Sunday, February 12, 2017

A long hiatus.

Well, it's been a minute since I've written anything here.  In case you're unaware, I do have a Youtube channel.  

Here's my most recent video.

I really do enjoy blogging, but I don't have as much time for it as I once did.  However, I'm going to try to get back into this, so here we go.  Today I'm going to do another response.

Answers in Genesis has decided, once again, to tackle a subject that is perhaps a bit more subtle than they let on.  This article is entitled "Prescription for Morality" and was posted on 7 Feb 2017.

We often take pills to feel healthier, to ease pain, or to relieve symptoms. But what if you could take a pill to become a more moral you? According to an article in the National Post
Neuroethicists and others thinkers are increasingly absorbed by the idea of “moral enhancement” through pharmaceuticals, implanted brain electrodes or other biomedical means.
Leading proponents argue advances in cognitive neuroscience suggest morally desirable capacities may, at least in part, be neurologically-based and therefore amenable to tinkering.
Some envision a day when we could use drugs that act directly on the brain to dial down aggression and other “anti-social” sentiments and dial up “pro-social” ones like compassion and trust.1
 Some studies have indeed suggested that certain prescription drugs do modify behavior, making people, for example, “more cooperative, less critical of others and more sensitive to other people’s pain.”
This is basically fine.  I don't take much exception with it.  It's a thought-provoking question regarding the ethics of drugs.  Is it ethical to give people drugs if it's going to change their personality?  Generally, we don't have many ethical qualms about this, as long as the effects are not psychotropic in the extreme, for example.  It's certainly unethical to force someone to take something detrimental, but it's seldom unethical to require things like vaccines or antidepressants.
There are many problems and concerns with such an idea, but the most obvious problem is pointed out in the National Post article: “How do we decide what constitutes a moral deficiency? Who should be allowed to make these decisions about what is good and what is bad?”
That's also a reasonable point to bring up.  Should we be allowed to control the behaviors of others to benefit society?  Also, there's a minor problem here, because we're discussing ethics, not morals.  Should the courts be allowed to decide what is good and bad based upon the laws, to remove certain liberties from criminals?  The same question is fundamentally at play here.  I think there could be compelling arguments on both sides here, and I'm hoping AiG actually takes some time to think about them.  I hate responding to the simple stuff.  I want to think.
This isn’t a problem unique to neuroethicists seeking to alter human behavior.
Excellent point.  Although, attempting to define the degree to which drugs affect the brain is, in fact, a problem unique to neuroscientists and the like. 
Atheists, secularists, and others who reject God’s Word as the authority have precisely the same problem.
Darn it, Avery.  I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.  It's pretty clear in the bible that god can alter people's mental states if he so desires.  Remember, he supposedly creates everyone.  Beyond that, however, the Bible is literally a code that also restricts people's moral and ethical choices. 

If you think for one moment that teaching an impressionable child that hell is real is not affecting their mental state like a drug, then you simply don't understand brain chemistry.
Without an ultimate foundation for morality, who gets to decide what is moral or immoral?
 Again, we're discussing ethics.  I don't expect you to know the difference, but I do expect you to at least research what you're trying to discuss.  Everyone has different morals.  There is no objective morality.  If you disagree with any of the laws in the bible, regardless of whether or not you follow them, you have a different morality than that which is laid out in the bible.  It's a code of ethics, just like any doctrine of law. 

However, to answer the question directly, we humans get to decide collectively what is good and ethical.  We no longer believe that stoning your child to death for speaking up against his father is a good, moral idea.  Your bible does, though.
Some say the individual gets to decide.
Morality is, indeed, a personal thing.  Some people have orange-blue morality.  In fact, from where I'm standing, you have a blue/orange morality.  Every action in your life is dictated by whether or not you think some imaginary being is going to send you to some hell that isn't even well-defined, and that none of you can seem to agree on.  Is baptism necessary and therefore moral? I don't care, and I surely don't understand why you think taking a bath is a good moral thing.  Should you do like the bible says and not permit women to teach or speak publicly?  Again, I think that's completely immoral and unethical, but your bible says you gotta do it to get into heaven.
But what if my morality is different from your morality?
We've been over this.  Everyone has different morality.  However, most morality falls along a black/white spectrum.  Some people have orange/blue.  Still, I think you're discussing ethics, not morals.  Remember that part about neuroethicists earlier?  There's a reason they're not called neuromoralists.
What if my morality includes stealing your car?
What if it includes genocide?  What if it includes stealing young girls for your wife, like Deut. 20:14? What if your morality is approving of pedophilia?
Does that somehow make it right? Of course not!
I'm glad we agree that genocide, rape and pedophilia are not okay, regardless of what the book you're trying to push says.
If this is the case, then we need to throw out our justice system, because how can one judge decide if my actions were right or wrong?
Let's re-word that. "If this is the case, then we need to throw our the bible, because how can one book decide if my actions were right or wrong?"
If it was right for me, then who are you to say it was wrong?
You really do seem to be lacking self-awareness here.
Some people will say that morality is decided by the individual, but they add an arbitrary qualifier such as “people should strive to choose actions that do the most good and the least harm for the most people.”
Strawman.  Also, I think you're discussing ethics again.  The most ethical actions tend to be those that do the most harm (or the least bad) to other humans, at least generally.
But this is just an arbitrary opinion.
Yeah, exactly the same as believing the bible is the arbiter of morality.  Mark 7:20-23 says you should be careful with your pride, and your judgement, lest ye risk hellfire.  Well, here we are, and ye be casting judgement proudly.  Is the bible really the source of your morality, and if it is, why do you constantly disagree with it?
Why should I try to do good to others?
That's how society works.  There are evolutionary advantages to not doing things that will get you killed, for example.
Why not just do what benefits me?
So you don't think that living within the constraints of law is beneficial to you?  You can't see any reason to be nice to other people that would benefit you?  I would hate to be as miserable as that all the time.
And who defines good or harm anyway?
 Society, generally.  Harm we can define pretty easily.  Harm is generally those things which are detrimental.  Rape is harm because you're physically harming someone.  Consensual sex is not harm because both parties are wanting to engage in it (presuming both are of the age of consent, of course).

However, your bible disagrees with this, because women are property, and cannot be raped.  See the aforementioned links.  I also discuss this in this video.

Don't be like Dennis Prager.

Others will say society decides what is right and wrong.
Even the bible holds this view.  God appoints people to speak for him or whatever, and as a society people believed it.  Next point.
But this runs into the same problem, only on a larger scale. If this is the case, one society can’t judge another society’s actions as wrong.
We can, actually.  It's why we have international courts and human rights coalitions.  Just because you disagree with this doesn't make you correct.  You have yet to show why bringing others harm should be part of our codes of ethics.
Yet we know certain things are wrong: exterminating millions of people in a genocide or bombing innocent people to further your cause—we recognize that these things are wrong.
 Yes, we do.  Your bible does not.  The bible is full of genocide.  Three of the most famous stories from the bible are of genocide.
  1. The fall of Jericho
  2. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
  3. The release of the horsemen and the killing of unbelievers in Revelations
But why are they wrong?
We've been over this.
Well, if society determines morality then they aren’t wrong. They just might be wrong for your society.
 See, you're not understanding.  Sometimes societies do that.  That's why part of the world has no problem with Sharia law, but most of the rest of the world does take exception to killing apostates, for example.  Even you would probably tell me you don't support the crusades, stoning your wife for speaking, or killing your neighbor if he kills your ox, or owning slavery; though they are founded on exactly the same principles and morals/ethics found in the bible.

Can Atheists Be Moral?

If atheists have no foundation for morality, does this mean they can’t be moral citizens? Of course not; many atheists are decent, moral people.
See, I knew you could be reasonable.  We don't need to believe it is okay to take child brides from tribes we warred against.
But that’s not the issue.
Then why are you even writing this article?
The point is that they are living inconsistently with their worldview.
Wrong.  We are living in a way that is ethical, and we're doing it by ignoring the same parts of the bible you ignore.
They claim we are just animals
So what?
and that there is no absolute authority for morality,
You seem to agree.  Did you get a dowry for marrying your wife, or are you destined for the same hell as me?
yet they live as if there is a moral code and moral absolutes.
Again, how do you lack this much self-awareness?
They are inconsistent
I feel like I was the one writing half of this article.
because you can’t actually live with the belief that there are no moral absolutes.
...which is why every christian follows every single word in the bible to a fault.  If your god is all-powerful, do you really think he cares which parts you don't like?  When I was a christian, I had no problem accepting every part of the bible as true.  I just presumed that I was going to hell for not stoning my female teachers. I was okay with that, though, because I knew that was wrong, regardless of what the bible said.
So they borrow from a Christian worldview of moral absolutes to support their own erroneous worldview.
No, we don't.  You seem to have an erroneous view of the bible, though.

 Arbitrary human opinion can’t provide a foundation for morality.
Well, not unless it is your specific human opinion, right?  If your special pleading were any harder, I think your brain might dislodge from your cranium.
For that we must look to the inspired Word of our Creator.
No.  Jesus didn't write the bible for some reason.  Neither did YHWH.
Morality is grounded in the character of God and revealed to us through the Bible.
Yes.  That's why, if your god is real, I will fight against him.  However, I don't think he's real, so I'm debating you instead on some old pieces of paper with backwards ideals.
We can know what is right and wrong and make moral judgments because God’s Word provides a foundation for morality.
You keep telling me your god is the ultimate foundation for morality while also telling me things in the bible are completely wrong.  I don't understand your point.  Are you actually trying to sell me on this, or are you purposefully trying to make it so I never join?

I think I've got you wrong, Avery.  I think you're actually exactly as atheist as I am, maybe all of you in AiG are.  You're running this organization as anti-theists, trolling everyone into thinking you're christian, so that no one will want to be that.  If that's the case, you're doing a spectacular job.  You are a bunch of top-level trolls...

At least, that's my fantasy.  I doubt it's reality, because I don't think anyone at AiG has had to deal with reality in a very long time.

Although pills might be able to make moderate improvements on behavior, ultimately the answer to immoral behavior isn’t pharmaceuticals.
Oh yeah, the fake premise you opened this article on then never touched again until the conclusion.  See why I think you're trolling?  You don't care about the issue, you only care about complaining about atheists.  I wonder why you never decry other religions in pieces like this?  Do you honestly think that muslims, jews, satanists, pagans, etc aren't theists?  Or do you just think whatever morals they hold are okay because at least they believe in some god, even if he's contradictory to yours and the morals you hold?
The Bible describes the human heart as “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9),
Yeah, why did your god make us like that?  Is that moral behavior to do this kind of thing?
and God says, “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).
Again, are we created in god's image or not?
Altering brain chemistry won’t fix what is ultimately a spiritual problem.
Unless it will. Herp derp waffle waffle.
The only ultimate solution is Jesus Christ.
Which is why you aimed this piece at atheists instead of non-Christians, right?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, those of us who have been redeemed can overcome sin and our sinful natures and live for Christ (Galatians 5:16).
 You know, I don't believe that sin is real.  I don't need you policing my thoughts like some mind NAZI.  You are not the morality police.  You aren't even consistent in your message.  I think people do bad things, yes, but I don't think a god designed him in his image to be that way.
Indeed, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Why couldn't god just make us without sin?  You have one sadistic god.
The life-changing power of the gospel is what transforms hearts and lives.
Making people feel bad for simply being human in order to guilt-trip them into believing and subjugating to your book, is not ethical in my opinion.  You act as though this would be unethical if anyone else did it, but you have no problem doing it. 

Well, that's the end of that one.  Best regards, and better luck next time.

As always, this has been Rev. J.R., signing off.