2nd Debate, Atheism and Morality, 6th Round, Matt's Response

Sixth Round: Matt's Response


Chad, this may or may not be my final post in this discussion. It depends on what you do next, whether you stay on topic, and if you answer the actual questions asked. You see, I am rather discouraged about our discussion. I have repeatedly addressed your consistent failure to stick to the issue, to provide a rational basis for your moral imposition upon others, and your lack of moral consistency in condemning the atheists who broke the rules.

Therefore, I cannot see continuing this much longer. I have a great deal of behind the scenes CARM work that has taken a back seat to this discussion. This postponed work is demanding my attention, and I am forced to respond. So, my time is now very limited.

Nevertheless, I offer this short post in hopes that you can actually address some of the issues raised more specifically. But lest the atheists think that I am unable to respond to you, I have provided a link to the entire post you made with my responses included therein: So, I don't want the atheists thinking that I can't respond to what you said. After all, their objectivity has already been demonstrated to be very inconsistent, so I do not expect them to fairly analyze and represent our discussion here or elsewhere on the internet.

Finally, I strongly request that you limit your responses to the information on this page. More specifically, if you go to the end of this post, you will see a conclusion with questions. These are the real issues that it has come down to in my mind. So, if you refuse to respond to them specifically, I will consider the debate over and your lack of ability to shuttling respond to them an admission that you cannot.

Please understand that I am not trying to paint you into a corner by proposing a set of questions that if you don't respond to, I declare myself the winner of our discussion. That isn't a fair thing to do. But, given that I produced multitudenous amounts of responses to you with corrections and with questions that are thoroughly documented in our posts, I am honestly asserting that the area at the end of this post "Conclusion" is the condensation of the real issues . . . at least the ones I have been attempting to repeatedly focus on and which I believe you have tried to sidestep.

Following are just some of the many problems in your post. Of course, you may or may not respond to these points; but if you do, I probably will ignore most if not all of what you say and go straight to the questions on the conclusion section of this post.

1. You have supported my position repeatedly that beliefs lead to actions. You have stated that the reason you come to the carm web site is not because you lack belief in God, right? The reason you come here, as you said above, is to clarify atheism--among other reasons, correct? Great. If so, then, I say again, that you are confirming my hypothesis that beliefs lead to actions. You are confirming to me that your motivation is not based upon a lack of something but a belief in something. Apparently, you believe you can instruct Christians on what atheism really means, and that you can clarify atheistic principles. Again, you are confirming my position. So, it makes no sense to me why you would continue to argue against a point I have made and you are supporting.

2. You have tried to get me to accept the idea that an assumption you have is not a presupposition you work with. I'm sorry, but logic does not allow me to accept that as a working theory.

3. You have repeatedly not answered my questions. I asked if you believed it was wrong to be made to pledge the allegiance using the reference to God. You said that you would rather no child be forced to pledge allegiance to a deity. I did not ask that question about being forced. I asked you if it was morally correct or not. You did not answer me, again.

4. I asked if you believed it was wrong to teach "nonsense" in science classes. Instead of answering whether it was wrong or not, you told me what you thought they should teach. I did not ask you what you thought they should teach. I asked you if you believed it was right or wrong. This is another example of why this discussion is going nowhere. You consistently avoid answering the real questions I ask. I believe this is so because you have a subjective moral standard that you know you cannot rationally impose upon anybody else. I believe this is why you do not answer my questions directly but reconstruct them and respond to what I have not asked. I see this as a demonstration that what I'm saying about atheism and morality is correct. You are not able to rationally defend your position to impose a moral position that you believed to be correct. You have nothing to offer us but your opinions, and any moral righteousness you may assert is ultimately meaningless since it is centered only in your opinion. You have failed to demonstrate why anything is right or wrong except to say that you believe it is right and wrong. To that I say, so what? It is just your opinion. You've given me nothing of value morally.

5. When I stated that I assumed that you believe it is wrong for someone to tell your daughter she is going to hell, you responded by saying that you did not want anyone telling your daughter such a thing. Again, you did not respond to the moral issue. You responded by giving me an opinion. It is the moral issues we are discussing here. I expect more than your opinion. I want logic and evidence that is on topic.

6. Let's work with your definition of subjectivity and objectivity. If your morality originates in your own mind, then it is subjective according to your definition; and you have no right to impose it upon anyone else. This means that you have no right to say that someone else is wrong and have your judgment imposed upon anyone else. If a man raped and murdered a woman, you would have no right to say that it is wrong because your subjective, self-originating, and inconsistent moral standard belongs to you; and you have no right to impose your moral judgment upon anybody else. This is a profound weakness in atheism. If you want to demonstrate to me that this is not a weakness in atheism, then please logically tell me why rape and murder is morally wrong? I'm not interested in your personal opinion about the matter. I'm interested in your giving me a rational declaration why something is morally wrong and a rational reason for your imposing your moral standard upon another person. I am not interested in your opinions at this point. No offense meant.

7. On several occasions, you changed the terms I have been using in our discussion. For example, I was using the term "absolute" in comparison to your subjective morality. You use the term "objective" instead of the term I raised. Please consider the following quotes from earlier in our discussion, Round 4, where I introduced the issue of an absolute moral code and compared it to atheistic moral subjectivity.

  1. "Matt4: You admitted that atheism is a position. Good. I do not see how you can hold an intellectual position without there being principles inherent in that position. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I propose that as an atheist, you have certain "presuppositions": 1) Disbelief in God, 2) No absolute moral code or source for absolute moral code, . . .
  2. Matt4: I propose (with possible future modifications) that morality within the atheist system is subjective; and because it is subjective, truth, right, and wrong are all relative. Because there are no moral absolutes and because atheist morality is subjective, atheists are free to alter their moral behavior depending on the circumstances and whatever desires suit them at the time.
  3. Matt4: "If you were to say that the atheist who agreed to abide by the rules is wrong because he broke his agreement, then you are establishing an absolute moral standard."
  4. Matt4: " . . . would it not be fair to conclude that the atheists who break the rules are doing so ultimately because of atheistic principles which includes no moral absolutes?"
  5. Matt4: (Remember, if you don't have absolute morals, then you must have subjective ones).

7. (continued) Therefore, I'm concluding that you are avoiding the topic that I raised in round 4; and that you are trying to subtlety change it in order gain a better strategic position, which I believe is not a positive move. Your subjective/objective comparison does absolutely no good to your position. You still cannot impose any moral judgment on anyone else. You still cannot say something is or is not right or wrong. At best, all you have is an opinion to which you attach morality. You have an opinion that originates from yourself that may or may not agree with others. In your analysis, you are only confirming the weakness within atheism. It cannot postulate anything morally absolute. It offers subjectivity. It offers us nothing more than "we hope others agree with us" as a basis for moral structure in society. It offers us majority rule what society, and whatever moral temperature it happens to be at the time, saying what is right and wrong. This is not how morality is established.

8. You said, "You have asked on several occasions whether I (or other moral subjectivists) have a "right" to impose our morals on others? The problem with this question is that it contains a hidden word--you're really asking if we have an objective right. The answer to that is no. The right to do so is entirely subjective."

First of all, my question does not contain a word that is not there. I wrote the question. It contains exactly the words I wanted there. There are no hidden words. Besides, if it were hidden, how would you know to look for it? Furthermore, where am I hiding the word? Where is it?

Second, I did not ask anything other than what I asked. What moral right gives you the authority to insert words into my sentences and also reconstruct my premise and change the word "absolute" to "objective"? Again, you are adding words into what I've said in order to address something I have not stated. At this point, I am issuing a complaint to you and request that you address what I actually say and not what I have not stated. To me, you are forfeiting this discussion.

Third, you have no right by your own admission to impose your moral standard upon anybody else--FINALLY! . . . I think (though I'm not sure for really it is an actual response since it appears to be self-contradictory). So, you said you have no objective right to impose your moral standard on anyone, but then you said, "The right to do so is entirely subjective." As noted, I did not say "objective" right. You did. And, you admit you have no "objective right" to impose your morals on anyone, but then you say "the right to do so is entirely subjective." How can you not have an objective right to impose morality yet also have a subjective one to do that? This a violation of the law of non-contradiction. To have a subjective right to do something "say you have a right," a moral right to impose your morality on others. This makes no sense at all, again.

9. I have concluded from what you have said that if God existed, he would have no right to impose His moral standard upon you since, as you said, his morality would be subjective, i.e., originating from within himself. Think about it, God the creator, the universe, and all humanity is denied the right of moral judgment based upon an atheist's subjective moral system. In other words, even though, as you say, that your moral system is subjective and originates in you, you can still impose upon God your subjective system. You do this by saying that He has an equally subjective system and cannot impose his morality on you? . . . is that right? So, you're making a moral judgment at this point. You impose upon God the moral judgment that he cannot impose his morality upon you. This is a moral judgment on your part and a demonstrably inconsistent declaration as well, that is, if I understood your position properly. By the way, when you meet Him, your argument will carry no weight at all; and instead, you will bow the knee.

10. In our discussion of atheism and morality, you offered a veiled, and apparently retaliatory attempt to discredit and malign myself and Diane offering a highly transparent fictional scenario. You said you wanted to respond strongly, so, you deviated from the topic and sought to infer a moral judgment upon my actions. Again, this is not a discussion about Christianity and morality. It is a discussion on atheism and morality. Please, stay focused and on topic.

11. It is difficult to ascertain exactly what your position is on imposing moral judgments on others. You have given me a lot of your opinions but no rational basis for your moral judgments. All you've given me a subjectivity. Nevertheless, you have demonstrated that you can make a moral judgment upon someone else. You praised Limana by saying she is a "good" atheist. Yet, you fail to make negative moral judgments upon the atheists who committed blatant rule violations. Therefore, you demonstrate your inconsistency. If you are able to say that one atheist is good, are you also able to say that other atheists are bad? You cited Limana's actions on the board as evidence of her being good. Logically, the actions of the atheists who blatantly violated the board rules should be bad by your standard--wait, maybe you don't have a self-originating standard. Anyway, don't worry. I do not expect you to pronounce a moral judgment on your fellow atheists regarding their blatant rule violations since it would not further your position in this argument . . . even though you have pronounced moral judgment on at least one of them. Again, I see this as yet another grave inconsistency in your part.

12. Now, regarding your quoting an alleged prominent CARMite who has a problem with my approach, without disclosing who it is, and who apparently is a mind reader. Chad, you are not helping your position at all. I am quite discouraged in my hopes for further rational dialogue with you. It seems you are trying to retaliate. This is getting old. Nevertheless, let's examine what this prominent, yet unnamed, CARMite says--at least when I used quotes, I stated who they were from. Anyway, he starts out with "It was intentionally divisive and inflammatory . . . " So, is this person able to read my mind and know that I was trying to be intentionally divisive and intentionally inflammatory? Do you believe the Christian who says that it was my intention to do so? It wasn't. But you use a mind reader as support for your position without critical examination of his claims. I use the term him "mind reader" on purpose. Think about that you quoted someone else's apparent ability to discern my intentions and motivations. You should have been more critical of the statement instead of jumping on it without thinking through what you were doing. Again, you're not encouraging me regarding the future of this discussion.

13. Regarding a pattern you claim to see: In this debate on atheism and morality, you offer your subjective observation about a pattern. Interesting. Regarding the ID issue, what does that have to do with the debate topic? You see, I notice a pattern, too. You change the wording of my comments, use a mind reader in your support, repeatedly digress from the topic, and offer subjective opinions that you apparently hope will substantiate your position. Do you want me to take your arguments seriously when you do this?


Those were just some of problems and issues. So I propose that if you want to continue this discussion, that you focus, and I mean focus on the real issues. Here are some specific questions dealing with our conversation.

  1. Were the rule violations of the atheists morally wrong or not? Remember, you said that Limana is a good atheist. You made a moral judgment--one atheist. Let's see you be consistent and do it with those who blatantly broke the rules.
  2. What right have you to impose your moral standard upon my actions of using the infamous atheist list in support of my proposition that beliefs lead to actions? I am not interested in hearing about your subjective opinion. I want to know what right you have to impose your moral standard upon my actions. This implies that you have a standard to begin with or do you?
  3. Why have you not condemned the blatant rule violations of your fellow atheists?
  4. Why do you use a message from a supposed Christian, who claims to have the ability to read minds, and actually try to use it in your argument without examining it critically beforehand? Is someone else's opinion the direction you want to go to support your atheist position on morality?


Finally, I propose the following.

  1. Your moral source is subjective since it arises in you.
  2. Your morality is subjective.
  3. You cannot impose your morality on anyone else since your morality is subjective.
  4. You require that others not impose morality upon you.
  5. To say that others cannot impose morality upon you is a moral statement since it deals with the issue of moral imposition.
  6. But, to say that others cannot impose morality upon you is to impose your moral system upon them. This is a self-contradiction.
  7. Since you do not want others to impose morality upon you and yet you do it to them (by stating that you do not want them to impose our morals upon you), you demonstrate that you are self-contradictory. You are doing the very thing you say should not be done.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.