Monday, November 16, 2009

Morality is subjective (reprised)

Recently, a newcomer to the blog trotted out the old, dumb argument that morality is impossible without God. I call it dumb, because the great thinkers have been exposing the flaws in this thought for at least 2500 years.

For instance, in Euthyphro the problem is presented as something of a chicken and egg type question: Are things wrong because God says so, or does God say things are wrong because they are?

The nafka mina? Simple.

If God says things are wrong because they are wrong in and of themselves, then morality and God are two different things, and an atheist could conceivably uncover morality on his own with no help from God or religion. And if something is wrong only because God said so, we're left with the conclusion that morality is arbitrary. Things aren't wrong because they are inherently wrong, but only because God says they are. Morality, according to this view, is not objective, but relative to whatever God says it is.

(Three years I wrote a post on this subject that I consider one of my best. It's called "Blogging Toward Truth." In it, I make the case that morality is subjective and explain why forums such as this are essential to the pursuit of truth.)

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