Another good Unbelievable debate between theist Glenn Peoples and atheist Arif Ahmed.
Torturing children for fun – is that absolutely wrong?
The Moral Argument for God states that there are such things as objective moral facts, and that objective moral facts must have an immaterial source – namely God. Therefore God Exists… Simple right?
However, atheist Cambridge Philosopher Arif Ahmed disagrees with the first two premises. He debates with New Zealand’s Christian philosopher Glenn People’s on whether the argument proves the existence of God.
So, are moral beliefs nothing more than our “preferences”? What do we do with the intuition that certain things are absolutely wrong? Are atheists who affirm moral facts but deny God, being inconsistent?
I would not really characterize Glenn as an orthodox “Christian” philosopher, although he claims to be – because he doesn’t hold to some beliefs that are essential. E-mail me if you want more info and links to his statements. But he makes good arguments for theism.
Are there moral facts?
- Here is my argument:
- If there are moral facts, then they have a basis that is either supernatural or natural
- If there are moral facts, then there basis is not natural
- Therefore, if there are moral facts, then there basis is supernatural
- A supernatural person is the most plausible way to think of the the basis of moral facts
- If there are moral facts, then the best way to think about their basis is that they are grounded by a supernatural person
- There are no moral facts
- There is no sensory evidence for moral facts
- I would only accept sensory evidence for the existence of moral facts
- Each person has preferences for how to treat other people
- I campaign for things I personally prefer
- So morality for me is doing whatever I want
- Well, that is not moral conduct, that’s “satisfaction conduct”
- You are doing what satisfies you, but it’s not normative
- There is no ought there
- It’s not prescriptive of what you should do, it’s just descriptive of what you do
- I would interfere with other people’s preferences if I didn’t prefer them
- What do you mean you “ought to” impose your preferences on other people
- I do this thing I prefer and this thing I prefer and this thing I prefer
- I do certain things because I like the way I feel when I do them
- Nothing defines moral standards because there are no moral standards
- On Arif’s view, it is impossible that anyone’s preference could be “wrong”
- Each person’s preferences are supreme and cannot be judged on Arif’s view
- On his view, someone who tortures people for fun is as justified as someone who doesn’t because both act on the basis of preferences
- We can’t prove the existence of moral facts because only things that can be perceived with the senses are real
- But even sensory inputs cannot be proven to be reliable using the senses
Is Glenn’s argument valid?
- Well, what if I arbitrarily assert that harm is morally wrong without sensory evidence for that moral fact, thus breaking my own rule about what counts as true
- that makes me look like less of sociopath than before, right?
- so how about that?
- even if there were moral facts, God doesn’t have to be the cause of them
- If there are moral obligations, they must be owed to a person, not to a state of affairs
- Human beings don’t have any proper function, no way we ought to be
- Each person just decides what they want
- What about purpose, is there any reason why we are here?
- On atheism, you would have to say no
- An atheist could have a purpose for your life in an accidental universe without a designer
- I don’t believe there is a purpose to life though
- But you can choose social justice, or yoga, or vegetarianism, or video games and have meaning in life
- And an arbitrary, narcissistic, illusory purpose is just as valid as an objectively true purpose (and as healthy!)
- It’s very liberating to be able to make up your own arbitrary purpose and arbitrary preferences
- You can even pretend they are significant and meaningful and that you are a good person (but they aren’t!)
- Just to be fair, the idea of objective meaning and objective purpose does require creativity and work – it’s not a cop out