The tactic of the average apologist today is to equivocate. He will equivocate on “knowledge” by employing the term in what seems to be a conventional context, only to inform you he meant 100% certainty all along. He will equivocate on the notion of morality by asking you whether some abhorrent act is “OK”, hoping you will respond negatively, then accuse you of holding to some objective morality above your emotional abhorrence.
And now I’ve encounter yet another equivocation made by apologists. The word “remarkable”.
I recently and emphatically explained to a Christian apologist that I did not hold that justice was an obligatory moral term since morality was an unsubstantiated domain.
Instead of listening to what I said, he responded with the common apologist script, asserting I had “borrowed” from his worldview, and that I held (“maybe without realizing it”) that justice was an obligatory concept.
This arrogance in telling me what I believe after I clearly stated the opposite is common among apologists. They have canned scripts they must follow, and if you introduce anything they have not encountered, they claim that you must be mistaken since their scripts don’t have you saying that.
It would be nice to live in a world in which I present my own beliefs/arguments, and have them acknowledged rather than have my interlocutor tell me what he thinks I believe since he has a prepared defeater for the belief he wants to hand me.
Now, examine the following syllogism proffered by this apologist attempting to defend obligatory morality.
1. If justice is not obligatory, then references to injustice are no more remarkable than any other descriptor, like the color of the puppy’s fur.”
2. References to justice are more remarkable than other descriptors.
3. Therefore, justice is obligatory.
Really. He believes that injustice can not be remarkable if not tied to obligation.
The fact is, things that are not morally significant remain emotionally significant.
If there is no magic involved in the creation of the universe, the universe remain remarkable.
If there is nothing more to love than chemicals, the experience of love remains remarkable.
If there is no obligation to do what is equitable, there are still the very remarkable reactionary emotions of your community you’ll have to contend with should you behave in inequity.
Chimps presumably do not have the moral obligation to be just and equitable, but they will respond emotionally negatively if they or others are treated unjustly. And you certainly don’t need to conjure up a moral domain on top of the demonstrable emotional domain for injustice to be remarkable among humans.
The term “remarkable” is an emotional term, not a moral term. Joseph Pinner is actually saying that, wherever you find a thing “remarkable” to a degree above the color of a puppy’s fur, there that thing is “obligatory”. This is the depth of the nonsense.
“Remarkable”, as it is conventionally used, refers simply to a degree of emotion. Nothing else. No connection to morality. No connection to obligation. Zilch.
Here the apologist can retreat to his mendacious tactic of equivocation and claim that his use of the term “remarkable” means “morally significant”. But the moment he does so, he knows he has blundered since he clearly understands that you can’t substantiate morality by invoking morality. Nonetheless, many apologists try, hoping you won’t catch their slight-of-tongue.
Take the example of a man who tortures his puppies. The typical Christian believes that is wrong only if their god says it is wrong. The man who tortures puppies will experience my quite significant wrath since I have an emotional fondness for puppies, and hate to see them suffer.
The Christian god actually commanded humans to drive swords into the bellies of infants. According to the Bible, your own emotions and sense of justice are not important. You’ll have to set aside all behaviors you previously found emotionally distasteful, and follow through on what your god says. And these very same Christians will claim they have an “objective” morality that is “self-authenticating” to quote Joseph Pinner. “Self-authenticating”? Are you kidding?
Joseph Pinner is not. In fact, when asked whether he would drive a sword into the belly of an infant if he thought his god was commanding him to, he incredibly responded “In a heart-beat”. This is Christian morality. Compassion must be violated since it is merely an “unremarkable” emotion that does not count in their convoluted moral scheme of blind obedience to their god. “Self-authenticating” evidently means whatever you imagine your god wants. Christians have no standard by which to test whether their god is “just” other than what that god says is just. This bankrupt ideology needs to be exposed for the nonsense and foolishness it is.
In conclusion, if you fail to have the emotions that would prevent you from torturing puppies and thrusting swords into the bellies of children, you have no obligation to refrain from doing so. You’ll simply face the full emotional force of the society you live in. This backlash will not be “unremarkable”.
I have deep compassion for sentient creatures, and a quite hefty degree of “remarkable” wrath reserved for those who would torture puppies or slay children. Most other humans also do. Keep your child-slaying god with his “self-authenticating” morality out of my neighborhood, or reap the consequences.
I believe in emotions. Joseph Pinner takes those emotions that I believe in, emotions that offer a fully predictive explanation of the contours of human behavior, and then pretends those remarkable emotions are evidence of an entirely new realm he would call “objective” morality that is based on the whims of his god, whims that have demonstrably run directly counter to the emotional substrate I hold to and that he has absurdly invoked. Who is borrowing from whose worldview?
So, emotions are the substrate of human behavior. To the degree that they converge, to that degree we can collectively codify behaviors and laws that are not objectively obligatory, but ensure that the bulk of humans operate within their framework by rewarding behavior consistent with collective emotions, and punishing behavior inconsistent with collective emotions. An objectively moral realm that is obligatory remains unsubstantiated, and is most certainly not found in a god who claims to be just while looking on as persons like Joseph slaughter infants upon his command. My emotional condemnation of Joseph’s willingness to slaughter children upon the word of his god carries no objective obligation to restrain himself. It only carries the warning that, should he chose to slaughter children in my presence, he will face my not unremarkable wrath.
And a hint: If you will slay infants upon the word of your alleged god, you might not want to claim to be in possession of some objective morality that is obvious to the rest of humanity.
Update based on Joseph’s comment below: https://philstilwell.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/a-case-study-in-christian-illogic/