Atheism and the Bonds of Society


“An atheist is a person who questions every kind of authority, and this is the thing that is important. Because, if we can, without blinking an eye, question the ultimate authority, God, who must be obeyed; then we can question the authority of the state, we can question the authority of a university structure, we can question the authority of our employer, we can question anything.”

–Madalyn Murray O’Hair (quote from here)

“A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself…”

— Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

“Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.”

“For in all states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom; for liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humor might domineer over him?)”

–1. John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration,  2. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government

“For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.”

–Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

The law of human nature is not, in all points, a limitation of human freedom but a direction of a freewill agent toward his proper interest. That law does not deserve the description of confinement which prevents us from falling off of cliffs and getting stuck in ditches. It’s aim is to preserve and broaden our freedom, not only to restrain.

If no God exists, then no law of human nature exists. If no law of human nature exists, then all government of human society is arbitrary and has no objective foundation or obligation upon men.

Moreover, there is no foundation for the establishment of government by free discourse in light of atheism because there is no objective and equal value of human persons to respect concerning each other’s jurisdiction or dominion over one another. Others need not respect the property (life, liberty, and estate) of their neighbors because no one has laid equality upon them or an obligation to respect.

The only reason, outside of the law of human nature, that can be maintained concerning respect of property, is only in the pursuit of certain social ends: i.e. If it is the case that men are pleased to preserve their property, then they need only confine their actions in such a manner as to meet those ends. But, let it be clear, if there is no superior being to lay an obligation upon them, then the choice to confine one’s action toward the preservation of property is arbitrary, and only holds so much as men are pleased to do so.

Also on atheism, outside of society, freedom is to do what one lists. There is no security within which one may conduct one’s affairs without constant threat of harm, and that harm cannot be considered illegitimate. There is no law the victim may appeal to, neither has he right to punish the offender, although, he may punish the offender if it so pleases him.

Furthermore, since rules of society are arbitrary, in a democratic society where the social end is peace with one another, those who think themselves outside this arbitrary law can rightly consider it tyranny. Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, and right cannot be defined by arbitrary decision if a person is not pleased to accept that arbitrary decision.

This is why John Locke states that promises and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, cannot hold for an atheist. He has no law but such as he prescribes to himself and it holds as long as it pleases him to hold it.

The objection may arise, “But there are, indeed moral atheists. Are you saying that atheist are inherently immoral?” No. Because there is a law of human nature and they can apprehend it as much as the religious man can. They can be just as moral or even more so than the Christian because the same law holds for both and both understand it. Not only does the law of nature govern them, but the laws of the society they are in confine their actions as well. However, since the atheist has rejected God, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.

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68 thoughts on “Atheism and the Bonds of Society

  1. Oh good grief. What a load of poppycock.

    For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature…

    This is right out of Aristotelian physics, which is wrong in fact. Matter does not come ‘endued’ with mobility nor is it directed; rather, we now understand that matter is subject to the laws of physics and chemistry and biology. We also know for a fact man was not created but evolved. There is also strong evidence that we do not possess what is called ‘free will’. Point out to me, please, where the ‘immutable laws of human nature’ derive from god, meaning that it falls to you to define what these are, whence they come, and how they are delivered. This you will not do because you cannot do it. There’s nothing there to support your beliefs, any more than there was anything there to support Locke’s. That’s why I call this paragraph poppycock because it is simply made up. There is no evidence from reality to back it up; in fact, there is extremely strong counter evidence that it is factually wrong. You know this, but you don’t seem to care. This paragraph serves a purpose for you, and it has nothing at all to do with what is true in fact but presented only as support for what you believe. This is dishonesty in action.

    It may surprise you to learn that there are very good reasons why reciprocity is a foundation for law. You don’t need a god to appreciate its wisdom and practical effect in human affairs. Nor do you need a god to determine if, in fact, laws based on reciprocity seem to work better than those that are not. Governments that respect reciprocal laws that cover both the governed and the governing, that are granted power to govern from the governed, seem to present the greatest freedoms and greatest security for the greatest number of people. No god is necessary to appreciate this historical fact. And, in case you are tempted to assign reciprocity to god, know that its clear enunciation in different cultural writings long predates any scripture that steals it for its own.

    Your insinuation that atheism somehow separates one from the same morality of the religious is also wrong in fact. I suspect you also don’t care that this is so because it also doesn’t serve your beliefs. But from where I’m sitting, I see your service to your beliefs inhibiting your desire to find out what is true in fact, true in reality, which then misleads you into intellectual dishonesty. This is a shame and unnecessary… especially considering that there is every possibility that there is no god in reality for you to serve. What you are probably serving is your beliefs alone, and it is upon this alter that you seem willing to sacrifice your intellectual integrity by not caring about what is true. If this is the case, then the only achievement possible is successfully fooling yourself about what is true in reality and replacing it with your beliefs, which is identical in all ways to delusion. You have successfully fooled yourself and given yourself no means to rectify this travesty.

    1. Tildeb,

      Reciprocity can be a foundation for law, but no one is obliged to make it the foundation. It’s still an arbitrary foundation. You can have it as your foundation as long as it pleases you.

      It’s not necessary for me to elucidate these laws of human nature for you. As long as one believes that there are ways in which all men ought to live no matter what society they live in, one is apprehending the law of nature, albeit ever so slightly. For example, if you believe that no man can rule over another without his consent no matter what society he lives in, or that every man’s possessions ought to be preserved, you have some idea of the law of human nature. If you feel all men are obliged to these ideas and that offenders ought to be punished, you believe in a law of nature. You still could be mistaken about the specific laws, you would just be misunderstanding the law of nature.

      If you don’t believe that there are ways in which we ought to live, and every man may do what he lists, then you do not believe in a law of nature and you have embraced your atheism fully. Although, I believe no one can live their lives this way.

      You said, “We also know for a fact man was not created but evolved.” Are you aware this doesn’t make any sense?

      1. Of course no one is obliged to respond to reciprocity any more than they obliged to respond to ‘god’s laws’ making both by definition arbitrary. That won’t suit your purposes, though, will it? But unlike the latter, the former is built on good reasons as well as favoured by evolutionary biology.

        If you want to speak about some ‘law of nature’ for human social behaviour, then you have to talk about it in terms of evolutionary biology. And I can show you species-wide behaviour that crosses religious moral dictates… as well as linguistic, ethnic, racial, and gender lines. And this same behaviour can be shown in other primates and mammals. This is strong evidence for evolved social behaviours we call reciprocity. I suspect what you’re really trying to do is make a religious necessity for a biological function.

        Your last sentence obviously has a word-play component. Care to expand on it?

        I also note that my points that sideline belief in god from having any useful function in determining a citizen’s obligation to a state goes unchallenged. You seem very hung up on either having objective rules (presumably granted a nod of approval from the sky father) or amoral nihilism if subjective. There are other options available, you know, and ‘good reasons’ is one such legitimate option. In fact, the enlightenment values you hold depend on this very option being put into action. That’s why you don’t support slavery, for example.

      2. Tildeb,

        Thank you for admitting these these bonds of society (reciprocity) are not obligatory. It follows then inescapably that non-members of that society cannot be held to these bonds or punished according to them except by exerting force without right. Although, you may do so if it pleases you.

        To answer your question, your statement about man being evolved but not created isn’t coherent for the simple fact that there are theists who believe in evolution. Creation and evolution aren’t mutually exclusive.

      3. I’m going to duplicate your reasoning and let’s see if YOU can figure out why it’s poor:

        I can show you why pedophilia and religious belief are compatible because I can show you priests who are pedophiles.

        The essence of creationism rests on accepting the probability that we were CREATED, meaning an intention by some other agency. This is contrary to natural selection. The key word there, by the way, is NATURAL, meaning an unguided physical process with zero intention and zero agency. These two positions are not compatible even though some people pretend they are. They lie. One must accept either one or the other but you cannot hold both to be true. They are mutually exclusive.

        Also, why are you trying to pretend that you believe god’s moral rules – however you might define them – are binding, objectively or subjectively? You don’t stone your neighbours to death for working on the sabbath any more than you call on your community to kills those who pick up sticks or trim their beards. You do covet objects you wish to possess and there is no way for you to avoid this. There are, in reality, no binding objective moral rules.

    2. “We also know for a fact man was not created but evolved.”

      I suggest reading “The Devil’s Delusion” by David Berlinski.

  2. I wonder why you would call “divinely ordained” rules objective. They prove to be anything but. The morals propounded by the god in the OT for example included genocide (not that the “pagan” gods of the time were much better), would you or any average human being today consider that moral? Morals, even as defined by religion and therefore supposed to be the voice of god, have evolved with us, with our society and our technology. They are hardly objective but depend heavily on the time frame in which they were created and the society that gave rise to them.
    As far as natural human laws are concerned, in they way you define them (reciprocity for example) we do net need god to understand or elucidate those rules. Monkeys do it on a more basic level, so do a surprising number of other animals. For humans, any two reasonable people cold sit together and discuss this, and they would come up with an almost similar list. Any reasonable individual would, And if you’re talking about unreasonable people, no system would work on them anyway, neither theistic nor atheistic.

    1. Hbhatnagar,

      Humanity may look out for each other’s interest because natural selection has determined (so to speak) these types of behaviors benefit survival. We have evolved a herd mentality which is useful in the perpetuation of our species. But, there is still nothing to suggest that this is objectively valid and binding. Just because a certain behavior benefits my survival does not mean therefore that I am obligated to do it. I may do so because I want to or that it pleases me. But to think that I am obligated to these types of duties is, on atheism, an illusion that has survival value. Why must we think that we have obligations toward one another? There isn’t a moral dimension to our actions. They are neither forbidden nor obligatory. In the absence of a God to lay these duties upon us, these feelings of obligations are just conditioning laid on us by society and our parents.

      On your view, no society or government can lay an objective obligation upon men. It is still arbitrary. At best society is formed by subjective conditionals, an “if, then” clause. “If it pleases us to treat each other equal and preserve each other’s property, then we should confine our actions to that end.” There is nothing objectively binding about this statement, and to force others to conform to this subjective conditional when they do not accept it is to exert force upon them without right. It’s tyranny. And the bonds of society only hold for its members as long as it pleases them to hold it.

      However, if we do apprehend by the use of our reason a natural law laid upon us by the God who created us, then laws of society based upon equality and preservation of property are real and rational, not arbitrary and illusory. If this is the case, we are right to punish offenders of that law and expect them to know that they ought not to have broken it. And this type of behavior is exactly what we see in reality. We apprehend through the use of our reason a law of human nature. You can’t travel for too long in the world of men without seeing one man tell another that he ought not have done something. And what is interesting is that you do not see that man rejecting this obligation. You see him providing excuses that temporarily relieve him of that obligation that he originally perceived as reasonable.

  3. Let’s open the big bag of stupid and have a peek inside…

    However, since the atheist has rejected God, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.

    Oh goody. Santa has been generous.

    “However, since the atheist has rejected Allah, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.”

    Death to the infidel.

    “However, since the atheist has rejected Ceaser’s Divinity, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.”

    Nail ’em up.

    “However, since the atheist has rejected Scientology, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.”

    Supressive Person!

    Morality 1: Good without gods

  4. Unless you can post something with some content, you’re gonna take a break from commenting here.

    You mean you are going to ban me, right?

    For what?

    Taking your own arguments and just switching the labels around?
    Shame on you.

  5. Cedric,

    Let me just reiterate what I’ve said about you already on your friend’s site.

    Just because you can transform something into nonsense doesn’t mean you should. If Cedric’s substitutions are indeed identical it means that every supernatural being has magically conformed to my understanding of God. It would also mean that you know enough about my understanding of God to know that Baal and faeries have conformed to my God’s identity. And it would also mean that Cedric’s arguments aren’t nonsensical because they are identical to my understanding of God which doesn’t change the truth of my arguments one bit. If his substitutions do not change the truth of my arguments, as he himself states, then what contribution has he made except to state what I said in a different way.

    You say, “Cedric demonstrates how your reasoning can be translated exactly, word for word, to all kinds of superstitious nonsense… nonsense that you DON’T believe in. But the reasoning, he shows, is identical.”

    Reason is a statement presented in explanation of a belief.

    If you change a word in my statement, you have not represented my reasoning. It’s not the same statement, therefore not the same reason. You’re contradicting yourself too. How can a statement that has a word changed in it, be exactly word for word? Also, kinds of superstitious nonsense are not things that can be identical. You’re confusing form and substance. A red rubber bouncy ball and a blue rubber bouncy ball have the same substance but not the same form: red versus blue. So, it would not be correct to change the statement “I have a red ball” to “I have a blue ball” and call the reasoning identical.

    But Cedric’s confusion is an even worse one because faeries, elves, Baal, and Jesus not only don’t have the same form, but also don’t have the same substance. Cedric is like a man who confuses a TV with a fork and calls it fair and accurate.

    You say, “the identical reasoning is used by you to support belief here but not there. Why the inconsistency?”

    First, I support the freedom of all people to believe in whatever deity they want. So, I’m not inconsistent. Second, my personal reasons for believing what I do are not the issue here and were never the issue of my post. I suspect that changing the subject to why I believe what I do is a way not to evaluate the truth of my post.

    I also suspect that modern atheists such as yourself thrive on misunderstandings of anything outside of material things. Even when presented with correct explanations, they deny the explanation and reiterate their misunderstandings. In the words of Paul Manata to Dan Barker (with some adaptation): Your reason is inconsistent because you have rejected the Lord of reason. You have turned your back on the Lord Jesus Christ and the only worldview that makes sense of rationality. You see, this is the intellectual challenge of the Gospel, Tildeb. You need to turn and repent to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask him to forgive you of your sins and your violation of God’s law in this universe. Otherwise, you’re going to continue to see the effects of sin in your reasoning, and then pay for those effects in the life to come. Turn to Jesus Christ. He can save your intellect and your life.

    Cedric, I hope you do the same but I suspect that you’ll just continue to substitute words into paragraphs and confuse forks with TV’s.

    1. Daniel, my reasoning is just fine without believing in some Lord of reason. If I make an error, you are welcome to point it out and I will fix it. This you have not done… so far. What you have done is offer up a line of reasoning that is broken, that assumes its conclusion to be true and then uses it as a basic premise for arriving at that same conclusion. It needs fixing, and Cedric has tried to show why it needs fixing by exposing that the subject noun you assume to be real doesn’t matter: your line of reasoning works just the same for subject nouns you don’t believe in as it does for the subject noun you do believe in.

      Now you’re trying to argue that the subject noun you do believe in is true because you believe in it, whereas these other substituted subject nouns are not true because you do no believe they are true… as if this line of reasoning explains the difference. It doesn’t. All it explains is that you do not recognize the error you are making: as shocking as it may be, your belief does not determine what is true. Our conclusions about what is true is derived from reality rather than from our beliefs about it. (I’m sorry to be the bearer of such startling news.)

      Look at how easily you stumble into this pitfall: faeries, elves, Baal, and Jesus not only don’t have the same form, but also don’t have the same substance. Daniel, all are equivalently false because none of these critters reveal either their divinity or existence (with the possible exception of Jesus as just another dude) with evidence derived from reality and you have nothing at your disposal to show otherwise! Yet here you are telling us about their differences in forms that result in differences of substances! How do you know anything about these differences that you are asserting? Obviously, you don’t because you can’t.

      You have not examined a faerie and successfully compared and contrasted this critter to an elf to know anything about their differences in substances, which in turn should reveal the differences you proclaim are true about their forms. You’re just making stuff up in exactly the same way you do to inform us of differences between Baal and Jesus. And the only thing you have to go by is – you guessed it – your belief. Your belief alone is what guides you, and it is insufficiently reliable to entrust with confidence not because it’s YOUR belief but because it is BELIEF unsupported by either good evidence or good reasoning derived from reality. All your belief has to support it is more belief… in exactly the same way that the only belief supports the belief in faeries. There’s no qualitative difference in this role of BELIEF to be the main support for what is only believed to be true in any of these cases. This is what Cedric has been showing over and over again because it’s a mistake in thinking that you make over and over again. Let me reiterate: your belief is not a determining factor in establishing what is true, nor is it sufficient to show any qualitative differences in either form or substance of anything.

      Let me also show the difference between forks and TV: I can show you forks and show you TVs and we can figure out differences in form and function between them.You cannot show me elves. You cannot show me faeries. You cannot show me a Baal and you cannot show me a divine Jesus. We cannot examine any differences between them because we have nothing to work with. We have, instead, ONLY assertions and assumptions and attributions based on what people believe. Here you are assuring us of meaningful and knowable differences in form and function of material subject nouns you believe in but, when questioned, charge those who ask for more evidence than just your belief as creating misunderstanding because of a similar kind of belief in ‘materialism’ is really beyond the pale. You want to make statements about material subject nouns that exist in reality based solely on your belief that they do… and THEN want an eternal get-out-of-jail card from anyone who dares question whether or not your beliefs ABOUT MATERIAL SUBJECT NOUNS are in fact derived from material evidence!

      The recurring problem is not with these questioners, Daniel, but with those who, through the liberal use of belief, arrive at conclusions about reality unsupported by reality.

      1. Once on my blog I had a quote from an author who, I thought, stated the point I wished to make very well. Cedric then did his usual “switch the labels routine,” substituting a fictitious author name and title for the book. As I tried to point out to him afterward. The substitution hardly proved that the real book doesn’t exist. It is sitting on my shelf. And as I pointed out on his friend’s blog, substituting the name of a pagan god for the real God doesn’t prove anything either. The pagan god was part of a polytheistic worldview, whereas the whole point of monotheism is that there is only one God Who is the ultimate reality. Polytheism was ridiculous. That’ s why Christianity triumphed over it.
        On the point of law and morality, if God does not exist, all that is left is some evolutionary version of the law of the jungle, or else a purely sociological morality which is relative and non-binding. I recently read a couple of essays by Thomas Huxley on Evolution and ethics in which he tried to distance himself from Social Darwinism and eugenics. But he denied that he was a materialist, called himself an agnostic, and didn’t really show what kind of morality you could deduce from evolution.
        Science doesn’t really provide any basis for value judgments, other than mere utility. Yet our atheist friends make value judgments all the time. If they were logically consistent, they would simply acquiesce to whatever nature, “red in tooth and claw,” sends our way. It is a scientific fact that there are religious people in the world; it’s a natural phenomenon. So what’s the problem with religion? Or any other human behavior? And where do atheists get this idea of “human rights”? On their scheme of things, who says anyone has a “right” to anything?

      2. Bob, just stop for a moment and re-read what you wrote: substituting the name of a pagan god for the real God…

        You make a claim here. The claim is that there is one real god. I know you believe this is so but that belief doesn’t make it so. This is the problem. You claim and claim and claim but do so only on the basis of belief. That’s why substituting any other critter whose existence is similarly based on EXACTLY the same kind of reason – belief – makes the point. You do not refute this point by then claiming that your belief is the right one and all the other beliefs are wrong ones. To refute the point, you have to show why your claim is true, that the god you believe in is REAL. To do this successfully, you cannot use your belief; you must show evidence from reality that directly supports your claim. All you come up with are other people who believe as you do. That’s it. That is the sum total of your evidence and it is insufficient. It is insufficient because like you they too fail to support the claim with anything other than – you guessed it – more belief. There is no evidence from reality.

        That being explained, imagine how ridiculous and pompous and arrogant you sound to those who have no good reason to believe as you do that suddenly, exercising EXACTLY the same non belief you have towards all other theistic claims about various gods claimed by others to be as ‘real’ as your own, their morality – no matter how philosophically sound it may be – is now equivalent to some nihilistic relativism because of that non belief.

  6. As I tried to point out to him afterward. The substitution hardly proved that the real book doesn’t exist.

    And as I pointed out, that’s not why I made the substitution.

    Imagine that Daniel is a famous author. He makes a point really well in a wonderful book he wrote. So you quote him, right? Let’s say he said something truly, wonderfully quoteworthy.
    For example:

    At least for my part, I love God because he loves me. It’s quite simple. And his witness in my heart isn’t vulnerable to outside critique.

    So there’s the point that you are as giddly as a schoolgirl over.
    Okey-dokey.
    So I substitute one label for another like this:

    At least for my part, I love invisible Superman because he loves me. It’s quite simple. And his witness in my heart isn’t vulnerable to outside critique.

    That does not demonstrate that the original quote from Daniel does not exist.
    It didn’t magically vanish.
    That does not demonstrate that the book Daniel wrote that contained the quote does not exist.
    It didn’t magically vanish.
    Nope, not at all.
    You are missing the point of the substitution. Try again.

    …substituting the name of a pagan god for the real God doesn’t prove anything…

    Wow.
    That’s…stunning. That’s a clanger right there. It’s just so…I mean…wow!

    (…reads it several times…)

    There are moments of wonder. Moments where somebody says something and then you realize that the English language just doesn’t have enough richness to accurately describe how (inept?) (clueless??) (alien???) is that person’s thought processes.

    …substituting the name of a pagan god for the real God doesn’t prove anything…

    Nope. I’ve got nothing. It’s so…
    (…dang…)

    The pagan god was part of a polytheistic worldview, whereas the whole point of monotheism is that there is only one God Who is the ultimate reality. Polytheism was ridiculous. That’s why Christianity triumphed over it.

    Clearly another demonstration is in order.

    “The pagan god was part of a polytheistic worldview, whereas the whole point of monotheism is that there is only one God Who is the ultimate reality. Polytheism was ridiculous. That’s why Mormonism triumphed over it.”

    Or perhaps…
    “The pagan god was part of a polytheistic worldview, whereas the whole point of monotheism is that there is only one God Who is the ultimate reality. Polytheism was ridiculous. That’s why Islam triumphed over it.”

    Or even…
    “The pagan god was part of a monotheistic worldview, whereas the whole point of polytheism is that there is are many Gods Who are the ultimate reality. Monotheism was ridiculous. That’s why our religion triumphed over it.”

    On the point of law and morality, if God does not exist, all that is left is some evolutionary version of the law of the jungle…

    No 345: ARGUMENT FROM ANARCHY
    (1) There has to be an objective truth to the universe, and humans have to be able to access it.
    (2) Otherwise, there would be anarchy everywhere.
    (3) No courts or governments or anything.
    (4) [Non-believer falls out of her chair from laughing so hard.]
    (5) Therefore, God exists.

    It is a scientific fact that there are religious people in the world; it’s a natural phenomenon. So what’s the problem with religion?

    No. 306 ARGUMENT FROM INDIGENOUS FOLKS
    (1) Most indigenous folks all over the world started believing in gods independently.
    (2) Belief in God is thus natural.
    (3) Atheist: Many indigenous folks started eating each other, also independently.
    (4) The Christian god forbids eating our fellow humans.
    (5) Therefore, God exists.

  7. As for sounding “ridiculous, pompous and arrogant'” I did lay out in my own blog a Christian epistemology and basis for belief in the existence of God. In a sense it come down to a simple proposition. When one sees a garden one naturally assumes the existence of a gardener. The attempt to explain the appearance of design in nature by natural selection is specious and unconvincing to someone who is not already committed to naturalistic materialism as an a priori assumption.
    Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share a common belief in monotheism. What differentiates Christianity from the other two is its distinctive theology of redemption through a divine-human Savior. So the relevant questions are these:
    1) Is there a single. all-powerful, eternal and self-existent deity who brought the universe into existence? And
    2) Did He provide salvation for mankind by sending His Son into the world to die for our sins?
    I have attempted to answer both questions in the affirmative, and provided the reasons for each answer.

    1. The attempt to explain the appearance of design in nature by natural selection is specious and unconvincing to someone who is not already committed to naturalistic materialism as an a priori assumption.

      Absolute rubbish and demonstrably false. It is based entirely on overwhelming evidence found in reality that supports it. The belief in design fails at every turn to explain what is found in reality. Other than the vacuum of knowledge that is creationism, one has to be committed to accept creationistic belief in order to ignore the knowledge we do have, the mdeical technologies that do work, the treatments that are efficacious. Here you demonstrate the scope and depth of arrogance and pompousness necessary to boldly reject reality with a theological wave of the hand, to dismiss without due consideration or some EQUIVALENT alternative explanation the mountains of evidence contrary and in conflict with your a priori religious belief to creationism. Of course you’ll waffle and mewl that you support microevolution as long as kind sticks to kind but this contemptible allegiance to your creationistic belief over and above what reality shows us to be true demonstrates just how poisonous to intellectual integrity is your religion’s effect is on any honest inquiry into the workings of the world.

      The honest answers to the two questions you raise are:

      1) probably not, and
      2) highly doubtful.

      There is no reason – and none that you have offered – other than an a priori religious commitment to believe otherwise to alter those probabilities.

      1. It is hard to see how you can say that “the belief in design fails at every turn to explain what is found in reality.” If there is at least the appearance of a rational order in nature, then design is a possible explanation. What is harder to explain is how the complex structure could have gotten there if there was no Intelligent Designer. I sometimes use this example. A while ago my family and I were having lunch in a local convenience store. A man at a nearby table had a prosthetic arm. It was kind of a crude, clumsy contraption – a pair of metal claws manipulated by a series of pulleys and cables. According to Darwin, the prosthesis was the arm that was designed; the natural arm came about through an impersonal natural process. Common sense would tell you otherwise. The evidence for the existence of God is no farther away than your own hand!
        If I understand Darwin’s argument correctly, he is not asserting that “design fails at every turn,” but that it is an unnecessary hyposthesis. Presumably natural selection can account for the appearance of design. But if you ask the question, which hypothesis is the more plausible explanation, frankly I would say “design.” It takes more faith to believe that it could all have come about purely through a blind, impersonal process than it does to believe that the appearance of design is the result of – well, “design”!

      2. There is the appearance of design for those who don’t look. It’s easier to believe that humanity was created by magical POOF!ism than actually learn about how natural selection works over time through scaffolding. The key word to recognize is natural, meaning as unguided and purposeless as erosion, and change over time is very well documented and supported by every avenue of inquiry. Your hand did not come about by POOFism, Bob. It is an expression of your genes. You inherited your genes from your parents, as they did from theirs, as they did from theirs, as they did from theirs, and so on back into deep time. All of these genes were subjected to environmental influences and interactions that were not ‘designed’ by some single agency but encountered while the genes were active. Even the genes themselves were subject to slight variations expressed in replication. At no single point along this path can you present any evidence at all for POOF!ism that you claim is ‘common sense’ and evidence for design. Any. Evidence. At. All.

        In contrast to understanding how mindless, purposeless evolution works by comparing and testing and predicting and building technologies and treatments that work in reality based on this explanation, you choose to believe in a Designer who uses POOF!ism to create genetic stuff. Your belief explains nothing and does not attempt to show how – through evidence – life has come to be what we find. It simply assumes that the only reasonable answer to biological complexity is POOF!ism by a meddling, tinkering supernatural creative agency. This belief is the intellectual equivalent of capitulating to ignorance under the pious banner of godidit. That’s why ID explains nothing and produces no equivalent technologies and treatments; it’s an empty shell of knowledge. That’s why it fails at every turn; it simply ignores reality.

        Intelligent Design is no more a plausible alternative to the knowledge we have of evolution by natural selection than Stork Theory is an equivalent explanation to human reproductive. It is not a matter of equivalent faith to choose to understand how reality works in action rather than believe in some magical delivery service for POOF!ism. Thinking these are equivalent matters of faith shows just how far you are willing to prostitute your mind in the service of enabling your beliefs.

      3. Bob, you continue to ignore the tremendous impact that understanding and incorporating the principles of evolution has had and continues to have on medicine. (See here, for example)

        By ignoring this library of evidence for its power to explain and provide a framework for producing reliable, consistent, and practical applications and treatments that work for everyone everywhere all the time, you reveal a motivation to maintain a belief in a designer that stands against this advance in human knowledge. In fact, your position impedes attaining this available knowledge. This raises the very legitimate charge of anti-intellectualism against those like you who try to undermine knowledge in the name of religious belief. We in the atheist community call it for what it is: lying for Jesus.

      4. Tildeb, Cedric,

        Where is the force of your indignation against belief? Your words are impotent. It may be good, in your eyes, for everyone in the world to attain the “right” kind of knowledge, and to order their thinking and actions along those lines; but it does not follow therefore that the world is obligated to do it. All anyone has to do is reject your plan for society in favor of their own if they are not pleased with it. They have not entered into a contract with you to order society towards your end goal. Your words only have strength toward those who already think as you do.

        If “lying for Jesus” is other people’s way of attain their own end goal for society, you can have no rightful jurisdiction over them. If it pleases you, you can force them to accept your direction for society, but it is force without right.

      5. How do you get from the anti-intellectual charge of lying for Jesus to forcing society to accept my directions?

        Look Daniel, in order for any two people to have a conversation, certain common understandings have to be accepted; for example, a common understanding is necessary for grammar, for definitions, for a basic respect that reason needs to be aligned with reality.

        In this last instance, my complaint is that belief in a designer is contrary to respecting that reality, specifically how and why and to what effect the evolutionary approach to medicine and public health informs areas of research and provides predictions and guidance for interventions THAT WORK. Denying evolution in favour of POOF!ism works to falsely present this knowledge that is the foundation of modern biology and all its related fields of knowledge based on it to be suspect when it by every means and measure available it is not.

        I neither ask nor expect you to respect my opinions because they are my opinions, nor respect facts about reality because I present them as such. But I expect any reasonable and honest person to not lie and pretend it is a legitimate alternative kind of knowledge.

      6. Tildeb,

        It is in this expectation of “any reasonable and honest person to not lie and pretend it is a legitimate alternative kind of knowledge” that you have stumbled upon the law of human nature. It’s obvious that you have this expectation for all of humanity, no matter their society. That simply IS the law of human nature. If it is not, there is no obligation to follow your expectation.

      7. It may be good, in your eyes, for everyone in the world to attain the “right” kind of knowledge…

        Why the scare quotes? Surely a commitment to the truth is a good thing?

        If “lying for Jesus” is other people’s way of attain their own end goal for society, you can have no rightful jurisdiction over them.

        Lies are no way to live.
        Lying for Jesus is wrong in the same way that lying for Allah is wrong in the same way that lying for any superstitious mumbo-jumbo is wrong.
        The truth will set you free.

        Putting faith in its place

      8. Cedric,

        “Lies are no way to live. The truth will set you free.”

        Again, this IS the law of human nature if you mean it to apply to all of us. These are absolutes that can only be real and justified by a real law.

      9. Daniel, what you call ‘the law of human nature’ I again call basic reciprocity. If I show that I am willing to lie to you, but then also expect you to respect my honesty and intellectual integrity, then I have dug myself into a hole from which only I can emerge after changing one of the actions. It is unreasonable for me to expect respect for incompatible behaviours.

        So what you call ‘my expectation’ is nothing more than compatibility in reasoning; either you respect me for lying in which case I cannot be honest OR you do not respect me for lying but maintain respect for honesty.

        My only expectation is for other people who say they respect honest inquiry to do so, to respect what’s true if they want to honestly inquire into reality, for if they reject either reality or honesty then by necessity they have rejected honest inquiry. This is my complaint against anyone who wishes to maintain belief in POOF!ism: they have rejected honest inquiry and substituted a pig with lipstick.

      10. These are absolutes that can only be real and justified by a real law.

        Laws do not poof into existence by magic, invisible sky people.

        Morality 1: Good without gods

      11. It takes more faith to believe that it could all have come about purely through a blind, impersonal process than it does to believe that the appearance of design is the result of – well, “design”!

        No.
        Science and religion are not the same. Scientific theories are not faith-based.

        According to Darwin (..) If I understand Darwin’s argument correctly…

        No.
        Darwin only got the ball rolling. The man died over a century ago. Leave him alone in peace.
        The man was not a prophet nor does he do much work nowadays.
        Modern biology has moved on and others have made vital contributions.
        It’s no longer Darwin’s work. It has not been so for a long time. If you want to talk about modern biology then say “Modern Biology”. If you want to talk about biologists then say “Biologists”.

        Further it’s not just an “argument”. Its a field of science built upon decades of research, experiment and observation. It puts food on your table, keeps the bugs away, provides hardcore evidence to put violent scum in prison that have raped or assaulted you or those near and dear to you and gives you protection from potentially deadly bacteria and viruses when you got to hospital for a gallstone operation and has increases your lifespan.
        Science works.

        …the prosthesis was the arm that was designed; the natural arm came about through an impersonal natural process. Common sense would tell you otherwise.

        No. The prosthesis really was designed no matter what your common sense may tell you. It probably has a manufacturer’s stamp and address and everything. You can call up the doctor that designed it and have a chat with them and…they will talk back. You can even record the conversation on your Ipod if you wish.
        Further, even if you put two prosthetic limbs together in a room and turn the lights down low and switch on some romantic music, a litter of little baby prosthetic limbs will not poof into existence.

        The evidence for the existence of God is no farther away than your own hand!

        You did not just say that.

        (..re-reads the statement..)

        Wow. You did. You went there.

        No. 6: ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN, a.k.a. GOD OF THE GAPS, a.k.a. TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
        (1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. Isn’t it complex?
        (2) Only God could have made them so complex.
        (3) Therefore, God exists.

        No. 48 ARGUMENT FROM MASS PRODUCTION, a.k.a. ARGUMENT FROM PLASTIC DESIGN
        (1) Barbie dolls were created.
        (2) If Barbie dolls were created, then so were trees.
        (3) Therefore, God exists.

        Atheists nightmare debunked. Ray Comfort/Kirk cameron

  8. I did lay out in my own blog a Christian epistemology and basis for belief in the existence of God.

    Your basis for belief is fatally flawed. Hence the label swapping.

    Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share a common belief in monotheism. What differentiates Christianity from the other two is its distinctive theology of redemption through a divine-human Savior.

    So what?
    Who cares about the theology? I’m sure the theology of Zeus was “distinctive” too.
    It’s all very nice but it’s the magic sky people bit that the interesting part.

    The attempt to explain the appearance of design in nature by natural selection is specious and unconvincing to someone who is not already committed to naturalistic materialism as an a priori assumption.

    No. Going off about evolution does not make your magic, invisible friend poof into existence.
    You have fallen victim to a false dichotomy.

    Fallacy of ID and creationism-False Dichotomy [Reloaded]

  9. Tildeb,

    You said, “what you call ‘the law of human nature’ I again call basic reciprocity.”

    No. Do not equate the two. One is understood as a real law that is objectively binding and valid and is obligatory upon mankind whether they agree with it or not. The other is arbitrarily and subjectively chosen as foundation for society, and becomes valid upon contract with men of like opinion who choose a common conduct toward one another; and is binding as long as it pleases them to be bound by it.

    The rest of your reply is in complete agreement with my post. Men of like compatible reasoning will tend to contract together to establish their values in common law and work toward their social end. Men you are not compatible with would take issue with your definitions of honest inquiry and reality. But in such cases involving disagreeable men who have not entered into the aforementioned social contract, no rightful force can be exerted upon them to conform to that society, even those who you complain maintain a belief in POOFism. They have no obligation to follow your expectations. As for those who have entered into contract, as long as they are pleased to continue therein, the law is binding.

    1. Daniel, what you call a real law that is objectively binding and valid and is obligatory upon mankind whether they agree with it or not is nothing more than a label you are slapping on common human behaviour. This is a typical tactic used by the religious to try to make a biologically based trait a religious necessity. If you are going to stick to this label, then it falls on you to show in equivalent terms to the evolutionary explanation where this law comes from and why we are obligated to ‘follow’ it. But you and I know you have nothing outside of our biology and its expression in anthropological examples to go by. That’s why I call what you’re doing making a religious necessity for a biologically based trait with a handy dandy label that suits your religious beliefs rather than inquire honestly into what is true in reality.

  10. Cedric,

    You said, “Laws do not poof into existence by magic, invisible sky people.”

    No problem. If you are of that opinion, you would fall under a subjective conditional clause. For example, “If we all agree that telling lies is no way to live, then we should all tell the truth.” But there’s nothing objectively binding about it.

  11. But there’s nothing objectively binding about it.

    Even if that is true, so what?
    That does not poof magic, invisible people into existence. Not your brand name nor anyone else’s.
    (shrug)

    No 345: ARGUMENT FROM ANARCHY
    (1) There has to be an objective truth to the universe, and humans have to be able to access it.
    (2) Otherwise, there would be anarchy everywhere.
    (3) No courts or governments or anything.
    (4) [Non-believer falls out of her chair from laughing so hard.]
    (5) Therefore, God exists.

  12. The problem with talking about a “law of human nature” is that a human being is typically a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand we have conscience that tells us that there is a difference between good and evil. On the other hand we have a natural impulse to do what we know is wrong. It is human nature to lie, cheat and steal. So which is the “l;aw of Human Nature.” Our intuitive sense of justice? Or the way we actually behave?

    1. Bob, are you sure it isn’t our ‘natural impulse’ to tell us the difference between good and evil and our conscience to tell us to do what we know is wrong? On what basis do you assign the negative anti-social behaviours of lying, cheating, and stealing to the ‘natural impulses’ without including empathetic, sympathetic, and compassionate pro-social positive behaviours you call ‘good’? Why the arbitrary distinction to sub divide the natural to be magically separate and distinct from what we call our conscience? I think you have no basis to justify this other than on another bone-headed metaphysical inaccurate assumption based on erroneous belief in dualism.

      1. I suppose that the dictates of conscience are a “natural impulse” in the sense that they are innate to us. What makes human psychology so peculiar is that we have contrary impulses at work inside of us. We say we believe one thing and then do the opposite. Then we feel guilty because we did what believed was wrong. This is one of the things that separates man from the animal kingdom. Our behavior is not just simply a matter of instinct or conditioning. We can think in terms of ethical choices; brute beasts cannot. A good Freudian would describe it as a conflict between the “Id” and the “Superego.”
        The problem here is how do we decide which impulse to follow? A Christian can say, God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. So what does an atheist say?

    2. If we do do something good then that’s because of Santa.
      If we do something bad then that’s our own badness.

      Heads-Santa wins.
      Tails-Santa still wins.

      It works with the “power of prayer” too.

      The best optical illusion in the world!

    3. Bob,

      A sense of justice, to use your words, is closer to what I’m talking about. It stands over and above our “natural impulses”, as you say, giving us an imperative within our minds to judge our actions to see whether they are wrong or right. The thing that manages the impulses cannot be an impulse itself. To use an analogy, think about keys on a piano. Each one correlates to a different impulse. But, the thing that decides what keys (impulses) to play at one time and not another cannot be the piano key itself. It is rather the piano player.

      To describe this law of human nature more fully,

      “Just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also has his laws– with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the law of human nature or to disobey it.

      …Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to the law of gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the only one he can disobey if he chooses.”

      –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.18

      The way we actually behave, say, to an alien outside observer, would yield no clue about what’s really going on inside our minds while we do the behavior. They would not know the conflict within us unless we shared our judgments with them concerning our behavior.

      So, no. The law of human nature does not mean, the way we actually behave. It’s a real rule of right and wrong we all believe in.

      1. The problem with saying that “we all believe in it” is that some people are pretty adept at rationalizing criminal behavior. I recently heard about a new biography of Al Capone, the famous Chicago gangster of the 1920’s, who supposedly argued that he was meeting a legitimate human need (for booze!), and that he accepted the fact that he would occasionally have to have someone killed as a normal part of doing business. If it were somehow possible to have an atheist chaplain in prison (I know this is a far-fetched scenario!), what would he say to someone like Capone?

      2. Daniel writes The thing that manages the impulses cannot be an impulse itself.

        What ‘manages’ our impulses by necessity is our brain; kill the brain, kill the impulses, damage the brain, affect impulse control.

        You have a two-hemisphere brain, each with specialized lobes. Another way to understand what this physiological structure means is bicameralism. What you presume about your mind is that it is one thing affected by another thing, which cannot be the same thing. Once you understand that your brain is many things – made up of specialized parts that directly and indirectly ‘communicates’ with other parts – you can begin to appreciate how the illusion of dualism has come to be and how the assumptions made about this illusion as if it were true in fact (mind/body separation) plays out in your philosophy and religion.

        My concern is about whether or not dualism is true in fact, in the sense that there perhaps there really is some kind of ghost in the biological machinery. All evidence points to this presumption as false. No evidence supports it dualism. Your totality of your mind, in other words, is what your brain does while it interacts with its environment, which helps to explain why altering the chemistry of the brain directly and demonstrably causes specific effect in this thing you call the controlling mind (conscience/id/superego/).

      3. Tildeb,

        A proposition is an intellectual unit of meaning not reducible to any of its physical manifestations. Our minds exhibit intentionality upon these propositions when we think about them. Also, mental states and physical states differ in kind. Kinds are are not identical. As propositions are not reducible to a physical manifestation like a statement on a piece of paper, so mental states cannot be reduced to a physical manifestation. These physical things refer to the the immaterial things, all of which, if they did not exist, would render all words on this blog, on the internet, in books, newspapers and such like, meaningless. And, how would we know if they correlated to actual truth in the real world? For minds to exhibit intentionality upon a proposition, on materialism, would mean that a part of our brain would change to take on the form of whatever object we were thinking about in the material world.

        The law of human nature is of the same substance as propositions. The difference is that we apprehend this law. It does not originate with us. Yet, the law is the product of a mind. Essentially, we are thinking God’s thoughts after him. He is sharing his character with us.

      4. Daniel, you’re leading yourself down the garden path. What can “an intellectual unit of meaning” possibly be if not coded into useable physical manifestations for our neural pathways? What on earth can “intentionality” be unless coded into useable physical manifestations for our neural pathways? You claim ‘states’ are of a different ‘kind’ if physical OR mental and this is where you are confusing yourself. There’s no ‘OR’ about it. It’ ALL physical. And the evidence here is clear in the details of how your brain actually works, how sensory input is altered by the brain into chemical signals. This is true for all brain function.

        The consideration of a chair or charity is NO DIFFERENT as far as the brain is concerned; it’s ALL the same neurochemical interactions. Your perception of juice is no different than your perception of justice as far as your brain is concerned; it’s all the same neurochemical interactions. This is why your brain perceives and not your senses.

        Your senses are all of a kind, meaning that your brain craves sensory stimulation and your senses are a means to accomplish this, but as far as your brain is concerned there is no qualitative difference between the texture decoded by way of your fingertips or the texture imagined in a dream state. There is no difference as far as your brain is concerned between data decoded from any physical sense or from your imagination. The neurochemical releases in your brain are identical.

        Whether or not our coding is accurate of an outer reality is adjudicated by the reality we physically inhabit: if it works reliably well there, we continue to use it. If it doesn’t work, we abandon it. Religious belief interferes with this process, allowing us to fool ourselves into equating our belief of hidden realities with equivalency of beliefs in this reality while at the same time rejecting any arbitration by this reality for this reality in order for our brains to continue to equate our imaginings with some hidden reality to be the cause for this one. People do this all the time – religious belief in this sense is just one common manifestation but there are many – which is why it is very handy to know how and why we do this… so that we can develop methods of inquiry that reduce our solitary role in adjudicating what is perceived to be true about reality and promote the role of other brains to hold value within the same method to improve the probability that our brain’s perception will work. But the arbiter must be reality or we simply keep going around the same mulberry bush in our heads while excusing and apologizing for doesn’t work.

        Propositions don’t have any substance until our brains chemically encode it. Then it DOES have substance. And it has EVERYTHING to do with us.

      5. You know, Bob, the more I think about your notion of morality that requires granting some authority to god, the more I think religion interferes with human emotions, human sympathy, and with the willingness of religious believers to recognize others as truly human, instead of as subordinate to a god. In other words, religion tends to make people unfeeling, unable to respond to others simply as one human to another, instead of getting god or gods mixed up in the relationship. This explains to me the callousness of catholics over child rape and evangelical extremism to have women forced to carry pregnancies to term at the cost of their lives, the dismissal of most denominations to celebrate gays and lesbians seeking a sanctified union, and so on. There seems to me to be an element of disconnect between those who grant authority to ‘god’s morality’ who then exhibit a real impediment to their own.

        As an extension of this regarding society at large, I lean ever further towards thinking that not only is religion not necessary in order to achieve order and decency in society, but it is in fact inimical to such order and decency — which means that true human sympathy is much more likely in the absence of religious belief, than in its presence. And that helps explain why the less a society exercises religiosity, the lower the rate of all kinds of social ills like murder, teen pregnancies, property crime, sexually transmitted diseases, theft, infant mortality, and so on. Also, the lower the religiosity, the longer the lifespan, and the more equality there is for women. One might be tempted to be so bold as to insist that religious promoters show evidence that there is a net social benefit to religiosity at all.

  13. If it were somehow possible to have an atheist chaplain in prison (I know this is a far-fetched scenario!), what would he say to someone like Capone?

    Far-fetched indeed.
    Even if there was such a thing, why would Capone be talking to them?
    Capone was raised a Catholic, married a Catholic and buried a Catholic.
    (shrug)

    Yet even if the “atheist chaplain” said nothing, it does not poof your geographically specific brand-name magic sky daddy into existence.
    It’s the whole false dichotomy thing again.
    It doesn’t work.

    It doesn’t even have to be an “atheist chaplain” at all.
    For example:

    “If it were somehow possible to have a Hindu chaplain in prison (I know this is a far-fetched scenario!), what would he say to someone like Capone?”

    “If it were somehow possible to have an Olympian chaplain in prison (I know this is a far-fetched scenario!), what would he say to someone like Capone?”

    “If it were somehow possible to have a Mormon chaplain in prison (I know this is a far-fetched scenario!), what would he say to someone like Capone?”

    False dichoctomy. It’s not just your [brand name] vs atheism.

    What would an Italian Catholic chaplain in prison say to Al Capone? Probably something about “Hail Marys” and repentence and forgiveness.

    If you really wanted to find out about atheists and why they don’t mysteriously go around flinging poo at strangers from trees and filling up your nation’s prisons then read what they have to say on the subject of morality.
    Don’t read about them from a third-party source. Skip the middle-men and go to them directly.

    There’s lots of material out there and they are willing to share.

    Where do atheists get their morals? (The Atheist Experience)

  14. Bob,

    You said, “some people are pretty adept at rationalizing criminal behavior.”

    These rationalizations and others like them are products of corrupted cognitive faculties and skewed affections. A person’s understanding can be corrupted to the point where he apprehends very little of the law of nature, regardless of whether he developed his corrupted understanding himself or whether he was born with that corruption. The carnal mind is the enemy of God.

    When I say, “We all believe in it”, I mean that there are at least some things that each of us hold to be true about the way we and others should live. We all may differ on what this means in particular, but almost no one holds the view that there is no right way to live.

    Cedric, for example, thinks that we should form our lives around honesty, and I think in his heart he means this for all of humanity, though he may not say it quite like that. It is a law that he measures his and other people’s lives by.

    Most of us live by this law naturally to some degree.

    1. True. But the inner conflict, and the rationalizations we sometimes use to justify bad behavior, points to the need for and external, objective standard. In the 18th Century is was widely believed that there was a “Natural Law” that was ascertainable to reason. The crisis in modern society stems from the fact that evolutionists have called just such an objective standard into question. In the final analysis we are dependent on some form of divine revelation to tell us which of our natural impulses or intuitions are truly moral and which are not.

      1. But the inner conflict, and the rationalizations we sometimes use to justify bad behavior, points to the need for and external, objective standard.

        Needs do not shape reality.
        Need will not poof a magic, invisible sky daddy into existence.
        That’s not how reality works.

        In the final analysis we are dependent on some form of divine revelation to tell us which of our natural impulses or intuitions are truly moral and which are not.

        “Divine relevation” will not exist because we will it into existence.
        Attributing our morality to a magic being does not mean that the magic being is real.

      2. Needs do not shape reality.

        True.

        Needs are part of reality…

        Yes, where are you going with this?

        …and they should be considered as evidence.

        Of what? Needs? Ok.
        (shrug)

      3. On the other hand, simply denying that something exists doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t exist. There are reasons to believe that the Bible is what it says it is, the inspired Word of God, and if it has the effect of helping us to make sense out of life, that in itself says something in its favor.
        The main point I was trying to make is this. If Cedric is right, there is no basis for morality at all. Granted, individual atheists may be perfectly kind and humane, but we have no basis on which to make value judgements on any human behavior, and I think that most modern philosophers who have thought about the problem would agree that there is a problem here. If, on the other hand, the Bible is what it says it is, we have the solution to the problem.

      4. On the other hand, simply denying that something exists doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t exist.

        There is no denial.
        If you want to claim that something exists then you must produce evidence rather that just assume it.

        “On the other hand, simply denying that demons exists doesn’t necessarily mean that they doesn’t exist.”

        “On the other hand, simply denying that pixies exists doesn’t necessarily mean that they doesn’t exist.”

        “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” – Christopher Hitchens

        There are reasons to believe that the Bible is what it says it is, the inspired Word of God, and if it has the effect of helping us to make sense out of life, that in itself says something in its favor.

        The reasons you have are the same ol’ same ol’..
        Your reasons are no different from the reasons other religions past and present have given to the flock waiting to be shorn of their money. It’s all been done before. All your appeals and handwringing and testimonials of faith can work perfectly well for the priests of Baal, Set, Zeus or the Mormons.

        If Cedric is right, there is no basis for morality at all.

        How do you know this? Why would you leap to this assumption?

        Granted, individual atheists may be perfectly kind and humane, but we have no basis on which to make value judgements on any human behavior…

        Gosh, how did people cope in Ancient China or Sumeria?
        Do you really think the Great Wall was built by athieists?
        Really?.
        Those people that predate Christianity didn’t go around flinging poo at strangers from trees.
        They were far too busy living their lives.
        Long before Christianity or any of the modern religions were invented, societies and nations and civilizations rose and fell as they have always done.
        People got married. Governments governed. Laws established. Criminals punished. Money minted. Libraries run. Roads built. Armies raised.
        Languages?
        Culture?
        Hello?

        …and I think that most modern philosophers who have thought about the problem would agree that there is a problem here.

        They would? Really?

        If, on the other hand, the Bible is what it says it is, we have the solution to the problem.

        There is no “problem” other than the one you have invented. “Goddidit” solves nothing. Plugging the the gaps in your knowledge with magic mumbo-jumbo is worthless.

  15. Cedric,

    Your comment was removed because there was no content, just more mocking. I have no inclination to moderate your comments when you actually write something substantial.

    1. Your comment was removed because there was no content, just more mocking.

      What you are doing is engaging in censorship. It is the only response you have. It is a poor one.
      You are effectively censoring your own thoughts.

      Your comment was removed because there was no content, just more mocking.

      It was your content. I just borrowed it and switched the labels around while keeping everything else intact.
      If you find that mocking then that tells you something vital about your own content.
      (shrug)

      1. “If you find that mocking then that tells you something vital about your own content.”

        Or he just thinks your comments are inane. Switching labels to make a point can be effectively used once or twice but only in that capacity. Eventually, you have to address the logic behind the proposition, not just maneuver rhetorically.

  16. Or he just thinks your comments are inane.

    You are not getting this.
    They are HIS comments.
    Not mine.
    His.

    I just switched the labels around.

    Eventually, you have to address the logic behind the proposition…

    I did. I carefully left the logic of whatever proposition Daniel said untouched.
    That was the whole point.
    By switching the labels around, I made Daniel’s logic look inane.

    Here’s a recent example:

    However, since the atheist has rejected God, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.

    “However, since the atheist has rejected Baal, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.”

    Spot the problem.
    There is no mockery or inanity here. There is a basic flaw in Daniel’s reasoning.
    It doesn’t magically disappear after I switch labels around once or twice.
    The basic flaw remains glaringly evident.

    Another example:

    However, if we do apprehend by the use of our reason a natural law laid upon us by the God who created us, then laws of society based upon equality and preservation of property are real and rational, not arbitrary and illusory.

    “However, if we do apprehend by the use of our reason a natural law laid upon us by the pixie who created us, then laws of society based upon equality and preservation of property are real and rational, not arbitrary and illusory.”
    (shrug)

    If Cedric’s substitutions are indeed identical it means that every supernatural being has magically conformed to my understanding of God. It would also mean that you know enough about my understanding of God to know that Baal and faeries have conformed to my God’s identity. And it would also mean that Cedric’s arguments aren’t nonsensical because they are identical to my understanding of God which doesn’t change the truth of my arguments one bit. If his substitutions do not change the truth of my arguments, as he himself states, then what contribution has he made except to state what I said in a different way.

    Yet a Muslim could very well say the same thing.
    Behold.

    “If Cedric’s substitutions are indeed identical it means that every supernatural being has magically conformed to my understanding of Allah. It would also mean that you know enough about my understanding of Allah to know that Yoda and demons have conformed to my Allah’s identity. And it would also mean that Cedric’s arguments aren’t nonsensical because they are identical to my understanding of Allah which doesn’t change the truth of my arguments one bit. If his substitutions do not change the truth of my arguments, as he himself states, then what contribution has he made except to state what I said in a different way.”

  17. Bob writes that if Cedric’s substitutions are the same, then we have no basis on which to make value judgements on any human behavior.

    Good grief.

    Are you that unimaginative that you cannot possibly come up with anything?

    Really?

    Honestly?

    Do the value judgements of the ancient Greeks like Plato and Aristotle, the writings of Confucius, all the middle and far eastern philosopher of antiquity, all with ANY basis of whatsoever for their moral examinations, Bob?

    Really?

    Honestly?

    I sit amazed at your blinkered view of humanity and your willful disregard of knowledge all to remain faithful to an irrational belief system that must always conclude therefore Jesus.

    Really.

    Honestly.

  18. Tildeb,

    This isn’t just a matter of what moral judgments are out there, currently or historically. It’s a matter of what foundation they are derived from, hence Bob’s word “basis”. Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius all have a different basis for their judgments. Our task here is to examine that basis, not to ignore their judgments.

      1. You aren’t listening to me, Tildeb. Do I have to say this again?

        Humanity may look out for each other’s interest because natural selection has determined (so to speak) these types of behaviors benefit survival. We have evolved a herd mentality (from our biology and its interaction with our environment) which is useful in the perpetuation of our species. But, there is still nothing to suggest that this is objectively valid and binding. Just because a certain behavior benefits my survival does not mean therefore that I am obligated to do it. I may do so because I want to or that it pleases me. But to think that I am obligated to these types of duties is, on atheism, an illusion that has survival value. Why must we think that we have obligations toward one another? Our actions are neither forbidden nor obligatory. In the absence of a God to lay these duties upon us, these feelings of obligations are just conditioning laid on us by society and our parents.

        Any actions based on biology and its interaction with its environment that are chosen by you to be moral actions are arbitrary and not obligatory in any way. Therefore, biology is not a basis of moral obligations.

      2. Okay. Let’s back up. Let’s return to ‘god’s law’ that you think is objective. Let’s select one from scripture: say, the sixth, Thou shall not kill. Oh wait. Maybe it means not to murder. Murder in this sense is a tautology, meaning the definition of murder is unlawful killing.

        Do you see the problem? Whose law?God’s? Revealed to us how? Scripture. And around the mulberry bush we go.

        You see, sometimes killing another human being unlawfully is JUSTIFIED regardless of whose so-called ‘objective’ law under which you claim we are somehow obligated to follow or anarchy will reign. Yet biologically we come equipped to both kill and not kill depending on circumstances. The circumstances mixed with our biology determines the action, not some moral ‘objective’ law supposedly imprinted into and upon our consciousness we must blindly follow.

        Also, your notion of choice – of choosing an action – is assumed to be true. What if it isn’t? What if – given identical circumstances where the position of every atom in the universe is replayed – you CANNOT choose differently? What then? Surely the notion of free will in the religious sense is utterly dependent on assuming that given the identical circumstances one really can choose differently. But is this assumption actually true?

        If morality is based on some objective law available to us only through religious belief in your god, then you’re going to have do a much better job explaining how anyone prior to Jesus could have been moral. You use words carelessly here, inserting such terms as ‘must’ when there’s no ‘must’ about it, ‘these types of duties’ when there is no ‘duty’ about it, ‘obligations’ when there is no ‘obligation’ involved. The false dichotomy you present that anything other than this strong sense of being bound to your god means ‘arbitrary’ when there is no ‘arbitrariness’ about them continues to muddy this very shallow puddle of yours to link morality to therefore Jesus.

  19. “I sit amazed at your blinkered view of humanity and your willful disregard of knowledge all to remain faithful to an irrational belief system that must always conclude therefore Jesus.”

    Is it rational or irrational to willfully misunderstand your opponents arguments?

      1. Even this statement is a misrepresentation of what is happening here. You don’t have a problem with “therefore Jesus” if there is a rational argument behind it. But, you misunderstand the rational arguments, even to the point of saying there are no rational arguments.

        Let’s examine a misunderstanding:

        You said, “But from where I’m sitting, I see your service to your beliefs inhibiting your desire to find out what is true in fact, true in reality, which then misleads you into intellectual dishonesty.”

        1. I don’t serve my beliefs and to think so is a misunderstanding.

        2. You are prejudging my belief to be a misrepresentation of reality and you assume my belief to be false. Your assumption is unjustifiable. You give no evidence of this claim except to say it’s false.

        3. The truth if reality is what’s at stake in this argument and your claim I am intellectually dishonest is begging the question of what is true.

      2. 1. Yes. You. Do. That’s why haven’t responded specifically to any of the multiple lines of evidence I provide to show that there is no ghost in the machinery, no mind/body dualism that you BELIEVE exists in reality. It doesn’t and you have no evidence to show that it does. There is only body. The only thing you have left at your disposal is your belief. This belief and not reality is what you continue to serve.

        2. I’m not PRE judging; I’m evaluating your claims and finding them empty of evidence to account for what is actually true in reality, that what your brain does is your mind, that it is a physical PROCESS that deals with the environment in which it finds itself. By ignoring the overwhelming evidence for this that I’ve simply touched on (kill the brain, kill the mind, injure the brain, injure the mind, alter the brain, alter the mind) and stick to this unwarranted belief that we derive some objective moral law you say exists separate and distinct from our physical bodies that magically transfers to us from some oogity boogity source, you are misrepresenting what we know to be true, that our minds are what our brains do, that the evidence clearly show that they are directly and causally related. I don’t simply assume your beliefs are false but they do not account for the evidence we do have and are, in fact, contrary to the evidence we do have. My conclusion, therefore, is quite legitimate… that you have nothing to back up your claim except your belief and that your belief fails to explain the reality we both inhabit.

        I am not begging the the question about what is true. You are by substituting your belief and trying without success to inform it with evidence from reality. Failing this, you attempt a WLC argument that dualism is necessary whereas the motive for this is purely in the service of your a priori assumption in therefore Jesus. You have nothing from reality – no evidence at all – that your belief is true but you continue to hold fast to the notion that it MUST BE. Again, you are allowing your belief to dictate to reality what MUST BE true rather that appreciating why the evidence from reality puts your beliefs about a mind separate from body, a ghost in the machine, a receptor to some supernatural moral law giver, permanently to bed. Show me good physical evidence to the contrary and THEN try to reformulate your belief to fit the facts that reality arbitrates. Until you are willing to let reality – and not your beliefs – play this central role, then you really are exercising intellectually dishonesty.

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