I'm sorry, but MC's opening statement was so full of holes, I couldn't resist responding to it.
Word. Before I start critiquing it myself, I would like to point out, he has taken for granted that when all parties speak of "morality" they are all talking about the same thing. That is one, fat ass assumption and will be the cause of much talking past each other. He really should have defined morality first thing.
I'm going to be defending the idea that morality must be based on God for it to be anything resembling what we normally think of as morality. Because I'm a Christian, I'll further be maintaining that it is the Christian God alone that supplies the basis of morality,...
Notice, he sort of makes this part of what he is arguing, then, later, he makes it an assumption.
...not some fuzzy deity that nobody knows about,...
yhwh, el, el shaddai, elohim, etc. God (with a capital G) is an amalgam of at least half a dozen canaanite gods, zoroastrian gods, and Babylonian gods. Top that off with 30,000 flavors of xianity and you cannot tell me the xian god is not a fuzzy, ill-defined deity.
...or some amoral Zeus who's only morality seems to be get as many mortals pregnant as possible.
uh, Mary? Hello?
...in this part of the discussion I will simply assume the Christian God exists,
see my comment above. Maybe he is going to get around to establishing it later...? We'll see.
IF the Christian God exists, then one thing we can say is that a standard for morality definitely exists in God's own nature. Not only is the Christian God the source of everything that is good, but goodness cannot be separated from Him.
That does not answer the age old question: Is god good because good is defined by god or because god is following an external, objective good? Aka, Euthypro dilemma
. Some of Hermes best work. Anyway, the answer to that matters. If good is defined by god, then good is not absolute. It is based on god's subjective whims. If it is absolute, then god is not omnipotent because he has no choice do do otherwise. God is in a real pickle.
Remember - we're using scripture here because we've assumed the Christian worldview for this section.
Which xian worldview?
Think of it this way. If the Christian God exists, then we can say something is right or wrong independently of whether or not anyone believes it to be wrong.
see Euthypro dilemma above.
On the theistic view, objective moral values are rooted in God. God’s own holy and perfectly good nature supplies the absolute standard against which all actions and decisions are measured.
If that is the case, then good is defined by god and is not an absolute standard. Good is good because god says it is good. and god is as capricious as anyone.
God’s moral nature is what Plato called the “Good.” He is the locus and source of moral value. He is by nature loving, generous, just, faithful, kind, and so forth.
Moreover, God’s moral nature is expressed in relation to us in the form of divine commands which constitute our moral duties or obligations.
Like not boiling a kid in its mother's milk? Or not wearing polyblend fabrics?
Far from being arbitrary, these commands flow necessarily from His moral nature. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the whole moral duty of man can be summed up in the two great commandments: First, you shall love the Lord your God with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your heart and with all your mind, and, second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On this foundation we can affirm the objective goodness and rightness of love, generosity, self-sacrifice, and equality, and condemn as objectively evil and wrong selfishness, hatred, abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
blah blah blah. Special pleading, asshole.
In other words, If God exists, there also exists a standard for calling good things good and bad things bad.
correction, an arbitrary standard.
Note that we did not introduce some fuzzy deity.
We didn't. MiC sure did, however.
a) Once you do this and get 2 billion followers,
As Petey pointed out, argument from popularity. Amateurish.
I think that what this objection is really getting at is the claim that it's somehow arbitrary to adopt God’s nature as the Good. But every moral realist theory has to have an explanatory stopping point at which one reaches the ultimate good.
Says who? And here is the thing, religionists are looking for the "stopping point" for everything: morals, creation, authority, justice, etc. They want an ultimate king. As I have said in another thread, they need to know "someone" is in the control room. That strikes me as a deeply insecure position that is pacified by "god".
Got that? God is a metaphysically ultimate being so it is not strange or arbitrary at all to invoke Him as the root of all morality.
Ooo, yeah, got it. WLC said it, so it must be.
3. Wait a sec... the argument you're presenting here would work for any deity. Who's to say you're wrong and the flying spaghetti monster isn't the real deity?
For part of this I can go back to the answer I gave for objection 2 - if the devotees of the flying spaghetti monster starts affecting the world the same way Christianity has, it would be a credible objection.
Plus, he just assumed xianity at the beginning. Voila.
we ought remember this debate/discussion is between Christianity and Atheism, not Christianity vs. the world.
not according to his intro:
I'll further be maintaining that it is the Christian God alone that supplies the basis of morality
categorical error. Atheism is not a philosophical structure. It is more of an adjective. He might mean "humanism", which is something we here in this forum speak and apparently know very little about.
the very most we can say of morality is it some sort of herd instinct evolved by homo sapiens to further the species. Ultimately though, this fails to be anything we might recognize as morality.
Except, you have not defined it. I would say, that it is exactly what morality is. "Right" and "wrong" or "good" and "evil" are shorthand, references for the daft.
If our morality is some instinct to preserve our species, it is an endeavor that is doomed to failure.
More simply, under the assumption that morality is merely a collection of evolved societal instincts,
Not instincts. Animals cannot chose to do other than what instinct has programed them to do. People have choices (depending where you stand on free will. But let's not get into that...). And the choice is where morality comes in. Morals are rules.
the rapist is doing nothing more serious than exhibiting a preference for a different set of instincts (sex) then we wish he would (empathy.)
No. It undermines trust within the group and violates the sense of reciprocity. If one member of a group inflicts pain on another member, who has people that care about her, they will not trust the offender. Groups can only function when there is trust. So it is not just that the rapist does something the do not like. He is damaging the basis of the one thing that made the species successful - group functionality.
The thief is exhibiting...
no. See above example.
Basically, under atheism,
Ignorant categorical error, again.
Without God as an anchor for morality, there would be no reason to obey any moral duty or recognize any ethical value on one's fellow humans.
And how is that working out? xians are behaving, are they?
If you want to maintain that morality does not have to be grounded on God, you must show how either statement (1) or (2) above is false.
Or that morality is not what you presume it to be.