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The Existence of God and Objective Morality

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CIN
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by CIN » May 15th, 2018, 7:17 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 8:09 am
But, I'm worried about what follows from tossing objective morality out the window. What's to stop anyone from doing anything they think they can get away with, simply because they can justify it to themselves?
If you mean what rational grounds do they have to stop, there are none. On the other hand, if there is no objective morality, there can be no moral objection to you stopping other people doing things that offend against your personal moral code by any means whatsoever. Go for it.
Do I have to accept the terrorists' thoughts and actions as valid in any sense, because they feel justified?
No. If there is no objective morality, the question of validity does not arise, because there is nothing to validate against.
What's to push me to do the right thing when nobody is watching?
If there is no objective morality, there is no right thing.
It seems moral truth could exist in the abstract,...
This assertion doesn't seem to follow from anything you have said. What makes you think it's true?
It's very useful to try to do the right thing, and we pretty well know it when we see it, even if we can't define or prove it.
Another bold and unsupported assertion. Would you care to try and support it?

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by LuckyR » May 16th, 2018, 3:00 am

chewybrian wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 8:09 am
I think Craig is off the rails, to say that his God is the one true way, and his 'proof' is flawed.

But, I'm worried about what follows from tossing objective morality out the window. What's to stop anyone from doing anything they think they can get away with, simply because they can justify it to themselves? Do I have to accept the terrorists' thoughts and actions as valid in any sense, because they feel justified? What's to push me to do the right thing when nobody is watching?

It seems moral truth could exist in the abstract, but that we can't know it with certainty, and can only approach it. It's very useful to try to do the right thing, and we pretty well know it when we see it, even if we can't define or prove it. But, how do I even try if I begin with the notion that there is no 'right thing''?
Nothing stops folks from doing what yhey want. You have watched the news, right? You definitely don't have to agree with terrorists since if everyone has their personal moral code, both you and terrorists don't have to agree. Your personal morality dictates what you do when no one is looking. Do you really ponder these issues in real life or does the right thing just seem obvious?
"As usual... it depends."

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chewybrian
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by chewybrian » May 16th, 2018, 6:53 am

CIN wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 7:17 pm
chewybrian wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 8:09 am
It seems moral truth could exist in the abstract,...
This assertion doesn't seem to follow from anything you have said. What makes you think it's true?
Lots of things could exist prior to my being able to know, understand, acknowledge, or prove them.

1. children should be protected from serious harm
2. don't steal unless you are certain you won't be caught

If we can rank these or any moral code as better or worse, this implies they could all be ranked in order, and there may be a 'best' way to act. Socrates said we only act immorally out of ignorance, and I think he was on to something. If you knew all the facts, including every upshot that would result from your action, there would be one best choice. Our ignorance or inability to predict accurately don't negate the truth of a best option. Where we perceive a difference between moral action and expediency, this arguably shows our ignorance.
CIN wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 7:17 pm
chewybrian wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 8:09 am
It's very useful to try to do the right thing, and we pretty well know it when we see it, even if we can't define or prove it.
Another bold and unsupported assertion. Would you care to try and support it?
You picked 1 over 2 above, no? You knew it when you saw it. The fact that a damaged person might see it differently does not make it invalid. It is better for society that I act in a moral way, isn't it? The gray area might be whether it is best for me. I believe in the stoic idea that virtue is its own reward, but I don't know how to go about 'proving' that part. I would enjoy a proof, even a flimsy one (what you got?).

(footnote: I found evidence that mood influences morality, but not the other way around-- https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... d-by-mood/ )

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chewybrian
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by chewybrian » May 16th, 2018, 7:29 am

LuckyR wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 3:00 am
Do you really ponder these issues in real life or does the right thing just seem obvious?
Of course I don't fret over the right thing in real life, any more than I fret about free will, but it seems to be important here. It is disturbing, though, to think that I only understand my subjective view of morality, as I have been wrong a time or two in the past (Super Bowls XVI and XXIII, for example). I don't agree that morality is purely subjective, but I follow the argument, I think. Step back far enough, and maybe I am the terrorist. If I am incompetent in my attempt to be good, maybe I'm only making things worse.

"And what if we pick the wrong religion? Every week we're just making God madder and madder..." Homer S.

I'd still say there is abstract good, and that we should make the effort to understand and practice it as best we can. The effort should usually make things better for you and society, and that's all we can do. My prior reply says more, but I'm open to follow up.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by LuckyR » May 16th, 2018, 3:14 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 7:29 am
LuckyR wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 3:00 am
Do you really ponder these issues in real life or does the right thing just seem obvious?
Of course I don't fret over the right thing in real life, any more than I fret about free will, but it seems to be important here. It is disturbing, though, to think that I only understand my subjective view of morality, as I have been wrong a time or two in the past (Super Bowls XVI and XXIII, for example). I don't agree that morality is purely subjective, but I follow the argument, I think. Step back far enough, and maybe I am the terrorist. If I am incompetent in my attempt to be good, maybe I'm only making things worse.

"And what if we pick the wrong religion? Every week we're just making God madder and madder..." Homer S.

I'd still say there is abstract good, and that we should make the effort to understand and practice it as best we can. The effort should usually make things better for you and society, and that's all we can do. My prior reply says more, but I'm open to follow up.
Look at it a different way. Let's say that I have a crystal ball and I can tell you that the Universe has objective morality. Would you suppose that what the majority of folks here on planet earth consider to be moral, would naturally follow what the Universe has decreed to be moral? If so, what is the difference between objective morality laid down by the Universe as opposed to subjective morality determined by popular consensus, statistically?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 16th, 2018, 5:15 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 15th, 2018, 8:09 am
But, I'm worried about what follows from tossing objective morality out the window. What's to stop anyone from doing anything they think they can get away with, simply because they can justify it to themselves?
What kind of a question is this.
The fact is that all morality is numerous sets of rules the world over. I do not think the word "objective" is remotely meaningful.
Morals being culturally defined, tend to have some commonalities which underlie them based on the most primitive animal/human urges. Since there can be no real uniformity, I fail to see why anyone would want to push the myth of 'objectiveness'.
Craig makes a damn fool of himself.
The simple fact is that morals are not objective and arguing from negative consequences is a species of fallacy that renders everything Craig says as absurd.
People do as they please and it pleases them to do good. It does not matter what Craig thinks about it. For thousands of years - even millions of years if you accept that mammals have a moral sense, communities have existed without god or any moral objectivity.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by CIN » May 16th, 2018, 7:12 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 6:53 am
Lots of things could exist prior to my being able to know, understand, acknowledge, or prove them.
And I'm asking what reason you have to think that objective moral truths could be among those things. If you have no reason to think so, then why even suggest it?
1. children should be protected from serious harm
2. don't steal unless you are certain you won't be caught

If we can rank these or any moral code as better or worse, this implies they could all be ranked in order, and there may be a 'best' way to act. Socrates said we only act immorally out of ignorance, and I think he was on to something. If you knew all the facts, including every upshot that would result from your action, there would be one best choice.
And what if you and I knew all the facts and still disagreed about which the best choice was? How could we ever decide who was right?
You picked 1 over 2 above, no? You knew it when you saw it.
I knew what I felt about it, i.e. I knew my own feelings on the matter. I don't see that there was anything else for me to know.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by chewybrian » May 17th, 2018, 5:50 am

LuckyR wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Look at it a different way. Let's say that I have a crystal ball and I can tell you that the Universe has objective morality. Would you suppose that what the majority of folks here on planet earth consider to be moral, would naturally follow what the Universe has decreed to be moral? If so, what is the difference between objective morality laid down by the Universe as opposed to subjective morality determined by popular consensus, statistically?
(Hopefully this answers Hobbes and CIN, too)

'...statistically..." 17 %? Did I win?

I think you are talking about 3 things, not 2. Subjective morality is whatever I think best. Objective morality is what is actually best. Popular consensus is sometimes an attempt at best, and sometimes a way to pretend what we selfishly want is best.

The difference is that objective morality exists whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Segregation is wrong. If you perceive some advantage in it for yourself, or somehow think it is right, you haven't thought it through all the way. So, popular consensus allowed it, because so many people had a flawed subjective morality, but did not make it correct. This does not imply that right comes to us from God, only that it is possible for a moral code to be 'right'.

I'm sure you can get it from Socrates better than I could lay it out. If people act immorally, they do it out of ignorance of the fact that moral action is best for themselves, as well as others.

Could we agree that some traffic codes are better than others? Then, there could be a 'best' traffic code, though we might not know it yet. Some moral codes are also better than others, so a best code could be out there. If we were not so flawed, we would be able to see it and act on it. But, our imperfection does not mean that the ideal is not out there, waiting to be found.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by Eduk » May 17th, 2018, 12:32 pm

Sorry Chewy but you are missing the point of objectivity. I agree there is a 'best' case scenario out there (which I can't absolutely prove) but that still doesn't mean it is objectively 'right'. For that you would have to prove that 'best' case is objectively better than a 'worse' case.
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by CIN » May 17th, 2018, 12:37 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 17th, 2018, 5:50 am
Objective morality is what is actually best.
How do we know when we have discovered what is 'actually best'? What test is there for this?
... the fact that moral action is best for themselves, as well as others.
How can this be? Suppose I am travelling home from work on a bus. Let's suppose I am getting on in years, and standing for any length of time makes my legs ache. Thankfully I find a seat. Then a heavily pregnant woman carrying two large shopping bags gets on the bus. She looks very tired. No-one else offers her their seat. If I give up my seat for her, which I believe is the right thing to do, how is that action best for me? My action may give me a warm and fuzzy, but that doesn't make up for my aching legs. What would have been best for me would have been to have kept my seat, but I and most other people would think that was the wrong thing to do.

Generalising this, the claim that objectively right actions are those that are best for the agent would leave no place for altruism or self-sacrifice, which in most people's view is actually one of the most moral kinds of behaviour there can be.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by LuckyR » May 17th, 2018, 12:59 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 17th, 2018, 5:50 am
LuckyR wrote:
May 16th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Look at it a different way. Let's say that I have a crystal ball and I can tell you that the Universe has objective morality. Would you suppose that what the majority of folks here on planet earth consider to be moral, would naturally follow what the Universe has decreed to be moral? If so, what is the difference between objective morality laid down by the Universe as opposed to subjective morality determined by popular consensus, statistically?
(Hopefully this answers Hobbes and CIN, too)

'...statistically..." 17 %? Did I win?

I think you are talking about 3 things, not 2. Subjective morality is whatever I think best. Objective morality is what is actually best. Popular consensus is sometimes an attempt at best, and sometimes a way to pretend what we selfishly want is best.

The difference is that objective morality exists whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Segregation is wrong. If you perceive some advantage in it for yourself, or somehow think it is right, you haven't thought it through all the way. So, popular consensus allowed it, because so many people had a flawed subjective morality, but did not make it correct. This does not imply that right comes to us from God, only that it is possible for a moral code to be 'right'.

I'm sure you can get it from Socrates better than I could lay it out. If people act immorally, they do it out of ignorance of the fact that moral action is best for themselves, as well as others.

Could we agree that some traffic codes are better than others? Then, there could be a 'best' traffic code, though we might not know it yet. Some moral codes are also better than others, so a best code could be out there. If we were not so flawed, we would be able to see it and act on it. But, our imperfection does not mean that the ideal is not out there, waiting to be found.
I totally get what you are saying, unfortunately IMO your commentary suffers from a couple of biases and misses a couple of realities which I tried (unsuccessfully) to highlight in my prior post. Let me give it another try.

Let's stipulate that there is a "best" morality. Simple ones are easy to understand: Murder is wrong, for example. We all agree here. Let's call it Objective morality. Great. Did it come from a god? Some say yes, others no. Was it determined by the Universe at the Big Bang? Again, folks disagree. From a practical matter, it is true that a consensus of lay people made such a decision and codified it in the legal system (separately from philosophy). This would be a statistical grouping of subjective morality, much more powerful (and more likely to "correct") than simple individual subjective morality. Regardless, since all three of the sources of this Objective morality were equally effective in coming to their conclusions, none of them can claim superiority of process.

But, aren't there examples of historical consensuses that have been, often tragically "wrong" when viewed through our Modern "enlightened" eyes? Of course there are many examples. However, what makes you think that anything that you may declare as an Objective morality today won't be dismissed by some future, more Modern and "enlightened" observer?

Separate issue: the way you (and most folks) describe Objective morality is not very objective. If you personally declare anything as objectively moral, as a subjective individual, how do you separate your personal subjectivity from your declaration, when the answer is not written on a stone tablet, ie it is coming from your personal assessment of how the world works? Trust me folks who were just as smart, "objective" and well read as you came to the same conclusion about their objectivity back in slave trade days. The only way to justify the label of objectivity in a conversation among the subjective, would be to acknowledge that Objective morality is a quasi-mythical ideal that exists... somewhere out there and is of no practical value for rule making here on planet earth since none of us subjective observers can ever know it.
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by Eduk » May 17th, 2018, 1:12 pm

CIN altruism is 'best' for you over time on average. And when I say you I mean your genes.
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by Spiral » May 18th, 2018, 2:04 am

Let will define objective morality is a set of perfect moral rules which would result in the maximization of aggregate human happiness. The problem for human beings is twofold:

[1] Many human beings don't care about the maximization of human happiness. Instead they care about maximizing power for a specific race, creed or nation.

[2] Many human beings do care about the maximization of human happiness, but they don't know which proposed set of moral rules would result in the maximization of human happiness.

So, many people throw up their hands and say, "There is no such thing as objective morality." But that's like saying that there is no correct answer to the question of how many grains of sand are located on Pismo Beach because no one has figured out how many grains of sand there are.

Given the limits of human knowledge, human rationality and human morality, we will probably never be able to know objective morality on all moral issues. But we do have the ability to know objective morality on the easy moral issues such as slavery, child torture, the death penalty for witchcraft, killing people for engaging in non-marital sex. But knowing whether we should have an income tax or a sales tax and how high those tax rates should be? We may never figure that one out. Knowing exactly how much money to spend on food stamps or what the best health care system is? We may never figure those questions out either.

Just as we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we shouldn't human ignorance be the enemy of objective morality and the friend of moral relativism and moral nihilism. Oh, and putting a God into the equation might help us develop a conception of objective morality as long as we don't tie this God to ancient texts which have all kinds of objectively immoral commandments woven into them.

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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by Eduk » May 18th, 2018, 5:13 am

Spiral you are I think conflating ideas of what objectivity means.
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Re: The Existence of God and Objective Morality

Post by chewybrian » May 18th, 2018, 6:35 am

LuckyR wrote:
May 17th, 2018, 12:59 pm
Let's stipulate that there is a "best" morality. Simple ones are easy to understand: Murder is wrong, for example. We all agree here. Let's call it Objective morality. Great. Did it come from a god? Some say yes, others no. Was it determined by the Universe at the Big Bang? Again, folks disagree. From a practical matter, it is true that a consensus of lay people made such a decision and codified it in the legal system (separately from philosophy). This would be a statistical grouping of subjective morality, much more powerful (and more likely to "correct") than simple individual subjective morality.
Yes, I very much want to stipulate that best is out there, and I agree that we don't know it, and can't lay claim to it through any of these methods. I want to give the consensus method a slight edge, while acknowledging that it is tragically flawed. Like democracy, it could be great if each of us were great, and we simply may not have anything better.
LuckyR wrote:
May 17th, 2018, 12:59 pm
The only way to justify the label of objectivity in a conversation among the subjective, would be to acknowledge that Objective morality is a quasi-mythical ideal that exists... somewhere out there and is of no practical value for rule making here on planet earth since none of us subjective observers can ever know it.
That's what I've been trying to say. You might say it has no value, or I might say that it reminds us that there is something to strive for, and to stay humble and remember we can always be wrong. This feels like more than a weird footnote to me. Do we throw up our hands and say we can't be perfect, or dig in because we believe perfect is out there, and can be approached through effort?
Spiral wrote:
May 18th, 2018, 2:04 am
Let will define objective morality is a set of perfect moral rules which would result in the maximization of aggregate human happiness. The problem for human beings is twofold:

[1] Many human beings don't care about the maximization of human happiness. Instead they care about maximizing power for a specific race, creed or nation.

[2] Many human beings do care about the maximization of human happiness, but they don't know which proposed set of moral rules would result in the maximization of human happiness.

So, many people throw up their hands and say, "There is no such thing as objective morality." But that's like saying that there is no correct answer to the question of how many grains of sand are located on Pismo Beach because no one has figured out how many grains of sand there are.

Given the limits of human knowledge, human rationality and human morality, we will probably never be able to know objective morality on all moral issues. But we do have the ability to know objective morality on the easy moral issues such as slavery, child torture, the death penalty for witchcraft, killing people for engaging in non-marital sex. But knowing whether we should have an income tax or a sales tax and how high those tax rates should be? We may never figure that one out. Knowing exactly how much money to spend on food stamps or what the best health care system is? We may never figure those questions out either.

Just as we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we shouldn't human ignorance be the enemy of objective morality and the friend of moral relativism and moral nihilism. Oh, and putting a God into the equation might help us develop a conception of objective morality as long as we don't tie this God to ancient texts which have all kinds of objectively immoral commandments woven into them.
You've made some of the points I wanted to make better than I was able.

I would have added that while we are able to see correctness on the big issues, we have an uncanny ability to pretend that what we selfishly want (in place of what is right) is right. I also have a great fondness for the idea that selfish notions are flawed. If we were perfectly informed, we would be able to see that moral action is best for everyone, and would not wish to pretend.

I really like the underlined part, but I'm unsure on the last sentence. With max font size on 'might', then maybe...

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