A brief attack on the moral argument

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CyberLN's picture
How do you know this? From

How do you know this? From where did you get this information?

jonthecatholic's picture
You first start with the

You first start with the question does God exist. See Aquinas 5 ways. From there, if you find them convincing, you can come up with basic truths about God - all powerful, eternal, immaterial, source of goodness, etc.

Then you get to can God contradict himself? If he does, then God would be illogical. If God is illogical, he couldn’t be God. So you’ll have to accept that if God exists, then he can’t contradict himself.

algebe's picture
JoC: "if you find them

JoC: "if you find them convincing"

Nope. You can't logic an omnipotent creator god into existence. In any case, I thought you theists relied on faith and revelation, not logic. Yet you always roll out Aquinas and Anselm, etc., when the faith starts to falter.

God is the very symbol of illogicality.

CyberLN's picture
JoC, you wrote, “ you can

JoC, you wrote, “ you can come up with basic truths about God - all powerful, eternal, immaterial, source of goodness, etc.”

You come up with them? Oh my....

Tin-Man's picture


Oh, seems to me that your bible already takes "unintelligible" to a whole new level.

jonthecatholic's picture
Sure. Especially if you don’t

Sure. Especially if you don’t know how to read it. That’s understandable.

Tin-Man's picture
@JoC Re: "Sure. Especially

@JoC Re: "Sure. Especially if you don’t know how to read it."

Yeah, too bad an all-knowing perfect God didn't write the bible to be understood by the lowest-common-denominator-of-intelligence folks such as myself. Good thing we have super-nimble minds like yours to help us muddle through all those sticky parts. dirk-dee-dirk-duhhh... "drooool*

Sky Pilot's picture


Do you agree with this interpretation of Genesis by a preacher in the December 17, 1883, edition of the New York Times?

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
So we are back to :

So we are back to :
Unless you accept the Pope as supreme temporal and spiritual ruler you cannot "read" the bible
Only I (JoC) and Il Papa can read the bible "properly"
God is perfect even when it is not
God is consistent through evident inconsistencies
God is love through hundreds of recorded, preventable, unnecessary cruelties, massacres and infanticides in its name
Women have great authority in the Church even though not one of them is represented on any senior decison making process.

Have you tried Circe de Soleil? They are looking for well trained acrobats I hear.

(With thanks to Tin Man)

Tin-Man's picture
@Old Man Re: (With thanks

@Old Man Re: (With thanks to Tin-man)

Awww... Brought a tear to my eyes. *sniff-sniff*.... *dabbing eyes with a hankie*

Sushisnake's picture
@JoC “You grow up in a

@JoC “You grow up in a society that sees women as lower than men, then rape wouldn’t necessarily be seen as wrong. Does it mean that it’s morally justified?”

No, no, no, no, NO! You don’t get to claim ancient societies raped, murdered, pillaged and enslaved because things were different then! You're claiming OBJECTIVE morality- eternal, never changing, god given. if it’s morally wrong NOW, it was morally wrong THEN!

And yet, the Christian Bible is chock a block with verses where god COMMANDS the faithful to rape, murder, pillage and enslave. So’s the Jewish Tanakh. So’s the Quran. So that leaves us with two options.

1. God wants us to rape, murder, pillage and enslave. He’s really upset we stopped, so upset we’re all going to Hell for thwarting His will. Who the Hell do we think we are? Morality’s OBJECTIVE! We don’t get to decide not to do stuff anymore! When you’re as old as God is, not much wets the whistle anymore and rape, murder, pillage and enslaving did it for him. Really floated His boat. Can I get an amen? He’d set us off, kick back and listen to this song:


( He had the first press of the single eons before there WAS a single. Omnipotence/omniscience rules, ok? Lucifer left home because God played it over and over and over and over... )

2. Morality is subjective. It comes from human beings and not only human beings- many animals behave morally, too - and animals don’t read bibles. Morality is an emergent property of a animal species which evolved the practise of social reciprocity to keep itself alive.


jonthecatholic's picture
I never said it was ever okay

I never said it was ever okay to rape because of a different time. I agree with you on that. It would be wrong then, now and in the future.

Sheldon's picture
"I do say the God is the

"I do say the God is the source of morality."

That's a subjective opinion, and what is more if you can't make an objective moral assessment yourself, then how do you know your deity is moral? He doesn't condemn rape in the bible, he actively encourages it when he tells his "chosen" people to keep young women and virgin girls, captured during an act of ethnic cleansing he also encouraged, for themselves.

"If you grow up in a society that sees women as lower than men, then rape wouldn’t necessarily be seen as wrong. Does it mean that it’s morally justified?"

No, it means human morals are necessarily subjective, and that is why they change, religions are no exception to this. Plenty of christian landowners in the southern states once had no problem fallowing the bibles advice and keeping slaves. This didn't change through any religious doctrine, quite the opposite as the bible was often cited as an excuse to keep slaves. It changed because experience showed us how pernicious it was.

"It objective morality doesn’t exist then no one person can ever say that rape is wrong in any circumstance."

Nonsense. I can and do say it, and it is a subjective opinion, but as I said I can offer objective reasons as to WHY I think it is wrong, and this then is human morality, the reasoning process and our evolved empathetic natures help us to examine our behaviours to see what should be morally acceptable, and what not. Moral turpitude is never going to be an absolute to everyone everywhere, and the existence of prisons prove this, prisons incidentally filled with disproportionately more theists than atheists in the US. Go figure.....

CyberLN's picture
“ I think we learn that rape

“ I think we learn that rape is wrong by living in families with mothers, sisters, daughters.”

That’s not how I learned it.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Objective morality is easy

First let me give some examples of things that are objective:

  1. Using this measuring tape, the length of that board is 25 inches.
  2. That egg has been boiling for 5 minutes of proper time according to this clock.
  3. Anyone with the letter "N" in their forum user name is bad. "Nyarlathotep" has an "N" so he is bad.

These are objective because anyone applying these standards will get the same results. You may not agree that the measuring tape is accurate, or that inches is a good unit to work in, or that the letter "N" makes people evil; but everyone will agree that applying those standards, yields those results.

Many theist like to claim their religious myths provide objective standards, but they do not have the character of the examples I gave above. A few examples from Christianity might be:

  • Is killing wrong?
  • Is sex with children wrong?
  • Is owning a human being wrong?

You'll notice that their mythology does not give a precise result to these (or just about any other) questions. This allows different individuals to come to different conclusions in the same situation, using the same standards. So it most definitely is NOT objective. This is how religion gets involved in some pretty nasty shit (as Algebe mentioned); since you can use the standards to get any result you want.

So the next time one of them complains that atheists don't have a foundation for objective morality, remember that they don't have one either, even if you accept their mythology at face value.

MCDennis's picture
"If god does not exist then

"If god does not exist then moral objective values do not exist."

My response is this: "This is nothing more and nothing less than a bald assertion. What proof can you provide me that a god does exist, and that the god is somehow involved in creating objective moral values?"

David Killens's picture
When faced with such stubborn

When faced with such stubborn illogical beliefs, I try to put the claimant's claim to the test.

For example, I will ask to buy their daughter. Because in the bible it is allowed and thus not or negative moral consequence. So I have backed them into a corner, and they must invent some excuse why I can not buy their daughter.

The same arguments I use in science against prayer. If you were in a restaurant with me and you suddenly started to choke on something, and could not breathe, what do you want me to do, one of two things. I can pray or I can apply the Heimlich maneuver.

Is there anything in the bible that says it is immoral for me to punch you in the face?

Aposteriori unum's picture
That's a great way to

That's a great way to demonstrate that they don't believe as much as they say they do. Exposing cognitive dissonance. I've done similar things. They never seem to choose prayer. Call 911and call god, see which one gets there first.

Sheldon's picture
We could also ask why if god

We could also ask why if god exists, the moral commandments, and acts assigned to him in the bible are not objectively moral? Does JoC take his children to the edge of town and stone them when they disrespect him? Does he think it is moral to kill a witch? Does he genuinely think it is an abomination for two consenting adults who love each other to have sex just because they happen to be gay? Are there any circumstances under which JoC thinks it is moral to buy or own another human being? Does he think slaves should obey their masters as the bible claims Jesus said, or that no one should ever be a master or a slave?

Religious morals are not objective, it's as simple as that. Objective moral imperatives would be possible only after we agree what best purpose our morals serve. blind adherence to archaic doctrine and dogma, or to reduce suffering and promote emotional and physical well being. If it's the former then no objective morality is possible as you have to make a subjective choice about which deity exists, and then what it wants by, as he keeps insisting, interpreting the bible. If it is the latter then it is axiomatic that raping or murdering someone produces unimaginable suffering, and emotional trauma that may last a lifetime, and worse still may turn victims into abusers. Is it really then subjective to say that these acts are morally wrong? I'd argue not, but then I don't think it's ok to own slaves or victimise and demonise gay people either, so what do I know.

Aposteriori unum's picture
JoC said:

JoC said:
"If it is, then there doesn’t exist objective morality in your view. It objective morality doesn’t exist then no one person can ever say that rape is wrong in any circumstance."

*** wrong. If it's not objective then as many or as few people can say something is right or wrong. When you say objective morality... You just mean morality. Do you think think that because it's subjective that there is NO right or wrong? It's a subtle strawman, but that is not the position that most atheists take. We don't say: therefore anything goes. Say our understandings can change and there are billions of different perspectives. God would just be one more perspective anyway.

Saying that objective moral values exist is like saying that there is only one possible ruler to measure distance. Only one metric we use to determine right and wrong. But there isn't. Saying that it is subjective means that there are different ways of determining right and wrong. The fact that the argument itself exists is proof that there are different metrics that people use. Some use what they call god and some don't. Whether we all draw the same conclusion, we all draw different conclusions or that it lies somewhere in the middle is inconsequential to the fact that we all use different rulers. Unless we all use the same ruler to measure what is right or wrong it cannot be objective.

It just so happens that most of is agree on a lot of things. But there are things we disagree about. What you argue for is that we all use god as our way of determining.

When you say consensus doesn't mean objective you're right. It's coincidence.

*even if we all conceded that objective moral values did exist it wouldn't change the fact that the first premise of the argument assumes the properties of the entity it tries to prove exists in the conclusion which is a logical fallacy known as begging the question. And therefore the argument is invalid and fails to prove god. I only focused on the second premise because it makes for a discussion that doesn't just end there. And I think I have thoroughly demonstrated that my position on the subject is the correct one.

jonthecatholic's picture
"Saying that objective moral

"Saying that objective moral values exist is like saying that there is only one possible ruler to measure distance. Only one metric we use to determine right and wrong. But there isn't."

Exactly my point when I said you can't say rape is wrong in any circumstance. What you and most people measure to be wrong with our "moral ruler" (to use your analogy) might not be wrong to the rapist's "moral ruler". In fact, he could be in a culture where their "moral ruler" puts the blame on the woman. But if we tell them that they're moral ruler is wrong, aren't we imposing our own moralities on other people?

What I'm saying is, there should only be one "moral ruler" to "measure" morality. And it is with this one "moral ruler" that we can say that rape is wrong and the rapist should be punished. This is what I mean when I say Objective Morality. You kinda twist the meaning of objective to mean subjective.

Note: for those who weren't able to follow, when I say "ruler" in this comment, I mean the measuring device, not a king of some sort.

Aposteriori unum's picture
You say there should be...

You say there should be... That doesn't mean there is.

Aposteriori unum's picture

based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

This is what morality IS.
You just admitted that.

Aposteriori unum's picture
You are so close to being

You are so close to being right... So close. All you have to do is say that morality is subjective and not objective and then we can move on. You've almost got every concept... You are just using the wrong word.

Sheldon's picture
"What I'm saying is, there

"What I'm saying is, there should only be one "moral ruler" to "measure" morality. "

And you conveniently know what he wants, but can show no objective evidence he exists, or that what you are claiming he wants is anything more than your own subjective interpretation of biblical texts, from which you cherry pick the bits you like.

Listen to Aposteriori Unum, he's bang on the money.

Aposteriori unum's picture
JOC: you already know. Why

JOC: you already know. Why prolong this? Just admit where you are wrong and move on. Morality is subjective. Check. It doesn't prove or disprove a god. Right all I'm saying is the argument sucks. And you were dancing around the truth a while back. I think you know. Everything else aside... Does god exist, is abortion wrong, can we east clams... Doesn't matter. Is morality objective or subjective? I think I've demonstrated the latter. And that the argument in question does not work to prove the existence of god. Can we agree on this?

Sheldon's picture
So we're 4 pages in, and not

So we're 4 pages in, and not only have no objective theistic morals been demonstrated, but the claim itself (subjective claim of course) is being championed by an ever burgeoning string of subjective and entirely unevidenced claims that seek to define a deity into existence.

Remove the delusional belief in a diety, the superstitious flimflam, and all unevidenced supernatural guff about "sin", and murder and rape are still pernicious crimes that no sane person could fail to see as deeply barbaric and causing immense suffering.


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