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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

  1. #1021
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Then you are denying the definition.
    I actually responded to the definition point by point. Two "no's" and one "yes," they yes being about "enforcement." The "no's" have it, especially since I do not subscribe to a "might makes right" moral framework.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Weren't you the one arguing that we need to accept common definitions?
    We should, if we wish to successfully communicate. Communication is difficult if we all redefine the common words we use.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    In any case by definition God's moral law would have authority over you, conforming to your personal moral framework, or not, does not even play into the definition.
    No, for the reasons cited. The only sense in which god has "authority" is with respect to power to punish/reward (which is no different in kind than what a sufficiently power society/group/individual can do - a point you continually ignore). If that is what you consider to be a moral "authority," then you are advocating for "might makes right." If that is how you arrive at your moral framework, so be it. It's not how I arrive at mine.

    BTW: you might want to look up the definition of "moral authority," since that is the specific form of authority we are discussing. You can find one of these definitions here.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 08-08-2019 at 10:54 AM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  2. #1022
    tWebber
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    I'm coming late to this discussion, so I haven't followed everything that's gone on. So are you, carpedm, a moral subjectivist? That's the impression I get from these quotes:


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Correct - I did. There is nothing convoluted about the answer. If your god exists and has a moral framework - it is the moral framework of that sentient being. It is not mine, and has no authority over mine. I also gave you two parallel scenarios showing how the principle that applies to a society also applies to a god. You called them interesting and then ignored them to go on a rant about "might makes right." You might want to try actually responding to that argument.



    You cannot show how this is so - except to argue that this god can punish/reward me. ANY agency more powerful than I can punish/reward me for differing/aligning to their moral framework see above-referenced scenarios). That does not give them "authority" over me. It just means they are more powerful than I am. I am an independent moral agent. If you think otherwise, then you need to make the case for how the moral framework of one moral agent is binding on a completely different moral agent.
    And if you're a subjectivist, I take it your subjectivism is based on a society and not on an individual? Either version of subjectivism is hard to defend, imo!

    If God has a moral framework, that doesn't necessarily mean that that would be the subjective moral framework of that sentient being. And it also doesn't mean that that moral framework's 'authority' would be wielded over you externally like a civil law through threat of penalty. The moral law is written on the heart; it's internal to our nature as rational, social beings. Also, you're assuming God is just a big powerful guy who can only wield authority by exacting punishment. But we could even leave God out of it if you'd rather. And I may be misreading your position.

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  4. #1023
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I actually responded to the definition point by point. Two "no's" and one "yes," they yes being about "enforcement." The "no's" have it, especially since I do not subscribe to a "might makes right" moral framework.
    It doesn't work that way Carp, the definition of authority has nothing do with your agreement or not. It is about the power to enforce. And it has nothing to do with whether you pay attention or not. You are adding qualifications that have nothing to do with the definition.

    We do, if we wish to successfully communicate.
    Good I'm glad you agree with the definition of authority: again: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

    No, for the reasons cited. The only sense in which god has "authority" is with respect to power to punish/reward (which is no different in kind than what a sufficiently power society/group/individual can do - a point you continually ignore). If that is what you consider to be a moral "authority," then you are advocating for "might makes right." If that is how you arrive at your moral framework, so be it. It's not how I arrive at mine.
    But that is in the very definition of authority - the power to enforce. And your might makes right argument is just silly. If society enforces laws that you don't agree with does that too equal "might makes right?"

    BTW: you might want to look up the definition of "moral authority," since that is the specific form of authority we are discussing. You can find one of these definitions here.
    Not once did I say moral authority, I said the God's moral law had authority over you, and all men. In any case:

    moral authority

    : trustworthiness to make decisions that are right and good


    How does that work in your world where there isn't an objective right or good?
    Last edited by seer; 08-08-2019 at 11:32 AM.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

  5. #1024
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Also, you're assuming God is just a big powerful guy who can only wield authority by exacting punishment.
    I was just about to make that point to seer. In his discussion, carpe clearly sees God as something like a big powerful old man rather than an omniscient spirit. A sort of William Blake conception God or something. He's not interacting with the concept of God as the greatest conceivable being. The peak of all perfection. The creator of all that exists, and from which everything has its being. The wellspring from which all that is moral and good flows from. That God's very nature is the good, and that humanity is created in God's image. We are, in a sense, image bearers of the creator of the universe. Not to get too pantheistic, but carpe's complaint is like the puzzle piece that has decided that the shape it has in mind is actually better than the perfect fitting shape it was created for.

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  7. #1025
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    It doesn't work that way Carp, the definition of authority has nothing do with your agreement or not. It is about the power to enforce.
    No - the definition had THREE points in it coupled with an "and." You cannot ignore two and focus solely on the third because it meets your needs. Well - you can if you want to - but it's not much of an argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    And it has nothing to do with whether you pay attention or not. You are adding qualifications that have nothing to do with the definition.
    Specifically what qualification have I added that is not part of the definition?

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Good I'm glad you agree with the definition of authority.
    I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    But that is in the very definition of authority - the power to enforce.
    See above. And I somehow doubt that you will agree that any agency with more power than you with the ability to enforce their moral view is a moral "authority" for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    And your might makes right argument is just silly. If society enforces laws that you don't agree with does that too equal "might makes right?"
    Calling something "silly" doesn't actually make it silly, Seer.

    With respect to society and laws, society's ability to make laws and enforce them arises from the governed - if you will recall. And the granting of this enforcement authority to government does not ensure that the laws that will be enacted will be good ones, so "power to enforce" does not equal "good laws" even in the legal domain.

    In the moral domain, at least in my framework, might makes enforcement - not "right." I assumed the same was true of you, but I could have been wrong. You may well think "might makes right." Indeed, you seem to be arguing that position with respect to your god.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Not once did I say moral authority, I said the God's moral law had authority over you, and all men.
    And I answered that. I merely pointed you to the definition of "moral authority" because it seems to apply to the discussion. If you do not wish to pursue it, so be it.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    In any case:

    moral authority

    : trustworthiness to make decisions that are right and good


    How does that work in your world where there isn't an objective right or good?
    It works the way it works in any world Seer. Someone I have significant respect for and significant trust in may well be someone who's more view I find more "authoritative" then someone I do not respect and do not trust. I might accept their statement without digging deeply behind it. But this is a different definition of "authority." In the Merriam/Webster definition, it's 4c (at the end of the chain of definitions).

    I have acknowledged from the outset, Seer, that your hypothetical god would have the power to enforce their moral will on me - rewarding me or punishing me for adhering to or rejecting (respectively) this being's moral position. As I have repeatedly noted, this is no different in kind than what ANY society/group/individual can do if they have more power than I. Your hypothetical god would simply be the biggest power on the block. If your definition of "authority" is 100% about "enforcement" then, by your definition, your god hypothetical god has "authority" over me. But I see you selectively choosing the parts of the definition you like and rejecting the rest. The definition of "authority" is broader than just enforcement. Further, the concept of "authority" in the moral sphere is also about being the determiner of what is right and wrong (more about that 4c definition). We are each free moral agents and we derive that framework individually. Morality is NOT like logic/mathematics/physics. With or without sentient minds - these things remain true. Morality disappears completely without sentient minds. As I have noted multiple times now - you are attempting to draw parallels between things that are not parallel. You do that a lot. It peppers your debate posts.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 08-08-2019 at 11:56 AM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  8. #1026
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I'm coming late to this discussion, so I haven't followed everything that's gone on. So are you, carpedm, a moral subjectivist? That's the impression I get from these quotes:
    I believe morality is both subjective to the individual and relative to the situation/circumstance/time/place etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    And if you're a subjectivist, I take it your subjectivism is based on a society and not on an individual?
    The ultimate moral authority is the individual. What we think of as social moral norms are nothing more than moral norms held by a significant percentage of the members of a given society.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Either version of subjectivism is hard to defend, imo!
    It's not hard to defend something that is evident all around us, Jim. Indeed, I have never heard an argument against moral subjectivism that does not reduce to "it cannot be subjective because then it is not objective." If you look at that statement, it's not an argument; it's a restatement of (part of) the definition. It's like saying "that car cannot be red because then it wouldn't be blue."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    If God has a moral framework, that doesn't necessarily mean that that would be the subjective moral framework of that sentient being.
    Yes - it does. All sentient beings derive a moral framework as a means for determining acts that ought or ought not be done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    And it also doesn't mean that that moral framework's 'authority' would be wielded over you externally like a civil law through threat of penalty.
    That is essentially what Seer's arguments reduce to: might makes right. God has moral authority because god can enforce.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    The moral law is written on the heart; it's internal to our nature as rational, social beings.
    Written on the heart? Jim, the heart pumps blood. It doesn't think. That's what the brain does. And what you describe as "written on the heart" is nothing more than the accumulation of cultural, social, religious, and familial norms - may of which have developed from the very dawn of human sentience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Also, you're assuming God is just a big powerful guy who can only wield authority by exacting punishment.
    I am not assuming anything about "god." I don't believe such a being exists. I am taking the definitions offered by Seer (and others) and working with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    But we could even leave God out of it if you'd rather. And I may be misreading your position.
    I'm not sure if you are misreading it or not.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  9. #1027
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    I was just about to make that point to seer. In his discussion, carpe clearly sees God as something like a big powerful old man rather than an omniscient spirit. A sort of William Blake conception God or something. He's not interacting with the concept of God as the greatest conceivable being. The peak of all perfection. The creator of all that exists, and from which everything has its being. The wellspring from which all that is moral and good flows from. That God's very nature is the good, and that humanity is created in God's image. We are, in a sense, image bearers of the creator of the universe. Not to get too pantheistic, but carpe's complaint is like the puzzle piece that has decided that the shape it has in mind is actually better than the perfect fitting shape it was created for.
    I actually don't have a conception of god beyond whatever the person I'm talking to is presenting. So far, Seer's only argument for god's moral "authority" is about punishment and reward, so that's what I'm working with. As for the rest of your definition of god, it's interesting - but then again all definitions of god are interesting, and there are so MANY of them. I do not believe the supreme being you describe here exists; I believe we have created the notion of god in our own image and likeness - not the reverse.

    The puzzle analogy is cute. Unfortunately, lacking an actual god/creator, it isn't very apt.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  10. #1028
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    No - the definition had THREE points in it coupled with an "and." You cannot ignore two and focus solely on the third because it meets your needs. Well - you can if you want to - but it's not much of an argument.

    Specifically what qualification have I added that is not part of the definition?
    Carp what do the two points in question have to do with the actual definition?

    Again: Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

    Before we move on we need to clear this up. What do your other two ponts have to do with the actual definition? And I'm not focusing on what I need I'm focusing on the DEFINITION.
    Last edited by seer; 08-08-2019 at 12:32 PM.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Written on the heart? Jim, the heart pumps blood. It doesn't think. That's what the brain does.

  12. #1030
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Carp what do the two points in question have to do with the actual definition?

    Again: Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

    Before we move on we need to clear this up. What do your other two ponts have to do with the actual definition? And I'm not focusing on what I need I'm focusing on the DEFINITION.
    So the definition you offered has three constituent elements: 1) give orders, 2) make decisions, and 3) and enforce obedience. You seem to want to ignore 1) and 2) and focus only on 3). You apparently want the definition of "authority" to be "the power or right to enforce obedience." You can if you wish - but then you're cherry picking the definition in order to hold your position. Redefining your way to a conclusion is not a very good form of argumentation.

    BTW - you are very focused on one definition. Here are a few others:

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authority
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/...lish/authority
    https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us...lish/authority

    Yours selected one is apparently from the Oxford dictionary.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

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