Why subjectivism fails

We’ve been talking about whether the foundation of morals are objective or subjective. We theists appeal to an objective standard, an overarching conscience, if you will, that inherently guides all healthy human beings. Naturalist and Materialists believe that morals come from the human mind and/or evolve with the advancement of civilization.

C.S. Lewis called the subjective stance a poison that’s potentially fatal to humankind. The following short clip comes from his brilliant short work, The Abolition of Man. Keep in mind, he was writing this in the recent wake of Nazism and Stalinist communism, but his deep insights into the human condition are relevant and timeless. 

Here’s what he says in the beginning of the essay:

“A purely theoretical error may remove ordinary checks against evil and deprive good intentions their natural support. An error of this sort is abroad at present. I am not referring to the power of the philosophies of the totalitarian states, but to something goes deeper and spreads wider, and which indeed has given these power philosophies their golden opportunity. I am referring to subjectivism.”

Subjectivism is the philosophical tenet that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience”. In other words, subjectivism is the doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and that there is no external or objective truth.  (Wikipedia)

This is modern notion (since Descartes) is a very popular way to “agree to disagree”…”to each his or her own…” “whatever floats your boat….” But indifference to discovering truth will never actually make a free people. Only truth can do that. Here’s what Lewis says about why this philosophy will never yield truth:

“After studying his environment, man has begun to study himself….now his own reason had become the object. It is 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.”

You can hear what Lewis say about this in the clip below.

It’s amazing to me how relevant Lewis’s words are to us today, 70 years after he wrote them. Like his penetratingly concise insight: “Unless the measuring rod is independent of the measured, we can do no measuring.”

Lewis makes these conclusions near the end of his essay:

“All ideas of new or scientific or modern morality must therefore be dismissed as mere confusion of thought. We only have two alternatives: either the maxim of traditional morality must be accepted as axioms of practical reason, which neither admit or require argument to support them, and not to see which is to have lost human status, or else there are no values at all.”

“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike.”

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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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272 Responses to Why subjectivism fails

  1. jim- says:

    But as neurotheology, biological and neurological advances explain very convincingly of a possible natural cause for morality, would it make sense to explore those options as a viable alternative?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Science can certainly show us where in the brain we use morality, or how environment affects it, but it says nothing about where morality itself comes from. Like the law of gravity or the logic of mathematics, we can discover them but it doesn’t inform us as to where they came from or why they are so.

      • jim- says:

        But it does. I thought it was explained pretty well here in my opinion a couple days ago. I think the discussion takes a new twist for the sake of dialog alone, and intimately who you choose to believe. I’ll sit back and see what’s new today. Such a compelling topic.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, if you heard Lewis’s argument here, that position is untenable. Let me be clear. I believe science is very helpful for us to understand the physiological and psychological aspects of what makes people behave the way they do. But again, just because we understand something, it doesn’t mean we know why it is.

          Biology cannot be the source of morality. Non-sentient objects cannot be rational, so it would have to be something sentient to be rational, simply by logical deduction.

          In fact, as Lewis points out, subjectivism works against the very foundation that science is built on, that there are objective laws of nature that can be discovered.

        • jim- says:

          Cause and effect and consequences is a pretty compelling and obvious behavioral force. I cant dismiss that so quickly. We are all born with a blank slate, and even the animals find a level of cooperation in that regard. Thanks for your insights as always.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Cause and effect reflect laws of nature, etc.. We don’t invent them, we can only discover them. But it does require thoughtful reflection, so thanks for your comments.

        • jim- says:

          And the only reason it may be in question is the simple fact that man created a god many times over to explain what just is.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I don’t deny that our history has confused the issue. That’s a human problem. But it also doesn’t deny that there are objective moral values that can be discovered. Otherwise, we have no logical argument to say that our values are better or worse than anyone else’s. We are left with endless confusion.

        • jim- says:

          Mel it really is this simple. Here’s another angle. Ferrell children after a certain age fail to EVER develop compassion, empathy, concepts of right and wrong and language. Their brains atrophy in certain areas where these functions exist. Use it or lose it. No amount of God can give morality if it is not learned, used, and parameters established. It is a Brain Function. Nothing more. Very simple.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Brain function can limit our cognitive ability to understand or discover morals, no question. But this child probably won’t develop mathematical logic or understand the laws of nature beyond survival either, yet those are still objectively true. Your example still does not address where morals originate or why they are morals to begin with.

        • jim- says:

          Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel then Mel. You really don’t have to go beyond the mark like this. It really is that simple.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Your answer is incoherent. You will need to explain yourself here.

        • jim- says:

          I thought you knew the Bible? Going beyond what is necessary and leaving out the basics and observable common sense.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I know what the Bible verse means. Your answer is still incoherent. Observed behavior and moral law are two different things. Behavior is what you do, morality speaks to whether what you did was fair, just, and good. So, what is your “ruler” to determine this standard?

        • jim- says:

          I used to go out at night and watch the nocturnal ants in Panama do their thing. Even the simplest of organisms develop behavioral and socially accepted traits based on the things I’ve discussed. They help one another and make room for another and build highly sophisticated societies. Rather fascinating what we can reason and write into rules because of more processing neurons. But it’s all the same from our observation and connecting the dots.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Observed behavior and moral standards are not talking about the same thing. For instance, the ants you observed may have no morals at all. They [correction: may be] simply acting out of instinct to survive. That is not morality.

        • jim- says:

          Seems to be the guiding force behind it all is our ability to interpret cause and effect and make behavioral adjustments based on it. There is your morality. Establish rules of conduct based on our ability to comprehend in our individual sphere, using positive and negative experiences to mold civil behavior to each species. Simple enough

        • Mel Wild says:

          But why is it moral? What are you appealing to? Because if you’re appealing to the groupthink or society, then you cannot blame the Nazis for defining justice as that which is in the interest of the Third Reich. Who are you to say they were wrong? What confidence do you have in it considering that this philosophy has had disastrous results in our recent history.

        • jim- says:

          Even Thomas Jefferson got it, we hold these truths to be self evident, and then covered the theology as well covering the basis for all believers and non believers to know that it’s obvious. Life liberty and the pursuit. You want to believe it is given by a mythical, invisible being that is your business. It is not. We’ve discussed this before, and without the particular portion of the brain, there is no morality. In fact apply the right pressure to that part of the brain, you have a mass murderer. It’s all neurological. Very obvious if you didn’t feel the need to prove there is a god, which you can’t.

        • John Branyan says:

          Well done, Jim! Exactly right!
          Thomas Jefferson understood what you’re saying when he penned those famous words:

          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men operate according to brain activity and are endowed by their biological faculties with certain subjective, ever-changing rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          Even Thomas Jefferson got it, we hold these truths to be self evident, and then covered the theology as well covering the basis for all believers and non believers to know that it’s obvious. Life liberty and the pursuit. You want to believe it is given by a mythical, invisible being that is your business. It is not.

          And you can prove this being is mythical how? Besides, if philosophers since Aristotle believed that morality must come from something outside of ourselves, why do you think it’s rational to believe in the myth that humans can invent value?

          We’ve discussed this before, and without the particular portion of the brain, there is no morality. In fact apply the right pressure to that part of the brain, you have a mass murderer. It’s all neurological.

          And you have not established how this proves that the source of morality is biological. What you’re giving me is that cognitive reasoning is impaired by injury, etc. That says nothing about morality. For instance, if I am blind does that prove that the world is covered in darkness? This argument fails.

        • Jim, I believe (and I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be alone on this) you’ve explained your and our POV exceptionally well. Nothing in this dialogue-thread is that confusing from my viewpoint. Well done Sir.

          Where confusion often exists or pops-up is in the general area of time-mental constraints. What I mean by that is we cannot possibly study and understand all things. We must leave some alone, select what subjects deserve our needs and attention. As a result, this form of ignorance is a product of inattention and can be lost for a period of time or forever or never even discovered.

          Therefore, if a person chooses to spend the majority of their time and efforts in one (or very few) areas of study and understanding, confusion, errors, distortions, etc, will exist in language, concepts, and personal bias — because they simple don’t know otherwise. Broadening your understanding in MANY areas as is humanly possible will most certainly hedge against these errors, bias, and unknowing. Choose not to… well, here you go; what we have here. 😉

        • jim- says:

          ¡Exactamente!

        • jim- says:

          Hey thank you. It does just seem so simple. No need to go beyond the mark. Hey what’s the best setting for reading comments on the phone?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Hey what’s the best setting for reading comments on the phone?

          I will jump in here. Do you have the WordPress app? You can use that to read comments on your phone. I use it all the time. 🙂

        • jim- says:

          I do. There is a lot of options to choose as far as readability I was wondering if there was something better than “standard”

        • Mel Wild says:

          There is a “comments” section in the main menu (below where “stats” is located). That works like the comments in the administrative section of the website. It has more editing options, if that’s what you’re looking for.

        • jim- says:

          I was thinking more of the comment thread on each post. They get narrow and words wrap.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh, I see. You’re right about that. I don’t get why they wrap in the phone app when I have it set not to wrap past three levels on my blog site. That’s frustrating to me too.

        • jim- says:

          If you go to settings on your phone, go down to discussion you can adjust the thread width. I just found it and set it at 2. Much better. It was at 6

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh, good. Thanks!

        • jim- says:

          Atheists helping Christians. “That’s the way uh-huh-uh-huh”. Lol. Have a good day Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          A miracle, right? 🙂

        • jim- says:

          I’ll contact the Catholics for verification.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You could be up for sainthood.

        • jim- says:

          I got a thank you outside of WP the other day that was amusing. “Ironic that my name means follower of Christ and I’m dealing with two atheists for a peaceful end”. We’re all in this together. I’ve learned a lot in your diatribes. Lol. Mostly what not to do but some good points too. Have a good day friend.

        • Subjectivists working together for a better world!!!!! 😛

        • jim- says:

          The standard one gets pretty confusing

        • Mel Wild says:

          While you guys are congratulating each other for a job well done, Jim did articulate his POV, he just didn’t answer the question.

          He asserted:

          You want to believe it is given by a mythical, invisible being that is your business. It is not.

          My question was, how you do you make this dogmatic assertion? Can you prove this being is mythical? And he also did not answer where this self-evident freedom or morality comes from? What is your proof that it’s biological? That’s like saying we invented mathematics or the laws of nature rather than discovered them. Sorry, but this is incoherent.

        • Sorry Mel. I’m no longer interested in this discussion/debate because in my own life experience this has all been done and decided for ME personally many years ago with my full deconversion. You might ask (or not – lol) why the abrupt reply. It isn’t meant disrespectful, but just forthright and honest.

          For me, it came down to the finality of Christology’s Closed-system: Special Revelation. After all, the Christian’s (supposed) fixed, objective, impartial “moral standard/ruler” can ONLY be Scripture — that is… the 4th century CE canonized Scriptures, not all the others — part two of the two sub-sets of Special Revelation. And try to overlook how many thousands and millions interpret Scripture differently! (a bit of humor there)

          To be very specific, I rarely have much to discuss or debate with hardcore Evangy-Fundy Christians anymore outside of their “Special Revelations.” THEY have chosen to stay strictly within their Closed-system of faith. That makes it quite difficult to carry on productive Q&A’s. I wish it were not that way, but it is… even if they fully understood their own theology and church history.

          Yet, what I find ironic is that in Christology there is endless subjectivity (POV of the observer), which is not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing depending on measurements as you and Ron are debating. Pluralism and subjectivity can be easily observed all throughout Nature, the Cosmos, and human beings. Human beings = all inclusive.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, I understand, you don’t have to enter into this discussion. But my question was not specifically a “Christian” one. It’s on the idea of subjectivism and morality. More to do with Metaethics than a particular faith. While I believe there is subjective issues within morality (circumstances, culture, etc.) to say that there is no underlying objective morality at all is incoherent to me.

          And it’s totally debatable on who actually has the “closed system of faith.” Don’t we all in some way? Because I could say the same for those who hold to naturalism, physicalism, materialism, scientism, etc. But anyway, that’s not the discussion here.

          Having said that, I’m all for pluralism in society where a free exchange of ideas can take place.

        • …to say that there is no underlying objective morality at all is incoherent to me.

          Is it because you are coming to the discussion/debate with your own presuppositions which can cause bias, confusion, or unknowing?

          As a Freethinking Humanist, I would not word your interpolation of subjectivism that way. Perhaps it would be better stated: Reductionism to a Common Denominator doesn’t always produce satisfactory results… until after 100,000,000 testings produce the same annoying result that myself and my compadres really don’t like. 😉

          And it’s totally debatable on who actually has the “closed system of faith.” Don’t we all in some way? Because I could say the same for those who hold to naturalism, physicalism, materialism, scientism, etc. But anyway, that’s not the discussion here.

          Interesting comment. Various disciplines of study/knowledge CAN absolutely assist, verify, or disprove other aspects of a concept, ideology, or belief. Other times they can’t. But not everything in our perceived existence is independently compartmentalized and functioning with impunity or exemption. As you wrote in one of your earlier blog-posts (and I agree with), “Question everything” can cause some to erroneously think that exercise produces Subjectivism. No, but it is wonderful in helping scrutinizers build (perpetually) working litmus-tests and templates (objectivism?) to evaluate a topic/object/theory for value and accuracy.

          I want to jump right to a very specific related point about Subjectivism and their antitheses, if I may…

          Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
          (John 14:6)

          How do you interpret or explain the meaning of that verse?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Either there is such a thing as objective morality or there isn’t. Subjectivism means that there is no objective morality. To say “both fail” is just incoherent. This has nothing to do with my faith. It has to do with simple logic.

          And I wasn’t asking for a thesis, nor do I have the time to go off in a bunch of other directions about what we believe. It was not that hard of a question, unless you don’t want to take it to its ultimate conclusion.

        • I’d disagree, but I’m subjectively guessing you already knew that. LOL 😉

        • John Branyan says:

          Taboo: “I’d disagree, but I’m subjectively guessing you already knew that.”

          The wise professor believes he can just “disagree” with simple logic.
          I applaud your patience, Mel.

        • John Branyan says:

          Taboo: “I’ve asserted here before Monism (the antithesis of subjectivism) is impossible to defend and is dismantled by overwhelming observations and evidence…”

          Monism is NOT the antithesis of subjectivism, but let’s leave that aside.

          I’m pretty sure the Wise Professor doesn’t understand what Monism actually is. He uses it interchangeably with “Objectivism”. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand Objectivism either.

          After wading though zillions of Taboo’s meandering words, I have figured out why he always sounds crazy when he talks. He believes that truth IS NOT an “either/or” proposition. He believes that truth is exists in many, many, different forms. He believes the truth changes over time and across cultures. He believes the truth cannot be expressed via a single source.

          He believes the truth cannot be expressed via a single source.

          He believes the truth cannot be expressed via a single source.

          And no matter how many times he repeats it, the light never comes on.

        • John Branyan says:

          Taboo: “After all, the Christian’s (supposed) fixed, objective, impartial “moral standard/ruler” can ONLY be Scripture — that is… the 4th century CE canonized Scriptures”

          HAhahahahahaha!
          After ALL this conversation, he says that?!?!!!
          Moron.

        • john zande says:

          Can you prove this being is mythical?

          In light of the fact that you cannot produce a single shred of evidence for said being, I believe the default position would be to classify it as “myth.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          That is an argument from silence, not proof. Yet you and I exist, the cosmos exists, we have laws of nature we didn’t invent, mathematical logic, reason, consciousness ,morality. There is something instead of nothing. And I could go on…

          So, sorry, that dog won’t hunt here, JohnZ. The myth is in believing you have proven anything.

        • john zande says:

          Your response begs the question: How do you provide “proof” for something that doesn’t exist… something that is a myth?

          As you can see, it not an argument from silence. There is no argument as your position is based on make-believe. Your claim begins in imagination, and never leaves it. That is why you require “faith.” If you had evidence you wouldn’t rely on faith, would you?

          But sure, if you can tell me how to provide proof that the Jabberwocky doesn’t exist, then do let me know and I’ll use that exact same method here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Your response begs the question: How do you provide “proof” for something that doesn’t exist… something that is a myth?

          LOL! What’s ironic about your statement is that you have committed the fallacy of begging the question:

          To beg the question is to assume the conclusion of an argument. It is a type of circular reasoning and an informal fallacy, in which an arguer makes an argument that requires the desired conclusion to be true. (Wikipedia)

          You have not established that it’s a myth. Let me know when you have a coherent argument.

        • john zande says:

          Let me know how you, Mel, provide proof the Jabberwocky doesn’t exist and I’ll get right back to you, OK.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And you could reasonably say. “I don’t think it is true,” or “I don’t agree with you,” but you cannot say, “It is not true.” That is just dogmatic fundamentalism of a different color.

        • john zande says:

          BTW, are you going to actually present something you think is an objective moral truth?

  2. Yes, amen, Mel! One reason why I know objective truth exists, that God is real and outside of me, is because my subjectivism was so limited and wrongheaded. Especially as a kid, I had to keep asking, what is this wisdom, this love that keeps calling out to me? At the time I had no experiences, nothing of my own to relate it too. Ha! Also I was very skeptical, like s-u-r-e, that will work. Not! So running contrary to my experiences, contrary to my wisdom, contrary to my instincts even, there was this “Thing” outside of me.

    This made me laugh, “Subjectivism is the philosophical tenet that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience.” It is actually other people’s atheism that eventually led me to conclude that the only questionable fact of my experience was actually my own mental activity. Hence my go to phrase, “God is good and I am a moron.” There lives the beginning of all wisdom. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! It’s going to be a difficult and painful life when we become the measurement by which all worlds must obey. And we’ve had examples of this in the 20th Century. As Lewis brilliantly points out, without an overarching objective standard of morality, we had no right to be indignant with the Germans when they defined justice as that which is in the interest of the Third Reich. All we can do is “agree to disagree.” 🙂 But what we’re left with is confusion and chaos. This is why subjectivism only works in theory.

  3. ColorStorm says:

    Great short lecture. Especially luv the idea that a man can no more create another primary color……than to invent another human Value……….he sez: why the need to preserve the species? Why? Instinct is not enough without a higher purpose.

    If anybody pays attention, he/she must agree that this is solid gold.

    I would only add that his mention of good, and better, needs to be appreciated. Who decides, and therein lies the Highest of all.

  4. Ron says:

    Objective means free of bias. Per William Lane Craig:

    “To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them.” (“Can We Be Good without God?”)

    Yet he fails to state what would inform us the Holocaust was objectively wrong if absolutely everyone were brainwashed into believing that the Holocaust was morally right and there are no clues to indicate any brainwashing took place. It certainly can’t be the Hebrew scriptures commanding the Canaanite genocides.

    So the only conclusion is he draws upon current popular concensus — which is highly subjective.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I understand what you’re trying to say, Ron, but the truth is, the Holocaust and the Canaanite genocide would be morally wrong, even if we thought that’s what God wanted and everyone in the world thought it was moral. Objectivity is not based on whether it’s observed or not; we can only discover its reality.

      • Ron says:

        But that is what I’m asking: on what independent basis did you conclude that certain things (like genocide) are objectively right or wrong? When we disagree on the number of objects in a container, we perform a physical count. When we disagree on the length or mass of an object, we pull out a ruler or a scale. What unbiased source do we consult to resolve disputes concerning moral values?

        • Mel Wild says:

          When we disagree on the length or mass of an object, we pull out a ruler or a scale.

          Exactly! What is your ruler? This is why philosophers going back at least as far as Aristotle have concluded that there must be an objective morality. It’s something we can discover, like the laws of physics or mathematics, but not invent. The idea that man can create value is a modern superstition.

          As Lewis pointed out, the human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or an primary color in the spectrum.

        • Ron says:

          You still haven’t identified your moral ruler. If one group claims genocide is acceptable and another group claims it’s not, who or what becomes the final adjudicator?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You still haven’t identified your moral ruler.

          I identified my “ruler” in the “The Moral Argument“: This source would be a conscious, rational, and necessary entity. And whatever that entity is, we could logically call “God.”

          So, what is your moral ruler?

        • Ron says:

          Your “would be” proposal is not the equivalent of an established fact. Muslims would call their concious, rational and necessary entity “Allah” but I doubt you would agree their moral code coincides with yours.

        • Ron, if I may, I’d like to help you out in what Mel will not specifically state is his and the Christian’s “moral ruler.”

          The “moral ruler” for the Jew, Christian, and Muslim is Yahweh/God the Father/Allah. For the Christian — which is God the Father — He communicates or reveals Himself and His nature through General Revelation and Special Revelation.

          In General Revelation we can know and kind of understand God the Father via the observable world around us: nature, animal kingdom, and human beings — all His creation. Since this form of Revelation is too subjective and the debate of “design” or no-design will never end, for obvious reasons, we need not waste our time with regard to your and Mel’s dialogue here and General Revelation.

          In Special Revelation we humans can know God the Father, His nature and purpose thru two sub-forms: 1) miracles or the paranormal events or metaphysics(?) some might say, and 2) the Holy Scriptures canonized in the 4th century CE.

          Ron, if you want to nail down a Christian and their “moral standard,” just go to the most tangible, fixed, testable and repeatably testable SOURCE: their 4th century CE canonical bible. All other aspects of God’s “Revelations” of Himself to humanity are abstract, subjective, and theoretically debateable — as can be seen all throughout church history and their hundreds-to-thousands of denominations — to materialize or produce a fixed Christian “moral standard”! Now, whether this one and only “moral standard” is viable or reliable is a lengthy debate — which has also been going on for millenia — for another time on another blog. LOL 😉

          Take care Ron. ❤

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ron, if I may, I’d like to help you out in what Mel will not specifically state is his and the Christian’s “moral ruler.”

          That’s not correct, Professor Taboo. I did state my “moral ruler” when asked.

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

          My answer had nothing to do with fourth century Canon. It was a logical argument.

          This whole thing is just practicing avoidance and confusing the issue. I have yet to hear what Ron’s “moral ruler” actually is.

        • Regarding the first half of your reply…

          That is a very general answer, true as it might be for you. Interestingly, your answer here will not be identical to other Christian answers, ministers included. Would you agree?

          Like I’ve asserted here before Monism (the antithesis of subjectivism) is impossible to defend and is dismantled by overwhelming observations and evidence as John Z, Ron and Jim have been trying to help you understand. Perhaps your blog-post title should read: Why Subjectivism & Objectivism Fail. It might offer less biased comments. 😉

          This whole thing is just practicing avoidance and confusing the issue.

          Not really. That might be YOUR perception, but there are great benefits in having multiple related viewpoints and arguments so that readers can compare, contrast, evaluate, theorize, and find varying degrees of accuracy and support… some with compelling amounts, other weak and lacking. All good for a diverse audience. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          Perhaps your blog-post title should read: Why Subjectivism & Objectivism Fail. It might offer less biased comments.

          Because I wouldn’t be writing incoherent nonsense. Saying that both subjectivism and objectivism fails is totally meaningless. This is pure subjectivism at its worst.

          Not really. That might be YOUR perception, but there are great benefits in having multiple related viewpoints and arguments so that readers can compare, contrast, evaluate, theorize, and find varying degrees of accuracy and support…

          Sorry, I’m all for different perspectives but talking about issues that haven’t been brought up and pretending it’s answering the question only causes confusion. It brings no clarity to the conversation.

        • And your reply is an example of Closed-systems.

          Have a good evening Mel. Oh, and you are more than welcome to ask your church to pray for me. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you mean that I’m giving a coherent argument, then I suppose. 🙂

        • Maybe. “Supposedly.” Perhaps. (in my best Subjectivist’s voice) 😉

        • Mel, do you see now why I don’t usually waste my time (nor yours to be fair) in these sorts of discussions? Most of the non-Christians here that know me (and I them) understand as well. It can be worse than pulling teeth without anesthesia! 😛

        • Mel Wild says:

          With all due respect, my goal here was to dig into what Ron and other atheists actually believe. I wasn’t even bringing up God per se. I’m sorry but Ron’s answers are totally incoherent.

          To be clear, I do agree that there are a myriad of mitigating circumstances, viewpoints, cultural perspectives, that can determine whether something is moral or not, but that was not my question. I was asking if there was such a thing as intrinsic objective morality, and all I get is double-speak. Honestly, I’m at a loss as to how to get a rational conversation on these threads. So, yes, I agree. It’s a bit like pulling teeth.

        • His answers though are not totally incoherent to myself and others, Mel. I’m sorry you are having such trouble wrapping your head around it all.

          Have a good evening. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          I tried to make myself very clear so we weren’t talking past each other. I don’t see how it could be true in any world that something is both subjective and always true (which is objective), but in the interest of my time I guess I will have to leave it in total confusion. Thanks anyway.

        • Mel, the entire Cosmos and certain systems on Earth are often a paradox of entities coexisting amicably or in homeostasis and in conflict/destruction, until that too changes. There is nothing I see wrong with it on micro subatomic scale or on the macro Cosmic scale. Human morality is within those same parameters… with changing, evolving human beings wrestling with it for some 50,000 to 75,000 years. Certain populations have been successful, other populations have failed miserably. The hope is for the former.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, that’s true of the cosmos, but not of logic. 2 + 2 always equals 4. Never something else. And if killing for fun is always wrong it is morally objective. This is not the same thing as evolutionary morality or cultural morality, where we discover better ways to life peaceably on the planet.

          And, even with the cosmos, if we practiced subjectivism in scientific methodology we could not come to any conclusion about reality.

        • Sorry Mel. I’ve run out of time to continue this discussion. I wish you the best wrestling with Subjectivism vs Objectivism vs Reductionism and hope you are able to learn and expand your knowledge while utilizing more than one litmus-test or template.

          Once again (for the 3rd or 4th time? 🤪 ) have a good evening.

        • John Branyan says:

          Mel, the entire Cosmos and certain systems on Earth (which is part of the cosmos but I just love typing) are often a paradox of entities (please ignore the impossibility of entities being paradoxical) coexisting amicably or in homeostasis and in conflict/destruction (I could have ended the sentence after entities but that’s not my style), until that too changes (which is an absurd notion but I’m confident you won’t notice). There is nothing I see wrong with it (and I am the arbiter of right and wrong) on micro subatomic scale or on the macro Cosmic scale (which is more needless verbosity). Human morality is within those same parameters (please don’t ask what this means)… with changing, evolving human beings wrestling with it for some 50,000 to 75,000 years (I am a fan of wrestling).

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, I understand that you’re a fan of wrestling. 🙂

        • John Branyan says:

          But subjectively…no monism here.

        • John Branyan says:

          I’ve mentioned a few examples of objective moral truths. Your response has been to vanish from the conversation only reappear somewhere else with the same stupid question.

          If moral values are not self-evident to you then you’re out of luck, Ron.
          I recommend you phone a friend with a conscience before you make any decisions.

  5. john zande says:

    Can you name a single objective moral truth?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Other centered, self-giving love.

      • john zande says:

        Altruism, in other words. I would agree, selflessness is a wonderful quality, but it’s not airtight, which an object truth must be. That is to say, there cannot exist any scenario where the idea fails… and although generally positive, altruism can result in increased suffering.

        For example, Winston Churchill wanted to land on the beaches of France on D-Day to spur on the lads… and probably be killed doing so. Knowing his death would actually adversely affect the war effort (increasing suffering), he was overruled and his sojourn forbidden.

        And here’s another example: suicide bombers. They are revered for their selflessness and states even pay the family of the bombers in gratitude and thanks. Their act of selflessness (celebrated by some as an act of love and devotion to a cause bigger than themselves) however produced terrible suffering.

        • jim- says:

          Along with altruism visible in most species as well.

        • john zande says:

          Darwin called it “a stubborn anomaly of nature.”

        • John Branyan says:

          Altruism is invisible.
          In every species.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I would agree, selflessness is a wonderful quality, but it’s not airtight, which an object truth must be.

          For example, Winston Churchill…And here’s another example: suicide bombers.

          There’s a big difference between the virtue of altruism or other-centered, self-giving love and one actually being able to act out of this virtue.

          Selflessness is not necessarily the same thing as altruism. Other-centered, self-giving love would be pure benevolence, what’s in the best interest of another. The Winston Churchill’s actions would not be in the best interests of England, and the suicide bomber is killing for an ideology, not because of other-centered, self-giving love. Yet, regardless of these examples, the virtue of altruism itself is objective.

        • john zande says:

          Other-centered, self-giving love would be pure benevolence, what’s in the best interest of another.

          Exactly. The suicide bomber is sacrificing himself/herself for the other. Pure selflessness. Some do it for an ideology, others for their state and people, such as Palestinian suicide bombers; their images are even placed on building’s in celebration.

          Your own country, Mel, was born of terrorism, was it not? Never forget, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s enemy. And that’s the point. As much as I support you on your suggestion, it is not without failure, and an objective truth cannot fail. Ever. By the simple fact that I can present examples of failure then it is not an objective truth.

        • john zande says:

          the virtue of altruism itself is objective.

          No, as demonstrated, its subjective.

          You wouldn’t call your revolutionary war heroes “terrorists,” would you, but English historian Edward Gibbon wrote in 1780 of the US as a nation founded in the “criminal enterprise” of rebellion.

          Criminals! Terrorists!

          As to suicide bombers, of course I can’t link to it, your settings won’t allow it, but the Daily Mail has a video of the sheer joy of an ISIS fighter when he is selected to be a suicide bomber. It seems absurd to us, grotesque, but not to him… and that’s the point. To him he is being awarded the opportunity to give everything, an expression of [what he believes is] pure love. The video/article is called: ISIS fighter celebrates as he is selected to be a suicide bomber

          So, back to the original question: can you, Mel, name a single objective moral truth?

        • John Branyan says:

          You insufferable, spineless coward.
          How do YOU know right and wrong exist?
          How do YOU know that celebrating a suicide bomber is wretched and despicable?

          You keep running away from this question, Zande.
          I’ll keep throwing it back at you.
          And everybody will see your worldview for what it is: useless.

      • John Branyan says:

        Mel Wild: “Other centered, self-giving love.”
        John Zande: “Agree. Suicide bombers are an example of such selfless love.”

        LOLOLOLOLOL!
        Is that what you meant, Mel? Where you thinking of suicide bombers?
        Because when I think of selfless love, I usually think of ax-murderers.

      • Ron says:

        How did you derive that centered, self-giving love was an objective moral truth? And if by other-centered, self-giving love you mean to love indiscriminately — then I disagree completely. Love is extended to those who share our values and virtues. And you cannot realistically love and admire someone who violates your values or virtues without making a mockery of the term. As Ayn Rand wrote: “To love the ideal and also those who betray it, is to betray the ideal.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          How did you derive that centered, self-giving love was an objective moral truth?

          I discovered it like I discovered gravity or that 1 + 1 = 2. Also, by the revelation that God axiomatically is love. It’s self-evident.

          And if by other-centered, self-giving love you mean to love indiscriminately — then I disagree completely. Love is extended to those who share our values and virtues. And you cannot realistically love and admire someone who violates your values or virtues without making a mockery of the term.

          And I would disagree with your definition. Other-centered, self-giving love has absolutely nothing to do with whether the object of this love shares their values or even wants to receive it. This love is gladly mocked and misunderstood and rejected for the pure benefit of another.

          And you are still avoiding my question to you, Ron. Where do YOU get your standard of morality? What is the basis of your “objective ruler” by which you measure your moral standard?

        • Ron says:

          Gravity is an observable fact. And mathematical equations are based on observable facts. However, revelations, at least as you describe them, are not observable facts.

          And you cannot force yourself to love both what you like and dislike. Otherwise you would not care who you married or associated with on a daily basis. To say you love both philanthropists and serial killers, arsonists and firefighters, honesty and dishonesty, health and illness, competence and incompetence, sloth and industriousness, punctuality and tardiness, anarchy and social order, etc. is to hold to two contrary positions simultaneously.

          I don’t hold to any objective moral standard as none have been demonstrated to exist, at least thus far. I maintain that morality is a human costruct devised for our own purposes and benefits. The rest of the universe is indifferent to our actions.

        • John Branyan says:

          You are a soulless monster.
          And since you have no way to evaluate that statement yourself: It means you’re a bad person.
          You should not be allowed to move freely in society.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Gravity is an observable fact. And mathematical equations are based on observable facts. However, revelations, at least as you describe them, are not observable facts.

          Well, knowing right from wrong are observable facts, too, going back to the beginning of civilization. And I would ask you, where do you get your “observable facts” that humans have invented morality? What morals standard do you have that has not been borrowed from traditional values? You have given me no objective ruler by which to judge whether what you are saying is right or not.

          C.S. Lewis took your subjective argument apart in the video, starting here:

        • Ron says:

          The expression of moral values is an observable fact, but the existence of an impartial standard by which to evaluate conflicting moral claims, is not. The fact we’re even having this discussion should cast doubt on that supposition. As should the fact that so many moral issues remain unsettled.

          When I wrote that morality is a human costruct devised for our own purposes and benefits, I meant that all moral decisions reflect human opinions on how we should interact amongst ourselves, which is an observable fact.

          In order to answer which values are my own and which ones I’ve borrowed you’ll first need to identify which ones you consider to be traditional moral values.

          I’ve watched the video, but found the arguments unconvincing.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The expression of moral values is an observable fact, but the existence of an impartial standard by which to evaluate conflicting moral claims, is not.

          You are simply stating subjective morality. But we can say that there are things that intrinsically morally wrong, and they are wrong regardless of how we evaluate them. For instance, I shouldn’t club you over the head, strangle your wife, and take your money. That is always wrong. That was wrong 5,000 years ago as it was today.

          Philosophically, an objective truth means there is only one correct description of a particular reality. If it is true that reality is mind-independent, then reality might include objects that are unknown to consciousness and thus might include objects not the subject of intentionality. (Wikipedia)

          In the same way, objective morality is true even if it’s unknown. Objective morality cannot be invented in the human mind, it can only be discovered, jut like you cannot invent mathematics in the mind or by popular consent, you can only discover that it is so.

          I’ve watched the video, but found the arguments unconvincing.

          Of course. You’re not open to being convinced.

        • Ron says:

          I’ve never denied that morality is subjective. And for the record, I agree that clubbing you over the head, strangling your spouse and taking your money is wrong. But that was never the issue. Nor is it an issue of the how we define the word objective. The issue is that you cannot demonstrate the existence of this mind-independent objective moral standard. If someone opined that genocide is hunky dory, all you can counter with is “I believe you’re wrong” and an emotional appeal that your belief is backed by some invisible standard.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’ve never denied that morality is subjective. And for the record, I agree that clubbing you over the head, strangling your spouse and taking your money is wrong.

          Okay, but it is always wrong for me to club you over the head, strangle your wife, and take your money?

        • Ron says:

          It depends on the circumstances. If you’ve caused me no harm or threat of harm, then the answer would be yes. But if clubbing you in the head or strangling your wife is the only viable option available in preventing you from harming others, then no, it’s not always wrong.

          However, we’re wandering away from objective vs. subjective morality into a discussion on absolute vs. relative moraility.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But if clubbing you in the head or strangling your wife is the only viable option available in preventing you from harming others, then no, it’s not always wrong.

          That is not what I’m asking. You are practicing avoidance here, Ron. And this question is precisely the point.

          Let’s try this again. Is it always wrong for me to rob and beat you and your wife because I’m violent and want your money?

        • Ron says:

          What am I avoiding? I thought the answer was self-evident when I wrote, “If you’ve caused me no harm or threat of harm, then the answer would be yes.”

          Let me turn it around and ask you:

          Would you kill someone if it was the only way to prevent them from killing others? Or would you have been willing to lie when asked if you were hiding any Jews?

          My answer to both is: yes.

          How about you?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You are avoiding the question by adding circumstances. That is not my question. Is it ever okay for me to beat and rob you because I’m violent and want your money?

          It’s a very simple question, Ron. Don’t complicate or try to change the subject.

        • Ron says:

          How many more ways can I say no? It is not okay to use agression (i.e, initiate or threaten the use of force against an individual or that person’s property) — except in self-defense, including the defense of others.

        • Mel Wild says:

          How many more ways can I say no?

          Actually, if you would’ve just said “no” to my question instead adding all your conditions, it would’ve been a lot easier to find out what you actually believe.

          So, you believe there is such a thing as objective morality then, right?

        • Ron says:

          How did you make that determination? Especially after I’ve alreadyt stated I do not hold to any objective moral standards?

        • Mel Wild says:

          How did you make that determination?

          Mel: “So it ever okay for me to beat and rob you because I’m violent and want your money?”
          Ron: No

          That’s objective morality, Ron. You do believe there are cases where it’s always wrong to behave in a certain way.

          I’ve already stated I do not hold to any objective moral standards?

          Your answer is totally incoherent, Ron. You just proved that you believe in cases of objective morality. Otherwise, it would be okay for me to beat and rob you because I’m violent and want your money. Again, if you believe that my behavior would be wrong every time I do this, regardless of what I feel about it, that’s an objective position.

          Then I must ask (again), what are you appealing to by saying it’s wrong for me to beat and rob you? Says who?

        • John Branyan says:

          Here’s a little piece of subjective truth from Ron:
          “beware of whom you associate with because you’ll gradually adopt their mindset. I encourage others to seek out people with a positive outlook and abandon those who bring you down.”

          He will be unable to say this is always good advice. There is nothing objectively wrong about destroying other people with negativity. A positive outlook isn’t the objectively good.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I may have to drop the subject because their confused and convoluted arguments are making my brain hurt.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re too nice to them.
          Use the word stupid and they’ll start ignoring you too.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! I have been trying to engage in intelligent and well thought out conversation. I guess that was asking too much.

        • John Branyan says:

          I’m not criticizing you!
          The fact that they continue engaging is a testimony to the effectiveness of your style.

          If this was easy, everybody would do it.
          If it was simple, everybody would understand it.

        • Ron says:

          No it reflects my subjective opinion. And yours. And perhaps that of many others. But if you meet someone who says they enjoy beating people to death and robbing them of their possessions, how will you convince them they’re ‘objectively’ wrong? Show me this “mind-independent” standard that validates your opinion.

          As I wrote in my opening comment, per WLC:

          “To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          No it reflects my subjective opinion.

          Ron, please decide what you believe. You cannot say this and agree with what I said before.

          So, it’s okay for me to beat and rob you and your family just because I’m violent and want your money?

        • Ron says:

          Subjective: based on personal beliefs
          Objective: independent of personal beliefs

          Saying “I believe it’s right/wrong” expresses a personal belief. There’s no contradiction.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you believe that it’s always wrong for me to beat and rob you because I’m violent and want your money. I bet I could ask one million people and they would give me the same answer. Why? Because it is objectively immoral.

          So, yes, it is a contradiction, not just a personal believe that you have and other people have different opinions about my question.

        • Ron says:

          Now you are appealing to consensus opinion, which is still based on personal beliefs. Show me this “mind-independent” objective standard that states it would still be wrong even if everyone in the world believed it wasn’t.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you are missing the point. Why does everyone believe it’s immoral, Ron? And it’s always been that way. Why is it not okay for me to do this?

        • Ron says:

          Does everyone believe it’s immoral? And has it always been that way? I think we have enough examples throughout history to show that is not the case.

          But the reason most people believe it’s not okay is because it sucks to be the one on the receiving end of the equation. If you want to thrive amongst others, exercising good behavior becomes a “selfish” practical necessity.

        • “To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.”

          Ron, can you put that in precise, comprehensible Monistic terms? 😁

        • john zande says:

          You are a horrible person, you kill puppies for fun, you trophy hunt, you kick old people out of their homes, and your wife is even worse, a horrible witch… and you’re a thief, stealing money all your life.

          I run an orphanage and the children are starving. You are making them starve. Your actions are killing them.

          In this scenario, i think its fine to bash you and steal the money you have stolen so I can feed the children.

          That would be moral.

          You have not identified an objective moral truth.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You are a horrible person, you kill puppies for fun, you trophy hunt, you kick old people out of their homes, and your wife is even worse, a horrible witch… and you’re a thief, stealing money all your life.

          All you are doing is showing that morality is based on my motive for my behavior not the behavior itself. I would agree with that. So, is my motive (kill for fun, etc.) always morally wrong? And what do you call something that is always morally wrong?

        • john zande says:

          Um, yes, the motive behind the behaviour. Behaviours (which are the things being judged, remember) don’t just happen by themselves. That is why we have a distinction between manslaughter and premeditated murder.

          If I can give you a scenario, any scenario, where your suggestion fails, it’s not objective.

          You have not given an objective moral truth.

          Can you giove us an objective moral truth?

          Psychopaths kill for fun. Psychopaths have physical dysfunctions in the brain. Are you going to call a genetic malfunction immoral?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You have not given an objective moral truth.

          So you believe that sometimes it’s okay for me to beat and rob you for fun?

          Psychopaths kill for fun. Psychopaths have physical dysfunctions in the brain. Are you going to call a genetic malfunction immoral?

          See, now you’re changing the question. I started this whole series by saying that healthy individuals know right from wrong. It’s nonsensical and a straw man to talk about morality with people who aren’t mentally capable of understanding the difference.

        • john zande says:

          I’ve already shown you the flaw in your original suggestion… and now that you add beating for fun then you are a psychopath, to which I asked: Are you going to call a genetic malfunction immoral?

          Well, are you?

          See, now you’re changing the question.

          Excuse me, but you, Mel, said “for fun.” Read your comment. If you kill for fun, you are not a healthy human being, and you cannot be judged as one.

          So, again, are you going to name an objective moral truth, or is your entire argument nothing but air blown by imagination?

          Can you name an objective moral truth?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m not a psychopath. I just have a different value system than you. For instance, the Nazis beat and robbed the Jews for fun. They weren’t incapable of knowing right from wrong.

          And why do you say that beating and robbing for fun is wrong? Are you saying the Nazis were immoral?

        • john zande says:

          The SS treated Jews as Martin Luther treated Jews… as subhuman, and presented them as despised sociopolitical scapegoats.

          You haven’t answered my question. Two, in fact:

          1) Are you going to call a genetic malfunction immoral? (I remind you, you, Mel, said killing for fun, not me)

          2) Are you going to name an objective moral truth?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, so if the SS killed for sport is that always immoral, John?

        • john zande says:

          It wasn’t for sport. It was fulfilling orders written with sociopolitical intent.

          And FYI, it was not seen as fun, either.

          History lesson: When the exterminations started soldiers were killing the Jews with rifles. The pace was frantic, but they couldn’t get above a few thousand per day, and the emotional toll this was taking on the soldiers led directly to the invention of the gas chambers… to spare the soldiers the emotional pain, and get on with the “final solution”

          Now, my questions:

          1) Are you going to call a genetic malfunction immoral? (I remind you, you, Mel, said killing for fun, not me)

          2) Are you going to name an objective moral truth?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Wow, you are all over the place here. Thanks for the history lesson.

          First, I already told you that someone genetically incapable is not responsible. That is beside the point. We are talking about morally capable people, John. Please try to stay on the subject.

          So, when the Nazis exterminated Jews in gas ovens was that subjectively immoral, or would it always be immoral? Try to answer the question. Subjective or objective?

        • john zande says:

          You accuse me of being “all over the place” when I’m correcting YOUR false assertions?

          That’s a rather odd behaviour, Mel. Do you often set fire to your neighbours houses then whine when they keep you up as they put the flames out?

          First, I already told you that someone genetically incapable is not responsible. That is beside the point.

          No it’s not. You, Mel, said “killing for fun.” But OK, you’re conceding that your example (‘killing for fun’) was wrong. It can’t be taken seriously.

          We are talking about morally capable people, John. Please try to stay on the subject.

          Exactly, which makes your “killing for fun” all the more absurd.

          Subjective or objective?

          Subjective. It’s like your earlier example: it fails to be 100% true. Himmler, for example, thought it morally right… and he had his reasons, as sick as they were. Many thought it morally correct… Martin Luther, the founder of your church, thought nit morally correct.

          The US dropped two atomic bombs on non-military targets as a demonstration.

          Was this for fun?

          As to my second question: Okay, as you are clearly avoiding answering I will assume you cannot give me a single example of some objective moral truth.

          So you write a post (a series, in fact) on something you claim exists, but cannot even give a single example of it.

          Well done.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, now you’re just wasting my time. If someone is genetically capable (e.g. Nazis), and they kill for sport, that is always morally wrong.

          Your continued question is inane, obstinate and imbecilic. Good bye.

        • john zande says:

          Killing for sport?

          Stop making things up, Mel. You’re just lying, and you know it.

          You know fully well it was driven by sociopolitical orders sanctioned with Christian appeals, as repulsive as they were. The same sociopolitical orders that drove your own countrymen to slaughter Indians, and the dropping of atomic bombs on civilians… the same sociopolitical orders that your Good Book details in the conquest of Canaan.

          Sick, yes, but rational nonetheless.

          If someone kills for fun, then they are quite clearly a psychopath. Mentally deranged. Advanced militaries around the world, including your own, screen for psychopaths among recruits.

          Your continued question is inane, obstinate and imbecilic

          What a curious thing to say… You did write this post, didn’t you, about the existence of moral truth?

          So, I’m being “obstinate” in asking you to example the thing you claim exists?

          Think about that. Take all the time you need…

        • Mel Wild says:

          Killing for sport?
          Stop making things up, Mel. You’re just lying, and you know it.

          I wondered when you would finally get around to calling me a liar. How typical.

          Historian Philip Friedman gives the following eye-witness account of a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation:

          “Zosia was a little girl…the daughter of a physician, During an “action” on of the Germans became aware of her beautiful diamond like dark eyes.
          “I could make two rings out of them,” he said, “one for my myself and one for my wife.”
          His colleague is holding the girl.
          “Let’s see whether they are really so beautiful. And better yet, let’s examine them with our hands.”
          Among the buddies exuberant gaiety breaks out. One of the wittiest proposes to take the eyes out. A shrill screaming and the noisy laughter of the soldier-pack. The screaming penetrates our brains, pierces our heart, the laughter hurts like the edge of a knife plunged into our body,, The screaming and the laughter are groaning, mingling and souring to heaven.
          What happens next is that the fainting child is lying on the floor. Instead of eyes two bloody wounds are staring. The mother, driven mad, is held by the women.
          This time they left Zosia to her mother….
          At one of the next “actions,” little Zosia was taken away. It was, of course, necessary to annihilate the blind child (Friedman, “Martyrs and Fighters: The Epic of the Warsaw Ghettos, p.166-67)

          So, you’re going to tell me that all these German soldiers were genetically unable to be moral? Please tell me how this isn’t objectively immoral.

          I can see now why John Branyan and others just ridicule you. You have no interest in having a respectful and intelligent conversation. You’re mulish obstinance deserves ridicule.

        • john zande says:

          What you’re describing is a psychopath. Himmler was a psychopath.

          The Nazi’s in general did not attempt to wipe out the Jews (and gypsy’s, and gays, and the retarded, and..) because they were all psychopaths, rather they were following what appeared to them to be rational policies.

          Which part of that can’t you understand?

          Respectful? Please show me where I have ever called people names, like you and Branyan do…

          And you still haven’t exampled a single moral truth.

        • Mel Wild says:

          They are ALL psychopaths, John? All of those soldiers involved in the Zosia incident were psychopaths? According to you, genetically unable to act morally? All German people were psychopaths during WWII, too, I suppose. Does anyone actually take what you say seriously?

          So, no one is morally responsible for doing evil things. We’ll just call them psychopaths.

          And then you keep saying inane imbecilic things like, “You still haven’t exampled a single moral truth.”

          How about this: it’s always morally wrong to pull little girl’s eyes out of their sockets?

          This is what I mean when I say you’re just being mulishly obstinate. About the most respectful thing I can say to you is go and live in your fantasy world if you want, but your subjective reality doesn’t work in the real world. I don’t care to talk to you anymore until you have something coherent to say.

        • john zande says:

          it’s always morally wrong to pull little girl’s eyes out of their sockets

          Is it?

          If I recall correctly, you were arguing just two days ago that killing little children was fine.

          Indeed, by your rationalisation then, Zosia should have left Germany, she was warned, and because she didn’t, she’s responsible for what happened to her.

          That was your argument, Mel. Live with it.

        • john zande says:

          John Branyan even supported your position, saying on Feb 26th:

          By what right do YOU say this [killing little children] is barbaric?

          Mel’s moral authority comes from the immutable chrcatwer of God.

          You sniveling, wretched coward.

          Nice name-calling there at the end, but as you can see, you were both arguing that Yhwh’s promised murder of little children was moral.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nice name-calling there at the end, but as you can see, you were both arguing that Yhwh’s promised murder of little children was moral.

          The name calling was appropriate in your case: your continued mulish refusal to listen and your lying and misrepresentation of what I actually said deserves nothing but ridicule.

        • john zande says:

          I see you’re not denying that you were arguing that killing children was morally fine.

          They were warned!
          Zosia and her family should have left!
          They’re responsible for what happened to them.

          That was your argument.

          I called it sick and demented.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I see you’re not denying that you were arguing that killing children was morally fine.

          Yes, I am denying that. But I won’t deny that you’re being ridiculous. And that you’re either lying now or incapable of understanding what I actually did say. You can pick which one it is.

          They were warned!

          Yes, and you’re still missing the point. The immoral act predicted by Ezekiel was done by the Babylonian armies when they sacked Jerusalem. The immoral act done to Zosia was done by German soldiers in the Warsaw Ghettos. There is no excuse for what they did to Zosia. It’s pure evil. There’s nothing subjective about it. And it doesn’t matter if the Jews were warned. It was objectively immoral for the German soldiers to pull out Zosia’s eyes. It also doesn’t matter if they were psychopaths (which you cannot prove). The act itself was objectively cruel and immoral. Period.

          So, unless you’re prepared to say that pulling out little girl’s eyes from their sockets is okay under some circumstances, you should stop this inane line of reasoning.

        • john zande says:

          Lying? I encourage anyone to go to the thread and see for themselves.

          Your argument for the killing of little children by Yhwh was that they didn’t heed the warnings.

          In effect, the murder of little children was THEIR OWN FAULT.

          That was what you said, and it appears that argument applies here. Zosia and her family should have left. They were warned. They were reckless!

          You laid this out over a number of comments. It’s why i called your line of thinking sick and demented.

          And I see you keep avoiding addressing the mass murder conducted by the US over Japan. You guys made that act “moral” by telling yourselves it saved lives of your own group. And it probably did. I’m not arguing against it, rather pointing out to you that morality (as demonstrated here) is rationalised into existence.

          You might not know this, but General LeMay noted once that if the US hadn’t won the war, he and a lot of other people would have been tried as war criminals.

          And that’s true, they would have.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Then you’ve decided that you’re incapable of understanding what I actually said. Okay, fair enough.

          So, tell me. In what world is it morally okay to pull little Zosia’s eyes out of her sockets because they looked pretty? And don’t give me the psychopath excuse. In what world is that ACT or behavior morally okay, regardless of the mental state of the person doing it? And when was it ever morally okay in human history?

        • john zande says:

          Don’t try and claim that wasn’t your argument.

          It was, and anyone who’s interested can go and see for themselves.

          And yes, I am indeed going to call it the work of a psychopath. It can’t be raionalised… Not like the US murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

          And Mel, has it dawned on you that psychopaths (people physically incapable of empathy) disproves your claim?

          If something is objective it should be a trait we are born with. It should be universal: the foundation. Well, psychopaths are born, not nurtured. Some, however, arise due to brain injury (even tumours) which further debunks your claim. Whichever the case may be, neurologists can identify the damage in the physical structure of the brain.

          So, how can some objective state exist if brain injury overrides it so easily and so predictably?

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s what I figures you would say. Let me know when you can answer the question.

        • john zande says:

          I answered your question!

          But I can also answer it in another way:

          Even though I think psychopathy probably explains the behaviour, just thinking about it, Zosia’s case can be rationalised. It’s the same argument used by terrorists across the world, across all times, such as the American rebels in 1775: to create terror, which in turn alters the behaviour of your enemy. It’s ugly, it’s abhorrent, but it serves a purpose.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, you didn’t. Is pulling little girl’s eyes out of their sockets ever a moral act?

        • john zande says:

          Do you know the story of Jane McCrae? She was brutally murdered by American criminals under orders of General Burgoyne in your war of terror against the British. These same criminals (what you call heroic rebels) publicised her murder to instill terror.

        • john zande says:

          My apologies, Jane McCrae is actually an example of British terror, not the American criminals. It stands though: an example of terror being used to an ends.

        • Mel Wild says:

          More diversion. I’m not asking you about people’s behavior or mental state. We’re talking about a moral act. I’m asking if the ACT of pulling a little girl’s eyes out of their sockets because they are pretty is ever okay?

        • john zande says:

          And I have answered, two different ways. I would say the person was a psychopath. The behaviour certainly lends itself to that description, and as you have already said, psychopaths cannot be judged as normal people.

          Why, then you’re even pushing this line, i really have no idea.

          Secondly, I can rationalise the behaviour: an act of terror. I don’t have to agree with the rationalisation, just identify it.

          Case in point: the US mass murder of civilians with atomic weapons.
          Case in point: You claiming the little children were responsible for their own deaths as they didn’t heed the warnings.

          I keep raising this point, and you keep ignoring it. Why?

          Mel, would most Americans say the dropping of atomic weapons (on civilians) was the right thing to do?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why am I pushing this line? Are you kidding me? Then you are incapable of understanding something very clear. Because the last three posts have NOT been about rationalizing a behavior of a person or nation. They’ve been about whether there is such a thing as something being objectively morally right or wrong. And the act of pulling a little girl’s eyes out of their sockets because they are pretty is ALWAYS morally wrong, even if the person doing it is a psychopath.

        • john zande says:

          As you have said, the psychopaths behaviour cannot be judged in the same manner we judge the behaviour of other human beings.

          And the rationalisation part is pivotal, because if the behaviour is not being conducted by a psychopath, then we have to look to motivation… and there is, potentially, a perfectly rational justification. Terror.

          Wasn’t it an act of pure terror that the US conducted on Japan, killing and mutilating hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians?

          You keep avoiding this example because you know it ruins your argument. It ruins it because you know the overwhelming majority of Americans (you yourself, perhaps) would say the atomic bombings were moral: they served a purpose, and that purpose served the group.

          It’s the perfect example of subjective morality. The group decides. In this case, the terror campaign waged by the United States on civilians was rationalised.

          Reverse the situation and imagine Japan bombing two non-military American cities with atomic weapons… when America no longer had the capacity to even fight.

          Terror, yes?

          And don’t forget, Mel, YOU were rationalising the murder of the little children just two days ago. You said they had themselves to blame for Yhwh murdering them.

          That argument works just as well here. Own it.

          And let me know when you want to address the fact that brain injury debunks your claim.

        • john zande says:

          And you keep avoiding this, too:

          If something is objective it should be a trait we are born with. It should be universal: the foundation. Well, psychopaths are born, not nurtured. Some, however, arise due to brain injury (even tumours) which further debunks your claim. Whichever the case may be, neurologists can identify the damage in the physical structure of the brain.

          So, how can some objective state exist if brain injury overrides it so easily and so predictably?

        • Mel Wild says:

          “If something is objective it should be a trait we are born with.”

          Sorry, that’s incoherent nonsense.

        • john zande says:

          I believe suggesting that something immutable and fixed in human nature has to be first learned, to degrees of success, is, in fact, incoherent nonsense. And even more incoherent when we consider psychopaths are born, or damaged into being… erasing a person’s moral compass.

          If this thing was fixed and immutable then damage to the brain should not affect it.

          It does.

          Explain that, Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That is absolutely false. Whether someone has the ability to act morally has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral act itself. Why don’t you get this?

        • john zande says:

          So you’re saying it has to be learned, as in through cultural mechanisms and memes, even trial and error.

          I agree. Thanks for confirming the evolutionary explanation of subjective morality.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m not saying that at all. Try listening to us for once instead of confusing the issue, firing off long-winded emails that aren’t even what we’re talking about.

          It has nothing to do with whether the person is culpable or not. Sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong. Morality is independent of the person. That’s what “objective” actually means. Culpability is dependent on whether the person has the ability to act morally or not.

        • john zande says:

          No, it’s not always wrong.

          sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong

          Most people would agree. It’s an idea our group as a whole can get behind.

          Some people, however, would disagree. You have not, therefore, identified an objective truth.

          Example: Terrorists. Cruelty is a tool they deploy, with a strict rationale underpinning the actions.

          The US cruelly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the largest act of terror in human history. That action was rationalised and deemed morally correct.

        • john zande says:

          Indeed, we can even talk about the rationalisation of the US killing civilians.

          Was that act moral?

          Or do you believe dropping atomic weapons on innocent civilians was immoral?

          What about the rest of your countrymen… would they say it was moral or immoral?

        • John Branyan says:

          It should be noted that the sniveling coward has yet to make an effort to answer the question. The question is at the very top of his own screen capture.

          LOL! I hope he keeps “ignoring” me forever!

        • John Branyan says:

          Zande: “That was your argument. I called it sick and demented.”

          Ask him how ‘sick and demented’ can exist in a universe without evil.
          I betcha his response will be something like:
          “I heard you the first time, Mel. You think it’s morally fine to kill children.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          And, btw, just because someone thinks what they’re doing is rational has absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s moral or not. Good bye.

        • john zande says:

          Actually, it does. That is the meaning of subjective. Example: the US dropping two atomic bombs on civilians. It was rationalised with 1) a lie that they were military targets (they weren’t), and 2) as being demonstrations of might to force a surrender.

        • John Branyan says:

          Zande’s moral worldview is almost perfectly deranged.

          1. Evil does not exist.
          2. Morality is determined by individual intention.
          3. Religion harms people.
          4. It is wrong to harm people.
          5. But…(see #1)

          Obviously evil exists.
          The atheist/Humanist mindset proves it.

        • John Branyan says:

          I would call psychopaths immoral.
          Psychopath is the modern, secular term for “sinner”.

        • By way of inference Ron that’s what I’ve been taking from your replies/comments.

        • Ron, would the lifeboat analogy be sufficient here regarding choosing one life over another? Or what a wartime supreme General faces with regard to ending a conflict by nuclear bomb(s), e.g. Hiroshima and Nagazaki.

        • Ron says:

          Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind. For now, I will take Mr. Wild’s (implied) word that he won’t add new conditions after I’ve answered.

        • Would examples in the validity or invalidity of capital punishment help? 🤣

        • Ahh, a great Ayn Rand quote Ron! 👍

  6. John Branyan says:

    Hey Mel,

    It annoys me when the pagans pretend they don’t understand morality. They demand that we prove what their consciences are telling them.

    Ron says, “I’m asking: on what independent basis did you conclude that certain things (like genocide) are objectively right or wrong?” If he REALLY can’t understand how genocide is wrong, he should be locked up. He’s a monster.

    Zande says, “…selflessness is a wonderful quality, but it’s not airtight…and although generally positive, altruism can result in increased suffering.” Right. And everyone, except fundamentalist-nitwit-atheists, regards such suffering as an unintended consequence or “mistake”. It is not immoral when the person performing CPR breaks my ribs.

    The point is: subjectivism fails. The wretched pagans refuse to admit what is patently obvious to EVERYBODY. Right and wrong are real things that exist independently of our personal opinions. Right and wrong do not change along with cultural norms. These things are self-evident. Denying this doesn’t make you a good skeptic. It makes you fiend.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ron says, “I’m asking: on what independent basis did you conclude that certain things (like genocide) are objectively right or wrong?” If he REALLY can’t understand how genocide is wrong, he should be locked up. He’s a monster.

      Very annoying to me, too. Subjectivism only works in the minds of confused atheists and humanists. This is the same logic that gave us indifference to Nazi fascism in the 20th century. After all, what independent basis would you conclude that it was wrong to pull young Zuzu’s eyes out of their sockets in front of her pleading mother because they looked pretty? (An actual account in a Nazi prison camp). By what standard shall we judge them? After all, it was for the glory of the Third Reich. Who are you to say they were…evil?

      • John Branyan says:

        I have some screenshots that confirm they are ignoring me on purpose. They have convinced themselves that it “drives me crazy” when they don’t answer my questions.

        It’s the same twisted thinking that says shooting school kids is not evil but teaching Bible stories in school is despicable. It is a bizarre debate tactic to disengage completely hoping it drives your opponent insane.

        The upside is they are apparently going to sit by and watch their comments burn to ashes without even trying to find a hose.

        So FYI, we are all they think about and talk about all day long. Doesn’t matter what they tell you in the comments on your blog. Their own blogs tell the real story.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So FYI, we are all they think about and talk about all day long. Doesn’t matter what they tell you in the comments on your blog. Their own blogs tell the real story.

          I figured that one out already. And some of them are on my blog more than I am! Some apparently don’t sleep. And why are they so obsessed with something they don’t believe in? At least I’m glad we can give their life meaning and purpose. 🙂

        • John Branyan says:

          I figured you figured it out.

          I explained it for those who never figure anything out. The unassailable strength of Christianity defeats Humanism at every single point. I’ve not given up hope that the hapless trolls will get tired of losing and switch teams.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That would be the rational thing for them to do. 🙂

        • john zande says:

          Do you feel left out, Branyan?

          Well, if you weren’t acting like a hate-filled imbecile in the throes of a complete mental breakdown, people might speak to you.

          Just saying.

        • Could not have expressed it better John Z. 😉

  7. Above someone suggested that “objective” means “not biased.” Actually it does not. The definition of “objective” is really, “dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings.”

    Post modernism, subjectivism, has tried to alter the very definition of “objective” to mean devoid of biases, emotion, and feelings. It attempts to create morality out of human reason minus our feelings, emotions, and to redefine “objective” as science, as if people behaving like Vulcans or Mr Spock are now morally and ethically superior. That’s a deception, a false perception, a mistranslation of the very word “objective.” We forget that “objective” doesn’t just mean outside of emotion and feelings,it means external of the mind and thoughts too, “the mind” being where human reason and logic resides.

    Also I’d say, objective truth really does have biases or “preferences” if you will. At least that’s how us subjective beings are going to perceive it. To say “objective” has no biases is really just circular reasoning, it is to imply that truth has no biases and is totally subjective.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Post modernism, subjectivism, has tried to alter the very definition of “objective” to mean devoid of biases, emotion, and feelings.

      Which is a fantasy, a popular modern superstition. There is no such thing as a disinterested observer. That was the pipedream of Enlightenment thinkers. We now know it’s a myth. We learned this from quantum mechanics. Everything effects everything else.

      There’s also some confusion in how the word “objective” is used. They are apparently using the term on a personal level, like a person isn’t picking sides in an argument, but that is not is meant by objective morality. We are using the word epistemologically. In other words, how do we know morality?

      “Objective,” in this context, means it’s true regardless of opinion, culture, or whether it has even been discovered or not. It was always true. We can only discover it, we cannot invent it.

      Philosophically, an objective truth means there is only one correct description of this reality. If it is true that reality is mind-independent, then reality might include objects that are unknown to consciousness and thus might include objects not the subject of intentionality. (Wikipedia)

      For example, mathematics is an objective truth. 1 + 1 = 2 regardless of culture, what we think about it, or whether we understand mathematics or not. We didn’t come to an agreement that 1 + 1 +2. It just is. We didn’t invent mathematics, we discovered it.

  8. Pastor Randy says:

    And what if every tape measure had it’s own, different “distance” between inches, feet–that there was no standard. And then have 3 different carpenters with the same blueprints but different measuring tapes, cut the lumber….that blueprint would never produce anything vaguely looking like a building…

    • Mel Wild says:

      Exactly, Pastor Randy. The subjectivism they posit would not work in the real world.

    • We’d have different looking houses not identical cubicles. 😉 There’s endless subjectivism in nature — or to put it another way God’s creation.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Subjectivism and diversity of nature or species or buildings are not the same thing.

        Subjectivism is the philosophical tenet that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience”. In other words, subjectivism is the doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and that there is no external or objective truth. (Wikipedia)

      • Pastor Randy says:

        With those 3 carpenters working on one house, the rooms and ceilings would not match, in other words, it would not be a functional house….just a hodge podge of differing ideas

        • Mel Wild says:

          Exactly. Just like this convoluted philosophy.

        • Or as the 3 carpenters with their own unique talents found that their ideas and visions were functional enough to begin a new cutting-edge neighborhood — they did NOT need to build one house, but many.

          Do not limit yourself or your ingenuity Pastor Randy. There’s much more outside the box. 😉

        • Pastor Randy says:

          Yes, there is much “outside the box”, but without that tried and true standard, it becomes impossible to “tie it all together”. The Standard of God’s Word gives us amazing opportunities for creativity, within His boundaries.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’ll find the Professor to be a big fan of subjectivism.
          Like the other atheists, his is a purely theoretical faith.
          It is useless for life.

          Notice how he completely missed the point of the 3 carpenter illustration?
          You suggested that ‘the box’ could not exist without some standard for constructing it.
          Professor’s response is, “there are multiple boxes”.
          Then he sanctimoniously lectured you about what’s “outside the box”.

          If you give him a “BRAVO!! Well said! BRAVO!!” he might shut up.

        • Pastor Randy says:

          LOL! Thanks John!

        • Tried and true” certainly does not apply in all cases. Most definitely it is NOT impossible. 😉 So our two world-views are apparently opposed, however, fortunately they do not necessarily affect reality, Nature, or the Cosmos. We’re all left with our own personal opinions — orthodoxy does not equal truth. Opportunities for creativity always exist in all situations. Period. Thanks for your replies.

          Have a good day sir.

    • John Branyan says:

      Well said, Randy.

      The subjectivist believes that diversity of measurement standards would lead to a wonderfully inclusive house. The structure would benefit from everybody cutting boards to whatever length seemed right to them and just nailing them together without judgment or criticism.

      However, the subjectivist throws relativism out the window when they say I’m wrong for calling their worldview idiotic.

  9. From a comment somewhere above, “Ron, if you want to nail down a Christian and their “moral standard,” just go to the most tangible, fixed, testable and repeatably testable SOURCE: their 4th century CE canonical bible.”

    My moral ruler is actually the personhood and life of the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing sacrificial love for us all. That’s the bottom line. From there on out we can use many other tools too, special revelation, general revelation,biblical revelation, theological wisdom and doctrines. I have some reverence for a few thousand years of human wisdom and experience, and also some respect for those who gave their very lives to preserve the truth of God’s love for us.

    So, atheists who try to tell Christians what they believe are really the worst of all liars. Just saying, because you guys are contemptuous, disrespectful, and you often flat out lie about what Christians actually believe.

    • Mel Wild says:

      So, atheists who try to tell Christians what they believe are really the worst of all liars. Just saying, because you guys are contemptuous, disrespectful, and you often flat out lie about what Christians actually believe.

      Not to mention, it’s dismissive, condescending, and lets them avoid any questioning of their incoherent worldview. 🙂

  10. “If something is objective it should be a trait we are born with.”

    LOL! From Zande’s comment above. Ha! I think I’m going to put that one on a bumper sticker. It’s very epitome of solipsism. Subjectivism seems to be unable to grasp that “objective” means outside of oneself, beyond oneself. We ourselves cannot give birth to it, that is just silly.

    Another way of saying what Zande just did is, “if there were a God, I would be him. Since I can’t be Him, there is no God.”

    • john zande says:

      Huh? That doesn’t even make sense. You can’t see what I’m saying? Let me try again: If, as the argument seems to be, there exists a moral foundation (something immutable) then that should be observable, and it would be most visible in newborns and toddlers. It would be inherent. The point is, it’s not inherent. Psychopaths are born, falsifying the claim. Psychopaths are also made, following brain injury, or even tumours in specific areas of the brain. This is well-researched. Further still, a whole body of research exists which points to humans being born inherently selfish… the exact opposite of what you would expect if your hypothesis had merit. For example, you can go to the PNAS journal and read the 2014 paper: Rethinking natural altruism: Simple reciprocal interactions trigger children’s benevolence. It’s an interesting study, but it’s important here because it demonstrates that altruism is learned. That being said, this is far from black and white, and that’s what makes it so interesting. As you might tell from the paper’s title, toddlers do resonate naturally to altruistic behaviour, but it has to be triggered first by reciprocal actions. I have spoken of reciprocity earlier on this thread. So, in effect, we’re born selfish, but we’re also wired to cooperative behaviour. From an evolutionary perspective, this is of course easily explained. We are a social creature. We evolved from animals that were also socially orientated, and they evolved from other animals that were also socially orientated. It’s really quite fascinating, but it does show that your hypothesis is simply wrong. There is no indication whatsoever of some foundational moral core. Quite the opposite, but through evolution we are indeed wired to behaviours (learned behaviours) that enhance group cohesion.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Huh? That doesn’t even make sense. You can’t see what I’m saying? Let me try again: If, as the argument seems to be, there exists a moral foundation (something immutable) then that should be observable, and it would be most visible in newborns and toddlers. It would be inherent.

        No, John, that is absolutely wrong. Objective does not mean that. You are changing the definition. How someone is born has NOTHING to do with objective morality. You are the one who doesn’t understand (or you are talking past us). We are not talking about people’s ability to behave, we are talking about objective morality itself. It is an act or type of behavior</strong>, no matter who’s doing it. For example, sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong. It doesn’t matter if someone was born a psychopath or not, sadist cruelty is always morally wrong. What you are talking about is whether the person is culpable or not. That is a totally different thing. If you can’t get this, there is nothing we do to help you out of your confusion.

        • john zande says:

          sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong

          Most people would agree. It’s an idea our group as a whole can get behind.

          Some people, however, would disagree. You have not, therefore, identified an objective truth.

          Example: Terrorists. Cruelty is a tool they deploy, with a strict rationale underpinning the actions.

          The US cruelly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the largest act of terror in human history. That action was rationalised and deemed morally correct.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you are rationalizing now. Sadistic cruelty is morally wrong, whether it’s legally sanctioned or not. Pulling out a little girl’s eyes is one example of something objectively immoral. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Some people, however, would disagree. You have not, therefore, identified an objective truth.

          You are being incoherent again. Objective truth is not dependent on whether people agree with it or not. This is where your subjectivism has run amuck and has put our culture is in such confusion over these things.

          So, I’ll put you down for being okay with people pulling little girl’s eyes out of their sockets as long as enough people agree it’s okay and they have a rationalization for it. After all, there’s not such thing as objective morality, right?

        • john zande says:

          Look, I passed being desperately bored with this discussion long ago.

          Your position started in imagination, and it hasn’t left it. You have presented nothing.

          Either present an example of an objective moral truth or just accept the evolutionary explanation of an evolved formative sense of good (positive) and bad (negative) behaviour… a moral compas that can, and does, get turned on its head with brain injury.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right, believe whatever you want to make your ego feel better. You are simply talking past me now. I do agree, this has gone beyond vapid.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, it’s subjective, and reflective of contemporary societal memes.

          And I can prove this:

          The US cruelly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the largest act of terror in human history. That action was rationalised and deemed morally correct by the group.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I haven’t been talking about whether what the U.S. is doing is immoral or not. That’s a different subject. The point is, pulling a little girl’s eyes out of their sockets (even if the US does it) is an example of something that is objectively immoral. And it doesn’t matter if contemporary society thinks it isn’t.

        • john zande says:

          Contemporary society does think it’s wrong. I think it’s wrong. Provided the person is not mentally deranged, the point is there are scenarios where a rational person WOULD NOT think it’s wrong. Indeed, they would think it not only good, but necessary.

          That is the awkward fact you keep ignoring.

          And no, it’s not a “different subject” that the US cruelly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the largest act of terror in human history. It is an example of the subjective nature of morality, which is why you keep avoiding it like the plague.

          It’s make you uncomfortable because you’re a part of that group that has decided that act of brutal terror was OK.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, you finally agree that pulling a little girl’s eyes of their socket is an objectively immoral act?

        • john zande says:

          For me, it’s wrong. Most people would agree.

          Some wouldn’t, though.

          That’s the point. It’s not an objective truth.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, just who would say that the act of pulling a little girl’s eyes out of their sockets would be okay? Do you have proof of this? This is just subjective nonsense.

        • john zande says:

          The person who has rationalised the action as serving a greater good.

          Apparently you missed the part where I said: That is the awkward fact you keep ignoring.

  11. “The US cruelly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the largest act of terror in human history. That action was rationalised and deemed morally correct by the group.”

    Then by your own standard Zande, one where morality is subjective, internal, and based on “majority rules” and “might makes right,” such an act was perfectly moral, just, and reasonable.

    • john zande says:

      That’s how the US has justified it. That act of terror helped the group (your group). As an Australian, I’m a part of that group, too. I can rationalise it. We were fighting the Japanese for three years before you Americans rolled out of bed. And it’s lucky you did.

      • Interesting Zande, simply because I recently got into this precise same discussion with a bunch of Catholics, who rationalized much as you just did, which is to say, subjectively. Another way I like to say “rationalize” is rational-lies. In the absence of objective morality, just about anything can be rationalized. Myself, I don’t subscribe to that line of thought. Rational-lies is not the basis for my morality.

        • john zande says:

          I think you’ll find it is…. Unless, of course, you approve of slavery, deemed morally fine in your Good Book 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          Don’t change the subject and start giving me your poisonous understanding of the Bible. Give me an example where pulling a little girl’s eyes out of their sockets is okay? If you cannot, then go away.

        • John Branyan says:

          Prediction:
          He will not offer his understanding of anything.
          He will not go away.

          Suggestion:
          Ignore him.
          You can always know what tactic is most effective against an atheist. It’s whatever they do to you. When they say, “Ignore him, it will drive him crazy.” They’re actually saying, “When I am ignored I go nuts.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          He will not offer his understanding of anything.
          He will not go away.

          Just like spam. Ignoring is the best policy because if you respond and ask them to remove your name, you just get a lot more. I got it. Thanks!

        • john zande says:

          Are you serious? Or are you admitting you don’t read a word written?

        • john zande says:

          I guess you’re admitting you don’t read a word written.

          OK, one last time: The person who has rationalised the action as serving a greater good, ie. a terrorist. Terrorism is rational. It is an ugly but effective tool deployed against a population with a specific goal. In the 1770’s, you Americans were criminals and terrorists. ‘You’ see the actions of those so-called “rebels” as noble. As a subject of the Crown, I see the same actions as terrorism.

          What gave those men the right to slaughter innocence?

          I can think of other examples, too. I said this below, but let’s repeat it:

          What if you have a terrorist in your keep and only he knows where a nuclear device is which is set to detonate in 20 minutes somewhere inside NYC. 15 million people will die, another 15 million will suffer and die in the weeks to come from radiation poisoning. He is not talking, he won’t talk, but you have the man’s kid, whom he adores. You know this. It is his only weakness. To force him to talk, you torture the kid. To save 30 million people (your countrymen), you do what has to be done. Ugly, yes, but rationally/justifiably necessary.

          There.

          How many times do you want to be reminded that you have failed entirely to name a single objective moral truth?

        • John Branyan says:

          Zande has been asked billions and billions of times to explain how slavery is immoral. This is a guy who openly, proudly declares that evil does not exist.
          You can’t have a rational conversation with a wretched, lying, coward who won’t admit to the existence of evil.

  12. Ron says:

    “Sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong.”

    Precisely. That’s why atheists consider the God described within the bible a sadist. Or as Richard Dawkins so eloquently puts it:

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    • John Branyan says:

      Hey Mel,
      Ron said:
      ” ‘Sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong.’
      Precisely. That’s why atheists consider the God described within the bible a sadist.”

      So apparently, for the next few minutes anyway, Ron believes objective morals exist.
      I don’t think he realizes that he’s torpedoed his own canoe.
      Expect a flip-flop when he’s done ignoring this comment.

    • john zande says:

      “Sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong.”

      Sadistic implies mental derrangement. That can’t be judged noramlly. But I can think of examples where terrible cruelty is morally right. One example no one here likes talking about, the US atomic bombing of Japanese civilians. But there are other scenarios. For example: What if you have a terrorist in your keep and only he knows where a nuclear device is which is set to detonate in 20 minutes somewhere inside NYC. 15 million people will die, another 15 million will suffer and die in the weeks to come from radiation poisoning. He is not talking, he won’t talk, but you have the man’s kid, whom he adores. You know this. It is his only weakness. To force him to talk, you torture the kid. To save 30 million people (your countrymen), you do what has to be done. Ugly, yes, but rationally/justifiably necessary.

      • Ron says:

        @JZ

        I agree with what you’re saying, save for the strategic necessity of the atomic bombings (but that’s a debate for another time and irrelevant for the purposes of this topic).

        To clarify,

        For the sake of argument, I’m merely taking Mr. Wild’s blanket assertion that “sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong” at face value to point out that God matches his definition of an immoral sadist. How he deals with the implications having indicted his own deity as an evil entity is his problem.

    • John Branyan says:

      Mel,

      I stand corrected.
      Ron doesn’t seem to understand that you can’t simultaneously accuse God of objective immorality when you don’t believe in objective morality (or God).
      He’s apparently not even smart enough to flip-flop.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Or as Richard Dawkins so eloquently puts it:

      What???? You put Richard Dawkins and eloquent in the same sentence? I will say he’s clever, but he doesn’t fool anyone who actually knows theology or philosophy. When we want to embarrass atheists we quote Dawkins. He has a first-grader understanding of the Old Testament (sorry to any first graders that might be reading this). He should’ve stayed in zoology. But I’ll give you a small sample of what other experts think….

      Here’s what fellow biologist David Sloan Wilson said about Dawkins lurid fiction, “The God Delusion”:

      “When Dawkins’ The God Delusion was published I naturally assumed that he was basing his critique of religion on the scientific study of religion from an evolutionary perspective. I regret to report otherwise. He has not done any original work on the subject and he has not fairly represented the work of his colleagues. Hence this critique of The God Delusion and the larger issues at stake.” (David Sloan Wilson, “Beyond Demonic Memes: Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong about Religion,” Internet magazine eSceptic, 4 July 2007.)

      Actually, according to Dawkins, we should not trust that his own cognitive faculties are able discern any truth. He said the following:

      “The natural world is all of existence and humans came about by accident through the blind workings of matter.”

      To which philosopher Alvin Plantinga said:

      “If Dawkins is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce—including Dawkins’s own atheism.”

      Historian, philosopher, and theologian David Bentley Hart said this about Dawkins’ angry and vacuous version of atheism:

      “But atheism that consists entirely in vacuous arguments afloat on oceans of historical ignorance, made turbulent by storms of strident self-righteousness, is as contemptible as any other form of dreary fundamentalism.

      As I have already complained, the tribe of the New Atheists is something of a disappointment. It probably says more than it is comfortable to know about the relative vapidity of our culture that we have lost the capacity to produce profound unbelief. The best we can now hope for are arguments pursued at only the most vulgar of intellectual levels, couched in an infantile and carpingly pompous tone, and lacking all but the meagerness traces of historical erudition or syllogistic rigor:
      Richard Dawkins triumphantly adducing “philosophical” arguments that a college freshman midway through his first logic course could dismantle in a trice…” (Atheists Delusions)

      • Ron says:

        I wasn’t requesting a book review, though I assume full responsibility for granting you the easy tangent. I was explaining why atheists reject your conception of god.

        What I am asking is :

        1. How do you account for the fact that so many have read the same book and come to such contraftasting conclusions about the central character’s moral qualities?

        2. How do you reconcile your stance that “sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong” with a “loving” god who:
        – curses half the population with difficult and painful childbirth;
        – drowns the majority of the planet’s inhabitants;
        – rains fire and brimstone on the inhabitants of two cities;
        – sends plagues and famines;
        – has children mauled by bears for mocking a bald man;
        – punishes the children for the sins of their fathers;
        – permits his “faithful servant” to suffer for the sake of a wager; and
        – quietly watches his ‘chosen people’ exterminated without the slightest inclination to intervene?

        (And that’s only the short list.)

        3. How can you feel comfortable getting “whacked out” in church (as you describe it in one of your sermons) while millions of others across the globe are getting “whacked out” by malnutrition and disease? Is this not the height of narcissism?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I wasn’t requesting a book review, though I assume full responsibility for granting you the easy tangent.

          Well, when one quotes a book you open yourself up to criticism of that book. But thanks for understanding this.

          1. How do you account for the fact that so many have read the same book and come to such contraftasting conclusions about the central character’s moral qualities?

          Because we’re so human with imperfect understanding. How do we account for so many different views about anything? Just because we may not have perfect understanding of a truth doesn’t mean the truth doesn’t exist. We are to discover the truth within. Just like in sciences we discover truth progressively as human beings.

          2. How do you reconcile your stance that “sadistic cruelty is always morally wrong” with a “loving” god who…

          You’ve made a lot of accusations against God here that would take a book to answer. You seem to be reading the Bible from a strict Biblicist (wooden literal) view, which is NOT a way the most of the church in history understood it. First, there is nowhere in the Bible that says God cursed women. He actually said the ground was cursed because of the result of their tragic decision. God did not curse it, it was affected by a faulty paradigm, if you will. Thinking that women were cursed is an example of reading something into the text that isn’t there.

          I could show you were you are misrepresenting God’s nature in every one of your points but I don’t have the time and it would not be appropriate here. Suffice to say, this comes from a poor understanding of the Bible (saving the appearance of the text but failing in providing explanatory scope).

          3. How can you feel comfortable getting “whacked out” in church (as you describe it in one of your sermons) while millions of others across the globe are getting “whacked out” by malnutrition and disease? Is this not the height of narcissism?

          I would agree with you on this one, Ron, if that were actually true. I have been talking to my congregation about this very thing. Our worship can become narcissistic. But still, it’s a bit of straw man. You seem to be totally ignoring the millions of people who are being helped by Christian organizations around the world. For instance, I have close friends living in Thailand rescuing children from sex trafficking, others buying children out of the slave trade in Pakistan, another I know who built the first school ever in a village in Guatemala (built from trash). I can give you testimonies of parents who wept because their kids are now getting something they never had. We’ve personally had a well drilled (and provide maintenance) in a small village in Haiti so that they can have running water. They had to carry water from outside the city before that. We have started orphanages there. Just this last year a school was started. My son went to Kenya with a Christian-based medical team to train people about Aids and provide medicines (he did this in Honduras, too).

          So, you can point your finger at us all you want but you don’t really know what we are doing, so it’s a bit judgmental, if not hypocritical.

        • john zande says:

          First, there is nowhere in the Bible that says God cursed women. He actually said the ground was cursed because of the result of their tragic decision.

          That’s Gen 3:17

          Gen 3:16 says

          To the woman he said,

          “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
          with painful labor you will give birth to children.
          Your desire will be for your husband,
          and he will rule over you.”

        • ColorStorm says:

          Hey john-
          Just an observation. Has your little god ‘evolution’ progressed to the place where women do NOT experience pain in childbirth naturally? Didn’t think so. God’s word: 10. Godlessness: 0. And please do not mention C-sections, as this misses the point entirely.

          Furthermore, pain and curse are not twins. Not only that, but any new mother immediately forgets about the pain………….

          But we are off track here yes.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, where does that say God actually cursed her? It doesn’t actually say that. You might be saving the appearance of the passage but it fails to provide explanatory scope.

          Oftentimes when it says, “God did…” or “I will…” it means that God is allowing it to happen as a consequence of some bad decision we make. It doesn’t literally mean He’s the one doing the inflicting. We know this from other passages.

          Here’s another translation that brings this explanatory scope out more clearly….

          6 Then the Lord said to the woman,
          “You will suffer terribly
          when you give birth.
          But you will still desire
          your husband,
          and he will rule over you.” (CEV)

          Her suffering was a consequence of her decision. God had warned them about the consequences of living on their own, becoming their own god. We were meant to live in partnership with Him. But now their lives would be based in fear, brokenness, heartache. Their thinking (“the tragic flaw“) would directly affect the course of their lives, the world they live in, and how they perceived one another.

          Even with the earth supposedly being cursed, it would be like saying your wrong thinking about being good stewards of the planet, or one another, will lead to pollution, waste, climate issues, starvation, disease, etc. In this way, the ground was “cursed” because now we’re not living according to other-centered, self-giving love, but according to fear, greed, and separation.

          It’s a figure of speech, not to be taken with wooden literalism. This is how the ancient people wrote about things. They may even have thought that way themselves, but God was revealing something much deeper.

        • john zande says:

          Oh, because the actual word isn’t used it’s not a curse.

          Ok, got it.

          Shall we call it a “spell”? Is that better?

          Actually don’t answer. I’m really not interested.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Actually don’t answer. I’m really not interested.

          Well, at least you’re finally being honest. And, of course, you’re not interested. It’s much easier to create a straw man by plucking verses out of context from the rest of Scripture and only allowing a wooden literal reading.

        • john zande says:

          OK, so it’s a punishing spell, not a curse. I appreciate why you’re invested in clearing up this critical semantic disagreement.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No. It’s not that at all, and you’re being ridiculous, having totally ignored what I actually said.

        • John Branyan says:

          Ron: “…the infant mortality rate declined greater than 90% to 7.2 per 1000 live births, and from 1900 through 1997, the maternal mortality rate declined almost 99% to less than 0.1 reported death per 1000 live births…All thanks due to improvements in modern medicine.”

          Now he’s saying that declining infant mortality is objectively good.
          Wonder why he won’t ditch subjectivism? He obviously doesn’t believe in it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Wonder why he won’t ditch subjectivism? He obviously doesn’t believe in it.

          Maybe Ron means that God is objectively immoral, but everything else is subjective. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Of course, I may be asking too much to insist that he should makes sense.

        • John Branyan says:

          Ron absolutely means God is objectively immoral. He’s been called on it multiple times. He has deluded himself into believing that ignoring the problem makes it disappear.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, it clears that up. 🙂
          He also doesn’t seem to realize that he’s a dogmatic fundamentalist…just the God-hater version.

        • Ron says:

          Her suffering was a consequence of her decision.

          Yes, but God remains accountable for deciding type of punishment to mete of out. Moreover, the punishment extends to future offspring who had no input in her decision. A reasonable person would deem such a punishment as unnecessarily severe and totally inappropriate in relation to the ‘offence’ committed. But God behaves like to an unhinged parent who storms around the house, kicking the cat, throwing furniture and screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs because you ate a cookie before dinner.

        • Ron says:

          The stories within the Old Testament are either fiction or non-fiction. What other alternative is there?

          And either way, it’s hard to fathom how anyone could derive moral edification from reading countless tales of inhumanity and animal sacrifice — much less conclude that Abraham and Lot or any the other biblical patriarchs were righteous men — because they reflect moral codes that are incongruent with Enlightenment values.

          John Z has already quoted the verse cursing women to endure painful childbirth. But even without it, the existence of such is insurmountable. I don’t need to read anything into the text because it is laid bare in reality for all to see. The CDC reports:

          “At the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications, and approximately 100 infants died before age 1 year. From 1915 through 1997, the infant mortality rate declined greater than 90% to 7.2 per 1000 live births, and from 1900 through 1997, the maternal mortality rate declined almost 99% to less than 0.1 reported death per 1000 live births.”

          All thanks due to improvements in modern medicine.

          James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

          So my accusation stands:

          What kind of loving God would quietly sit back for millenia watching humans suffer in agony from birth complications, disease, famine and other calamities?

          To judge means to ‘render an opinion’ — so it’s no more wrong for a non-Christian to opine God is immoral than it is for a Christian to opine God is moral, because both have made a determination upon God’s character.

          Finally, I wasn’t accusing you or your congregation of being uncharitable. Kudos for helping the less fortunate. I was pointing out how callous it sounds when Christians living in developed nations praise God for their good fortunes while God ignores the plight of Christians living in less developed nations. If God is “no respecteor of persons” why do the material blessings always flow to those already living in wealthy nations?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Let’s put aside for now whether you understand the Bible or not (you don’t).

          You are accusing God of a lot of “ought to” here. That’s a moral judgment. What objective standard are you appealing with your observations to make such a moral judgment?

        • Ron says:

          The same objective standard you are appealing to when saying God is good.

        • John Branyan says:

          Apparently, Ron declares God is “immoral” by the same standard that you say God is “good”. That standard is God Himself.
          Brilliant!
          At least you’ve got him using the word “objective”.

  13. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive…”

    My personal theory is that atheists are actually sadists who project themselves onto the face of God, reinventing Him into their own image and than promptly rejecting Him as immoral. I’ve heard quite a few of them describe who they think God is and without fail, who they often wind up describing is themselves.

    One of our famous psychologists, Jung perhaps, said that the thing about subjective thinking is that there is nothing outside of our own selves and so by default we become the very characters in our own stories. So unwilling or unable to face the truth about our own nature, we simply project all that sin onto a “god” we have ironically gone and created in our very own image. Then we declare Him to be immoral and proceed to deny his existence.

    In faith we would point to Matthew 7:2, “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    • Ron says:

      Well, you are partially correct. The God of the Old Testament doesn’t exist. He was the invention of superstitious people seeking explanations for things they could not explain. Unfortunately, Christianity incorporated this non-existent entity into its theology and must now deal with the repercussions.

      • I adore the God of the old testament and have been greatly blessed by the alleged “repercussions.”

        • Ron says:

          And I’m heartened by the fact that belief in the god you adore is slowly dwindling in younger generations. A Pew Poll reports that Christianity will suffer a net loss of 61 million adherents to non-belief by 2050.

        • Mel Wild says:

          A Pew Poll reports that Christianity will suffer a net loss of 61 million adherents to non-belief by 2050.

          Don’t be too heartened by this popular propaganda, Ron. The Secular spin doctor Phil Zuckerman seemed to have misled you with the Pew Research. You can read my post, “Are we becoming more secular?” for the details, but here’s the big picture Pew forecast to 2050:

          While secularization will drop 3% with respect to world population, Islam will double in percentage (mostly from high birthrate) and Christianity will keep pace with the world population growth (35%).

          So, it looks like secularism is going slowly into relative insignificance.

          As it turns out, most of the drop in Christianity came from nominal, cultural “Christians,” who aren’t much different than practicing atheists, coming out of the closet, so to speak. But those who hold a vibrant faith are going strong (Evangelicals have grown in the last two decades).

        • John Branyan says:

          Let Ron keep his simple faith, Mel.
          By 2050, when he’s a doddering, lonely old man, the world will be fully secularized.
          Nobody will have guns. School shootings will happen every day.
          Churches will be empty.
          Insane asylums will be full.
          Prisons will house the overflow.
          Nobody will pray to God.
          Everybody will cry out to Washington.
          Faith will be replaced by Science.
          The superstition of hope will vanish into despair.

          The atheist utopia!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, pure emptiness in the glow of a blind, pitiless, indifferent world.

        • John Branyan says:

          I believe that is another bit of Dawkins’ eloquence!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, here’s the giddy vision of Dawktopia:

          “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, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the 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.” (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden, New York, Basic Books, 1992, p. 133)

        • John Branyan says:

          Yeah. Very scientific.

          Make me wonder why I believe we should feel those, weak, dirty, uneducated children in Somalia. Why does my DNA torture me with moral impulses that serve no purpose? What is the point of empathy?

          It is truly the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.”

        • John Branyan says:

          …meant to say “feed those…children”.
          Feel was an unfortunate typo.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, that would be appealing to some higher moral standard and we know now that doesn’t exist.

        • John Branyan says:

          So you HAVE been reading everything!
          I guess JZ was wrong about that too…

        • Mel Wild says:

          Here’s what Ed Stetzer said in a USA Today article about the Pew Data:

          “So, the number of people who are practicing a vibrant faith is not fading away, quite the contrary. Christianity and the church are not dying, but they are being more clearly defined. Both the recent Pew and GSS data affirm this clarification should only continue.”

          Meanwhile, secularism’s chunk of the world population will go from 16% to 13% by 2050.

  14. Pingback: Moral Realism | In My Father's House

  15. Hey Mel,

    Apologies in advance if this has been covered above in the comments. There are quite a few to have to scan through, and I beg your pardon if I missed relevant ones.

    I don’t think Lewis fully makes his point as to why freedom (his example) implicates the existence of some higher moral law. It seems like he’s rendering moral that which has been viewed by political philosophers as natural law. Of course, natural law will be articulated differently depending upon the person doing it, but generally it’s this view that existence in a natural state has the utmost freedom. There’s no moral quality to it; it simply exists like logic, mathematics, principles of chemistry, etc.

    To put it differently, if freedom contains some moral quality, then anything which acts against freedom acts against that quality. This would render many public institutions – like government, social norms, and even some religious practices – as immoral, or at the least things which act against the moral nature of freedom. Has he addressed this concern at all?

    • John Branyan says:

      Lewis proposes that the “natural law” is the sense that we “ought” to conduct ourselves in a certain way. He further explains that we “know” this law exists because we expect others to observe it. (When you share your orange with someone, it is understood they “ought to” share their orange with you.)

      Lewis also points out that we all break this natural law. We know how we’re supposed to behave and we consistently behave otherwise.

      Freedom is discussed as being adherence to this natural law. Unlike logic, mathematics and chemistry, Lewis asserts that we can “break” the natural law. That is we behave contrary to the rules we know to be correct. Lewis equates breaking natural law with selfishness. Thus, immorality is essentially being selfish.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I will need to go back and look at what you’re referring to. Unfortunately, I’m my way out the door. I will look at it when I have some free time again.

      • There’s no rush. I haven’t read The Abolition of Man, but I think it’s on a bookshelf somewhere around here. JB’s response makes me think that I could be missing something elsewhere in the work that might get at what I was commenting on.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I don’t think Lewis fully makes his point as to why freedom (his example) implicates the existence of some higher moral law.

      Besides what JB said, I think Lewis is saying that objectivity is needed for freedom. Here’s from the book and video clip:

      “What barrier remains between us and the final division of the race into a few conditioners who stand themselves outside morality and the many conditioned in whom such morality that the experts choose is produced at the expert’s pleasure? If ‘good’ means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves? The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. (starts @ 11:30)

      In other words, if we don’t have some objective standard that governs both the ruler and ruled alike, society begins to collapse into some form of totalitarianism controlled by the powerful few who subjectively make the rules. Conversely, we would be the most free if everyone was subject to the same objective standard. Otherwise, we have designed a system where the powerful choose what freedoms the weaker will have. We will always have freedom at someone else’s expense.

      Slavery was a good example. The plantation owners had great freedom in their lifestyle at the expense of enslaving other human beings. What ended slavery was appealing to a higher objective law that intuitively says that enslaving another human being is wrong. That the Black man had equal value to the white man. These Christian abolitionists could appeal to a “higher law” where Paul said: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal.3:23)

  16. Nan says:

    Mel, I HIGHLY recommend you read this post . It’s written extremely well and addresses many of the points you have presented in this and other posts.

    I do not intend to comment further. I just thought you might find this person’s perspective an intriguing read.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Nan. I read the article. He’s not making any claim that makes subjectivism any more coherent, or making any new arguments. But thanks anyway.

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