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Discussion 6 to Reflections on Ethics 76
Perhaps I'm misreading the latest comments...

by: JT

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Thank you for taking the time to write with your views. Perhaps I am misinterpreting some of your comments, Mark because I am having a real problem in applying them to the article and discussion you are addressing.

"you ... proceed to make a whole raft of categorical statements about 'Christians,'"

I will admit that in some articles on this site, that has happened. And not just about Christians. There are articles that lump all Muslims together rather than recognizing the differences between the many sects. There are articles that make broad generalizations about all religious people. I've also been known to lump all atheists together. And you are right that such generalizations should be avoided. But, quite frankly in reviewing the specific article and discussion you referenced, I cannot spot "a whole raft of categorical statements about 'Christians'". I'm sorry - perhaps it is a blind spot - I cannot see what you are referring to.

"it might help you to reflect on the fact that the more refined version of the argument that you are seeking to refute would definitely NOT assert that morality necessarily implies belief in God."

I don't think any of the arguments being criticized in the discussion "assert that morality necessarily implies belief in God." That seems to have the concept backwards. Rather the discussion is rebutting the idea that a belief in God is required as the basis for morality - or more generally, religion is required as the basis for morality.

I would agree that some of those who claim you cannot be moral without a belief in God may very well "assert that morality necessarily implies belief in God." But this assertion is just a tautology arising out of their claim of a necessary relationship between morality and belief. However, the tautology collapses when the claim collapses.

In fact, the very fact of widespread subscription to specific moral concepts like the ethic of reciprocity would be seen as evidence that human beings from every creed had been gifted with the same general revelation (cf. Romans 1 for an example of this kind of thinking within the Christian tradition).

I don't understand why common moral concepts being widespread provides a scintilla of evidence of general revelation. Essentially, this is the common logical fallacy of assuming your conclusion. And as some of our moral concepts seem to be held in common with some of the more intelligent (by human standards) animals, are you suggesting that they too experienced this general revelation?

And referencing Romans 1? How is that relevant to a general revelation of common moral concepts? What Romans 1 amounts to, once we get past the usual Paul being full of himself, is a fundamental exposition of "Believe in God and follow God's rules or else!" And you'll find that from verse 18 - The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, through to the end - verse 32 - Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

And in between those two verses there is what I identified earlier as a wilfully perverse view of human nature and human sexuality. God made people gay because they rejected him. And that is most assuredly not a common moral concept. It is fundamentally immoral. Immoral as a concept and immoral as a supposed act of a deity.

...engaging the ablest arguments from the other side of the intellectual divide and not simply satisfying yourself by defeating arguments that the vast majority of competent Christian thinkers would themselves have much trouble with.

Perhaps it would help if you provided those "ablest arguments from the other side of the intellectual divide." And bear in mind that this whole discussion arose from a quotation: "And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.”

As to arguments that the vast majority of competent Christian thinkers would themselves have much trouble with, I suggest that unfortunately that the majority of competent Christian thinkers is, in my view, a very small minority of those who self-identify as Christians. And they have difficulty in getting themselves heard.