RE: [asa] Dawkins new book

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Sat Oct 24 2009 - 16:56:33 EDT

Does is not depend on what subject matter one is dealing with whether objectivity is relevant or important or not? Surely, in science objectivity is quite desirable. However, in human matters, the subjective is all-important. For instance, isnít oneís salvation an essentially subjective matter?

Moorad
________________________________________
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of dfsiemensjr [dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 2:27 PM
To: christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins new book

The atheist does not need a higher authority than the human being's
feelings. This may be effected by the individual and those they persuade,
or by the society of which one is a part. "Objective" is then defined by
consensus, except when it reverts to the "I know I'm right" declaration.
Indeed, in a sense C. S. Lewis did that in the notion of the Tao, though
of course he ascribed the consensus to the Creator. Are there various
social standards on this view? Of course! But that's part of being human.
I note that the attitude an individual brings to a matter affects the way
it is taken. This means that objectivity is an ideal rather than an
accomplishment in the usual situation.
Dare (ASA)

On Fri, 23 Oct 2009 21:25:10 -0700 (PDT) Christine Smith
<christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com> writes:
> Hi Dave,
>
> Interesting approaches to ethics/morality. A question though. It
> seems that all of these systems of developing ethics/morality have
> in common the idea of value. "Variable X" (i.e. pleasure,
> utilitarianism, whatever) has value in the sense that it means
> something to the person weighing the question at hand. Determining
> "good or bad", "evil or right" then simply boils down to figuring
> out how something impacts Variable X. However, my question is this:
> where does value/meaning itself, come from in an Atheistic
> viewpoint? It seems to me that the crux of the matter is that in an
> Atheistic worldview, value/meaning can only be assigned by oneself,
> whereas in a theistic worldview, value/meaning is assigned by God.
> In this sense, it is impossible for an Atheistic worldview to
> produce anything but a subjective value system (because no arbiter
> exists to say which human-generated system is "better" or "best"),
> whereas it is impossible for a Theistic worldview to
> produce anything but an objective (that is to say, something
> external to human influence/power exists to act as an arbiter) value
> system. Does this make sense? Thoughts?
>
> In Christ,
> Christine
>
> "For we walk by faith, not by sight" ~II Corinthians 5:7
>
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> --- On Fri, 10/23/09, dfsiemensjr <dfsiemensjr@juno.com> wrote:
>
> > From: dfsiemensjr <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
> > Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins new book
> > To: schwarzwald@gmail.com
> > Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> > Date: Friday, October 23, 2009, 10:39 PM
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > As a person who has studied and taught ethics, I have
> > to note that one does
> > not have to be a theist to develop a strong ethical
> > approach. For a common
> > basis, pleasure has been often held to be
> > foundational for determining
> > right and wrong. The Mills and Bentham produced a
> > utilitarianism on the basis of
> > the maximum pleasure for the maximum number. This requires,
> > on the opposite
> > side, reducing negative feelings to the greatest extent
> > possible. With social
> > and governmental sanctions pushing conformity, one can do
> > remarkably well in the
> > moral area.
> >
> > A different standard was promoted by Logical
> > Positivism about a half
> > century ago. Right and wrong were determined by the
> > intensity of feeling
> > generated. This was the usual basis of demonstrations on
> > various campuses. It
> > is, for obvious reasons, no longer commonly accepted, but
> > emotion can still
> > trump reason for many. If A can persuade B, C, and a bunch
> > of others to join his
> > mob, he'll claim the moral high ground and cannot be
> > persuaded otherwise.
> >
> > There are other approaches to devising ethical
> > standards without calling in
> > supernatural sources and sanctions. So one may be an
> > atheist and have a well
> > worked out system. I cannot say that this is true of
> > Dawkins, who seems not to
> > have thought matters through carefully.
> > Dave (ASA)
> >
> >
> > On Fri, 23 Oct 2009 16:14:44 -0400 Schwarzwald
> <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
> > writes:
> >
> > Heya George,
> >
> > I'd have to disagree here, at least in a certain way.
> > You point out, rightly, that evil has no fundamental
> > place in the worldview of
> > Dawkins and therefore there is no moral obligation to
> > respond to it. I'd
> > further add that evil and good are not objective
> > realities for atheists of
> > that (very common) bend - at most they're subjective
> > judgment calls, or the
> > just-so-happens rules of a chosen ethos.
> >
> > But if evil and good aren't
> > objective realities, and if there are no objective moral
> > responsibilities when
> > it comes to good and evil... in what sense are we talking
> > about 'good' and
> > 'evil' anymore? Those words are drained of all
> > their typical meaning. Dawkins'
> > "gut reaction" to what you list may be
> > "negative", it may even be "evil", but
> > they can't be "evil" based on the
> > philosophy he's committed himself to. The
> > gut reaction - his subjective view - is the beginning and
> > end of what "good"
> > and "evil" can really be for him. Ted is right
> > that, for Dawkins regarding
> > good/evil, "there is no such thing."
> >
> > Now, others may respond that
> > Dawkins and others do in fact call certain things
> > "evil" and "bad", or "moral"
> > and "immoral", etc. I'd simply point out
> > that it isn't the mere speaking or
> > writing of the words that matters, but their content -
> > and once those words
> > are qualified to be consistent with the philosophy
> > committed to, they are in
> > essence empty. And if they dig in their heels and argue
> > that they believe that
> > these things are objectively and truly evil or immoral,
> > etc, the they are
> > being inconsistent - and either the philosophy, or the
> > 'truly evil/immoral'
> > judgments, will have to go to correct that.
> >
> > And, just to be a little
> > pedantic myself: That there may be a "gut
> > reaction" of "evil" to things such
> > as genocide, child rape, or Bernie Madoff does nothing to
> > make me think "oh,
> > well, even if they don't believe in evil those things
> > will still be viewed as
> > bad - that much is secure". A person can get over
> > their gut reactions, and the
> > 20th century illustrated just how successful such
> > "getting over" can be even
> > on national levels. The idea (not promoted by you,
> > George, so don't take this
> > as targeting you) that "everyone knows murder, or
> > dishonesty, etc are wrong
> > and will therefore at least act as if these things are
> > truly bad" is painfully
> > naive.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 1:21 PM,
> > George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
> >
> > wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > Ted -
> >
> > A couple of things
> > here. 1st I'll point
> > out pedantically that while atheists do have
> > a "problem of evil,"
> > Bernie is right that they don't have a
> > "theodicy problem." Theodicy
> > is "justifying God" & those who
> > don't believe in God can't be
> > concerned about that.
> >
> > 2d, I haven't read
> > a great deal of Dawkins
> > & you may well be able to point out some place
> > where he says literally
> > that there are no such things as good &
> > evil. But even if he
> > makes that claim in the abstract, I suspect that his
> > gut reaction to news of
> > genocide, child rape or Bernie Madoff is that
> > they're evil. The
> > difference is that Christians believe that there is a
> > reason to say
> > that such things are evil that stems from
> > fundamental aspects
> > of their worldview & for Dawkins there
> > isn't. (Which in
> > itself doesn't prove that Christians are right, as
> > Bernie may want to point
> > out but doesn't have to because I've already
> > done so.) & so
> > there is no moral obligation to respond to
> >
> > such things - which
> > gets back to the point I
> > made earlier about bases for ethics. (&
> > again, as Tom Pearson
> > pointed out, this doesn't apply to all
> > atheists.)
> >
> > Shalom
> > George
> > http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message
> > -----
> > From: "Ted
> > Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>
> > To: <asa@calvin.edu>; "Bernie Dehler"
> <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
> > Sent: Friday, October
> > 23, 2009 12:42
> > PM
> > Subject: Re: [asa]
> > Dawkins new book
> >
> >
> > >>>> "Dehler, Bernie"
> > <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
> > 10/23/2009 12:27 PM >>> writes:
> > >
> > > There's an atheist
> > book club meetup that I will likely join, and they are
> > reviewing Dawkin's
> > latest book "The Greatest Show on
> > Earth." I glanced at the book the
> > other day. I think most of it looks like evidence
> > for evolution
> > (what's new?), but I did notice an interesting
> > section on theodicy.
> > (And yes, it looked like it may be shallow in not
> > bringing forth and quoting
> > the best arguments from the critics.)
> > >
> > > Anyways, Dawkins
> > mentioned that for believers, there's a thing
> > called 'the problem of
> > evil.' He says 'they even have a name for
> > it- theodicy.' At
> > first I thought that was kind of patronizing to say
> > 'they even have a name
> > for it' then as I thought about it more I realized
> > that theodicy was
> > something only that God believers have to deal
> > with. I know that is
> > obvious, but it wasn't that clear in my mind
> > before, esp. from seeing it
> > from the other side now (not as a Christian).
> > >
> > > ***
> > >
> >
> > > Ted responds abruptly. Hold the phone,
> > Bernie. There is
> > nothing "obvious" about this, unless you
> > simply fail to think about it for
> > more than a moment or two. The existence of
> > suffering and evil causes
> > great problems for all of us, including atheists.
> > I mean great
> > intellectual problems, not only emotional or
> > existential problems. For
> > the kind of atheist that Dawkins represents (there are
> > other types of
> > atheism that I am not including), there simply is no
> > such thing as "good"
> > and "evil," "right" and
> > "wrong." There is no such thing.
> > Therefore, we have no moral obligation (please reread
> > these three words half
> > a dozen times before continuing) to do anything about
> > suffering and what
> > believers call "evil." None.
> > That, I venture to say, Bernie, is
> > "the problem of evil" in another, equally
> > serious form: for Dawkins, it's a
> > problem that there is no category of "evil"
> > at all. Therefore, there
> > is no obligation to respond morally to it. A lot
> > of unpleasant things
> > happening doe!
> > >
> > > s not create a moral obligation to
> > do something. That's a problem, Bernie.
> > A big one.
> > >
> >
> > > Ted
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > To unsubscribe, send a
> > message to majordomo@calvin.edu
> > with
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> >
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Received on Sat Oct 24 17:00:08 2009

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