Is Color Objective or Subjective?

Do you see red the same way that I do? I suppose there’s not really a way to know. Even if we could agree on seeing the subtle differences between fire engine red and candy apple red, how do we know that we’re seeing those differences in the same way?

You could get an objective definition of red from its unique wavelength. But in practical matters, that’s of little use to the average person. None of us may see that wavelength in exactly the same way. Nevertheless, our society seems to move along quite well by using red in traffic lights to tell us when to stop. If you were to ask several different people to identify the exact shade of red in a traffic light, you might get different answers. In fact, if you were to compare the reds of different traffic lights, you might come up with slightly different shades. But traffic lights work because instead of making each light a different shade of red (which would be horribly confusing), we make each light an entirely different color: red, yellow, green. Two people might disagree over which red more closely matches fire engine red, but they won’t usually disagree when it comes to identifying red over green.

This is something we all understand without the need to endlessly equivocate over whether colors are subjective or objective. They’re both, and we’ve learned how to work with them accordingly. But when we begin talking about theism vs atheism, we seem to lose this ability. Not in regard to color, of course, but in regard to morality.

It seems to me that morality works in exactly the same way as color. Take modesty for example. What passes for modesty in one place and time may not pass for modesty in another. Every time I’ve seen Michelle Obama, I would describe her as being dressed modestly. However, were she to dress that way in a conservative Muslim country, they might feel very differently. Or if she were to travel back in time to Victorian England, her attire would be scandalous. So while the average person in Western culture would say that Michelle Obama is modest, when compared to stricter definitions of modesty, the label may not apply so easily. In the same way, while it’s easy to pick out red from red, green, and yellow, it’s harder to pick the “reddest” from three shades of red.

To use another example, consider the hippocratic oath. It says that the physician will never do harm to anyone. Yet don’t physicians often give shots? Or administer treatments like chemotherapy? But we know that sometimes momentary discomfort is necessary to bring about a greater good. Administering a shot and pricking someone with a pin are almost identical in regard to how it makes someone feel, but one is moral while the other is not. It’s not hard to see the difference between the two, and no superior being needs to tell us which is better, just like no superior being needs to tell us the difference between red and green.

In discussions about whether or not there is a god, theists will sometimes say that an atheist has no basis on which to decide that one version of morality is better than another. But I profoundly disagree with this. God never told anyone what names to give for the colors. Even so, most people can easily distinguish between red and green. By the same token, it’s very easy to determine that generosity is far more moral than rape — we don’t need a god to tell us that.

However, just as its difficult to choose between shades of the same color, there are times when deciding what’s moral can be quite difficult. If your Aunt Sally asks what you thought of her lasagna, is it preferable to lie and tell her that it was good, or to be honest and tell her that you didn’t like it? A compelling case can be made either way. If a child molester is going to be released from custody on a technicality, is it more moral for the father of the victim to abide by the ruling, or take justice into his own hands? Again, the “right” thing to do in such a situation is not all that clear. But these more difficult situations are not improved by believing in a god. Even theists are puzzled by the right thing to do under such circumstances.

The Bible gives a great example of this in David. In 1 Sam 13 and Acts 13, David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart. Yet we see David make some interesting choices, considering that description. In 1 Samuel 21, David is running from King Saul, and he and his men are hungry. So he goes to see Ahimelech the high priest and asks for some food. Ahimelech tells David that the only food they have is the consecrated bread, which only priests can eat. David and his men eat the bread. In Mark 2:23-28, Jesus justifies David’s act here by saying that some of these laws are meant to benefit people, not restrict them. In other words, it’s situational.

In 1 Samuel 27, things have gotten so bad for David (as in Saul is out to kill him), that he takes refuge in Philistia and serves King Achish. For over a year, he serves this king, and how does he repay Achish’s kindness? By raiding Philistine villages — something Achish would not have appreciated. Whenever Achish asks David what he’s been up to, David says that he and his men have been out raiding Israelite villages, which Achish thinks is great. And David never leaves any survivors who could rat him out to Achish. We’re never given any indication that God was displeased by this. In fact, it’s presented as being quite cunning — isn’t David cool?! So lying is okay if it keeps you out of trouble?

If the Bible gives us mixed messages when it comes to the moral conundrums that we all find difficult to navigate, and if we don’t actually need any help in figuring out what’s moral when presented with extremes (caring for the needy vs murder), then why are we supposed to think that belief in a god is somehow necessary to establish moral principles at all? When you get right down to it, identifying morality is usually like identifying colors: you know it when you see it. Why make it more complicated by that?

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117 thoughts on “Is Color Objective or Subjective?”

  1. Interesting analogy: color perception and moral perception. Much of it offers good points.
    Both rely on the majority of brains having similar perceptions and both ignore outliers.
    Loved the OT stories — thanx.

    Pointing out the subjectivity of color once caused me to break up with a new girlfriend — see here if you are interested. “The Hour of the Monkey

    Your post hints at some objective valuing of morals but with a little play room. I think the meta-philosophical divide is between Moral Realism and Moral Anti-realism. Sounds like you are on the Moral Realism side. I am not. Using a metaphor (color) to discuss morality exposes the problem of metaphors for careful discussion. But it is certainly fun and possibly instructive.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback, Sabio! And I really enjoyed the post that you linked to. It’s funny how little moments like that can tell you so much about a person. Very cool that you’ve been to Japan, btw. I’d love to go there one day. I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I read James Clavell’s books.

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  3. Different cultures count different numbers of color in a rainbow, some say 3, some 7, some 12 or more. There are always boundary effects when one arbitrarily divides a smooth spectrum.

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  4. If divine moral is absolute than why is slavery not explicitly forbidden in the bible? The moral in the bible is either not absolute or slavery is OK. Most people today, even christians, would strongly oppose the view that slavery is OK. Think human rights, think civil war, think current law. This one example shows how underdeveloped the moral of the bible is. That’s why a lot of christians focus on the new testament, for the old testament is a can of worms if it comes to morality.

    But let’s make another analogy based on color perception.How do believers know that the moral of the bible is good? Because it’s god’s word. And how do we know that god is good? Because he says so. Yeah sure, but suppose he really is an evil god with a sound marketing plan. Can we really tell if he is good or not? Well, only when we can judge his moral color independently. If our moral judgement is independent from his. So in fact when we indeed owe our moral compass to god, we’re screwed, because in that case moral basically is a case of divine self-assertion, and what is good is defined by god even if he was the top most bad ass. So the only way moral is not divine self-assertion is when our moral thinking is independent from the word of god. That’s a good enough reason for me to do some independent thinking on morality that doesn’t start from the assertion that divine moral is the moral worth wanting.

    Of course,in the real world there is no such thing as the color of material things. That’s just the perception in our heads. And moral color – I think – is indeed much like that, it only exists in our perception.

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  5. “Using a metaphor (color) to discuss morality exposes the problem of metaphors for careful discussion.”

    I guess he better alert the 10’s of thousands of ministers who do this from their pulpits every Sunday. 🙂 I’ve heard many a sermon referring to moral judgements as “black or white” .

    Great post Nate ! I see no problem with your use of metaphors. 🙂

    (I guess technically black is supposed to be the absence of all color) My bad 🙂

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  6. @nate,
    Thanx. I am sure you’d love Japan. Their views of “religion” and “morality” and even “color” are very different from ours. It is highly instructive to have to enter a world so different from our own.

    @kcchief1,
    Since you quoted me, I’m guessing you are saying that it was wrong for me to point out the obvious weaknesses of metaphors. Christians make the same criticisms — they love metaphors, because they stir the masses. As long as the crowd cheers, those who question will always be viewed as wet blankets, eh?

    Tell us, kccheif1, when it comes to meta-ethics, do you come down on the side of moral realism or anti-realism? Does the color metaphor help you on this?

    Nate seems to be saying, that right or wrong does have some objective basis and we can all tell when we look at it though there may be a little wiggle room. A Moral Realism position — I think. But with metaphors like this, it is hard to tell.

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  7. “Tell us, kccheif1, when it comes to meta-ethics, do you come down on the side of moral realism or anti-realism? Does the color metaphor help you on this?”

    I am a simple man. After reading this , http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism/ , I’m not sure what I am.

    “Since you quoted me, I’m guessing you are saying that it was wrong for me to point out the obvious weaknesses of metaphors.”

    I didn’t see where you pointed out the obvious weaknesses of metaphors. I only read your statement, “Using a metaphor (color) to discuss morality exposes the problem of metaphors for careful discussion.” and I was simply letting Nate know I didn’t see the “problem” of his use of metaphor.

    I was using your statement to make a point to Nate , not to accuse you of being wrong of anything. Metaphor has been used throughout the ages to help people to understand.

    So where’s the problem ? I’m all ears …….

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  8. Maybe things aren’t always black and white, but when I see Christians try to justify slavery or genocide in the bible I see red.
    And it illustrates perfectly that those who adhere to this ridiculous doctrine are simply too yellow to make a positive stand against it.
    There may still be a few grey areas, but the ‘Purple Patch’ period of almost outright church dominance is well and truly over.
    Indoctrination ( and unquestioning acceptance) which was de rigueur for all and sundry in days past and is still a cause for concern regarding children, is slowly loosing its theocratic choke hold
    We are no longer simply white-washed with the same dogmatic brush and are not so green anymore…thank the gods!
    There will come a time….albeit in a generation or three where the divisions and problems religion always causes will be a thing of the past and we will be able to see blues skies.

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  9. @kcchief1,
    Right: The meta-ethical questions on the objectivity of morals are tough — but important. Most folks argue morality without understanding their own positions.

    Most of us emotionally have an intuition that we should without doubt be able to forbid many behaviors. And when we “think” on it, our minds intuitively feel there must be some sort of absolute standard — either by revelation (by religionists) or by reason (by atheists) which justifies our emotion. But we know how deceptive intuitions can be, eh?

    As for the inherent weaknesses of arguing anything using metaphors or analogy:

    The problem is always that the analogy does not fit in some way — the false analogy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_analogy

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/wanalogy.html

    I hope that helped.

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  10. @ kcchief1,

    Cool, hope they clarify. ‘Tis fine to disagree, but even better if we are sure what we disagree about.

    “Morality” is probably one of the largest issue for theists. Without their faith, they can’t imagine a moral world making sense. Many atheist think the moral world make sense but they are not standing on as firm of ground as they imagine. They have FAITH that their intuitions are correct, the only difference between them and theists is the way they dress up their intuitions — often in pseudo-rationality.

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  11. @Nan.

    Sadly, Nan, we are all too aware of how the religious love to mauve the goalposts and orange things so as to come out smelling or roses.
    We just have to be on our toes, that’s all, and not allow the to violet the rules.

    😉

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  12. @Nate: Very thought provoking post which are the kind I like!

    I’ve thought a lot about morality and even wrote about it, but after all that I still feel like I don’t have the answer to the question: “is morality objective”. I know several of the issues involved in the topic and I think there are very good points on different sides, but still just don’t know.

    I do have the sense though that from a practical standpoint it seems a bit irrelevant to how I live my life (which I am pretty sure agrees with the gist of your post). For example: I’ve always hated the idea of slavery no matter what my beliefs have been about whether or not there is an objective rule about it that somehow “exists”. It simply disgusts me and I’m very happy I live in a world where a large majority agree with me. I hated it when I was Christian (even though the bible didn’t tell me that), and I still hate it. But this does bring up an interesting point to ponder. Where does this value of mine come from? It could very well be from genetics and perhaps even more from my cultural influences. So while it makes me very sick to think about it, and I want very much for this not to be true, I really can’t say for sure that if I had been raised in the deep south of the US in the early 1800’s that I would have had this same value.

    Also this from your post:

    Again, the “right” thing to do in such a situation is not all that clear. But these more difficult situations are not improved by believing in a god. Even theists are puzzled by the right thing to do under such circumstances.

    struck me as a great point.

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  13. Nate, I enjoyed your post. To opine on your last question, we don’t need to be theists to establish moral principles. Let’s take for example ancient Paganism. They thought it was perfectly moral to kill infants, especially if they were female. Try to argue with an ancient Pagan that all human life is valuable. Or, try to argue with Nietzsche that the weak in our society deserve help and care. I don’t think humanism is robust enough to hold what moral stability we enjoy in our post-Christian societies. This is because atheism and humanism are not any more logically connected than atheism and hedonism. On the other hand Christianity is the ethic of love and justice.

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  14. On the other hand Christianity is the ethic of love and justice.

    Haaaaaaa….sprays tea all over the Laptop…

    Ask the Cathars, the residents of ancient Carcasonne, the victims of the Crusades, every raped child, the Arians,the Gnostics, the Jews, the native Americans, the South Amertican Indians, Australian Aborigines,every kid that was buried in the foundation of any consecrated building, ask Holly, Ruth, Victoria, Arch…in fact you complete and utter self-centered sanctimonious wally, you can even ask Nate!

    Love and Justice? what the hell are you smoking!

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  15. I’m afraid morality isn’t as set and defined as we’d like it to be. I think it largely depends on the society we’re a part of and how well that society is surviving and thriving.

    I’m not a sociologist, so I realize this may be flawed and incorrect, but I suspect that we have the modern view of morality that we do because we have all of our needs met. We have excess. We literally want for nothing, save a few luxurious desires. Plus, we’re more educated now than people have been before.

    In this case, it is easier let our empathy lend us to want to help others; to do what we can to be good stewards. But even in this setting, there a plenty who are morally corrupt. Imagine if we were struggling to survive. Imagine that the children in our group were getting sick and weak from lack of food. I believe we would cease to care about those who are outside of our group, and may even rob them (or worse) in order to ensure the survival of our own.

    And maybe, in order to justify that shift in morality in our own minds, we’d even come to demonize the other groups, making it easier to rob them or kill them for our personal gain and survival. That hatred or bias could lead us to believe the other groups are lesser, which could lead to the justification of slavery in one form or another.

    We’d still be moral, but the morality would extend no further than our own group if the circumstances were desperate enough.

    I think this is why the Israelites did all the horrors they did, yet believed they were still moral. I think it’s also why Christians and other religious peoples committed horrors in the past, and still today in varying degrees. It’s also why the non-religious can have the same tendency. The one issues I see that really separates the religious from the non-religious in such cases is that the religious tend to believe that their god has instructed them to act the way they do – so it propels beyond circumstantial, into divine righteousness that surpasses all understanding.

    Nate, I though the post was extremely good.

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  16. Thanks to everyone for all the great comments.

    @anaivethinker
    Glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you. 🙂

    Try to argue with an ancient Pagan that all human life is valuable. Or, try to argue with Nietzsche that the weak in our society deserve help and care. I don’t think humanism is robust enough to hold what moral stability we enjoy in our post-Christian societies.

    I don’t really agree with you here. I think much of our progress comes from inclusion, as William was arguing. As time has gone on, people have seemed to view “the tribe” as humanity in general, and not just their local communities. This causes us to see that prejudice is a bad thing. And arguing against prejudice from a basis in humanism is not difficult. I don’t know if I could convince Nietzsche or ancient pagans, but I would argue that no one wants to be treated unfairly, so it benefits all of us to live in a society that promotes equality. After all, in an unequal society, you can never guarantee that your side will be the one that benefits.

    However, if morality is derived from something like Divine Command Theory, then morality is only as good as the god it represents, which might explain some ancient people’s acceptance of things like child sacrifice. And it prevents people from reasoning out better forms of morality, since morality’s basis is obedience, not reason.

    I do think that New Testament Christianity includes some good moral teachings. It’s unfortunate that the various iterations of Christianity haven’t always implemented them correctly. At the same time, it can lead to some real problems, and I firmly believe it should never be the moral basis for a society. Should our secular society make laws about people’s sexual orientation? Or should we outlaw inter-racial marriages, since some people believe the Bible prohibits them? Should blasphemy be against the law? What about skipping church services? And if the majority ever decided that a different religion was the true one, then our sense of right and wrong would change drastically, as exhibited by so many of the problems in the Middle East.

    To me, the most rational basis for morality is a secular one.

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  17. @william
    You make a great point about morality being tied to economic security. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but you may be on to something.

    @Howie
    I have also thought about how my outlook on certain things might be completely different if I had been born in another place or time. We’re definitely products of our environment, and it’s sometimes easy to forget how much of an impact that makes.

    @Ark
    Brilliant! 😀

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  18. @Nate,
    As Howie said, and you agreed, our values change depending on our upbringing. And likewise our intuitions. And our reasoning is often the slave of those intuitions. So, our family tells us to trust their holy books (which someone intuited and made sacred) OR they raise us with their secular intuitions and preferences. Either way, we will still think we are being rational about our ethics but usually, we are merely rationalizing our morality.

    I don’t think we recognize good when we see it, we only recognize our preferences — which are highly dependent on our upbringing.

    The think I hate about religious ethics, is that it is closed to discussion. And even though discussion often does not work, I still want it as one of my tools of persuasion.

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  19. Hi Sabio,

    I think I’m largely in agreement with you on this. I haven’t delved too deeply into all the philosophical arguments, so my jargon there is pretty light. But the way I see morality is that it’s both objective and subjective. I could be wrong about that, but it’s currently how I see it.

    For example, child sacrifice was mentioned earlier. No doubt some people long, long ago viewed child sacrifice as the “moral” thing to do, because it appeased the gods and ensured better lives for everyone else. The needs of the many vs the needs of the few. Looking back on it from our perspective, it’s easy to see the fallacies in that position, but if we had lived during that time, we may not have been able to see it any clearer than they did. Does that mean that we can’t make any moral judgment about it today? I don’t really think so.

    I view it like science. In Newton’s time, there were a great many things about the universe that scientists of the time were mistaken about. Today, we know better. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t doing science back then, but we have learned so much since then that we can safely say they were incorrect about some things. I don’t think that’s a subjective conclusion, but an objective one (though I could be wrong).

    That’s how I see morality. There are some actions, like rape, that I think we can safely say are objectively immoral, even if the perpetrator feels that he has good reasons. There are some practices like female circumcision that are considered moral within their culture, but that I think we can still safely say are objectively immoral. However, there are other things, like lying to save someone’s feelings, that are more difficult to label, and I view those as being subjective.

    I say all of that to say this: it may be that I’m using “objective” and “subjective” incorrectly. I don’t believe that there’s some standard out there in the universe that we’re all trying to live up to. I believe that morality is based on reason, and that it improves as time goes on and we get better at recognizing the humanity within those who differ from us. Maybe “objective” is not a good description of that kind of morality. But just as society has decided which light wavelengths correspond to “red,” I think society decides which actions correspond to morality.

    Based on what I’ve just laid out, do you think that identifies me more as a moral realist or anti-realist?

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  20. Sabio, do you think there is any bleed over between real ethics (if it exists) and our preferences?

    I realize there is often differences in what one culture or person believes to be ethical or unethical, but does that necessarily mean that it’s all up for grabs?

    Maybe the parts that overlap between all groups is “really” ethical, with the edges being more preferential? Maybe one group’s ethical standards are more thought out than another’s – and I don’t mean what we believe to be more thought out, but what is actually more thought out.

    and for now, I realize that us being able to decide which is actually better or not could be impossible factually/completely, but I guess I’m asking about possibilities.

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  21. @Nate,
    That’s cool — I’m bad on the philosophy and jargon too. But I can’t see what you think is objective about morality. I can see that if a bunch of people agree on some standards (and contract on it — law) then objective methods could be made to see if any actions are “moral” (read: agreed upon and contracted). But that would be an incredibly week version of “objective” — one I think most would not want.

    Sure, child sacrifice for the many is bad, but adult sacrifice for the country is OK? The USA was willing to sacrifice Iraqi children as collateral damage for the “good of the many”.

    Not everyone will every agree that rape is wrong, even if you and I would wish they would. We try to pump up our preferences saying it is “objective” or “rational” but I don’t see how. But hell, I don’t mind pretending it is so as to stop it.

    I don’t believe “morality” is based on reason, but that law is based on reasoned (or at least argued using reason) but based an tenuous agreements of preferences of a majority.

    Not a very pretty picture, but who said reality has to look pretty to humans?

    To answer your question:
    I think you are an anti-realist who wishes he weren’t so still is addicted to moral realism jargon.
    🙂
    But then I am a bit of a fool.
    Fun chattin’ — thanx for engaging.

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  22. @William,

    To answer your question — no. I think “ethics” and “morality” is our secular holy words to cover up the ugly truth that we have to come to struggle against each other’s preferences. Techniques to stabilize, prosper and such are morality jargon, law, wars, coercion, cooperation and much more.

    If it “all ain’t up for grabs”, then we are just ALL fortunate to ALL agree ALL at once ALL over the place — and I have never seen that.

    Hoping for universals is just that – hope. Almost a religious reflex even in secular folks.

    We decide what type of society we want and try to constrain those who disagree.

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  23. yeah, i don’t really care one way or the other. I wouldn’t pick any fights over it. If someone wanted to rape one of my children, i wouldn’t engage them in a discussion on how they justify their actions, nor would i try to appeal to their good reason on any ethical basis, i would just cave their heads in with a shovel.

    why? because I dig shovels – no better reason.

    but if someone is making laws or regulations, I would appeal to their reason when discussing them – like we do here. we don’t always agree at the end of it, but that’s the way with everything I guess. and in many such cases people often use or appeal to preference, but typically reason, if inserted, can illuminate it, like with most things, i guess.

    Plus, i guess it wouldn’t really matter what “actually is” if everyone wanted to argue over it because they think it’s actually something else.

    so i think i get you. I still think, although I will now continue to rethink it, that some morality is actually and factually real, much in same way that nate pointed out. there’s a difference between green and red, even if you cant see it because you’re color blind. The ability to “see” or even “understand” doesnt have any bearing on what “is,” but only how we perceive it all. those discussions are difficult, if not impossible to win, so in such circumstances, arguing over green and red with certain color blind individuals may be like a discussion that may as well be solely on preferences.

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  24. @William,

    Ah, that first bit was sarcasm, wasn’t it?

    So, sending your little girl to live with a warlord’s harem so as to secure safety and maybe prosperity would not be your preference, I get that. But not everyone would.

    Raping your cellmate in prison or not standing up against it for fear of your life may not be your choice. But not everyone would agree with you.

    I think the “reason” only works with agreed preferences — it is those common preferences (be they specific actions, the good of the whole, the good of a few or preserving the Union or some such of arbitrary thing) which we then “reason” about. Does that make sense.

    So, yeah, I think Nate’s hint at objectivity using a color analogy is faulty. But it has stirred many of like preferences to sing along. And that is cool — I just opt out of the choir. Hope that is OK.
    😉

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  25. It wasnt as much sarcasm as it was light-heartedness. I dont necessarily disagree with you and I think you’re making good points. If i was sarcastic, it wasnt directed at you.

    the first part of my reply was basically agreeing with you. I’d merely react according to my best interest, not according to morality.

    Leaving the choir is cool, if you’re down with it. You’ve given me a lot to think over. seriously. no sarcasm. I really think you’ve made good points – i just think that nate has as well.

    I’m gonna consider them all.

    Is reason just an illusion we sell to ourselves? or is it merely affected by our preferences?

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  26. But what if we are all colour-blind to the true nature of other perspectives?

    Would the consensus of most people then dictate what would be cemented as reality?

    If we as human beings for example had the vision and perspective of owls, or the sense of smell like a dogs, we would then be working off a different standard, and the question of the traffic lights would be replaced with another other questions.

    Instead of traffic lights we may have large funnels emitting different strong fragrances 🙂 since our sense of smell may be more sensitive than our sense of sight. or not 🙂

    On another note, I personally believe in an objective standard of reality, which consists of the consideration of what most effectively benefits the well being of those you are connected to.

    In order to learn and work towards another’s benefit a person must have methods that can objectively assess what is effective or trust those who have poured hours into working to assess and identify what actions and processes are effective. These are then integrated to benefit others.

    But in order to work towards the benefit of individuals, a society has to have a shared morality that goes beyond just preferences. And that is where an objective morality comes into play.

    Without the acknowledgement of such a objective morality then the very question of what is of benefit becomes pointless. Since it no longer has any practical use as a standard.

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  27. For example, a group of people could objectively assess that a child needs certain nutrients and vitamins to function well, for his or her benefit and well-being, as well as their parents, friends and family.

    However, just because such nutrients and vitamins would benefit someone who has a deficiency in them, without an moral standard like the Declaration of Geneva, the medical professionals would be under no responsibility to provide such services although it would benefit the well-being of both the child and countless others.

    doctors would know how to provide such benefit. Science considers the how, but it does not provide the why in all circumstances, since the why is no objective. The why behind providing care to the child is because the child is loved and valued.

    The whys could be different to each person who values the child, so therefore the whys cannot be all tested like the medical professionals could test how the administration of certain medicine can benefit individuals. But this doesn’t make the value of that child any less real or important. It doesn’t make the how any more important than the why in this case.

    The “how” in this case is a means to the end, the “why” is the value driving the “how”. To ensure the child develops and flourishes in health and well-being in order that they may be beneficial also in other lives as well.

    After all, doctors started treating patients I assume so that they may provide some benefit or relief to either them or other people. so morality was the driving value in may cases that pushed the “hows” to be identified. So Objective methods of identifying processes in reality. and morality, feeds into the one other, is like two sides of the same coin. That’s my opinion.

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  28. @william,
    Cool, I get it.
    Reason is not an illusion, reason is a tool.
    We use it to build, to fool others or to fool ourselves. Lots of uses. But like any tool, it is not an illusion. Reason is often treated like a thing — like LOGOS — an abstraction with a reality of its own. This is silly. In my humble opinion. Yet some atheists get religious about reason without even knowing it.

    @ portal001,
    I like that you point out just some of the obvious problems with Nate’s analogy. That is the problem with analogies. If it doesn’t fit, the problems will emerge.

    But concerning the rest of what you said, it doesn’t seem like you believe in objective morals, but in using reason to form morals consistent with your preference of:
    benefiting the well-being of those your are connected to.

    But of course that preference in itself is not enough to allow for any obvious set of rules. You need to add more preferences like:
    — but not at the cost of my death
    — spread equally
    — spread fairly
    … and all sorts of other complications.

    So, sure, we have to get agreement on preferences to make rules which we can then enforce — a tough thing to do, but worth it.

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  29. I don’t think there are so much problems to Nates analogy, any more than there are limitations to examples.

    They are limited by the very definitions we and others place on them, since we come to the table with different experiences, so not everyone’s going to relate to every example the same way. its a mixed bag that frequent here I think 🙂

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  30. A mixed bag of personalities that is. Lots of differences, which is good, since people can bring lots of different thoughts to the discussions…

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  31. I agree with portal, I don’t think nate’s analogy was off, but i guess that depends on how we’re each viewing it. I think nate is looking at and presenting it through modern day sociological eyes. We must consider each event and action on a case by case (or color by color, shade by shade) basis.

    But even so, in the world we find ourselves in, we can all primarily agree on some of the “major” moral issues (like rape, murder (different than killing), theft, etc), though the distinctions are harder to see or agree on when the issues involve many considerations or are “on the line” between what we routinely define as moral or immoral (dark red, red and light red).

    Like theft. If someone stole some ladies purse because they didnt want to work for money, then that’s bad. If someone stole some money to buy bread to feed their starving children because he cant find work, then we’d tend to sympathize with that because we look past the immoral act of theft in that case, because it was desperate action to achieve a greater moral action.

    I think we use reason, or should, in those cases. Even though we may not always use the tool of reason correctly or the best way, it’s the tool we have at our disposal.

    So yeah, I think if we look hard enough, we can make any analogy on any topic problematic, because an analogy is a comparison of different things. If they’re different, it couldn’t be too hard to find differences.

    that being said, I can see where it’s beneficial to point out the limitations of the analogy, but I still think for nate’s intended purpose, it worked in this case.

    Sabio, I agree. many people can use or view “reason” in a religious sort of way. I suppose it’s an easy trap to fall into. When i was a religious man, I often worried about “lying to myself” or “following after the bible incorrectly” despite my best intentions – I suppose the same is true when it comes to “reason.”

    Self reflection is important, I guess – as is mastery of the tools we have, while maintaining humility, as not to injure ourselves with powerful tools used carelessly.

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  32. @ William:

    Sure, we must consider each event and action on a case by case basis.

    I agree with that.

    If you go around the world you will see that not everyone agrees on murder, rape, killing and theft. But it is nice to wish it were so.

    I agree, nate’s analogy is nice but is it persuasive or instructive to anyone? I just disagree with the objective side of his presentation.

    My intuition is that we all largely agree on our values, how to evaluate things but differ on how to explain the phenomena.

    I have lived in many extremely different cultures and was immersed in them. I was a different person several times in my life too — these experiences (and thinking about the issues) inform my writing, as yours do too.

    I think we essentially agree.

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  33. “Maybe things aren’t always black and white, but when I see Christians try to justify slavery or genocide in the bible I see red.”

    Haven’t you heard Ark? Morality is just like colors so why get so red? 😉

    Far be it from me to get into any long debates since I gather from past conversations that this is just where you go to get your views rubber stamped but where or where is the command in the Bible for men in general to to take slaves?

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  34. “We’re never given any indication that God was displeased by this. In fact, it’s presented as being quite cunning — isn’t David cool?!”

    Interesting proof text Nate. From What verse do you derive “isn’t David cool” from? …. Just curious 🙂

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  35. …where is the command in the Bible for men in general to to take slaves? ~Mike Anthony

    “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.” Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV)

    “When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.” Deuteronomy 20:10-15 (NIV)

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  36. Sorry Ron none of those verses are general commands to take slaves. the first says you may take them if they are already slaves. The second is during war at the time of the Israeli conquest of canaan and not a general command for all war time situations either. Again where is the command in the Bible for men in general to to take slaves? There are none I know of. You missed a couple verses too

    “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)’

    Ouch that would have put to an end all slave traders and owners in the African Slave trade that we are more familiar with.

    “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has 1escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him. Deut 23:15-16

    So If a servant/slave was unhappy and ran away there was no call for him to return. Why wouldn’t all slaves run away? Because the slavery of ancient days was an economic arrangement. Jobs like we know them today were few and far between.

    Perhaps you have some better verses that you can answer my questions with?

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  37. Yeah, i sort of agree with mike on the slavery point, in that bible doesn’t appear to command disciple to take on slaves. However, if they had slaves, there weren’t commanded to free them, but to be good and fair masters. These days, we’d prefer to think that god would condemn the practice outright because we do.

    whatever the case, I’m glad our society frowns upon it.

    But mike, on the David being cool point, the passages nate referred to did show david being what we’d consider unethical by deceit, etc, yet the text portrays david as the good guy, even though it didnt specifically use the the phrase, “David is a cool guy.”

    I dont think nates point was a jab at david, but an illustration on situational ethics. the bible condemns lying, yet david did it to the enemies of israel and it appeared to be okay.

    and someone might say that the text never specifically stated that david was right to lie to them, and while that’s true, it doesnt condemn him either for it, but (like nate said) seems to laud those actions as cunning.

    do you see it another way?

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  38. Hi WIlliam, Don’t I always see it different? 🙂

    “”yet the text portrays david as the good guy, even though it didnt specifically use the the phrase,””

    Where? Where is this portrayal? What verse?I’d really like an answer if you have one as I think its a classic example of how Nate (and others who read him I suppose) reads the Bible. I’ve read the chapter twice and see nothing. NO such statement, no adjective no adverb. As for God never showing disapproval – David was not allowed to build the temple because he had shed too much blood which is a commentary on his whole life. Historical narratives do not always show either approval or disapproval but reading them into the text is not fair play.

    Which leads me to a classic example in regard to things God did not approve of but legally had to have rules for – Divorce. One does not have to crack the new testament to find him stating in Malachi he detested it but should a nation nevertheless have laws about it? Yes because a forced marriage can become terribly abusive and no better than divorce. Slavery was even worse. You could say release all slaves and most of therm would be worse off in that economy and culture. You did not pick up the paper and look for a job. People would actually choose slavery to avoid starvation and the Jewish owner was encouraged to treat his slaves well enough for them to feel like family.

    Proverbs 29:21 (KJV)
    21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.

    Thats just a totally different mentality than what we refer to as a slave today.

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  39. Incidentally the other reason why this article is weak logically is the the analogy of color. Its just too critically different from morality to make such a comparison. We see the color we see without choice. What we call it if we are color blind is about semantics not reality. We really do see the color that we see without choice. Its automatic with good eye biology. With morality WE make choices as to how we are going to view things. Furthermore its somewhat stunning that Nate actually believes this.

    ” it’s very easy to determine that generosity is far more moral than rape.

    Prisons are full of pedofiles and Rapists who think the victim morally had it coming or that the experience was a good one for the victim – even an act of generosity. The whole we don’t need religion for morality by atheists is kind of like claiming we don’t need Math teachers because we can do maths ourselves. Our very understanding of maths came from teachers so it wishful thinking regardless if Sam Harris cannot think that through. To prove such a statement you would need to start such a culture from birth where people had no idea of morality and devised one just on logic but alas we have had cultures that overrode the culture of morality and put people in gas chambers thinking it was for the greater good so the results of such an experiment are HIGHLY dubious. To believe your sense of morality is independent of your society’s religious morality is to believe you were not shaped in any way by your culture which is theistic is just self deception.

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  40. “These days, we’d prefer to think that god would condemn the practice outright because we do.

    whatever the case, I’m glad our society frowns upon it.”

    Unless you are into History revisionism your society came to the place of frowning upon it because of Bible believers such as this man

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce

    Who believed that God DID frown upon it from reading the same Bible. Facts are even after the abolishment of slavery in the US many “slaves” saw little difference. True abolishment meant that there had to be an infrastructure to support them. If a culture did not have that infrastructure then it would be pointless to call for it to be abolished. God did better than condemn slavery. he destroyed it at its core thinking when he commanded that

    Galatians 3:28 (KJV)
    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Anyway history is clear – Bible believers based on passages like the one above led the charge against slavery

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  41. I wont argue with you over slavery – as i’ve already said, i basically agree you there.

    as to the analogy in general, i still think nate has a good point. I think the analogy holds, because even if we’re limited to our own society, the vast majority of people see some issues as definitely moral and other definitely immoral – black and white if you will. And again, nate didnt make the color analogy himself, I’ve heard plenty of preachers use the “black and white” analogy many, many times.

    There are shades of gray, and those are harder to decipher, but the extremes in color, like crushing the skull of an infant with a boot heel, are more easily identified.

    you pointed out that a lot of sick people may think that rape is the right thing to do, that it’s justified or even generous. But there are just as many so called religious people who claim to be following god by committing atrocities as well and no doubt have their scripture to justify their actions.

    It could be said that they’re misusing the scriptures no easier than it could be said that the rapists are misusing their reason. I’m suggestion that normal rational people use reason to determine what is good and what is bad. Even the religious read the bible and use their reason to say whether this passage is literal and this one figurative. This was good in one case, not here for these reasons, etc.

    David. his having too much blood on his hands might have referred to Uriah specifically, or his war like manner in general. But just as nothing in the text specifically states that david was cool, there is nothing that specifically states that david was wrong in deceiving the philistines. But admittedly, we’re viewing this differently. You’re looking at passages that condemn lying, so you I guess you’re viewing this in harmony with those passages and would say that david was guilty of lying and god charged him with being guilty of sin. I’m reading this and seeing david as the hero, whose only real problem was uriah and bathsheeba.

    Nothing in the text specifically says one way or the other, but i dont think it takes too much imagination to see where I’m coming from here – just as i can see where you’re coming from even though i disagree.

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  42. Mike,

    Are you saying that God didn’t prohibit slavery because he was worried about the freed slave not finding employment? Then why didn’t God command the Israelites to hire freed slaves? Or to give them charity? Wouldn’t the OT laws concerning the poor have applied to these freed slaves?

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  43. Hey William,

    Your response is interesting because ARk earlier made the accusation that Christians “move the goal post” in defense of the Bible but you just moved the goal post in defense of your accusation against the Bible. Faced with no evidence in the text of approval of David’s actions your response is there is no disapproval as if thats evidence for you and Nate’s claim that it implies “Isn’t David Cool?”

    “Nothing in the text specifically says one way or the other, but i dont think it takes too much imagination to see where I’m coming from here”

    Not to be confrontational but its something I see on this blog A LOT. Shouldn’t it take more than imagination/opinion when you are using something (that text for example) as proof as Nate does? As a matter of fact logically I don’t see where you are coming from . how can no comment on an action equal “isn’t David cool?” In order for that to have any semblance of reasonability it would have to be a condition that every single historical story in the Bible has to have a commentary pro or con from God which frankly is ridiculous and special pleading.

    ” And again, nate didnt make the color analogy himself, I’ve heard plenty of preachers use the “black and white” analogy many, many times. ”

    No they don’t…Its not an analogy its an idiom. theres a HUGE difference Black is associated with Evil most likely because crimes are committed more often at night and criminals dress in dark clothes at night as well. I have never heard the ability to see color being analogous to determining morality. In addition its a reference to something written (text – black and white) again just referring to the color of ink on paper expressing laws. Nate’s analogy just does not fly because there IS NO RATIONALIZATION process in seeing. You open your eyes and there it is.

    Further no rational person argue against the color they see. They may argue what it is called but what they see is what they see. Comparing that to morality that people violate as the see fit even for selfish reasons makes the comparison not apples and oranges but apples and handbags. two entirely different things.

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  44. “you pointed out that a lot of sick people may think that rape is the right thing to do, that it’s justified or even generous. But there are just as many so called religious people who claim to be following god by committing atrocities as well and no doubt have their scripture to justify their actions.”

    Not sure the point you were trying to make but its contradictory. To defend the position that morality is rationally deducible you label the people who prove it isn’t – as sick – but then indict religious people using scripture to justify actions. Why is it contradictory? because if you admit sick people can act immorally then sick people can also read the Bible and get it wrong therefore exonerating the Bible of any culpability.

    “It could be said that they’re misusing the scriptures no easier than it could be said that the rapists are misusing their reason.”

    equally contradictory since reading requires reason. Therefore the only thing that would say is that rapists (or people given to that thought process) misuse reasoning, not as a contrast to people misusing scripture, but in the same way. So again what point you are trying to make there I am not sure of

    ” Even the religious read the bible and use their reason to say whether this passage is literal and this one figurative. This was good in one case, not here for these reasons, etc.”

    As the text indicates itself almost every time but what does this have to do with making the case that Morality can be derived without God? Are you denying that the ideas of right and wrong themselves came either directly or indirectly without reference to a God when its a fact that almost everyone who you have associated with derived it from that context?

    In short where is your proof? That the text implies what you claim it implies or that morality is derived without reference to theism? We can agree to disagree of course but at the end of the day shouldn’t you have some proof for your claims?

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  45. “Then why didn’t God command the Israelites to hire freed slaves? Or to give them charity? Wouldn’t the OT laws concerning the poor have applied to these freed slaves?”

    Think it through Nate. today we have a predominantly representative monetary vehicle we call money. We take that and can find places to rent and houses to buy. Totally different economy. although currencies existed in ancient times the average person could go weeks, months even years without seeing it. The Predominant means of survival were barter or living off the land. Your families land. So you hire all people from the surrounding countries and your own. You build houses for them too? You apply the laws of charity within your country to all nations around you? How long do you exist as a nation?

    Now as per the Bible passages I showed before if you had some means and wanted to be free you could leave with a specific command and law that no one should return you. From what I have read “slaves” were not even guarded or chained. Most stayed for those same economic reasons.

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  46. Hi Mike, havent made it past this yet – “Your response is interesting because ARk earlier made the accusation that Christians “move the goal post” in defense of the Bible but you just moved the goal post in defense of your accusation against the Bible. Faced with no evidence in the text of approval of David’s actions your response is there is no disapproval as if thats evidence for you and Nate’s claim that it implies “Isn’t David Cool?””

    I dont typically like these types of replies (the text doesnt specifically state…), but did so because that’s basically what you were doing when you said no where in the text did it say david was cool, etc. I was just trying to that this argument can easily be made both ways.

    I think think in the entire context of david’s life, he was the cool guy. I even thought so when i was a christian. I reacall many teachers, preachers and disciples laughing about the cleverness and the stick-it-to-them-ness regarding david’s philistine relationships.

    it may be good to avoid climbing up on pedestals here. let;s simply discuss the facts. on this point, we just disagree.

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  47. “Not to be confrontational but its something I see on this blog A LOT”

    I agree, except from my point of view, it’s from those opposed to the position on this blog. But it’s okay if we disagree here too.

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  48. “it may be good to avoid climbing up on pedestals here. let;s simply discuss the facts. on this point, we just disagree.”

    Well now William who is climbing up on a pedestal when they claim that the Bible implies someone is cool for lying? Seems to me that is in fact a derogatory observation of the Bible and made from a pedestal of superiority over the Bible and bible believers.

    ” let;s simply discuss the facts.”

    I’ve been trying to…Can I have your verse that states or even implies what you claim about the text condoning lying? Its either in the chapter or not and not a matter of whether we agree. Teachers, preachers and disciples laughing several thousand years later that you may have heard (I heard none of that in Sunday school. thousands of messages, Bible school or seminary) are not relevant to the text. Keep it to the facts in the text.

    Do you have such a passage or not? Stating a bank was robbed and not stating whether it was wrong or right is not in any logical construct a claim that it was right.

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  49. “Not sure the point you were trying to make but its contradictory.”

    if you don’t get the point, then how can you say it’s contradictory? I think maybe, like last time, we’re talking past one another – constantly misunderstanding one another.

    maybe we should start over?

    “As the text indicates itself almost every time but what does this have to do with making the case that Morality can be derived without God? Are you denying that the ideas of right and wrong themselves came either directly or indirectly without reference to a God when its a fact that almost everyone who you have associated with derived it from that context?”

    I think you’re saying that god and the bible are the source of morality, but history shows us that “eye for an eye” was well in circulation prior to moses, and that socrates said not to render evil for evil prior to paul writing it.

    History also shows that all the literate civilizations prior to the bible and the written OT had moral laws that were similar to or the same as those read in the bible.

    so if we want to say that they all came from god – i wont argue with that. I just do not agree that they originated from the bible – even if it was the source sited in my rearing.

    additionally, invading a country that has not attacked my country and then completely killing the entire population, to include women and children, is wrong, but not according the bible. god cannot commit evil according to the bible, yet we’re supposed to believe god commanded the israelites to this?

    it would mean that this genocide is not evil in and of itself, but only if god approved of it or not. If that’s true, then i guess morality cant really be known by man, that we’d have to have him tell us what it is and when it changes.

    is this your postion?

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  50. “Well now William who is climbing up on a pedestal when they claim that the Bible implies someone is cool for lying? Seems to me that is in fact a derogatory observation of the Bible and made from a pedestal of superiority over the Bible and bible believers.”

    I dont claim to know outright, I’m just saying how it reads to me. I’m allowing that I could be wrong and that you could be right – it’s you who’s saying a particular position (yours) is more right.

    It’s not me on the ladder.

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  51. “I agree, except from my point of view,

    You keep coming back to that and what you agree or disagree with but of what importance is a point of view if you have no proof to back it up? Doesn’t everybody already know that everyone has a point of view?

    SO again what is your proof? You said lets talk facts but all you are doing is relating your opinions. If all you are bringing to the table is your point of view sans evidence then further discussion is meaningless. Basically its just an admission you hold your positions without reference to any evidence ad regardless of what the text says.

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  52. “Do you have such a passage or not? Stating a bank was robbed and not stating whether it was wrong or right is not in any logical construct a claim that it was right.”

    very good points. how many more times would you like me to say that I could be wrong and that I simply read it that, despite the absence of any specific passages?

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  53. “You keep coming back to that and what you agree or disagree with but of what importance is a point of view if you have no proof to back it up?”

    and what is your proof mike? so far we’re two assholes who keep saying what we think it says – because neither of us (and this is important) have any specific passages that state otherwise.

    show me your passage where david was condemned for it? we can see where he was condemned for killing uriah and taking his wife. God made sure to point that out – so he was at least not as displeased in david for lying to the philistine enemies.

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  54. “Basically its just an admission you hold your positions without reference to any evidence ad regardless of what the text says.”

    and the only real difference between the two of us is that i recognize that I am giving my opinion, while act as if you’re speaking for god almighty – without the proof you beg for so much.

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  55. “Do you have such a passage or not? Stating a bank was robbed and not stating whether it was wrong or right is not in any logical construct a claim that it was right.”

    true, but if you surround that claim with a context, like billy the kid in young guns, one can be understood to infer billy the kid was a cool bank robber. Or were you not a fan of that movie?

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  56. “I think you’re saying that god and the bible are the source of morality, but history shows us that “eye for an eye” was well in circulation prior to moses, and that socrates said not to render evil for evil prior to paul writing it.”

    Moral law existed before Moses even Moses would tell you – In fact he did in genesis which has much of the account of what took place before he was alive. its not even a biblical position to claim that morality started with Moses so no Christian does

    I’m not claiming that God and the Bible are the source of morality in our culture. its a fact of the history that it is in Europe, North and South America, Australia, Russian, Most of Africa. In Asia less so (but again Christianity claims morality stretches further back than Moses)it still tracks itself back to theism. These things are logically undeniable.

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  57. “its a fact of the history that it is in Europe, North and South America, Australia, Russian, Most of Africa.”

    fair enough, but people got it from somewhere before the bible was ever written – its fact of the history.

    so logically, people didnt need the bible for morality. and unless you’re all for invading godless countries and killing all of their babies, you’re using your reason to determine when not to do that instead of following god’s given examples.

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  58. “and what is your proof mike? so far we’re two assholes who keep saying what we think it says – because neither of us (and this is important) have any specific passages that state otherwise.”

    You are free to call yourself an asshole and be having an intelligent conversation but I will reject you calling me one. I’ve already present ed my Proof. You want it again? here

    http://biblehub.com/niv/1_samuel/27.htm

    Exhibit A that there is no statement in 27 that states anything but a reporting of what David did without any passage stating approval or disapproval

    Since we have got to the asshole name calling lets call a spade a spade. its not in there you and nate made it up because it suits your own point of view.

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  59. “additionally, invading a country that has not attacked my country and then completely killing the entire population, to include women and children, is wrong, but not according the bible. god cannot commit evil according to the bible, yet we’re supposed to believe god commanded the israelites to this?”

    Its not wrong for God to take back what is his (life) as he sees fit (and based on the knowledge he has that I don’t). No? then you might as well claim that God is guilty of genocide because today millions of people will die. So ules People live forever in disobedience to him you could accuse God of something. Now is it wrong for me to commit genocide? yes. but I am not God . YOU can sleep with your wife and it be fine but If I do then thats immoral. the argument that God cannot take back life he gave is a common but empty atheist claim.

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  60. “David did without any passage stating approval or disapproval”

    that’s been my point. You are the asshole because I’ve said that a number of times. so again, neither you nor I have specific scriptural proof.

    we’re going from context now and we each just see that differently. I’ve stated this several times. where we part ways is when you say my opinion on the matter doesnt count because I cnat find a specific verse that says david was cool or david was justified. etc.

    I said you were right. but i think the entire context made him out to be the cool good guy – you disagree – I can see where you’re cioming from, although i disagree. You cant imagine my point of view even thouigh you have no specific verses either, and so there’s nothing else to discuss on david.

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  61. “Its not wrong for God to take back what is his (life) as he sees fit (and based on the knowledge he has that I don’t). No? then you might as well claim that God is guilty of genocide because today millions of people will die. So ules People live forever in disobedience to him you could accuse God of something. Now is it wrong for me to commit genocide? yes. but I am not God . YOU can sleep with your wife and it be fine but If I do then thats immoral. the argument that God cannot take back life he gave is a common but empty atheist claim.”

    so your position is what I thought it was. thanks for clarifying.

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  62. “fair enough, but people got it from somewhere before the bible was ever written – its fact of the history.

    so logically, people didnt need the bible for morality.”

    nope logically the stories in the Bible were written before the Bible was written not during or after. To hear you tell it it was Like Moses claimed that sin was defined after he wrote his books. Its a strawman. No one claims that. Look you can claim whatever you wish but morality in your culture WAS determined upon the bible. Almost no one cited anything else. IF you cant deal with that fact and can only fall back to what your claims are or what you personally disagree on thensans any evidence theres no point in this discussion and you’ve pretty much proved from Samuel 27 that the facts be damned you will hold to whatever it is you hold to.

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  63. “nope logically the stories in the Bible were written before the Bible was written not during or after.”

    so it was written before it was written, not during or after? I’m not sure if that’s logic – but out of curiosity, do you have any sources?

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  64. there are still places on earth where jedeau-chrsitian principles have never taken a foothold, yet the people still achieved and understanding of morality. Perhaps the bible god bestowed it upon without the bible – or by writing it for them without writing it for them (still trying that one out), but that’s pure conjecture. history doesnt bear it out.

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  65. “that’s been my point. You are the asshole because I’ve said that a number of times.”

    LOL… the atheist in full blown name calling cursing mode because he has absolutely ZERO evidence for the claim he continues to hold on to. Heres a thought. If you are an honest person (IF) . Don’t make claims against a passage unless you have positive proof that it says what you want it to say. Merely saying well it doesn’t but I think it might is just desperately intellectually dishonest. no matter what you claim for it. Anyway now that you are in full name calling mode you can discuss with your comrades how you were right and i was an ahem asshole. After all its about the rubber stamping not anything about finding truth 😉

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  66. “so it was written before it was written, not during or after? I’m not sure if that’s logic – ”

    Touche…Finally made one good point. I meant to write

    “nope logically the stories in the Bible took place before the Bible was written not during or after.”

    Just as I had said before

    “there are still places on earth where jedeau-chrsitian principles have never taken a foothold, yet the people still achieved and understanding of morality. ”

    Name one civilized country that didn’t have missionaries and one ANYWHERE in ANY TRIBE that did not rely on theism

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  67. “so your position is what I thought it was. thanks for clarifying.”

    Anything you need William. If you needed clarification that people die everyday I am only happy to be of assistance.

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  68. “LOL… the atheist in full blown name calling cursing mode because he has absolutely ZERO evidence for the claim he continues to hold on to.”

    LOL, it is funny because we’re saying the same thing. I’m trying not even argue but point out where we’re in agreement. I dont know about all Christians, but maybe you’re too s=busy trying to have argument that you cant tell when there’s nothing to argue over.

    and I’m not an atheist. A small point – so dont worry about it.

    “Don’t make claims against a passage unless you have positive proof that it says what you want it to say. ”

    are you saying now that you dont know whether david was or wasnt portrayed as wrong?

    “Anyway now that you are in full name calling mode you can discuss with your comrades how you were right and i was an ahem asshole” Mike, there’s no need for any discussion here.

    If I was offensive, i apologize. I was really mentioning it in an off color joking way – which may be why i included myself. poor choice on may part.

    but even so, the name calling isnt our focus is it?

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  69. “Anything you need William. If you needed clarification that people die everyday I am only happy to be of assistance.”

    thanks. are you saying that some individuals dies multiple times, on a daily basis? or are you saying that in fact, that there are individuals who die, on a daily basis?

    or were you just being an asshole? (wink) 😉

    naw, but seriously, I was wanting to know how you gauge god’s morality as it related to things most people view in modern times as absolutely immoral – like genocide. I think it’s a fair question when discussing morality. didn’t mean to be a bother.

    thanks again.

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  70. “If I was offensive, i apologize”

    The if there is hilarious. Under what conditions would asshole not be an insult? Or were you secretly possible claiming I had the incredible positive ability to remove human waste from an environment? lol

    and you directed it solely at me the second time around so don’t even try that out.

    look the Samuel 27 fraudulent claim that the passage implies “cool david” is hardly surprising. its pretty how you guys approach the BIble. Nate has countless posts just like it and in some of them (particularly his alleged contradiction posts) people have pointed out his errors or facts that he didn’t know that SIGNIFICANTLY weakens his claim and his only recourse is to say what you said “it still seems to say” or his favorite – it should be more clear to me an atheist in the 21st century so though you raise a very good point that disputes my earlier claim of a factual proven contradiction I still a maintain its a contradiction because its not clear enough to me (talk about moving the goal posts) .

    lets face it this blog is more for rubber stamping your beliefs. its why you couldn’t contain yourself and started the name calling and cursing because I insisted on some evidence from you and you had none.

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  71. “and you directed it solely at me the second time around so don’t even try that out.”

    well you’re right. the second time I meant it. i should be sorry for that… It’s something i’ll have to work on. but the silver lining is that regardless of how it was meant, you have the power to take in constructively.

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  72. “Nate has countless posts just like it and in some of them (particularly his alleged contradiction posts) people have pointed out his errors or facts that he didn’t know that SIGNIFICANTLY weakens his claim and his only recourse is to say what you said “it still seems to say” or his favorite – it should be more clear to me an atheist in the 21st century so though you raise a very good point that disputes my earlier claim of a factual proven contradiction I still a maintain its a contradiction because its not clear enough to me (talk about moving the goal posts) .”

    the “you raise a very good point” isnt entirely accurate. there are problems with those points, but I can see where a believer would see it that way, having been one myself.

    I didnt know we were talking about moving goal posts.

    and the “it still seems to say” is really all you have yourself. so being critical may not be the correct course of action, but i could be wrong.

    and you know what, I guess god will or wont judge us in the end, right?

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  73. “naw, but seriously, I was wanting to know how you gauge god’s morality as it related to things most people view in modern times as absolutely immoral – like genocide”

    God’s morality is fine. As I stated before but you missed – If God is not moral to take life that belongs to him then you could make the claim that anything else but immortality marked God as immoral – a totally weightless argument. Genocide for most of the world is defined as people deciding to take human life based on race or nationality not God judging men. You might want to check the opinion polls

    Besides Most people rightfully think genocide is immoral because they think killing is immoral and sorry they got that idea from a thing they call the ten commandments. Outside of a few instances where God who knows all things expressly commanded the killing of people who he knew (not me. I know no such thing ) deserved it its absolutely forbidden for anyone to do it today. According to revelations no one can add to the scriptures to make that claim.

    Atheists such as yourself (or whatever you wish to pretend makes any significant difference) employ circular reasoning on this issue. You claim that such a command was never from God therefore its shameful or That God is not really God and has no moral right to determine who lives and dies.

    Always of course implying that such a belief would lead anyone today to rightfully make the claim God had told them to commit genocide today

    Meanwhile the only prominent persons I have heard of recently implying people perhaps should be killed for their faith is the atheist Sam Harris (before beating a hasty retreat with an excuse that just does not hold water)

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  74. “God’s morality is fine. As I stated before but you missed”

    no i got it, and I thanked you for it, remember? I didnt argue over it. I feel like you’re wanting to argue so badly. why?

    “Besides Most people rightfully think genocide is immoral because they think killing is immoral and sorry they got that idea from a thing they call the ten commandments.”

    and moses got it from the sumarians.

    “Atheists such as yourself (or whatever you wish to pretend makes any significant difference) employ circular reasoning on this issue. You claim that such a command was never from God therefore its shameful or That God is not really God and has no moral right to determine who lives and dies.”

    hmm. I dont recall making that claim, but if i did, i must have misspoke. I do claim that the bible was delivered by men who claim they were speaking for god… is that what you were trying to say? i ask why we should believe their claims. so when i find things that look suspect to me (and I could be wrong), it gives me pause – I just cant seem to buy what they’re trying to sell. and as far as circular reasoning, yeah, it’s no good – one reason I left the bible.

    I dont know sam harris and not sure how he applies, but “neat,” i guess?

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  75. “the “you raise a very good point” isnt entirely accurate. there are problems with those points, but I can see where a believer would see it that way, having been one myself.”

    Well of course being an anti-Christian you would feel that way but isn’t that the entire point? Its kind of like accusing of lying. Honest people when they are instructed on possible other explanations come off their claim of lying. Claiming someone is lying has a burden of proof to it among civilized people. You don’t make that claim lightly if you are intellectually honest.

    You guys suspend that etiquette for the Bible. You think it contradicts or lies so it contradicts or lies. if It isn’t clear to you despite counter points being presented against your claim of lying it doesn’t matter. Instead over and over what i read is ” its not hard to imagine” well it doesn’t seem” “its not clear” “well I still think” . Good night Nate’s favorite fall back is ” couldn’t it have been put more clearly” and since it isn’t to him it stands as a contradiction – his version of digging up the goal post in Georgia and moving it to Iowa since unclear in no dictionary means contradiction.

    So in other word you flip the burden of proof to be – we don’t have to prove there is a contradiction you have to prove its not a contradiction. EXACTLY what you did in this thread – essentially begging that I have to show in Samuel 27 evidence against your no evidence claim which you can’t find support for anywhere in the text – which is of course just utter nonsense and rank foolishness. its the equivalent of we don’t have to prove you are lying you have to prove you are not lying or our accusation sticks.

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  76. “and moses got it from the sumarians. ”

    do tell. you have letters From Moses? 🙂 thats going to make you a rich man if the dating holds up to be pre 1200 AD 😉

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  77. “You guys suspend that etiquette for the Bible. You think it contradicts or lies so it contradicts or lies. if It isn’t clear to you despite counter points being presented against your claim of lying it doesn’t matter. Instead over and over what i read is ” its not hard to imagine” well it doesn’t seem” “its not clear” “well I still think” .”

    mike, it’s really as simple as the counter arguments dont hold up, dont make sense, or have no basis in anything and are entirely made up on the spot without any proof or evidence, or all of the above. If you’re convinced by it, cool. I’m just not. so maybe there’s nothing more to discuss.

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  78. “I just cant seem to buy what they’re trying to sell. and as far as circular reasoning, yeah, it’s no good – one reason I left the bible.’

    You’ve forgotten Will my boy. I don’t buy you were a real believer before. So you are free of course to mention it but it raises no point to me. I’m really only here wating for some evidence for any of your claims but its been crickets (in regard to facts) ever since you were held to tasks too hardly for the facts and started cursing. Was that supposed to replace for um any real evidence?

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  79. “and moses got it from the sumarians. ”

    It’s historical fact that the code of Hammurabi predated the 10 commandments. when you really start looking, you’ll find that much in the bible was done earlier elsewhere.

    it’s pretty well known and not hard to find when looking. Unless you’re only looking for things that support the bible.

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  80. “You’ve forgotten Will my boy. I don’t buy you were a real believer before. So you are free of course to mention it but it raises no point to me. I’m really only here wating for some evidence for any of your claims but its been crickets (in regard to facts) ever since you were held to tasks too hardly for the facts and started cursing. Was that supposed to replace for um any real evidence?”

    Cool.

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  81. “mike, it’s really as simple as the counter arguments dont hold up, dont make sense, or have no basis in anything and are entirely made up on the spot without any proof or evidence, or all of the above.”

    You mean like your Samuel 27 claim that it says or implies “Cool David” Right? lol its almost like you were purposefully summarizing your own points.

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  82. “You mean like your Samuel 27 claim that it says or implies “Cool David” Right? lol its almost like you were purposefully summarizing your own points.”

    not at all. not the same. I’ve allowed multiple times that i reading out of the context and that i could be mistaken, and you could be correct – but since the text doesnt provide solid proof either way, there’s no point in arguing about it..

    but if we were talking about the genealogy of christ, where the text is clear, but an apologist swears that means something other than what it says – it’s those I dont find compelling. maybe there’s a better argument or a better explanation as to why it shouldnt be a problem – i just havent heard it.

    does that help clarify?

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  83. “It’s historical fact that the code of Hammurabi predated the 10 commandments. when you really start looking, you’ll find that much in the bible was done earlier elsewhere.”

    And zero evidence that Moses got it from there. When you do some real research (or even some light bible reading in your case)you will discover that most of the ten commandments are moral law already revealed before ether the code of Hammurabi or the tten commandments. Again a point that seems to fly right over your head is that a huge part of Moses writings in Genesis are HISTORICAL to Moses not contemporary. So citing evidence of moral law before Moses makes no point whatsoever

    “Unless you’re only looking for things that support the bible.”

    Or only trying to find what allegedly contradicts it

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  84. “but if we were talking about the genealogy of christ, where the text is clear, but an apologist swears that means something other than what it says – it’s those I dont find compelling. maybe there’s a better argument or a better explanation as to why it shouldnt be a problem – i just havent heard it.”

    Bleh that one is so boring because its been explained by many people (but of course not to your anti-christian liking but as you have said elsewhere – its just your opinion ) and we don’t have independent genealogical records to confirm anyway. I might be wrong but as I recall in my scan Nate had a number of things he did not know pointed out to him but fell back to the usual fall backs.

    However I was having a much greater time reading the total failure of showing a contradiction in the resurrection account with the women though I am quite sure Nate swore he did.

    “but since the text doesnt provide solid proof either way, there’s no point in arguing about it..”

    LOL…back to your handwaving and special pleading that your claim has merit even without ANY evidence. Sorry poor chap – The text provides solid proof that your claims have no support from the text which is why after several posts you have not even bothered to present one single verse

    its quite apparent you have no intention of offering any either so until perhaps something factual drops into your lap from a random wind burst I’ll take a break from this discussion that never rose to the level of a debate because you had and have no evidence to support your claims.

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  85. “And zero evidence that Moses got it from there. When you do some real research (or even some light bible reading in your case)you will discover that most of the ten commandments are moral law already revealed before ether the code of Hammurabi or the tten commandments.”

    except that his law is shown to predate him.

    “So citing evidence of moral law before Moses makes no point whatsoever”

    except to illustrate people dont need the bible to know morality.

    “Or only trying to find what allegedly contradicts it”

    this is a good point and you’re right. I can only assure you that I was once a devout believer, whether you believe it or not is no concern of mine. regardless, we should try to search for the truth, not what we want it to be. We are in agreement it seems.

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  86. “LOL…back to your handwaving and special pleading that your claim has merit even without ANY evidence. Sorry poor chap – The text provides solid proof that your claims have no support from the text which is why after several posts you have not even bothered to present one single verse.”

    I guess I missed it. Where is david condemned for deceiving the philistines? what in the context makes that point? you keep saying it, but always neglect to cite your case.

    as far as the genealogy, you’ve just dismissed that with a wave of your hand in the same post you’re criticizing me of doing so. But still, the passages say both line are through joseph to jesus, even though they’re different. The apologetic I’ve read and heard are just nothing more than “huh, uh.”

    I guess since nothing is impossible for god, he could have two seperate genealogies for Joseph and jesus if he liked – i just dont find that claim of man plausible.

    if you have something more, you can give it, but it may be better posted on a thread devoted to that. I just brought it up here for illustrative reasons.

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  87. “except that his law is shown to predate him.”

    Sigh. You don’t read well do you. THIRD TIME. Of course Moral Law predates Moses. Moses relates SEVERAL HISTORICAL incidents where people are punished for sins and names them. Think. That means that Moses recognizes that sin and violations of moral laws of God PREDATES him. Your idea that anything that predates Moses proves that laws were derived from someone else besides Moses’ God is a strawman because Moses himself NEVER himself makes that claim . Genesis after all has genealogies that show Moses was relating incidents .- Almost all of the ten commandments are related in these accounts as sin – that precedes him by hundreds and even thousands of years. SO you can argue that the laws of Hammurabi predates biblical morality but its not an evidence that your are right about the laws coming from there initially..

    “except to illustrate people dont need the bible to know morality.”

    actually thats ingrained in them to a degree as being created by God but not on a rational basis but under theism. What you have no evidence for and neither does nate is that morality is deducible without reference to theism. You take religion out of a society and the historical record rebuffs you. regimes get less moral. Case closed

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  88. “Sigh. You don’t read well do you. THIRD TIME. Of course Moral Law predates Moses. Moses relates SEVERAL HISTORICAL incidents where people are punished for sins and names them. Think. That means that Moses recognizes that sin and violations of moral laws of God PREDATES him. Your idea that anything that predates Moses proves that laws were derived from someone else besides Moses’ God is a strawman because Moses himself NEVER himself makes that claim . Genesis after all has genealogies that show Moses was relating incidents .- Almost all of the ten commandments are related in these accounts as sin – that precedes him by hundreds and even thousands of years. SO you can argue that the laws of Hammurabi predates biblical morality but its not an evidence that your are right about the laws coming from there initially..”

    I never said they originated with Hammurabi, I just brought hammurabi to show that they predated moses. You can say it serves no point, but I’m not using as iron clad that this is where moses got it.

    the point does two things.

    1) show that morality predates the bible “god’s word”
    2) a plausible alternative to “moses got it from god.”

    it’s a valid point and wasnt being used as a strawman.

    “actually thats ingrained in them to a degree as being created by God but not on a rational basis but under theism. What you have no evidence for and neither does nate is that morality is deducible without reference to theism. You take religion out of a society and the historical record rebuffs you. regimes get less moral. Case closed”

    regimes get less moral, or the society under the regime does?

    you dont get the irony of slamming people for nor providing any proof when you continually neglect to do so? Are you just messing around?

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  89. I guess I missed it. Where is david condemned for deceiving the philistines? what in the context makes that point? you keep saying it, but always neglect to cite your case. ”

    Oh please over and over and over with the same tired washed up claim. the absence of any explicit condemnation or approval does NOT make a claim that there was an approval stand or have any merit whatsoever. Its a false indictment. It has no merit. I am not claiming there is any condemnation or approval in the text. The passage just states the facts. You and Nate are the ones begging that the passage relates or implies approval. You are simply doing EXACTLY what I said – claiming that I must prove your no evidence thesis incorrect rather than citing a singe piece of evidence outside of your “in my opinion”

    “as far as the genealogy, you’ve just dismissed that with a wave of your hand in the same post you’re criticizing me of doing so”

    I’m sorry but umm thats more nonsense- what was there to dismiss? You presented nothing but the claim in this thread and as you indicated its not the place for it. I criticize you rightfully on the subject of this thread where it HAS been discussed.

    “i just don’t find that claim of man plausible.”

    and I don’t find your claim to knowing anything about Jewish genealogies plausible especially since you seem blissfully unaware that one of the genealogies being Mary’s is not the only option Christians have held to.

    Like you said however – not the thread for it.

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  90. “I never said they originated with Hammurabi, I just brought hammurabi to show that they predated moses. You can say it serves no point”

    sure I will because it disputes nothing. its straw because its assumes a premise not in existence

    “1) show that morality predates the bible “god’s word”

    it doesn’t it merely assumes that God’s word begins with Moses. regardless it offers no proof either for or against.

    “a plausible alternative to “moses got it from god.”

    Nope. You pulled it out as proof not just a plausible alternative. You are back pedalling

    “you dont get the irony of slamming people for nor providing any proof when you continually neglect to do so?”

    Okay at this point you are just fibbing big time. YOU made a positive claim that the passage relates david as a hero in 27. I gave the entire text as evidence that there is no such claim in the text ANYWHERE. Thats my evidence unrebutted by you for now six or seven times I’ve stated with not even a feeble attempt to relate a single verse in the entire chapter from where you derive your claim – Basically nothing but I er FEEL it does which shows the depth of your rigor in being fair with any biblical text..

    Then YOU relate some general statement about The hammurabi inscription being a historical fact that predates the Bible as evidence of one of your claims and I gave a historical fact that regimes that have abandoned theism have historically declined in morality – particularly human rights

    but umm thats not evidence but your general hammurabi claims are? Alrighty then 🙂

    I return you to your regularly scheduled rubber stamped posts and “oh this is soo good because it feeds my bias” comments. You still are not up to handling or finding truth beyond that.

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  91. Oh please over and over and over with the same tired washed up claim. the absence of any explicit condemnation or approval does NOT make a claim that there was an approval stand or have any merit whatsoever. Its a false indictment. It has no merit. I am not claiming there is any condemnation or approval in the text. The passage just states the facts. You and Nate are the ones begging that the passage relates or implies approval. You are simply doing EXACTLY what I said – claiming that I must prove your no evidence thesis incorrect rather than citing a singe piece of evidence outside of your “in my opinion”

    You’re right, Mike. The Bible does not explicitly applaud David for his lying to Achish. However, multiple passages say that David was a “man after God’s own heart” — as far as I know, that’s a description given to no one else in the Bible. And it’s a fact that the Bible does not condemn his lying to Achish.

    The impression I got that the Bible was portraying David as cunning in this regard is just that — an impression that I got. It may not have been the writer’s intent. Either way, this was a minor point of my original post.

    As far as morality is concerned, it sounds like we’re all in agreement that morality was not born with the 10 Commandments. William’s point about Hammurabi is worthy of consideration for the following reason:

    Some Christians (maybe not you) claim that the 10 Commandments is our source of morality. That we needed those laws to teach us right from wrong. But even if we accept the Bible’s own chronology, Moses would have lived long after Hammurabi, and the 10 Commandments definitely appear to be derivative of Hammurabi’s code, which itself is derivative of the earlier Code of Ur-Nammu. So we didn’t really need for Moses to be divinely inspired in order to understand the basics of morality.

    An even stronger point to consider is that other mammals have shown basics of morality as well, which indicates our species has been working on morality long before we developed a god concept.

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  92. ” However, multiple passages say that David was a “man after God’s own heart” — as far as I know, that’s a description given to no one else in the Bible. And it’s a fact that the Bible does not condemn his lying to Achish.”

    Thats pretty weak Nate. This man after God’s own heart was guilty of both killing a man and committing adultery so the term is definitely not a reference to being sinless or being above being wrong .Its a fact that your impression was what you read into the text and there is nothing in the text either condoning or condemning. You made it up. It just states the reality of what happened. Nothing else. and sorry its not minor. its the proof text YOU chose which is telling

    “Some Christians (maybe not you) claim that the 10 Commandments is our source of morality.”

    I know of no Christian that claims that morality began at the ten commandments. Most of the ten commandments are just formalized already known laws and almost every Christian I know knows this. Cain’s murder of Abel takes place well over a thousand years before Moses and the source for that? Moses! SO thou shalt not kill is as old as civilization if Moses is to be believed. Issues of sexual morality, theft, idolatry, the Sabbath. stealing, false witness are all in genesis predating the exodus and mount Sinai by hundreds of years. You ought to know this nate since you said you were a bible teacher

    “Moses would have lived long after Hammurabi, and the 10 Commandments definitely appear to be derivative of Hammurabi’s code, which itself is derivative of the earlier Code of Ur-Nammu. ”

    Thats actually your opinion and nothing else. The use of definitely and appear together is almost an oxymoron. I know of no Historian who believes The Ur-Nammu was the beginning or even original source for morality. You are confusing recorded surviving tablets with original source. the bibles position would be that the original source of morality are the events in genesis. Since no one knows the original source it is impossible to claim similarities are definitely derived from one another rather than an even earlier source in common.
    Again like William you are just assuming the Law given at Mount Sinai is the beginning of moral law according to Judaism and Christianity and that is patently false.

    Now of course you as an atheist are free to argue that the morality of the BIble is derived from anything you wish but the word definitely has a more precise meaning than arguing and the predating of tablets before Moses makes no case for evidence against Genesis being correct that Morality was derived from man’s previous contact with God long before Moses.

    Let me reiterated Nate Lest you miss the point . if morality and moral laws did not predate Moses then Moses would have been a liar because he says they do – even the sacrificial system existed previous to Moses according to Moses. So showing that there were laws previous to Moses says nothing you or William claim it does.

    “An even stronger point to consider is that other mammals have shown basics of morality as well, which indicates our species has been working on morality long before we developed a god concept.”

    Ridiculously weak which to use a Bible verse indicates you will strain at a gnat and swallow a camel(and yes I have seen some of the studies that try to take leaps and bounds from little evidence). If thats the case my dog shows signs of morality. If thats your stronger point it shows how weak your argument is.

    and yes at the end of the day our culture did derive its morality from the Bible. You can point to any tablet you wish. It does not change the fact that the Bible brought those rules of morality to our culture and not a Babylonian tablet or steele. Furthermore none of them help you in the least with arguing that morality is established outside of a religious theistic framework as they are all steeped in that reference.Like it or not accept it or not you have no evidence that morality can or would be established outside of a theistic framework because you yourself have morality derived from a culture that got that sense from the Bible unless you are in denial and think you can divorce yourself from the culture you grew up in.

    However logically that just does not work

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  93. I agree that morality was not created by any law tablet — they were simply writing out rules for their society, and those rules were based on moral principles that are more foundational to human nature. But this is also why I don’t think the 10 Commandments are all that important. It’s not like people needed God to tell them that murder was wrong — that was already known. If you’re not the kind of Christian who points to them as the ultimate expression of morality, then we can simply move on.

    I never said my morality could be divorced from my culture. I’m also well aware that Judeo-Christian teachings are a core component of Western civilization. So are the democratic principles picked up from the Greek and Roman cultures, as well as philosophical principles from ancient Greece. I have no problem with any of that, and I agree that they influence my outlook.

    My argument is that morality does not have to rely on theism. There are logical reasons to live morally. There are even evolutionary reasons to live morally, as some animals show. Do you disagree with that?

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  94. ” It’s not like people needed God to tell them that murder was wrong — that was already known.”

    Nate you have no proof whatsoever of your claims. Its a fact that every civilization we can think of in the past was theistic so the claim that it was already known outside of a theistic construct is just history denialism. there are no reasons to live morally in an evolutionary framework for the individual. Collective mores have no overwhelming rationale for the individual. In an evolutionary framework the only thing that is completely reasonable is survival. No animal shows anything approaching a morality that is needed for civilization and primates are known to murder each other so whatever study you are looking at is VERY selective.

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  95. Nate you have no proof whatsoever of your claims. Its a fact that every civilization we can think of in the past was theistic so the claim that it was already known outside of a theistic construct is just history denialism.” ~Mike Anthony

    This statement is shown falsife by the following account from Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle:

    A riveting account of the astonishing experiences and discoveries made by linguist Daniel Everett while he lived with the Pirahã, a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in central Brazil.

    Everett, then a Christian missionary, arrived among the Pirahã in 1977–with his wife and three young children–intending to convert them. What he found was a language that defies all existing linguistic theories and reflects a way of life that evades contemporary understanding: The Pirahã have no counting system and no fixed terms for color. They have no concept of war or of personal property. They live entirely in the present. Everett became obsessed with their language and its cultural and linguistic implications, and with the remarkable contentment with which they live–so much so that he eventually lost his faith in the God he’d hoped to introduce to them.

    And from a book review:

    …They have no creation myth, and worship no deities.

    They do not have much interest in the world outside of their own area, and to them everything is transitory, even life. They routinely die of diseases that we take for granted in the first world, and their life expectancy is abysmal. Yet, paradoxically, they are considered the happiest people in the world. They live genuinely for the moment and care deeply about one another, sharing communally and having few tribal laws. The book’s title comes from how they say good night–they pride themselves on self-sufficiency, and this is expected of everyone in the tribe.

    And of course, native American societies also seem to have functioned quite nicely without aid or benefit of the Jewish codes… or at least they did until the “God-fearing” Christians arrived and wiped them all out.

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  96. Ron sorry but you do research like Nate

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirah%C3%A3_people

    “However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment. These spirits can be jaguars, trees, or other visible, tangible things including people.[12] Everett reported one incident where the Pirahã said that “Xigagaí, one of the beings that lives above the clouds, was standing on a beach yelling at us, telling us that he would kill us if we go into the jungle.” Everett and his daughter could see nothing and yet the Pirahã insisted that Xigagaí was still on the beach”

    You statement that they falsify my comment just got totally debunked. The belief in spirits is theistic regardless of whether they believe in one supreme spirit or not. Furthermore unless you are claiming they are ancient enough to have developed their own moral code (which is dubious since you only quoted a sympathetic review and not one that indicated quite clearly they were fine with murdering babies) then it was derived from other cultures from which the Pirahã split.

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  97. This blog makes a decent case for morality existing before modern humans evolved:
    http://drenn1077.com/2013/01/17/morality-existed-long-before-religion-january-17-2013/

    Do primates sometimes murder one another? Of course. But no one can deny that they observe specific rules within their societies. They protect members of their group and fight against members of rival groups. Many other species do the same thing, not just primates.

    But this is all beside the point. Can morality for a certain group come from religion? Of course it can. But can morality also exist without religion? Yes, as evidenced by all those non-religious people who choose to live morally. The fact is, there are good reasons to be moral, regardless of one’s opinion on God.

    I’m not saying that morality’s ability to exist independently of religion is a strike against religion. I’m simply saying that the existence of morality is not evidence for God. It can’t be used by either side. Do you disagree with that?

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  98. Michael,

    Theism is defined as belief in the existence of a god or gods, not spirits. And according to Everett, The Pirahã entertain no belief in gods, souls, or an afterlife. In fact, he claims these concepts are so foreign to them that they don’t even have words to describe them. Moreover, they are strict empiricists (i.e. they don’t believe things which can’t be perceived via the senses or firsthand experience). Upon learning that neither he, nor anyone he knew, had ever seen this Jesus fellow he was talking about, they immediately asked him to drop the subject. And most importantly, they live entirely in the present, without myths or legends of any kind. Their morality is founded on one overriding principle: being respectful to one another. After several years living amongst them he discovered they were already peaceful and happy without his gospel of salvation.

    It’s a fascinating read. You can watch his presentations on line right here.

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  99. “This blog makes a decent case for morality existing before modern humans evolved:
    http://drenn1077.com/2013/01/17/morality-existed-long-before-religion-january-17-2013/

    Nate…Is that your proof? Sheesh weak. All you did was link to a blog that makes your argument which links to more people who make the argument.

    “Do primates sometimes murder one another? Of course. But no one can deny that they observe specific rules within their societies.”

    So do fish and Honeybees. its called instinctual behaviour Nate. My Dog by that argument has morality – again weak argument.

    ” But can morality also exist without religion? Yes, as evidenced by all those non-religious people who choose to live morally.”

    You have none. Nada. All of them come from cultures that preceded them that had morality from theism and therefor passed om those values. You keep saying the same thing over and over as if you can slice any existing group as having created morality out of thin air without reference to their theistic culture past or present. Even Ron’s desperate ignoring of the spirit believing Pirahã come from a previous group that was religious and had morality that would have passed down so his illogical begging that spirits that tell them what to do isn’t theistic fails nevertheless.

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  100. “Theism is defined as belief in the existence of a god or gods, not spirits.”

    Ron thats a ridiculous nonsense duck on your part because your point has been blown sky high. By that definition Christians believing in the Holy spirit would not be theists, Again read

    “Everett reported one incident where the Pirahã said that “Xigagaí, one of the beings that lives above the clouds, was standing on a beach yelling at us, telling us that he would kill us if we go into the jungle.””

    So you are trying to spin that a spirit that lives above the clouds barking out commands telling them they would be killed if they went against his wishes is not theistic?

    this is just total and complete nonsense and the silliest argument to date anyone has made on this blog. It doesn’t matter what Everett your atheist comrade wishes to say – that is a form of theism – looks like polytheism

    “It’s a fascinating read.”

    I watched one of the videos and its laughable. it fascinates you because you think it makes some point for atheism. The idea that a tribe that knows no science, does not adhere to historical realities does not concern itself with asking questions of origins under some short sighted living for the moment and in the moment ethos would make any true believer in Christ recant their faith is just vast and I mean VAST silliness.

    The Pirahã are not an even ancient primary tribe to say they invented a morality that would not have been communicated and adjusted from another theistic culture before them. they are derived from other cultures before them,. So the whole thing is just wishful thinking on your part. They prove nothing that you claim and their belief in spirits is a form of theism no matter what you claim. Even if you found a truly atheistic tribe you would still ave to show that they had not derived their morality from theistic ancestors before them which of course you cannot do.

    In the end our most ancient civilizations were theistic and our morality was based on those ideas. Thats just a fact.

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  101. No offense, but until you post your CV, I’m inclined to lend greater credence to a professor of anthropology and linguistics with 30 years of field research on this tribe over the bald assertions of some unknown Internet blowhard.

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  102. No offense but I’m not inclined to care what you give credence to. I gave a quote from the book itself and no atheist blowhard is going to tell me thats not theism especially since its apparent they have not even read the book which states in another section that Spirits are one of the ways they regulate behavior. its al nonsense and garbage you buy into because it serves your own purpose. The end.

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  103. Mike, we simply see this differently. If secularism could not support morality in any way, then there would be evidence of that in countries that have become predominantly non-religious. No one denies that the vast majority of people in the past were theists. And yes, their ideas on morality have greatly influenced culture.

    But it also can’t be denied that animals’ instincts lead them to follow certain rules within their groups. Whether this is driven by instinct or reason, it’s still “morality” in some degree or another. The thing is, there’s no way to prove if morality as we see it found its basis more in instinct or from divine revelation. I would argue that the scientific evidence seems to support the former claim, but that can’t be proven yet, and I’m sure you would argue for the latter position. It all comes down to that old question of nature vs nurture.

    We don’t have to agree on this issue — even the experts aren’t united in their opinions.

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  104. “Mike, we simply see this differently. If secularism could not support morality in any way, then there would be evidence of that in countries that have become predominantly non-religious”

    Nate all those countries already had a code of morality predicated on religion handed down to them and you know it. You have no proof of your clams that morality can be constructed without religion

    “But it also can’t be denied that animals’ instincts lead them to follow certain rules within their groups. Whether this is driven by instinct or reason, it’s still “morality” in some degree or another.’

    Following rules is not the same as morality nate. You are trying to fudge the meaning. If thats the case my computer has morality because the operating system has rules

    ” The thing is, there’s no way to prove if morality as we see it found its basis more in instinct or from divine revelation.”

    Of course there is. We can look at our culture and see that logically it derived itself from religiously inspired rules.Thats a historical fact. What you have to do is show that in the abscence of solid evidence morality can arise without reference to that. You can’t. You can only beg without the actual proof that I have within our own culture

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  105. Of course there is. We can look at our culture and see that logically it derived itself from religiously inspired rules. Thats a historical fact.

    If this is true then a large part of religiously inspired morality is worthless and, in fact, harmful, thus should be rejected.

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  106. I’ve already provided links to articles and studies that support what I was saying. Again, we simply disagree here. We can continue to post comment after comment illustrating how much we disagree, or we can simply leave it at this.

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  107. “I’ve already provided links to articles and studies that support what I was saying. ”

    NO nate you linked to a skeptic blog that agreed with you and then linked to others that did the same. Would you take me linking to answersingeneiss as proof of anything? No we don’t have to continue posting comments but you can’t honestly claim to have presented evidence when you haven’t . Anyone can link to an article or even a study and then claim it supports their thesis. thats not proof. Neither is pointing to some experiment where apes figured out where something was advantageous based on results and ignoring they kill each other with no remorse.

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  108. “If this is true then a large part of religiously inspired morality is worthless and, in fact, harmful, thus should be rejected.”

    WHy? because you are outraged at things done in the name of Religion that have been done by humans without reference to it? (proving religion is not the common denominator) and from what morals do the outrage come but from what you learned from your culture as to right and wrong derived from the same religions?

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