Saturday, May 1, 2010

Richard Dawkins - Absolute Morality

March 8, 2010 on ABC (Australia) - Full Episode


  1. Best defense on this issue that I've heard. Eloquent as always.

  2. R€LIGION $TINKS OF MONE¥May 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    I watched this debate a month a go or so. If anyone wants to bitch slap Tony Burke, the line starts behind me. >:o What a lying, condescending self-righteous prick who can´t handle the truth! Check out part 4 at 8:07 to see what I mean.

  3. I continually try to find the source of arrogance that these religious 'right' people seem to parade all over like a shiny piece of cheap tin.  

    Why is such reverence given to 'moral absolute' in regards to religion?  The question is asked as if it's just assumed that religion is "obviously" correct and all others are wrong.  

    I always ask the question:  The bible got slavery wrong (not a difficult one, mind you), how can you expect religion to be right on anything else?

    The arrogance given to religion as "morally correct" is repulsive.

  4. Hah! "Intelligently designed..." Oh, you are one for the quips, aren't you Dr. Dawkins? Well played, sir.

  5. I'm actually unimpressed.  He just plays to people's assumptions that modenr morality is correct.  Nobody argued out present day morality.  People don't agree on what is and isn't moral, so that shoudl be a clear indication that our morals aren't derived form reasoned arguments.  That's not to say that they shouldn't be, but his argument here doesn't explain why liberal morality is superior to biblical or koranic or whatever other morality.  And as someone who rejects many aspects of liberal morality, this kind of answer just sets off the same "group thought playing to the crowd" alert in my head that religion does.

  6. In his book he makes the case that collectively we all move in with the moral zeitgeist and most people agree on most things. Or something like that.
    It's difficult to argue what is better but to me history is a trial and error and moral opinions tend to go through some sort of evolutionary process just like other things. Not always for the better but it moves on regardless.

  7. <span>Andrew, 
    You falsely assume that if people disagree about morality, they are not using reasoned arguments. Morality depends on believing certain values are important. We do not agree on these values. It's no surprise people working from different premises or from inconsistent premises reach contradictory conclusions. 
    Put another way, if modern morality is absolute, then it contradicts these older absolute moralities that Dawkins described. Therefore, in what since is it absolute? Isn't timelessness isn't part of what absolute means</span>

  8. @Andrew:  Your assumptions are very wrong, and I'm trying to figure out why you assume we can't agree on morality.  It's 2010.  Do you not agree that we all think slavery is wrong?  Morally, we don't argue this point any more.  And getting to this point was hindered by the bible, which explained in explicit detail how to own slaves, how to mark them (with an awl), and if it is required to beat them, it's okay if they die, as long as it's not the same day as the beating.

    Surely you can't argue that morally we agree on the barbarism of slavery and it was NOT the bible that helped us here.

    Since you've clearly missed history class, in the US we fought a bloody civil war 150 years ago with family members killing each other over this issue. This is EXACTLY an example of us 'arguing' morality in the modern day.

    Don't assume things.  This is why i asked before, why does religion get this special 'get out of jail free' card on morality when they really have none.  Yes, there are good bits in the bible.  Yes there are bad bits in the bible.  If you think the bible is a moral compass, why must you use your own internal compass to judge all of those bits.

    Can you not see that morality is coming from outside the bible?

    Your assumption and attitude are widespread and why we have so far to go to circumcise the supposed moral value from the penis with which religious people seem to pee all over everything. 

  9. re: internal compass

    One could also point out that even with the same bible the religious cannot even among themselves agree about what is right and wrong...

  10. Yes.  They don't really seem to understand that there is a problem there, either.

    How they rectify it in their mind and think they're sane is very difficult for me to understand.

  11. I would agree that morality evolves in a fashion.  But that isn't what Dawkins claimed here.  He almost made it seem as if morality could be derived directly from reason without a base premise (or perhaps with a premise that his simply assuming and not stating here.)  I've heard Dawkins do much better explainations of aspects of morality beofore, I'm jsut unimpressed with this answer, as it didn't really answer the question and jsut played to the assumptions of people who already agree with him.  Not his best work, and not the place to employ group thought tactics either.

  12. You are correct, the discrepancies could simply be that we disagree on the base premises of morality.  But Dawkins didn't share his premise(s) here did he?  So then he really didn't answer the question.

  13. Wow Jimmy, what a straw man.

    Where did I say I think slavery is acceptabel?

    Where did I say that morality comes form the bible? (Not a Christian by the way)

    If you would like to know what I disagree with most secular humanists on (morally) then I'll gladly share, but please don't make such assumptions and assert that I'm ignorant of history.  It really doesn't reflect well on you, not me.

  14. It doesn't reflect poorly on me, unless you can't understand what you wrote.  Inferring from your comment:
    "Nobody argued out present day morality"
    I gave proof via our bloody civil war of 1 example where we DID argue morality.

    I never claimed you were a Christian, but I did infer based on your text. In order for us to have morality today (under your claim that we didn't "argue it out"), the only alternative, would be that we were given morality.  If you're on the side that we didn't argue morality through secular means (your statement), then I have to infer that you claim we get morality from religious texts.  This is regardless of whether or not you are religious.  That has no bearing here.  

    This was my logic based on your claims.  I did not make anything up about what you said.

  15. If your definition of the term 'argument' is so broad as to include the civil war, then you are right.  I just don't agree that your definition of argument was what Dawkins meant in this clip, and if it was then it wasn't stated very clearly.

  16. Best defense? It was a simple yes or no question which Dawkins completely dodged and failed to even answer.

  17. Did you even listen to the question???  He starts it with "Considering atheism cannot have any sense of morality".

    And you say what follows is just a yes/no question?  His assumption is wrong (American law, for example, is secular, not religious) so his question doesn't even get an answer.  His assumptions are what Richard attacks.

    It would be like saying, "Since super beings are obviously real based on the number of people that believe in Gods around the planet, doesn't that also then mean that pink unicorns and tooth fairies must also exist?"

    Stupid questions don't deserve to be treated with respect and Richard does a fairly good job of not making the questioner feel like a complete fool.