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Abosulte Morality does not work with Theism as well as Atheism
in Religion

By ZeusAres42ZeusAres42 553 Pts edited July 9
Although only somewhat relevant to this discussion, following a recent clip I watched with Sam Harris and William Lane Craig made me ponder about his again. During the clip, Sam Harris gives a speech about morality, and then towards the end, Dr. Craig comes out says something like the following: "With Atheism you have no bases on which to make that moral judgment."

Anyway, I don't know if any of those Atheists like Sam Harris have presented anyone let alone Dr. Craig with any of the dilemmas of what the Theists are advocating that I am going to demonstrate here. When a Theist talks about the absolute authoritarian morality they are talking about what can be classed as "Divine Command Theory." 

The thing is that with "Divine Command Theory" also comes several issues, and among them is the 
Euthyphro dilemma. I myself have asked this on a few occasions to Theists but only got one response from one Theist, which I will grant was a clever response but still didn't cut it for solving this Dilemma. Anyway, I'd like to challenge any Theist with the following and see if they can solve it:

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

The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

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  • WinstonCWinstonC 115 Pts
    @ZeusAres42 My understanding of Sam Harris' conception of morality is that increasing the overall well-being of conscious creatures is morally good. I independently came to a functionally identical conclusion, albeit with different wording, so I will explain my rationale for why this makes sense without requiring a God.

    Conscious experience itself is the only thing that independently has meaning or significance. If consciousness didn't exist or have the potential to exist then everything else may as well not exist also. This is because nothing that happens matters unless it interacts with consciousness. It would be like a video game without a player; everything's existence and every action by the NPCs would be pointless. There would be no real difference between things existing and acting and things not existing and not acting.

    As such, we know that everything only matters insofar as it interacts with consciousness. We also know that we can have a positive effect on consciousnesses or a negative effect on consciousnesses and, as aforementioned, that these effects are significant. Moreover, we know from experience that positive experiences are significantly better than negative ones. Further, the only reason to do something is because it will have significant consequences. Taken together, if what we did had a positive effect on consciousnesses (which is the only way to have a significant effect) then we can say that it was the right thing to do, or that it had a morally good result.
  • WinstonCWinstonC 115 Pts
    @ZeusAres42 My understanding of Sam Harris' conception of morality is that it's morally good to increase the well-being of consciousness entities. As I independently came to essentially the same conclusion I will explain my rationale of why this idea doesn't require a God.

    Consciousness is the only thing with independent significance or meaning. Other things can only be significant or have meaning through interacting with consciousness. If there was no consciousness or the potential for future consciousness then everything may as well not exist because nothing would be of any significance. It would be like a video game without a player, the environments and NPCs might interact but unless a player experiences it (or down the line indirectly experiences the consequences of it) it may as well have not happened.

    From this, we know that the only significant effect we can have is via effecting consciousnesses. Further, from our own experience we know that positive experience is preferable to negative experience (relative to the individual's preferences of course). Moreover, the only reason to do anything is because the action will have significant consequences. Therefore we can know (at least in terms of ultimate result) what we should try to achieve and what we should try to avoid. As such, we can come to the conclusion that we should take actions which ultimately reduce suffering and/or increases positive experience. This is because doing so has an effect that is both significant and positive.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 1935 Pts
    The notion of absolute anything relies on acknowledging the ultimate authority of certain entity. The problem is, what theists see as the ultimate authority, atheists do not.

    The role of the authority in virtually all Greek philosophies, which gave birth, in some shape of form, to all modernly dominant philosophies, was played by facts: if something has been deducted to be a fact, then certain objective truths can be derived from that fact. On the other hand, if something is not a fact, then it inherently depends on the individual point of view and, hence, is subjective.

    Theists consider God or Gods to be the ultimate authority. But from the atheist point of view, were God/Gods to exist, they would still be merely a part of the world, and hence subject to any facts existing in this world. Just because the God/Gods believe in a certain set of morals does not make them authoritative, because the requirement of them being derived from facts is not met.

    As such, theists are not really wrong when they talk about absolute/objective morality; they just recognise a different authority from what modern philosophies recognise. They are wrong, however, in that the vast majority of them do not make this distinction, so they think that they can use the word "objective" in the factual sense - which they cannot. But the most educated theist scholars do seem to be aware of this distinction.
  • AlofRIAlofRI 300 Pts
    @ZeusAres42 I don't believe it is EITHER. I believe humans are naturally appalled by certain things such as death, blood, odor, things not pleasing to the senses. Therefor, "society" decides morality, not a "god". I think society "invented" the Jesus myth because the "original God" was often appalling. It went against the emerging, softening, more compassionate morality of society, wiping out cities, killing babies (like first born), drowning every living thing except a few favorites or "devotees". It was against all that any compassionate human could accept ...... Bring on a more compassionate entity that is more acceptable to humans evolving from the bloodbath of ancient history, where life was dependent on loyalty to the strongest (mini-gods) among us. Humans didn't want that anymore. 

    I like the "new god" better than the old, but, people still fear the old. Rather than reject the fearsome entity, the NEW more compassionate one is made a part OF the scary guy so he won't get mad … he is still being worshipped and he now has a "nice" side. I really like the more socially accepted god's more socially accepted, compassionate way. I just don't like giving credit for a "miracle" when one life is "saved" and ten others have to die, for a god to get credit for the wonderous thing.

    Society decides morality, not theism, not atheism. (IMO)
  • AlofRIAlofRI 300 Pts
    @WinstonC I would say that you are saying what I said .. in different words. "Consciousness" is the feelings and emotions of society that dictate what is "moral". Morality has evolved as humanity moved away from warring tribalism, the bloodthirstiness was "unconscionable".
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