“If there’s no God, murder isn’t wrong”: A ridiculous video from Prager University

Reader Kurt sent me this video with the note,

“Sending you this for your listening pleasure in the hope you’ll never post anything from the execrable ‘Prager U'” again.”

Sorry, Kurt: here it is.

In fact, in this video Dennis Prager himself asks the burning question, “How do you know murder is wrong?” Science, he says gives no facts to answer this, and, says Prager, “in a secular world there can be only opinions about morality.” Prager, of course, says the answer is God (the Judeo-Christian god, naturally): “If there is no God, there is no objective morality.”

Here he’s using the Divine Command theory beloved of William Lane Craig: Whatever God says is good or evil makes it so.

The flaws in this view are manifold, beginning with all the odious dictates of God in the Old Testament and the Qur’an (if you include the Abrahamic God). If what God said was moral, then it is right to kill your children when they curse you, slaughter anyone working on the Sabbath, and so on ad infinitum.

In the end Prager, like everyone else, confects his own version of “God’s morality”, and does that on extra-Biblical grounds. Would he think it moral to kill his children for no good reason should God, as he did to Abraham, dictate such an act?

Prager in fact has his own opinions about which of God’s Biblical dictates to follow, and which to reject. That comes, as for all believers, from secular feelings (many of which may have been instilled in us by evolution)—yes, opinions, but opinions informed by a notion of what kind of society you’d like. Of course, even that choice of a desirable society is ultimately a preference. There is nothing objective in any morality—except for choosing the best means to create a society you prefer.

Finally, Prager trots out the Hitler/Stalin-were-atheists argument. He doesn’t mention the Inquisition or ISIS, or the notion that Hitler and Stalin weren’t acting out of pure atheism, but out of a desire to create a religious-like ideological cult (complete with God figure) in which no dissent could be tolerated.

When you watch this non-dumb man make a totally dumb argument, remember that not EVERYTHING from Prager University is bad. It’s a serious mistake to reject every video proffered by this place just because most of them are conservative and religious.

If there’s one lesson I’d like to impart to readers, that is this: never write off a source of news or opinion permanently just because it’s generally wrong, right-wing, or religious. Sometimes conservatives are right, and even if they’re wrong, you can use them as whetstones to hone your opinion.  That is why conservative Ben Shapiro regularly destroys Leftist college students: they haven’t done their homework to back up their arguments, but rely on mantras, slogans, and what their Facebook friends say. Shapiro has done his homework, though I disagree strongly with what he concludes from it.

Likewise, I’ve seen many people, even on this site, dismiss Sam Harris’s opinions tout court simply because they think he favors torture or profiling, even though his views are far more nuanced than that. But even if he was in favor of these things applied on a wholesale scale, that doesn’t mean we can reject out of hand everything he says. I don’t want to see that kind of lazy dismissal used on this website! Always go after the arguments themselves, and don’t rely on ad homs.

And remember, the news about suppression of freedom of speech comes mainly from conservative sources.

And with that, I’m off to Greymouth to find keas.

117 Comments

  1. YF
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Morality is inherently subjective and relative to cultural/historical context.

    Neither theists nor atheists can legitimately claim access to an objective morality, because there is no such thing.

    And, there is the Euthyphro dilemma.

    • Mark Perew
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Would it not be objectively true that people do not want to be murdered? If we can understand that universal truth about ourselves and others, then the concept of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” creates an objective basis for the immorality of murder.

      • Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think so. First of all, some people do want to be killed, but also, the Golden Rule is a PREFERENCE. Some people do not think they should do unto others as they want done to them. That is a PREFERENCE, not any objective rule. How could it possibly be objective, anyway? What about “do unto others as you would have them do until you–unless you could get away with doing otherwise”?

        • Sastra
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          If someone wants to be killed one could argue that it’s not “murder,” as in euthanasia. Murder is objectively wrong because it’s defined that way. The interesting argument is over what constitutes justified or necessary killing — and what doesn’t.

          The Golden Rule imports a lot of hidden premises. IF you want to be moral/fair and IF you view someone else as similar to you in the relevant way, then you ought to treat that other as you would want to be treated yourself. That’s pretty objective as statements go.

          Someone may not want to be fair, or they may not see another as similar to them — but the first puts them outside the system itself, and the second might be a dispute on facts more than values.

          • Posted March 22, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            I agree strongly, except I wouldn’t say these premises of the Golden Rule are hidden: they’re right there out in the open. Which, come to think of it, is how morality works: open rational justification of behaviors, virtues, etc., among people who are mutually committing to fair treatment and fair argument.

            There’s a lot of room for different communities to come up with different standards under that framework, based on different preferences. A lot of room, but not infinite.

          • Posted March 23, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            “Do not murder” means “do not perform an unjustified killing”, which is an ethical tautonomy or a legal one.

            (I’ve been told the “murder” is the better translation of the famous “commandment”.)

        • Mark Perew
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          You’ve made a shift from murder to killing. Murder is a subset of killing and the context of the proposition.

      • BJ
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        If that were the rule on which we base all morality, saying anything that could offend anyone, anywhere would be “wrong.” We could come up with numerous other such situations in which the golden rule wouldn’t be a good basis for morality.

        • Mark Perew
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          That sounds like an unwarranted leap from harm to offense as the demarcation.

          • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            Offense is a form of harm–listen to the students! In my view it’s a form of harm that is counterbalanced by the right to free speech, but we would never hear insults or yelling if the Golden Rule were general. And of course there is the matter of killing animals–does this apply only to humans? Why? Animals suffer too.

            What about abortions? You would permit them, presumably, but wouldn’t have wanted to be aborted yourself.

            • phil
              Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

              I’m reminded of Stephen Fry’s response to people who claim they’re offended by this or that: “So f***ing what?”

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Would it not be objectively true that people do not want to be murdered?

        No.
        Leaving aside the tribulations of people in search of euthanasia for some physiological reason, there are also people who genuinely do want to be killed for whatever subjective reasons they have. You might think that they’re “mad” (whatever that means), but what gives you the right to impose your opinions on them?

    • eric
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      The problem is, most people think subjective morality sucks. They are right, it does suck. However, that is not evidence in favor of an objective morality – sometimes the universe’s construction just seems to suck from a human perspective. It is not what we would wish it to be.

      On top of that, I doubt many people would relish living under someone else’s idea of objective morality.

      To misquote Churchill (who was himself quoting an unnamed source): Subjective morality is the worst form of morality there is, except for all the others that have been tried.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Yep. Life’s a bitch and then you die.

      • Scote
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Yup. Even many secularists I generally fall for this trap, arguing that objective morality is a thing. If it were we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because we would *all* agree on it, being *objective*. But we don’t because it isn’t.

        It sucks that morality is subjective, based on our built in empathy, social instincts, early development and cultural upbringing, causing rifts between various cultures. But I would hope that anyone who follows evidence would accept the biological origin of morality rather than seek to find comfort in made up claims of “objectivity”.

        • darrelle
          Posted March 22, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          It has never been apparent to me why it sucks that morality is not objective. I think I understand some of the various reasons why people think it does, but I’ve never thought so myself. I think that objective morality would really suck. Luckily it doesn’t even make sense.

        • Posted March 23, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          The rest mass of an electron is objective, and yet people can measure it differently (due to different errors in measurement). Objective does not entail known.

          (Note: I am not exactly an objectivist about ethics, but in the interest of fairness …)

      • Vaal
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        “However, that is not evidence in favor of an objective morality – sometimes the universe’s construction just seems to suck from a human perspective. It is not what we would wish it to be.

        A similar point can often be made in defence of objective morality. A common attempt to object to the very idea morality could be objective is to point to disagreement, unsettled moral questions or demands for answers to difficult moral questions.

        But… if there are moral facts to be apprehended why would anyone assume the universe owes us easy answers? That certainly hasn’t been the case for most of the extremely arduous, often, error filled inquiry we’ve undertaken about the test of reality! It seems more reasonable that if moral facts derived from the same extremely complex empirical reality
        we’ve struggled to understand then we should expect morality to be difficult, and competing hypotheses and theories to abound.

      • reasonshark
        Posted March 23, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        My problem with it is that subjective morality is incoherent, but then so is the subjective-objective distinction. It makes less sense now than it did in Hume’s time, when one might legitimately believe that the mind of humanity was fundamentally different from the reality it inhabits. In these modern times of mind sciences and the fully physicalist nature of thoughts and feelings exposed… not so much.

        Even on its own terms, subjective morality is riddled with contradictions. It apparently entitles one’s inner experiences to be beyond question, even when those experiences are based on an information-processing brain and translate into external action (even if only because you talk about them) that have no secret ingredient. Despite the fact that morality concerns the behaviours of however many people or morally relevant entities exist, it’s nevertheless being entrusted to the most private and untouchable aspects of each individual entity, where again it resists public scrutiny while simultaneously impinging on the public. And objective facts are only supposed to be its servants, even though minds and brains are entirely objective phenomena, and even though we know from the mind sciences that the only way that can work is if we ignore everything we’ve learned about brains and basically assume that “subjective” experiences run on magic.

        It can’t go both ways. Either subjective morality drops the subjective part, and makes possible public discussion about itself which would otherwise be impossible, pointless, and nonsensical. Or it drops the morality part, in which case it takes its own “subjective” stamp seriously and follows it to the logical conclusion of “anything goes, therefore nothing goes” moral nihilism.

        I think what happens in practice is that “subjective moralists” simply adopt some form of covert “objective morality”, and – not realizing they’ve done this – sugar-coat it with assurances that it’s just opinion or emotion or preference, which are – amusingly enough – treated as unassailable authorities. Suspiciously, in fact, like the Divine Command Theorists waving vaguely in a deity’s direction for their authority.

        The metaphor that cuts cleanly through the tangle is the one of a key and a lock “fitting” together.

        Obviously, you can’t just analyse the structure of each component individually to find “essence of fitting” – the very idea is nonsense – and one would still be looking for that mysterious “essence” even when the key is slotted into the lock and the door clicks open.

        You might object that we’re not interested in “fitting”, but then what does that matter? That’s no more to the point than claiming we’re not interested in “geology”. There are still facts about rocks and earth processes. They don’t go away just because you’re not personally interested in them.

        • Vaal
          Posted March 23, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Excellent comment, reasonshark!

        • Posted March 23, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          That whole comment was great (I agree with Vaal again, big surprise), but I wanna highlight this part:

          You might object that we’re not interested in “fitting”, but then what does that matter? That’s no more to the point than claiming we’re not interested in “geology”. There are still facts about rocks and earth processes.

          Exactly. Some people seem to think a moral argument should be a magic spell, that automatically convinces any thinking person who hears it. No, a moral argument won’t convince a psychopath, because psychopaths aren’t interested in morality. That’s a problem – but not a problem with the argument.

    • Aelfric
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Agreed entirely: Euthyphro’s salient question points out that “divine command” is really just passing the buck. No more of an answer than a toddler saying “because.”

    • Sastra
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure that there’s a sharp binary of totally-objective and totally-subjective. There seems to be a lot of gradations along the way. Inter-subjective consensus and objective truths about subjective evaluations don’t fit neatly in either category.

      • peepuk
        Posted March 22, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        I do think there is a very sharp divide between objectivity and (inter-)subjectivity.

        In principle if we could objectively know that the death-penalty is a good or bad thing would resolve this issue forever.

        Because we cannot objectively decide what’s good or wrong we have to be more pragmatic; in practice this means we do what a select group of people, with the same moral preferences, prefer.

        So I try to avoid the word ‘objective’ in all debates and questions about morals.

        The closest thing to objective moral rules are probably the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, but they are the preferences of liberals to protect the individual against the state.

        And every decision inter-subjective groups of humans make will benefit some and harm others. So every moral rule is bad in some way.

        • Sastra
          Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

          How are you defining “objective” — particularly if applied to morals? I can’t come up with anything coherent besides the idea that something will seem good or right from every perspective. That’s intersubjectivity. I think that’s possible only if we’re considering very broad principles — or if a situation really comes down to determining a matter of fact.

          That second approach is what theists are trying to do: if we knew the facts concerning God’s dictates, or God’s intrinsic moral nature, then we will know that know an action is good or right regardless if we or anyone else sees it that way. That’s a meaning of “objective ” which is the very opposite of intersubjective.

          And it makes total mush of ethics. If it turns out that God’s nature holds that causing unnecessary harm is a high virtue, then hey, guess it is. Doesn’t work. There’s no means for establishing that god’s a moral authority in the first place without first getting into agreeing on what’s good.

    • Vaal
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      YF on what do you base your claim that morality is inherently subjective and relative? If for instance you see competing moral claims through history as determining moral facts to be subjective:relative that doesn’t seem an adequate line of inference.
      After all, historically there have been disagreements about many of the things we now hold to be scientific “facts” but that doesn’t entail here were no facts about which previous opinions had been wrong.

      So if your claim is evidential in that way, I think you will run in to trouble supporting it without special pleading.

      Someone is no doubt itching to say: but we have scientific ways of establishing certain opinions to be wrong or right; moral disputes have shown no such method. But this is really to just repeat the same essential stance as above; disagreement does not automatically entail subjectivity, and that includes current disagreement. Further, his also assumes that no moral realist theory is successful – because if any of thoosoted moral realist theories are sound, then it’s just begging the question to say no moral facts have been established!

      We all tend to have some fairly strong intuitions about morality that make some think “well isn’t it obvious morality is subjective opinion?”
      while to others it’s just as obvious it’s just “true” that certain acts are “wrong.”

      Philosophers have been arguing over morality forever and I would argue that if the answer seems “obvious” to us that is just the point at which we should slow down and put our assumptions through a crucible of critique. If it were that easy, the questions could have been settled long ago.

      And fwiw, a majority of those whose job it has been to examine assumptions – philosophers – have come down on the side of moral realism (here are moral facts). I personally find some moral realist theories compelling – the more you examine the assumptions that make sense of how value could even arise, or what here could be “reasons” to do anything at all, it seems to imply moral facts would be entailed. (For instance, if you think our reasons to do things derives from our preferences – what we want – then it may seem obvious that
      Morality will have to be subjective – he best we can say is that everyone only has a personal reason or opinion about what they want.
      But that is too shallow an examination, stops way too short as an explanation. Because once you posit any reason to do something, you’ve entered the realm of reason, which by its very nature demands consistency! And it is universalizing in that way. If I say “I want to take your car BECAUSE I desire your car” the obvious response is “On that principle, same goes for me if I want YOUR car.” We all recognize the fallacy of special pleading – of inconsistency – if I try to say “This reasoning only applies to me!”

      Once other people are in the mix, whatever reasons we give for doing things now must be consistent within that context. I may want something you have, but if I go with the simple principle “I should always acquire what I immediately want” then that endorses the same for others. But I don’t want to simultaneously endorse people taking my things as that thwarts other strong desires I have – my reasons for wanting to not have my things stolen. So now…what kind of modified reasons can I have that go towards getting things I want, while not endorsing actions that go against my own interests? One would be: cooperation, reciprocation: If you let me have the thing I want, I’ll fulfill some desire of yours – e.g I’ll pay you money for it.

      So if you really start looking at reasoning that can actually work, maintain consistency etc for those living among one another, it wil turn out that we will better, stronger, more numerous and consistent reasons to promote things like cooperation, desires for respection autonomy, well-being etc than purely simplistic, selfish actions and desires. The person who says “if I want your property I should steal
      it is “wrong ” in just the way we can say people are wrong about anything else: that’s an inconsistent conclusion, just as it’s inconsistent to think “Donald Trump” is made of cheese. Any attempt to show such a statement wrong relies on the primacy of “consistency” in ones reasoning and there does not seem anything “inheren” in moral reasoning that disbars the possibility of some conclusions being more sound than others.

      • Vaal
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, my post was typed, aggravatingly, on an iPhone
        and it shows.

      • Sastra
        Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Agree. The fact that people who cause harm to others often have what they consider a perfectly reasonable excuse is a point in favor of consistency, not against it. “Yes, it would be wrong to steal your car IF I didn’t need it more, or had a rough life, or you hadn’t tempted me by leaving the keys in the ignition or absolved me of blame by being of a lower race, or a member of an oppressive one.” It’s easy to get distracted by the arguments and miss the original consensus.

    • reasonshark
      Posted March 23, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Morality is inherently subjective and relative to cultural/historical context.

      If morality is subjective, then why would it influence or be remotely influenced by cultural/historical context, which are objective factors? Magic? You’d be better off saying morality is nothing, since any particular subjective claim must be arbitrary and therefore devoid of any kind of meaning, semantic or otherwise, hence the very idea of subjectivism collapses into nihilism, and anyone who still claims to be a subjectivist either hasn’t realized this yet or is a closet objectivist.

      As for the Euthyphro Dilemma, it applies to “subjective feelings” with a vengeance, which is why it’s apt to compare subjectivists with Divine Command Theorists, the only difference being that one invokes a god and the other invokes opinion. Since a major consequence of objectivism is that there are right and wrong answers to morality, and that they are therefore amenable to rational discourse and criticism… well, that’s the strength of invoking the Euthyphro Dilemma to begin with, since one of its forks leads to reasons to think X rather than Y.

  2. veroxitatis
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    “There is nothing either [right]or [wrong] but thinking makes it so”. (Apologies to Shakespeare and Hamlet.)

  3. Paul S
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Judeo – Christian values? Has he read the bible?

    • Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Apparently he missed Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Remember when God ordered the Israelites to wipe out all those other tribes: man, woman, child, and even the animals!?

      • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        God doesn’t always act through agents.

        He’s happy to collapse church roofs himself – on his own followers – or give kids cancer.

        But that’s not murder; it’s Mysterious Ways.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          God doesn’t always act through agents.
          He’s happy to collapse church roofs himself

          I was reading a paper last night about multi-metre rip-up clasts of coral in the Caribbean a half-km inshore, facing the Puerto Rico Trench, which casually threw in the point that these clasts were stratigraphically secure below the debris recorded from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake (i.e., they pre-date All-Saint’s Day 1755).
          The Lisbon Quake is a good example of a recent Act of Massacre by God, of the Faithful, in the Churches, on a Holy Day.
          (It sounds like making an accusation in a game of Cluedo – who it was done by, where the murder was done, using which tool.)
          Incidentally, for anyone planning their Caribbean holiday – I can’t recall any reports from the Sumatra 2004 earthquake of multi-metre clasts of coral being in the bombardment those coasts received. That’s … thought provoking.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            Heh. I’m planning to visit Lisbon, but I’ll try to avoid earthquakes (and churches).
            Might be worth a look at the museum, assuming there is one, to see what it has to say about one of the most devastating (IIRC) earthquakes in history.

            cr

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

              to see what it has to say about one of the most devastating (IIRC) earthquakes in history.

              It’s up there with the big boys – estimated magnitude 8.7 to 9.0
              The disturbing thing is – we’re not particularly confident which offshore fault system the quake was on. nor what the stress state of several of the candidates is, because they’re not making a lot of seismic noise. So they’re locked. So they’re accumulating strain (at an unknown rate – which includes low) and not releasing it.
              I’d go there. Loadsaculture! But I’d react in an upwards direction to any feelable seismicity.

  4. ChrisB
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Where does Prager get the idea that Hitler’s regime was atheist? It was deeply rooted in Christianity. Hitler, in his writings and speeches, refers repeatedly to doing God’s work, specifically Jesus and the Christian god. The only context he mentions atheists is to characterize them as amoral and dangerous, part of the undesirables that should be exterminated.

    Gott mit uns. Doesn’t sound atheist to me.

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Hitler was not an atheist. His views seem have veered all over the map, but at some point in his life he subscribed to something very eccentric called “Positive Christianity”.

    • Geoff Toscano
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Hitler was a devout Catholic. The trouble is that people look at his acts then apply ‘no true Scotsman’ thinking to his beliefs.

      • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        The problem might be more fundamental, i.e. that people assume he was an atheist simply because that lie is repeated so often.

      • Scote
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        No, Hitler was not a devout Catholic. Baptized? Yup. Nominally Catholic? Maybe. Never excommunicated? Sure. But devout? Not even close.

        But the rest of Germany certainly was overwhelmingly Christian.

      • Posted March 22, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Where did you get the idea that Hitler was a devout Catholic?

  6. rom
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help thinking the subjective morality (which most of us practice here) is to objective [absolute] morality what compatibilism is to hard determinism

    A wretched subterfuge, a quagmire of evasion or perhaps word jugglery

    • eric
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Oh not at all. Unless you also consider art, music, etc. to be wretched subterfuges.

      Subjectivity comes with its share of problems but I don’t know what exactly you think it evades. I have no problem accepting that ‘rape is wrong’ is a claim the universe neither cares about nor even has an objective referent for.

      • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s subjectivity in any case. It’s intersubjectivity. Morals only make sense within a shared framework: it might be a framework shared nationally or internationally, or it may only be shared by a smaller group but human behaviour doesn’t make sense without a background of reference to other people.

        • Sastra
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes. I’ve often wondered how a God which presumably exists with no equals and didn’t evolve in an environment in which negotiations within relationships were relevant is supposed to be the “source” of morality. It’s philosophically empty.

      • rom
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Punk music is a contradiction in terms … “word jugglery” if you like.

        OK it is just my opinion.

        “It” evades the observation that you have been determined to think in terms of good and bad. That you think that some patterns of molecular behaviour is wrong is interesting.

        Like compatibilists defining a free will worth wanting (or whatever)into existence so are subjective moralists.

        • rom
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          Morality Worth Wanting®

          Sophisticated Morality®

          🙂

      • reasonshark
        Posted March 23, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        “a claim the universe neither cares about nor even has an objective referent for.”

        This makes no sense whatsoever. Firstly, why does “objective” equal “the universe cares about it”? On that logic, facts themselves don’t qualify. Nothing qualifies, because the universe is not an entity that cares at all. And this is before we get into the arbitrariness of the test.

        But I don’t accept that logic anyway, because it so transparently assumes “the universe” somehow doesn’t include the people in it. On that front, the bit of the universe that is currently getting raped very much does care, and unlike the rest of the universe – which is dead – this is a part of it where “care” can be very much applied. The category error here is like taking jargon from the field of biology and saying it’s meaningless because you can’t describe the rest of the universe as “pregnant”, “social”, or “carnivorous”. What the hell does that prove, other than you’re misusing the terms? And every bit of the person involved is an objective phenomenon; saying there’s no objective referent for this is, whether you intended this meaning or not, tantamount to saying it doesn’t exist.

        When you know it’s there, the consciousness dualism lurking behind these objections is obvious.

  7. Geoff Toscano
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that was hard work. Just a couple of comments

    1. I don’t view morality as opinion’. It’s been finely honed, nurtured, and moulded to the values of the cultures in which it resides. To describe it as mere opinion is to greatly underestimate its formation.

    2. The only possible way of defending some sort of objective morality is to distinguish ‘objective’ and ‘absolute’ morality. Prager doesn’t do this, clearly regarding them as interchangeable.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      I don’t view morality as opinion’. It’s been finely honed, nurtured, and moulded to the values of the cultures in which it resides.

      Which means that it is utterly malleable on a timescale of mere decades (not even generations, FFS!)
      Within living memory, it was considered deeply immoral for a woman to continue in paid, outside-home employment after marriage. Even more immoral to continue employment after pregnancy (we’ll leave aside the question of whether or not she got married before having sex). And as for returning to work once her children left for their boarding school … horrorz!

      to distinguish ‘objective’ and ‘absolute’ morality.

      Is this “absolute” morality something that you get from Newton’s “absolute” time and space?

      • Geoff Toscano
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        “Is this “absolute” morality something that you get from Newton’s “absolute” time and space?”

        No, it’s a term I’ve seen used more and more by apologists trying to defend ‘objective’ morality. When taken to task over the very obvious fact that there is no such thing as a rule of morality that applies in every circumstance, they revert to telling me I’m referring to ‘absolute’ morality. Of course, what they are doing is re-defining objective morality as subjective, their absolute morality becoming objective.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 22, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Sounds like a particularly “deckchair” moment on the “Titanic” of philosophy.

        • reasonshark
          Posted March 23, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Not really. Reality is full of conditionals and caveats and exceptions. In biology alone, hardly any rule – about evolution, trends, behaviours, etc. – is absolute, and that’s an obviously objective field of study.

        • Posted March 23, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          Usually, “absolute” *is* opposed to “relational”. If ethics is subjective, it is automatically relational, since it would be relative to a subject. If, however, it is objective, it could be yet relational. (For example, relative to the state of knowledge in a society.)

  8. CJColucci
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Plato blew this up, as I recall, over two millenia ago. Prager ought to catch up on his homework.

  9. Kevin
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Ethics is science applied to minimizing suffering. I’m glad Prather is religious, it appears it’s the only thing keeping him from doing wrong. SAD!

  10. Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    “Remember, the news about suppression of freedom of speech comes mainly from conservative sources.”

    I hate when that is said because implies it’s a laudable characteristic distinctive the conservatives. The fact is when conservatives dominated our culture prior to the 70’s it was the liberal sources that reported on suppression of speech. The only reason conservatives are doing so now is because it’s their speech that is being suppressed. It entirely self serving, they don’t really care about free speech.

    • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      I partly agree with you. My point here was that we wouldn’t HEAR about the suppression of free speech in universities if it weren’t for conservative sources. Who cares why they’re doing it if they point out a trend which even we on the Left consider dangerous?

      It’s the NEWS they put out that’s important, not why they do it or what their politics are. The Left simply bridles at publishing stuff like the Middlebury College incident.

      • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        I agree with everything you said, but again conservatives are getting way too much credit, support, and goodwill, as heroes in the war for free speech when it’s almost, if not entirely self serving. I don’t think that fact is pointed out enough, or even understood by many.

        • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          No more than the Left were when they were crying ‘free speech’ while being stifled when they were defending, say, republican violence in Northern Ireland.

          True defenders of free speech as a [i]principle[/i] has always been a minority position. Those opposing the government ban on broadcasting IRA spokesmen in the U.K. in the Eighties weren’t [i]also[/i] protesting in support of Loyalists marching through Catholic areas beating their drums.

          • Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            I’ll try that again in English

            No more than the Left were when they were crying ‘free speech’ while defending, say, republican violence in Northern Ireland.

            True defence of free speech as a principle has always been a minority position.

            Those opposing the government ban on broadcasting IRA spokesmen in the U.K. in the Eighties weren’t also protesting in support of Loyalists wanting to march through Catholic areas while beating their drums.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

              No more than the Left were when they were crying ‘free speech’ while defending, say, republican violence in Northern Ireland.

              Incidentally, Martin McGuiness died yesterday – which would have triggered a new election even if the Assembly hadn’t imploded a few weeks ago.
              Some nasty genetic disease, I think. Blame God, including for the timing.

              • TJR
                Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

                Satan’s punishment for Martin McGuinness:

                A senior demon repeatedly orders another demon to shoot him in the kneecaps, while the senior demon explains that while he sympathises with the aims of the second demon, he had no part in the kneecapping itself.

        • Historian
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

          What makes people zealots is that they have a goal in mind and will use any tool at hand to achieve it. In other words, the end justifies the means. People on the fringes will support or attack free speech as the situation demands. Today, the far right supports the accoutrements of democracy while the far left derides them. Tomorrow, the roles may be reversed. Those in the great middle support concepts such as freedom of speech regardless of what is said (with the obvious exceptions of yelling fire in a crowded theater or inciting to violence). To the extent that the great middle shrinks, so does democratic institutions shrink. So, the far right may be doing a service in pointing out how the far left is threatening free speech. But, Mike Paps is correct: their actions are self-serving. Would they be so “noble” if a mob attacked a rally for the imposition of Sharia law?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Dr Goebbels would have understood it very well. And used it for all it was worth.

          cr

      • tomh
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure who the “Left” is anymore, but the mainstream news certainly covered it. I read about it in the Boston Globe, but just about all covered it, the NYT, The Atlantic, the Nation, etc.

  11. Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I find the entire position that murder is only wrong if God exists ridiculous. Even it he did, and said murder is wrong, “murder” is subjective. Murder is unlawful killing. So what constitutes murder it’s based entirely on a society’s laws, which are subjective.

    • Kirbmarc
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Well, I wouldn’t say “subjective”, but “influenced by culture”.

      Anyway yes, the definition of “murder” depends on the laws. Generally all functional societies restrict the killing of individuals who belong to that society, but there’s always room for a variety of justifications or of further restrictions.

      For example “traditional” societies don’t define honor killing as murder, “modern” ones do. Conversely “traditional” societies don’t recognize the right of self-defense of a wife attacked by their husband, or of a slave who kills the person who keeps him in captivity but “modern” ones do, or at least consider the mitigating circumstances.

      What’s “murder” and what’s “justifiable killing” depends on cultural values. “Traditional” societies value groups (families, clans, nations) over individuals, while “modern” societies value individuals over groups.

      In a traditional society a woman is a child-maker, a man is a warrior for the tribe, the enemies have no rights and the enemy women are to be enslaved (this is the case in the Bible and in the Qu’ran, for example).

      In a modern society men and women are first and foremost autonomous individuals with individual rights, and the rights of every human being must be recognized.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        the enemies have no rights and the enemy women are to be enslaved (this is the case in the Bible and in the Qu’ran, for example).

        The prototypical Athenian Democrats were perfectly happy to militarily annihilate a rebel city-state (Mytilene), kill all it’s men and to enslave the women and children. (Though they did rescind the order the following day, to just the communal punishment of executing a thousand “ring leaders”. We’d still consider this a war crime today.)

        • Kirbmarc
          Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I have no doubt that “traditional” societies outside of the Middle East weren’t much better than those in the Middle East.

          People simply stopped worshiping Greek gods.

          • Kirbmarc
            Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Today there is no one, or almost no one, arguing that all morality comes from Zeus or Poseidon.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Society’s laws are increasingly applications of engineering and administrative controls that based on statistics and utilitarian procedures which minimize suffering. That’s not very subjective. More like ethical algorithms applied to real world problems.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted March 22, 2017 at 3:06 am | Permalink

      Follow the logic…

      “If there is no God, there is no objective morality.”

      …therefore if there is no objective morality there is no god.

      You can observe that different societies (in time, space, and religious beliefs) follow different moralities so objective morality does not exist. Unless you insist that the morality as set out by the Church of Latter Day Bridge Crossing Reformed 1894 is the only true faith and therefore contains the only true objective morality – but then that assertion carries no convincing weight against the sadly deficient Church of Latter Day Bridge Crossing Reformed 1897.

  12. Randy schenck
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Absence of religious morality is evidence there is no g*d. I’d much prefer to get morality out of a cereal box than a bible.

  13. Curt Nelson
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Now I’m going to ask you a much harder question. How do you know that what the bible tells us are facts?

    What photographs could you show, what measurements could you provide that PROVE the bible’s contents are facts?

    The fact is, you can’t.

  14. Kiwi Dave
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    It is somewhat puzzling that people who view humanity as morally defective since the Fall, and denounce human moral opinion as unreliable because of its subjectivity, nevertheless exempt themselves from these limitations in order to pronounce God morally perfect. So, Mr Prager, how do you objectively know that God is morally righteous?

    • Sastra
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes. If he’s using human standards to evaluate God and deem it good, then he’s using “fallen” standards. But claiming that God is good according to God’s standards is just the sort of self-referential self-approval Prager’s trying to escape. Hitler was good by Hitler’s standards. Whoop de doo.

  15. YF
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    By the way, Coel recently posted on this very topic:

    https://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/the-carm-rejection-of-subjective-morality/

  16. JohnE
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Of course, if there IS a god, then murder isn’t wrong, as long as you’re murdering adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), non-virginal brides (Deuteronomy 22:21), disrespectful children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), or some poor schmuck who picks up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). And, as an added bonus, if there IS a god, then slavery is A-OK (Leviticus 25:44)! Claiming that the Judeo-Christian god exists leaves us exactly where we are if we say he doesn’t exist, namely, that morality always was and continues to be a human construct.

    • Scote
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      ” Claiming that the Judeo-Christian god exists leaves us exactly where we are if we say he doesn’t exist, namely, that morality always was and continues to be a human construct.”

      Well, with added sectarianism for the win!

      It’s annoying to watch these kinds of arguments over and over again where theists claim that there is objective morality, and that god is its source. But they can’t actually point to an agreed upon distillation of this supposedly “objective” morality. Hell, the different Christian sects can’t even agree on which of the Ten Commandments are which. Catholics and Protestants have different versions!

      • Kingasaurus
        Posted March 22, 2017 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        Correct. Claiming to have “objective morality” isn’t the same thing as actually having it. Show your work.

  17. Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Those keas are a godless lot, watch your back.

  18. Vaal
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Amazing isn’t it how Theists in these videos assume we
    need to examine the assumptions for claims about right and
    wrong, but only on the case of secularism or competing belief
    systems. While they assume the soundness of their own assumptions to the degree they don’t even presume it needs defending. You can wait through the entire video for Prager to
    explain why God makes morality “objective” and…it never
    happens. It’s amazing how theists think invoking “God” does their
    work for them. “You secularists must present a clear chain of reasoning for your morality; we get to use “magic!”

  19. Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    “Find Keas”?

    Trust me, they will find you! Especially if you are careless with something important, like leaving your car keys out while you picnic!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if any kea has ever stolen a key with remote and discovered that when he prods the button, a neighbouring car goes ‘clunk’ and flashes its indicator lights?

      cr

  20. benjdm
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Science, he says gives no facts to answer this, and, says Prager, “in a secular world there can be only opinions about morality.” Prager, of course, says the answer is God (the Judeo-Christian god, naturally): “If there is no God, there is no objective morality.”

    Definitions are needed.

    objective – being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective)

    subjective – existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective)

    (from dictionary.com)

    So even if there is a God, there is no objective morality. If the moral state of an action is assigned by a thinking subject (God or people) as opposed to being a property of the action itself, it is subjective. This contrasts with something like the charge of an electron, where the charge belongs to the electron regardless of whether any thinking subject disagrees or is even aware of it.

    Morality is inherently subjective.

    • Vaal
      Posted March 21, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      I agree that the theist is trying to special plead for God in claiming Morality based on God is inherently objective.

      However, You have to do much more work than you have shown to establish “morality is inherently subjective.” Your reasoning above doesn’t even establish what morality is in first place, so it can’t just be granted you’ve established it to be subjective. And since there are competing theories as to the nature of morality you have your work cut out for you IMO.

      For instance, if Sam Harris is right that the only reasonable and coherent thing that makes sense of morality is sconce n for conscious well being, then reality will impose facts on what actions will or won’t move toward well being, hence moral facts arise about which one can be wrong or right. Even if such facts are relative to what we desire that doesn’t necessarily entail a lack of objective facts. Facts about relationships exist. I am taller than my mother expresses a fact about a relationship (something we want to measure – relative height). It wasn’t always the case – once she was taller than me. But when I make the claim that relative to my height she is shorter then anyone holding the opposite opinion is objectively wrong and mistaken.

      Similarly, of morality is the relationship between which actions are more likely to increase conscious well being or not, then there will be objective truths about which acts will in fact move well being in which direction. If you want to deny this you should be able to provide an alternate basic account of morality that capture much of what people think to be “moral concerns” that does not imply any objective facts.
      Good luck, I haven’t seen a cogent version of purely subjective morality.

      • benjdm
        Posted March 22, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

        For instance, if Sam Harris is right that the only reasonable and coherent thing that makes sense of morality is sconce n for conscious well being, then reality will impose facts on what actions will or won’t move toward well being, hence moral facts arise about which one can be wrong or right.

        But ‘concern for conscious well being’ itself is subjective. You don’t have concern without a thinking subject. The concern belongs to the thinking subject, it is not an objective feature of the universe just hanging around.

        You can’t assign actions values of ‘morally right’ or ‘morally wrong’ without bringing subjective valuers into it. Even the theists can’t do it, since they have to bring in God as a thinking subject to be the subjective valuer. ‘Morally right’ or ‘morally wrong’ doesn’t apply to the action itself; it is assigned by the thinking subject evaluating it.

        Facts about relationships exist. I am taller than my mother expresses a fact about a relationship (something we want to measure – relative height). It wasn’t always the case – once she was taller than me. But when I make the claim that relative to my height she is shorter then anyone holding the opposite opinion is objectively wrong and mistaken.

        Agreed. Your height is something that belongs to you regardless of whether any thinking subject thinks about it or thinks otherwise. It is an objective feature of you.

        I can measure your height objectively without consulting any thinking subject. How do I measure ‘morally right’ or ‘morally wrong’ regarding action without consulting a thinking subject? I can’t. No one can.

        • Vaal
          Posted March 22, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          Benjdm,

          Of course there would be some subjective *component* in morality
          but that doesn’t entail that the end result is subjective. What is the common
          misunderstanding of evolution propagated by creationists? They think that if we say at any point there is randomness involved i.e. Random Mutations, well then evolution is just a “random” process! But we explain that they are not looking at the rest of the process that combines to produce non randomness.

          I find many people denying the possibility of objective morality seem to engage in the same intuition – if they can point to any part of the equation as being subjective, well then the outcome MUST be subjective. But that does not follow for morality any more than it does for evolution.

          So, you say the concern for well being is subjective – yes what else could we possibly care about if not our subjective experience! That would be Harris’ point. It’s not arbitrary – it’s the only starting point that could make sense as something we would want to “measure” in weighing our actions. And everything we measure starts with subjectivity – a desire to measure some aspect of our experience. In the case of height, the reason to measure height comes only from a subjective desire to measure differences in height. But once we’ve decided what we (subjectively) WANT to measure, so long as the relationships exist in the real world, we can talk about factual claims.

          So if we decide that morality is essentially the measure Or weighing of actions that are more likely to promote conscious well being, then there will be facts about how our bodies and minds work, and interact with outside reality, that entails there was ll be facts to discover about this relationship. And as Harris points out, the fact that some questions will be complex and hard to answer does not mean we know nothing about the relationship between
          possible actions and consciousness well being. Everything we know about human experience, for instance, would imply it is a fact that that, say, enjoying a good meal is more conducive to our consciousness well being than being tortured with fire.

          So the fact that morality would begin with a concern with
          subjectivity does not mean that there aren’t facts about which actions will thwart or encourage well being. And these facts are objective in the sense that your opinion
          could be wrong about which actions will achieve that goal – just as people could be factually wrong about what ch actions would be likely to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon or not.

          • benjdm
            Posted March 23, 2017 at 5:34 am | Permalink

            Of course there would be some subjective *component* in morality
            but that doesn’t entail that the end result is subjective.

            How? How do you say something is objectively (x) or (y) when whether it is (x) or (y) depends on consulting a thinking subject’s opinion?

            If this were true, nothing would be subjective. You could say that ‘chocolate tastes good’ is objectively true because the majority of humans think so. Just because taste is subjective doesn’t mean that larger, following evaluations aren’t similarly subjective? Ridiculous.

            It’s not arbitrary

            Arbitrary is not equivalent to subjective. It definitely isn’t arbitrary.

            And everything we measure starts with subjectivity – a desire to measure some aspect of our experience.

            So what? The correct answer doesn’t depend on your desire. You are whatever height you are, regardless of whether you wish to be taller or shorter. The answer doesn’t change based on your subjective desire. The answer to whether or not an action is morally right or wrong does depend on the subjective values you choose.

            The height of an object is a property of the object itself. It isn’t a property that only exists in the mind of the thinking subject. The properties right and wrong do not belong to actions themselves. They only exist in the minds of thinking subjects evaluating those actions based on some subjective values they have.

            • Vaal
              Posted March 23, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

              “How? How do you say something is objectively (x) or (y) when whether it is (x) or (y) depends on consulting a thinking subject’s opinion?”

              Because that thinking person’s opinion can be objectively WRONG.

              Again: you are focusing on the part, ignoring the whole. Evolution “depends” on random mutations, but that is not ALL it depends upon! It depends on non-random facts as well (e.g natural selection). Similarly, in this moral theory, while subjectivity – conscious experience – is part of the equation, it is not the WHOLE equation. The wider set of facts about how our minds, bodies and the universe work are a necessary part of the equation and since we can be wrong about those objective facts, we can be factually wrong in moral pronouncements about what will, in fact, promote or thwart well being.

              There will be facts about our neurology and psychology and possible experience in the world that move us further from or closer to well being. This is why, again, a delicious and healthy meal will tend toward a persons well being over being
              tortured with fire. You may hold the opinion that torture with fire is the “better” option (more conducive to a persons well being) but you would be factually wrong, given the effects of fire on our neural system and the relationship of our neural system to our mental states. This means you can also be factually wrong in your own opinion as to which actions will be more likely to move you towards your own well being.

    • Kingasaurus
      Posted March 22, 2017 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      What these people consistently do is make the unstated claim that “a god’s opinion” and “objective” are synonyms.

      They’re going to have to do a much better job of explaining why exactly we should assume that’s true before I’m buying it.

  21. Denise
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    “If there is no God, there is no objective morality”.

    Maybe so. And how does that make God exist?

  22. Jeffrey Shallit
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    “never write off a source of news or opinion permanently just because it’s generally wrong”

    On the contrary, that’s a damn good reason to write off a source permanently. I don’t have enough time left in my life to waste trying to pick out a few scattered gems in a heap of dung.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 22, 2017 at 1:18 am | Permalink

      I have to agree with Jeffrey. There’s zillions of good web pages I’ll never have time to read; why waste time on rubbish?

      Caveat: That doesn’t mean everything out of ‘Prager U’ is automatically wrong; even Hitler was probably right about some things; just that the bar for me to believe it would be set pretty high.

      cr

      • reasonshark
        Posted March 23, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        I second that. We can’t stop and examine every little thing that comes our way; we want trends. It’s not just accuracy you want, but reliability. A broken clock may be right twice a day, but it’s still nigh-useless if you want to tell the time. A slow clock that’s never right is at least reliable (if not accurate in itself). So unless the failure could be adopted into a means of finding success, I wouldn’t bother.

  23. Diane G.
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    sub

  24. Hempenstein
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Vikings had laws regarding murder.

  25. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I don’t reject every video at PU as being bad or wrong; that would be dishonest since I haven’t seen them all. The ones I have watched, however, have been poorly reasoned, just like this one, and convey demonstrably wrong, pernicious ideas. Just like this one. I’ve concluded PU videos are not worth my precious time.
    As a palliative to this video I highly recommend Matt Dillahunty’s video entitled “The Superiority of Secular Morality”. While it doesn’t have the fancy graphics it is well-reasoned and Matt is far more charming than the odious Prager. I’d love to see them debate.

  26. J. Quinton
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    These people seem to have never heard of the iterated prisoner’s dilemma.

    Even if you’ve never heard of it, it’s pretty easy to understand: If everyone ran red lights, then there’s a good chance that you’d get T-boned while driving through a green light. So, everyone does not drive through red lights.

    • Ted
      Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      That doesn’t explain why we feel so strongly that certain behaviors are evil. It’s more than simple pragmatism.

  27. Posted March 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    “Science, he says gives no facts to answer this”

    Not true. Good behaviour in human society is dependent upon reciprocity. In fact, almost all social animals have reciprocity as a basis for their daily interactions. Religion has just stolen the idea from the basic tenets of ancient society and pretended to have invented it.

    I’m pretty sure scientific study has made this perfectly clear.

  28. kelskye
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I find it strange when theists take this view. It takes away all the consequences of an action and puts it to the whims of God. It seems absurd that for all the facts about murder (the pain it causes, the denial of another’s liberty, the flow-on effects someone’s death has on their family and friends, etc.), that morality would be completely divorced from those.

  29. yiamcross
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me or is it only in books like the bible and the koran that murder is not only okay but frequently obligatory?

  30. Nicholas Arand
    Posted March 23, 2017 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t get it. Isn’t the existance of God also a matter of opinion?

  31. PMD
    Posted March 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    There is no better one to be against the existence of God than the one that fears the righteousness, Holiness, wrath and Supreme Power of God. Fervent believers went through that experience too.
    But there is one solution for everybody: Surrendering!
    Surrendering to God’s Sovereignty doesn’t stop us from judging things on a scientific basis. It helps us understand that science doesn’t have an answer to everything, and that scientific facts were not born of science. How can one be so sure that science is the limit when science just describes and explains facts at some extent?

    There is more than assuming that God exists. Most of people using just their common sense assume that. The TRUE KNOWLEDGE of the existence of God is communicated BY GOD. We can’t access the reality of God through our own process. God reveals Himself to those who eventually believe in Him. Than they start to understand the supreme reality that Kurt and all those blinded by sin reject.

    Believing in God doesn’t take you down your scientific height. On the contrary, it takes you far beyond what your scientific sense and studies allow you to understand.

    Science doesn’t help you understand the fact that Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin. It can’t help you understand that Jesus died, was buried, then resurrected three days later and rose up to Heaven. That sounds legendary to a mind that has not transcended scientific ways. Sure!
    But the only way for incredulous people to finally experience the reality of God is that there be people keeping telling them that God exists and loves them. For, “Faith comes by hearing.” And Faith is the Trigger for surrendering.

    • Vaal
      Posted March 24, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      ^^^ This is one of those posts where response doesn’t even seem necessary. Just leaving it blowing in the wind on the internet like those religious rants you see plastered to a telephone pole, and giving a bemused small shake of the head while walking past, is about all it warrants.

    • Posted March 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Actually science does have a few things to say on the subject.
      You can read all about it on this website:

      “…since Jesus didn’t have a corporeal father, his sex chromosome constitution was XO (X from mom, no Y from Dad). That means that he suffered from Turner Syndrome, with gonadal dysgenesis and a webbed neck. And he would have been a female. Well, not quite: Jesus would have been haploid, too, with only half the normal number of chromosomes (I think the “H.” in “Jesus H. Christ” stands for “haploid”), so in fact “he” would have been an inviable embryo.”

      https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/science-wins-because-it-works-2/

      In short, science shows that the story is bogus.

      /Grania

    • Posted March 24, 2017 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      You are truly steeped in the faith! But before you go further, I will ask you, as I often do with believers, what is the EVIDENCE for your God and Jesus. And why are you so convinced that your Christian faith is true rather than, say, Hinduism or Islam, or any of the thousands of other faiths.

      If you are ever to post here again, I would like to hear your EVIDENCE on both of these points. I await an answer.

      • PMD
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Are you a living creature? You will answer “Yes”. And of course you are. Do you have any EVIDENCE for that? You will just list the few manifestations of life. You have no mathematic formulas to demonstrate life. Scientific definition of life is based on the biological manifestations you know. And you consider the latter as EVIDENCE for life. Besides the existence of the complex universe (that attracts you more than everything), the evidence for the existence of God is not so different. But, the same way, you need to be godly alive and conscious to understand it. Your scientific passion can’t take you to that.

        Scientifically, you DON’T know the origin of the universe. You guess an origin and BELIEVE in it. Don’t you? You are believers too! Except that you believe in your own falsity. I don’t mean scientific facts, but what you postulate as the origin of the universe for example. Reflect on that. It’s scientifically fair to say, “What if I was wrong?” Because, your ignorance doesn’t annihilate the reality. It just keeps you from experiencing it.

        Now, about the diversity of faiths you mentioned…
        It takes knowledge to differentiate right from wrong. You need to lift the scientific blinders that prevent you from seeing what is behind the phenomena end principles you’re studying to be able to access that knowledge. Then, you will get it.

        • Posted March 26, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink

          You have adduced no evidence beyond personal feeling and revelation. Here’s what you said: “the evidence for the existence of God is not so different.” But YOU GIVE NO EVIDENCE. Is it something you feel in your gut? That’s not evidence, my friend. And no, we don’t know what happened at the very beginning of the big bang, or whether it came from a black hole or whatever, but we admit our ignorance on that point. But we do know that the Universe began with a big “bang (an expansion) around 14 billion years ago. That’s far more evidence than you adduce for your god, for we have all kinds of evidence for a big bang. You have NONE for your god.

          Finally, your last paragraph, explaining why Christianity is the “right” religion and the rest are not, is complete gibberish. Sorry, but you have no basis for any of your beliefs save what you like to believe or what you were taught. That’s not evidence, and what you see in the cosmos that confirms the Christian God is simply confirmation bias, for everyone else sees the same “evidence” and is either an atheist or a believer in a different faith.

          This is, in fact, the most pathetic adducing of evidence for god I’ve yet seen on this website. I urge you to go peddle this kind of mush on religious websites.

        • earnestjgarfield
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          PMD
          Why don’t you step out of the Discovery Institute for a moment, and open a Discover Magazine. Just to get you started. You obviously have no idea what scientists know and why they know it. But just to warn you, if you are interested in actually learning about science, from your starting point, you’ve got a steep hill of knowledge ahead of you. It’s not a venture for the fearful and intellectually lazy, so pace yourself, and know that our expectations for you are low.

          • Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

            This is right on the boundary of incivility. Please read the posting rules (“Da Roolz”) to the left of the site.


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