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What Kind of Morality Could Evolution Have Given Us?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

burundi ants What Kind of Morality Could Evolution Have Given Us?Most atheists appeal to the process of Darwinian evolution as the source of our moral instincts, but this idea poses some intriguing questions.  What if humankind had evolved in different circumstances, in different environments?  One could imagine a different set of moral instincts having developed in humans.  What about other animals?  We see different behaviors in them based on their evolutionary history.  Let’s look at some examples.

Philosopher William Lane Craig draws our attention to John Hick.  He “invites us to imagine an ant suddenly endowed with the insights of socio-biology and the freedom to make personal decisions.”  Hick writes:

Suppose him to be called upon to immolate himself for the sake of the ant-hill. He feels the powerful pressure of instinct pushing him towards this self-destruction. But he asks himself why he should voluntarily . . . carry out the suicidal programme to which instinct prompts him? Why should he regard the future existence of a million million other ants as more important to him than his own continued existence? . . . Since all that he is and has or ever can have is his own present existence, surely in so far as he is free from the domination of the blind force of instinct he will opt for life–his own life.

Why should the ant go against his evolutionary instincts?  His instinct for suicide is for the good of the ant-hill and has been placed into him by evolutionary processes.  If humans had likewise evolved with an intense instinct to immolate ourselves, would atheists tell us we ought to immolate ourselves or would they say we ought not?  If we ought not, then why not, given our evolutionary instincts?

Darwin himself recognized this problem.  He said, “If men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.”

If morality is derived from evolution, and evolution gave our females moral instincts to kill their brothers, would the atheist say that this is behavior is right?

Philosopher Mark Linville notes that “wolves in a pack know their place in the social hierarchy.  A lower ranked male feels compelled to give way to the alpha male.”  If we imagine that there were wolf moral philosophers, would they not draw the inference that justice is inequality, that wolves ought to give way to those higher in the social hierarchy?  After all, this is what evolution gave them.  Would atheists agree with the wolf philosophers?

In the rest of the animal world, we see animals eating their young, we see males aggressively forcing themselves on females sexually, and we see animals violently taking things from each other.  If evolution has caused all of these behaviors, then how would the atheist call any of these behaviors wrong if humans had evolved these same instincts?

Here is the problem in a nutshell.  Atheists must say that evolution has given us moral instincts as they cannot invoke any kind of moral standard that comes from outside the natural world.  But evolution has given the animal kingdom all sorts of instincts that atheists would want to say are wrong.  In order for them to say these instincts are wrong, however, they must invoke a moral standard that transcends evolution, but they don’t believe that a transcendent standard exists.

Either atheists must admit that a moral standard exists outside and above evolution, or they must accept the fact that they cannot rationally call any behavior wrong that evolution has produced.  Which way to go?


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Comments

  • http://www.LawAttic.com Merv Waage

    Bill: Excellent ! You have done what I thought more of us christians ought to be doing: namely, extrapolating the humanist point of vews to their inexorable illogical conclusions. Merv Waage

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “Either atheists must admit that a moral standard exists outside and above evolution, or they must accept the fact that they cannot rationally call any behavior wrong that evolution has produced.  Which way to go?”

    I’ll take option 2. There is no objective morality. Any statement about the moral rightness or wrongness of an action is a matter of opinion. People tend to equate universality of opinion with objectivity, which it isn’t.

  • Milton

    People do not have “moral instincts.” Morality is nurtured into each child bu their parenting persons and their close community (family and friends). Even for the best morality, they “have to be carefully taught,” (Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific.”

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    If that is your position, then you are completely unable to ever judge anyone else’s moral behavior. You can never take a stand on any moral issue, you can never complain when somebody does something immoral to you. Those things are only available to people who believe that morality is objective. You and I both know that it’s impossible to live that way, so how do you deal with this inconsistency?

  • Bill Pratt

    Milton,
    Where did the instincts of parents to teach their children morality come from? On another note, the idea that babies are born without moral knowledge is being disproven (see this blog post).

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    Bill,

    Why can’t people who don’t believe in objective morality have opinions about right and wrong?

  • Todd

    Bill,

    Your last several posts have attacked relative morality and the atheists view, without success in my opinion. You have not however, subjected your moral standards for our judgement.

    Perhaps your next post will demonstrate there is an objective morality, the foundation of that truth, and proof that it is for the well-being of humanity?

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    You can have opinions all day long, if by opinion you mean “personal preference.” That’s fine, but when you call something right or wrong, you are just saying “I don’t like that or I do like that,” in the same way you might say that “I like Metallica, but I don’t like Eminem.” Morality is reduced to personal taste.

    The problem becomes that when you pass judgment on someone’s moral behavior, are you saying the same kind of thing as when you say “I like Metallica, but I don’t like Eminem,” or are you saying that the person has violated a universal or transcendent standard that they should be blamed for? There is a massive difference between the two, and I’m guessing you don’t just want to do the former.

  • Bill Pratt

    Todd,
    I think I have already dealt with the topic of objective moral values in other posts in the past, but maybe it’s time to review it again. In the mean time, I leave you with agnostic philosopher Michael Ruse’s comment about the fact that there are objective moral values: “The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5.”

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    When I pass judgment on someone’s moral behavior, I am giving my opinion about the rightness or wrongness of their actions. (And I am not claiming that is an objective rightness or wrongness.) I am not saying the person has violated a universal or transcendent standard that they should be blamed for. The person may have violated a societal or legal standard, but since those standards are based on people’s opinions, they change over time and across cultures.

    I disagree with the Ruse comment because the mathematical statement 2+2=5 is objectively wrong, assuming we agree on the meanings of the symbols in that statement. No human thought is required for 2 plus 2 to equal 4. On the other hand, the wrongness of raping little children is dependent on the opinions of humans, making it subjective. It objectively isn’t beneficial to the well-being of the children being raped, so if you want to jump on the Sam Harris bandwagon I’m OK with that.

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    Without humans around to think, does the truth that 2+2=4 exist as an objective truth?

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “Without humans around to think, does the truth that 2+2=4 exist as an objective truth?”

    In one sense, considerting only the symbols themselves, we would need a being that understands those symbols as humans do in order for that statement to be objectively true. Without humans to give meaning to those specific symbols, they are just an arrangement of pixels on my computer screen, or an arrangment of graphite or ink on a piece of paper.

    However, if you think of that statement as meaning the total number of objects that exist within a certain space currently containing two objects would increase from two to four if two additional objects were introduced into that space and none removed and none combined or split, then no, humans are not required for that. That objective truth is independent of the symbols used to describe it. An alien observer would reach the same conclusion regarding the quantity of objects doubling from two to four, although he, she or it might use different symbols. In that sense, 2+2=4 would not cease to be true if all humans died tomorrow.

    Math was objectively true before humans existed, and it will be objectively true after they’re extinct, just like the laws of physics and chemistry. (I’m not saying humans currently have a full and complete understanding of any of those three fields.)

  • Bill Pratt

    How are mathematical laws objectively true if there is no mind to behold them? In what form do they exist? You seem to be positing a non-material world of Platonic forms that exist independently. Is that correct?

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “How are mathematical laws objectively true if there is no mind to behold them?”

    The same way a tree falling in the forest makes a sound even when nobody is there to hear it. No mind is required for sound waves to be created and travel through the air. No mind is required for gravity to pull objects toward the center of the earth, causing unsupported objects to accelerate at a certain rate (absent wind resistance) toward the ground. No mind is required for objects to sink or float in a body of water depending on their density, buoyancy and whatever other factors I am unaware of. Minds are not required for things to be true, but minds are required for things to be good, bad, pretty, ugly, smart or stupid.

    I don’t think I am positing anything non-material.

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    All the examples you gave are of events occurring in the material world, but you are saying that mathematical laws are objectively true, and they are not material events. They seem to be in a completely different category than material events or physical laws which describe the behavior of the material world. In what sense are they objectively true then?

    Additionally, I want to go back and ask you why you don’t want to say that it is true that “You should not rape little children for fun.” Is there any situation you could conceive of where this statement is not true?

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    I think mathematical laws are in the same category as physical laws, in the sense that they describe the behavior or potential behavior of the material world. For instance, the associative property of addition says a + b = b + a. That means, in the material world, if you start with quantity “a” items, then add quantity “b” items, the resulting number of items is the same as if you had started with “b” items and then added “a” items to it. Of course, when you get into more abstract math it can be more difficult to describe an example in the material world (or perhaps impossible, especially when additional dimensions are involved), which is why I used the word “potential” above.

    In what sense are mathematical laws objectively true? In the sense that they are independent of human opinion or interpretation. Humans have simply created a system for communicating mathematical laws to other humans, which does not impact the objective truth of those mathematical laws (nor their existence) in any way.

    Right now I am unable to conceive of a situation where I would consider raping little children for fun to be the right thing to do, but that does not make it objectively true that one should not rape little children for fun. I think it is wrong because of my intuitions and my desires, which are shaped by my experiences in life so far. I have no objective basis for determining whether or not my experiences have given me “proper” intuitions or desires. All I know is that my intuitions and desires in this particular case are shared by the majority of people on the planet (I hope).

  • Bill Pratt

    Yes, but mathematical laws are also intuited. The fact that a+b=b+a is intuitively obvious when you are presented with it. Is not the fact that raping little children for fun also intuitively obvious? Both of these truths are grasped by our intuition. Both of them aren’t disputed by any sane person. Both of them would be true whether any one believed them to be true or not. So why is one objective and the other one mere opinion?

    Continuing, you said that “I think it is wrong because of my intuitions and my desires, which are shaped by my experiences in life so far.”

    Why did you add “so far” to the end of the sentence? Do you think there is any likelihood that as you grow older and wiser that you will come to see raping little children differently, that it will become right?

    You then said, “I have no objective basis for determining whether or not my experiences have given me “proper” intuitions or desires. All I know is that my intuitions and desires in this particular case are shared by the majority of people on the planet (I hope).”

    Shouldn’t you say the same thing about a+b=b+a? That this mathematical law is grasped by you intuitively seems obvious, but perhaps your intuitions about this law are wrong. This law is also believed by the majority of people on the planet. Maybe as you get older you will learn that you were mistaken. Why is it you seem to know for sure that a+b=b+a, but you are unwilling to say that you know for sure that raping little children for fun is not wrong? What is the difference?

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “Yes, but mathematical laws are also intuited. The fact that a+b=b+a is intuitively obvious when you are presented with it.”

    It might also seem intuitively obvious to some people that multiplication of matrices is commutative (AB = BA), but it isn’t. Fortunately, mathematicians can use proofs to determine whether a mathematical statement is true, removing intuition from the equation.

    “Is not the fact that raping little children for fun also intuitively obvious? Both of these truths are grasped by our intuition. Both of them aren’t disputed by any sane person. Both of them would be true whether any one believed them to be true or not. So why is one objective and the other one mere opinion?”

    Because one can be proven and the other one can’t. Objective truths may or may not be intuitively obvious, and the presence or absence of intuitive obviousness has no bearing on their truth.

    “Do you think there is any likelihood that as you grow older and wiser that you will come to see raping little children differently, that it will become right?”

    No, but I don’t think many slave owners who changed their mind about slavery anticipated that change in their opinion, nor do I think many people in the 1960’s who fought against civil rights, only to change their minds later, anticipated that change in their opinion. I suspect a very small percentage of the people who ever existed on planet earth and changed their opinion about something they considered an absolute moral truth actually anticipated those changes.

    “You then said, ‘I have no objective basis for determining whether or not my experiences have given me “proper” intuitions or desires. All I know is that my intuitions and desires in this particular case are shared by the majority of people on the planet (I hope).’ Shouldn’t you say the same thing about a+b=b+a? That this mathematical law is grasped by you intuitively seems obvious, but perhaps your intuitions about this law are wrong. This law is also believed by the majority of people on the planet. Maybe as you get older you will learn that you were mistaken. Why is it you seem to know for sure that a+b=b+a, but you are unwilling to say that you know for sure that raping little children for fun is not wrong? What is the difference?”

    As stated above, I don’t need to rely on my intuitions when considering mathematical statements, since they can be proven true or false. At some point in presenting a mathematical proof, one may eventually get down to axioms, which cannnot be proven per se but are simply accepted as true. (I’ll leave it to the mathematicians to state that better than I just tried to.) I’m OK accepting axioms such as x = x as true because if they weren’t true, proving they were untrue would be trivial.

    I’m not aware of any proof that raping little children for fun is wrong. The effects on the victims have been well documented, to be sure. Those are objective facts. But there is no objective basis for saying those effects are objectively good or bad. They are simply intuitively bad for pretty much anyone who isn’t a psychopath. But keep in mind that in an insane society, the sane person appears insane. The majority decides who is sane and who isn’t, but the majority can’t make a + b not equal b + a.

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    You seemed to waffle a bit in your last response. First, you said that mathematical laws can all be proved, but then you said that they reduce to axioms which cannot be proved. But aren’t there mathematical laws which are axiomatic, and therefore cannot be proven? If there are mathematical axioms that cannot be proved, then you cannot say that all mathematical laws can be proved; you’re back to intuition again.

    Is a+b=b+a an axiom or is there a proof for it? If so, what is the proof? How would you prove that 3+5=8 is always true for all people at all times in all places?

    You said, “No, but I don’t think many slave owners who changed their mind about slavery anticipated that change in their opinion, nor do I think many people in the 1960′s who fought against civil rights, only to change their minds later, anticipated that change in their opinion.”

    Brap Gronk, do you realize that you are actually saying that there is a chance that raping little children for fun will become a good behavior in the future? Do you really believe this?

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “If there are mathematical axioms that cannot be proved, then you cannot say that all mathematical laws can be proved; you’re back to intuition again.”

    Far from it. Again I’ll defer to mathematicians to discuss the truthiness of axioms. I suspect intuitions won’t factor into the discussion.

    “Is a+b=b+a an axiom or is there a proof for it? If so, what is the proof?”

    A quick Wikipedia search will yield the proof of the commutative property of addition, and many others. (This is the commutative property, not the associative. My mistake earlier.)

    “How would you prove that 3+5=8 is always true for all people at all times in all places?”

    It’s not true _for_ anyone. It’s just true. There is no need to prove the earth is essentially spherical for all people at all times in all places. There is no need to prove the earth revolves around the sun for all people at all times in all places.

    ”Brap Gronk, do you realize that you are actually saying that there is a chance that raping little children for fun will become a good behavior in the future? Do you really believe this?”

    In a strict mathematical sense, when considering the entire spectrum of possible human behavior and desires, it is possible. (It’s also possible for me to win the lottery each and every time I buy a ticket.) But realistically, no, I don’t see how that could possibly become acceptable behavior to even a sizeable minority of the population of the planet, much less a majority. I don’t anticipate much change in people’s opinions about child rape at any point in the future.

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    I did a quick Wikipedia search and could not find a proof for the commutative property of addition. I did find the following statement: “In mathematics an operation is commutative if changing the order of the operands does not change the end result. It is a fundamental property of many binary operations, and many mathematical proofs depend on it.”

    Did you see the last part of the sentence? Many mathematical proofs depend on it. Nowhere could I find a proof for the commutative property, though. Are you sure there’s a proof for it?

    I asked you how you would prove that 3+5=8 is objectively true. You said, “It’s not true _for_ anyone. It’s just true.” That is not an answer; it’s just an assertion. How do you know it’s objectively true?

    When I ask you about math, you respond, “It’s just true.” When I ask you about raping little children, you launch into massive verbal contortions to avoid what is blatantly obvious to almost everyone: it’s just true – the same as 3+5=8. I honestly don’t understand why you are so desperately trying to avoid saying that.

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proofs_involving_the_addition_of_natural_numbers

    My statement about 3+5=8 being “just true” was not intended to say it is true because it is true. The purpose of that statement was to point out the fallacy of your associating its truth or falseness with a person. Take the statement “chocolate ice cream is good.” That statement is true for some people and not true for others. It might be true for a person at some times but not true at other times. That’s why it is subjective. It depends. On the other hand, a mathematical statement such as a+b=c is either true or false. It isn’t true or false for anyone. It is true sometimes and false at other times. It’s just true or false. That’s why it’s objective. It doesn’t depend on anything. (Although some people’s understanding of it, or agreeing with it, may depend on many factors.)

    I definitely agree that raping little children for fun is wrong. But I am avoiding saying raping little children for fun is objectively wrong because I believe there is no objective basis to determine whether or not anything is right or wrong. As I have probably stated already in this comment thread, actions at one end of the good-bad spectrum are often used when people want to give an example of something that is objectively right or wrong. At the ends of the spectrum it’s easy to get near-universal agreement about something being right or wrong. My argument, which I call the Spectrum Argument, which no one has ever attempted to address when I get into this debate, goes something like this:

    Let’s say action X is objectively wrong. We are confident that 100% of the non-psychopaths on the planet agree that it is wrong, and they all intuitively feel deep down inside that it’s wrong. Now let’s consider action Y, which only 99% of the non-psychopaths on the planet agree is wrong. Is Y objectively wrong although it doesn’t have 100% agreement? Is Y objectively wrong because it is over the minimum threshhold needed to be objectively wrong? What is that minimum threshhold? Is it 95%, 90%, 80%, a simple majority? Is there something other than what people say or think or feel intuitively that makes action X objectively wrong? If so, what is it?

    It’s fairly easy to start with an action at one end of the spectrum that is so horrendous that everyone would say it is objectively wrong, then gradually change the action bit by bit such that it seems less and less wrong as the scenario changes. In the example of raping little children, as the age of the child increases into adulthood it may seem less horrendous to some. As the actions actually done to the child involve less and less physicality, with less and less long-term impact on the child, eventually reaching the point where there is no physical contact at all but simply viewing, they may seem less horrendous. As the action transitions from directly viewing the child to viewing pictures or video, it may seem less horrendous. As the age of the child being viewed in pictures approaches adulthood, it may seem less horrendous. As the person (now an adult) being viewed in pictures wears more and more clothing, it becomes less horrendous. There is a continuous spectrum of actions from raping little children for fun (or sexual gratification) to viewing pictures of women in burkas. Everywhere along that spectrum, the percentage of people who consider the action at that point of the spectrum objectively wrong is different. Everyone has their own point along that spectrum where they are likely to agree that it’s a matter of opinion and not an objective fact that a certain action is wrong. My point is, if any of it is opinions, it’s all opinions.

  • http://randyeverist.blogspot.com Randy Everist

    Brap, I still didn’t see why you think mathematical axioms are non-cicularly shown. You also conflate moral epistemology with moral ontology. No objective moralist (at least one who is a Christian) claims our apprehension causes these moral values to be objective; it’s just simply the way we recognize them. Your argument thus functions as a category error. I hope that helps!

  • http://brapgronk.blogspot.com/ Brap Gronk

    “I still didn’t see why you think mathematical axioms are non-cicularly shown.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever suggested x = x because x = x. Again, I’ll defer to the mathematicians to explain why axioms are true, or must be accepted as true without a standard proof, or whatever. My layman’s attempt would likely lead down a rabbit hole of irrelevancy. If anyone would like to provide a proof that a particular axiom is not true, I’d be happy to take a look. Usually “proofs” of that nature have a hidden divide by zero which invalidates them.

    “No objective moralist (at least one who is a Christian) claims our apprehension causes these moral values to be objective; it’s just simply the way we recognize them.”

    So what does make these moral values objective?

  • http://randyeverist.blogspot.com Randy Everist

    The point is that in the same way mathematical axioms are “foundational,” (and the laws of logic), so are moral truths. The point is there simply is no non-circular way of showing mathematics. But this circularity is what philosophers call “non-vicious,” which means it’s not fallacious to assert 2+2=4 because two added to two equals four. It’s not a brute fact per se, but it is a fact of reality.

    I’m glad you asked. Objective moral values require a foundation, and that foundation is God. A common formulation of the moral argument is as follows:

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    It seems you may be in agreement with (1). But in that case, the only reason to deny (2) in light of our experiences is because you have some knowledge that God does not actually exist!

  • Bill Pratt

    Brap Gronk,
    Thanks for pointing to the proof of the commutative property. A couple of comments about it. First, the proof you pointed me to relies on other fundamental concepts, such as mathematical induction and addition that cannot themselves be proved (even if they could be proved, they would rely on yet other concepts that may not be provable – we can’t have an infinite regress of proofs). Even though you provided a proof for the commutative property, you just dug the hole deeper by invoking more mathematical concepts that need proof. I’m afraid you’ve started an infinite regress. At some point, you must arrive at foundational mathematical laws that cannot be proved, but must be just accepted as intuitively self-evident.

    You said, “On the other hand, a mathematical statement such as a+b=c is either true or false. It isn’t true or false for anyone. It is true sometimes and false at other times. It’s just true or false. That’s why it’s objective. It doesn’t depend on anything. (Although some people’s understanding of it, or agreeing with it, may depend on many factors.)”

    Exactly! And that’s what I am saying about the fact that raping little children for fun is wrong. It isn’t true or false for anyone. It’s just true or false. That’s why it’s objective. What I still want to know is what is different about my intuition about this moral law and your intuition about mathematical laws. Your argument that all mathematical laws are provable has been shown to be false. Math, at the end of day, relies on some unprovable facts just like morality does, so why your hesitancy to accept moral intuitions?

    With regard to your Spectrum Argument, you are confusing how many people agree with a statement with the truth or falsehood of a statement. I am not saying that the reason raping little children for fun is objectively wrong is because 100% of non-psychopaths agree that it is wrong. That is not the argument at all. I’m saying that it wouldn’t matter if 100% of the people on earth agreed tomorrow that raping little children is right – they would still all be wrong! Just like our knowledge that 3+5=8 wouldn’t change if everyone decided that 3+5=9 tomorrow. The spectrum of people’s opinions does not establish truth or falsehood. Likewise, if everyone on the planet agreed that the earth is flat, that wouldn’t make the earth flat. The earth is round whether anybody agrees or not.

    Finally, the fact that some of us disagree on certain moral standards does nothing to disprove their objectivity. Scientists disagree about physical laws all the time, but we wouldn’t say that physical laws aren’t objectively true because some scientists disagree. Human beings disagree on just about everything, so if we adopted the rule that disagreement proves subjectivity, then nothing could be objectively true. I think that is too high a price to pay, don’t you?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Finally, the fact that some of us disagree on certain moral standards does nothing to disprove their objectivity.”

    Right, but you were using our agreement on them to ‘prove’ their objectivity in the first place. So your analogy with scientists disagreeing on physics is false.

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  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    I’m glad you asked. Objective moral values require a foundation, and that foundation is God. A common formulation of the moral argument is as follows:

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    It seems you may be in agreement with (1). But in that case, the only reason to deny (2) in light of our experiences is because you have some knowledge that God does not actually exist!

    ….I don’t follow your reasoning between 1 and 2. In fact, I see a fallacy in the works here.

    Let me try a different example to demonstrate this fallacy:

    1. If I do not exist, I cannot kill anyone.
    2. I do exist.
    3. Therefore, I am a killer.

    Even if 1 is true — that the non-existence of object A would necessarily mean the non-existence of object B — that doesn’t necessarily follow that the presence of A necessitates the presence of B. That is a logical fallacy.

    Going back to your god example….let’s just accept 1 as true for now. How, then, do you know that 2 is true — that objective values exist?

    (a) if they exist because god exists, then your proof is circular (we know morals exist because we know god exists, and we know god exists because we know morals exist);
    (b) if they exist because we all perceive them, then your proof suffers from the argumentum ad populum fallacy (everyone agrees that A is true, therefore A is true — this would imply that A is contingent upon people’s agreement about its nature, and is therefore subjective by definition, not objective).

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