The Moral Argument

We’ve had a lively discussion on morals in my last post, but it seems to have gotten off track, so I would like to focus in on what the point of my post actually was here (so it doesn’t get lost in the comments). To save time and words, the following comes from the video clip below by InspiringPhilosophy. 

First, the moral argument made here, and the one I’ve been making in my other posts, is about what is the foundation of objective moral duties and facts, not how we know or came to learn what morality is. This is where my atheist readers are getting off track with their plethora of comments.

What this means is that even if someone gave a complete evolutionary account of how morality arose in humans that would just explain how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain what they are or their foundation, only how we came to learn about them.

This is a confusion between epistemology and ontology. Just because we understand something, it doesn’t mean we know why it is.

Second, as the author of the video rightly points out, moral facts and duties are deciphered through rationality and reasoning. Much like mathematics and philosophical positions, not through empirical investigations. This is the fatal flaw in the Empiricist’s position.

Humans cannot be the source of moral knowledge. We are not perfect moral beings nor do we have perfect knowledge of the facts. In fact, because we’re not morally perfect, our own actions should reveal we are not the foundation of moral knowledge. We constantly fail to grasp moral facts and wrongly perform moral duties. Plus, we are contingent beings, so we cannot be the foundation of moral facts and duties for the same reason the laws of logic are not grounded in a human source. Humans have only discovered the laws of logic and mathematics, we did not create them.

Third, moral facts and duties must be grounded in something necessary and unchanging (for them to be objectively binding). Non-sentient objects cannot be rational, so it would have to be something sentient to be rational, simply by logical deduction.

This source would be a conscious, rational, and necessary entity. And whatever that entity is, we could logically call “God.”

Here the video clip to explain why this is so, along with answering the arguments against this logical conclusion:

 

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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192 Responses to The Moral Argument

  1. john zande says:

    I’ve always found the morality argument for a god to be the absolute weakest for the simple reason that we have hard evidence that this thing we call “morality,” which is really nothing but a formative sense of good (positive) and bad (negative) behaviour, is a product of neurological processing power. The more neurons, the more accute an organisms understanding of it. Countless studies, across numerous species, prove this beyond any rational doubt. It is not a human phenomena, and its anything but complicated.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You said that before, John. And like before, it’s still an irrelevant argument. It represents a confusion between epistemology and ontology. As it says in the video, even if someone gave a complete evolutionary account of how morality arose in humans that would just explain how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain what they are or their foundation, only how we came to learn about them. Countless studies in neurological processing does not answer this question.

      • john zande says:

        Yes, but you never addressed it.

        It would not explain what they are

        Yes it does. They a formative sense of good (positive) and bad (negative) behaviour.

        Countless studies in neurological processing does not answer this question.

        True, which is why neurologists and behavioural scientists, and biologists work together on this subject.

        We know the mechanism, the process, and why this talent is selected.

        It’s not complicated.

        • Mel Wild says:

          It would not explain what they are
          Yes it does. They a formative sense of good (positive) and bad (negative) behaviour.

          Okay, fair enough, but I’m not asking for a dictionary definition of morals with my point. You’re still just explaining how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain why they are so, or their foundation.

          Knowing the process is irrelevant to my question or my point. I agree we can know the process through scientific inquiry and observation, but we still cannot explain why we have them or where they came from.

          So, no, neurology and behavioral science is the wrong talent for this particular question because it cannot address it. It can only address behavior. Moral facts and duties must be deciphered through rationality and reasoning, much like mathematics and philosophical positions, not through empirical investigations.

        • john zande says:

          I’m not asking for a dictionary definition of morals with my point.

          I’m not giving you one. I’m telling you what the body of evidence indicates: it is an evolved talent with very real evolutionary benefits, especially for communal/cooperative species.

          It would not explain why they are so, or their foundation.

          Yes, it does explain the why, and it also explains why certain behaviours are preserved through populations. I’ll even give a very simple example: Stop signs. When driving through an intersection you have to have confidence another motorist will stop at a stop sign. Him or her adhering to this rule (stopping and waiting) saves you from an accident as you drive through that intersection, and in return, when the journeys are reversed and you stop at that same stop sign, he or she is saved the trauma of a pointless accident as they drive through the intersection.

          Reciprocity. It reinforces the behaviour. Everyone benefits.

          As Sarah Brosnan stated in her 2007 paper on the origins and persistence of moral behaviour in animals and humans:

          “In a cooperative species, being able to distinguish when one is being treated inequitably is very useful for determining whether or not to continue cooperating with a partner.”

          Knowing the process is irrelevant to my question or my point.

          Nonsense, it strikes to very heart of it. To demonstrate I need only point you to how dysfunctions in foetal brain development, traumatic brain injury, and even tumours, affecting certain areas of the brain, can turn a once ordinary person into a sociopath, or worse, a psychopath with no capacity for empathic thought.

          Physically alter the organ and you physically alter the person’s personality and moral orientation.

          If there was even a hint of validity to you position, then we WOULD NOT see a person’s moral compass shift as radically as it does after traumatic brain injury.

          but we still cannot explain why we have them or where they came from.

          Yes, it does, as I have already explained.

          So, no, neurology and behavioral science is the wrong talent for this particular question because it cannot address it.

          You can pretend to be stupid Mel, but it doesn’t change the fact that neurologists, behavioural scientists, biologists, psychologists, sociologists, and more recently even economists have all contributed to an enormous body of evidence that say you’re dead wrong.

          I am curious, though. You seem to be implying there’s some sort of moral foundation which, I presume, you believe emanates from Yhwh, yes? Ignoring the fact that traumatic brain injury already falsifies this claim, I’m wondering what you think of this:

          On February 23, 2017, I asked John Branyan: Did Yhwh change his mind on slavery, or is slavery still morally fine, as per Yhwh’s instruction?

          At 11.43 PM John Branyan answered:

          “Yes. God changed his mind”

          If your god changes its mind, shifting his position on what we might call moral subjects, as John Branyan believes, then any suggestion of some objective moral grounding is absurd.

          Would you agree?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You can stop with all your behavioral studies because you’re still missing the point. You’re still just explaining how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain why they are so, or their foundation.

          If your god changes its mind, shifting his position on what we might call moral subjects, as John Branyan believes, then any suggestion of some objective moral grounding is absurd.

          No, that is false. God does not change His mind on what is moral or what isn’t moral. The only one who changed in biblical history was US. God met us where WE were as primitive idol-worshiping savages and progressively takes us to where He is. God does not change and there is no shadow of His turning (Mal.3:6; James 1:17). This is basic theology.

        • john zande says:

          They are “so” because of neurological processing power, and they are preserved because of the evolutionary benefits of them being practiced and refined.

          There is no magic here.

          As I said:

          Physically alter the organ (traumatic brain injury) and you physically alter the person’s personality and moral orientation.

          If there was even a hint of validity to you position, then we WOULD NOT see a person’s moral compass shift as radically as it does after traumatic brain injury.

          No, that is false.

          OK, so you disagree strongly with what John Branyan believes.

          You both believe in the same god, don’t you?

        • John Branyan says:

          “OK, so you disagree strongly with what John Branyan believes.”

          John Branyan believes John Zande is a pompous bag of wind.
          I think Mel and I are on the same page about that.

        • Nan says:

          This is basic theology. BINGO!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Your comment is nonsensical, Nan. What is your point?

        • John Branyan says:

          The Naninator is unencumbered by the obligation to make a point.
          She just says stuff and hopes that we’ll make it relevant to the conversation.

        • Nan says:

          John’s prior comment was related to JB’s past assertion that God changed his mind. You then counter with why this is incorrect and point out it is “basic theology.” What does this suggest about JB’s statement?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You then counter with why this is incorrect and point out it is “basic theology.” What does this suggest about JB’s statement?

          It doesn’t have to suggest anything. Apparently, Zande misrepresented what John B meant, which John B clarified in a later comment.

          So, is your “bingo!” comment because you agree with me that the immutability of God is basic theology, or are you just trying to put a “gotcha” comment in the mix?

        • Nan says:

          Probably more of a ‘gotcha’ since it would appear from JB’s past remark on the topic that he’s not as versed in theology as he represents himself to be. You, on the other hand, DO know what you’re talking about — at least as related to your faith. Naturally, as indicated by my past participation on your blog, I don’t agree with you. But at this juncture, that’s neither here not there.

        • John Branyan says:

          “You, on the other hand, DO know what you’re talking about…I don’t agree with you.”

          Hahahahahahahaaaaahahahahaaahaa

        • John Branyan says:

          And I’ve still not heard YOUR commentary on the topic…
          I’m not holding my breath. I may not be “versed in theology” as I represent but I still pound atheism into mush.

        • john zande says:

          I misrepresented nothing.

          Of that I assure you.

          Ask Branyan for the link to the post and thread and you can see for yourself exactly what he said, and the context. It was a discussion about morality, slavery in the bible, and Yhwh’s moral position on the matter.

          I ENCOURAGE you to read the thread. I URGE you to read it.

          Branyan, give Mel the link.

        • Nan says:

          From at least one posting: there are some Biblical examples of God being persuaded to change His mind by the pleas of his people (2/13/18 @2.23 pm) — “Why Does A Perfect God Listen to Prayers?”

        • john zande says:

          This is true, but as it pertains to this post, Mel was trying to imply there exists some fixed moral truth that came from Yhwh, but according to Branyan, Yhwh changed his mind on that subject, supporting it in the OT, then flipping later on.

          I was just curious to see if Mel shared that same belief.

        • John Branyan says:

          Ah. The point is that Mel and I are supposed to get in a fight so Zande doesn’t have to deal with the awkwardness of defending his indefensible claims.

          I’ve noticed you haven’t chimed in with your thoughts on morality.
          Maybe you can help your pal JZ, huh?

          If naturalism is true, morality is determined by cosmic processes beyond our control. “Right” and “wrong” are just chemicals and forces that cannot be different than they are. You want to explain where I’m missing the boat?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Exactly. They can’t argue the point so they go off on these tangents. They tried this before with me and other Christians. Typical M.O. of people who don’t have a coherent ontology.

        • John Branyan says:

          I’m reading your comments to Nan and it always impresses me how you assume the best in all their comments. You’re much more charitable than I am which is probably why they’re still talking to you.

          The subject of God changing his mind IS fascinating to me. I’m sure you understand that it’s NOT a conversation I can have with godless nitwits.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The subject of God changing his mind IS fascinating to me. I’m sure you understand that it’s NOT a conversation I can have with godless nitwits.

          I understand your point. I do try to be gracious but I probably “cast my pearls before swine,” if you will, a little too much with these people. I always hope that anyone reading it who doesn’t have the trapdoor to their mind swung shut will benefit from it.

          Btw, it’s also pointless when they don’t know the difference between a logical argument and a theological position.

        • john zande says:

          Haven’t argued the point?

          LOL!

          OK, Mel: How do you explain traumatic brain injury dramatically altering a person’s personality, their moral orientation?

          Surely, if the source of these behaviours are not neurological, which is what you’re trying to argue, then they should not be affected by physical neurological damage, correct?

          That was just ONE of my presented, coherent arguments, as well as actual scientific studies…

        • Great point and case John Z… out of many others.

        • john zande says:

          It’s a little depressing to see smart people pretending to be so stupid, so
          here’s hoping Mel can actually address the question raised, instead of just pretending nothing has been said or presented.

        • If this blog isn’t meant to be an open forum of all sorts of diverse and viable viewpoints and the discussion of them, then honestly, maybe the blog should be a “Members Only” blog where membership applications are screened for agreeableness, or echoing and parroting. 😨

        • John Branyan says:

          It’s a little depressing to see you being so stupid and to realize you’re not pretending.

          Determinism means morality doesn’t exist.

          Here’s hoping you’ll actually address this issue instead of pretending nothing has been said or presented.

        • Ron says:

          “God met us where WE were as primitive idol-worshiping savages and progressively takes us to where He is. ”

          Yet another example of God’s ultimate impotence. God can’t inform ancient tribes that rape, genocide and slavery is wrong from the get-go — God has to wait until the 19th century humans figure it out for themselves.

        • Outstanding John Z. Your point-of-view is always an enlightening one if for no other reason than to contrast, compare, and challenge our own — which is a VERY wise self-maintenance check-up, eh? 😉

      • john zande says:

        Should add, Selected and *preserved* through a population.

    • John Branyan says:

      You should teach a parrot to type for you, Windbag.

      “We know the mechanism, the process, and why this talent is selected. It’s not complicated.”

      Indeed. Naturalism makes morality very simple. It’s all chemicals.
      You don’t decide how you’re going to behave. You are following the course determined by your chemistry and the mindless forces of the universe. You are neither “right” nor “wrong”. You’re a meat-sack.

      This is very awkward for you so I’ll understand if you ignore me again.

  2. Ron says:

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster Argument

    P1: Morality is a rational enterprise

    P2: Moral Realism is true, meaning moral facts and duties exist

    P3: The moral problems and disagreements among humans are too much for us to assume moral facts and duties are grounded in a human source of rationality.

    P4: Moral facts and duties are grounded in a necessary rational source (from 1, 2, 3)

    P5: This source is what we call the Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Conclusion: Therefore, Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

    RAmen!.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Conclusion: Therefore, Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

      Sorry, but that’s an imbecilic comment that doesn’t even rise to the level of vapidity.

      The point is that the conclusion logically follows the premises. “God” is simply the title for an entity that is conscious, rational, and necessary.

      • Ron says:

        No more imbeclic than the vapid argument presented in the video. The existence of your invisible god friend remains to be demonstrated. Until then, it’s just an empty assertion.

        And as Christopher Hitchens noted,

        “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”.

  3. John Branyan says:

    Hey Mel,

    It may come as a shock to you to learn that Zande is misrepresenting my position about God “changing His mind”. It’s a bit more complicated than he’s explaining. I’d be willing to talk about it under another post that’s relevant to that topic.

    What’s not complicated is that Zande’s incessant
    *SQUAWK* Neurological Processes *SQUAWK*
    *SQUAWK* Neurological Processes *SQUAWK*
    *SQUAWK* Neurological Processes *SQUAWK*
    Completely distorts the concept of morality beyond recognition. If we’re simply following our neurological processes, then we’re neither “right” nor “wrong”.

    I’ve brought this up to the Windbag 3 times and he ignored me every time.

  4. Well done, Mel.

    From Zande’s comment way above, “In a cooperative species, being able to distinguish when one is being treated inequitably is very useful for determining whether or not to continue cooperating with a partner.”

    Let me state, I have never heard of Sarah Brosnan and her 2007 paper, but the woman is simply brilliant and has totally solved the riddle. I now understand why I did not just eat my children back when their bones were still soft, and quickly dispose of my hubby’s body. 🙂

    • mrsmcmommy says:

      I have a four-week-old. He’s not very cooperative (yet). But I thank Evolution every day for giving me such strong feelings that I “ought” to feed and cuddle him… Even though the other part of me knows it’s just a neurological process.

      • Ahhh, very precious! Okay, we keep our infants around because they just smell so darn good. But once they become teen agers, logic kicks in and it makes a lot more sense to just sell them to a foreign country to strengthen our military alliances or something.

        Uh, yeah, sacrificial love is totally motivated by cooperative, equitable relationships, said absolutely no mother ever. 🙂

      • KIA says:

        Congratulations Amanda on the birth. Life is indeed a beautiful thing to hold in your arms. I hope all is well and your new baby is healthy

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          He’s a wonderful gift from God!…

          I hope all is uncomfortable for you, as you consider the meaning/purpose of “life.”

        • Nan says:

          To anyone reading his comment, KIA offered you a heartfelt congratulatory message. As a loving Christian, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to simply acknowledge his good wishes?

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          As a loving Christian, I don’t blow sunshine up people’s skirts…

          And as someone who can’t say whether her book is true and refuses to call a school shooter evil, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to stay out of this discussion so you don’t look more foolish than you already have?

        • Nan says:

          Pot calls the kettle …

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Oh, you DO want to keep commenting? Okay then.
          Please, continue to make suggestions about what’s “appropriate,” then.
          Haha!
          I do love when evil people tell me how to behave.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Good choice…
          Better quit speaking directly to me and just go back to speaking ABOUT me, whenever you and KIA are consoling each other.

          And one last piece of advice: until either of you gets a respectable worldview, perhaps stop trying to lecture others.

    • Ron says:

      Yeah, that makes sense. Why consult the expertise of people with credentials when I can just blithely accept the pontifications of someone who talks to an imaginary friend?

    • John Branyan says:

      “I now understand why I did not just eat my children back when their bones were still soft…”

      The truth sets us free.
      Thank God for academically credentialed authors!

  5. mrsmcmommy says:

    Zande can save his screenshots.
    JB outlined his thoughts on God changing his mind here: http://johnbranyan.com/philosophy-of-slugs/

    (That was one of the few times we were able to have a grown up conversation with people who already understand that right and wrong are more than chemicals, instead of being interrupted by SQWUAWKING from philosophical lightweights… It was nice!)

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks. I read it and John B.’s points would be exactly what my points would’ve been about this subject…like the following:

      Maybe, God doesn’t change but people do.

      That sounds like what I said!

      Bingo! 🙂

      • mrsmcmommy says:

        In the comment section of that post, I shared a story of changing my mind while interacting with my children… When we remember that God is interested in RELATIONSHIPS with fallible humans, we can see why situations may change, even as God’s character is constant. I feel sorry for the folks who can’t (or won’t) grasp this.

        But when one spends literally YEARS arguing that right and wrong are societal constructs, I think the capacity for logical thought shrinks. You’re not talking to reasonable people. You’re talking to self-aware bags of cells who experience a whole lot of chemical reactions known as “passion.” (JZ in particular is passionate about repetition. He has spent a shocking amount of his short self-aware period, copying and pasting his own statements.) 😀

    • john zande says:

      That’s not the thread/post where your dad wrote: “Yes. God changed its mind.”

      • mrsmcmommy says:

        Ah, found it.

        Since Mel’s readers are very, very interested in reading these 500 comments, I’ve included the link: http://johnbranyan.com/lets-enslave-the-heathen/#comment-14533

        And obviously, if any Christian disagrees with one of my dad’s opinions, we’ll have to start a holy war immediately. (I hope you’ve sharpened your sword, Mel.)

        • john zande says:

          Nan already found it, but thanks anyway. And as you can see, not misrepresenting anyone. Branyan claims his god changes its mind.

          And I’m not trying to start a war, just seeking some clarification on the subject of the post. On the one hand, we have a claim of a fixed, immutable moral foundation (obviously emanating from Yhwh, yet no example of any fixed truth has been offered), and then we have another claim stating Yhwh changes his mind on what is right and what is wrong.

          A Flip Flop, I think you Americans call it.

          Both positions claim to be the “Christian” position… but obviously this can’t be the case.

          And I see a wonderful comment from you:

          “Gods nature hasn’t changed. But sometimes, the specific “rules” might.”

          Specific “rules,” change… like the rules for slavery, or killing children.

          You know, changing the rules halfway through the game is generally considered pretty bad form.

          Just saying.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Yeah…

          Christianity destroyed. Lol!

          Changing your mind is exactly same as changing YOUR BEING. (Go ahead and take a screenshot of that. Pretend to miss the sarcasm.) Having different rules for different stages of humanity is a problem that no one can possibly wrap their sack-of-meat heads around! Way too difficult! (Better leave this for those of us who were given minds, on purpose, by an intelligent Creator.

        • john zande says:

          Having different rules for different stages of humanity is a problem that no one can possibly wrap their sack-of-meat heads around!

          OK, so you believe like your dad: Yhwh changes his mind from one minute to the next as to what is right and what is wrong. Yhwh is a Flip-Flopper on matters of morality.

          It’s an interesting position to hold. I don’t think Mel shares that belief, but it’s unique nonetheless.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          It has always been tolerable for ancient Israelites to hold slaves. Just as it’s tolerable for my infant to crap in his pants.
          It has always been wrong the moment we know better…
          Always.
          I suspect occasionally God changes his mind about how to discipline those who willfully disobey. But I don’t know. We have free will, which is the thorn in your side.

        • john zande says:

          No, no, I understood you the first time. Yhwh changes the rules throughout the game.

          Killing children back then, Good.
          Killing children now, Bad.

          Slavery back then, Good.
          Slavery now, Bad.

          It’s really solid messaging. Reliable. It’s a sturdy foundation you can really build upon.

        • john zande says:

          Really, I understood you the first time.

          Yhwh changes the rules throughout the game.

          Slavery back then, Good.
          Slavery now, Bad.

          Solid messaging.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Yes, everyone saw that comment the first time you posted it.

        • john zande says:

          Do you have something to add?

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Nope.
          I’ll talk to Insanity and Mel about this, but not sacks of meat.

        • john zande says:

          Explaining why you believe Yhwh is a morally vacant Flip-Flopper?

          That would be an interesting conversation.

          Good luck with it.

        • That’s exactly what I was asking myself too John Z.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yhwh changes the rules throughout the game.

          Killing children back then, Good.
          Killing children now, Bad.
          Slavery back then, Good.
          Slavery now, Bad.

          God was never for killing children or slavery. This is false. WE (humankind) were for killing children and slavery, now we are not.

        • john zande says:

          God was never for killing children or slavery. This is false

          No it’s not.

          “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told.” (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)

          Again: The LORD said “Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children.”

          Slave trade… Exodus 21:16 and 7-11, Deuteronomy 24:7 deal with Hebrew slaves

          Here’s Leviticus 25:44-46:

          ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly

          Indeed, the children of slaves were born into slavery (Exodus 21:4). And Deuteronomy 20:10-15/Judges 21:10-12 details how captives of war can be thrown into slavery, including all the women and children of the conquered.

          And of course, the NT sanctions slavery, with Paul even giving instructions as to how slaves should behave:

          “slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” (Ephesians 6:5)

          “tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect” (Titus 2:9).

          So, no, sorry, quite true… according to your book.

          But it’s OK, because Yhwh, apparently, changed the rules in the moral playbook. Those things are now morally reprehensible.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But it’s OK, because Yhwh, apparently, changed the rules in the moral playbook. Those things are now morally reprehensible.

          JohnZ, this is actually why atheists should never teach the Bible! So, please don’t quote the Bible to me. Your understanding is atrocious. And I could give you a lot more verses than you put here. The question is, what do they mean to us.

          You are superficially reading these texts in a wooden literal way. The early church dealt with this as far back as the second century. And you will always misinterpret them if you take them out of their cultural context, genre, or analogical language. For instance, we see God codifying divorce in the Mosaic Law, even though later He says He hates divorce (which itself is using phenomenological language). Jesus tells us why He did this, because of the hardness of OUR hearts. No, you are the one who would’ve agreed with slavery if you had lived back then, not God.

          The Bible is inspired but not every word is to actually verbatim from God. The Old Testament is unique and multi-dimensional; it has an internal debate going on between the priests and the prophets about a whole host of things that they thought God was like, and Jesus settles the debate by explaining what God is really like (John 1:18; Matt.11:27). It brilliantly tells us more about ourselves, our issues, our subjective morality, than it does about God. Again, Jesus explains God to us, not the Old Testament, and Jesus came to set the captives free, not enslave them. So, you cannot make that argument and rightly understand Scripture.

          To keep my comments short you can read my post, “How I Understand The Old Testament,” or the series, “God said what?!

          But no, absolutely not. God’s morality never changes. He may make allowances but not because He changed, but because He progressively brings us to the point where WE change and become more like Him, which is pure other-centered, self-giving love.

        • ColorStorm says:

          Awesome comment in every way Mel. True to context, history, and most of all, glory to God. Like a finely presented dinner meal.

        • john zande says:

          Well, I’m sorry, but the following words really don’t leave much room for creative interpretation, Mel:

          “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children.

          And,

          ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you

          Of course, I could absolutely fill this thread with countless graphic instances of Yhwh ordering the killing of people, and the tearing open of pregnant women, as well as quite detailed instructions for slavery, but I suspect you already have your hand up ready for a limp-wristed wave.

          But no, absolutely not. God’s morality never changes.

          OK, so slavery and killing children are still morally fine. A theologian I know, David McDonnough, believes wholeheartedly that the OT still stands today, and all Christians must adhere to it.

          What Christians most often forget is how to read the whole Bible as the complete Word of God. For some, there is a misunderstanding that the Old Testament no longer applies to Christians. That would be a mistaken understanding because Jesus came to fulfill the “Law and the Prophets” (the Old Testament), but not to change a “jot or tittle” of it. Jesus did change some of the incorrect ways that the Jews were practicing the Law, but did not change the Law itself.

          Seems the messaging is a bit muddled.

          He may make allowances but not because He changed, but because He progressively brings us to the point where WE change and become more like Him

          Allowances?

          I see, so just saying “Slavery is bad” was a little too difficult? Not ordering the killing of “little children” a bridge too far?

          You know, this is all a little hard to believe, because when it comes to slavery we know the first formal abolition of slavery was enacted in India, by Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who abolished slavery in the 3rd Century BCE.. In China, the Qin Dynasty eliminated slaves in the late 200’s BCE. When the Qin Dynasty fell, many of these laws were overturned, only to be abolished once again in 26 BCE by Wang Mang (Xin Dynasty) who abolished slavery altogether.

          It would appear these cultures were morally superior to the one’s under your gods commandments and laws… which is a bit odd, considering your claim.

        • Mel Wild says:

          John Z, don’t you have anything better to do? I notice you’ve been here non-stop since yesterday. Go to bed, man. Get some sleep. I think you have more comments on my site now than I do. Verbiage and quantity won’t make your argument any stronger.

          And please don’t quote scripture to me because you don’t understand it. And your comparisons are ridiculuous. All you’re saying is that those cultures were more advanced than the Roman Empire. You aren’t saying anything whatsoever about God. So, how did the Hebrew culture compare to the Babylonians or the Assyrian cultures of the Bronze Age? Oh wait, they were sacrificing virgins and children to their pagan gods so they wouldn’t burn their village. They believed their god’s body parts were cut up, which made the heavens! Right, more advanced.

          Believe whatever dumb thing you want. I don’t have time for this.

        • john zande says:

          And please don’t quote scripture to me because you don’t understand it.

          Yes I do, and I even know most of it in the original language, but that is precisely why I quoted a Christian theologian.

          I see you didn’t address his theological position. Nor have you addressed my questions about traumatic brain injury.

          Don’t worry, i’m not holding my breath. You do tend to avoid those awkward things.

        • John Branyan says:

          “Yes I do, and I even know most of it in the original language…”
          LOL!

          “I see you didn’t address his theological position. Nor have you addressed my questions about traumatic brain injury.”
          LOLOL!!

          “Don’t worry, i’m not holding my breath. You do tend to avoid those awkward things.”
          LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!
          I get it! You’re parodying yourself!
          Well done!

        • Believe whatever dumb thing you want. I don’t have time for this.

          I’m very disappointed in this response Mel. The first thing I want to say in response to this is… We do believe in what we want, like you, and we avoid the dumb and dumber things! Horse-blinders are not the most ideal method of seeing, traveling, or engaging the world and humanity sir. Try to remain mature in your discussions and IMO it will go a lot further for your audience! And try to mimick some of Christ’s qualities with the “heathen” world outside of the Temple. I believe you can understand that analogy. 🙂

        • jim- says:

          Me too. So is this site Branyans or Mel’s? Or one in the same? Frick and frack with two devices or what? I though Mel had a congregation. Wow!

        • Mel Wild says:

          And try to mimick some of Christ’s qualities with the “heathen” world outside of the Temple. I believe you can understand that analogy.

          Okay, let’s test the analogy.

          Jesus was gracious and compassionate to everyone who came to Him with an open heart. He forgave their sins, healed their sick, and showed compassion But Jesus had no such patience with those who whose hearts were hard, who thought they knew better and were condescending. In other words, the Pharisees.

          Just as an aside, Satan quoted Scripture out of context and Jesus rebuked Him for it.

          Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being blind guides and empty tombs, and had nothing but condemnation for their hypocrisy and distortion of God’s nature and character.

          JohnZ has been quoting scripture at me to accuse God’s nature. JohnZ thinks he knows the Bible because He said:

          “Yes I do, and I even know most of it in the original language…”

          Therefore, I think a more apt comparison for me to “mimick Jesus” would be in how He treated the Pharisees, don’t you. 🙂

        • john zande says:

          JohnZ has been quoting scripture at me to accuse God’s nature.

          Isn’t “God’s nature” revealed in God’s words?

          The said piece of scripture does read: The LORD said…

          I’m sorry if that bothers you, as it so clearly does, but those words are not up for creative interpretation.

          And I only quoted scripture because you, Mel, made the ludicrious assertion that the bible (the word of your god) does not sanction slavery, or contain passages where the murder of children was ordered by said god.

        • jim- says:

          That would be called rationalizing, not understanding

        • Mel Wild says:

          Absolutely not. It would be called rightly interpreting the Bible, Jim. Ignoring the cultural context, genre, analogical language, or explanatory scope would be superficially treating the text, thus, reading it wrongly.

      • It makes absolutely no difference to me whether God changes His mind or God changes mine. That is completely irrelevant to this particular discussion. The question Mel is asking in this thread is, “what is the foundation of objective moral duties and facts?”

        • john zande says:

          It makes absolutely no difference to me whether God changes His mind or God changes mine. That is completely irrelevant to this particular discussion.

          I’m happy to hear you’re fine it, but I’m afraid to say it is tremendously relevant when you have one person, Mel, trying to argue there exists a fixed moral foundation. How can there be a fixed foundation when the source of that foundation keeps changing his mind on what is right and what is wrong?

          Back then: Slavery good.
          Now: Slavery bad.

          Not quite “fixed,” is it?

        • john zande says:

          And another example:

          Killing children back then, Good.
          Killing children now, Bad.

          A tad divergent, wouldn’t you say?

        • Nan says:

          Found it!

          Quote: Yes. God changed its mind. (February 23, 2017 at 11:35 pm) — “Let’s Enslave the Heathen.”

        • john zande says:

          There you go, and a lovely example of Branyan’s 100-COMMENT-DIVERSION-SONG-AND-DANCE-ROUTINE.

          So, how can there be a fixed moral truth if Yhwh keeps changing its mind?

        • The question was, “what is the foundation of objective moral duties and facts?”

          The question was NOT, “does the foundation of objective moral duties and facts ever change?”

          Answer the question, John. “What is the foundation of objective moral duties and facts?”

        • john zande says:

          Excuse while I try to stop my head spinning.

          OK, so you start by asking “what is the foundation of objective moral facts,” which implies something fixed and unchanging, but then say “The question was NOT, “does the foundation of objective moral duties and facts ever change?”

          Do you know what the word “fixed” means? How about unchanging? Or what about the word actually used here: “Objective”?

          If there is, in fact, and objective moral foundation (something true always, through all time), then that, by definition, cannot change.

          Are you with me?

          So, when Branyan claims Yhwh changes its mind on matters of morality (slavery, killing children, etc.), he’s saying there is no such thing as an objective moral foundation… even though that is what Mel is trying to argue… although he has yet to actually present any objective truth to support his claim.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          The poor thing doesn’t understand the difference between a fixed RULE and a fixed SOURCE.

        • john zande says:

          Published Rule: It’s OK to enslave other human beings.

          Actual (concealed) Rule: It’s not OK to enslave other human beings.

          Solid messaging.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Yes, we heard you the first TWO times you posted that.

          If you’re trying to come across as unstable, it’s working.

        • john zande says:

          Just making sure we all understand your rather unique position.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Riiiight.
          Thanks, sack of meat.

          Just so everyone understands: JZs position is that evil doesn’t exist, but slavery and killing children are evil.

        • john zande says:

          Why are you still talking?

          I think we all understand your position already.

          According to you and John Branyan, Yhwh changes the moral landscape (the “specific rules” of what is right and what is wrong) throughout the game. What was morally right yesterday (slavery, for example) might not be morally right today, but it might just be morally right again tomorrow… If that happens to be Yhwh’s shifting frame of mind on that particular day.

          It’s really a great foundation. Solid. Dependable.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Oh, forgive me, I was talking because I thought we were playing, “speak for the other person in the most unfair way possible.”

          According to you, morality is whatever a majority of humans feel at an given time. So slavery and child killing were both acceptable in ancient Israel. Great foundation! Solid. Dependable.

          Anything else to add?

        • john zande says:

          “Gods nature hasn’t changed. But sometimes, the specific “rules” might.”

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Talking with JZ is how I imagine it would be, trying to reason with my infant if he stayed exactly as morally ignorant as he currently is but developed the ability to talk…

          “Mom you say you haven’t changed, but you’re telling me SOMETIMES it’s okay to crap in my pants, but SOMETIMES it isn’t? How can I trust someone who says pooping in public is okay when you’re a baby and a crime when you’re 25???”

          Brilliant. Lol! I’m glad my son can only cry right now… Until he’s old enough to use the mind God gave him. (Hopefully he doesn’t reject it, as the God Deniers around here have.)

        • john zande says:

          Listen, seriously, I think we all understand your position: You believe Yhwh changes the “specific [moral] rules” halfway through the game.

          It’s an odd belief, but it’s yours, and if you’re happy with it, then that’s all that counts.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Hush, little baby… rockABye… Don’t trouble your wee self with grown up ideas.

        • john zande says:

          Yep, understood you (and your father) the first time.

          Yhwh is a Flip-Flopper on matters of morality.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Yep, understood you the first time.
          Is there a reason you can’t let me have the last word?

        • john zande says:

          Heavens no. Have it. I’m sure you need a little quiet time so you can start thinking about how you’re going to sound rational as you explain to Inanity and Mel why you believe Yhwh is a morally vacant Flip-Flopper.

        • Ron says:

          Can you please provide a few examples of these objective ( i.e., independent of anyone’s opinion) moral duties and facts.

  6. Hey Mel,

    It doesn’t logically follow that universal objective morality is the result of a specific rational intellect; it just means morality has specific qualities. In order for it to logically follow, you would have to demonstrate that nature or objective morality exists if and only if a rational intellect designed it. Until that happens, all anyone can say is that morality appears to pop up as some standard people feel inclined to follow. If it’s universal, then it would have to be immutable, like other fundamental qualities of nature like gravity, the speed of light, or the behavior of small particles.

    If morality is immutable, then morality can be learned by humans. After all, we’re not perfect natural entities, yet we still are able to form reliable ideas about nature itself. Understanding a moral would be no different than understanding water is a liquid at a given temperature and pressure.

    One implication of this is that moral failings could exist because of ignorance, and not of morality itself. Provided they exist, people can obviously fail to comport to something they don’t fully grasp is there. Such a model of thinking would provide insight as to why some people act as if they are unaware certain common actions are wrong, like stealing or killing.

    • Ron says:

      Good post. But good luck getting theists to grant examples of objective morality. I asked Mr. Branyan to provide those over a year ago and I am still waiting to hear back from him. He claims he provided them, but seems reluctant to provide the link in which he did so.

      • John Branyan says:

        Cruelty is objectively wrong.
        Dishonesty is objectively wrong.
        Shedding innocent blood is objectively wrong.

        Kindness is objectively right.
        Generosity is objectively right.
        Gratitude is objectively right.

        There’s six for you, Ron.
        Now go back to ignoring me, you spineless coward.

        • john zande says:

          Not one of these suggestions represents something even remotely immutable. This is right off the top of my head, one by one:

          Cruelty is objectively wrong… I believe Bush argued torture (waterboarding) was necessary to stop greater evil. Have you ever heard the term “cruel to be kind”?

          Dishonesty is objectively wrong… Go on, tell your wife she’s fat and ugly, or give away Ann Franks hiding spot.

          Shedding innocent blood is objectively wrong… I believe you Americans coined the term “collateral damage.” Or what about Hiroshima, it wasn’t a military target, but a demonstration. Have you ever visited a slaughterhouse and meat processing plant?

          Kindness is objectively right… As expressed to Nazi’s? (See Trump).

          Generosity is objectively right… As in spreading stolen/laundered money, heaping praise on the good nature of Nazi’s (again, see Trump), giving money to terrorists?

          Gratitude is objectively right… For committing genocide (See Israelites), for being a suicide bomber (See ISIS/Palestinians)?

        • John Branyan says:

          Ah. Another spineless coward replies.

          Have you gathered your thoughts to respond to my earlier statements (which I repeated multiple times)? I’ll only deal with your worthless, wretched ideas one at a time.

          Naturalism means the universe is determined. There is no such thing as right and wrong. There is no morality. Everything (including the Nazis) is the result of chemicals and cosmic forces. Nobody chooses how they will behave. Unless you grow a spine and respond, I’m assuming this is your worldview.

        • john zande says:

          There is no such thing as right and wrong.

          Yes there is.

        • John Branyan says:

          Good. So you’re not a naturalist.
          Remember when Mel asked for the standard of morality awhile back? That’s when you should have piped up with how you determine that right and wrong exist. Instead, you talked about
          *SQUAWK* Neurology *SQUAWK*
          Which has nothing to say about right and wrong.

          How do you know right and wrong exist?

        • John Branyan says:

          It’s totally fine to say “I trust my conscience.”
          Does that make it easier?

        • Ron says:

          @ John Zande

          On the bright side, it’s good to see Mr Branyan has finally dropped “chopping up innocent children with a hatchet is evil” from his list since being apprised that Lord God Jehovah commanded such things in the OT. 🙂

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          Oh, so NOW you remember that he DID respond to your question “over a year ago.”

          Lol. Guess JB is right about you being a liar after all…

          “He never responded!”
          “Oh, now his list has changed since his last response…”

          Liar.

        • John Branyan says:

          Nice catch. I didn’t see this.
          I already knew he lied but it was good of him to confirm it, even if unintentionally.

          There will be no response from Ron because he and the other nitwits believe ignoring me “drives me crazy”. They’ll regroup in the safe space of a blog where I’m blocked and congratulate each other for “kicking JB’s ass”. To a godless moron, refusing to reply to questions is how you win debates.

          Contrary to their misguided opinions, this does not drive me crazy. It confirms the unassailable strength of the Christian worldview. It also serves to demonstrate that atheism/Humanism is a religion of cowards.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          It took Nan just a couple of hours to find and respond to my comment to KIA. There’s no doubt they’re talking about us somewhere… Lol.

          So much for ignoring you.

        • John Branyan says:

          From the WordPress “Reader” you can access a “conversations” tab. Makes it easy to follow along and see what’s happening in the comment thread. It’s so simple, an atheist can do it.

        • mrsmcmommy says:

          I didn’t know that!
          If I hadn’t heard everything they have to say a thousand times already, I might go check it out.

          But I can probably do without hearing how ridiculous and unfunny and pathetic you are. 🙂 Let me know if anyone ever admits the Moral Law transcends humans and that school shooters are objectively evil.

          THEN I will be interested.

    • Excellent Sirius. I hope Mel answers.

  7. We’ve had a lively discussion on morals in my last post, but it seems to have gotten off track, so I would like to focus in on what the point of my post actually was here (so it doesn’t get lost in the comments).

    Mel,

    To be fair and objective sometimes it’s not necessarily the “comments and commenters” that go off track — though several can intentionally or inadvertently take your posts there — but it could very well be your posts and the topic you’ve chosen to post about. Almost every single topic will come with a heavy load of presuppositions. Obviously, your posts will come with your own personal experiences, education, and world-view bias just like anyone else. Thus, the reward or blame should be shared by all. 🙂

    What is the foundation of objective moral duties and facts?

    Easy. Right here, right now the largest cumulative consensus possible. It is NOT found in ONE ideology from ONE group. Knowledge, truth, plausibility, probability, ignorance, and fallacy are NOT exclusive to any one group or a collection of groups. And no one group has complete and total jurisdition on knowledge, truth, plausibility, probability, ignorance, and fallacy. This includes YOUR personal world-view. It includes others.

    Humans cannot be the source of moral knowledge.

    That is YOUR (and the video’s) opinion/belief. Fortunately, yours and similar beliefs are NOT the only viable answer. There are MANY who disagree with you here, including myself. Why? Because you are unable to show with 100% certainty that YOUR “source of moral knowledge” is the one and only — again, the false monistic ideology. How does a person or group or culture hedge against fallacy, catastrophe/extinction, limited knowledge, very real ignorance and all their derivatives? By comparing, contrasting, evaluating your/our life-experiences with the broadest database available; the bigger the better. And certainly there will be needed tweaks, always. Time and determined exploration and critical-thinking over the generations rightly provides that.

    Third, moral facts and duties must be grounded in something necessary and unchanging (for them to be objectively binding).</blockquote.

    Again, that is only ONE school of thought. Yours and some others. But it is by no means the one and only. There are several other paradigms that in my opinion and experience and those of others that are MORE viable.

    This source would be a conscious, rational, and necessary entity.

    No. Not necessarily. But you are welcome to believe that. 🙂

    May I graciously present one other world-view that many adhere to, and think is VERY logical, and then others don’t:

    What is true? Clarence Darrow once noted, “I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” Freethinkers are naturalistic. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds with reality. Reality is limited to that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason.

    Reason is a tool of critical thought that limits the truth of a statement according to the strict tests of the scientific method. For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad-hominem character attacks?).

    A basis for morality? There is no great mystery to morality. Most freethinkers employ the simple yardsticks of reason and kindness. As author Barbara Walker notes: “What is moral is simply what does not hurt others. Kindness . . . sums up everything.” Most freethinkers are humanists, basing morality on human needs, not imagined “cosmic absolutes.” This also embraces a respect for our planet, including the other animals, and feminist principles of equality.

    Moral dilemmas involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason to weigh the outcomes. Freethinkers argue that religion promotes a dangerous and inadequate “morality” based on blind obedience, unexamined ultimatums, and “pie-in-the-sky” rewards of heaven or gruesome threats of hell. Freethinkers try to base actions on their consequences to real, living human beings.

    Meaning in life? Freethinkers know that meaning must originate in a mind. Since the universe is mindless and the cosmos does not care, you must care, if you wish to have purpose. Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of humanistic morality. Some freethinkers find meaning in human compassion, social progress, the beauty of humanity (art, music, literature), personal happiness, pleasure, joy, love, and the advancement of knowledge.

    Doesn’t the complexity of life require a designer? The complexity of life requires an explanation. Darwin’s theory of evolution, with cumulative nonrandom natural selection “designing” for billions of years, has provided the explanation. A “Divine Designer” is no answer because the complexity of such a creature would be subject to the same scrutiny itself. Even a child knows to ask: “If God made everything, then who made God?”

    Freethinkers recognize that there is much chaos, ugliness and pain in the universe for which any explanation of origins must also account.

    Should I be happy to be a freethinker? Absolutely! Freethought is reasonable. Freethought allows you to do your own thinking. A plurality of individuals thinking, free from restraints of orthodoxy, allows ideas to be tested, discarded or adopted. Freethinkers see no pride in the blind maintenance of ancient superstitions or self-effacing prostration before divine tyrants known only through primitive “revelations.” Freethought is respectable. Freethought is truly free.

    And these five principles are not exhaustive, just a sampling. And there are many more around the world that offer JUST AS MANY great and fulfilling, logical principles for life and death.

    Thanks Mel. Hope you are having a good weekend sir.

    • Sorry for the HTML error up there. That very first closed blockquote didn’t get closed with the “>” at the end of your quote.

    • John Branyan says:

      BRAVO!!
      BRAVO!!! You have produced an exemplary example of usability!

      It is YOUR opinion/belief. Fortunately, yours and similar beliefs are NOT the only viable answer. There are MANY who disagree with you here, including me. Why? Because you are unable to show with 100% certainty that YOUR “source of knowledge” is the one and only — again, the false monistic ideology.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, but that’s just a lot of verbiage that doesn’t really address the question. You still have not addressed why kindness or giving one’s life for another is a virtue, why is one thing right and another wrong? Many of these morals run contrary to what’s best for the survival of the individual. Evolution or mob rule cannot explain these things.

      You basically have no objective standard of morals; everything is subjective. Everyone just does what they think is best, which is often not a good thing.

      • John Branyan says:

        I received a scolding from the Wise Professor awhile back for being too succinct.
        I’m not kidding.

        Apparently, convoluted verbiage is given high honor among intellectual atheists. When you distill their massive texts down to succinct statements, you’ll be accused of “misrepresenting” them. Explain to them that you have better things to do than wade through their hodge-podge rants, and you’ll be accused of “willful ignorance”.

        The Professor’s response to you was over 930 words (I have a word counter installed in my browser because I talk to atheists a lot). Your original post was 408 words. 🙂

        Good ideas can be expressed in a couple of statements. Whenever an atheist responds with an encyclopedia entry it indicates the response will be free of good ideas.

      • That would be incorrect Mel. But it is very good that you and I can agree to disagree. In the bigger picture it is the various viewpoints, arguments, facts, and theories for your other readers that matter so THEY can make their own decisions. 😉

        Have a good day sir.

  8. ColorStorm says:

    At the end of the day Mel, one question remains:

    Who decides what morality is, and who sets the standard?

    I could give a clue, it’s not you or I, nor the finest godless representative. The vid suggests ‘where does the grounding for moral facts come from?’

    Anything short of recognizing the origin and Author of the brain will always fall short. ALL explanations however clever sounding will fall short, and miss the proverbial archers mark.

    If a man is honest, his search will end…………at and in the beginning………..God. Period.

    • Nan says:

      CS, I have to say … that’s one of the nicest things I’ve seen you write. It lays out your perspective without malice or smart-aleck remarks. It doesn’t even include any of your “poetry.” 🙂

      Needless to say, I don’t agree. But that’s a discussion for another time. Just wanted to offer my kudos.

  9. Kind of fun Mel, today our pastor spoke of agreeing to disagree, and said, “Forget it. I’m not going to agree to disagree because I’m not willing to come into agreement with wrongheadedness.” We laughed of course, but what was so profound about it, was that is the very nature of God, too.
    He is packed plumb full of mercy, grace, forgiveness, patience, but still a Holy God, and therefore unwilling to come into agreement with wrongheadedness.

    So,as you already know, my “foundation of objective moral duties and facts,” is the Lord, because without Him, I would never have been able to understand or reason my way to the moral necessity of standing in the truth and refusing to come alongside wrongheadedness. That is genuine sacrificial love, and it often comes with a great price. It’s so much easier to simply “agree to disagree” and to walk away indifferent. The opposite of love however, is not hatred, it’s actually indifference.

    • Mel Wild says:

      It’s so much easier to simply “agree to disagree” and to walk away indifferent. The opposite of love however, is not hatred, it’s actually indifference.

      Exactly, IB. You can blame the modern myth of subjectivism (and it’s component of indifference) on the “religion” of naturalism. C.S. Lewis exposed it for what it was over 70 years ago when this philosophy failed us with the rise of Nazism. Here’s one quote from “The Poison of Subjectivism”:

      “After studying his environment, man has begun to study himself….now his own reason had become the object. It’s as if we took out our eyes to look at them. His own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenon which accompanies chemicals or electrical events in a cortex, which is itself the by-product of blind evolutionary process. His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective. There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.”

  10. jim- says:

    Mans morals are constantly challenging gods morals to make the world better. If it wasn’t for that? Christian hell on earth tenfold.

  11. limey says:

    “Cruelty is objectively wrong.”

    Does everyone define the same things as being cruel? one man’s cruelty might be another man’s necessity. If you can’t come up with an objective measure of cruelty, your argument for objective morality fails.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Your conclusion doesn’t follow. If something was necessary it was something other than cruel. It could’ve been tragic or heartbreaking, but not cruel. And culturally-related cruelty is still cruel, even if that society does not deem it so. This is why you cannot determine morality by subjectivism. It must be based on something outside of itself.

  12. “Isn’t “God’s nature” revealed in God’s words?”

    Actually, God’s nature is revealed in Mel’s patience, in Branyan’s words, in Colorstorm’s poetry, in the love we all pour out on boorish people who try to worship their own reason and spend all their time trying to congratulate one another for having said something pathetic and irrational. God has a tangible substance,a spirit that can be felt and seen, living within those who attempt to reflect the gift we have received from Him.

    • john zande says:

      So, God’s nature is not revealed through God’s words?

      Interesting.

      I get the feeling sometimes that you guys truly and absolutely hate the bible. It seems to really get in the way of what you want to believe.

      • Mel Wild says:

        God’s nature could be revealed through God’s words if they are properly understood and He actually spoke them.

        • john zande says:

          Are you suggesting Ezekiel was lying?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m suggesting that if it doesn’t sound like Jesus it’s not like God. Jesus explains God to us (John 1:18). There are other reasons for a particular verbiage other than verbatim words of God, or being descriptive of His nature.

          A basic theological principle: whatever God is like within Himself in the Trinitarian Godhead is God’s nature. Whatever is not, is not His nature.

        • john zande says:

          So you are, in fact, suggesting that Ezekiel was lying.

          Interesting.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m not. Lying would be an intention to deceive. I am suggesting that you don’t understand the genre of the particular language, analogical literary devices, if you think God’s morals changed.

        • john zande says:

          if you think God’s morals changed.

          I never suggested your god’s moral’s changed. That was John Branyan and his daughter.

          From what you’ve said here, you appear to believe that this same god (while not changing) sporadically drip-feeds updates and upgrades in his moral code.

          Personally, I find that a rather odd position when one could have simply said right from the start (ie. in the 7th Century BCE): “Don’t buy and sell humans, they’re not property.”

          Also strange that two empires had completely banned slavery hundreds years before Jesus, and still Jesus didn’t have a word to say on the matter, which seems to indicate that he too sanctioned slavery.

          No, I’m not. Lying would be an intention to deceive.

          True, and that’s exactly what appears to be going on here. There’s really no room for misunderstanding when someone says “Then I heard the LORD say…”.

          Ezekiel is one of your greatest prophets, a man to be believed, and he’s been talking to Yhwh for a while before the passage in question. He even describes Yhwh:

          Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber

          Is all this a lie?

          you don’t understand the genre of the particular language, analogical literary devices

          Oh, OK, so tell me the analogy meant here:

          “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children.

          Seriously, enlighten me, Mel… What is this passage actually about.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh, OK, so tell me the analogy meant here:

          “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children.

          Seriously, enlighten me, Mel… What is this passage actually about.

          This passage was about the defeat and captivity of Judah by the Babylonians, which happened in the sixth century BC. First, you should note that this was a spiritual vision or trance (Ezek.8:1) not a literal physical event happening as he was seeing this. God was showing Ezekiel what would happen to Jerusalem because of their idolatry and violation of their covenant with God. From an earthly point of view, the Babylonian armies would come and mercilessly kill those who refused to go to Babylon. Those who listened to Ezekiel (and Jeremiah) were safely taken to Babylon and treated relatively well.

        • john zande says:

          Of course I know it’s a vision, but vision or not, it is an articulation of such barbarity ordered by Yhwh that it’s hard to even fathom…. and it is an event that is said will happen.

          The important point: Ordered by Yhwh.

          Theologian, Matthew Henry’s commentary says of this passage: “Sometimes even such bloody work as this has been God’s work. But what an evil thing is sin, then, which provokes the God of infinite mercy to such severity!”

          It’s NOT an analogy, as you tried to imply. At best, you can suggest it is a threat, although as per the text, it’s actually a PROMISE.

        • John Branyan says:

          “Of course I know it’s a vision, but vision or not, it is an articulation of such barbarity ordered by Yhwh that it’s hard to even fathom…”

          How do YOU determine that Yhwh orders should be described as barbarity?
          How do YOU know barbarity even exists when there’s no such thing as evil?
          How do YOU know right and wrong?

          Keep running!
          Run! Run! Run!

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric? Furthermore, if someone decides to run in front of a car and is run over, is that immoral of God to let them do so? Is it God’s fault if a parent disregards a warning of a fire hazard and their house burns down, killing their children. Who are you to make yourself the judge? You know nothing about it.

        • john zande says:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric?

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you believe letting parents disregard warnings of a fire hazard, and letting their children die in a fire as a result, barbaric?

        • john zande says:

          That’s not murder, rather recklessness.

          I asked a question:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric?

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You still don’t get it. So, the parent was barbaric by murdering their children in the fire?

        • john zande says:

          Again, it’s not murder, rather criminal recklessness. They would be charged (possibly) for manslaughter.

          I asked a question:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric?

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Criminal recklessness on whose part?

        • john zande says:

          Whose do you think?

          I asked a question:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric?

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

        • John Branyan says:

          By what right do YOU say this is barbaric?

          Mel’s moral authority comes from the immutable character of God.
          You sniveling, wretched coward.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Whose do you think?

          I would infer that you mean criminal recklessness on the parent’s part. Of course, they were foolish to stay in the house.

          You have implied that killing children is barbaric but then you call a parent who disregards warnings of a fire hazard which results in the death of their children “criminal recklessness.” By what standard are you making this judgment?

          Furthermore, using my analogy, were the people who ignored the repeated warnings to leave Jerusalem (and promises of their safety if they went to Babylon), which resulted in the death of themselves and their children at the hands of the Babylonians barbaric or criminal recklessness? And whose fault would this be? You are the judge.

        • john zande says:

          By what standard are you making this judgment?

          Premeditation.

          I asked a question:

          So, by what right do you say this is barbaric?

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You don’t believe murdering little children is barbaric?

          Of course not. But the only thing you given to me, by your own admission, is criminal recklessness on the part of the obstinate parents.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Correction: Of course, I believe murdering little children is barbaric, if that’s what was actually going on, which it wasn’t.

        • john zande says:

          Thanks for the clarification.

          I’m glad that’s your position. It’s mine, too. It is barbaric to murder—or order the murder of—little children.

        • john zande says:

          …or threaten, or promise the murder of little children.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If I tell you not to touch the dangling electrical power line because it will kill you, is that a threat or a warning?

        • john zande says:

          Please don’t tell me you’re a proponent of the sick and demented Divine Command Theory.

        • Mel Wild says:

          How is that related to my question? Would me telling you not to touch a fallen power line or it will kill you be a threat or a warning? In other words, am I telling you this because I want to murder you or because I want to save you?

        • john zande says:

          I would, in effect, be responsible for my own accidental death. You would not be murdering me.

          That is not what is being discussed.

          We are talking here about the premeditated murder of little children.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s exactly what’s being discussed here. You would be responsible for your own death, or in the case of the burning house, even the death of your family because of your negligence. So let’s put the spiritual vision aside and look at the earthly situation. God warned Judah through these prophecies to leave Jerusalem and be safely taken to Babylon, or they would suffer the consequences when the Babylonians invaded and utterly destroyed the city (notice who’s actually doing the killing here). In other words, God was trying to save them. Sounds like foolish criminal recklessness on the part of those who refused to heed the warnings to me.

        • john zande says:

          Accidental death is NOT premeditated murder.

          Period.

          I think this conversation should stop.

          I’m finding your argument here putrid beyond imagination. Your line of thought is grotesque.

          You are trying to rationalise the PREMEDITATED MURDER of little children.

          Take a long, hard look at what you’re saying, Mel.

          This is sick.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And you’re being mulishly obstinate and ignoring the point. So, the next time you warn someone to get out of a burning house and they don’t and all die, we’ll blame you for premeditated murder.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re a coward.
          A sniveling, intellectual weakling.

        • Ron says:

          “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” James 4:17

          In failing to do the right thing — preventing an accident, administering to the sick and hungry, or preventing some other calamity — God has “missed the mark” and becomes a sinner. As such, God cannot be called perfect.

      • John aways has trouble realizing two things can be true at the same time.. Try to live in the paradox, Zande. The water is fine. It won’t hurt you. 🙂

  13. Thanks for the post. I just wrote a post on what I consider a new moral argument for God’s existence. https://jonathandavidgarner.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/a-modal-moral-argument-for-gods-existence/

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