Atheistic Meme re: Good Friday--Your Thoughts?

Saw this meme on Good Friday.

It prompted several thoughts…

  1. Every Friday isn’t actually good for atheists, since there is no “good” or “bad” without moral absolutes

  2. Every Friday isn’t actually good for atheists since they’ve had loved ones die on Friday, and they have no satisfactory answer for their kids’ query, “Daddy, why did cousin Frank have to die?”

  3. Jesus didn’t HAVE to die. He gave up his life freely.

  1. It’s not like we have a forced choice between theism and moral nihilism. There are plenty of ethical systems out there that don’t require a theistic perspective to work.

  2. A lot of us have put a lot of thought into our own mortality and wouldn’t have any problems answering that question.

You are correct.

No non-theist requires belief in a deity to have an ethical system that’s useful.

However, when a non-theist is asked to defend his ethics as better than someone else’s, then he has an untenable position.

  1. A lot of us have put a lot of thought into our own mortality and wouldn’t have any problems answering that question.

So what is your answer, as a secular humanist, to your kids’ query about why their beloved cousin had to die?

That’s the claim. Whether those systems are remotely logical, reasonable, consistent, compelling, or reflective of reality remains to be seen without delving into the nuances of each of those systems individually. But the point is not whether or not you or I could invent an “ethical system.” Of course we could. The point is whether or not you or I would have a rational, non-theistic basis for claiming that all others ought to likewise abide by that “ethical system” as if it were objective truth.

If no one else ought subscribe to my “ethical system” beyond the fact that I personally happen to find it worthwhile, or because I believe that anyone who is abiding by my personal definition of rationality would do so, then the OP’s point about objective morality stands. But if someone else ought to abide by my “ethical system” because it is an objective fact that no non-human intelligence binds us to, then I also need to explain why someone ought to be compelled to abide by this objective fact regardless of whether or not it is in their self-interest to do so. Inevitably, this latter track will only go so far as conceding that acting as if morality were objective is simply a human thing to do, but it will have to presuppose that acting human is a condition of this objective morality. That presupposition is not warranted if man is simply the result of millions of small steps of chance and blind force.

ANYWAY.

Indeed.

A non-theist’s ethical system can only be like this: I don’t like it when people do A. I do like it when people do B.

And the above paradigm is utterly otiose in the face of things like this:

cbsnews.com/news/pakistan-honor-killing-explained-interview-man-kills-sister/

bbc.com/news/world-africa-29762263

fox4kc.com/2017/04/10/three-dead-when-husband-kills-wife-in-murder-suicide-in-san-bernardino-special-needs-classroom/

I take pretty much the opposite view: theistic ethics are useful and defensible only in as much as they resemble naturalistic ethics.

Specifics of my reply would depend on the specifics of the situation: how old is the child, how much do they know about life & death already, what’s they’re temperament, are they at all religious, etc. Depending on how deep they were being with the question “why did they have to die?” the answer could be as simply as explaining some of the processes that keep us alive and what it was that caused those process to stop in this case. If they’re asking a deeper question, they’d get a deeper answer with follow-up questions addressed as they came up.

I can recommend some books if you’d like to learn how non-theist moral philosophers actually approach moral philosophy.

Well, let’s explore this.

You believe, let’s say, that honor killings are wrong.

How do you address this with someone who believes it’s right to kill your daughter for having the audacity of being raped, without appealing to objective morality?

Granted. But of course the same goes for theistic ethics.

I’m pretty much with you until the last sentence. Darwinian Natural Right by Larry Arnhart gives one account of an Aristotelian-style virtue ethics grounded in a naturalistic view, for example.

Oh, I completely understand how non-theist moral philosophers approach moral philosophy.

What is untenable is not their approach, but rather their rationale when telling someone else: your position is immoral.

Now, if they can’t tell someone that his position that recruiting child soldiers, and demanding that these children kill their mothers in front of him in order to declare their fealty, is evil, then the atheistic moral paradigm is utterly inutile, right?

-]/-]

Why would you have me do this without appealing to objective morality?

Please explain this.

It’s simply a statement of faith you’re proposing right now.

Can you provide apologia for your position?

Egg-zactly! :extrahappy:

Let’s say its a 10 year old who’s never had anyone close to her die, and it’s her favorite 18 year old cousin who died quickly of osteosarcoma. Her temperament is mature and sanguine; she is your daughter so she has no religion, but she has a natural yearning for the numinous.

I don’t think anything of the meme. It’s a snarky statement written down that’s meant to be catchy. You could do it for any holiday or event. I’ll just make something up:

“When you’re at Ted’s Tacos, every day is a Taco Tuesday, because you can always eat tacos, and not just on Tuesdays”.

…and your last day on earth is your LAST day for all eternity.

“Whether theistic systems of ethics are remotely logical, reasonable, consistent, compelling, or reflective of reality remains to be seen without delving into the nuances of each of those systems individually. But the point is not whether or not you or I could invent an “ethical system.” Of course we could. The point is whether or not you or I would have a rational, theistic basis for claiming that all others ought to likewise abide by that “ethical system” as if it were objective truth.”

Is that a statement of faith to you? Or did you think that SimpleRosarian’s post was a statement of faith as well (if so, fair enough).

“Why?”
“Exacty.”

That doesn’t make any sense. It feels like we might be having different conversations.

I simply get overjoyed when secular humanists acknowledge the existence of objective morality.

It’s a tacit acknowledgement of the existence of an Objective Good. :slight_smile:

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