Is Raping Little Children Just a Matter of Taste? – #2 Post of 2011

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Some statements about the world are objectively true, meaning they are true for all people, places, and times, regardless of whether anyone actually believes the statements.  Other statements about the world are subjective, meaning they merely refer to a person’s preferences or tastes.

An objective statement would be: “The sum of three plus five equals eight.”  This statement is not a matter of taste, but is an objective fact about the world.  It is true for all people at all times in all places that “the sum of three plus five equals eight.”

A subjective statement would be: “French roast is the worst tasting coffee.”  This statement is clearly a matter of taste, of my personal preference.  It gives information about me, not French roast coffee; you don’t learn anything objective about French Roast coffee from the statement.  It should also be clear that for all people at all times in all places, it is not true that French roast is the worst tasting coffee.

That brings me to my question.  Consider the following statement: “It is wrong to rape little children for fun.”  Is this statement objectively true or subjectively true?  Is the statement referring to a matter of fact about the moral wrongness of raping little children for fun, or is it expressing a personal taste or preference that I have against raping little children for fun, similar to the statement about French roast coffee?

Please answer this question in the poll below and be sure to leave comments explaining why you have answered the way you answered.

86 thoughts on “Is Raping Little Children Just a Matter of Taste? – #2 Post of 2011”

  1. It is interesting to me that anyone would try to prove this point in such an egregious way. I am interested in a little more context as to why this was the question being asked. For example, was there something in the news about some culture where this is practiced as some ritualistic ceremony?

    What I am getting at is, the answer is so obvious. Why did this question need to be asked? It is not even similar to the coffee or math examples. All people know, somewhere in their beings, that this is wrong, not a matter of taste. If this becomes a matter of taste in ones opinion, then they have suppressed truth beyond return. Meaning…they are totally insane, or even more specifically, they have lost touch with their own humanity and have become some type of wild beast, possessed by a demon of insatiable passions.

    So, there is my vote.

  2. Rape is wrong in any and all situations regardless of who the victim is.
    How could anyone reason that this is simply a matter of taste?

  3. As I read your post I wondered if perhaps the distinction isn’t especially useful; perhaps all statements are implicitly meant to be taken as objective, and that expressions such as “French roast is terrible” is simply shorthand for “I don’t like French roast” (which is, of course, objectively true). If so, then the only question which can be asked is “do people, on the whole, agree with the practice of child-rape?”, which requires a purely objective answer.

    This is unless, of course, you think there can be some objective sense to the question of whether something is inherently wrong; this seems hard to justify though. If you believe that morality is fixed by some higher power, then the question becomes “Does God agree with child-rape?” If you believe that we can intuit our way to moral correctness, then the question you’re really asking is “Does child-rape make me feel upset?” Yep, I reckon whichever way you swing it, it comes down to an objective statement about someone’s preferences (which may just be another way of saying a subjective statement).

  4. Alex, that only works if you presuppose morality is a preference–i.e. equivalent to “French roast is terrible.” On the subject of indexicals, specifically reflexive and pronouns (and indeed temporal ones too), I think they contain far more than a simple referent.

  5. The next great battle will be against pedophiles trying to normalize sex with children. They will use the same rhetoric and fallacies of emotional pleas used by progressives in the past 100 years.

  6. Of course I voted for “Subjectively” since there is no objective morality. I’ll be interested to see if those who voted for “Objectively” can justify their position with something other than “everybody sane agrees with me” or “God agrees with me.”

  7. It’s quite easy to justify the position. In fact, there are all the same reasons to accept objective moral values as there are the external world around us. All of our experiences point to it. That a few people (like color-blind people in reality) fail to have these internal guides is of little consequence. I’d be interested to see how you justify it being subjective!

  8. Brap,

    Does gravity exist? Or if I subjectively interpret gravity, can I float. Funny thing about Natural AND Moral Law. Everyone knows the full truth of them. You can subjectively rationalize them away, but they are written in our hearts and minds.

    For example, if you rape a child, you will know that you have done something wrong the first time. But, if you do it over and over again, you can rationalize or justify yourself into a subjective position of complacency and numbness that will make it seem right to you, even though society, God, moral law and the child, all know that you are wrong (and quite full of evil). This is a moral code or Law and humans know, inherently, that it is true and that it exists.

  9. Randy, what experiences point to the existence of objective moral values?

    Yes Josh, gravity does exist, and no, your interpretation of it will not affect your ability to float. Do you have any other arguments for objective morality other than everybody sane agrees with you, and God agrees with you?

    For those of you interested in why I say objective morality does not exist, here is what I call my Spectrum argument, which I just posted in a comment a few posts back (Bill, you can reply here instead of there to keep things in one place if you want):

    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.

  10. I find it repulsive that 5 voters checked subjective. Apart from Judeo/Christianity there is no morality and everything is subjective including hurting and killing children. Humans are reduced to animal status.

  11. Well, as I said, all of them. Other than sociopaths, people get angry when they believe injustice is done, they are angry at the man who trips them in public purposefully (but not the one who bumps into them accidentally), they value rights as transcendent, we filter each action through this morality. All of the same experiences as in reality. That is, I go outside, I get in my car, I interact with people, objects, and places. I can’t definitively prove reality exists in a non-circular fashion–yet no serious thinker believes this circularity is vicious. That is to say, one is completely rational in accepting that reality, and morality, exist objectively.

    I’ve already addressed the argument in the other thread as a conflation of epistemology and ontology. The agreement of society to the existence of moral values is an argument I hear from moral relativists, not objectivists.

  12. Randy, those experiences you describe tell me that opinions about right and wrong do exist, and many of them are universally held. I do believe it is objectively true that people have opinions about right and wrong. I also believe it’s trivially easy to find a hypothetical example where people will have different opinions about right and wrong. In those cases, how does one objectively determine who is right and who is wrong?

    If moral objectivity reduces to deep down human intuition and the way we live our lives, then it used to be objectively true that the sun revolved around the earth.

  13. I must stress that how we come to know moral values does not cause them to be objective. You also have not denied that one is rational in taking one’s experience to be veridical in light of themselves. As such, your material conditional is a strawman.

  14. Karla,

    I won’t vote on any of these issues. The answers in the voting boxes are not always all of the answers, which leads to entrapment. Reasonable discussion, in some cases, leads to results. Some people vote the way they do to shock and awe. Some like to rationalize just to be the oddball voter. My vote is not to vote, but to discuss.


    You are speaking in riddles of self-justification, not definition of human morality. We all know it is wrong to kill. We all know it is wrong to rape. These are easily determined by the scale of “The Golden Rule”. Would you want to be killed or raped? Do you think anyone would?

    Try to define your spectrum of morality based on…if you were a kid you would not want to be raped, but if you were an adult, you wouldn’t mind as much being raped?!?

    Is it any less wrong if you are previously desensitized?

    “Desensitized” does not prove subjectivity. Innocence is the standard. We should all strive for that.

  15. It is objective because the human person cannot be used as an object, there is a difference between french toast and a person created in God’s image, no one, including God himself has the right to use a person as an object regardless of the reason

  16. Of course the conceptual question of morality is totally subjective, when you pose the question in such a way to define what is good or bad. However, when you pose the question in a meaningful way, such as “Is raping children good for society as a whole” the answer becomes clear, no.

    Morality as a concept is subjective, but when asked in a way such that objective observations can be measured, then an objective answer can be provided.

    So, the question “Is is subjective or objective that raping little children is fun” does not provide a way to objectify the answer, so it must of course be subjective. Posed in a different manner, like “Is it good for the child, good for the well-being of society, or good for the offender to rape a child” an objective answer can be proposed based on psychology, physiology, etc. It can be observed, then determined, obviously, that the objective answer is no.

  17. Todd,

    I understand what you’re saying about child rape being considered wrong because it is harmful to the child, the offender, and society, but that line of reasoning does not fully explain morality.

    Have you seen the Onion video, “Firefighter Died to Save Unimpressive Teen”? A fifteen-year-old girl who was rescued by a firefighter is asked how she plans to fill the void left by her rescuer. The interviewer starts out by saying, “Now obviously a lot of people are hearing this incredible story and wondering, Was it worth it? Will Melanie now become as great a person as Sam Kelty was or would it have been better if she had died?” Then they ask her if she has ever saved a life and explain that unless she saves at least one life, this rescue was a net loss.

    So what do you think? Was the firefighter moral to sacrifice his life for the teenager if the rescue was a net loss to society? According to your logic, the objective answer is no.

  18. Bill, and all other Christians here making this argument –

    If you’re saying that if God didn’t exist you wouldn’t see anything wrong with raping little children, then doesn’t that say more about your OWN morality? You’re saying that not raping kids is subject to your religious faith, and therefore liable to change. Or if God suddenly declared that it was OK, you’d have no problem with it?

    My own answer? Given that I don’t think causing suffering is right in most situations, and given that I don’t believe children are old enough to consent to sex, then obviously raping kids is wrong. Anyone who agrees with my two ‘givens’, would also agree with my conclusion. When I say that raping kids is wrong, it is subject to those two givens (and a few others too). Provided I am talking to anyone who accepts the same givens, my conclusion will be accepted.

    You may reply “but what about people who DON’T accept those givens?”. Well, what about them? The fact that you can find a few people who disagree is neither here nor there. I could equally find you some people who justify raping kids by invoking the bible.

    Ask yourself this – if you stopped believing in God, would you be happy to allow child rape? If your answer is ‘Yes!’, then I can only say that you don’t actually care about kids being raped either way.

  19. Morals are subjective, so yes: raping little children is a matter of taste. But I do hope people aren’t that stupid they cannot find reasons why it is a bad thing to do other than “my god says so”.

    Look at the history of religion: that proves even the morals of religions are subjective, they too change over time. If you had a time machine and went back 1000 years and meet some of your fellow Christians there, they would not even recognize you as a Christian.

    How can you claim your (Christian) morals are objective, if time itself has proven your morals to be changeable. Objective morals DO NOT CHANGE!
    If morals truly would be objective, why does the Christian church need to keep changing them over time to keep up with society?

    Your morals are objective you say? Your morals just lag behind 100-200 years on the rest of society, but you always follow it and change your morals too.
    Now how is that possible for objective morals? Simple, it isn’t! Morals are subjective.

  20. To all of you who believe there is no objective morality: please give me your home address so I can break into your house tonight and rape your wife and daughters and then steal anything of value before I brutally bludgeon you to death and then take your 12 and 11 year old girls and sell them into slavery prior to setting fire to your house to destroy the evidence of my “crime”. In your view I have done nothing wrong as my actions were merely a matter of personal taste and well, you know, whatever turns you on right? In fact, if you are consistent, you should have no problem with anything I did in my fictitious scenario and should even laud me for standing up for my belief that everything is just a matter of taste. Funny about that objective morality thing. We never believe it exists until WE are the victim. Sort of like the guy who doesn’t believe in objective reality but just won’t throw himself in front of a bus to find out if he is right. I wonder if any of you guys are fathers and if so would you hold to this position if it was YOUR daughter who was raped or would you want the perpertrators head on a platter?
    Please give your heads a collective shake and wake up.

  21. Warrick, that proves morals are subjective, appearantly you wouldn’t see any harm in doing those things.
    And no holy ‘entity’ would judge you for doing them.

    SO SINCE MORALS ARE SUBJECTIVE YOU WILL HAVE TO DEFEND YOUR MORALS WITH REASON!!! And not with:”So, since morals are subjective, they do not matter”


  22. So Warrick, if someone thinks God wants them to break into your house and rape your wife and daughter, that means they SHOULD do it, right? You are saying you would invite them in and tell them to help themselves, right? I mean, if God says it’s ok then it must be. And while they may be mistaken about God’s plan, better let them do it anyway just in case, yeah? And if you both got it wrong, you can always both just God’s forgiveness, and then it’s no harm done, I guess.

    Or you could try exercising empathy and compassion.

    Seriously, when Christians ask these questions, I have to conclude they don’t love their families very much. I wouldn’t let someone rape my family on the basis of some dodgy philosophising. But apparently they find it reasonable. Guess it comes from folliwing a book that condones raping virgins.

  23. To Dennis and Andrew: Wow! obviously my meant to be tongue- in- cheek,hyperbolic,facitious, over the top scenario went right over both of your heads.Correct me if I am wrong as I don’t want to be accused of putting words in your mouths. You both seem to believe that there is no such thing as objective moral truth.Therefore,according to your view, raping a child is not wrong per se but simply a matter of personal taste. Dennis these are YOUR exact words..”Morals are subjective, so yes: raping little children is a matter of taste..”( in other words what works for me is ok and what works for you is ok). Perhaps you think NAMBLA is just a bunch of cool misunderstood guys?If you actually hold to this view( that morality is ultimately a matter of preference or taste or societal approval))then logically you should not object if I were to live out my fictional scenario above because IF i was to do those terrible things then that would simply be me expressing my personal choice and taste.You can’t have it both ways. Either you object to the rape of a child or don’t play the hypocrite if your child is the rape victim. Which is it? Would my actions be wrong if you and your family were the victims or is it ok as long as it is someone else suffering?
    Andrew: try as I may I can find no reference to God in my post above.I’m not sure why you are bringing this into the conversation at this point. In order to invoke “God made me do it” I think we need to establish first of all If we can agree that absolute moral right and wrong exist BEFORE we tackle the question of where they may originate. I think that going off on a tangent before coming to some sort of conclusion on this would not be very productive.
    Dennis: please try to restrain yourself and stop with the name calling while you are ahead
    (ONLY RETARDS COME TO THAT CONCLUSION).I’m sure that even you are capable of having a discussion without stooping to that level. At the end of the day we may just have to agree to disagree but at least defernd your position with good arguments and not personal attacks. It’s beneath both of us.

  24. Warrick,

    I think you are retarded, here’s why:

    You think morals are objective because things can be good or bad, but you fail to see that things can be good or bad merely FOR US.
    It is only a matter of perspective. True ‘good’ and ‘evil’ do not exist. We just perceive them so with our minds.
    Does that mean morals do not matter? Not in the slightest! They matter to us! But always subjectively. That’s why you need to back your morals up with reason, and you cannot just say:”My God says so!”.
    Because there is no proof for God, that will mean the morals based on a God most likely won’t have to be based on reason, but on fantasy and imagination.
    A bigger ‘evil’ I cannot imagine.

  25. So Warwick, tell me where these absolute morals come from. Are these morals subject to that thing’s existence? If yes, then they are not objective. And what’s more, you are saying that thing is the only reason you are against rape if your own children. Seems pretty sick to me.

  26. Dennis: Stop avoiding the issue and answer the question.Are you a hypocrite or not? If someone breaks into your house and does unspeakable things to your 10 year old daughter is that person objectivly wrong for doing so or merely exercising his own preference,taste etc.? If as you say “true good or evil does not exist then you should have no objection to me stealing from you,slandering your character,committing adultery with your wife etc. because as you say its just the way YOU perceive it with your mind right? Nothing bad ACTUALLY happened to you,it’s all just in your head. Oh wait! The house doesn;t actually exist. How foolish of me to think someone could break into a house that doesn’t actally exist and committ crimes on people who are only real in your mind and have no actual existence in objective reality. Those people weren’t actually hurt in any way because true good or evil don’t exist.
    At the risk of opening another can of worms, you sound way too smart to fall for the materialistic mantra “nothing created everything”.
    My apologies. I was wrong. Apparently you can’t have a discussion without resulting to name calling. How sad.

  27. Andrew: Please reread my previous comments.You have clearly misunderstood my position. Let me state unambiguously that rape is ALWAYS wrong. My example was deliberately extreme to make a point, which unfortunately you seem to have missed.
    If YOU,Andrew, truly believe that raping a child for fun is only a matter of personal choice as you seem to be saying in your original comments, then how could you logically complain if someone broke into YOUR house and raped your 10 year old daughter? That would be the same as saying that rape is OK as long as it doesn’t happen to someone you care about. That was the point I was making that you seem to have missed(and are now accusing me of !).
    As I said, if we can come to an agreement that absolute right and wrong exist, then we can attempt to discover where they originate. Otherwise, your answer of last resort will always be something like” I don’t believe in God so objective right and wrong don’t exist”which seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse so to speak. It’s kind of like saying you don’t believe in automobile manufacturers so cars can’t exist. Do you truly believe that”nothing created everything” and if so do you really believe that is an intelligently defensible position in an age of scientific enlightment?

  28. warwick: ” your answer of last resort will always be something like” I don’t believe in God so objective right and wrong don’t exist”

    Who said I don’t believe in God? I never made any reference to my religious beliefs. Are you sure you’re not confusing my posts with someone else’s?

  29. “That was the point I was making that you seem to have missed(and are now accusing me of !).”

    I got your point perfectly. I was throwing it back at you. Funnily enough, you didn’t like it!

    If someone attacked my daughter, I would defend her because I love her. You seem to find this a strange notion. I can either assume you don’t love your own daughter, or you were making a very poor argument that you don’t actually believe in.

    If a tiger attacked my family, I would not need to debate the the tigers’ morality before defending my family. Likewise a virus, rock slide or rapist.

    Finally, why would a God, since you are now talking snout one , make a difference to this question? If you think rape is ALWAYS wrong, then isn’t it always wrong whether a God exists or not? Or is your defence and live for your family only subject to a God’s existence? If so, I’d question whether you actually live them at all.

  30. @Warrick March 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    How can you call me a hypocrite? If someone breaks into my house and does that unspeakable thing, of course I consider it to be evil!! It is evil TO ME and the rest of my family!
    So even though morals are subjective, THEY MATTER TO US, AND THAT MAKES THEM REAL, AND NOT MEANINGLESS!
    So even though morals are subjective, base morals on the one thing we have in common, that we are all alive, and want to live unharmed.
    Seems really simple to me….

  31. It seems that to Warrick, if someone is attacking his daughter, the only thing that matters is whether or not God exists. Considerations of his daughter’s suffering (which is real regardless of whether or not a God does exist) don’t come into it.

  32. A very fitting quote:

    “I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.”
    – Aristotle

    You could change that last bit “fear of the law” into “God” and you have the essence of our conversation here with Warrick (and some others).

  33. Bill,

    I voted Objectively as I do not think that intentional suffering can be separated from morality. Now I understand that people’s own views of morality will be different than mine, but I offer this in contrast:

    If I was raped as a child then my experience will be much more a source of information as to which I will base my morality than a person with an argument and no experience.

  34. It is wrong to rape little children pedophiles are really sick the answer is already obvious it’s objective

  35. MY WORD IS LAW. It is objective and subjective. Both at the same time. Thank you for your time.

  36. Raping is not a natural act regardless of who you are. We were all created equal by God. No one has the right to rape.

  37. In my opinion it is subjective. If it were objective then there would be no rape in the first place. Right? left.

  38. In my opinion, it is subjective. Everyone has their own sets of morals and values, therefore, their own sets of morality. Let’s face it. Not everyone was raised as well as some of us were. Some people didn’t live in good communities. Other people grew up facing the harsh realities in life. To some of these people, raping, killing, and stealing are just normal things.

  39. I voted for objective since rape is wrong no matter how you look at it. It’s not just a matter of taste.

  40. Raping is not part of a human nature so obviously raping is wrong. raping children is more wrong because you are destroying their future.

  41. Good is something you could not understand. If you say good is being your own nature then that’s a bad logic. From what I know, we evolved from apes then our nature is to kill others to survive. Remember the past, homo-erectus fought against the neanderthals then i don’t think that’s moral but if it’s good then i think that makes it right. Good is objective and not something for us to say what is and what’s not. It depends on the goal you’re trying to achieve. I would commit sin if it benefits the common good of the people. During the bible era, God commanded the israelites to murder man, women , and child. If hitler did the same then are they both good? or are they both evil? Think about it. RAmen.

  42. Raping isn’t an act according to any laws of God stated in the bible. We should treat each other the same and normal because no one is above anyone in God’s eyes.

  43. The path of the righteous man is changed by of the rich and tyranny of evil men. i shall guide my brothers into finding the things that matter to them in life. What is my opinion then? My opinion is that you’re opinion is either the correct answer to my opinion therefore the opinion itself is opinionated by the opinions of different people. People should not rape but then what if an alien from the fifth dimension says that it is okay to rape in their planet. Does that make it right or wrong? The answer is,again, opinionated by the unique individuality of a person and therefore should be taken into close consideration of everyone in this comment section.


  44. having sex with little children is bad in the 1st place, adding rape in the situation makes it even worse. it goes against morals and what is good. it is objective… mmmm tarts…

  45. It is subjective, but obviously, Rape will be WRONG, ABNORMAL, and IMMORAL for most if not all of us.

    Shame to those who feel that this is right.

  46. Rape is wrong, all people have the right to say no to sex, but in my opinion it is subjective since some crazy people think it’s ok to rape people. But dont worry, when someone wants to rape you u can call me!!!

  47. I voted for subjective because the statement gives an opinion.An objective version of this statement would be ‘It is illegal to rape little children for fun’ or something along those lines.The word wrong states what the person thinks of child rape.It is a personal opinion.Many people regard ‘wrong’ in many different ways and the way one regards what is wrong,is based on his or her personal opinion.For example,some countries allow men to have multiple wives,while in other countries,people loathe and detest this idea.

    In this manner,I believe this statement is subjective.

  48. Well, I think it’s completely objective, adding to it, I think it’s completely wrong. It’s because raping little children is really wrong, since that is not the type of human nature/conscience that our creator ideally want us to have, even if that he gave us the freedom to choose what is right or wrong decisions. ADD ME IN YM OR MESSAGE ME!!

  49. raping is plain evil… getting someones freedom is already bad and even if its in their taste, they know that what they’re doing is not good therefore should not be done at all….. +_+

  50. I think it is subjective because to some it is wrong, but to some people, like the rapists themselves, it is good

  51. I think this is generally a fact because we all know that the action is wrong and that this action is against the rights of children. The act of raping is already wrong so doing it on a kid would be even worse.

  52. For me, I voted for objectively. This is because rape is absolutely wrong. You should not do it. It’s bad and awful. It’s against the law of God. We shall respect each other.

  53. I vote OBJECTIVELY TRUE, because i honestly think this poll is nonsense. The fact that when you rape someone and you get arrested is already the proof that it is a wrong act. why would someone think that this statement is a good or correct thing to do if you do it you got to jail. My answer is based on the facts of life and the rule and regulations. this question is Objectively true NOT Subjectively. If you think it’s a subjectively true question then i honestly think that you don’t have the right mind of a human being.

  54. This question being asked is just disgusting and ridiculous. I will never read one of these again. I only saw this on someone’s thread on Facebook and I think it’s ridiculous. Who would even ask such a stupid question? It’s not even thought provoking! What is the debate???? WHY is the author asking this??? Hmmmmm, makes me wonder and kind of scares me.

  55. Csieh8302, I hear your complaint; I, too find the question repugnant. But I must defend the author a little, because there is an important point he is trying to raise. And you did ask “Why”

    One of the important issues is whether things are “wrong” because our society comes to some sort of agreement about what is wrong (Like what the speed limit should be), or are some things wrong, because, well, because they ARE wrong. Whether or not there is such a thing as an absolute moral standard to which I am accountable, regardless of what I think is right, or my culture thinks is acceptable behavior. Some would argue, and I agree with them, that if there is such an absolute standard, then that is a powerful argument that God exists.

    What I understand Bill, the author of the post, to be doing is to suggest that, however much some people may think that “right and wrong” comes up from common consent, and there is no God, yet there are things about which even these people will recoil in disgust and say that that thing is wrong in an absolute sense, no matter what any person or society may say. It is Wrong. That would indicate that they really do at bottom believe in some sort of absolute standard, and thus (at least to my way of thinking) that there is a God, or ultimate authority.

    That ultimate question, “Is there a God” is one that has gotten a lot of discussion on this site through the past year, with various evidences put forward, and refutations made. Stroke has been matched for stroke in a sometimes robust contest.

    Although I do share your revulsion at the particular thought brought up as an example in this post, I hope you can understand that it was brought up as an example of something that is so clearly wrong that there can be very little discussion on that point.

  56. Positing a God makes no difference to the question, and it makes it no more objective. If God liked raping children, would that make it ok? Is it wrong cos God says so, or does he say so cos it’s wrong?

    So yes, it’s a pretty silly question – designed to shock. It just makes apologists look silly.

  57. Assuming there is objective truth in the statement that some things are wrong:

    Either the standard exists independently of God, any proposed god is subject to its decrees. The existence of such a standard is thus unrelated to the existence of God.


    God is not subject to the standard, but is instead its author. He may have decreed other standards; worse, since there is no “higher” standard, the things decreed as wrong are only so because “God doesn’t like that” and are therefore not objective at all.

    So, If I understand Andrew correctly, the claim is that an appeal to objective truth concerning right and wrong offers no support to the existence of God. Indeed, to the extent that right and wrong are derived from the pronouncements of God, they are shown to be totally subjective and arbitrary.

    That dilemma has great power on the atheist side, but I think it is a false dilemma. There is a third way.
    I know it has been described before, but I’ll take another shot at it.

    In the first objection, that God is irrelevant because any absolute standard must be higher than He. Call that standard the “Ultimate” and “Absolute.” Throw in the nature of reason and logic, perhaps the fundamental laws of physics and mathematics. “Why is 2+3=5?” It just is. “Why is rape wrong?” it just is. QED. Fundamental truths of reality. In that body of truths is the essence of the universe, deriving from nothing, self existent. That body of truth has a number of the attributes of what is meant by God; to my limited understanding, it is almost exactly what the Taoist would understand.

    The Christian position is exactly the same, but more. More by the adding of personality, and plurality in unity. But my point is that by adding person-hood, we are not moving away from that somewhat Taoist understanding, but are adding dimensions.

    The dilemma demands that I declare whether right/wrong lies in the horizontal dimension of “ objective, arbitrary truth” or in the vertical dimension of personality. We instead claim that it is both, it is three dimensional, abandoning neither. God is not an inhabitant of the universe, subject to its fundamental laws, neither is he the arbitrary author of those laws. He is instead the summation of those laws; they, in total, are a description of Him, in part.

  58. Sorry, describing a God as a ‘summation of the laws’ doesn’t reall mean anything and doesn’t avoid the dilemma.

  59. The question makes no sense. It’s like asking ‘is dung objectively stinky?’

    And it suggests that if you changed your mind about God’s existence you would automatically change your mind about the wrongness of child rape. Either you’re against cruelty to kids or you’re not – the existence of a deity shouldn’t make a difference there.

  60. Bill, simply saying ‘it’s been explained several times’ as if that wins the argument doesn’t wash. One can equally reply that the flaws in the explanation have been pointed out several times.

    The ‘third way’ of ‘it’s God’s nature’ – if that’s what’s being offered here – simply requires the dilemma to be rephrased:
    “Is x an attribute of God’s nature because it is good, or is x good because it is an attribute of God’s nature”. With x here being ‘raping kids is wrong. Back to square one.

  61. You still haven’t answered the question. Is it objective in the way I defined objective in the blog post or is it subjective? This is not complicated.

  62. Andrew, you said, “Is it wrong cos God says so, or does he say so cos it’s wrong?”

    We said this is a false dilemma because moral goodness is a part of God’s nature. God is good. God commands only what is consistent with his nature, and therefore he would never comand what is not right. The moral law, therefore, is not arbitrary, and the moral law is not something that exists outside of God that he is subject to.

    Dilemma avoided.

  63. “False dilemma” or not, you haven’t answered my question. What does ‘good’ mean in your assertion ‘God is good’? You can say your God has a nature, but how do you get from claiming to have insights to what that nature entails to getting moral imperatives?

    Saying the nature is eternal and unchanging tells us nothing about a supposed moral rightness. Would a being’s preference for child rape become any more ‘right’ if such a preference was eternal?

    BTW, I’m typing all this with my 7-day old daughter sleeping on my chest. Her innocence and sweetness is in stark contrast with the repugnance of your question.

    And no it isn’t a simple question – to answer one must consider the very nature of what a ‘moral fact’ is supposed to be. Our concepts of meta ethics – what ‘moral’ is – developed over a huge period of time, it’s an immensely complicated subject.

    And your own dilemma is false – it’s not either ‘objectively wrong’ or equivalent to a taste in coffee.

  64. Contd: You’re own options are a false dilemma.

    I wouldn’t argue that gobbling cow dung is ‘objectively disgusting’, but that doesn’t mean it is just some arbitrary personal preference either.

    I don’t know what you mean by a ‘moral fact’, and I don’t think your definition of ‘objectively wrong’ is coherent either. I would call a hypothetical God who approved of torturing babies cruel, regardless of how true to his nature he was being or how unchanging that nature was. You on the other hand would be forced to shrug and say ‘yay to child rape, find me a baby and I’ll get busy fir the glory of my child-rape loving deity!’

    Apologies for the above, and again it feels odd typing it with a nine pound baby on my shoulder, but it’s you that chose to make a point with such a hideous subject matter.

  65. It’s a false dichotomy, as I explain in my posts above. The one starting ‘contd’ is the second part.

  66. I’m amazed that you still haven’t answerd the question! Why is it so hard for you to answer, Andrew? Well over a hundred other people had no problem understanding the question, but you go on and on about how the question makes no sense! Is it objectively wrong or not ? Enough with your evasions.

  67. I have answered your question Bill, I’m astonished at your obtuseness to claim I have not, particularly as you refuse to my answer my own question.

    It’s a false dichotomy. You’re asking me to choose from two false options. Ironically you claim the same of my question, despite being unable to answer a coherent ‘third option’.

    Again, is raping children wrong because it’s part of your God’s nature to be wrong, or is it part of your God’s nature because it’s wrong?

  68. And you can say that 100+ people have voted, but reading the comments it’s pretty clear that many voters didn’t think much of your options either, or have explained they voted ‘objective’ for reasons irrespective of God – “because it violates childrens rights” for example.

    Why did you offer no third option for ‘neither of the above’?

  69. So what is the third option if objective and subjective do not exhaust the available options? Please try to explain this third option as clearly as possible as I truly fail to see how there can be a third option.

    The statement, “Raping little children for fun is wrong,” is either binding on all people at all places in all times or it is not. If it is not, then it is only binding relative to certain people living in certain places at certain times (in other words, it is subjective). Again, I ask what is the third option?

  70. Well, We all know that rape is wrong, In every way. If people are in to little kids, then there would be something wrong with their way of thinking. I don’t care, but they just need to be in the right AGE and mentally aware or mutually want this thing.

  71. This is exactly what I used to say. But I am disappointed with the author for putting it up as a question. It’s a matter of fact that it is subjective. Good or bad is subjective, justice is subjective and many more things that most people assume they aren’t subjective are actually subjective.

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