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If not for God, how would we know good from bad?

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Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013 12:00 am

David Diskin, in his rebuttal to my guest column on the Newtown massacre, seems to take particular offense at my belief in moral absolute truth.

He said: "... Because everyone is already using their own moral compasses. That's right. Every individual person is making up their own minds as to what is good and bad ... You claim that a system of morality based on individuality has no foundation to stand on, but I beg to differ. The foundation of such a system is empathy, love and mutual respect."

This is moral relativism — the belief that there is no absolute standard of moral truth and that truth is developed by each personal based on their individual experiences, values and preferences.

In his statement, Mr. Diskin violated his own belief by stating an absolute. He said, "The foundation of such a system is empathy ..."

Is it really? Based on what premise? His? Since truth, according to Mr. Diskin, is relative, the statement he made might be true for him, but not true for others. According to his rules, an absolute statement of truth like he stated is flawed and shows intolerance for anyone else's truth.

If truth is relative, we cannot reward good behavior or punish bad behavior, nor can we complain about the problem of evil.

Who's to say what is good or bad, if everyone determines this on their own? Someone might consider rape as evil while another might consider it good. In a relativistic world, who's right and who's wrong? Without an absolute standard of measurement, nothing, in itself, is good and nothing, in itself, is evil.

Relativism forbids us, even as a society, to say that a certain behavior is wrong, because that would be intolerant and could infringe on someone else's definition of truth.

The concept of goodness is impossible without a transcendent author of it — an author who has created us with an innate understanding of this goodness and the obligation to follow it for our good and the good of society. This author is the God of the Bible.

Pastor Frank Nolton

New Hope Community Church


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  • David Diskin posted at 4:33 pm on Tue, Feb 5, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    Therefore God exists?

  • Rick Houdack posted at 7:14 pm on Mon, Feb 4, 2013.

    Rick Houdack Posts: 189

    Nolton says only biblical morals are worthy, let's look at some biblical morals.

    If a bride is not a virgin on the occasion of her wedding, she is to be killed.
    Human sacrifice is fine.
    If you see someone working on the sabbath, kill him.
    Disappointed with your children? Kill them.
    Not disappointed with them, but they have smart mouths? Kill them.
    See some kids teasing someone? Kill them, too.
    Someone you know says he doesn't want to worship "God"? Kill him. But don't stop there, kill everyone in his town. But that isn't enough killing either, you must kill everything, every dog and cat, every bird, every living thing must die at your hands. Except teen and pre-teen girls, whom you may kidnap and make your sex-slaves.
    You may smash babies brains out on the sidewalk and be blessed for it.
    And if you are too tired from all the killing and raping and baby smashing to do any chores, then you can buy some humans to do your miserable heavy work for you. And, if it will make you feel better, you can beat those people you bought, too. But you can't beat them to death - because that wouldn't be biblically moral.

  • Frank Nolton posted at 9:01 am on Mon, Feb 4, 2013.

    Frank Nolton Posts: 1

    David - you said "but truth is relative". Can you say this absolutely? You see, you just stated an absolute . According to your own belief that truth is relative, the only thing you could have said is "in my world, I believe that truth is relative". By stating that "truth is relative", you are saying that your definition of truth is final and needs to be accepted by everyone. And this violates your own rules.

  • David Diskin posted at 7:54 pm on Sun, Feb 3, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    Here's how I interpret Mr. Nolton's response:

    "Mr. Diskin believes in A. I assert that A leads to B, and B to C, and C to D, and everyone knows that D isn't true. Therefore, Mr. Diskin's premise is invalid."

    I'm sorry, Mr. Nolton, but truth is relative, just as much as one's interpretation of The Bible.

    You've said that God has created us with "an innate understanding of this goodness". There's empathy, right in your own words.

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 2:44 pm on Sat, Feb 2, 2013.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    You got more problems than just not knowing God Sarah!

  • Sarah Elizabeth Tygert posted at 12:35 am on Sat, Feb 2, 2013.

    Sarah Tygert Posts: 53

    This is one of those topics that has been long debated and discussed in religious, philosophical, and secular worldviews... this thing of ethics and morality. From Socrates, to Hitchens, it's still discussed. That is the wonderful thing of ethics... it's simply what makes a society work! It's a conversation, a wonderful dialectical process between people.

    You asked: "Who's to say what is good or bad, if everyone determines this on their own? Someone might consider rape as evil while another might consider it good. In a relativistic world, who's right and who's wrong?"

    This is a great example to how I would personally answer this problem, as an , Atheist. The answer is we all determine what is good and bad, and what makes society function. If someone comes up to me with the expression that he believes rape is good, I will say no it's not and me and my partner will most likely violently fend him off. The rapist will most likely find the same reception with other women... it just isn't going to fly no matter what he "believes." So he has a choice, either to engage in the conversation concerning ethics and either a.) make a change in our society, or b.) make a change in himself. Society has gone through these changes many times, take American slavery as a clear example of how this ethical dialogue unfolded.

    But these are my thoughts and just thought I would share! Perhaps you would be open to dialoguing with an Atheist over how we see ethics? We're not as willy-nilly and destructive as you may think.



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