[asa] Re: Morality

From: <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Wed Apr 30 2008 - 11:52:55 EDT

Just a quick response (or as it turns out not-so-quick)-- from here at school.

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 8:09 PM, Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net> wrote:
>
>> 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.

Pim wrote:
>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
>

I respond: I think we probably continue to talk past each other on this. I
insist that there is an objective reality, even if we can't perfectly know it
because of the "interpretive layer" we all must go through. And you insist that
we effectively don't have any objective basis since we can't humanly reach it
with total objectivity anyway. We probably aren't far apart on that, except
that for me it seems important as a matter of faith to believe I am reaching for
something real and solid.

Pim wrote:
> > And yet, scripture commands others to commit murder.

I had responded:
> 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.

Pim wrote:
>> 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
>> case.

I respond:
I'm sorry -- you're right, an attack was out of line.

Pim wrote:
>> 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
>> morality.

I respond:
Okay -- how about this: I think we've already agreed that it is hard to
demonstrate that one group has, as a whole, behaved noticeably better or worse
than the other, and so, as concerns morality, there *may* be no discernible
difference that we can objectively discover. At least, I haven't been pressing
such as a positive argument. I've just been chaffing at the thought that
someone would think Scriptures to be of no use whatsoever as guidance for the
searching Christian. Perhaps all I needed was to hear you say "...taking into
consideration the message of love which I so cherish in the Bible,..." And you
say more below that does much to mollify my miffed disposition, even if we still
aren't at the same place.

Pim wrote:
>> 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.

Merv responds:

While I must still maintain some disagreement with you over the *degree* to
which the Bible provides guidance, you do raise an important point in the last
paragraph above which I very much agree with: A body of believers is very
important. Discernment of anything (Scriptures included) should never be done
by an individual apart from the body, or above a body that is not allowed to
question the individual's interpretations. I think the Body of Christ is an
important analogy, and that even different groups and denominations can
represent different checks and balances for each other.

I think we actually have much agreement about the abuses of systems of ethics in
the hands of humanity in general.

By the way, if you know of an all-encompassing relativism that isn't easily
dismissed, I'd love to hear of it. A smaller relativism within limits is
allowed for in Scripture.

--Merv

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Apr 30 11:54:53 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Apr 30 2008 - 11:54:53 EDT