Hitler Makes Me Barf

My last couple of posts have been about objective good, what it means, and if it even exists.  I seem to be stuck on these sort of theological themed things, so if you’re following along, sorry.  It’s just what my mind is barfing up lately.  It’s my barf though.  You don’t have to lap it up.

I was recently asked if I’m only good because Yahweh (that is, God) demands it.  That’s a good question.  At first it seems tricky, but in the end, for me at least, it’s actually quite easy to answer.  The answer is, no.  I’m not good because God demands it.  Moreover, I’m not even good.  I’m actually quite messed up.  I try to be good, but in the end, I really fail pretty miserably in comparison to what true objective goodness really looks like.

If I try, I can convince myself that I’m good as long as I don’t think about it too much.  The honest fact is though, that I’m constantly fighting my own evil nature.  I’m really an angry, greedy, self-centered, jealous, manipulative, controlling, lustful, violent, merciless piece of work.  I constantly have to keep myself from snapping at my kids, berating my co-workers, hoarding my resources, exalting my own accomplishments, lying, cheating, stealing, objectifying women, climbing over you to get my own way, cursing you to hell, or punching you in the face.  These are all things the natural part of me would like to do.  This is the reality of nature.  This is me.  This is not good.  I am not good.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t have to follow my natural instinct.  I’m different from other animals.  While nature attempts to act like it is an attractive choice, I have this weird ability that other animals don’t have.  I have free will and the ability to recognize that much of that natural part of me is not good.  I have the option to defy it, and there is something built into me that compels me to do so.  Blindly accepting the call of the wild might work in the animal kingdom, but it doesn’t work with people.  Some people give in to nature and chase power, resources, and physical pleasure.  The more we do it, the more we seem to be able to block out actual good and follow nature.  The ones I’ve known that do, do not end up being very happy.  The reverse seems to be true too.  The more I defy nature and choose good, the easier it is and the happier I become.  In the end most of us, at least to some degree, end up defying nature, recognizing good and choosing it.  Sometimes nature directed choices aren’t all bad, as long as they aren’t in conflict with good choices.

However, being completely natural beings would be bad.  Here’s what a guy that seemed to be just following his natural instinct said about it…

“If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such cases all her efforts throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.

But such a preservation goes hand-in-hand with inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must triumph and that they have the right to endure.  He who would live must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to exist.” ~Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

In the absence of objective moral standards, I’m compelled to admit this sort of thinking is completely valid.  Personally, I cannot accept this is reality because I recognize I have the ability to differentiate what are natural impulses vs what is objectively good.  Objective good seems to tell me people shouldn’t have to fight to exist.  I see no reason to think that in any time, any place, or with any people, that the unjust taking of life is acceptable.  Please note though, that I do believe good and proper justice involves the taking of life at times.  Morals are objective, but not absolute.  The difference is the motivation behind the extinguishing of life.  For instance, intentionally taking a human life for personal gain is bad.  Intentionally taking a human life that is bent on destroying other human life for their own gain is just.

Now, on more than one occasion various people who challenge me on my assertion that in a purely naturalistic worldview I’d be entitled to do any number of seemingly evil things will ask, “why do you want to rape, murder, and pillage?”  Those people are missing the point.  I don’t want to.  I’m an inherently bad person, but something about me tells me very often that I should ignore nature, seek out the objective good, and elect it over the natural choice.  I, for one, do not want to be a slave to nature, and so I choose not to.  However, in the absense of a moral law giver who also provides freedom to choose, I’m just a natural robot.

However, in the context of the actual point, the real question is, why should I think ill of oppressive regimes like Nazi Germany, the former USSR, or modern-day Rwanda, North Korea, Iran, Syria, or China?  If one of these regimes were to dominate the world, would that make it good since it was the outcome of nature?  Over time, would our minds come to accept it as a natural fact, and our feeling of something being wrong would dissipate?  We’d be okay in our various forced roles in the colony, similar to honey bees or ants?  We’d cease longing for societal and individual liberty?  I don’t think so, and so I have to go searching outside of nature for the source of these objective moral truths that I believe are true for all people, at all times, in all places.  Once I think I’ve found the source, I’d be stupid not to conform to that source’s way of thinking if I really believe it to be the source.  Especially if I think it is for my own good.

And that is why I try to wisely choose what is intrinsically good, over following my own intrinsic natural selfishness.  Frankly, it isn’t easy.  Yoda was wrong.  When it comes to morality at least, there is a try.  Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I don’t.  If I quit trying though, it is then that nature rules me, rather than me ruling it.


15 thoughts on “Hitler Makes Me Barf

  1. “In the absence of objective moral standards, I’m compelled to admit this sort of thinking is completely valid.”

    “I’m constantly fighting my own evil nature. I’m really an angry, greedy, self-centered, jealous, manipulative, controlling, lustful, violent, merciless piece of work.”

    Both quotes from you are truly sad. Original sin is a heinous, immoral myth. I’ve already described a reasonable scenario under which one could judge Hitler’s actions in particular as “good” or “bad”. Again, your assertion that cannot be “good” without Yahweh is just not supported by the facts. 21st century secular philosophy provides a much more sane and reasoned approach. Again, no supernatural volcano gods and ridiculous dogmas required.

    As a factual aside, the roots of 20th century totalitarianism were right-wing Christian/Catholic.

    RIP HItch:

    The other regimes you mention are either theocracies of some flavor, or pseudo-religious personality cults.

  2. I don’t think modern secular philosophy or science does anything to explain the necessary natural invention of morality. I’m still waiting to see good empirical evidence for physical macroevolution, let alone the evolution of consciousness. Such a thing just sounds foolish to me. It is not the most plausible explanation unless you pre-suppose that the universe is all there is.

    Also, notice I didn’t even assert that there cannot be good without Yahweh. I merely asserted that I must look outside of nature to find the source of objective morality, because nature doesn’t provide a reasonable explanation IMHO. People, may attribute it to extrauniversal aliens or unicorns if they like. Personally, I find God of the Bible to be the best explanation, but that’s taking into consideration many other things as well. Just this one conclusion is not enough to lead me to Yahweh. It only leads me outside of nature looking for explanations.

    Hilter was clearly doing evil in pursuit of power. Same goes for Lenin and Stalin who did evil in the name of atheism for the same reason. It doesn’t matter what you do evil in the name of, it’s still evil. That’s the point. It always is, always has been, and always will be.

    Again, if it tries to present itself as a duck, but does not quack like a duck, it’s just a decoy. Modern day religious theocracies knowingly choose evil as well, that’s why Islam, like nature, cannot solve my problem. It gets me outside of nature, but not in what I believe to be a meaningful way, so personally, I must look elsewhere.

    Also, riddle me this…how can a myth be immoral? It doesn’t exist. Further, you can’t appeal to morality to accuse the myth if morals don’t exist. It’s just part of the natural evolution of consiousness.

    Finally, are you saying you’re not just as “sad” as me and you don’t have to ignore the same sorts of natural impulses and choose otherwise? If that’s your claim, I’d be tempted to call you a liar given the natural tendancies I’ve already exposed about myself, but I recognize that would be immoral so I’ll try to not give in to that temptation 😉

  3. With regards to your first paragraph, I would humbly submit that you just aren’t paying attention to the advancements in these fields. And/or choose to willfully ignore solid empirical evidence from a variety of scientific disciplines with regards to macroevolution and the science of morality.

    I’ve already established that secular morals do exist, and how we come about them, so please stop asserting that “morals don’t exist” without Yahweh’s “objective morals”. Furthermore, Yahweh’s “objective morals” don’t exist. Yahwehists come down on all sides of moral issues. So Yahweh obviously made a mistake in the way he communicated his “objective morals” to his flock. But he can’t make mistakes so it makes more sense that he probably doesn’t exist . We’re beating a dead horse here. I suppose we need to agree to disagree again.

    Don’t be silly, the teachings of a myth can be immoral. And based on my secular standards of morality I, as I am my own animal, hear by declare the teachings of Yawheh IMMORAL. Particularly Original Sin, Vicarious Redemption, and Eternal Conscience Torment or Hell to name a few.

    It is absolute rubbish to assert that Lenin/Stalin did anything “in the name of atheism”. Leninism/Stalinism was essentially a state religion. I’ll let the late great Mr. Hitchens make my point:

  4. LOL…IMHO all Hitchens does there is establish that atheism ultimately becomes, in itself, its own secular religion when abused for seeking power, not that atheism wasn’t responsible.

    I would humbly submit that saying something is established, does not in fact make it established. This “empirical” evidence is only arrived at using the a priori claim that there is nothing supernatural. You’ve only taken the same sort of leap of faith I’ve chosen to take. You just reasoned inductively, faithfully pre-ruling out particular causes which leaves you with the only possible rule that leads to the effect. I’ve reasoned abductively, letting what I believe is the observeable rule and effect to lead me to the most plausible cause.

    Moreover, in order to prove that we arrived at our sense of morality via evolution, one would need to be able to repeat the experiment. That would be empirical evidence that you are your own animal. As it is, circumstantial (ie forensic) evidence is the best either of us can hope to do, barring a chimpanze logging on here and having this type of deep conversation with us, in which case I would concede your empirical evidence. I don’t see a planet of the apes type scenario coming to fruition in our lifetimes though.

    If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit! 😉

  5. Nonsense. You were claiming that atheism was responsible for their actions when there is no evidence for that claim. Atheism is not a religion. To suggest otherwise is absurd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKNNCfyXaps

    There is no evidence for the supernatural. Prove me wrong. Nothing to do with a leap of faith here. And don’t give me the “absence of evidence” logical fallacy.

    You clearly hold empirically backed science in low regard and faith backed assertions in high-regard. Which I find utterly bass-ackwards. We’re obviously going to have a difficult time agreeing on anything in that case. We may be beating our heads against a wall….. Ouch.

  6. “You know, they are fooling us, there is no God…all this talk about God is sheer nonsense” ~Joseph Stalin

    Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects

    Sounds like a religion to me.

    I see your nonsense and I raise you some shenanigans! I hold empirically backed science in high regard, but only when it is intellectually honest. Some scientists repeatedly conclude the universe appears designed and it is virtually impossible that we’re here, but commit themselves a priori to materialism. I’m perfectly willing to modify my positions with science done without the presuppositions.

    The forensic evidence for an intelligent designer and the historical facts of Jesus Christ are quite astounding when not ruled out in advance. Supported by highly accredited science, history, and archaeology. The universe coming into existence, then life coming into existence, both essentially natural impossibilities, are evidence for the supernatural. Given this evidence that actual intelligence is the most probable explanation, I believe the burden of proof is on you if you’re going to take a positive position against the supernatural, otherwise you’d need to adopt agnosticism.

    Sorry. It’s just your faith in science against my faith in the creator of science 😉

  7. Did you read the first comment on the first video? I agree with that.

    “I hold empirically backed science in high regard, but only when it is intellectually honest.”

    In other words you hold it in high regard but only when you agree with it.

    “The forensic evidence for an intelligent designer and the historical facts of Jesus Christ are quite astounding when not ruled out in advance. Supported by highly accredited science, history, and archaeology.”

    False and false. The forensic evidence of evolution via natural selection/genetic mutation points towards an unintelligent designer. The evidence for the historical Jesus ranges from very bad to non-existent.

    “The universe coming into existence, then life coming into existence, both essentially natural impossibilities, are evidence for the supernatural.”

    You have a ridiculously low bar for what qualifies as “evidence”. And you dishonestly substitute impossibility for improbability.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Sagan). I would reduce that to any evidence whatsoever but theism would still fall flat. The burden of proof is on you sir.

  8. You read in to it what you want to my good man, all the while claiming “false and false” to oodles of peer reviewed historians, scientists, and philosophers!

    I said “essentially”, which means “all but” in probability terms, but thank you for acknowledging the high improbabilty. In fact universe(essentially impossible) x life(essentially impossible) makes the lack of an intelligent contribution essentially impossible. Seems like the more extraordinary claim in this random internet dude’s humble opinion.

    I now disappear into the night, waiting, lurking, until next we meet… http://bit.ly/zh7WeM

  9. Thinking about it a bit, I think life is pretty probable, and pretty common, in a universe with hundred’s of billions of stars and planets. We know it happened at least once!

    Besides, ok, I’ll give you your improbable volcano god, I’ll give you your improbable zombie Jesus, you’re still left defending the genocide and mayhem wrought by Yahweh in the bible. Heinous stories such as this:

    Yahweh makes me barf.

  10. *sigh* … I know you’re better than this. Please, stick to academic sources and avoid the mockery and inflamatory remarks like so many others use, or I have to start moderating posts. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, or the like can do a much better job than this with the seriousness that the topic deserves.

    Keep in mind that in view of the entire worldview, any innocent life would not end. In fact, it would be improved by physical death (leading to heaven for innocents) because the society was so morally bankrupt. You cannot look at something like this from your own naturalistic worldview and have it make sense. With that in mind, I’m sure if you really tried you could find your response to this in Dr. Copan’s book if you double checked.


    Finally, in the future we need to try to stick to the original topic rather than steamrolling and changing the subject. Myself included. The original post concluded only that nature wasn’t enough to explain morality. I think we beat that one up. We must pace ourselves. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity to dispute other topics such as the problem of evil.

  11. “Keep in mind that in view of the entire worldview, any innocent life would not end. In fact, it would be improved by physical death (leading to heaven for innocents) because the society was so morally bankrupt”

    In other words, as Craig and Copan say, the babies are “in a better place now” so it was OK for Yahweh to slaughter them. This is an appalling, absurd, and frankly a sick justification for the many, many dead innocents at the hands of Yahweh in the Old Testament. Have you really thought this through?

    You’ve said previously “if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….” Well Yahweh quacks like a homicidal psychopath to someone not brainwashed by this sad delusion.

  12. “This is an appalling, absurd, and frankly a sick justification for the many, many dead innocents at the hands of Yahweh in the Old Testament. Have you really thought this through?”

    Ummm…yes…just like the driving out of the Nazis. There was surely collateral damage in WWII to do that. I’m okay with both, because inside the worldview…innocents are not dead.

    Outside the worldview…it doesn’t matter…it was just nature taking its course, so I’m not sure what you’re problem with it is.

  13. Boy, could either of you have picked someone without an accent and bad hair? LOL! I love reading what you two have to say to each other. I will let you know up front that I am a God believer but it is good to hear the tough questions and comments an atheist has to say. I am not the sharpest tack in the box so I will not be able to keep up with you boys, but hope to learn from you.

    But even being the “dull” one, I must pipe up on the evidence of Christ. It is common knowledge, even among atheists, that Jesus was real and walked on this earth. This is well documented in Jewish Antiquities. These writings are authentic and highly respected among any intelligent historian and scientist. I am surprised that this would even be disputed. Trying to dispute that, makes one tend to think all other “evidence” or theory Joseph puts out there is not coming from credible sources. I am not coming against your decision not to believe in God, but your arguments will have a better foundation if they are built on what facts we do have. Maybe all that is discussed here cannot have “empirical” evidence to back up beliefs and thoughts, but the events, people, or science that is proven and documented should stand as that – fact. Being that Jesus was born and did live to be a man and was crucified at around age 33, doesn’t mean I am saying you have to admit or accept that He was the Son of God. I believe that, but you don’t have to. But it is fact that He was on this earth.

    I have often wondered how to address your issue with the ugliness of war and death in the Old Testament. Being a Christian, which to me is a personal relationship with Jesus – not “things I have to do or cannot do” – I know God in a deeper way that helps me understand in my heart some of those issues. Yet it is hard to explain to someone that just sees God as god. This would get way off topic so I will leave that for now and see how further conversations unfold between you too.

    One more thing – as far as empirical evidence of what happened after the supposed big bang: there is no way they could have empirical evidence as that would mean that this was observed or done as an experiment. I cannot see how that will ever, ever be possible to recreate that scenario because wherever we go – we have something. Whatever setting they could possibly try to create or uncreate (I know it’s not a word!) nothing would not be acceptable because you cannot go where there isn’t something – even if they have some kind of container where they can pull atoms out – or whatever they think they might be able to do – there is still a container (something) holding this nothing they think they can produce (or not produce – this is totally an oxymoron!). They may try to put a bunch of fancy explanations to it to make it all sounds good, but there will never be truly nothing because there has to be something to make that nothing happen! (my head is spinning! Hope I am making some kind of sense!)

    Alright, I feel better getting that off my mind. Now I will go back to being a fly on the wall …. Very intriguing blog …

  14. I might add, there is so much more that I have gained listening to you, too. I don’t want to get stuck on arguments that need to be “agree to disagree” issues nor do I want to come off as combative toward you, Joseph. I find this kind of dialogue that you and Michael are having very interesting and important. But you know that feeling when there is just something that burns in you and you just have to pipe in? … well those were two areas that just kept striking me and I just couldn’t shut up!

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