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  1. #61
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Hello Mind Trap,

    Because we've been at this for some time and seem to have got bogged down, I am going to try to summarise and clarify the discussion so far - as I have understood it.

    I offered two arguments in response to Clive's orginal question.

    My first argument aimed to prove, from the analyses of our concepts of "value" and "fact", that "moral facts" are logically absurd; therefore they exist in no possible world; therefore there is no world in which there is both a god and moral facts. As I see it, you have failed to respond adequately to this argument. This was one effort:

    It is fallacious to say that we can not make IS statements about what "ought" to be though.
    Such as "it is the case that you ought not murder". According to you, that doesn't make any sense.. but that certainly isn't apparent.
    To say "it is the case that you ought not murder" is to assert that there is a moral fact; if there are moral facts there is no fact/value distinction, there are only facts; and therefore you must reject the fact/value distinction altogether, which you clearly do not want to do. The whole point of the fact/value distinction, and therefore of the naturalistic fallacy, is that facts are not values, and values are NOT facts. You can choose EITHER the fact value distinction OR moral realism, but you can't have both. Your response to this first argument, as it seems to me, amounts to no more than the assertion that there are moral facts, without argument.

    My second argument was that, IF it was not the case that moral facts are self-confuting, THEN as soon as we affirm that moral facts are possible, it follows immediately that there are possible worlds in which there are moral facts - irrespective of whether or not god exists in the same world. Therefore, there would be worlds in which moral facts exist, but not god. I don't think you understood this argument, you treated it as an argument aimed to prove that there is no world in which moral facts exist - but only my FIRST argument attempted to show that. If you had read the post in which I first advanced my second argument carefully, this should have been clear to you.

    So I think that I have proven:

    1) Moral facts are logically impossible - SO LONG AS there is such a thing as a fact/value distinction.
    2) If moral facts were possible, they would be possible irrespective of whether or not god exists.

    If you want to argue against 2) you need to show EITHER that moral facts follow from god a priori (or that god follows from moral facts a priori) in any world; OR you need to show a posteriori for OUR world that it is contingently the case that moral facts exist and derive from god.

    Can I get a decent argument now?
    Last edited by horacebirley; June 22nd, 2012 at 12:45 PM.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    WWII Ameircans believed it was moral to bomb civilians. 21st century Americans believe it's not moral to bomb civilians. If morality is absolute, it should be easy for you to prove which of these is morally right.
    Our finite, relative existence and frame of reference of subjectivity does not mean absolutes don't exist in the universe. It just means our current given awareness may not recognize them, given what we accept as reality (which we don't hold a patent for) -- but for many people they are observable, inferred and perceived.

    Morality in this temporal world is a non-tangible, but then so is love, rationality, and belief.

    When you reply, whichever one you say is morally right, make sure that you demonstrate with evidence how you concluded it. I'd be highly disappointed if you simply took your own morality and arbitrarily called it "right". In fact, let's call that a
    Challenge to support a claim.

    I don't think you'll be able to.
    From the generals on the ground it was the better moral choice of two possible outcomes given those circumstances. The number of people who would have died if they didn't use the bomb verses the number of people of would most likely die if they did use the bomb. The generals/experts on the ground concluded that far fewer people would die by using the bomb given the strategy of the Japs at that time. If you want to turn this into how WWII ended debate, we can do that.

    Morality... all morality... the ONLY morality we'll EVER have... is determined on a societal level. Not by the individual. By the society.
    That's not what history always shows us. Dictatorships and countries run by tyrannical leaders pretty much decide the moral norm and govern with a iron fist regardless of what their society thinks. In other words, if you don't like your given dictators moral norm, you end up in prison or die.

    In the past, I've used the example of the pricing on artwork. A painting in a gallery may be priced at and sell for... say... $10,000. What makes it worth $10K? It's not a drug that cures a disease. It's not a car that provides transportation. It doesn't provide shelter, sustenance, or welfare. It just looks nice. So why would it be $10K? The answer is because people have collectively determined it's worth $10k. And that number can change depending on a variety of circumstances... like the artist passing away (usually raises value) or creating copies of it (usually lowers the value). So if your argument is true, why not have absolute monetary values for art? For extra credit to the Challenge to support a claim., pick a painting that has a dollar amount on it from the internet (something that's neither "priceless" nor "worthless") and explain what the absolute dollar amount is. Again... extra credit. But I'd still like to see you do it.
    I don't really need extra spending credit on my CC, but what does this have to do with objective morality?

    ---------- Post added at 01:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:30 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by horacebirley View Post
    I think there's got to be something wrong with what you said there. If morality was objective, it would have to exist in all worlds - including ours.
    There are probably many things that exist in the larger pool of what our world is part of which we are simply not aware of. Does the lack of our current awareness of something that is intangible (morality, love, rationality, belief) mean it does not exist? Did our current universal laws exist before we became aware of them? Thus, with regards to objective morality, in a finite world, since everything, our frame of reference, is relative because of the limitation of our perception, we've learned to do the next best and practical thing. We are guided by our conscience, by observation and by the golden rule which pretty much says, don't do sometime to someone if you don't want it done to you, which is also related to we 'reap what we sow.'

    But you seem to be arguing that morality is objective if it holds true in all worlds EXCEPT ours!
    Where did I say that?

    It seems that you accept that the objective morality does NOT hold in our "current, temporal, reality" because you say that our reality is "relative/subjective".
    For most people, their conscience holds it.

    This idea is demonstrated, at least with some interpretations, in the NT when Jesus draws a line in the sand when the people are about to stone the prostitute. What is this line? There is a line, a definite absolute point of closure. Our inability to perceive and recognize that line because of our relative/subjective mind-set, does not mean this line, often perceived in our conscience, does not exist. Nor does it mean the prostitute, before Jesus should be stoned to death. The new paradigm he brought, since there were obviously enough people ready to move on, which was a major mind-shift, verses previous eras, was: pararphasing.

    "I don't condemn you for your bad choices in this finite relative world where your frame of references is limited and your choices are not always based on the whole picture and wise discernment. That doesn't mean you're not accountable, nor does it mean you should be killed. However, you're now here in front of me seeking my protection from those who want to kill you for an immoral lifestyle you've chosen in this temporal, changing world. I will protect you. I do not condem you. The cost? Not too expensive in this finite world... Go and sin no more."
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  3. #63
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    So morals did not precede religion?
    I'm sure that guilt, empathy and altruism preceded religion. But morals, or ways of explaining these things, were intimately tied with religion, or ideas about spirits, the afterlife, and gods or God. And of course these thoughts arose long before the major "world" religions developed.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    I'm sure that guilt, empathy and altruism preceded religion. But morals, or ways of explaining these things, were intimately tied with religion, or ideas about spirits, the afterlife, and gods or God. And of course these thoughts arose long before the major "world" religions developed.
    Guilt, empathy, and altruism are all morals or based on moral positions. You cannot feel guilt if you don't feel that you have done something morally wrong.

    "Ways of explaining things" =/= morals.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Guilt, empathy, and altruism are all morals or based on moral positions. You cannot feel guilt if you don't feel that you have done something morally wrong.

    "Ways of explaining things" =/= morals.
    Yes, morals are ways of explaining certain things. Simply feeling guilty is not a moral, but an emotion or intuition. If a young child steals a candy bar and feels guilty, but cannot explain why, he is not operating on the level of morality.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    Yes, morals are ways of explaining certain things. Simply feeling guilty is not a moral, but an emotion or intuition. If a young child steals a candy bar and feels guilty, but cannot explain why, he is not operating on the level of morality.
    Morality is "Should" and "should not". There is no reason for the child to feel guilty for stealing the candy bar if he does not think that he "should not" steal it.

  7. #67
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Morality is "Should" and "should not". There is no reason for the child to feel guilty for stealing the candy bar if he does not think that he "should not" steal it.
    If he feels guilty and a vague sense that he "should not" have done it, but cannot explain why, then he is still in the realm of feeling, emotion or intuition, rather than morality. A moral is a coherent reason why something should or should not be done, not just an undefined feeling that it should or should not be done.

  8. #68
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    If he feels guilty and a vague sense that he "should not" have done it, but cannot explain why, then he is still in the realm of feeling, emotion or intuition, rather than morality.
    But any kid with the ability to conceptualize stealing likewise can conceptualize stealing being morally wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    IA moral is a coherent reason why something should or should not be done, not just an undefined feeling that it should or should not be done.
    And such a thing can exist without religion. Religion does not just say "Don't" - it says "Don't because God says you shouldn't". Remove the God portion and it's not religion but "Don't" is still morality. The notion that no one ever said "Don't" prior to religion existing will need to be supported before I will accept that it is so.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Our finite, relative existence and frame of reference of subjectivity does not mean absolutes don't exist in the universe. It just means our current given awareness may not recognize them, given what we accept as reality (which we don't hold a patent for) -- but for many people they are observable, inferred and perceived.

    Morality in this temporal world is a non-tangible, but then so is love, rationality, and belief.


    From the generals on the ground it was the better moral choice of two possible outcomes given those circumstances. The number of people who would have died if they didn't use the bomb verses the number of people of would most likely die if they did use the bomb. The generals/experts on the ground concluded that far fewer people would die by using the bomb given the strategy of the Japs at that time. If you want to turn this into how WWII ended debate, we can do that.


    That's not what history always shows us. Dictatorships and countries run by tyrannical leaders pretty much decide the moral norm and govern with a iron fist regardless of what their society thinks. In other words, if you don't like your given dictators moral norm, you end up in prison or die.


    I don't really need extra spending credit on my CC, but what does this have to do with objective morality?[COLOR="Silver"]
    So let's sum up and see how badly you lost the Challenge to support a claim. I offered you.

    Your original claim was that absolute morality exists.

    I offered you two conflicting moral stances that demonstrated morality had changed over time on something big (killing civilians). One of these moralities clearly must be "wrong" and one of them must be "right". If morals are absolute, it can't be wrong to bomb civilians AND all right to bomb civilians because that's just nonsense; and clearly not morally absolute.

    Your reply?

    You argued that moral absolutes could or do exist, but that we just can't know them.

    I'm sorry, Eye4magic, but that's not going to cut it. Let's look at how the scales are tipped.

    We have subjective morality determined at a societal level versus absolute morality. The claims are opposed and the scales start at 50/50.

    On the side of subjective morality determined on a societal level, we have my example of civilian bombing. The scales tip towards societal morality.

    Is my example an isolated one? Is it the case that we switched our morality about bombing, but nothing else? No. We change our morality all the time. Consider clothing and garments. Consider a church going teen-ager who wears cargo shorts that come down to her knee, a bra, and a tee shirt that covers her whole belly and upper arms. By today's standards, she's a normal looking kid who we wouldn't think twice about (no ass hanging out. No belly showing. etc.) By the standards of fashion 150 or so years ago, she would be considered a whore... or at best someone walking around in public in their underwear. And there's other examples about big things as well. Important morals like killing and marriage and rape that have changed. So my example isn't an isolated one.

    The scales tip towards societal morality again.

    When I asked you to prove that absolute morals exist and to show which example was right and which was wrong, you weren't able to. Absolute morality makes little sense if there's no way to discern it... like saying "This painting has an absolute dollar value, but we don't have a way to determine it, so we just use the price we would have normally used." The scales tip towards societal morality. Again.

    Finally, you said that absolute morals might exist, but we can't perceive what they are.

    I'm sorry, eye4magic, but the scales have simply tipped too far away from you to take this claim seriously. The probability of it being true is so low that it's as good as false. No rational person should take it seriously. Unless you can provide some further evidence or reasoning, then your claim is to be consigned to the intellectual waste basket where it will be right at home with such claims as "Invisible unicorns are real, but we just can't see them" or "there's a ghost living here... never mind that you can't perceive him in any way... he's HERE! lulz".

  10. #70
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    So let's sum up and see how badly you lost the Challenge to support a claim. I offered you.

    Your original claim was that absolute morality exists.

    I offered you two conflicting moral stances that demonstrated morality had changed over time on something big (killing civilians). One of these moralities clearly must be "wrong" and one of them must be "right". If morals are absolute, it can't be wrong to bomb civilians AND all right to bomb civilians because that's just nonsense; and clearly not morally absolute.

    Your reply?

    You argued that moral absolutes could or do exist, but that we just can't know them.

    I'm sorry, Eye4magic, but that's not going to cut it. Let's look at how the scales are tipped.

    We have subjective morality determined at a societal level versus absolute morality. The claims are opposed and the scales start at 50/50.

    On the side of subjective morality determined on a societal level, we have my example of civilian bombing. The scales tip towards societal morality.

    Is my example an isolated one? Is it the case that we switched our morality about bombing, but nothing else? No. We change our morality all the time. Consider clothing and garments. Consider a church going teen-ager who wears cargo shorts that come down to her knee, a bra, and a tee shirt that covers her whole belly and upper arms. By today's standards, she's a normal looking kid who we wouldn't think twice about (no ass hanging out. No belly showing. etc.) By the standards of fashion 150 or so years ago, she would be considered a whore... or at best someone walking around in public in their underwear. And there's other examples about big things as well. Important morals like killing and marriage and rape that have changed. So my example isn't an isolated one.

    The scales tip towards societal morality again.

    When I asked you to prove that absolute morals exist and to show which example was right and which was wrong, you weren't able to. Absolute morality makes little sense if there's no way to discern it... like saying "This painting has an absolute dollar value, but we don't have a way to determine it, so we just use the price we would have normally used." The scales tip towards societal morality. Again.

    Finally, you said that absolute morals might exist, but we can't perceive what they are.

    I'm sorry, eye4magic, but the scales have simply tipped too far away from you to take this claim seriously. The probability of it being true is so low that it's as good as false. No rational person should take it seriously. Unless you can provide some further evidence or reasoning, then your claim is to be consigned to the intellectual waste basket where it will be right at home with such claims as "Invisible unicorns are real, but we just can't see them" or "there's a ghost living here... never mind that you can't perceive him in any way... he's HERE! lulz".
    Showing that peoples' beliefs about morality have changed over time doesn't show that objective moral values don't exist. It just shows that we can change our beliefs about moral values (or, we can change our moral values).

    Our beliefs about the laws of nature have also changed over time; does that mean that the laws of nature are subjective?
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  12. #71
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by HORACE
    To say "it is the case that you ought not murder" is to assert that there is a moral fact; if there are moral facts there is no fact/value distinction, there are only facts; and therefore you must reject the fact/value distinction altogether, which you clearly do not want to do.
    But what is the fact/value distinction.
    Facts are about what "is" now, and "values" are about what "ought" to be, or what "is intended" 0r "what we have obligation to do/not do".

    So the distinction is not between facts and non-facts, but facts regarding current physical condition, and facts regarding intended physical condition. It can also be said to be facts regarding duty or obligation (aka moral law).


    So the "is/Ought" fallacy is that you can't get from current physical condition description, to intended physical condition descriptions.


    You have characterized "fact/value" distinction to be between "fact and non-fact". My first attempt was to show that there is nothing about "value" that means it can not also be a fact, such as "Value facts" is not a inherently contradictory term. You have falsely equated it to be, and thus it is the source of your fallacious argumentation.


    Quote Originally Posted by HORACE
    My second argument was that, IF it was not the case that moral facts are self-confuting, THEN as soon as we affirm that moral facts are possible, it follows immediately that there are possible worlds in which there are moral facts - irrespective of whether or not god exists in the same world.
    This is a continuation of your previous false equation of terms.
    First, you deny that facts can be dependent at all. I showed through the idea of "sun light" that some facts are dependent. So, even if moral facts were not shown to be necessarily dependent, they are shown to be possibly dependent. Because they are possibly dependent then there is a possible world in which they are dependent on God.

    That said, Moral facts are inherently dependent on God, because of the real meaning of moral facts. That is "intended physical condition". There is no possibility of an intended physical condition for all things except if God exists. God is the only agent that can be the source of absolute intention for all things.

    Thus moral facts are limited to possible worlds in which God exists as well.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    You argued that moral absolutes could or do exist, but that we just can't know them.
    We can know them, just like we can know and recognize truth -- even in our subjective world. However, does everyone recognize truth the same way, and if they don't recognize truth in the same way, does that mean it's not truth?

    The 12-year old boy who is sexually and physically abused by his father. What is not absolute about this moral issue?
    The banker who is secretly and subtly stealing money from people's bank accounts? What is not absolute about this moral issue?
    The women who is plotting to have her husband murdered and make it look like an accident in order to collect an insurance policy? What is not absolute about this moral issue?

    We have subjective morality determined at a societal level versus absolute morality.

    Is my example an isolated one? Is it the case that we switched our morality about bombing, but nothing else? No. We change our morality all the time.
    As Clive pointed out, just because society changes, just because we change our views and our perception of morals, as we go through our evolutionary learning curves, doesn't mean objective morality doesn't exist.

    On the side of subjective morality determined on a societal level, we have my example of civilian bombing.
    As I pointed out in that case, from the experts on the ground, the merciful act was not prolonging the war and having many more millions die.

    The scales tip towards societal morality again.
    Society is temporal and its changes are part of a natural evolutionary growth and hopefully refinement. However, that doesn't change the objectiveness that murder is murder; lying is lying; stealing is stealing; rape is rape, etc. etc.

    When I asked you to prove that absolute morals exist
    Can something that is not tangible, such as objective morality, love, rationality be proven through a materialist framework? And if not proven through a materialist framework, does that rationally mean, objective morality, love and rationality do not exist?

    Our conscience knows what is right and what is wrong. The lack of clarity, conviction, integrity and confusion that can be in our conscience doesn't mean our conscience doesn't know. It could just mean we have mental and emotional baggage cluttering our discernment. And for those who don't think they have a conscience, well that can sometimes be a problem in society

    Absolute morality makes little sense if there's no way to discern it...
    Ah yes.... the heart of this issue. There is a way to discern it.

    Finally, you said that absolute morals might exist, but we can't perceive what they are.
    We can't always perceive them, but sometimes we can and often times that's why people go to therapists and seek psychological counseling-- because they can't move on with their life without getting professional and/or spiritual help for resolution of something they did or didn't do and got away with it, which is affecting them in negative ways, physically, mentally and emotionally.
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post

    Ah yes.... the heart of this issue. There is a way to discern it.


    .
    Ok what way can one discern the absolute morality?

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin View Post
    Ok what way can one discern the absolute morality?
    Through the application of wisdom.
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Through the application of wisdom.
    hmm If you don't know why pretend? So Lets use the example already given in the thread. Is the U.S. bombing civilians moral or immoral? Please demonstrate the application of wisdom to determine the absolute morality of civilian bombing. What counts as wisdom and how is it applied.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin View Post
    hmm If you don't know why pretend?
    Pretend what?

    So Lets use the example already given in the thread. Is the U.S. bombing civilians moral or immoral?
    What are all the facts of that circumstance? What is the analyses, that rationality of all the experts involved in that circumstance?

    Please demonstrate the application of wisdom to determine the absolute morality of civilian bombing.
    Provide all the facts. Wisdom is the application of how we use knowledge.

    What counts as wisdom and how is it applied.
    Wisdom consists of making the best use of available knowledge and abiding in the highest good.
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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Wisdom consists of making the best use of available knowledge and abiding in the highest good.
    And how do you objectively determine what the highest good is?

    You and I may agree that what preserves lives the best is the "highest good" (so we should only bomb cities if the bombing will ultimately save more lives than those are taken by the bombing) but that is an agreement of two human beings and therefore does not inherently make it an objective highest good for it could be just our subjective opinions. Even if everyone agreed with us, it's still human agreement.
    Last edited by mican333; June 24th, 2012 at 11:43 AM.

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Showing that peoples' beliefs about morality have changed over time doesn't show that objective moral values don't exist.
    Straw man.

    If there is absolute morality then ONE of the two OPPOSING moralities I presented has to be right and one has to be wrong. They can't both be right because that's nonsense. If absolute morality exists, then one group has it right and one group has it wrong.

    Now, while we're on the subject... Challenge to support a claim. why don't you post some evidence supporting the existence of absolute morality?

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Is my example an isolated one? Is it the case that we switched our morality about bombing, but nothing else? No. We change our morality all the time. Consider clothing and garments. Consider a church going teen-ager who wears cargo shorts that come down to her knee, a bra, and a tee shirt that covers her whole belly and upper arms. By today's standards, she's a normal looking kid who we wouldn't think twice about (no ass hanging out. No belly showing. etc.) By the standards of fashion 150 or so years ago, she would be considered a whore... or at best someone walking around in public in their underwear. And there's other examples about big things as well. Important morals like killing and marriage and rape that have changed. So my example isn't an isolated one.

    The scales tip towards societal morality again.
    That argument is akin to arguing that since I have a son, it can be concluded that I don't have a daughter.

    We can have both societal and objective morals so it's still 50/50.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    When I asked you to prove that absolute morals exist and to show which example was right and which was wrong, you weren't able to. Absolute morality makes little sense if there's no way to discern it
    First off, someone else failing to say how we would discern absolute morality does not prove that there is no way to do it. And not being able to discern what absolute morality is does not mean that it doesn't exist and doesn't have a very direct effect on our lives and afterlives anymore than gravity didn't have a direct effect on people's lives before we learned that gravity as we currently understand it existed.

    So we're still 50/50

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    Re: Objective Morality and atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    And how do you objectively determine what the highest good is?
    One way I think is to critically examine and question everything, then as the German scientist George Lincheburg put it, 'one's last step to wisdom, is to come to terms with everything."

    How do we do that? Well, we can consider the advice of the 14th Dalai Lama. "The most important thing is transforming our mind, for a new way of thinking, a new outlook." Jesus, btw, taught a similar principle.

    You and I may agree that what preserves lives the best is the "highest good" but that is an agreement of two human beings and therefore does not inherently make it an objective highest good for it could be just our subjective opinions. Even if everyone agreed with us, it's still human agreement.
    So it is. Does temporal, finite, relative human agreement determine truth and goodness? If the masses of the world all agreed that rape and murder is good, would murder and rape be truth and goodness? We can strive for the highest good we can conceive of. In that our highest good is subject to our relative frame of reference, this does not negate the perfect highest good.

    ---------- Post added at 12:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:16 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    If there is absolute morality then ONE of the two OPPOSING moralities I presented has to be right and one has to be wrong.
    Why? How does our subjective changing views of murder, rape, adultery, lying, stealing, etc. affect the givens that murder, rape, adultery, lying, stealing, etc, are negatives?

    They can't both be right because that's nonsense.
    One doesn't have to be right (meaning the highest good/truth) for both not to co-exist. I think what you may be saying here is that there can only be one reality, our given, subjective reality. But, again, I can't support that, and I'm not sure you can either.
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