On morality. Again

SB has a post about conversations but somehow it ended up being about morals.

The visiting fundamentalist asked

If morality is subjective, how do you condemn slavery as immoral?

This question asked by a fellow who believes the bible should be used as a moral code reeks of high irony. Or is it sarcasm. I can’t tell which.

In different ages, society has condemned slavery in many of its myriad forms because of the belief that all human beings deserve equal treatment before the law. In that period of time, who is worthy of the consideration of being human has changed too.

And what does it even mean to say that subjective morality is inconsistent? Maybe the question to ask is what is morality? I think that’s the source of all confusion.


About makagutu

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

55 thoughts on “On morality. Again

  1. KIA says:

    Is morality anything more than a social construct for interacting with other people?


  2. tildeb says:

    Morality is a term used to describe a biological sense of reciprocity… an inherited standard of comparing consequences between the bookends of the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Any explanatory model that fails to include this biological basis is doomed to be equivalent to mental masturbation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      Do you, tildeb, know what these religionists mean when they talk about morals and exclude reciprocity


      • tildeb says:

        No I don’t, Mak. it seems to be whatever scripture they need to support whatever immoral position or misogynistic, paternalistic, discriminatory opinion they prefer to espouse and impose on others in order to pretend it’s not them doing the imposing but a ‘principle’ derived from a divine law giver and then applied out of piety. It’s really a marvel of rationalization to behold when it comes to something specific.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. persedeplume says:

    I just LOVE when christians use slavery as an example of immorality. In the words of the good christian Joseph Wilson in the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia in January 1861:

    “Now, we have already seen that the Holy Spirit employs words which He [sic] has intended to be understood as distinctly enunciating the existence of domestic servitude—that He has sent to all the world a volume of truth, which is indisputably addressed to men who hold slaves and to the slaves who possess masters—and that, from the connections in which these highly suggestive words occur, He has included slavery as an organizing element in that family order which lies at the very foundation of Church and State.”

    So, my question to the fundamentalist would be “Given your *objective* morality, specifically in reference to Exodus 21, Leviticus 25, I Timothy 6:1-2, how do YOU find slavery immoral?”

    It’s both a tired trope and a false narrative that subjective morals somehow means none at all.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. renudepride says:

    Good post, my Kenyan brother, and a good day to you. People, particularly the theists enjoy to bring up the issue of slavery when discussing morals. It seems they’re trapped in a box with no way out. Yes, slavery is reprehensible but can we get a different example? Naked hugs!


  5. Like Curly once said to Moe, “Morality, sporality! Just pass me the damn potato salad and be quite!” Now, if you’ll excuse me, I simply must go feed my slaves. Can’t have ’em working on empty stomachs, now can I?


  6. Actually, if you go back to his original post where he started his rants, you’ll find that he believes his deity can change its mind about what is moral. It’s a different expression of divine command theory, I think. He didn’t like it when I talked about it on his blog.

    As for his trolling on my post, I’m just happy he decided to show up and give people some examples of what I was talking about. He’s not going to like my bland, straightforward answer to his question, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think we humans will ever agree on definitions of morality, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. While the Christian assertion of bible-based objective morality is – quite frankly – absurd, societal harmony is heavily dependent upon commonly accepted moral standards as a foundation of culture. For example, the American Civil War erupted because of north-south cultural divisions over moral issues like slavery.

    “A house divided cannot stand.”


  8. keithnoback says:

    I liked the original post. I had no idea that the Twilight Zone had visited.
    It is an incredibly tiresome conversation, but you have hit on the interesting bit.
    God and moral realism are incompatible.
    It’s DCT or bust, and then you are stuck saying, “Yes, but moral facts are real for us. God made them that way.”
    That’s relativism at a higher pay-grade.


  9. Ron says:

    I think Sam Harris summed up biblical morality wonderfully in his debate with WLC:

    “Alright, nine million children die every year before they reach the age of five. Ok, picture, picture a, a a Asian tsunami of the sort we saw in 2004, that killed a quarter of a million people. One of those, every ten days, killing children only under five. Ok, that’s 20, 24,000 children a day, a thousand an hour, 17 or so a minute. That means before I can get to the end of this sentence, some few children, very likely, will have died in terror and agony. Ok,, think of, think of the parents of these children. Think of the fact that most of these men and women believe in God, and are praying at this moment for their children to be spared. And their prayers will not be answered. Ok, but according to Dr. Craig, this is all part of God’s plan. Any God who would allow children by the millions to suffer and die in this way, and their parents to grieve in this way, either can do nothing to help them, or doesn’t care to. He is therefore either impotent or evil.

    And worse than that, on Dr. Craig’s view, most of these people—–many of these people, certainly—–will be going to Hell because they’re praying to the wrong God. Just think about that. Ok, through no fault of their own, they were born into the wrong culture, where they got the wrong theology, and they missed the revelation. Ok, there are 1.2 billion people in India at this moment. Most of them are Hindus, most of them therefore are polytheists. Ok, in Dr. Craig’s universe, no matter how good these people are, they are doomed. If you are, if you are praying to the Monkey God Hanuman, you are doomed, ok. You’ll be tortured in Hell for eternity. Now, is there the slightest evidence for this? No. It just says so in Mark 9, and Matthew 13, and Revelation 14. Ok, perhaps you’ll remember from The Lord of the Rings, it says when the elves die, they go to Valanor, but they can be reborn in Middle Earth. I say that just as a point of comparison.

    Ok, so God created the cultural isolation of the Hindus, ok. He engineered the circumstance of their deaths in ignorance of revelation, and then he created the penalty for this ignorance, which is an eternity of conscious torment in fire. Ok, on the other hand, on Dr. Craig’s account, your run-of-the-mill serial killer in America, ok, who spent his life raping and torturing children, need only come to God, come to Jesus, on Death Row, and after a final meal of fried chicken, he’s going to spend an eternity in Heaven after death, ok. One thing should be crystal clear to you: This vision of life has absolutely nothing to do with moral accountability.”

    Is the Foundation of Morality Natural or Supernatural?
    William Lane Craig vs. Sam Harris
    University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame, Indiana, United States – April 2011
    Sam Harris, First Rebuttal

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Real real me says:

    This is an interesting topic for discussion.
    Sometimes I say “I don’t care about morality anymore” and then I remember I refer to the “proposed religious rules” that I used to feel guilty about if I broke them…


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