Atheist Petra Fans

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:44 am

Mountain Man wrote:
Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:02 am
If atheism is true then what does it really matter, in the end, if a man lives selfishly or selflessly when there is no ultimate judgment for his actions?
I think it is quite a lot more complicated than that. At first what you suggest may seem convincing, but if you take it just one step further instead of stopping simply by pointing to God (which many with whom we all disagree are actually doing) the case gets really complicated. A very interesting presentation of this has been given by Leibniz:

"Furthermore, if you say ·as Descartes did· that things are good not because they match up to objective standards of goodness, but only
because God chose them, you will unthinkingly destroy all God’s love and all his glory. For why praise him for what he has done, if he would be equally praiseworthy for doing just the opposite?"

So while many theists may think that atheists cannot point to objective standards of goodness because they don't believe in God it seems to be the case that the theists themselves will find it hard to explain that God is good if the definition of "good" is what God defines as good. Then basically anything could be good depending on Gods will.

Regarding exactly that point it is interesting to read on:

"And another point: it seems that any act of the will presupposes some reason for it - a reason that naturally precedes the act so that God’s choices must come from his reasons for them, which involve his knowledge of what would be good; so they can’t be the sources of the goodness of things. That is why I find it weird when Descartes says that the eternal truths of metaphysics and geometry, and therefore also the rules of goodness, justice, and perfection, are brought about by God’s will."

Very, very interesting and way too often forgotten in modern discussion. If theists deny objective standards existing independently of God and point to that as a problem for atheists, they are forgetting that the problem is of equal importance to themselves. A lot of the discussions on these regards are basically based on wrong assumptions that atheists and theist need to be in opposition to each other in this regard when in fact they have a lot in common.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by Mountain Man » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:51 pm

What a load of nonsense. As theists and Christians, "good" is simply the term we use to describe that which aligns with the character and nature of God. It's not independent of God, nor is it something that God arbitrary decides.

But again, the real issue is moral obligation. I can willingly grant for the sake of argument that morality is a brute fact of nature like the laws of physics, and so the atheist can happily claim an objective morality of his very own, but what he can't claim is any compelling reason why he ought to live one way instead of another when, if atheism is true, there are no ultimate consequences for his actions. If I can live selfishly and avoid or simply don't care about whatever negative consequences might come my way then why shouldn't I live selfishly?

The fact that man has such an inherent and overwhelming sense of moral obligation is a compelling argument for the existence of God simply because there's no accounting for it in an atheistic universe.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:50 pm

Calling the words of one of the most important philosophers a load of nonsence is perhaps taking it a bit too far. You are free to disagree but that is something different.

Leibniz was a Christian so your description on how Christians define "good" is only partly correct since other Christians have defined it differently. His point that "good" cannot be defined without refering to objective values is very important and very true. Even if you define "good" as something that aligns with God's character. In order to convince anyone you would still have to clarify why that is good. And would it still be good if God had an all different character? If good was simply defined as something that aligns with God's character we would not be able to ask the following question: "Is God's nature good", since it would amount to asking whether "a = a". However we quite easily understand that question which implies they are not necessarily identical.

You have a very limited understanding of moral obligation. Long before Christ some philosophers came to the conclusion that your moral obligation exists due to the fact that moral truths are a part of what constitutes reality. Your obligation is there because of objective values having a real existence. They did not necessarily point to a God "behind" those values. They then came to the conclusion that even if no one saw, heard or knew anything about your actions you should still act according to your moral obligation. So the reward or punishment was completely irrelevant because you were obliged to do the right thing.

Your presentation of moral obligation seems at first to be the opposite of selfishnes but it actually is just selfishnes. You need consequences in need for there to be moral obligation. If not you seem to think that people will act selfishly. That is a simplistic view of things. It may be true in some cases, but if I only live according to my moral obligation in order to avoid negative consequences then I am still just taking care of my own interest. I am acting in order to ensure what is best for me. That is just a more sophisticated version of being selfish while acting in accordance with your moral obligation is doing what is right even if it is not in your own interest. As Einstein wrote: "Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."

There are a tons of accountings for moral obligation without any pointing to the existence of God. You may disagree with those accounts but claiming they do not exist is flat out completely wrong. Some of them existed long before Christianity. Some Christians have wanted to base moral obligation on objective values and claimed they exist independently of your religious views and so on. So you really need to confront these theories if you want to convince anyone. That is going to be quite a lot of work since it is almost 3000 years of history you need to go through.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by Mountain Man » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:37 am

I call it nonsense because it exposes a fundamental ignorance of theistic morality.

Asking, "Is God morally good?" makes as much sense as asking, "Is a circle round?" We call something round because it has the nature of a circle. We call something morally good because it has the nature of God. The property of "roundness" does not exist independently of a circle, and the property of "moral goodness" does not exist independently of God. You literally can not have one without the other.

Of course there's nothing stopping you from from asking, "Is God morally good?", but just because we can ask a question doesn't mean that the question is automatically coherent. For instance, "If God is omnipotent then can he create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?" We might be able to ask it and even comprehend what is being asked, but it's still a nonsense question.

On the point of moral obligation, moral obligation can not exist without a moral law giver. Even if morality existed as a brute fact of nature and existed independently of ourselves, which is what you're arguing, it does not imply that moral obligation can also exist in a similar fashion. You can not have an obligation without someone or something to hold you accountable, and the fact that within the atheistic worldview one can ultimately avoid every consequence simply by dying proves that the atheist has no basis for claiming that moral obligation exists. And, no, I'm not arguing that one needs a fear of punishment in order to live morally. Rather, this is simply a logical analysis of competing worldviews.

To answer one of your other points:
Dr. William Lane Craig wrote:Somebody might say that it is in our best self-interest to adopt a moral life-style. But clearly, that is not always true: we all know situations in which self-interest runs smack in the face of morality. Moreover, if one is sufficiently powerful, like a Ferdinand Marcos or a Papa Doc Duvalier or even a Donald Trump, then one can pretty much ignore the dictates of conscience and safely live in self-indulgence. Historian Stewart C. Easton sums it up well when he writes, “There is no objective reason why man should be moral, unless morality ‘pays off’ in his social life or makes him ‘feel good.’ There is no objective reason why man should do anything save for the pleasure it affords him.”

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-b ... ithout-god
To reiterate, the fact that man has a strong, inward pull to not live a life of pure selfishness is a compelling argument for God's existence.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:54 am

It is not a fundamental ignorance of theistic morality. It is a different version and one that is based on very thoughtful consideration.

The logic fails you when you talk about moral obligation. You wrote "You can not have an obligation without someone or something to hold you accountable, and the fact that within the atheistic worldview one can ultimately avoid every consequence simply by dying proves that the atheist has no basis for claiming that moral obligation exists."

The interesting part is you completely misunderstand "moral obligation" and "consequences" as being almost identical or at least identify the last as a precondition for the first. Then you are presupposing your own conclusion which is circular. For those who write on ethics and have become famous for their philosophies on this the moral obligation exists completely independently of personal consequences. The ethical system is the basis for the moral obligation. It is the system on which it is founded. Consequences or not are irrelevant. The ethical truths are what constitutes obligations. These are the "something" you refer to above. Then you seem to forget the "something" in favour of the "someone" later on. It may be quite many things and not just "a brute fact of nature" that you keep refering to. It could be based on responsibility, happines for all humans, freedom, social construction, intuition, reason and quite many other things. If one does not act accordingly due do bad personal morality that does not change what objectively is the truth. And it does not change moral obligation the slightest.

You may of course disagree with this aproach but it is the aproach of moral philosophy. And if you want to discuss it you need to understand it and prove the right understandign wrong instead of delivering a misunderstanding.

You quote the followin: “There is no objective reason why man should be moral, unless morality ‘pays off’ in his social life or makes him ‘feel good.’"

In that case it is presupposed that objective ethical standards do not exist as giving objective reason. If they do, the statement is wrong. If anyone believes they do exist he would have at least what he finds to be objective reason to act morally. Christians in large numbers believe in the existence of such standards independtly of religion. Many famous Christian philosophers did that.

So to presuppose what you want to give a rational reason for others to believe in is not convincing for anyone who knows how to use the terms and what they mean. For those you would need to correctly identify the weaknes in the system.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by dihigo » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:16 am

dihigo wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:17 pm
Am I the only one who wishes this thread would migrate over to "Other Topics?"
While I still find this thread improperly categorized and in particular "boring" as neither side will ultimately persuade the other, I wonder if "St. Augustine's Pears" is Petra's only attempt at tackling the subject matter of apologetics.
What are ya lookin' for the Devil for when ya oughta be lookin' for the Lord?

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by Mountain Man » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:33 pm

curt wrote:
Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:54 am
It is not a fundamental ignorance of theistic morality. It is a different version and one that is based on very thoughtful consideration.

The logic fails you when you talk about moral obligation. You wrote "You can not have an obligation without someone or something to hold you accountable, and the fact that within the atheistic worldview one can ultimately avoid every consequence simply by dying proves that the atheist has no basis for claiming that moral obligation exists."

The interesting part is you completely misunderstand "moral obligation" and "consequences" as being almost identical or at least identify the last as a precondition for the first. Then you are presupposing your own conclusion which is circular. For those who write on ethics and have become famous for their philosophies on this the moral obligation exists completely independently of personal consequences. The ethical system is the basis for the moral obligation. It is the system on which it is founded. Consequences or not are irrelevant. The ethical truths are what constitutes obligations. These are the "something" you refer to above. Then you seem to forget the "something" in favour of the "someone" later on. It may be quite many things and not just "a brute fact of nature" that you keep refering to. It could be based on responsibility, happines for all humans, freedom, social construction, intuition, reason and quite many other things. If one does not act accordingly due do bad personal morality that does not change what objectively is the truth. And it does not change moral obligation the slightest.

You may of course disagree with this aproach but it is the aproach of moral philosophy. And if you want to discuss it you need to understand it and prove the right understandign wrong instead of delivering a misunderstanding.

You quote the followin: “There is no objective reason why man should be moral, unless morality ‘pays off’ in his social life or makes him ‘feel good.’"

In that case it is presupposed that objective ethical standards do not exist as giving objective reason. If they do, the statement is wrong. If anyone believes they do exist he would have at least what he finds to be objective reason to act morally. Christians in large numbers believe in the existence of such standards independtly of religion. Many famous Christian philosophers did that.

So to presuppose what you want to give a rational reason for others to believe in is not convincing for anyone who knows how to use the terms and what they mean. For those you would need to correctly identify the weaknes in the system.
I like how you appeal to "those who write on ethics and have become famous for their philosophies" and then casually dismiss the writings of Dr. William Lane Craig who is himself a well-known philosopher and recognized expert in the field who frequently writes and debates on the subject of ethics.

Look, it's very simple: Without consequences then there can be no accountability, or perhaps I should say no meaningful accountability, and without meaningful accountability then there can be no moral obligation, so ultimately, consequences and obligation are inextricably linked. To put it another way, until the atheist can point to someone or something to which he is ultimately accountable, even after death, then he has no basis for supposing that there is moral obligation.

A simple thought experiment: What obligation is there to obey a speed limit sign if there exists no governing authority to hold you accountable?

As Dr. Craig writes:
Finally, take the problem of moral accountability. Here we find a powerful practical argument for believing in God. According to William James, practical arguments can only be used when theoretical arguments are insufficient to decide a question of urgent and pragmatic importance. But it seems obvious that a practical argument could also be used to back up or motivate acceptance of the conclusion of a sound theoretical argument. To believe, then, that God does not exist and that there is thus no moral accountability would be quite literally de-moralizing, for then we should have to believe that our moral choices are ultimately insignificant, since both our fate and that of the universe will be the same regardless of what we do. By "de-moralization" I mean a deterioration of moral motivation. It is hard to do the right thing when that means sacrificing one's own self-interest and to resist temptation to do wrong when desire is strong, and the belief that ultimately it does not matter what you choose or do is apt to sap one's moral strength and so undermine one's moral life. As Robert Adams observes, "Having to regard it as very likely that the history of the universe will not be good on the whole, no matter what one does, seems apt to induce a cynical sense of futility about the moral life, undermining one's moral resolve and one's interest in moral considerations." By contrast there is nothing so likely to strengthen the moral life as the beliefs that one will be held accountable for one's actions and that one's choices do make a difference in bringing about the good. Theism is thus a morally advantageous belief, and this, in the absence of any theoretical argument establishing atheism to be the case, provides practical grounds to believe in God and motivation to accept the conclusions of the two theoretical arguments I just gave above.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-indi ... r-morality

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:43 pm

You are holding on to a wrong understanding of moral accountability. So, once more, moral accountability exist independently of whether there are consequences or not. It is based on the fact that there are ethical values that exist and are having a truth value independently of whether anyone acts accordingly or not. Remember that truth in any theory of knowledge is described as being independent of what human beings believe or claim. Since moral truth are also true the same goes in that case. Discussing math no one would claim that "2 + 2 = 4" is a truth which is dependent on what we think or believe. And whether anyone claims that "2 + 2 = 5" it remains untrue no matter if he gets away with it or not.

You are ultimately forgetting that those who believe in ethical systems are having an obligation to them. Since they believe them to be true, they do have (at least in their own mind) objective reason for acting accordingly since ethical values are part of objective reality. That was the obvious error in the stuff you quoted the last time in which it was claimed man would have no objective reason to act accordingly if there was no punishment. What the writer should have focused on is the fact that the subject in this case may not have subjective reason to act accordingly, or at least he may not have it to the full extent. Since his subjective estimation is influenced by the objective reasons we better hope he decided to do the right thing. But no guarantees are given, and that points back to errors in the subjective domain not the objective.

Another interesting point is that you want to tie moral obligation to tightly to being held accountable. You wrote: "Look, it's very simple: Without consequences then there can be no accountability, or perhaps I should say no meaningful accountability, and without meaningful accountability then there can be no moral obligation, so ultimately, consequences and obligation are inextricably linked." You are partly right about the first part and completely wrong about the last. Moral obligation exists independently of consequences.

Let's say consequences and obligation are linked as you say. What this basically means is that killing, lying, cheating, stealing or any other act in these categories are not wrong in and of themselves (as Kant would have held). So one could image a world in which they were no better nor worse than feeding the hungry, giving medicine to the sick and so on, if your thinking was right. I believe that some Christian apologists are able to think in those terms. Apart from those only nihilists, extremists and the like can follow that line of "reasoning". If obligation exist due to the existence of consequence and not to due to the existence of objective moral values then it also follows that obligations based on cosequences are not based on moral values (because they dont exist in and of themselves) but they exist due to the consequences. And the consequences cannot be based on moral values either. Becuase a consequence in and of itself is not a value and they are not basis for moral values either. They should be based on the existence of ethical truth, but you have claimed no such thing exists without consequences. So as I wrote in the beginning these topics are very, very complex and as Leibniz pointed out once you deny the existence of objective values existing independently then you are in very deep trouble since then you cannot understand or justify God or the consequences. All you can say is that some holy book says that it is they way it is. Which is basically very close to extremism.

You wrote: "A simple thought experiment: What obligation is there to obey a speed limit sign if there exists no governing authority to hold you accountab"

First of all my obliation exists due to the law, so my obligation depends on the law not the authority. I am doing something illegal no matter if I am held accountable or not. I may not act according to the law and I may not be punished if I don't do that but that does not change my obligation and the basis of it. However there is very good reason I may actually agree with the principles behind the law (if we are "translating" to ethical values it is certain that I do). Speed limits exist to take care of everyones safety. Because of that fact alone, I will feel a moral obligation to follow the law.

Regarding William Lane Craig then he is mostly known among Christians and has mainly been teaching at Christian schools. He is one of those who is primarily known for being a Christian. Those philosophers I refer to (Leibniz being one of them) are mainly known for being philosophers. They were of course Christians as well and their think did have and still has a very broad appeal. Their way of thinking Christian thoughts has had such an impact and is so detailed and important that they are still read at every university - Chrisitan or not. From what you have been quoting of William Lane Craig I have certainly not been impressed. His ideas are very old, very simple, one-sided and with errors (like I have pointed out) and according to many both atheists and Christians these ideas have been proven wrong. I would rather see him battle the objections than see him pretending they don't exist. So many Christian philosophers (and non Christians as well) have done so much better.
Last edited by curt on Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by brent » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:58 pm

Come on guys give it up. Curt is right about everything.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:18 pm

Until proven wrong. 8) And then you need to talk about the case.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by fiendik » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:09 am

brent wrote:
Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:58 pm
Come on guys give it up. Curt is right about everything.
He's mostly right about everything. However, I should point out that the difference between those "known for Christianity" and those "known for philosophy" is much more basic than it sounds; one is beginning with the assumption that as a being that did not create itself, the philosopher is not in a position to determine truth on their own, and must look outside themselves for metaphysical information. The other begins with the assumption that outside sources are not to be definitely trusted, and therefore the only source of truth is the philosopher's own observation. These two things are obviously incompatible, and as I hold the first view, I do not expect to have a whole lot of agreement with those of the other view.

I agree with the point that consequences and moral obligation are not the same thing (though I honestly don't know what the point of bringing it up in the first place was); Just because I break the law and don't get caught doesn't mean that I'd didn't in fact break the law. The problem comes when we try to independently determine what the law is. As a created being, I can say that my Creator had a purpose in mind for me, and that I must align myself to that. But without that, we don't really have any way of determining what law we should be following. Prior to Christianity, many people thought that eating each other was morally right. How can you say that they were wrong? If moral obligation is really an external force, than what does it actually affect? We know the force of gravity exists because of the objects which it influences. There is obviously no moral code that forces everyone to comply with it; Even if we were required by some mysterious force to "do good for goodness sake" then how would we be able to know what was really good?

That's just one point of irrationality in a system based solely on the premise of denying God. Really atheism doesn't provide any real cause for anything, which is an unsolvable problem.
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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:24 am

You raise some very interesting points, fiendik.

First I don't completely agree with your following claim: "However, I should point out that the difference between those "known for Christianity" and those "known for philosophy" is much more basic than it sounds; one is beginning with the assumption that as a being that did not create itself, the philosopher is not in a position to determine truth on their own, and must look outside themselves for metaphysical information. The other begins with the assumption that outside sources are not to be definitely trusted, and therefore the only source of truth is the philosopher's own observation."

It is certainly right that philosphers are reluctant to trust outside sources but I think it is a stretch to say their only source of truth is their own observation. Of course, for anyone including the Christians, they to some extent base their view on their observation. You are the one who holds the view that you did not create yourself, and others hold other views. However neither you nor the philosopher (if he is a good philosopher) will stop at that point. The philosopher will search for truth through logic, reasoning, the evidence provided by science, emotions and so on. Good philosophy is based on the idea that what I provide as evidence is so strong that you cannot disagree or if you disagre and can prove me wrong, then you are right. So it is not a purely subjective "own observation" at least not in good philosophy (in my oppinion - the subjective aspect keeps forcing its way through :lol: )

I think you correctly identify the challenges for moral philosophy in the following statement: "The problem comes when we try to independently determine what the law is. As a created being, I can say that my Creator had a purpose in mind for me, and that I must align myself to that. But without that, we don't really have any way of determining what law we should be following. Prior to Christianity, many people thought that eating each other was morally right. How can you say that they were wrong? If moral obligation is really an external force, than what does it actually affect? We know the force of gravity exists because of the objects which it influences. There is obviously no moral code that forces everyone to comply with it; Even if we were required by some mysterious force to "do good for goodness sake" then how would we be able to know what was really good?"

The first part about "independently" needs a little balancing as I have pointed to above, but basically you are right that it starts with the individual. As I have tried to point out at an earlier point I don't see that pointing to God as a creator with a purpose helps solve the problem. What is his purpose based on? If it is based on reason, fairness, a wish for happiness or some other basic principle or principles in combination then human reasoning would be able to grasp at least some of it though perhaps not to the perfect degree. This is by no means undermining the concept of God. As Leibniz said there are some basic truth that cannot be diffent under any circumstances. God would not be able to create a universe in which "2 + 2 = 5" would be true, simple because that statement is of such a form that it cannot be true under any circumstances. Contradictions cannot be true and thus God, according to Leibniz, would never be able to make them the true.

His points about ethics follow that same line of reasoning. We could not imagine a world in which torture of babies would be just - if the word "ethics" is to have any meaningfull content it cannot contain that. We could not image moral values being just about anything. Or, if we could, then we are basically just following a leader blindly with no idea of justice or truth at all. We would basically be nihilist people apart from the one single value that we would need to follow God, though we have no moral justification for doing so and no reasoning to point to as binding for any non-believer. As I have allready quoted we would worship God no matter what he did - even if he wanted to torture babies, make fun of the disabled or whatever.

Put in very simple terms; if justice does not exist without God, then it is very hard to see how it exists with God. If it is to be values that are justifiable and compelling they need to be within the grasp of reasoning. Or else, basically, we are in the situation in which many extremists find themselves. Religious extremists often claim that values exist solely due to the fact that God exists so any norm, law, philosophical idea, convention, human right or whatever can just be ignored. And then they unreflectingly kill.

You wrote: "There is obviously no moral code that forces everyone to comply with it; Even if we were required by some mysterious force to "do good for goodness sake" then how would we be able to know what was really good?"" Let's not forget that this goes for the moral code in Christianity as well. No one is forced to comply with that either (at least in this world). The evidence in this world for that set of moral principles is no stronger than the evidence for some other set of principles.

So basically I think you are completely right about the challenges for moral philosophy. It is very hard to base an ethical system. I just don't see how pointing to God makes a difference in that context. I think all people face exactly the same challenge - difficult as it is. I may write some more on that later but I think i have used my quota right now. :lol: And that part would take very, very, very many words.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by curt » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:03 am

Dear Mountain Man

I would like to ask you some questions concerning some of your statements. You wrote: "The fact that man has such an inherent and overwhelming sense of moral obligation is a compelling argument for the existence of God simply because there's no accounting for it in an atheistic universe."

You seem to claim the following:

1) Man has a sense of moral obligation
2) Moral obligation cannot exist without God
3) Man's sense of moral obligation provides evidence for the existence of God

I wonder how you can even account for the sense of moral obligation that you point to in 1. I have no problem holding that such a thing exists, but what you have written elsewhere seems to undermine the existence of it to those for whom I suppose the "compelling argument" was intended.

You wrote: "Even if morality existed as a brute fact of nature and existed independently of ourselves, which is what you're arguing, it does not imply that moral obligation can also exist in a similar fashion. You can not have an obligation without someone or something to hold you accountable, and the fact that within the atheistic worldview one can ultimately avoid every consequence simply by dying proves that the atheist has no basis for claiming that moral obligation exists."

So if you are right an atheist cannot claim the existence of a moral obligation. You have also refuted Leibniz's claim that moral truth have objective existence independently of religious views and that they were the basis for God's choices. You claimed to the opposite that they do not exist independently of God.

How, then, can an atheist even get the sense of moral obligation according to you? Since he does not believe in the consequences you point to, and since you then imply that he cannot have an obligation, then why would it ever occur to him to have a sense of such an obligation which according to you he cannot have? It seems it would be a sense of "nothing" according to your definition of it.

You basically seem to be saying in the first quote that "1 is the case and 2 is the case and the consequence of that is 3". And then in the second quote what you are saying seems to imply that "1 is NOT the case" or at least it is very hard to see how it could be the case for the atheist to sense an obligation which you claim logically he cannot have. Then how can you go from 1 to 3?

If it is only visible for those who already believe, then how can it be compelling evidence?

If nothing in the atheistic universe accounts for the existence of moral obligation, then certainly it does not come from that. You are also denying it has any existence independently of God. So where does the sense of obligation come from when no objective morals exist and if moral obligation only exists due to the existence of consequences in which he does not believe?

I assume that since you hold that moral values do not exist independently of God and that atheists cannot account for a moral obligation, the sense of moral obligation must have some relation to God but I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts regarding that.

Even if your line of reasoning is correct (which I obviously don't believe) then there is still a very big difference between proving the existence of God and proving the existence of the God that Christianity talks about. Many religions and philosophies have held different views on God long before Christianity ever existed as a religion. So do we know it is the Christian God and how? This last part is very important since according to you the existence of moral obligations exist partly due to the consequences. Then it is important to know what God will punish us for.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by Mountain Man » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:23 pm

curt wrote:
Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:43 pm
You are holding on to a wrong understanding of moral accountability. So, once more, moral accountability exist independently of whether there are consequences or not. It is based on the fact that there are ethical values that exist and are having a truth value independently of whether anyone acts accordingly or not. Remember that truth in any theory of knowledge is described as being independent of what human beings believe or claim. Since moral truth are also true the same goes in that case. Discussing math no one would claim that "2 + 2 = 4" is a truth which is dependent on what we think or believe. And whether anyone claims that "2 + 2 = 5" it remains untrue no matter if he gets away with it or not.

You are ultimately forgetting that those who believe in ethical systems are having an obligation to them. Since they believe them to be true, they do have (at least in their own mind) objective reason for acting accordingly since ethical values are part of objective reality. That was the obvious error in the stuff you quoted the last time in which it was claimed man would have no objective reason to act accordingly if there was no punishment. What the writer should have focused on is the fact that the subject in this case may not have subjective reason to act accordingly, or at least he may not have it to the full extent. Since his subjective estimation is influenced by the objective reasons we better hope he decided to do the right thing. But no guarantees are given, and that points back to errors in the subjective domain not the objective.

Another interesting point is that you want to tie moral obligation to tightly to being held accountable. You wrote: "Look, it's very simple: Without consequences then there can be no accountability, or perhaps I should say no meaningful accountability, and without meaningful accountability then there can be no moral obligation, so ultimately, consequences and obligation are inextricably linked." You are partly right about the first part and completely wrong about the last. Moral obligation exists independently of consequences.

Let's say consequences and obligation are linked as you say. What this basically means is that killing, lying, cheating, stealing or any other act in these categories are not wrong in and of themselves (as Kant would have held). So one could image a world in which they were no better nor worse than feeding the hungry, giving medicine to the sick and so on, if your thinking was right. I believe that some Christian apologists are able to think in those terms. Apart from those only nihilists, extremists and the like can follow that line of "reasoning". If obligation exist due to the existence of consequence and not to due to the existence of objective moral values then it also follows that obligations based on cosequences are not based on moral values (because they dont exist in and of themselves) but they exist due to the consequences. And the consequences cannot be based on moral values either. Becuase a consequence in and of itself is not a value and they are not basis for moral values either. They should be based on the existence of ethical truth, but you have claimed no such thing exists without consequences. So as I wrote in the beginning these topics are very, very complex and as Leibniz pointed out once you deny the existence of objective values existing independently then you are in very deep trouble since then you cannot understand or justify God or the consequences. All you can say is that some holy book says that it is they way it is. Which is basically very close to extremism.

You wrote: "A simple thought experiment: What obligation is there to obey a speed limit sign if there exists no governing authority to hold you accountab"

First of all my obliation exists due to the law, so my obligation depends on the law not the authority. I am doing something illegal no matter if I am held accountable or not. I may not act according to the law and I may not be punished if I don't do that but that does not change my obligation and the basis of it. However there is very good reason I may actually agree with the principles behind the law (if we are "translating" to ethical values it is certain that I do). Speed limits exist to take care of everyones safety. Because of that fact alone, I will feel a moral obligation to follow the law.

Regarding William Lane Craig then he is mostly known among Christians and has mainly been teaching at Christian schools. He is one of those who is primarily known for being a Christian. Those philosophers I refer to (Leibniz being one of them) are mainly known for being philosophers. They were of course Christians as well and their think did have and still has a very broad appeal. Their way of thinking Christian thoughts has had such an impact and is so detailed and important that they are still read at every university - Chrisitan or not. From what you have been quoting of William Lane Craig I have certainly not been impressed. His ideas are very old, very simple, one-sided and with errors (like I have pointed out) and according to many both atheists and Christians these ideas have been proven wrong. I would rather see him battle the objections than see him pretending they don't exist. So many Christian philosophers (and non Christians as well) have done so much better.
Whether or not your are personally impressed with the work of Dr. Craig is irrelevant. He is a highly respected and recognized expert in the field of philosophy and has extensively studied and debated these ideas, so if you think his arguments can be dismissed with a breezy wave of the hand then you are greatly mistaken.

You seem to be hung up on whether or not a particular philosophy of morality allows us to judge the goodness of God. In fact, this seems to be the lynch pin of your entire argument, but if God is the standard of goodness then this concept is incoherent. It's like trying to use a ruler to measure itself.

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Re: Atheist Petra Fans

Post by Mountain Man » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:38 pm

curt wrote:
Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:03 am
How, then, can an atheist even get the sense of moral obligation according to you? Since he does not believe in the consequences you point to, and since you then imply that he cannot have an obligation, then why would it ever occur to him to have a sense of such an obligation which according to you he cannot have?
The fact that you even ask this question baffles me. It's like asking why someone who rejects the law of gravity can't fly through the air like Superman.

The answer is in your Bible: "When Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts..." (Romans 2:14-15)

Theism can explain why we have an inherent sense of moral obligation. Atheism can't.

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