Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Scientism" is a harmful distraction

"'Scientism' wars: there's an elephant in the room, and its name is Sam Harris," Oliver Burkeman titled a piece for his news blog on The Guardian in August of last year. The war apparently rages on with most of its guns apparently turned on what has been identified as the "New Atheism movement," with which Harris is readily identified. Burkeman got some of his title right, but he overshot by six words. Whether or not he is right that Sam Harris exemplifies science overstepping its bounds, it is the term "scientism" itself that is the elephant in the room.

"Scientism" is defined in enough ways to make it almost spectral. On the one hand, it can mean the idea that science is the only road to knowledge. On the other, it can signify that science is attempting to answer questions outside of its boundaries. Perhaps most commonly, though, the term "scientism" is thrown out to mean something like, "I don't want to talk about science because with science it is too easy to demonstrate that I'm wrong." Those who use the term in either of the first two ways would be wise to recognize how helpful that usage is to those in the third camp.

Ultimately, the word "scientism" is most effectively a distraction from the real matter lying at the center of these ongoing debates—how we legitimize good ideas and discard bad ones. Worse than that, since all serious disciplines dedicated to getting things right should be working together, the term "scientism" isn't just a distraction; it's a wedge. Fields that should be able to collaborate and help each other are pitted against each other, and in the resulting tumult, defenders of bad ideas steal legitimacy they do not deserve. This hurts all of us.

Regardless of someone's position on if science is overstepping its boundaries, it is impossible to deny reasonably that as a tool for prying useful knowledge from the world, it is a discipline with an incredible track record of success. It is so good at this role, in fact, that a perennial challenge for science arises in dealing with the fallout of getting too close to bad ideas that happen to be either cherished or worth a lot of money. Science frequently casts doubt upon—or refutes outright—ideas that have strongly vested interests in claiming their validity by "other ways of knowing."

Charlatans, quacks, and frauds selling snake-oil medicine, for instance, operate in a multi-billion-dollar segment of the annual economy. Meanwhile, one of the most tested and least controversial findings of modern medicine, vaccination, languishes behind manufactured controversy that clouds good ideas with bad ones, including the promotion of expensive supplements alleged—and demonstrated not to be effective—to prevent the need for vaccinations. The specter of scientism, crying that science doesn't get everything right, lurks just outside the light of clear information and scares people away from going in. It is, then, a convenient distraction that protects these misguided interests. And then there's religion, a glaring offender upon which we have no intention to harp.

Widespread ideologically motivated distrust of science is roaring at a level unheard of in nearly a century, and it is taking place at a time that could hardly be worse for everyone. We cannot continue to ignore the call to address climate change, for a prime example, and yet actionable movements in that debate sit mired and stagnant, hinging upon both science and politics to move forward.

Until scientists and technologists can create solutions that make reducing atmospheric carbon levels profitable, action requires political effort, and in democracies, it therefore requires public trust in the science saying that it needs to happen. And yet every minute, to believe the researchers, the clock ticks closer to the zero hour, the point at which it is definitely too late. The science on this matter is unambiguous. Delaying is a bad idea, and effectively every working climate scientist knows it.

But "scientism!" The millions of followers of famous Christian megapastor Mark Driscoll, for example, "know" it—just like they "know" that climate change doesn't matter because they "know" Jesus is coming back to burn the world up before it could matter. The entire political Right seems to "know" something similar (the Left has its own bad ideas too, but not usually on climate change). These ideas are demonstrably bad ones, and they're harmful. Providing what looks like solid ground that protects them, exaggerating the scope of any reasonable debate about the role and limits of science, is a harmful distraction from our most pressing issues.

We need effective methods to determine good ideas from bad ones, and we need to encourage both trust in those methods and the critical thinking that allows people to make the determinations for themselves. Brandishing, or even cautiously applying, the pejorative term "scientism" is not likely to be found on the list of tools to encourage these noble and pressing goals. It—the notion that science overreaches and thus isn't that good of a method for legitimizing good ideas and discarding bad ones—is the real elephant in the room, and it is time for it to go.

68 comments:

  1. Ahhh so what does science tell us about truth? That is to say, does science tell us whether or not humanity has an obligation to seek truth?

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    1. Truth... what a dangerous and uncareful word.
      Interesting.

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    2. Is it true, that truth is dangerous?

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    3. Listen, I get the impression you fancy yourself a deep and subtle thinker, but you really might want to slow down and try to be less clever. Just some helpful advice.
      Have a nice day.

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  2. That was a terrible cop-out James, and you're becoming very predicatable. Notice how you didn't even answer the first question, I raised.

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  3. CA: "Ahhh so what does science tell us about truth? That is to say, does science tell us whether or not humanity has an obligation to seek truth?"

    Science doesn't "tell us" to do anything. It's a tool. What is it about some theists that makes them ask questions in the most awkward and twisted way? Is it the cult of Thomism? Because I think it's the cult of Thomism.

    But let me guess; your answer to the question of why we should seek truth is: Invisible sky god.

    Please bloviate on; clearly you have so much to teach us.

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  4. Haha Cal I know science doesn't tell us to do anything, though the godless act like they have some sort of magical ultimate goal they 'ought' to fulfill in getting rid of a belief ij 'God'. I have an idea Cal, why don't you get your purposeless, valueless, nonrational, unintelligent, unconscious naturedidit mechanism to put us Theists into time out? Oh wait!

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    1. Mr Anthony said:

      "the godless act like they have some sort of magical ultimate goal they 'ought' to fulfill in getting rid of a belief i[n] 'God'."

      You are confused here, Anthony. Let me try to briefly offer some clarification:

      1. If people lack in understanding for how the world really is, then
      they will suffer in confliction to determine what they truly ought to value and do.

      2. Believing that the world is incomprehensible, and fundamentally
      miraculous, is to not understand the world (because it assumes, in
      principle, that the world cannot be made sense of).

      3. Thus, conceiving of the world as inexplicably miraculous causes an
      inability to determine what ought to be done and valued (and so ignorance, conflict and suffering).

      4. But either events are causally determined/random (and so consist of explanations) or they are fundamentally miraculous (and do not make sense).

      5. If, though, we assume that an event is not causally determined, then it must be random and a product of chaos; but then it is still not miraculous.

      6. Thus, our world is not miraculous (for if one wants to posit another explanation of events outside of those offered in premise 5, like e.g. the existence of real magic, then I cannot conceive of what one could possibly mean--and I'm pretty sure one cannot either).

      7. Therefore, humans can make sense of the world because its events are either casually determined or random and so, in principle, understandable. And seeking to do this—to rationally and objectively understanding what "is"— is the mission of science which, in so doing, also enables people to better determine what is really valuable and what ought to be done to attain such values. (The progress of our scientific understanding should not be feared or degraded, but promoted in every area where our conceptual understandings break down and inspire explanations by way of “miracles”—which are not really explanations at all.)

      Now, finally, perhaps you agree with all this, but maintain that there are particular truths about the universe and aspects of what "is" that science and rationality in general is incapable--presumably because it lack the proper methodology-- of discovering. If that is the case, then I ask you to please define this methodology and how it validly and reliably enables you to discover such truths.

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    2. That last paragraph got jumbled. Here it is again for clearity:

      Now, finally, perhaps you agree with all this, but maintain that there are particular truths about the universe and aspects of what "is" that science and rationality in general are incapable--presumably because they lack the proper methodology-- of discovering. If that is the case, then I ask you to please define this methodology (that is inconsistent with that of science) and how it validly and reliably enables you to discover such truths.

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    3. Brad first objection, this is with respect to 1: you end up begging the question here, so why assume that we have an objective moral obligation to do anything? Why couldn't morality be an illusion given to us by a purposeless, valueless mechanism that doesn't care whether or not we live or die?

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    4. Or, moral obligations could very well exist, but in an antirealist sense to which moral obligations are pretty much subjective/relative in nature. So far I don't accept 1 as it is a bare assertion that seems to be assumed on your part with no argument to support it.

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    5. You're too garbled to take seriously! And you wonder why I ignore you and just let you gallop around on here typically!

      CA: "you end up begging the question here, so why assume that we have an objective moral obligation to do anything?"

      This question is only superficially meaningful and only possesses that superficial meaning if you're already presupposing something. The question isn't about "objective moral obligations." That phrase, more than almost any other in moral philosophy, muddies waters that are already difficult enough to see any light through.

      What we know is unequivocal: human beings exist and have something that they can identify with moral values or moral sensibilities. Those values or sensibilities create a sense of "ought" and "should" that is pretty important to us whether or not there is "objective moral obligation" or not. That alone is justification to use moral language.

      "Objective" here is also a slimy word because it isn't what you really mean. You mean ultimate objective, meaning that it comes from outside everyone. We have no reasons to believe that such an objective moral standard exists, or even that there's a way to make sense of such a thing or to know it, and so it's unnecessary to even talk in this way. But by couching it in "objective moral obligation," you can slip past on the sense that we all seem to have certain moral tendencies. Notice, though, that the unifying thread in those moral tendencies is being human (or being sufficiently intelligent animals, more generally). If there are "objective moral" values--not obligations, another messy word to use--then they could potentially be understood in terms of real facts about real conscious beings, humans in particular for us.

      But don't you get to pretend you sound smart with this slop?

      CA: "Why couldn't morality be an illusion given to us by a purposeless, valueless mechanism that doesn't care whether or not we live or die?"

      This question is so broken all it deserves is derision. "Given"? "Given"? Can you not see what you've done there? And then you try to make it appear to be nonsense by linking it to teleology, by which you really mean ultimate teleology without saying so, ignoring that just like the only place we see any salience in "moral values" is exact same one we see any salience in teleology (purpose): conscious beings, human beings in particular.

      You're so caught up in what you've convinced yourself about the apparent necessity (apparent meaning not necessarily actual) of ultimate objective morality and ultimate teleology that you can't even write simple questions about simple observations without shuttling in your presumptive bullshit.

      Again, I say: And you wonder why I just let you gallop around on here and embarrass yourself?! Please, carry on, or don't. You'll do better to stop sooner rather than later, though.

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    6. Educating James the scientist on ethics 101

      "You're too garbled to take seriously! And you wonder why I ignore you and just let you gallop around on here typically!”

      Right off the bat we see James using his patented hand-waving, and I’m now convinced of the fact that James just doesn’t like Theist apologists and no matter what we say he will continue to live in his dogmatic ways. I guess it's because we make him feel uncomfortable.

      Let’s see how well the science guy does when he tries doing ethics here.


      “This question is only superficially meaningful and only possesses that superficial meaning if you're already presupposing something.”

      Sez who? And can we apply this criticism of yours to your statement here? If we can, then my answer is, so what? Anyways, this comment of yours is nothing more than a bare assertion with no support. Therefore, I guess James assumes we should just go with ‘James says it, therefore it must be so’. Quite the freethinker we got here!

      “ The question isn't about "objective moral obligations." That phrase, more than almost any other in moral philosophy, muddies waters that are already difficult enough to see any light through.”

      Yes it is about objective moral obligations, and how many books on moral philosophy have you actually read? Ever read a book on meta-ethics?

      “What we know is unequivocal: human beings exist and have something that they can identify with moral values or moral sensibilities. Those values or sensibilities create a sense of "ought" and "should" that is pretty important to us whether or not there is "objective moral obligation" or not. That alone is justification to use moral language.”

      No it doesn’t, because you’re just assuming Moral nihilism to be false, and you’re also assuming that morality isn’t an illusion all together.

      For all we know this could be right.

      “The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

      "Objective" here is also a slimy word because it isn't what you really mean. You mean ultimate objective, meaning that it comes from outside everyone. We have no reasons to believe that such an objective moral standard exists, or even that there's a way to make sense of such a thing or to know it, and so it's unnecessary to even talk in this way.”

      Moral realists would agree that their moral views are mind dependent in terms of 'knowing' and 'articulating' them, but they hold that they are knowing something about the world as it really is. This is exactly what you’re doing here when you say ‘we have no reasons to believe X’, well you are trying to tell me something about the world as it really is

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    7. “ But by couching it in "objective moral obligation," you can slip past on the sense that we all seem to have certain moral tendencies. Notice, though, that the unifying thread in those moral tendencies is being human (or being sufficiently intelligent animals, more generally). If there are "objective moral" values--not obligations, another messy word to use--then they could potentially be understood in terms of real facts about real conscious beings, humans in particular for us. “

      Well this is what I mean, I use the definition as it is used in academia, if you would just ask you would have known this, but instead you rely heavily on your emotions when you argue and that is why we see a projection on your part.

      Anyways this is what I mean“Though there are several distinct types of moral realism, the common thread uniting them is the belief that moral facts are stance-independent. What the moral facts are, and thus which moral judgments are true, is a matter determined independently of any stance or attitude taken by an actual or idealized individual towards the relevant states of affairs in the world. Realists believe the moral facts inherent in the nature of things…observers do not create the moral facts, but instead correctly mirror a moral order that exists independently of their deliberations or responses.”

      - Russ Shafer-Landau'

      ‘Ethical disagreement, Ethical objectivism and moral indeterminacy’





      “But don't you get to pretend you sound smart with this slop?”

      Maybe it has something to do with your bias? Well if you are smarter than me, then you should be able to dismantle what I say, right? You aren’t doing so good so far, perhaps you should try using more substance and less overtone when you argue.

      I mean any child can say ‘herp derp stop pretending to be smart’. If you are going to play the hateful anti-theist at least try to be original about it.



      “This question is so broken all it deserves is derision. "Given"? "Given"? Can you not see what you've done there? And then you try to make it appear to be nonsense by linking it to teleology, by which you really mean ultimate teleology without saying so, ignoring that just like the only place we see any salience in "moral values" is exact same one we see any salience in teleology (purpose): conscious beings, human beings in particular.”

      Yes 'given' implies an argument that entails a reduction to the absurdity so I am assuming a universe in which God doesn't exist then pointing out the silly implications that follow. Do you get it? I'm trying to help you become skeptical of your own naturedidit position. Anyways, what I’m saying is this, how does value come from valueless matter? It just looks like the godless take a leap of logic to sneak in something just so they can feel special in their pointless universe that has no teleology. This purposeless universe leaves you with a bit of a problem though, that is IF you don’t deny existentialism or Nihilism, and Paul Copan says it best

      “If intrinsic value does not exist from the outset, its emergence from non-valuable processes is difficult to explain. It doesn’t matter how many non-personal and non-valuable components we happen to stack up: from valuelessness, valuelessness comes.” - Paul Copan

      QED

      So does the magical naturedidit universe put value in us and make us special only because we exist and say that we are special? Does James feel special in his heart, which means humans are then justified in feeling special, therefore humans are special?

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    8. Holy crap. Are you going to vomit all over my blog every time I engage you?

      Giddy up!

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    9. “You're so caught up in what you've convinced yourself about the apparent necessity"

      No silly, I realize I have to make an argument for moral realism, and I don't assume this a priori, so please pick the straw out of your teeth

      "(apparent meaning not necessarily actual) of ultimate objective morality and ultimate teleology that you can't even write simple questions about simple observations without shuttling in your presumptive bullshit.”

      My observation is that if it looks like a spade it’s a spade, so why choose to get rid of a belief in God when you won’t even be around to enjoy it? Are you that deluded to the point where you think that you’re going to take these so-called ‘subjective’ accomplishments past the grave? Of course, you’re just as important to the universe as is an insect. I believe Sartre said it best when he said:

      "Being is without reason, without cause, and without necessity"

      ‘Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings’ By Jean Paul Sartre, Stephen Priest

      THe only bullshit here is watching a guy have his cake and eat it too, you act have some ultimate goal in getting rid of a belief in God, but yet you never justify why humanity has this ultimate goal in the first place, and then you get mad at me because I hold to a teleology. I have an idea, why don't you just admit that this illusion of 'destroying a belief in God' is nothing more than subjective emoting on your part? In another words, it just makes you feel good about yourself.


      And this (when I asked Brad why Moral Nihilism or moral relativism orsubjectivism couldn't be true) is not something that only Theists argue for as well, so how about you try reading some more philosophers who don’t agree with you before you make your ignorant knee-jerk replies to me that only make you look like you're projecting out of desperation.

      "There is but only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

      "Hence the intelligence...tells me in its way that this world is absurd. Its contrary, blind reason, may well claim that all is clear...But despite so many pretentious centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and persuasive men, I know that is false"

      - Albert Camus

      “The existentialist….thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plain where there are only men. Dostoievski said; “If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.’ That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”

      Jean Paul Sartre “Existentialism, New York, Bernard Frechtman”


      “Again, I say: And you wonder why I just let you gallop around on here and embarrass yourself?! Please, carry on, or don't. You'll do better to stop sooner rather than later, though.”

      Well I can expect an abject ignoramus like yourself to view me as embarrassing myself, but of course you’re going to think that when you have such a low respect for anyone who disagrees with you in the first place. I will keep educating you and your sophist street epistemologists for as long as it takes, you can’t pat yourself on the back all you want, but luckily the truth as corresponds to reality isn’t dependent on what James Lindsay thinks.

      My advice, you should block me, I can tell right now that you don’t know as much as you think you know, and enjoy putting a know it all like yourself in his place.

      Would you like some introductory book recommendations in ethics?

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    11. No, I meant this.
      vom·it ˈvämət/ verb 1. eject matter from the stomach through the mouth.

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    12. edit* "so you CAN pat yourself"

      'Holy crap. Are you going to vomit all over my blog every time I engage you?

      Giddy up"

      Well if 'vomiting' means showing you up in a debate, sure

      But I'm only posting a lot, because I give thorough replies and your blog has a limitation on how many words can fit in one post.

      OMG can't a smarty pants like yourself figure that out? You may have book smarts, but your street smarts are lacking.

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    13. "No, I meant this.
      vom·it ˈvämət/ verb 1. eject matter from the stomach through the mouth."

      Translation: (what James REALLY means)

      "Cornell you aren't a fundamentalist Bible-Belt Christian, so I can't take you on as you are not part of the low hanging fruit.

      I need to do something quick, so I'll use rhetoric to make up for substance, and with this rhetoric I can just say 'your post is nothing but vomit, therefore it is vomit' and this will magically make it the case where it will become vomit, and now I feel happy, because this is all I need to take you down. Haha sophist street epistemology 101 to the rescue!!!!"

      Does that sound about right, James?

      Now I know why you run Tom Gilson all the time LOL. My advice is that you should just stick with fundamentalists, as they are bit easier for you to handle, so I think you should practice with them before you can sit at the big boy table!

      Man I really expected at least some sort of challenge, oh well....

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    14. No, it doesn't sound right.

      When you give me something worth talking about with you, we'll talk. Keep trying if you like, but I'm not answering you again until you succeed. Take my silence as an indication that I think what you said is too broken to merit discussion.

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    16. "No, it doesn't sound right.

      When you give me something worth talking about with you, we'll talk. Keep trying if you like, but I'm not answering you again until you succeed. Take my silence as an indication that I think what you said is too broken to merit discussion."

      James how many shovels does it take you to dig yourself out of your own bullshit?

      I love how you underestimate virtually every Theist apologist as if they 'just can't' know more than you, because it makes you feel uncomfortable. This is just pure dogmatism on your part.

      Do you honestly think I'm going to buy your silly hand-waving cop-out justification methodology?

      Well, I'm going to take your silence as a sign of cowardice, because earlier it looks as though you came out in your attempt to refute me with your chest puffed out as if you've finally got an advantage on my arguments, but yet I effortlessly countered everything you said.

      And now James says this:

      "herpa derpa derp, when you give me something worth talking about, well talk"

      Though just before James was willing to write me a reply!

      Gotta love the double-talk from the amazing street epistemologists!!!!

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    17. I take it back and will respond again, just once, because you're being both rude and foolish now.

      If you want a challenge, go read the Outsider Test for Faith. Take it seriously. Bend all your considerable intelligence to the task, do it, and see what you come out with.

      When you're done, you can come back and tell me about it.

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    18. "I take it back and will respond again, just once, because you're being both rude and foolish now."

      Says the guy who told me that I pretend to be smart lol, says the guy who told me my comments are vomit.

      I guess James needs all the help he can get, so it's ok for him to be a hypocrite?

      "If you want a challenge, go read the Outsider Test for Faith. Take it seriously. Bend all your considerable intelligence to the task, do it, and see what you come out with."

      Projection again James, why assume that I have never challenged my position?

      Sure, I've read Loftus' book (which hardly gets any mention in academia) and it's garbage, where would you like me to start?

      It's really easy with Theism, because we assume Theism is false and test out the implications, and then assume Theism is true and test out the implications. So far after reading a lot of works from both sides of the debate, I have little to no reason to assume that Theism is false. Would you like to know why? (though you did say you wouldn't respond again)

      "When you're done, you can come back and tell me about it."

      Do you realize I've read JL Mackie's 'Miracle of Theism' ; Jordan Sobel's 'Logic and Theism' and Graham Oppy's 'Arguing about God's'????

      Those books are cited waaaaay more than Loftus' garbage, so why would you use Loftus as a recommendation when there are much better arguments against God out there?

      hmmm, perhaps it's because you're new to this....


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    19. My premise 1:

      1. If people lack in understanding for how the world really is, then they will suffer in confliction to determine what they truly ought to value and do.

      C. Anthony: “Brad first objection, this is with respect to 1: you end up begging the question here, so why assume that we have an objective moral obligation to do anything?...Or, moral obligations could very well exist, but in an antirealist sense to which moral obligations are pretty much subjective/relative in nature. So far I don't accept 1 as it is a bare assertion that seems to be assumed on your part with no argument to support it.”

      First, Anthony, let me say in response to your final statement (so we are clear) that I wasn’t intending my argument to be a formal proof. I phrased it in deductive form so to chunk the info for easy digestion. To actually convincingly prove all this would take probably a couple of books worth of material. Rather, what I was trying to offer was clarification of your confusion of science and its relationship to morality and why its proponents are critical of religious belief and explanations by way of “God”. I think my initial comment should have shed light on the thinking here: is and ought’s are directly correlated, or strongly “entangled”, as I believe the philosopher Hilary Putnam phrased it. And mystical-religious ideologies do not have the epistemological tools to form meaningful explanations and discover what is true about the world. Thus, humanity has a long history of ignorantly flailing about in misery. Science, on the other hand, represents humanities best efforts to understand the world and what is true, and has, as a result, revolutionarily changed the world. And many are defensive of science and critical of religious ideas because the religious ideologies have not demonstrated a valid method of epistemology, and so appear to spread dogmatic ignorance which inhibits people from understanding the world and how to go about living in it.

      Now, to briefly respond to your objection: First, I think that the idea of a metaphysical, objective moral framework of the universe that many theists are obsessed with is incoherent. And the best way to see this, I think, is to wrestle with the Euthyphro Dilemma. I have not seen a sound response this, demonstrating that God provides some objective standard that otherwise could not exist. For either God’s nature is arbitrarily determined--and so are His commands and their “goodness”; or there are reasons that His nature, and so by extension His commands, are good. But these reasons would be goods in themselves, regardless of God.

      If I am wrong, then I would appreciate it if you would provide a response demonstrating it to be a false dilemma. Otherwise, what we are left with is the fact that there are physically, psychologically and socially healthier and unhealthier, better and worse ways to go about living—and this is what ethics is really about.

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    20. Brad,

      >> If I am wrong, then I would appreciate it if you would provide a response demonstrating it to be a false dilemma.

      Read the link below for a response. Note the last sentence of that article, "This doesn't mean Christianity is true, only that it's is not handicapped by Plato's challenge to Euthyphro."

      http://www.str.org/articles/euthyphro-s-dilemma#.UvPAI2JdXYY

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    21. Brad. Euthyphro is simple. Had you gone on to read Aristotle, you'd have an answer. Aristotle defines the good in the first line of the Nicomachean Ethics. The good is that at which all things aim. From there, Aquinas and others would go on to say that God is the good. Goodness can be known without the knowledge of God, but there is no ontological basis for the existence of the good without God.

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    22. Thanks for the link, Steve. But I am familiar with this response (referring to God’s “immutable character”, etc.), which is what I was referring to when I said I have not seen a sound response to the Euthyphro dilemma. This response is inconsistent in what it claims and what it demonstrates: namely, it claims:

      “If God does not exist, then moral terms are actually incoherent and our moral intuitions are nonsense…Christians need not fear Plato on this score.”

      Yet, in responding to the Euthyphro dilemma, it maintains:

      “When we say God is good, we are giving additional information, namely that God has a certain quality. God is not the very same thing as goodness (identical to it). It's an essential characteristic of God, so there is no tautology.”

      Now look at the dilemma I posed above. This response IS the second horn. Furthermore, and most importantly, it refutes the first quoted passage: if God is not identical to goodness, but rather such goodness is “additional information” that determines (or defines) the quality of God’s character, then—despite what was initially claimed—God could not exist and this “additional information” would remain just as valid.

      The point of the dilemma still stands, and Christians do indeed need to come to terms with it (as I understand).

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    23. Nick: First, I have read Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics. Second, your short paragraph does not demonstrate that you have any understanding of the Euthyphro dilemma, let alone that you have "easily" resolved it. Care to elaborate? Namely, explain what you meant when you said:

      "God is the good."

      What does 'good' mean, here?

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    24. Brad
      >> "God could not exist and this “additional information” would remain just as valid."

      Not sure how this could be the case when the reality of God grounds the reality of the "additional information". Maybe you can explain.

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    25. Brad, you have merely taken the dilemma and rephrased it to avoid the refutation. In doing so you have rendered the argument meaningless because you no longer have any distinction between God's Being and His Goodness, which is required for the dilemma to exist in the first place.

      Delete
    26. Steve, there seems to be a couple of ways to interpret your last reply, and I am not sure what you meant (Can you clarify?). Assuming you meant what is stated in the argument you cited: it is asserted that God grounds morality. The Euthyphro dilemma, as the author acknowledges, challenges this claim. And as I pointed out, the argument you cited does not refute the dilemma, but adopts the second horn.

      I.e. the theist's "moral argument" (as I already pointed out) claims that morality is meaningless without the the Christian theistic conception of God. Yet the euthyphro dilemma forces the theist to seperate moral concepts as "additional information" or else 'good' becomes a meaningless tautology. But then that refutes the initial claim of the moral argument. The concept of God does not provide morality with its meaning.

      Delete
    27. Derek, no this is not accurate. What has happened, as I see it, is that theists have sneekily slid the dilemma from Gods commands to his nature, or "character". And in doing so, have confused people into thinking it has dissappeared. It has not--it is still there.

      "In doing so you have rendered the argument meaningless because you no longer have any distinction between God's Being and His Goodness, which is required for the dilemma to exist in the first place. "

      Nope, the dilemma is not meaningless. There is no distinction in the first horn of the dilemma between the conception of God's being and his goodness, which means that His goodness is arbitrary and tautological. This is why theists reject it. The second horn of the dilemma does make this distinction. This allows the description of God as "good" to be meaningful, but it also makes the conception of God unnecessary for morality to be meaningful--contrary to what has been claimed.

      Delete
    28. Brad,

      Part 1

      You said "“First, Anthony, let me say in response to your final statement (so we are clear) that I wasn’t intending my argument to be a formal proof. I phrased it in deductive form so to chunk the info for easy digestion.”

      ok

      “ To actually convincingly prove all this would take probably a couple of books worth of material. Rather, what I was trying to offer was clarification of your confusion of science and its relationship to morality and why its proponents are critical of religious belief and explanations by way of “God”. I think my initial comment should have shed light on the thinking here: is and ought’s are directly correlated, or strongly “entangled”, as I believe the philosopher Hilary Putnam phrased it. And mystical-religious ideologies do not have the epistemological tools to form meaningful explanations and discover what is true about the world. Thus, humanity has a long history of ignorantly flailing about in misery. “

      That’s good for Putnam, though I don’t really see why he should be taken as an authority on the subject since he rarely contributes to the philosophy of religion, even if he is a Theist. Putnam puts forth an argument here, but doesn’t really support it.

      “Science, on the other hand, represents humanities best efforts to understand the world and what is true, and has, as a result, revolutionarily changed the world. And many are defensive of science and critical of religious ideas because the religious ideologies have not demonstrated a valid method of epistemology, and so appear to spread dogmatic ignorance which inhibits people from understanding the world and how to go about living in it.”

      Science doesn’t do well when it mixed with ethics, and here are some authorities on the subject since you want to play that game:

      “Science has made us increasingly competent in knowledge and power, but it has also left us decreasingly confident about right and wrong. The evolutionary past has not been easy to connect with the ethical future. There is no obvious route from biology to ethics – despite the fact that here we are..The genesis of ethics is problematic”

      Holmes Rolston III, ‘Genes, Genesus and God’ Cambridge University Press pg 214-215

      “Even the greatest forces and abilities don’t seem to carry any clear instructions on how to use them. As an example, the great accumulation of understanding as to how the physical world behaves only convinces one that this behavior has a kind of meaninglessness about it. The sciences do not directly teach good or bad”

      Richard Feynman ‘The Meaning of it all’ London, Penguin 2007 pg 32

      “ethical values, lie outside the scientific realm”

      Richard Feynman ‘The Meaning of it all’ London, Penguin 2007 pg 32

      We can go all the back to Hume, who pointed out the fact that science tells us what ‘is’ not how things ‘ought’ to be.

      Delete
    29. Brad,

      Part 2

      You say “Now, to briefly respond to your objection: First, I think that the idea of a metaphysical, objective moral framework of the universe that many theists are obsessed with is incoherent. And the best way to see this, I think, is to wrestle with the Euthyphro Dilemma. I have not seen a sound response this, demonstrating that God provides some objective standard that otherwise could not exist. For either God’s nature is arbitrarily determined--and so are His commands and their “goodness”; or there are reasons that His nature, and so by extension His commands, are good. But these reasons would be goods in themselves, regardless of God.”



      If I am wrong, then I would appreciate it if you would provide a response demonstrating it to be a false dilemma. Otherwise, what we are left with is the fact that there are physically, psychologically and socially healthier and unhealthier, better and worse ways to go about living—and this is what ethics is really about.”

      Sure, I’ll take down this horrible objection that is the Euthyphro and then apply it to nontheistic moral realism to see if the godless can take it down when it is applied to them. Though I will only use this if necessary.

      Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue states “Is what is holy holy because the gods approve it, or do they approve it because it is holy?” 10a

      First off pace Paul Copan, I can easily evade this false dilemma that was actually used against Polytheism back in Plato’s time by pointing out the third way: goodness IS nonarbitrarily rooted in God’s necessarily good personhood (or character), not in divine commands. Most of the time those who use the Euthyphro make the assumption that good = commanded by God and therefore come to the conclusion that God could issue entirely opposite commands which is strange in excelsis.

      Though God doesn’t have duties to follow, nor does he need them. God naturally does what is good because his CHARACTER is good, and just. Therefore it would be odd that God would have duties or be obligated to his own divine commands – particularly when God’s personhood is the very source of goodness.

      QED

      That’s is my first response, though I don’t really see why we have to debate this any longer as I’m pretty confident of the fact that the Euthyphro is a terrible objection to Theism, but if you want to keep this going I will.

      Delete
    30. Also, the Euthyphro dilemma is not even an objection to theism but it's a question about the nature of the good. Aristotle answers that. Aquinas just expands it. Socrates was a theist after all.

      In fact, as long as one has the other arguments for theism and they work, one can be uncertain about the Euthyphro and still be justified in holding to theism.

      Still, I think Aristotle and Aquinas together provide the best answer to the good and its relation to God.

      Delete
    31. I think James is imploding again on Twitter, I've never seen someone whine so much.

      What he REALLY Wants to say is "why can't all Theists be easy to debate...sniff...sniff, I just want them all to be stupid, because I don't a God to exist......sniffle.... "

      ROFL this is priceless

      Delete
    32. Hey James here are some NONtheologians that you should check out, in fact all these men here are Non-Theists lol

      "Man is a useless passion. It is meaningless that we live and meaningless that we die"

      - Colin Wilson

      "Moral properties constitute so odd a cluster of properties and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events without an all-powerful god to create them"

      - J.L Mackie 'Miracle of Theism'


      "Morality is herd instinct in the individual"

      "I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism."

      - Fredrick Nietzche

      "[Our] exhortations to moral virtue are not propositions at all, but ejaculations or commands which are designed to provoke the reader to action of a certain sort"

      - A.J Ayer

      "There is but only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

      "Hence the intelligence...tells me in its way that this world is absurd. Its contrary, blind reason, may well claim that all is clear...But despite so many pretentious centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and persuasive men, I know that is false"

      - Albert Camus



      “The existentialist….thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plain where there are only men. Dostoievski said; “If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.’ That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”

      Jean Paul Sartre “Existentialism, New York, Bernard Frechtman”

      "We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons, unhoodwinked by myth or ideology, need not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn't decide here. The picture I pointed out for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me...pure practical reason, even with good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.

      - Kai Nielson

      "Being is without reason, without cause, and without necessity"

      ‘Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings’ By Jean Paul Sartre, Stephen Priest


      "That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; ...that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the aspirations, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- All these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built."

      - Bertrand Russell ‘A Free man’s worship’

      "If death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to die"

      - Thomas Nagel

      Delete
    33. I won't interact with you at all until you explain plainly what it would take to change your mind. I will continue to make fun of you on Twitter, though.

      Delete
    34. Cornell, I'm not sure if you quoted the Bertrand Russell quote accurately. I'm sure at the end of it he had said "Oh by the way, have a nice day!"

      Delete
    35. Since James doesn't want to interact with me (at least not on here, as he IS interacting me on Twitter) until I tell him what it would take for me to change my mind, well I'd like to take a page out of Peter Boghossian's book so here it goes. Well I would need all the stars in the sky to spell out "God does not exist" and it has to be seen by everyone else in their own language and then I might begin to consider that I'm wrong. I might, just change my mind and then become an atheist to which I can instantly say "Ima freethinker nao, because naturedidit and Ima atheist who iz automatically smarter than any theist."

      Yeah that would do it James, I learned that one from the great Peter Boghossian (who got his excellent reasoning on this topic from Krauss, who probably read Richard Carrier) yes Peter Boghossian the man with all those peer-reviewed scholarly papers in academi......uh.....ohhh, well he has a few at least. Awesome logic, right?

      Lastly

      James says "He thinks I read his comments if they're longer than about two sentences"

      I notice you have a higher attention span than most atheists so you're slowly getting there, but now we have to deal with your fear of arguing with non-fundamentalist Christians.

      Delete
    36. "This is what it would take to change his mind. He doesn't even get to sit at the Kids' Table."

      Now, now James I would have thought that a street epistemologist was smart enough to recognize sarcasm. I believe your emotions are taking over.

      I think I'm going to email Lindsay's cult leader Peter Boghossian and advise Peter of Lindsay's fear and poor reasoning capabilities.

      He isn't being a good street epistemologist and he isn't fulfilling that ultimate goal that was given to him by his purposeless, unconscious, valueless, unconscious, unintelligent, naturedidit mechanism that gave him his reasoning skills...

      James, you have a duty to fulfill before you become worm food, and if you fail to convert me into shifting matter in the way of A (atheist) rather than shifting matter in the way of B (theist), then that purposeless conglomeration of matter in Peter Boghossian is going to get upset.

      Delete
    37. Now that you've cooled down, I 'll tell you exactly the same thing that I told street epistemologist Martin on one of Peter's FB status' today when he asked ' what would change my mind'.

      My reply was: Give me reasons for physical matter being all that exists, in other words show my why materialism is most likely to be true. Or give me an atheological argument (s) that is convincing, or knock down all the arguments that I use for giving evidence for the existence of God.

      Delete
    38. C. Anthony: " since you want to play that game:.."

      oh yeah, I wanna play dat game! :) Your pompousness is directly proportional to your gross failure to respond to anything I have said.

      1. Are you really trying to argue that values exist entirely unrelated to facts and the actual nature of reality? Okay....

      2. You did not resolve the Euthyphro dilemma, but demonstrated that you have no understanding of it.

      "Most of the time those who use the Euthyphro..."

      I don't care, deal with how I used it. Here it is again:

      For either God’s nature is arbitrarily determined--and so are His commands and their “goodness”; or there are reasons that His nature, and so by extension His commands, are good. But these reasons would be goods in themselves, regardless of God.

      And here is you rejecting the first horn and adopting the second--thus NOT defeating the dilemma:

      "goodness IS nonarbitrarily rooted in God’s necessarily good personhood (or character)... God naturally does what is good because his CHARACTER is good, and just...QED" [Hahah]

      I explained the dilemma enough already above in my conversation with Steve...Please see those comments.

      "I’m pretty confident of the fact that the Euthyphro is a terrible objection to Theism"

      It is an objection, as I already discussed with Steve, to the theists claim that only the conception of the theistic God can provide moral terms with meaning. See those comments, Playa'!

      Delete
    39. Brad,

      Part 1

      “oh yeah, I wanna play dat game! :) Your pompousness is directly proportional to your gross failure to respond to anything I have said. “

      perhaps you didn’t realize what you actually said, because if you did then you’d realize that I don’t need to respond to anything you tried to put forth against me as you didn’t give me any substance to work with.

      “ Are you really trying to argue that values exist entirely unrelated to facts and the actual nature of reality? Okay....”

      What I’m saying is when you use a reduction to the absurdity type of argumentation against Theism, you need to give the Theist all he can work with under his worldview to get out of it, if you try and cheat yourself by doing otherwise then there is no genuine absurdity taking place.

      Now what I’m arguing is while God’s commands are relevant to ethics, they do not define or constitute goodness. That is to say, God may give commands (ie: Planting laws for national Israel) that are not permanently binding, nor is there any reason to think these are inherently good. This is probably one of the biggest misunderstandings that I see from Non-Theists who use the Euthyphro.

      “You did not resolve the Euthyphro dilemma, but demonstrated that you have no understanding of it.”

      I definitely understand it, and this is why I find it to be a terrible objection.


      “I don't care, deal with how I used it. Here it is again:

      For either God’s nature is arbitrarily determined--and so are His commands and their “goodness”; or there are reasons that His nature, and so by extension His commands, are good. But these reasons would be goods in themselves, regardless of God.”

      That is exactly how I understand it lol, either God’s commands are arbitrary (something is good because God commands it – and he could have commanded the opposite), or there must be some autonomous moral standard (which God consults in order to command). Yes, it’s the same dilemma that one hears all the time in academia, though I don’t know why a good number of atheists find it to be convincing. You just presuppose the fact that goodness can be a part of God, but why is this? Your God seems very small, well the necessity of moral truths does not diminish their need for grounding in a necessary personal God, who exists in all possible worlds. God, who necessarily exists in all possible worlds, is the source of all necessary moral truths that stand in asymmetrical relation to God’s necessity. This can be compared to the necessary truth “consciousness necessarily exists”, this is precisely because God – a supremely self-aware being – exists in all possible worlds. So God who is essentially perfect does not have obligations to some external moral standard. You’re just trying to shrink God to fit the objection, but why should we even define a being as ‘God’ when it has an obligation to a moral standard? How could your God even be worthy of the definition ‘God’ when we can just put forth a greater being that is worthy of the definition and doesn’t have an obligation to some external moral standard???

      Delete
    40. Brad,

      Part 2

      “And here is you rejecting the first horn and adopting the second--thus NOT defeating the dilemma:”

      No, I’m not adopting ANY HORN, I’m giving you a third option that doesn’t go into any of the horns. Stop trying to make it like every Theist in the world needs to hold to William Ockham’s version of God, we don’t need to hold to Voluntarism. This isn’t necessary no matter how hard you want it to be.

      H. O. Vounce rightly argues "God cannot hold anything good unless he already values it. But then his valuing cannot depend on its being good."


      “I explained the dilemma enough already above in my conversation with Steve...Please see those comments.”

      And it still fails, pace Paul Copan one can see that the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma are not exhaustive’ moreover, all human beings have been endowed with value by God (ontology) and thus have the capacity to know what is good (epistemology). God’s commands – far from being arbitrary – are in accordance with God’s necessarily good personhood. So when God acts, he simply does what is right. And we humans would not know goodness (epistemology) without God’s granting us a moral constitution, including rights, reason and free will. (ontology)

      So the Euthyphro is just a disastrous argument against Theism that can’t even stand on its own.


      “It is an objection, as I already discussed with Steve, to the theists claim that only the conception of the theistic God can provide moral terms with meaning. See those comments, Playa'!”

      It’s a terrible objection, do you still want to press this, even though I’ve pretty much eviscerated this overrated objection?

      Delete
    41. Brad,

      edit on Part 1, last paragraph

      meant to say:

      "You just presuppose the fact that goodness CAN'T be a part of God, but why is this? "

      Delete
    42. Nope, you are not understanding it, and you are not providing a third horn. You are merely flailing all over the place:

      " So God who is essentially perfect does not have obligations to some external moral standard."

      Perfect in what sense (according to what standard)--simply because He is God? So 'perfect', 'good', etc. are all identical conceptions with God, who has no external obligations. This is the first horn of the dilemma: 'good' is tautologically defined as God and whatever he commands. When you say God is essentially perfect, what you mean is that God is essentially [God]. and when you say, "So when God acts, he simply does what is right." You mean, when God acts, he simply does what [God does]. And this makes his actions and moral perfection arbitrary and reasonless...

      You are not getting it. Rather you are using aggressive and cocky language as front, to give a rhetorical appearance that you know what you are talking about.

      Adios man. I have no desire to keep going round (and round and round) with you and your unpleasantness.

      Delete
    43. Part 1

      Well looking at the exchange, I agree and disagree with both Brad and Cornell in some respects.

      I agree with Cornell that the Euthyphro is a weak objection. I also agree that God is good, but I do not hold that God's nature is the good, although I certainly hold that God's nature is good.

      I agree with Brad that to say God's nature is goodness is indeed a tautology. (Note, that again does not mean that to say "God's nature is good" is a tautology.) On the other hand, I disagree that this is a real objection to theism.

      To begin with, I'm going to take it as a given that good exists (As well as evil) and that goodness is a reality in itself and is objective. I fervently deny that "There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so."

      Now having said that, we must determine first off what the good is. I believe Aristotle's definition suffices. "The good is that at which all things aim." The good is something that is in the object or action or what-have-you that is seen as good. It is not something that is added on by the intellect. It exists inherently in the thing itself that is desired and if you do not recognize a good thing as good, then the problem lies with you.

      So what do all things desire ultimately? They all desire to be. This is what we refer to as something appetitable. Goodness is recognized by the appetite and in fact, the only reason anyone can desire anything is because they perceive it is good.

      Delete
    44. Part 2

      Let's deal with some objections at that point. "Well what about a murderer?" The murderer is doing what he does because he thinks that some good will come as a result of this person being removed from this life. It does not mean that he is right, but it means that that is his perception.

      What about the rapist? The rapist does something for the same reason. He believes that he is achieving a good. It could be as simple a good as power or it could be pleasure or both.

      Such actions of course are not good, as the person has a wrong perception. If a murderer wants justice, we would not deny that justice is a bad thing. We would say justice on his terms is a bad thing. If a rapist wants power or pleasure, we would not deny that those are in themselves bad things. We would hold they are being desired in the wrong way and by the wrong means.

      So having done that, let us suppose then that we have a definition of goodness. We all can recognize some goods. So the question is, where does this goodness come from? What is the ontological basis?

      On a materialist philosophy, I see no basis for goodness. Goodness is not a physical property after all and if matter is all there is, then all can be discussed in terms of physical properties.

      So some might say that goodness is just what mankind says it is. If so, then we have a Euthyphro for man here. Is something good because the majority of men let's say, say that it is, or do the majority of men say that it is because it is good? Well I would contend that properly speaking, it is the latter. The majority of men can be wrong and goodness in something is a fact that is argued for and not just decided by personal opinion. Yet if that is the case, then it doesn't answer the question of ontology. Where does this goodness come from? It in fact presumes things would be good if no man was around to say they are good.

      Aquinas explains the relationship between goodness and being very well.

      "I answer that, Goodness and being are really the same, and differ only in idea; which is clear from the following argument. The essence of goodness consists in this, that it is in some way desirable. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. i): "Goodness is what all desire." Now it is clear that a thing is desirable only in so far as it is perfect; for all desire their own perfection. But everything is perfect so far as it is actual. Therefore it is clear that a thing is perfect so far as it exists; for it is existence that makes all things actual, as is clear from the foregoing (3, 4; 4, 1). Hence it is clear that goodness and being are the same really. But goodness presents the aspect of desirableness, which being does not present."

      More can be found in this question in the Summa. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1005.htm

      What this means is that if goodness and being are one and the same and just differ in aspect, then the ultimate goodness would be the ultimate being because this being would be perfect being a being that is pure actuality. Since this is God, then God is goodness by nature since He is the exemplar of all perfection. For Aquinas also, this is not just decided arbitrarily but argued for by the five ways.

      Now one may say Aquinas is wrong in his five ways (He's not), but his argument does avoid the horns of the dilemma. In fact, I think it's truer to Scripture as man can know what is and isn't good without knowing God, according to Romans 2.

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    45. Brad,

      you say “Nope, you are not understanding it, and you are not providing a third horn. You are merely flailing all over the place:”

      Well since you didn’t demonstrate this, I don’t know what the objection is. You say I don’t understand it, but yet expect me to read your mind, so I have no idea why I need to take any of these two horns. Honestly I think the Euthyphro is only valid against Polytheism as it was intended, This way we can ask “does Apollo listen to Zeus, or Zeus listen to Apollo, or does Zeus listen to Cronus’ Which God do we follow in this hierarchy? Which polytheistic god sets the foundation for morality?

      And the Euthyphro also hurts nontheistic or (naturalistic) moral realists

      I ask naturalistic moral realists: Are these moral facts good simply because they are good, or is there an independent standard of goodness to which they conform? I don’t see where a godless naturalist has any advantage over Theism when the Euthyphro is pressed to them.


      “Perfect in what sense (according to what standard)--simply because He is God? So 'perfect', 'good', etc. are all identical conceptions with God, who has no external obligations. “

      Yes, this is the God that you are using in your argument right? Because if it isn’t then there is no objection as I don’t need to take on your quasi-God that is imperfect, because I don’t hold to it.

      “This is the first horn of the dilemma: 'good' is tautologically defined as God and whatever he commands. When you say God is essentially perfect, what you mean is that God is essentially [God]. “

      No that’s Ockham’s God, and that’s making things out to be the case where if God ordered everyone to torture babies for fun, then we are obligated to torture babies for fun, but this is a gross distortion. As I pointed out before, God’s commands are relevant to ethics, though they do NOT define or constitute goodness.

      “and when you say, "So when God acts, he simply does what is right." You mean, when God acts, he simply does what [God does]. And this makes his actions and moral perfection arbitrary and reasonless...”

      You are not getting it. Rather you are using aggressive and cocky language as front, to give a rhetorical appearance that you know what you are talking about.”

      I do get, I just don’t accept your terrible theology or your quasi-God that you are using in this dilemma.

      If God has to be held to some outside standard, then I don’t see why we should call this being God, I don’t see why this ‘God’ is even worthy of the definition, because for all we know there could be a being that grounds ethics and yet this ‘God’ that you use in the Euthyphro would make more sense, but why should we call this ‘God’ that you use in the Euthyphro, ‘God’?

      To say I use cocky language is a cop-out tactic that resorts to well-poisoning. It’s not my fault this objection is bad. Once again pace Copan, the Euthyphro fails to distinguish between moral good (an axiological category) and moral right ( a deontic category, denoting obligation/duty). For example, giving all one’s possessions to the poor may be good, but this doesn’t entail a universal obligation. This good-right distinction enables us to determine what good (supererogatory) actions rise above the obligatory. Again, what is good is not identical to what God commands, but what God commands will ultimately be good. I don’t know why this is so hard to comprehend.

      “Adios man. I have no desire to keep going round (and round and round) with you and your unpleasantness.”

      Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, all and all the Euthyphro Dilemma against Theism has been shown to be egregiously false.

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    46. Nick

      "but I do not hold that God's nature is the good, although I certainly hold that God's nature is good."

      What about if I argue: Goodness is nonarbitrarily rooted in God's necessarily personhood (or character)?

      Delete
    47. First off Cornell, I think it's important to point out to the skeptics that Christians don't walk in lock-steps on apologetics. We critique one another's answers.

      I would have no problem with goodness being rooted in God provided as I said that we define goodness prior without saying anything about God. One knows that GOd is good by knowing goodness first. One does not know goodness by knowing God.

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    48. "First off Cornell, I think it's important to point out to the skeptics that Christians don't walk in lock-steps on apologetics. We critique one another's answers."

      Of course, no problem with that.

      "I would have no problem with goodness being rooted in God provided as I said that we define goodness prior without saying anything about God. One knows that GOd is good by knowing goodness first. One does not know goodness by knowing God."

      Yeah, I think we agree here. This is something argued moreso on a meta-ethical level, so an atheist can still know goodness even if he doesn't believe in God, this is because a belief in God is irrelevant.

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    49. Yes. My first point was merely for demonstration to the skeptics here who seem to have grown quiet on this subject for some reason.

      Second, yes. One does not need to be a theist to know that there is a good and to know that something is good. However, one needs on an atheistic worldview to have an ontological basis for goodness. I haven't seen it yet.

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  5. People determine their beliefs by trust more that some abstract process of justified belief. You can marshal all the evidence for something you want but most of the audience won't pay attention if it is coming from a source they do not trust. That trust is usually built by an interpersonal track-record of love, kindness, faithfulness. Any amount of other evidence, especially with respect to lot of things that they can't immediately verify (like climate change) will simply not find their concern. This is how humans work and nearly all of the evidence demonstrates it to be true.

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  6. I see James is caught in a trap of modern dispesnationalism with his own mix of scientism. Scientism is simple to understand. It's the idea that all truth can be proven or disproven by science, and it's just false. Science can prove a lot of things, but it can't prove everything. A metal detector is great if you want to find coins at the beach. It's not great if you want to find plastic. Running a metal detector over the whole beach will say nothing about if there's plastic products under the sand or not.

    Perhaps he should read some works on the philosophy of science such as Rescher's "The Limits of Science."

    As for the idea that we can just abandon the Earth because Jesus is going to return soon, perhaps he should also read the best in NT scholarship. For instance, N.T. Wright is even called by Newsweek as the world's top Bible scholar and he's made it clear in his works that the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof and we should seek to take care of it. He should also consider looking at groups like the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

    But I suspect this research will not be done. Someone who follows Boghossian inevitably presents too much doxastic closure.

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    1. Hi Nick,

      Just wanted to thank you and the other folks for stopping by to confirm the points I've been making over my last few posts on my blog about this issue. I couldn't have made up examples as good as these.

      Cheers!
      James

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    2. Ah, the age-old question: are addled minds attracted to the nonsense that is apologetics, or does apologetics addle the mind?

      As those upthread would say in response to the Euthyphro Dilemma,

      Yes.

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    3. Cal, could you provide me a definition of what you are referring to as apologetics?

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    4. By apologetics I mean chiefly Christian apologetics -- the school of arguments, techniques, tactics, etc., the purpose of which is to defend the supposed rationality of Christian belief.

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    5. Ok and you have a problem with this because...?

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  7. Meaningless arguments, special pleading, distortion of facts, lying for Jesus, quote mining, data mining, flagrant disregard for role of cognitive biases in our thinking, deception, the Gish Gallop, hypocrisy, dilettantism, Dunninng Kruger, psychological projection, a profound and complete understanding of irony, smugness, carrying water for those who are trying to sabotage our educational system, promotion of dangerous epistemology. Oh, and a lot of really long winded and poorly written comments throughout the internet (and on this post). Lots of them.

    That's top of my head. I have a suspicion your next comment will elicit in me a "Oh, forgot that one!" but knock yourself out.

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    1. Are there people who engage in Christian apologetics who do not engage in those behaviors?

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    2. Derek_M, I'll be honest with you. I think that in order to remain a religious believer who truly investigates the reasons for his/her belief, you have to adopt at least some of the behaviors that I list above. I think that genuine, intellectual honesty, applied to one's religious beliefs, is a one way ticket to suspended belief about any of the god claims I know of. (I think many people can avoid these behaviors by not really investigating their belief, btw.)

      I've been an observer of this game for a long time now. I can't think of an exception.

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