Over the past several weeks, I've blogged about theistic metaethical realism and whether moral truth require God's existence. In this post, I will briefly describe an additional problem for those theories according to which our moral duties are identical to God's commands. In addition, I will sketch a possible solution and illustrate one of its pitfalls.
Divine Command Theory (DCT) is the view that whatever we ought to do, we ought to because God commands it. DCT identifies God's commands with our moral obligations. Famously, DCT is subject to the Euthyphro Dilemma -- does God command us to do x because x is moral or is x moral because God commands us to x? The former possibility denies DCT, but the latter is comparatively implausible because it renders our moral duties arbitrary. Theists have provided various solutions -- for example, that our moral duties issue forth from God's essence, which is identified with the Good -- and so I put aside the Euthyphro Dilemma in this essay to focus on a different problem.
Consider modus ponens:
1. If P then Q.
3. Therefore, Q.
We say modus ponens is valid because the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. In other words, there is no way for 1 and 2 to be true, but 3 false. We can examine the truth table for all three propositions and notice whenever 'If P then Q' and 'P' are true, 'Q' is also true. We refer to valid inferences as truth preserving; i.e. they preserve ...more
CN: Discussion of childhood sexual abuse, Duggar abuse scandal.
Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the Duggar clan, was recently revealed to have been reported of repeatedly sexually abused five children, including his siblings, when he was a teenager. Although the girls' names have not been stated, it is alleged that the youngest that experienced this abuse was five years old. In the firestorm that followed, many people came to Duggar's defense and slung a variety of excuses for both his behavior and the fact that this matter was not handled properly by his parents or the authorities.
As someone that was sexually abused as a child, by another child, I know the futility of this situation all too well. Your story is doubted because you were so young (I was five when it started). Your attacker has excuses made for him because he was young as well, and therefore could not have been fully cognizant at the time. You are told to let it go, forgive and move on, before you even realize or fully comprehend what happened to you and what impact it will have on you. And this is if you are lucky enough to have anyone listen to you at all.
When the Duggar parents announced that the girls had forgiven their brother and just wanted to move on with their lives, I shuddered. The way forgiveness is handled in some forms of Christianity, like a step in a program that everyone is forced through, I wonder just how much the violated ...more
Before we get too far, here is the video that I am responding to. I am going to be referring to parts of it throughout this post, so I suggest watching it to get the necessary context. In it, Tracie Harris is using regular six-sided dice and an opaque dice bag to explain, with the help of Matt Dillahunty, the idea that one cannot just say that something is possible, even if one does not know that such a thing is impossible. While I think that this example is very insightful and good, I think that it can be improved with the help of some more nuance, namely around the idea of possibility.
How to make the idea of possibility more nuanced? We can do this by distinguishing between two kinds of possibility: ontological possibility and epistemic possibility. For instance, in the dice bag example in the video it is either ontologically possible for an 18 to be rolled, or ontologically impossible for an 18 to be rolled. The number of dice in the bag will determine whether it is ontologically possible for an 18 to be rolled.
Epistemic possibility is a little trickier to explain. Think of it this way: if I say that both the ontological possibility of rolling an 18, and the ontological impossibility of rolling an 18 are possible in the dice bag example, I am speaking of epistemic possibility. That is, from where we are sitting, in ignorance of the ontological possibility or impossibility of rolling an 18 with ...more
So... some of my friends who also blog here have been giving me shit(in a nice way) for not blogging lately. I admit it, I am a bit lazy when it comes to writing. Between my favorite shows and my PS4 and my PC games, I have a lot of ways to distract myself from writing. I cannot promise that I will keep myself on a regular schedule from here out, but I will try to write at least more than I have since I started this blog.
As long as this post seems to be about me, I suppose I will share a little of where my mind is at in regards to religion, philosophy, and atheism. Currently, I am still pretty obsessed with the "New Atheists" and how badly they get so much wrong. I don't have anything in regards to that topic waiting to be written, as in, I do not have anything specific to share at the moment. That said, I plan on making myself sit through some debates or shows featuring the atheists I most disagree with and reviewing/responding to what they say. I cannot promise it will be pretty, but I suspect that the degree to which such posts will be interesting is inversely correlated with the degree of their "prettiness".
Less importantly, I am constantly thinking of ways that my favorite shows and games relate to philosophy, religion, etc. Top on that list right now in my mind is the game I just snagged for ...more
I find it very strange that Catholic family friends and relatives who are in no way okay with my atheism or beliefs in equality for everyone, including The Gays, are so utterly pleased to find out that I've become a Unitarian Universalist (UU). It seems the UU looks like enough of a church to sooth them, even though their concept of a church remains completely different from mine and the reality of what happens at UU.
My atheism remains untouched. I still believe everything that I did before I joined the church, but somehow the fact that it's called a church, I go to a service, and there is a minister seems to assure these people that I've come back to god in some bizarre way I can't fathom. Nothing about me has changed, I just found a community that accepts me as I am and doesn't shun me for the beliefs I had when I walked in the door. Which is not the case when it came to Catholicism, let me assure you.
It seems to me that these people have a set idea about what makes up a church and they can't even conceive of a place that is anything other than what they've thought it was. And, in a way, I can't blame them. If all you know of tea is shitty tea bag tea, when someone offers you loose leaf first-flush tea, you might decline. But there are different things out there. Both tea-wise and church-wise.
My mother has ...more
Readers of my blog know that I have been debating whether the is/ought dichotomy is compatible with theistic metaethical realism . I've taken the stance the odds the is/ought dichotomy is true are at least as probable as the odds the is/ought dichotomy is false. Since the is/ought dichotomy is incompatible with theistic metaethical realism, and there are more ways to be a moral realist who denies the is/ought dichotomy than theistic metaethical realism, the odds theistic metaethical realism is true are less than 50%; thus, theistic metaethical realism is not obviously true. The preceding argument can be extended further: since theistic metaethical realism is less than 50% likely to be true, we should not be theistic metaethical realists. In place of theistic metaethical realism, I have suggested metaethical non-natural realism: the view that there are non-reducible objective moral truths that constitute their own fully autonomous domain of facts. Richard Bushey has argued the is/ought dichotomy and theistic metaethical realism are compatible , but, thus far, I have found his substantive challenges unconvincing. Here, I respond to another possible argument that the theist may provide against meta-ethical non-natural realism.
The theist may argue that, if the meta-ethical non-natural realist is correct, then it is difficult to explain how we know what moral truths there are. Moral truths would not have any spatial or temporal location, so we cannot observe them in the world; they would have no causal efficacy, so they could not cause various events that we observe; and our ...more
This is the latest entry in a series of posts on Libere and Therefore God Exists in which Richard Bushey and I debate whether the is-ought dichotomy is incompatible with theistic metaethics. Previous entries included:
Libere: Do atheists steal morality from the Christian worldview?
Bushey: Is the moral argument guilty of the is-ought fallacy?
Libere: In Defense of the Incompatibility of Hume's Is/Ought Dichotomy and Theistic Metaethical Realism: A Response to Richard Bushey
Bushey: In Defense of the Moral Argument: A Response to Dan Linford
I’ve recently defended the view that the is/ought dichotomy and theistic metaethical realism are incompatible. My argument was originally posed as a response to presuppositional apologists, like Greg Bahnsen, who argue that moral facts both exist and are so obviously grounded in God that anyone who claims not to believe in God must have deceived themselves. I call this the obviousness thesis. In response, I argued that the is/ought dichotomy is incompatible with theistic metaethical realism and that because it is less than clear whether the is/ought dichotomy is true, the obviousness thesis is false. Theists who maintain moral facts are grounded in God, but, contra Bahnsen, that this is not obviously so, are free to agree with me and to deny the is/ought dichotomy. Others may maintain that moral facts are not grounded in God; moral facts may be reducible to natural facts (as for moral naturalists who deny the is/ought dichotomy) or non-reducible (as for robust moral realists who maintain the is/ought dichotomy).
Richard Bushey charges that there is ...more
William Lane Craig brings out new argument for the existence of God, and Bob Seidensticker of the blog Cross Examined: “Clear Thinking” about Christianity comes out with a rebuttal here and here. I should begin by stating that the argument is not all that new, contrary to Seidensticker’s claim, Craig published it back in 2013 (which you can read here), first applying it in a debate with Alex Rosenberg; but this claim is nit-picky.
The first claim made is “This Argument from Math is just a variant of the Transcendental Argument”, which is not the case. The Transcendental Argument tries to prove the existence of God through the ontology of abstract concepts (mainly the laws of logic) by divine conceptualism as the only conceivable option. The Argument from Mathematics is related to epistemology and not ontology. Namely, theism answers how the human mind can comprehend the universe through math. In that sense, it is closer to the design argument for God’s existence in explaining a feature of the world.
The next claim he makes is this argument only appears to succeed because it is confusing. The problem is that confusion is person relative. I could be very confused about equations that mathematicians make, but does not mean they are wrong. It might be that I am obfuscating its simplicity or its complexity.
Lastly, it is called a deist argument, and...Yeah, that’s about it. As long as it defeats atheism, it suffices. This is a weak sauce objection.
The next objections however prove to be more ...more
I believe one of the greatest doctrines of the Christian faith is and still remains the doctrine of the Trinity. I will not say much about it that this following passage does not express,
1 John 4:8 makes one of the most shocking - and overlooked - claims in the entire Bible when it says that God is love. Not merely that He is loving, but rather is love itself. This is something that most modern Christians (with notable exceptions like Jean Luc Marion) unfortunately gloss over. An isolated monad (like the god of Unitarians or the "One" of Neoplatonic thought) may be loving, but he could never be love itself, for love, in its highest and most authentic expression, can never be self-love but must be alove that is freely given and freely returned. What is the Trinity if not an eternal circle of love, a love given by the Father and reciprocated by the Son? How could a monad be love, except in a debased and solipsistic way?
I understand the appeal of Unitarian thought. It is easier to conceive of God as a monad. After all, the rationalizing impulse runs deep, especially in modern man who desires all of reality to be subordinate to his reason. This rationalizing drive is actually a common strand uniting a number of disparate heresies- heresiarchs always want to reduce what is fundamentally a mystery to something "explainable" and therefore limited and circumscribed by human reason and modes of thought. Yet as St. Athanasius noted, ...more
Of orthodox Christianity's many doctrines, God's Ultimacy – that God both causally and explanatorily precedes all else – and God's triunity – that God is three in Person but one in substance (or essence) – are considered central. For most Christian theologians, to deny either God's Ultimacy or God's triunity is to proceed into heresy or to abandon Christianity altogether. Both appear in the Nicene Creed and God's Ultimacy historically preceded Christianity altogether, having its roots in Jewish monotheism. Yet, as I will show in this article, straightforward understandings of these two doctrines produce contradictions when they are placed in conjunction.
It has often been claimed that Trinitarianism produces contradictions. As Augustine describes the trinity in his On Christian Doctrine , the trinity may be described with the following seven propositions :
The Father is God.
The Son is God.
The Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is not the Son.
The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
There is only one God.
From these seven, we can derive:
The Father is not the Father (from 1, 4 by replacement).
Orthodox Christians would be correct to point out that 8 does not actually follow from 1 and 4, either in traditional Christian doctrine or through Augustine's conception of trinitarianism because the word 'is' is equivocal between 1 and 4. In 1, the Father's substance or essence is identified as that of God. Within both Aristotlean and Platonic frameworks, two things share in essence if they are of the same kind. For example, Plato would ...more