Monday, April 6, 2015

Does Phil Robertson Speak for You?

A lot of people are still talking about the disturbing stuff Phil Robertson said in a speech a while back.  He described awful stuff happening to an atheist, and the people an atheist cares about.  It's a disgusting and unnecessary child rape fantasy.  The punch line is that he's betting the atheist will describe this as "wrong".

This first thing worth noting, is that he's right.  A human can determine right from wrong all on his own.  I don't think he was trying to argue that you don't need a god in order to understand right from wrong, but that's what his words mean.  Maybe he could have found a nicer way of saying them though.

I think he's trying to draw some other conclusions, but we'll have guess what they are.  I'm thinking something along the lines of:
Morality comes from God.
Atheists are not completely immoral.
Conclusion - Atheists are not really atheists.

Of course he can't win that argument unless he makes it.  However; the very notion that morality comes from a creator god is interesting to think about.  A very long time ago Plato came up with what's now called Euthyphro Dilemma.  It's usually restated as this:
"Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"

So, what connection can a god have to morality?

Lets say he came up with it.  Then morality is subjective.  It's subjective to god's opinions.  If he himself is moral, it's just because he is defining moral as 'the stuff he does'.  I personally think that morality can only be calculated by the intended results of an intelligent agent.  Since these results can be quantified, I reject the idea that morality is subjective.

The only alternative is that morality is objective, and god is just the messenger.  In that case, we need to ask ourselves how competent of a messenger he is.  Personally, I've had to figure morality out on my own.  In fact, I'd say the biggest obstacle to people's understanding of ethics, is that many of them are trying to get their understanding from outdated materials specifically because they believe these materials to come from a god.

As always, I expect a 2,000 year old book on ethics to be as relevant as a 2,000 year old book on physics.

No comments:

Post a Comment