Author Topic: "...Except when my God is involved"  (Read 56316 times)

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Offline truehyuga

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1421 on: September 28, 2010, 11:51:22 AM »
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In any case, this thread has gone on for far to long in my opinion anyways.  I suspect the mods agree with me, there's a reason it's in The Bottomless Pit.  I really don't feel either side has said anything new in quite a while.  I think if it's all right with you folks I might bow out of this one.
So I'm just going to be left without a response?
Cool, thanks for showing nothing even if your above argument is in fact true, because you have not shown Christianity is a fix for that.

Though honestly, if you'd like this to actual mean something and for someone to learn something, and you'd like to come out of this without looking like a massive troll to all threadgoers here, you might as well answer,and follow through until the end.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1422 on: September 28, 2010, 11:58:42 AM »
Showing that a lack of X does not provide Y, is not the same as either:
1. Showing that the presence of X provides Y.
2. Showing that the lack of X necessarily leads to the lack of Y.
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1423 on: September 28, 2010, 12:24:18 PM »
So I'm just going to be left without a response?
Cool, thanks for showing nothing even if your above argument is in fact true, because you have not shown Christianity is a fix for that.
It's gotta end sometime.  We've been going back and forth for a while now and haven't really accomplished anything, so now's as good a time as any.
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Offline truehyuga

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1424 on: September 28, 2010, 12:42:57 PM »
That isn't really fair as it is my job to argue that you cannot accomplish proving that your god is a foundation for objective morality.
A lack of anything accomplished, frankly, falls on your inability to make a working argument.

This would end logically when you could prove that he would be the foundation of morality if he existed without falling back to faith or when you admit that such a proof cannot be accomplished.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1425 on: September 28, 2010, 01:22:18 PM »
Showing that a lack of X does not provide Y, is not the same as either:
1. Showing that the presence of X provides Y.
2. Showing that the lack of X necessarily leads to the lack of Y.

MiC, do you understand this as it applies to the structure of your position/argument?
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1426 on: September 28, 2010, 01:52:36 PM »
That isn't really fair as it is my job to argue that you cannot accomplish proving that your god is a foundation for objective morality.

I'm not interested in proving that.  The only point I was trying to make was that materialism leads to nihilism.  You have yet to even address that.

Quote from: Azdgari's combined posts

Showing that a lack of X does not provide Y, is not the same as either:
1. Showing that the presence of X provides Y.
2. Showing that the lack of X necessarily leads to the lack of Y.

MiC, do you understand this as it applies to the structure of your position/argument?
Can you make it specific?  Can you show how not-nihilism is possible given materialism?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1427 on: September 28, 2010, 01:53:50 PM »
Can you show how it is possible given capitalism?

You have to first show that the quality is relevant.  That's my point.  You have not distinguished between "does not yield X" and "yields non-X".
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 01:56:11 PM by Azdgari »
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1428 on: September 28, 2010, 02:52:22 PM »
You have to first show that the quality is relevant.  That's my point.

I'll copy and paste my argument from above here, with some extra bolding, and break for some comments.

Quote from: me
Were I a materialist, I'd believe that this current material reality is all there is.  That means that the sun, moon, stars, the earth, you, and I are all just matter, just various patterns of atoms that interact according to the laws of physics.  Beauty, free will, even good and evil are all just illusions, just lies we tell ourselves for whatever reason.

Here I'm relying on materialism's belief, assertion, whatever, that everything is just matter.  If there's something else than just matter, then the rest of my argument fails - it's at least logically possible that the non-material whatver-it-is might be the source of beauty, free will, good, and evil.

Quote from: me
That means that just as it's not 'wrong' or 'evil' for, say, a black hole to devour a galaxy, or for me to snuff out a candle, neither is it wrong for a cannibal to devour another fellow human, or a sociopath to snuff out a human life.  Humans, on materialism, are just a (admittedly complex) pattern of matter, an ongoing chemical reaction that's "figured out" a way to self-replicate.  Pain is just neurons sending signals warning the brain that this process of self-replication is in danger of halting.  There's certainly nothing evil about pain or death, it's just another mode that the matter that makes us up can take.  Thus, fellow materialists can talk about good and evil, they can talk about the most good to the most people or avoiding the most harm or doing unto others what we'd want done to ourselves, and it'd get a big fat 'meh' out of me.  I don't see that there's any reason I, or anyone else, ought to care about life, death, pain, pleasure, good, or evil. [because] We're all just matter.

Do you say how I rely heavily on materialism's central assertion?  The quality is clearly relevant.  Materialism is asserting that matter is all there is, and I'm arguing that just matter is not enough to account for the rich meaning of life I suspect we all experience.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1429 on: September 28, 2010, 03:25:59 PM »
That still doesn't show materialism to be relevant to objective value.  To do that, you would have to show that materialism actually makes a difference.  And to do that, you need to show that a rejection of materialism can logically lead to objective valuation.

That is why I have been focusing my arguments where I have, MiC.  You need to start with supernaturalism and show how, logically and consistently, supernaturalism leads (or can lead) to objective value.[1]  Only then will you have an argument.  So far you have tried to take it as a given, and that won't fly.

EDIT:  The core of my argument is that no matter what non-material thing you posit to exist, it will necessarily be posited as something that is.  And one cannot logically derive an ought solely from an is, or from a collection thereof.
 1. Not "absolute" or "sovereign", but objective.  That is the quality under discussion.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 03:33:48 PM by Azdgari »
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1430 on: September 28, 2010, 03:44:22 PM »
EDIT:  The core of my argument is that no matter what non-material thing you posit to exist, it will necessarily be posited as something that is.  And one cannot logically derive an ought solely from an is, or from a collection thereof.
Oh. 
Huh, that is a good point.  Let me think about that for a bit before I respond.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1431 on: September 28, 2010, 03:56:58 PM »
By all means, take your time.  I'm in no hurry when it comes to this thread.  ;)
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Offline truehyuga

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1432 on: September 28, 2010, 04:49:32 PM »
Quote
Quote
That isn't really fair as it is my job to argue that you cannot accomplish proving that your god is a foundation for objective morality.

I'm not interested in proving that.  The only point I was trying to make was that materialism leads to nihilism.  You have yet to even address that.
You have yet to make that point worthwhile if you can't show that Christianity logically leads to moral absolutism without just assuming it does.

Or, as better said by Azdgari, you can make a whole bunch of is's, but you have to assume an ought.
I.E. I am assuming that a god exists as an example of supernaturalism, but simply assuming that the "is" of that being automatically creates the "ought" of morality is something that must be taken on a faith account, as it cannot be proven.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 04:56:09 PM by truehyuga »
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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1433 on: September 28, 2010, 05:16:05 PM »
MiC:
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You try to imply that I feel atheists don't do bad things because of ickiness.  I don't think I said that.  I said I don't do evil things because they are, to use a terrible term, icky.  Murder just feels wrong, somehow, and so I don't do it.
I don't think I said that ? I know you did, because my initial post to you opened with what you said:
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MathisCool (my bolding):
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You may think this is a huge concession (maybe it is) but I agree with His moral precepts on probably the same grounds you do.  Murder, theft, adultery, just feel... icky.  Wrong, somehow.  I certainly don't read the ten commandments, slap my hand on my forehead, and go "Oh!  So murder is wrong!  Who'd a thunk it?"
Then I think you presume too much. You talk as if moral philosophy aka the study of ethics didn't exist, as if people hadn't thought about these matters in some depth for centuries. It's not just about feelings of ickiness
I bolded the key phrase. And at the time you said it, you hadn't acknowledged any other reasons why atheists wouldn't go around murdering and stealing, so the implication was that this was the main reason. It isn't.

Quote
I thought I laid it out in this thread a couple of times, and I hadn't (and to date, haven't) seen a response to it.  It was my central argument, the one thing I was trying to say, the one thought I was trying to get across. There it is above, again.
Well, let me respond to it then.

Quote
Were I a materialist, I'd believe that this current material reality is all there is. That means that the sun, moon, stars, the earth, you, and I are all just matter, just various patterns of atoms that interact according to the laws of physics.
No, not 'just'. Materialism isn't necessarily reductionistic. An idea, or a moral, is not composed of atoms.

(And also, scientists currently estimate that only 5% of the physical composition of the universe consists of atoms. But ignore that pedantry).

Quote
Beauty, free will, even good and evil are all just illusions, just lies we tell ourselves for whatever reason.
Again, these concepts are not composed of atoms. This doesn't mean they don't exist. (Although, let's leave free will out of it, because many people do consider it to be an illusion). But the experience of beauty isn't an illusion, it's real (though subjective).  

Quote
That means that just as it's not 'wrong' or 'evil' for, say, a black hole to devour a galaxy, or for me to snuff out a candle, neither is it wrong for a cannibal to devour another fellow human, or a sociopath to snuff out a human life.
No. A black hole has no morals, and so terms such as wrong or evil don't apply. People do have morals.

Quote
Humans, on materialism, are just a (admittedly complex) pattern of matter, an ongoing chemical reaction that's "figured out" a way to self-replicate.
Again, the reductionism of 'just', and a 'chemical reaction' - ethics are not composed of chemicals.

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Pain is just neurons sending signals warning the brain that this process of self-replication is in danger of halting.
Really? If I cut my thumb with the bread-knife, is my self-replication in danger of halting?  

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There's certainly nothing evil about pain or death, it's just another mode that the matter that makes us up can take.
Yes, but what may be evil, as far as people are concerned, is deliberately causing pain or death.  

Quote
Thus, fellow materialists can talk about good and evil, they can talk about the most good to the most people or avoiding the most harm or doing unto others what we'd want done to ourselves, and it'd get a big fat 'meh' out of me.  I don't see that there's any reason I, or anyone else, ought to care about life, death, pain, pleasure, good, or evil.
If you were being horribly tortured by some sociopath, you would care very much about the pain you were feeling. And you'd want it to stop. (There's a moral in there, MiC, if you care to look).  

Quote
We're all just matter.
Once more, the unwarranted assumption of reductionism.

Gnu.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 08:48:15 AM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1434 on: September 28, 2010, 06:00:13 PM »
Gnu:
Ickiness - Fine, you don't go around murdering or killing because of something other than ickiness.  Can we drop this?  I really don't care about this point.

A lot of your post revolves around your claim:
No, not 'just'. Materialism isn't necessarily reductionistic. An idea, or a moral, is not composed of atoms.
(my bolding)
When you say materialism isn't necessarily reductionistic, what do you mean?  Do you mean a materialist can acknowledge the existence of morality?  I fail to see how.

This is another reason I was so exasperated you refused to discuss the hypothetical materialist.  Let me lay out the scenario again.  A cynical materialist has embezzled $10,000,000 from his employer.  He's proud of it; especially proud that he got away with it.  I assume you're (a) a materialist and (b) a good moral person who sees embezzling as wrong.  Can you, using your shared materialism, convince him that he was wrong?

In other words, using materialism, can you 'get to' love, beauty, honor, courage, good, and evil?  If not, how do you square their existence with your worldview?
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Offline Gimpy

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1435 on: September 28, 2010, 06:22:04 PM »
Gnu, you really and truly did miss my argument.  Let me restate it again one more time:
Were I a materialist, I'd believe that this current material reality is all there is.  That means that the sun, moon, stars, the earth, you, and I are all just matter, just various patterns of atoms that interact according to the laws of physics.  Beauty, free will, even good and evil are all just illusions, just lies we tell ourselves for whatever reason.  That means that just as it's not 'wrong' or 'evil' for, say, a black hole to devour a galaxy, or for me to snuff out a candle, neither is it wrong for a cannibal to devour another fellow human, or a sociopath to snuff out a human life.  Humans, on materialism, are just a (admittedly complex) pattern of matter, an ongoing chemical reaction that's "figured out" a way to self-replicate.  Pain is just neurons sending signals warning the brain that this process of self-replication is in danger of halting.  There's certainly nothing evil about pain or death, it's just another mode that the matter that makes us up can take.  Thus, fellow materialists can talk about good and evil, they can talk about the most good to the most people or avoiding the most harm or doing unto others what we'd want done to ourselves, and it'd get a big fat 'meh' out of me.  I don't see that there's any reason I, or anyone else, ought to care about life, death, pain, pleasure, good, or evil.  We're all just matter.

You say about my statement "The existence of inconsistent atheists does not make them consistent." that it makes no sense.  I'm saying that though atheists are on this board that disagree with the above reasoning (the existence of inconsistent atheists) so far as I can tell the above reasoning is sound, and they really ought to agree with it. (does not make them consistent.)  In other words, I acknowledge that atheists on this board disagree with me, but, well, I think they're wrong.  Such is the nature of disagreement.

Well, you are wholly wrong on your next "go-to" above. Your flaw is pretty glaring.

You are equating human beings with rocks and black holes, non-sentient, non-living things.

And your constant use of the word "materialists" is annoying and I can't figure out what you're trying to imply a "materialist" is.

For one thing, you completely ignore the fact that human beings are animals, sentient, and driven from within their core beings by evolution and the quest for species survival.

We are also social animals, and, in living in social structures to advance our species, we do know at some core level that "murder" is "icky." In our gut we know that indiscriminate taking of life can damage the long-term survival of ourselves, or progeny and our species. It makes it harder to pass our genes along if we have to live in constant fear of random murder.

So we build rules into our societies and cultures -- with some key ones being non-arbitrary and important for "the greater good" (i.e., species survival).

It appears you ignore this component of humans in your entire thought process on how "materialism" necessarily leads to nihilism. We, as social animals, will often repress what may be knee-jerk reactions or impulses in order that the "greater good" prevail.

Not all those who wander are lost; some are buried in my backyard. . .

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1436 on: September 28, 2010, 07:30:37 PM »
MiC:
Quote
Ickiness - Fine, you don't go around murdering or killing because of something other than ickiness.  Can we drop this?
Fine. Good of you to concede the point.

Quote
When you say materialism isn't necessarily reductionistic, what do you mean?
I mean that not all materialists are reductionists. As Wiki puts it:
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Materialism is often associated with reductionism, according to which the objects or phenomena individuated at one level of description, if they are genuine, must be explicable in terms of the objects or phenomena at some other level of description — typically, at a more reduced level. Non-reductive materialism explicitly rejects this notion, however, taking the material constitution of all particulars to be consistent with the existence of real objects, properties, or phenomena not explicable in the terms canonically used for the basic material constituents.
OK?


Quote
This is another reason I was so exasperated you refused to discuss the hypothetical materialist.  Let me lay out the scenario again.  A cynical materialist has embezzled $10,000,000 from his employer.  He's proud of it; especially proud that he got away with it.  I assume you're (a) a materialist and (b) a good moral person who sees embezzling as wrong.  Can you, using your shared materialism, convince him that he was wrong?
If he's a cynic, who understands that theft is wrong, and who is proud of having "got away with" his crime... then he doesn't need me to convince him that he's done wrong, he already knows.

I searched out your original formulation:
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Two materialists are chatting, and one of them is bragging about his embezzlement of $10,000,000 from his employer.
Same thing; if he knows that he has embezzled, he knows he's done wrong. You go on:
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The theft is so perfect there's no evidence. The other is shocked, of course, but I contend that he can't give a good reason, using just materialism, why the first ought to be condemned
But he can still condemn him; he can still judge him, according to his own moral standards.

As can I; as can you, MiC. We all have our standards of ethical behaviour, against which we can measure ourselves, and others.

And in this case, we all reach the same conclusion, that this guy was wrong to steal money from his employer. You use the Eighth Commandment, we use the Silver Rule. So we condemn him, according to our own rules.

Gnu.

PS. And of course, he can also be condemned according to criminal law. Criminal law isn't the same as moral law, but there is an overlap. And where theft is concerned, the overlap is total, in every country in the world.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 08:00:52 PM by Gnu Ordure »

Offline OnePerson

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1437 on: October 02, 2010, 12:16:09 PM »
This is another reason I was so exasperated you refused to discuss the hypothetical materialist.  Let me lay out the scenario again.  A cynical materialist has embezzled $10,000,000 from his employer.  He's proud of it; especially proud that he got away with it.  I assume you're (a) a materialist and (b) a good moral person who sees embezzling as wrong.  Can you, using your shared materialism, convince him that he was wrong?

In other words, using materialism, can you 'get to' love, beauty, honor, courage, good, and evil?  If not, how do you square their existence with your worldview?

Why would anyone want to steal $10,000,000?

Offline Agamemnon

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1438 on: October 02, 2010, 01:06:08 PM »
In other words, using materialism, can you 'get to' love, beauty, honor, courage, good, and evil?  If not, how do you square their existence with your worldview?

I can't help but admire the simplicity of this equation.

Love, beauty, honor, courage, good, and evil exists, therefore, God exists. Is that what you mean?

Those things exist because humanity evolved the ability to experience emotion and develop codes of conduct in order to allow humans to work together as societies.

Whether or not you can convince someone that they have violated our code of conduct by stealing doesn't validate or invalidate a worldview.
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Offline truehyuga

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1439 on: October 11, 2010, 01:59:50 PM »
EDIT:  The core of my argument is that no matter what non-material thing you posit to exist, it will necessarily be posited as something that is.  And one cannot logically derive an ought solely from an is, or from a collection thereof.
Oh. 
Huh, that is a good point.  Let me think about that for a bit before I respond.

I'll be that guy.
Is this going to be addressed?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1440 on: October 11, 2010, 03:26:21 PM »
I was wondering about that, too, frankly.  Having specifically said that I was "in no rush", I couldn't very well come on here and complain.

That said, it's been two weeks.
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1441 on: October 11, 2010, 08:35:27 PM »
I was wondering about that, too, frankly.  Having specifically said that I was "in no rush", I couldn't very well come on here and complain.

That said, it's been two weeks.
Threads in the bottomless pit aren't exactly at the top of my priority - especially those in which I've already stated that I've felt all that can be said, has been said.  On the other hand, yours was an interesting point, and I did sort of promise to respond.

Your original point was summed up nicely:
EDIT:  The core of my argument is that no matter what non-material thing you posit to exist, it will necessarily be posited as something that is.  And one cannot logically derive an ought solely from an is, or from a collection thereof.

If you're trying to jump the chasm from materialism to Christianity (or really, most forms of theism) this does seem to pose somewhat of a problem.  On a bit of analysis, though, all we're saying here is that the universe seen strictly as a collection of 'is' statements isn't enough to cover 'ought's.  The way I see it, there are three ways out of this conundrum.

Christianity:  Take as axiomatic that God exists and that his nature is good.  You haven't derived an ought from an is, you've started with one 'ought' (Two, really: (1)Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2)Love your neighbor as yourself)  and derived all the rest of 'em from that one.  This is internally consistent, the axiom "God exists" and the related axiom "And He's Good" can't be internally refuted.  If you ask me to prove that God exists or that he's good, I'll just shrug and point you to the definition of 'axiom.'

Atheism:  Take as axiomatic that, for example, "Murder is bad."  There's no reason why, from a collection of 'is's, that thing that we define as Murder is bad, it just is.  You can also go back and instead of a bunch of one-off rules (So is lying!  So is cheating!  So is adultery!  etc etc) you can try to sum up all your axioms into one super-axiom (Say, the Golden Rule, or Utilitarianism.)  You still have to take your ethical positions as axiomatic.  To me, this strikes me as amazingly counter-intuitive.  The universe is described thus: it started as nothing, it exploded[1] into something, matter started to self-organize and became life, and then this bizarre other rule is tacked on, that for certain forms of life (homo sapiens) you really ought not Murder other forms of self-organizing matter.  For some reason.

Nihilistic Atheism and/or Hedonistic Atheism: You bet your @$$ you can't get an ought from an is.  There are no oughts, but I do know some stuff feels good, so I'll just do that, and so long as I get away with it, 'sall good.

Feel free to ask questions or what not, I gotta run... won't be on for a while.
 1. not literally exploded
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 08:37:55 PM by MathIsCool »
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1442 on: October 11, 2010, 09:07:55 PM »
Threads in the bottomless pit aren't exactly at the top of my priority - especially those in which I've already stated that I've felt all that can be said, has been said.  On the other hand, yours was an interesting point, and I did sort of promise to respond.

Well like I said, I couldn't very well complain myself without contradicting my own position on the matter.

Your original point was summed up nicely:
EDIT:  The core of my argument is that no matter what non-material thing you posit to exist, it will necessarily be posited as something that is.  And one cannot logically derive an ought solely from an is, or from a collection thereof.

If you're trying to jump the chasm from materialism to Christianity (or really, most forms of theism) this does seem to pose somewhat of a problem.  On a bit of analysis, though, all we're saying here is that the universe seen strictly as a collection of 'is' statements isn't enough to cover 'ought's.  The way I see it, there are three ways out of this conundrum.

Let's see, then...though remember that you still have not established - up to this point - that materialism, or supernaturalism, are relevant to the problem.  I.e., you havn't shown a difference between them on this point.

Christianity:  Take as axiomatic that God exists and that his nature is good.  You haven't derived an ought from an is, you've started with one 'ought' (Two, really: (1)Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2)Love your neighbor as yourself)  and derived all the rest of 'em from that one.  This is internally consistent, the axiom "God exists" and the related axiom "And He's Good" can't be internally refuted.  If you ask me to prove that God exists or that he's good, I'll just shrug and point you to the definition of 'axiom.'

Three problems with this:
1. A stylistic complaint - you need to separate the statements for clarity.  Maybe you already did so in your head, but it does well to itemize them...
 - A god exists
 - Its will ought to be followed (normative-positive), or however you want to word that so that it makes sense at this point in one's reasoning.
 - etc.
2. As you say, axioms have no basis.  That means they are arbitrary, and that one's preferential selection of an axiom is necessarily subjective.  Why are you selecting, as an axiom, "God's nature is good"?  Necessarily it is because of something about you, not about God.  Otherwise it would be an observation, not an axiom.
3. Regarding #1 - how is the second statement ("its will ought to be followed", or "its will is good") relevant to materialism or supernaturalism?  I would consider it off-topic to both.

Atheism:  Take as axiomatic that, for example, "Murder is bad."  There's no reason why, from a collection of 'is's, that thing that we define as Murder is bad, it just is.  You can also go back and instead of a bunch of one-off rules (So is lying!  So is cheating!  So is adultery!  etc etc) you can try to sum up all your axioms into one super-axiom (Say, the Golden Rule, or Utilitarianism.)  You still have to take your ethical positions as axiomatic.  To me, this strikes me as amazingly counter-intuitive.  The universe is described thus: it started as nothing, it exploded[1] into something, matter started to self-organize and became life, and then this bizarre other rule is tacked on, that for certain forms of life (homo sapiens) you really ought not Murder other forms of self-organizing matter.  For some reason.
 1. not literally exploded

You've missed something here, MiC.  Look at the part of your quote that I've emphasized.  Now look at the previous paragraph.  You'd taken it as axiomatic in your Christianity-case, that certain things "ought".  That means there is no logical basis for these oughts, in the case of Christianity.  You cannot reasonably complain about materialism requiring an axiomatic value-system, when you yourself described supernaturalism as also requiring an axiomatic value system.

As I've been saying, and as you've just basically admitted, the two are equivalent on this point.  There is no logical difference between them with regard to the axiomatic, subjective, arbitrary nature of both their value-systems.  Examples:

Theism:  God's will ought to be followed?  Axiomatic.
Atheism:  Golden rule?  Axiomatic.

You can't reasonably point to the axiomatic nature of values under a materialist worldview as a flaw of that worldview, when you offer no alternative that operates differently.

EDIT:  Typo.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 09:34:55 PM by Azdgari »
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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1443 on: October 11, 2010, 09:46:16 PM »
Excellent response Azdgari. I enjoyed reading it.

I would think that if MiC could show his supernatural worldview to be objectively better than an atheist's worldview then he would have something resembling proof for god. If nothing else, it would be a mighty strong case for god and a devastating blow to atheism.

But then he would have to worry about showing how his particular brand of worldview was objectively better than a Hindu's or Muslim's or [set of supernatural worldviews here]
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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1444 on: October 12, 2010, 10:53:01 AM »
Well said, Az.
And to tack on where we left of, MiC, you HAVE to show that your reasoning for believing what you believe is non-arbitrary, otherwise your argument completely crumbles. You cannot, as Az has said,
Quote
...reasonably complain about materialism requiring an axiomatic value-system, when you yourself described supernaturalism as also requiring an axiomatic value system.

If you cannot separate your beliefs from an arbitrary faith basis, than you have no argument.
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1445 on: October 12, 2010, 03:57:14 PM »
Excellent response Azdgari. I enjoyed reading it.

I would think that if MiC could show his supernatural worldview to be objectively better than an atheist's worldview then he would have something resembling proof for god. If nothing else, it would be a mighty strong case for god and a devastating blow to atheism.

Well, with an invitation like that, how can I resist?  ;)

First of all, Azdgari, let me say that I too, enjoyed reading your post.  Thanks for taking the time to respond, and for being so patient while I thought about your objections.

Christianity
You complain about my axiomatic starting point in Christianity in three ways.  Let me grant the first stylistic complaint and only say in my defense that I typed what I did in a hurry.  I'll take the other two objections in order.

* You say in your section on Christianity that, because axioms have no basis, Christianity is therefore arbitrary and necessarily subjective.  (You ask why I take the axiom "God's nature is good" and then conclude "Necessarily it is because of something about you, not about God.")

On the contrary, an axiomatic starting point is foundational to mathematics, science, logic, and all of human reasoning.
Let me show an example using mathematics.  Under your reasoning, all of mathematics is arbitrary and subjective, because mathematicians all take the axiom of equality (a = a) and the axiom of non contradiction ~(a ^ ~a) without basis.  But clearly, all of mathematics is not arbitrary, it does a very good job of explaining the world we live in.  Put another way, the axioms of equality and non contradiction, when assumed to be true, do a very good job of explaining other aspects of our world, even all the way up to rainbows and photosynthesis and black holes; they are marvelously affective.  This certainly doesn't prove those axioms in any logical sense, but it does provide evidence that those axioms might indeed be good starting points.  Christians think the same is true of the 'God' axiom.  It does a very good job of explaining the world, much better than the 'no God' axiom, and it's success at explaining the world provides evidence (though not proof) that it was a good one to start with.  It would be absurd to claim that I take the axiom of equality because of something about me, but that is what you try to do with Christianity's axioms.

* You say the axiomatic statement "It's will ought to be followed" isn't pertinent to the discussion.  I disagree.  Just like mathematicians can derive a multitude of theorems by starting out with a simple set of axioms, among them the equality axiom, so too can Christianity derive ethical behavior from the axiom 'God's will ought to be followed.'  It is the first 'ought' from which all other 'oughts' follow.

Materialism
In your defense of the atheistic worldview, you basically say it's equivalent to Christianity in that both have axiomatic statements.  Christians start with 'God exists' and Atheists start with 'The Golden Rule,' but they both start with axioms, so they're equivalent.  You accuse me of somehow missing this point.  When I start off my summary of each worldview with "Take as axiomatic that..." I've hardly missed that both worldviews do, indeed, incorporate axioms.  I can't very well complain that materialism incorporates axioms when I start my paragraph on Christianity with "Take as axiomatic that..."  My problem is not that it's axiomatic, but rather the arbitrary and counter intuitive nature of materialistic axioms.  Let me expand three main ojections below:

* You claim a telling blow by reducing "supernaturalism [to] also requiring an axiomatic value system", but I can just as easily claim a telling blow by reducing materialism to require an axiomatic value system.  Under your defense, belief in God is exactly as defensible as atheism, in that both require unwarranted axioms (yours is 'The Golden Rule,' mine is 'God Exists.')  I would think you want to show how materialism is superior to Christianity, not equivalent.

* My axioms are better than yours.  :P  You take as axiomatic under materialism that matter and it's interactions are all that make up the world, that reason and logic are valid ways to understand the universe, and that works for most of the universe's 13.5 billion years.  But for this last tiny little bit of universe history in which humans exist, you smuggle in The Golden Rule axiom which isn't at all related to those others.  It feels totally arbitrary and tacked on.  It would be as if I was struggling to prove the Pythagorean theorem, and instead of working on it I just inserted another axiom that said the square of the two legs of a right triangle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse.  When called on my dishonesty, I can hardly defend myself by claiming that mathematics also uses axioms so my extra axiom is warranted.  Not all sets of axioms are equivalent.

* Your axioms have internal contradictions.  Under materialism matter and it's interactions are all there is, any supernatural cause you reject.  But look at the Golden Rule (which you axiomatically import into your worldview to get those 'oughts' that we both feel warrant inclusion): It's immaterial, it doesn't arise from any of the four fundamental forces of physics, it's unseeable, unsmellable, untouchable, unhearable, and untasteable.  You can not perceive it by any scientific experiment or by any of our five senses.  Put simply, any authority the Golden Rule has (that is, any 'ought' that exists that means we 'ought' to follow it) is a supernatural phenomenon.[1]  Materialism + the Golden Rule is not materialism, but rather supernaturalism.  The two are obviously incompatible, but note that both are required for this worldview.  Materialism absolutely requires that there be no supernatural phenomenon in the universe.  However, to get those morals that we both want to incorporate into our worldview, materialism takes an implicitly supernatural phenomenon while nobody is looking.  As you yourself said, you cannot get an ought from an is.  Materialism as a strict collection of 'is's therefore must exclude any and all 'oughts', but as soon as you assume the Golden Rule you've broken that rule.  It collapses in on itself, requring two incompatible axioms, neither of which it can discard.

The boxing match between Christianity and Atheism is not a twelve round duel between two battle hardened opponents.  Rather Christianity and Atheism circle each other, Atheism takes a few experimental jabs, and then disappears in a puff of logic.[2]  Agamemnon laid down a challenge to show how a "supernatural worldview [is] objectively better than an atheist's worldview," and to win that fight all Christianity really has to do is show up.  It doesn't have to bother defeating atheism, by it's own internal self contradictions, atheism takes care of that part all by itself.


A couple of ending notes:

* Note that none of these objections apply to nihilism.  Nietzsche says this best (as well he ought)
Quote from: Nietzsche
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident... By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands.
Thus, my central contention still stands: strict materialism implies nihilism.

* Agamemnon notes we can't go from here straight to Christianity:
Quote
But then he would have to worry about showing how his particular brand of worldview was objectively better than a Hindu's or Muslim's or [set of supernatural worldviews here]
And he's absolutely right.  Heck, the church of the FSM[3] is objectively better than atheism.

I look forward to your thoughts and (can I assume) your objections :).  Please note that any replies by me won't be super fast, I don't have a ton of time to partcipate in this forum.

-MiC
 1. and here I mean supernatural in it's most limited sense, that is, arising from beyond nature.
 2. To borrow a phrase from the venerable Mr. Adams
 3. all praise his noodly appendage!
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1446 on: October 12, 2010, 05:00:19 PM »
* You say in your section on Christianity that, because axioms have no basis, Christianity is therefore arbitrary and necessarily subjective.  (You ask why I take the axiom "God's nature is good" and then conclude "Necessarily it is because of something about you, not about God.")

On the contrary, an axiomatic starting point is foundational to mathematics, science, logic, and all of human reasoning.
Let me show an example using mathematics.  Under your reasoning, all of mathematics is arbitrary and subjective, because mathematicians all take the axiom of equality (a = a) and the axiom of non contradiction ~(a ^ ~a) without basis.

The axioms themselves are arbitrary and subjective.  What necessarily follows from them once they are chosen is not.  We select them because they are useful in describing the universe.  That doesn't make them "true"; it merely makes them "useful".

But clearly, all of mathematics is not arbitrary, it does a very good job of explaining the world we live in.  Put another way, the axioms of equality and non contradiction, when assumed to be true, do a very good job of explaining other aspects of our world, even all the way up to rainbows and photosynthesis and black holes; they are marvelously affective.  This certainly doesn't prove those axioms in any logical sense, but it does provide evidence that those axioms might indeed be good starting points.

I never said that it wasn't a "good starting point"[1]  I said that it was logically arbitrary and subjective.  Don't shift goalposts on me, MiC; address what was said, not what wasn't said.

Christians think the same is true of the 'God' axiom.  It does a very good job of explaining the world, much better than the 'no God' axiom, and it's success at explaining the world provides evidence (though not proof) that it was a good one to start with.  It would be absurd to claim that I take the axiom of equality because of something about me, but that is what you try to do with Christianity's axioms.

The "god" axiom is not the one under discussion.  The "god's will ought to be followed" axiom is the one under discussion.  Again with the goalposts and topicality, MiC.  I suspect this is accidental; in which case, don't rush the post next time.

The trouble with "ought" axioms, with regard to this line of argument, is that they cannot be said to do a good or bad job at describing or explaining the world, because they don't actually describe anything at all.  They are prescriptive, not descriptive.  A set of mathematical axioms may prove to be good at describing a universe with Euclidean geometry, another set good at describing hyperbolic geometry, etc.  These can be compared against the workings of the universe, and their predictive usefulness can thus be verified.  That's why math is such a good foundation.  But the same process cannot be done with "ought" axioms.  What do you compare them with?  Can you explain the method by which the axiom "God's will ought to be followed" can be objectively tested for usefulness in explaining the universe?  I think not - because that's not what "oughts" do, is it?

* You say the axiomatic statement "It's will ought to be followed" isn't pertinent to the discussion.  I disagree.  Just like mathematicians can derive a multitude of theorems by starting out with a simple set of axioms, among them the equality axiom, so too can Christianity derive ethical behavior from the axiom 'God's will ought to be followed.'  It is the first 'ought' from which all other 'oughts' follow.

First of all, that's not what I said at all.  You are misquoting me.  I said that they are not relevant to the dichotomy between materialism and supernaturalism.  I'm having a hard time seeing this one as accidental, MiC.  If you intend not to address what I've actually said, and are instead going to deliberately misquote me, then just let me know now so that I can write you off as yet another intellectually dishonest apologist.  I don't want to do that; I am enjoying our debate.  But how else am I to interpret this sort of thing?

Materialism
In your defense of the atheistic worldview, you basically say it's equivalent to Christianity in that both have axiomatic statements.  Christians start with 'God exists' and Atheists start with 'The Golden Rule,' but they both start with axioms, so they're equivalent.

Again that's not what I said.  Here is what I said:
Quote from: Azdgari
Theism:  God's will ought to be followed?  Axiomatic.
Atheism:  Golden rule?  Axiomatic.
"God exists" is not an "ought" axiom.  The one I listed, is.  That's why I made the stylistic complaint I did earlier in my post.

You accuse me of somehow missing this point.  When I start off my summary of each worldview with "Take as axiomatic that..." I've hardly missed that both worldviews do, indeed, incorporate axioms.  I can't very well complain that materialism incorporates axioms when I start my paragraph on Christianity with "Take as axiomatic that..."  My problem is not that it's axiomatic, but rather the arbitrary and counter intuitive nature of materialistic axioms.  Let me expand three main ojections below:

Remember that you are trying to demonstrate that materialism necessitates subjective value (nihilism) while supernaturalism, specifically Christian theism, allows for objective values.

* You claim a telling blow by reducing "supernaturalism [to] also requiring an axiomatic value system", but I can just as easily claim a telling blow by reducing materialism to require an axiomatic value system.  Under your defense, belief in God is exactly as defensible as atheism, in that both require unwarranted axioms (yours is 'The Golden Rule,' mine is 'God Exists.')  I would think you want to show how materialism is superior to Christianity, not equivalent.

Again, those are not the axioms being compared.  The opposing axiom to "God exists" would be "God does not exist", not "The Golden Rule".  I will address your post from here as though you merely misread my words, rather than deliberately attempting to misrepresent them.

Now to your point - no, I don't care to show materialism to be somehow ethically superior.  That was never my thesis.  I am puzzled as to how you've drawn that conclusion from our exchange.  My aim was always to show that a supernaturalist has no less arbitrary an ethical basis than that accessible to a naturalist.  It is not relevant to my argument what set of ethical axioms is preferable over whatever other sets of ethical axioms.  We are discussing meta-ethics, not ethics.

* My axioms are better than yours.  :P  You take as axiomatic under materialism that matter and it's interactions are all that make up the world, that reason and logic are valid ways to understand the universe, and that works for most of the universe's 13.5 billion years.  But for this last tiny little bit of universe history in which humans exist, you smuggle in The Golden Rule axiom which isn't at all related to those others.  It feels totally arbitrary and tacked on.  It would be as if I was struggling to prove the Pythagorean theorem, and instead of working on it I just inserted another axiom that said the square of the two legs of a right triangle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse.  When called on my dishonesty, I can hardly defend myself by claiming that mathematics also uses axioms so my extra axiom is warranted.  Not all sets of axioms are equivalent.

Again you are mixing types of axioms.  Except by way of analogous explanations, "is" axioms are not the topic of discussion.  Everyone makes those, and they can be tested for usefulness as I described earlier in this post.

"The golden rule" is an "ought" axiom.  It functions differently.  Please be sure to compare apples to apples.

* Your axioms have internal contradictions.  Under materialism matter and it's interactions are all there is, any supernatural cause you reject.  But look at the Golden Rule (which you axiomatically import into your worldview to get those 'oughts' that we both feel warrant inclusion): It's immaterial, it doesn't arise from any of the four fundamental forces of physics, it's unseeable, unsmellable, untouchable, unhearable, and untasteable.  You can not perceive it by any scientific experiment or by any of our five senses.

And that in no way contradicts naturalism.  Naturalism (aka materialism) requirs that only material things exist.  But the ethical axioms one adopts are not assertions of what exists.  As such, they are off-topic from naturalism/materialism.  They don't intersect the claims that naturalism makes, either to conform or contradict them.

Put simply, any authority the Golden Rule has (that is, any 'ought' that exists that means we 'ought' to follow it) is a supernatural phenomenon.[2]  Materialism + the Golden Rule is not materialism, but rather supernaturalism.  The two are obviously incompatible, but note that both are required for this worldview.  Materialism absolutely requires that there be no supernatural phenomenon in the universe.  However, to get those morals that we both want to incorporate into our worldview, materialism takes an implicitly supernatural phenomenon while nobody is looking.  As you yourself said, you cannot get an ought from an is.  Materialism as a strict collection of 'is's therefore must exclude any and all 'oughts', but as soon as you assume the Golden Rule you've broken that rule.  It collapses in on itself, requring two incompatible axioms, neither of which it can discard.
 2. and here I mean supernatural in it's most limited sense, that is, arising from beyond nature.

It would only be supernatural if it was an "is".  Supernaturalism is the belief in the existence of the non-material.  And existence is off-topic.

The boxing match between Christianity and Atheism is not a twelve round duel between two battle hardened opponents.  Rather Christianity and Atheism circle each other, Atheism takes a few experimental jabs, and then disappears in a puff of logic.[3]  Agamemnon laid down a challenge to show how a "supernatural worldview [is] objectively better than an atheist's worldview," and to win that fight all Christianity really has to do is show up.  It doesn't have to bother defeating atheism, by it's own internal self contradictions, atheism takes care of that part all by itself.
 3. To borrow a phrase from the venerable Mr. Adams

Before declaring victory, you should first attempt to understand your opponent's argument, MiC.  Especially when it's so clearly spelled out for you.
 1. Good for our subjective, personal goal of 'understanding the world', that is.
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Offline MathIsCool

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1447 on: October 15, 2010, 07:08:58 PM »
Hi Azdgari,

Let me start by saying thanks again for the discussion.  You mentioned that you're enjoying this debate; let me assure you that the feeling is mutual.

In the interest of brevity let me try to sum up some major points rather than responding blow-by-blow and line-by-line, otherwise I find an exchange can quickly grow cumbersome.



Christianity
I count three objections here:
1) Axioms, though useful, are nonetheless arbitrary and subjective starting points.  Their usefulness does not mitigate their subjectivity.
2) Even if material axioms could be judged true or false, ought axioms don't really describe the world and thus cannot be assessed that same way.
3) The ethical axiom 'God's will ought to be followed' is not relevant to the dichotomy between materialism and supernaturalism.  (I can assure you any misquoting I did here was due to ignorance, not malice or intellectual dishonesty.)

1) My point in describing the success mathematics and science have had in describing the world was not merely to show that these axioms are useful (and thus to sneakily shift the goalposts), but to show one area in which there is evidence that those axioms are, in fact, true.  In other words, my point is not just that mathematical axioms are useful, but that their usefulness points to their actually being true.

2) While it's true that 'ought' axioms don't lead to explanations of our world the same way natural axioms do, they do do a good job of leading toward correct ethical behavior.  I think we can safely conclude that the situation we enjoy in the United States is objectively better than the one experienced in Rwanda, and thus any ethical behavior that leads more to societies like the U.S. is objectively better than the ones that lead to societies like Rwanda.

Let me expand a little on this point.  Dinesh D'Souza lays out in his What's So Great About Christianity the myriad philosophical and moral insights that Christianity was instrumental in achieving, among them the idea of limited government, the origin of equal human dignity for all, and the theological roots of science and invention itself.  Just as the identity axiom has had unparalleled success in finding out new and exciting things about mathematics and science, so too has Christian philosophy given us unparalleled ethical success into what makes a society actually work.  And just as the identity axiom's success lends credence to the idea of it being true, so too does Christian philosophy's success function as evidence that it is true.

3) 'God's will ought to be followed' gives Christians access to an ethical axiom from which we can derive all other ethical behavior, and materialists don't have access to this axiom due to their rejection of God (If He doesn't exist, he doesn't have a will to follow.)  I'd say that ethical axiom is crucial to the dichotomy between naturalism and supernaturalism.



The Supernaturalist intersection of 'is' and 'ought' axioms
Let me pause here and clear something up about the nature of 'is' axioms and 'ought' axioms, and then deal with your objections to my points about materialism.

Christians belive God really exists in the real world, and that He really has a will, and that it really ought to be followed.  Thus our 'God exists' axiom is an 'is' axiom, and 'His will ought to be followed' is an 'ought' axiom, but it is also an 'is' axiom.  We believe he really truly exists, and so, in the real world, there is at least one thing (Love God) that is objectively good.  Thus to a materialist, 'is' and 'ought' statements exist in two different modes and never the 'twain shall meet, but to a Christian, 'ought' statements are a subset of 'is' statements.  That is, it is a fact of the universe in which we live that rape is wrong because it is a fact of the world that God exists, that He is good, and that he has forbidden rape.

In other words, 'God's will ought to be followed' functions as both an 'ought' axiom and an is axiom, that is, as something that is objectively true about the world we live in.  That's why the 'God's will ought to be followed' is crucial to the debate, it is an axiom that Christians assert exists in the real world, in reality.



Materialism
For reference, here is my objection to materialism in which I assert that materialists cannot claim access to the Golden Rule:

* Your axioms have internal contradictions.  Under materialism matter and it's interactions are all there is, any supernatural cause you reject.  But look at the Golden Rule (which you axiomatically import into your worldview to get those 'oughts' that we both feel warrant inclusion): It's immaterial, it doesn't arise from any of the four fundamental forces of physics, it's unseeable, unsmellable, untouchable, unhearable, and untasteable.  You can not perceive it by any scientific experiment or by any of our five senses.  Put simply, any authority the Golden Rule has (that is, any 'ought' that exists that means we 'ought' to follow it) is a supernatural phenomenon. (footnoted: and here I mean supernatural in it's most limited sense, that is, arising from beyond nature.)  Materialism + the Golden Rule is not materialism, but rather supernaturalism.  The two are obviously incompatible, but note that both are required for this worldview.  Materialism absolutely requires that there be no supernatural phenomenon in the universe.  However, to get those morals that we both want to incorporate into our worldview, materialism takes an implicitly supernatural phenomenon while nobody is looking.  As you yourself said, you cannot get an ought from an is.  Materialism as a strict collection of 'is's therefore must exclude any and all 'oughts', but as soon as you assume the Golden Rule you've broken that rule.  It collapses in on itself, requring two incompatible axioms, neither of which it can discard.

And here was your defense:

And that in no way contradicts naturalism.  Naturalism (aka materialism) requirs that only material things exist.  But the ethical axioms one adopts are not assertions of what exists.  As such, they are off-topic from naturalism/materialism.  They don't intersect the claims that naturalism makes, either to conform or contradict them.

This is exactly my point!  Under materialism ethical axioms do not actually exist, as you say, they are off-topic, they cannot be confirmed or contradicted by naturalism.  You treat 'is' axioms and 'ought' axioms as two seperate beasts in your post, and claim 'ought' axioms cannot be tested for usefulness.  They are not assertions of what exists.

Supernaturalism (and specifically Christianity) on the other hand, doesn't just treat the Golden Rule or other axioms as good ideas or things which are not assertions of what exist, we hold (through that 'God's will ought to be followed' thing mentioned above) that it's real, it's just as correct as the statement "caterpillars are insects" or as the statement "Jupiter is, on average, 483,780,000 miles from the sun".  We reason that God exists, He is good, what He wills is good, and what He wills is (among other things) for us all to follow the Golden Rule.  True or not, it absolutely provides an objective basis for morality.

Let me say it one more way: you say
Supernaturalism is the belief in the existence of the non-material.  And existence is off-topic.

But one of the things supernaturalism can believe in is the existence, in the real world, of non-material-but-still-just-as-real-as-caterpillars-and-Jupiter morality.  And because Supernaturalism can hold that morality is real, we can hold that it's objective.  Naturalists simply can't do this, and must fall back to the nihilism position.

Thanks again for a stimulating debate.  We should probably think about wrapping this up at some point rather than going back and forth ad nauseam.

MiC
(edits: wording, spacing)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 07:22:26 PM by MathIsCool »
Why not name the website ... "whywontGodallowlaserstoshootoutofmyeyespewpewpew.com"

 - Expurgate, here

Offline thatguy

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1448 on: October 16, 2010, 07:45:26 PM »
49 pages now. Wow. How long do you think this thing will drag on? I mean, I stopped reading this at about the fourth page.
FORCING children to fear your imaginary terrors is child abuse.

Offline truehyuga

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Re: "...Except when my God is involved"
« Reply #1449 on: October 17, 2010, 05:38:09 PM »
49 pages now. Wow. How long do you think this thing will drag on? I mean, I stopped reading this at about the fourth page.
Is that supposed to be enlightening? Don't post just for the sake of complaining.
What you allow will always increase; good or bad.