Re: [asa] Morality

From: PvM <>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 23:49:32 EDT

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 8:09 PM, Merv <> wrote:
> PvM wrote:
> > I find this somewhat tautological, in that some get to decide that
> > other Christians are behaving abominably and yet we really lack an
> > objective standard to make such a claim,
> >
> No, we don't lack a standard. Rather, you deny that any standard exists.
> (yet you seem to have no problem enlisting some *objective* standard here
> in deciding that my arguments here are false or weak.) Relativism as an
> all-encompassing view is self-refuting.

You seem to be missing the point here. We lack an objective standard
for morality, how this translates to lacking a standard for logical
fallacies or veracity of claims is something that I do not fully
understand. Perhaps because of your strawman about relativism as an
all-encompassing view? Probably

> > And yet, scripture commands others to commit murder.

> What does this have to do with moral imperative for us, now? I'm
> suspecting your view of Scripture has been poisoned by a Dawkins mentality
> that refuses to engage any sacred writings at the level they are written and
> instead puts on reductionist glasses making all higher thought or symbolism
> into absurd literalisms, which are finally within his intellectual reach to
> knock down. Then you can dismiss yourself from needing to take it
> seriously.

Now that is a novel concept, attacking me for your inability to
explain why the scripture can be used in so many opposing manners and
no real way to determine who is 'correct'. Perhaps if you focused a
bit more on what I say and less on Dawkins show seems to be a
fascinating distraction to some Christians, perhaps we could move
forward on exploring these issues. Dismissing that with which you do
not agree as absurd does not make necessarily for a very compelling

> > And who is right
> > or wrong here? From a secular perspective it seems easier than from a
> > religious perspective to resolve these issues, or at least it is
> > equally hard to resolve this as it is for an atheist to convince a
> > fellow atheist that their behavior is somehow amoral.

> Pim, I'm willing to trust you when you say you're a Christian, but how can
> you have such a dismally low view of Scripture? Is there anything --

It's not scripture that I have my worries about as much as
interpretations of said scripture. There are countless examples where
scripture has been interpreted in manners which I find disturbing but
yet, I also believe that scripture itself provides a lot of sources
for confusion.

> anything at all? -- you think it is good for? If it is so woefully
> undependable in all matters as you seem to imply, then on what is your
> Christianity based? Where do you seek for guidance and answers? (I know
> --- not in the Bible --- you've hammered that home) --so where? (& that
> is not an entirely rhetorical question ---because I'm not implying that the
> Bible is the only legitimate place to seek answers.)

I find my guidance and answers in my best understanding of the world
around us, taking into consideration the message of love which I so
cherish in the Bible, and attempt to contribute to society as best as
I can.
The Bible provides us with many useful stories that can help us and
guide us explore a variety of ways of thinking about many relevant
issues. As you point out the Bible is not the only place to seek
answers and I do not believe that the Bible is meant as such either.

However, I'd rather return the argument that atheists somehow are at a
disadvantage because they lack or refuse to recognize an objective

As Jack puts it--
The soft atheists of coursel argue, with a good deal of truth, that
religious people in general aren't a lot more moral than atheists.
But there is no reason for athiests like Dawkins to follow any
particular syatem of morality or ethics. OTOH, religious people have
a moral standard by which they can be judged. The point is not that
atheists are more immoral than believers but that they are unwilling
or afraid to face up to the consequences of their position. "--

As I have shown, there is not really much of a reason for Christians
to follow any particular system of morality or ethics. Your claim that
religious people have a moral standard is one which I reject. At best
they may have a belief that such a moral standard may exist. Perhaps
our biggest problem as Christians is that we see ourselves as
justified by what we believe to be an objective moral standard to hold
positions which history have rejected as moral. I see little
difference between Christians and atheists here in their search for a
morality, although I perceive Christians to be at a certain
disadvantage as they are constrained by their interpretation of the
Bible, an interpretation which can vary significantly amongst
believers to lead to a wide range of positions on morality.
Perhaps you may confuse the ability to find within any particular
church or congregation a middle ground which is accepted by most if
not all believers. In fact, the role the Church plays in bringing
together people under a common roof to pursue a common goal is
certainly an important role for the church but such a role is again
not limited to churches, although historically people have looked for
churches for a sense of community and a place of familiarity. In other
words, a church can serve as a place were issues of conflict can be
resolved through a community working towards a common goal and vision.
However, one should not confuse this common acceptance as somehow
evidence that religious people have a 'moral standard' by which they
can be judged, they, just like other groups of people, use a variety
of means to come up with a standard which best works for the community
and at best it can be called a moral standard in this more limited
meaning of the word. Some have found a common ground in religion,
others have chosen other common grounds. None may claim I believe a
moral superiority over others.

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Received on Tue Apr 29 23:50:25 2008

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