Tag Archives: Tom Howe

Why Doesn’t the Author of 2 Kings Mention Manasseh’s Repentance?

In 2 Chronicles 33, the author records the capture of Manasseh by the Assyrians, his subsequent imprisonment, and then his repentance and return to Jerusalem. None of this material is recorded in the parallel account of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21. Why might this be the case and, secondly, is the account in 2 Chronicles historically plausible? Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe tackle the first question in When Critics Ask : A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties:

Apparently the author of 2 Kings did not record the repentance of Manasseh because of the lack of influence it had upon the steady decline of the nation. The Book of 2 Kings concentrates primarily upon the actions of the covenant people of God as a whole. The repentance and reforms of Manasseh did relatively little to turn the nation around from its path to judgment, while his sinful leadership early in his reign did much more damage to the nation. Even in the 2 Chronicles passage we find this statement: ‘Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the Lord their God’ (2 Chron. 33:17). Even though the people dedicated their sacrifices to the Lord, they were still committing sin, because sacrifices were to be made at the temple, not upon high places which were originally altars to false gods. Despite the efforts of Manasseh, the people would not totally dedicate themselves to the Lord.

Is the account of Manasseh being taken by the Assyrians plausible historically? J. A. Thompson, in vol. 9, 1, 2 Chronicles, The New American Commentary, attempts to answer this question for us.

A historical question has been raised in regard to Manasseh’s captivity in Babylon, taken there by Assyrian forces, since there is no extrabiblical documentation for these events. This fact is not, of course, a sufficient reason for rejecting their historicity. Assyrian records are by no means sufficiently comprehensive to allow any argument from silence to decide the issue. There is valuable circumstantial evidence which has persuaded a good number of scholars that historical events underlie the Chronicler’s narrative. The Assyrian records mention Manasseh. He is listed among twenty-two kings of Hatti, the seashore, and the islands, who were summoned to Nineveh by Esarhaddon (650–669 B.C.) to bring building materials for a new palace. Asshur- banipal (668–627 B.C.) mentions him among vassal kings who participated in a campaign against Egypt.

In these references Manasseh appears as submissive to the Assyrian king. The question is asked regarding what historical circumstances would have brought about his humiliation and punishment by Assyria. Various proposals have been made. Manasseh quite possibly may have been on the side of Shamash-shum-ukin, who revolted against his brother Asshur-banipal. The inscriptions of both Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal abound in references to Egypt and the Palestinian states in the time of Manasseh, who reigned for fifty-five years.

One other important Assyrian source is the vassal-treaties of Esarhaddon dated in the year 672 B.C. The crown prince of Assyria, Asshur-banipal, was inducted at a special ceremony where representatives of all the lands under Assyrian control were present. These representatives were sworn not to arouse the anger of the gods and goddesses against him and to serve Ashur as their god. They were bound by fearful oaths to support the crown prince after the death of his father. These treaties are not entirely intact, and the name of Manasseh does not appear. But the interest and activity of both Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal in the west may well have forced compliance with their demands on Judah. Naturally vassals took opportunity to deviate from the treaty obligations laid upon them and even to rebel. In fact, numerous rebellions are attested in the reigns of Esarhaddon and Asshur-banipal.

By all accounts, the Chronicler’s narrative is historically reliable, but it of course includes a theological wording.

Is the Story of Jonah Fictional?

Some Bible scholars believe that the Book of Jonah is a fictional tale written purely for teaching purposes by its original author. They argue that the original author never meant for the story to be taken as real history. While it may be impossible to know just based on the contents of the book itself, there is one important person who seems to have considered the events in Jonah to be historical: Jesus Christ.

Billy K. Smith and Franklin S. Page write, in Amos, Obadiah, Jonah: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary):

Finally, there is the witness of Jesus Christ, which apparently was the basis for the early church’s linking the historicity of Jonah’s experience with that of Jesus, especially his resurrection. Although it would be conceivable that Jesus might have been merely illustrating in Matt 12:40 when he associated his prophesied resurrection with Jonah’s experience in the fish, it is much more difficult to deny that Jesus was assuming the historicity of the conversion of the Ninevites when he continued in v. 41 (cf. Luke 11:32).

‘The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.’

This is confirmed in the following verse (cf. Luke 11:33) when Jesus parallels the ‘men of Nineveh’ with the ‘Queen of the South,’ whose visit to Jerusalem is recounted in 1 Kings.

‘The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.’

Clearly Jesus did not see Jonah as a parable or an allegory. As J. W. McGarvey stated long ago, ‘It is really a question as to whether Jesus is to be received as a competent witness respecting historical and literary matters of the ages which preceded His own.’

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, add:

[T]he most devastating argument against the denial of the historical accuracy of Jonah is found in Matthew 12:40. In this passage Jesus predicts His own burial and resurrection, and provides the doubting scribes and Pharisees the sign that they demanded. The sign is the experience of Jonah. Jesus says, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ If the tale of Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish was only fiction, then this provided no prophetic support for Jesus’ claim. The point of making reference to Jonah is that if they did not believe the story of Jonah being in the belly of the fish, then they would not believe the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. As far as Jesus was concerned, the historical fact of His own death, burial, and resurrection was on the same historical ground as Jonah in the belly of the fish. To reject one was to cast doubt on the other (cf. John 3:12). Likewise, if they believed one, they should believe the other. . . .

Jesus went on to mention the significant historical detail. His own death, burial, and resurrection was the supreme sign that verified His claims. When Jonah preached to the unbelieving Gentiles, they repented. But, here was Jesus in the presence of His own people, the very people of God, and yet they refused to believe. Therefore, the men of Nineveh would stand up in judgment against them, ‘because they [the men of Nineveh] repented at the preaching of Jonah’ (Matt. 12:41). If the events of the Book of Jonah were merely parable or fiction, and not literal history, then the men of Nineveh did not really repent, and any judgment upon the unrepentant Pharisees would be unjust and unfair. Because of the testimony of Jesus, we can be sure that Jonah records literal history.

If Ecclesiastes Is Inspired, Then Why Isn’t It Quoted in the New Testament?

The NT writers quote the OT hundreds of times, yet they never once quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Doesn’t this indicate that the NT writers did not consider the book to be inspired by God?

Norm Geisler and Tom Howe answer this question in their book, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties:

There are several OT books that are not directly quoted in the NT, including Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Esther, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. However, all these books were considered inspired by both Judaism and Christianity. Several points should be kept in mind.

First, being quoted in the NT was not a test for the inspiration of an OT book. Rather, the question was whether it was written by a spokesperson accredited by God and accepted by His people. Ecclesiastes meets this test.

Second, while no text of Ecclesiastes is cited as such in the NT, many of its truths are. For example:

‘What we sow we reap’ (Ecc. 11:1, cf. Gal 6:7)

‘Avoid lust of youth’ (Ecc. 11:10, cf. 2 Tim. 2:22)

‘Death is divinely appointed’ (Ecc. 3:2, cf. Heb. 9:2)

‘Love of money is evil’ (Ecc. 5:10, cf. 1 Tim. 6:10)

‘Don’t be wordy in prayer’ (Ecc. 5:2, cf. Matt. 6:7)

Third, the NT writers had no occasion to quote from every book in the OT. Few Christians have quoted recently from 1 Kings, yet the NT did (Rom. 11:4). Indeed, few believers ever cite 2 or 3 John, and yet they are part of the inspired Word of God. Whether, or even how often, a book is quoted does not determine whether it is inspired.

Does Solomon’s Hundreds of Wives Mean That the Bible Promotes Polygamy?

In 1 Kings 11, verse 3, we read that Solomon, the king who ruled at the pinnacle of Israelite power, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Other great men of the Old Testament also had more than one wife. Are we to conclude that God encourages polygamy?

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficultiesargue that the Bible unequivocally teaches that monogamy is God’s standard for the human race.

This is clear from the following facts: (1) From the very beginning God set the pattern by creating a monogamous marriage relationship with one man and one woman, Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:27; 2:21–25). (2) Following from this God-established example of one woman for one man, this was the general practice of the human race (Gen. 4:1) until interrupted by sin (Gen. 4:23). (3) The Law of Moses clearly commands, ‘You shall not multiply wives’ (Deut. 17:17). (4) The warning against polygamy is repeated in the very passage where it numbers Solomon’s many wives (1 Kings 11:2), warning ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you.’ (5) Our Lord reaffirmed God’s original intention by citing this passage (Matt. 19:4) and noting that God created one ‘male and [one] female’ and joined them in marriage. (6) The NT stresses that ‘Each man [should] have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband’ (1 Cor. 7:2). (7) Likewise, Paul insisted that a church leader should be ‘the husband of one wife’ (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). (8) Indeed, monogamous marriage is a prefiguration of the relation between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31–32).

How do the biblical texts treat the practice of polygamy?

Polygamy was never established by God for any people under any circumstances. In fact, the Bible reveals that God severely punished those who practiced it, as is evidenced by the following: (1) Polygamy is first mentioned in the context of a sinful society in rebellion against God where the murderer ‘Lamech took for himself two wives’ (Gen. 4:19, 23). (2) God repeatedly warned polygamists of the consequences of their actions ‘lest his heart turn away’ from God (Deut. 17:17; cf. 1 Kings 11:2). (3) God never commanded polygamy—like divorce, He only permitted it because of the hardness of their hearts (Deut. 24:1; Matt. 19:8). (4) Every polygamist in the Bible, including David and Solomon (1 Chron. 14:3), paid dearly for his sins. (5) God hates polygamy, as He hates divorce, since it destroys His ideal for the family (cf. Mal. 2:16).

Geisler and Howe summarize the argument for monogamy:

In brief, monogamy is taught in the Bible in several ways: (1) by precedent, since God gave the first man only one wife; (2) by proportion, since the amount of males and females God brings into the world are about equal; (3) by precept, since both OT and NT command it (see verses above); (4) by punishment, since God punished those who violated His standard (1 Kings 11:2); and, (5) by prefiguration, since marriage is a typology of Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31–32). Simply because the Bible records Solomon’s sin of polygamy does not mean that God approved of it.

What Is the Age of Accountability?

In 2 Samuel 12:23, David speaks about his dead 7-day-old child, “But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” This verse implies that David believes he will see his child again in the afterlife, in Heaven. But why does David have this confidence?

Many Christian theologians have argued for a concept called the age of accountability. The idea is that any person who dies before they are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, goes to Heaven. What biblical evidence do they give for the age of accountability? Norman Geisler and Tom Howe, in When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, provide the scriptural basis:

First, Isaiah 7:16 speaks of an age before a child is morally accountable, namely, ‘before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.’ Second, David believed in life after death and the resurrection (Ps. 16:10–11), so when he spoke of going to be with his son who died after birth (2 Sam. 12:23), he implied that those who die in infancy go to heaven.

Third, Psalm 139 speaks of an unborn baby as a creation of God whose name is written down in God’s ‘book’ in heaven (vv. 14–16). Fourth, Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’ (Mark 10:14), thus indicating that even little children will be in heaven.

Fifth, some see support in Jesus’ affirmation that even ‘little ones’ (i.e., children) have a guardian angel ‘in heaven’ who watches over them (Matt. 18:10). Sixth, the fact that Christ’s death for all made little children savable, even before they believed (Rom. 5:18–19).

Finally, Jesus’ indication that those who did not know were not morally responsible (John 9:41) is used to support the belief that there is heaven for those who cannot yet believe, even though there is no heaven for those who are old enough and refuse to believe (John 3:36).

What Training Do We Need to Interpret the Bible?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Let’s get some facts out on the table about the Bible.  The Bible is composed of some 66 separate documents that were written approximately between the years of 1500 BC to AD 100 in two primary languages (Hebrew and Greek), and produced in cultures and historical contexts that are radically different from ours.

All of these elements make it difficult to interpret the biblical texts correctly: 1) the fact that we are dealing with many documents written by many different authors, 2) the fact that these documents were written in foreign and ancient languages, 3) the fact that the cultures that produced these documents are very different from ours, and 4) the fact that we are far removed from the historical contexts of these documents.

If a Christian wanted to overcome all of these obstacles to understand the Bible, what disciplines must she master?  Christian philosopher Tom Howe puts the question this way:

Does this imply that in order to understand God’s Word one must be competent in the biblical languages, in Hebrew and Greek culture and customs, in the history of nations and people who have interacted with Israel and the church; that the interpreter must be a competent philosopher of history, philosopher of language, philosopher of science, metaphysician as well as an accomplished theologian?

Howe’s answer to the question is both “yes” and “no.”  First, let’s look at the sense in which the answer is “no.”  Howe answers:

If by “to understand the Bible” one means the capacity to grasp and receive the message of salvation through Christ which is the aim of the Word of God, then the answer is emphatically, No! The nature of man, having been created in the image of God as a rational creature, seems to be a sufficient prerequisite to hear, understand, and receive the message of salvation through Christ.

This is an incredibly important point.  Howe is saying that the message of salvation through Christ is understandable to any human being because we are made in the image of God as rational creatures.  Thus no training is necessary to understand the central thrust of the Bible.  The Bible is perspicuous, or clear, according to Francis Turretin, “in things necessary to salvation [so] that they can be understood by believers without the external help of oral tradition or ecclesiastical authority.”

What about the rest of the Bible that is not so clear?  Howe mentions that even the Apostle Peter claims that some things that the Apostle Paul wrote were hard to understand (2 Pet 3:15-16). If a person wants to immerse themselves in all of Scripture, not just the clear parts, they are going to need to be equipped.  Howe argues that

the interpreter needs to apply all the skill and training that he or she can bring to the task. We not only strive correctly to interpret God’s Word, but to endeavor accurately to proclaim it to those desiring to hear and to defend it against those who would, in our view, corrupt it. To this end, the interpreter must endeavor to become equipped in many different areas of knowledge all of which relate to the task of interpretation.

This, my friends, is why we rely so heavily on the scholars who immerse themselves in Hebrew and Greek, who become experts on ancient history, who soak up all of the cultural information they can relevant to the biblical texts, who become adept philosophers.  These scholars provide us with English translations of the Bible, with commentaries chock full of historical context and language notes, with dictionaries that illuminate ancient culture.

If you want to correctly interpret all of Scripture, you need training.  For those of you who have neither the ability nor the desire for that training, God has made clear those parts necessary for salvation, and for that we are eternally thankful!

What Comes First? Epistemology or Metaphysics?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Actually the answer is neither, but we’ll get to that soon enough.  Why ask this question in the first place?  Because philosophy is a discipline that builds one layer upon another (just like many other disciplines), and since philosophy provides a foundation for all of the sciences, it is extremely important to understand where to start.

To examine this issue of the order of philosophical disciplines, we will refer to Tom Howe’s helpful notes on the subject (some of which are captured in his book Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation).  So what comes first?  Howe’s answer may surprise you, but the answer is . . . reality.  What is reality?

Simply put, reality is that which is. Notice that the characterization of reality is not, “what is.” To characterize reality as “what” implies that reality is basically some identity, or essence. When one asks, “What is it?” one is inquiring about the identity or essence of the entity in question. But, there are many identities in reality. That is to say, reality consists of many essences, or “whats.” But all essences have at least one thing in common, namely, that they exist. Therefore, reality at its most basic level is not a particular essence, or a group of essences. Reality is that which exists, or, as we have phrased it, “That which is.”

So the first thing we look at is that which exists, or reality.  Any philosophy that skips this step will go off the rails quickly.  The next question that must be answered after we’ve looked at that which exists is, “What is that which is?”  This is the discipline of metaphysics.  According to Howe, in metaphysics we are “inquiring into the nature of reality.”

After we examine the nature of that which exists, we may then move on to the next question in philosophy: “How do we know that which is?”  Howe writes, “Epistemology is the discipline that addresses [that] question . . .”  He continues:

Epistemology does not begin with itself and attempt to justify the existence of the extra-mental. Rather, epistemology must begin with the assumption that knowledge is a fact. If knowledge is not a fact of existence, then no one would be able to investigate its possibility, because any investigation necessarily assumes the fact of knowledge. Knowledge is a fact to be investigated, not a mere possibility to be actualized. If knowledge was not a fact to be investigated, then there would be no possibility of knowing this.

So there is our answer.  The order of disciplines in philosophy is 1) reality (that which is), 2) metaphysics (what is that which is?), and 3) epistemology (how do we know that which is?).  Virtually all of the confusion in modern philosophy is due to the fact that it has started with epistemology instead of reality and metaphysics.

Descartes got the ball rolling when he started his philosophical investigations by asking how he could know anything instead of first looking at that which exists.  Modern philosophy, following Descartes, never has answered the question of what the necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge are, and they never will.  Why?  Because knowledge depends on reality, not vice versa.  A philosophy that starts with epistemology and that skips reality and metaphysics is doomed to ask questions that can never be answered.

How Do We Know Truth Is Absolute, Unified, and Objective?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Tom Howe, in his book Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation, makes the case that there is unity, objectivity, and absoluteness in truth.  To start his explanation, he quotes Mortimer Adler from his book Truth and Religion:

1. The human race is a single biological species, renewed generation after generation by the reproductive determinations of a single gene pool. Hence, man is one in nature— that is, in specific nature. All individual members of the species have the same species-specific properties or characteristics.

2. The human race being one, the human mind is also one. The human mind is a species-specific property found in every individual member of the species, the same in all, being subject to variations in degree. This precludes the notion that there is, within the human species, a primitive mind that is characteristically different from a civilized one, or an Oriental mind that differs in kind from an Occidental one, or even a child mind that differs in kind, not just degree, from an adult mind.

Howe observes that

These two theses, along with a third, are propounded by Adler for the purpose of attempting to identify the necessary basis for a world community in the face of cultural diversity. That basis, as Adler articulates it, is the unity of truth.

Adler explains that

To affirm the unity of truth is to deny that there can be two separate and irreconcilable truths which, while contradicting of one another and thought to be irreconcilably so, avoid the principle of noncontradiction by claiming to belong to logic-tight compartments.

From here, Howe continues by claiming

the principles of the unity of man and the unity of truth demonstrate that there was not a “Hebrew” mind or a “Greek” mind or an “ancient” mind such that truth among those cultures at those periods of time were somehow different than truth today. On the contrary, truth is the same for all ages and among all peoples. The issues relating to men and God were the same issues with which we struggle today, because man is one race and one mind. The differences, then, between these ancient cultures and our modern culture is not the nature of man, or of truth, but are the social and cultural expressions of the same truths.

Given the principles of the unity of man and the unity of truth, is it possible to deny that truth is absolute or that truth is objective?  Howe thinks not:

For someone to claim that there is no such thing as absolute truth is to assert that it is absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. All such relativistic assertions are self-defeating and false. Likewise, for someone to claim that there is no such thing as objectivity is to count on the objective meaning of this very claim, which is likewise self-defeating and false. Truth is unavoidable. Likewise, objectivity is unavoidable.

To deny absolute truth or objective truth is self-defeating, for the very person who denies the absoluteness and objectivity of truth believes that their statement about truth is absolutely and objectively true.

What Is Objectivity? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 1 of this post, we looked at contemporary notions of objectivity, as reported by philosopher Tom Howe.   In part 2 we continue to flesh out the concept of objectivity.

Tom Howe quotes philosopher Mary Hawkesworth:

In the context of philosophical and scientific investigations, an objective account implies a grasp of the actual qualities and relations of objects as they exist independent of the inquirer’s thoughts and desires regarding them. In the spheres of ethics, law, and administration, objectivity suggests impersonal and impartial standards and decision procedures that produce disinterested and equitable judgments. Objectivity, then, promises to free us from distortion, bias, and error in intellectual inquiry and from arbitrariness, self-interest, and caprice in ethical, legal, and administrative decisions.

We see the idea of existence “independent of the inquirer’s thoughts and desires regarding them.”  The moral fact, “It is wrong to torture a child for fun,” is objective if it is true independent of the inquirer’s thoughts.  Whether a person believes this statement is true or not is irrelevant to its truth.

In addition, Hawkesworth introduces the concept of “impersonal and impartial standards.”  The statement, “It is wrong to torture a child for fun,” is objective if it can be judged by a standard which is impersonal and impartial.

Howe finishes his survey of contemporary views on objectivity with the following summary:

First, there is a recurring theme . . . that in some sense objectivity involves the notion of a neutral judgment that strives to be free from all biases, prejudices, presuppositions, preconceived ideas, preunderstandings, or other factors that might distort one’s understanding or conclusions.

Objectivity is almost universally equated with what Richard Bernstein calls “objectivism,” which he defines as “a basic conviction that there is or must be some permanent, ahistorical matrix or framework to which we can ultimately appeal in determining the nature of rationality, knowledge, truth, reality, goodness, or rightness.”

Objectivity, then, is about judgment without the undue influence of bias or prejudice.  The worldview of the judge is taken out of the judgment as much as possible.  The judge is to tell it like it is.

In a second, and arguably more important sense, objectivity is, as Richard Bernstein states, a “permanent, ahistorical matrix or framework to which we can ultimately appeal” to on issues of morality, truth, and knowledge.  Any person that denies that this ahistorical and permanent framework exists is thus denying that objectivity exists.  Ironically, the person who claims that ahistorical objectivity does not exist believes this to be true for all time.  To deny objectivity is to affirm it.

What Is Objectivity? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

We’ve recently featured several blog posts centered around the idea of moral objectivity.  Objectivity is also a concept that can be applied to truth, knowledge, interpretation, and even beauty.  Although we’ve tried to carefully define objectivity versus subjectivity, it might be worth revisiting this concept to see what contemporary thinkers have to say about it.

Philosopher Tom Howe provides a brief, but insightful survey of several contemporary views on objectivity in his book Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation. Howe starts things off with a quote from the famous agnostic Bertrand Russell:

Subjectively, every philosopher appears to himself to be engaged in the pursuit of something which may be called ‘truth.’ Philosophers may differ as to the definition of ‘truth,’ but at any rate it is something objective, something which, in some sense, everybody ought to accept.

We start with the idea that something is objective if it is something that everybody ought to accept.  If we take the clear moral truth, “It is wrong to torture a child for fun,” this statement would be objectively true if it is a statement that everyone ought to accept.

Howe then describes Paul Helm’s “ontological” objectivity.  According to Howe, “This is basically the question of whether the extra-mental reality exists apart from human perception or is the construct of the human mind.  As Helm puts it, ‘Does the character of the world change with the very fact that we are interpreting it?'”

Here we see another important aspect of objectivity.  Something is objective if it exists “apart from human perception.”  Taking our example again, the moral truth,  “It is wrong to torture a child for fun,” would be objective if the statement was true regardless of whether any human being perceived it to be true.  In other words, if all human beings went extinct tomorrow, it would still be objectively true that torturing a child for fun is wrong.

Here is an interesting thought experiment.  If an intelligent alien race came to earth and began torturing human children, would we react with moral outrage and accuse them of atrocious immoral acts, or would we say to ourselves, “That’s a shame they are torturing kids, but they obviously just have a different moral code than we do.  It must be morally acceptable, under their moral system, for them to torture human children.”

I think that we would obviously be morally outraged.  In fact, this very situation, or something like it, is portrayed in dozens of science fiction movies where intelligent aliens attack and/or torture humans.  The humans in these movies are almost always portrayed as holding the aliens morally culpable, but if moral facts only exist in human perception, then it would be truly bizarre to hold aliens morally accountable.

They might have their own moral facts, or they may perceive no moral facts at all.  Why is it, at least in the movies, humans always assume that hostile aliens have the same moral sensibilities we do?  I submit that it is because the writers of these movie scripts, just like the rest of us, assume moral facts exist apart from human perception.

Attacking aliens aside, this aspect of objectivity seems to confuse many atheists, because they fail to see how something like a moral fact could exist without human minds perceiving it to be true.  For theists, of course, truth also exists in the mind of God, so we have no problem with moral facts being objective in this sense.  If you are a non-theist, you could posit that moral truths exist as brute, fundamental facts of the universe, but this answer merely leads inevitably to the question of why the universe would come furnished with moral facts.

In our next post, we will continue to look at the notion of objectivity.