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From atheism to tentative agnosticism
#31
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm)Inigo Wrote: Tedious, mate. Just tedious. Use the term 'atheism' and 'atheist' however you like. I really don't care. But I use 'atheism' to mean the proposition that no gods exist and 'atheist' to mean someone who believes that proposition to be true. That's all you need to know.

Then like I said, expect your personal definitions and conclusions drawn from them to generate a lot of friction, since it's always appreciated when someone comes along and tells us what we do and don't believe. Consider it a prophecy, if you like. That's all you need to know, 'mate'.
At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist.  This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways - with relief or with despair.  Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, 'Wait a second.  That means there's a situation vacant.'
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#32
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:Where this line of reasoning loses me is that I don't understand how a deity somehow provides a better explanation for morality. Deity=morals can hardly be true since morality has varied so substantially throughout cultures. Some things that we consider basic morals (say pedophilia) has been perfectly acceptable in some societies (to pick a not random example, Muhammad in early Islam) It seems the morals vary too much to come from a deity. Even if morals were universal I don't see how that means they came from the supernatural. To say that you lack an understanding of where your morals come from so they must come from God (or in your case, it's possible they come from God) seems to be just a variation on the God of the gaps arguments.


I never made that argument though. I never argued that 'I don't understand where morals come from, therefore they come from god'. Someone has attributed that to me out of convenience to their criticism. But it is not at all what I argued. I started by noting that morality has certain features. First, it is instructional. Second, those instructions are ones that we have reason to comply with whatever our interests. It seems to me that there is only one kind of thing that can issue instructions - real instructions, that is - and that's an agent. I do not know of how anything other than an agent can issue an instruction. I cannot think of anything. But an agent undoubtedly can. Given that morality certainly instructs, I infer that morality must be an agent of some kind.
But the agent cannot be one of us, or our community etc, for the instructions of ourselves or our community would not have the kind of rational authority possessed by moral instructions. I think only the instructions of an agent who has control over our fate in an afterlife would have that feature. So I infer that morality must be composed of the instructions of such an agency.
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#33
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm)Inigo Wrote: It seems to me that there is only one kind of thing that can issue instructions - real instructions, that is - and that's an agent. I do not know of how anything other than an agent can issue an instruction.

You seem to underestimate humanity. Mankind was obviously perfectly capable of figuring out morality on his own without any type of special instruction.
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#34
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:Then like I said, expect your personal definitions and conclusions drawn from them to generate a lot of friction, since it's always appreciated when someone comes along and tells us what we do and don't believe. Consider it a prophecy, if you like. That's all you need to know, 'mate'.

I haven't told you what you do and don't believe. Believe what you want. However, if you want to assess someone's view you need to go with their definitions not your own barmy ones.

So, when I say that morality seems incompatible with atheism I mean that morality is incompatible with the non-existence of a god. The fact you mean by 'atheism' 'dining table' is neither here nor there.

Quote:You seem to underestimate humanity. Mankind was obviously perfectly capable of figuring out morality on his own without any type of special instruction.

Really? Morality's been figured out? When? The scene in contemporary metaethics (that part of ethics concerned with figuring out what morality is) is not one of consensus, but heated debate between various positions, each one of which seems to have flaws greater than its merits.

My point, which you don't really seem to be addressing, is that real instructions require an instructor. Or seem to. Instructions can't just exist all by themselves. (or at least, the idea seems incoherent to me)
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#35
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm)Inigo Wrote: real instructions require an instructor.

That is as absurd as stating that creation requires a creator.
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#36
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:That is as absurd as stating that creation requires a creator.

Can you provide me with an example of a real instruction that cannot be traced to any agent or agents?
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#37
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:if atheism is true then I think there will be some kind of evolutionary story one can tell about the development of our moral sense and beliefs.

Morality is cultural. It has nothing to do with evolution in the biological sense. When Egyptian pharaohs were screwing their sisters it was not a biological advantage. If anything, the resulting genetic problems were counterproductive to what they were trying to accomplish. BTW, their people thought they were "gods" too.
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#38
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm)Inigo Wrote: I haven't told you what you do and don't believe. Believe what you want. However, if you want to assess someone's view you need to go with their definitions not your own barmy ones.

I hereby humbly submit for the court's approval the case for the prosecution, M'Lud:

(June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm)Ehxibit A Wrote:that's because whatever you say you mean by the word 'atheist' most people understand it to mean 'the belief that no gods exist'.
(June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm)Exhibit B Wrote:I'm afraid you are the one using the term in a quite ludicrous fashion
(June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm)Exhibit C Wrote:But you know what I mean by 'atheism' because I have told you. And I am arguing that morality provides some reason to think atheism is false.
You can use 'atheism' to mean 'tuesday' if you wish, but I am using it to mean the view that no gods exist.

You were saying?

(June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm)Inigo Wrote: So, when I say that morality seems incompatible with atheism I mean that morality is incompatible with the non-existence of a god.

Fine, then let's go with that instead of making up definitions of basic terms purely to set up one's own position and then getting all pissy about being shown up to be both incorrect and contradictory.

(June 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm)Inigo Wrote: The fact you mean by 'atheism' 'dining table' is neither here nor there.

Neither is your pathetic attempt at ridicule. Your blatant strawmanning, however, is duly noted.
At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist.  This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways - with relief or with despair.  Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, 'Wait a second.  That means there's a situation vacant.'
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#39
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:Morality is cultural. It has nothing to do with evolution in the biological sense. When Egyptian pharaohs were screwing their sisters it was not a biological advantage. If anything, the resulting genetic problems were counterproductive to what they were trying to accomplish. BTW, their people thought they were "gods" too.

I said that a disposition to view certain kinds of act as externally instructed 'to be done' and thereby to be acts we have inescapable reason to do would confer an advantage. So, as I explained, those disposed to view honesty this way would be people one could trust, and so on. It does not follow that it always and everywhere confers an advantage - just that it confers more advantages that obstacles and that it 'did' confer an advantage at some point, not that it always will.

Anyway, cultural or biological makes no difference to the point. FOr the point is that we do not actually have reason to comply with such instructions 'whatever' our ends. And thus moral instructions do not really exist. Not unless a god does, anyway.

Quote:1. How would one determine that moral reality, separate from moral phenomena (the "appearance" of moral truths), actually exists?
2. In what way would a god provide for the existence of, what in common parlance is called objective morality, and you call moral reality? (See various on the Euthyphro dilemma.)
3. You realize that your argument is fallacious, right? ("I can't imagine how morality without a god exists, therefore a god must exist" — argumentum ad ignorantum.)
4. There appears to be an unspoken but implied argument from consequences here; yes or no? ("If there is no moral reality, that would be bad; therefore there is moral reality, therefore a god must exist.") So what if there is no "moral reality" ?
5. You use the term "hallucinatory" as another fallacious implied argument, suggesting that because something only exists in the mind, it is not "real" or genuine or meaningful; memories exist only in the mind, are they then to be considered "hallucinations" in the same sense? (See the argument from consequences.) Calling a mental phenomenon a hallucination carries an implied value judgement, this makes using it this way fallacious.
6. What do you consider "real" that you know about by another means than the mind? In other words, is there phenomena and reality, or just phenomena?
7. What are the consequences if moral reality doesn't exist? (In other words, so what?)

That's a lot of questions. I will address no. 3 first as you say in it that I commit a fallacy. I did not. Furthermore I did not present the argument you attributed to me. My arguments go like this.

1.Morality instructs/favours/commands
2.Only an agent can instruct/favour/command
3.Morality is an agent

Note that this argument is not fallacious. It is deductively valid. Of course, it may be unsound. But 1 is a conceptual truth, surely? So 1 is rock solid. 2, well – it seems true to me. I can’t conceive of how anything other than an agent can issue an instruction. Maybe you can, but I await a counterexample.

Next step.
1.Morality’s instructions confer reasons to comply whatever of the interests of those to whom they apply. (So, if morality truly does instruct you not to kill you thereby have reason not to kill even if you really, really want to.)
2.Only the commands/instructions/favourings of a supernatural agent who controls our fate in an afterlife would confer reasons to all to whom they are applied.
3.Therefore morality’s instructions are the commands/instructions/favourings of a supernatural agent of the kind described in 2.

Again, this argument commits no fallacy. It may be unsound, of course. But again, I need to see evidence against one or more of its premises before I can become convinced of this. In the absence of any such evidence, those premises seem true.
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#40
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Quote:I said that a disposition to view certain kinds of act as externally instructed 'to be done' and thereby to be acts we have inescapable reason to do would confer an advantage.

As Robert Green Ingersoll noted in the beginning of his essay "The Gods."

Quote:Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

These are clearly cultural gods with no supernatural power behind them. Doing what the priests demand "be done" might be useful in a self-preservation mode but only because these gods had a tendency to kill those who resisted them....or, rather their priests undertook to do it for them. Big difference.

I don't know what others mean by atheism. For myself it is that no believer in any god has ever produced the slightest bit of evidence that his particular invisible sky-daddy is real.
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