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is atheism compatible with objective morality

Benshapiro
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7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."

In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?

Weigh in.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity
Envisage
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7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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7/21/2015 6:53:32 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity

There's no obligation to act morally in that instance.
Benshapiro
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7/21/2015 6:54:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM, Envisage wrote:
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.

I'm using the definitions of the words given in the dictionary.
Envisage
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7/21/2015 6:55:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:54:12 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM, Envisage wrote:
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.

I'm using the definitions of the words given in the dictionary.

Then, according to those definitions, objective morality is explicitly incoherent.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/21/2015 6:57:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:53:32 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity

There's no obligation to act morally in that instance.

And that is true because... You said so?

Your definition of morality did not include anything to do with obligations anyway - so this point is a red herring. And if you did define morality in terms of obligations, then simply apply my same arguments to that same definition, and yield the same conclusion - viola - you have a possible "objective obligation".
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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7/21/2015 6:58:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:55:04 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:54:12 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM, Envisage wrote:
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.

I'm using the definitions of the words given in the dictionary.

Then, according to those definitions, objective morality is explicitly incoherent.

Unpleasantness and undesirability is inherently subjective? Is it subjectively undesirable to be burned to death?
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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7/21/2015 7:03:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:57:30 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:53:32 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity

There's no obligation to act morally in that instance.

And that is true because... You said so?

How could a mindless thing have any morally obligatory influence over my purpose in life? It couldn't.

Your definition of morality did not include anything to do with obligations anyway - so this point is a red herring. And if you did define morality in terms of obligations, then simply apply my same arguments to that same definition, and yield the same conclusion - viola - you have a possible "objective obligation".

Objective morality without obligation is contradictory. If people aren't obligated it's not objective in the first place.
SNP1
Posts: 2,403
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7/21/2015 7:03:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Again, yes. Axiarchism is compatible with both atheism and theism and includes the concept of objective morality. Now, whether axiarchism is correct or not is a different story.
#TheApatheticNihilistPartyofAmerica
#WarOnDDO
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/21/2015 7:03:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:58:52 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:55:04 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:54:12 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM, Envisage wrote:
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.

I'm using the definitions of the words given in the dictionary.

Then, according to those definitions, objective morality is explicitly incoherent.

Unpleasantness and undesirability is inherently subjective?

Yes, because it has to be unpleasant or undesirable to something/someone for it to make any grammatical sense.

Is it subjectively undesirable to be burned to death?

Yes. It may be undesirable to the person being burned alive, or to those who have their disgust responses triggered by reading about it.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/21/2015 7:07:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 7:03:04 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:57:30 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:53:32 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity

There's no obligation to act morally in that instance.

And that is true because... You said so?

How could a mindless thing have any morally obligatory influence over my purpose in life? It couldn't.

Appeal to personal (and ironically, subjective) incredulity. I told you in my OP this is the only argument you have. And it is not a "thing", but a factual truth assuming objective morality. Just because you do not subjectively feel a moral obligation, doesn't change the fact it is there.

Your definition of morality did not include anything to do with obligations anyway - so this point is a red herring. And if you did define morality in terms of obligations, then simply apply my same arguments to that same definition, and yield the same conclusion - viola - you have a possible "objective obligation".

Objective morality without obligation is contradictory.

Is this another thing you are making up out of thin air?

If people aren't obligated it's not objective in the first place.

How the hell is that an argument? The fact that 2+2=4 isn't objective because people aren't obligated? How does that make any sense? Back up this absurd assertion of yours and stop conjuring.
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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7/21/2015 7:20:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 7:03:23 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:58:52 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:55:04 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:54:12 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:52:51 PM, Envisage wrote:
But then, the way you have defined morality (in terms of approval/desirability/unwelcomability/unpleasentness) you have already defined morality in explicitly subjective terms, thus objective morality here is incompatible with atheism or theism, as it is incoherent, or oxymoronic.

I'm using the definitions of the words given in the dictionary.

Then, according to those definitions, objective morality is explicitly incoherent.

Unpleasantness and undesirability is inherently subjective?

Yes, because it has to be unpleasant or undesirable to something/someone for it to make any grammatical sense.

It seems you're making the unstated assumption that *all* feelings that humans experience are subjective. Is that true?

Is it subjectively undesirable to be burned to death?

Yes. It may be undesirable to the person being burned alive, or to those who have their disgust responses triggered by reading about it.

So that's supposed to mean it's subjective?
j50wells
Posts: 345
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7/21/2015 7:24:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
There is no objective morality. There never has been one and never will be. You claim to know objective morality because it is the morality that you were taught as a child. You were also brought up in a culture that celebrates those moralities that you hold dear.
If there were an objective morality it would summed up like this: Don't Kill, Don't Rape, and Don't Steal. Every culture on planet earth practices these three commandments, even those cultures who don't have a Bible or Koran, or Vedic Text. These three commandments are the objective commandments because without them, no culture would not have survived and so no culture would be in existence. Cultures that didn't practice these commands died off and are no longer around. You can't have a culture where rape and murder are allowed, and where a bigger guy can stomp you on the head and take the fish that you just caught.
Morals are really just ideas that we came up with about living right. It took us awhile to figure morals out because we had to wait until our brains evolved enough to be able to understand what the word moral even meant. But even though we didn't understand these things thousands of years ago, we still practiced them. How do I know? Because animals practice these same commandments.
Ever wonder why it is that animals who are murderous and barbaric usually travel in small packs or by themselves? Yet social, herd animals don't kill and steal from each other. Are you seeing a pattern here? We as humans learned that sticking together like herd animals was better for our survival. We learned that raping, killing, and stealing were bad ways to live. We saw that herd animals, such as elk or antelope didn't rape or kill or steal, except in extreme cases such as in mating rituals or certain disagreements.
We saw how the animal acted and also used our own brains to figure morals out. As we evolved even more we came up with more morals. The moral premise against fornication was actually a made up moral that was necessary during a time when there wasn't very good birth control. Tribes understood the dangers of a woman becoming pregnant without a man by her side to protect her and her offspring, so fornication was frowned upon. There are other morals that we follow, not because they are evil, but because they are good ideas.
For instance, it's not a good idea to verbally assault people. Why? Because someone could get pissed off and someone could end up dead. We figured this out many years ago. So when a youngster, who didn't know much about anything yet, started lipping off to people, his parents disciplined him and taught him to be respectful of others. They did this for his own protection because they didn't want to see him be killed or seriously injured by someone who may have taken his lip personally. Almost all of our morals were worked out in that way. They evolved over time, until they became social norms and customs.
Eventually, when agriculture grew in size, great cities were built. It was at this time that life-long marriages became customary. Prior to that time people just stayed together because they wanted to. If they didn't like each other anymore they parted company. But agriculture brang on a new kind of family unit. The landowners needed peasants to stay on the farms to plant the crops and harvest them. If the landowner could present the farm life as a neat thing, then people would willingly work for him. Marriage and family, and a steady supply of food, was often-times enough of an incentive to get people to stay on the farms for life. The farm life became a way of life, from cradle to the grave. Priests and churches sprouted out of the farm life.
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,966
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7/21/2015 7:24:56 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 7:07:17 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 7:03:04 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:57:30 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:53:32 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:49:05 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Assuming objective morality exists, then God's existence had little to do with whether or not it is possible in principle. Apodictic systems are true starting from axioms regardless of whether or not God exists, and are compatible either way. Assuming that this "objective morality" entails from a similar truth system, then it is true regardless of whether or not God exists, and hence the question of compatibility is a foregone conclusion.

The only arguments to otherwise I have seen are nothing more than appeals to personal incredulity

There's no obligation to act morally in that instance.

And that is true because... You said so?

How could a mindless thing have any morally obligatory influence over my purpose in life? It couldn't.

Appeal to personal (and ironically, subjective) incredulity. I told you in my OP this is the only argument you have. And it is not a "thing", but a factual truth assuming objective morality. Just because you do not subjectively feel a moral obligation, doesn't change the fact it is there.

It's not an appeal to incredulity. Obligation and objectivity go hand in hand. Take, for instance, a set of non-obligatory but objective set of rules. Do you see the contradiction?

Your definition of morality did not include anything to do with obligations anyway - so this point is a red herring. And if you did define morality in terms of obligations, then simply apply my same arguments to that same definition, and yield the same conclusion - viola - you have a possible "objective obligation".

Objective morality without obligation is contradictory.

Is this another thing you are making up out of thin air?

see above

If people aren't obligated it's not objective in the first place.

How the hell is that an argument? The fact that 2+2=4 isn't objective because people aren't obligated? How does that make any sense? Back up this absurd assertion of yours and stop conjuring.

Morality concerns behavior that we ought/ought not to do. Objective morality concerns behavior that we definitively ought/ought not to do.

We are under no obligation, but we definitively ought/ought not to follow a moral framework. It's contradictory.
kp98
Posts: 729
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7/21/2015 7:57:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Note to j50wells - I think you'd get more people to read your posts if they were broken down into manageable paragraphs. Its almost physically impossible to read huge wodges of text on a monitor.

"the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."
Atheists, could that be true?


Is slavery wrong? I think so, but I might not have done if I was a Kentucky cotton farmer a couple of hundred years ago. So was slavery not wrong 200 years ago, or were most people 200 years ago unaware or mistaken about its wrongness?

On the basis of arguments like that - which are quite independent of theism or atheism - it seems that objective morality may well exist after all.

Of course the idea that slavery is bad reflects the 'morality of our age' - it may not reflect anything objective. But somehow I don't buy that. I think there is an objective Platonic morality ideal which our various moral systems approach with various degrees of accuracy, just as actual circles approximate to the perfect Platonic circle.

I think we are closer to the 'ideal of platonic morality' - at least in in regard to slavery - today than ante-bellum Kentucky was.

We have a 'moral sense' - we sense things to be good or bad; we don't calculate it. That moral sense gives us clues - glimpses - of the perfect form of morality, but it may take a long time before our practical morality matches the platonic ideal.
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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7/21/2015 8:32:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

No, and the same is true for a theistic worldview whether theists admit it or not.

Objective morality is itself an oxymoron. Morality, by definition (including yours), requires a basis for which actions are to be evaluated against. That basis however can never be anything but subjective, and claiming that there is a superman in the sky who will kick our a$$ if we do not use him as our basis does not change that fact.
kp98
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7/22/2015 3:19:37 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Objective morality is itself an oxymoron.
I don't agree. In my view slavery was wrong even if people didn't think so at the time.

I take the view that slavery supporters were mistaken about an objective moral fact, just as they were mistaken about the objective physical fact that, say, the world isn't flat (or whatever example pleases you more).

If it possbile to be mistaken about a physical fact then why can't someone be mistaken about a moral fact?

Of course it is possible to insist that 'slavery is bad' is just a matter of opinion but that gets silly - it the badness of the holocaust or pedophilia really only a matter of opinion?

Why can't it be that some peope are just making a mistake? It seems that people are all to ready to say people make mistakes about every thing else - I am sure someone will say I am making a mistake in this post. But the same person would have to say I can't do anything objectively bad. So my sleeping with his wife and murdering his kids wasn't neither good or bad - it's just a matter of opinion.
kp98
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7/22/2015 3:22:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
A repost with an edit for clarity.

Objective morality is itself an oxymoron.
I don't agree. In my view slavery was wrong even if people didn't think so at the time.


I take the view that slavery supporters were mistaken about an objective moral fact, just as they were mistaken about the objective physical fact that, say, the world isn't flat (or whatever example pleases you more).

If it possbile to be mistaken about a physical fact then why can't someone be mistaken about a moral fact?

Of course it is possible to insist that 'slavery is bad' is just a matter of opinion but that gets silly - it the badness of the holocaust or pedophilia really only a matter of opinion?

Why can't it be that slavery supporters are just making a mistake in the same way flat-earthers are making a mistake? It seems that people are all to ready to say people make mistakes about every thing else - I am sure someone will say I am making a mistake in this post. But the same person would have to say I can't do anything objectively bad. So my sleeping with his wife and murdering his kids wasn't neither good or bad - it's just a matter of opinion.
RuvDraba
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7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?

Having been invoked, (as HP Lovecraft would say Do not call up that which you cannot put down), let me offer a simple exploration for members to reflect upon.

To simplify matters, I want to restrict Ben's definition of morality to ignore right and wrong (which might also invoke ethics, law and custom), and just focus for a moment on what we think is good.

Can we find a significant, enduring society in the whole of human history which:

* Would not prefer to be fed, watered, sheltered and healthy than not? If not, then may we consider food, water, shelter and health intrinsic human interests?
* Would not rather have a friend for a neighbour than an enemy? If not, can we not consider cooperation and security intrinsic human concerns?
* When presented with the prolonged and evident suffering of a friend, neighbour, or loved one, would not evidence concern? If not, then may we consider compassion an intrinsic human trait?
* When presented with the achievement of a son, daughter, niece, nephew or friend's child, would not celebrate? If not, then may we consider the growth of agency a major human objectives?

If we can consider a concern for food, water, shelter, health, cooperation, security, compassion and the growth of agency to be normative interests spanning human cultures and history, is there any reason we should not consider these a shared concern of our species?

Is there any regard in which they cannot be scientifically explored?

If not, then is there any sense in which they cannot be given an objective, evidentiary and accountable footing?

If not, then have we not just defined a common, objective moral core?

I hope this may interest.
JMcKinley
Posts: 314
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7/22/2015 7:17:02 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Yes there is such a thing as objective morality. And it is compatible with an atheistic worldview.

Anything done to intentionally harm or infringe on the rights of others against their will is objectively immoral. The exceptions being acting in self defense or in the defense of those who can not defend themselves, and acting as an agent of justice.

But objective morality can not encompass all of morality. Much of our morals are inherently subjective and there is nothing we can do to change that.

For example, is the execution of a mass murderer/rapist moral? I would say yes because I believe that is fair punishment for the crime. But many people would disagree with me. The torture of that person is immoral to me, but to many around the world, torture would be an appropriate punishment for such heinous crimes. What is fair punishment? How much punishment is appropriate for any given crime is subjective and depends very much on the specifics of each situation.

So yes, I would say that objective morality exists, but it does not describe the whole of morality.
JMcKinley
Posts: 314
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7/22/2015 7:20:26 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?

Having been invoked, (as HP Lovecraft would say Do not call up that which you cannot put down), let me offer a simple exploration for members to reflect upon.

To simplify matters, I want to restrict Ben's definition of morality to ignore right and wrong (which might also invoke ethics, law and custom), and just focus for a moment on what we think is good.

Can we find a significant, enduring society in the whole of human history which:

* Would not prefer to be fed, watered, sheltered and healthy than not? If not, then may we consider food, water, shelter and health intrinsic human interests?
* Would not rather have a friend for a neighbour than an enemy? If not, can we not consider cooperation and security intrinsic human concerns?
* When presented with the prolonged and evident suffering of a friend, neighbour, or loved one, would not evidence concern? If not, then may we consider compassion an intrinsic human trait?
* When presented with the achievement of a son, daughter, niece, nephew or friend's child, would not celebrate? If not, then may we consider the growth of agency a major human objectives?

If we can consider a concern for food, water, shelter, health, cooperation, security, compassion and the growth of agency to be normative interests spanning human cultures and history, is there any reason we should not consider these a shared concern of our species?

Is there any regard in which they cannot be scientifically explored?

If not, then is there any sense in which they cannot be given an objective, evidentiary and accountable footing?

If not, then have we not just defined a common, objective moral core?

I hope this may interest.

I liked that. I was thinking along the same lines but couldn't figure out how to express it intelligently. Thanks for sharing.
Benshapiro
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7/22/2015 10:59:18 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 7:03:20 PM, SNP1 wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Again, yes. Axiarchism is compatible with both atheism and theism and includes the concept of objective morality. Now, whether axiarchism is correct or not is a different story.

I'd like to hear a defense of this in a few sentences. Just because a term for a concept exists doesn't give it merit.

I could say Chufism negates the laws of logic. Just because it's a term that means something meaningless doesn't give it merit. I remember reading a paper of axiarchism and literally, in the 20 page+ defense, all it said was that objective morality "just exists" like mathematics, laws of logic, etc.,
Benshapiro
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7/22/2015 11:04:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/21/2015 8:32:26 PM, Double_R wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

No, and the same is true for a theistic worldview whether theists admit it or not.

I can see logic behind this if everything that exists in the mind is subjective. If a mind can be objective then it doesn't hold.

Objective morality is itself an oxymoron. Morality, by definition (including yours), requires a basis for which actions are to be evaluated against. That basis however can never be anything but subjective, and claiming that there is a superman in the sky who will kick our a$$ if we do not use him as our basis does not change that fact.

Why can't God's mind be the standard? And if God remains objective, where is your rebuttal?
Benshapiro
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7/22/2015 12:22:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?

Having been invoked, (as HP Lovecraft would say Do not call up that which you cannot put down), let me offer a simple exploration for members to reflect upon.

To simplify matters, I want to restrict Ben's definition of morality to ignore right and wrong (which might also invoke ethics, law and custom), and just focus for a moment on what we think is good.

Can we find a significant, enduring society in the whole of human history which:

* Would not prefer to be fed, watered, sheltered and healthy than not? If not, then may we consider food, water, shelter and health intrinsic human interests?
* Would not rather have a friend for a neighbour than an enemy? If not, can we not consider cooperation and security intrinsic human concerns?
* When presented with the prolonged and evident suffering of a friend, neighbour, or loved one, would not evidence concern? If not, then may we consider compassion an intrinsic human trait?
* When presented with the achievement of a son, daughter, niece, nephew or friend's child, would not celebrate? If not, then may we consider the growth of agency a major human objectives?

If we can consider a concern for food, water, shelter, health, cooperation, security, compassion and the growth of agency to be normative interests spanning human cultures and history, is there any reason we should not consider these a shared concern of our species?

Is there any regard in which they cannot be scientifically explored?

If not, then is there any sense in which they cannot be given an objective, evidentiary and accountable footing?

If not, then have we not just defined a common, objective moral core?

I hope this may interest.

Thanks Ruv. I agree to the extent that these common needs lay the foundation for a moral framework but it doesn't tell us what ought to be done regarding those needs. What *is* needs to be separated from *ought* if we're to advocate for any kind of moral framework.

We find those things to be objectively, or innately good. Why ought we to do good? Who is obliged? If we are obliged. according to whom?

Anything "morally good" only references (1) the disposition or (2) will of a mind.

For (1) Objectively good dispositions are: humility, compassion, courage, selflessness, perseverance, ambition, patience, etc., *All* objectively good dispositions reference the mind. There is no such thing as these morally good things existing apart from it.

For (2) the will is basically to impose the good dispositions. Sacrificing your life so that others may live, donating to charity, doing volunteer work, spreading messages of kindness to others, etc.

So, my question to you is, how can anything be objectively morally good if the goodness of such actions exists apart from the human mind?
RuvDraba
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7/22/2015 1:55:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 12:22:26 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
If we can consider a concern for food, water, shelter, health, cooperation, security, compassion and the growth of agency to be normative interests spanning human cultures and history, is there any reason we should not consider these a shared concern of our species?

Is there any regard in which they cannot be scientifically explored?

If not, then is there any sense in which they cannot be given an objective, evidentiary and accountable footing?

If not, then have we not just defined a common, objective moral core?

Thanks Ruv. I agree to the extent that these common needs lay the foundation for a moral framework but it doesn't tell us what ought to be done regarding those needs.

That's true, Ben. The 'ought' question speaks to our social strategies, our ethics and hence our laws. Our strategies at least, will need to be contextual, which means that our laws may be too -- I'll cover strategy and law first, then get to ethics later.

Compare (say) an Antarctic science station with an average suburban home. At home, nobody may comment if you eat the last piece of pie, or don't maintain your car. But in Antarctica, where many people suffer seasonal affective disorders, eating someone else's slice of pie could send them into suicidal depression, while not maintaining a vehicle could be lethal. The strategies used to survive in Antarctica are different, which means the rules and customs for cooperation and mutual care must be different too.

Law must support our survival strategy, which means it must be contextual. However, a law that serves its community is tied to that community's common moral core (already discussed), and may need to be reviewed as circumstances and strategies change.

What about ethics then? We can think of ethics as the principles of responsibility that follow our awareness of our moral impacts.

If our common moral core is built upon ensuring the abundance of quality food, water, shelter, health, cooperation, security, compassion and growth, then what are our responsibilities for ensuring that ours is a better society with us than without us?

It doesn't take much reflection to realise that stealing food, contaminating drinking water, displacing people from their homes, maintaining poor sanitation, failing to help a distressed neighbour, or report a crime, being indifferent to suffering, lying to kids or terrifying them, is not making a better society. And when we think about what these failings have in common, we can begin to extract some ethical principles that we feel should apply universally even as our laws, customs and knowledge change.

A good example is the Ethic of Reciprocity -- known in Christian thought as the Golden Rule, but which appears far more broadly: in Babylon, ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, India. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" explains why taking food from a hungry man is unethical, regardless of whether there is law or custom against it. We have agreed that food and compassion are both moral concerns, and the ethic of reciprocity says that another man's hunger is our concern too. [https://en.wikipedia.org...]

Such an ethic is so evidently transcultural, transfaith and nontheological that virtually all religions (and many nonreligious life philosophies) can sign up to it immediately, whether or not they are based on theology. Running since 1893, The Parliament of the World's Religions [https://en.wikipedia.org...] in its centenary was able to make four affirmations of shared principles considered essential to a Global Ethic, namely commitment to a culture of:

1. non-violence and respect for life;
2. solidarity and a just economic order;
3. tolerance and a life of truthfulness; and
4 equal rights and partnership between men and women.

[http://www.religioustolerance.org...]

The initial declaration was signed by 143 leaders from all the world's major faiths, including Baha'i, Brahmanism, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Neo-Pagan, Sikhism, Taoism, Theosophist, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian, and has subsequently been signed by thousands more leaders.

So Ben, if we agree that a common, pragmatic, compassionate and objective moral core is straightforward to produce, here too then is also the core of a shared human ethic -- one that embraces theological perspectives, but which is not itself born of any theology.

So what do we have here? I think we have:

1) A compassionate, pragmatic, objective moral core;
2) A shared, interfaith and nonfaith ethical core; and
3) Recognition that individual strategies may require laws to implement these elements differently, while at the same time upholding them in principle and fact.

I think we have the bones of a shared human morality that nevertheless admits reasonable and necessary diversity; that accepts theological perspectives while not demanding or privileging them.

Don't you?
Benshapiro
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7/22/2015 8:01:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 1:55:23 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/22/2015 12:22:26 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
It seems as though you're addressing the question of "ought" as a question of implementation.

I agree that the morality/immorality of certain actions depends on the context of the situation. Objective morality does vary depending on context - in contrast with moral absolutism.

I agree that laws are in place to support our survival strategy but are subject to revision depending on circumstances.

You said that ethics are the principles of responsibility that follow our awareness of moral impacts. Would a person who didn't get caught for a violation of ethics still be held morally responsible?

Our moral core caters to our needs of survival. That can't be the whole story though. Altruism? Any act of compassion without expectation of reciprocity? Self-sacrifice? These are moral acts that don't offer any benefit to survival.

You said that stealing, poor health, poor living conditions, dishonesty, lack of empathy etc., does not make a better society. If a person desires to live as a lying theif, in poor health, in poor living conditions, and doesn't give a damn about anyone else, is he still living immorally? What if he lived in a society of others that shared his same mindset? Would that change the immorality of such actions?

The golden rule is interesting, but doesn't give the full story. Many people who kill, rob, and rape don't give a damn about what happens to them. If the golden rule is true, it's proper and ethical for somebody that's suicidal to kill another person. Do unto others as they would have them do unto you. Or a pervert with a submissive/dominate rape fetish who is willing to rape and be raped. Clearly, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you isn't the whole story and can't fully explain what underlies our moral code.

Many world religions and leaders are on board with such ethics. Consensus on moral ideals has 0 effect on objective morality if true, however.

We can trace shared values and ideals that lay the groundwork for morality/ethics/law back to the earliest of human origins. Just one problem: what about the person who doesn't share those ideals or values? What if somebody believes that it isn't wrong to steal, rape, or murder and finds himself in a society that believes likewise? Is he still immoral for doing such things?

Theology has no bearing on our innate moral awareness. That I'll agree with. Maybe it's all a product of instinct. Logically, however, theology is the only option that binds and validates an objective moral code.

There is no obligating, imperative, binding force on any objective moral code unless the code is derivative from God's disposition or will as an arbiter of human purpose. All "morally good" things don't exist apart from mind. All morally good things reference the (1) disposition or (2) will of mind. So, how can objective morality exist if it's referencing a mind apart from our minds?
SNP1
Posts: 2,403
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7/22/2015 8:42:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 10:59:18 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 7:03:20 PM, SNP1 wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

Again, yes. Axiarchism is compatible with both atheism and theism and includes the concept of objective morality. Now, whether axiarchism is correct or not is a different story.

I'd like to hear a defense of this in a few sentences. Just because a term for a concept exists doesn't give it merit.

I could say Chufism negates the laws of logic. Just because it's a term that means something meaningless doesn't give it merit. I remember reading a paper of axiarchism and literally, in the 20 page+ defense, all it said was that objective morality "just exists" like mathematics, laws of logic, etc.,

So, your objection to axiarchism is that it is axiarchism?
Axiarchism works under the assumption that moral truths are necessary, similarly to how theism works under the assumption that god is necessary.
#TheApatheticNihilistPartyofAmerica
#WarOnDDO
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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7/22/2015 9:09:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 11:04:33 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/21/2015 8:32:26 PM, Double_R wrote:
At 7/21/2015 6:40:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My intuition is that most atheists will answer "no" to this question. If not, why?

Some atheists, such a Ruv, feel that this issue has long been settled. He believes that morality can be (and is) objective in an atheistic worldview.

Objective: "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

Morality: "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

Good: "to be desired or approved of."

Bad: "not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome."


In other words, objective morality means "the morality of certain actions exists independently of our subjective assessment."

Atheists, could that be true?


Weigh in.

No, and the same is true for a theistic worldview whether theists admit it or not.

I can see logic behind this if everything that exists in the mind is subjective. If a mind can be objective then it doesn't hold.

Objective morality is itself an oxymoron. Morality, by definition (including yours), requires a basis for which actions are to be evaluated against. That basis however can never be anything but subjective, and claiming that there is a superman in the sky who will kick our a$$ if we do not use him as our basis does not change that fact.

Why can't God's mind be the standard? And if God remains objective, where is your rebuttal?

To be objective is literally to be true independent of the mind. If that's not your definition then please tell me what you are calling objective, and please make it coherent.
RuvDraba
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7/22/2015 10:23:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/22/2015 8:01:15 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/22/2015 1:55:23 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 7/22/2015 12:22:26 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 7/22/2015 6:09:02 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
It seems as though you're addressing the question of "ought" as a question of implementation.

I agree that the morality/immorality of certain actions depends on the context of the situation. Objective morality does vary depending on context - in contrast with moral absolutism.

I agree that laws are in place to support our survival strategy but are subject to revision depending on circumstances.

You said that ethics are the principles of responsibility that follow our awareness of moral impacts. Would a person who didn't get caught for a violation of ethics still be held morally responsible?

You mean, without metaphysical threat -- Karma, a divine supervisor and so on?

There's evidence that if we think we're observed, we behave slightly better than if we think we don't. But there's very little evidence to show that metaphysical belief produces more ethical behaviour in itself, some decent evidence to show that it doesn't, and plenty of evidence to show that the rule of law is more effective than religion in maintaining social order anyway.

Moreover, that argument is off-topic, since it's an argument that theology is useful, not that atheism is incompatible with objective morality.

Our moral core caters to our needs of survival. That can't be the whole story though. Altruism? Any act of compassion without expectation of reciprocity? Self-sacrifice? These are moral acts that don't offer any benefit to survival.
Actually, emerging science shows that they probably do. Happy to explore that more if interested.

You said that stealing, poor health, poor living conditions, dishonesty, lack of empathy etc., does not make a better society. If a person desires to live as a lying theif, in poor health, in poor living conditions, and doesn't give a damn about anyone else, is he still living immorally? What if he lived in a society of others that shared his same mindset? Would that change the immorality of such actions?

I wonder if you're conflating unethical behaviour (e.g. stealing for food we need from other hungry people) with immoral behaviour (e.g. stealing just to harm people we hate.)

The golden rule is interesting, but doesn't give the full story. Many people who kill, rob, and rape don't give a damn about what happens to them.
That's right. The golden rule doesn't give the full story: there's a lot more to ethical thought than that. On the other hand, ethics are largely about what we do when unobserved and unaccountable, so people who'll do anything when unobserved won't be bound by ethics.

We can trace shared values and ideals that lay the groundwork for morality/ethics/law back to the earliest of human origins. Just one problem: what about the person who doesn't share those ideals or values?
You tell me, Ben: what do we do when, despite moral education, ethical advice and deterrence, people behave in ways that harm others?

Logically, however, theology is the only option that binds and validates an objective moral code.
The claim that an objective theological morality is necessary is not a refutation -- it's a counter-claim.

Moreover, it's a flawed counter-claim for many reasons. Consider:
1) What makes a theological morality objective when there are multiple faiths in the world, the canon and validity of any scripture is contested, and its interpretation is inherently subjective?
2) If theology invalidates its claims of truth by revelation (as it often does), what happens to the credibility of any moral code it upholds?
3) Can theology maintain coherence and cohesion over time? If so, why so many schisms? If not, what happens to any moral code it upholds?
4) Can theology enforce belief? If so, how? If not, what happens to any moral code it upholds?
5) Is the world likely to come to a single theological consensus in any forseeable time? If not, what does that do to any hope of theologically-grounded, objective moral code?
6) Is there any evidence that theology is more effective than the rule of law in preventing bad behaviour? If not, why do we need it?
7) How can theological morality be revised in the face of growing knowledge and insight? Who has the authority to do that, and on what objective basis could it be accomplished? Or if it isn't revised, how can it avoid being invalidated?

Note that the answers to these questions are off-topic, since they address the question: is an objective theological morality even viable? But until you show it's viable, you can hardly claim it's necessary.

There is no obligating, imperative, binding force on any objective moral code unless the code is derivative from God's disposition or will as an arbiter of human purpose.
Even if you believe that, there's no unifying world theology, no objective basis for identifying the canon of any particular faith, no objective basis for interpreting scripture, no objective basis for updating scripture, and no likelihood of any of that ever occurring. Moreover, many of the worst human behaviours are undertaken beneath claims of theological authority anyway, so it's hardly an assurance of ethical or moral behaviour.

You seem to be arguing that theology is morally useful, but you haven't argued that an objective theological morality is viable, necessary, or sufficient. Your contention has taken you far from the original question of whether atheism is compatible with objective morality and essentially substituted a topic you want to talk about for the one you actually said you'd be talking about.