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Go to: God's soft white underbelly

Volde-Mart's Avatar Jump to comment 364 by Volde-Mart

Comment 361 by HickUpId: If the ‘subjective’ self, which so thinks it appreciates the ultimate objectivity of its experience of pain/evil, originated essentially from non-life, then how objective really is that ‘sense of evil’? Answer: not objective at all, so that there would be nothing wrong with causing pain to any life which is not one’s own if it serves merely either to rid oneself of pain or to increase one’s own reproductive fitness or whatever.

Yes. If we are a mass of selfishly-cooperating bacteria striving only to reproduce, then it's impossible to do 'wrong'--only what we selfishly define as 'wrong'. As if we had a choice to do otherwise!

If that's our universe, God doesn't exist anyway. 'Evil' has nothing to do with it.

If evil is real, however--and not simply a self-serving, delusional concept--then the problem of evil is Schweitzer's. Where would it come from?

Sun, 06 May 2012 06:14:54 UTC | #940086

Go to: God's soft white underbelly

Volde-Mart's Avatar Jump to comment 363 by Volde-Mart

Comment 360 by Zeuglodon: So, I presume when you ask where an objective moral law comes from, you weren't asking where moral objectivity comes from?

Correct. Where does a moral law that is objective (‘real’, existent, no matter what anyone thinks) and binding (imperative, obligatory—a law) come from? If he says 'humans', then his argument is null. Human laws do not determine whether or not God exists.

Schweitzer believes that purpose and meaning are self-derived—so what right does he have to paint Milosevic as ‘real evil’? Sure, Schweitzer thinks he’s awful, but what’s ‘bad’--in the blind, pitiless, indifferent universe--about Milosevic living out his own meaning and purpose?

The legal institutions only exist . . . [as] . . . a means to clear up ambiguity and to encourage cooperation between people or institutions.

Schweitzer is talking about real moral laws--not legal institutions, which have no bearing on whether or not God exists. Is genocide ‘real evil’ or not? That is, could genocide be fine in another age or culture and still be wrong?

If the speed limit is 100 kph, then it’s 100 kph. If matter/energy can’t be created or destroyed, then it can’t be created or destroyed. If genocide is wrong, it’s wrong.

You're equivocating the word "law" in at least two senses here.

No. The term in question was ‘objective’, not ‘law’. If you’re suggesting that the speed limit is relative, or that genocide isn’t evil except that we generally call it so, then you disagree with Schweitzer. At least on genocide.

Again: if genocide were viewed as fine or necessary, would Milosevic still be wrong? Schweitzer thinks so. But how could it be? The blind, pitiless, purposeless, indifferent material universe could not possibly have us in mind, so it could not possibly generate objective moral law—one that’s true no matter what anyone thinks. Schweitzer must look somewhere else.

An objective moral law is the only basis for Schweitzer’s ‘real evil’.

The only basis, huh? You sure about that?

Yes. ‘It’s evil because we say so’ doesn’t fit Schweitzer’s argument. Real evil requires real, objective, transcendent moral law; otherwise, it’s just one meaningless opinion against another in a blind, pitiless, purposeless, indifferent universe, where it’s every bacterial super-colony for itself.

If evil is real—that is, if it exists whether or not we recognize a universally binding moral law—then it has a real source, and that source is apparently not the universe that Schweitzer affirms but some moral authority apart from it. Conversely: if ‘evil’ is simply defined by humans, then it has no bearing on God’s existence.

Either way, Schweitzer’s argument is self-defeating.

...that’s the kind of moral law Schweitzer is talking about: the real kind that implies real moral obligation...

Obligation for what? One moment you want an objective moral law, which suggests to me that you want to look at it like a physics law of the universe, yet the next moment you're acting like the problem is a lack of moral obligation…

No, you’re reading too much into this. Even the long version is simple:

1) If we don’t have freedom of choice, we cannot be held accountable for our actions, and Schweitzer’s ‘problem of evil’ argument implodes. So who is held accountable for this loosely-cooperating super-colony of bacteria, whose only ‘goal’ is to make more copies of itself? Not I. ‘I’ don’t exist. There is no homunculus at the controls. There are simply chemical reactions, synapses firing, matter and energy doing their thing. He must first establish that we bacterial super-colonies have freedom to choose apart from and in spite of how these chemical reactions and the laws of nature dictate.

2) Then he must establish that there is a real, transcendent, objective moral law that Milosevic violated. If the moral law is simply defined by humans, then it has no bearing on God’s existence.

Schweitzer is completely silent on these crucial points. Instead, he blithely asserts that evil is ‘real’ and embodied in Milosevic, whom he presents as the fulcrum of his argument against God’s existence. But if evil and moral law are real—not merely human definitions—then they apparently didn’t come from the blind, pitiless, purposeless, indifferent universe.

Where would they come from? Our judgmental super-alien observers? Schweitzer doesn’t say—perhaps because the answer would call his entire argument into question.

Sun, 06 May 2012 06:07:41 UTC | #940085

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Volde-Mart's Avatar Jump to comment 362 by Volde-Mart

Comment 359 by susanlatimer: That [real moral law’s existence] depends on your definition of real moral law.

So, have I defined ‘evil’ and ‘objective [real] moral law’ to your satisfaction? If so, let me know and we can proceed. If not, let’s start with those.

Sun, 06 May 2012 05:57:24 UTC | #940082

Go to: God's soft white underbelly

Volde-Mart's Avatar Jump to comment 357 by Volde-Mart

Comment 355 by Zeuglodon: You ask where an objective morality comes from.

No, I do not. See below.

You then explain why by going on to claim that, for moral objectivity to exist, there must be a moral imperative. Frankly, I'm stunned. An imperative is a subjective imposition of will in order to get things done…

I actually asked, 'Where does objective moral law come from?'--not ‘moral objectivity’ or ‘objective morality’. (There is no necessary subjective component to law, incidentally. If the speed limit is 100 kph, then it’s 100 kph. If matter/energy can’t be created or destroyed, then it can’t be created or destroyed. If genocide is wrong, it’s wrong.)

An objective moral law is the only basis for Schweitzer’s ‘real evil’. This ‘real evil’ is exemplified in Slobodan Milosevic, who is known for having perpetrated genocide—an act so repugnant to Schweitzer that he sees no reason to explain how an objective moral law could exist in this blind, pitiless, purposeless, indifferent universe that could not possibly have had us in mind.

In his other writings, Schweitzer says ‘torturing children for fun’ is universally wrong, no matter what a particular society may believe to the contrary. Again: no explanation.

Regardless, that’s the kind of moral law Schweitzer is talking about: the real kind that implies real moral obligation and allows us to make judgments about real evil. But if real moral law exists, as he steadfastly assumes, then it apparently doesn’t come from this material universe. Where would it come from?

Then, with your other hand, you declare you want an imperative, someone to command you to be nice and not to be naughty . . .

No, you just made that up.

I genuinely have no idea . . . what your "objective source of morality" would look like.

Not mine; Schweitzer’s. He assumes an objective source of morality (enabling objective moral law and ‘real evil’) while presumably denying its existence. My point? The blind, pitiless, purposeless, indifferent material universe could not possibly have us in mind, so it could not possibly generate objective moral law. Schweitzer must look somewhere else.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 06:33:55 UTC | #936927

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Volde-Mart's Avatar Jump to comment 356 by Volde-Mart

Comment 353 by susanlatimer: . . . you've made no effort to explain what objective morality is … I said I can't engage it until you define your terms. And you haven't.

Obviously we don’t understand each other. You say I haven’t defined my terms, but you cite a post in which I define ‘evil’, months ago, in response to your request. I defined ‘objective morality’ in 289 and 352. Let’s start with these.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 06:15:51 UTC | #936925

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