An atheist compares murder to chocolate

by Matt Slick

Anstreich jumped into a conversation I was having with DarkLady on morality. She and I had been discussing the nature of moral truth, the bridge between "is" and "ought," and making moral pronouncements. Since she and I had finished, I tackled Angstreich. However, he had already interjected many comments into our conversation (which I didn't include in the conversation I had with DarkLady because they weren't relevant to our discussion). But, Angstreich employed the tactic of taking what you say and repeating it back to you in question form. It got old real fast. Others in the room who had already had conversations with him commented that his tactic was to ask questions without answering very many at all. So, I called him out on it pretty quickly.

Angstreich: I guess I don't see what difference a God makes.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, you can't.
Angstreich: Why do you say that matt?
Matt Slick: Because it's true.
Angstreich: What does it mean?
Matt Slick: What is the antecedent of "it"?
Angstreich: How does God make a difference? How does the 'good" become objective if God exists?
Matt Slick: God informs us what is morally right and wrong and gives us a standard that we can follow. But people who reject God will reject a standard and do what is right in their own eyes. In other words, they will establish their own morality and elevate their own arrogant moral values and replace God's with their own.
Angstreich: So God's standard is a subjective standard you mean?
Matt Slick: Angstreich, if God exists, do you think He would be absolute in what He is, or do you think He would be capricious, illogical, and whimsical?
Angstreich: I don't know what you mean by "absolute".
Matt Slick: Angstreich, if God exists, then He would be what He is. The law of identity says that something is what it is. God would be "God." He would be consistent with what He is in His nature. I do not see how God could be consistent with His own nature and also be self-contradictory. 
Angstreich: And subjectivity is inconsistent with consistency?
Matt Slick: Therefore, it would make sense to say that God would not be someone who would [not] commit moral inconsistencies because, for example, lying would be a moral inconsistency and not part of God's absolute perfect nature. To jump a step or two ahead, morality would be a revelation of the nature of God. It would not merely be declarative. It would be revelatory. God could not lie, therefore, it is wrong to lie.
Angstreich: Consistency makes it objective?
Matt Slick: Angstreich, look, I think you can do better. I noticed that all you try to do is ask a question. You don't answer anything. You respond with more questions. If I ask you a question and you don't respond except with another question, we call that trolling. We ban trolls.
Angstreich: Well, I am happy to answer questions when I understand them . . .
Matt Slick: Angstreich, I think you understand them. I think you're simply trolling.
Angstreich: Let me try to imagine what you could mean.
Matt Slick: And if you continually say that you don't understand anything, then you need to leave this room and go get educated and come back so that we can have an adult conversation. But if you claim to be an adult and you're able to articulate your questions, it means you can think. Therefore, I will expect of you better responses.
Angstreich: Let's imagine that someone is beating someone up.  Let's say that the "malefactor" is a sadist. You go up to him and say, "you shouldn't do that, it's wrong".
Angstreich:  And the sadist asks, what do you mean by "wrong"?  What do you think makes something morally wrong?  Now I assume you mean that somehow intrinsic to the action of beating someone up is a kind of property   I'm an antirealist about value properties, Matt.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, I see you know how to use the word "property." This tells me that you are indeed working with more information than you want to disclose.
Angstreich: Am I holding something back?
Matt Slick: So you have been trolling. You have been asking questions on purpose of avoiding the real issues--trying to get a leg up in order to beat others down.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, don't play any more games with me.
Angstreich: If there's something you'd like to know, I'm happy to disclose it.
Matt Slick: I'll ask you one more time. What makes something morally wrong?
Angstreich: I'm an antirealist about morals
Matt Slick: You are not answering my question. If you want to say there is nothing morally wrong, then you don't have a dog in this fight. You need to step out and admit that you have got nothing to offer.
Angstreich: So I think they are just the expression of subjective preferences.
Matt Slick:  Angstreich, so one person's subjective preference that contradicts another is what produces moral truth?
Angstreich: I don't think there are moral truths.
Matt Slick: You said that subjective preferences make something morally true.
Angstreich: No, I didn't say that.
Matt Slick: Subjective means not objective. Subjective means based on a person's opinions and/or experience. If you didn't say that, then you better be more articulate next time. Let's try it again.
Angstreich: I said that value terms are merely expressions of subjective preferences.
Matt Slick: I understood what you said.
Angstreich: What is the question?
Matt Slick: You are simply making the statement that value terms, which are statements, are merely expressions of an individual's subjective preferences based on what he or she desires, wants, or expects about something.
Angstreich: Yes, that's right
Matt Slick: Again, all you're doing is offering a subjectivity. I'm taking your statement and working with.
Matt Slick: Now, how do you determine moral truth when one person's subjective experience expression contradicts another's, particularly when both individuals are expressing their subjective opinion on the exact same topic? How do you determine truth in that situation?
Angstreich: I didn't know that preferences were truth-bearers
Angstreich:  One person likes ice cream.  Another doesn't.
Matt Slick: Liking ice cream is not a moral issue.
Matt Slick: How do you determine what is true morally in subjective expressions?
Angstreich: One likes stealing. Another doesn't.
Angstreich: So I don't see where truth enters into it.  I don't see how God changes anything
Matt Slick: Murder is a moral issue.
Matt Slick: What you do when one person says that a certain act of terminating human life is murder and another one says it is not murder if both are based upon the individual's expression of their opinions?
Matt Slick: Angstreich, you're not answering the question. I suspect it's because your philosophy doesn't allow you to answer the question properly.
Angstreich: WWell, if murder is a value-term, there is no truth of the matter.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, so to say that murder is morally wrong is not true?
Angstreich: I don't see how it could be either true or untrue.
Matt Slick: Is murder morally right or morally wrong? Is it true that murder is morally wrong?
Angstreich: It's like saying chocolate is not delicious. For some people it's delicious. For others it's not.
Matt Slick: :) Wow . . . So let me get this straight. You compared the idea of murder with chocolate.
Angstreich: YYes.
Matt Slick: You can't even determine whether or not murder is wrong.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, by any chance are you married?
Angstreich: No.
Matt Slick: Well, if you were married and I were to murder your wife, I guess it would be wrong, would it . . . according to you.
Angstreich: NNo.
Angstreich: It might be something I abhorred.
Matt Slick: [Someone else in the room asked me what the point of this conversation was since Angstreich was being so illogical and that it was impossible to have a decent conversation with him. I responded with . . . ] And that is the victory of the conversation for the Christian to demonstrate that the non-Christian's point of view leads to absurdity. It is asserted that he cannot determine whether or not murder is any more right or wrong than preferring chocolate.
Angstreich: I guess I don't see the absurdity.  Where is the inconsistency in my view? I assume by absurd you mean that the view is self-contradictory.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, I didn't mention inconsistency. I mentioned the absurdity of your position based on what it leads to.
Angstreich: Absurd doesn't mean contradictory?  Is there an inconsistency in the view?  
Matt Slick: [to other Christians in the room who were amazed at his responses] Notice how he is not able to defend his view. He can only hope that his view is somehow internally consistent.
Angstreich: I'm not sure why you say I can't defend it.  I haven't been invited to defend it.  I've merely been told it's absurd. 
Matt Slick: [to other Christians in the room who were amazed at his responses] So, if someone were to murder his wife, he would have no right to complain. All he has to do is go out and get a dish of chocolate ice cream and relax . . . since there is no difference between the ice cream and his murdered wife!!!
Angstreich: But I thought absurd meant irrational.  Where did I say anything about rights?
Matt Slick: [to other Christians in the room who were amazed at his responses] Notice how he continues to ask questions. He's trying to get out of this predicament.
Angstreich: All right -- I can change it to a statement, if you prefer.  I didn't say anything about rights.
Matt Slick: Angstreich, basically you compared the murder of your wife to chocolate ice cream. Apparently they have the same moral truth value.
Angstreich: Yes, Matt, if you like.
Angstreich: They are neither true nor untrue.  So, in that sense, they are the same.  Expressions of preferences.
Matt Slick: This is fantastic. Seriously. This is an excellent example of what moral relativism can lead to . . . is a very good example. I think I will extract this dialogue and put it on CARM in the next few days.
Angstreich: Value terms are expressions of preferences--that's the view.  Now, maybe the view is inconsistent. And if it is, maybe that can be demonstrated. But calling it 'absurd' doesn't reveal any contradiction in the view.
Angstreich: Does anyone think the view is self-contradictory?
   [Others were jumping into the conversation saying his view was ridiculous . . . ]
Angstreich: I don't see how that follows.  The The strength of the preferences may vary.
   [I started addressing those in the room since many were commenting on what Angstreich was saying]
Matt Slick: Also, he would depend on reality not being what he asserts. If it were, he could not go to the grocery store and differentiate between a man murdering the woman in the aisle and the flavor of ice cream he would need to buy. They would both pose an equally valid moral dilemma.
Angstreich: I don't see why that cannot be construed as a case of preferences of markedly different strengths.
Matt Slick: In fact, when he goes back out to the car after he has stolen the ice cream from the dead woman and not paid for it because it's not his truth value to pay for what you have stolen from dead people and he is beat to crap and put in a coma by an ice cream hater . . . , then all he can do--if he ever were to recover from that--is agree with the actions of the brutish ice cream assaulter.
Angstreich: This isn't addressing the argument
  [A person named Paulomycin asked why should I should continue dialogue with this guy since it was now ridiculous . . . ]
Matt Slick: Paulomycin's getting them to face their absurdity is very valuable because it helps others see how bankrupt they really are. That's why it's worth doing.
Angstreich: Again, I don't know what you mean by 'absurd'.
Angstreich: I thought that was an ad hominem fallacy
Angstreich: I don't see that there is any categorical answer that uld give
Angstreich: I really don't know
Angstreich: I suppose it would depend on the circumstances
Angstreich: I don't see why you say that
Angstreich: It would depend on the circumstances. I might hide.
Matt Slick: I'm done here . . . you guys can clean up.
Matt Slick: Back to stealth mode. [Stealth mode is a feature admins have in the chat room where we are in the room but not seen by anyone else in the room. That way, we can watch what is going on without being seen].

At this point in the conversation I was finished because, well, I just didn't see the point in continuing this conversation. Besides, others were now jumping in left and right and wanted a piece of the sky. So, I bowed out, and they jumped it.

About The Author

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