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Online Graybeard

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Objective Moral Truth
« on: December 30, 2013, 04:24:24 PM »
This view is based on objective, moral truth.  If you don't believe that there is objective moral truth but instead believe that truth is relative, then it probably won't be productive to continue the discussion.
I invite gezusfreke to
(i) define “moral truth”
(ii) show that there is objective moral truth.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 06:54:52 PM »
This view is based on objective, moral truth.  If you don't believe that there is objective moral truth but instead believe that truth is relative, then it probably won't be productive to continue the discussion.
I invite gezusfreke to
(i) define “moral truth”
(ii) show that there is objective moral truth.

Let's first define objective.

When something is objective, my or your feelings, presuppositions, and opinions do not affect it.  2 + 2 will always equal 4.  It is objectively true, no matter what you wish it to be.  It is not relative and subject to change based on other factors.  If it is 106 degrees or 32 degrees outside, 2+2=4.  If we are in Germany, Kosovo, Ruwanda, Chile, or the Antarctica, 2+2=4.  No matter if you are male, female, straight, gay, 2 years old or 100 years old, 2+2=4.

Graybeard, before I continue on to objective moral truth, can we agree that there is objective truth?
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Online Graybeard

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 03:24:10 PM »
What you see as an "objective truth" I see as a definition of the type "A=B" or "A is B", e.g. "A dog is a mammal." i.e. a statement that is irrebuttable. It may also be a basic a priori assumption (e.g. 1+1 = 2) that it is widely seen as a rational foundation to human understanding. This will save such arguments as "How do we know anything?"
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline median

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 03:59:10 PM »

Let's first define objective.

When something is objective, my or your feelings, presuppositions, and opinions do not affect it. 2 + 2 will always equal 4.  It is objectively true, no matter what you wish it to be.  It is not relative and subject to change based on other factors.  If it is 106 degrees or 32 degrees outside, 2+2=4.  If we are in Germany, Kosovo, Ruwanda, Chile, or the Antarctica, 2+2=4.  No matter if you are male, female, straight, gay, 2 years old or 100 years old, 2+2=4.

The problem is that language is arbitrary. Human sounds, syntax, or syllables are used and agreed upon by people. Thus, any definition you give for "morality" could be defined into existence as 'objective' (as such). However, specific conceptions of what morality is about can in fact be rational/irrational, coherent/incoherent, etc. I would like you to define what morality is about for you (aka - what it is/means) and then let's discuss whether it is rational, meaningful, useful, and/or coherent or not.

If, for example, morality for you is just about doing whatever you think your God says (even though thousands of Christians cannot even agree on that) I'd like to discuss how you think 'might makes right' is actually moral. If on the other hand you think that morality is about doing what is in accord with God's nature then I'd like to know how exactly you came to know what "God's nature" is. If you say you learned it from the bible then you must be someone who endorses slavery, human sacrifice, child stoning, genocide, infanticide, and rape as 'moral' (b/c according to that book all of those things are endorsed and/or carried out at the command of this 'Yahweh' and are thus in accord with it's 'nature').

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Online jaimehlers

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 05:53:05 PM »
Let's first define objective.

When something is objective, my or your feelings, presuppositions, and opinions do not affect it.  2 + 2 will always equal 4.  It is objectively true, no matter what you wish it to be.  It is not relative and subject to change based on other factors.  If it is 106 degrees or 32 degrees outside, 2+2=4.  If we are in Germany, Kosovo, Ruwanda, Chile, or the Antarctica, 2+2=4.  No matter if you are male, female, straight, gay, 2 years old or 100 years old, 2+2=4.
You can generalize it to define the addition of like quantities always doubling the value of that quantity; i.e., x + x = 2x.  But that isn't the same as being an objective truth.  It is simply a definition.  What about a people who never came up with mathematics or a number system, like the Piraha tribe?  What if they never come up with that generalization to begin with?  Is it still objective?

What happens when one person has two buckets of water, and another person also has two buckets of water, and they dump them into a large container?  It becomes quite a bit harder to objectively define how much water they have - I suppose you could say they have the equivalent of four buckets of water, but it rapidly gets complicated.  What if some of the water sloshes out of the container?  That's the problem with claiming that objectivity applies in every situation - it's as flawed as saying that relativity applies in every situation.  In truth, they both apply in different situations, and trying to make objectivity work in a situation where relativity is more applicable, or vice versa, is about as effective as trying to cut a plank lengthwise using a hammer, or trying to pound a nail in using a saw.

Quote from: gzusfreke
Graybeard, before I continue on to objective moral truth, can we agree that there is objective truth?
Some things are objectively true, but that isn't the same as saying that all things are objectively true.  The problem you have is that you have to show that objectivity is itself objective - it can apply equally well in every situation.

Offline One Above All

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 06:33:38 PM »
BM. This should be fun to watch.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 06:45:07 PM »
What you see as an "objective truth" I see as a definition of the type "A=B" or "A is B", e.g. "A dog is a mammal." i.e. a statement that is irrebuttable. It may also be a basic a priori assumption (e.g. 1+1 = 2) that it is widely seen as a rational foundation to human understanding. This will save such arguments as "How do we know anything?"

With all due respect, gzusfreke did not define "objective truth" but rather the word "objective".  I, for one, would appreciate definitions agreed upon by you and gzusfreke for the terms "moral" and "truth".  As a bonus, then put the three terms together (objective moral truth) as defined into one definition.  THEN "cuss and discuss" whether objective moral truth exists. 

Sorry to step into this.  I will not bother you any more (I hope).

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2013, 08:49:47 PM »
What you see as an "objective truth" I see as a definition of the type "A=B" or "A is B", e.g. "A dog is a mammal." i.e. a statement that is irrebuttable. It may also be a basic a priori assumption (e.g. 1+1 = 2) that it is widely seen as a rational foundation to human understanding. This will save such arguments as "How do we know anything?"

With all due respect, gzusfreke did not define "objective truth" but rather the word "objective".  I, for one, would appreciate definitions agreed upon by you and gzusfreke for the terms "moral" and "truth".  As a bonus, then put the three terms together (objective moral truth) as defined into one definition.  THEN "cuss and discuss" whether objective moral truth exists. 

Sorry to step into this.  I will not bother you any more (I hope).

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

No, thanks for the input.

I do think it is important that we do at least understand what the other means when they say "objective", "moral", and "truth".  I'm just trying to establish a common understanding (not agreement, just understanding).

So, GB, can we work on our mutual understanding of "objective"?



A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Online Graybeard

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2013, 09:28:38 PM »
What you see as an "objective truth" I see as a definition of the type "A=B" or "A is B", e.g. "A dog is a mammal." i.e. a statement that is irrebuttable. It may also be a basic a priori assumption (e.g. 1+1 = 2) that it is widely seen as a rational foundation to human understanding. This will save such arguments as "How do we know anything?"

With all due respect, gzusfreke did not define "objective truth" but rather the word "objective".  I, for one, would appreciate definitions agreed upon by you and gzusfreke for the terms "moral" and "truth".  As a bonus, then put the three terms together (objective moral truth) as defined into one definition.  THEN "cuss and discuss" whether objective moral truth exists. 

Sorry to step into this.  I will not bother you any more (I hope).
Bother away and at will. If gezusfreke (or others) does not object, I see you as a more than acceptable moderator in this discussion.

Morals:
On a societal scale, an action may be moral, neutral or immoral depending whether that action is seen as fair, neutral or unfair by the society as a whole. The criteria as a whole are judged by what is best for a society in that society’s view – it is subjective. The judgement is made upon the basis of the aggregate sum of all individual views. This describes the moral code of a society. Its morality is then subject to the views of other societies. Society A may see all or part of the actions deemed as moral by society B as immoral.

On an individual scale, we all make similar judgements on the actions of others. This is our personal, subjective morality. We only need look at a newspaper's letter page or the internet to see people supporting someone who has done something newsworthy and others attacking them for the same thing.

On a global timeless scale, morality does not exist. Mankind as a whole has not been sufficiently cohesive, or interested in, others who are distant, or indeed unknown, so as to form a common modus vivendi that may be termed as a morality/system of morals.

Between the individual scale and the societal scale, groups of all sizes form their own morality to best advance the group’s interests.

The set of morals is to be distinguished from the set of crimes: it is not a criminal offence to evict an old lady in winter but it may be termed, by some, as immoral. Crimes are often, but not always, morals writ large. The criminal code may be seen as largely objective but varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Likewise, the set of morals is to be distinguished from the set of civil laws. The combination of civil and criminal law does not cover all morals.

We are then left with Customs: customs are neutral. To the culture in which they reside, they are neither moral nor immoral. They are done without thought because they are always done that way. Customs may range from circumcision and worse, to letting off fireworks. Morals can guide customs but only when the person carrying out the custom exceeds or omits some understood rule within the custom.

Objective
As I describe in post #2: A statement may be described as objective if and only if it is an accepted definition or something that is trivially obvious to all and as gezusfreke says, accepted at all times regardless of circumstances and culture.

“Iron is attracted by a magnet.” is an objective statement by triviality.
“A dog is a mammal.” is an objective statement by virtue of it being an accepted definition.

Truth
In its generally understood form, which I will argue, truth is an honest belief founded upon a well-informed understanding of all the data available. In its strictest form, Truth[1] does not exist, other than as a concept, as it would demand knowledge of everything and at all times, past, present and future.

If something is objective, it is true but may not be True
“Iron is attracted by a magnet.” is true until such time as one piece of iron is found to be unattracted by a magnet.
“A dog is a mammal.” is true until such time as the part of the genetic code that defines a mammal is found to be absent in dogs.

It may be that the examples above will never be shown to be false but the potential remains and thus distinguished what is the Truth from what is the truth.

Additionally and as a result, a statement is not true if it is not falsifiable: it is a belief or a claim.

As such, I do not accept that there can be objective moral truth which would have to be
(i) universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances
(ii) a detailed and complex code that gave certainty under all circumstances[2]
(iii) that was agreed by all to be beneficial to all and
(iv) comprise honest beliefs founded upon a well-informed understanding of all the data available.

I can see how something can be

(i) objectively true
(ii) a moral truth (in trivial, restricted circumstances)

but I cannot see how it can be all three, or objectively moral, as it would have to be without restriction.

I am at a loss to give a possible example.
 1. I am using a convention to distinguish concepts from the general meaning The bolded, capitalised letter indicates the concept. The classical example is “All swans are white.” Absent the knowledge of black swans, this statement was true but was not True. Of course, it is no longer true. This is not such a remarkable revelation: we are used to changing truths. It was true that Kyoto was the capital of Japan: it no longer is.
 2. we would not want endless, divisive court cases/discussions that might cause unrest, which, I assume, would demonstrate my point.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 09:39:14 PM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 10:04:01 PM »

Morals:
On a societal scale, an action may be moral, neutral or immoral depending whether that action is seen as fair, neutral or unfair by the society as a whole. The criteria as a whole are judged by what is best for a society in that society’s view – it is subjective. The judgement is made upon the basis of the aggregate sum of all individual views. This describes the moral code of a society. Its morality is then subject to the views of other societies. Society A may see all or part of the actions deemed as moral by society B as immoral.

I concur.

Quote
On an individual scale, we all make similar judgements on the actions of others. This is our personal, subjective morality. We only need look at a newspaper's letter page or the internet to see people supporting someone who has done something newsworthy and others attacking them for the same thing.

I concur.

Quote
On a global timeless scale, morality does not exist. Mankind as a whole has not been sufficiently cohesive, or interested in, others who are distant, or indeed unknown, so as to form a common modus vivendi that may be termed as a morality/system of morals.

I disagree at this point with the premise that it is mankind's interest in others or mankind's cohesiveness that would determine whether there is are global, timeless objective moral truths.  You made the point above about subjectiveness within a society and by individuals, and mankind's interest is subjective. I'll come back to this later.

Quote
Between the individual scale and the societal scale, groups of all sizes form their own morality to best advance the group’s interests.

The set of morals is to be distinguished from the set of crimes: it is not a criminal offence to evict an old lady in winter but it may be termed, by some, as immoral. Crimes are often, but not always, morals writ large. The criminal code may be seen as largely objective but varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Likewise, the set of morals is to be distinguished from the set of civil laws. The combination of civil and criminal law does not cover all morals.

We are then left with Customs: customs are neutral. To the culture in which they reside, they are neither moral nor immoral. They are done without thought because they are always done that way. Customs may range from circumcision and worse, to letting off fireworks. Morals can guide customs but only when the person carrying out the custom exceeds or omits some understood rule within the custom.

I concur.
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2013, 10:24:56 PM »
Objective
As I describe in post #2: A statement may be described as objective if and only if it is an accepted definition or something that is trivially obvious to all and as gezusfreke says, accepted at all times regardless of circumstances and culture.

“Iron is attracted by a magnet.” is an objective statement by triviality.
“A dog is a mammal.” is an objective statement by virtue of it being an accepted definition.

I would disagree that a statement "may be described as objective if and only if it is an accepted definition or something that is trivially obvious to all."

Per wikipedia:  "Generally, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside of a subject's individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(philosophy)

The very nature of "accepted definition" and "trivially obvious to all" speak to at the very least biases and interpretations.

An objective truth is a truth that is true regardless of whether it is accepted or obvious to all.  An example would be the discovery of a planet.  The objective truth is that the planet was a planet before it was discovered.  It's being accepted as a planet did not suddenly make it a true planet.  When everyone was monumentally oblivious to its existence, it was still a true planet.

I did not define it by saying it had to be "accepted at all times," in fact, I think my definition is the opposite of that.

From my first post in this thread:

"Let's first define objective.

When something is objective, my or your feelings, presuppositions, and opinions do not affect it.  2 + 2 will always equal 4.  It is objectively true, no matter what you wish it to be.  It is not relative and subject to change based on other factors.  If it is 106 degrees or 32 degrees outside, 2+2=4.  If we are in Germany, Kosovo, Ruwanda, Chile, or the Antarctica, 2+2=4.  No matter if you are male, female, straight, gay, 2 years old or 100 years old, 2+2=4."

Was that an honest mistake on your part?  I hope so.

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 10:38:49 PM »
Note: This was written as you guys were running around concurring with each other. I don't think I violated any of the agreements you made but you may jump my a** if I did.

GF

First of all, we need to have a little discussion about terminology here. In some of the recent discussions, the talk has been about absolute morals. In others, as in this thread, the discussion is about objective morals. We seem to have been using the terms interchangeably here, when we shouldn't be.

An absolute truth is something that is true under any circumstance. And objective truth is something that happens under specific circumstances. The best example I could find is looking at the boiling point of water. To say that water boils as 212 degrees fahrenheit is to make an absolute statement. To say that water boils at 194 degree fahrenheit when heated on a 10,000 foot mountain side is to make an objective statement. So while it is completely correct to say that water boils at 212 degrees, it is only true at sea level. Hence the debate Graybeard started about objective reality is different than one on absolute reality. Just wanted to  make that clear.

Early in this thread you stated gave this as an example of an objective truth: 2 + 2 = 4. However, if you ask any serious mathematician if 2 + 2 = 4, he or she will first ask you a series of questions to be sure that they give the right answer. Because 2 + 2 = 4 is a social construct, that is independent of what is being counted. If all you are counting is numbers, it is probably just fine, but if you are counting apples, and two of the apples are very large and two of the apples are very small, the answer of '4' doesn't automatically give you very good information. If you are adding two apples and two oranges, even if they are the same size, you are still not getting four of anything, except in the generic fruit category. Life just isn't that simple.

In the rest of this post, I shall assume objective morals. If you want to make it easier for me, I can drone on about absolute morals too, especially now that I've gone to the trouble of figuring out the difference. Let me know.

Christians appear to want an easy answer as to what is right and wrong. But their only standards for an answer answer is that it be both certain and simple.  And once armed with the un-complex and the uncomplicated, they feel that they can address any given situation and parse whether it was right or wrong.

And because you insist on the certain and the simple, you have no way of understanding the secular view which says that morals are indeed complex, and indeed uncertain. To you, if it isn't simple, if it isn't certain, then it can't be real, it can't be useful, it can't guide anyone anywhere.

The theist goal is to get into heaven and to know where they stand with their lord in the meantime. Because their view of right and wrong is as simple as a switch flick. Helping a little old lady across the street = good. Lying to mom when you said "Of course I remembered that today was your birthday!" = bad. And while you have approached the subject of there being things that are worse or better in the bad department, mostly you seem to pay attention as to whether or not you've pissed off god, and in order to be sure you're not guessing, you guys keep it simple.

This of course means that you have to rationalize away variety, because technically that isn't allowed. While you have a commandment that says you shouldn't kill, if you happen to follow a guy who looks suspicious and you confront him and he runs off but then comes back and attacks you and you have to shoot him, then its okay. You have a math game going, where if his sin is worse than yours, than yours isn't a sin any more. You get to plug in any value you want to the first '2', anything you want into the second '2', and pronounce proudly that they add up to '4', so you're in the clear.

You don't evaluate to come to that conclusion, You don't consider any more of the variables than you have to. A quick decision is important. Hence reason and evidence aren't considered. You don't dare compare different outcomes to make sure that your actions were the best. You don't dare get into specifics. You don't dare consider non-religious social realities. You have no interest in biological realities, social hierarchies, cultural differences, evolutionary tendencies.

Giving thought to what morality actually is scares you so much that you have to diss it on sight, and repeat your mantra "without god there can be no morality" over and over and over. Because when your morality is challenged, that is the only response you are capable of. It is as memorized as 2 + 2 = 4, and as incompetently applied.

I am an atheist, who also happens to agree with the theories of evolution. I understand that we evolved from primates. Here is a little story that is true.

Baboons in the wild are a bunch of a**holes. The guys at the top of the heap beat up on anyone and everyone, and the guys just under them beat up on everyone under them, and on down the line, while the females get beat up all the time on general principle. And when measured, the blood pressure and stress hormones in those at the bottom of the heap are dangerously high. The lowest guys on the social ladder in baboon land live shorter lives because things are crappy for them.

A baboon researcher, in the mid 1980's, found out that a baboon troop that he had been researching was suddenly experiencing a major die off. He and others quickly discovered that the baboons had started feeding out of a garbage dump at a tourist resort. And that a bunch of the meat scraps that they had eaten were tainted with tuberculosis.

But since the best and biggest chunks of meat had been eaten by the alpha males, they were the ones dying off. All the big bad daddy's went to the big baboon tree in the sky, leaving behind a whole bunch of no longer hassled males, who turned out to be nice guys, and a whole bunch of females who kind of liked not being hassled. And the whole demeanor of the troop changed. They were no longer a bunch of idiots, but instead they got along well, they no longer tolerated berating behavior, and things simple became more pleasant for everyone. Since, as an atheist, I do not believe a god-defined morality is involved in life. I do think that both genetics and cultural realities are involved. I think that this story demonstrates that.

Different situations created different moral situations. And though as an atheist, one you way I am not qualified to judge what was good or bad because I have no standards available, I'm going to guess that you as a man of god who knows right from wrong will be able to recognize that the morality of the second version of the troop was superior to the first. I figure I have a 50/50 chance of being right. I wish myself luck. Otherwise all that typing was for naught.

We evolved to become social animals. We are generally pretty good at it these days, but we aren't perfect. We tend to assume that, overall, killing each other willy-nilly is either going to get us or our loved ones overly dead, so we decide that maybe we shouldn't kill. We've noticed that we get upset when someone steals from us, and hence we decide that if, like, you know, we refrain from stealing from others they won't get mad at us. Humans are capable of reaching conclusions on their own. They just can't do it using simplistic standards in a thought-free atmosphere.

Anthropologists found some native peoples in Indonesia that were not yet mucked up by civilization. The also found out that neighboring tribes sometimes fought with each other. Looking into it further, they found out that these tribes, far removed from civilization, would get into very ritualized battle formations and start tossing spears at each other. Until someone died. The minute one person was killed, they stopped. For about a year. Then they would arrange another battle, fight with each other again, and stop again the minute another person died.

While morally questionable, how is that that they, without your god, came demonstrably closer to adhering to "thou shalt not kill" than the Christian crusaders, who bragged about killing so many in Jerusalem that the streets were knee deep in blood?

Your moral high ground needs a lot of work. As it should. Because morality is a hard business. Lives are at stake. And the inability to deal with either the nuances or the more blatant variables is not a feature of religion. It is a bug.

You guys can keep your god if you'll just bring your morality into the 21st century and help us figure out how to make things better. Neither your righteousness when you don't kill or your righteousness when you do kill contribute to the world becoming a better place.

You don't have to agree with me. Just agree that it is complicated. Otherwise our great-great grandchildren will be having this same argument.

Edit: fixed a few incomplete sentences and punctuation problems
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 10:44:28 PM by ParkingPlaces »
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Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2013, 10:42:44 PM »


Truth
In its generally understood form, which I will argue, truth is an honest belief founded upon a well-informed understanding of all the data available. In its strictest form, Truth[1] does not exist, other than as a concept, as it would demand knowledge of everything and at all times, past, present and future.
 1. I am using a convention to distinguish concepts from the general meaning The bolded, capitalised letter indicates the concept. The classical example is “All swans are white.” Absent the knowledge of black swans, this statement was true but was not True. Of course, it is no longer true. This is not such a remarkable revelation: we are used to changing truths. It was true that Kyoto was the capital of Japan: it no longer is.

You are using statements of relative truth.  Absolute objective truth is "there are swans" or "the nation of Japan has a capital."

Quote
If something is objective, it is true but may not be True
“Iron is attracted by a magnet.” is true until such time as one piece of iron is found to be unattracted by a magnet.
“A dog is a mammal.” is true until such time as the part of the genetic code that defines a mammal is found to be absent in dogs.

It may be that the examples above will never be shown to be false but the potential remains and thus distinguished what is the Truth from what is the truth.

Additionally and as a result, a statement is not true if it is not falsifiable: it is a belief or a claim.

Yet "dogs exist," "mammals exist," "iron exists," and "magnets exist" are all true.  Yes or no?

Quote
As such, I do not accept that there can be objective moral truth


So far, based on your using relativity, one could see why you could not accept the existence of objective moral truth.

Quote
which would have to be
(i) universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances

If you are saying that something would only be objectively true if it was universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances, then again we have a failure to communicate.  Objective truth is not based on universal or individual acceptance, it is truth that is truth regardless if it is ever accepted or even known.

Quote
(ii) a detailed and complex code that gave certainty under all circumstances[2]
(iii) that was agreed by all to be beneficial to all and
(iv) comprise honest beliefs founded upon a well-informed understanding of all the data available.

I can see how something can be

(i) objectively true
(ii) a moral truth (in trivial, restricted circumstances)

but I cannot see how it can be all three, or objectively moral, as it would have to be without restriction.

I am at a loss to give a possible example.
 2. we would not want endless, divisive court cases/discussions that might cause unrest, which, I assume, would demonstrate my point.

We would need to resolve our understandings of objective and truth to proceed further.
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2013, 10:46:29 PM »
Note: This was written as you guys were running around concurring with each other. I don't think I violated any of the agreements you made but you may jump my a** if I did.

GF

First of all, we need to have a little discussion about terminology here. In some of the recent discussions, the talk has been about absolute morals. In others, as in this thread, the discussion is about objective morals. We seem to have been using the terms interchangeably here, when we shouldn't be.

An absolute truth is something that is true under any circumstance. And objective truth is something that happens under specific circumstances. The best example I could find is looking at the boiling point of water. To say that water boils as 212 degrees fahrenheit is to make an absolute statement. To say that water boils at 194 degree fahrenheit when heated on a 10,000 foot mountain side is to make an objective statement. So while it is completely correct to say that water boils at 212 degrees, it is only true at sea level. Hence the debate Graybeard started about objective reality is different than one on absolute reality. Just wanted to  make that clear.

Early in this thread you stated gave this as an example of an objective truth: 2 + 2 = 4. However, if you ask any serious mathematician if 2 + 2 = 4, he or she will first ask you a series of questions to be sure that they give the right answer. Because 2 + 2 = 4 is a social construct, that is independent of what is being counted. If all you are counting is numbers, it is probably just fine, but if you are counting apples, and two of the apples are very large and two of the apples are very small, the answer of '4' doesn't automatically give you very good information. If you are adding two apples and two oranges, even if they are the same size, you are still not getting four of anything, except in the generic fruit category. Life just isn't that simple.

In the rest of this post, I shall assume objective morals. If you want to make it easier for me, I can drone on about absolute morals too, especially now that I've gone to the trouble of figuring out the difference. Let me know.

Christians appear to want an easy answer as to what is right and wrong. But their only standards for an answer answer is that it be both certain and simple.  And once armed with the un-complex and the uncomplicated, they feel that they can address any given situation and parse whether it was right or wrong.

And because you insist on the certain and the simple, you have no way of understanding the secular view which says that morals are indeed complex, and indeed uncertain. To you, if it isn't simple, if it isn't certain, then it can't be real, it can't be useful, it can't guide anyone anywhere.

The theist goal is to get into heaven and to know where they stand with their lord in the meantime. Because their view of right and wrong is as simple as a switch flick. Helping a little old lady across the street = good. Lying to mom when you said "Of course I remembered that today was your birthday!" = bad. And while you have approached the subject of there being things that are worse or better in the bad department, mostly you seem to pay attention as to whether or not you've pissed off god, and in order to be sure you're not guessing, you guys keep it simple.

This of course means that you have to rationalize away variety, because technically that isn't allowed. While you have a commandment that says you shouldn't kill, if you happen to follow a guy who looks suspicious and you confront him and he runs off but then comes back and attacks you and you have to shoot him, then its okay. You have a math game going, where if his sin is worse than yours, than yours isn't a sin any more. You get to plug in any value you want to the first '2', anything you want into the second '2', and pronounce proudly that they add up to '4', so you're in the clear.

You don't evaluate to come to that conclusion, You don't consider any more of the variables than you have to. A quick decision is important. Hence reason and evidence aren't considered. You don't dare compare different outcomes to make sure that your actions were the best. You don't dare get into specifics. You don't dare consider non-religious social realities. You have no interest in biological realities, social hierarchies, cultural differences, evolutionary tendencies.

Giving thought to what morality actually is scares you so much that you have to diss it on sight, and repeat your mantra "without god there can be no morality" over and over and over. Because when your morality is challenged, that is the only response you are capable of. It is as memorized as 2 + 2 = 4, and as incompetently applied.

I am an atheist, who also happens to agree with the theories of evolution. I understand that we evolved from primates. Here is a little story that is true.

Baboons in the wild are a bunch of a**holes. The guys at the top of the heap beat up on anyone and everyone, and the guys just under them beat up on everyone under them, and on down the line, while the females get beat up all the time on general principle. And when measured, the blood pressure and stress hormones in those at the bottom of the heap are dangerously high. The lowest guys on the social ladder in baboon land live shorter lives because things are crappy for them.

A baboon researcher, in the mid 1980's, found out that a baboon troop that he had been researching was suddenly experiencing a major die off. He and others quickly discovered that the baboons had started feeding out of a garbage dump at a tourist resort. And that a bunch of the meat scraps that they had eaten were tainted with tuberculosis.

But since the best and biggest chunks of meat had been eaten by the alpha males, they were the ones dying off. All the big bad daddy's went to the big baboon tree in the sky, leaving behind a whole bunch of no longer hassled males, who turned out to be nice guys, and a whole bunch of females who kind of liked not being hassled. And the whole demeanor of the troop changed. They were no longer a bunch of idiots, but instead they got along well, the no longer tolerated berating behavior, and things simple became more pleasant for everyone. Since, as an atheist, I do not believe a god-defined morality is involved in life. I do think that both genetics and cultural realities are involved. I think that this story demonstrates that.

Different situations created different moral situations. And though as an atheist, one you way I am not qualified to judge what was good or bad because I have no standards available, I'm going to guess that you as a man of god who knows right from wrong will be able to recognize that the morality of the second version of the troop was superior to the first. I figure I have a 50/50 chance of being right. I wish myself luck. Otherwise all that typing was for naught.

We evolved to become social animals. We are generally pretty good at it these days, but we aren't perfect. We tend to assume that, overall, killing each other willy-nilly is either going to get us or our loved ones overly dead, so we decide that maybe we shouldn't kill. We've noticed that we get upset when someone steals from us, and hence we decide that if, like, you know, we refrain from stealing from others they won't get mad at us. Humans are capable of reaching conclusions on their own. They just can't do it using simplistic standards in a thought-free atmosphere.

Anthropologists found some native peoples in Indonesia that were not yet mucked up by civilization. The also found out that neighboring tribes sometimes fought with each other. Looking into it further, they found out that these tribes, far removed from civilization, would get into very ritualized battle formations and start tossing spears at each other. Until someone died. The minute one person was killed, they stopped. For about a year. Then they would arrange another battle, fight with each other again, and stop again the minute another person died.

While morally questionable, how is that that they, without your god, came demonstrably closer to adhering to "thou shalt not kill" than the Christian crusaders, who bragged about killing so many in Jerusalem that the streets were knee deep in blood?

Your moral high ground needs a lot of work. As it should. Because morality is a hard business. Lives are at stake. And the inability to deal with either the nuances or the more blatant variables is not a feature of religion. It is a bug.

You guys can keep your god if you'll just bring your morality into the 21st century and help us figure out how to make things better. Neither your righteousness when you don't kill or your righteousness when you do kill contribute to the world becoming a better place.

You don't have to agree with me. Just agree that it is complicated. Otherwise our great-great grandchildren will be having this same argument.

Edit: fixed a few incomplete sentences and punctuation problems

I tend to use "absolute" and "objective" interchangeably.  I apologize for being redundant by saying "absolute, objective".
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2013, 10:53:38 PM »
Quote
If you are saying that something would only be objectively true if it was universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances, then again we have a failure to communicate.  Objective truth is not based on universal or individual acceptance, it is truth that is truth regardless if it is ever accepted or even known.

I apparently have no self-control.  And I confuse easily. 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unaccepted? 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unknown? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2013, 11:13:26 PM »
Quote
If you are saying that something would only be objectively true if it was universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances, then again we have a failure to communicate.  Objective truth is not based on universal or individual acceptance, it is truth that is truth regardless if it is ever accepted or even known.

I apparently have no self-control.  And I confuse easily. 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unaccepted? 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unknown? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG,

something can be true and not be known.  I gave the example that if a planet existed that we were not aware of, our unawareness does not negate the truth of that planet's existence.  And if no one knew about the planet's existence, then no one accepted the truth of the planet's existence.

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2013, 11:20:27 PM »
Quote
If you are saying that something would only be objectively true if it was universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances, then again we have a failure to communicate.  Objective truth is not based on universal or individual acceptance, it is truth that is truth regardless if it is ever accepted or even known.

I apparently have no self-control.  And I confuse easily. 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unaccepted? 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unknown? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG,

something can be true and not be known.  I gave the example that if a planet existed that we were not aware of, our unawareness does not negate the truth of that planet's existence.  And if no one knew about the planet's existence, then no one accepted the truth of the planet's existence.

I agree that if we are unaware of a planet's existence then it is an unknown truth. 

I'm not sure the same example would also apply to it being an unaccepted truth.  How does one accept or not accept that which is unknown?  Acceptance or unacceptance, to me anyway, applies to something known.  So, to please a well-meaning but easily confused theist, would you mind providing an example of an unaccepted truth?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2013, 11:31:31 PM »
Quote
If you are saying that something would only be objectively true if it was universally and individually accepted for all time and circumstances, then again we have a failure to communicate.  Objective truth is not based on universal or individual acceptance, it is truth that is truth regardless if it is ever accepted or even known.

I apparently have no self-control.  And I confuse easily. 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unaccepted? 

Would gzusfreke be so kind as to provide an example of a truth that is unknown? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG,

something can be true and not be known.  I gave the example that if a planet existed that we were not aware of, our unawareness does not negate the truth of that planet's existence.  And if no one knew about the planet's existence, then no one accepted the truth of the planet's existence.

I agree that if we are unaware of a planet's existence then it is an unknown truth. 

I'm not sure the same example would also apply to it being an unaccepted truth.  How does one accept or not accept that which is unknown?  Acceptance or unacceptance, to me anyway, applies to something known.  So, to please a well-meaning but easily confused theist, would you mind providing an example of an unaccepted truth?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG, can you think of a truth that is true no matter what, yet some people do not accept it?
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2014, 12:02:46 AM »
I'd also like to reiterate my point about objectivity and relativity - that is, that neither can apply to everything.  It's important to keep that in mind.

Also, just to keep the discussion moving, an example of something that's true but not always accepted is that vaccines are very safe.

Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2014, 02:02:10 AM »
I'd also like to reiterate my point about objectivity and relativity - that is, that neither can apply to everything.  It's important to keep that in mind.

Also, just to keep the discussion moving, an example of something that's true but not always accepted is that vaccines are very safe.

Not all vaccinations are what they say they are. People have died form vaccinations. Doctors will tell you that anything is safe as long as it fills their pockets with cash.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline median

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2014, 05:12:09 AM »
I'd also like to reiterate my point about objectivity and relativity - that is, that neither can apply to everything.  It's important to keep that in mind.

Also, just to keep the discussion moving, an example of something that's true but not always accepted is that vaccines are very safe.

Not all vaccinations are what they say they are. People have died form vaccinations. Doctors will tell you that anything is safe as long as it fills their pockets with cash.

Your conspiracy theorist nut paranoia is all in your head. Please check yourself into the nearest mental hospital asap for psych eval.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2014, 06:00:05 AM »
Quote

OCG, can you think of a truth that is true no matter what, yet some people do not accept it?

With all due respect, the burden for an example of a truth that is not accepted by all is with you.  If an example cannot be provided, then perhaps that aspect of truth should be eliminated from any definitions in this discussion.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2014, 07:10:27 AM »
My thanks to gezusfreke and Parking Places.

It was late last night when I wrote and posted, and I missed an obvious source of reference: The Oxford English Dictionary, the complete, online version (only available by subscription.) The OED is widely regarded as the best dictionary of the English language for both American and British English. As it happens, any differences between American and British English do not come into play in the following definitions:

Objective
A.3.a: [definition now unreliable] Objective (adj): Existing as an object of thought or consciousness as opposed to having a real existence; considered as presented to the mind rather than in terms of inherent qualities. Opposed to subjective adj. 2[1]. [which is] Obsolete. For a discussion of the change of meaning between this sense and sense A. 3b, see note at subjective adj. 2[/nb].

A.3.b. Objective (adj): That is or belongs to what is presented to consciousness, as opposed to the consciousness itself; that is the object of perception or thought, as distinct from the subject; (hence) (more widely) external to or independent of the mind[nb]This sense (A.3. b.) is occasional in writers of the later 17th and early 18th centuries, these early examples being more or less transitional from sense A. 3a. The established use appears to be derived from Kant, occurring rarely in the late 18th cent., and more frequently from the early 19th cent. Onwards:[2]

[[As opposed to] Subjective:  3. Philos. Relating to the thinking subject (see subject n. 9), proceeding from or taking place within the individual consciousness or perception; having its source in the mind; belonging to the conscious life. Frequently opposed to objective adj. 3b.]

Moral
moral, adj. 1 a. Of or relating to human character or behaviour considered as good or bad; of or relating to the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil, in relation to the actions, desires, or character of responsible human beings; ethical.

b. Of an action: having the property of being right or wrong, or good or evil; voluntary or deliberate and therefore open to ethical appraisal. Of a person, etc.: capable of moral action; able to choose between right and wrong, or good and evil.

c. Of knowledge, an opinion, etc.: relating to the nature and application of the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil.

 d. Of an idea, speech, etc.: involving ethical praise or blame.

 e. Of a feeling: arising from an apprehension or sense of the goodness or badness of an action, character, etc.

Truth
Truth (noun) III. Something that is true.
 9. a. True statement or account; that which is in accordance with the fact: Compare with. sense 12a, from which this is not always distinguishable. = 12a The fact or facts; the actual state of the case; the matter or circumstance as it really is.


I would disagree that a statement "may be described as objective if and only if it is an accepted definition or something that is trivially obvious to all."

Per wikipedia:  "Generally, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside of a subject's individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(philosophy)

The very nature of "accepted definition" and "trivially obvious to all" speak to at the very least biases and interpretations.

"Let's first define objective.

When something is objective, my or your feelings, presuppositions, and opinions do not affect it.  2 + 2 will always equal 4.  It is objectively true, no matter what you wish it to be.  It is not relative and subject to change based on other factors.  If it is 106 degrees or 32 degrees outside, 2+2=4.  If we are in Germany, Kosovo, Rwanda, Chile, or the Antarctica, 2+2=4.  No matter if you are male, female, straight, gay, 2 years old or 100 years old, 2+2=4."

Was that an honest mistake on your part?  I hope so.
It was not a mistake, honest or otherwise. I have said the same thing as you, but in another way. I have also referred to your definition: “as gezusfreke says, accepted at all times regardless of circumstances and culture.” And, by the inclusion of that reference, I have accepted your definition, which you now repeat[3]

Note: This was written as you guys were running around concurring with each other. I don't think I violated any of the agreements you made but you may jump my a** if I did.
Not as far as I am concerned.

Quote
First of all, we need to have a little discussion about terminology here. In some of the recent discussions, the talk has been about absolute morals. In others, as in this thread, the discussion is about objective morals. We seem to have been using the terms interchangeably here, when we shouldn't be.

An absolute truth is something that is true under any circumstance. And objective truth is something that happens under specific circumstances. … 2 + 2 = 4, he or she will first ask you a series of questions to be sure that they give the right answer. … Life just isn't that simple.
From my point of view, I hope I have included much of what you say in my footnote distinction between “true” and “True."

Gezusfreke has accepted this.

Quote
In the rest of this post, I shall assume objective morals. If you want to make it easier for me, I can drone on about absolute morals too, especially now that I've gone to the trouble of figuring out the difference. Let me know.
We are speaking of “objective moral truth”.

I think we are “singing from the same hymn book.” : )

Thanks for the Baboons and the Indonesians.

I tend to use "absolute" and "objective" interchangeably.  I apologize for being redundant by saying "absolute, objective".
It seems unreasonable to use two words with differing meanings to mean the same thing. Both Parking Places and I see the two as distinguishable. He addresses it in his post, I have explained it in my post with the "All dogs are mammals ... except if ..."; the falsifiability exception, and the footnote to my post with true and True. Furthermore, I though you had agreed.

There are no absolute Truths (which is a tautology as, by my definition, Truth is absolute) and so I feel you may, in your inability to distinguish and thus random use, confuse the two and thus render any debate pointless.

Do you wish to remove the concept of “absolute Truth” from the debate?
 1.   2. Subjective (adj.): Metaphysics. Relating to the subject (subject n. 5) as that in which properties or attributes inhere; inherent; relating to the essence or reality of a thing; real, essential. Opposed to objective adj. 3a. Now rare.
 2.  1817   S. T. Coleridge Biographia Literaria I. x. 160   The very words objective and subjective of such constant recurrence in the schools of yore, I have ventured to re-introduce.). From the later 19th cent. onwards, this sense extends into more widespread general use, while retaining its specialist use in philosophical contexts.
 3.  Please note, I think you will agree that this topic will be better addressed with a little trust. I cannot help but read your unnecessary

“Was that an honest mistake on your part?  I hope so.”

As having a subtext of – “Was that a dishonest attempt at trickery – I feel it might have been but I will not accuse you outright, rather I will appeal to your conscience to encourage you to concede that I am correct.” I think it is a lesson to both of us that we need to read carefully so as to avoid misunderstandings.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2014, 07:13:31 AM »
OCG, can you think of a truth that is true no matter what, yet some people do not accept it?
I may be mistaken, but I feel OCG asked for an example, not a question. The example would be useful to others too as an insight into your understanding.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2014, 07:23:45 AM »
You are using statements of relative truth.  Absolute objective truth is "there are swans" or "the nation of Japan has a capital."
I see neither of them as absolute. There is no "absolute Truth". What if it were discovered that swans are, in fact a species of geese? Or that, by legal error, Japan has never had a capital? You see, both are falsifiable, making them true but not True: i.e. absolutely true.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2014, 11:47:43 AM »
Not all vaccinations are what they say they are. People have died form vaccinations. Doctors will tell you that anything is safe as long as it fills their pockets with cash.

People die from everything, Skep. And while I realize that you are unimpressed that smallpox has been wiped off the planet, that polio is almost gone, that deaths from measles are now almost unheard of in the US, and that the millions of fewer deaths from pertussis that we've had over the last couple of decades are all required to be irrelevant in your mind, I am indeed happy that you are very very concerned about the occasional rare fatal side effect from inoculations.

On the bright side, the medical community is working on solving that problem. Sure they'll charge, but so to do undertakers, so its a wash for me.
Jesus, the cracker flavored treat!

Offline gzusfreke

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2014, 01:26:06 PM »
Quote

OCG, can you think of a truth that is true no matter what, yet some people do not accept it?

With all due respect, the burden for an example of a truth that is not accepted by all is with you.  If an example cannot be provided, then perhaps that aspect of truth should be eliminated from any definitions in this discussion.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

If you want to moderate this thread, how about you start with Graybeard's attribution to me of thoughts and points of view that I have not expressed?
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2014, 01:56:50 PM »
According to Elton Trueblood, a philosopher:

"There must be an objective moral law; otherwise: (a) There would not be such great agreement on its meaning. (b) No real moral disagreements would ever have occurred, each person being right from his own moral perspective. (c) No moral judgment would ever have been wrong, each being subjectively right. (d) No ethical question could ever be discussed, there being no objective meaning to any ethical terms. (e) Contradictory views would both be right, since opposites could be equally correct."

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 499.

(a) is not so.  Many people can agree on an objective moral law.

(b), (c), and (e) would violate the Law of Noncontradiction and as such are not possible.

(d) is self-explanatory.

Trueblood continues:

This moral law is beyond individual persons and beyond humanity as a whole: (a) It is beyond individual persons, since they often sense a conflict with it. (b) It is beyond humanity as a whole, for they collectively fall short of it and even measure the progress of the whole race by it.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 499.

Geisler comments:
It is noteworthy that Trueblood’s form of the moral argument argues its validity in terms of its rationality. It reasons, in essence, that to reject the moral law is irrational or meaningless. That is, unless we assume the universe is irrational, there must be an objective moral law and, thereby, an objective Moral Law Giver.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 499.

C.S. Lewis contributes:
1.      There must be a universal moral law, or else: (a) Moral disagreements would make no sense, as we all assume they do. (b) All moral criticisms would be meaningless (e.g., “The Nazis were wrong.”). (c) It is unnecessary to keep promises or treaties, as we all assume that it is. (d) We would not make excuses for breaking the moral law, as we all do.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 500.

Lewis again:

The Moral Law Is Not Herd Instinct. Lewis anticipates and persuasively answers major objections to the moral argument. Essentially, his replies are:
What we call the moral law cannot be the result of herd instinct or else the stronger impulse would always win, but it does not. We would always act from instinct rather than selflessly to help someone, as we sometimes do. If the moral law were just herd instinct, then instincts would always be right, but they are not. Even love and patriotism are sometimes wrong.
The Moral Law Is Not Social Convention. Neither can the moral law be mere social convention, because not everything learned through society is based on social convention. For example, math and logic are not. The same basic moral laws can be found in virtually every society, past and present. Further, judgments about social progress would not be possible if society were the basis of the judgments.
The Moral Law Differs from Laws of Nature. The moral law is not to be identified with the laws of nature. Nature’s laws are descriptive (is), not prescriptive (ought) as are moral laws. Factually convenient situations (the way it is) can be morally wrong. Someone who tries to trip me and fails is wrong, but someone who accidentally trips me is not.
The Moral Law Is Not Human Fancy. Neither can the moral law be mere human fancy, because we cannot get rid of it even when we would like to do so. We did not create it; it is impressed on us from without. If it were fancy, then all value judgments would be meaningless, including such statements as “Hate is wrong.” and “Racism is wrong.”


Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 500.

Lewis recalls the thoughts he had as an atheist:

  Just how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust. . . . Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. [Mere Christianity, 45, 46]



Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 500.

This is from Geisler:

Moral Absolutes. Before the absolute nature of morality can be understood, morality must be defined. Several things are meant by a moral obligation. First, a moral duty is good in itself (an end), not merely good as a means. Further, it is something we ought to pursue, a duty. Morality is prescriptive (an “ought”), not merely descriptive (an “is”). Morality deals with what is right, as opposed to wrong. It is an obligation, that for which a person is accountable.
An absolute moral obligation is:

    an objective (not subjective) moral duty—a duty for all persons.
    an eternal (not temporal) obligation—a duty at all times.
    a universal (not local) obligation—a duty for all places.

An absolute duty is one that is binding on all persons at all times in all places.
Defense of Absolutes. Moral absolutes can be defended by showing the deficiency of moral relativism. For either there is a moral absolute or else everything is morally relative. Hence, if relativism is wrong, then there must be an absolute basis for morality.
Everything is relative to an absolute. Simply by asking, “Relative to what?” it is easy to see that total relativism is inadequate. It can’t be relative to the relative. In that case it could not be relative at all, ad infinitum, since there would be nothing to which it was relative, etc. Albert Einstein did not believe everything was relative in the physical universe. He believed the speed of light is absolute.
Measurement is impossible without absolutes. Even moral relativists make such statements as, “The world is getting better (or worse).” But it is not possible to know it is getting “better” unless we know what is “Best.” Less than perfect is only measurable against a Perfect. Hence, all objective moral judgments imply an absolute moral standard by which they can be measured.
Moral disagreements demand objective standards. Real moral disagreements are not possible without an absolute moral standard by which both sides can be measured. Otherwise both sides of every moral dispute are right. But opposites cannot both be right. For example, “Hitler was an evil man” vs. “Hitler was not an evil man” cannot both be true in the same sense (see FIRST PRINCIPLES). Unless there is an objective moral standard by which Hitler’s actions can be weighed, we cannot know that he was evil.
Moral absolutes are unavoidable. Total moral relativism reduces to statements such as “You should never say never,” “You should always avoid using always,” or “You absolutely ought not believe in moral absolutes.” “Ought” statements are moral statements, and “ought never” statements are absolute moral statements. So, there is no way to avoid moral absolutes without affirming a moral absolute. Total moral relativism is self-defeating.
Distinctions in Moral Absolutes. If there is an absolute basis for morality, then why do so many believe that all morality is relative? The reasons for this are mostly based on the failure to make proper distinctions.
Difference between Fact (Is) and Value (Ought). Relativists confuse fact and value, what is and what ought to be. What people do is subject to change, but what they ought to do is not. There is a difference between sociology and morality. Sociology is descriptive; morality is prescriptive. Relativists confuse the changing factual situation with unchanging moral duty.
Difference between Value and Instance of Value. There is confusion as well between an absolute moral value and changing attitudes regarding whether a given action violates that value. Once witches were sentenced as murderers, but now they are not. What changed was not the moral principle that murder is wrong. Rather, our understanding changed about whether witches really murder people by their curses. One’s factual understanding of a moral situation is relative, but the moral values involved in the situation are not.
Difference between Values and Understandings. A similar misunderstanding is over the difference between an unchanging value and a changing understanding of that value. A couple deeply in love better understand their love after twenty years. The love itself has not changed. Their understanding of it has changed.
Difference between End (Value) and Means. Often moral relativists confuse the end (the value itself) with the means to attaining that value. Most political disputes are of this sort. Both liberal and conservative politicians agree that justice should be done (the end); they merely disagree as to whose program is the best means to attain justice. Both militarists and pacifists desire peace (the end); they simply disagree as to whether a strong military best attains this peace.
Difference between Command and Culture. Another important difference, often overlooked by moral relativists, is that between the absolute moral command and the relative way a culture can manifest it. All cultures have some concept of modesty and propriety in greeting. In some a kiss is appropriate, while in others such intimacy   p 502  would horrify. What should be done is common, but how it should be done differs. Failure to make this distinction misleads many to believe that because a value differs among cultures, the value itself (what) differs.
Difference between Applications. A legitimate discussion to decide which value applies to a given situation is not the same as a discussion over whether there is an absolute value. For example, we err if we think that anyone who believes a pregnant woman has the right to an abortion places no value on human life. They simply do not believe that the unborn are truly human beings. This debate is vastly important, but it should not miscommunicate the notion that the absolute good of protecting life is the issue on the floor. The issue is whether the unborn are human persons (see Geisler, chapter eight).
Conclusion. Moral absolutes are unavoidable. Even those who deny them use them. The reasons for rejecting them are often based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of the moral absolute, not on a real rejection of it. That is, moral values are absolute, even if our understanding of them or the circumstances in which they should be applied are not.

Sources
  M. Adler, Six Great Ideas, Pt. 2
  A. Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind
  N L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues
  C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
  ———, Mere Christianity
  E. Lutzer, The Necessity of Ethical Absolutes


Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 501–502.
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

Online jaimehlers

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Re: Objective Moral Truth
« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2014, 02:52:48 PM »
Not all vaccinations are what they say they are. People have died form vaccinations. Doctors will tell you that anything is safe as long as it fills their pockets with cash.
Thank you for proving my point, that some people don't accept things that are true.

It's true that a very (very very very) few people can die from being vaccinated.  But the numbers of people who would die from preventable illnesses if we discontinued vaccinations is far, far higher.  According to the CDC, even in the USA, where we vaccinate against measles, three out of every thousand people who catch measles will die from it.  In developing nations, one out of every hundred will die.  As of 1999, almost a million people in those developing nations died from measles.  If we stopped vaccinating against it, that number would essentially triple, and measles is such an infectious disease that almost everyone who is not vaccinated against it catches it.

Before we started vaccinating against measles back in 1963, 3-4 million people caught the disease every year, of which nearly 50,000 were hospitalized, a thousand suffered brain damage from the disease, and 450 people died from it[1].  Today, it's surprising if more than a hundred people catch the disease - unless, of course, parents decide not to vaccinate their children due to scares about the MMR vaccine causing autism (which, it doesn't and never has).  Moreover, the actual side effects of the MMR vaccine are generally very slight - less than one out of a million people suffer anything seriously life-threatening after being vaccinated[2].  Given that there are over 300 million people in the USA, that means there's barely 300 people total who would have severe enough reactions to being vaccinated to potentially threaten their lives, and the number who actually die is much, much lower.  Deaths from receiving the MMR vaccine are so rare as to be unheard of.

So what support did you provide for your argument?  Nothing, as far as I can tell - simply your opinion without even a link to one of the specious anti-vaccine sites.  So you're a perfect example of what I was talking about, of someone who will not accept something as true.
 1. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/fs-parents.html
 2. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html