Wednesday, June 20, 2012

J. D. Walters on the Morality of P Z Myers

Here is the link.

What really happens to morality if godlessness really takes hold? Maybe it is not the happy humanism that many would expect.

15 comments:

Andres Ruiz said...

Link not working.

Victor Reppert said...

It should be now.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

FWIW, I criticized P.Z. Myers's post on entirely different grounds on my blog.

rank sophist said...

As the CADRE says, most of this is obvious moral relativism. A freshman in college could tell you that much.

However, he almost manages to rise above that wasteland by implicitly endorsing Hobbesian absolutism, alongside terminology stolen from Randian rational egoism. Not the first time I've seen such a system proposed, actually. However, it's still not objective; and neither is it sane or sustainable.

Not gods, but self-interest. I do not want things done to me against my will, so I participate in a social contract that requires me to respect others’ autonomy as well.

Appeals to self-interest, as the CADRE points out, do not rule out violence. In fact, rational egoism results in just the opposite: violent, chaotic social Darwinism. It's the proverbial Hobbesian "war of all against all", in which there are neither rights nor morals. This is the logical conclusion of Myers's first statement.

However, by appealing to a "social contract"--language ripped straight out of Leviathan--he tempers this chaos. Morals now exist because everyone agrees to give up some of their otherwise unlimited rights--again, thanks to rational self-interest. Unfortunately, this is where Myers must bite the bullet and accept absolutism, the system that gripped so much of the world in the 20th century. It does not work. As we've seen time and time again, government absolutism invariably ends in mass murder and social uprising.

Now, if Myers backs off of these points and rejects absolutism, then his "self-interest" and "social contract" become textbook moral relativism, like the rest of his arguments. So, he's presented with a choice: either rely on one of the worst moral and political systems ever conceived, or support a worldview in which the Holocaust was only wrong from the perspective of the Jews.

Papalinton said...

What a tawdry nutbag of a critique from J D Walters. Unremarkable and underwhelming. And it all centres on Myers' wonderful first paragraph:

"There is a common line of attack Christians use in debates with atheists, and I genuinely detest it. It’s to ask the question, “where do your morals come from?” I detest it because it is not a sincere question at all — they don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity, so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone with a different morality than yours is amoral, but that doesn’t stop those sleazebags."

There is little need of any defense action required from Myers in respect of this critique. The pique is all Walters'.

Heuristics said...

Papa:

What you write rests entirely on psychology. The truth cares not for the psychological state of question makers. Your statement however completely betrays your own psychology in not caring for the truth, only caring for the intention that other people have.

I predict that if a response comes to what I write here from you, that response will not pay tribute to the truth of the matter of morality but will be filled with more psychology (this statement inserted in the hope of lessening the probability of the prediction being true).

Papalinton said...

On the contrary, heuristics. As if Walters' little exercise was a metric of truth investigation, fomenting yet further christian truth as that of rank sophist? Hardly. For anyone that actively peddles physical impregnation of a woman by the wanton carnal lust of a spectral phantasm as reality, is not one that holds 'truth' very high on the agenda. Myers' is right, ".. they [bible crazies] don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity ...."

Psychologize and predict away, heuristics. Be reminded though, as you do, cognitive science tells us that 'Theory of Mind' is one of the basal primitive survival functions embedded in our genetic make-up, forged by biological evolution, that once was used to 'anticipate' what the dangerous animal or competing tribe member would do, in order to survive yet one more dangerous situation. This predilection has been neuro-physiologically co-opted in the form of a secondary function of religious existential experiences. It is called teleology. This genetic predisposition towards teleological intentionality is the the very foundation of the christian dark arts of prophesying, soothsaying and foresoothing. We can't help ourselves from doing it. Christian prophecy is the exact same neurological underpinning engaged as that of crystal-ball gazing, tarot card predictions, palm and tealeaf readings.

Do you profess yourself a zen master in the Dark Arts of Christian Prophesying, heuristics? Or are you just predicting a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

I am reminded of Margaret Mead, one of the world's renowned Anthropologists. In her seminal work, "The Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), Mead reported high levels of casual premarital sex among her young female informants. Decades later - after conversion to christianity - many of the same women denied their youthful gambols. Christian guilt had successfully been inculcated. Sex had become the dirty, shameful thing God meant it to be. Mead notes:

"It is an open question whether any behaviour based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical [moral] or should be regarded as merely cowardly."

Christian morality is meretricious.

unkleE said...

"so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone with a different morality than yours is amoral, but that doesn’t stop those sleazebags.""

Myers doesn't seem to understand that the moral argument depends on the theist not saying that, but agreeing the atheist is not evil and does indeed have ethics, then asking where they come from.

Jeffery, as usual, I love your work, even while we disagree about a lot of basics.

Heuristics said...

Papa: I predicted that you would indeed not hold the truth in high regard and that you would instead talk about psychology, not truth. This prediction has come to pass.

I first started out by saying that you do not hold truth in high regard and your response to this is "on the contrary it is these other dudes that do not hold truth in high regard", upon that you did not follow up with a demonstration of actually holding truth in high regard but instead followed up with "here is the psychological state of these other dudes". You follow that off with some randomness about prophesies in Christianity for reasons that wholly escape me. And end with something that amounts to at least nearly the largest off topic cliff jump I have yet seen and starts some weird argument against specifically some particular expressions of what you take yo be christian morality.

So we are left at least the following options:

1. You are a troll.
2. You hold truth in such low regard that you do not actually give a damn about it but care that other people think that you care about it so you attempt these weird red herring shifts.
3. You hold truth in high regard but is incredibly incompetent in understanding how argumentation is done and at understanding how to write arguments and genuinely do not understand the concept of relevancy.

Papalinton said...

So we are left at least the following options:

1. You are a troll. The ultimate measly christian putdown when the shamanic superstitious claptrap of christian theism is finally proven to be the sham it always was.

2. You hold truth in such low regard that you do not actually give a damn about it but care that other people think that you care about it so you attempt these weird red herring shifts. Low regard for christian truth? Absolutely. Christian trooth is bound in tradition, not ethics and morality. The religious model of international institutional pedophilia, so well guarded as official top secret within the Magisterium clearly dispelled any remaining vestige of ethics. morality or trust within the community. Exposure of the centuries-old practice of clergy kiddy-fiddling was the final stake driven through the heart of christian morality. It also signaled the drumming and screeching end of the naive idealism of good catlick pastoral care. This is no red herring, heuristics. These are all snippets of the most fundamental moral and ethical malaise that are emblematic of a tragically failed and broken ideology. Christianity is going the way of all previous absolutist worldviews; they are either surplus to societal needs and requirements, or in the cost benefit analysis of maintaining such a moribund system, the negatives far outweigh whatever benefits are purportedly claimed. Interestingly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] has just released the new religious identification figures for the 2011 National Census. In 5 of the 8 States and Territories, 'no religion' was the highest registered category. At the national level, the 'no religion' element now constitutes a whopping 22.3% in 2011, almost 1-in-4 Australians are religion free. The 'no religion' category is the second highest category following very closely on the heels of identified Catholics, and streets ahead of the third runners-up, the Anglicans. This is exciting news. Will follow up as more statistics are released.

3. You hold truth in high regard but is incredibly incompetent in understanding how argumentation is done and at understanding how to write arguments and genuinely do not understand the concept of relevancy. The story between the lines in this little effort is simply there is no more argument of any worth from the Apologetical school of historical biblical revisionism. The community's only protection to good governance and proper functioning of democracy is to build up that wall of separation. The rule of secular law based on the universal principles of humanism is mankind's only safeguard against the dead hand of christian absolutism. Morality and ethics must be religion free if there is to be proper engagement within the community. Christian morality simply does not carry the weight it once wielded under the public policy options of heresy and blasphemy, elements themselves that are now considered highly contentious and substantially problematic public policy options.

Heuristics said...

Papa: So troll it is then (which implies no respect for the truth).

One Brow said...

Perhaps, after holding up Myers as the height of atheist philosophy, you should be looking to Daniel Fincke as the brimary atheist biologist, and start criticizing his take on evo devo.

What? Backwards? What to you mean? /sarcasm.

Papalinton said...

As an advocate of the ghostbuster fraternity, a public defender of reason and commonsense empiricism, and an active interlocutor exposing the superstitious supernatural and religious incantatory magic for the fraudulent deceptions they are, then I guess I simply must weigh up forgoing all this against the possibility of being ever labelled a troll, and by a christian no less.

[Exercises apparent god-given free will, thinks for a moment, weighs up the dire inconsequences] Naaahh! I got it right the first time.

Paul Provenza (1957-) American actor and filmmaker notes:

"I point to how irrational it is to have any reverence for religion at all. We look at the ancient Greeks with their gods on a mountaintop throwing lightning bolts and say, "Those ancient Greeks. They were so silly. So primitive and naive. Not like our religions. We have burning bushes talking to people and guys walking on water. We're ..... sophisticated." Not to mention talking snakes, and Chiropraxtogenesis [the specialist biology field in the cloning of living organisms through rib-bone tissue.]

rank sophist said...

Oh, that Papa. Always ready with an irrelevant quote ripped from some random website.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Is morality a person, or do people "moralize?" (a question based on Leah's recent decision to convert from atheism to Catholicism)

I don't think we require absolutely "objective" morality in order to live peaceful and productive lives, and neither is the notion of "objective morality" to be confused with decisions to make and enforce certain "laws." Morality seems to start, as most things do, with basic biological, sociological, psychological recognitions. Like admitting that it's better to have some food than be starving with hunger pains; it's better to be healthy than be chronically painfully ill; and it's better to be around people who love you or at least like you (and are willing to share food, talk, etc., with you), than be fleeing for your life from others all the time. Put all those natural direct experiences together and note that the vast majority of folks also would agree. That's the basis for assigning "rights" and "wrongs" according to naturalism, it's the natural agreement many have attained and that we can feel in our stomachs, in our pain receptors, even in our shared desires to be around each other and have someone else to share space and speech with, among other things. Even if what I pointed out only convinces you that naturalism is a "just so" story, that's all that divine command theory can prove about itself also, that it's a "just so" story, but at least both of us can agree on having direct knowledge concerning the natural preferences I outlined. There is no doubt also, that in both the naturalist's and supernaturalist's cosmos, moral atrocities as well as hideous natural diseases and other disasters occur. There is no guarantee in either cosmos that they won't. So really, this whole argument "from morality" is one big moot point.

SEE ALSO http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/09/word-objective-is-overused-when-it.html