Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oughts Ex Nihilo

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning out of or from nothing. A quick Google search will reveal that the word is normally associated with creation. But I contend that worlds and universes are not the only things that are ex nihilo.

As it pertains to creation in modern day discussions, ex nihilo highlights the collision of the material and spiritual worlds. The strictly material worldview scoffs at the idea of a world created ex nihilo because it denies the existence of anything that cannot be known via the five senses. But no sooner than a person adopt this worldview than he becomes cognitively dissonant in the arena of morality. From the materialistic standpoint there is simply no foundation from which to assert any morality. Still, those who approach our beginnings from a strictly materialistic point of view are no less prone to preaching oughts than the most fervent of the faithful.

We can see this when we ask the question "why" to any kind of ought. Following this line of reasoning will always lead to nothing. Why ought every American have health care? Why ought I care if the planet overheats? Why ought I not shoot a bunch of kids in a school? Why ought I care about diversity? Why ought I not be a bigot? Why ought I not impose my beliefs on others?  Why ought it matter that the electrical signalling generated in one skull causes it to turn away from the sick and hungry and to self indulgence? The fact remains that for the materialist, any appeal to ought HAS to be made ex nihilo.

It is impossible to connect the dots from scientific facts brought about by materialisticly based thinking to moral values, and it is of the utmost importance to realize this. The material world, as interpreted by randomly involved intelligence, can only produce facts. Facts are not moral. They tell us nothing of oughts. To make the leap from 2+2=4, to thou shalt not murder, is a leap ex nihilo. Facts, the discovery of which is the ultimate goal of real science, (real science as opposed to the a priori pseudo science that is so common today) do not and can not produce moral values. No matter how complicated or sophisticated our science becomes, or how arrogant it makes us, or how much it can increase our faith in death being the end, a wall exists and will ever remain between cold facts discovered and moral codes that dictate how we ought to behave. The Ultimate and cruel reality then is that if there is no God; and even if there is a God and we can't know him, any "oughts" asserted by anyone are oughts ex nihilo.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

12 comments:

Z said...

To me, this said it all "The fact remains that for the materialist, any appeal to ought HAS to be made ex nihilo."

How sad, how lonely, how disingenuous, how self-serving...right?
It's so reassuring to live by God's word, to feel surrounded in His love and approval for our 'oughts' coming from His Word, which is ALWAYS GOOD.
I was bemoaning how our morality is nearly gone yesterday to a friend via email; i'd seen a video of two young girls beating another senseless until she was in seizures at a McDonald's...all on tape while the photographer watched and did nothing to help the poor victim; even when she was seizing, he only told the two perps to 'beat it, the cops are coming'...
or how about the 2 very young girls who hanged themselves so recently?
or how about thousands of Spaniards nude on bicycles all posing for a camera? Or hooking rooms on college campuses, or kids having sex on school roofs for all their friends to see?
This is HUMAN BEHAVIOR?
No this is FROM NOTHINGNESS...from ugliness, from Satan...Ex Nihilo

Not from God...

christian soldier said...

Came by to wish you and your wife a Blessed and Peace-filled EASTER-
Carol-CS

Ducky's here said...

The categorical imperative

Joe said...

Very well stated!

Hope you had a great Easter Sunday!

Dan said...

I'm no expert on Kant, perhaps you can explain yourself.

Ducky's here said...

You fell you can make an definitive statement on ethics and then say you are unfamiliar with Kant?

Ducky's here said...

... let's simplify. The Golden Rule.

Dan said...

I did not say I'm unfamiliar with Kant, I said I was no expert. I take it you're suffering from the same. No matter, except that I was hoping that you could shed some light on this for me.

Further, I don't feel that this is a definitive statement on ethics. I do however feel as though, you have taken the ad hominen tact. Rather than offering a rebuttal, or building a case against my claim, you seem to have instead attempted to undermine my standing for making the claim. To that I say, if I'd never heard the name of Immanuel Kant, I could still make these claims because they are purely logical.

Now as to your claim, the golden rule, you fail to make the case as to WHY I, or anyone else, ought to follow it. Now, I'm not wanting to be antagonistic when I say this, but I really wish you would make that case so that I might benefit.

Dan said...

Z

I thought that I responded to your comment and now realize I didn't.

I think, as we steadily head down the Darwinian path we will increasingly act according to the absurd what's-right-for-you-is-not-right-for-me morality. As the seriousness of such bankrupt morality becomes more evident we will increasingly turn to our new god, government, to make things right, lavishing on it ever more power in the process as our lives become increasingly meaningless and perilous. As the moral capital left to this society by its Christian heritage is exhausted I'm afraid that the events you described will become ever more common, for their really is no reason, if there really is no God, that anyone ought not behave any old way he wants, whether good or bad. (in the old Christian sense of those words good/bad)

Z said...

it's horrifying, Dan....
I don't see how it'll turn around.

david thurman said...

ex-nihilo is not in the bible it's a conceptual framework developed about 200 years after Jesus, it's contrary to the New testament, it's basically religious reductionism. It really has nothing to do with Jesus at all nor does it have anything to do with the New Testament.
I will admit though it's reinforced from science since it's not banished it from it's conceptual framework and they sort of love poking at religion's ex nihilo concepts except they fail to address their own. I suppose we will have this silly argument for a while longer.

Dan said...

Ex Nihilo is Latin for "from or out of nothing", which is where most "oughts" come from. I'm not sure what the point of your comment was, but this was the point of my post in a nutshell.