Wednesday 22 April 2015

Questions for atheists 2

I was watching an awkwardly titled debate during lunch, and the theist, the very effable Matt Slick referenced some questions on his site. I did a search and found two candidates for what he was talking about.
Well I decided to answer one of them here, original here. If these were taken as honest questions I'd be impressed, but Matt is playing the old game of "I got ya", basically trying to score points not actually actively inquire, hopefully someone else on the fence about Matt's piece finds this as Matt seems very closed to others ideas from all the debates I have seen him in.
I think in this vain, once I have done his part 1, I'll do some ters for theists.

I am in no way speaking for all atheists, I doubt I am even speaking for one other atheist. The only thing that connects atheists is there lack of belief in a God or gods, just like I am sure Matt isn't talking for all Christians, as some would call him and his Calvinists the "devil with the forked tongue".

  1. What makes something moral?
    Something is moral when it strives to do the least harm to all involved ensuring that consent is upheld where it can be, conversely when it strives to do the most objective good as defined by all those involved.
  2. Do you have any objective moral standard, or are all your morals subjective?
    Not really, I believe that morals are subjective to the situation and those involved, cultural and species dependent.
  3. Do any actions automatically have moral value, such as rape being wrong, or is the moral value assigned by people?
    Again, subjective to the situation and parties involved. Rape is wrong in a modern human society as it is an issue of consent and harm minimisation.
    Yet some for some species rape is a way of life (it could be argued here that we are all likely the result of a rape somewhere in our lineage so even your own existence is dependent on it), all female Angler fish are essentially raped, a male without the females interest or consent burrows into much larger female to his own death, but ensuring all her eggs from then are fertilised by his genes.
  4. Why ought a person not steal?
    Again this is an issue of harm, when someone steals they are harming another, and tacking away there right to consent to that loss. But there is a possible greater good, eg stealing a loaf of bread from a wealthy person to feed a family of four.
  5. Was the atheist Joseph Stalin wrong for killing over 42 million people in the 1900s?  If so, why?  If not, why not?
    Poisoning the well here a bit Matt, why was the Christian Adolf Hitler wrong for killing 6 million Jews?
    Stalin was wrong as these people likely didn't consent to death, and he was harming them ultimately in this act.
  6. From the perspective of an atheist, is the action of rape wrong even if it furthers the species?
    Seem a bit obsessed with Rape here, is it because you are trying for the tough subjects? Or it it becuase the bible seems a bit lax on murder, with full on genocide happening regularly? What does the bible have to say on rape... Deuteronomy 22:24 talks about how even the victim should be stoned in a Rape case, and 22:28 talks about how if the man wants to, he can simply pay off his victims father and then marry the woman, and he can never leave her...

    Again, it is an issue of greater good. Rape is not objectively wrong in all situations, I am sorry that the world is not as black and white as you would like and some things require thought, but they do. Rape is abhorrent, and I think it could be seen as worse than murder, but murder and rape in the right circumstances could be justifiable, eg continuing the species.
    Let's play hypothetical, all bar a handful of human males are wiped out, the ones that aren't, are in coma's and can't consent. I think you would have a tough time arguing that harvesting their semen to continue our species would be immoral.
  7. In atheism, if you say rape is wrong because it harms someone, why is harm the standard of morality?Atheism has no overarching doctrine, creed or book which we all read from. We think about moral issues. Minimising harm and ensuring consent is a standard that works, it has had the trial by fire in courts and communities for millenia, if a new standard were discovered that is better then we would use that.
  8. If you believe something is morally wrong (like rape), "ought" you do something about it and impose your value on others?
    If society as a whole decides something is morally wrong, eg rape then they do something about it, they make laws. Perhaps there is something we have laws against now that is morally wrong, perhaps there is the opposite, we will learn through trial and error over time, bettering society as we go (see slavery, suffrage, interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage). I notice nowhere in the ten commandments does it say not to rape, nor does it decry slavery, a testament to our societies betterment of itself.
  9. If you "ought" to impose your moral value on others (like stopping a rape), what gives you the moral right to do that?
    (Double P in stopping Matt :P )
    I didn't say an individual should, individuals can be easily mistaken due to our inbuilt fallibility. Many individuals can be harder to fool, so building up laws works better. The moral right and weight comes from the group to minimise harm and assist in group cohesion, even then the group isn't always right and there needs to be rational discussion and fair trials.
  10. Do you believe that the subjective opinions of a society offer proper basis for morality?
    They can, as long as the opinions are not heavily influence by one flawed mind. As long as the subjective opinions are thoroughly thought about and all parties (especially those at a disadvantage) are asked there opinion.
  11. How do you know if a society is improving morally?Happy planet index is a good scale. People have interestingly drawn correlations with non-believing countries and happiness. I would look at crime statistics though, and longevity. It is tough to quantify precisely, but I would say most countries are improving morally, based simply on less likelihood of violent death etc.

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