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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Morality in a subjective universe

Part of the sanctity of morality lies in a fact that we live in societies where all moral agents are roughly at the same level of power - defined as the scope and depth of possibilities. Because of this, we have a roughly symmetrical situation where people's interests lie in a harmony of action and organization, instead of coercion/fraud/violence. Trader Principle, non-initiation of force principle, and so on.

Statism is a perversion of morality and the social fabric precisely because it makes "obeying the government" equally or more important than following one's personal values, simply because the government, the ruling class, has overwhelming power. Religion is a perversion of morality for the same reason - the religion, institution, dogma is seen as overwhelming personal values in importance, and that moral factor is in itself manipulated by moral agents (priests, theologians, and so on).

If a god really did exist, there would be a moral agent with a power more overwhelming than either of these - the god. It would have infinite power ! In such a case, the sanctity of morality is destroyed as well, regardless of the intentions of this agent. It doesn't matter if the god is benevolent or not (which the Christian god definitely is not). The only way out of this is to argue that the god has limits to its power (ex. open theism), which reduces it to the level of a powerful alien. The material is that which is limited and defined : the non-material, the non-existant, cannot have limits.

But we can take this further. If God exists, then the universe is necessarily subjective to its will. That means that morality, being a material fact, would also be subjective. This nullifies all moral principles - since principles can only exist in an objective system - and therefore nullifies the concepts of good and evil. And this means that it would indeed be impossible for a human being to morally judge God. But that's because it would be impossible to morally judge ANYTHING, including the decision to be a Christian in the first place, making the whole Christian enterprise meaningless.

On the other hand, this might explain why Christians reject our human judgment of God and why they reify God as their moral standard. Once you accept the subjective Christian worldview, what other choice do you have ? God is now an infinitely overwhelming moral agent. Even an army can't compare to that !

God also has infinite moral responsibility. This means that when God condemns its creation, it is basically condemning itself. When God gives out pseudo-moral pseudo-principles (they are neither "moral" nor "principles"), it is trying to limit itself, scolding itself for not following its own rules in the past. In this scheme, there is no place at all for human life and human interests. To be a Christian is to negate oneself.

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12 Comments:

At 8/17/2005 10:38 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Franc wrote: "To be a Christian is to negate oneself."

You're spot on with that one, Franc. And the New Testament agrees. We read in Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

What, are Christians not willing to abide by what the bible says? Have they substituted men such as Greg Bahnsen and Cornelius Van Til for the bible?

A point of tension in the psychology of the believer is that the whole reason he's a Christian in the first place is to save his own bacon - that is, he's not denying himself, for he wants to make it into the magic kingdom. But the explicit teachings of his worldview (cf. Mt. 16:24) denounce the very basis of his motivation to be a Christian in the first place. He wants to be a Christian to avoid eternal torment, but the exhortation to "deny yourself" essentially means deny your wants. If the believer were to be obedient to the ethic expressed in Mt. 16:24, he would deny his salvation, for by only by denying his salvation could he fulfill the command to "deny yourself."

 
At 8/17/2005 11:37 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

interesting subjective assertions Bethrick. Now, give an argument that shows how you *know* the intersubjective states of others. You do know how to give an argument, right?

Also, are you still working on the pesky contradiction thing you were schooled on? I'm waiting...

 
At 8/18/2005 5:34 AM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul, can you explain what a Christian might mean by the term 'subjective', where he might get his understanding of this term, and why (if at all) a Christian would find subjectivism objectionable? I'm very curious about this, since I don't find this term in the bible, and apologetic sources which use the term typically don't explain this from what I have seen.

 
At 8/18/2005 11:53 AM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Bahnsen,

Youre right about denying oneself in order to save your bacon. But thats another contradiction within Christianity:

The only way to salvation (the only way to save yourself) is to turn belly up and submit completely to Jesus's desires, not your own. Only then, under these specific conditions, can you receive the unconditional love and salvation of God.

Whats the prime charge of Christianity anyway? That we are all sinners and all worthless!

To accept this assertion is a big blow to ones self esteem. You must, as a Christian, admit worthlessness within oneself and the only worth you get is the worth assigned to you by God according to your level of submission to him. You only have worth in Gods eyes when you feed his ego.

 
At 8/18/2005 11:55 AM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

So Paul, who is most important in your life?

Your child? Yourself? Or Jesus?

And what is most important in your life Paul? Raising your child properly (action), being kind to your fellow man (action), or being a faithful Chrsitian (belief)?

I doubt Paul will give straight answers to these questions...

 
At 8/18/2005 1:24 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

This page stinks, and I hear feeble squeaks from a rat in Hell. I think it's Manata again. Can someone take the wretched creature out ?

 
At 8/18/2005 2:19 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Bethrick,

Just to let you know, my new approach with you is to ignore you if you refuse to answer my questions. So, for future reference...

Anyone can see that you avoided my response. If you're fine with just throwing out assertions, and then not backing them up, well, you'd at least be a consistent objectivist.


Aaron:

"And what is most important in your life Paul? Raising your child properly (action), being kind to your fellow man (action), or being a faithful Chrsitian (belief)?"

Being a faithful Christian is simply a "belief?" That's odd. Being a faithful Christian is also action. Anyway, following Jesus is most important to me. Furthermore, why is "belief" not an "action?" It is a postive cognitive attitude toward a proposition. Something is going on when I believe something. SO, depending on how belief and action are defined, I don;t even know what you mean or if you're clear on that which you speak about.

 
At 8/18/2005 2:33 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: "Just to let you know, my new approach with you is to ignore you if you refuse to answer my questions. So, for future reference..."

I see. So shall I consider this one response to me a one-time gratuity?

Paul: "Anyone can see that you avoided my response."

And I'm not denying that I avoided it, since it was a rather silly request and I supposed that you realized it was silly. Perhaps you take yourself more seriously than I do. But again, you nowhere interacted with any of the statements that I had made in my initial comment to this blog entry, so it's unclear if you disagreed with anything I stated, or what you might have disagreed with. Additionally, it's unclear why you would want to review an argument about how one might know "the intersubjective states of others." If this is really an interest of yours, perhaps you could elaborate, and explain what argument you would give (unless you confess utter ignorance on "the intersubjective states of others"). Or, are you going to avoid me again, just after griping about me avoiding you?

Paul: "If you're fine with just throwing out assertions, and then not backing them up, well, you'd at least be a consistent objectivist."

I think any careful reader would see that I did more than "just throw out assertions." I asked you a three-part question, which you've not addressed. But I see you've avoided this.

Oh, wow, Franc! You're right! There is a nasty stench in here...

 
At 8/18/2005 2:38 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Paul: "Being a faithful Christian is simply a "belief?" That's odd. Being a faithful Christian is also action."

I think what Aaron was suggesting was that the belief part is what distinguishes the Christian from other performers of similar or like actions. For instance, two persons help the poor, and one believes in Christian hogwash, and the other doesn't. The one who does believe the Christian hogwash is thus distinguished from the one who doesn't, even though both are engaged in the same kind of activity.

 
At 8/18/2005 9:16 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Christian rodents breaking their teeth on the rock of science... Christian rodents scampering in fear of their master... Christian rodents stinking up the place... Someone, oh someone, take out the garbage !

 
At 8/18/2005 11:06 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Franc: "Someone, oh someone, take out the garbage !"

Don't worry, Franc, this garbage has legs, and it will soon remove itself. It always does, sooner or later.

 
At 8/21/2005 8:03 PM, Blogger Omni declaimed...

Tee-hee-hee!! Really good essay!! :-)

 

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