on morality and pure practical reason

Fear is the mother of morality. Friedrich Nietzsche

In his post, Howie quoted a comment by a christian who believes whatever god commands, is good regardless of what we think about it. If anything, the christian in question is consistent. In this post, the theist thinks he has shown that reason is helpless in guiding us on how to live with each other.

He writes

Objective morals are those morals that are based outside of yourself. Subjective morals are those that depend on you, your situation, your culture, and your preferences. Subjective morals change, can become contradictory, and might differ from person to person. This is the best that atheism has to offer us as a worldview.

and I must ask that he lists just one such objective moral. I am patient and will wait.

In talking of pure practical reason, I can only believe he is referring to Kant who argued

act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law

there are no mentions of deities.

When James writes

Because when you remove God from the equation, you remove the standard by which all moral truth is established.

I must say he has gone off the rails completely. Morality, whatever it is, only makes sense to organisms living in community. It is relational. And only a blind person would be unable to see this. Men, having formulated morals made gods speak the same laws in order they be obeyed. When Solon and Lycurgus, the great lawgivers of the Greeks, formulated laws, they didn’t claim divine assistance.

I can only say he misrepresents atheists when he writes

To an atheist, lying, cheating, stealing, not harming others, and maximizing utility have to be reduced to mere phenomena that can, if the atheist so decides, have subjective moral values assigned to them. Yes, atheists can say that we all should want to help society function properly, and that it does not benefit society as a whole to lie, cheat, steal, harm others…

which as you can see are relational. Without relations, such things as lying, stealing and harming others make no sense. It is such accusation that makes me wonder are some people so blind? Any society where harming others is the norm is one that would not survive. Natural selection will eliminate it.

He says reason cannot guide us and then presents this

For example, I think everyone reading this, including those who shun objective morality, would agree that a judge sending a man he knew was innocent to prison would be wrong, especially wrong if you consider that prisoners often suffer needlessly horribly at the hands of other prisoners.

and why? Because reason tells us it is unjust to punish an innocent person, especially when you know them to be so unless of course you are god then you can kill all firstborn sons for the infractions of the king and command rapine because you can. If you are god, stopping the sun for a few hours so your favourite can massacre a whole population is very much moral.

Morality, I submit, only makes sense without gods because then we are able to understand that it is relational. We have no way of knowing what gods want but we can know how to relate with one another. Only a person blinded by his religion would not see this. So When Wally Fry comments thus

I am so far from a philosopher it is not even funny. These deep debates everybody has about the philosophy of morality just zips over me sometimes. On the other hand, deep philosophy is not needed to get the gist of morality; even a child can get it. No standard=equals no true morality. Standard=standard giver=God. It’s really not difficult to comprehend.

I can confidently say he is dumb as soup [Thanks Ark].

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “on morality and pure practical reason

  1. I’m offended. I firmly hold the belief that Minestrone soup is much more intelligent than this Howie guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. themodernidiot says:

    If God is the standard then I’m gonna go push some old people in front of cars and steal candy from babies.


  3. James must spin that argument once every couple of weeks. In a simpler form it reads:

    1. Here’s something we all can agree is messed up.

    I don’t need a deity to tell me something’s messed up. I do need a deity to convince me that all powerful supernatural beings really care about gay pizza and unmarried couples living together in sin.


    • makagutu says:

      And he doesn’t improve regardless of the number of times it is shown to be faulty.
      And that others find him reasonable is an indictment on the general intelligence of the majority

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Arkenaten says:

    Excellent , Mak. A superb take on this issue. And so simple.


    • makagutu says:

      Thanks Ark.
      I think it is reasonable to call this guy unreasonable. He has abandoned reason


      • john zande says:

        …for unreasonable reasons only he can say 😉


      • Arkenaten says:

        I would agree. But this is how all such people come across as.
        There is little to be gained form debating and certainly not attempting t reason, but ne can only hope that the dialogue is monitored by” lurkers” who might otherwise believe their nonsense.
        Oh, btw, ”Dumb as soup” is a line I nicked from the series ,em>Big bang Theory. I think it is quite apt under the circumstances.


        • makagutu says:

          It is appropriate given the circumstances.
          There is no use in debating with such a fellow specifically. You only do it as you would respond to a pastor’s sermon to show where the pastor is misleading the sheeple

          Liked by 1 person

  5. john zande says:

    I too await a theist to give an example of an objective moral truth… and especially one presented in (and only in) their particular religion.


  6. Good post, once again, as was Howie’s.


  7. keithnoback says:

    The last quoted statement is key. An adherent to the variety of schoolyard deontology described no longer needs to worry about evaluating, he only needs to worry about categorizing properly. It’s much easier and more comfortable.


  8. Howie says:

    Thanks for the link to my post Mak! I’ve become frustrated trying to understand these very extreme Christian views. They love to tell atheists about how immoral we are, and then in the same breath tell us about how horrific things are good because they claim them to be spoken by a god that ancient superstitious people wrote about in a barbaric age.


  9. nannus says:

    “Subjective morals change, can become contradictory, and might differ from person to person.”
    This might be so, but the funny thing is that it also applies to what this guy thinks is objective morals, since these depend on establishing a certain religion as an objective fact. Now look at how the adherents of different religions are fighting among each other, and you see how “objective” they are. The only way to establish a religion as the “objective” basis of morals would be to enFORCE it, using violence (brain washing, punishment, torture, index of forbidden books, imprisonment or burning or behaeading of non-believers, forced conversions, jihads and crusades, inquisition, etc. etc. etc. That is objective morals. I can only say “no, thanks”. Any attempt to base the moral system of a society on a belief system leads to violence and suppression because there is no way to establish the truth of that belief system as an objective fact. There are countless examples of this from history and there are recent examples of it in the media every day.


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