Does America Need God to Be Moral?

By Michael Brown Published on October 26, 2018

I was looking today at a Pew Research poll from one year ago. It indicated that as America becomes less and less moral, “Most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%), up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011.” How ironic!

According to the article on the Pew website, “This increase reflects the continued growth in the share of the population that has no religious affiliation, but it also is the result of changing attitudes among those who do identify with a religion, including white evangelical Protestants.”

In short, “those who describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’” — known today as the “nones” — “are more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality. So the public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious ‘nones.’”

Along with this, “Among all religiously affiliated adults, the share who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality ticked up modestly, from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2017.”

So, not only do a large percentage (85 percent!) of religious “nones” feel that belief in God is not necessary for morality. But many who are religiously affiliated now share that same sentiment.

No God, No Absolute Morality

We know, of course, that there are kindly atheists and nasty Christians.

We know that good deeds can be found in every sector of society, both religious and non-religious.

And we know that downright evil can be found in the Church (and within every religion).

But in the end, if there is no God, there is no absolute morality.

As the number of Americans who say we can be moral without God increases, our moral standard decreases.

There is no absolute right and no absolute wrong.

There is no judgment in the world to come to balance the scales.

There is no future punishment, there is no future reward and there is no Judgment Day.

As expressed by Douglas Wilson, “If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true, but rather because of a series of chemical reactions… Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.”

Right in Our Own Eyes

More concisely, Peter Huff said, “The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people, it is just mere opinion enforced by might. The Christian appeals to a standard outside himself/herself in which truth and qualitative values can be made sense of.”

Again, this is not to deny that there are many caring and compassionate atheists. After all, they too are created in the image of the God they deny. And they too have a moral law written on their hearts by their Creator.

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But once you take away an unchangeable, absolute, immovable standard, then you end up with everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

The Book of Proverbs warns us about this, stating that, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.” And, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Prov 14:12; 21:2).

Consequently, as the number of Americans who say we can be moral without God increases, our moral standard decreases.

Moral Decline

That’s why it’s no surprise that a recent Gallup poll indicated that, “Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is ‘poor’ — the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are ‘only fair,’ and 14% say they are ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’”

That’s why it’s no surprise that a May, 2017 article in the Christian Post claimed that, “81 Percent of Americans Concerned About Declining Moral Behavior in US.” (This was based on a poll conducted by Lifeway Research.)

And that’s why it’s no surprise that why an article from June of this year in the Washington Times stated that, “Americans say the country as it stands today is worse off morally than in past years — and worse off, morally speaking, to a tune that’s never before seen.”

As noted in the article by Cheryl K. Chumley, “Since the 1960s, for example, statistics guiding out-of-wedlock birthrates have soared from around 24 percent for blacks and 3 percent for whites to 64 percent in 1990 for blacks and 18 percent for whites. Why?

“Well, in part, because the stigma of unmarried sex has been removed.”

She continues, “Transgender? So’s that guy. Pregnant at 16? So’s my friend — here’s her abortionist’s number. Morals? The notion of standard moral behavior? Going, going, gone.”

But of course. Take away the divine standard and you take away societal standards.

That’s why only a spiritual awakening can save our nation from even more severe moral decline. The God we neglect and reject is the God we so desperately need.

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  • JP

    Well reasoned. Christians need to think like this when engaging the secular culture.

  • Patmos

    Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is the path to morality, rightly dividing through discernment. If there is no fear of consequence, what need is there to discern? But God is not mocked, you reap what you sow. Why not sow into the grace and glory of the kingdom of God, through the simple act of repentance and turning towards? The mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, but when it is grown it is the largest plant in the garden, and birds come and make their nest in them. Hallelujah.

  • Paul

    “Does America Need God to Be Moral?”

    Yes, not just America but everyone. As you say:

    “But in the end, if there is no God, there is no absolute morality.”

  • Johann du Toit

    Without God all morality is man made and therefore changeable to suit man’s whims. That’s why we have swill like abortion, euthanasia, gender ideology etc. that would have been unthinkable to our ancestors because they violate both our Judeo-Christian code of morality underlined by Greco-Roman logic.

    • swordfish

      On the other hand, our changeable, imperfect human morality has outlawed slavery, war crimes, racism, sexism, and cruelty to animals, all condoned in the Bible.

      • The Church banned slavery and has since the beginning as it is a mortal sin.

        “racism” and “sexism” were cultural marxist terms invented over the past 100 years to push the 1917 communist revolution in Russia.

        As for your fixation on beasts, that is due to gnosticism. you believe the devil when he tells you that men are beasts, and so you apply human rights to beasts and then treat men like animals.

  • tz1

    Thus you reject Socrates, Aquinas, and CS Lewis.

    Even Ayn Rand said morality was OBJECTIVE.

    But I will go back to the Council of Dort of the Reformation and even the Enlightenment where Man is fallen, and suffers from “Total Depravity” so CANNOT understand natural law, and not obey it even if man did understand.

    If that doctrine is true than God is irrelevant – Man, either through total depravity or because things are intrinsically unknowable, or the will is insufficient cannot be moral, therefore any institution created by man, like America, by logic cannot be moral.

    But what has been held is that man’s will is weak but not completely broken so he falls (so has to repent) but knows through an internal compass (Lewis), or through reason (philosophers including the atheist Rand!), or through revelation what is good and what is evil, through a sufficient intellect.

    What you miss is (as Fr. Vincent Micelli wrote in “The Roots of Violence”) is that Americans have WILLFULLY rejected TRUTH itself.

    Put Truth first, above all, and seek with all your heart, mind, and strength, and you will find goodness, and God. Seeking truth opens eyes, to see the darkness and the light that is dim because it is remote, so you need to run toward it until it shines like the noonday sun.

    Put anything else first, and you will settle for a falsehood your intellect can rationalize because your will beats it into submission because that is simpler and easier than continuing the search.

    There is a divine standard for morality, but it is a not much larger superset of a purely rational standard of morality. If you can’t discover that smaller but more clear set of morals via reason (Whom is it that attacks me for libertarian tendencies?), you will not find the divine, or find an evil, irrational, but plausible counterfeit version.

    • No. Name dropping people who understood contingency and causality necessitating the persistent presence of God who is uncreated and uncontingent, does not help your case.

      Without God you have no reason. you may convince yourself that you have it within your self by yourself, but your slow degradation into a reprobate mind shows that you do not have it.

      you cannot admit personal guilt, and you love liberalism because it presents a “god-self” and “god-state” that you feel will replace God who will Judge you for personal guilt.

      It is your gnostic philosophy that the universe is subsistent without God, that leads to darwinism and eugenics. Creation and contingency would mean God is still here, and your ego does not want that and your man-centered philosophy is refuted by that.

      It is your political system of selfishness and claiming God is absent that leads to totalitarianism and marxism to hold man back. This is because you do not recognize sinfulness and therefore think man is just needing to be beaten into submission as your satanic system tells you.

      Venerable Fulton Sheen had this to say about you:

      The modern world, which denies personal guilt and admits only social crimes, which has no place for personal repentance but only public reforms, has divorced Christ from His Cross; the Bridegroom and Bride have been pulled apart. What God hath joined together, men have torn asunder. As a result, to the left is the Cross; to the right is Christ. Each has awaited new partners who will pick them up in a kind of second and adulterous union. Communism comes along and picks up the meaningless Cross; Western post-Christian civilization chooses the unscarred Christ.

      Communism has chosen the Cross in the sense that it has brought back to an egotistic world a sense of discipline, self-abnegation, surrender, hard work, study, and dedication to supra-individual goals. But the Cross without Christ is sacrifice without love. Hence, Communism has produced a society that is authoritarian, cruel, oppressive of human freedom, filled with concentration camps, firing squads, and brain-washings.

      The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colourless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces, sustained sometimes by academic etymologists who cannot see the Word for the letters, or distorted beyond personal recognition by a dogmatic principle that anything which is Divine must necessarily be a myth. Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.

    • No. Name dropping people who understood contingency and causality
      necessitating the persistent presence of God who is uncreated and
      uncontingent, does not help your case.

      Without God you have no reason. you may convince yourself that you have it within your self by yourself, but your slow degradation into a reprobate mind shows that you do not have it.

      you cannot admit personal guilt, and you love liberalism because it presents a “god-self” and “god-state” that you feel will replace God who will Judge you for personal guilt.

      It isyour gnostic philosophy that the universe is subsistent without God, that leads to darwinism and eugenics. Creation and contingency would mean God is still here, and your ego does not want that and your man-centered philosophy is refuted by that.

      It is your political system of selfishness and claiming God is absent that leads to totalitarianism and marxism to hold man back. This is because you do not recognize sinfulness and therefore think man is just needing to be beaten into submission as your satanic system tells you.

  • tz1

    Let me clarify and reject the “without God to say…” arguments.

    Without God, would 2+3 equal something other than 5?

    Could A simultaneously be NOT A?

    I reject that. God is Rational, so Nature is rational and Man, the rational creature with a body can perceive truths independent of God.

    There may be profound mathematical questions that only God knows (finite or infinite prime pairs; odd perfect numbers), but there are more objective, rational, mathematical truths than any one person can know in a lifetime assuming they can penetrate the depths of complex thought. But the latter does NOT require God.

    Morality is like arithmetic, not like “I prefer Pepsi over Coke”. Morality is OBJECTIVE. It is independent of the person or observer or external circumstances. A particular act is good, evil, or neutral, just like X is either the value of 2+3, or not, or something which is unrelated to the sum.

    • Truth is so fundamental that God based it on Himself. Existence necessitates an uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

      It seems you have found solace in the freemason “enlightenment” philosophers, but the problem with parroting their words is that their words are wrong. In this case, you are promoting the “deist” sect of gnosticism view that God abandoned creation after making it, and that everyone subsists entirely on itself. This is based on the absurd gnostic idea (as you regurgitate it here word for word) that everything is its own uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. This is bull and you know it because everything in creation is uncreated and uncontingent.

      Without God, you have nothing, least of all do you have reason. Things are independent from man’s ego because those things are all based in God and God is Absolute.

  • tz1

    I need to extend further.
    If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter.

    Time and “chance” – stochastic processes – DO act on matter. Now. Before. In the future.

    But they do so according to RULES. Natural LAWs. (echo, “The laws of Nature and Nature’s God”).

    No amount of time or chance will turn lead into gold. But it will turn uranium into lead.

    These LAWs are there outside the question of whether God exists or not.

    Similarly with the Natural Law pertaining to Morality.

    The only difference is Moral laws are prescriptive, not descriptive. Do you want a happy civil society? Or barbarian animalism? We can’t choose to turn something into lead or gold. We can choose to act in accordance with reason (and I don’t mean God), or not. We can know something is poisonous and drink it and be injured or killed – denying it doesn’t change its nature. We can know stealing, lying, cheating, sexual immorality is wrong – yet engage in it, but will reap the consequences of the nature of the sin in the same way.

    • Reason is totally blind without Faith, which is basing oneself in God.

      you need severe help as you have been degrading into freemason liberalism for a while now.

  • tz1

    One more observation in the form of a question:

    Does the modern state of Israel need (to accept) Jesus Christ to be moral?

    • Yes. Many Catholics live there.

    • Bryan

      Your question reminds me of a similar question Erwin McManus relates in a sermon. I’ll paraphrase: In response to a question about whether Christians were the only ones that would be saved, McManus said, Christians need Jesus just like Jews, Hindus, and Buddists. To which the man replied, Ok. As long as it’s fair.
      Israel needs God to be moral just like the rest of us.
      This doesn’t mean as you suppose that morality is not reasoned. Dr. Brown’s article describes the foundations of morality as being found in the Objective Truth of God. You don’t need to be a Christian to understand morality enough to be a rather moral person. But you need to know that there is something outside of you that is Objective. God has written His Law on the hearts of all Mankind. That is how a man can understand right from wrong without a saving knowledge of Jesus. It’s also part of the reason God can judge someone who has never heard of Jesus Christ as righteous or unrighteous justly and perfectly.

      • tz1

        The problem with “God” is it can mean Quetzcoatyl where the Aztecs slaughtered one of four of their young people atop pyramids by using an obsidian knife to cut out their hearts. (Compare Abortion today).

        Reason is mercilessly logical, although anything can be rationalized. For an example of a very moral Atheist, see Stefan Molyneux. His problem is he sees no (proper) evidence for God. But he agrees on every other Christian moral down to chastity.

        A “God” can override reason and evidence and say sin is righteousness. Beyond that I occasionally bring up contraception (remembering the Comstock laws of the late 1800s) – every Christian had the same opinion. Today Catholics and a tiny percent of Evangelicals hold that Contraception is a grave sin. The bible has not changed. God has not changed. Reason, logic, natural law have not changed. But the Protestant position hs changed.

        So you can say you need “God”, but then if you end up taking a wrong moral position, do you have God? Are you saved? Or just acting and pretending?

        I will also note that on that and Darby/Scofield/Dispensationalism, most haven’t done the deep dive applying reason to the old position to see if the elders were wrong or the new doctrine is wrong. Most can at best dispense “talking points” they either don’t or barely understand. But that won’t work at the Bema Seat.

        Someone who reasons through every bit of his morality and honestly prays for light will be better off than someone who just is a NPC with a bible.

        • God is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover. Just because your freemason deism knows nothing about God, just because the randianism you swallow knows nothing about God, does not mean others also know nothing about God.

          The only “light” you see is that of the devil. One cannot have a foundation for anything, least of all reason without Faith. One has nothing without God, which is called damnation (and that begins on earth with a reprobate mind).

          your talking head molyneux has no foundation for any of his positions, and just piggybacks off the Church who does have a foundation. The hedonist fool cannot admit this as it would ruin his delusion that merely pretending God isn’t there absolves him. Is that what you are doing as well?

  • James

    Depends on what you mean by “need” and “moral”.

  • swordfish

    This is nonsense. If moral standards couldn’t evolve, we’d be stuck back in Biblical times with slavery, genocide, conquest rape, stoning to death for adultery, and crucification for minor crimes. Not to mention having no laws against racism, sexism, child labour, torture, war crimes or cruelty to animals.

    • Patmos

      “with slavery”

      The Exodus says hello, smh.

    • Sam

      In the absence of God, how are those things wrong?
      Just because you dont like it, that does not make it wrong.

      • swordfish

        How does the existence of God automatically make anything moral or immoral? It doesn’t. You can only go by what is written in the Bible, and it condones things like slavery, conquest rape, and genocide. How do you know these things are wrong, if the Bible condones them?

        • Sam

          God is the objective standard.
          Also God does not condone rape, involuntary slavery etc.
          Furthermore, in the absence of God, those things that you mention are neither right or wrong.

          • swordfish

            “God is the objective standard.”

            So how do you know what God thinks other than by what is written in the Bible?

            “Also God does not condone rape, involuntary slavery etc.”

            I could quote passages where these things and worse are condoned, but what about the Flood? Do you think it’s morally acceptable to murder almost every human being, including small children and babies, and almost every animal, by drowning, just because some people are behaving badly?

            “Furthermore, in the absence of God, those things that you mention are neither right or wrong.”

            They are from our human perspective, and I don’t care about some “absolute” perspective.

          • God created Natural Law which He based nature upon.

            The fact you feel ashamed when you do unnatural things is there for a reason. you implicitly know you have tried to break Natural Law, even if you don’t know what Natural Law is.

            rape and slavery are both mortal sins. It appears your satanism is making you confuse what is advocated for and what is merely describes as happening. you have nothing at all without God, least of all any perspective. Especially not when pagans like yourself subsist on evil

            As for the flood, there was a reordering and remaking of the world because every human but one was unsalvageable. Those that were wiped out were damned anyways, and had to be forcibly removed so that mankind could survive longer in order to make our way home.

            your fundamental reprobate malfunction that you are missing here is this: God is God. Without understanding that, both you and what you claim to know are less than nothing.

          • swordfish

            “every human but one was unsalvageable.”

            How come an all-powerful God can’t ‘salvage’ people? Why didn’t God send Jesus instead of killing everyone? Why didn’t he kill everyone painlessly, rather than by drowning? If he’d have done that, he wouldn’t have needed to bother with the Flood. Or the Ark. Or making Noah’s family travel to Australia to pick up a pair of Kangaroos. How come I can come up with a better plan than God without even trying? Nigel? Nigel!

          • Is this what you mutter to yourself?

            Those people were going to make mankind go extinct, so they were dealt with. I don’t think you have ever had anything resembling a good idea

          • swordfish

            “Those people were going to make mankind go extinct, so they were dealt with.”

            But that doesn’t answer the question of why God chose a method which killed all the animals as well. Were the animals sinning?

          • beasts have no souls and are like machines that start until they cease function

          • swordfish

            I hope you don’t have any pets.

          • Why? Because I do not satanically treat humans as beasts and beasts as humans?

          • swordfish

            Because you don’t seem to think they can feel pain.

          • And? Children are more sensitive in the womb, and yet your kind advocates for their slaughter in the name of demonic sacrifice.

            As I said, your satanism leads you to treat beasts like humans and humans like beasts,

          • swordfish

            I only engage with you to let you hang yourself with your own words.

          • Digging graves for others only leads to you falling in. How many have you dig for yourself so far?

            Over the past few days you -an abortion supporter – declared that the deluge was “immoral” because beasts died. This is a new low for you, reprobate.

        • Because God is the standard and the foundation for anything. God created all and all is contingent on God.

          All that you mention there are mortal sins, and therefore break the 10 Commandments. Nothing there is advocated for in Scripture, though it does happen due to reprobates like you.

    • davidrev1911

      Would you be kind enough to explain for us, just how [that would be scientifically] moral standards can/do indeed evolve – i.e., regarding your wholly faith-based/a priori metaphysical assumption of strict philosophical naturalism – within a literally GODless universe, virtually devoid of the very concept of morality and/or truth in the logically prior “first place”? Do tell, please.

      “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

      — Richard Dawkins, “River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life.”

      Thus, please try and explain to us, just “how” Mr. Dawkins came to scientifically “know” these very traits, comprising his clearly faith-based description of a GODless universe??

      I don’t know about you, but I suddenly became rather dizzy, trying to follow the “pretzel logic” of the naturalistic worldview foundational to atheism.

      • swordfish

        If I understand the somewhat “pretzel logic” of your comment, than you’re asking how morality can evolve in a godless universe. I’m not sure if you mean how it can arise in the first place, or how it can change, which is what my comment was about?

        Anyway, I’d say that our sense of morality has evolved because we are a social species who live in groups. Our moral instinct tells us what behaviour helps or hinders our survival. Obviously that’s a very simplistic outline of what is a very complex issue.

        • So you rely on “instincts” which are inborn things based upon what?

          There is nothing complex here. you are beholden to Natural Law and shame is what happens when you know you have gone against Natural Law.

    • To quote Chesterton: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.

      The Bible is far too advanced for mankind. If it was merely a sign of those times, then why is it so shocking and hard to swallow even today? It was even harder to swallow then, when everyone outside of Isreal was outright devil worshipers.

      It seems your idiocy has swollen to such a reprobate mind that you are now blaming the Bible for everything that paganism did.

  • Trilemma

    Does America need God to be moral? Yes, God needs to be moral.

    Does America need God in order to be moral? No, but it would help.

    Does American need Christianity in order to be moral? No, to be moral, America doesn’t need Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, or any other religion. In the Old Testament, slavery, rape, polygamy, genocide, cohabitation, and treating women as property were moral. When Christians founded America, slavery and the treatment of women as second class citizens were moral. Religion has a poor track record of being a good source of morality.

    • you have no foundation for anything without God, and then you have the satanic gall to imply that God is a sinful creature like you are that must follow rules that you deem mankind above.

      The Church created all you take for granted. That the world has not descended into marxist misery as you have is because there is still Catholic capital to spare even in the prot nations. All of the things you mention are mortal sins or worse, and things you outright champion as long as you feel you will get “revolution” out of it.

      Once more, monster, you find yourself projecting your own faults onto your enemy.

  • Sam

    In the absence of God, there is no such thing as moral right and wrong.
    It is merely personal/societal preferences, desires and wants.
    I see all these atheists talking about slavery etc in the bible.
    First, we must recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today – in which people are captured and sold as slaves.
    In any case, lets grant the atheist claims that the bible does support this type of slavery….so what.
    As i said, if there is no absolute/objective standard, then how can slavery be deemed wrong?
    Just because you do not like it, that does not make it wrong.
    In the absence of God, morality is NOT BETTER today as that it imply an objective standard to compare it against. It is just different.
    Many atheists try to have there cake and eat it as well.

    • swordfish

      “In the absence of God, there is no such thing as moral right and wrong.”

      You mean there’s no such thing as *absolute* moral right and wrong.

      “In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today” […] “As i said, if there is no absolute/objective standard, then how can slavery be deemed wrong?”

      By subjective, socially-agreed standards. In any case, you are the one claiming there is an objective standard. Is slavery, in whatever form, objectively morally right or wrong? If there is a graduated scale of slavery, what use is an objective standard anyway? Fallible human beings have to interpret it subjectively.

      “Just because you do not like it, that does not make it wrong.”

      Yes, it does. It makes it subjectively wrong. Who cares if something is objectively wrong from the point of view of a rock on the other side of the universe, for instance? Human affairs only matter to humans, but they matter a great deal.

      “In the absence of God, morality is NOT BETTER today as that it imply an objective standard to compare it against. It is just different.”

      You don’t need objective standards to discern differences. You can tell that one person is taller than another without needing to refer to inches or centimeters.

      • Sam

        No, i dont mean absolute.
        Moral absolutes and objective morality are 2 different things.

        If morality is just “Socially agreed standards”, then ISIS’ standards are no worse than the society you live. Neither was Nazi Germany. If there is no objective standard to measure it against, then how can ISIS’s morality be WORSE or INFERIOR to the moral standards in your society?

        “Yes, it does. It makes it subjectively wrong. Who cares if something is objectively wrong from the point of view of a rock on the other side of the universe, for instance? Human affairs only matter to humans, but they matter a great deal.”

        If something is subjective, then it is incoherent to label it as right or wrong. If something is subjective, then you can only assign like and dislike against it.

        “You don’t need objective standards to discern differences. You can tell that one person is taller than another without needing to refer to inches or centimeters”

        If an objective straight line does not exist, then how do you know which line is more crooked?
        In terms of height, it is the same thing. You are measuring them objectively.

        • swordfish

          “No, i dont mean absolute. Moral absolutes and objective morality are 2 different things.”

          You didn’t refer to “objective” morality in that sentence either, so it doesn’t make any difference if they mean different things. They’re often used interchangeably anyway, including in the above article: “The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people”.

          “If there is no objective standard to measure it against, then how can ISIS’s morality be WORSE or INFERIOR to the moral standards in your society?”

          Behaviours are already measured against one another within a single system of moral values. For instance, murdering someone is obviously morally worse than punching them. If we can tell that, we can work out that ISIS are worse than us.

          “If something is subjective, then it is incoherent to label it as right or wrong. If something is subjective, then you can only assign like and dislike against it.”

          This is just nitpicking about my choice of words.

          “If an objective straight line does not exist, then how do you know which line is more crooked? In terms of height, it is the same thing. You are measuring them objectively.”

          There are no absolutely straight lines in existence. We can still determine which of two lines is more curvy by comparing them to each other. The same thing is true of behaviour. In practise, we compare our behaviour to that of other people, not to some list of commandments.

          • Sam

            Objective morality and moral absolutes cannot be used interchangeably. If they are used interchangeably then that is incorrect.
            They mean 2 different things.

            “Behaviours are already measured against one another within a single system of moral values. For instance, murdering someone is obviously morally worse than punching them. If we can tell that, we can work out that ISIS are worse than us.”

            Why is that worse? According to what?

            “There are no absolutely straight lines in existence. We can still determine which of two lines is more curvy by comparing them to each other. The same thing is true of behaviour. In practise, we compare our behaviour to that of other people, not to some list of commandments”.

            We can only do that because we have a notion of a straight line. If there is no notion of a straight line or a straight line does not exist then you cannot compare which lines are more crooked.
            We can only do so because we are comparing the crookedness against a straight line.
            THINK.

          • swordfish

            “Objective morality and moral absolutes cannot be used interchangeably.”

            They are often used interchangeably, but it doesn’t make any difference. In your original comment, you said: “In the absence of God, there is no such thing as moral right and wrong.” You didn’t use the word “objective”, so it can’t be wrong of me to use the word “absolute” unless you intended your comment to mean “objective”.

            Why is [murder] worse? According to what?

            According to the fact that 99.9% of people would rather be punched than murdered.

            “If there is no notion of a straight line or a straight line does not exist then you cannot compare which lines are more crooked. We can only do so because we are comparing the crookedness against a straight line. THINK.”

            (Rude “THINK” at the end noted.) I don’t agree. If you’re comparing two curvy lines, you don’t need a straight line to compare them against, because you are comparing them against one another. I could ask how you know the straight line is straight unless you have a curvy line to compare it against? In any case, this is just an analogy. If you want an objective standard for human morality, I think human wellbeing is a good start.

          • Sam

            “hey are often used interchangeably, but it doesn’t make any difference”
            Just because people use it interchangeably, that does not make correct.

            “According to the fact that 99.9% of people would rather be punched than murdered.”
            How does what people WANT or PREFER make that thing right?
            If a RAPIST WANTS or PREFERS to rape, does that make it right?

            “If you’re comparing two curvy lines, you don’t need a straight line to compare them against, because you are comparing them against one another. I could ask how you know the straight line is straight unless you have a curvy line to compare it against? In any case, this is just an analogy”

            You can only do that because you are comparing them against a straight line. Otherwise, you cannot confirm which is more crooked if there was no straight line.

            “I think human wellbeing is a good start.”
            Humans and species may like to flourish or prefer to flourish, but it is not a fact that they ought to.
            You have simple redefined morality to mean human flourishing.
            As i said, under naturalism, it is neither right or wrong if humans or any species survived or died off.

          • swordfish

            “Just because people use it interchangeably, that does not make correct.”

            Actually, it does. Words have useages, not meanings. In any case, you might as well just drop this because it’s got nothing to do with any actual point you’re making.

            “How does what people WANT or PREFER make that thing right?”

            How does it not? The most important thing most people want is to stay alive. We then have a whole series of lesser wants for food, shelter, company, etc. Arranging society so we can meet those wants as far as possible is the purpose of morality, I would have thought. What do you think morality is for?

            “If a RAPIST WANTS or PREFERS to rape, does that make it right?”

            To him, yes to most people, no.

            “You can only do that because you are comparing them against a straight line. Otherwise, you cannot confirm which is more crooked if there was no straight line.”

            Consider a different analogy: could you compare the loudness of two sounds without having to refer to some absolute scale like dB? Obviously yes.

            “Humans and species may like to flourish or prefer to flourish, but it is not a fact that they ought to. You have simple redefined morality to mean human flourishing.”

            I’m not redefining it, I’m just suggesting what it could be based on. Basing morality on human wellbeing is preferable to it being an inflexible list of commandments based on nothing. Why ‘ought’ we to follow the ten commandments? Just because God says so?

            “As i said, under naturalism, it is neither right or wrong if humans or any species survived or died off.”

            Naturalism doesn’t say nothing matters, it just says that there doesn’t appear to be any supernatural influences. You might as well say “under the law of gravity, nothing matters”. From a perspective completely ouside human affairs, human affairs don’t matter. So what? We’re not living outside human affairs.

          • Sam

            “Actually, it does. Words have useages, not meanings. In any case, you might as well just drop this because it’s got nothing to do with any actual point you’re making.”

            They mean 2 very different things. I have never argued for moral absolutes.

            “How does it not? The most important thing most people want is to stay alive. We then have a whole series of lesser wants for food, shelter, company, etc. Arranging society so we can meet those wants as far as possible is the purpose of morality, I would have thought. What do you think morality is for?”

            Facts dont care about peoples wants and desires.

            “To him, yes. To most people, no.”

            Then your whole argument falls apart.

            “Consider a different analogy: could you compare the loudness of two sounds without having to refer to some absolute scale like dB? Obviously yes”

            Loudness is a relative term. Not absolute.

            “I’m not redefining it, I’m just suggesting what it could be based on. Basing morality on human wellbeing is preferable to it being an inflexible list of commandments based on nothing. Why ‘ought’ we to follow the ten commandments? Just because God says so?”

            Well it falls flat because under naturalism it is neither good or evil if humans survive and flourish or become extinct. Either way it just IS, NOT what it OUGHT TO BE.

            Ever heard of the IS-OUGHT fallacy?

            “Naturalism doesn’t say nothing matters, it just says that there doesn’t appear to be any supernatural influences. You might as well say “under the law of gravity, nothing matters”. From a perspective completely ouside human affairs, human affairs don’t matter. So what? We’re not living outside human affairs.”

            Therefore in the absence of God, it is neither good or evil if humans survive and flourish or become extinct.

          • swordfish

            “Facts dont care about peoples wants and desires.”

            So?

            “Then your whole argument falls apart.”

            How?

            “Loudness is a relative term. Not absolute.”

            As is the waviness of lines, as is morality.

            “Well it falls flat because under naturalism it is neither good or evil if humans survive and flourish or become extinct. Either way it just IS, NOT what it OUGHT TO BE.”

            I agree. Naturalism has nothing to do with morality. So what?

            “Ever heard of the IS-OUGHT fallacy?”

            Yes. There’s no ‘ought’ to a list of commandments, either.

            “Therefore in the absence of God, it is neither good or evil if humans survive and flourish or become extinct.”

            You haven’t established any reason why the (alleged) presence of God would automatically make human survival good (or bad), but in any case, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, it matters to us humans whether we survive and how we live. I don’t care what an (alleged) supernatural being (allegedly) thinks about this, and I don’t see why that would make any difference to anything.

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