Christians love their false dilemmas

The past couple of days I have been debating with a commenter about the nature of morality.  Neither of us seemed to be productive in our arguments with one another, but one thing really struck me as odd.

My point of view was very consistently being mischaracterized.

My stance is that morality tends to come about naturally due to consequence and reaction. My opponent’s stance was that without an objective morality “in an atheistic worldview everything is random and spontaneous. There should be no order.

Except there is order.  The order isn’t always consistent, but some form of order always develops.  It’s not the anarchy my opponent is making it out to be, and that should be clear by simply looking at non-religious populations in the world.  The greatest amount of conflict seems more to be centred around highly religious populations utilizing objective moralities.

But I wonder, if morality is objective and comes from God, which part of the Bible am I to find the source of the swimming pool rules?

How do the Mafia determine their organization’s rules?

Why do we have governments working to manage the rules of countries?  Where are their rule changes coming from?

How does society adapt to believe new things are good or bad if morality is objective?

How do different denomination of Christianity adopt different viewpoints of the same objective morality guidebook?

My point of view was also mischaracterized as being one that lacks meaning.  That’s absolutely absurd.  If my life lacked meaning, the conversation I am speaking of would never have been something I would have cared to engage in.  I would be out inciting chaos, raping and pillaging and all of that fun stuff, wouldn’t I?

And then there is C.S. Lewis’ false dilemma about Jesus having to be either lord, liar, or lunatic which I speak of in my old post titled “Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? … OR!

Another blogger just happened to mentioned that she has just had a similar Christian false dilemma encounter in the past couple of days as well.  How’s that for divine intervention timing!  See: “Why Are We Here?

 

Anyways, I thought I was done with this Christian criticism blog thing.  Funny how things happen sometimes!  I guess everything is a part of God’s plan, right?

Alright, time for me to go snub my nose at blasphemous pool rules and dive into some shallow water, alone, while yelling loudly.  Those pool rule makers think they’re on-par with God … how dare they!

(for more info on false dilemmas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma)

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Illusion of Truth?, Perspective and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Christians love their false dilemmas

  1. Jamie Carter says:

    I”m not surprised. Take something like the Golden Rule – it’s also called the Law of Reciprocity and it exists in pretty much every religion out there.
    Christians of the Calvinistic stripe have been taught that we’re utterly depraved – that each and every cell of ours has fallen victim to sin. But it can also be meant to say that we’re all rotten apples to the core with no moral sense whatsoever. Christians depend upon God to be the objective source of morality – as someone who is outside and can be a true measurer of morality.
    But they forget that even when morality is subjective, it usually coincides – because of the law of reciprocity, we can agree that you shouldn’t steal from me and that I shouldn’t steal from you because you wouldn’t like it any more than I would, not because an outside force said: “Thou shalt not steal.”
    Thinking back to the story of the Good Samaritan, he was moral not because he had God, the religious people in the parable had God but couldn’t be bothered to help the guy who was left for dead. He was moral because he had compassion. Now it seems that Christians have come full circle, now they have God, but too few seem to have compassion.

    • Derek says:

      Hey Jamie,
      We do have a sinful nature, meaning that we are not prone to do what God says. Instead, we would rather pursue our own desires. That’s what utterly depraved means. If we can see this, it does not follow that we have no morality. Having no morality would mean we couldn’t imagine or understand what “utterly depraved” means. The bible teaches that all of us have a concept of right and wrong. As to your point about objective morality vs. subjective morality. We can only say whether or not a “subjective” morality is good or bad relative to an objective one. You are right to point out that the Good Samaritan is moral based on his actions, but we can only say he is immoral or moral relative to a standard that is objective. If you say it’s good that he has compassion, that value is either meaningless on account of the fact its only your opinion that compassion is good, or it is “correct” in the sense it corresponds to objective moral values. You also lament the lack of compassion on behalf of Christians. Without belaboring the point, this evaluation has the same problem as the Good Samaritan example. It is either lamentable by your own idiosyncratic standard, or it falls short of what an objective moral standard demands. If you argue that we all seem to have an idea of what is right and what is wrong, we are in agreement. If you say it’s all up to personal opinion, than why should we validate your opinion anymore than another person’s since you are equally qualified to have moral opinions?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Of course we aren’t prone to do what God says. We aren’t prone to do what anyone says. We only do what others say due to known or perceived consequences. That is the base of how morality develops. That is how a concept of right and wrong develops. That is why a concept of right and wrong can change as time goes by and new knowledge becomes more widely understood.

        Exploiting untestable perceived consequences through drumming up a fear of them is one method Christianity uses to attract new customers.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        I don’t think it necessarily follows that subjective morality is relative to an objective morality. If anything, there are times when the objective morality was silent leaving us to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. Some read the Bible and saw a pro-slavery stance, they preached from the pulpits that slavery was biblical. others read the Bible sand saw room for an anti-slavery interpretation. They preached from the pulpits that slavery was immoral. It seemed that our objective morality could be interpreted as saying both things were so. No matter how objective the objective morality in the Bible is, it’s subjective people that interpret and preach those words to say just about anything.

      • Derek says:

        Jamie,
        I hope you can see this, but there was no reply button beneath your post. You are right to point out that some saw slavery as good and others bad and preached about it. I also agree that moral objectivity can be obscured due to our moral blindness, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or even that it’s silent. The ability to accept what is right and wrong is not the same as the ability to understand right and wrong. To prevent an important misunderstanding, I want to point out that moral objectivity is not dependent on the Bible. The Bible is a written manifestation of what we should do, but moral objectivity existed outside of the Bible, and would exist after it if you destroyed every Bible in the universe. You probably understood that point, but I wanted to be clear.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        There are few sources to that objective force that do not filter through subjective forces. Even if every copy of the Bible were to be destroyed, people would be the next best connection to that objective force; but we would all be subjective in our interpretations about what that objective force says to each of us. It would be like living in a town cut off from all outside communication – we’d only be able to guess what’s an outsider might be trying to tell us based on flashes of light or smoke signals in the distance – if each of us are using a different guide, we’ll all arrive at different ideas about what is being said.

  2. Derek says:

    Jason,
    I’m really happy to hear you’ve decided to keep blogging! Before I try to explain a few things I think it would helpful if we cleared away some of the ambiguity surrounding the things we haven’t defined because I think some of your examples don’t really speak to the actual definitions (maybe they do, but they’ll require some more explanation. What I mean when I say moral objectivity is the idea that right and wrong exists “outside of ourselves” in the sense that we did not come up with it. It is “above us” in power because we try to appeal to it.

    For instance, you said that your viewpoint was consistently being “mischaracterized”. I deny the charge, but it brings up an interesting point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you did not invent the idea that mischaracterization (lying) is a problem. When you say I mischaracterized your viewpoint you assume the audience (myself included) already knows that this thing I did is in violation of a value we all hold. So in that sentence you have demonstrated that you believe in a standard that you didn’t create and yet still found it so powerful that you could appeal to it in an attempt to explain how someone else was in the wrong. Once again, I don’t think I’ve mischaracterized your arguments at all, but the process you went through is one that only moral objectivity can sustain. Otherwise mischaracterization is only a personal distaste that you wouldn’t expect others to necessarily share oustide of a coincidental few.

    I want to zoom in on your sardonic comment about divine intervention vs. timing because it might help us see the problem in your reasoning as far as objective standards are concerned. If “timing” is all there is in your view; If you we are only matter existing in a material universe we should not expect “order” and we can’t call anything “order” because order is non-existent. Whatever your ideas are on the idea of right and wrong, they are really just the result of the position of atoms in your brain, the most recent bubbling and fizzing of a random chemical reaction billions of years in the making. Your response to that comment is simply the reorganization of those atoms in the latest nuance of the reaction. If the material universe is all there is, we can have it no other way. Free will to cognitively process this information doesn’t exist for you anymore than it exists for baking soda and vinegar bubbling when mixed. In your view, this very conversation is drenched in irony and humor (sadly neither of these exists don’t exist in a random universe) because we are simply babbling about things through the puppetry of the latest churning of a cosmic accident.

    On your point about rules. I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say. I think you misunderstood my idea about atheistic worldviews not having order. I understand I didn’t really explain that point, but I hope the above paragraph clarifies that. Nefarious organizations certainly do have rules. But I can only regard groups that murder and steal as bad with an objective standard. I can also judge their rules about dishonesty and false testimony (if the stereotypes are true) by an objective standard. As far as pool rules are concerned, I’m confused why you think they need to be in the Bible. Maybe to help with this point I could explain that the Bible values human life and happiness, and as far as pool rules are concerned which in your examples help to protect human life and respect. If they didn’t do those things, they would be bad pool rules relative to the objective standard.

    Finally, I do not expect atheists to be raping and pillaging. There are consequences that would make such behavior unappealing (prison, injury through the self-defense, etc.) but from the atheist viewpoint, that’s really all we can say. With an objective moral standard I can say I’m glad that they are not doing such things because the behavior of abstaining from rape and theft is ordinate with the objective moral standard. An atheist cannot say raping and pillaging is bad however, unless he or she also admits that it’s really only their opinion since their is no moral objective standard we must all bend to.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      You still don’t seem to understand. Non-religious good and bad is not simply based on opinion. It is based on consequence. This is exactly the sort of false dilemma I am talking about in the post. You seem to only focus on one aspect that suits you arguing your position rather than looking at the whole picture.

      You say that the Bible values human life and happiness. Do you not consider that human life and happiness are naturally supported by humanity due to the desire to survive, and that maybe this is what the Bible’s morality is based on?

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Mischaracterizing my points means what you describe them as are not what they are. It’s not a matter of what is good or bad, it is a matter of incongruence.

      I am happy to see you trying to better understand what my positions are in other threads though. It seems you have been misled about how non-believers see things.

      • Derek says:

        Why is incongruence important? We can swap out words as often as synonyms allow, but you’re just running on a linguistic treadmill getting no farther from the moral reality of what you’re doing when you appeal to an objective standard.

        I think I have a better idea than you do on what atheists believe. You’re basically an atheist dilettante with humanist leanings, but even the humanist leanings seem to have melted recently. If I’ve been misled on what atheist believe, it’s been by non-believers themselves. I guess I have Dawkins, Hitchens, Hume, Hegel (not an atheist, but a non-believer), and Dewey to blame. I think you’re supposing that I’ve been indoctrinated by Christians, I think you need to actually understand the reaches of the philosophy you claim to subscribe to.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        If A is my point of view and B is the point of view you are arguing against, but A=/= B, then you are not arguing against my point, which means your argument is meaningless in relation to my point.

        That’s logic, not morality.

        Oh, you know my beliefs better than I do? Now there’s a bold claim, especially despite my disagreements with what you claim I believe.

        Yeah, I’ve never been much of a fan of the Atheist movement. Seems like too much ideology getting mixed in there.

        So, oh wise one about my beliefs, what philosophy do I subscribe to? I’d be curious to see if I agree with it.

      • Derek says:

        If A is my point of view and B is the point of view you are arguing against, but A=/= B, then you are not arguing against my point, which means your argument is meaningless in relation to my point.

        What? I agree with you that survival guarantees survival. My objection comes from the fact that this statement is not “new information”. If you say we should try to survive so that we can survive, It’s not reasonably convincing. Do you honestly not see the problem?

        That’s logic, not morality.

        Unfortunately, I’m a little confused with what you’re talking about because of these posts haha, but I think you’re talking about my self-preservation man. You’ll have to elaborate on how it’s only logic and not also morality. I can see it being both, but I can’t see it being only logic.

        Oh, you know my beliefs better than I do? Now there’s a bold claim, especially despite my disagreements with what you claim I believe.

        You claimed to be an atheist in regards to Christianity, and an agnostic overall, so I claim to believe what you’ve told me you believe.

        Yeah, I’ve never been much of a fan of the Atheist movement. Seems like too much ideology getting mixed in there.

        That’s fine, but you claimed to be an atheist towards Christianity. I’m curious to know where do you depart from traditional atheist ideology.

        So, oh wise one about my beliefs, what philosophy do I subscribe to? I’d be curious to see if I agree with it.

        I have no idea what philosophy you subscribe to. A few years ago you were about human connection, but a few days ago you said the holocaust was unsustainable and wrong within quotation marks. So I’m not really sure. You have logical issues with theology, but when I answer them logically, you seem to drop the case as suddenly uninteresting or important, so it seems like those things never actually mattered to you in the first place. So, overall, I have no clue what you believe.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        The Atheist movement likes to claim that those not subscribing to a belief system is considered a lack of belief and therefore Atheism. I disagree with that notion. I see Atheism as disbelief in gods. In this sense, I consider myself neutral as I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that gods exist and I haven’t seen any convincing evidence to suggest gods don’t exist.

        Supposedly caring interactive gods on the other hand, they could have easily left solid evidence if they wanted humanity to know them. The lack of doing so has to be taken as evidence that either they don’t actually care or they don’t exist. That rules out the Christian version of God.

        So you claimed to know my beliefs better than I do and now you turn around and say you have no clue what I believe. Interesting.

      • Derek says:

        Ok, so you’re basically an agnostic with a penchant for criticizing Christianity on the grounds it violates principles you have no knowledge of.

        Supposedly caring interactive gods on the other hand, they could have easily left solid evidence if they wanted humanity to know them. The lack of doing so has to be taken as evidence that either they don’t actually care or they don’t exist. That rules out the Christian version of God.

        God left enough evidence of his existence to allow for belief in him. We have absolute truth, absolute morality, the Bible, creation, reason in general. You are asking for enough evidence to make belief in God a logical certainty. God definitely leaves us a way out of believing in him because he wants us to choose him willingly, not be logically forced to due to a lack of an intellectual alternative. As we began discussing a few days ago, God definitely does not force people follow him. Does this make him unloving? Hardly. People choose to not follow God. Why should God be blamed for that lack of interest or love for Him? I think it’s quite harsh to say that God isn’t loving because he allows people to not love him in this life. There will be a time when every tongue will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, but until then God wants you to pursue him and choose him on your own volition.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Jesus didn’t fulfill messianic prophesy, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

        Yeah, that’s great, God decided to toy with humanity and not leave any conclusive evidence. What a loving God!

        If God actually exists and is loving, I’ll be expecting Him to clear up what all the religious nonsense in the world is really about when I pass beyond this Earthly realm.

      • Derek says:

        Jesus didn’t fulfill messianic prophesy, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
        Second time you’ve said this. Can you please just state your case so I can explain why you’re wrong and we can move on?

        Yeah, that’s great, God decided to toy with humanity and not leave any conclusive evidence. What a loving God!

        So to be clear your idea of love is compulsory obedience? I’m not married yet but I hope my future wife has a different idea than you do. Rather than adding exclamation points to terse sarcasm, can you try to expand on that point?

        If God actually exists and is loving, I’ll be expecting Him to clear up what all the religious nonsense in the world is really about when I pass beyond this Earthly realm.

        Well if you don’t look for him, he’s never going to seem loving to you, and you’ll spend all of eternity continuing to hate God as much as you do now. When you say “love” I think you really mean leniency. Enough evidence exists for me to believe in him, and none of your arguments have disproved what I believe, quite the opposite. If your argument was so compelling, which it clearly isn’t, I might empathize with your refusal to believe.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        https://christianitysimplified.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/christians-ignore-the-views-the-jews-have-of-their-own-beliefs/

        Good luck overturning Judaism. I’m sure you’ve got enough to convince yourself that you are right.

        Where did I suggest compulsory obedience? That’s another false dilemma. Wish I was keeping track of how many of those you’ve utilized.

        God could easily have left conclusive evidence of His existence. That’s no certainty that everyone would obey though. Just look at how there are many people who still believe the Earth is flat, or only 6,000 years old. Conclusive evidence doesn’t force obedience.

        The Christian God certainly isn’t loving, but I am open to the possibility that maybe there is a loving God out there. I look forward to hearing from such a God if He exists. I know there will still be people who are so stubborn in their beliefs that they would reject such a God. Whether that could be an issue in crossing over for them, I don’t know, but I know it shouldn’t be an issue for me.

        And yes, I know how strong confirmation bias can be – again referencing flat-Earthers and 6,000 year old Earthers. I don’t expect any of my arguments to turn you around on the spot.

      • Derek says:

        “I’m sure you’ve got enough to convince yourself that you are right.”
        I posted a really brief (for once) response to the post in the link you included. I think you were trying to be sarcastic, but I found the comment your quoted in above ironic and refreshing. What other means might I use to convince myself?

        Where did I suggest compulsory obedience?

        Maybe you can help me understand you then, if we don’t have a choice, what other option is there? I guess I would see free-will and compulsory obedience as pretty much the only options. Can we actually start keeping track of “false dilemmas”? I think it would be really interesting.

        God could easily have left conclusive evidence of His existence. That’s no certainty that everyone would obey though. Just look at how there are many people who still believe the Earth is flat, or only 6,000 years old. Conclusive evidence doesn’t force obedience.

        I agree with you on the obeying part. That’s not what we’re discussing though. We’re discussing the believing part. They are different. Also, on the earth being 6,000 years old, I don’t know how old it is exactly, but in my life time the earth has “aged” over a billion years. A billion years. I don’t think we can call the age of the Earth “conclusive.”

        What about God is not loving?

        It won’t surprise you to learn that every blog post you share or comment you write doesn’t do anything to change my beliefs. In most cases it just reaffirms the logic behind them. You can claim “bias” or stubbornness, but if we look at the arguments themselves I think the evidence and reasoning speaks for itself. Besides, even if I was biased, this is only a problem if I’m wrong. No one cares if you think you’re right all the time, but you are right all the time. You have to prove I’m wrong first before bias even comes into the picture.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Your final paragraph leads well into my latest blog post about the backfire effect and how people with hardened beliefs tend to be reaffirmed of their belief even in the face of true information.

        How has the Earth “aged” over a billion years in your lifetime? I would assume you heard that in relation to how the Earth had changed in the past. The age of the Earth may not be conclusive down to the exact year, but it would not surprise me that they have a good ballpark figure of its age considering all the different angles of evidence that have been compiled.

        Free-will and compulsory obedience are not the only choices. I would see them as the two ends of a range of possibilities. It’s not simply that it’s either one or the other – it could be a combination of both.

      • Derek says:

        Your final paragraph leads well into my latest blog post about the backfire effect and how people with hardened beliefs tend to be reaffirmed of their belief even in the face of true information.

        I read that post, but I think you missed my point then. I think with the increased number of posts I write, I explain things less clearly than I want to. Poor Jamie has to deal with a post that I’m afraid makes no sense because the writing is so bad haha. Oh well.

        This is getting too off topic, so I’ll be terse: facts don’t change. If they do, they’re not facts. If someone isn’t convinced by these changing facts, you can’t hold it against them because those things you thought would convince them weren’t really facts in the first place. Maybe the age of the earth is a bad example.

        This point is getting tangential too. I don’t know how there could be a balance of free-will and obligatory action because those two things are so opposite and so exclusive. The point is an evolutionary worldview cannot have intelligence or freewill because there is no way we could perceive freewill or intelligence (among other things) present in that system that we were so intimately a part of. It would be like taking out your eyes to look at them.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        You still seem to be falling into the false dilemma. A worldview that takes evolution into account can still be one that incorporates some form of God.

      • Derek says:

        I think you’re a little too liberal with what you consider a false dilemma, but that doesn’t really matter I guess. So you believe in a god?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I am presenting the neglected possibilities, as it seems you are seeing things as either one way or another.

        I am neutral on a general god belief. I don’t have enough evidence to make an informed decision in either direction. All I am aware of is how evolution occurred. I have no idea how it began.

  3. Derek says:

    Obviously, consequence is not outside the realm of opinion, and if it is

    A lot of morality is based on the sanctity of human life, but there are things that are immoral that do not correlate to survival at all. What does cheating on your wife have to do with my survival? In fact the desire to survive can also become immoral if it is prioritized above other morals. If you push people out of the way to escape a burning building, or abandon your post in the war to save yourself, you are a coward. So it doesn’t make sense that survival is the ultimate foundation of all morality.

    You also take for granted that survival is positive. I agree with you that it is, but this is a moral absolute. If you can just squeeze one idea through the door of moral absolutism, your theory on morality does begin to make sense, but only after you get a taste of moral absolutism.

    • Jamie Carter says:

      In the context of war, morality seems to go out of the window. Some of the people who were shot for cowardice actually displayed symptom of PTSD before we finally understood the toll that war takes on a human psyche. Shooting sufferers of PTSD wasn’t so much a punishment to them – many wanted out and if they couldn’t run for their lives they left themselves open to getting killed on the battlefield – it was a warning to everyone else not to run. Not only that, but many atrocities are often committed in times of war.

      • Derek says:

        What window is morality going out of? What moral standard are you appealing to in your PTSD example, or shortly, why was that unfair? By what standard is an atrocity bad?

        Also, I’m not really referring to shooting deserters specifically, but explaining that abandoning a post of defense in any context is done for personal survival, and yet is immoral. This goes against the theory of surival as the only source of morality. You seem to be more morally reasonable than Jason, who recently described the holocaust in his February 21st post on “Jesus claims to be many things but only in John”,

        “The Holocaust within its society may not have been ‘wrong’ but consequentially it certainly didn’t turn out to be ‘right’ in the greater scheme of things as it clearly didn’t turn out to be a sustainable endeavour.”

      • Jamie Carter says:

        “out of the window” is an idiom, it means to be made obsolete or altered drastically as a result of situational change. War is an immoral business. Even though the Bible says “you shall not kill”, Christians take up arms and do just that. People will do things in wartime that they wouldn’t do in peacetime.
        We have the Hippocratic Oath, developed not because of the Bible, but because the earliest doctors strove to be healers of the finest quality. From it comes the idea of “do no harm”. One does not cure conditions like PTSD by shooting the patients dead. One doesn’t cure cancer by giving patients lethal injections.
        Atrocities – like genocides such as the Holocaust, among others – have been sanctioned in Scripture, when God ordered the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites, every man, woman, child, and even animal they possessed. The engineers of the Holocaust were basically Christian, Hitler even created New Christianity to bolster his power among the faithful while shutting down / persecuting the old Christianity. Perhaps if God hadn’t been so willing to amass such a high body count, we might not think it’s okay – but if it’s okay with God, then it’s probably okay even today; after all, he’s the objective moral force. But it’s our subjective morality that moves us to tears when we visit monuments where we mark such things have happened. Some of the worst atrocities happened because people thought that God was okay with it. The Crusades, for instance, was one such instance where Christians believed that God wanted them to fight Muslims and kill them wherever they could be found. Christians went on nine total crusades.
        One of my favorite shows features this line: “No god should ever ask you to kill an innocent man to prove your sanctity.” as subjective as human morality is, sometimes each of us knows where to draw the line a whole sooner than people speaking on behalf of the divine.

      • Derek says:

        Hey Jamie,
        You bring up some great points on how wrong the holocaust was, the immorality of shooting a PTSD sufferer, and the absurdity of curing cancer with a lethal injection. These are all immoral to the objective standard. We agree. Going back to your idiom “Morality goes out the window during war” I was trying to show you that you have an awareness of a moral objective standard, for to go out the window means to decline rapidly or cease suddenly. You can neither cease nor decline unless it is relative to a standard.

        I now want to address your issues with war, God, and Christian Nazis. First let’s understand that murder is not the same as killing in battle. You may disagree with this distinction, but the Bible is crystal clear. So in a just and defensive war or conflict, killing for self-defense is allowed.

        When it comes to the Nazis being Christians, you take great liberties with your definition of Christian. They may have been culturally Christian, kind of like the USA is today, but they could not have been Christian based on what they bible calls fruit. When you are a Christian, you do Christian things. Jesus says any plant that does not produce good fruit will be thrown into the flames (Hell) because that plant is not and was never Christian. There is no evidence to support that because God commanded the destruction of Cannan, the Christian Nazis thought it would be ok. The irony would not be lost on me that they drew inspiration from the holy book of those they were attempting to destroy.

        When it comes to God and Cannanites, or any other tribe that went against God’s people, we have to trust in God’s justice. I don’t claim that this is an easy thing to understand or explain, but I believe God is just in his punishment. If you have a moral issue with this and no objective standard, it’s just your opinion.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        One individuals’ objective standard is another’s subjective standard. People need not believe in an objective moral standard to agree an action is immoral; even people with subjective morality can agree that something is wrong.

        Anyone who believe that their objective standard declares that just wars, defensive wars, and such conflicts are justifiable reasons for taking the lives of other humans can simply declare that every single conflict they enter into as a just war and murder countless numbers of individuals with impunity believing God would have them do so without stopping to ask themselves whether or not it’s so. That is extremely dangerous thinking.
        The “no true Scotsman” fallacy isn’t that great of a defense. True Christians, who really do believe in the Bible and bear fruit can be just as guilty of doing as wrong as “untrue” Christians. You point to ethnic cleansing in one of your other comments – ethnicities often share a single main religion. How many conflicts in Africa aren’t just one tribe trying to eradicate another, but Christians killing Muslims and Muslims killing Christians? Just as was done with the Crusades – of all the hundreds of thousands people who have killed others in the name of God, some of them had to be true Christians who felt that their actions were justified because the Bible says so and as the objective source of their morality they could not be wrong no matter how many died because of them. Here we have two groups of people each claiming to obey the same objective moral standard who has pitted them against each other in a battle that has raged on for countless centuries as each view themselves as instruments of God’s Justice, righteously administering death as his judgement against his enemies. But any God that needs our help to destroy his enemies is no God worth following and his morality is not one to be emulated.

        “Nothing justifies genocide.” – Star Trek Deep Space 9, “Duet”
        to which I’d add: “not even God.”

      • dmschafft@gmail.com says:

        Hey Jamie,
        Your argument has a logical problem that I think we need to address first. If in fact every “objective” standard is a “subjective” standard dressed up in authority, we are actually in complete agreement. If no objective standard really exists, than yes all moral standards are subjective. But your argument presupposes this is the case. You bring up some examples of supposed immorality (not showing my hand, just forcing the issue of subjectivity) but we can’t have that discussion until we have a standard that these acts fall short of or deviate from.

        If all moral standards are subjective, yours being no exception, we cannot have absolutes even if they make great Star Trek lines.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        Let’s say being Z has the only true objective standard. Beings A cannot call Z on a telephone, send Z an e-mail, or directly ask Z what’s what. All we have are two thousand year old manuscripts which are incomplete and no two are exactly alike. If two different members of Beings A read the text, they will naturally arrive at two different subjective ideas about what Being Z wrote. Even if Being Z has the most objective standard of all, it’s filtered through the subjective interpretation of Beings A, hundreds of them, from cultures the world over, spanning thousands of years. So we end up with questions like “Would God be okay with women who surgically remove their eggs and have them frozen?” And “Should In-Vitro Fertilization be used to try to increase the odds of having children that hasn’t happened naturally?” Of course a document from millennia ago won’t have direct answers for our modern-day dilemmas.

      • Derek says:

        The Bible is not “incomplete” and when you say no two manuscripts are exactly the same, that’s simply not true. But I want to get to your point, which is well thought out. In your example, we absolutely can use the Bible to come to a moral decision, despite the fact that those methods weren’t present in Biblical times. Moral absolutes do not change over time. I find it more important to explain, however, the idea that two people can have “equally valid” moral viewpoints. Assuming that they are not different on purely trivial grounds, I disagree the idea that both sides can be right. People may, and often do, disagree, but this doesn’t mean that there is only one who is closest to the truth. I don’t deny people have different ideas on what the Bible says, but I think there are good arguments and bad ones.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        Take one of those moral truths: “you shall not steal”
        Imagine a cruel leader who arranged food shipments so that part of his population will starve slowly. Is it wrong for one of the hungry fathers to steal food to feed his children?
        And that moral imperative, “obey your leaders” – surely it wouldn’t mean murdering every citizen who wears a star-shaped patch on their clothes because what the leader says, goes.

      • Derek says:

        Great questions Jamie!

        Are we in agreement that the governments in these examples (all of which have happened) are bad governments relative to an objective standard? We have to be careful when applying these moral truths to not be myopic. That’s the kind of legalistic hypocrisy that Jesus frequently spoke against. If you say “do as you would be done,” and I buy my sister an xbox, she’s not going to like it. Is the golden rule bad? No, I’m just applying it badly. What it really means is make the person feel how you would want to feel since you are equal before God.

        On the issue of stealing, the Bible actually has a provision on stealing. If you do it, you must pay back seven times what you stole. Going beyond that, starving children are not stealing out of greed or selfishness, but rather to live. Jesus talks about David eating the consecrated bread (not exactly the same, but similar) and it was “unlawful” but David didn’t do anything wrong in eating it.

        The Bible at no point says, “follow your leaders even when they tell you to do bad things”. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel didn’t do what their leader wanted and they got thrown into a furnace for it. The Bible does tell us to be good citizens wherever that happens to be, but at no point does that trump the commandments or loving God.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Well, I’m curious. If all these seemingly clear rules in the Bible have all these exceptions and interpretations, how are they objective?

        Is there an objective list of all the Biblical rules to follow to be moral? It’s seeming more and more to really not be all that objective the more you talk about it.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        Before one creates an objective moral list, he or she must first decide which Bible is the most thoroughly and correctly translated version of God’s word. Ethiopian Christians have over eighty books in their cannon. Catholic Christians have a dozen more that Evangelicals do not; is it possible that some of these other books contain wisdom unknown to us? Should we go with the king James Version? Or perhaps an updated English Standard Version? An uproar was made over a gender neutral Bible translation some years back – why is that one wrong? Why not use The Message, a paraphrase, of Scripture that actually uses modern language? If people are allowed to use whatever Bible they wish for their absolute objective moral standard, then invariably the differences in translation and interpretation will change the morals they draw out of the word. So once everyone is using the same Bible; then all that remains is to teach them the one true interpretation of the Scriptures and to discourage them from thinking outside of the box or searching things out for themselves. You’d probably also have to do away with denominations that are flexible – like those Unitarian Universalists that refuse to take a hard stand on anything and have an “anything goes” attitude about faith. Or the Methodists who think they can use “experience” and “common sense” to interpret scripture and who let women preach and teach because of that (there’s verses in the Bible that forbid women from teaching or having authority over men.) Then it would be a good idea to do away with Pentecostals and any emphasis on the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues or words of prophecy because that’s pretty a subjective source of God’s wisdom and can’t be controlled or predicted. Once you have one common Bible, one common denomination, one common teaching, you might be able to find your Objective moral standard; you just had to do away with Christian liberty to do it. And it would still “filter” through people, making it subjective – you would only have removed a number of variables to decrease that subjectivity, but depending on what sort of person, they can still arrive at two different conclusions. Some might be literalist – into the letter of the law. Others might seek to draw out the spirit of the law. “Sacrifice!” Cry some and yet “Mercy!” cry others.

      • Derek says:

        Hey Jamie,
        It is obvious that there are many denominations of Christianity. That fact, by itself, does not in any way suggest that all of Christianity is wrong. I would argue, on the other hand, that all denominations cannot be right. I said this before because I thought you might go here, but I’ll say it again: God’s objective standard existed before the Bible did. I’m a Christian, and yet on most day to day moral issues, I do not immediately run to the Bible and figure out what my next “moral” move will be. Most moral issues are pretty obvious even to non-believers. Neither the Bible nor myself suggests that morality is such a mystery or so antithetical to reason that we must chart out our every move. We rely on an objective moral standard because without it, morality to any meaningful degree cannot exist, but like I keep saying, this objective standard is not dependent on the Bible per say. If anything, it’s the other way around. If we look at an issue like the death penalty or social welfare, I think arguments from “both sides” certainly exist, but there are much stronger arguments and much weaker ones when it comes to deciding big social issues like the aforementioned ones.

        On your point about translations of the Bible, some are good and some are not so good. But for something to be “not good” there must be a truth that it fails to convey fully.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Pardon me for jumping in, but it looks like we’ve found some common ground!

        “this objective standard is not dependent on the Bible per say. If anything, it’s the other way around.”

        I fully agree! The Bible was based on existing morality.

        “Most moral issues are pretty obvious even to non-believers.”

        That’s to be expected, consequences tend to be pretty common for all people.

        As consequences diminish though, such as for people in positions of high power, morality tends to become much more fuzzy as consequences become less threatening, don’t you think?

      • Jamie Carter says:

        So if people don’t need the Bible to be their “objective moral standard”; isn’t the only thing that remains is to have subjective morals? Remember the picture I mentioned before – outside of the Scripture, there’s no direct link between us and God – all there is left is to compare notes with each other, which is essentially subjective. One of my favorite ideas: “Do no harm” comes not from Scripture, but the early practice of medicine – does it count as an objective moral even though it’s not based in Scripture or a subjective one on account of it’s origins? What about ideas today that clash with morals of old – how it’s not okay to force other people into servitude although the Scriptures allowed it?

      • Derek says:

        Jason,
        In response to your last thought: if we only judge right and wrong on consequences we will have a very messed up world. You are right that people at the top don’t have the same repercussions as the rest of us, but I would argue that’s true across all dimensions of the socioeconomic spectrum. Consequences do not predict morality. In such a world, cheating on your wife is great just don’t get caught; lie about your life, but please make them good lies; kill your neighbor’s dog but make sure she thinks it was an accident; and so on. That concept for the source of morality creates a pretty terrible place relative to an objective standard of right and wrong that is above and beyond consequences in this life.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        You just described what people actually do in this world and why laws come to be.

        If there are no consequences or people feel confident they know ways around them, people will gladly exploit that.

        What is the comparison you are using that suggests it is terrible compared to objective morality land?

        I’ve personally found that many Christians have a tendency to be pretty selfish people. Having the supposed objective morality of the Bible certainly doesn’t seem to make much, if any, difference that I can tell. I’d still like to see a list of objective morals.

        After 2000 years, surely someone’s compiled them to make it clear enough that they won’t be interpreted subjectively, right?

      • Derek says:

        So if people don’t need the Bible to be their “objective moral standard”; isn’t the only thing that remains is to have subjective morals?

        No. Objectivity is beyond subjectivity. If we are confused, we can and need to use the Bible. It’s kind of like measuring devices. If the bible is a tape measure, we can measure things exactly. Without it, objects still have lengths and widths, dimensions don’t disappear even if you destroyed every tape measure. Subjectivity would be saying, “To me this pencil is 18 miles long” and another person saying, “I disagree it’s 18 miles long, but can we agree it is an inch thick?” They can be nearer or closer to the truth only if the pencil has an actual length, an objective standard.

        Remember the picture I mentioned before – outside of the Scripture, there’s no direct link between us and God – all there is left is to compare notes with each other, which is essentially subjective.

        It’s not subjective at all; it’s based on reason not fancy. If one denomination says “you can go to heaven if you pay indulgences” and I say, “I believe in heaven but where are indulgences in scripture?” we’re going to have a debate with one very clear winner. The Bible is really not nearly as open to interpretation as a lot of people believe. You can certainly pull a lot of wacky things out of it, but they don’t stand up to the rest of scripture.

        One of my favorite ideas: “Do no harm” comes not from Scripture, but the early practice of medicine – does it count as an objective moral even though it’s not based in Scripture or a subjective one on account of it’s origins? What about ideas today that clash with morals of old – how it’s not okay to force other people into servitude although the Scriptures allowed it?

        Medicine and healing others is obviously good in scripture. We still “force other people into servitude” for more or less the same reasons people did it in biblical times. If you couldn’t pay your debt, you would be sold to compensate. Maybe you’re aware, maybe you’re not, but bankruptcy is essentially the modern equivalent.

      • Jamie Carter says:

        Which brings you back to the problem of which Bible version of the Bible to use and how to interpret it. It’s not as if the Bible fell out of the sky as a bound book anyway; the Old Testament was a series of scrolls. The New Testament was a series of letters, then the gospels were written, and finally Revelation. It took three to four hundred years for the early Catholic church to meet to agree on a list of books that were canon. Early Christians also had books like the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas to guide them that seem to have fallen out of use in our modern church.
        The tape measure metaphor shows an interesting problem: there are all kinds of tape measure and not just any one will do. I could take a child’s toy version of a tape measure and find it difficult to get an exact measure as it’s safety features would prevent getting an accurate measure. Perhaps one company might use thicker likes where another uses thinner, so it’s hard to gauge where exactly eighteen truly is. Perhaps my tape measure doesn’t use inches and feet and is entirely metric. Or it’s just a small rope made of up knots every so often. One of the earliest forms of measurement was the cubit – the length of one’s fore arm, but people are of different heights and it could range between 18-21 inches or 44-52 cm. Work enough projects with enough different people and you’ll find that the pieces aren’t always fitting just right, some will be too long and others will be to short and it won’t come together quite right.
        Both pro-slavery and anti-slavery groups used the Bible to support their position. Both pro-segregation and anti-segregation groups used the Bible to support their position, Both pro-war and anti-war groups used the Bible to support their position – from the Bible we get the Day-Age theory, a 6 Day literal creation, Creationary Evolution, Arminianism and Calvinism, it all depends on how you read it, and since each person reads from it differently, that’s how we end up with ideas that aren’t in scripture as accepted Biblical truths – or ideas that are in Scripture but not in so many words – like how Modesty demands that women not wear certain clothing and men are exempt from those rules because of them being their weaker brother and it’s not a good thing to cause them to stumble.
        Fortunately for us, the United Nations bill of human rights prominently asserts that it’s a violation to force others into slavery and that everyone ought to be free; furthermore anyone who is found to be a slaver will face stiff punishments for violating basic human rights. While it’s not as “biblical” or as “moral” (since everything Biblical is by definition moral) as slavery is, it’s the right thing to do – even though it’s “wrong” – (biblically speaking.)

      • Derek says:

        “You just described what people actually do in this world and why laws come to be.”
        Yes but why are those things bad? They are bad relative to an objective standard. Each culprit in the example seemed to think they were doing what they had a right to do. Subjectively, they were the heroes.

        “If there are no consequences or people feel confident they know ways around them, people will gladly exploit that.”
        Yes.

        What is the comparison you are using that suggests it is terrible compared to objective morality land?
        Subjective morality (i.e. no common overarching law) means there is no real right and wrong because it differs from person to person. That sounds bad to me because I don’t want neighbors who would kill me if I play music too loud because in their own minds they are doing the other neighbors a favor. I want rules that we all abide by because they are above us (greater than us in power) and outside of us (not of our own making).

        I’ve personally found that many Christians have a tendency to be pretty selfish people. Having the supposed objective morality of the Bible certainly doesn’t seem to make much, if any, difference that I can tell. I’d still like to see a list of objective morals.
        Selfishness only exists if we have an objective moral standard. I agree it’s a problem, but you can’t really complain about it. Maybe they’re being extremely selfless, subjectively speaking, through their own perspective.

        “After 2000 years, surely someone’s compiled them to make it clear enough that they won’t be interpreted subjectively, right?”

        I think you and Jamie are confused on what objectivity means. The ten commandments are essentially the objective standard we are to follow.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        You still completely fail to understand how survival-based subjective morality leads to common overarching laws.

        The ten commandments is what you use? It says not to kill though, while you defended killing in defence and also defended destroying nations – so long as God gives it the ok.

        Your view sounds rather subjective in relation to the ten commandments.

      • Derek says:

        You’ve pretty much mentioned all of these points in various places in previous points, but you’re not really addressing the issue. Is there a real right and a real wrong or not? If you say there isn’t a real right and wrong, your argument is just an opinion. If you think there is a real right and wrong, an objective moral standard, we agree. Slavery in the Bible is a financial punishment, but it’s not “a good thing.” The human slavery that the UN is against and the Bible is also against by the way, is of course wrong, but it is wrong in accordance with an objective moral standard.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        This is a false dilemma you are presenting. Are you unable to see middle ground between the two extremes?

        The way you present it seems along the lines of objective morality being order, and subjective morality being chaos. That is completely not the case at all. Can’t you see that? There are many non-Christian societies throughout the world to look at. The evidence shouldn’t be difficult to see.

      • Derek says:

        Three definitions:

        False dilemma is presenting options when there are more options present.
        Subjective morality: morality that varies person to person and society to society because there is no ultimate standard for right and wrong.
        Objective morality: a morality that is independent of humans, yet all humans attempt to live up to it.

        What middle ground can exist between those two moralities. If you can explain how something can be objective and subjective (those words are practically opposites by the way) I’ll submit that I have presented a false dilemma, but I sincerely do not believe there is a spectrum to give us any other options. How could something be objective (not your opinion) and yet also subjective (just your opinion)?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Well, if you actually read the things I type, I speak of subjective morality based on survival, not based on personal whim.

        You are still completely ignoring my point of view.

      • Derek says:

        Hey Jason,

        “You still completely fail to understand how survival-based subjective morality leads to common overarching laws.”
        Well, actually to be clear, I understand how it can lead to laws. That’s not the issue. If morality begins and ends with the law, I would simply say it’s not a good morality. If right and wrong is as flippant and capricious as our laws and as our justice system, I don’t think

        “The ten commandments is what you use? It says not to kill though, while you defended killing in defence and also defended destroying nations – so long as God gives it the ok.”

        What standard are you using to say that’s wrong again? I don’t know what subjective view you’re using, or more to the point, why you think you’re subjective view is better than what you perceive to be my subjective view. I don’t have a problem with Jews destroying Canaanites who were sinful and angered God.

        “Your view sounds rather subjective in relation to the ten commandments.”

        Based on this statement I don’t think you know what subjective and objective means. I can’t be “subjective” relative to what I am arguing is “objective”. That would be like saying, “after measuring that board with your tape measure, it’s your subjective opinion that it’s 28 inches and seven eighths.” I already explained this to you last week, or the week before, but I have no problem explaining it again. The commandment is “do not murder”. Self-defense is not murder. Murder is murder right? I didn’t ask a man to break into my home and try to kill me (in my example) and if he left right away I wouldn’t pursue him into the street to kill him; remember, I don’t want to kill him, I just want to survive the encounter as the victim.

      • Derek says:

        I’m not trying to ignore your view. I’m trying to explain why that explanation for why we have morality doesn’t make any sense. The majority of our morals have nothing to do with survival. Some of our morals even seem to be counter-productive to survival. If survival was really the “man behind the curtain” for morality, wouldn’t they all be obviously pointed solely in that inevitable, pragmatic direction?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Survival is the foundation. It’s not the exact reason for every law. There are other factors as well that come into play such as who has the ability to enact laws – but if you take a look, you’ll find that the basis is still survival on some level, whether it is survival as a species, survival as a certain group, or survival as an individual.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      When it comes to existence of our species, survival is an absolute. Without survival being seen as a positive, humans would quickly cease to exist. It’s as simple as that.

      Is existence a positive? Who knows. We are the most technologically advanced life form that we know of. I think some value can be derived from that, aside from the whole typically not wanting to die thing.

      • Derek says:

        That’s circular reasoning. Survival is right because without it we could not survive. Circular reasoning, while simple, has the disadvantage of being circular.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        How is it circular if it is the end point? Circles don’t have end points.

      • Derek says:

        Hey Jason,
        Same problem I had with Jamie’s post earlier. I can’t respond to your point because there’s no reply option. You said,

        “How is it circular if it is the end point? Circles don’t have end points.”

        Yes, that’s exactly what makes this reasoning circular. Do you see why this is not convincing or logical?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I don’t follow. An end point makes it circular in your logic?

        There is nothing beyond survival. If Survival wasn’t an issue, then we just would no longer exist. There is nothing more beyond that. Survival is the base of morality.

        Those who don’t value survival simply end up wiping themselves out, leaving those who do value survival.

      • Derek says:

        Oh never mind. it posted to the right place!

      • Derek says:

        I don’t follow. An end point makes it circular in your logic?

        Why is survival good? So we can survive. Why should we want to survive? Because survival is good. Ad infinitum.
        There is no law or reasoning that says “Hey! It’s an end point! I don’t have to be logical” Logical is perhaps not the best word here, because it implies that a circular statement is nonsense. This is not really the case most of the time. Circular reasoning just doesn’t produce any new reasoning. Apples are apples because they are apples only confirms we knew they were apples the whole time.

        There is nothing beyond survival. If Survival wasn’t an issue, then we just would no longer exist. There is nothing more beyond that. Survival is the base of morality.
        I don’t disagree that survival is important. I don’t know if you’ve seen this question, but I’ve been posting it so many places I want to ask it up front. If survival is the base for all morality, how can it be immoral for a man to run away from danger saving himself but leaving the risk to others? I would say that’s immoral, but it’s also survival at its purest. We can also blow this up to the scale of a society and ask what is immoral about one society, stealing, killing, or obliterating a weaker rival (sounds like darwinism to me). Can anything else be more just and righteous than ensuring survival in your moral view? To be clear, an objective moral standard can call such societal behavior sinister, and it’s opposite, caring for the weak and helpless, just, fair, and kind.

        Those who don’t value survival simply end up wiping themselves out, leaving those who do value survival.

        Do we live in a moral world? If everyone that remains is bent on survival, why is the world so immoral? Was 2016 more moral than 2015? and Will 2017 be moral still as we purge, ever so slightly the pool of those mutated individuals that don’t want to survive? Has human moral history ever trended so linearly?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Because survival is perceived as good. Is it good? Who knows. It is the base perception that keeps a species going.

        As per your example, survival happens on many levels. Some value personal survival more than they value societal survival. There are various reasons and various contexts to take into account that have developed beyond the base of survival.

        One problem that is developing is that many Christians don’t care about long-term survival of humanity. That’s a trouble caused by the belief that Jesus will return soon, so preventing increased troubles on Earth is of little importance to them.

        We live in a world where humanity is still alive, so based on surviving, we are doing okay. With some of the threats on this planet, such as nuclear weaponry, that could change pretty quickly.

        What are you basing your question on where you ask why the world is so immoral? What standard are you claiming that immorality based on?

      • Derek says:

        Ok, so to be clear we have no way of knowing if survival is moral in your view because you can do no better than circular reasoning.

        So you cannot say one ethnic group killing destroying another is really a problem?

        Yeah that’s why Christians send relief all over the world and have set up orphanages and donate money and time to relieving the poor and helpless. I’ve never heard the argument that Jesus is coming back soon so who cares. Jesus says that when he does return he had better find us doing what he told us to do before he left, otherwise we are not really His. So really, the exact opposite of what you’re claiming. There are fake Christians out there, but the real ones listen.

        So you think the world is a moral place because humans are still surviving here?

        The objective moral standard of God, which you are also familiar with, but pretend to be ignorant of.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Survival is what morality is based on! Whether it is in itself moral or not is irrelevant as it is not known. Survival is the starting point for morality. If we aren’t alive, then there is no morality.

        Well, I am glad to hear that the not caring due to Jesus’ return isn’t a fully-accepted morality in Christianity. Typically I have seen it in relation to environmental and non-renewable resource issues.

        We are still surviving, so survival-based morality has done alright up to this point. Is it overall doing well? That is debatable. A space rock could also end that debate pretty quickly.

        I am familiar with the objective moral standard of God, and I suspect it was derived from human survival morality.

    • Derek says:

      JASON I HOPE YOU CAN SEE THIS!

      I just saw your post on “exceptions” and moral objectivity, and it seems you are unclear about what moral objectivity is. Moral objectivity or moral absolutism is the idea that there is an independent standard of right and wrong. Killing in self-defense but not killing out of rage doesn’t conflict in the least bit with moral absolutism because moral absolutism simply means that those actions are either truly right or truly wrong for all people.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        So onward from Matthew 5:38 should be ignored you’re suggesting? Killing out of self-defence would oppose this.

        But let’s use your argument too. At what point does self-defence end and offence begin? Where’s the objective line in the sand on that?

      • Derek says:

        Great question!

        Let’s be clear: The Bible is not contradictory and we shouldn’t “ignore” anything.

        In your reading of Matthew 5:38, we should let people murder us because to defend ourselves would be an eye for an eye? I’m not sure that’s what you mean, but that’s what I’m assuming. Please correct me if you mean something different. Mathew 5:38 is talking about revenge though, not self-defense. Revenge belongs to the Lord according to Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19. This seems pretty clear to me, but maybe you meant something different. Let’s look at an example that I think will serve your point better.

        Mathew 26:53 Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword. Why? Is it because we are not to defend ourselves when threatened? That’s what Jesus does right? He lets himself be taken without defending himself. Are we to be as passive? Yes and no. Jesus says if he wanted to defend himself he could have called over twelve legions of angels, but he didn’t because scripture had to be fulfilled. He doesn’t say that he didn’t call them because defending the sanctified life God gifted you with is wrong. Luke 22:36 Jesus tells his disciples to buy swords. Why? Logically we can infer for self-defense. Self-defense is always sanctioned in the OT and Jesus has precisely the same stance.

        Your question on the line between self-defense and “offense” have to do with your heart. If you kill someone because they were a real and direct threat to you or someone you cared about, God has no problem with it. It’s not pleasant. No one wishes to take a life, but if it’s an innocent or an attacker, the choice is simple. If you kill for any other reason, it’s obviously murder.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        The Bible is contradictory. The differing accounts of the resurrection between the Gospels is a clear demonstration of how there is conflicting information in the Bible.

        So at what point is it ok to consider someone a real and direct threat? If morality is objective, there needs to be some clear outlines to follow. I am yet to see any such clear outline from Christianity but would definitely be curious to see the rules of the Bible condensed and clear.

      • Derek says:

        “The Bible is contradictory. The differing accounts of the resurrection between the Gospels is a clear demonstration of how there is conflicting information in the Bible.”

        They don’t actually contradict. PLEASE do a post on this so we can talk about it. But your reading of the Gospels and Jamie’s reading of the Gospels interestingly contradict one another. Jaime said there all copies of Mark and possibly source Q. (I think he was trying to cite the Quelle theory). This is no longer a popular theory for reasons we can get into if you want.

        “So at what point is it ok to consider someone a real and direct threat? If morality is objective, there needs to be some clear outlines to follow. I am yet to see any such clear outline from Christianity but would definitely be curious to see the rules of the Bible condensed and clear.”

        God cares about our hearts. God also cares very much about life. If we are killing someone out of anger, jealousy, hatred, or any other sinful attitude, it’s a sin. If we are killing because our lives are in imminent danger and we have no other option, it’s not. It’s not that complicated.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        They do actually contradict.

        Here’s an infographic laying out the information for you:

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/04/03/before-you-celebrate-easter-check-out-this-infographic-showing-how-the-gospels-got-it-all-wrong/

        Also, the ten commandments don’t mention anger or hatred. Why is it so hard to find a clear list of Christian morality? If it’s objective, it should be easy to make it clear.

      • Derek says:

        The ten commandments is the same moral standard Christian’s use. It’s what God judges all people with. That’s throughout the old and new testament.

        I spent some time looking at the info graphic. All of those “contradictions I’ve heard before” with even some missing I think. There are two basic problems. Problem 1: According to skeptics, the Gospels are either fabrications or copies. The gospels vary too much and they are considered fabrications because they contain different details, or on the other hand, they are too similar and people say they are just copies of one another and there was only one authorial “witness”. These are the same Gospels these disputes are causing by the way.

        Problem number 2 has to do with what defines a contradiction. A contradiction is an irreconcilable error in logic. The supposed contradictions that the infographic presents are never actual contradictions. They are certainly different details, but they can be reconciled very easily. If we look at Jesus last words for example, the Bible never says that Jesus ONLY says “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And the same simple logic could be applied to literally every other example on the infographic. A contradiction would be something that is irreconcilable, not something that can easily be explained after reading the text as it’s written. It seems to add more credibility to the Gospels since they all have slightly different angles on the same real event. If they were copies or fabrications wouldn’t they have been more careful to design a tighter narrative or one with more fidelity to the original?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        What does the fidelity have anything to do with whether or not they are fabrications?

        Sure, they are slightly different angles of the same event, but they contain clear differences that cannot both be correct. Some of the accounts written must be mistaken.

      • Derek says:

        Can you pick one please so we can see?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Ok, how about Jesus’ last words? I’d think Jesus’ final words in death would be a rather significant detail that should show some consistency between accounts.

      • Derek says:

        Also, fidelity relates to if they are copies. If they are copies, why didn’t they do a much better job copying?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        If they made them all the same, there wouldn’t be any point of having multiple slightly different accounts to compile to make it seem more legitimate.

        That is, if you look at the point of view suggesting that they are fabrications.

      • Derek says:

        “Ok, how about Jesus’ last words? I’d think Jesus’ final words in death would be a rather significant detail that should show some consistency between accounts.”

        That’s logical and I can certainly understand that expectation, but it does not follow that if they have different important words of Christ during his final moments, that they are then contradictory. It is entirely possible (I believe that’s what did happen) that Jesus said all of those things.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I find it quite unlikely that such important words at such an important moment would be remembered so differently and with no overlap. It’s the moment Jesus died!! Did those witnessing his death not really care what he had to say?

      • Derek says:

        “If they made them all the same, there wouldn’t be any point of having multiple slightly different accounts to compile to make it seem more legitimate.”

        I just wrote about this, but I’ll say it again. You can’t make the claim that the gospels are at once too similar and too different on the grounds that it’s then impossible to satisfy either demand because both are antithetical to the other.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        The point is that they demonstrate inconsistencies that suggest there are likely issues with the accuracy of their accounts.

        I seriously hope that wasn’t yet another false dilemma you just presented me with.

      • Derek says:

        “I find it quite unlikely that such important words at such an important moment would be remembered so differently and with no overlap.”

        Why do you think they were remembered “differently” and not individual statements from the beginning? Indeed, there is no overlap at all, because the statements are not mutations of one another; they are very different and unique statements, each of which occurred simply before Christ died. This is a weak argument because we have to force upon the text a statement which it never makes. The Bible, and the gospels, are not exhaustive, obviously. There are details, as in any text that are inevitably left out.

        “It’s the moment Jesus died!! Did those witnessing his death not really care what he had to say?”
        It’s near his final moments. If you read the text it doesn’t say, “And the last words before he died were…” This argument relies so heavily on information that the text simply doesn’t support. It’s not a contradiction at all, unless we force upon the text a specific limitation it does not actually make itself.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        No, it IS his final moment. Luke and John both state that these are his final words. Mark and Matthew are essentially identical and describe it as the next-to-last thing Jesus says, followed by “shouting out again”.

        Your interpretation is Biblically incorrect from what I’m reading.

        Ironic that you are the one telling me to read the text when the text refutes what you are telling me.

    • Derek says:

      Oops! And, yes there are societies that have relatively functional moralities, but only relative to the objective standard. Societies that murder and torture and threaten other countries and people are not doing well relative to the objective standard. Subjectively, they’re doing a great job from their own point of view (that’s why they’re doing it).

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Christian nations tend to be ones that have a liking of murder and torture and threatening other nations. The USA and Israel, for example, are typically not seen as very moral nations.

        Are there even any Christian-focused nations that provide a decent example of Christian objective morality in action?

      • Derek says:

        The United States is pro-abortion, Gay marriage, divorce, and a number of other things that are not Christian. Is it a Christian nation? There are no doubt Christians here, but I don’t think we can, by its fruit, consider the US Christian unless only in an insignificant cultural sense. Israel, as I hope you know, is definitely not a Christian nation in any sense. Besides your claim that “Christians have a liking of murder and torture” lacking any real evidence, you do point out through your question that there aren’t any real Christian nations. We don’t need one to see “objective morality in action.” On a very regular basis you prove its existence when you respond on this blog. You appeal to the objective moral standard when you albeit falsely claim that Christians like murder and torture, and expect me to see and know that those things are bad. We of course agree these things are bad because the objective standard informs us this is so.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        The leaders of the US are all Christian, they claim to be anyways. I recall a story about an atheist running for office, and if I recall correctly, they had more backlash than homosexual people who ran for office.

        So where is your objective morality successfully functioning in practice? What real-world examples can we look at to better understand its outcomes?

      • Derek says:

        “The leaders of the US are all Christian, they claim to be anyways.”
        I tried to explain this earlier, and I know I explained it to Jaime, but claiming to be Christian is not the same as actually being one. The Bible is very clear about this.

        So where is your objective morality successfully functioning in practice? What real-world examples can we look at to better understand its outcomes?

        I mentioned your blog, but you didn’t respond to that yet. Objective morality is the idea that there is a real right and a real wrong. I don’t know that there is anywhere that objective morality is completely absent. Like I said, your blog constantly appeals to it. I think you are under the impression that objective morality is a different set of rules, that’s not really what it means. Objective morality means there is a standard of right and wrong that we all, as humans appeal to. It does not change over time, nor does it doesn’t vary person to person.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        There are real things that lead to better survival of humans, for sure! That is what I appeal to, and its basis is in survival.

        Of course it would seem like the Biblical version. Where do you think Biblical morality came from in the first place? It is rooted in survival.

  4. Derek says:

    woops I didn’t finish my fist sentence haha:

    Obviously, consequence is not outside the realm of opinion, and if it is that’s not a point in your favor because it points to moral absolutes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s