Thursday, September 29, 2011

Part 3: The Myth of Moral Subjectivism

Please refer to the original post and Part 2 before reading this. All of the background is in those posts.

Here is the next response by the atheist:

It matters little if you mean to be disrespectful or not. What matters is if you are posting accurate statements.

Humans, as all primates, are a social species. We do better as a group than as individuals. Therefore, behaviors that have a positive impact on the group will be considered good and behaviors that have a negative impact on the group will be considered bad. This is why you see that rape, murder, arson and theft have become "evil". These activities have a negative impact on a society.

Contrary to your statement "evil" or "good" is antithetical to the very epistemology and metaphysic to which atheism professes", atheism makes no comment on this at all. Atheism simply says that there are no gods.

My Rebuttal:

Ah, the typical "morality comes from social interaction" theory. Now we're getting somewhere…kind of. :)

You assert that what makes something moral is whether it does more or less good for the group. So what group do you refer? Gangs are groups, and they do what is good for them. Though this isn’t necessarily good for the surrounding groups, who is to say that those surrounding groups have the right to impose their standards on the gang’s group? What if the gang is stronger and can assert its view regardless of the subjective tastes of the surrounding groups? Should those surrounding groups say, “Oh well, I guess this must be for the greater good, because we cannot do anything about it?”

Again, we can refer to all of the larger “group” scenarios I gave earlier (i.e., Nazis, Pol Pot’s regime, Nero’s, etc.) as examples showing that one group’s laws do not always reflect proper morals or ethics. This group or social theory of morality really isn’t a theory of morality at all, but instead is a theory of law. What makes something legal or not is definitely subjective, and changes from group to group.

The problem with this, however, is the question of how you are to determine what makes a subjective law moral or immoral. The only way to determine this is to go outside of the group – indeed, outside of every group – to an objective source of morality and then use that as the judge. If you do not do this, all you are doing is judging a subjective law by a subjective standard.

If subjectivism is the rule, then you have no right whatsoever to judge others in any way at all. You may say that society does, but if I become more powerful than the society of which I am a part, then I can change the rules to fit my whims and no longer be subject to your rules. If I then deem it lawful for me to take every firstborn in the land that I control and kill them, then you can say nothing against me, in terms of whether what I am doing is moral or not.

Next, you stated, “Contrary to your statement "evil" or "good" is antithetical to the very epistemology and metaphysic to which atheism professes", atheism makes no comment on this at all.” I’m having a bit of trouble understanding precisely what you intended to convey, because your statement was a bit vague to me. I did not say that atheism itself states that “evil” or “good” is antithetical to the very epistemology and metaphysic to which it professes (this seems to be what you think I meant). I’ll clarify my point. It is antithetical to atheism to call anything “evil” or “good.” This is antithetical to atheism, because its professed epistemology and metaphysic to contradict the ideas of good and evil. It is contradictory, because good and evil are not subjective feelings, but statements of truth. Atheism has no foundation upon which to build the concept of truth. Just as atheistic morals are subjective, all other ideas and concepts become subjective as well.

If your point is that atheism simply doesn’t address the philosophical concepts of epistemology and metaphysics (it “makes no comment on this at all”), then…I’ll just wait to see if that’s what you’re trying to say. I certainly hope it isn’t.

Furthermore, you state that “Atheism simply says that there are no gods.” I’m actually shocked that you would put forth this view. The wiser arguments in our day and age are those of the non-theists. They don’t make such a naive claim, because they realize it cannot be proved. Instead, they simply state that they have insufficient evidence to conclude that there is no God, so therefore, they don’t believe there is a God.

Thank you for the good and courteous discussion!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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