Thanks for this - do you have a reference?
Sorry, but this is a stupid statement if aimed at the likes of me.I do not believe in gods, but I know many believers out there that do and many are trying to destroy science, learning and anything else they do not understand.Of course, not all believers are like this - some just fly planes into buildings...Then of course, I am not really fighting against anything - just having discussions to learn more, so who is Ghandi attacking here?LeePSI do know some believers who do not want to destroy science and learning, or fly planes into buildings - I wish they just stood up more and said those that do in the name of their god are stupid and against reason.PPSWill I go to Hell for thinking this?
As for a reference, this is a quote found in a lot of online quote databases. From what I gather, it is in response to him being approached by an atheist who had hopes of creating an anti-God society. I went back and read it over again and I am confused. Lee, how do you come to the conclusion that Ghandi is "attacking" someone here?
I want to know why atheists keep making moral judgments against God and Christians, when have no objective moral standard. (Since they deny a moral lawgiver)Why rant so much and write all these angry books just because God and Christians don't match an arbitrary standard that we happen to have in this time and place?Wintery Knight
It's a good quote, but without a mroe solid reference than that it's not worth deploying. Figures like Gandhi, Churchill & Oscar Wilde have witticisms/insights attributed to them all the time on the basis of their known brilliance, such that they become mere carriers for sayings which wouldn't survive on the internet otherwise. The quote isn't apparently mentioned in any biography of Gandhi nor in any books about him nor in any of his letters or writings, nor is it found in any standard work of quotation. I would therefore be very wary of using it in public discussion or in print. Shame, because it's a neat saying.
That's fair enough - I will make a modification to the post.
Hi Brian,"Lee, how do you come to the conclusion that Ghandi is "attacking" someone here? "Not someone – no individual was mention in the quote, it seems to be an attack on a group.You did use the quote under the heading "Ghandi on Atheism" - so isn't atheism being attacked with your use of it?Not that I care on any moral grounds - any and all ideas are open to argument as far as I am concerned - just that it is a stupid statement as I commented IF (and I did include 'if' in my original reply) the author (Ghandi, Joe Bloggs, who knows) is aiming it at atheism.+++++++Hi Wintery Knight,I want to know why atheists keep making moral judgments against God and Christians, when have no objective moral standard. (Since they deny a moral lawgiver)As a moral human being I can (and do) make judgments – I learn from history, philosophy and personal experience on what is best, and I try to do what causes the least harm.How do you think a court of law using the jury system operates BTW?The system might not be right and absolute – but it can change (as history has shown)As for God, something I have never understood and so I ask anyone who might reply – Can God do anything morally wrong? If God is defined as all-good isn’t a ‘wrong’ action logically impossible? So doesn’t this mean God has no morals… after all, He cannot do any wrong by many Christian definitionsAlso, if someone believes their God is all-good and so cannot do any wrong – how can anyone be said to learn their morals from such a being? No knowledge of wrong could possible come from such a being since nothing would be wrong for God.For God, anything goes :-)I argue then that our morals (thank goodness) do not come from God.Lee
Lee, either you don't understand God or you purposefully don't want to understand God. The objections around "God can't do anything wrong; a 'wrong' action is logically impossible" etc. have been answered numerous times.To start with go to www.reasonablefaith.org and see Dr. Craig's Q&A section - especially questions related to Euthyphro dilemma.
Hi kpolo,Lee, either you don't understand God or you purposefully don't want to understand God. Well I freely admit I do not understand the theist claims about God - hence my questions. So I do not see any problems there.As for purposefully not wanting to understand – well, that seems to be false. If I didn’t want to understand, why would I be asking questions? All you have done is tried to blame the student for not understanding the teacher... poor form.I looked at the Q&A on WLC site, but I could not find anything that addressed my question directly since the site page isn’t well organised. Since you believe the answers are there, could you be so kind to address my innocent questions I made here - if they have been answered by so many surely it would be a simple matter and no trouble at all? Maybe you could find the quote from WLC that answered my questions directly. The closest I heard WLC come is to say God cannot do anything against His own nature – that is by his definition all-good, but that doesn’t answer the question I raised. Is it possible for an all-good God to do wrong? If not, and it sounds to be illogical to claim that such a being can, how can anyone claim to get their morals from a God – no knowledge of right and WRONG can come from such a being.Many thanks in advance.Lee
Here is the link to the Q&A archive, with 100 questions and answers. For the Euthyphro dilemma, see #44 and #46. I hope that helps the discussion.
Thanks Brian. I found the 100 Q&A's, but didn't know which one to read.I will add it to my list, don't have time tonight.Lee
Hi Brian, This seems like quite a claim to make, Lee. If you say that being taught these things as a child is the ONLY way to come to Christian conclusions, I would ask you to substantiate this claim with your historical sources, if you can. : )Oops... silly me – have I made a claim? Darn... and I can see where I will might fail in backing this up. “Absence of evidence, isn’t evidence of absence”.I will back down a little then from any earlier error on my part and state that I have never been presented with any other explanation and at every opportunity in history when my simple belief of a manmade story being transmitted by man could have been proven wrong, it wasn’t. (The Spanish in America in the 1400’s, the English in the 1700’s with Australia to name just two... though there are of course hundreds of other historical examples)This gives me reason to doubt... Have you a better explanation of the facts found in history about the lack of knowledge in cultures not presented the story by word of mouth or the bible? Not that you require to provide any, but until such time, I will take my simple explanation that contains very few unknowns and does not require me to make unnecessary assumptions. The I will narrow the list to two: Josh McDowell, Astronomer Hugh Ross. The astronomer has particular interest to me, so I will read these in time – but I cannot tonight. In regard to testing truth claims for systematic consistency, that is a large subject as well, which I think for now I will save for another day. This is getting a little off the topic of the genetic fallacy, heh heh.A little off topic yes, sorry. Still, it would be nice if you could provide just a couple of examples to get me started.Have to goLee
I linked to 44 and 46 above... those are the ones to read on the Euthyphro dilemma.
Craig's audio regarding the Euthyphro argument is here.
If I might interject here, having read and listened to Craig's bit on the Euthyphro dilemma, there are quite a few things Craig gets really, really, wrong. I have not the time to cover everything, but I can provide some insight into how a Platonist or Aristotelian might respond (or even a Kantian, in some places).One thing that is off-base with Craig's claims is that the Euthyphro argument is a favorite for atheists. It really isn't, at least not for philosophers who understand the Euthyphro argument. There is much more going with the Euthyphro passage being discussed. Part of what is happening here is that Socrates is engaging in an elenchus with Euthyphro, getting him to see that he doesn't know as much as he thought about the gods. This will have ramifications later on in Socrates' trial (see Plato's Apology). Also, Socrates is here criticizing the religion of the day by pointing out inconsistencies. This is closer to the way Craig seems to be taking the argument. The whole exchange is much larger than this though, as it is just as much about predication and Plato's theory of forms as it is about religion per se. There is a much larger metaethical discussion going on in the background here that Craig sees bits and pieces of (to his credit), however his account of what happens from this point is not very accurate (in terms of Plato's theory of forms, what the good is and it works, etc.).He mentions a few times that God is, by definition, all good or supremely good. Indeed, I believe he identifies God with 'the good'. This is a bit funny, in that the early christian church took this very seriously and in blatantly platonic terms. In fact, it is well known that the early church's metaphysics is basically Platonic, with some Aristotelian overtones (seen largely in teleological explanations). If one reads early christian documents (not just what other people say about those documents) it is quite clear that the church thought highly of Plato and his philosophical framework -- to the point of taking the form of the good and replacing it with God. Craig notes this, in a roundabout way, but he fails to see the significance of it. This is apparent when goes on to criticize Plato for having wacky views on causation and such. He (Craig) is thinking about causation in crude terms. Of course abstracta cannot bump into physical objects, but that does not preclude a causal interaction. The Greek word 'aitia' denotes a broader notion of causation, and is closer to what we think of as an 'account' or explanation. See Aristotle's 4 causes for more on this. The irony here is that a theist is going to have to appeal to the same causation that Craig sees as problematic. If God is incoporeal he must have a different causal relation to the world than the standard efficient cause could explain. If one really wanted to get at what bugs some atheists it's that proof by definition is impotent when dealing with ontological claims. This is Hume's main concern. Anselm's claims about God are not taken very seriously due to this fallacy, and the fact that he takes many of his other arguments directly from Greek philosophy which already had other accounts for the unmoved mover and such than the God that Anselm inserts. The last bit that I will comment on is the part about moral duty and obligation. Here, Craig really goes off into the weeds in terms of moral psychology and metaethics (my fields, along with Greek philosopy). Plato was not concerned with 'obligation' or 'duty' in a moral sense. In fact, Plato was not concerned with morality at all. One can have a completely coherent view of ethics without appealing to morality (and this coherent view can be universal and objective, as well, without appeal to God). Morality is a subset of ethics -- a particular view of ethics that became popular during the enlightenment with the rise of liberal thought. Hobbes was an early adopter, but it was Kant that really wrote the gold standard for morality. If you want to read more on this look up Bernard Williams' piece "Morality, the Peculiar Institution". At any rate, Plato was not concerned with morality and thus the term obligation and duty mean something different to him. He (along with Aristotle) had a moral psychology that entailed a certain kind of egoism. If one had to see something as a 'duty' in order to do it, the Greeks would have looked down on that person to some extent -- they would not be virtuous, but merely an enkrates of some sort.There are other concerns that I must leave for another time (such as the idea that virtues are some how abstract objects that get spoken of in the same breath as the form of the good -- which is wrong). There are plenty of interesting and important things to be discussed on these matters, but I am not at all clear on how Craig's work in the few pieces mentioned in the above comments is contributing to the discussion in any meaningful way.-A humble peripatetic.
Peripatetic, I also can't say just how helpful the Euthyphro resources are to the initial direction of the discussion, other than that they were mentioned by kpolo and Lee said he couldn't find them. That's why I provided the links. Thanks for taking the time to critique the audio anyway.It would seem to me that in the contexts I have heard this dilemma it has been used in discussion by the non-theist in response to a moral argument for God. As if presenting this dilemma is an insuperable conundrum. It is in this sense that I think Craig points to it as a favorite. I don't think the typical theist or the non-theist, in this context, would typically have the depth of background into the dilemma that you do. With the popular context in mind, would you then agree that it is a false dilemma? ---Lee, I just realized that you posted your comment for the logical fallacies over here on this post... no wonder I was scratching my head! Oh well.
Hi Brian,I just realized that you posted your comment for the logical fallacies over here on this post... no wonder I was scratching my head! Oh well.Oops… don’t know if I am coming or going sometimes.and Lee said he couldn't find them. That's why I provided the links.I said I could not find the links that addressed my question raised here about if God could do any wrong (being all-good) and as such we cannot get our morals (knowledge of right and wrong) from God.This podcast didn’t address any of my points. So, my questions/points are still unaddressed.Peripatetic (Hello Peripatetic) has said more than I ever could on this podcast and WLC – but I will mention just a couple of things I got out of the talk.WLC is wrong on many levels (to my innocent mind) about trying to ‘solve’ the question raised by Euthyphro.His ‘best’ argument had a hidden premise that absolute morals exist, and as such require a fixed reference point i.e. God. Have absolute morals been shown, proven or even seen? – Not that I am aware of, they are only asserted. The argument than falls on this point then does it not.I also found it funny when WLC talked about how silly just having a ‘good’ as your reference point for morals and that this abstract could not exist. Just one letter out I say… ‘good’ is silly, but ‘god’ is suppose to make sense?Well, it made me laughTake careLee
Hi Brian,I must admit, in reference to your question about the popular context for the Euthyphro argument, that I don't really understand that context. I am unfamiliar with the ways the argument is deployed in these circumstances and therefore not very helpful on that front. What I can say, based on an impression of the context, is that the argument is not being deployed very well by the 'atheist' (as if there were only one way to be an atheist) if it is used as an attack against theism writ large. Knowing the background of the argument and the christian church's use of Platonic metaphysics it would not be a very efficient means of attack (that sounds awfully violent, no?).Lee (hello back), I don't know what you mean by 'proven'. Do you mean in the mathematical sense, or more of a scientific sense? I am not sure that we can 'prove' that absolute morals exist or even if we have to do anything quite that strong. If one provides good reason to think that something is the case in some circumstances that is all that can be done. I follow Aristotle on this front -- one should expect a level of precision that is commensurate with the subject matter and ethics is less precise than mathematics (science is a bit more open, as nothing in science is proven to the level of precision or certainty of mathematics). This is a long winded way of saying that one need not be merely 'asserting' something's existence if one cannot 'prove' something's existence.I should note that I am a moral realist, so take my comments with that in mind. While I am not a value primitivist, as some take Plato to be (and as Craig's arguments show him to be) I do think values are very real. There are plenty of philosophers who disagree with me and if you want I can point you to their work.-One who walks around
Lee,I wanted to comment on a couple points you made. I appreciate the dialogue you bring to the blog."As a moral human being I can (and do) make judgments – I learn from history, philosophy and personal experience on what is best, and I try to do what causes the least harm."I don't believe anyone is arguing that an atheist or skeptic cannot be moral. Nor is anyone arguing whether an atheist can know right or wrong. Rather, the argument is that an atheist has no grounding for objective morality. This confusion is a common mistake made by skeptics (especially Michael Shermer if you have listened to any of his debates). It is a confusion of epistemology and ontology. You mentioned that you try to do what causes the least harm. Why? Is causing less harm an objectively good moral principle? If so, what do you ground this in? If not, it would seem this principle is arbitrary and relative. The important discussion is how a non-theist can ground objective morality. It seems you are assuming objective morality in advocating the "least harm" principle."How do you think a court of law using the jury system operates BTW? The system might not be right and absolute – but it can change (as history has shown)"Yes, court systems do change, but they do not change arbitrarily. So I think this point actually supports the theist view. Court systems are based on objective morality. They recognize that there are some things that are really right (mercy, kindness) and others that are really wrong (murder, rape). When court systems do change, the goal is to bring the standards and principles of the court into conformity with an objective standard that exists. Courts and laws do not change arbitrarily. You would never be able to say that our courts are “better” unless they now more closely align with an objective standard."As for God, something I have never understood and so I ask anyone who might reply – Can God do anything morally wrong?"God cannot commit an act which is contrary to His nature. So, no, God cannot lie (for example)."If God is defined as all-good isn’t a ‘wrong’ action logically impossible? So doesn’t this mean God has no morals… after all, He cannot do any wrong by many Christian definitions."Logically speaking, God cannot do anything which is logically contradictory (make a married bachelor) or inconsistent with His nature (lie). But it doesn't follow from this that "God has no morals." What do you mean by that and how did you come to that conclusion? Morality is grounded in the nature and character of God. "Being moral" does not necessitate the ability to act immorally. I think this is a non-sequitur."Also, if someone believes their God is all-good and so cannot do any wrong – how can anyone be said to learn their morals from such a being? No knowledge of wrong could possible come from such a being since nothing would be wrong for God."Your assumption here (correct me if I’m wrong) seems to be that in order to have knowledge of wrong God must be able to do wrong. I reject that assumption. There are different ways of acquiring knowledge, experience only being one of them. God does not have to commit wrongful acts in order to know what wrongful acts are anymore than I have to commit murder in order to know that murder is wrong. God may have propositional knowledge, justified true belief, concerning morality without ever having committed a morally wrongful act."For God, anything goes :-)"Only if you create God in your own image :-) But I’m not interested in a fictitious god created in the image of man. I am interested in debating and arguing for the Christian God. And for Him, not everything goes."I argue then that our morals (thank goodness) do not come from God."So where then is objective morality grounded? I am grateful that objective morality is grounded in a just, holy, and loving God. For without that, it is literally true that ANYTHING goes.
Hi Aaron,I wanted to comment on a couple points you made. I appreciate the dialogue you bring to the blog.Thanks... I think I have bitten off more than I can chew since I am not sure if I will have time to reply to all the comments on this and other posts.Hope you do not mind me being 'brief' – if I missed a point you feel is important, just ask me again.I will be writing further on another post on Brian’s blog ("Book Review: The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias") but not tonight. (Maybe we can take later comments to that post?)Rather, the argument is that an atheist has no grounding for objective morality.Has anyone shown/proven that objective morality actually exists, or that you merely wish it did?Come to think of it, what are objective morals? Can you give me an example or two?Murder? Rape? This confusion is a common mistake made by skeptics (especially Michael Shermer if you have listened to any of his debates).I like Shermer... You mentioned that you try to do what causes the least harm. Why? It is what my biology tells me :-)Is causing less harm an objectively good moral principle?You tell me, I do not think objective morals exist. If so, what do you ground this in? Philosophy, reason, history, experience and biology... If not, it would seem this principle is arbitrary and relative.Not arbitrary... evolution, natural selection and all that got me where I am today. Don’t think this is random is it?Relative... maybe. In one situation it could be said to be morally wrong to kill a man, in another situation, killing one man is what most moral people will do.The classic philosophical thought experiment is the rail-trolley rushing towards 5 men working on the track.If you do nothing, 5 men will die but you are standing next to a lever that if you switch it will re-direct the trolley onto another track... killing one work man working on the other track.Do nothing, 5 men will die. Do something and pull the lever, 5 men will live, 1 will die.(In this thought experiment, no other option but pulling the lever will save the 5 men BTW)What is the moral course of action? The important discussion is how a non-theist can ground objective morality. It seems you are assuming objective morality in advocating the "least harm" principle.Am I? I am basing it on personal experience and reason... this doesn’t sound like objective morality – since, as I have already said, it changes based on the situation.Something is never (I believe) ‘always right’ or ‘always wrong’... it is relative I think.At least, this is what I observeYes, court systems do change, but they do not change arbitrarily. So I think this point actually supports the theist view.Does it? Court systems are based on objective morality. You will have to explain this to me further – I don’t see it.They recognize that there are some things that are really right (mercy, kindness) and others that are really wrong (murder, rape).Then you are wrong... the courts are not black and white.One day something will be placed in prison for killing a person, another time a person goes to a mental hospital, and sometimes they are told not to do it again and told to go home (it really does happen).Your problem is it isn’t clear what ‘murder’ or ‘rape’ actually is... it can change.If I know my history (and I could be wrong) it wasn’t so long ago that in England a husband could not legally rape his wife – the wife was the husband's property, permission for sex came with “I do”.I believe the law has rightly changed, but I’m not sure if this is the case in every country in the world.As for murder, what is murder? Is it when someone plans and then carries out killing a person? Does this mean a soldier commits murder in war time? When court systems do change, the goal is to bring the standards and principles of the court into conformity with an objective standard that exists. If these objective standards are so clear, and known to all, why does the court system have to change over time? Surely they would know by now? Isn't God and/or the bible clear on these important matters?No, the changing standards in law is evidence that morals are fluid... 150 years ago, a white man being ‘racist’ (in today’s eyes) probably didn’t turn any heads – most people were racist.Today, most people think eating meat is OK (I do... just had steak for dinner), yet in years to come I could be seen as immoral by my grandchildren. How could this happen if morals are static?God cannot commit an act which is contrary to His nature. So, no, God cannot lie (for example).I’ve heard this before, so God is confined by his nature? But it doesn't follow from this that "God has no morals." What do you mean by that and how did you come to that conclusion?I mean that anything, and everything is possible by God, and by definition, you would have to call it good (I say you, because I get my morals elsewhere)Let's repeat this - everything, and everything done by such a God would have to be defined as Good.I reject that... and my morals are relative :-)You claim objective morals come from this God, but I have not heard a good explaination of how this works.Morality is grounded in the nature and character of God. "Being moral" does not necessitate the ability to act immorally. I think this is a non-sequitur.My point was that we mere humans cannot get our morals from such a being... how do we know if something is wrong? If God did it, it would be right... so it seems then, if you know something is wrong it is because you personally feel it is wrong. This feeling could not have come from God since everything done by God is good.Is this really a non-sequitur? Your assumption here (correct me if I’m wrong) seems to be that in order to have knowledge of wrong God must be able to do wrong.No, I am talking about humans and where we get our morals from. (See above) There are different ways of acquiring knowledge, experience only being one of them.Seems a good method this one...I also will then add ‘reason’ God does not have to commit wrongful acts in order to know what wrongful acts are anymore than I have to commit murder in order to know that murder is wrong.Murder is wrong plain and simple? I hope you have answered my rail-trolley question now.Can you define murder for me please?Only if you create God in your own image :-) This does appear to be what religion has done :-)But I’m not interested in a fictitious god created in the image of man. I am interested in debating and arguing for the Christian God. And for Him, not everything goes.I could start to quote the bible chapter and verse at you – but I am sure you know it better than me (and could say that the bible is just wrong and written by man)I will just say then that in the bible, God has done many, many immoral acts Although, you cannot say these acts are immoral, since you believe God is all-good.You will also like to claim that I am unable to say that the acts are wrong - but I am challenging that.I think if I give you examples you will have to start to make excuses about God to defend this all-good position - but isn't it easier to just say your assumption about Him is wrong?So where then is objective morality grounded?We are back at the beginning – show me they exist first, it is your claim, not mine.At the moment it merely seems a circular argument for God. For without that, it is literally true that ANYTHING goes.I disagree... and I can provide examples from the bible if it helpsTake careLee
Aaron, Lee, and Brian (and anyone else interested):There are some points here that involve my own work, so I can say with some confidence that there is more to be said for certain positions here. "Rather, the argument is that an atheist has no grounding for objective morality...It is a confusion of epistemology and ontology."This is not an accurate portrayal of the situation faced by the moral atheist. The moral atheist can appeal to many systems of objective morality. For instance, the system developed my Immanuel Kant. This is the paradigm of morality. This involves some of what Brian also mentioned (in a different section of the blog, I believe), in that there can be an objective moral standard without a god. There are many such systems in the history of philosophy and some of them came to form the basis for the Church's own system (see the previous post on the Greeks and the Church). One could claim and defend the need for a transcendent being, sure, but in the 2500 years of philosophical discussion there hasn't been a knock-down argument in favor of it. In fact, many have argued that the best moral systems are those that do not appeal to a deity at all. These are not all atheists or anti-religion thinkers, either, as many see the strongest basis for morality to be one thing while a relationship with a god is very different. So, there is not necessarily a confusion of epistemology and ontology at work here."Also, if someone believes their God is all-good and so cannot do any wrong – how can anyone be said to learn their morals from such a being? No knowledge of wrong could possible come from such a being since nothing would be wrong for God."It seems to me that Aaron is on to something here. One could say that if one learns morals from God, who is morally perfect, then whatever deviates from that norm is at least suspect, if not immoral. This leaves open the fact that one cannot infer the opposite of A from not-A, but at least one can see the opening for viable epistemic position."The classic philosophical thought experiment is the rail-trolley rushing towards 5 men working on the track."This is quite the sticky scenario and I have pulled this on many an unsuspecting undergraduate. One way to get some mileage out of this thought experiment is to examine how various ethical systems would react. Kantian deontology would react one way, while utilitarians would probably act a different way (or at least for different reasons). One is unlikely to figure out what the moral thing to do is in this situation. In fact, some have gone so far as to claim that this sort of scenario points to a flaw in all moral systems and that morality itself is a failed endeavor. Such folks would be in favor of (in most cases) a return to the ethical systems of Aristotle or Plato, with the thought being that they were not moralists. One might even appeal to Nietzsche here (at this risk of sounding insensitive to my audience - which is not the intention)."Court systems are based on objective morality.You will have to explain this to me further – I don’t see it."The classic way to explain this is to say that the legal system is supposed to be a reflection of a larger moral system. So, on this account, as we discover more moral truths they get implemented at the societal level by way of the legal system. The reason that laws change is that we have an imperfect view or account of the moral, so as we think we have a better view or account of it we change the laws to reflect that. This need not entail that we always get it right or even make progress -- it could still be true that there are objective moral truths even if we constantly miss the mark (epistemic vs. ontological problems). The legal, then, would be a subset of the moral. Of course, one need not go this route. For instance, one could be a non-cognitivist and deny the existence of moral truths yet still hold that the legal system is good and important for the running of a society.There is more to be said here, and I plan to respond to some posts about moral psychology in other areas of the blog. For now, I must go to bed.I hope this is of some use.-A humble seeker of truth.
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