The substantial cost of theistic morality

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
Post Reply
drumdude
God
Posts: 1575
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:29 am

The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by drumdude »

Dan cites a new book with the claim that atheists have no good reason to argue against the following policies:
DP wrote:Christian Smith offers a short list of measures that might potentially be proposed — they are not his proposals — to improve society. I provide an abridgment of his list here:

“All inveterate drug addicts, incorrigible drunks, and long-term homeless people” should be either forcibly enslaved or euthanized."

"Babies who are born with incapacitating mental or physical defects, or who, though healthy, are unwanted, should be allowed to die."

"Elderly invalids and long-term patients in mental hospitals and insane asylums who show no promise of recovery should be permitted or assisted to die."

"Serious repeat criminals, if allowed to live, should be sterilized."
DP wrote:For most of us — including me and Christian Smith — such suggestions would be abhorrent. But why? And on what naturalistic basis could one rationally argue against them? Smith is unpersuaded that, in an atheistic, naturalistic world, there would be rational grounds for opposing these and similar policy suggestions.

...rejecting the existence of God comes at a substantial cost.

There's a very simple rebuttal to this, specifically towards Mormons.
Mormonism offers a list of measures that were proposed, and implemented, to improve the church. I provide an abridgement of that list here:

"Persons with any black African ancestry may not hold the priesthood in the LDS Church and may not participate in most temple ordinances, including the endowment and celestial marriage.

"Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be blessed as infants or baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints."

"Sexual relations are reserved for a man and woman"
Unfortunately, basing your morality on the teachings of men who claim to speak for God comes at a substantial cost.
Res Ipsa
God
Posts: 4076
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:44 pm
Location: Peering over your left shoulder

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Res Ipsa »

This argument always amazes me. The notion that Peterson would be a full on Eugenicist but for his belief in God says much more about his own moral character than it does about any atheist’s.
he/him
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds….”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
User avatar
Doctor Scratch
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:24 pm
Location: Cassius University

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Sat Jan 01, 2022 6:56 am
This argument always amazes me. The notion that Peterson would be a full on Eugenicist but for his belief in God says much more about his own moral character than it does about any atheist’s.
Very true. It's striking just how lacking in sophistication his arguments are in this vein, but then again, when you consider the audience he's pandering to, I guess it makes sense. Basically, Godwin's Law is about as deep as he ever manages to get: "Atheism leads to the Holocaust!" When you think about it, his exploitative use of Holocaust victims to advance his dumb argument is incredibly gauche.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
User avatar
Gadianton
God
Posts: 1601
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:56 pm

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Gadianton »

Mormons enthusiastically teach that if we could comprehend the glory of the telestial kingdom, we'd kill ourselves to get there. It's an entirely material calculation. Men are that they might have joy. It's all material. Cost benefit. Better that one man perish than a nation dwindle -- material.

Life on earth is just a meaningless blip for Mormons.

You can justify all those things DCP talks about with Mormon doctrine very easily: sick babies, drug addicts, the elderly will all be instantly relieved of their physical burdens and enter the spirit world. Death is of no real consequence -- it's like moving from one room to another, as Mormons say. Why wouldn't you move somebody who's suffering terribly in one room into the next room, if it's guaranteed that the suffering will cease?

In Jesus the Christ, James Talmage claims that half of the world's population throughout time will achieve the Celestial Kingdom by death at infancy. One could trivially argue that killing babies is a very good thing, rather than taking the risk that they'd lose their guaranteed eternal glory. Mormon doctrine is perhaps the strongest argument ever envisioned for infanticide when you consider the supreme difficulty of achieving the Celestial Kingdom by faith and repentance, and the supreme ease of obtaining the Celestial kingdom by dying before eight years of age.
User avatar
Doctor CamNC4Me
God
Posts: 4054
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:04 am

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

This guy wanted to set a truck on fire because he thought he could see Muhammed’s name in the QR code of a soda bottle:

https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout ... _carrying/

:roll:

I don’t really get what DCP is getting out of terf’ing religiosity, other than he hasn’t resolved his own mortality, but this gang warfare thing he’s committed himself to is more about him and less about atheists. He’s seeing devilish QR codes all over the place, and now he wants to torch something. I’d say I was surprised the Q15 kept him on the dole for as long as they did, but they’re obviously ill-equipped to do anything right that doesn’t involve growing a fat investment fund.

- Doc
drumdude
God
Posts: 1575
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:29 am

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by drumdude »

As Christopher Hitchens famously said, the Jews would not have made it to Mount Sinai if they were under the impression that murder, perjury, theft, ect were ok. Throughout history societies have independently converged on a common set of innate moral principles, based around our species' evolution in which we became a social species. This absolutely includes altruism, or acting in the interest of the group rather than the individual.

Every brainless cell in your body is ready to kill itself at a moment's notice in order to protect the larger body. This is an evolved behavior, billions of years old. When that mechanism becomes damaged, it turns into cancer. Likewise, when in society an individual becomes damaged and shoots up a a school, we have prisons to contain them.
huckelberry
1st Quorum of 70
Posts: 745
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:48 pm

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by huckelberry »

Without a link to the actual terribly offending article I can only make a general surmise. I doubt Peterson would be arguing that we must have a list of rules from the divine which are beyond interpretation. Instead it is more likely he thinks that religion points to basic values which humans must think about, understand context and make decisions with. That leaves it possible for both religious and nonreligious to make a variety of judgements, some better and some not so good, some bad. It is worth rethinking moral decisions because one might have misjudged.
User avatar
Everybody Wang Chung
Elder
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 1:52 am

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Everybody Wang Chung »

huckelberry wrote:
Sat Jan 01, 2022 5:54 pm
Without a link to the actual terribly offending article I can only make a general surmise.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... itted.html
"I'm on paid sabbatical from BYU in exchange for my promise to use this time to finish two books."

Daniel C. Peterson, 2014
drumdude
God
Posts: 1575
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:29 am

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by drumdude »

huckelberry wrote:
Sat Jan 01, 2022 5:54 pm
Without a link to the actual terribly offending article I can only make a general surmise. I doubt Peterson would be arguing that we must have a list of rules from the divine which are beyond interpretation. Instead it is more likely he thinks that religion points to basic values which humans must think about, understand context and make decisions with. That leaves it possible for both religious and nonreligious to make a variety of judgements, some better and some not so good, some bad. It is worth rethinking moral decisions because one might have misjudged.
It makes less sense for Peterson to make the argument than for a generic Christian. Mormonism is an authoritarian religion that claims real, concrete moral principles have been revealed supernaturally through prophets.

I might be on board with the generic Christian argument that we need an objective moral framework, but 99.999% of the world is not OK with moving from that to "Rusty Nelson" is the human manifestation of that moral foundation, and he is the only man with the authority to reveal it to us.
User avatar
Doctor Scratch
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:24 pm
Location: Cassius University

Re: The substantial cost of theistic morality

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Kiwi helpfully clarifies what DCP was actually up to:
It's important for readers - particularly those who might be feeling a bit defensive at this point - to realise that you [i.e., DCP] have not attempted to argue or imply that atheism makes people wicked. There are many moral, decent people who are atheists. The issue is whether they can make a coherent argument for decency and morality from an atheist position.
LOL! So, it's not that you need God/religion in order to be moral--as Kiwi says, "There are many more, decent people are are atheists." Instead, the idea here is that those people *can't explain* why this is so. Well, who in that echo chamber is going to offer a reply? I guess that's the point? Regardless, Gemli falls back on that good old standby, the Golden Rule:
The argument I make for decency and morality is to treat others as I would want to be treated. If human solidarity, compassion and decency is not a sufficient argument for morality, I can't see how adding any of the scores of conflicting theologies would improve our lot.
Unsurprisingly, this response has gone completely ignored by the Mopologists. As Res Ipsa correctly pointed out, these are not people who operate according to the "do unto others" philosophy. Instead, their entire approach to life is based their hope that they'll get rewarded in the next life.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
Post Reply