Presuppositional Morality: Is It Moral To Ignore Me Peter, or Just An Objective Requirement?

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

Presuppositionalist Peter, of Atheism Presupposes Theism, posted the following reply to comment I made at his site over the last few days.  My attempts to comment on his blog have thus far failed for reasons that I am unsure of.  His post:

 

1st Reply to George

George: “Thanks for taking a position. It only took you four days and eight requests. Did you really have to think about it that much?”

I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.

George: “Killing is wrong. I agree with you.”

Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?

George: “If there are some exceptions to that rule does that not make it by nature subjective, in that it requires context?”

The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.

George: “Unless you only consider murder a moral question and not killing? Killing seems to me to be a moral question, I wonder if you agree?”

In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.

George: “… I wonder if we are even able to agree on the definition of morality out of the gates.”

Probably not as the Christian position is that morality is not a matter of subjective or personal opinion.

George: “You state, in your answer, that killing is not a moral question.”

I did not state that. It is a moral question. But as you said, we likely disagree on the definition of morality.

George: “So you can kill at will, so long as you are justified in doing so?”

There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified. I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation. For example, I hear both atheists and theists say they’re in favour of capital punishment. I hear both atheists and theists say they’re opposed to capital punishment. Also, people might disagree over what constitutes a just war as opposed to a unjust war.

George: “If you killed me today, because God told you to do it, you would not be morally culpable?”

Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament. I know that may sound weird to you, but there it is for you anyway. Yes, it would be wrong for me to kill you, unless you were trying to kill me.

George: “I’m struggling to follow your logic, because I suspect there is none to follow.”

Are the laws of logic universal and invariant? Or are they a matter of convention?

George: “So we are clear, Christianity only comports with child killing, as long as God told you to do it. Your words. So if God decided to tell you to kill your children, then you are morally right to do as he says. Glad you cleared that up for us.”

You are not clear.

George: “How, then, are we to know what God told you? Does He give you a receipt? If someone kills their children and tell you that God commanded it, are you morally bound to believe him? What is the procedure?”

God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

Also, the reason I asked the question about the difference between a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is because the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.

Posted by Peter @ 10:40 PM

My first attempt to post a reply went like this:

O.K., I’ll play along, but your 15 minutes is almost up. Every single commenter here has poked holes in your boat, and your already drowning and telling the coast guard you’re just fine.  This whole debate is turning into the “Black Knight” scene from “Quest for the Holy Grail”, and just like in the movie, eventually we give up arguing against your false reality and move on.

“I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.”
See, that seems clever, until your apologist friends read the conversation and notice that it’s not that you <b>didn’t</b> respond because you were busy.  You responded to other comments just fine.  You still haven’t responded to the request for a Bible verse condemning pedophilia that was asked 5 days ago now, yet you had the time to write 14 comments and 3 blog posts in the interim.

“Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?”
You really do not listen.  Guess. Use your logic.

“The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.”

I’m glad you can look things up.  The same source offers this definition:
1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views

Why would you conflate a definition that clearly tells you it relates to “decisions” or “experience” with one that relates to “views”: the very subject we are talking about?  Especially when it’s on the same page?  Reading comprehension, Peter, reading comprehension.

“This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.”

Wow, we actually found a clause we can agree on in totality!  You’re right that your definition is not the best one.  You are indeed providing it because you are trying to put words in my mouth.  The rest I cannot find fault with, for you proceed to concede that you can apply prejudices that are independent from the nature of the object being considered.  Read the definition again Peter.
Also, show me the asterisk in the Bible after the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

“In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.”
This may be important soon…..

…I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation.”…

See how I indicated when I paraphrase?  That lets people know that there is context.  It is called being intellectually honest. Anyway, You didn’t really give three, you gave four.  You included revelation.  By not including it here you make it seem like I was putting words in your mouth when you make your next point.  Just so we are clear, I did no such thing.

I won’t bother to address the next point, I will accept that that is your position on revelation. I obviously fundamentally disagree, based on the presupposition that there is in fact a “God” to communicate with.

“God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.”

This will become very important soon….

“the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.”

Show me one human behavior that cannot be found to have an unambiguous parallel in the animal kingdom. Other than a God postulate, which we can neither prove nor disprove has a parallel.  You haven’t even done that yet.  As I pointed out, your premise of the lion and the zebra is a false conflation.  Prove yourself.

I then commented thus, in order to try and make the debate more civil…..

 

My other attempts to comment on this post failed, I assume because Blogger had some issues.
My full response to this post is at my blog, as well as a shorter version in the thread at Jason’s blog.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the discussion, I feel that in the last few days I was able to more closely question the reasons for my beliefs.  Your questions, and the questions I asked myself when formulating my responses, took me to task to make sense of my intuitions about morality.  The end result is that I still fundamentally disagree with you and now know why.
Your position that morality is objective and can only be understood by positing a God is really no different than the atheists position on subjective morality.  If we take the time to understand each others definitions of “subjective” and “objective” we realize that both of us are putting words in the other persons mouth, not a very helpful tactic.
Both the atheist and theist will come to terms with morality within their own worldview, and if someone presupposes a Christian God to exist, then they would have to come to your conclusions about morality.  Likewise, if someone posits an absence of Gods, they must come to the conclusions I have.  Where presuppositionalism goes wrong is that it employs a number of false dichotomies to make a case a presupposition of God.  It exists as a way for Christians to tell atheists how atheists think, and by that metric alone it is disingenuous.
For example, when you say to Jason that if you have no moral obligation to accept anything he says, you are in fact saying the same thing as “I am exercising my free will (and if Jason’s comments are truthful, my sinful nature) in not accepting anything you say”.  I would ask you to explain the subtle differences between these two expressions of the same situation.  It is only a difference in expression that in one case you are sinning against God in disregarding an objective moral truth(for which you will face judgment) and in the other you are placing yourself in the situation of being wrong (and subject to judgment by a society that values the facts)
I think I know your answer, but I’ll let you present a case for it.

As I said before, your conflation of a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is a false one.  Either we discuss the differences between lion on lion vs human on human or lion on zebra vs human on cow/fish/zebra etc.
Lions do not appear to wantonly kill other lions, nor is cannibalism common.  Does that imply that lions were also made in God’s image?  Why are there so many moral parallels between the behavior of animals and humans?  The scientific worldview can account for that whereas the theistic worldview cannot.
Please read my comments to the rest of your points on my blog or Jason’s.

I hope he is not just avoiding me…..


 

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3 Responses to “Presuppositional Morality: Is It Moral To Ignore Me Peter, or Just An Objective Requirement?”

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I hope he is not just avoiding me…..

Peter would never do that, would he?

Revealed wisdom (as in theism) has never increased our knowledge about the Universe we live in. Real life just doesn’t work that way.

Oh, George… I love ya…

You had said: “Show me one human behavior that can’t be found to have an unambiguous parallel in the animal kingdom.”

I felt as though my very destiny had FINALLY ARRIVED when I read that challenge.

I just have to ask, in all honesty, is there actually a parallel in the animal kingdom where the society of animals has constructed wooden, stone, marble statues of their “past greats” and placed them all throughout their societies territory, so that no one ever forgets these “past greats?”

E.G. Bee’s who have been reported to have constructed marble statues of their “past great Queens?”

(by the way, I didn’t come up with this idea–G.K. Chesterton came up with it…just giving credit where credit is due.)

I think you could make a strong case that you are right.
I would argue that that behavior is an extension of the concept of “knowledge handed down”, information that is transmitted from generation to generation that is not an instinctual behavior. I have evidence that the sea otter does in fact have a variation on this behavior. I am not a biologist, and I cannot say it conclusively is handed down as opposed to instinctual, yet some rafts of sea otters use rock tools to open shellfish. They are, to my knowledge, the only animals outside of primates that have been observed to use tools. The odd thing is that some rafts (a group of sea otters) have this behavior while others do not. It appears as though this is a learned behavior. In fact, it could be a subject of some study as the re-introduction of sea otters to their former range, and the way in which they expand into new territory, allows biologists to see if the behavior is a learned one or not. It really is fascinating.
It is a parallel, but not a strictly “unambiguous” one, so I have to amend that statement slightly. For the moment, at least until I have more proof, I concede you the point. I wonder if you feel that changes the fact that Peter implies that because we rarely kill our own species, and that we place an unambiguous stigma on homicide, that is a proof that we are “made in God’s image”, when that behavior is common not just to lions but all social animals, including primates and dogs. He would have been better to use the example of fish or insects, although as I already mentioned, killing within the species is taboo mostly within animals that have a low birth rate and depend on social groups for survival.

Do you think his parallel with a lion killing a zebra is a fair one? Would it not be more intellectually honest to use an example of intra-species killing? What would you argue are his reasons for carefully choosing and insisting on this example, even after being asked to make an honest parallel?

Why have I been unable to comment on his blog when both you and Sinned have been able to do so? I know you well enough to know that you value honesty more than that.
Why has he dodged questions and danced around issues so often? Like providing a Biblical verse that clearly condemns pedophilia? Why do none of my comments that clearly put a hole in his logic regarding his “victory” over Jason, comments that did at one point filter through his comment system, still appear on his site?

I think it is because he is fundamentally dishonest. Can you show one question he has posed that I have refused to answer or avoided? I’ll answer them all, because my logic is sound. If this is the kind of person you give knighthoods to, then I have to question your dominion.

Kate, I hope you know how I feel about you. I respect you deeply. You are the most “Christ-like” Christian I have ever spoken to. I may goad you from time to time, but it is always in the spirit of respect I have for you. You misinterpreted my comments at Jason’s blog. I consider myself culpable for this because I didn’t make myself clear enough. I am guilty of poor communication. Einstein was odd. Hawking can sometimes speak in riddles. None of these thing were meant to insult. My intention was to try and avoid the kind of introduction you and I shared when I showed up unannounced at your front door. Is it not polite for one to introduce his guest to the host?

So to conclude, I concede that you might be right about “generational transmitted knowledge”. I amend, but not fully retract, what I said. The point remains that a specific behavior he uses as a proof of our special place in God’s graces is in fact a behavior common to many animals that are both social and have low birth rates.
I still respect you, and your opinions….. odd or common. Thanks for the correction.


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