The Morality Disconnect part 2
This entry is part of the War on Relativism.
Look at our "buying a car" example again. Is it a moral issue ? Yes, definitely ! To be a moral issue, it needs to be about an individual taking a decision. So while the concept of "buying a car" itself is not moral, an individual deciding how to buy a car is in a moral context.
And this is intuitively obvious, in this specific example. We distinguish between good and bad ways to buy a car (thus passing moral judgment). We agree that, say, "refusing to buy a red car because it does the Devil's work" is a very bad reason to not buy a car, and that a decision taken on its basis alone would be very irrational.
A reasonable person, buying a car, would choose his criteria based on what his values are in buying that car. Obviously, a collector of old cars is not going to use the same criteria as someone buying a car to go to work. Therefore the same moral process applies here as in any other moral decision : identification of one's values, sifting between rational and irrational values, and implementation of these values (or in cases where we have no time to make such evaluations - the rapid identification and application of relevant virtues).
I was involved in a very frustrating discussion with noted atheist author David Eller, who holds to the firm belief that all morality is cultural. This of course is complete nonsense - even he himself admits that he considers nothing else to be cultural. And yet he holds fast to the belief that morality is somehow a completely different study from any other study in existence. Even when I pressed him on a specific example, he would not say that the wholesale murder of atheists is immoral. Now that's dedication to a belief.
What can you say to such a person ? This is the kind of fanaticism that only religious or political beliefs usually invoke. And yet there is no concentrated effort on anyone's part to brainwash people into cultural relativism. Rather, this particular belief is carried on the shoulders of both religion and politics.
This reminds me of another debate I had, this time against Bible inerrancy nut Jason Gastrich. When confronted by the different moral principles presented in different parts of the Bible, Gastrich's answer was that these rules were meant for a specific people at a specific time, and that this was demonstrated by their specific nature. Of course, when I pointed out that these rules were in fact NON-specific, as they applied to things such as retaliation against evil, which apply to all people at all times.
Therefore we see that cultural relativism is not at all exclusive to atheists. I assume that most Christians hold to some form of this view as well, at least to justify their blatant disobedience of Biblical orders. And they then justify their obedience to a specific "culture" or "duty" with "might (of God, of the religion, of the state, of the majority) makes right". Cultural relativism and "might makes right" are plagues of both the religious right and the post-modernist liberals.
Against both these enemies we must make clear that morality, like any other field of study, is and must be based on empirical fact. That actions performed on the basis of culture, religion or beliefs are immoral because they go against the principle of reason. And finally, that being an atheist is wholly incompatible with any such irrational method - and that therefore any atheist who holds to them is irrational.
By the way, if you're a relativist and want to comment about this post, there's no point - since nothing you say is based on fact, I really don't care. Simply answer this : do you base your decisions on facts ? If you answer yes you are a hypocrite (since relativism by definition is not based on facts), if you answer no you are a liar (since you do base most of your decisions on facts).
For another entry on this topic with excellent points, see "Morality: Is it Different from Everything Else? Many Atheists Think So", by Alleee.