Atheist Memes Answered – Why should I be decent?
From where cometh decency? And how do we knoweth what is decent and what is indecent? Furthermoreth, why oughteth we be decent?
One thing is for sureth, atheism has no good answers.
Again – why does God have any authority? What gets us from “God knows what is decent” to “you are compelled to be decent?” So far as I can see, it is your preference for God and nothing more.
Even if God does get us to “this is what decency is” (playing Devil’s Advocate here, as I don’t accept that claim) how does it get us to “this is decent for all people in all places at all times?”. God had a chosen people — that’s not “all people”; the defence of slavery often given is that it was culturally appropriate to those people at that time — that’s not “at all times”; the Jews were allowed to take slaves from the foreigners around them — so that’s not the same idea of decency “in all places”.
Sounds to me like you’re arguing for deism, because you certainly can’t be arguing for the God as described in the Bible.
Interestingly – if you accept that you can’t get from an ‘ought’ to an ‘is’, how are you proposing to get to an ‘ought’? No list of facts could get us there, could they? “God exists”… so what? That is an “is” claims that gets us nowhere closer to an “ought”.
Also – why is your philosophy so naive as to require some mandate? Hitchens doesn’t argue for an objective dictate on morality, just being able to tell the difference between decency and indecency.
Importantly – what do “evolutionary models” of morality matter, at all? You can have the ‘veil of ignorance’ model, social contract model, wellbeing-based utilitarian model, Kantian imperative model, virtue ethics… none of these are predicated on evolution or God.
This is why you should be taking a charitable interpretation of the passages, as opposed to assuming they are as vacuous as they strike you as being on first sight and looking no further into them.
If you created a bunch of robots, without help from anyone else, would you have the right to do with those robots whatever you wanted? Provided, of course, you are not breaking any laws. So does God have the right to do with us what he wants. And there are no laws he is under.
I acknowledge that there are some moral issues which can legitimately vary with the times and situations. But still there are some expectations of decency which most people recognize apply universally. And by “decency” I’m including all types and categories of morality. And I’m not referring to mandates at all, only to an objective standard by which to judge what is right and wrong. I don’t believe any atheistic model can supply that.
This is exactly the kind of authoritarian “morality” that just seems paradoxical to me. If I created robots with the ability to feel and a sense of autonomy, I would be a monster if I started intentionally frying their circuit boards, or told my favourite of them that they may destroy my least favourite — and everything they have created.
Ethical debates about AI question whether we should make them at all, before we have systems in place to make sure we can treat them properly if we are convinced they become capable of wellbeing.
We do not grant each other full rights over our creations.
And that’s what a right is: something granted to you by people or institutions that can manage the relevant resource. The Human Rights are not some declaration by God, but an international agreement about what humanity can/should enforce.
When you talk of objective standards, I have to ask: would any objective standard do, or do you mean objective standards you respect? Because you could set up horrifically backwards standards, or ineffective ones, and still have it be objective; Humanists have described standards which appear to do a lot of good, but you don’t respect them.
You could define morality as being commensurate with local culture, and that would be objective (you could decide if an action is appropriate or not), but it wouldn’t hold across time and place — but it is still objective.
Is there, perhaps, some greater or additional criteria against which you are looking for ‘legitimate’ morality.
But your adoption of my analogy of robots makes the assumption that God is cruel, and that’s a charge that cannot be sustained. There are factors which when considered make it very possible he has morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering and evil.
As for rights, without God we would have no inherent rights. Only those given to us by humans, which can then be taken away by other humans.
As for objective morality, here’s how I see it. God is good and he is the standard, so every truly moral virtue is good. He has given us some commands but he has also given us a conscience which informs us on right and wrong. Not that we know instinctively the right thing to do in any and every situation, but some things we just know…killing is wrong, love is right, theft is wrong, self-sacrifice is right, etc.
But if killing homosexuals, for example, is thought to be good in some cultures but not others, it is therefore NOT objective because it is dependent on the society. For a truth or proposition to be objective means it is mind-INdependent…not dependent on any person’s or society’s evaluation but true or right for all.
Decency is a concept that would not exist without the human mind to conceptualize it (like all concepts).
Religions have nothing to do with morality or ethics, despite them all claiming to be the only way those concepts exists.
I would agree that a mind is necessary, but not necessarily a human mind. Decency…morality…is rooted in the character of God, who has a mind. And we might say, IS a mind.
Many people do not believe in a creator and, in secular nations, religions are to be kept away from legislation.