Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Remember Your Creator: God is Necessary for Grounding Moral Axioms; this is not Devine Command Theory


Discussion on CARM with Poster "Lance:" he argues that we don't need God for morality because by imposing "moral realism" we can see moral axioms as "real" and true just becuase they are. The problem with this view, as I pointed out, is that you just can't stipulate that moral values are true merely because you want them to be. All values are subjective, all values are relative. That's why ethicist say we need to ground our axioms in something bigger than just the value itself (such as social contract theory, divine command theory, deductive logic or soemthing). Just imposing "we should" merely because we want too is violation of Hume's fork, you can't derive an ought from an is. I had contended that my reason for assuming God makes the rules is because he's the ground of being, he's the gate keeper of all that is. Not only existing things not exist without God, not only are they made according to God's purpose but they are not even potentially possible without God's thought making them potential. In my book that gives God a front row seat in deciding what's what.

(Side Bar Note to Atheists:don't borhter making a comment saying "you are assuming God exist in the first place!" Yes of course I am, becuase we are comparing grounding for moral axioms that means we have to reason "as if" each particular moral system were true to the see the consequences of it.) So this Lance fellow asserts his own ability to determine what's what and assumes that God's view is nothing more than a mere opinion no better than his own.

Originally Posted by Lance View Post
Wow you can't keep a train of thought for even two posts can you. I ground my moral values in objective reality, like Shelly Kagan, so my moral values are real. You ground your morality in the opinion of another person, so your values are arbitrary and relative. You again and again demonstrate that you don't understand this topic, you should educate yourself before so aggressively pushing your silly ideas around.
Meta:wow you can't understand things when people say them clearly. read slow:

Grounding axioms in "objective reality" is an impossible task that doesn't work.

I already said this several times. I'm sorry you can't understand what you read. I sometimes forget atheist have trouble with reading comprehension and understanding concepts and I need to slow down for you. So let me take it more slowly:

(1) objective reality is an illusion.

(2) you are committing the fallacy of Hume's fork. you are trying to derive an ought form an is.

If we could understand objective reality, which we can't becuase we can't get outside of those old human perceptions that you don't trust (remember the "s' word? it starts with "sub..."?) if we could do that even so, you still could not ground axioms in any kind of "objective reality" because objective reality doesn't come with instruction books telling us about the ought.

that's what I meant when I said it's a value system. trying to ground a value system in something that can't be translated in to an ought is pointless.

On my boards Miles raises the problem that I'm verging on "divine command theory." I don't accept divine command theory either, although there are respectable thinkers who might. It is the view that says "God says so that makes it ture." That sounds like what I'm saying, but the problem is it means good is only good becuase God says so, so tomorrow if God says murdering babies for fun is good then it will be. That means God's views are just whims and they are only true becuase God has the power to hurt you if you don't agree. This also opens up the Euthephroe dilemma, that there's an independent standard higher than God.

My view is not the divine command theory, God's commands are not whims, they aren't merely right because God will hurt you if you don't agree but becuase the reason God gives them in the first place is that God is the true source of objectivity since he's all knowing and can understand your all feels of all sentient beings better than the beings themselves can. God's jugements are true becuase they are all knowing and because all reality is the expression of God's creative wisdom in the first place. Moraltiy is derived form love, love is the basic princile that animaltes the good; love is also God's basic character. So the "independent standard" is not independent but is God himself.

This is the difference in the atheist world and a world conceived with God in it: the difference between surface level and depth of being.

God = truth: and this is not merely divine command theory or some arbitrary thing where you have to believe because God said it.
Lance and others are confused becuase they think God is just a big man with another opinion. At least it to me they must think this based upon what they say. they will say "I don't think the Christian is just a big man in the sky" but obviously they do becuase they feel perfectly justified in contradicting God's views and in saying he's just a big guy with an opinion like anyone else. I think this is exceedingly foolish.

That's not to say the alternative is divine command theory. Divine command theory would say X is good because God says so. that means if God says tomorrow that X is bad X will become bad. There's a link bewteen God's commands and truth and that link exists without God's commands being arbitrary whim that he can change. Austine argued that God is truth.
Several theologians, Tillich among them, have noticed a link between love and being. Joel Gravure's summary of Hans Urs Von Balthasar's Retrospective of his theology (1988). So this means that the standard is not independent of God it is God: Love is the basis of the good, the moral, and God is love. Sicne God is truth and God is love and these part of being itself then intrinsic nature of the good is part of reality by virtue of being an expression of God's nature.

There's a reason why the Bible ways God doesn't change. he's not going to change his mind tomorrow and say murder is ok. It's not just so we can have a stable existence but because the reason he said it's wrong in first place is because his commands are consistent with the nature of love. Murder will always be unloving however you slice it.
So then as it seems, it is not that God is necessary for morality, but love is necessary for morality and God is love.

For some strange reason I can't understand, when I argue this, Lance responded:"I would like to say, though, that if you believe that God is love or that God is truth, I would consider you just as much an atheist as myself. Albeit you have some very very strange metaphysical views, but your conception of God is something that I think any atheist could consistently accept."

My response:that really doesn't make much sense. you appear to be saying "if you have a more sophisticated version of God than the atheist straw man than you are an atheist" I guess the problem is you don't get what it means to believe in God. It doesn't mean belief in a big man with power. clearly that is your concept but that's a straw man argument. The result of taking the atheist straw man too seriously. The real difference in Atheism and belief is that belief in God sees a depth to being and atheism believes there is only surface. That's what you are saying when you see God as a big man with powers and refusal to think of god in those terms as atheism you are just saying "if there is no X then one doesn't believe in God" that has be becuase you ignore the possibility of depth in being. I think the atheist idea of love is surface level too. Don't you see love as just chemicals in your head?

Now the guys like Lance who are trying to do an atheist version of moral realism will say if murder is wrong then it would be wrong without God anyway. That's not true. the difference in God and not God is the difference in surface level existence and depth of being. Love comes out of the depth of being, which is what is: being itself means being more than just the existence on the surface of x,y,z but that there is something to the nature of being such that it does link up with things like turth and love.

"You seem to be trying to say God's existence is logically necessary and that God is responsible for all things. Then to say that God is necessary for morality is tautologous."

Greater precision in defining the meaning of statements is not a tautology. I don't know about logical necessity. God is ontologically necessary. That's all I can handle.

"The atheist does not, on the other hand, believe that God's existence is logically necessary (or even true for that matter). So the statement "God is necessary for morality" is only true if you already assume theism is true. If you do not already have the assumption that God exists then there is no reason to believe that God is necessary for morality."

Well of cousre! no one is using this an argument for God's existence. I have a moral argument but this is not it. That should go without saying. You can't say God is necessary for morality then say that proves God exists. that would be circular.

I think he's also making a mistake in confusing "logical necessity" with empirical proof. Logical necessity means true by definition, that's what makes it tautology, but it can't be proved by observation of the world that's empirical that's a contraction to logical necessity.

The meaning of being lies in love, and knowledge is only explainable through love and for love. The will which exists in the object to open itself and the will which exists in the knowing subject to open itself in receptivity are the double form of the surrender which manifests itself in these two ways. From this follows the insight that love is never separable from the truth. Just as little as there could be knowledge with the will, so also truth is hardly knowable without love.

there we have a link between love and being itself. The two are connected. Also includes a link between love and truth. So therefore we are talking about truth, love and being itself when we speak of "God." As Garver points out (link above) we recognize our own fainted and contingency as well as the contingency of the world of things around us—and yet we are aware of being itself as something absolute and unlimited. Various philosophical and theological attempts have been made at explaining the problem of being. Some (such as Parminades) have tried to say that all things are infinite and immutable being, while others (such as Heraclitus) have said that everything is movement and becoming. The Parmenidean solution—which is also that of Buddhism and neo-Platonism—falters since anything finite must be non-being, an illusion to be discovered, and the One is attained only through mystical experience. The Heraclitean solution must end in contradiction, identifying life with death, wisdom with folly. We are left then with an inescapable dualism between finite and infinite, contingent and necessary, and so on.

In other words, Balthasar recognizes the link between love and being. That link is also the basis of knowledge, but all attempts to reconcile the sense of duality that emerges from the realization, outside of the Christian God have failed. The Christian God solves the problem through the Trinitarian solution, because God creates out a desire but not out of a need. Through Trinity God is self sufficient, containing both the other and the self at the same time. Thus, love, being, knowledge and community all wrapped up in one thing, and their place in world flows out of God's disbursement.

One final note, since we are making this connection bewteen love, being and truth, the reader might want to check out my view on "can the ground of being be personal?"


Weekend Fisher said...

You're on one of my favorite topics, man.

It's great that someone of Von Balthasar's reputation was willing to stand up for something like the relationship between being and love.

"The meaning of being lies in love" - that's true like by definition. If "meaning" is "how something is relevant beyond itself", and if "love" is "appreciating / enjoying / celebrating the good in something else", then what other meaning could being have besides love?

But to have a high-caliber guy like with a reputation stand up for it and not back down, now that's cool. I just wiki'd him ... sounds like he wrote too much to read in a reasonable length of time. :( Wonder what his best one was?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Metacrock said...

yes Von Balthasar was great. he wrote 1000 books! some of his footnotes are three huge paragraphs long and in Latin! He was considered the most erudite man of hte 20th century.

The bizarre thing is he was totally unknown outside Catherine circles, then they were selective circles.

think of him makes me angry when atheist talk about how theologians are idiots and what a waste theology is.

Weekend Fisher said...

Well, if you think about it, check out someone's reaction if you mention "wisdom". "Wisdom" as an idea doesn't carry a lot of respect currently, and you don't see a lot of people setting that as the goal of their life, to pursue wisdom. Or peace, or justice, for that matter. This is not an age where "great causes" are welcome. We live in petty times. The current round of great causes are more often used to score points and pose than to accomplish things.

They say history goes in cycles. Sure hope so. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Metacrock said...

wisdom is dismissed because associated with the occult and astrology and new age stuff. They don't have courses in University and it's only talked about in connection with ancient world religion.

It's kind of a veg idea, replaced by logic. Although Wisdom is not logic, it's experience. Its' sort of "savvy." Modern parlance for wisdom is "savvy." It's also equivalent to "street wise."

that' the only time we hear of wise being used in a good sense.

Abhi said...

Good theologians (and theology) in a nutshell: "As so often happens in philosophy, clever people accept a false general principle on a-priori grounds and then devote endless labor and ingenuity to explain away plain facts which obviously conflict with it." Von Balthasar (and you) are among those clever people :)

Metacrock said...

clever people accept a false general principle on a-priori grounds

How do you jsutify a prori grounds being false?

you are asserting that belief in God is based only aprori reasoning. a prpori means it has to be true by definition so that's pretty solid ground. Balthasar and I bleieve in God becuase we experienced the reality of God not because we knew the ontological argument.