Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Belinda
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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:21 pm

Attofishpi wrote:
So...all you need to do is provide an example where God is "showing benevolence" toward the parents or the child. SIMPLE!
Believers tend to simplify by adding on hypotheses such as

The child was too good to live and God wanted it in Heaven

The parents needed this learning experience

The child did not suffer as God miraculously took away its pain by endorphins, or some such rationalisation

All suffering is worthy in the eyes of God Who knows a heck of a lot more than we do.

and finally: God is too mysterious for us mortals to comprehend.

When you have demolished the hypotheses one after the other the believer repeats them.

I have admitted to Immanuel Can that indeed my ethics are subjective and that I hold them subjectively. IC seems not to know that he himself largely evolved as a creation of culture. Culture is subjective as it depends upon individuals working and living with others.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:22 pm

attofishpi wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:57 am
God not being ALL benevolent does not necessarily render 'it' 'evil'.
I didn't say "it" did. All I said is that good and evil are concepts grounded in the nature of the Supreme Being.
I gave you an example: A child dying from leukemia. ..and I stated:- there is no benevolence being shown toward the child and parents, in this instance, the child dying of leukemia. Thus, your statement 'God is ALL benevolent' is inaccurate.
Is it my statement that is at fault, or your characterization of this hypothetical "dying child's" true situation, viewed from a full-and-complete moral perspective? I'm going to suggest that without the level of knowledge had by the Supreme Being, you and I would be in an insufficient position to see what was really going on there. Moreover, with human freedom factored in, there isn't even a plausibility to thinking that the Supreme Being must necessarily be involved in the cause of this hypothetical tragedy.
So...all you need to do is provide an example where God is "showing benevolence" toward the parents or the child. SIMPLE!
Same issue, really. You and I have insufficient knowledge to judge what is going on in the situations we observe, from and ultimate, moral, universal perspective.

What you're really asking, therefore, is for an example in which God "comes up to human standards." But human standards being rendered inadequate by a lack of omniscience, a lack of total historical perspective and flawed human moral judgment, this isn't a sensible request. Neither of us is in a position to know what would constitute such a situation.

So I don't make that argument. Rather, I make the analytical argument stated at the first: that if the concept Supreme Being is understood, then it is rationally necessary that both concepts, "good" (benevolence, if you prefer) and "evil" (cancer, if you prefer) are grounded in the nature of the Supreme Being, and indeed, can be grounded in nothing else without creating a logical contradiction.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:25 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:21 pm
Attofishpi wrote:
So...all you need to do is provide an example where God is "showing benevolence" toward the parents or the child. SIMPLE!
Believers tend to simplify by adding on hypotheses such as

The child was too good to live and God wanted it in Heaven

The parents needed this learning experience

The child did not suffer as God miraculously took away its pain by endorphins, or some such rationalisation

All suffering is worthy in the eyes of God Who knows a heck of a lot more than we do.

and finally: God is too mysterious for us mortals to comprehend.

When you have demolished the hypotheses one after the other the believer repeats them.

I have admitted to Immanuel Can that indeed my ethics are subjective and that I hold them subjectively. IC seems not to know that he himself largely evolved as a creation of culture. Culture is subjective as it depends upon individuals working and living with others.
I have not met these "believers" you allegedly indict, except perhaps on or two extremists who may opt for the "finally." I believe the rest are mere straw men. Certainly they don't represent my view.

As for your cultural argument, you've put it in a way that cannot be discussed, tested or falsified. But as Popper pointed out, that doesn't make it true -- rather, it makes it unscientific, whether true or false.

Belinda
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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:46 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
As for your cultural argument, you've put it in a way that cannot be discussed, tested or falsified. But as Popper pointed out, that doesn't make it true -- rather, it makes it unscientific, whether true or false.
Are you criticising my use of English or my theory?

If the former I apologise for not being clearer I do try. If the latter I've been studying Clifford Geertz on cultural anthropology. He 's a respected authority who is quoted by at least one professor of social anthropology. Immanuel, if you are contesting the institution of academic anthropology you have a hard not to crack.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:18 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:46 pm
Are you criticising my use of English or my theory?
Your theory, of course. This is, after all, a philosophy discussion site, right? I have no desire to criticize you as a person, and it wouldn't be relevant if I did. And your English seems fine to me, so far as I can tell.
If the former I apologise for not being clearer I do try. If the latter I've been studying Clifford Geertz on cultural anthropology. He 's a respected authority who is quoted by at least one professor of social anthropology. Immanuel, if you are contesting the institution of academic anthropology you have a hard not to crack.
I know Geertz. And I know what he says. But there's an inherent illogic in the implication you made, which is that people are all culturally conditioned, and nothing else.

For your suggestion was that the reason I don't realize I'm culturally conditioned is that I am too culturally conditioned to realize it. But if that's true, then you are culturally conditioned too, and so is Clifford Geertz, and all of our theories are not trustworthy; for they are not products of logic, reason or truth, but rather products of contingent cultural conditions. They're oriented merely to cultural conditions, not to the locating of truth.

As is, then, your criticism of me. For we cannot KNOW that things are culturally conditioned for certainty, if all our thinking is merely cultural conditioning: for then it's not KNOWING at all. :shock: So your critique, then, isn't (necessarily) true; and that by the light of your own theory of cultural conditioning.

That's the theoretical incoherence I'm criticizing. For you personally, I have no criticism to offer here.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:34 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
I know Geertz. And I know what he says. But there's an inherent illogic in the implication you made, which is that people are all culturally conditioned, and nothing else.

For your suggestion was that the reason I don't realize I'm culturally conditioned is that I am too culturally conditioned to realize it. But if that's true, then you are culturally conditioned too, and so is Clifford Geertz, and all of our theories are not trustworthy; for they are not products of logic, reason or truth, but rather products of contingent cultural conditions. They're oriented merely to cultural conditions, not to the locating of truth.

As is, then, your criticism of me. For we cannot KNOW that things are culturally conditioned for certainty, if all our thinking is merely cultural conditioning: for then it's not KNOWING at all. :shock: So your critique, then, isn't (necessarily) true; and that by the light of your own theory of cultural conditioning.
I never said "certainty". We are all made of some cultural inheritance, without which we could not be people in mind or body. The culture which historically produced the academic discipline of social anthropology among other scientific endeavours is not absolutely true to God or something or other, but there are relatively culture-neutral methods.

God- belief may be justified by how it imparts a feeling of awe, or by how it enables a disciplined fighting or capitalist society. So far you have not justified the belief in revealed religion ; it's insufficient to accuse me of holding that the morality to which I subscribe is cultural as if that were a bad thing. You have no evidence that your particular morality is the better for its tenet that it's revealed by the Deity.

No truth that we know is absolute. However any specific culture accumulates adaptive ideas and feelings. Humans learn, Immanuel it's what we do.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:21 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:34 pm
I never said "certainty". We are all made of some cultural inheritance, without which we could not be people in mind or body. The culture which historically produced the academic discipline of social anthropology among other scientific endeavours is not absolutely true to God or something or other, but there are relatively culture-neutral methods.
That claim, if I believe what you have already said, is surely not a truth claim. Instead, it's just a product of your own cultural programming, so it may not be right at all. We would have no way to know whether Geertz or you were right at all, since no non-culturally-dependent method of knowing exists, according to you. :shock:
...it's insufficient to accuse me of holding that the morality to which I subscribe is cultural as if that were a bad thing.
I didn't say it was a "bad" thing. I said it was something a good deal worse than "bad." In fact, I said your view has no access at all the concepts "good" or "bad," just as a cultural relativist has no access to verification of knowledge.

In other words, your position is not merely anti-factual, but also anti-intellectual and anti-educational. How can one "learn," when everything is just a contingent product of cultural forces? :shock: There's no way to know what's true or false, right or wrong, in that case.

With no "good," and no "bad" (beyond your own feelings), and no "knowledge" that is not a mere product of culture, you would put yourself in no position to advocate any position, moral or epistemological. And that, not because I say that's how it is, but because that's what you inevitably end up saying, if you follow the logic of the claims of cultural and moral relativism.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:42 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
With no "good," and no "bad" (beyond your own feelings), and no "knowledge" that is not a mere product of culture, you would put yourself in no position to advocate any position, moral or epistemological. And that, not because I say that's how it is, but because that's what you inevitably end up saying, if you follow the logic of the claims of cultural and moral relativism.
I can see your point Immanuel, but I'm not a cultural relativist . I like my own culture the best. Besides being a bifurcated animal my own culture is what I am. From my own culture and from my environment I produce uncountable levels of thoughts and feelings that give me who I think I am and what I intend to do about it.

Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:42 am

Belinda wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:42 pm

I can see your point Immanuel, but I'm not a cultural relativist . I like my own culture the best.
I believe you. But your liking it won't show that your culture is "good" or "right" or even "legitimate" when compared to, say, the culture of Wahabis or Nazis. You may prefer it, and no doubt I do too...but absent any criteria bigger than culture itself, what makes one of them "better" than any other?

That's where cultural standards of morality leave us: in a situation in which totalitarian genocide is not clearly "better" than generous liberal democracy, except to the extent that some people may prefer it. For others prefer totalitarianism or genocide: how do we tell them they're "wrong," or that their attitude is "bad"?
Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?
Alas, you're going to have to explain why you think that human finiteness impinges on questions of free will. Frankly, I don't see the connection.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:07 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
I can see your point Immanuel, but I'm not a cultural relativist . I like my own culture the best.
I believe you. But your liking it won't show that your culture is "good" or "right" or even "legitimate" when compared to, say, the culture of Wahabis or Nazis. You may prefer it, and no doubt I do too...but absent any criteria bigger than culture itself, what makes one of them "better" than any other?[/quote]

There is no higher authority than man. Wishing for it won't make it so. Take up your cross i.e. take up responsibility with all its burden of uncertainty. You have faith in your culture which includes the Higher Authority, I have faith in mine. Our cultures share the same ethics.
That's where cultural standards of morality leave us: in a situation in which totalitarian genocide is not clearly "better" than generous liberal democracy, except to the extent that some people may prefer it. For others prefer totalitarianism or genocide: how do we tell them they're "wrong," or that their attitude is "bad"?
That is so. Some wars are just wars. Some Nazis believe in a Higher Authority but Nazis don't share your ethical values or the ethical values of your deity. I share some of the awe that you have for your deity but unlike you I have to be uncertain that he exists. Because I'm uncertain I prefer to trust to my own cultural values with all their uncertainties and historical errors.
Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?
Alas, you're going to have to explain why you think that human finiteness impinges on questions of free will. Frankly, I don't see the connection.[/quote]

It goes like this: your brain/mind is not to be thought of as finite like a lion, for instance, has a finite brain/mind the finity of which depends to such a great degree from the lion's genes and environment; we say that the lion acts from instinct. Its genes can evolve and perhaps still do for all I know but its evolution is nothing like as fluid as that of a man who changes as he learns. Human cultures are fluid. Apart from his genetic inheritance and his environment his learning is more free than that of the lion i.e. insofar as his huge capacity for thought and deliberation isn't precluded by his genes and his environment(The man cannot walk through walls or successfully will that the rains will come). I don't believe in supernatural 'Free Will' but if 'free will' refers to the feeling that one has deliberated through the unknown complexities of one's thought then I have that feeling of freedom of will that is one result of a considered decision.

If all I did to come to a decision is look up a holy book of God's decisions then my will is not free in any sense whatsoever, as I'd be a terminal for the Programmer to use.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:17 am

Belinda wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:07 am
Immanuel Can wrote:
I can see your point Immanuel, but I'm not a cultural relativist . I like my own culture the best.
I believe you. But your liking it won't show that your culture is "good" or "right" or even "legitimate" when compared to, say, the culture of Wahabis or Nazis. You may prefer it, and no doubt I do too...but absent any criteria bigger than culture itself, what makes one of them "better" than any other?
There is no higher authority than man. Wishing for it won't make it so. Take up your cross i.e. take up responsibility with all its burden of uncertainty. You have faith in your culture which includes the Higher Authority, I have faith in mine. Our cultures share the same ethics.
That's where cultural standards of morality leave us: in a situation in which totalitarian genocide is not clearly "better" than generous liberal democracy, except to the extent that some people may prefer it. For others prefer totalitarianism or genocide: how do we tell them they're "wrong," or that their attitude is "bad"?
That is so. Some wars are just wars. Some Nazis believe in a Higher Authority but Nazis don't share your ethical values or the ethical values of your deity. I share some of the awe that you have for your deity but unlike you I have to be uncertain that he exists. Because I'm uncertain I prefer to trust to my own cultural values with all their uncertainties and historical errors.
Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?
Alas, you're going to have to explain why you think that human finiteness impinges on questions of free will. Frankly, I don't see the connection.
It goes like this: your brain/mind is not to be thought of as finite like a lion, for instance, has a finite brain/mind the finity of which depends to such a great degree from the lion's genes and environment; we say that the lion acts from instinct. Its genes can evolve and perhaps still do for all I know but its evolution is nothing like as fluid as that of a man who changes as he learns. Human cultures are fluid. Apart from his genetic inheritance and his environment his learning is more free than that of the lion i.e. insofar as his huge capacity for thought and deliberation isn't precluded by his genes and his environment(The man cannot walk through walls or successfully will that the rains will come). I don't believe in supernatural 'Free Will' but if 'free will' refers to the feeling that one has deliberated through the unknown complexities of one's thought then I have that feeling of freedom of will that is one result of a considered decision.

If all I did to come to a decision is look up a holy book of God's decisions then my will is not free in any sense whatsoever, as I'd be a terminal for the Programmer to use.
[/quote]

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:23 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
I believe you. But your liking it won't show that your culture is "good" or "right" or even "legitimate" when compared to, say, the culture of Wahabis or Nazis. You may prefer it, and no doubt I do too...but absent any criteria bigger than culture itself, what makes one of them "better" than any other?
There is no higher authority than man. Wishing for otherwise won't make it so. Take up your cross i.e. take up responsibility with all its burden of uncertainty. You have faith in your culture which includes the Higher Authority, I have faith in mine. Our cultures share the same ethics but not the same deity.
That's where cultural standards of morality leave us: in a situation in which totalitarian genocide is not clearly "better" than generous liberal democracy, except to the extent that some people may prefer it. For others prefer totalitarianism or genocide: how do we tell them they're "wrong," or that their attitude is "bad"?
That is so. Some wars are just wars. Some Nazis believe in a Higher Authority but Nazis don't share our ethical values or the ethical values of your deity or mine . I share some of the awe that you have for your deity but unlike you I have to be uncertain that he exists. Because I'm uncertain I prefer to trust to my own cultural values with all their uncertainties and historical errors.

I could go on about the RC Church and its standardising of myth, ethics, and rituals, and how the Protestant Reformation freed us a little from the RC Church's idolising its own magisterium. Then how Humanism grew out of Protestantism. Enough!
Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?
Alas, you're going to have to explain why you think that human finiteness impinges on questions of free will. Frankly, I don't see the connection.[/quote]

It goes like this: your brain/mind is not to be thought of as finite like a lion, for instance, has a finite brain/mind the finity of which depends to such a great degree from the lion's genes and environment; we say that the lion acts from instinct. Its genes can evolve and perhaps still do for all I know but its evolution is nothing like as fluid as that of a man who changes as he learns. Human cultures are fluid. Apart from his genetic inheritance and his environment his learning is more free than that of the lion i.e. insofar as his huge capacity for thought and deliberation isn't precluded by his genes and his environment(The man cannot walk through walls or successfully will that the rains will come). I don't believe in supernatural 'Free Will' but if 'free will' refers to the feeling that one has deliberated through the unknown complexities of one's thought then I have that feeling of freedom of will that is one result of a considered decision.

If all I did to come to a decision is look up a holy book of God's decisions then my will is not free in any sense whatsoever, as I'd be a terminal for the Programmer to use.
[/quote]
[/quote]

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:53 pm

Belinda wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:07 am
There is no higher authority than man. Wishing for it won't make it so.
Wishing it will also not make it not-so. Wishing is not in the equation at all. So we can both dismiss that thought.

However, if man is the only authority, then Nazism, Wahabism, genocide, slavery, child rape, systemic poverty and political oppression are not "wrong." You will find them all approved by your own declared "highest authority." In fact, one thing we can safely say that mankind has approved throughout history, and even by vast majority today, is the subjugation and exploitation of women. You'd be hard-pressed to find any cultural practice so widespread and established as that.

But I will still say it's "wrong." From your perspective, from the culturally-dependent perspective, that is, or even from the species-dependent perspective, if you like, how will you say any such thing is "wrong." You have access to no such objective category.
You have faith in your culture which includes the Higher Authority, I have faith in mine. Our cultures share the same ethics.
That belief is the luxury of those who have not investigated. You'll find that there are vastly divergent "ethics" in different cultures. I'll warrant that your beliefs are not those of a traditional Hindu or a Wahabi Muslim. Even between yours and mine, you'll find some very significant differences. Just to name one, I regard the murdering of children in utero, as practiced routinely in the West, as a total moral abomination. Now, we needn't debate that issue for its own sake, because it's being done on another strand. But I must ask, do you share my ethical conclusion on that? If not, then I've just disproved your claim that "our cultures share the same ethics," haven't I?
I'm uncertain I prefer to trust to my own cultural values with all their uncertainties and historical errors.
But your culture is a statistical anomaly. Historically, our modern values have not existed. Presently, we're still in the world minority. What makes our ideas about human rights, equality, children's rights, prison reform, welfare and so forth "right," and those of the majority of human cultures "wrong"? All of those things are extreme-minority opinions.
Your belief in revelation would make you no wiser than a faulty computer that cannot fit a perfect Programmer's programme . Where does that leave your Free Will?
No, that's not so. You've misunderstood what "revelation" means. It's not a synonym for "software programming," nor is it in any way analogous to that. It's no more invasive than me offering you a contrary opinion to your own: that still leaves you completely free to choose your own opinions, doesn't it?
Human cultures are fluid.
This makes an additional problem for you view. If even your own culture is "fluid," how do you have any reason to decide that your culture's present values are the right ones, and the ones that your culture will have in a few days (which could easily include such things as resurgent racism, resuppression of women, or even more abundant child pornography) are not as good as today's values?

If that's true, you'd really be totally morally lost. You could have no trustworthy sense of where right and wrong are, if you are a cultural relativist. And there's no way for you to know whether your own culture's values are better or worse -- so your allegiance to them becomes nothing more than a personal prejudice in favour of your own society. Yikes. That hasn't gotten us good places in the past.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Belinda » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:35 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
But your culture is a statistical anomaly. Historically, our modern values have not existed. Presently, we're still in the world minority. What makes our ideas about human rights, equality, children's rights, prison reform, welfare and so forth "right," and those of the majority of human cultures "wrong"? All of those things are extreme-minority opinions.
I don't feel morally lost , Immanuel, perhaps you could say sorry to me.
What makes our ideas right, yours and mine, is care for others besides ourselves. That they are minority opinions may be so I have not seen any official statistics but that is irrelevant to our ideas being right.

You objected that we differ in our ethical principles because you detest abortion and I don't. I don't go about saying that I detest abortion but frankly everybody hates abortion. Abortion is often the lesser evil.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:22 pm

Belinda wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:35 pm
I don't feel morally lost , Immanuel, perhaps you could say sorry to me.
I didn't say you did. I said instead that if you were to believe in culturally-based ethics, you would inevitably be morally lost, regardless of how you felt about it. Once again, it was a claim about the rational consequences of the theory, not about you as a person.

I choose not to do ad hominem arguments. I find them petty, and they're just not relevant (in almost any case). I try to argue with the theory, not against the speaker.
What makes our ideas right, yours and mine, is care for others besides ourselves.
Hmmm...think about that a minute. That doesn't "make them right." That merely makes them emotionally appealing, but only to people raised in this particular culture -- which actually is a minority culture. They might well be wrong, or at least, not more wrong than non-caring ideas, if ethics were actually to be based on culture.

After all, how do we know "care" is a moral value, rather than, say, a merely contingent emotion? Maybe some people have it as an impulse -- but some impulses are good, and some need to be repressed or controlled. The impulses for violence or xenophobia are quite strong in some people; how do we know for sure that care isn't a misguided feeling, just as they often are?

So rationally speaking, we have no unequivocal right to make "care" the touchstone of morality. "Care" may even be evil, if it is directed to the aid of an evil person, or to promote a misguided purpose that actually hurts those to whom the sympathy is supposed to be directed. Take the case of the mass-murderers who receive fan letters from admirers in the general population; no doubt those fans are "caring," but it doesn't show them to be good, or even particularly sane.
That they are minority opinions may be so I have not seen any official statistics but that is irrelevant to our ideas being right.
I agree, it is: but the cultural-based moralist has to think that something makes one kind of cultural value more "right" or "wrong" than another, and majority is the metric to which they most often refer. Unfortunately for them, that metric is actually against them, taking the whole of the human race into consideration.

But if it's not majority rule, then what is the metric of culture-based morality? You'd have to suggest a better way of knowing which cultural values to affirm and which to refuse.
You objected that we differ in our ethical principles because you detest abortion and I don't. I don't go about saying that I detest abortion but frankly everybody hates abortion. Abortion is often the lesser evil.
I disagree. It's not a "lesser" evil. It's a hideous moral depravity, on the scale of genocide. Your morals and mine are actually dead opposite on that.

(Again, we really needn't debate that, since people are working through that issue on another strand. For our purposes, I only reassure you that your morals and mine are not the same on that particular issue. And there are no doubt other examples, but I can't guess exactly what they are. Maybe here's one: maybe you would see talking about God as propagandistic; and I would see failure to deal with God as spiritual suicide; that might be another difference.)

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