Atheist Richard Dawkins has declared, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”But Dawkins doesn’t act like he actually believes that. He recently affirmed a woman has the right to choose an abortion and asserted that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. According to Dawkins, the “right to choose” is a good thing and giving birth to Down syndrome children is a bad thing.Well, which is it? Is there really good and evil, or are we just moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA?
The will of the people after it has been enacted into law. The "right" doesn't need to be grounded in any objective standard in order to function helpfully in society the way it does. Curfews are not dictated by any god or natural law, but sometimes the arbitrary imposition of them keeps a damper on things that our authorities believe are counterproductive the survival of the group.Atheists like Dawkins are often ardent supporters of rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, taxpayer-provided healthcare, welfare, contraceptives, and several other entitlements. But who says those are rights?
None, the standard is the subjective moral opinion that happens to be shared by enough people in the group to become law for the group. Complaining that morality arises from subjective opinion is about as useful to the debate as complaining that freeways aren't made out of gold.By what objective standard are abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, taxpayer-provided healthcare, and the like, moral rights?
There isn’t such a standard in the materialistic universe of atheism. So atheists must steal the grounds for objective moral rights from God while arguing that God doesn’t exist.
Then you aren't being biblical. The bible makes atheists immoral by saying pleasing god is impossible unless you believe in him:Now, I am not saying that you have to believe in God to be a good person or that atheists are immoral people.
If atheists cannot please god, then under Christian theology, they have no other category to be placed in except "displeasing to God", i.e., immoral. Turek continues:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Heb. 11:6 NAU)
Then in light of Hebrews 11, supra, you are classifying as "moral", that conduct which the bible says is immoral. Since nothing atheists do pleases God, it follows logically that everything they do is displeasing to god, and any human acts that are displeasing to god, Christians are required to define as "immoral". I've heard plenty of conservative pastors preach that when the unbeliever feeds her children, this is displeasing to God, because the act wasn't done in faith, and under Romans 14:23, whatever is done without faith, is sin, hence, the unbeliever's feeding of her kids is sinful and thus displeasing to god.Some atheists live more moral lives than many Christians.
That's the stupid shit mess you land in when you try to take biblical theology seriously. Become a liberal, and these problems disappear like magic.
Because what we call basic right and wrong ends up being those actions that facilitate life, increase the odds of survival, or protect life from danger. Murder, rape and stealing threaten the survival of the group, thus naturalistically explaining why mammals hate these things. No transcendent moral law giver necessary. You can say the atheist cannot explain the origin of life itself, but abiogenesis is a different topic.I am also not saying that atheists don’t know morality. Everyone knows basic right and wrong whether they believe in God or not.
Also, our knowing basic right and wrong is a problem for Christians. God's morality in the bible goes beyond basic right and wrong. God doesn't just forbid murder and rape. He also requires rape victims to marry their attacker for life without possibility of divorce:
It doesn't matter if there are allowable exceptions to this, the moral of requiring the victim to marry her rapist is still there, and since it was given by God, it presents a problem for the apologist: Did god put this law into our hearts too? If not, how do you know?28 "If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered,
29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. (Deut. 22:28-29 NAU)
What is the reason we cringe at the thought of forcing a victim to marry her rapist? Is it because God put a law in our hearts that says "it is always wrong to force victims to marry their rapists" (thus God is contradicting the crap he said in the OT)? Or because modern liberal culture has significantly eroded god's morality from our hearts (i.e., your god actually thinks forcing the victim to marry her attacker is morally good)?
By the way, our knowing basic moral right and wrong also means we also "know" that rape is immoral. That creates a problem for Turek and his theory that basic right and wrong come from the bible god, because the bible god sometimes admits that He causes men to rape women:
In the context, God is the speaker (i.e, speaking through Isaiah). Unless Turek wishes to stupidly trifle that it was only Isaiah the human being who was threatening to "stir up" the Medes (which then means one biblical author wasn't inspired in what he wrote) then it is clear that the intent of the author was for the reader to conclude the threat is being spoken by God. In that case, the phrase where god claims to "stir up" the Medes sit in an immediate context describing how the Medes will commit various but typical ANE wartime atrocities against the Babylonians, including rape.13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.
14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land.
15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.
17 Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold.
18 And their bows will mow down the young men, They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, Nor will their eye pity children.
(Isa. 13:13-18 NAU)
If the immediate context had been "the Medes will give you gifts", Christians would have no trouble admitting what the passage plainly says: that God is the one who stirred up the Medes to give such gifts. But because the context describes rape and killing of children, then suddenly, Christians start hemming and hawing about whether "stir up" necessarily always means 'cause'.
Occam's Razor forbids multiplying entities unnecessarily, which translates out into a general rule of thumb that says if the more simple explanation can also account for all the data, you should assume the more complex explanation is likely false unless and until it has been shown to be true.In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches (see Romans 2:14-15).
I suspect most people don't appreciate that the explanation for morality that says "god put his laws into our hearts" is always going to be more complex than the "being alive necessarily implies we find morally good all actions that facilitate survival without hurting the group, and we find immoral all those actions that tend to decrease the group's ability to survive" explanation. The more Christians credit the universe to god, the more infinitely complex the Creator must be, and for that reason the more that theory is sliced away by Occam's Razor...unless somebody can show that the god-explanation is actually true.
Hogwash. There is no reason whatsoever to say a person's morality goes any deeper than their genetic predispositions and their environmental conditioning.What I am saying is that atheists can’t justify morality.
Such atheists are confused, since sometimes to love another is to bring about circumstances that make life or survival more difficult, such as the faithful wife who loves her abusive husband and for that reason allows herself to be abused by him more often than she would if she hated him.Atheists routinely confuse knowing what’s right with justifying what’s right.They say it’s right to love. I agree, but why is it right to love.
And don't forget that whether it is morally "right" to love, is completely subjective. The most objectivity we have is to say that a mom must love her child to facilitate that child's healthy thriving, a goal all intelligent mammals naturally aspire to for those in their group. If the mother doesn't naturally love her child, there will be no convincing her by argument that she "should". Her lack of love testifies that she is lacking the brain chemistry that gives rise to mammalian altruism.
Why are we obligated to do so? The issue isn’t how we know what’s Right, but why an authoritative standard of Rightness exists in the first place.
That doesn't make sense, as Turek does not believe "parents, teachers, society, your conscience" are a source of objective morality, since many parents raise their kids so they grow up to be criminals, teachers can corrupt youth by sexual molestation, society prioritizes ceaseless material gain and fame, and if you are a pedophile, then your conscience would be something Turek says doesn't help you recognize objective morality.You may come to know about objective morality in many different ways: from parents, teachers, society, your conscience, etc.
Also Turek always trades on the fact that his audience are largely born and raised in the USA and thus adopt the same basic moral code. So his "conscience" argument seems to make sense. But his blind appeal to conscience would do nothing if his audience were a bunch of remorseless gangsters or child molesters whose conscience tells them to just take whatever they want from whoever they want. Turek and his typical audience will insist such social misfits don't count in the moral analysis, but it's not very objective to arbitrarily cast aside some of the evidence. Yes, most of us think rape and stealing are wrong. But not all of us. The more objective procedure would be to factor in the moral view of sociopaths and others who act contrary to social norms. For it could very well be that we'll find there's only a social norm to speak of solely because of historical circumstance, and that if conditions in history were different, the mass of humanity would continue as they did in the ancient past, and believe that as long as raiding the other clan down the street doesn't prevent too much of a risk to one's own clan, prepare for war.
And you can know it while denying God exists. But that’s like saying you can know what a book says while denying there’s an author. Of course you can do that, but there would be no book to know unless there was an author! In other words, atheists can know objective morality while denying God exists, but there would be no objective morality unless God exists.
Correct.If material nature is all that exists, which is what most atheist’s claim, then there is no such thing as an immaterial moral law.
Correct, but I object to the emotive "smuggle" word: we are not "smuggling" any moral standard into our system that atheism cannot account for. Rather, we've shown, many times, that the basis for human morality does not go any deeper than genetic predisposition and environmental conditioning.Therefore, atheists must smuggle a moral standard into their materialistic system to get it to work, whether it’s “human flourishing,” the Golden Rule, doing what’s “best” for the most, etc.
By the way, Turek, why do you so blindly assume that objective morality is reflected in what "most people" allow or forbid? Why are you always premising the immorality of rape upon the fact that "most people" think it is immoral?
Is there a bible verse that says whatever the human moral consensus happens to be, is surely the will of God?
How difficult would it be for a smart bible critic like myself to argue, from the assumption that the bible is the word of God, that the criminals in the world are doing what god wants them to do?
Turek, do you ever tell your audiences about 5-Point Calvinism, namely, that version of Protestant orthodoxy that says God wants us to, and causes us to, sin exactly the way we do? I'm guessing no. If you brought up such a thing, your followers would probably be shocked to know that a system of theology that makes our sins morally good by crediting them to god, could actually be "biblical".
Such standards don’t exist in a materialistic universe where creatures just “dance” to the music of their DNA.
I'm not seeing the dilemma here: characterizing human morality as mere opinion does nothing to handicap moral relativity. Mere opinions can and do affect and manipulate the world around us no less than physical forces like fire and wind.Atheists are caught in a dilemma. If God doesn’t exist, then everything is a matter of human opinion and objective moral rights don’t exist, including all those that atheists support.
If you ask why one atheist being attacked would repel the other atheist attacking him, in an atheist world where everybody's opinion about life is of ultimately equal worth, the answer is that making efforts to stay alive logically already exist in the territory. You can no more separate efforts to stay alive from a human being, than you can take away the oxygen from H20 and still have water.
Turek will blurt out "what gives you the right to defend yourself?"
Well, the same thing that gives the attacker the "right" to attack...my personal subjective desires. If I honestly didn't care about my life, yes, I'd probably just stand there and let him kill me.
The "right" we have to defend our lives from attackers in an atheist universe, isn't really a "right" but more correctly an instinctive reaction. For example, even if the entire world agreed that some murderous serial child raper deserved the death penalty, as an organism his heart would continue to beat, and his kidneys and liver would continue ridding his body of poisons right up to the time that they seat him in the electric chair and flip the switch. The status of being alive logically presupposes desire on the living organism's part to continue staying alive. No fool backs away from a knife attack solely because he thinks God has given him the right to defend himself, or because he thinks God has condemned deadly attacks on civilians; we react by pure instinct. You will say "because god created us", but intelligent design and abiogenesis are different topics.
The bible prevents that conclusion from following necessarily. Isaiah 13:16-17, God causes men to rape women, in which case God is causing men to violate something Turek refers to as God's "nature". Your problems are indeed real and imposing.If God does exist, then objective moral rights exist.
The consequence would be that the reason we all "know" that rape is wrong is because God has not caused us to rape anybody yet.
Abortion is hardly a black and white issue. No atheist would say it is morally good to cut a baby to death in the womb after 9 months, when birth is 5 minutes away. The trouble with the abortion issue arises from our naturalistic tendency to more favor life forms that look like us. Nobody has a problem swatting flies, but we start having problems killing deer, we have more problems with killing kittens, and we have big problems with killing the darling three year old girl asleep in her princess-bed. That's a good explanation why most people see less wrong in having an abortion one day after the egg is fertilized, and why they see more wrong in abortions done after 9 months of pregnancy. We cannot really relate to that which is nothing more than an egg that was fertilized 5 seconds ago, but we obviously relate to the baby that is 5 minutes away from being born.But those rights clearly don’t include cutting up babies in the womb, same-sex marriage, and their other invented absolutes contrary to every major religion and natural law.
That falsely assumes that grounding morality in human opinion fails to account for the evidence. It doesn't. Once again, rapists rape because they personally wish to, and other men refrain from raping because they don't personally wish to rape. It also seems clear that if we didn't have a justice system, humanity would evince its barbaric nature more clearly. If people knew that they could gain from hurting others and never be held accountable, they god-damn sure would. Most legal authorities recognize the value of jail, often fear of jail is the only reason a person will refrain from crime. It's hard to envision because our society is modern, democratic and civilized, but you might be surprised at the dirty secrets and opinions a person will divulge in private conversation, opinions they'd never let the rest of the world know about. I'd say amost of the men who decry pre-marital fornication, are lying about how they truly feel, because condemning that activity will make them sound more attractive to the civilized women they wish to be with.Now, an atheist might say, “In our country, we have a constitution that the majority approved. We have no need to appeal to God.” True, you don’t have to appeal to God to write laws, but you do have to appeal to God if you want to ground them in anything other than human opinion.
And I don't see why that is supposed to be some sort of flaw in the atheist view. The founding of America is little more than a case of the preferences of people being voted in and out of existence or by decree of dictator/judge for 200 years. So?Otherwise, your “rights” are mere preferences that can be voted out of existence at the ballot box or at the whim of an activist judge or dictator.
Turek will probably argue from subjective feelings again, and argue that if a dictator decided to take away all of your stuff, you'd feel "wronged", and therefore, this feeling of wrong arises from a standard of morality that transcends humanity. But there is no reason to think such a conclusion need follow. Some people also feel wronged when deprived of things that they never owned, such as when the neighbor, after 5 years, stops allowing you to borrow her car anytime you need it. Does that feeling of being wronged come from god?
That's just a case of moral assertions being set forth in a founding document of America written by imperfect theists and deists. It isn't like the document fell from heaven!That’s why our Declaration of Independence grounds our rights in the Creator.
It recognizes the fact that even if someone changes the constitution you still have certain rights because they come from God, not man-made law.
Correct. The "right" of the American citizen to life is something that imperfect humans long ago thought to put into a document as part of their effort to become free of England. So?However, my point isn’t about how we should put objective God-given rights into human law. My point is, without God there are no objective human rights.
There are no objective rights, period, so any rights we can legitimately speak of, derive from sources no deeper than what people personally feel and what their leaders enact into law.There is no right to abortion or same-sex marriage.
Of course, without God there is no right to life or natural marriage either!
Correction, they aren't objective rights. You are blindly assuming that rights aren't rights if they have only a subjective basis. Not true. This is just as fallacious as saying "you aren't really a man unless you have a car". You are just arbitrarily narrowing down the list of things that deserve to be called "man", or "rights". You can enjoy any 'right' that society's leaders say you have the right to exercise. The fact that such rights arise from ultimately subjective opinion does not take away the level of significance and importance such rights play in the game of life.In other words, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on — no matter how passionate you believe in certain causes or rights — without God they aren’t really rights at all.
You may as well say I don't have a subjective favorite color, because there is no ultimate standard by which a "favorite color" can be judged, except my own personal opinion. That's foolish, that opinion still exists, and I'm not going to pay less attention to it, or ignore it more, merely because it is, in fact, subjective.
Correct. So what?Human rights amount to no more than your subjective preferences.
Correction, they cannot justify them as objective rights. You fallaciously assume that if the right is not "objective", then it doesn't exist. That's stupid, "you have the right to remain silent" doesn't have an objective basis, it was simply invented and enacted through the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona. But it hardly follows that such subjective right to remain silent isn't "really" a "right". It certainly exists and dramatically impacts the life of the person being arrested, whether you wish to call it an objective right or an orange riddle. Characterizing subjective rights as "mere opinion" does not stop them from continuing to impact lives as they have been before you were born.So atheists can believe in and fight for rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, and taxpayer-provided entitlements, but they can’t justify them as truly being rights.
In fact, to be a consistent atheist — and this is going to sound outrageous, but it’s true — you can’t believe that anyone has ever actually changed the world for the better.Correction, under atheism, we cannot say that anyone has ever actually changed the world for the objective better.
Correct. Whether raising taxes would be morally good or bad, goes no deeper than the subjective will of the majority. Did you have a point?Objectively good political or moral reform is impossible if atheism is true.
Agreed. In fact I'd say any reform is ultimately bad because any change in society, short of something like losing half the population, necessarily and always increases its aggregate complexity, slowly but surely moving that society toward inevitable collapse. Moral reform and indeed any reform comes at a long term negative cost, even if it makes life more fun for a few decades. And reforms usually involve changes in the law, and only a fool denies the reality of the "slippery slope" that materializes thereby.Which means you have to believe that everything Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King did to abolish slavery and racism wasn’t really good; it was just different.
Correct, it was subjectively better.It means you have to believe that rescuing Jews from the ovens was not objectively better than murdering them.
Correct, though I could give reasons based on the natural world to show what normative mammalian behavior and human behavior is, and to therefore provide an empirical basis for condemning male homosexuality as a deviation that is counterproductive to our current society.It means you have to believe that gay marriage is no better than gay bashing.
Correction: holding gay bashers accountable for conduct their genetics caused them to engage in, might not be consonant with science, but is clearly required if we are to have social order (i.e., it just might be that the type of social order we desire to have, it not consistent with scientific truths about human beings). While the current justice system aspires to the freewill doctrine of criminal and civil accountability, that type of justice system would need to stay in place to prevent society from collapsing even if science conclusively proved that we don't have freewill. We still lock up insane criminals even if the judicial system finds them "not guilty".(Since we’re all just “dancing to our DNA,” the gay basher was just born with the anti-gay gene. You can’t blame him!)
So while we cannot hold people accountable for what they couldn't avoid doing, we'd still have to impose on their freedom to keep order. Also, motivating criminals to obey the law doesn't require that they have freewill. That's why we have jails. Fear of jail achieves the social good of preventing the criminal from acting contrary to law, but we also recognize that the fact that the jail changed his behavior, doesn't mean he has freewill. He is a human being intent on making himself comfortable in life, and so he will naturally obey the law if we put him in a context where he knows his life won't be comfortable should he disobey the law. That's just a smart insect running away from disaster, that's not freewill.
It means you have to believe that loving people is no better than raping them.
No objective moral wrong? Correct.You may be thinking, “That’s outrageous! Racism, murder, assault, and rape are objectively wrong, and people do have a right not to be harmed!” I agree. But that’s true only if God exists. In an atheistic universe there is nothing objectively wrong with anything at any time.
There are no limits. Anything goes.Not true, there's more to being human than just "made in the image of god'. We are also physical mammals who instinctively seek group approval, and thus naturally disagree with any behavior that threatens the group's survival. Guess what? Racism, murder, assault, and rape generally threaten human survival, while avoiding these activities generally promotes thriving. The problem-area is how to know when that which facilitates thriving should be viewed as good or bad. Is having 5 kids good because it makes you happy, or bad because it contributes to overpopulation?
Gee, Turek, why do you suppose bears feel offended when you try to steal their food? Were bears made in the image of god? If not, then apparently, one does not need to be made in the image of god, in order to have a basic sense of right and wrong. You will say god created them that way, but again, intelligent design and abiogenesis are different topics.
Which means to be a consistent atheist you have to believe in the outrageous.
Already refuted this - no, all behaviors are not equal, but that's because we are mammals with intelligence, and therefore automatically find that actions which threaten survival are to be abhorred more than actions that don't.If you are mad at me for these comments, then you agree with me in a very important sense. If you don’t like the behaviors and ideas I am advocating here, you are admitting that all behaviors and ideas are not equal — that some are closer to the real objective moral truth than others.
Objective moral truth constitutes an incoherent concept, as "truth" is what we usually say about conclusions that can be empirically verified apart from personal opinion, while morals are value-judgments arising from our personal subjective preferences. The concept of "moral truth" is stupid.But what is the source of that objective truth?
Only a fool says "Is it correct to kiss after the 5th date?"
Only a fool says "should 2+2=4?"
God does not have an unchangeable nature, he sometimes regrets his own decisions:It can’t be changeable, fallible human beings like you or me. It can only be God whose unchangeable nature is the ground of all moral value.
Sorry, Turek, but you don't just say "anthropomorphism!" and pretend the debate is over. You must justify your inteprretation from the immediate context. That is, if you think the text is speaking non-literally, you must provide the grammatical and contextual reasons why. Check out Boyd for a primer.6 The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." (Gen. 6:6-7 NAU)
And since the immediate context of that statement is describing what most Christian scholars take to be real literal history, the assumption that v. 6-7 are talking literally about god, is consistent with the context. When concerns of inerrancy aren't present, the literal interpretation looks like the one the author intended.
Since bible inerancy is very controversial even among those who believe some form of it, I'm not doing anything unreasonable in refusing to make sure my interpretation of the passage harmonizes with the rest of the bible.
That’s why atheists are unwittingly stealing from God whenever they claim a right to anything.
But how do we know that’s the Christian God? Doesn’t he do evil in the Old Testament?