The moral argument for the existence of god


In his book, The Arguments for god, John Hick writes

Let us consider the case-the admittedly extreme case – of the humanist who knowingly sacrifices his life for the sake of humanity as a whole. We are thus thinking of self-sacrifice on moral principle….
And the question I wish to pose is how such conscientious self sacrifice can be defended in humanist terms as rational or reasonable act?

And I will offer to argue that no such person exists, either among theists or non theists. I further suggest that the word self-sacrifice is a word that has no place in the dictionary. Additionally if a person wants to use this as an argument for the existence of a god, they should think again.

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About makagutu

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

89 thoughts on “The moral argument for the existence of god

  1. As far as I am aware, the justification for sacrificing the self for the group mostly comes from humanity’s social instincts. People who are better able to defend the group have a group that lives longer, which propagates, which flourishes. The loners out there tend to die alone.

    The interesting thing I always find with people who argue deities exist because of some warm-and-fuzzy moral principle always hide the hidden premise they have to include to make their argument work. Namely, it is that their pet principle must and can only exist because of a deity. All they’re doing is trying to bootstrap their deity’s existence without having evidence for it.

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    • makagutu says:

      No one sacrifices themselves unless they benefit from it.
      The theist who uses this argument is trying to stack the deck unfairly

      Liked by 1 person

      • “The theist who uses this argument is trying to stack the deck unfairly” And all without offering a single shred of empirical evidence that their particular take on their particular deity is correct outside of their claim that it is. Theists first need to do this before making these types of asinine arguments.

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      • I get that, but what I’m saying is that the argument they’re using itself is flawed. They’re essentially saying if X exists, then deity exists. What they’re not doing is describing the relationship between X and deity.

        So, in addition to stacking the deck unfairly, they’re not even stacking it for the right game.

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    • Peter says:

      I agree siriusbizinus. The social aspect of humans, that can be seen in study chimps, makes perfect sense as the basis of morality. If we are to live together we need a shared set of common rules for living, this is largely what culture is.

      The arguments about relative versus absolute morality have never been convincing to me.

      Why does a dog show sympathy when its master is hurt? It is a social animal. The cat being a bit less social shows a bit less sympathy, but is not without some feelings of affection.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ladysighs says:

    Not even worth thinking about the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another silly theist argument. Proof to me that deities don’t exist are theists. No self-respecting deity would want to be worshiped by them. Idjits.

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  4. KIA says:

    Is a better way to describe religious self sacrifice “noble suicide”? -KIA

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    • makagutu says:

      Ignoble suicide more like it

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      • KIA says:

        So, did jesus die in the sin of self murder?

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        • makagutu says:

          Jesus, walked into his suicide; commonly called suicide by centurion

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          • KIA says:

            Of course, if the nt story be believed. The true story is probably more like he died trying to foment revolution against Roman rule.

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          • makagutu says:

            Which we would then call assisted suicide :@

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          • KIA says:

            Or just a failed Jewish jihadist.

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          • makagutu says:

            That too. Especially being a Jew, that makes sense

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          • KIA says:

            So, why did we fall for the story for so long? Certainly doesn’t seem like either the nt or especially the ot god has anything authoritative to say about morals. Genocide and ritual human blood sacrifice anyone? So very not moral.

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          • makagutu says:

            We were fed the story when we were impressionable.
            These oddities didn’t appear as such till the filters came off

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          • KIA says:

            like Christian bale in Equilibrium after a few days without Prozium. starting to feel and think like a real person again. scary to think of the things I said, did and taught others to think, say and do in the name of the Christian Tetragrammaton.
            see… my idea has already been done 😦

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          • makagutu says:

            Scary the things I believed to be the case!

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          • KIA says:

            amazing movie by the way

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          • Is it suicide if you, as your own son, get crucified to “die” knowing full well you’re not really dead cause….well…cause you’re God, and will be back in 3 days after a stint in Heaven with 72 virgins? (Sorry, wrong religion, but you get the idea). There can be no sacrifice of life if that life is unable to die permanently. In the Jesus story, his “sacrifice” is a time-out, not a permanent end to life. If there was a “real” Jesus, who was crucified by Rome, his body hung on the cross until it was devoured by dogs, birds, and maggots. That’s how crucifixion worked. My guess is it left a strong impression on those Rome wanted to keep suppressed. I hear Donald Trump wants to use it on undocumented Hispanics in America. GO DONALD!!!!!! GO AMERICA!!!! 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            You definitely are right. It cant be a sacrifice if you know you are going to show up again in a few days

            Liked by 1 person

  5. john zande says:

    I don’t quite understand your objection here? A soldier self-sacrifices for the good of his group.

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    • makagutu says:

      Really? There’s nothing in it for him or her?

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      • john zande says:

        There is, the knowledge that he/she is supporting that thing which is “greater” than himself/herself.

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        • makagutu says:

          No, on the contrary he serves himself first. He wouldn’t do it any other way if it wasn’t for the self. The self is the master to be appeased even if it means loss of life

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          • john zande says:

            Ah, understood. But aren’t we therefore dealing with here “enlightened self-interest”?

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          • makagutu says:

            It is never enlightened. It’s self interest plain and simple

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          • john zande says:

            You entirely sure about this?

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          • makagutu says:

            Think of any example of self sacrifice, we can break it down to see where I could be mistaken

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          • john zande says:

            My mother’s cousin, although there are many examples of self-sacrifice in war.

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          • makagutu says:

            I like this example.
            When he did this, what was his training? Were there others watching?
            Could you have done it without the same training?

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          • john zande says:

            His training would have been minimal. The Australian Army had been in North Africa, then was withdrawn (stupidly, mind you) to help defend Singapore. Singapore fell 10 days after they arrived without even their guns. The Japanese rolled on south. Australia had to mobilise a new, inexperienced army and throw them into Papua to halt the Japanese. They did, on the Kokoda Track, but at a terrible, terrible price.

            Bear in mind here, Darwin was being bombed, and Australia was preparing for invasion. The Americans weren’t even in the war at this stage. We were alone, we had no army, and our defensive plan was the Brisbane Line, which meant when (not if) the Japanese landed we were going to withdraw to Brisbane, ceding half the country, and fight a guerrilla war with whatever resources we could throw at them.

            There was only one option: to stop them in Papua with this under-equipped rag-tag army. That is known today as the Kokoda Campaign.

            As for the incident, as far as I’ve been told, a grenade was tossed into their foxhole along the kokoda Track. I’d imagine there were probably a 2 to 4 blokes in their with him. He threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the blast and saving their lives.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            This is interesting.
            I will think about it

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  6. “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. KIA says:

    why are such sacrifices necessary for god to forgive sin in the first place?
    he’s god
    they are his rules
    it is his prerogative and apparently his desire to forgive
    why then does he not just… forgive, rather than demanding a sacrifice to ‘prove’ our repentance or in his case his resolve to forgive in Christ?
    riddle me this any Christian lurkers or trolls… why could the bible god, if he is the god of the universe as you claim, not just… forgive, no questions asked, no strings attached, no blood to spill?
    and why would THAT be more immoral than what your religion proposes to be the remedy to offending an unchangeable, immortal and all merciful god?
    time’s a tickin’, get to clickin’
    -KIA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barry says:

      I can’t speak for all Christians, or even any Christian, as in some quarters, there is doubt about my affiliation. But I can relay what many Christians in this part of the world tell me.

      To a large extent we make God in our own image. If you believe that every transgression (sin) requires severe retribution, then that is the kind of God you get: angry and vindictive. If, on the other hand, you believe that transgressions can be made good by other means (restorative justice for example), then you’ll get a more gentle compassionate God. Many Christians I know would claim that the multiple “personalities” of God are due to the personalities of the various authors, and not that God is schizophrenic.

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      • Many Christians do say that it the fault of the authors rather than their god. Which begs the questions, why this god can’t make itself clear and why it allows this to happen? A god isn’t needed, just humans making stuff up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • john zande says:

          Club, MICHAEL JÄHRLING posted this video to my blog today. It’s good. Very good, and flows from this comment

          Liked by 2 people

        • Barry says:

          I agree a god isn’t needed, and a great many Christians will agree with that, while acknowledging that for them personally, the concept of God is helpful. We are all products of the culture/society we were raised in, and in my case I grew up in a society that has its roots in two cultures. The predominant one being of British and nominally Christian/agnostic/atheist background and the other rooted in Māori spirituality. I’ve also absorbed aspects of my wife’s background of Shintoism, Buddhism and Christianity. Sometimes these different world views are in agreement, while at other times they are in conflict. I don’t believe in a deity/deities/the supernatural, yet at times I find my world view influenced by aspects of each of these beliefs as if they are real. I often find myself using concepts of God, gods, spiritual guardians and Life Force (mauri in Māori spirituality and Kami in Shintoism) while at the same time recognising that they are human constructs. From my perspective, your question of why this god can’t make itself clear and why it allows this to happen is meaningless as such a god doesn’t exist.

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          • yep, and that’s the point. no reason to think a god or gods exists at all. I am curious, Barry. what do you mean exactly when you cay that you use the concepts, but are sure that they are human constructs?

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          • Barry says:

            I might have expected you to ask such a difficult question 🙂

            Not sure if I can answer it adequately.Perhaps the best I can do is say it’s similar to how some people become almost personally involved in the life of a character in a well written book or film. When dealing with environmental issues the concept of mauri (life force) helps me see issues in a way other than looking at it from the Western (and Christian) attitude of a resource to be exploited.

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          • a very good answer.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Barry, more than 90% of the Christians I know would say you are not a true christian. I think you grew up and live in a very liberal society where religion doesn’t play a big role in people’s lives

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          • Barry says:

            I don’t claim to be a true Christian, or even a Christian. I guess in some aspects our society is kind of liberal, while in other respects we are quite conservative. Religion doesn’t play a big role in our lives today- it has played a bigger role in the past, but more significantly churches have never had much influence on social attitudes here.

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          • makagutu says:

            Most of my countrymen and women claim to be christian of some brand. If some could have their way, the bible would replace the constitution

            Liked by 1 person

          • Barry says:

            I think that’s because large areas of east Africa were “Christianised” by evangelicals and fundamentalists, mostly from the USA. I only have to compare the beliefs and practices of Kenyan Quakers and Quakers of Aotearoa New Zealand and wonder what they have in common apart from a name.

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          • makagutu says:

            I think the only thing they share is a name

            Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          Humans making stuff up as they go along

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      • KIA says:

        Thank you for your perspective. From a biblical christian perspective, it is all about the Sacrifice and blood. So really, my query was more towards the more orthodox biblical christian perspective. I do appreciate the ‘god in our own image’ comment as I think that is more accurate as to why we have god/gods in the first place. It seems we are both in a kind of transition, yes?

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        • Barry says:

          A transition? In the sense that nothing stands still for long, I guess it’s true (See my reply to clubschadenfreude above. I live in a society where Biblical Christians are regarded with some suspicion, and have little influence on the community at large.

          Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        Barry some of the the solutions those around have come up with are quite interesting if not ingenious

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    • makagutu says:

      Those questions you pose want answers and no one, so far as I can tell, has given a satisfactory response

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  8. themodernidiot says:

    Question (sorry if this has already been posed and answered): didn’t he do it cuz he was told to? Because there was a reward at the end? Not entirely selfless is it?

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  9. […] could be part of the reason some debates have gone on for decades or millennia. In my previous post, I […]

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  10. Ron says:

    And the question I wish to pose is how such conscientious self sacrifice can be defended in humanist terms as rational or reasonable act?

    My response to the author would be: Who claimed it was? Self-sacrifice is an emotional response. Even John 3:16 says Jesus sacrificial death was an act of love.

    Like

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