Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Conversations with Angie: Angie questions Greg Koukl's assumptions

Hi, Sam.

I guess I can agree with Koukl's assumption that everyone already believes in objective moral values. But they don't all believe the same ones. I think we talked about this before a little bit, how there seems to be general agreement on certain things no matter what community you are in, but there are other areas where there isn't agreement. I don't want to rehash that argument; we both understand. What bothered me about his arguments was the same thing you pointed out: that people's belief that there are objective morals doesn't make it so.

Actually, there were quite a few pieces of his argument that bothered me because of his underlying assumptions. It's probably because I've been thinking about this stuff so much that it's exactly those assumptions that I'm questioning. It did help me to read the whole argument, though. It was well done, and there were some points that I hadn't thought about.

I don't deny that I have moral instincts, and I view those instincts as valid and valuable. I guess I'm just questioning their origin, because despite compelling arguments against relativism, I still think that it's quite possible, even likely, that people's morals, even when they believe that they're objective, are the result of the development of extraordinarily complex societies throughout history.

You have mentioned your blog before. I've even read it a couple of times, although lately I haven't much time for anything on the Internet at all. I think it would be neat if you put some of the stuff that you've written to me on your blog. You've done really well with it.

[I’m cutting out some of her email.]

Hope you're well,


Internal conflict is possible evidence for moral knowledge


At 8/09/2005 2:37 PM , Blogger daleliop said...

(Warning: this is a bit long)

I've been thinking about why we have an intuitive objection against objective moral values. The problem is that first, we see that people just can't seem to agree on what is right and what is wrong. There are always disagreements, somewhere. Since we can't agree, this seems to put less faith into our moral perceptions. Second, I think it is the nature of how our moral instinct operates that is suspect as well. In particular, I'm referring to how we come to 'know' that something we're considering to do is right or whether it is wrong. The thing is, we don't see a giant red light flash before our eyes when we want to do something 'bad.' And we don't see a bright, white light shine before our eyes when we consider doing something 'good.' All we get is a 'feeling' of some sort that tells us not do do it, or that what we're doing is the right thing to do. And worse, this 'feeling' can be easily overridden so we can convince ourselves that our presumably bad act was not bad.Moral perceptions seem just not as binding as our sensory perceptions like sight or hearing, since it is harder, though possible, to convince ourselves that what we saw or heard isn't what we saw or heard (technically, these are our memory perceptions).

Presumably if evolution is correct then both our sensory and moral perceptions were developed according to an external reality. We rarely doubt our sensory perceptions, though, as being false in our day-to-day life, like "Sir, you may see a $1 bill but I see a $50 bill", while our moral perceptions are always subject to easy scrutiny ("Bob, you should only only take one donut or else we won't have enough for everyone." "Lucy, I don't care about anyone else, I only care about #1." or "what are YOU going to do about it?").

Regarding the evolutionary argument, funny how few say, "I still think that it's quite possible, even likely, that people's sight, even when they believe that they're objective, are the result of the development of extraordinarily complex societies throughout history." Morals seem like illusions yet sight must be real, even though both were created by the same process. Odd, don't you think? Now that I think about it, though, is this argument stemming from some sort of Genetic Fallacy? I think people would be more comfortable with the concepts of right and wrong if they were confident it came from God directly rather than some evolutionary process. With an (atheistic) evolutionary process, then obviously right and wrong is made up. Hmm, wait a second, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this argument beg the question?

In a Christian worldview, one might say that the reason our moral instinct is not as strong as our other perceptions is because our conscience is weak, demonstrated ever since the fall of Man.

So, I think it's because of the apparent weakness of our moral perceptions compared to all our other perceptions that causes people to doubt it the most.


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