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  • Showing only topics with the tag "atheism". Back to normal view
    1. Atheism and moral realism/objectivism?

      *Disclaimer: I am not an apologist, theologian, or a philosopher, just someone interested in the topic. Perhaps this could've been asked in r/AskPhilosophy or maybe even r/changemyview, but I...

      *Disclaimer: I am not an apologist, theologian, or a philosopher, just someone interested in the topic. Perhaps this could've been asked in r/AskPhilosophy or maybe even r/changemyview, but I figure the conversation might be good here

      The recent post here on Absurd Trolley Problems has had me thinking about ethics again, and I realized I've never been introduced to how one can be an atheist and be not only a moral objectivist, but a moral realist. I remember a debate I watched years ago with William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens where Craig asks Hitchens what the basis of morality is, and he acts insulted, insinuating that Craig intended to say that atheists couldn't "be good without God" (which I think became a famous moment for the both of them.)

      But I never got the answer to Craig's question that I wanted. Without God, how should we determine what moral facts there are? How should we determine if there are moral facts at all? I grew up in a fundamentalist religion, and found myself in adulthood deeply interested in apologetics, and see similar responses in debates to the one mentioned above. Now while I believe Hitchens was a moral relativist, I often see and hear cases where atheists do seem to want to say that [insert atrocity here] was objectively morally wrong. Can atheists reasonably claim that there are not only moral facts, but objective moral facts that they can access? Upon examination, aren't you ultimately required to derive an "ought" from an "is"?

      I skimmed The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris some years ago, and it seems to "avoid" (i.e. commit) the "is/ought" fallacy by simply declaring that "human flourishing" (however that may be defined, separate issue) is an irreducible "ought" in his eyes. The book is great, I think that science should be part of the discussion about how one ought to live their life if the goal is some end like human flourishing; doctors already give prescriptions for behavior based on a presupposed goal between both parties to promote health and well-being. Both of these necessarily presuppose a state of affairs that one "ought" to seek to attain.

      But none of this answers why one "ought" to do anything; sure, there are facts about what one "ought" to do in order to attain a state of affairs, but that isn't morality: that's true of any subject where two people agree to share a goal. It doesn't tell us why they should have that goal. None of this feels like a satisfying answer to the question Craig posed. I don't feel like I'm any closer to these objective moral facts.

      I should say this topic is really meaningful to me. I've thought a lot about veganism, and the suffering of non-human animals. I've thought about the impact of my consumption decisions instead of perpetually leaning on the "no ethical consumption" crutch (even though there are reasons why that would have merit in certain circumstances. I literally can't stop thinking about climate change and how powerless, yet simultaneously complicit I feel. I've read Peter Singer, Scripture, Kant, John Stewart Mill, Rawls, and works from many others, and can't find any reason for an atheist (and maybe even a theist?) to think that there are these moral facts at all, much less objective, accessible ones. This really leaves me with "I guess I should just do whatever it is that I feel like doing", which probably seems to you as unsatisfying as it was for me to type.

      14 votes
    2. So far this site has been mostly politics-averse, but I am curious if I am alone as an MAGA/Trump voter/supporter in a sea of reddit mods

      I've seen a few remarks here and there that have implied sort of matter-of-factly that places like /r/The_Donald have no redeeming value, the community members are awful (and undesirable to have...

      I've seen a few remarks here and there that have implied sort of matter-of-factly that places like /r/The_Donald have no redeeming value, the community members are awful (and undesirable to have here), their ideas are all reprehensible, etc. I assume that this is mostly just due to the demographic coming primarily from popular reddit mod teams where being anti-Trump is sort of an unspoken requirement - but I don't really know for certain.

      It reminds me a little of this woman in a class i had once, who spoke to me about atheists, assumed I was christian just as a matter of course. It's kind of an awkward situation to find yourself in. I don't identify as an atheist, but if someone is mildly insulting atheists, it's uncomfortable. You have to be a covert conservative (or covert center-right, or even left-leaning Trump voter) or else you risk being blasted/flamed/mocked/etc. in places like reddit.

      Part of what attracted me to Tildes was the sales pitch that it is to be a community for civil conversation, no hate-speech/bigotry. I think that's a perfect environment for political discussion - far more than shit-flinging and nuclear downvoting on /r/politics. So even if I'm the only MAGA person here, maybe there's a chance we can actually have civil conversations on topics we might initially disagree on...?


      Edit: wow! Really happy to have these conversations with folks. Sad that i haven't encountered any fellow (public) Trump voters/supporters yet but very pleased that things have been civil as advertised. ;) Apologies for slow responses, trying to give proper thought and consideration to all the comments!

      Edit2: gotta head to bed. sorry to anyone i haven't responded to questions from. feeling a bit like a novelty "And here's our token Trump voter. ha ha, he sure is a quirky one, isn't he, that crazy dictator-enabler!" xP. I'll try to answer any questions I've missed tomorrow. Sleep well, all (well, all who are going to sleep before I get back).


      Edit3: Thanks for the open engagement, all you people who live in a different reality!

      Still a bit bummed there aren't any MAGA friends here yet, but I've been blown away by how cordial most of you have been (i hope we can retain this culture into the future of the site). For those who are just coming in and don't want to read everything, I'd say a tl;dr of the conversations I've had below is:

      • most people here want to engage with others on important topics without the shit flinging,
      • some people express disbelief that someone can not be a bigot or racist and vote for Donald Trump,
      • I've been repeating in various conversations the Laurel and Yanny thing is a great metaphor for the polarized camps experiencing different realities, seeing different movies on the same screen.

      I'm continuing to try to reply to questions, and in the spirit of not provoking heated emotions I have been trying not to argue any of my political beliefs except that both sides are seeing different realities.

      90 votes
    3. Be still and know that I am God

      My wife just found a candle that was gifted to her by a coworker that contained this phrase and it caused somewhat of a debate about its destiny, which made me wonder... are we discussing religion...

      My wife just found a candle that was gifted to her by a coworker that contained this phrase and it caused somewhat of a debate about its destiny, which made me wonder... are we discussing religion and/or the lack thereof here? /r/atheism became a circlejerky hive of scum and villainy, can we do better? Or is a topic so inherently divisive inherently beyond reproach? Can emotion and anecdotal experiences ever compete on even footing with logic and reason?

      11 votes