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In most literature, the idea that morality might not be universal, absolute, and objective is viewed extremely negatively. The lack of belief in such a morality is seen as nihilistic – a worldview of meaninglessness – and a rejection of morality itself.
Most people toss around the terms right and wrong to refer to all moral assertions. This sort of language indicates we believe there is a degree of objective correctness intrinsic in morality. Where does the authority or source of morality come from, I wonder?
First things first. Let’s point out there are numerous systems of morals that we could abide by. We could work towards bettering each other’s happiness, or our own, or we could strive for causing as much pain and destruction in the world as possible. There are many more moralities that could be taken up. If morality has this ‘correctness,’ then which one of them is correct? Which are better than others, and which is the best?
In order to grade and evaluate differing systems of morals, we need some kind of standard. This standard would check off how a moral system fares at achieving certain things. These certain things must be our goals, our desires, our values in life. Values are not universal, absolute, or objective, hence morality isn’t either.
Just because a large number of human beings value the same things does not mean they all do. We don’t all want each other’s happiness. In fact, sometimes we wish to hurt each other in the worst ways. And by virtue of being the creation of thought, morality is subjective, not objective. I agree with David Hume on this matter. From Wikipedia:
He distinguished between matters of fact and matters of value, and suggested that moral judgments consist of the latter, for they do not deal with verifiable facts obtained in the world, but only with our sentiments and passions. But Hume regarded some of our sentiments as universal. He famously denied that morality has any objective standard, and suggested that the universe remains indifferent to our preferences and our troubles.
So what, then, is the basis for morality? What rational reasons have we to be “moral”? None. There is no objective reason for me to indulge in anyone’s happiness or suffering. However there are subjective rationales for behaving ethically, though it is more apt to call them subjective motivations. Morality can lead to good, and that is why I support it, but that does not mean it has a purely rational foundation.
The basis for morality, as I outlined, would be a system of morals that would reliably lead to the fulfillment of our desires and values. More thoughts on this to come.
Firstly, how do you know? How can you support the claim that there are other avenues to truth than rationality? Life-changing events always have subjective tinges to them. The “beauty of a sunset, the cooing of a baby,” and “the love of a man and a woman” are not objective in any way. Science does not operate within subjectivity, and it is only within objectivity that beliefs are externally true or false. Feelings are real perceptions, but the beliefs and worldview that are formed from emotions are, with no other support, baseless. What we feel is not justification to believe. If it were, then reality would have no objective truth, what with everybody feeling diametrically different things around the world and all. I believe in rationalism. Without reasoning, there is no epistemological foundation for any objective ideas.
Secondly, the Bible is not regarded as evidence to an atheist the same as it is to a believer. The claim of the Bible’s God is an extraordinary claim, and the Bible itself is not remotely close to being good enough evidence to constitute justification for belief. The Koran and Bhagavad Gita are in a similar situation. CARM even has a nice article on presuppositionalism. When a believer reads a verse from the Bible, the believer is to automatically believe what is written (ignoring interpretation) because the believer already supposes (on faith) that the entire Bible was the word of God beforehand. An atheist does not presuppose the authority or reliability of the Bible, and so a verse will not carry any special gravity with it for the atheist.
Suppose this were true. Then we can regard the creation of the universe as an event. So what event caused the creation event? There is no way to justifiably switch off the valve on the law of causality to stop an infinite regress from emerging. If we had to do it anyway, though, it would be more prudent to do it as soon as possible. Why should we put an extra being into the metaphysics equation? Occam’s Razor states that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity,” and so it would be prudent to leave the universe alone when dealing with causality. As an explanation, gods are unneeded.
But, the law of causality is not perfect. It is a nice and simplistic concept that can be applied with almost totally negligible inaccuracy to the world around us on a daily basis. However, when dealing with the very nature of the universe, this “law” has no foundation. What causes the four fundamental fources such as gravity and electromagnetism? What causes virtual particles, vacuum fluctuations, and specific wavefunction collapses? In Processes and Causality, John Sowa writes, “Relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions [Causality, Antecedence, Contiguity] as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience.” Similarly, in Creation ex nihilo – Without God, Mark Vuletic writes, “Few people are aware of the fact that many modern physicists claim that things – perhaps even the entire universe – can indeed arise from nothing via natural processes.” (See his essay for expansion on the claim.)
I’ve never heard why there cannot be an infinite number of regressions of causes. It seems like an acceptable scenario but of which we have no way of knowing. And even if there couldn’t be such a chain, why must the number of causes be reduced to one? Where is the reasoning behind this swift move? Why not five causes? Or zero?
Lastly, to state that the God of the Bible, with all his personality and history about him, fits the bill of this “uncaused cause,” requires an argument. The reasoning here is nonexistent, and so this is a textbook case non sequitor.
Although our coming into existence (and indeed, the everyday naturalistic operations that keep us in the state of being alive) are governed and ruled by the laws of physics, it does not mean that there is no such thing as the self. Even if we are programmed, we are. We exist. And so our inventions of thought exist too; meaning and purpose are real. They are not given to us, they are self-made.
Also, look at lines 13 and 14. The atheist is supposed to have no “freely chosen, self-intended purpose,” and the theist is supposed to have a purpose handed down from God himself. So then, the theist also doesn’t have a freely chosen, self-intended purpose! Argh! Messed up on that one, CARM.
Here is the article summed up in two sentences: “Otherwise, we are merely bags of chemicals reacting to stimuli. I believe man is more than that.” In other words, the great argument from wishful thinking. I’m sure that argument’s becoming popular with the scholars these days. Must be becasue of so much real-world data to support it.
How can an atheist account for logic? My intuition tells me that it is a necessary feature of all possible universes. Logic cannot fail to be true, or to “exist.” But, predictably, there’s no way to prove that. Proving logic is a task beyond logic. By failing to do the impossible I am not being intellectually lazy or averting any duties to account for logic. Not everything can be accounted for.
This is self-righteous and ideologically arrogant. Logic is not the sole property of Christianity. It’s public property. Other religions can have myths which also account for the existence of logic just like the one given here. And I just gave an atheistic explanation of it as well. To think that logic must come from Christianity is to misunderstand the possibilities here.
The key error here is the axiom “logic is conceptual by nature.” The full-blown fallacy:
“Logic is a process of the mind. Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.”
Logic dictates the structure of thought process. This does not mean logic is ontologically begotten from thoughts. Logic also provides the framework for computer circuitry. And yet logic is not the product of computer curcuitry, and computers are impersonal and manifestly non-conceptual. Indeed, by the act of defining the boundaries and manifold functioning of thought processes, logic can be said to precede or supervene thought and thus cannot be its child. This house of cards falls with the removal of one faulty premise. It’s unfortunate so much time was spent on building the house.