Objective moral Values and God – Part 1

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This is an attempt to discuss the claim that without God, there are no Objective Moral Values.
I will do this as simply as I can.

I’ve been told that atheists like me, are free to do anything we want — without a moral care in the world. I can secretly rape, kill, dismember a baby and eat it, and fear no consequence whatsoever — as long as my cultural conscience permits it.
This is labelled Moral Relativism.

There would be no objective morals for me, and all moral concerns are subjective — since not seeing any evidence of the Abrahamic God makes me an atheist.
Now, with what spices shall I cook that baby…

Ridiculous? Indeed.

I will attempt to dismantle this odd idea that without God, the Biblical God that is, there is no reason to be moral.


First…

Before I continue, let me say that I believe there are objective moral values that are universally accepted as such, and which I abide to. I also trust that there is every reason in the world to believe our moral fiber has evolved like the rest of our physical and conscious human condition. Our “conscience” is the product of this.

However, I also believe there are subjective moral values, called Moral Relativism.
And get this, I believe that some objective moral values can become subjective in certain situations, without them being immoral at all. I will expound later in the second part of this mini-series.


So let’s start with some simple logic, shall we?

Here’s a proposed syllogism:

• If God is indeed the creator of Objective Moral Values, it follows that those moral values are Universally Perfect.

• If God is Perfect, he must then be the embodiment of those moral values to the ultimate Perfection.

• Therefore, if God does not conform to his perfect Objective Moral Values, it follows that he is not Perfect — or — if God IS Perfect and does not conform to his own Objective Moral Values, then these values are not objectively Universally Perfect.

This is where we need to use our “God-given” brains…

If the Bible is God’s Word, then clearly, the Creator has little trust in his own Objective Morals.
Even if not to be taken literally, the stories in the Bible do have a point in teaching lessons.

So what do we see in these “inspired” pages (2 Tim. 16:3)?

It doesn’t take long to realize that God has no problem using deception and lies to further his personal goals.
Case in point, the example of Jacob’s trickery against his aged and blind father Isaac, in order to receive Esau’s birthright blessing. Read it and tell me this is not God looking the other way knowing full well in advance the immoral lying and stealing committed there (read Genesis 27).
I’m pretty sure God could have simply made Jacob the first born without meddling with free will; as He knew everything in advance.

No less than three objective Moral laws were abused here:
— The Commandment to respect parents.
— Lying
— Stealing

One may argue that it wasn’t God who lied and cheated. Yes, and ordering a contract on someone is not murder per se either. Fact is, God used Jacob’s objectively immoral scheme to further His Divine Will (or subjective personal preference). He could have done otherwise as he is all-powerful.

As per Biblical account, the Nation of Israel was born from a fraud and a lie to fit God’s promise to Abraham and become God’s Nation.
That is a simple fact.

There are a plethora of examples of God “using” immoral ways to further his Holy Want.
I could expound, and will when I need to in the comments.
But in the meantime, Jacob’s cheat is a good example of God not following his own Objective Morals.

All we need is one example to make this point.


The Ten Commandments

If one thing should be obvious, it’s the objective morality of the Ten Commandments.
Alas, nothing is less obvious (read along in Exodus 20).
http://www.godstenlaws.com/ten-commandments/ #.UtjLWI6vkb4

In order:

#1-4 addresses God’s preferences; his “wants” (moral relativism).

#5 seems a platitude rather than an objective moral law. First, not all parents deserve respect, as some are criminally abusive. Nor should a person that has accepted Jesus is Biblically expected to respect his parent’s when it comes to choosing between family and him.
(Matt. 10:34-37)

#6-9 finally some objective moral values we all can relate to.

#10 Thought crime. Impossible to obey to. Any hungry person looking into a restaurant knows that. This an egregious expectation imposed on imperfect humans. It’s a ruling of sure death, calling for humiliating begging of mercy. It’s the Plan. Jesus added condemnation to almost all humans in equating “looking at another” woman (or man) with lust akin to fornication already consumed.
(If anyone is interested, I sell premium eye-gouging tools).

We are allegedly born imperfect sinners, so it follows that we cannot perfectly respect most of these moral precepts, as much as we would wish to. Just like being born with a defect will hinder our good will for certain actions.

I can continue with the over 600 laws of the Mosaic Law — it boggles the mind of rational moral understanding; like forcing a raped girl to marry her rapist. Or over-punishment like stoning to death a rebellious teen. Yep. You read well.
Read the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy, then dare look at me in the eyes and tell me this is the pinnacle of moral justice.


So, Where do Objective and subjective Moral Values Come From?

As I hinted above, like many I contend that our moral values, even the objective ones, are the fruit of our social evolution. For example, slavery — the fact of “owning” another human — has only recently been promoted to an objective immoral value. On the other hand, the Bible not only condones slavery, but God legislated it!

Even more recently for example — today, we would be appalled to see a parent smoke in the face of her/his child. Why? Because we are still evolving. We learn things as we go.
We adapt our thoughts to question what is wrong for our species. Science is a main factor in discovering what is toxic and beneficial to us. It’s still about survival, but with an evolved right supramarginal gyrus in our brain’s  parietal lobe, that has sharpened our capacity for empathy in time.


New Testament Morals

There are many arguments to be made against God being the author of Objective Moral values.
Jesus himself replaced the 10 commandments with 2 more powerful ones in Matthew 22:37-40:

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

#1 is a subjective moral value.
#2 is an objective moral value.

For those who think the NT presents a much nicer God, it is noteworthy that in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus lauds his Father’s Mosaic Law as most righteous. Although he came to accomplish the Law, he still boasted its values.

Granted, the second Commandment is the essence of the Golden Rule, which Jesus did remind us of, although already offered before him by others, like Confucius about 600 years before him. Indeed, this is the fiber of Objective Moral Values.

Here is my claim, and I’m far from being the one that figured this out:

Every Moral Value, whether Objective or Relative/subjective, is based in rational behaviour and the expectation of social consequences.
It is rational to be objectively moral. It obeys a natural need for survival now powered with empathy.
I will expound on this aspect in the 2nd part of this blog. (I need time for these.)

So — I will stop Part One here. Thank you for reading.

      Peace.

* Please watch this video that offers solid food for thought. Thank you Scott Clifton for this.

26 thoughts on “Objective moral Values and God – Part 1

  1. I deleted some exchanges where I became rude because I was pissed at being insulted by silenceofmind. I kept the exchanges that attempted constructive debate.

    I will not let someone come here and just state things while calling my atheism thoughtless.

    I invite anyone curious to check out silenceofmind’s page, and see how obsessed he is with Atheists — attacking all atheist’s intelligence and integrity.

  2. Vince,

    I didn’t justify suffering with chaos.

    I did exactly the opposite, as a matter of fact.

    Another thing atheists do is redefine the opposing argument.

    I’m not going to let you do that to me.

    • Fair enough.
      I shall correct myself; you do not justify suffering with chaos per se, you used Science to help your case in your article “How Science Disproves Atheist Arguments Against God.”

      The title by the way, did provoke a giggle from me, because Science is not your best reference to your Creator God!

  3. For the atheist only has morals if he pilfers them from a religion like Christianity.

    Here is why, and it’s a very simple explanation based on the nature of atheism.

    Without God, all there is, is nature and the laws of nature.

    And nature couldn’t care less about morals.

    Nature gives birth to cute little kittens and puppies.

    Nature also wipes out human beings by the bushel in earthquakes and tsunamis.

    To nature it’s all the same.

    For the atheist who is true to himself, its all the same just like in nature.

    • I see your point — but it is based on the assumption that God exist, and not any god, YOUR God, and that this gives you superior moral values.

      “And nature couldn’t care less about morals.” I agree with that statement.

      “the atheist who is true to himself, its all the same just like in nature.” THAT, I emphatically disagree with, and clearly, you have not fully read my article, at least no objectively.

      You are flatly insulting the humanism of atheists around the world.
      Like in the segregation days, when no black person could possibly have the smarts of a white person! What horrible perspective on human qualities and potential. What lie!

      It is insulting to me as a father, a friend, and a human being that one would be so narrow minded as to think one second that their morals are superior because taken from a God that has nothing moral to imitate.
      I will have you know that I never cheated on my wife, never cheated on my taxes, never killed or stole… lied, yes of course… but I try to keep it to white lies to proper etiquette.

      I always want to keep this civil, but you are quite deluded my friend.

      • Vince,

        The existence the one true God, the Creator is self-evident.

        That means we can reason out that the Creator exists with no need for faith or religion.

        On the other hand, since atheism cannot be proven, it is 100% faith-based belief.

        That God exists is provable, and so, is not a matter of faith.

        Therefore it is atheism that requires unreasonable, not provable belief.

      • If I may respond to “silence,” who said…

        That God exists is provable, and so, is not a matter of faith.

        As a believer in God and follower of Jesus, might I ask for a clarification? We may think there is sufficent evidence to believe in a Creator God (where does this all come from? What of the intricate design inherent in all creation, can that rationally happen by chance? etc) and we may accept Jesus’ teachings about the Way of God and salvation by Grace, is it not fair to acknowledge that the existence of God is not objectively provable? That is, we can not point to hard evidence and say, “Proof positive that, regardless of your opinions, a Creator God exists and is very much like my understanding of God…” as if it were an objectively demonstrable fact?

        I would say that the more reasonable, rational approach is to acknowledge that we can neither objectively prove nor disprove God beyond all doubt, and that both belief approaches require some faith?

        That you and I may find reason enough to believe in God in general and Jesus, specifically, that it is not a matter of objectively proven fact? (“Objective,” meaning, of course, evident to all based on observable reality, regardless of biases or backgrounds)

        ~Dan

      • Dan,

        The proofs for the existence of God are 1000′s of years old.

        In his “Summa Theologica,” Saint Thomas Aquinas cites and explains 4 or 5 of them. He lived during the 13th century (Middle Ages).

        Indeed, the coherence of our universe, that is the fact that it is based on laws expressed in the precision of mathematics, almost screams that God, the Creator exists.

      • Yes indeed. To the statement, “just look around you! See the evidence of God” is just that, a statement.
        It has no more value than a Norse stating “Just look at the thunder and lightning! It makes Thor self-evident!”

        These are statements of Faith, and I have no problem with them as long as it is acknowledged that it’s Faith and not science — as you seem to do when convenient on your page.

        All I ask is honesty — from myself and others. I do correct myself if and when I am wrong. Trying to be objective is no easy task when crippled with bias and a life-long investment in a thought. I know… I went thru that hardship. Yet I still question every bit of my convictions.

        NOTHING is self-evident in this quest.

      • Vince,

        How do you know that “nothing is self-evident in this quest?”

        Besides being a false statement, there is no way for you to know that.

        Your statement that “Nothing is self-evident,” is an example of how atheists base all their arguments on falsehood and the absurd.

        It is therefore easy to refute atheist arguments by looking at only the first few sentences of any post.

        It is there that the atheist usually presents the false premise upon which all the rest of his post is based.

      • //Indeed, the coherence of our universe, that is the fact that it is based on laws expressed in the precision of mathematics, almost screams that God, the Creator exists.//

        Yet on your blog, you justify the chaos it took (and still takes) to get where we are now.

        Please be consistent. Nothing “screams” God’s existence. It is a matter Faith PRECISELY because there is no hard evidence for him.

        * Besides, what does time have to do with it? Would you get surgery from a doctor that follows the knowledge of biblical times? It’s absurd to call on thousand year old knowledge as if the time itself confirms it as true.
        Just sayin’…

      • //Vince, How do you know that “nothing is self-evident in this quest?”//

        Because if it was we would all agree.
        It is self evident that water is wet — so we all agree.

        You have no such evidence for God.

        You have Faith.
        Embrace that — because Science disagrees with you on creation, and I — like many others — deny the Objective Moral Values of your God.

        As you deny other gods.

      • Self-evident in no way implies 100% agreement.

        Self-evident means that something can be know through reason.

        Atheists demand scientific proof of the existence of God, when his existence is self-evident, that is knowable through reason.

        Since atheism is 100% faith-based, one must forsake reason all together to be an atheist.

        That is why the atheist will never be able to understand the simple proofs of the existence of God, nor any other thing that is self evident.

      • //It is therefore easy to refute atheist arguments by looking at only the first few sentences of any post.//

        I fear that this exactly what you have done with this post, as you obviously have no idea on what to argue about.

        Thankfully, there are many theists I have a lot of pleasure discussing this, with broader knowledge and a sense of honest debate.

        For that, we must actually read the comments of others, look at their links… do our homework, as to at least honor their time and passion.

        You have not done that Silence, as you just state thing louder as if it would help anyone. It does not help your case.

      • Vince,

        This post is simple.

        You, the atheist, are trying to rationalize your morals.

        My refutation of your post is also simple.

        If you don’t believe in God, all that’s left is nature.

        And nature has no morals.

        Therefore the atheist cannot have morals that aren’t pilfered from religion.

        You don’t understand that because atheism requires to you to give up your ability to reason.

      • “silence…”

        the coherence of our universe, that is the fact that it is based on laws expressed in the precision of mathematics, almost screams that God, the Creator exists.

        Almost, indeed, this is how it seems to you and I.

        But what I asked you is, can we not agree that this is a subjective, not objective case? As Vince notes, there is no hard evidence for our belief in the existence of God (just as there is no hard evidence against the existence of God).

        My point would be that we undermine our case when we oversell it. We may look at the evidence that does exist and, TO US, it may seem quite reasonable to deduce the existence of a God, but it is a subjective opinion, not “provable” objectively.

        One of the great moral teachings of the Bible is to not bear false witness and if we say that something is objectively provable when it is not, then not only do we undermine our case, but we bear a false witness, even if unintentionally.

        Can we agree that this is not objectively provable?

      • //there is no hard evidence for our belief in the existence of God (just as there is no hard evidence against the existence of God).//

        Totally agree.

      • “silence…”

        You don’t understand that because atheism requires to you to give up your ability to reason.

        Come now, friend. Of course, atheism in no way requires anyone to give up their ability to reason. Who ever said this? What proof of this is there?

        Indeed, evidence shows that we ALL can reason, albeit imperfectly. The person who has thought about it and found no reason to perforce, believe in God has used their reason to get there!

        Again, we undermine our case when we try to oversell it. Is it not enough to make your case and let it stand on its merits rather than attacking the reasoning of a whole swath of people?

        We must not bear false witness, friend.

      • //If you don’t believe in God, all that’s left is nature.
        And nature has no morals.
        Therefore the atheist cannot have morals that aren’t pilfered from religion.//

        You make my case that you have read zilch from this post, as I have argued this extensively (and there is more to come).

      • It’s people like paynehollow that give me pause and question myself.

        Over-excited theists like you Silence, are pushing us atheists away because we don’t really warm up to fundie fanaticism.

        All you do is state and accuse.

        I think I have better things to do that respond to your nonsense. Others here are actually teaching me something.

  4. Hello Vince,

    I’ve noticed you posting over at John Barron’s site and thought I’d follow you over here, for at least this intriguing post. May I offer some thoughts from another sort of Christian (than the friends over at John’s)?

    First, let me say that you’ve offered some very insightful and well-thought-out proposals and ideas worth considering.
    You say…

    If God is indeed the creator of Objective Moral Values

    IF, indeed. But where would we gather such a viewpoint?

    Has God ever told us that God is the creator of Objective Moral Values (OMV)?

    No.

    Does the Bible (which some – many – believe to be the “Word of God”) tell us this?

    No.

    The notion that God might be the Creator of OMV comes from a distinct branch (branches) of religions, but it is not a given. We have no reason to think this MUST be the case. Some of us would argue (perhaps not disagreeing with you), that it is not the case.

    I would posit that there is within Christianity (and other religions and even non-religions) a branch (let’s call it “fundamentalism,” for now) that treats the Bible like a Holy Rule Book wherein the trick is to just find and understand the rules rightly – fairly literally – and then you’ve got God’s Mind on Morality in the palm of your hands.

    I would posit, instead, that the Bible makes no claims to being a Holy Rule Book – that God has not told us this, either – and that treating it as such is to devalue its greatness and miss a good part of its central message (if one might concede a central message to the Bible).

    I would argue that Right and Wrong are both objective and subjective (ie, there are SOME actions/behaviors that are just right and we ought to do them; that there are some actions that are just wrong, and we ought not to do them… objectively so, but often our reality is that morality is fairly subjective and has more to do with motives rather than hard rules) and that behaviors/actions are not “right” or “wrong” because there is a line in the Bible (or other holy text) that says so, but because they are innately right or wrong.

    Given all that, I would find your initial premise (“If God is indeed the creator of Objective Moral Values”) to be starting from a faulty notion of God and morality. (Recognizing that this is not necessarily your premise, but the one you are raising for consideration.)

    Thoughts?

    ~Dan Trabue

    • Good question. Objective Moral Values can indeed be understood subjectively, but I hope I have not done that. If so, I would correct myself.

      Murder and rape are the subject of objective moral values — undisputed by the vast majority of our human peers. Those who don’t agree should be incarcerated.
      However, the objective moral stance on lying for example, is open to subjective choice in some lighter situations. For example to avoid unnecessary harm to someone needing help.

      A family member that is working so hard to lose weight, fighting depression because of this problem. She asks me if she looks beautiful in her new dress — and the truth is, she does not; and I mean this is not a matter of opinion, she looks objectively terrible in this tight dress that accentuates her weight. Do I tell the truth? Or is fibbing to preserve her morale a better choice.
      In spite of the light expression “white lie” — the fact is that it is still a lie.
      What would you do?
      Most “polite” situations need to take exception to the objective moral value on lying.

      As you can read above, even God uses relative moral values when he needs to.

      Maybe you are making a point on my perspective.
      Maybe all objective moral values are relative at the end.

      But that is not how I feel about it.

  5. Great site you got here Vince! I just want to leave a comment about morals and would we have them without the Bible. My answer is “Yes we would” cause even the Bible itself talks about how people had moral before the ten commandments. Its in the story of Joseph and how he was being tempted by his bosses wife. He told her no – and that was long before Moses got the two tablets.. You know one from Microsoft and the other one an iPad… LOL!

    • Hi my good friend! Good to see you here.
      Yep, Moses would not have been prejudiced about Mac & PC!

      I’m doing a lot of research on this Morality subject. I find it to be very complex, but at the same time, very telling of the claims made by the many religions, in particular the Biblical ones.

      This will definitely be a series. I will address the many aspects of it, including the issue of Evil.

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