am not comfortable with how people misrepresent that, like here:

      I'm not sure if Anonymous 2 wants to use his name now that he has claimed that bestiality is morally acceptable.

      I never said that. And you misrepresented what I did say.

      That is why I was wondering if it was a threat.

      Delete
    10. Warden
      - No, not at all. I am wondering if you are comfortable with what you claim you actually believe in terms of morality. Our fear of, or acceptance of our beliefs in the face of the opinions of others can help us to discern if we are truly comfortable with our own convictions and belief
      So would you feel alright then, Warden, defending the killing of babies so long as it was your god who ordered it?

      Could you also still do so while pretending to have this "objective morality"?

      Delete
    11. Anne,

      "There's no contradiction here. You asked once if I thought it was objectively wrong. Then you asked if I thought something was wrong. You got different answers."

      - I believe I understand what you are claiming, just plain "wrong" is not "objectively wrong" if there is no objective basis for morality. Is that correct?

      In terms of cannibalism, that covers a lot of various scenarios. The Chinese apparently eat dead human fetus pills in order to gain extra health benefits. If it could be proven that dead human fetuses provide helpful vitamins found nowhere else in nature, would you consider it acceptable to harvest and eat such dead baby fetusus if the babies would have died anyway and "just gone to waste."

      I'm also curious if your view on bestiality would be based on situational ethics. That is, would you not object to it under circumstances?

      Delete
    12. - I believe I understand what you are claiming, just plain "wrong" is not "objectively wrong" if there is no objective basis for morality. Is that correct?

      Yes.

      I see you're deleting my questions to you. Let me try again:

      What about

      3. Most people grew up in cultures with a similar set of values, and their consciences reflect that general environment?

      or

      4. We as a species are attuned to small-group empathy, and our consciences reflect that.

      And what about moral convictions that are strongly held on both sides? Like, say, gay marriage, or abortion? Is the strong conscience on both sides a sign that there is no universal morality on this point?


      It only seems fair that you answer me before going on and asking more questions,

      If it could be proven that dead human fetuses provide helpful vitamins found nowhere else in nature,

      Especially when your questions feel more like traps than real efforts at discussion.


      Delete
    13. >I see you're deleting my questions to you.

      I'm not sure what you are referring to. I have never promised to anyone that I would answer every single question that was ever posted at this blog. People, such as Anonymous, would not let me sleep with their repetitive points. I encourage people to ask me the most straightforward and pointed questions possible. And I do not believe these should be interpreted as a "traps" when asked.

      3. Most people grew up in cultures with a similar set of values, and their consciences reflect that general environment?

      - I agree that environment does influence and set up many perceived values, however, I would offer that this does not necessitate the existence of objective foundational moral values.

      4. We as a species are attuned to small-group empathy, and our consciences reflect that.

      - Yes, people do seem to be born with a keen sense of empathy and a moral conscience. But, again, this does not necessarily mitigate the possibility that there is an underlying objective basis for morality and ethics. And empathy alone would never be enough to substantiate a specific and objective moral code.

      >And what about moral convictions that are strongly held on both sides? Like, say, gay marriage, or abortion?

      - Gay marriage would require an article to address in terms of morality. So far, no substantial evidence has been demonstrated offering that some people are born with a gay gene. Therefore, it appears to be a subjective choice.

      >Is the strong conscience on both sides a sign that there is no universal morality on this point?

      I do not believe that a strong conviction alone is enough to determine if a specific actions is morally valid or not. However, I believe these types of feelings can help to point in the direction of moral truth. A compass seems to be a valid metaphor, but a highly accurate pinpointing GPS system may be going too far.

      In the case of WL Craig's argument, I believe that moral convictions are seen as more of a compass that simply helps people to understand on a hut level that there is an objective basis of moral truth.

      I believe the dead fetus pill question is a fair and valid one because this type of thing is occurring today:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/08/atheism-and-chinese-dead-baby-pills-any.html

      Delete
    14. R:So far, no substantial evidence has been demonstrated offering that some people are born with a gay gene.

      Anonrus posting... You are a liar, Rick. Links to such studies have been offered to you.

      Delete
    15. >I see you're deleting my questions to you.

      I'm not sure what you are referring to. I have never promised to anyone that I would answer every single question that was ever posted at this blog.


      No; but when you delete someone's questions, and then ask them more questions, it starts to feel less like a discussion and more like an interrogation.

      I figured that if it was OK for you to ask questions, I could ask questions too, with as much expectation of having them be answered once we were in a conversation.

      I encourage people to ask me the most straightforward and pointed questions possible. And I do not believe these should be interpreted as a "traps" when asked.

      I'm glad to see you're answering mine (or some of them) below.

      3. Most people grew up in cultures with a similar set of values, and their consciences reflect that general environment?

      - I agree that environment does influence and set up many perceived values, however, I would offer that this does not necessitate the existence of objective foundational moral values.


      You're misunderstanding me. You made a binary: "Either everyone's conscience is attuned to objective moral values, or they're all deluded".
      I offered two other points, as middle ground, since you seem to argue that "they're all deluded" is the position you have to support if you don't accept objective moral values.

      [referring to empathy]
      ut, again, this does not necessarily mitigate the possibility that there is an underlying objective basis for morality and ethics.

      It doesn't. But it does mean that there's something other than "we're all deluded", and it provides an explanation that's something other than "there's an objective morality" that fits the facts of our behavior.

      And empathy alone would never be enough to substantiate a specific and objective moral code.

      Of course not -- but that doesn't mean it might not underpin the moral codes we do have, if they're not objective.

      - Gay marriage would require an article to address in terms of morality. So far, no substantial evidence has been demonstrated offering that some people are born with a gay gene. Therefore, it appears to be a subjective choice.

      This is a red herring. You wanted to make the argument "people's consciences are in alignment because they're in alignment with an objective morality."

      I'm asking: Here are things that people feel deeply about, and differ on. What does this say about the "objectivity" of conscience?

      If there's an objective moral standard, then the standard about "no gay marriage" is just as strong as the standard about "no cannibalism", right? They're "objectively" wrong. But going by people's consciences, one of them is a lot more wrong than the other; indeed, some people consider gay marriage a moral good.

      So trying to validate "there is objective morality" based on people's consciences is undercut by the places where consciences have strong feelings on both sides.

      Delete

    16. I do not believe that a strong conviction alone is enough to determine if a specific actions is morally valid or not. However, I believe these types of feelings can help to point in the direction of moral truth. A compass seems to be a valid metaphor, but a highly accurate pinpointing GPS system may be going too far.

      But you're the one saying that there's an objective moral truth, and consciences are evidence for it. They can't be evidence for it when you want them to and irrelevant when you don't, that's not fair reasoning.

      n the case of WL Craig's argument,

      Then Craig's argument still relies on people accepting premise #2, and if they don't, his argument falls.

      I believe the dead fetus pill question is a fair and valid one because this type of thing is occurring today:

      Chinese medicine also suggests rhino horn as a cure for impotence. Nothing in your article suggests they work, only that gullible fools think they do.

      So, no, I don't think fetus pills are morally acceptable, because they're boondoggles. Cultured fetal stem cell lines, however? OK.

      Delete
    17. Anne,

      >No; but when you delete someone's questions, and then ask them more questions, it starts to feel less like a discussion and more like an interrogation.

      - I've just written that I do not "delete" anyone's comments. And, again, you claim I "delete" comments.

      I do not cut and paste all the comments. Therefore, I do not "delete" them. I've noticed a pattern that some atheists come to this blog and, once they realize they do not have adequate answers, they begin either calling me a "liar" or they begin making false claims about how this or that article has been disproved or discredited.

      You also have stated,

      You're misunderstanding me. You made a binary: "Either everyone's conscience is attuned to objective moral values, or they're all deluded".

      I would appreciate it if you would not put words into quotation marks that I have not made and then imply that I made such a statement by using quotation marks. That's a big no-no.

      You've also misconstrued my question to you:

      "Chinese medicine also suggests rhino horn as a cure for impotence. Nothing in your article suggests they work, only that gullible fools think they do. So, no, I don't think fetus pills are morally acceptable, because they're boondoggles."

      I did not claim that Chinese dead baby pills have already been proven to offer health benefits. This is the actual question I presented:

      "If it could be proven that dead human fetuses provide helpful vitamins found nowhere else in nature, would you consider it acceptable to harvest and eat such dead baby fetusus if the babies would have died anyway and "just gone to waste."

      So, you still have not answered that question.

      As far as your multiple questions are concerned, it seems as though you are attempting to ask a number of questions as though they are one question, and this approach makes for difficult communication. Would it be possible for you to post one question at a time and discuss it?

      Delete
    18. >No; but when you delete someone's questions, and then ask them more questions, it starts to feel less like a discussion and more like an interrogation.

      - I've just written that I do not "delete" anyone's comments. And, again, you claim I "delete" comments.


      I never said you deleted comments. I said you delete questions.

      Perhaps this will make it clear: when someone asks you a question in a comment, you often omit it from your response, and go on to ask more questions of your own. It makes it feel like a one-way discussion, where you get to ask questions and expect answers, and no one else does.

      I do not cut and paste all the comments.

      No one says you have to; but when you have a pattern of not answering questions, you see why people get concerned?



      OK, ok, ok. What language would you want me to use to say "Hey, I asked you a question, you didn't answer it, why don't you answer some questions for a change?"

      I've noticed a pattern that some atheists come to this blog and, once they realize they do not have adequate answers, they begin either calling me a "liar" or they begin making false claims about how this or that article has been disproved or discredited.

      I've been looking back at your blog, and it seems to me more like "when some people don't get answers to their questions, they start getting fed up about it". Which is fair, don't you think?

      I would appreciate it if you would not put words into quotation marks that I have not made and then imply that I made such a statement by using quotation marks. That's a big no-no.

      Again, OK, fine; you said something akin to: These two things are the conclusions we can draw from the evidence of conscience. I showed you two more possible conclusions, and you've repeatedly chosen not to address that. OK?

      (Oh, and for the record; it's not OK to mispreresent people when you don't use quotes, as you did here: "I'm not sure if Anonymous 2 wants to use his name now that he has claimed that bestiality is morally acceptable. " -- which I never did.)

      "If it could be proven that dead human fetuses provide helpful vitamins found nowhere else in nature, would you consider it acceptable to harvest and eat such dead baby fetusus if the babies would have died anyway and "just gone to waste."


      Sure, and if unicorns can be proven to cure cancer, we should raise them in factory farms. (which reminds me; they're fetuses, they're not babies. Calling them "baby fetuses" is...not even redundant, it's just wrong. Like calling kids "grownup children" or something.)

      So, there's an answer to your pointless hypothetical.

      I'm asking: Here are things that people feel deeply about, and differ on. What does this say about the "objectivity" of conscience?

      Try answering that one. And if you need the context, look at the rest of the post, OK?

      Delete
    19. And to be clear, I meant:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/01/why-science-cannot-answer-moral.html?showComment=1358146149950#c4052469241313505938

      that comment for context, not your original post.

      Delete
    20. >I've been looking back at your blog, and it seems to me more like "when some people don't get answers to their questions, they start getting fed up about it". Which is fair, don't you think?

      - Beginning in December 2011, a blogger named Havok became so frustrated with his lack of answers that all he could do was to post unsubstantiated slander against me. He is still unable to validate his slander with any comments made prior to December 7, 2011.


      After a prolonged game of cat and mouse, Imnotandrei finally admitted on September 10 that he had made a false and slanderous claim that an article of mine had been "discredited" without showing any evidence of this whatsoever:

      If it is so important to you, I'll say it -- on August 28th, it had not been formally discredited.

      Yet, even though he admitted this at 7.44 AM, by 10.26 AM he was back at it,  calling me a liar based on unsubstantiated claims.


      In this article comment thread alone the word liar has already been used 21 times. Examples include Reynold claiming I am a liar because I pointed out that he has not offered an objective basis for human morality. As noted in the article, Reynold's answers are based upon subjective determinations.

      >So, there's an answer to your pointless hypothetical. [Sure, and if unicorns can be proven to cure cancer, we should raise them in factory farms.]

      - The hypothetical question I posed cuts to the bone of a very real debate regarding human exceptionalism. In accordance with my question, I assume that the unicorns represent dead fetuses as a metaphor and that you believe it would be morally justified to harvest dead fetuses for human consumption if there was a proven health benefit provided by such fetuses. OK, thanks for your answer.

      Cont.

      Delete
    21. Part 2

      And you summarized your main question to me, Anne:

      "I'm asking: Here are things that people feel deeply about, and differ on. What does this say about the "objectivity" of conscience?"

      First, I'd like to offer that the effects of nurture and nature may not ultimately be very cut and dry with respect to defining human empathy and moral values and so the conscience should not be taken to represent the sole evidence in support of objective morality. Though i do believe the conscience is a valuable part of the picture.

      Secondly, we need to be aware of what a logical premise is aiming for:

      "...we should not demand that someone prove a premise to be true; we can only ask them to provide reasons that it is true. Furthermore, for belief in a premise to be warranted, the reasons given to support the premise merely need to be more compelling than reasons given to disbelieve the premise."

      Thirdly, with respect to the premise of the logical argument I put forth, I believe Neil Shenvi offers some valuable insights with respect to additional evidence for objective morality in a list form. Neil offers 5 reasons to believe in objective moral values:

      1. Nearly universally across human cultures, there exist the same basic standards of morality. In addition, there exist in all cultures truly altruistic acts which lead to no personal or genetic benefit.
      2. The majority of people who explicitly deny the existence of objective morality still act as if objective morality exists.
      3. There exists a nearly universal human intuition that certain things are objectively right or wrong.
      4. The majority of philosophers recognize the existence of objective moral facts.
      5. Many naturalists (like Sam Harris or Shelley Kagan) affirm the existence of objective moral facts, despite the problems inherent in grounding these facts in the natural world.

      Personally, I believe these 5 points carry more weight in favor of premise 2 of WL Craig's argument than the doubt raised by your questions with regard to a moral conscience, though I believe you will have many objections to the above points as well. You may wish to address them one by one.

      Delete
    22. For your part 1:

      >I've been looking back at your blog, and it seems to me more like "when some people don't get answers to their questions, they start getting fed up about it". Which is fair, don't you think?

      - Beginning in December 2011, a blogger named Havok became so frustrated with his lack of answers that all he could do was to post unsubstantiated slander against me. He is still unable to validate his slander with any comments made prior to December 7, 2011.


      Well, you say it's "lack of answers"; do you mean his ability to answer you, or answers he was getting from you?

      They're really different. And I only have your word on why you think he resorted to slander.

      Yet, even though he admitted this at 7.44 AM, by 10.26 AM he was back at it, calling me a liar based on unsubstantiated claims.

      Were they the same claims? If they were different claims, then maybe you were both right?

      In this article comment thread alone the word liar has already been used 21 times. Examples include Reynold claiming I am a liar because I pointed out that he has not offered an objective basis for human morality. As noted in the article, Reynold's answers are based upon subjective determinations.

      It seems to me that that you disagree, and while calling you a liar for that (since I don't know what you've done in the past) might be a bit much, so might your saying he hasn't offered one. Saying you don't agree with it is one thing; saying he hasn't offered any is something else, right?

      >So, there's an answer to your pointless hypothetical. [Sure, and if unicorns can be proven to cure cancer, we should raise them in factory farms.]

      - The hypothetical question I posed cuts to the bone of a very real debate regarding human exceptionalism.

      Then why didn't you ask that question? This is why people think you might be trapping them; you ask a weird hypothetical question and then say it's all about some very important specific thing.

      and that you believe it would be morally justified to harvest dead fetuses for human consumption if there was a proven health benefit provided by such fetuses. OK, thanks for your answer.

      Except you got it wrong; if there was a proven health benefit that could be attained no other way; that was part of your hypothetical. Dropping it from your restatement makes me wonder why you did that.

      You put it as: "provide helpful vitamins found nowhere else in nature" -- so, I might even say "no" if they could be synthesized in a lab.

      Delete
    23. Secondly, we need to be aware of what a logical premise is aiming for:

      "...we should not demand that someone prove a premise to be true; we can only ask them to provide reasons that it is true.


      And if there are reasons why it might not be true, they should be listened to.

      Furthermore, for belief in a premise to be warranted, the reasons given to support the premise merely need to be more compelling than reasons given to disbelieve the premise."

      Fine.

      Neil offers 5 reasons to believe in objective moral values:

      1. Nearly universally across human cultures, there exist the same basic standards of morality. In addition, there exist in all cultures truly altruistic acts which lead to no personal or genetic benefit.


      This sounds like a way to brush off exceptions by using generalities like "Nearly", "basic", etc.

      Because I bet for any given "basic standard" you can find exceptions.

      2. The majority of people who explicitly deny the existence of objective morality still act as if objective morality exists.

      What does that mean? How can you tell if someone is "acting as if objective morality exists" vs. "acting as if consensus morality exists"?

      3. There exists a nearly universal human intuition that certain things are objectively right or wrong.

      Again with the "nearly", and this is away of sidestepping my earlier argument about conscience; I'll get back to this.

      4. The majority of philosophers recognize the existence of objective moral facts.

      This is just another argument from popularity. Once upon a time the majority of philosophers thought that Aristotle was right about the questions of natural philosophy. He wasn't.

      5. Many naturalists (like Sam Harris or Shelley Kagan) affirm the existence of objective moral facts, despite the problems inherent in grounding these facts in the natural world.

      This is just #4 from a different point of view.

      So, his "5 arguments" amount to "There are some things that people mostly agree are bad, and a lot of people think it's an objective thing."

      If that's enough to convince you, you've got a low standard. It wouldn't get me out of freshman composition.

      Personally, I believe these 5 points carry more weight in favor of premise 2 of WL Craig's argument than the doubt raised by your questions with regard to a moral conscience

      You can believe it. That says more about what you choose to believe than what is.

      You may wish to address them one by one.

      If you throw out 5 points in one comment, I'm going to respond to 5 points.

      And I'll throw in a question: Since gay sex is not one of those things "nearly universally across human cultures" thought of as wrong, does that mean that there's no evidence of an objective morality about it?

      Delete
  3. Anonrus

    R:And this is where Harris has failed to provide a valid, objective and scientific link.

    He was only voicing a hypothesis. Indeed, humans have an innane sense of empathy. As for an objective reference point, I have provided happiness, grounded objectively in human nature. And we have Maslow s hiearchy of needs to prove happiness is objective.

    R:Irrespective of morality issues, Wahba and Brudwell found little objective evidence for the priority of the ranking of needs in Maslow's list, or for the evidence of a hierarchy at all. And Geert Hofstede found the list exhibits an ethnocentric slant.

    I have addressed the criticism nefore. Maslow s hiearchy is dinamic, so no wonder Wahba and Brudwell could not find a rigid hiearchy. And there is nothing ethnocentric about it. Self-actualization can be achieved through the community.

    R:Firstly, most smokers understand the dangers of smoking, but they are willing to trade long term health for a short-term nicotine high and other perceived benefits

    False. One cannot be fully aware of the pains of cancer without having cancer. And a nicotine or alcohole "high" is not the true essence of happiness. You are conflaring pleasure with happiness, which are not the same things.

    R:On what philosophical basis can a secular humanist claim the latter is more moral than the former?

    I do not need an impractical philosophival basis, I use practical knowledge from medicine and psuchology.

    R:Anonymous would offer a pragmatic answer, that long-term health is a prime consideration and a maximal priority.

    Liar, I did not say that. I said that smoking was hindering Hitchen s writing abilities and was harming his health. Since writing was the most important thing for him and health was also not useless to him, I concluded his choice to smoke was wrong.

    R:He has stated that smoking is "wrong" in his opinion, but he has not offered one single objective example of why "unhealthy" = "Immoral" according to his beliefs.

    Liar. I did offer an objective reasons why smoking is wrong.

    1) It shortens one s lifespan, decreasing the amount of overall happiness of a person

    2) It does not provide any benefits that healthier alternatives cannot.

    R:Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist writer and philosopher, chose a certain philosophical and self-destructive lifestyle, "leading a bohemian existence as a writer..." and this was an influence that ultimately led to his premature death by cancer

    Liar, what led to his demise was heavy smoking. I have proven that he was wrong to smoke. Full stop.

    As for the "bohemian lifestyle" again and again you refuse to offer concrete examples of behavior, speaking of a vague notion.

    R:According to commonly accepted definitions of the bohemian philosophy of life, individualism, free expression and a disregard for traditional moral mores are all acceptable and even celebrated attitudes

    Again, that is completely false. A bohemian club is just a clique of prominent individuals that often have very different outlooks on life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous,

      Just for the record, is this Anonymous 1 from Russia posting? If so, it would help if one day you would be willing to use your real name.

      I'm not sure if Anonymous 2 wants to use his name now that he has claimed that bestiality is morally acceptable. I don't know how well that would go over with his peers.

      And, also for the record, you still believe there is an objective basis of morality as an atheist. Correct?

      >He [Harris] was only voicing a hypothesis.

      - He is voicing a failed hypothesis and the manner in which he is voicing it is deceitful. It would be more correct to voice his theory clearly as a speculative theory, but he has not been doing this.

      As I had just pointed out to Anonymous 2, Harris has offered no tone of speculation whatsoever:

      The subtitle of Harris' book on morality states, "How science can determine human values" and the title of his TED lecture boasts, "Science can answer moral questions" but, the fact is, even secular humanist atheists, such as Massimo Pigliucci, PZ Myers, and Luke Muehlhauser have pointed out that there is no real basis for morality presented by Harris.

      The deceitfulness of Harris and TED is no surprise, this kind of secular humanist bias and propaganda is demonstrated in public schools every day and it provides children with an unnecessary sense of hopelessness:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/12/school-shootings-from-christian.html

      >Self-actualization can be achieved through the community.

      - I don't believe "self-actualization" should be the top philosophical value. You have not logically demonstrated why it should be.

      >False. One cannot be fully aware of the pains of cancer without having cancer.

      - Hitchens was in the midst of cancer treatment when he claimed that he would have lived exactly how he had lived. There is a photo of his bald head and everything:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/why-sam-harris-human-flourishing-is-not.html

      >I do not need an impractical philosophival basis, I use practical knowledge from medicine and psuchology.

      - You offer pragmatic and utilitarian type of answer. That is actually a philosophical position whether or not you want to admit it.

      Hitler also demonstrated a pragmatic and utilitarian approach to morality. Humans made good lamp shades and fertilizer in his opinion. He was "helping the greater good" by reducing people he considered inferior. Maybe we should just kill all the unhealthy people if health is the basis of morality.

      Anonymous 1, do you believe in killing old people who offer no utilitarian purpose but just lie sick in hospital beds using up expenses and resources in their sickness? If so, then you share the opinion of some very influential people, such as Bill Gates:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/bill-gates-dystopian-philanthropy-and.html

      Delete
    2. Continued for AnonyRus,

      >Liar, I did not say that. I said that smoking was hindering Hitchens writing abilities and was harming his health. Since writing was the most important thing for him and health was also not useless to him, I concluded his choice to smoke was wrong.

      - Listen, AnonyRus, if I don't understand your position immediately it does not mean I am a liar. My understanding was that long-term health was an "objective" basis of morality for you. Now your moral "system" is becoming a little more complicated. Let's try and summarize it according to this new revelation:

      Health - in conjunction with subjective personal desires and goals - offers an objective basis of morality.

      Is that how you would summarize your objective moral system?

      >Liar. I did offer an objective reasons why smoking is wrong.

      - Again, if I do not immediately understand your position, this does not mean I am a liar. Please post a link to where you clearly defined how smoking is wrong (including health issues and all personal desires and goals) in accordance with your moral system.

      >Liar, what led to his demise was heavy smoking. I have proven that he was wrong to smoke. Full stop.

      - I have to call you on this. As an atheist you have never offered one objective reason in a logical framework as to why it was morally wrong for Hitchens to smoke.

      >As for the "bohemian lifestyle" again and again you refuse to offer concrete examples of behavior, speaking of a vague notion.

      - I offered clear and accepted definitions for you regarding "philosophical significance" and summaries and links about philosophical "bohemianism" - I even asked you if there were any specific questions with the definitions.

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/01/ny-new-year-2013-major-philosophical.html?showComment=1357611497586#c7571777095050908617

      I asked if you understood the definitions I offered:

      "R:I gave you objective definitions for both words. You never stated whether or not you now understand what philosophical significance means. Do you understand yet?"

      You claimed that you did actually understood my definitions, but that this was not enough for you. Then you offered a tangential and illogical response:

      "Yes, I understand it and now burden of proof is on you. Do show that a healthy lifestyle is incompatible with philosophically significant one."

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/01/ny-new-year-2013-major-philosophical.html?showComment=1357766238822#c7468426762869100153

      - I never have and never would make such a claim as the one you offered there.

      As I noted earlier, you are simply banging your proverbial head against a proverbial wall. And, as I pointed out to Anonymous 2, the longer you stubbornly (and illogically) attempt to prove there is an atheist basis for objective morality, the more you help to underscore the truth of William Lane Craig's moral argument for God's existence.

      You are doing a very good job of it. Throwing in ad hom attacks regularly, such as calling me a liar in every sentence, is really a nice effect in this case as well. Aren't you getting tired yet?

      Delete
    3. R:Just for the record, is this Anonymous 1 from Russia posting?

      I did mention it was anonrus at the top of my post, did I?

      R:I'm not sure if Anonymous 2 wants to use his name now that he has claimed that bestiality is morally acceptable

      Liar, he did not say such a thing.

      R:He is voicing a failed hypothesis and the manner in which he is voicing it is deceitful.

      Bold assertion. You have failed to prove it is a failed hypothesis and it is just your opinion that he voices it in a deceitful fashion.

      R:The deceitfulness of Harris and TED is no surprise, this kind of secular humanist bias and propaganda is demonstrated in public schools every day and it provides children with an unnecessary sense of hopelessness

      I told you before, you are a pathetic monster for not seeing any value in human life without a god. As for the accusations of deceit, no one has been deceived but you.

      R:I don't believe "self-actualization" should be the top philosophical value.

      I know that you have reading disability, Rick. And I have doubts what is meant by self-actualization in the first place. Let me try once again with capital letters since it seems to be the only way smth can sink in your thick skull:

      THE HIEARCHY IS DYNAMIC! THE ORDER OF NEEDS CAN CHANGE, DEPENDING ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES. THE SAME WAY WATER IS VALUED DIFFERENTLY BY MAN DYING OF THIRST AND A MAN DROWNING.

      R:You have not logically demonstrated why it should be

      That is an empirical observation, Rick. You would know that if you had read Maslow s paper.

      R:Hitchens was in the midst of cancer treatment when he claimed that he would have lived exactly how he had lived

      Epic fail, Rick. Hitchens falsely thought smoking helped him be creative and thought that the pain of cancer was worthwhile because of it. He did not smoke because he enjoyed it at the end.

      R:You offer pragmatic and utilitarian type of answer. That is actually a philosophical position whether or not you want to admit it.

      A philosophical hypothesis that is grounded in reality becomes science.

      R:Hitler also demonstrated a pragmatic and utilitarian approach to morality.

      Where did study philosophy, Rick? A utilitarian approach is about the greatest happiness of all. Hitler was only concerned about the happiness of the "Arians". Your ignorance is showing as always.

      R:Maybe we should just kill all the unhealthy people if health is the basis of morality.

      We all know about how much of an ignorant dishonest moral failure you are, Rick. You know that health is not the only aspect of happiness.

      R:Anonymous 1, do you believe in killing old people who offer no utilitarian purpose but just lie sick in hospital beds using up expenses and resources in their sickness?

      I know that your religion is the only thing that gives you a reason to oppose murder of old people. And that makes you a moral failure, Rick. I can offer practical and ethical reasons why that would be wrong.

      BTW, as always you slander people and cite your own discredited articles.

      R:Listen, AnonyRus, if I don't understand your position immediately it does not mean I am a liar

      I do not even remeber how many times I explained my moral system to you in details. You are either misrepresenting my views on purpose, i.e. you are a liar, or you are genuinely having reading comprehension problems.

      R:Health - in conjunction with subjective personal desires and goals - offers an objective basis of morality.
      Is that how you would summarize your objective moral system?

      Happiness has been offered as the basis for my morality. And by happiness I meant the fullfilment of Maslow s hiearchy of needs. Look up his the needs he is speaking about and ask what you do not understand.

      Delete
    4. R:Please post a link to where you clearly defined how smoking is wrong (including health issues and all personal desires and goals) in accordance with your moral system.

      Ehhh... Rick... I have just outlined TWO objective reones in my post yesterday. Just below the line:"Liar. I did offer an objective reasons why smoking is wrong."

      http://templestream.blogspot.ru/2013/01/why-science-cannot-answer-moral.html?showComment=1357862640421

      "1) It shortens one s lifespan, decreasing the amount of overall happiness of a person
      2) It does not provide any benefits that healthier alternatives cannot."

      R:I have to call you on this. As an atheist you have never offered one objective reason in a logical framework as to why it was morally wrong for Hitchens to smoke.

      See my post above. Furethermore, I have offered those objective reasons before.

      R:I even asked you if there were any specific questions with the definitions.

      I did agree to your definition of "philosophical significance", but I never did agree to your definition of "bohemianism". You seem to conflate "philosophical significance" and "bohemianism", which is false.

      R:I never have and never would make such a claim as the one you offered there.

      You have offered the example of Hitchens, who had opted for smoking since he thought it gave him a leverage in his intellectual work. He was mistaken, hence your example failed.

      Now you need to find some proof that a self-destructive lifestyle offers ANY advantages to an individual. Remember, anecdotal reports are not enough and pleasure is not the synonyme fpr happiness.

      R:Throwing in ad hom attacks regularly, such as calling me a liar in every sentence, is really a nice effect in this case as well. Aren't you getting tired yet?

      To be honest, I am. You managed to drag me down to your level, Rick. But you are still either a liar, an idiot or a person with a reading disability. That is a fact.

      Delete
    5. R:Throwing in ad hom attacks regularly, such as calling me a liar in every sentence

      Actually, saying "You are lying here" or "i.e. you are a liar, or you are genuinely having reading comprehension problems. " doesn't make for an ad hom attack -- it's a statement about what you're saying.

      Posting "I do not respond to this person because they slandered me repeatedly and therefore their arguments are invalid" is an ad hominem attack.

      See the difference, Rick?

      Delete
    6. P.S. As for your definition of "bohemian" it is still vague because "challenging the principals of society" is an opaque statement that does not in any way shed light to the morals of the mentioned community

      1) There are different kinds of societies. Challenging some principles might be moral, like slavery

      2) No community can challenge ALL principles of a society. For a community to exist some common rules are necessary.

      Hence, the kind of bohemian community you are speaking of is opaque, fictional and incoherent as a concept.

      Delete
    7. AnonyRus,

      When I had asked Anonymous2 about objective morality, he stated the following:

      I'm not sure the concept "immoral" can be grounded "objectively". I don't think it's moral.

      But then he offered a stronger sense of conviction that infanticide is "not morally acceptable"

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/01/why-science-cannot-answer-moral.html?showComment=1357921416226#c5139049501231566632

      It is difficult to discern what his opinion actually is.

      >Bold assertion. You have failed to prove it is a failed hypothesis

      - You can't prove a negative. Harris offered no link between is and ought. If he did, summarize it.

      >And I have doubts what is meant by self-actualization in the first place.

      - Well, at least you are willing to admit this. That's good.

      >You would know that if you had read Maslow s paper.

      - You are supposed to be presenting his hierarchy as a means towards a moral system.

      >He did not smoke because he enjoyed it at the end.

      Complete non-sequitur. How do you get from,

      "Hitchens was in the midst of cancer treatment when he claimed that he would have lived exactly how he had lived"

      to

      "He did not smoke because he enjoyed it at the end."

      Delete
    8. >A philosophical hypothesis that is grounded in reality becomes science.

      Actually, a philosophical hypothesis that is grounded in reality can challenge science:

      Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

      Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.

      Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

      Premise 1 is logically supported here:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-god-exists-then-objective-morality.html

      Premise 2 is being supported by Harris, Reynold and you in your stubbornness

      The conclusion logically follows: God exists.

      >A utilitarian approach is about the greatest happiness of all. Hitler was only...

      - No, it's based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Weaker minorities don't stand a chance against the "supermen"

      >You know that health is not the only aspect of happiness.

      - You did not clarify the summary of your moral system as I had asked you to.

      You had stated:

      I said that smoking was hindering Hitchens writing abilities and was harming his health. Since writing was the most important thing for him and health was also not useless to him, I concluded his choice to smoke was wrong.

      I had stated:

      Health - in conjunction with subjective personal desires and goals - offers an objective basis of morality.

      Is that how you would summarize your objective moral system?

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/01/why-science-cannot-answer-moral.html?showComment=1357915279966#c1381654377550275090

      - No clear answer yet from you, Anonymous. Can you please once and for all summarize your "objective" moral system?

      >I do not even remeber how many times I explained my moral system to you in details.

      - Do post just one link where you have clearly outlined your moral system. And don't forget to include that part about how Hitchen's subjective goals helped inform the basis of morality:

      "Since writing was the most important thing for him and health was also not useless to him, I concluded his choice to smoke was wrong."


      "1) It shortens one s lifespan, decreasing the amount of overall happiness of a person
      2) It does not provide any benefits that healthier alternatives cannot."

      1. Who are you as a secular atheist to pronounce that a short life as a bohemian offers less happiness overall than a long one as a moral prude? Sounds like a bald assertion.

      2. You have yet to disprove the philosophical significance and philosophical benefits Hitchen's claimed to have experienced and cherished as a smoking bohemian writer, without regrets as he died of cancer.

      >the kind of bohemian community you are speaking of is opaque, fictional and incoherent as a concept.

      I simply offered a quote from a common source. Offer your own definition of the philosophy of bohemianism that refutes it if you believe it is wrong.

      Delete
    9. R: It is difficult to discern what his opinion actually is.

      I do not know what is so difficult to understand. No one else, but you seem to have that problem. It is like you are only able to perceive the colors black and white. The mention of another color overloads your brain.

      R:You cannot prove a negative...

      Harris offers plenty of evidence from neuroscience and so on. As Harris had said, we have an idea what a health is the same way as we have an idea what morality is. The fact that you chose to reject his hypothesis from the get-go, without even reading his book, speaks volume about your desperate attempts to remain ignorant.

      R:Well, at least you are willing to admit it...

      That was a typo. I meant I have doubts YOU understand the term.

      R:You are supposed to be presenting as a means towards a moral system.

      And I do. What is it that you do not understand?

      R:Complete non-sequitor...

      Hitchens was smoking for different reasons than most people. You are the one that is jumping from one topic "smoking for pleasure" and another "smoking for philosophical significance". Both reasons are wrong.

      R:Actually a philosophical hypothesis that is grounded in reality can challenge science...

      Yes it can challenge science and becomes part of science like the theory of atoms. However, that is not your case, Rick.

      Objective moral values exist irrespective of a god.
      Societies have moral rules that an individual is
      expected to follow in any case. And we have objective wrong and right choices from the perspective of evolution and human nature.

      R:Premise two is being supported by Harris, ect.

      Yes, we do support it. But that is not enough to prove it's validity. We could just be mistaken as anon2 has pointed out. If you reject evolution and the concept of human nature, you have no basis for the kind of objective morality you are speaking of.

      R:No it is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people...

      Yes, Rick. And you are an ignorant bafoon for not knowing that "Arians", as understood by the Nazis, were a minority.

      R:You did not clarify the summary of your moral system as I have asked you to.

      Not my fault if you have a reading disability. Ok, I am going to try it for the last time:

      The basis of my moral system is happiness. That which increases happiness is good, that which decreases happiness is bad. By happiness I mean the fulfillment of Maslow s hierarchy of needs.

      R:Who are you as a secular atheist...

      Ehhh... Rick, did you damage your brain? You have already raised that point and I have refuted it.

      You do your best as to obscure as much as possible your terms. Your concrete example with smoking failed miserably, as it was proven that smoking does not leas to happiness. Bohemian is too vague of a term to understand what kind of lifestyle is lead by the individual. Living a long and happy life is a natural wish of a normal individual. There is no contradiction between living a long life and a healthy life.

      R:You have yet to disprove Philosophical significance and philosophical benefits Hitchens claimed to have experienced...

      Ehhh... No, Rick. The burden of proof is on. Anecdotal evidence is not enough to prove he really benefited from smoking and so on...

      Furthermore, I have already proven that smoking was hindering his writing abilities. Since he claimed it was the most important thing in his life, he would have regreted smoking.

      R:Offer your own definition of the philosophy of Bohemianism...

      The problem would be that no such thing exists.


      Delete
    10. P.S. Again a typo: there is no contradiction between living a long a healthy life and an intellectually fullfilled one. Shortening once lifespan will not give a person any intellectual advantage

      Delete
  4. R:An atheist bohemian in particular might place a great deal...

    That is your groundless speculations, Rick. Offer something with more weight than "might".

    R:there is no objective reason, in accordance with secular atheism, why his lifestyle and values should be be considered any less moral than the moral values of a pragmatic, utilitarian scientist who refuses to smoke for health reasons.

    The objective reason would be that it will decrease their happiness. As always you conflate pleasure and happiness like it the same thing.

    R:What I find a bit ironic is that Anonymous claims that smoking is immoral, yet he suggests that a lifestyle that embraces smoking and bohemianism is not necessarily immoral: "I have never claimed that his life was immoral."

    Quote minning. I have said that people are not perfect. And doing a couple of wrong things in life does not make it overall immoral. Rick, you justify your reputation of a scumbag.

    R:Science cannot define the greater good of society because this is more of a philosophical question than a scientific one.

    Bold assertion.

    R:Though philosophy often does depend on empirical observation, it does not depend on science or any scientific method or presupposition.

    And that makes it completely impractical and unreliable.

    The kind of objective morality I was speaking of differs from the Rick s one. My objective morality is mostly grounded in human nature that changes over time (though, extremely slowly). I argue that the well-being and happiness of people is objective and I base it on Maslow s hiearchy of needs. And Rick is arguing for an unchanging morality grounded in a spooky and whimsy ghostly being with inconsistent properties.

    ReplyDelete
  5. R:Anonymous at my blog believes that the "greater good" for each person is based on long-term physical health

    Straw man. Long-term physical health is only one aspect of "greater good".

    R:What philosophical objective basis can Anonymous offer to challenge that as a moral value? None.

    Not tired of spouting one lie after another? I told you that such or such action will decrease the happiness of an individual.

    R:When there is no "speciesism" and humans are considered to be not much different than rats, then all bets are off ethically. I have outlined how the theory of macro-evolution, coupled with atheistic secular humanism, allows for a logical justification of racism and genocide in accordance with utilitarian pragmatism.

    Rick, you are a moral monster for thinking that human beings are no better than rats without a god. And evolution does not justify racism and genocide since the more diverse the charecteristics of a specie is, the more succesfull it is.

    R:Though Anonymous is convinced there is an objective basis for morality and has spent several days attempting to validate his opinion, he has yet to offer one single valid example of how "is" is connected to "ought" as an objective moral standard.

    Denial is not a river in Egypt. I offered happiness as an objective basis and you still have failed to undermine my point. A self-destructive lifestyle cannot lead to happiness by definition. If people choose pleasure, disregarding happness, that does not make them right.

    R:The question of morality is one that stirs up difficult facts and passionate emotions, and this is why William Lane Craig's moral argument for God's existence is so effective.

    Too bad they have been proven fallacious...

    A:They believe it, but that's not the same thing as showing it.

    The kind of objective morality I was speaking of differs from the Rick s one. My objective morality is mostly grounded in human nature that changes over time (though, extremely slowly). I argue that the well-being and happiness of people is objective and I base it on Maslow s hiearchy of needs. And Rick is arguing for an unchanging morality grounded in a spooky and whimsy ghostly being with inconsistent properties.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Warden
    This atheist believes that bestiality is never acceptable morally under any conditions whatsoever, yet, when PZ Myers states, "I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions" and cannot define what those conditions are, Reynold remarkably claims, "He's responded to you all that he needs to." and "If he knew of some circumstances, he'd tell you." Reynold continues to faithfully stand by PZ Myers' views on morality for some unknown reason.
    The "unknown reason" you jackass, is that Myers has said that he does not support bestiality, period.

    Maybe if you weren't a prick and started this whole thing by attacking Myer's daughter, he'd have deined to elaborate.

    The thing that you refuse to admit is this: Something being non-objectionable in certain cases does NOT mean that it would be morally acceptable. Think of "the lesser of two evils".

    Frankly, given your past statements in the past asking if bestiality is wrong even if the animals is "moaning in pleasure" makes me nervous. I have said it before and I will say it again: Get some bloody help.


    Warden outright LYING
    And, though Reynold is convinced bestiality is not acceptable under any circumstances, he too has not offered any objective basis for claiming it is morally wrong as a secular atheist.
    I HAVE given you reasons: No biological compatibility due to completely divergent evolutionary paths, NO possibility of informed consent

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >The thing that you refuse to admit is this: Something being non-objectionable in certain cases does NOT mean that it would be morally acceptable.

      - The thing that you refuse to admit, Reynold, is the context of the discussion. The subject is not fashion trends or tax increases, it is the moral issue of bestiality.

      Wearing a polka dot tie may be "non-objectionable in certain cases" - but not morally right or wrong. A slight tax increase may be "non-objectionable in certain cases" and not morally right or wrong. However, if a person holds bestiality to be morally wrong, then there are no "certain cases" where it would be "non-objectionable." Fail, Reynold.

      >I HAVE given you [objective] reasons

      - Reynold, you have not offered any objective reasons. Your reasoning is based on subjective premises:

      The two main positions regarding bestiality are, first, the animal rights position defending animals against possibly harmful actions as defended by organizations as PETA, and, second, the utilitarian position defending the potential for mutual non-harmful pleasure as defended by Princeton's "Distinguished Professor" Peter Singer. The first case is subjective morally for a number of reasons. In nature we see interactions of various species between extremes of playing together (kittens and puppies) and mauling each other (lions and zebras). If the question of morality never comes up with respect to harmful actions between other species, why should it come up when considering actions between humans and other species? Peter Singer refers to this prejudice as speciesism. And, if farm animals are regularly butchered in meet factories, why does it suddenly become an issue when farm animals might be used in a situation that is much less harmful, possibly even enjoyable for the animal? As a theist I hold to the "human exceptionalism" position and believe that bestiality is never acceptable morally. As a theist I have a basis for human exceptionalism. However, as Singer has pointed out, secular atheists have no such logical basis for this hard-line distinction.

      The present utilitarian defense of bestiality stems mainly from a reconsideration of Otto Soyka by Peter Singer, as described in Singer's "Heavy Petting" article : "But sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop." What is ironic is that PETA claims it is defending animal rights by taking a strong stance against bestiality, while another animal rights organization, the ARNC, has honored Singer with an induction to their honorable "Animal Rights Hall of Fame" herein described: "The U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of animal rights in the United States for at least ten years." Perhaps they agree that Singer is helping out with "animal liberation" and giving animals the right to a wider range of pleasures.

      Delete
    2. Warden quoting me>

      The thing that you refuse to admit is this: Something being non-objectionable in certain cases does NOT mean that it would be morally acceptable.

      The thing that you refuse to admit, Reynold, is the context of the discussion. The subject is not fashion trends or tax increases, it is the moral issue of bestiality.
      Uh, yeah, I know what it's about Rick, thanks for reminding me what I already know...

      Wearing a polka dot tie may be "non-objectionable in certain cases" - but not morally right or wrong. A slight tax increase may be "non-objectionable in certain cases" and not morally right or wrong.
      Rick, I've got news for you: terms like "non-objectionable" and "objectionable" are perfectly allowable when talking about morality.

      However, if a person holds bestiality to be morally wrong, then there are no "certain cases" where it would be "non-objectionable." Fail, Reynold.
      Are you stunned, Rick? Did you NOT read where I had brought up the concept of "the lesser of two evils"?


      Warden

      - Reynold, you have not offered any objective reasons. Your reasoning is based on subjective premises:...

      Uh, no. You're just shoving other people's words into my mouth at this point..

      Even worse, you portray Singer's view as the mainstream view??

      Then you go and say this:
      And, if farm animals are regularly butchered in meet factories, why does it suddenly become an issue when farm animals might be used in a situation that is much less harmful, possibly even enjoyable for the animal?
      People are able to get nourishment from eating animals. There is no actual biological barrier to that as there is to the other activity. Lions will eat deer, for example, but they also will not mate with them.

      Do you realize that xians yourselves do NOT have an "objective" set of values yourselves? If you did, then things like baby-killing, slavery, etc. would have always been portrayed as being wrong, no matter what. Yet when biblegod orders those actions done, you have no problem accepting them.

      Xian theist morality is the ultimate in true "subjective morality".

      Which makes it scary when you say:
      As a theist I have a basis for human exceptionalism. However, as Singer has pointed out, secular atheists have no such logical basis for this hard-line distinction.
      because as a xian, then by rights, you should have no problem with killing witches, having slaves, or killing non-believers, etc.

      Delete
    3. Rick...this is the absolute last fucking time I want to talk to you about this. For fuck's sake, get some bloody help.

      I have never met anyone who was so bloody fascinated by bestiality as you. I am serious. NO ONE!

      Not atheist, not theist, no one.

      Your constant obsession with that topic indicates that despite your public denials of it, there is something you obviously find fascinating on some primitive level in your mind.

      As I keep saying: Get. Some. Bloody. Help.

      I am sick to fucking death of talking about your favourite topic with you. Screw that! I am not being paid to be your shrink, Warden.

      Save that talk for someone who is paid to care and treat such things, because I am not.

      Delete
    4. >Uh, yeah, I know what it's about Rick, thanks for reminding me what I already know...

      - It seems as though you actually are missing it, though. You admitted:

      1. "that "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions"

      But you also claim the following is morally acceptable:

      2. "I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions"

      Due to the law of non-contradiction, you cannot claim that both are morally acceptable positions due to the nature of the subject matter.

      You just stated that you understand the difference between moral claims and objections about fashion trends.

      And you bring up "the lesser of two evils" as though some conditions of bestiality are somewhat less desirable than others.

      Either you have an extremely short memory or some kind of mental disconnect. Your agreement that,

      "that "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions"

      does not allow for a "lessor of two evils" approach to bestialitiy. You agreed to an absolutist position but you also want to agree to a relativistic and situational position.

      You have to make a choice, Reynold. In accordance with basic laws of logic your position is untenable.

      >Even worse, you portray Singer's view as the mainstream view??

      - Singer is a distinguished Professor at a top rated Ivy League college. Don't you understand the reality that his status and position hold a lot more authority in academia than the leader of PETA does?

      >I have never met anyone who was so bloody fascinated by bestiality as you.

      - What fascinates me about you, Reynold is the fact that you cannot recognize the obvious logical contradictions of your beliefs.

      Delete
    5. Warden quoting me:

      Uh, yeah, I know what it's about Rick, thanks for reminding me what I already know...

      It seems as though you actually are missing it, though. You admitted:

      1. "that "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions"

      I said: "Something being non-objectionable in certain cases does NOT mean that it would be morally acceptable."

      Remember that for your next quote...

      But you also claim the following is morally acceptable:

      2. "I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions"

      There. Now, what did I say? I had said: "Something being non-objectionable in certain cases does NOT mean that it would be morally acceptable. "
      Where exactly did I say that it would be "morally acceptable"?

      Due to the law of non-contradiction, you cannot claim that both are morally acceptable positions due to the nature of the subject matter.
      Due to the fact that you don't seem to understand what I'm quoting into your face, your claim of breaking the law of non-contradiction fails. I did not say that both are "morally acceptable".

      Again: "the lesser of two evils".


      "that "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions"

      does not allow for a "lessor of two evils" approach to bestiality.

      Actually, yes it does. If someone came up with a scenario of mass-murder vs. bestiality, and threatened one unless you did the other then even though bestiality would still be wrong, it wouldn't be as wrong as mass-murder now, would it?

      You agreed to an absolutist position...
      Actually, all I believe I had said I could not realistically think of any situation where bestiality would be actually moral.

      That does not rule out being (in this unrealistic scenario) extorted into doing it to prevent mass-murder. That still would not make the act moral, but it would make it "the lesser of two evils".

      ...but you also want to agree to a relativistic and situational position.
      I just clarified what I said above.

      You have to make a choice, Reynold. In accordance with basic laws of logic your position is untenable.
      Wrong. I never said that bestiality would actually be MORAL. Only that it could possibly be the "lesser of two evils".


      While you prattle on about the "laws of logic" as if you actually give a shit, you need to do some basic reading comprehension.

      Delete
    6. Ah, Singer. I forgot: Since you use him as a member of a respected university and all that to claim that his views are "mainstream" than may I do the same with some famous bible-believers?

      Martin Luther - for the mainstream xian views of the Jewish people for instance?

      Delete
    7. Reynold, instead of discussion the various shades of grey in Myers' relativist position, let's at least acknowledge once and for all that your position is different from his.

      1. You agreed to the following statement:

      "bestiality is immoral on all occasions and not morally acceptable on any occasions",

      2. Myers stated he does not "support" bestiality and he also wrote, "I don’t object to bestiality in a very limited set of specific conditions"

      While you call it immoral on all occasions, Myers is unwilling to call it immoral. Can you acknowledge that Myers is unwilling to call bestiality immoral and you are not only willing to do so, you believe it always is immoral? Can you acknowledge that you both have different opinions?

      According to PETA, bestiality is always immoral because no consent is possible. Because Myers does not find it immoral and takes a situational approach, this implies he is more in agreement with Singer's position than with PETA's position. Can you be honest and acknowledge that?

      Delete
    8. Rick, you are an idiot. It was told to you several times that bestiality can be non-objectional in a very limited set of conditions. A specific example was offered to you in the form of the "lesser of two evils", when a person has to choose between bestiality and the murder of their family. Let me repeat the point in capital letters, since it is the only thing that seems to help against your reading disability:

      THINGS CAN BE BOTH NON-OBJECTIONABLE AND IMMORAL!

      P.S. Again you ran away from our discussion and you continue to misrepresent my views and claim "victory", where there is none.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous,

      >when a person has to choose between bestiality and the murder of their family.

      - The context of my question to Mr. Myers was, "Should bestiality be legal in your opinion." Not, "Can you think of the most extreme possible case when bestiality might be considered moral?"

      And, as noted in Myers' reply, he refused to answer my question regarding legality and he refused to define the act in terms of morality. He chose to offer a very ambiguous answer - neither for nor against mush.

      Unless a person can at least offer an opinion as to whether an act should be legal or illegal in society, one has not said very much about the moral validity of such an act.

      You and Reynold continuously claim: "THINGS CAN BE BOTH NON-OBJECTIONABLE AND IMMORAL!" So, what does that statement specifically say about the legality or illegality of bestiality? Absolutely nothing.

      Delete
    10. Liar, Myers did answer your question about the legal aspect in his point about stigma. He is perfectly fine with keeping it illegal, i.e. It should be illegal. He also presented a list, where a person with even half a brain can understand what limited set of conditions he is talking about. And he is completely right when he says that you are just looking for a "gotcha" moment and that you have no interest in ethics.

      Delete
    11. P.S. And you know full well there is a big difference between smth legal and moral.It is irrelevent to the moral aspect if an action is legal or decriminilized.

      Delete
  7. Sadly we see another sex obsessed individual relying on tortured interpretations of a questionable source of information to engage in the mental gymnastics necessary for him to deal with his preoccupations.

    Altogether pathetic.

    Tell me, sir, if the Bible is the inspired word of the creator of all, can you point to one thing in there that is beyond the ability of an ancient farmer to describe? Anything? Anything that is a "gee, wow, I didn't know that"? No, nothing. I think that maybe you ought to get a life sir.

    http://mikecobbsstuffformen.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael,

      Your comment is a bit amusing considering the fact that this subject was first brought up at PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula. As I pointed out in another article, Myers'blog has featured regular commentary on various forms of animal sex. I outlined that in the first post I made on this subject:

      "I enjoy photos of nature and animals as much as the next person. But I find it a bit odd when people have a continuous obsession with animal sex."

      I posted a few quotes from his blog outlining his apparent obsession:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/pz-meyers-animal-sex-big-question-for.html

      >relying on tortured interpretations of a questionable source of information

      - I wrote to PZ personally by email and asked for his opinion. In reply he offered a few sentences specifically related to his moral opinion which are quite vague. He refused to answer as to whether or not he felt bestiality should be legal.

      If Myers would be willing to be clear regarding his opinion on this subject, I would welcome it.

      >Altogether pathetic.

      - Personally, I find the opinion that bestiality is non-objectionable under certain conditions, Myers view, to be a bit pathetic.

      Do you believe as he does, Michael James Cobb, that there should be no objection to bestiality under certain circumstances?

      >Tell me, sir, if the Bible is the inspired word of the creator of all, can you point to one thing in there that is beyond the ability of an ancient farmer to describe?

      - This comment is off topic. However,if you question the truth of the Bible, you can read this link:

      An Open Challenge to Bible Critics

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-challenge-to-bible-critics.html

      >Anything? Anything that is a "gee, wow, I didn't know that"? No, nothing.

      - You have passed judgement on my answer before I even provided it. This implies you are very closed-minded and probably unable to read the above referenced article with the slightest hint of an objective thought process.

      Delete
    2. That is the pot calling the kettle black, Rick. Posting off-topic, spamming other blogs, being close-minded...

      Delete
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