Why Are We Here?

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Homer
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by Homer » Tue May 31, 2016 11:24 pm

Some say that this is impossible because actions are morally right because God commands them, and other actions are morally wrong because God forbids them. Is this your position? If so, I heartily disagree. It's the other way around. God commands particular behavior because it is morally right and forbids other behavior because it is morally wrong.
I think we have a sense of right and wrong that God has given us, i.e. natural law because it is naturally understood. This is aside from revelation where God has much more fully informed us of morally correct behavior. And He expect us to keep them all - naturally understood and commanded. But there are additional laws we are to obey that have nothing to do with moral law. And those are the positive commands that are right solely because God commands them.
I was also stating that there are many cases of atheists and agnostics and others who do not serve God, who, notwithstanding, are altruistic. Some of them have risked their lives or even given their lives in order to save the lives of others. If those who do not serve God do such things, then why do you presume that all such people live for no other reason than to maximize their personal pleasure?
Do you think their altruism could be because of what God has placed in their heart? If there is no God (in their mind) their behavior would seem irrational. I'm not presuming anything, just pointing out what is logical.

crgfstr1
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by crgfstr1 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:30 am

morbo3000 wrote: Simply ask an atheist or agnostic, and respect their answers. Rather than dismissing them.
Regardless of what their answers or my answers are if there is no God then there is no way to know what is right from wrong. Though I agree with other posts that right and wrong are because of the cause and effect not just arbitrary rules. We continue to study things that we actually can understand and often believe something to be true for a very long time before learning nope we were wrong. When I was growing up there was a study where they cooked and ate a fish while keeping it alive through as much of the process as possible. They scientist argued that the fish couldn't feel anything so this was an okay thing to do. The point of the study was to even prove this point. They were wrong but continued to do so thinking they were doing right. Later as technology advanced they learned "ooops" yeah fish do feel pain and the fish was suffering terribly through this process. The average person could say well of course, I would have assumed that. But without knowing then who can say.

It is possible that fire experiences much joy as it burns through stuff. We assume that it doesn't because it isn't alive. But we can't even define what alive is nor can we know if alive is properly defined. It might then be very wrong to put out the fire because the fire is experiencing much joy. Then again who is to say that Joy is the standard. Maybe it is pain and suffering that is good.

The only way to establish right from wrong is to make a huge number of assumptions and hope that you are right. Anyone that has done so may think their assumptions are so obvious and everyone must agree with them so there is no point for debate. Assumptions:

1. Human life is important (why? says who... oh the human says so. Sounds a little biassed to me)
2. All life is important. (Except for those that aren't and we have to debate those. Balance of life good. Why it doesn't sound fun to be eaten by a lion. Maybe we should get rid of them.)
3. This planet matters.
4. This life matters.
5. Emotions are real not illusion.
6. Joy good. Pain bad.

We could establish a committee. Come up with morals. But we would never all agree that this is good and this is bad. So there we wouldn't know what is good and bad just what more people agree are good and what more people agree are bad. This isn't morals because it could be very very wrong.

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steve
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by steve » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:20 am

Disagreeing with their conclusions, does not mean they haven't thought through the equation deep enough. It means you don't agree with them.
While I grant every person the liberty to think through issues to a greater or lesser degree, as suits them, I would question whether it can be doubted that one who has reached improper conclusions has failed clearly to think through the issues about which they are mistaken.

Obviously, anyone can be wrong—that is, reach conclusions that are not in line with reality, but the one who has reached incorrect conclusions must certainly have reached them by incorrect thinking. Either he has begun with incorrect premises, or else, having correct premises, he has missed some important step in the logical process. If someone accepts a wrong premise, this must necessarily be the result of accepting invalid premises without sufficient critical thought—thus a failure to "think things through." Likewise, if one has proper premises, but still reaches wrong conclusions, this must be a failure in his logic—hence, a failure to "think things through."

In any disagreement that I may have with another, I accept that it may be I or he who has failed to think things through adequately—but I cannot reach the conclusion that neither of us has any defect in his thinking, and that we merely disagree. If the question is whether blue carpet is more attractive than red carpet, then we are dealing only with matters of taste, and "thinking things through" plays no part in such disagreements. No one is right or wrong in such a subjective matter.

When it comes to issues of morality, subjectivity is inappropriate. The questions may be more complex than one party has realized, but that which is morally "right" is objectively right. The task of discerning what that right opinion may be is a project not done equally well by all parties. Our responsibility is to do this very thing the very best we can. We may still lack some of the facts from which to reason—or we may even lack the intelligence to put facts together logically—but this does not change the reality that, in reaching wrong conclusions, we have failed to "think things through" properly.

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Paidion
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by Paidion » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:14 pm

crg wrote:Then again who is to say that Joy is the standard. Maybe it is pain and suffering that is good.
Non one says that joy is the standard. For "joy" and "pain" are not standards. They are experiences—the former pleasant and the latter unpleasant. However, standards of morality are related to joy and pain.
Steve wrote:When it comes to issues of morality, subjectivity is inappropriate. ... that which is morally "right" is objectively right.
I fully agree with these two assertions.

There are three forms of objectivism, all of which hold to objective morality—absolutism, agapism, and hierarchalism.

1. Proponents of absolutism hold that if an action is morally wrong, it is always wrong in every context. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church, who was my friend in first-year Bible school in 1959-60, holds to absolutism, and has written a book on the subject. In the book he deals with moral dilemmas. Is it right to lie to save a life? Lutzer says, "No. It is always wrong to lie." If one lies to save a life, he needs to ask God's forgiveness for lying. If he choses not to lie and allows the person to be killed, then he needs to ask God's forgiveness for having done that. Thus where there is moral conflict, whatever one chooses to do, he is sinning.

On the contrary, I affirm that in every situation, there is always a morally right choice that one can make.

2. Proponents of agapism make love the standard for determining the morally right thing to do. This would be a good standard if it could always be determined what the loving thing is. But this is not always clear. Pastor Joe Bloe may think the loving thing for Jane Shane to do is to leave her husband so that she can live a happier life. But in fact this may not be the loving thing for her to do at all. Rather the loving thing might be for her and her husband to seek reconciliation, perhaps through counselling.

3. Proponents of hierarchalism say that all moral acts can be arranged in a hierarchy where in which some acts take precedence over others. This is the position taken by Norman Geisler. I, myself, subscribe to it.

For example, the moral imperative to save a life takes precedence over the moral imperative to refrain from lying.
Therefore, it is right to lie in order to save a life. Lying is not necessarily making a false statement. Even if a statement is true, but is given in such a way that those who hear it are deceived, it is a lie.

For example, Corrie Ten Boom, having been confronted by Nazis, was asked where she was hiding the Jews. She replied, "Under the table." The Nazis thought she was being sarcastic, but in fact the Jews were literally under the table (in the cellar). Corrie deceived the Nazis in order to save the lives of those whom she was hiding, and in deceiving them, she did the morally right thing.

Menno Simons while driving horses drawing an enclosed carriage that held passengers, was stopped by men who wished to kill him. But they didn't know him by sight. They asked him, "Is Menno Simons in this carriage?" Menno hollered down to the people below, "Is Menno Simons down there?" — silence. Then Menno turned to the men and said, "There's no Menno Simons down there."

Menno Simons deceived those men and thereby saved his own life. He did the morally right thing.
Last edited by Paidion on Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by morbo3000 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:28 am

A discussion amongst Christians on ethics is kinda stuck in a Matrix (the movie)-like situation. Because we believe YHWH created and sustains the universe, then some form of ethics is hard-wired into everyone, including the unbeliever. So it's impossible to argue that if there wasn't a god/bible, there'd be no basis for ethics. It's like saying, "If there was no oxygen, we wouldn't be able to breathe."
crgfstr1 said: Regardless of what their answers or my answers are if there is no God then there is no way to know what is right from wrong.
I think you mean: "if there is no *divinely inspired holy text* there is no way to know what is right from wrong."
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by crgfstr1 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:20 am

morbo3000 wrote:A discussion amongst Christians on ethics is kinda stuck in a Matrix (the movie)-like situation. Because we believe YHWH created and sustains the universe, then some form of ethics is hard-wired into everyone, including the unbeliever. So it's impossible to argue that if there wasn't a god/bible, there'd be no basis for ethics. It's like saying, "If there was no oxygen, we wouldn't be able to breathe."
crgfstr1 said: Regardless of what their answers or my answers are if there is no God then there is no way to know what is right from wrong.
I think you mean: "if there is no *divinely inspired holy text* there is no way to know what is right from wrong."
That is part of it. Without the text we wouldn't know. Also that we are somewhat hard wired to seek God and that there is good and evil. It is also far deeper than that though. Without God everything is vanity. If everything occurred by accident it is of no value. How can one say that one accident is good and another accident is bad? Life or no life what difference does it make? Love would be merely an illusion rather than a connection to a divine being. As Paidion pointed out joy and pain are experiences. I agree with that part. What I don't think can be asserted is that we can establish joy and pain as being related to morality if there is no God. We make too many assumptions. What if one things joy is another things pain. How do you then way what is moral? What if my thoughts hurt another being on another planet that I didn't know about? What if my joy caused another pain? Should I then exist? It all then become subjective not objective if I understand and expand on Steve's comment.

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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by Paidion » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:36 am

crg wrote:We make too many assumptions. What if one things joy is another things pain. How do you then way what is moral?
If we give food to a hungry person, does it not provide joy? Are you saying, crg, that if we give it to a different hungry man, he may find it painful? And thus we would be acting immorally? I suppose that would be possible if the latter had a health condition that caused pain whenever he ate. However, people could be made aware of that condition so that they would not give him food. However, even if they gave him food, unaware of his condition, they would not be acting immorally, but ignorantly. They would be acting immorally only if they knew that he had the health condition and still gave him food, knowing that it would cause him pain, and intending to cause him pain.
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by crgfstr1 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:33 am

I am going further than that. I am saying if there is no God then why is Human Joy important? How can it be any more important than a fire burning? We as humans may think there is significance to it and assign it value. I can find no difference between life and a chemical reaction. We have separated chemical and biological and established that biological to be of more importance than chemical. We are however biological so this is purely self centered thinking. What is to be valued is not clear if there is no God. How can there be good and evil if good isn't divine?

We believe that mammals matter more than bacteria and happily kill millions of bacteria in order to save 1 human life. We see this as morally okay because we are humans and view ourselves more important. The bacteria would likely beg to differ. We assume that bacteria has no thought nor feelings. No fear of death. We don't know this to be true.

This is why other religions place more value on different forms of life. You get some vegans, some vegetarians, but why stop there? If there is no divine nature then what is good and what is evil. Isn't killing a million worse then killing 1?

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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by morbo3000 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:01 pm

Without God everything is vanity. If everything occurred by accident it is of no value.
Actually, everything is vanity with God too. Ecc 1:1

It seems to you that without God everything is vanity. That if life is an accident, it is of no value. But many people who do not believe in God disagree with you. It may not make sense to you. But that's because you don't understand the foundation for their values. Which is fine, because many of them don't understand the foundation of ours.

I should clarify my motivations in this conversation. I'm an evangelist. And I hang out with a lot of atheists. It's insulting to dismiss someones values. And to perpetuate caricatures. It often goes in both directions. In order to build bridges, it's important understand the person. And not simply at the factual level. To honor and sympathize with their values. Once that bridge is built, you have earned influence.

If you'd like to understand better, here's a good primer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_ethics
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Re: Why Are We Here?

Post by crgfstr1 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:23 pm

Thanks for sharing why this topic is important to you. The point isn't to dismiss their findings. It is to get them to think about the foundations (as you suggested). All of these secular ethics make the assumption that humans have value. That is the question. Okay, tell me why do humans have value? They were merely an accident after all. Any of these are possible answers:

1. I think therefore I am. Okay, but what about the bacteria does it think? Someone could argue no that they don't. If they claim science has answered this question. Ask in what experiment was this proven? That is the point of "fish don't have feelings" example. We often draw conclusions that are wrong. I am not arguing that bacteria thinks. What I am stating is we can not prove one way or the other. Therefore we make the assumption it can not.
2. We are more evolved. Okay so if a more evolved alien shows up can he kill you and eat you? Would that be ethical? Well no because we think. Well we kill animals and our mere existence kills bacteria all the time. Where is the line?
3. I am a human and our society has decided. There is no other authority so until something better comes along we can have ethics and change them if our data changes. This then isn't moral or ethics in my opinion it is only values. What we value can change, what is right and wrong can not.

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