What you “ought” not to do

This one came up in my Google search before heading off to bed. Now one of the many reasons I don’t post as often anymore is I feel like I’m just rehashing the same shit, because the arguments rarely ever change when it comes to religion and politics. Hoever, every once in awhile something either has a different spin or you find yourself answering in a slightly better way than you have before and then -BING- you have something worth posting.

So this theology professor is essentially saying that atheism is nihilistic, and therefore any atheistic morality must be inferior for there has to be “an authority transcending man”. No such authority, and you have no “ought” as he puts it.

The argument is that IF an atheist decided to live a life of hatred, a life directed by “might makes right,” oppressing weaker persons for personal gain, no real reason can be given why he or she should not.

Generally, the atheist response is to champion the strength of society’s or humanity’s authority to say what is moral, but let’s face it, how can mortals compare to a god? (Now I know the atheists are ready to pull out a plethora of examples from religious texts showing the flawed morals of these gods or invoke Epicurus, but please stay with me.) The other objection might be to challenge the existence of this “authority transcending man”, but how long has that challenge been evaded by theists? God is different. God is spiritual. You can’t physically demonstrate god. He reveals himself to those who accept him. You just feel him. Etcetera, etcetera. Regardless of whether we think it’s bullshit, they say their god can’t be proven to exist in the same way we prove other things exist because it’s a different kind of thing, so our criteria for evidence then doesn’t apply. Now what?

Well ok, their god may not be “real” in the way we know things to be real, but guess what has to be, what has to be demonstrably evident? The means by which one shows what that god’s wishes are. Ah, NOW they have a problem. You have three major world religions who claim to know what the god of Abraham’s wishes are, and amongst Christianity alone there are over 2,000 different sects each with their own interpretation. Therefore there is no definitive “ought” for the theist, no definitive wishes by “an authority transcending man”. That’s a problem, for although the moral dictates of a supreme being may well be better than those we mere mortals can come up with, if you can’t show what you’re claiming to be this being’s moral dictates are in fact that being’s moral dictates, then they have no authoritative backing.

That means every criticism one can make against a morality absent of “an authority transcending man” can be levied against one with “an authority transcending man” if it can’t be validated what that authority’s wishes are, but that’s just the half of it. Whereas humanity has the means to point to demonstrable reasons for any particular moral dictate and thus argue for its merit, the theist, whose sole reason for any moral dictate is that it comes from god, then has no argument for it can’t be demonstrated that it actually is the moral dictate (or even the correct interpretation of that moral dictate) of that god.

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12 Responses to “What you “ought” not to do”

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  2. I think it was David Eller who said that the greatest argument against any religion is the existence of other religions.

    Why should I choose one particular dogma when so many options are available? That's like going to Baskin Robbins and always getting vanilla ice cream in a dish. Never a sugar cone or a waffle cone. Never chocolate or moose tracks or bubble gum or rainbow (heaven forbid anyone try rainbow!). How can adherents of any one religion be sure that their flavor is the best one unless they've tried all the others? Until believers figure out which god (or goddess – wouldn't that be a hoot!) is the real one, and can present decent evidence for their conclusion, I'll ignore the religious dogma marketplace. The freethought marketplace is much more interesting.

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