Re: [asa] Expelled

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2008 - 13:55:09 EDT

To those funny people who think: 'so what, morality evolves'?
  While I am sensitive to the point that both Merv and Pim are making vis a vis morality and ethics, it is quite obvious that a natural scientific methodology is obscuring something. Perhaps (esp. if a natural scientist) you will continue to disagree! Or perhaps an alternative view will start to make sense to the evolutionary moralists.
  The 'absolute standard of authority' that George notes is conveniently (for some) turned into a 'relativistic standard' in the sense that 'Society' has become a 'god' of our contemporary era. Please see Talcott Parsons' 'great breakthrough' from spirit to nature or Emile Durkheim's book "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life" if you wish to argue with this assertion. If you don't acknowledge such a real/existent belief among many persons, Dawkins and Dennett, Harris' and Blackmore included, the cult of personality, then it may seem a relevant reminder to consider the meaning of 'Hollywood' and the gods of American popular entertainment, 99 per cent of which have never heard of ASA (American Scientific Affiliation). The 'absolute morality' of modernist and medieval theology is quite obviously (to those who don't close their eyes) under threat by the thinking of everyday people today. [Some folks out there might say we have 'evolved' away from 'absolute morality' thinking.]
  "If God uses biological evolution to bring about his creation of life, then why
 should it bother us if a kind of 'societal evolution' brought about morality?" - Merv
  The notion of 'societal evolution' is on 'common sense' par with 'memes.' They sound great (voila!!) for an amateur with little to no knowledge of the context; but they are completely, obliviously lacking for a professional with learned understanding of the topic involved! Come into my house said the spider to the fly; and also said the loving grandmother to her grandchildren with warm cookies waiting. The former is what happens when you get biologists or physicists or (deep) ecologists speaking AS IF they have authority and well-thought-out theories relating to human-social things. A simple answer: for the most part, They Don't!
  Naturalistically-minded Christians, please do not feel insulted! Just listen to the challenge against this abusive trajectory of thought in a legitimate and significant arena in the contemporary academy. Natural sciences somewhere, sometime, somehow, while still standing behind the 'promotion of science in America' must give ground to social sciences and humanities - it is simply inevitable that this must happen. A balance that does not appear at ASA (i.e. by definition) simply begs to be sought!
  An 'absolute foundation' underlying universalistic relativity (e.g. evolutionism) and change? This is a paradox that TE/EC is left wanting to expain, which makes evolution look like a tack-on to theology, and why the 'father of intelligent design' considered TE "woefully, even perniciously confused." Luckily no one is about to be 'expelled' from ASA for pointing that out!
  Oh...the politics, the rhetoric, propoganda, logic, the factual and the presumed historiography of 'Expelled!' A cultural studies and sociology of science sensitive movie made particularly for American viewers. One might wonder, following Randy Isaac, if George Murphy has yet watched the highlighted film? If not, maybe he'll somehow 'evolve' (without meaning or purpose) into a place at the local theatre.
  G.A. wrote:
  I accept and agree with your point, George -- and if Pim doesn't, I'm not sure why he avoids it. It's almost obvious enough to be a truism. Atheists deny any absolutely objective basis for morality.

I think part of what Pim and myself are exploring as a different direction is that despite this, Atheists obviously have not become (by general societal standards) completely immoral people -- why not? They would say they just adopted the current set of societal standards, and they would go on to press us, by asking "what's wrong with that?". We and they both know that they still deny that these standards carry any kind of absolute authority. Therefore they
don't have any foundation by which to call anything absolutely immoral or absolutely good. But this doesn't [most of?] them from functioning "as if it were so" according to whatever societal whims that have evolved or whatever.

I don't think this necessarily need bother the Christian, Pim. If God uses biological evolution to bring about his creation of life, then why should it bother us if a kind of "societal evolution" brought about morality? We still recognize the absolute foundation undergirding it, and that is significant for the Christian. Whatever variations various societies and times develop around it, they are all roughly around the same theme: treat others as you would be treated. The Christian then recognizes the even greater imperative to Love God with everything.


Quoting George Murphy :

> You persist in avoiding the real issue - as do Dawkins & the other soft
> atheists. Christians (to limit believers to them for know) believe that
> there is a standard of morality which has its source beyond the world & that
> they have been given some insight into it, primarily in Jesus Christ.
> Atheists believe - at least if their claims have any consistency and depth -
> that there is and can be no such standard.
> I realize that I am repeating the same point I've made before but that is
> because you keep avoiding it - whether deliberately or nott I don't know.
> If you continue to do so I'll end the conversation.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "PvM"

> To: "George Murphy"
> Cc:
> Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 11:35 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Expelled
> > What's the difference between the two cases. Why should a Christian adhere to society's interpretation of God's word when he finds support for a different moral standard in the Bible? There is similarly no
> > compelling reason that suggests that a Christian is in a more
> > privileged situation. Both have no more or less reason to accept or
> > reject standards of morality. That Christians 'know' that God
> > presumably has a set of standards of morality is of no real help to
> > the Christian in deciding what morality is the correct one.
> >
> > On Sun, Apr 27, 2008 at 2:46 PM, George Murphy wrote:
> >> Serious atheists don't just lack access to a standard of morality. They know that there is no such standard unless they invent one for themselves. & they know that there is no reason why the standard they invent should have any resemblance to current moral standards developed largely through religious traditions. E.g., there is no reason why any sort of respect for the welfare of other people beyond matters of self interest should be maintained. & recognizing that morality is a product of evolution in whole or in part doesn't provide a solution. So morality has evolved to certain point. So what? Why should a person who's realized that adhere to that product?

> >> & playing the "So's your old man card" is no answer.
> >>
> >>
> >> Shalom
> >> George
> >>
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Received on Mon Apr 28 13:56:34 2008

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