Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Like Warm Jello

I was just finishing a cup of Starbucks here in San Francisco when I read the side of my cup.

"I wish everyone could see how much we all have in common"
Supposing that we did see our commonalities, then what? Does it remove our wickedness? Supposing that a home invader was getting ready to unload his shotgun into your family. What good would the many ways in which you share common ground with the criminal do you? Or from a global perspective suppose Iran was getting ready to keep its promise to annihilate Israel by turning it to a sea of glass. What good would the things that Israel has in common with Iran do Israel, even though there are probably many times more things both have in common than not?

These little naive idealistic sayings are like jello. They are sweet thoughts, sure, but they don't stand up when the kitchen gets hot.

46 comments:

Susannah said...

"These little naive idealistic sayings are like jello. They are sweet thoughts, sure, but they don't stand up when the kitchen gets hot."

Indeed! Sadly, this is what passes for deep, intellectual thought for the Starbuck's crowd.

ugh.

bocephus said...

We're all created in the image of God, are we not? If we could all see that commonality then it would remove our wickedness. Hmmm....somehow I don't think that's what the Kawphy King had in mind.

Happy New decade me fish!

Dan said...

Bocephus my fish!!!!! I was just thinking about you today. Go to my profile page and use the email so that we may get back in touch!

Kathy said...

"I wish everyone could see how much we all have in common"

Slogans such as this are great for coffee cups, but in real life(by the way, warm jello....disgusting!) they're nothing more than another proverbial fig leaf that does little good in masking the true condition of man.

Dan said...

Susannah, Oh to live in that rainbow world.

Kathy

Well said.

Joe said...

Warm Jello. Isn't that what life is all about (according to liberals)?

Z said...

You are terrific, Dan....'met' you at Susannah's blog and had to come see your stuff!
you are SO right about those silly useless ditties.
I saw one you'll like yesterday on a bumper sticker "MY GOD LOVES YOUR GOD". oh, REALLLY? Which god is that, right?

geeeeZ!

Susannah said...

Z, isn't Dan cool? Very good blog here. Happy I was able to introduce the two of you!

Dan, btw, Z is most excellently cool! ;)

Dan said...

Joe

These kind of things seem to me to be basing a world view on a pretend world; wonderful yes, but still pretend.

Z

"My God Loves Your God". I like that... But it just can't be true. All indications are that Obama is at war with my God.

Thanks for dropping by!

Susannah

You know how to cheer a guy up. Thanks

Craig and Heather said...

Does it remove our wickedness?

I tend to think that this is one thing we all actually do have in common.

Oh, and our desperate need for Jesus.

But that's not likely to translate well into a catchy coffee-cup slogan ;)

Heather

Laura said...

Nothing good can come off of a Starbucks cup. I have marveled at times about how the only quotes I have ever seen on their cups are liberal ones.

However, your post got me googling and I came across this. Apparently, Jonah Goldberg is now on their cup (so, I stand corrected). I thought his comment about "give peace a chance" was right on to what you are saying.

Liberalism is filled with "sweet thoughts". They are like the innocent ideals of children.These types of quotes I think reveal the child fantasy world that adult liberals live in.

Dan said...

Heather

I didn't think of that; the one thing that all of man kind does have in common without exception, and our savior from it.

Laura

Excellent Link! Thanks.

My favorite quote from the link:

"pointing out how others inconsistently apply their own principles is not a substitute for having principles of your own."

Ravi Zacharias said in "Deliver Us From Evil" that "the charge of hypocrisy is the unintended compliment that vice pays to virtue."

page 112 in my copy.

theoldadam said...

"Naive"

That says it all.

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

"Supposing that a home invader was getting ready to unload his shotgun into your family. What good would the many ways in which you share common ground with the criminal do you?".

I think, in this case, the quote is more directed at the man with the shotgun. As in; 'if only he could see how much he has in common with you (and your family) then perhaps he wouldn't be pointing a shotgun at you.

"What good would the things that Israel has in common with Iran do Israel".

Again, I think the quote is directed more at the Iranians - if they could see how much they had in common with Israel then perhaps they wouldn't threaten to wipe it off the map.

I think the desire in most cases is that the aggressor realizes how much they have in common with the victim - in the hope that this will reduce the tendency to commit horrific acts - rather than being directed at the victim.

I'm not saying it isn't hopelessly idealistic and naive (which it is), just trying to give an alternative perspective on the authors intent.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

Matt

Nancy said...

Great coffee contemplation!

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Hi, i'd like to just share something related to our commonality as I found it to be really fascinating. If we look all over our national history we have been searching for that elusive answer to finding unity in diversity. We attend the University, which by it's very name connotes the attempt to find commonality in intellectual pursuits. On our coinage we find "e pluribus unum", out of the many one. In philosophy from out of the pre-Socratic period the search has been on for the fifth essence, the quintessence.

As believers, in Jesus Christ as God's son, and beyond to the Trinity; we get answers to those questions, the thing that binds us together and provides a perfect picture of unity in diversity. In the diversity present in the three persons of the Trinity, we see a perfect unity in an eternal community.

If we look anywhere other than the God of the Bible, we will only settle for something much cheaper and less spectacular than the truth revealed to us in the Word.

Blessings.

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Dan, I apologize for moving too quickly to publish. That entire line of thought came from Ravi Zacharias, it is he that deserves the credit.

M MacFarlane said...

The real world demands actual solutions and answers, however, the "liberal / progressive / Hollywood world" thrives on the trivial feel-good slogans, surface sentimentality, and speeches that solves little.

Dan said...

Ex Pat

I understand what you are saying and I think you are correct on all your points. I also understand Starbucks' position-you don't sell more coffee and make huge profits by putting negative sayings on the side of your cup. And I am all for profits because it provides jobs and boosts our economy. (BTW, if you didn't check out Laura's link above, in light of what you have said here you should. I would imagine that you would also agree with Jonah Goldberg's insightful thoughts on this subject.)

On the other hand I think this subject carries water because this kind of thinking appears to be pervasive. While I am sure you personally have been softened by the consideration of another person's commonality, as have I, the fact remains that we live in a harsh world where such thinking taken too far, whether collectively as a nation, or or to a lesser extent personally-and I contend that it has been-can prove deadly.

Susannah said...

ExPat said ~ "I think the desire in most cases is that the aggressor realizes how much they have in common with the victim - in the hope that this will reduce the tendency to commit horrific acts - rather than being directed at the victim."

I think you're right, Matt.

However, one must be extremely careful as to the operational definition of 'aggressor' & 'victim.'

The problem is that most (if not all) Leftist thinkers believe wholeheartedly that the USA is always the aggressor, that Israel is the aggressor, that if we'd only change our policies in the Middle East, we wouldn't have terrorists, etc.

This is the current philosophical assumption operating in the White House, and it is extremely dangerous. (My post today, Dan, addresses this very issue - funny, that.) To believe that this is NOT the thinking of the Left; to believe that this is NOT the MO our nation is currently using?? THAT, imo, is naivety in it's grandest form.

When Starbuck's uses this little ditty on its cups, call me jaded, but I believe it is the above agenda they are fueling.

btw, excellent comment, Jeremy.

Dan said...

Jeremy

Thanks for the Ravi Zacharias insights. For years I watched what I saw as a push for unity in the Body of Christ and I could not help being sceptical, and perhaps even cynical. As I read your words I was reminded of this because I think the points you presented apply to all attempts of unity. Not liking my scepticism, for what believer can be against unity in the Body, I came to two conclusions:

1. Unity: it comes only after complete surrender. Therefore unity through compromise with the rebellious is no unity at all.

2. Unity in diversity: the Body is made up of many and varying parts that may appear at first glance to be un-unified. Paul addresses this in 1st Corinthians-a book that seems to me to center on unity-when he asked the question: " If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?" (1 Cor 12:17)

The contemporary unifying agent in the Western world today seems to be the rebellion against objective truth, and particullarly the truth that man is not basically good. The unifying theme today seems to be that man is basically good and worthy of the bestowal of our faith in his ability to-as Rodney King so aptly put it-"get along" if we can only dispense with this notion of God and Truth.

This is of course the polor opposite of what God says about man-that man is at war with God, and that our only hope of peaceful unity involves surrender to Him and agreeing with Him concerning what he says about our wretched condition before Him and throwing ourselves before His mercy through His son.

Out of time and not sure that this has not taken us out on a tangent, but would love to hear your thoughts.

Larry Durham said...

Warm Jello indeed. One of my favorite "jello" phrases is from a PSA that used to rattle around a.m. radio: "Our strength lies in our diversity" it said with all solemnity. Now that sounds all gooey, warm and fuzzy, but it's total fertilizer. How about - our strength lies in our freedom! Our society could be as diverse as all creation, but without freedom, what do you have? A Cosmopolitan salve?

By the way Dan, Happy New Year! from

Squigs said...

I was listening to some podcast recently (probably an STR one, with the Koukl) that mentioned that the attraction with such soundbites is that often they appear pithy and apt and chock full of "meaning".

He then explained that it is often the case that to refute such soundbites, you need lengthy, less pithy rebuttals. And the sad state of affairs is that people don't like lengthy rebuttals - even if they're accurate and true.

That Starbuck's prints these things on their cups says a lot both about the company and the coffee. To a certain extent, it even says something about their patronage (though I'm sure you're the exception, Dan!).

Dan said...

M MacFarlane

I am honored that you would stop by. Well said. It has been my position for some time that our reliance on "trivial feel-good slogans, surface sentimentality, and speeches that solve nothing, is a wanning American luxury.

Larry

Wouldn't diversity actually center on what we don't have in common? Now I'm confused! Happy New Year to you also.

Squigs

Yes, another example of this luxury that we enjoy' luxury being defined as the ease and comfort of not having to worry about the consequences of our shallow dichotomy ridden worldview.

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Dan,

Thanks for the continuation and I agree that rebellion seems to be the hoisted up as the element that would unify our culture. I would only say two things in continuation:

1) This is no surprise to believers. I believe it was C.S. Lewis that used the illustration that all men are not bystanders watching a world go bad, but rather rebels that need to lay down their arms. Each one of us, until we completely surrender (as you so aptly put) are in direct rebellion against God. I think of Romans 3 and see some ways Paul indicated we are unified; namely, created in the image and likeness of God, sinners of which none are righteous even in their best efforts, have grace available as provided by Christ Jesus on the cross.

2) Eternal rebellion actually leads to an inability to rebel. I think it was G.K. Chesterton who discussed this point more at length and said that if one rebels against everything then he looses his right to rebel against anything. The eternal skeptic will not be believing in anything, therefore has no answers. I'm reading through "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" with my children and it reminds me of Edmund, who is offered Turkish Delight by the White Witch. He knows it is wrong, it is causing him to lie to those he loves and is leading him head-long into destruction, but it just tastes so good. Rebellion is presented to our culture today as warm, sticky, delicious treat; but like Edmund the pursuit of that treat will only make us sick.

Thanks for the discussion.

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

I'll look at Laura's link later, thanks.

"While I am sure you personally have been softened by the consideration of another person's commonality, as have I,".

Yep, empathy is a wonderful thing.


"...the fact remains that we live in a harsh world where such thinking taken too far, whether collectively as a nation, or or to a lesser extent personally-and I contend that it has been-can prove deadly".

One could just as easily argue that in today's 'dog-eat-dog' world a small measure of compassion with your coffee is a nice way to start your day.

I do agree though that being blinded by such child-like arm-chair philosophy is not the way to approach diplomatic relations with Russia!

Susannah,

"The problem is that most (if not all) Leftist thinkers believe wholeheartedly that the USA is always the aggressor, that Israel is the aggressor, that if we'd only change our policies in the Middle East, we wouldn't have terrorists, etc".

We are talking about Starbucks coffee, right? :)

Of course, international geo-politics is slightly more complicated than simplistic Starbucks slogans, we all - even the Leftist thinkers - know that.

I would say that folk on the left tend to be more critical of the US and how it behaves (and is perceived) overseas, but I don't think that many seriously think that if we just played nice then the terrorists would leave us alone.

"When Starbuck's uses this little ditty on its cups, call me jaded, but I believe it is the above agenda they are fueling".

I'm almost certain that that saying has been around for a lot longer than the current administration, but that's beside the point - here's another one of their quotes;

"The way I see it
Isn't necessarily
The way you see it
Or the way it is
Or ought to be
What's more important
Is that we're all
Looking for it
And a way to see it"

~ Desi Di Nardo

I'd think we could all agree about that one, no?

PS. I'm a tea-drinking Brit, so I don't drink Starbucks anyway!

Dan said...

"Yep, empathy is a wonderful thing."

Yep, and especially, as you aptly put it, when possesed by the man with the shotgun/Iranians

One could just as easily argue that in today's 'dog-eat-dog' world a small measure of compassion with your coffee is a nice way to start your day.

And don't forget, it sells more coffee, which equates to profits, which is good for Starbucks, which is good for America! :)

ExPatMatt said...

I would say that the fact that we're even having this conversation = success for the quote campaign.

They do know how to manipulate the market, don't they?

Susannah said...

Matt~ "We are talking about Starbucks coffee, right? :)"
Yes, of course. But I'm jaded, see. When corporations, like Starbuck's, take sides in international political affairs (which they DO, & Starbuck's DID), then I tend to take a bit more seriously their efforts to promote certain Leftist agenda items.

Matt, friend, it's a bit naive to take media efforts to shape public opinion(whether it's Hollywood or marketing campaigns) at face value, i.e., 'we are talking about SB coffee, right?' It all adds up like gallons of water in a sea of propaganda that we all swim through in our culture.

"I don't think that many seriously think that if we just played nice then the terrorists would leave us alone."

Oh, but dear, kind friend! This is EXACTLY what Mr. BHO campaigned on. This is EXACTLY why he took up his World Apology Tour. It's what he told us would work w/ the Muslim world & the rest of Europe. How's that working for him so far?

You're cordially invited to view my 1-4-10 post, wherein this topic is discussed further. I would be grateful for any comments you'd like to make there.

Susannah said...

"They do know to manipulate the market, don't they?"

My point, precisely!

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Supposing that a home invader was getting ready to unload his shotgun into your family. What good would the many ways in which you share common ground with the criminal do you?

I rather think that if the home invader had the gift of empathy, he wouldn't be in your home to commit a violent robbery. But that begs another question: Whence does a person derive the gift of empathy?

Let Starbucks put that on their coffee cups. Then I'll be impressed.

ExPatMatt said...

"Whence does a person derive the gift of empathy?".

As I understand it, empathy is an evolved trait, common in many social beings. Having empathy for ones social group is mutually beneficial and enhances the group's survival potential.

Regards,

Dan said...

ECI

It does raise the question doesn't it.

Ex Pat

Using your logic then could you please help me to understand why it would be wrong for the invader to go ahead and shoot his victim? Or do you subscribe to the notion that beyond the laws agreed upon by the social group it is not wrong.

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

"Using your logic then could you please help me to understand why it would be wrong for the invader to go ahead and shoot his victim? Or do you subscribe to the notion that beyond the laws agreed upon by the social group it is not wrong".

I was merely providing the description of how a trait evolved in a social group (no different to saying that 'love' is an evolved trait that is beneficial because of the strong bonds it creates between family members and partners).

I was not attempting to prescribe how anyone 'should' behave, given the presence of this trait (returning to the love example, I would not be trying to say how anyone 'should' apply or show their love for others).

The question was; where does empathy come from?. In providing an answer I was not suggesting that I knew of any 'right' or 'wrong' way to use it - that is a different discussion entirely.

I hope that's clear?

Cheers,

Dan said...

Ex Pat

You said earlier in this string that "empathy is a wonderful thing".

That sounds like a prescription of "good" to me. There seems to be an assumption here that empathy will result in "good"- the word good being defined according to the subjective reasoning of the person using it. But that's just it. If empathy is derived from evolution, it would follow then that good is a subjective construct and therefore meaningless except to those who hold to the same subjective reasoning. This sounds OK until one realizes that when conflicting subjective constructs clash, like say the ones mentioned in this post, the only answer prescribed by evolution, since there can be no objective appeal, would be that might makes right.

It is my contention that the evolutionist has to borrow concepts of objective good and evil from their ideological enemies. In fact, for me as a one time liberal evolutionist, it was the realization of this that opened my mind to the possibilities of a creator. Now, looking back, I realize that the most mind closing influence on my belief in evolution was not as much my scientific objections to God as the ramifications of his existence.

I'd have to say that El Cerdo's question "Whence does a person derive the gift of empathy?" is both insightful and relevant.

Alisa Rosenbaum said...

So, basically Dan, what you're trying to say is that empathy is a Divinely inspired, bequeathed 'trait' afforded to humanity by our Creator God. I'll buy that.

I would add also that empathy, like love, is a choice of free will that we make. It is a gift, but it is also a choice. (God is so good.)

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

Yes, I said that "empathy is a wonderful thing". That's what I think, that's my opinion - anyone else is free to disagree, I wasn't making a grand pronouncement that empathy was objectively, universally 'good'!

"There seems to be an assumption here that empathy will result in "good"-".

From merriam-webster;

"the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another".

I, personally, think that the above ability is a good thing to have, but it totally depends on how that ability is used; in and of itself, it's not very useful. It's useful (good) to have a car but that doesn't mean you're a good driver, does it?

"the word good being defined according to the subjective reasoning of the person using it. But that's just it. If empathy is derived from evolution, it would follow then that good is a subjective construct and therefore meaningless except to those who hold to the same subjective reasoning".

Correct.

"This sounds OK until one realizes that when conflicting subjective constructs clash, like say the ones mentioned in this post, the only answer prescribed by evolution, since there can be no objective appeal, would be that might makes right".

Nothing is prescribed by evolution. We have these traits, but it's up to us to decide how to use them. We've evolved fingers but that doesn't mean that evolution prescribes that you poke people in the eye with them!

You're also miss-using the whole 'survival of the fittest' maxim. It works on populations not individuals. You should look into that, because it makes a difference.

Finally, is not your objective appeal to God the ultimate example of 'might makes right'? I mean, if God told you to shoot someone, you'd be obliged to do it, wouldn't you? God knows what He's doing, who are you to question - He's the master of the universe you know. He is mighty and therefore righty and if you don't like it then you can - quite literally - go to Hell. That's pretty much the deal, isn't it?

"It is my contention that the evolutionist has to borrow concepts of objective good and evil from their ideological enemies".

I don't think I have any ideological enemies. And I believe in intra-subjective morality.

That aside, as you well know, there are many Christians that accept evolution but still see God as the Creator and originator of morality etc, so you're presenting something of a false dichotomy there.

"In fact, for me as a one time liberal evolutionist, it was the realization of this that opened my mind to the possibilities of a creator".

A liberal evolutionist, eh? Was that your job title or something? ;-)

"Now, looking back, I realize that the most mind closing influence on my belief in evolution was not as much my scientific objections to God as the ramifications of his existence".

Evolution isn't based on scientific objections to God, it's based on scientific evidence for evolution - funny how that works.

Interesting discussion....

Dan said...

"So, basically Dan, what you're trying to say is that empathy is a Divinely inspired, bequeathed 'trait' afforded to humanity by our Creator God."

Well, not exactly. Empathy may well be a gift of God, but what I was trying to say is that if we reject the existence of the giver, we reject the means on which to base who we should empathise with. For example, I would say that we have legalized abortion today because of empathy with the mother of the child. But as you said, God is good and empathy is ultimately a choice. So we ought to choose those with whom we empathise according to His goodness.

Dan said...

Ex Pat

First let me say that in a forum such as this I am conscious of other readers. Many times my object is not to convince you as much as to convince those who are open minded about the existence of God.

I actually looked the word empathy up myself before writing that to make sure that the assumption was unfounded.


I, personally, think that the above ability is a good(1) thing to have, but it totally depends on how that ability is used; in and of itself, it's not very useful. It's useful (good)(2) to have a car but that doesn't mean you're a good driver, does it?

(1)One of the points of my response was that you have to borrow the word good here. Perhaps this is why you prefaced it with "personally", but you negate that somewhat with "but it totally depends on how that ability is used". An example of this point can be found in a movie called Death Race 2000 depicting a "good" driver as the one who could kill the most people. The reference linked is Wikipedia, you should check it out. I realize of course that this is fiction, but it still points to a need for an objective and universal law giver.

(2)If our conscious is merely the result of evolution, the word "useful" is always interchangeable with the word "good". If our conscious was created and informed by God, it is not.

I will have to admit my ignorance on the meaning of intra-subjective morality.

"That aside, as you well know, there are many Christians that accept evolution but still see God as the Creator and originator of morality etc, so you're presenting something of a false dichotomy there.

yes I know, I never clarified this in the interest of brevity, may we consider it clarified or do you need more?


"Nothing is prescribed by evolution.

yes, such would require a prescriber; an intelligence. If there is no prescriber, the word good becomes meaningless outside of a person's own opinions regardless of how a maxim is used.

"Finally, is not your objective appeal to God the ultimate example of 'might makes right'? I mean, if God told you to shoot someone, you'd be obliged to do it, wouldn't you? God knows what He's doing, who are you to question - He's the master of the universe you know. He is mighty and therefore righty and if you don't like it then you can - quite literally - go to Hell. That's pretty much the deal, isn't it?


This becomes a circular argument where one has to borrow the word "good" as it is understood objectively to challenge the existence of objective good. Would you say that it is wrong for me to shoot someone if God told me to? If so, on what do you base the wrongness besides your personal opinion?

"Evolution isn't based on scientific objections to God"

One would hope, but I'm not so sure.

Yes indeed, good discussion.

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

"(1)One of the points of my response was that you have to borrow the word good here".

From where? The dictionary? Good = beneficial, helpful, etc. As with anything in language there are many uses and interpretations but it is commonly understood that 'good' refers to something you find pleasurable or enjoyable or beneficial or well done. It is also understood that two people will likely have different ideas about what is good or not. (perhaps you think Death Race was a 'good' film; I did not!)

That is why I prefaced it with 'personally'. Perhaps you don't think that people having the ability to empathize is a good thing; I don't know, that's not for me to say.

"An example of this point can be found in a movie called Death Race 2000...".

I don't think anyone is claiming that this driver is being morally good, just that he's the 'best' there is at what he does (but what he does isn't very nice!).

Besides, that has nothing to do with empathy. It's a dystopian movie where there are other factors at play that are more powerful than any one person's feelings about other people.

"I realize of course that this is fiction, but it still points to a need for an objective and universal law giver."

I don't see how that follows at all.

"(2)If our conscious is merely the result of evolution, the word "useful" is always interchangeable with the word "good". If our conscious was created and informed by God, it is not."

I honestly have no idea what you're getting at here. It is Friday though, and I'm not at my sharpest today!

"I will have to admit my ignorance on the meaning of intra-subjective morality."

Individual morality is subjective but heavily influenced by feed-back loops with those around us - developed against a cultural backdrop of traditions and philosophies and shaped by our life experiences.

So it's not just 'everyone do whatever you like', it's more 'how you behave influences how others behave'

Question: What is your definition of 'objective' as you are using it here?

I mentioned that appealing to God is the ultimate appeal to 'might makes right' and asked if you'd shoot someone if God told you to, you said;

"This becomes a circular argument where one has to borrow the word "good" as it is understood objectively to challenge the existence of objective good. Would you say that it is wrong for me to shoot someone if God told me to? If so, on what do you base the wrongness besides your personal opinion?"

You didn't answer my question.

I don't recognize that God (if He exists) gets to play the 'might makes right' card - even if He did create the universe and morality itself and even if He did make Himself personally known to me.
So if He told you to kill someone, I think that would be wrong (of Him). If you then did it, I wouldn't consider you to have done something wrong because you do recognize His authority in this matter.

I'd probably cite you for diminished responsibility, or something! ;-)

However, God is not known to me, so it's just your assertion that God has told you to shoot some guy - how is anyone to know if He did or didn't? So even if God does have objective standards, they're still interpreted and played out by fallible humans and so the 'objective' aspect is largely irrelevant.

Evolution isn't based on scientific objections to God

"One would hope, but I'm not so sure."

The presence of numerous biologists who accept evolution while believing in God would seem to support my assertion.

I've got to get some work done now, but I'm enjoying this!

Cheers,

Dan said...

“From where? The dictionary? Good = beneficial, helpful, etc.”

Merriam-Webster has several definitions. This is the how it is defined as I use it: “something conforming to the moral order of the universe”. The Godless evolutionist must borrow from his ideological counterparts to use the word in this sense.

I don't think anyone is claiming that this driver is being morally good

If we evolved, and if there is no God, again I say that the word morally good is meaningless here unless you borrow it from those who look to a law giver.

In your definition of intra-subjective morality I think I see your point. This explains the people dancing in the streets in some parts of the world after the 9/11 attacks. Again, on what basis can the Godless evolutionist say 9/11 was wrong?

Question: What is your definition of 'objective' as you are using it here?

As independent of us; as in the idea that something can be wrong even if everyone does it, or vice verse. Does that answer your question?

You didn't answer my question.

You didn't give me enough information. In your scenario, is God good?

"I don't recognize that God (if He exists) gets to play the 'might makes right' card - even if He did create the universe and morality itself and even if He did make Himself personally known to me.

If we have a creator, I would think that he is not subject to any man's recognition, or his ideas of what should be. Besides, would not survival of the fittest suggest that survival is right?

"If you then did it, I wouldn't consider you to have done something wrong because you do recognize His authority in this matter."

So can I take from this that the 9/11 attacks were not wrong?

"So even if God does have objective standards, they're still interpreted and played out by fallible humans and so the 'objective' aspect is largely irrelevant.

This is a non-sequitur.

"The presence of numerous biologists who accept evolution while believing in God would seem to support my assertion."

This is a logical fallacy also for it would be impossible for an atheist to be a theistic evolutionist.

Craig and Heather said...

God didn't "create" morality.

His very nature is the essence of morality.

Because of Adam's sin, everyone of his descendants falls short of God's perfection, so by default, we're wrong.

Not only are we sinners but we're also stupid when compared to God's vast amount of knowledge. The knowledge we do have, we don't know how to properly harness apart from God's direction.

We fail on all fronts and that's why we need Jesus as Mediator when we stand before the throne of judgment.

H

Dan said...

I take it you are done Ex Pat. I did really enjoy the discussion. As always, such discussions are an education.

ExPatMatt said...

Dan,

I am so sorry! I've been spreading myself pretty thin, blog-wise, and neglected to check back here (it was also pretty crazy at work this week - hence me being in the office on Saturday, replying to you!)

There's a few new posts up so I'm not going to go through and respond to all of your points and drag this along any further. I will say though that I don't want you to think that I'm just arguing away because I think 'I'm right and you're wrong', I genuinely am interested in hearing your point of view and you've said a few things that have given me pause and reason to get into some intense discussions with my buddies at the pub - thank you for that!

In terms of absolutes and whatnot, I've been trying to come up with analogies, but they're all woefully inadequate because there just aren't that many things like morals around.

The best I can come up with is to say that 'hot' (in terms of water) is not an absolute term. In fact, there is no absolute definition of hot, cold, warm, tepid, or anything that's in-between freezing and boiling. Does that mean that we have no basis for saying that some water is hot, other than our subjective impression of what hot is. Does that render all description of water temperature pointless?

Or, do we come to a general consensus about it and recognize that, a few statistical variances aside, the majority of us know what is meant by 'hot' and are okay to live our lives with that - even though it might change in the future?

(see what I mean about woefully inadequate!)

Anyway, I plan to stick around and get involved again when I get a chance; I like you style, sir.

Regards,

Matt

Dan said...

That is not a bad analogy, in fact it leads a person to think along the lines of a reference point, and that is what I would ask you to do.

Anyway as far as:

I will say though that I don't want you to think that I'm just arguing away because I think 'I'm right and you're wrong',

I never got that impression at all.

Again, thanks for the discussion, and hope to see you around.

SirRuncibleSpoon said...

Pat-

You suggest that God’s maintains His claim to righteousness (moral goodness vs. mere utility) only by virtue of His unlimited power.
You do well to question how God fares as such an objective standard of righteousness. The Bible itself begs the question: it continually makes claims for its Divine Being’s righteousness and often presents Him making first-person pronouncements to that effect. I would like to give you four areas in which I continue to test those claims.

A. God’s triune nature provides the Prime Cause for relational virtues like love, empathy, righteousness etc. http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/hartman/trinity_objections.html provides a spot to pursue this thought.

B. A righteous God must possess and act so as to display self-limiting behaviors. Does the Bible present its Divine Being as doing exactly that on a continual basis? Yes!

C. A righteous God must seek restoration of the fallen creation along lines that manifest righteousness. Does the story of the Atonement seeks to illustrate this process. Yes! What redemption of the fallen race cost its Creator and how the experience of the Atonement changed and perfected that Creator forms the core of the story.

D. A righteous God must manifest justice and mercy in the history of the population. He must do so along lines that maintain His claim to righteousness. Does the Bible narrative depict this? Yes!

E. A righteous and relational God must manifest His claims to righteousness within the experience of individual believers. How He does this forms the first-person testimony of believers–including me!

So–you do well to wrestle with ‘good’; I wrestle, as well. Both the Bible narrative and my personal experience exist as venues within which to explore and test the notion the God is good. So far, I find myself satisfied . . . And that was not always the case!