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There are some instances where being a Gnostic atheist is a defensible position. For example, I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that circular squares do not exist. A circular square is a logical contradiction. In the same way, I am certain that the God of the abrahamic tradition can not exist. It has to do with those pesky Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnibenevolence aspects. Nothing can have all of those characteristics and exist. Now, as far as most other Gods go, I guess an agnostic atheist. Although unless I'm dealing with someone who's REALLY pedantic, I can just say "atheist" and it means pretty much the same thing. I think most people who self-define as atheistic are actually agnostic atheists if you want to get precise about the terms. It's just easier to say "atheist" because, while yes, I'm not saying that Odin and the like don't exist for sure, I'm also not in any real sense "on the fence" about his existence. It doesn't help that generally the only people who force me to make this distinction are evangelical Christians...
Ah, sorry for the late response, I didn't see the reply. Looking back over my post I can see I was using some very sloppy terminology, which seems to have obstructed my point. My fault. While it's true that the basics of my ethics are subjective, a better word for what I'm trying to communicate would be something like absolute. That is, if it's true, it's true always and for everyone. I'm opposed to moral relativism; an ethics that is relativistic from person to person is worthless. I suppose what I was trying to say was that a subjective morality isn't so grim as it might seem, that even if there is no ultimate objective basis for my belief in say, the unmorality of unnecessary suffering, I'm think there is sufficient reason for me to argue for it. My axiom about respecting persons could be challenge, I think, although not easily, but "unnecessary suffering is wrong" is self-evident. That is, I can't imagine any situation which this state would be wrong. The only way I can think of would be to claim that there is no such thing as unnecessary suffering. Of course I'm preaching to choir somewhat, as you don't seem to be a relativist, but hey, it's fun to discuss! And I really do feel it's important to realize that morality still has worth even without a God—hell, moral system run into the same problems with a God as they do without one (e.g. " God is all good, and what he commands is therefore good." This is a circular argument which doesn't really tell me what good actually is.)
Koboldwhisperer is now following Heartfout
Mar 11, 2011
I think it is perfectly possible to have a valid objective moral system while still retaining a secular framework. In fact, I see only two satisfactory ways of settling the issue: accept nihilism, thus rejecting morality outright, or else try to find a valid objective morality. Subjective morality has a big issue: if morality is relative to one's personal views then a). it shrinks into mere opinion and b). is actually logically inconsistant, as it would be possible for an action to be both moral and immoral, which is...well, impossible. Now, I don't like the idea of nihilism, so this leaves me the option of trying to work out a objective morality. For myself, I follow the axiom that unnecessary suffering is always evil. Furthermore, I also think that the wishes of persons should be respected. Working up from these, it's possible to get a pretty consistant system of morality. Interestingly, I think this puts me roughly around the same place as you; I think that there are some things which end up being axiomatic because I can't imagine it not being so. I call my method objective simply because moral beliefs will get you into moral disagreements (e.g Killing is bad) and by disagreeing I'm saying that they ought to live by the moral code I'm pushing ( e.g Don't Kill). It stikes me as rather dishonest to do otherwise. Anyway, I'm rambling now so I'll end this by saying that I really enjoy your blog so far. Keep up the thoughtful posts!
Koboldwhisperer is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 11, 2011