Tag Archives: Philosophy

Is moral relativism compatible with Christianity?

Article from the American Thinker.

Excerpt:

There are many doctrinal differences among the denominations, and good people could debate them ad nauseam and still not settle every one. Yet if anything is central to Christianity, it’s the belief that Truth is spelled with a capital “T” — that it is absolute, universal, and eternal. And also central is a corollary of this belief: that there is an absolute, universal, and eternal answer to every moral question; that right and wrong are not a matter of opinion, and that they don’t change from time to time and place to place (although the perception of them certainly can. Ergo, swords lopping off heads.).

In fact, understand that moral relativism does nothing less than render the foundational act of Christianity, the sacrifice on the cross, incomprehensible. Why? Simply because Jesus died for our sins, and this presupposes that sin exists. However, if what we call morality is simply opinion, then there can be no such thing as sin.

[…]Now we come to why this piece isn’t just for Christians. The concept of Absolute Truth lies at the heart of Judaism, Islam, and, in fact, philosophy itself. Why philosophy? Because, properly defined, philosophy is the search for Truth. Now, some — including many philosophy professors — would dispute this, but they not only are babies in philosophy, but they also have adopted the endeavor of a madman: searching while claiming there is nothing to find.

If there is no Truth and only opinion, then there are no answers to be found. But then why ask questions?

[…]Of course, it’s tempting to embrace religious-equivalency doctrine in a multi-religious society because it’s thought that it enables us to get along. Like two little boys in a schoolyard who each agree to relinquish any claim that his daddy can beat up the other’s, we make the following unwritten pact: “I won’t say my faith is better than yours if you don’t say your faith is better than mine. Deal?” And it does work. Only then there is not only no reason to fight about religion, there is no reason to even discuss it. There is, in fact, no reason to even adopt it. That is, unless it somehow makes you feel good. But adherence to the principle “Do whatever feels good” is a pathway to something. It’s called sin.

Through his embrace of relativism, modern man has made Christianity incomprehensible. He has made philosophy incomprehensible. He has, in fact, made civilization itself incomprehensible. For if there is no right or wrong, then civilization can be no better than barbarism.

Something to think about when you feel pressured to say that morality is relative and truth is relative.

Is there such a thing as genuine libertarian free will if naturalism is true?

PNAS article shows what naturalists think of free will. (H/T Secondhand Smoke)

Excerpt:

Although, like any biosynthetic process, the product may be quite distinct from the input material, it is still a direct consequence of these materials. I suggest that consciousness acts on behavior in a similar manner, such as to commonly reinforce the negative effects that are associated with antisocial behavior. Similarly, for some of us, consciousness heightens our desire to listen to music, for example, or to watch or participate in sporting activities. Whereas the impressions are that we are making “free” conscious decisions, the reality is that consciousness is simply a state of awareness that reflects the input signals, and these are an unavoidable consequence of GES. The mechanistic details of these conscious processes are unknown, and remain the major unsolved problem in biology.

And:

A belief in free will is akin to religious beliefs. Indeed, I would argue that free will makes “logical sense,” as long as one has the luxury of the “causal magic” of religion. Neither religious beliefs, nor a belief in free will, comply with the laws of the physical world. However, despite thi similarity, although in scientific circles a skeptical viewpoint is very common regarding religious forces and their day-to-day impact on biological systems, it is my observation that similar skepticism is not widely held regarding a belief in free will.

And finally:

We are conscious automata.” That is, Huxley believed (as I and many others do) that we are mechanical forces of nature and that, by some mechanism we have evolved the phenomenon of consciousness, which, I would argue, has conferred upon us the illusion of responsibility.

The illusion of free will. The illusion of moral choices. The illusion of responsibility. It should be noted that if determinism is true, as he states, then everything he says is non-rational. The chemicals in his brain simply fizzed up those particular words. Note that conscious is undeniable, but no materialist can explain how inanimate matter can create consciousness. No matter how many parts you add to a computer, it will never gain self-awareness. It’s behavior will always be determined by programming and inputs.

What do atheists think of morality?

Let me cite the views of atheist scholars from a previous post. These are the people who are the most committed, authentic atheists, and who have thought through what it means to be an atheist at the highest level.

The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough… Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawgiver higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can…be understood as those that are imposed by God…. But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of moral obligation…still make sense? …The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone. (Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), p. 83-84)

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. (Source: Richard Dawkins)

The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory. (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

There is no such thing as morality on atheism.

William Lane Craig talks about the book “Contending With Christianity’s Critics”

A series of three interviews from the “Reasonable Faith” podcast about the essay collection “Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors”.

Here is the first MP3 file.

Topics:

  • About the editor Paul Copan, (the nicest Christian apologist)
  • 1: Responding to Dawkins’ argument “Who designed the designer?”
  • 2: Responding to the multiverse counter to the fine-tuning argument
  • 3: The argument that rationality and consciouness require theism
  • 4: The evidence for humans being hard-wired for belief in God
  • 5: Responding to naturalism’s claim to rationally ground morality
  • 6: Responding to Dawkins’ idea that the universe looks undesigned

Here is the second MP3 file.

Topics:

  • 7: The criteria that historians use to establish historical reliability
  • 8: Did Jesus think that he was the Son of Man in Daniel
  • 9: A time line for the resurrection of Jesus from the early sources
  • 10: Responding to scholarly distortions of the historical Jesus
  • 11: Responding to Bart Ehrman’s claim that the NT text is corrupted
  • 12: The evidence for Jesus divine self-understanding

Here is the third MP3 file.

Topics:

  • 13: The logical coherence of the concept of God
  • 14: The logical coherence of the doctrine of the Trinity
  • 15: The logical coherence of the doctrine of the Incarnation
  • 16: The logical coherence of the doctrine of the Atonement
  • 17: The logical coherence of the doctrine of the Hell
  • 18: Responding to objections to God’s knowledge of the future

I have this book, and I highly recommend this book and “Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses on Christian Apologetics”, along with Lee Strobel’s “Case for…” books, as the basic building blocks of an amateur apologists’s arsenal.

You may also be interested in a new book offering a detailed response to the New Atheists, called “God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable & Responsible”.

What is self-refutation and what are some examples of self-refutation?

Why, self-refutation is the most wonderful thing in the world, next to irony.

Look at this post from Thinking Matters New Zealand.

First, they define what self-refutation is:

In his Introduction to Logic, Harry Gensler defines a self-refuting statement as “[A] statement that makes negative claims so sweeping that it ends up denying itself.” [1] In other words, it results when an argument or position is undercut by its own criteria  (An example of this would be saying, “I cannot speak a word of English” in English).

Then they have a list of examples of self-refutation. Here are some:

  1. Truth does not exist (Is that a true statement?)
  2. Nothing is absolute (Is that absolutely true?)
  3. I do not exist (You must exist to deny that you exist)
  4. Science is the only way to know (Can you scientifically prove that?)
  5. Only what can be perceived by the five senses exists (Can you prove that by the five senses?)

Go here to read the rest.

I work in the software engineering industry, so we have a lot of nerds running around who believe all kinds of crazy things that are self-refuting. There is a lot of skepticism of the laws of logic and analytical philosophy. A self-refuting statement that I hear a lot is: “Don’t judge me, because it’s wrong to judge other people”. And I just ask them: “Well if it’s wrong to judge other people, then why are you judging me?”. (Actually, I noticed that MandM has a post up about judging right now!)

I wonder if my regular readers have ever heard any self-refuting statements? If you know any more, leave it in the comments.

On another topic, it turns out that the author of this post on self-refutation blogs at Rational Thoughts. I added their blog to the blog roll. Check them out.

Video of William Lane Craig explaining the Kalam cosmological argument

This is the video from his appearance at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) that got such a big response. Saddleback is a pretty ordinary church, which lots of people with different levels of knowledge. How did Bill explain the Kalam argument to so many different ordinary people?

Watch and see!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

    You can also find a more technical version of the lecture here. This version is based on a research paper published in an astrophysics journal, and was delivered to an audience of students and faculty, including atheist physicist Victor Stenger and prominent atheist philosopher Michael Tooley, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Craig has previously debated Stenger and Tooley. And they both asked him questions in the Q&A of this lecture.

    You might also be interested in this exchange in which William Lane Craig takes on prominent atheist Daniel Dennett.

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