Quotable — God and Objective Morality

“If evil truly exists, what we could call ‘objective evil’ — then there also exist objective moral values, moral values which are binding on all people, whether they acknowledge them as such or not.  If rape, racism, torture, murder, government-sanctioned genocide and so forth are objectively evil, what makes them so?  What makes them truly evil, rather than simply activities we dislike?  What made the atrocities of the Nazis evil, even though Hitler and his thugs maintained otherwise?  One cannot consistently affirm both that there are no objective moral values, on the one hand, and that rape, torture and the like are objectively morally evil on the other.  If there are objective moral values, there must be some basis — some metaphysical foundation — for their being so. . . .

But [you] can’t have [your] cake and eat it too.  If good and evil are objectively real, they need an objective foundation.  No atheist has provided one, and it’s doubtful that one will be forthcoming.  We can put the problem concisely:

(1) If moral notions such as good and evil exist objectively, then there must be an objective foundation for their existence.

(2) Atheism offers no objective basis for the existence of moral notions such as good and evil.

(3) Therefore, for the atheist, moral notions such as good and evil must not objectively exist.”

— Chad Meister, “God, Evil, and Morality,” God is Great, God is Good, 109, 115.

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Nietzsche on Morality

Friedrich Nietzsche
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“My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena—more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to the stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus “truth,” at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call “imaginings.” Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they always contain mere absurdity.”

The Portable Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” p. 501ff

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Philosophy Word of the Day – Reductio ad absurdum

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin for “reduction to the absurd”), also known as an apagogical argument, reductio ad impossibile, or proof by contradiction, is a type of logical argument where one assumes a claim for the sake of argument and derives an absurd or ridiculous outcome, and then concludes that the original claim must have been wrong as it led to an absurd result.

It makes use of the law of non-contradiction — a statement cannot be both true and false. In some cases it may also make use of the law of excluded middle — a statement must be either true or false. The phrase is traceable back to the Greek ἡ εἰς ἄτοπον ἀπαγωγή (hē eis átopon apagōgḗ), meaning “reduction to the absurd”, often used by Aristotle. (via Wikipedia)

An example off the top of my head:

John: I believe God determines what is right and wrong, good and evil.

Jack: In that case, you must believe that all atheists are immoral reprobates since they don’t believe in God!

(In this case, though, I would argue that the reductio doesn’t follow.)

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