The Moral Argument: Wrapping Up

The last few posts have been really neat: it’s been a pleasure to write them and I’ve been happy with all the discussions they spawned in the comments. I’m hoping next week to start a series on my favorite argument for God’s existence, the argument from reason. Or maybe I’ll take a break from arguing for a few days and post about something else. Either way, we’ve just had a good run of posts and I’d like to take a moment to wrap things up.

The moral argument, at its core, is not what I’d call a “compelling” argument. By that I mean it does not necessarily force anyone to believe in God. Some arguments are compelling: for example, the classic “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.” As long as you agree with the premises the conclusion can’t be denied. But you can agree with the premises of the moral argument without being forced to accept the God conclusion. There are several other conclusions you can come to: the first and most obvious is nihilism. If someone finds that they would rather believe that moral truth is an illusion than a facet of reality there isn’t too much I can say (as far as logical arguments go) to change their minds.  

certainly the moral argument does not necessitate the existence of the Christian God. One can agree that moral truths exist while being a deist, or a member of a different religion, or simply a Platonist. Still, I did lay out the reasons why I think the Christian God works particularly well when explaining moral truth.

And I’d like to think that even among my critics I’ve shown pretty well why simply saying “morality is a result of evolution” is not a good response as far as the moral argument is concerned.

So I’d like to end by simply asking that we all reflect on what we believe about morality, and what that means for our daily lives. Are we behaving in a way that is contrary to what we believe? Are we comfortable with where our beliefs lead us?  As it stands I believe that moral truth does exist. If you disagree with me, fine. But no more hanging around in the middle. Find out what you do believe, and why, and what you should do about it now that you know.

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About Mark Hamilton

I am, in no particular order, a nerd, an aspiring writer, a Christian, an aspiring filmmaker, an avid reader, a male, a YEC, a GM, and a twenty something. I like learning how things are made, finding out how to do things from scratch, and I you can find more of my writing at thepagenebula.wordpress.com

Posted on March 14, 2014, in Apologetics, Christianity. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Morality is the result of evolution. Period.
    And I am happy to see you wrote the Christian God.
    A subtle acknowledgement that there many, many more gods.

    • I’m fine with you believing that all morality is the result of evolution: just expect me to point out the contradiction if I see you calling someone else’s actions “wrong” or “evil.”

      • I never, ever use the word ‘evil’ in anything other than a humorous context where it might be relevant to a character in one of my books or stories.

        I have tried to explain the reason behind morality and how it is a built in survival function.
        Much cleverer people than I have demonstrated this fact.
        If you do not know what is morally wrong then you have no right preaching it.
        You view is that it is grounded in your god, an absolutely nonsensical answer that to date neither you or any other god-believer has ever been able to demonstrate.

        Likewise, I accept your right to believe this, as I do your right to believe anything. You are an adult ( I presume)
        I genuinely sympathies with the fact that you have succumbed to indoctrination over this belief.

        I do NOT, however, accept your contention that you and every other Abrahamic god believer must proselytize this belief as if it is fact and as if one’s life depended upon it, especially preaching such wanton falsehood to children who have no means of defense against the adults who would corrupt them.

      • I’m getting the feeling that you believe it’s wrong for Christians to try and share their faith with others. From my point of view there is nothing wrong with it: in fact it would be wrong not to try at all. Can you explain to me why your personal feelings of right and wrong should be binding on my behavior?

      • Share is the direct opposite of proselytizing with the explicit intent to convert. This is corruption..

        A theistic world view corrupts. You are the perfect example and you are so indoctrinated you are unable,or not prepared to see it or even consider it.

        (This comment has been trimmed in order to stay on topic.-Mark)

        Can you explain to me why your personal feelings of right and wrong should be binding on my behavior?

        Because you are a hypocrite of the worst kind.
        You claim to believe in free will yet how much free will do you expect children have in the face of an overbearing adult, one that they trust even, who intimates that the fires of Hell await for those who do not follow Jesus?
        Corruption

        How much free will do you think there is in such a scenario ,Mark?

        Hypocrite.
        Go read some of your precious book. Try Matthew 23 for a kick off..

      • When I share my faith I share it with the hope that the people I’m sharing it with will someday believe it as well, so I’m not sure if there is a difference in your mind.

        As for your comments on my quote, there are three different things to say. The first is that I don’t see anything hypocritical about believing that human beings have free will and living in a world where some children are told that hell exists. If free will exists then everyone has it, even those who are taught to believe in hell. Secondly I would ask you if you would have any problem with a child facing an overbearing adult that they trust who tells them that nothing exists after death except nothingness? A terrible fate to contemplate for a child to contemplate.

        But finally I would point out that your response doesn’t follow from what I said. I asked why your personal feelings of right or wrong should be binding on my actions. You replied that they should be binding because I’m a hypocrite. Whether I’m a hypocrite or not, that still doesn’t explain why your personal views of right or wrong (which you believe are simply a result of genetics and culture, much like your taste in cheeses) should be binding on my actions.

        Finally I’d simply like to point out that it seems you’ve decided to simply use the word “corruption” instead of “evil.” When you use the world “corrupt” what do you mean exactly, and why should anyone oppose it?

      • Because I believe it is morally reprehensible that you should impose a doctrine of superposition upon any child.
        As you would consider is morally reprehensible to teach Satanism.
        Telling them there is nothing after death is more truthful that suggesting a heaven or hell, for which you have no evidence of whatsoever. That you believe this is fine, that you proselytize his as fact is immoral and quite frankly false.
        As you have basis to make such an unsubstantiated claim and we are not living in the dark ages of ignorance and understand a lot more about the bible, it effectively makes you a liar.

        No. I use the word corruption to denote the fallacious interpretation of the word share.
        And to demonstrate how theism is a corruption of truth. Notably the claim in a personal revealed god for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever..

      • So you believe it is morally reprehensible to teach a child about hell (I assume that’s what you mean, as “superposition” is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics). Well that’s fine: but why should your personal moral beliefs be binding on my behavior? You might as well say that because you find cheddar cheese to taste disgusting then nobody else should eat it.

        You compare it to my belief that it is morally reprehensible to teach Satanism. However I believe that right and wrong can be judged in comparison to an objective standard of Good, and that Satanism is a deviation from that standard and thus is a belief that should not be held. You believe that morality is nothing more than an illusion produced by evolutionary forces that exists to help the species survive: so why should it matter to you if evolution has provided me a different illusion than yours?

        You say that “telling them there is nothing after death is more truthful (than) suggesting a heaven or hell.” But why? What evidence do you have that there is nothing after death? As far as empirical evidence goes I’d say that you have just as much as I have for the existence of an afterlife. The idea that there is nothing after death is a metaphysical position; one that you’ve done nothing to show is preferable to the position that there is an afterlife of some kind.

        And then you call me a liar. Someone lies when they know that something is not true but try to convince people that it is true anyway. I only write what I believe to be true (unless it’s a work of fiction). By what basis can you call me a liar?

      • So you believe it is morally reprehensible to teach a child about hell (I assume that’s what you mean, as “superposition” is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics). Well that’s fine: but why should your personal moral beliefs be binding on my behavior? You might as well say that because you find cheddar cheese to taste disgusting then nobody else should eat it.

        While I am sure your twee example of quantum mechanics could be made to fit my example I am also pretty sure you realised the spelling mistake. And am also sure you have a reasonable level of intelligence to figure out the word I would have preferred to use, yes?

        You compare it to my belief that it is morally reprehensible to teach Satanism. However I believe that right and wrong can be judged in comparison to an objective standard of Good, and that Satanism is a deviation from that standard and thus is a belief that should not be held. You believe that morality is nothing more than an illusion produced by evolutionary forces that exists to help the species survive: so why should it matter to you if evolution has provided me a different illusion than yours?

        You believe this objective standard of good is from your god. I don’t. It’s as simple as that and studies have demonstrated that morality is part of our evolutionary development, and I am sure you are aware of this, whereas there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that morality is a divinely bestowed attribute.

        You say that “telling them there is nothing after death is more truthful (than) suggesting a heaven or hell.” But why? What evidence do you have that there is nothing after death? As far as empirical evidence goes I’d say that you have just as much as I have for the existence of an afterlife. The idea that there is nothing after death is a metaphysical position; one that you’ve done nothing to show is preferable to the position that there is an afterlife of some kind.

        Why? Because the true nature of the word hell, which must include the correct etymology of the biblical terms – note the plural – is not taught by Christians. This is point one. So unless you acknowledge this you are either ignorant or a liar. That you would teach this doctrine to children is clearly indicative of a callous and cruel individual.
        Furthermore I emphatically disagree. There is ample empirical evidence what happens after death. And this can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
        This is a truthful position and can be conveyed with absolute honesty to anyone rather than the barbaric religious alternative which is based on reward and punishment, that only a immoral entity would impose, or insist his minions force upon others. Only a misguided or delusional person would preach such a dogma.

        And then you call me a liar. Someone lies when they know that something is not true but try to convince people that it is true anyway. I only write what I believe to be true (unless it’s a work of fiction). By what basis can you call me a liar?

        There is ample evidence to demonstrate that much of your core beliefs are false.I d not believe you are an idiot. So you are either indoctrinated to the point where you are unable to recognise certain scientific truths, thus you should not be permitted to preach any sort of faith based dogma as fact,such as YEC, and especially to children.
        The other alternative is you are acting in willful ignorance.

      • Man, there is a lot to talk about in this post, but I’m going to set most of it aside to focus on one particular point: “There is ample empirical evidence what happens after death. And this can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

        Hold the phone! Call all the journals of philosophy! Alert the Vatican! Ark has empirical evidence of what happens to a person after death. Not only does he have empirical evidence, but this evidence is so compelling that it proves what happens beyond a shadow of a doubt. This I want to hear. Please, provide us this evidence so that we can set the matter straight. People have been debating and wondering about this for thousands of years, so I’m sure they’d like to know. This is something I need to see.

        Also notable: “There is ample evidence to demonstrate that much of your core beliefs are false.” This is another bold claim, so I’d like to see this backed up as well: what evidence do you have that there is no objective moral truth, that there is no God, and that Christianity is false? (And remember, we’ve been through this about evolution: if moral truth existed we’d expect evolution to select for it so any studies showing a link between natural selection and morality don’t tell us whether moral truth exists one way or the other).

      • Man, there is a lot to talk about in this post, but I’m going to set most of it aside to focus on one particular point: “There is ample empirical evidence what happens after death. And this can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

        Hold the phone! Call all the journals of philosophy! Alert the Vatican! Ark has empirical evidence of what happens to a person after death. Not only does he have empirical evidence, but this evidence is so compelling that it proves what happens beyond a shadow of a doubt. This I want to hear. Please, provide us this evidence so that we can set the matter straight. People have been debating and wondering about this for thousands of years, so I’m sure they’d like to know. This is something I need to see.

        Any first year pathology student will tell you exactly what happens to a dead body. What are you, an imbecile?

        Also notable: “There is ample evidence to demonstrate that much of your core beliefs are false.” This is another bold claim, so I’d like to see this backed up as well: what evidence do you have that there is no objective moral truth, that there is no God, and that Christianity is false? (And remember, we’ve been through this about evolution: if moral truth existed we’d expect evolution to select for it so any studies showing a link between natural selection and morality don’t tell us whether moral truth exists one way or the other).

        Two examples:
        A core belief of Christianity is that Jesus was born of a virgin as per Old Testament prophecy.
        This is blatantly false as the supposed prophecy neither referred to a Messiah and certainly not to Jesus. This was an erroneous translation/interpretation and has been acknowledged as such by the Catholic Church.

        Another core belief is that Jesus rose from the dead.
        There is evidence to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt to show that a dead person cannot possibly reanimate and I defy you to offer evidence to the contrary.

      • “Any first year pathology student will tell you exactly what happens to a dead body. What are you, an imbecile?”

        This is your evidence? Consider myself underwhelmed. What, do you think it took 2,000 for people to figure out that dead bodies decompose? Please, explain to me how knowledge about what happens to the body after death has anything to do with whether or not there is an afterlife.

        “Two examples:
        A core belief of Christianity is that Jesus was born of a virgin as per Old Testament prophecy.
        This is blatantly false as the supposed prophecy neither referred to a Messiah and certainly not to Jesus. This was an erroneous translation/interpretation and has been acknowledged as such by the Catholic Church.

        Another core belief is that Jesus rose from the dead.
        There is evidence to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt to show that a dead person cannot possibly reanimate and I defy you to offer evidence to the contrary.”

        Firstly, I’m aware about the controvery involving that particular prophecy. But to be honest I don’t see how that prophecy is particularly important to Christianity. The idea the Jesus was born of a virgin is important, but that particular prophecy predicting it isn’t too imporatant to overall Christian doctrine at all.

        I would completely agree that dead people cannot reanimate by themselves. That’s why if Jesus ressurected it had to have been an act of God. That’s why his disciples were so convinced of his divinity that they were willing to die horrible deaths before denying him. It’s not like Jesus showed up and they said “Huh, I guess dead bodies can come to life all by themselves.” If the thing happened at all it was proof of his divinity: that’s the whole point.

      • Matthews ‘tale’ of the virgin birth is based on this supposed ‘prophecy’ .
        This it is based on a lie.

        Please, explain to me how knowledge about what happens to the body after death has anything to do with whether or not there is an afterlife.

        I said nothing about an afterlife, you did. You preach a doctrine based on no evidence whatsoever, solely on the erroneous interpretation of the bible which has also been flatly denied by the Catholic Church.
        This does, in fact, make you an idiot or willfully ignorant.

        That’s why if Jesus resurrected it had to have been an act of God.

        You claim Jesus is your god. How could he resurrect himself if he was dead?

        Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever this happened.
        In other words, you have no point and no case.

      • “I said nothing about an afterlife, you did.”
        Hold on pal, you don’t get away that easily. I said:
        “What evidence do you have that there is nothing after death? As far as empirical evidence goes I’d say that you have just as much as I have for the existence of an afterlife.”
        In your reply you stated
        “I emphatically disagree. There is ample empirical evidence what happens after death. And this can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

        It certainly appears that you are claiming you have empirical evidence that proves that there is no afterlife. But perhaps I misunderstood you: are you now admitting that there is no empirical evidence that death is followed by nothingness? Or do you “preach that doctrine based on no evidence whatsoever”?

        “You claim Jesus is your god. How could he resurrect himself if he was dead?
        Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever this happened.”

        The first question shows an ignorance of theology, which I’m not particularly surprised out. God created both space and time (since, as Einstein showed, space and time is essentially the same thing) and exists outside of either. When he became a man he still existed outside of time: in a way he was incarnate before the creation of anything. This also runs into the theology of the trinity, but suffice it to say the idea that God was not God while he was Jesus isn’t one that Christians actually believe in.

        As for your final statement I have to emphatically disagree myself. There is a great deal of historical evidence that such a resurrection occurred, including Christianity’s massive growth during a period and among a people that were hostile to “heresies” like the divinity of Jesus, the fact that the disciples who claimed to see him all died for that belief and gained no real benefit from it if it was a lie, the fact that Jesus’ own brother (as confirmed by Josephus who was not a Christian) came to believe that his brother was divine (what kind of evidence would it take for you to believe that your older brother was God incarnate? A resurrection might do it) as well as the fact that the early Jewish argument against Christianity was that Jesus’ body was stolen, which means that his tomb was in fact empty and nobody in authority could produce his body. Now you can dismiss this evidence as insufficient, but it is certainly evidence and lies in the face of your claim that there is “no evidence whatsoever.”

      • Oh dear. That you bring Josephus demonstrates your ignorance of the true nature of what was written,and , no,I am not gong to bother giving you a history lesson, you can look up the latest research if you are so inclined.

        As for ”James” being the brother of Jesus? . Really?
        The Catholic Church, who were the ones responsible for compiling the New Testament and its initial redaction do not consider Jesus had any siblings. They consider the words used could quite easily mean.”cousins”.
        As they were the initial group of liars I would rather side with them, if it’s all the same with you?

        I think, in all honesty, we are done here.

        If you are lucky, maybe Violet wisp will continue to visit.
        If she doesn’t, you’ll just have to write for yourself. Best of luck.

        I hope you eventually see the truth and can rise above the indoctrination you have suffered.

      • “The Catholic Church, who were the ones responsible for compiling the New Testament and its initial redaction do not consider Jesus had any siblings.”

        Yes, but the Catholic Church denies that Jesus had siblings and believes that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. I don’t hold to that doctrine and can thus take the historical accounts in the gospels at face value. The earliest accounts we have say that Jesus had a brother named James, that James initially did not believe that Jesus was divine, and that he did believe it at some point after Jesus was crucified and he was killed because of this belief. Now I ask, what would it take for you to change your mind and decide that your own brother had risen from the dead?

        And you if you an actual point about Josephus you should offer evidence instead of mockery.

        Since it seems that you’d like the conversation to end here, I’ll just wrap up. We’ve gotten a bit off track from the initial point of this discussion. You have failed to provide any real reason why your own personal moral values should be binding on anyone else (considering you believe morality stems from evolution alone: if you believed in objective moral truth that would be a different story). All the same you have persisted to judge people as “corrupt,” “hypocrites,” and “liars,” without providing any evidence that those labels are accurate, and still without evidence that your judgments on them should matter to anyone else.

        If you believe that some things are right and wrong for everyone then fine. If you believe that morality is something personal that is solely the result of evolution then fine. All I ask is that you try to behave in a way that matches your beliefs.

  2. Before slinging reprehensible moral mud it’s important to understand just what it is you’re tossing. ” Moral ” by definition is the distinction between good and bad, right or wrong – the concept existed long before Christianity claimed ownership of morality’s ground.

    Allow me to pose some moral questions. Is it morally reprehensible to annihilate entire civilizations – slaughter innocents, demolish their cities, eradicate any trace of their language and culture? How about systematic torture or imprisonment? Where do you stand on abusing power for monetary gain and passing judgement or changing the rules to suit your purposes? How do you feel about sexual deviance and abuse?

    More evil has plagued history in the name of God than for any other reason. Scaring your kids with the threat of hell is no different from Christian bullies exerting their will on the masses. It boils down to fear and control.I’d call that morally reprehensible.

    • Just so I understand where you’re coming from: does this mean that you believe there is an objective standard of right and wrong, and that Christianity can be judged as “wrong” by that standard?

      • I’m saying morality, define it as “right and wrong” if you like, has existed since opposable thumbs and language said sorry hominids, homo sapiens win.

        What I was trying to establish – based on a few simple questions, queries based on the history of Christianity – was where your moral base line is drawn.

        It’s obvious you feel strongly about your convictions – before entering into a discussion I thought it prudent to attempt understanding of your position. Naturally it crossed my mind to ask your “view” on genocide, torture, extortion, and sexual abuse.

        If none of these “moral wrongs” bother you because they were carried out in the name of “god”, so be it. At least I’ll understand where you draw the line.

        On the off chance my point still eludes you – right or wrong is an intrinsic piece of human nature. I won’t hold my breath but it would a breath of fresh air – one that might even garner a smidgeon of respect – if people like you could learn to put their money where their mouth is and answer some questions.

        Explain the morality of atrocities in the name of God.

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