Part 14 How to communicate to someone moral relativism is false

In my final installment on objective morality, let me conclude with a very practical summary.

If you want to converse with a moral relativist you need to understand…

What is moral relativism?

Remember moral relativism teaches that right and wrong is determined by the beliefs of an individual or society.  The majority of relativists believe society determines morality.

How to use the arguments against their viewpoint

Once you establish a person is a moral relativist begin with the first question:

  • If you believe all morals are relative, then do you believe what Hitler did by exterminating 6 million Jews was wrong?  Watch them squirm.  This is always my first question to a relativist.  I did this to my relativist older sister and her husband.  They both said they didn’t like the fact Hitler murdered over 6 million Jews.  I then said was is it wrong for everyone, everywhere and at all times, to murder millions of innocent people?  They again told me they didn’t like what Hitler did.  I again said to them, I am not interested in what you like or don’t like, I just want to know if it was wrong for Hitler to do that.  Finally, my sister’s husband Rich said, Steve you are manipulating us.  I asked how and he said he didn’t know.  Bottom line this is a killer question to ask.
  • Follow that question with this one:  If killing Jews is the moral view of that society, then saving Jews is immoral.  Is that your view?
  • Next question: If moral relativism is true, who is your moral hero?  Let them know it is a sociopath and most sociopaths are in prison.  Do you want to follow a moral system that promotes a sociopath as their moral hero?
  • Finally, show them no one can live consistently as a moral relativist.  Use an illustration, such as stealing something from them, to demonstrate this truth.

How to answer objections to objective morality

  • Remember just because societies seem to have different moralities it doesn’t mean objective moral truth doesn’t exist.Usually, it isn’t a problem of different moral truths; it’s a problem of facts.  Give them the cow example.
  • Explain how when 2 moral absolutes conflict with each other you make a decision and choose the higher moral value.  Just because they come into conflict doesn’t argue against the existence of objective morality.
  • Show them why morality couldn’t have evolved.  Explain how morality couldn’t be hardwired and that evolutionists are relativists.

This idea of making up your own morality is very appealing to people.  Many people are attracted to relativism because it allows them to live any way they want to.  They only want to follow their own rules.  This is especially true in the area of sex.  Relativists sense God is a cosmic killjoy and wants to keep them from having all the sexual fun they can have.  Having multiple sexual partners are much more fun than having sex only inside the confines of marriage.

Once you understand this, you’ll understand why they tenaciously cling to their viewpoint and refuse to give it up even they are shown to be wrong.  They want moral relativism to be true so they can live according to their desires.  However, some like Mahito will be honest enough to admit they are wrong.  We can then share arguments why true morality comes from God and is revealed in the Bible.

If you want more information I have some resources listed below.  My encouragement to you is to learn this material.  If you only remember the Hitler example, you still have a powerful argument against moral relativism.  I have used these materials with lots of people; this is not difficult to do.  Everyone reading this blog can do this.

Resources:

  1. Relativism feet firmly planted in mid-air by Greg Koukl & Frank Beckwith
  2. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
  3. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy
  4. Stand to Reason web site:  www.str.org
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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright May 31, 2010, 2:39 pm

    Steve;
    In the next to last paragraph…..”true morality comes from God…..” Which God; the Christian one? Does this mean that all Jews, Muslims, etc, are immoral because they worship a different God and read and believe their version of the bible or Koran?

  • Steve June 13, 2010, 6:15 am

    Tom,
    The question which God is an important but separate question. The argument I put forth pointed to the Biblical God as the grounding for all objective morality but at this point almost any God would suffice. What I am saying is, relativism cannot account for the fact, objective morality exists; such as it is wrong to torture babies for fun. Jews, Muslims, etc. could also discover objective morality and attribute these truths to their god. Objective morality exists outside people and can be discovered and followed by anyone. You don’t have to be a particular religion to be moral. In fact, you follow objective morals and you are an atheist. Your belief system cannot account for where they come from but you still abide by morals such as, “Do not murder.” According to objective morality murder is an objective moral wrong. However, according to atheism, murder means nothing until a large group of people says it is wrong. If they say it is right, like Nazi Germany, then murder is right and good. Atheism bases morality on “Might makes right.” Other posts I have written argue for the Biblical God of Christianity; such as my series on evidence for the resurrection.
    Steve

  • Tom Wright June 15, 2010, 9:16 pm

    If I’m an atheist, murder means nothing to me until a large number of people says it’s wrong?
    I’m searching the internet for “atheism” and find nothing about this definition.

  • Steve June 16, 2010, 2:28 pm

    Tom,
    The point of the article was without God, then morality is based on majority rules. Many atheists are either moral relativists or moral realists. A moral realist has no foundation upon which to base morality; the person just says objective morals exist. They say they don’t have to come up with where morals come from. In other words, morals sprang up from nothing. I believe this is a silly position. Other atheists are moral relativists, which comes down to “might makes right.” All morals are neutral until someone says they are right or wrong. Murder is neutral until your group makes it right or wrong.

    If you don’t believe society creates morality then you have to answer, where do morals come from?
    Steve

  • Tom Wright July 10, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Steve;
    In the absence of a god, I believe there is a civic morality, based on the laws of a society and then a a personal morality which springs from the innate goodness of the average person, both of which are religion-free. In your first sentence, are you referring to the christian god?
    If so, then does each religion have its own set of morals, issued by its own god, different from all others?

    Another question for another time: Who created god; the christian one?

  • Steve July 11, 2010, 6:35 am

    Tom,
    I can answer your last question quickly. I will work on the others later.

    Who created god isn’t a good question. You don’t believe in god, so you don’t believe anyone created god. And I don’t believe in a God who was created. So who believes the Christian God had to be created? No one! I find atheists pull this question out of thin air to try to trip up the Christian but it has no basis in reality. If no one believes this, then why ask the question who created god?

    However, if you would like an answer I gave one at: http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/254/if-god-created-the-universe-who-created-god/ Here is what I said to the question:

    If God created the universe who created God?

    This is a popular question from people who don’t believe in God. My initial response to anyone who asks me who created God is to say, “What comes before the beginning?” Of course nothing comes before the beginning. Nothing comes before God; God is the beginning; He is by definition the uncreated creator.

    I arrive at my belief by “Reasoning to the best explanation.” For example, do you believe science when it says the universe came into existence as a result of the big bang? If yes, then a big bang needs a big banger! I don’t have enough blind faith to believe the universe came into existence out of nothing and by nothing. As Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Who created God? No one did; God is the first cause of the universe and as such, uncreated by definition.

    Tom, I hope that helps answer your last question. Steve

  • Tom Wright July 15, 2010, 10:21 pm

    “Uncreated creator?” How could he create if he was not created? If he was/is uncreated, he must not have ever existed, and therefore invented by man……no?

  • Steve July 18, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Tom,
    How does the fact that God was never created, stop Him from creating? Your conclusion, if he wasn’t created then he must have not existed is a faulty conclusion. Why couldn’t an uncreated being create the universe? You need to give a reason why an uncreated God couldn’t create. What is your argument why an uncreated God couldn’t create?

    My argument for an uncreated creator has to do with a first cause of the universe. According to the argument on the web site, the universe needs a cause. I have argued that cause is God. What that means is God has always existed and therefore needs no cause. He therefore is the uncreated creator.

    When you say man created God, you are making God a myth, a legend, a fairy tale and therefore, doesn’t really exist. You then have to conclude the universe popped into existence by nothing. I made an argument for God’s existence through the universe needing a cause and you have yet to provide any positive evidence for how the universe came into existence without God. What is your evidence for how the universe came into being? How does time, matter, energy, and space come from nothing? How did the first event, the big bang, become powerful enough to form the universe? How did this incredible event come out so perfectly so life could exist on earth? Why does the universe and biological life look so designed? Do you have evidence to answer any of these questions? Without any proof for your viewpoint, you then have to take a leap of faith to believe atheism is true. This is why I don’t have enough blind faith to be an atheist. You really need to reconsider your viewpoint if you don’t have any evidence for your belief.

  • Tom Wright July 23, 2010, 8:39 pm

    Steve;
    What is your definition of created or uncreated? How does an uncreated God exist? How did God come about? Wouldn’t you say there must be a origin, even for the metaphysical? In my mind existence= created.
    If God is/has been a constant, without origin, and created the world as we know it, this means that a Christian God created our earth and the universe. What do you say to the other 4 billion who have a different view?
    Indeed, why would the Christian God have a monopoly on creation?
    You ask for positive evidence that the world came into existence without God. All I can offer is the scientific explanation of the Big Bang, of which I’m ignorant. My knowledge of science is limited, but I do know that a natural phenomena, not faith based, is held to be scientifically factual only if it is testable, and peer reviewed. That is where I prefer to place my belief.
    By the way, do you believe the long necks of giraffes are a result of macro or micro-evolution?

  • Steve August 7, 2010, 5:50 am

    Tom,
    My definition of created: something that comes into existence, it has a cause; finite. My definition of uncreated: did not come into existence, without a cause, has always existed; infinite. You ask how did God come about? He didn’t, by definition God has always existed, no origin, without a cause.

    The Christian God has a monopoly on creation if Christianity is true. Truth is always exclusive. Two Plus two is four is a monopoly in the fact that the answer is always four. Truth is true even if only a handful of people believe it. Truth is that which corresponds with reality.

    You say your knowledge of science is limited and I appreciate your honesty. Frankly, so is mine but I do read lots of books and articles. Currently, the best answer for the existence of the universe is the “multi-universe theory.” It states there are billions of universes beyond ours and the chance of life occurring on one them seems probable according to scientists. This theory is used to answer God creating the universe and yet, it is untestable. You say you believe in science that is peer reviewed and testable then you’d have to reject this “multi-universe theory” because there is no evidence for it and it cannot be tested.

    Giraffes are neither the result of macro or micro-evolution. They came into existence through special creation. We have no evidence for either micro or macro evolution. No creatures in the fossil record with necks getting longer and longer over millions of years. Giraffes suddenly appear in the fossil record fully formed with long necks. No gradual Darwinian evolution evidence for this creature. You have to explain the sudden appearance of the giraffe with long necks without gradual steps. How did that happen?

  • Tom Wright August 7, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Steve;
    Are you equating Christianity being true to the certainty of simple math? One is fact and the other is faith.
    Re: the Big Bang. As I understand it, science hasn’t even sorted out all of the details. In this and other matters, including evolution, science readily admits it doesn’t have all the answers, but is steadily advancing. A good example is the Whale article.
    Contrast this with the full acceptance without question of the paranormal events in the Bible by fundamentalist Christians, some even believing in the literal 6 day creation and a 10,000 year-old earth.
    Re; The giraffe. Perhaps, as was illustrated in the Whale article, we must wait for discovery.
    One more observation; If you believe in microevolution, why not macro? The latter just takes more time, again; witness the whale’s evolution….
    Cheers!

  • Adi May 10, 2011, 7:29 am

    “do you believe what Hitler did by exterminating 6 million Jews was wrong?” Me, yes, but I only can answer for ME…

    “is it wrong for everyone, everywhere and at all times, to murder millions of innocent people?” I can answer what I think… Have you ever ask this to a christian neonazi or a member of the Klan?

    “If killing Jews is the moral view of that society, then saving Jews is immoral. Is that your view?” No, that is not MY view. Again, I can not answer for the neonazis. Could you?

    “who is your moral hero?” I don’t have a moral hero… every human have have things I like and things I dont. Nobody is perfect.

    For a large group of people that agree with Hitler, he has been doing something good by protecting the german people from the jews. No matter what you think or want to believe, they die believing that they were doing something good (some people still does). Or, do you think that the christian god was wrong when he killed all that people from the Bible, to protect the Jews? That is not morally acceptable to me, and it is worse coming from an almighty creature that could found a better solution, instead of kill them all. But you may think that this was right…

    do you believe what the christian god did by exterminating the Canaanite men, women and children was wrong? My answer, again, Yes I think it was wrong

    is it wrong for everyone, everywhere and at all times, to murder innocent people, including children? Again, my answer is yes. No matter how you try to justify it…

  • Steve May 11, 2011, 7:19 am

    Dear Adi,
    Your letter seems to communicate confusion. You begin your letter as a moral relativist but end it as an objectivist. Which are you? Either you are a moral relativist or you are an objectivist. Please respond and let me know. You cannot be both. It is extremely hard to answer your objections without knowing where you stand on the issue of morality.
    Steve

  • Adi May 17, 2011, 7:12 am

    Well, my point is that I can answer what I think about your questions, but not what 7 billion people in the world may, thus´your questions are simply not valid, unless you can answer for every human in the world.

    Is the moral objective? Not to me, if we have to discuss the issue. I’m certain that people can act in a way I consider unmoral when they pursue a biggest good for them and their owns, but they find perfectly acceptable. And I’m not talking about killing or murdering, but more subtle things. If I told what I think to that people, they told me that their moral precepts are correct, and mine are wrong. If I, a human like them, can not understand their moral instantly and without further explanation, and they can not understand mine, then they are not evident and something must be left to interpretation. Draw your conclusion.

    The last questions are just an exercise of what happens if we change the name of one of the majorities’ favorite villains, for someone that a lot of people consider a moral guide, but is capable to the same (at least to me) atrocities. If moral is objective, then Hitler, Stalin, (for sure), Allah, Huitzilopochtli, the Christan god, etc, (in the remote case that they exist) are all at the same level.

  • Steve May 18, 2011, 10:03 pm

    Adi,
    To help with definitions I will use what I wrote in the series on morality. Moral relativism is defined as all morality is determined by people. It teaches that right and wrong is determined by the beliefs of an individual or society. Moral truths are mere preferences, much like our taste in ice cream. There are no universally valid moral principles. Everyone’s morality is equal. No individual morality should be imposed on others. No one’s morality can be labeled as wrong.

    Objective morality is defined as a standard that has authority above the human race and is the rule for everyone, everywhere, and for all time; it never changes. A moral rule is true regardless of whether or not anyone believes it. It doesn’t change with individuals or culture. We don’t invent morality; we discover it much like we might discover math principles. The preferences and desires of humans have no effect on objective morality. It sits above mankind and is not subject to it. In fact objective morality sits in judgment of man’s desires and preferences. If objective morality is transcendent then it needs a transcendent law maker. If objective morality exists it is an excellent argument for the existence of God. For this reason many people refuse to accept objective morality.

    As a moral relativist, you can only express your opinion and cannot call anything universally wrong. For you there is no objective morality. Both your letters are autobiographical. You don’t like certain things people did. So What! Nothing you wrote has any substance; it is just a matter of your opinion.

    According to your beliefs torturing little babies for fun by poking needles in their eyes is not universally wrong. Someone could say making babies scream is enjoyable to them and they relish the opportunity. You would say you don’t like it but would have to say it is morally acceptable for them. You have the same problem with Hitler and anyone who commits genocide on any people group. If they like to murder innocent people it is a morally good for them. Murder and torture are morally neutral in your belief system. They become right or wrong according to the preferences of the individual or society.

    I cannot believe in a system like this, and the truth is neither do you. You don’t live your life as if all morality is relative. I’ll guarantee if someone cuts in line in front of you at the supermarket you get mad and expect him to know he shouldn’t to do that. Why? Maybe his morality is to cut in front of others. Who are you to push your morality? Or if someone on the freeway cuts you off, you have to smile and say well that’s her morality. If someone steals from you, again you cannot get mad because that is his morality. You may not like any of these examples but you must let them get away with it because otherwise you would be imposing your morality on them.

    If any of these situations caused you to react negatively and you believe these people understood the same morals you do then you are not a moral relativist. You live your life as if morals are objective, while at the same time you argue trying to maintain your relativism. If you cannot live your view then you don’t believe it.

    Steve

  • Adi May 19, 2011, 12:16 am

    “…but would have to say it is morally acceptable for them…. If they like to murder innocent people it is a morally good for them”

    Exactly how the world works! many people think that it is morally right to murder or let (innocent or not) people get murdered, if they get a benefit. i.e. Ask the people in the USA what they thing about dropping the bomb over Hiroshima, or killing Hussein and Bin Laden.

    And before we start talking about the difference between “killing” and “murdering”, I just want to ask, Who say who is guilty or innocent, hero or villain, good or wrong?

    “Someone could say making babies scream is enjoyable to them…”

    and they will continue enjoying it, no matter what I, you or the rest or the world think or want to believe. Terrible, isn’t it? but that’s the reality. is not like saying “please stop enjoying that because is not morally correct, and you know it!”

    “…You have the same problem with Hitler and anyone who commits genocide on any people group”

    Like gods? well, yes. But the people that invented them or put them in the power may see a benefit in killing other rival groups, therefore, they could morally agree with that. “oh! They deserve it, because they were sinners that were corrupting our moral system. And if my god ordered it, then I’m perfectly fine with that”. I bet they have any problem of me having a problem.

    “I cannot believe in a system like this…”

    Oh! but you don’t have to! Just look around… Can you tell me, Why people kill? If you are honest, you will see that in some place, someone is getting a benefit from that, no matter what you believe, and probably they wont have any moral problem.

    “If someone steals from you, again you cannot get mad because that is his morality”

    But not mine. There is not an agreement between both morals systems. My morality allows me to defend my things and my people. I don´t steal, true. It brings no benefit to me and I think is wrong, but avoiding my stuff being stolen, well, if I can, I’ll do it glad. No moral issue, no hypocrisy saying “Is wrong to kill, but I will gladly kill you if you touch my wife”.

    On the contrary, if I do nothing, the one who stole me will get a benefit and there is a high probability that he feels pretty comfortable with his actions.

    “… but you must let them get away with it because otherwise you would be imposing your morality on them”

    Wrong. Somebody must enjoy killing people, but he may be breaking a “social contract”. I can defend my rights or property without even talking about morality. No matter what I do, he will still enjoy killing people. You can put to death a serial murderer (that some people think is morally right while others think is wrong) but for the murderer, killing others may be always a good thing, without moral repercussions.

    “…you believe these people understood the same morals…”

    I believe, or I KNOW? be careful here… two different issues. What I believe will not automatically apply for everyone. I KNOW you can’t fly without external help. Believe that you can does not make it true.

    “You live your life as if morals are objective, while at the same time you argue trying to maintain your relativism.”

    Wow! you know me better than myself! and only with two posts! Amazing, but again, wrong! when I’m in a group with a moral different to mine, I don’t try to change them unless it affects directly to me. As an example, I consider unmoral to teach religion (any of them) to kids, but I will don’t tell you “don’t do it, I thing is wrong” because it will not change what YOU consider right. who’s wrong? you or me? are we both wrong? or is relative?

    If you can tell me what everyone in this planet feel, now, in the past and in the future, when they kill someone else, and you can prove to me that all of us have a moral issue with that, then I will agree with you and I will shout my big mouth off. But, if you fail to demonstrate that with one single person, well, I’m afraid that your point totally fails (“…is the rule for everyone, everywhere, and for all time; it never changes.”).

    But please, avoid telling me what YOU think WE fell or if YOU think that WE were right or wrong. Tell me what WE feel, or thing, or know. Unless you know all the people better than themselves, I find not an easy thing to say “If you cannot live your view then you don’t believe it.”

  • Steve May 21, 2011, 7:47 am

    Adi,
    Help me understand your moral viewpoint. Do you believe murdering innocent people is wrong? Do you believe torturing little babies for fun is wrong? Do you believe stealing is wrong? Do you believe raping an infant is wrong? Do you believe polluting a lake with acid in the back country is wrong?

    When I use the word “wrong” I mean in a universal sense; wrong for everyone, everywhere. Are the above examples of moral actions wrong? Or are these choices morally neutral?

  • Adi May 22, 2011, 10:55 pm

    If moral is objective, my point of view is irrelevant, isn’t it? Because there is only one point of view. If moral is objective, then everyone in the world must ask that questions exactly in the same way independent of what me or you thing… unless these are not objective “laws”.

    I can not answer the questions because of the sense in which you use the word wrong. “…I mean in a universal sense; wrong for everyone, everywhere”. Unfortunately, I have no idea how all the people on my block could answer these questions; I don´t even dare to try to answer in place of all the living humans, left alone the ones whom already have died… so, is it “wrong for everyone, everywhere?” well, I have no idea!

    Just by the records, for me, the answers are: depend of the circumstances, yes, depend on the circumstances, yes and yes. Again, this is only my point of view, but if I think something is wrong, it does not mean that everyone thing is wrong.

    Going back to my last point, in the last post, please provide me with evidence that all the pederasts in the world (now, past and future) consider that “…raping an infant is wrong” and I granted to you that moral is objective.

  • Steve May 23, 2011, 8:48 am

    Adi,
    I will try to summarize your moral viewpoint. You believe a person can murder an innocent person if he thinks it is the moral (right) thing to do. You believe a person can torture innocent babies for fun if it brings her joy. You believe a man can rape an innocent infant if he enjoys doing it. Polluting beautiful back country lakes is fine as long as the person thinks it is right for her. Hitler did nothing wrong murdering 6 million Jews (including women, children, and the handicapped) because he thought it was right. Is this your moral viewpoint?

    Steve

  • Adi May 23, 2011, 11:39 pm

    No it is not right. Please stop repeating the same. Keep saying it will not make it right or wrong FOR THE PEOPLE THAT COMMIT THOSE ACTIONS. I’m not saying they can or can not. I’m not saying they must or must not. I’m not saying they must be allowed or not. Those are different issues. We have laws (man laws) that keep that business under control. Moral is your own regulator that keep us (or not) to do that. If it is objective, everyone must know that it is wrong, and must have a moral issue with that. That you are not allowed to do something (i.e. for a greatest good of a social group) does not mean that you don’t want to do it.

    If you break the law (again, mans law) you must deal with the consequences. This not mean that you will have a moral issue by breaking the law in the first instance. Again, what I think about Hitler doing right or wrong does not matter, He need to be punished for breaking a law, agreement or whatever you want to call it, but if we talk about morals, I guess he had not any remorse about what he did. Yes I thing it was wrong. Do you know what Hitler thinks?

    What stops you to kill millions of people? Your moral viewpoint. What stop Hitler to do it? oh, wait! Nothing! (well, a bullet; And I bet he didn’t cry for the Jews).

    And In any case, If I answer yes to your questions, so what? maybe I’m a psychopath who have a baby head in the fridge for dessert. Then my moral system, as wrong or terrible it seems to you, its different from yours. I have not moral issues when killing, raping, ordering to kill all men, women and children that lives in a city but to take the maids for the fun of my men. If I have to be put to death because my crimes (under the man law) I will go smiling and wishing I could kill one more baby…Then, there are TWO moral systems: yours and mine. I have no problem by killing BUT I may have a moral issue about teaching religion to children, thing that you do and I may think is worst than killing.

    If we have two moral systems, then, it is not objective, as you have defined it. (“…is the rule for everyone, everywhere, and for all time”), as not murdering could be a rule for you, but not for me, no matter what you said, think or believe; you thing is wrong, I thing is right…

    What about my question: , please provide me with evidence that all the pederasts (active or not because of fear to the man laws) in the world (now, past and future) consider that “…raping an infant is wrong” and I will accept that moral is objective.

  • Steve May 28, 2011, 11:00 am

    Adi,
    What I’ve been asking is the ontological question of morality. In other words, what is the source of morality? You keep pointing to the practical outworking of morality; how people act. That is not what I have been asking. I have been seeking the source of morality.

    Have you read my entire series on objective morality? This would have cleared up some of the problems in definitions. I suggest you read through the series using the site map on my web site.

    The issue of truth plays a part in this discussion. Here is what I wrote about truth in “Do Objective Morals Exist?” part 3:

    To understand moral relativism we first need to discuss the issue of truth. Truth is sometimes hard to define. When someone asks, what is truth? I ask them, do you know what a lie is? When they reply yes, I tell them truth is the opposite. Truth is the way things really are. Let give you a few more descriptors.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one knows it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one admits it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one agrees what it is.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one follows it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one but God grasps it fully.

    Let me give you an example. Let’s say I believe the earth is flat and you believe its square. Does our belief change the truth? Does the earth go from being round to being square because of your beliefs? Let’s test these beliefs with the list. Truth is true even if both of us don’t know its round. It’s true even if neither of us will admit we are wrong. If the entire world believes the earth is flat or square that doesn’t alter the fact the earth is round and it’s still true even if only God knows it. Bottom line, truth matches reality. Truth cannot be changed.

    Now I would like to look at two different categories of truth; subjective and objective truth. To help you grasp these concepts I will illustrate them by contrasting ice cream and insulin.

    I will begin with subjective truth. When it comes to choosing a flavor of ice cream, you choose what you like or what is true for you. There is no “right” flavor you must choose and no one is going to take issue if you like chocolate more than vanilla. This is called a “subjective truth.” It seems very odd for me to say, you are wrong because you think chocolate ice cream is the best. There are no right and wrongs with subjective truths; there are just preferences. Remember subjective truth is true for the subject, the person.

    The other type is objective truth. When it comes to choosing medicine you do not choose what you like or what is true for you; rather, you choose the medicine that will actually heal you, like insulin if you have diabetes. This qualifies as an objective truth. Objective truths are things we discover and cannot be changed by our internal feelings. Objective truths focus on the object at hand, whereas subjective truths focus on the subject; the person making the judgment.
    These are important distinctions in understanding morality. A moral relativist believes all morality is subjective, like ice cream, and you choose the morals you will live by. A moral objectivist believes all morality is objective and he is held accountable to those rules whether he acknowledge them or not.

    You seem to believe morality is subjective because humanity is your source of all morality. I have been trying to help you see how illogical your view is to hold. You end up having to believe words like murder, rape, genocide, courage, love, etc. have no meaning until either the individual or the group gives it meaning. What this means is if the group decides what is moral through the force of law then it is “Might makes right.” Whatever the society in power believes is right and good. If a society believes torturing children is good then the laws could allow for that practice. If Hitler wants to declare Jews are not persons and worthy of death, then the relativist has to say this is his morality. If your next door neighbor peeks through your window night after night watching your wife take a shower, you’d have to say there is nothing morally wrong with that because he is only doing his morality. You wouldn’t like it but your opinion on morality is your own and not his.

    I believe in objective morality, grounded in the nature and being of God. Murder, rape, and genocide are universally wrong, even if no one follows those rules. If Hitler had won the war, conquered the entire world and brainwashed everyone to believe Jews were worthy of death, genocide would still be objectively wrong even if no one believed it. Objective morality stands above humanity and is the standard for right and wrong. Figuring out what morals are objective is another question, an interesting one but not the point I have been trying to establish.

    Our intuitions tell us there are objective morals. I sense you know what I am saying is true and some things are objectively wrong. Torturing little babies for fun and pleasure is wrong, even if some people do this. Remember truth is true even if no one follows it. Objective moral laws need a moral lawgiver. This is why the existence of objective morals is a powerful argument for the existence of God.

    Steve

  • Adi May 30, 2011, 5:54 am

    ok, it is hard to answer to all the points in such a large post, but I will address the ones I consider the most representative.

    “…Truth is the way things really are…”

    Well, this work both ways. I can say that moral is subjective, and if that is the truth, no matter what everyone knows, admits agrees or follows, it will be true. The problem is that I will shoot my own foot, because I have no way to prove it (the same if you say that moral is objective). There will be always a doubt, as our knowledge of the truth is very limited.

    “…Let’s say I believe the earth is flat and you believe its square. Does our belief change the truth?…”

    And in the same way, you believe that moral is objective, but that you chooses to believe that does not immediately make it true. We can corroborate if the earth is flat, square or neither. Tell me, How can I, independently verify that moral is objective?

    “…it comes to choosing medicine…”

    Maybe you want to choose a different example. I know about people that still uses acupuncture, homeopathy and other “alternative” medicine, although their effectiveness have not been proved conclusively (if they work at all).

    “…Objective truths are things we discover and cannot be changed by our internal feelings…”

    are you telling me that, if I discover something that feels right to me, and I don’t find a negative aspect of it (for me or someone else), It is really not right if someone else does not agree with that?

    “…Objective truths focus on the object at hand, whereas subjective truths focus on the subject; the person making the judgment.”

    Ok, let me understand this. Moral is not about persons making judgments? if you tell me that objective truths focus on the object at hand, then it could not have a moral value by itself. Imagine a hammer: I can use it to crash babies heads, or to build a community center. is the hammer right or wrong?

    Now lets think about killing as the object at hand. I’m going to kill an innocent and a guilty person. Is killing by itself, right or wrong? or depends on the circumstances (innocent vs. guilty)?

    “…and you choose the morals you will live by. A moral objectivist believes all morality is objective and he is held accountable to those rules whether he acknowledge them or not”

    The problem I see here is: Who judge which rule is truly right and which is truly wrong? Please don’t tell me that the Bible, because all the theist have their own set of rules and books, and if you can not even agree in what is right and what is wrong, then we certainly not know the truth. Perhaps the truth is that there are no rules at all. (“o Truth is true – Even if no one agrees what it is.”)

    “…You end up having to believe words like murder, rape, genocide, courage, love, etc. have no meaning until either the individual or the group gives it meaning”

    I don’t like to do this, but I will use your Bible and the Koran to answer that. When your god does – command those actions in the Bible, for you, they have a different meaning than for me and for a Muslim. I dare to think that you even have a justification for that. If the Muslim god does – command those actions in the Koran, it will have a different meaning for you and me than for the Muslim. And I guess that you condemn it. Actually, I thing both of the gods are doing wrong. It does not mean that they have no meaning, but for you, the Muslims and for me, just are different. Who is right? you because you said so, or me because I said so?

    “…Whatever the society in power believes is right and good. If a society believes torturing children is good then the laws could allow for that practice. If Hitler wants to declare Jews are not persons and worthy of death…”

    Unfortunately, this is the true. If you or someone else do something that protect you or bring you a benefit, it is very probably that you find a way to justify those actions, even if you consider that it is wrong for others outside your group to do that same action to your group (“he is a threat to us, therefore, we are justified in doing this, but it is wrong for you to do the same to us, no matter if you consider us a threat”)

    “…You wouldn’t like it but your opinion on morality is your own and not his.”

    I have already answer to this. I will copy-paste from a previous post:

    But not mine. There is not an agreement between both morals systems. My morality allows me to defend my things and my people. I don´t steal, true. It brings no benefit to me and I think is wrong, but avoiding my stuff being stolen, well, if I can, I’ll do it glad. No moral issue, no hypocrisy saying “Is wrong to kill, but I will gladly kill you if you touch my wife”.

    “…and being of God. Murder, rape, and genocide are universally wrong, even if no one follows those rules…”

    I’m really curious abut this, are you admitting that the genocides in the Bible are wrong (universally)?

    “If Hitler had won the war, conquered the entire world and brainwashed everyone to believe Jews were worthy of death, genocide would still be objectively wrong even if no one believed it”

    Yes, maybe, but: Who will judge him? Everyone will think that he was right. If you tell me that only your god will known that Hitler was wrong, then he must be the only judge and we have to do nothing to murderers, rapist and genocides, because our understanding is limited or maybe we all have been already brainwashed, and we may be misunderstanding the rules. Then “If Hitler wants to declare Jews are not persons and worthy of death. If your next door neighbor peeks through your window night after night watching your wife take a shower” we must do nothing until your god judges them… is that right?

    “Figuring out what morals are objective is another question, an interesting one but not the point I have been trying to establish”

    Well then I guess we have a little problem here… If we don’t understand the rules, How can we know for sure their properties? Where and when they apply? How to interpret them? How to corroborate our understanding?

    “Our intuitions tell us there are objective morals. I sense you know what I am saying is true and some things are objectively wrong.”

    Unfortunately, I stop to blindly believing in my intuition, since it has proven to be wrong in the past.

    What you “sense” of me may be true. Can you “sense” what my neighbor knows? Please post it an I will go ask him.

    “…Torturing little babies for fun and pleasure is wrong…”

    Because…? (and this is a very big because)

    “…Remember truth is true even if no one follows it…”

    Even if you don’t agree with it? you are choosing to believe in your lawgiver… There is a possibility that you are not following the true path. (I’m not closed to that when applying it to myself)

    “…is a powerful argument for the existence of God.”

    Yes, it may be. But in the end, I’m asking you for a proof of moral being objective not for the existence of gods. And if your proof is that they are objective because gods exist, then I will ask for a proof of their existence, but I dare to guess, that it will be that the gods exist because the moral is objective. In that case, I will ask for a proof for that, again.

    I’m still not convinced that something like:

    “…a standard that has authority above the human race and is the rule for everyone, everywhere, and for all time; it never changes. A moral rule is true regardless of whether or not anyone believes it. It doesn’t change with individuals or culture”

    exists or could be proved.

    Until now, you are only asking me if I think something is right or wrong, or If I think is right or wrong for somebody else. Exactly how that proves that, what you or I see as rule, is actually a “…rule for everyone, everywhere, and for all time; it never changes” ? I still don’t know.

    In any case, as we don’t know the truth, I guess you must leave all the judgments to your god or whatever entity you want, and do nothing to people that breaks his rules until he directly and explicitly decides if it is right or wrong. So according to you, anyone can live its life as he/she wants until his/her time to be judged came, because, I guess, nobody have the authority to judge; after all, I presume, we are just humans.

    As I don’t believe in gods, I only have the rules that we men have developed to keep a relative successful coexistence (with a lot of high and lows, that is true). If your moral system includes as your right, the genocide of a group that you consider must be eradicated (whatever the reason you want), I will trust in the human rules that not allow you to do that. Meanwhile, you can believe whatever you want. The sad reality is that genocide is still a common practice, with or without men rules, with or without gods. But if there is a god and we are nothing but simple humans, and we could be misunderstanding their rules, then, who are we to judge if it is right or wrong? do we dare to say we fully understand the mind of the gods?

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