Religion, Facts and Science, No Conflict Here

Are science and religion really at odds with each other? According to a Pew Research Center 2014 telephone survey, a majority of the public says science and religion often conflict, with nearly six-in-ten adults (59%) expressing this view in newly released findings from a Pew Research Center survey. The share of the public saying science and religion are often in conflict is up modestly from 55% in 2009, when Pew Research conducted a similar survey on religion and science. In addition, some atheists, like Jerry Coyne, have been loudly and publicly insisting that a battle between religion and science exists. Coyne resists any accommodation between religious and non-religious scientists to defend Darwinism. He doesn’t want to see them joining forces against the creationist common enemy in case that legitimises religion. In order for his position to make sense, he needs to show that there is some sort of existential conflict between religion and science.

Nevertheless, the people’s sense that this conflict exists between religion and science seems to have less to do with their own religious beliefs than it does with their perceptions of other people’s beliefs. Less than one third of Americans polled in the new survey (30%) say their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while fully two-thirds (68%) say there is no conflict between their own beliefs and science.

Atheists seem to endlessly trot out the trope of the incompatible relationship between science and Christian religion. For example, public atheists like Jerry Coyne have been loudly and publicly insisting that a battle between religion and science exists. Coyne resists any accommodation between religious and non-religious scientists to defend Darwinism. He doesn’t want to see them joining forces against the creationist common enemy in case that legitimises religion. In order for his position to make sense, he needs to show that there is some sort of existential conflict between religion and science.

Let us repeat: Jerry Coyne doesn’t want Christians helping defend Evolution. He considers them an enemy even if they agree with him.

This is only possible through reinforcing a mistaken notions mutual antagonism, inherent conflict, and aggressive warfare created by John Wiliam Draper and Andrew Dickson White. Their books painted history as an endless conflict between the rationality of science (earnestly searching for truth) opposed by the ignorance of religion (stubbornly trying to block scientific progress), with science fighting valiantly and continually emerging victorious. It is by design that those two books; (‘A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom’, by Andrew White, and ‘History of the Conflict between Religion and Science’, by John Draper) are available for free downloading at and, respectively. It is undoubtedly also by design that those two sites do not provide links to any of the many scholarly sources offering devastating criticisms of the works of White and Draper.

The fictional portrayal of history by Draper and White is dramatic, with heroes and villains clearly defined, and therefore appealing for many people. Their colorful stories of “science vs. religion” mainly center on ‘flat earth’ and the Galileo controversy are useful for anti-Christian (and anti-religious via broad-brush tactics) rhetoric, and has exerted a powerful influence on popular views about the interactions between science and religion. However, the stories portrayed by Draper and White are rejected by modern historians as highly over-simplified and inaccurate in their description of what really happened.
For instance, people today accept the notion that, in the time of Columbus, educated Christians believed the earth was flat. However, the truth is the reverse. This wrong idea is due to a fascinating abuse of history that began around 1830 when two writers (a creative novelist inventing a colorful story about Columbus, and an atheist scholar trying to make Christians look foolish) collaborated to invent a false story about “belief in a flat earth”. The story was later popularized by Draper’s book. ‘The Myth of Flat-Earth Belief.’

The same fallacious misinformation portrays the Galileo affair consistently and simplistically as a battle between science and Christianity (all religion by extension); a notable episode in the long warfare of science and theology. The narrative ignores that the conflict was located as much within the church (between opposing theologies of biblical interpretation) and within science (between alternative cosmologies both inside and outside the Church) as between “science and the church.”

The fact of the matter is this popular historical canard has everything going for it except objectivity, rationality, and impartiality. For example, Galileo was never “imprisoned.” He was merely temporarily confined to a villa in Florence for violating an agreement he had made with the Pope. He was never asked to “recant his scientific assertions that the Earth revolves around the Sun.” The Church had already accepted the feasibility of Copernicus’ heliocentric cosmology. The pope who was sideways with Galileo was a Copernicus fan, as were the majority of the Catholic scientists at the time.

The issue between Galileo and the Pope was not whether it was acceptable to assert that the earth revolved around the sun. The issue was the assertion (which Copernicus never made but Galileo did) that there was sufficient scientific evidence to prove it, which, at the time, there wasn’t. Therefore, Galileo was not in trouble because of ‘his’ science, he was in trouble due to breach of trust (with someone who just so happened to be the Pope).

Atheist/Anti-theist activists seem to be fully invested in the belief that they (Atheist/Anti-Theist) are considerably smarter and more capable than religious people. It may have appeared that they had the proof they wanted in the study “Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds” by Kathleen H. Corriveaua, Eva E. Chenb and Paul L. Harris. The study was originally published in Cognitive Science (2014) 1–30; 1551-6709 online DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12138.

The abstract describes the research as two studies of 5- and 6-year-old children who were questioned about the status of the protagonist embedded in three different types of stories. In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children’s upbringing was also related to their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation.

Some articles published in the popular press in the wake of this study’s release seem almost jubilant. Huffington Post writer Shadee Ashtari states that, “In both studies, [children exposed to religion] were less likely to judge the characters in the fantastical stories as pretend, and in line with this equivocation, they made more appeals to reality and fewer appeals to impossibility than did secular children,” the study concluded.

While that paragraph is accurate, she carries it further than the study does by stating “Refuting previous hypotheses claiming that children are “born believers,” the authors suggest that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.”

Examples of the stories were cited at
Three Joseph stories

Religious: “This is Joseph. Joseph was sent to a mean king in a land far away. However, God sent Joseph many dreams warning about terrible storms, and Joseph used those dreams to tell the king how to protect his kingdom from the storms. The king was so amazed by Joseph and they became friends.”

Fantastical: “This is Joseph. Joseph was sent to a mean king in a land far away where there were terrible storms. Joseph used his magical powers to see into the future, and told the king how to protect his kingdom from the storms. The king was so amazed by Joseph and they became friends.”

Realistic: This is Joseph. Joseph was sent to a mean king in a land far away where there were terrible storms. The king realised that Joseph was very good at looking at clouds and predicting when there would be rain. The king was so amazed by Joseph and they became friends.”

Joseph Stern of begins by telling the readers, “In the United States, conventional wisdom holds that you should raise your child to be religious. Taking the kids to church is the default; leaving them home requires justification. Push parents to explain why they should pass on their religion—apart from a principled urge to keep the faith—and they’re likely to tell you studies prove that kids do better with religion than without it.” This is followed by a paragraph informing us that several studies do seem to corroborate the assertion that kids raised with religious beliefs are psychologically healthier than kids raised without it. The gap is small but real. Some researchers link religious affiliation and regular church attendance with a mild boost in children’s mental health. There is also belief that those same children have better self-control and react better to discipline.

However, he later ties religion to damage caused by arguments over religion, while ignoring that the damage is caused by discord between their parents, just like arguments over money, mental health, etc., and attempts to question the causality of the difference. He cites John Bartkowksi, a professor of sociology at University of Texas at San Antonio, who wonders whether church attendance really leads to good behavior—or whether it might be the other way around. “It may be that kids who are already well-behaved are the only ones who can get into religious communities. It may be that kids who are already well-behaved are the only ones who can get into religious communities” These statements presumes that self-control leads to attendance at religious services, rather than the other way around.

Any regular attendant to church, temple or family mosque will readily attest that this presumption is patently false. Small children are sources of disruption and noise in virtually any worship service. Small children bore easily and quickly, their tolerance for religious ceremonies is low. They learn discipline/self-control from their parents modeling, teaching and enforcing discipline when and where it is appropriate.

To his credit, even after tying religion to ‘fantastical’ miracle stories and speculating that these stories confuse the minds of 3-6 year olds, Stern does cover the weaknesses of the researchers’ argument. Citing Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale. Bloom called the paper, “a cool study by a sharp research team,” but notes that most kids, religious or secular, are pretty good at distinguishing fantasy from reality.” Bloom told the writer that “…children only look incompetent when dealing with the stories of clever psychologists.”

Bloom states that all children are exposed to seemingly incredible things that also happen to be true on a daily basis. Though the Slate article lists only evolution and plate tectonics as items that can force them to re-evaluate their perceptions of reality, there are innumerable others. Even familiar things such as television, CD/DVDs, airplanes and so on cause dramatic shifts in, or expansion of perception of, reality. Though death is quite mundane and accepted in society; a child struggles with the fact that a familiar person or a pet is gone forever shakes their world profoundly.

In the end, though, Bloom states, “The problem with certain religious beliefs isn’t that they are incredible (science is also incredible) and isn’t that they ruin children’s ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. It’s that they are false.”
This writer questions Bloom’s declarative presumption that religious stories are false. He has made a global, sweeping statement with no basis in fact; no research or studies have been cited. He would not presume to make any such far-reaching statement about human psychological research with no research finding, what makes religion so different?

On the other side of the debate, EchoChambers cites individuals who see the findings from this study as positive. The following citations are either lifted directly or paraphrased from the article.

“This study proves a benefit of religion, not a detriment, because research shows how imaginative and fictional thinking, fantasy play aid in the cognitive development of children,” Eliyahu Federman said in USA Today. “Raising children with fantastical religious tales is not bad after all.” “Those claiming that belief in religious stories harms children should be interpreting research and science correctly,” he says, adding,”Not only is there benefit in allowing children to think imaginatively without forcing them into the mindset of perceived reality, but according to at least one study, raising children with religion also increases self-esteem, lowers anxiety, risk of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and dangerous sexual behavior.”

“Are we really going to say that kids who are taught to believe the Bible is true are somehow developmentally delayed because they’re more likely, at age 5 or 6, to believe fantastical things?” Jenny Erikson for the Stir asked. “Flip side to this equation could be that secular kids are taught to lose their sense of wonder and imagination at an earlier age than their Bible-believing friends.”

Prosblogion’s Helen De Cruz says that while there may be some truth to the results, what the study really shows is that the religious children know their Bible stories. “The Bible characters are presented to them as historical, so of course they would be more likely to judge them as historical than children who didn’t hear about these characters,” she writes.
She says the subject deserves further study before drawing conclusions. For instance, would children exposed to scientific study at a young age be more inclined to believe pseudoscientific claims? Would Christian children be more likely to believe miracle narratives from other religions?

A serious study of the global scientific community provides further evidence that the perceived conflict between science and religion is an illusion. Elaine Howard Ecklund founding director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences and fellow Rice researchers Kirstin Matthews and Steven Lewis collected information from 9,422 respondents in eight regions around the world: France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. They also traveled to these regions to conduct in-depth interviews with 609 scientists, the largest worldwide survey and interview study ever conducted of the intersection between faith and science.

The study’s results challenge longstanding assumptions about the science-faith interface. While it is commonly assumed that most scientists are atheists, the global perspective resulting from the study shows that this is simply not the case.
“More than half of scientists in India, Italy, Taiwan and Turkey self-identify as religious,” Ecklund said. “And it’s striking that approximately twice as many ‘convinced atheists’ exist in the general population of Hong Kong, for example, (55 percent) compared with the scientific community in this region (26 percent).”

The researchers found that the scientists surveyed were generally less religious than a given general population. Two exceptions to this general trend were in Hong Kong and Taiwan where: 39% of scientists identified as religious versus 20% in the general population, and 54% of scientists identified as religious versus 44 percent of the general population, respectively.

Ecklund noted that only a minority of scientists in each regional context believe that science and religion are in conflict. In the U.K. only 32% of scientists characterized the science-faith interface as one of conflict. This number was only 29 percent in the US. In addition, 25 percent of Hong Kong scientists, 27 percent of Indian scientists and 23 percent of Taiwanese scientists believed science and religion can coexist and be used to help each other

“Science is a global endeavor,” Ecklund said. “And as long as science is global, then we need to recognize that the borders between science and religion are more permeable than most people think.”

Albert Einstein’s religious views were more akin to Thomas Jefferson’s deism than traditional Judaism. Nevertheless, he certainly saw no conflict between science and religion. In his essay, Religion and Science, he clearly states; “Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source.”

Later in the same essay, Einstein adds, “A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value.”…“Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation.”

The only conflict Einstein sees between science and religion is when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion.”

In summary, it appears that Einstein believed that science was the realm that provided the tools that enabled humanity to do things. (To many Christians, the main goal of science is to understand natural processes, thereby increasing our understanding what God has created and our understanding of God through His creation.)

To Einstein (and most theists) the realm of religion and sacred texts provided us with the wisdom to decide whether we should or should not do that thing. He understood that the Bible, Torah or most other sacred texts, for that matter, are not written to be interpreted as literal history. They were written as moral and theological lessons for people of that time and culture. Historic accuracy, as we interpret it (exact dates, times, events, etc.) is sacrificed in favor of bringing the reader closer to God and His will. No Orthodox Jew or Christian believes that Genesis, or any other book of the Bible for that matter, is a literal, accurate account of history. Even though some of the books are historic accounts (stories of Saul and David, the Babylonian captivity, etc.) the authors were more concerned with communicating God’s lessons than anything else.

• Relationships between Science and Religion:Conflict & Warfare, Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.
• When Science and Christianity Meet, Lindberg, David, 2003)
• No, The Catholic Church Didn’t Punish Galileo for Heliocentrism, Martin Cothran | April 26, 2017,
• Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds, Corriveaua, Chenb and Harris,
Cognitive Science (2014) 1–30. ISSN: 0364-0213 print / 1551-6709 online, DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12138.
• _n_5607009.html
• Science and Religion, Albert Einstein, 1939, 1942

Atheism and Theism, A Grounding of Ethics

According to the standard dictionary, Ethic (singular) is defined as: The branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
Ethics (plural) is defined as follows: Moral principles that govern a person or groups’ behavior or the conducting of an activity. Ethics as a subject is the study of what actions we should take, which ones are commendable, which ones we should disapprove of and how we should live our lives.
synonyms: moral code, morals, morality, values, rights and wrongs, principles, ideals, standards (of behavior), value system, virtues, dictates of conscience
The origin of the word begins in late Middle English (denoting ethics or moral philosophy; also used attributively): from Old French éthique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ( hē) ēthikē (tekhnē ) ‘(the science of) morals,’ based on ēthos.

Atheists claim that their “lack of belief” has no ethical ramifications, but they are wrong. Without a grounding in the absolute (as Deists and all religious understand it) there is no possibility of morality outside of subjectivism.
Virtue ethics is a philosophy primarily based on the understanding of Aristotle, who learned from Socrates, a student of Plato. Because virtue ethics is a quest to understand and live a life of moral character, theists such as Christians, Jews, Muslims and Deists will likely agree in broad strokes, or at least find it a compelling way to understand ethics. As a character-based approach to morality, virtue ethics assumes that we acquire virtue through practice. By practicing being honest, brave, just, generous, and so on, a person develops an honorable and moral character. According to Aristotle, by honing virtuous habits, people will likely make the right choice when faced with ethical challenges.

To illustrate the difference among three key moral philosophies, ethicists Mark White and Robert Arp refer to the film The Dark Knight where Batman has the opportunity to kill the Joker. White and Arp suggest that Utilitarian Ethics would endorse killing the Joker because taking this one life would save multitudes (Do whatever does the most good/the ends justify the means). Deontologists, on the other hand, would reject killing the Joker simply because it’s wrong to kill (following the fixed rules of morality trumps the results of (in)action). Virtue ethics instead manifests as the character of the person, Batman does not kill because he does not want to be the kind of person who takes his enemies’ lives.

In this way, virtue ethics helps us understand what it means to be a virtuous human being by giving us a guide for living life without giving us specific rules for resolving ethical dilemmas. The important part of determining the correct actions are the qualities you have as a person. A person who acts with ‘goodness’ (acting with wisdom/forethought, justice, courage and self-mastery) is acting ethically. By the same token, someone performing bad actions (acting foolishly, unfairly, cowardly, greedily or with vicious intent) is acting unethically according to virtue ethics’ principles. Virtue Ethics guides a person to take a much longer view that the immediate, or even lifetime gains or losses any action will cause a person. By looking at the virtue, rather than the advantage, a person considers their own, personal telos, or destination of their life’s journey.

For many (both past and present), life is a journey with no destination. The ancient Greeks described history as an endless cycle of events, perpetually moving but never arriving. Like them, secular humanity drifts anchorless through life, experiencing and responding to each circumstance as it appears on the horizon but never really getting anywhere.

For the theist, however, every event-past, present, and future-moves toward a final goal. The Creator God that brought the universe into existence, and maintains it in existence, causes all things to work together to accomplish His purpose. To explain this concept, the New Testament uses the Greek telos, meaning “end, goal, result, completion or fulfillment.” To each of the Abrahamic Faiths, that destination is ultimately either paradise or perdition. However, all religions offer the promise of some form of afterlife, even if it is as a higher or lower ‘station’ to be reborn in that is awarded according to the objective truth of one’s life’s deeds.

In many respects, to accomplish one’s telos is to live in accordance with the purpose for which you were made. This coincides with Aristotle’s definition for an entity that performs well or excellently by fulfilling its proper (i.e., essential) function. Aristotle saw a universal teleology or purposiveness in which everything in the universe was goal-directed and striving to actualize its essence. For him, an object actualizes its distinctive essence when it achieves an identity of formal and final causation. Man, as a rational being with free will, should strive for his own perfection.

By achieving his fulfillment and all-around development he would attain happiness or fulfillment (Eudaimonia). It follows therefore, that in ethics a man should choose actions that are properly ordered with respect to human affairs; a project through which people aspire to happiness through the cultivation of virtues. Aristotle taught that people acquire virtues (i.e., good habits) through practice and that a set of concrete virtues could lead a person toward his natural excellence and happiness. Morally good habits promote stable and predictable behavior and foster coordination in an imperfect world. Habits are born from natural dispositions created through the repetition of actions. If these habits are morally good, they serve to underpin virtues.

Because the shortcomings of Utilitarianism have become apparent and the concept of referring to an absolute standard of right and wrong is politically incorrect, many have searched for another system of morality. One such system is Quasi-Utilitarianism, created by Iain King, CBE. Iain is an expert on military history, and has given lectures on war to packed university theatres across Britain. He has worked in ten conflicts around the world, and in 2013 became one of the youngest people ever to be honored with the title ‘Commander of the British Empire’, for his frontline roles in Libya, Afghanistan and Kosovo. He has written acclaimed non-fiction books on modern conflict and philosophy and fiction in the techno-thriller genre.
Iain’s philosophy book, “How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time,” lays out his quasi-utilitarianism philosophy. After laying out that both Intuitive and Utilitarian Ethics are flawed and untenable in all situations, Iain claims that rethinking ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ from scratch makes us wonder what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ actually refer to. This must be done to find what consequences and motives separate ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in ‘meta-ethics’, which means ‘beyond’ or ‘above’ ethics. Different philosophers have come to different conclusions on meta-ethics. Some say ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are absolute qualities in the world perhaps as real as numbers; others say they are little more than personal tastes, or expressions of ‘boo’ and ‘hurray’ in response to what we witness.

Iain states that ‘How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time’ sets out four routes for establishing a basis for right and wrong, which also answer ‘What should we do?’ All four routes converge on the same conclusion – the Help Principle: (1) Route One: Reconstructing Utilitarianism, which means reconsidering the common argument for ‘do whatever has the best consequences’ (utilitarianism). Route Two: ‘Correcting’ John Rawls’ approach by adapting the method of denying self-interest to establish a basis for right and wrong (from ‘A Theory of Justice’, 1971). Route Three: The Argument from Evolution: Evolution has instilled moral instincts in us. Because evolution; a chain of our ancestors adapted to their environments, which were arbitrary, this means the genes, and the moral instincts that go with them, which have survived to now are arbitrary too. Route Four: The ‘Sherlock Holmes’ method states that there may or may not be something of value, or meaning in life. If there is meaning, it makes sense to seek it; and if there isn’t any meaning in life it doesn’t matter what we do, since there is nothing of value to be lost.

To define the Help Principle, Iain King says it is necessary to consider the consequences of our actions independently of when we make our decisions because right and wrong should not depend on ‘when’. The hypothetical impact of choices must be applied to the past as well as the future. This is important for promises etc. The Help Principle is reciprocal to be applied to people only as much as they would apply it themselves. When group members don’t reciprocate help they receive, the Help Principle generates: ‘Choose whichever option brings about the greatest all-time direct benefit’ (close to Utilitarianism, but excluding person-to-person wants and including hypothetical impact on the past happiness). For the Help Principle to serve as a practical guide to action, it needs to adapt to the real world. Problems of incomplete information, uncertainty, complexity, inertia, and the impact of previous commitments mean we can rarely make perfect calculations. Iain states that coping with the inevitable uncertainty, complexity etc. of the real world, we must adopt conventions such as social norms, ‘rules of thumb’, traditions of expected behavior and some institutions.

This move reflects a now-common desire to ground ethics without God or religion. The secular/atheist activists/influences in our current culture demand that any/all religious influences be eradicated from the public square. The demand to expunge religion seems to come even if the religious influence has no effect on the culture at large.
Secular rejection of religious basis for ethics may start with the rejection of Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal offers a pragmatic reason offers a pragmatic reason for believing in God: even under the assumption that God’s existence is unlikely. The basis Pascal offers for believing is that the reward for believing/punishment for not believing is substantial in the event God does exist; while the negatives are miniscule if God does not exist. Therefore, it is universally advantageous to believe that God exists.

Pascal’s argument has many objections, including intellectualist objections that one cannot believe something by simply deciding to do so. While true, this objection has perhaps less weight that at first glance. No one can do anything simply by virtue of deciding to. Aristotle, acknowledged doing the right thing is not always so simple, even though few people deliberately choose to develop vicious habits in sharp disagreement with Socrates’s belief that knowing what is right always results in doing it. The great enemy of moral conduct, on Aristotle’s view, is precisely the failure to behave well even on those occasions when one’s deliberation has resulted in clear knowledge of what is right. One cannot get to work or school simply by deciding to. Any/every decision must be followed up with actions and behavior that support and reinforce the decision.

Moral/Ethical Subjectivism holds that there are no objective moral properties and that ethical statements are in fact arbitrary because they do not express immutable truths. Many modern atheists/materialists claim that moral or ethical statements are made true or false by the attitudes opinion, personal preference feelings and/or conventions of the person speaking. Thus, for a statement to be considered morally right merely means that it is met with approval by the person of interest. Another way of looking at this is that judgments about human conduct are shaped by, and in many ways limited to, perception.

An Ethical Subjectivist could argue that the statement “Stalin was evil” expresses a strong dislike for the sorts of things that Stalin did, but it does not follow that it is true (or false) that Stalin was in fact evil. Another person who disagrees with the statement on purely moral grounds (while in agreement with all non-evaluative facts about Stalin) is not making an intellectual error, but simply has a different attitude.

It is compatible with Moral Absolutism, (belief that an individual can be certain that at least some of their moral precepts apply in all situations), but it is also compatible with Moral Relativism (the truth of moral claims is relative to the attitudes of individuals). Moral/Ethical Subjectivism is a cognitivist theory that holds ethical sentences to be subjective, yet still the kind of thing that can be true or false, depending on whose approval is being discussed. It stands in direct contrast to Moral Realism (under which ethical statements are independent of personal attitudes).

Ethical Subjectivism seemingly provides a simple, common-sense explanation of what morality is. Though ethical views often give an internal appearance of objectivity (it feels like we are making, or attempting to make, an objective statement), all that means is people believed them to be true, due to the assertive nature of most ethical statements.
Ethical Subjectivism creates significant problems because it offers no way for people engaged in ethical debate to resolve their disagreements. Instead it requires each side to exercise tolerance by acknowledging the equally ‘factual truth’ of the perceptions asserted by opponents. This tolerance counteracts the issues ethics seeks to resolve, namely deciding ‘what is the right thing to do’. In addition, feelings and attitudes often change over time, as knowledge, experience and circumstances change. Variable foundations and non-judgementalism may serve to insulate one from criticism from their peers, but do not make a good base for ethical decisions.

Subjectivism also leads inevitably to the claim that objective morals don’t exist. The claim that our universe contains moral categories of values (good and evil) and duties (right and wrong actions) that exist independently of anyone’s opinion and apply to the actions and motivations of all persons is unacceptable to Subjectivists and Atheists alike. Whether this is because universal rules are inconvenient/restricting or imply the existence of a universal rule-giver (God) is irrelevant. Therefore, the topic at hand is a question of ontology-whether these categories actually exist, and not epistemology-how we know these categories. How we come to knowledge of morality is irrelevant to the question. The question is whether these moral categories exist in reality, not in someone’s private belief system. Neither ignorance of a given law, or claiming you are immune because you do not accept the law are admissible as a defense in court of most ‘civilized’ nations (unless you are of an artificially favored/protected population).

So the question presents us with two different types of realities; a moral universe in which objective moral categories exist, and an amoral universe that contains only subjective moral categories (where each person’s standard of right, wrong, good, and evil is defined by themselves and applies only to themselves). In order to determine which of these descriptions applies to our own universe, let’s take a look at what both of these realities might be like, and then see which most closely describes the features of our own universe.

In an Amoral Universe, where objective moral categories do not exist, no action can be called objectively evil. While one might dislike another’s action, no external standard exists by which any action can be called good or evil. In the overall scheme of things, feeding your child is no better or worse than beheading your child, and any feelings one has to the contrary are simply opinion. In this universe, moral opinions have no basis in reality; that is to say, nothing objective exists on which to base such a concept. The only basis for making such a claim here is just private interests and taste. When people say “that’s wrong!” they are saying: “That is against my interests/standards/tastes!”

In a Moral Universe, objective moral categories exist as objective features of the universe, and not of an individual human. Therefore, these categories apply to all humans, just as the law of gravity and laws of physics apply to all physical objects. The laws of morality are just as binding as natural laws on moral creatures. However, the moral categories are necessarily different from other laws of the universe in that they are prescriptive (describing how things ought to be) and not descriptive (describing how things are). Any given action can fall into one of three categories:
Moral actions – actions that conform to the objective moral standard (ex: Helping someone in need without asking for reward.)
Immoral actions – actions that violate the objective moral standard (ex: Violating another person’s rights to life, property or person.)
Amoral actions – actions which are not addressed by the objective moral standard (ex: Parking in the wrong lot without a permit (illegal, but does not violate any moral code) or buying only organic produce.)

The idea of an amoral universe is existentially self-refuting, though not logically self-refuting. There is no logical incoherence in the statement “No objective moral values and duties exist.” However, when one attempts to describe how one should live in such a universe they automatically invalidate the concept. In an amoral universe, “how one should live” is meaningless because no standard exists to describe how one should live.

Many find it is easy to claim that “Objective moral truths do not exist; I have the right to do as I please!” Yet, they are making this statement without considering that it makes a moral claim to a “right” while denying a moral reality. If you believe that others ought to allow you to live according to the dictates of your own will and your own conscience, then you are appealing to objective morality to justify what others “ought” to do.


Aristotle: Ethics

Virtue Ethics
How to Make Good Decisions… a 62 Point Summary

Pascal’s Wager about God

Do Objective Moral Truths Exist in Reality?

Bigot Bully Harasser and Doxxer Steve McRae

This morning I was alerted that Steve McRae, the well-known dishonest bully, was up to his old tricks. On the so-called “Great Debate Community” (a group of Lockstep GroupThink ideologues) he mentions me–and then doxxes me and links to anonymous “Skeptic” hate sites in the Atheist cult network like the Encyclopedia of American Loons. (

McRae is fully aware that Atheists on the internet routinely harass, doxx, censor, deplatform, and otherwise bully people. He is fully aware that my children have received harassment and threats from his fellow Atheists. He is fully aware that the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” is not a credible publication, it’s just a blog put together by some of his fellow hate cult “Skeptics.”

Why use non-credible source and doxx people? Well, that would be because he’s a hatemonger and bully who can’t defend his ideology.

McRae also likes to pretend he’s a philosopher. He isn’t. He mostly just makes things up off the top of his head. But that’s another conversation.

Here’s our video response. Please, if you see Steve McRae, ask him to stop doxxing his critics, using non-credible hate sites as his source, and to leave my children alone.