This is part three of my response to Voice in the Wilderness Ministries’ One Hundred questions to ask an atheist.
Last time, we explored morality, the concept of subjectivity, and failed logic. This time, some more morality, or the closest approximation the questioner is aware of.
Section 2: Morality
It’s fair to mention that the site says here:
This section is under construction
But I have my doubts that it will ever progress from this point. Let’s answer them anyway.
Have you ever told a lie?
Very much so.
I have a policy to only lie when doing so helps people, as is sometimes the case.
But by some measure, everyone who’s had a conversation has lied.
How many lies do you think you have told in your life?
Depends how you define ‘lie’. There are degrees of untruth, but if you define ‘lying’ as ‘deliberately and explicitly asserting an untrue thing as the truth’, then probably a few hundred. Maybe a few thousand. Hard to judge accurately. I used to lie a lot more when I was younger.
What would happen to our world if everyone always told the truth starting tomorrow?
These kinds of hypotheticals are pointless to ask, because you’re asking to simulate human nature, while you’re changing something about human nature which you haven’t accounted for. What’s the reason that people aren’t lying?
If it’s magic, people are going to start to notice that they’re unable to lie.
If they are forced to not notice they are not able to lie by some other magic, they will at least see records of lying in the past, and will wonder what this strange and suddenly unknown activity is.
If they are forced not to notice records of lying, or to not process the lying they do see recorded, people are going to start questioning the sense of plots which involve deception, since they didn’t notice the fundamental aspect of the plot.
We could keep going, and eventually we could probably reach a point where all of these necessary problems are cleared up. If we do reach that point (with perhaps tens of qualifications), the question starts to make more sense, but it’s so removed from reality that to even consider the hypothetical is ridiculous. It becomes useless as a scenario because so much has changed to get to it.
But, in every one of those situations, aside from the necessary problems with even proposing the scenario, Society would collapse.
Society has existed for several thousand years with deception as a norm. To remove that part of human nature would cause everything else to crumble down.
Deception is often a good thing. It isn’t modular in human nature, many of the more intelligent animals understand deception, and many predators use deception to survive.
People always hate it when I don’t answer a hypothetical the way they want me to: without accounting for the change they’ve suggested. It’s unavoidable if I’m to give an informed answer.
Have you ever stolen anything?
I’ve totally never downloaded music illegally.
But if I had, yes that would be stealing, according to the law. I think the law on digital property needs some different considerations, but I don’t define what stealing is.
If they answer no…Have you ever wasted time at work? Is that not a form of stealing from your employer? So, have you ever stolden anything?
Depending on your job, what you’re paid to do might be a waste of time.
But yes, by at least this broad definition, I have stolen before, but I’ve never stolen anything physical.
What would happen to our world if everyone stopped stealing tomorrow?
Same problem as the last hypothetical, especially if using your broad meaning of ‘steal’.
In this case though, things would be better for most, but for some people, stealing is the only way to stay alive.
Asking this question implies a blatant dismissal for the plight of the impoverished all over the world.
…and this section is on morality, so you’re doing great so far.
Have you ever looked at woman other than your wife and lusted after her?
I don’t have a wife.
I lust very often. Why limit it to women, by the way?
Oh right, because gays are sinners, I see.
One more point for morality.
(I don’t know if these guys are homophobic, but the question doesn’t imply that they’re very open to the idea.)
(Also, I’m not gay.)
(Seriously, stop messaging me, guys. I’m flattered, but I’m not your type.)
Is it wrong to lie and steal and cheat?
Those are three of the ten commandments from the old testament, of which four are purely for the adulation of God (including the Sabbath), four are personal moral issues – nothing to do with society at large, and only two are actually legal matters: Killing and Stealing.
Is rape bad? Bible doesn’t think so!
Is slavery bad? Bible doesn’t think so! (And gives guides on how to do it properly!)
Is subjugating women and foreigners bad? Bible says no! Bible recommends both!
Yeah, lying, stealing, and adultery are not conducive to the functioning of society in a very general sense, but we have to look at these things on a case by case basis. You can’t eradicate lying without breaking human nature, you can’t eradicate stealing without establishing a system to help those desperate enough to steal (or simply leaving them to die), you can’t eradicate cheating without breaking human nature either.
And since when is “lusting” the same as “cheating”? If I look at a women while married, am I an adulterer? What if my hypothetical wife looks at another man? Doesn’t work so well for anyone when you conflate those things, does it?
Do you think everyone knows it’s wrong to steal, lie and cheat?
To believe that something is wrong (not legally, but morally), you need to have empathy, and there are many people in society who lack it. We generally call them sociopaths and psychopaths.
The concept of ownership (in some vague sense) exists in most animals, it’s an evolved trait. Any animal who possesses sufficient empathy would believe that stealing was wrong. This is very easy to explain via evolution.
The same goes for mates, but less so. Some animal species do not bond with another for life, even some humans don’t. Open relationships exist, and do often function long-term. While cheating is still technically happening in this case, it isn’t wrong.
As I’ve already argued, lying is integral to the function of society, and it’s often better (for everyone) to lie (or tell a half-truth) than tell the full truth.
A situation could be conceived wherein any of these things would be the morally right thing to do. It is not objective.
How is that possible and doesn’t that sound like an absolute standard of right and wrong that applies to all people?If evryone knows its wrong, why does everyone do it? The Bible calls it sin. Is it universal and true of all of us?
You assumed I answered yes to the previous question, which is so telling that I’m doing the chef satisfaction gesture:
MWA! Too good.
There are no absolute moral standards. Even if every human agreed, it would not be absolute.
I don’t care what the Bible calls it. The Bible doesn’t call rape ‘sin’, so the Bible can fuck right off when it comes to morality.
Do you see you need of God’s forgiveness for the things you have done in secret?
The wording of this question, seriously…
If you’re asking “Do you think you need God’s forgiveness for the things you’ve done in secret?”, then no.
God would have to exist, first.
And even then, the god of the Bible, your preferred god, is not a moral god. As I mentioned in the last part, I would revile such a god.
I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.
Do you know that the Bible says, that God is willing to forgive you because Jesus took the punishment you deserve so God could legally forgive you without compromising His justice.
I’ve never said this before, but this situation is too perfect not to:
COOL STORY, BRO.
I don’t care what an ancient anthology of desert fairy tales says about my life. Even if you prove it’s divine, all you’ve proven is that God is not only a total shit, but actually exists!
Are you saying that God is subject to his own law? That means he’s less potent than something he created? Whether he created it or not, that disproves his omnipotence, right?
And hey, couldn’t an all powerful God have thought of a better way to forgive his creation of the rules he made (that he knew they’d break) than effectively raping a desert woman, being born as a human, bumming around about 30 years, then having his creations brutalise himself as a human sacrifice TO HIMSELF?
…Only to come back three days later, having therefore not really sacrificed his life at all?
Even the story is crap. I could write a better religion.
If there is no God, then there is no moral law. If there is no God, then life is meaningless and the world is an inexplicable riddle. But if you read the Bible and believe God, the history of the human race is satisfactorily explained. Does that make sense?
Let me just stop you at that first sentence… the only laws that exist are those made by humans.
Morality is derived from a myriad of evolved preferences in individuals, by evolved individuals.
Morality doesn’t have to be absolute to be meaningful. In fact, absolute morality is impossible by definition. Morality is held in the minds of individuals, it has to be subjective, no matter how many gods endorse one moral system or another.
The history of the human race is not a moral issue, and a ‘satisfactory explanation’ is not evidence.
But the Bible can’t even do that.
List of things the Bible includes which did not happen:
- Garden of Eden (therefore original sin, so Jesus was pointless)
- Noah’s Flood (also a good job by Yahweh on morality, killing 2 billion people who weren’t voluntarily slaves to him)
- Tower of Babel (humans trying to get along? FUCK THAT says Yahweh!)
- Jonah and the Whale
- Parting of the Red Sea (at least as described)
And probably many others.
The Bible also says the earth is flat, under a dome, (along with the sun and stars), covered with heaven’s ocean. It gets so much wrong that to call it a “satisfactory explanation” is like calling a pebble a “satisfactory galaxy”.
It is definitely not a satisfactory explanation.
Your life’s meaning is your decision.
The world is explicable, and we have a very good understanding of how it formed and why it does what it does.
Morality is absolutely true because God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone and on the heart of every man. How do you account for the fact that every man knows in his heart it is wrong to murder, it is wrong to steal, and it is wrong to lie?
Empathy. Rationality. Both can be explained by evolution. Probably some other naturalistic factors, too.
There is no writing on any heart that wasn’t put there by naturalistic processes.
The heart cannot store knowledge, knowledge is stored in the brain.
The situation you’re proposing would not make that moral system absolute even if it had happened.
Morality still can’t be absolute. You failed to prove that earlier, but are still assuming that you did.
This is too easy.
Every man knows it is wrong to have another man’s wife. That is universal, unchanging, indisputable, timeless, absolute, moral truth. You know it’s true, I know you know it’s true, and God’s knows you know it’s true. Isn’t that true?
And no amount of asserting it is going to make it true.
I’ve given my reasoning earlier, this question is just pleading the same point. Beg all you want, you’re used to it.
Also, part of your question would require God to exist, which still hasn’t been proven, or even evidenced.
And what is with the gender stereotyping here? Is it even possible in your opinion for a woman to cheat on a man?
Why do all men die?
Biology. Read a book.
This has nothing to do with morality.
…unless God existed, then that would implicate him as an effective omni-genocidal murderer.
Some questions for you, now
Since this section could use a bit more intellectual dominance on my part, I’ll present some important questions of morality for the theist. Turning the tables is hot.
These questions assume God exists:
- Why does God kill newborn children?
- Why did God create insects whose entire life-cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children, lay eggs which hatch and eat the child’s eye before moving on to another child?
- Whether caused by God or not, can God stop natural disasters from killing and injuring people?
- If yes, he is at least negligent to his “beloved” creation, which disproves his benevolence. At the most, he wants the natural disasters to happen, which definitely disproves his benevolence. Even if every victim of a natural disaster ever has been a sinner in God’s opinion deserving of an early death, he’s still not all-loving, benevolence disproved.
Another possibility is that God is not aware of natural disasters, but is still able to prevent them in principle, in which case he is not omniscient.
- If no, he is not omnipotent.
- Does God’s benevolence or justice take precedence in instances where they contradict equally?
- Do people who have never heard of the Christian God go to hell when they die?
- If yes, that contradicts God’s justice, or at the least, shows it to be abysmally unfair.
- If no, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if God just didn’t tell them about him?
- If God is all-loving, would he torture for eternity an atheist who seeked to do no harm?
- If yes, his moral system is inferior to human morality, effectively disproving God.
- If no, should not secular humanism be promoted in place of God’s moral system, as it is clearly better in many important ways? (rape, slavery, women’s rights, etc.)
- As evolution is proven science, at what point in human evolution did humans become eligible for heaven? At what point did they gain souls? Were there partial souls? Where did those with partial souls go?
- For the 75,000 to 200,000 years of physically modern humans before any of the Old Testament stories occurred, when human life was constant suffering from the environment, disease, other animals, and especially other humans, where was God?
I could probably think of more, this is a large area of study, and far greater men than I have torn apart theists on the matter.
I think this is enough for now.
If God is God He is not good,
If God is good He is not God.
End of part 3
This section of questions was the worst so far.
It started with some babyish questions about simple and relatively minor moral issues (conveniently ignoring rape, slavery, or all the times murder is required by God in the Bible), which culminated in a question that the questioner hoped I’d answer yes to, but I honestly didn’t, which rendered the remaining questions all about what an old book says completely pointless… though, they would have been pointless even if “absolute morality” could exist, as that’s not even the slightest evidence in favour of any holy book or any god.
A floundering display of pious pontification, loosely lucid, rarely rational, and infinitely immoral.
Even I am disappointed.