XFiles Weekend: Blameless Morality

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 3, “The Reality of the Law”)

Last time, we wrapped up Lewis’ attempts to address a few objections to his theory of Moral Law, and now he’s going to go back to developing his main thesis, which is that human morality stems from some kind of supernatural list of everything that’s Right and everything that’s Wrong. It’s a thesis dictated by the conclusion he wants to reach, so not surprisingly he has to work to make it all fit, even when he’s only using a carefully selected subset of the facts. Today he brings up another fact that would like very much to inform him about what’s wrong with his theory, but sadly he’s still not listening.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 7 Comments »

XFiles Weekend: On the morality of burning witches

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 2, “Some Objections”)

This week we wrap up Chapter 2 of Mere Christianity with Lewis’ somewhat feeble attempt to address the morality of witch-burning. Until a few centuries ago, it was a rather popular practice among Christians, and—well, let’s let Lewis speak for himself.

I have met people who exaggerate the differences [between different moralities], because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, ‘Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?’ But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did—if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbours or drive them mad or bring bad weather—surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 7 Comments »

XFiles Weekend: Math and Morality

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 2, “Some Objections”)

According to C. S. Lewis, “the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in” lies in assuming the existence of a natural Law of Morality. This isn’t just some arbitrary, human legislated regulation either. It’s a real Law of Nature that defines a real standard of Right and Wrong—a standard, moreover, that we all fall short of.

This week, Lewis looks at one last objection to that premise.

Other people wrote to me saying, ‘Isn’t what you call the Moral Law just a social convention, something that is put into us by education?’ I think there is a misunderstanding here… We all learned the multiplication table at school. A child who grew up alone on a desert island would not know it. But surely it does not follow that the multiplication table is simply a human convention, something human beings have made up for themselves and might have made different if they had liked?

He also compares it to which side of the road we drive on, which (unlike math) is a convention. In America, we drive on the right-hand side of the road; in England, on the left. There’s no natural law that says things have to be that way, and we might just as easily have decided on different conventions. So the question is, when we learn morality, are we learning about a pre-existing law, as in mathematics, or about a mere convention, as in driving?

Lewis, not surprisingly, favors the former, and he gives us two reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 18 Comments »

XFiles Weekend: Armchair hero?

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 2, “Some Objections”)

In Chapter 1, C. S. Lewis introduced two ideas that (he claims) “are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” These two ideas are (a) that there is a universal Moral Law defining right and wrong, which we somehow inherently know, and (b) that we do not obey this law. Unfortunately, these two ideas are not themselves the product of clear thinking, and indeed are a rather biased and superstitious failure to understand human morals realistically. There is no singular universal Moral Law by which we all make moral judgments; rather, we judge right and wrong based on how we feel about the outcome. This fundamental disconnect between theory and reality has already bubbled to the surface in a number of inconsistencies between what Lewis claims and what we find through even a trivial examination of the real-world facts.

In Chapter 2, Lewis acknowledges some of these difficulties and attempts to either refute or discredit them. As we shall see, though, his attempts to reduce his troubles only adds to them. As the good fairy told Pinocchio, once you tell a lie, it grows and grows until it’s as plain as the nose on your face—even when you sincerely believe the lie because you first deceived yourself.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 7 Comments »

XFiles Weekend: Assumptions and consequences

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 1, “The Law of Human Nature”)

Chapter 1 of Mere Christianity sets out to establish what C. S. Lewis calls “two facts” that “are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” We looked at the first of these “facts” last week: the notion that there is some kind of universal Moral Law, aka the Law of (Human) Nature, that dictates the definition of Right and Wrong. According to Lewis, we all know that this Moral Law exists, and we’ve even got some kind of inherent knowledge of what its commandments are. And yet (“fact” number two), we do not do what this Law tells us we should.

We’ll get to the rest of Chapter 1 in a moment, but first let’s note in passing just how far Lewis has already gone astray, due to the preconceived ideas he’s trying to impose on his interpretation of the evidence. Because he’s thinking in terms of divine commandments, he’s already introducing the notion that his so-called Moral Law is not just a description of common patterns of behavior, but is in fact some kind of obligation that each and every individual is somehow responsible to live up to. It’s a subtle little twist, but as he gets into the second part of Chapter 1, we’ll see that this extra little assumption is really a key factor intended to drive us to Lewis’ desired conclusion.

It’s kind of slick, in a way. He directs our attention to certain real-world facts (i.e. the way people judge actions in light of consequences), and then, while our attention is focused on the observations, he slips in a subtle, biased twist that colors our interpretation of these facts. Notice, the extra twist is not part of the observed facts: we don’t observe any Universal Moral Law with any objectively declared principle binding its precepts upon all mankind. This is purely Lewis’ ideology, injecting itself into the argument when it thinks no one is looking. Pretty sneaky, eh?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 5 Comments »

XFiles Weekend: It’s more like “guidelines”

(Book: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, chapter 1, “The Law of Human Nature”)

We’re ready to start the main body of Mere Christianity, but before we delve into what Lewis calls the “law of human nature,” let’s take a moment to do some forward thinking. Let’s start with a species that is intelligent enough to have some understanding of cause and effect, so that they can anticipate the probable consequences of their actions, and choose the ones which will have the most favorable outcomes. Let’s further suppose that these beings possess enough empathy to communicate with each other, to recognize each other’s feelings, and to anticipate what sort of feelings others are likely to feel in any particular set of circumstances.

Given this as a premise, plus the assumption that each individual wants to achieve the most favorable possible outcomes, what consequences would we expect as the members of this species interact with each other and with an environment that contains both dangers and opportunities? If we look at a few specific scenarios, I think a clear general trend will emerge.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Unapologetics, XFiles. 4 Comments »

XFiles: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Deny GOOD PEOPLE

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

We’ve been listening to a fictional Christian, whom we’ve dubbed “Dr. Geistur,” as he tries all sorts of excuses for why God does not oppose evil in the kind of tangible and productive ways that would be consistent with the existence of a good and all-powerful deity. We’ve heard him excuse God on the grounds that God really has no choice, that somehow He lacks the power to prevent evil from happening one way or another. We’ve heard him criticize a Jewish apologist for making basically the same argument, on the grounds that all things are possible for God. We’ve heard him propose analogies like the Super Bowl, as illustrating how struggle can make victory sweeter (though he apparently fails to realize that it also illustrates the existence of alternatives that do not require resorting to sin and evil). And we’ve heard him try to sell the idea that evil isn’t really all that bad, and that it’s actually good for us, in the long run.

As if that hasn’t sufficiently made a general hash of his own religious beliefs, he next turns to this tidy morsel of misanthropy:

STRAW [the Atheist]: If God is infinitely powerful as you say, then why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?

GEISTUR: We’ve already pointed out that there are good outcomes for pain and suffering. But we also need to point out that the question makes an assumption that isn’t true.

STRAW: What’s that?

GEISTUR: There are no good people!

Charming, isn’t it?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 3 Comments »

Bible vs Pro-life

Continuing on with yesterday’s theme, I’d like to look a little more closely at the contrast between the values and principles of the pro-life movement versus those of historic Christianity. The big question here, of course, is whether God Himself would be a pro-lifer. That is, if we imagine a scene outside an abortion clinic, with security guards escorting women into the clinic, and pro-life protesters trying to stop them, which side would God join if He were to show up in person? Would He pick up a protest sign and stand with the pro-lifers?

Based on the Old and New Testaments, the answer is an unmistakable “NO!” God may be a lot of things, but “pro-life” isn’t one of them, by a long shot.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Politics. 8 Comments »

The New Materialists

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America, so inevitably the pro-lifers were out in force. Having been a pro-lifer once myself, I thought I’d take a moment to share my perspective. Back in the early 90’s I attended a pro-life protest rally with a busload of pro-lifers, and even though I was an ardent Christian at the time, there were some aspects of the protest that bothered me, even then.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Politics, Society, Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

Behold the Lamb of God

Following up on my last post, I’d like to take a look at the core of Christian morality from a slightly different perspective. As I said before, the heart of the Gospel and the Old Testament sacrificial system is the idea of negotiable guilt—the concept of guilt as something independent of the facts about whodunnit, something negotiable (in the transactional sense) that can be transferred from one person to another. It’s a perverse and corrupt basis for a moral system because it ends up justifying the practice of punishing the innocent so that the wicked can escape justice.

But wait. Didn’t Jesus voluntarily lay down his life, in a heroic self-sacrifice to save the souls of sinners? Didn’t he freely give all to save all, and doesn’t the moral virtue of that humble service outweigh the moral liabilities of the negotiable guilt system?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, Society, Unapologetics. 4 Comments »