Debate Part 1 – A Christian and an Athiest Discuss God, Faith, Morality, and the Universe

Posted: March 27, 2014 in Apologetics, Arguments for God's Existence, Atheism, Christians & Culture

debateAbout two weeks ago, I engaged in a debate with Matt White, an atheist from here in my city of Owensboro. We had dialogued in the past about numerous topics and he invited me to be a part of his podcast for the local humanist group. The debate was not really a formal debate, but more of a discussion or dialogue. We each opened by giving our story of why we believe (or disbelieve) and then we each posed three questions to the other, challenging their worldview or some aspect of it.

I want to be clear that I am did enjoy the discussion and Matt was gracious, kind, and humble in our discussion. It is always refreshing to engage in civil dialogue, even when our views are worlds apart and the implications dramatic. The audio below is for part one of the debate and covers our introductions and two questions each. Part two will be posted once I receive a copy of the audio from Matt.

Also, keep in mind as you listen that the original audio was much longer and some editing was done to cut out dead space and some rambling that happened. So if it sounds choppy at points, you know why.

Now, I want to make a few comments about the debate.

During my answering of the question about faith, I failed to mention the role of faith (or presuppositions) in anybody’s worldview. Everyone has beliefs that they bring to the table when they have a worldview. This beliefs are gathered from a variety of sources and many (I would argue most) do not come from the standards of “evidence” that Matt set forth. His beliefs about naturalism, God, morality, rationality, logic, his memory, his senses, etc. are all beliefs. This does not mean evidence is not important, but simply to point out that everyone hold beliefs. Now whether or not one’s beliefs are justified and rational is another matter. But to accuse the Christian of living on faith and belief (as if that is irrational) is to fail to recognize the beliefs in one’s own worldview system.

My first question posed to Matt was about the origin of the universe. Explain the cause of its existence. His ultimate answer was “we don’t know, but we will keep searching.” However, the question I posed ultimately had two answers and logically there is not a third option. Either the universe popped into existence uncaused out of nothing or it (or whatever caused our universe) was eternal. He is forced to accept one of these options. The first is absurd and he agreed. Things don’t pop into existence out of nothing, much less universes. The second option is equally problematic. First, science, and specifically big bang cosmology, confirms that our universe had a beginning. Physicist and cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, certainly no proponent of Christianity, has shown that the universe cannot be eternal in the past and he is quoted as saying, “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” Second, there are philosophical problems with positing a past eternal universe. As Dr. William Lane Craig has argued, an infinite number of events cannot exist in actuality and neither can one reach an infinity through successive addition. I realize this is a little heavy, so feel free to check out this paper, The Kalam Cosmological Argument, for a more in-depth analysis on this topic.  Finally, if the cause of the universe existed eternally in the past (assuming it was not a personal free agent), then why did the universe not come into existence an infinite amount of time ago?

If you are a Christian and you listen to our discussion on morality, you will most likely become very frustrated – as was I. On the one hand you have Matt affirming morality, but then on the other you have him denying that it is objective. He seemed to want to deny my reduction of morality to preference (akin to my liking vanilla ice cream vs. his liking chocolate). I’m assuming that is because it goes against everything that seems right and rational to us. However, on his view, that is all morality is. All the fancy footwork and arguments cannot change this. If there is no authority over and outside of us, then morality is nothing more than a power play – might makes right. This is what strikes me as odd about humanists. They uphold many great virtues, but they hold a worldview that denies those virtues have any real objective status or being. This seems like a great example of “blind faith.” Finally, I would content that Matt actually lives very inconsistent with his professed view of morality. I wonder how often he uses phrases like: “You shouldn’t do that”, “That’s not right”, “That is not fair or just”, “Homosexuals deserve equal rights.” Certainly he thinks these are more than just preferences or social conventions, like perms and blue jeans. I would suggest that he acts differently than he talks. I would challenge him to actually live out a subjective morality and realize when he says, “you shouldn’t do that”, what he really means is “I don’t like that.” If you want to read further on this topic, I recommend Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith’s book “Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air.”

Jordan

Comments
  1. Matt W. says:

    I didn’t get a chance to write out any reaction to the discussion because, frankly, I was exhausted after blitzing through numerous podcasts. But I’ll post something akin to what I would say if I did:

    For the first podcast, I was frustrated as well with the Christian perspective on several points, especially on your opener. I don’t think you gave any good solid reason to believe in Christianity aside from things like you grew up with it, it answers questions for you, and it feels good. I was also frustrated that you used the innate belief argument that I somewhat addressed in the opener later in the podcast. Ultimately, you had two questions to my one on this podcast, so I got to play defense, but the dynamics of the next podcast will shift.

    I understand the Christian perspective of not liking “I don’t know” as a response because certainty is built into the very belief system itself. “I know that I know that I know”, “I know in my heart…”, etc. But it is what it is. If a person doesn’t know, they don’t know. I’m not lost on how Christian audiences reading this (or listening to me) will interpret my admission of ignorance as some type of weakness. I can’t change a person’s mind who thinks they have all the answers that someone not accepting their answer, but not positing any definitive answer, is coming from a position of strength. As an ex-Christian, I understand the mindset, so I empathize.

    To the issues themselves: the cosmological issue doesn’t perturb me as much because even if the universe is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have a solid beginning, that’s fine. Cool. No one can still jump to the claim that it’s their respective deity without good solid evidence to support it, so even if your readers are not, I’m content with my response because I’m not unsafely assuming anything. I can only stop at that moment right after the Big Bang because I can’t honestly appeal to something beyond I can’t show to be true one way or another.

    I think your reduction of morals to either “objective” and “preference” is far too simplistic, and in some regards, I think you’re making a false analogy or you’re baiting someone when you use the word “preference”. That’s a very loaded term. Morals are not just a matter of taste, but they’re not objectively laid down either in the way you postulate. There could be middle ground — that some are objective, but not theistically objective, and some moral questions could just simply be relative no matter what. It could be per issue. However, in the case of any type of objective morality, once again, if that’s shown to be true, that’s great. It makes the moral discussion easier because you can just point to something…but until then, to say that it’s objective with no objective source to back it up is the simplistic reduction of your position, and had I been more on the offense, could have pointed it out as the major glaring fault in choosing the moral objectiveness position as well.

    Until said source of moral objectivity is proven, we can fold your position on over into “preference”. To borrow your terms and to recognize the objective morality you would propose, one is forced to say that you are engaging in “preferential” morality as well and positing religious claims to moral objectivity is special pleading until it can be shown that the source is 100% true (which we’ll get into in the second podcast). Any religious individual positing an objective moral code from their religious book must prove the truthfulness of that which “creates” the objective code, or else they’re not in the position to claim there is an objective code that’s laid down by their book. You can claim, as you are, that morality is objective, but that’s a term that’s conditioned on the fact that what makes it objective can be proven. Really, without evidence that your moral code is objective, i.e. true in all situations as laid down by the lawgiver, it’s just your preference and you prefer a holy book. This is going by your two options.

    I think the most damning (and simple) argument would be one I really wish I had made, but didn’t: if human morality is ultimately objective, then it has to come from somewhere beyond human sources. Religious books are written by human hands — they are human sources, even if divinely “inspired”. Any “objective” morality cannot be sullied by human hands, and has to once again be shown to be divine beyond a shadow of a doubt. Also, to suggest an objective morality, a morality that comes from a higher power, that particular morality would have to transcend man’s morality, and the fact that most “moral codes” offered as an objective one’s in the past have been improved upon by secular law is a strong piece of evidence that, if it is objective, it isn’t religiously objective. You might have noticed a response to one of my letters in the the newspaper about the Ten Commandments, and I would use that as an example of what I’m talking about: the Ten Commandments didn’t touch on rape, child molestation, women’s rights, etc. Secular law improved upon it (and most of the Bible and Koran in general).

    When you reduce morality to the preference between chocolate and vanilla ice cream, it makes me think that you are, as you suggested I did with the free will problem in the second as-yet-heard podcast, downplaying the seriousness of the issue because I think you’re denying that moral understanding can’t change (which we know it does), that moral understanding doesn’t evolve or, in the worst case scenario, devolve, and that morality is somehow stagnant or is not a human invention. Moral arguments, historically, have almost always been made from the point of view of the person’s own time, place, and understanding. It’s inescapable that moral judgments are colored in that way, and just because people speak in terms of “should, could, and ought” doesn’t mean they’re appealing to something out of thin air or they’re just “appealing to taste”.

    When I give a moral imperative, that you “should” do something, I’m not basing it on some authority: I’m saying “it’s right” because of the other available moral options, the evidence shows that it’s a better one. I make moral imperatives in the same manner I make statements concerning academic positions: you “should” accept this position because the evidence supports it; you “ought” to do it because the proof is this. People generally take into consideration the consequences of their actions, they empathize, they ask questions, they base their moral actions on experience. This isn’t just “preference”. They’re appealing to their understanding, the evidence they have, and this is obviously shown when you sit down and listen to moral arguments. This is bad because A, B, C, etc. To suggest that morality is purely objective denies a cultural, historical, and philosophical understanding of morality and to call it “preference” means you’re throwing out any rational attempt to understand moral questions beyond, I guess, what tastes good.

    So, what you call “fancy footwork” is the recognition that morals are far more sophisticated than what’s been presented.

    Overall, I enjoyed the discussion. I’m sure approximately zero minds were changed, but that’s not the point. Far too many Christians and atheists have a “screw you, I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude (guilty of it myself sometimes), but individuals from both sides who have thick skins, can take the criticism, and are genuine in their discussions should reach out and talk about these things.

    If I get around to it, I might make a post on our page where people from your side can come check us out if they so wish. The next one comes out around April 6th, so keep an eye out.

  2. Jordan Tong says:

    Matt,

    I want to make a few comments in reply to your comment and also provide clarity to some apparent misunderstandings of my position.

    Regarding the opener, I thought the question was “why are you a Christian” and not “what reasons can you give that show Christianity to be true.” So in keeping with that first question, I gave what I believed where honest answers. These included upbringing, influence of others, experience, desire, truth, the Holy Spirit, and basic belief in God. My point was not that these things make Christianity true, but that they are factors that influence my being a Christian. Regarding “innate belief”, my contention was not that this proves God, but that I am rational in holding my belief as properly basic (to use the words of Alvin Plantinga). The question posed to me was “Why do you believe in God?” Believing in a properly basic way (just like belief in memories, sense perception, logical truths, etc.) is one of the reasons for my belief in God; and I am rational to believe in this way unless you can bring some defeater to the table. Also, as I mentioned, the Holy Spirit plays a role in our conviction of the truth. Now I understand that you may not find this personally compelling nor satisfying, but it is nonetheless rational. However, I then proceeded give some natural theology arguments that support to this belief, arguments such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, rationality, the soul, desire, beauty, etc. These arguments confirm what I believe in a properly basic way.

    Regarding the cosmological argument, I don’t see it as a weakness to say “I don’t know.” I wasn’t prepared to counter your myth argument and had to say that I didn’t know. I don’t that that shows weakness on either of our parts. The weakness is that you failed to deal with the only two options available to you. If you want to show that it is past eternal, you need to counter my arguments. But if it does have an absolute beginning then it must have a cause sufficient to produce the effect. What can produce all space, matter, time, and energy? The cause must be immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and personal (since the effect came to be at definite moment in the past – a mark of free agency). This is theism! So your weakness is not that you don’t know, but that either option you take (aside from theism) places you into some absurdity or contradiction. This will be the case not matter what new evidence is found. Also, keep in mind, I was never trying to prove Christianity with the argument, but just to show the weakness in your worldview – which I think it clearly does. What I would say regarding Christianity is that this fits perfectly well into my worldview.

    Your comments on the moral argument are many, so I will just try to touch on the main points. Let me first make this point, if morals are objective – if even one moral code is shown to be objective – then God exists. Objective morality is above man, outside of man, and authoritative upon him. This must come from someone outside and authoritative over man, namely man’s creator. So to say that it wouldn’t matter if objective morality was shown to be true is simply untrue. Atheists have long recognized this and hence have been adamant about denying their objectivity. Regarding my two options (objective or subjective), it is most certainly not simplistic. The law of excluded middle requires one or the other. There is no middle option. I realize that you want one, but there is no such option. Now you can craft all these fancy and complicated theories to give “natural justification” to your moral code, but the ultimate foundation is based upon human opinions. If there is no standard to adjudicate between opinions, then it is preference.

    You say, “…but until then, to say that it’s objective with no objective source to back it up is the simplistic reduction of your position, and had I been more on the offense, could have pointed it out as the major glaring fault in choosing the moral objectiveness position as well. Until said source of moral objectivity is proven, we can fold your position on over into “preference”. To borrow your terms and to recognize the objective morality you would propose, one is forced to say that you are engaging in “preferential” morality as well and positing religious claims to moral objectivity is special pleading until it can be shown that the source is 100% true (which we’ll get into in the second podcast).” Here is the problem with your statements. You must first keep in mind that we are discussing what I see as a problem for your worldview. Morality (especially claims like torturing little children for fun) seems objective to the rational person. So I’m just asserting what seems patently obvious most rationally thinking people. Just like we trust our sight, such a moral claim seems trustworthy and intuitive. But given your atheism, you must deny this is objective. Now this puts you in an awkward position, which I was seeking to point out. You know that torturing little children for fun is objectively wrong and more than preference. Seeing this problem, you want to affirm objective morality without it actually being objective. But you can’t have it both ways. I would encourage you to read the opening chapters of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” He lays out this argument well.

    Just because fallible humans wrote the Bible doesn’t mean that what they wrote was in error. I’m fallible but I can write all sorts of true things. It does not logically follow that because human wrote it that it is in error.

    You say, “When I give a moral imperative, that you “should” do something, I’m not basing it on some authority: I’m saying “it’s right” because of the other available moral options, the evidence shows that it’s a better one. I make moral imperatives in the same manner I make statements concerning academic positions: you “should” accept this position because the evidence supports it; you “ought” to do it because the proof is this. People generally take into consideration the consequences of their actions, they empathize, they ask questions, they base their moral actions on experience. This isn’t just “preference”. They’re appealing to their understanding, the evidence they have, and this is obviously shown when you sit down and listen to moral arguments.” Evidence only matters if you presuppose some objective moral standard. Let me use an example to illustrate. If you say, “Cheating on your innocent spouse is wrong,” then I would say why. You would then proceed to tell me that it hurts the other person, it puts them in emotional turmoil, it hurts the kids in many ways, etc. But I will just push back the question and ask what makes those things wrong. Why is hurting another person wrong? Why is putting someone in emotional distress wrong? You may then say that hurting people are bad for society as a whole or bad for human flourishing. But I will again ask the same question, “Why is human flourishing good?” Now if these foundational morals are objective, then then come from God. If they are not, then ultimately morality is based on your opinion, i.e. subjective. So evidence can help us make moral decisions, but it does not explain the existence of objective morality in the first place. My question is not how we come to know things are right or wrong, but why are they ontologically right or wrong.

    Forgive any grammatical errors in the above, I’m too tired to proofread.

    Jordan

    • Matt W. says:

      You bring up a couple of interesting points I’ll address because unlike the podcast, we’re not nearly as constrained with time, so forgive the length. I’m tired as well, so hopefully any readers will grant us these admissions:

      You say: “Let me first make this point, if morals are objective – if even one moral code is shown to be objective – then God exists. Objective morality is above man, outside of man, and authoritative upon him. This must come from someone outside and authoritative over man, namely man’s creator.”

      Have you ever seen Prometheus? Just curious. I say that somewhat facetiously, but also to make a serious point. You are making a huge logical jump from “man’s creator” to God at the exclusion of all other options, especially ruling out that “man” may just be product of nature. We evolved biologically. You may have your qualms about biological evolution (I never asked your view on it, but judging by the responses in your apologetics class, I’m sure some of your readers will) – that’s fine. Issues with evolution noted, but after studying it and ID and Creationism, I fall on the side of biological evolution as the best explanation of how we came to be where we are today. That’s a starting premise that I have until, to borrow your language, I have a defeater to show otherwise.

      However, to assert that man was “created” makes a huge assumption that is ungrounded, and your premise rests partially on this point. If man was not “created” in a theistic sense, as I doubt he was (at least in a literal 6-day creation via Genesis), we are forced to recognize that everything we hold dear are our own products, including ideas and concepts, i.e. morality, politics, religion, social conventions, etc. Understanding where morality comes from is important because the very root of our differences, I think, comes from your view that morality should come from above and my view that it comes (from lack of better phrasing) from below (i.e. us). I am bound by what I consider rational (through empirical means – but we both know we fundamentally disagree on our starting points on what it is “to know”) to reject moral sources that do not have evidence to support them.

      Appealing to objective moral values “outside” of man says nothing about what can create said moral code, and rests upon the assumption that it is necessary to have said authority for morality. To create a moral dilemma with that assumption already in-tow is fallacious, because to even consider moral objectivity as a viable option, the basis of it has to be proven. Until then, I would ask: why would you build a moral dilemma in such a way that assumes objective morality exists? To borrow your phrasing, it’s like you’re presenting me with a vanilla and chocolate ice cream cone, but I only see one cone, even though you’re offering me two. And really, I know of some other flavors out there that are just as good. You’re telling me there’s an objective code, but it has to have something to back it up.

      That’s why I’m insistent on having you prove that there are indeed only two options as you present them because until then, you appear to be offering your “preference” (to borrow your term) as “objective”.

      You say: Here is the problem with your statements. You must first keep in mind that we are discussing what I see as a problem for your worldview. Morality (especially claims like torturing little children for fun) seems objective to the rational person. So I’m just asserting what seems patently obvious most rationally thinking people. Just like we trust our sight, such a moral claim seems trustworthy and intuitive. But given your atheism, you must deny this is objective. Now this puts you in an awkward position, which I was seeking to point out. You know that torturing little children for fun is objectively wrong and more than preference. Seeing this problem, you want to affirm objective morality without it actually being objective. But you can’t have it both ways. I would encourage you to read the opening chapters of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” He lays out this argument well.

      I haven’t read Mere Christianity, but I feel like I need to add it to my “apologists you should read” list, though I’ve read reviews on it from both sides and it sounds hit-or-miss. To the points, though: a lot of things appear “objective” to the rational person, but when scrutinized, may have no foundation at all aside from wishful thinking and/or popular opinion. This type of reasoning borders on the “proper belief” discussion, to which I pointed out that an afterlife is a very basic and proper belief with zero evidence backing it up (and more-so evidence swinging the other way that there is, indeed, not one). To ground part (or any of your premises on other subjects) on what seems “intuitive” or “proper” doesn’t grant it special consideration, even morality, because morality isn’t “intuitive” – it’s taught, so it doesn’t follow that your argument holds up in light of how we know morality is passed from generation to generation. Let’s play Devil’s Advocate, though: even if morals are intuitive (let’s grant this), this does appear, to me, to be a very convoluted argument from popularity – that because people collectively come to a decision, means it is correct, therefore there must be some innate standard.

      I would say that torturing children is wrong, but I don’t appeal to an objective standard because none that we know of exists. If I was a Spartan, where their regime in the agoge would be torturous by our standards, I would not make that argument. I would make the argument that a little abuse from time-to-time makes them the best citizens and I would give reasons. Currently, I would give, with my cultural understanding and living presently, reasons that this is not okay. Once again, I would provide reasons. Can you really call it preference? Can you really whittle morality down to a matter of taste? “Taste” is preferential, but to make an informed decision isn’t a matter of “taste”. It’s using the tools available to you to make the best decision. This isn’t “taste” or “preference” and I wonder how you can dismiss other forms of moral understanding as such, without accounting for these facts that I’ve provided (and also granting human beings zero credit for figuring out moral issues on their own, which you’ve said that they do).

      I think you’re creating a problem where none exists and asking that I appeal to something I don’t need to. I rarely say “it’s wrong because it’s wrong” without providing reasons, and those reasons are why it’s right or wrong – if better evidence comes along to show that, sure, torturing little children is somehow better for society, better for the well-being of the child, etc. then I am forced to say “well, it’s right.” Will that happen? Doubt it…because we’ve tried that before in our history and we know the results. Morality has a long history of trial and error, and we steadily improve.

      You say: If you say, “Cheating on your innocent spouse is wrong,” then I would say why. You would then proceed to tell me that it hurts the other person, it puts them in emotional turmoil, it hurts the kids in many ways, etc. But I will just push back the question and ask what makes those things wrong. Why is hurting another person wrong? Why is putting someone in emotional distress wrong? You may then say that hurting people are bad for society as a whole or bad for human flourishing. But I will again ask the same question, “Why is human flourishing good?” Now if these foundational morals are objective, then then come from God. If they are not, then ultimately morality is based on your opinion, i.e. subjective. So evidence can help us make moral decisions, but it does not explain the existence of objective morality in the first place. My question is not how we come to know things are right or wrong, but why are they ontologically right or wrong.

      I think you misunderstand the relationship that evidence plays in this question. Evidence exists independent of my opinion. My “opinion” conforms to the evidence.

      You ask good questions, but it appears to me that you’re ultimately looking for a confirmation from authority. You want someone above to say “human flourishing is good because I say it’s good”. Do you really need that authority? Do you need someone to tell you it’s wrong to kick the puppy without coming to that conclusion by yourself?

      You still ask the question “why is it wrong”, and the part that kind of scares me is, if “because it hurts other people” (or any other evidence-based reason) isn’t a good reason to accept that something is wrong and that you need an authority (i.e. God) to tell you that it’s wrong because he says so and that his presence confirms the “objectiveness” in your morality, that’s kind of scary. Your position appears to boil down to you needing someone to tell you that something is right or wrong by definition and philosophical conformation, or else you can dismiss it even without trusting your own sensibilities.

      I get your criticisms of my style personally. I promise you I do. A big problem you have with my world view boils down to “stop acting like an objectivist” on moral issues. I get that and I acknowledge how it can appear to be a conflict, but to ask me to stop speaking in objective terms would be like asking the political analyst to stop speaking in objective terms. Criticism noted. I use the terms “right” and “wrong” with the understanding that evidence shows it’s right or wrong, not because not because I’m looking for an objective source to tell me it’s wrong. That’s the big difference between you and I, and ultimately our world views. (And sadly, I couldn’t squeeze that into the M-I because I’ve got a fan-club of like 8 people I have to respond to with a 250 word limit once a month)

      But again, compare morals to other man-made institutions, politics for example: The U.S. Constitution was composed by men and is a man-made institution, yet we treat it as though it’s “objective”. We talk all the time with language such as “ought” and “should” in the political realm, appealing to the rule we agree upon (the Constitution), and balancing our interpretations of it. No God set it down. But someone can use your same logic and say “well, there’s no ‘objective’ interpretation of the Constitution without God.” Should we then dismiss all arguments about it as “preference”? Doesn’t this man-made establishment still function sans God? Why is morality different from this institution?

      I drew that comparison because I think your problem with my worldview attempts to co-opt ethics and create a religious foundation for it thereby creating a problem for me that does not exist if the source of ethical understanding has no religious foundation. Morality is secular, in my view — no religion has a monopoly on it, even philosophically. The problem of morality that you accuse myself or humanists of having is a problem IF morality isn’t something created by humanity. I harped upon that point because it’s essential in understanding the nature of morality. To recognize that morality is man-made negates the problem you see as existing under a theistic worldview. It’s no different than how the Problem of Evil is a theistic problem under a theistic worldview. Your problem literally does not exist if you recognize that ethics are a man-made institution; the question then becomes: until objective morality can be proven, what moral code can we create that we can live with? That’s a conclusion people don’t like, and as an objectivist and Christian, it goes against everything you’ve been taught, but is there evidence to the contrary?

      That’s why I emphasized that to say morality is objective, you have to prove the source of the objectivity, because until that time, you and I are both living under “our preferences”, but you’re holding a Holy Book telling me that I should be recognizing it as a moral authority (which ultimately leads back to your religious belief) and I’m asking “why?”

      To the overall point…and it takes a lot to explain these things because it’s a complicated subject:
      In having this discussion, I’m trying to show you the problem with your theistic system that you’re attempting to set up and then forcing others into accepting. It’s not the privilege of the believer to co-opt morality and narrow down to just two: “man’s morality” and “God’s morality” without there being shown that this is a vast oversimplification of morality. I’m not trying to poke a hole in your worldview as much as poking a hole in your false dichotomy that you seem to want to force all moral understanding into. Even when you talk about “objective” morality, you rule out objective sources that aren’t related to theism by co-opting the definition to suite your needs, and you rule out compromises between objectivism and “taste” such as “universalism”.

      If anything, your defense of objective morality (and the definition you gave) sounds a lot more like moral absolutism or Divine Command Theory. You also downplay moral understanding outside of your moral purview as “taste”, which completely dismisses contractarianism, Rights-based Theories, Kantian ethics, Virtue ethics, etc. In your dichotomy, if they don’t come from God, then they’re dismissed, but ultimately, your options are only valid ones if it’s shown that God exists, because until then, by creating this dichotomy of choices and whittling it down to two, you’re hedging the discussion towards theistic objectivism (or DCT or absolutism or whatever we want to call it) with no real grounds to do so. Until then, there are a myriad of other moral theories to choose from (most of which work pretty well), and your morality is just one in a number of them.

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