Sunday, July 05, 2020

Josh McDowell's Maximum Sex

What difference does religion make to morality? 

Sexual morality seems to be the most obvious area in which religious believers differ from nonreligious people.  When I was young, Christian groups had a lot of leaders had presentations defending traditional Christian views on sex. But they seemed to spend a lot of time arguing that saving sex for marriage was good for you in the long run, so it wasn't presented as something you just do just because God says so. I remember Josh McDowell doing a presentation at ASU entitled Maximum Sex, the idea being that sex within marriage is "maximum" because it fits best with the way God designed us. 

On the other hand, traditionally people appealed to religious beliefs to justify our belief that everyone should be treated equally. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal, and were endowed by the CREATOR with certain inalienable rights. But what if we weren't created? Do we still have inalienable rights?

8 comments:

bmiller said...

Victor,

Have you been getting advice from ad agencies?

You led with sex to get people's attention and then switched it up to inalienable rights. You're gonna have to practice greater subtlety :-)

StardustyPsyche said...

Wadaya mean? I figure I have an inalienable right to sex!

""We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal, and were endowed by the CREATOR with certain inalienable rights. But what if we weren't created? Do we still have inalienable rights?"

Human rights are an individual sensibility, not a real existent abstract object floating around in the aether.

So yes, since the universe created me I have universal inalienable rights, at least in my personal sensibility. I also have personal sensibilities such as a personal sense of ought, should, and responsibility.

It turns out that since the human physiology that gives rise to these personal sensibilities is mostly similar for most of our population, then by consensus most of us tend to agree on some common baseline of shared moral sensibilities.

That commonality of individual sensibilities leads to the illusion of absolute morality. Once a person mistakenly confuses shared individual sensibilities due to shared physiology, with absolute morality then the individual so mistaken speculates a source for these imagined absolute moral truths, namely, of course, an imagined almighty being or beings, god or gods.

Hal said...

Victor,
On the other hand, traditionally people appealed to religious beliefs to justify our belief that everyone should be treated equally. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal, and were endowed by the CREATOR with certain inalienable rights. But what if we weren't created? Do we still have inalienable rights?

If you think belief in the fact that we have inalienable rights is dependent on the religious beliefs of the one who penned that document then you will have to give up belief in the Trinity and many other traditional Christian doctrines. Jefferson is usually considered to be closer to Deism than Theism. And he rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

I don't need to believe in God in order to know that human beings have intrinsic worth and as a result of that also have the inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.

Victor Reppert said...

Hal: How would you defend the intrinsic worth of persons against a skeptic about such claims? Many people in the history of the world would have denied such a claim outright. Dalits in India are not treated by their culture as if they have intrinsic worth. Even though Christians have struggled with the idea of slavery, I believe that one of the reasons we got rid of it (well, at least the obvious sort on plantations) was because there is a cognitive dissonance created between the belief that we can kidnap, enslave, and discriminate against black people (since they are inferior and "natural slaves") and the belief that God created, and Christ died for every individual person, intending them to be joint heirs with Him in heaven.

If, instead, you think we were just spat up by evolution, if it is just survival of the fittest in a dog eat dog world, what argument do you have against someone who wants to take advantage of their superior position to exploit others? Perhaps someone thinks, like Nietzsche, that Christianity has produced a "slave morality" that favors the weak over the strong and therefore suppresses greatness. How do you answer this kind of skepticism about the idea that all people have intrinsic dignity and worth?

Victor Reppert said...

Further, Jefferson's deism involved skepticism about miraculous claims on Christianity, but it was a distinctly Christian deism, including a belief in future rewards and punishments. It is NOT to be confused with the belief that God winds up the world and leaves it alone.

https://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-is-deism-not-you-think.html

StardustyPsyche said...

Victor,
"If, instead, you think we were just spat up by evolution, if it is just survival of the fittest in a dog eat dog world, what argument do you have against someone who wants to take advantage of their superior position to exploit others?"
Clearly that is the world we live in. Just read the news, read history.

I often hear from Christians things along the lines of "if there is no god then everybody can just do whatever they want". Yes, of course, and that is just what everybody does in fact do, what they want, the aggregate of each individual's wants. It's the only thing any of us can do. If you do X then X must have been what you wanted in the aggregate. If you did not want to do X overall as the highest summation of your wants then you would not have done X.

A world of military, economic, and personal domination of the weak by the strong is just what we would expect in a world absent a good god, and that is just what we see all around us.

Human rights are a personal sensibility that is shared by the many. So, being the social animals that we are, the many agree by convention to assert these sensibilities as laws binding on all citizens. Those who violate the shared sensibilities of the majority in an egregious enough way are forcibly separated from society by consensus.

Those are just the mechanisms employed by social animals for the self protection of the majority.

Hal said...

Victor,
Thanks for the detailed response. I want to read it over carefully and think about it before replying to it. Hopefully, will be able to post by tomorrow morning.

Hal said...

Victor,

Thought it might be better to throw some of these responses your way now:

I suspect that you and I would equally have trouble convincing skeptics from other cultures of our belief in the intrinsic worth of human beings. Simply saying that God created human beings with intrinsic worth is not going to convince anyone who doesn't believe in that particular God. And, as you pointed out, even Christians didn't agree that all humans were created the same. Those Confederate Christians may also have believd there was some intrinsic worth in the black slaves they owned but it wasn't equal to their own worth.

I believe humans have intrinsic worth because of the capacities and abilities they display in their behavior. Humans are able to reason and act for reasons. They have knowledge of good and evil and as a result of that knowledge encourage their chrildren and others in their community to behave morally. If we didn't have those capacities and abilites then your claim that God gave us intrinsic worth would be empty.

I don't share your conception of evolution. It is not simply a matter of dog eat dog. Many species are able to survive only because they cooperate with other species. Or there is a co-dependency among species that enable both species to survive. We depend for our survival because of the bacteria in our gut. And those bacteria are able to survive because our guts provide an environment for their existence. There are myriad examples of such co-dependency in nature.

Nor do I share the notion of other atheists that evolution disproves Christianity or any other type of theistic belief system. Evolution explains how we got here. It is one possible way for God to create humans.