Says Who: A Conversation

So recently I have been spending all of my free time that I normally would reserve for blogging purposes engaging with Christian bloggers, which I think is a good thing, however it has prevented me from posting new content to my site. So I think a change of practice is in order.

One of the Christian bloggers I have been engaging with is Apologetics Minion on moral relativism and objectivity in the Bible and ancient world. You can go to his blog post “Says Who?” to see what sparked our conversation and read some of my comments, many of which are quite good (in my opinion), and I may be doing posts related to them in the future.

Now AM has said a couple of times that I have missed the point of his post. I would argue that I haven’t missed the point so much as I have raised new points that are intrinsically related to the point of his post, but we will get back to that.

“Says Who?” is essentially AM’s take on Divine Command Theory (DCT) and objective morality, which, in the briefest of terms postulates:

I. If God does not exist, objective moral values cannot exist.

II. Objective morals do exist.

III. Therefore God exists.

There are of course a number of issues with this line of reasoning, not the least of which is that any Christian assertion of the validity of II. is circular reasoning to the Nth degree. But that is something else we will have to get back to.

AM extends DCT to say since atheists reject “any competent authority” (i.e. his personal Christian God), then “good” can only mean “I like it,” or “we like it.” This brings me to the very first question I put to AM, which he seems to have overlooked, or perhaps he feels he covered it sufficiently in his first post.

I am curious as to why AM thinks humans are incapable of being competent authorities on what happens to other humans. It would seem humans would have the most relevant experience to determine what is best for humans in general.

AM likes to ask “says who?”

The truth is we all experience morality as a social construction, even Christians. If in doubt ask your favorite Christian if they believe slavery is morally wrong, if they answer in the affirmative ask them “Says who?” because they are experiencing morality as a social construction. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you would know that any time the Bible deals with slavery (as it pertains to anyone besides “Gods chosen people”) it is at best only condoned as a morally neutral institution if not explicitly approved. So while Christians may use Bible verses to influence their belief that slavery is morally wrong, they are just interpretations and inferences and not based on any biblical teaching that slavery is wrong.

Which brings me to the second point I raised with Apologetics Minion. If God is a “Competent Authority” on right and wrong, and not only that but the only competent authority we would expect a perfect law code from the beginning. Right away we have two problems God doesn’t give any law code in the beginning, and when he finally does provide a law code it is far from perfect.

The issue of “form the beginning,” we see throughout Genesis there are some really excellent opportunities for God to lay down a law code. Adam is kicked out of the garden, isn’t given a law code. Cain is banished for murder, still no law code. God drowns the whole world for being wicked, Noah isn’t given a law code. Abraham is the father of gods religion, no law code. Lot is the only righteous man (who thinks it’s okay to offer his daughters up to be gang raped) and Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed for being wicked, still no law code. Jacob is the father of God’s favored nation (a feat accomplished with two women procured in a business arrangement and their two slaves), no law code. It isn’t until the Hebrews really haven’t done anything bad because they’ve been slaves for 430 years before he finally sets down some rules.

As far as a perfect law, AM says atheists have a “grounding problem” since we can’t attribute morality to a higher power, it is each man for himself, and who is to say otherwise? That being said and with full awareness of the issue, inherently wicked humans have made some pretty cool improvements to moral codes. For instance the Geneva Convention. Here we have agreed upon rules for (among other things) the treatment of POWs including banning murder, mutilation, torture, and degradation. Same goes for civilians. I think AM would agree with me, that those are all good things, but “says who?” those are all things wicked humans think are good things. what we see is every time that God goes to war, he would be indicted for heinous war crimes. This really puts apologists in a bind because they have no moral grounds to condemn something like ISIS. ISIS brutally murders their POWs, God says that is okay. ISIS captures women to be their “brides” and subject them to systematic rape? God says that’s okay. ISIS fighter wants to die for his God, God says that’s okay. God doesn’t seem like such a competent authority on human morals anymore does he?

Now I can already hear the Christians shouting “But that’s the Old Testament!” and I’m going to shout back “You believe God is unchanging!” That’s the thing about insisting God created and revealed objective moral truths. The fact that the so called “New Covenant” means Christians do not have to follow OT commands, does not change the morality of the OT commands. The fact that they are objectives means they are true regardless of situation or time.

I think I will leave that here for now. Cheers.