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Atheists have no basis to make objective moral arguments
in Religion

Position: For
I believe the only way to make objective moral claims is if there is a supreme, outside authority to determine morality. I believe this supreme, outside authority is the God of the Bible so I will argue from that standpoint. If there is no God, then morality must be subjective and the atheist cannot claim that something is objectively good or evil. It is simply a morally neutral event in a meaningless universe.
AlofRI



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Votes: 0


Debate Type: Traditional Debate



Voting Format: Casual Voting

Opponent: ZeusAres42

Rounds: 3

Time Per Round: 48 Hours Per Round


Voting Period: 72 Hours


Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Voting


Arguments



  • Round 1 | Position: Against
    I'm not an Atheist but I am agnostic. However, I will challenge this with the following:

    Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?

  • Round 1 | Position: For
    Well it depends on exactly what you mean by morally good acts. I would not refer to the acts themselves, I would say that morality is based upon the character of God. Part of God's character is truth, therefore lying is morally wrong because it goes against the nature of God. In that sense, it seems that saying acts are morally good because they are willed by God would be closest to my belief.

    That being said, I am arguing that a worldview that denies the existence of God cannot make an objective moral claim because morality is simply a product of human thought rather than coming from an outside source (in this case, God). So are you arguing from the perspective of an atheistic worldview? If not, it would be helpful for you to define what makes you agnostic so I don't make presumptions about your beliefs, thanks.
  • Round 2 | Position: Against
    edited May 14

    Part of God's character is truth, therefore lying is morally wrong because it goes against the nature of God. In that sense, it seems that saying acts are morally good because they are willed by God would be closest to my belief.
    If morally good acts are morally good because they are commanded by God, then they must be commanded by God before they are morally good?

    That being said, I am arguing that a worldview that denies the existence of God cannot make an objective moral claim because morality is simply a product of human thought rather than coming from an outside source (in this case, God).
    Isn't the belief in a moral deity also a product of human thought?

    So are you arguing from the perspective of an atheistic worldview? If not, it would be helpful for you to define what makes you agnostic so I don't make presumptions about your beliefs, thanks.
    I am agnostic in the sense that although I did once follow a Christian religion I no longer do. However, I do often ponder the idea of an intelligent design that initiated all of the life processes. That being said, what I am arguing is that a belief in an absolute moral deity is also subjective; a product of human thought, and thus doesn't solve the moral objectivity debate either. 


  • Round 2 | Position: For

    Thank you for the clarification.

    Correct me if I am misunderstanding your statement/question about morally good acts. I am not saying that God commanding something makes it morally good. Even if God had not made any commands about being honest, it would still be wrong to lie because it violates the nature of God. Perhaps the rest of my argument will clarify my position.

    I agree with you that belief in a deity is subjective. That is why there are so many different views about God. However, belief in something does not change the object of belief. I can believe that my bank account has millions of dollars in it, but that doesn’t change the amount of money that is actually there. If God exists, He has one true nature which does not change based on anyone’s belief. If God is the source of morality based on His character, then human belief has no effect on morality since it cannot change His nature. So even if humans ceased to exist, God would remain the same.

    Let me lay out a quick illustration. There are only two people left on the earth, Person A and Person B. Person A thinks it is morally right to kill Person B for no reason. Person B does not think it is morally right to do so for obvious reasons. Person A succeeds and is now the only person left alive. From an atheistic worldview, there is no one else to question his moral judgment that there is nothing wrong with murder. Therefore, murder is not evil. From a Christian worldview, God as the source of morality still views murder as evil so Person A is still wrong, even if there is no one else alive to disagree.

    Since you used to follow a Christian religion, allow me to appeal to a biblical principle here to clarify my position. If God exists, He is the first cause and creator of all things. As created beings, we are subject to the creator. We are called to reflect the creator as much as a created being can. Christianity is not simply about following rules or doing morally good acts. That is why we are said to be made in the image of God. Our very existence should reflect truth, justice, love, and other such characteristics of God. This should not just define our actions but be at the very core of who we are. The point of this is that if we are reflecting God’s character, we are doing what is morally good. We do not get to decide what God’s character looks like which is why, from a human perspective, He is an objective source of morality.

    ZeusAres42
  • Round 3 | Position: Against
    @Fruit_Inspector

    Even if God had not made any commands about being honest, it would still be wrong to lie because it violates the nature of God. Perhaps the rest of my argument will clarify my position.

    This would then bring us back to the dilemma then that morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, which again would entail that moral facts must be independent of God's will, commands and/or nature. 


    If God exists, He has one true nature which does not change based on anyone’s belief. If God is the source of morality based on His character, then human belief has no effect on morality since it cannot change His nature. So even if humans ceased to exist, God would remain the same.

    The definition of God's nature also rests on the subjectivity of human belief. The same goes about notions of him being the sauce of morality, character, etc.

    There are only two people left on the earth, Person A and Person B. Person A thinks it is morally right to kill Person B for no reason.

    Person A succeeds and is now the only person left alive. From an atheistic worldview, there is no one else to question his moral judgment that there is nothing wrong with murder. Therefore, murder is not evil.
    From a Christian worldview, God as the source of morality still views murder as evil so Person A is still wrong, even if there is no one else alive to disagree.
    1. An Atheist that is sane, reasonable, rational and logical would not kill anyone for no reason at all.
    2. The idea that an atheist would think murder is acceptable because they have no one to ask about it is incorrect. A law-abiding Atheist that is mentally sane, with all mental functions working as they should be, capable of reason, logic and rationality wouldn't have even contemplated the idea murdering another person for no reason or for fun in the first place.
    3. Indeed, from many Christian's points of view, God as the source of morality still views murder as evil so Person A is still wrong, even if there is no one else alive to disagree; this is correct too. However, I'm still not sure this solves the objectivity morality debate either. Being that the idea that God is an objective authority on morality is also grounded in the subjectivity of human belief.
    Since you used to follow a Christian religion, allow me to appeal to a biblical principle here to clarify my position. If God exists, He is the first cause and creator of all things. As created beings, we are subject to the creator. We are called to reflect the creator as much as a created being can. Christianity is not simply about following rules or doing morally good acts. That is why we are said to be made in the image of God.
    Again, the subjectivity of human belief about something that is not falsifiable. I also no longer believe that God created man in his image; I deem it much more probable that God was created in man's image.
    Our very existence should reflect truth, justice, love, and other such characteristics of God. This should not just define our actions but be at the very core of who we are. The point of this is that if we are reflecting God’s character, we are doing what is morally good. We do not get to decide what God’s character looks like which is why, from a human perspective, He is an objective source of morality.
    Again, the subjectivity of human belief about something that is not falsifiable.

    In conclusion, herein my position is that I am not entirely sure objectivist morality in absolutist form can exist at all in any form, whether that be Atheism, religion or other. What I do know, however, is that for a long time it was thought that moral absolutism (the strongest form of moral objectivism) could only exist with a Deity being the authoritative source of absolute morality (that you appear to be arguing) and this was coined by Philosophers as "Divine Command Theory"  http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/christian-ethics/divine-command-theory/. However, later came along Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) Who went about explaining how absolute morality could exist outside the boundaries of a Deity being the authoritative source   http://www.philosophy-index.com/kant/ that he demonstrated via his notions of what he called "categorical imperatives: 
    “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” is a purely formal or logical statement and expresses the condition of the rationality of conduct rather than that of its morality, which is expressed in another Kantian formula: “So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an end, and never as only a means.”


    That being said, I still have yet to read much of Immanuel Kant 's material as well as others that came before and after him which I do intend to do as time permits.












  • Round 3 | Position: For

    I must admit, I was not aware of the Euthyphro dilemma until your last post. After looking into it a bit, I still hold to my same argument which I believe shows that it is not a true dilemma. The first part of the question would imply that there is a standard outside of God that He must appeal to. The second part implies that acts external to God are deemed morally good or bad based on the arbitrary command of God, which would still make it subjective because the act itself is not inherently good or bad. I do not believe that you can separate actions or moral laws as external from God in the Christian worldview because He is the Creator of everything. My position is not that God has to make an arbitrary command which renders something good or bad, nor that He has to appeal to an external standard outside Himself.

    God’s nature, which is eternal and unchanging, is the basis of what makes something good or bad. He is the Creator and so the creation was made with purpose in accordance with His nature. God created life and so to end a life through murder goes against God’s purpose which makes murder bad. God created language to communicate truth and so to tell a lie violates this purpose.

    We should also consider that an action in and of itself is not always good or bad. The motivation and outcome must also be considered. Picking up a $20 bill off the ground is not an inherently evil act. Perhaps it just fell out of my pocket. But what if I see someone drop it and I don’t tell them? Some people might look at that and go with a finders-keepers mentality and say that no evil has been committed. However, God’s unchanging nature of truth and love requires that I return the bill to reflect His good character.

    Regarding your response to my illustration with Person A and Person B, you rightly pointed out that saying Person B was killed “for no reason” was a poor choice of words. I probably would have been better off saying Person B was killed without a reasonable cause (such as desire for Person B’s possessions). Due to my blunder, I will cede this point since there will be no counterargument.

    To conclude, I think the main area where we disagree involves the nature of reality. I would argue that our definitions of God are not what define His existence. We are merely attempting to categorize what we recognize to be true, even if that objective reality has to come through a subjective lens. I think that your statement about the image of God helps clarify this view. When you say that God is made in the image of man, it would follow that Christian view of God originates from the mind of men and remains subjective.

    However, the Bible claims that it is inspired by God and written by human authors. It bears the unique voice of each author, yet not a word or phrase was written that God did not approve of. If this is true, then the Bible is a revelation from God that describes His true nature and His work through redemptive history. If God is the one revealing His unchanging nature, and everything that He says is truth, then it is not simply an observation of a subjective human mind. It is a description of His actual existence. While this revelation must pass through and be interpreted by the human mind, the reality itself remains unchanged even if it is understood incorrectly.

    God’s eternal and unchanging nature are what make Him the objective source of morality from the Christian worldview. I believe that if you take away God, there is no outside, authoritative, and unchanging source that can be truly objective. You are simply left with human opinion. You have pointed out a few things that I will have to reflect on further so thanks for a polite debate.

    ZeusAres42
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