Monday, February 06, 2006

150 Days, 150 Posts

150 days; 150 posts

Note: If anybody wants to see a complete list of those 150 posts, it can be found at

So, hello readers. How are things?

When I started this blog, I wanted to stop and take a breath every now and then. It is not easy trying to think of something to write about every day.

I wanted to take a day off at my 100th post to reflect on what I had already written. However, that was when the news broke of President Bush’s authorization to the NSA to spy on Americans without a warrant. That moral outrage pushed that anniversary issue away.

“Moral outrage? How can you, an atheist, ever experience moral outrage? Without belief in God, you cannot even know what morality is!”

Honestly, I am so tired of that claim. Beyond a doubt, I have devoted more time to the study of morality than I have to any other activity in my life . . . including sleep. There is really only one reason why a person embraces the “atheists cannot be moral” meme.


People in Group A want to assert that they are morally superior to people in Group B, so that they can subject the people in Group B to all sorts of unfair and unjust treatment without feeling guilty about it. The idea, “We can know and understand morality; you cannot” gives these people just the excuse they need.

And if Group B ever protests their unjust and unfair treatment, Group A simply asserts, “How can you question the morality of our actions? Only we in Group A can understand the requirements of morality. Only we in Group A can determine if you are being treated unjustly. Surprisingly, when we in Group A evaluate our own actions, we find ourselves to be glowing in moral perfection. Therefore, your complaints are false.”

How convenient.

The problems associated with basing morality on religion have been known for 2,500 years, since Socrates first proved morality’s independence of religion to Euthyphro. However, when a person can clutch a straw that allows him to name himself the model of moral perfection and those he harms as deserving, he will hold onto that straw unto death.

From time to time, I have taken a day or two to describe the foundation from which I draw the moral conclusions that I do. Some of these posts include:

• Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005 Moral Progress

• Friday, Sept. 30, 2005 Moral Theory

• Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005 Ethics Without God I

• Friday, Oct. 7, 2005 Ethics Without God II

• Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 The Meaning of Life

• Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 Why Be Moral?

• Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005 Morality from Religious Texts

• Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005 The Meaning of Ought

• Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 Reasons and Action

• Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006 Morality as Evolved Sentiments.

• Monday, Jan. 9, 2006 Morality as a Matter of Opinion

• Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006 On Moral Character

• Friday, Jan. 20, 2006 Morality and Reasons for Action

• Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006 Morality and Free Will\

• Monday, Jan. 30, 2006 Dale Reich's Caricature of Atheists

If one wants longer and more technical descriptions of what I put in these posts, they can find it at my web site, under the articles:

Desire Utilitarianism

Defending Moral Realism from ‘Error Theory’

Objectivity & Subjectivity in Ethics

Hume on Is and Ought

And, finally, the book-length manuscript I have on my web site:

Desire Utilitarianism: An Atheist’s Quest for Moral Truth

So, with this post, the next time somebody shows up to say, “How can you, an atheist, have any opinion at all on the difference between moral right and wrong,” I now have one location I can point them to.

At least . . . so far.

Have a good evening. I’ll be back tomorrow, to start another 150 days of posts.

I hope.


Anonymous said...

I hope so too.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


I am afraid that the technical definition of a proof is not determined by what you find persuasive.

Identifying God with good does not avoid the Euthyphro problem. This identity (or biconditional) is the union of two conditionals:

In other words:

god <-> good -> (god -> good) and (good -> god).

Since the Euthyphro argument defeats god -> good, it also defeats the biconditional.

just as:

X is a bachelor <-> (X is male) and (X is unmarried).

Defeating (X is male) is sufficient also to defeat (X is a bachelor).

The proof stands

Anonymous said...

Once again, you know far more philosophy than I do; I will simply argue by what makes sense to me. Bachelor is external to X; it is a simple adjective. X would not change if he were to marry, but he would no longer be a bachelor. Good, for religious peole, is not external to God. It is His being, and He is good being. "God is good" is not an adjectival description of God. God IS good is the same thing as saying God is God to the religious. It's simply that if you use the word good peole know to what you refer.

It is not a biconditional. It is your very description of it as such which is the means of your refuting me. There are not two separate concepts which unite to create the God of religion; there is one God.

P.S. No need to get pissy.