in an Atheistic Universe
There is an argument you atheists are losing, and you don't need to be losing it. It's the argument about whether a God is necessary for objective morality. You're losing it because you're trying to counter a perfectly correct statement with bullshit and obfuscation. There are no values apart from an evaluator, and no objective values apart from an objective evaluator. The efforts of Sam Harris to ground morality in science were doomed from the start. Science is about what is. Morality is about what ought to be. There is no logical connection between is and ought - as William Layne Craig pointed out.
Rather than trying to manufacture objectivity, you should have been disecting the issue and laying out the pieces face up for everyone to see.
Moral is a subset of good. Good is that which is liked. What is liked is what causes happiness. Good is subjective unless it affects the happiness of an objective evaluator.
|If you don't like the term happiness, you're welcome to substitute another one, but there is some emotional condition that makes you either like existing or dislike it. I've chosen to label it happiness, because I don't know of a better term.|
Morality is a subset of goodness. It's the part that applies only to willful actions. Involuntary acts are neither moral nor immoral. And morality applies only to some willful actions - specifically those that cause happiness or unhappiness in some being other than the actor. If a willful act causes happiness in its sphere of influence, it appears to be a moral act. But we may find out later that it caused more unhappiness, and therefore appears to have been immoral. At any given time, we can only judge what it appears to be, or appears to have been. Only an ultimate objective evaluator can judge an act's ultimate objective value.
But, rather than look at judgments, let's back up and look at the ontological facts, that are being judged. Some acts cause a greater amount of happiness than unhappiness in their total spere of influence. Some acts cause the opposite. The greatest possible sphere of influence is the universe. The ratio of happiness to unhappiness in the universe is an objective fact. The ratio at any given time is a fact; and the ratio for the entire existence of the universe is a fact. Nobody needs to know what it is in order for it to be a fact. If a willful act causes a greater amount of happiness than unhappiness in the universe, that act was, objectively good regardless of how it, or its appearance, is judged.
But was it moral? Not necessarily. The morality of an act is based not on the results of the act, but on the intent of the actor. If you intentionally save a kid's life, that's a moral act. If the kid grows up to be a serial killer, the morality of your act is not diminished. So, if an act is motivated by the intent to increase happiness in the universe (or decrease unhappiness), that act is moral - regardless of its results, and regardless of how it is judged.
In two sentences, objective morality is grounded in the intent to tip the ratio of happiness to unhappiness in the universe in the direction of happiness. The objective evaluator is the sum total of all things in the universe that feel happiness and unhappiness. That right there establishes the existence of objective morality in an atheistic universe, and that's all you need to win the basic argument.
However, it immediately reveals points that need to be clarified, and generates emergent issues that need to be addressed.
How an act is known to be moral or immoral is another issue. We humans (theist or atheist) claim to know that some acts are moral and other acts are immoral, with a gray area in the middle. But most us agree that there is no category of acts that is always moral or immoral. We can easily think of hypotheticals to disprove any such claim to universality. If you have to torture a baby in order to prevent a nuclear holocaust, then it's moral in that instance to torture a baby - Unless the nuclear holocaust somehow causes greater hapiness in the universe. You don't want Craig accusing you of speciesism, like he did to Harris.
What if humans are inherently unhappy creatures? - and they necessarily bring down the total happiness in the universe? Then humans should not exist. No problem. Unless their absence would cause a greater amount of unhappiness in the remaining emotion feelers.
Note that the objective goodness of an act is based on its effect on the total happiness level in the universe, not on the majority opinion of all moral evaluators. The entire set of evaluators may be wrong about what what will ultimately cause them the most happiness. But whatever causes the most happiness is automatically good whether it is judged as good or not. Any act that is intended to cause the most happiness is necessarily moral whether it succeeds or not, and whether it is judged moral or not.
How do you know if a particular act is beneficial to the universe? You don't. And you don't need to. You can't be held accountable for knowing. The best any of us can do is to do what we believe to be moral, based on our level of moral awareness at the time of decision. In that, theists and atheists are perfectly equal.
There will be other emergent issues, but no need to address them now. OK, I'm a theist. Why should I give a damn about helping atheists win this argument? Because it's a step in the direction of right thinking. And it will force the theists to take counter steps in the direction of right thinking. And the closer both sides get to right thinking, the closer you will all get to my position.