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Old 12-11-2002, 07:08 PM   #16
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Originally posted by melon


A part of the problem of documenting "evil" is that it is culturally subjective. As the saying goes, someone's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

Melon
Culture may be subjective in what it calls 'evil', but I am a firm believer in absolute truth.
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:16 PM   #17
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A part of the problem of documenting "evil" is that it is culturally subjective. As the saying goes, someone's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

Melon

Ahhh. Relativism.

Are you saying that some cultures, for example, might view “torturing babies for fun” as permissible (i.e., not evil) and we cannot label that activity as evil?
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:19 PM   #18
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Originally posted by bonosloveslave
Culture may be subjective in what it calls 'evil', but I am a firm believer in absolute truth.
Oh my...that's why we're going to vehemently disagree naturally.

[opinion]

The idea of "absolute truth" is a fallacy. Somewhere down the line, whether it be in the last decade or last century or millennia ago, some individual or culture made the subjective distinction of what is "acceptable." I mean, who made the decision that capital punishment was an acceptable form of law enforcement, while wanton murder was abominable? It certainly isn't a modern phenomenon, and, even in reading the Bible, the nature of "evil" evolves. What a huge paradigmatic shift it is between the Mosaic Law and the New Testament!

It is my belief that, due to the fact that everything must be processed through one's individual eyes, "objectivity" and "absolutes" are misplaced ideals, because, somewhere down the line, things we societally may label "objective" are, in fact, subjective cultural mores.

[/opinion]

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Old 12-11-2002, 07:24 PM   #19
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Ahhh. Relativism.

Are you saying that some cultures, for example, might view “torturing babies for fun” as permissible (i.e., not evil) and we cannot label that activity as evil?
Let's describe something more realistic in the same vein. In Inuit cultures, infanticide was fairly common, particularly since their food was wholly determined by weather. When the Arctic weather got so bad that they literally could not feed themselves, it was common for babies to just be abandoned and left to die of exposure. I'm sure, many of you here are about to say that this is an objectively evil act, right?

In American culture, the death penalty is culturally acceptable. From a European Union standpoint, however, the death penalty is a socially repugnant act. What is the difference between infanticide and execution? From its most banal standpoint, there is no difference; in both cases, another life is lost.

Evil is subjective.

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Old 12-11-2002, 07:52 PM   #20
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If truth or evil is all subjective, then you can never say something is right or wrong.

If you say the death penalty is wrong, who is it wrong for?

Any stance you take is only true for you. The logical conclusion of this type of thinking is that it is meaningless to make a statement, as it only applies to the individual.

Also, the statement that "absolute truth is a fallacy" is self-defeating, because in essence, you are saying that there is at least one absolute truth.
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Old 12-11-2002, 09:14 PM   #21
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
If truth or evil is all subjective, then you can never say something is right or wrong.

If you say the death penalty is wrong, who is it wrong for?

Any stance you take is only true for you. The logical conclusion of this type of thinking is that it is meaningless to make a statement, as it only applies to the individual.

Also, the statement that "absolute truth is a fallacy" is self-defeating, because in essence, you are saying that there is at least one absolute truth.
You make an a priori assumption here:

"Subjective truth is wrong."

Quite the contrary, I'm being realistic. I do think that the death penalty is wrong: that is a subjective value judgment based upon either rational or irrational motives, depending on your point of view. However, that is what I believe.

In the same vein, cultures make subjective value judgments all the time, and that is okay. Does that mean that we cannot criticize outside cultures that we view as "wrong"? Of course not!

So what am I saying? I guess there is one "absolute truth": all "truth" is subjective. Is this a play on semantics? Perhaps. However, "absolute truth" takes on a certain connotation on the plane of "mythic speech"--in other words, it is so "sacred" that no one is allowed to question it. Those who question so-called "absolute truths" are, henceforth, "evil" or, in a structuralist sense, "the Other." "Truth," for me, does not exist; it is simply subjective individual and cultural judgments that are a necessity and an inevitability. However, with that, none of these judgments are, by default, "good" over the others.

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Old 12-11-2002, 10:02 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


You make an a priori assumption here:

"Subjective truth is wrong."

Quite the contrary, I'm being realistic. I do think that the death penalty is wrong: that is a subjective value judgment based upon either rational or irrational motives, depending on your point of view. However, that is what I believe.

In the same vein, cultures make subjective value judgments all the time, and that is okay. Does that mean that we cannot criticize outside cultures that we view as "wrong"? Of course not!

So what am I saying? I guess there is one "absolute truth": all "truth" is subjective. Is this a play on semantics? Perhaps. However, "absolute truth" takes on a certain connotation on the plane of "mythic speech"--in other words, it is so "sacred" that no one is allowed to question it. Those who question so-called "absolute truths" are, henceforth, "evil" or, in a structuralist sense, "the Other." "Truth," for me, does not exist; it is simply subjective individual and cultural judgments that are a necessity and an inevitability. However, with that, none of these judgments are, by default, "good" over the others.

Melon
There are many moral questions about which there may be distinct yet "equally valid" answers depending on one's priorities and axioms, but not all moral questions fall into this category.

Either (God exists) or NOT (God exists). Exactly one of these statements qualifies as an "absolute truth."
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Old 12-11-2002, 10:05 PM   #23
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Originally posted by Diemen


This always bugs me...this distinction some people make between Catholic and Christian isn't necessary. Catholics are Christians. Catholicism is a Christian religion. Just as all varieties of Baptists, Methodists, etc... are still Christian.
I agree wholeheartedly; the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches are all part of the Body of Christ, (despite what any of them say about the other). Despite their differences and respective faults, the mission of each is to fulfill His ministry.

Regarding the later posts in this thread about absoulte truth and subjectiveness and such, I have to agree with Melon.

As deplorable as I think salvery is here as an 2002 American, I honestly don't know what my views would have been if I were born in Virginia, Alabama or especially the states now known as Kansas or Missouri in 1848. I always tell myself today that I am a Unionist and I am opposed to slavery in any form, but if I were around in antebellum times, much less "biblical" times when it was even more common, would I have known any moral concept of the practice?

Like Melon says, it does not mean we should refrain from criticizing outside cultures, as I frequently do the current slave-holding regime in Sudan. It would be ideal if every generation and every culture had a set code of right and wrong that everyone agreed with; but reality is the obstacle to that.

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Old 12-11-2002, 10:11 PM   #24
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I guess I'm looking at absolute truth in terms of how God sees things. Of course, there are some things the Bible doesn't talk about, so I don't know exactly what God thinks.
I guess an analogy might be that you go to another country and do something that is legal in the U.S. but is illegal there - you didn't know it was wrong, but according to a higher authority it was, and you pay the consequences.
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Old 12-11-2002, 10:12 PM   #25
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Originally posted by speedracer
Either (God exists) or NOT (God exists). Exactly one of these statements qualifies as an "absolute truth."
But neither can be proven, nor can we settle on the nature of God, nor can we all settle on the existence of God, versus non-Christian deities like Vishnu and whatnot. Could you honestly say that you would believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of God if you were born a Hindu in India?

And certainly, there is the absolute question: Does God exist? As humans, we can try and answer that all we want, but all answers will fall under the category of "subjective."

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Old 12-11-2002, 10:37 PM   #26
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Originally posted by melon


But neither can be proven, nor can we settle on the nature of God, nor can we all settle on the existence of God, versus non-Christian deities like Vishnu and whatnot. Could you honestly say that you would believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of God if you were born a Hindu in India?
Maybe not, but I'd either be right or wrong. I don't know if I'd automatically be condemned to hell if the Judeo-Christian God actually existed and I didn't know of him, but I'd still be wrong.

Quote:

And certainly, there is the absolute question: Does God exist? As humans, we can try and answer that all we want, but all answers will fall under the category of "subjective."

Melon
Well, now you're delving into epistemology--you're asking the question "how do you know what you know," which for practical purposes is probably almost as or as important your answer to the question "does God exist?" Certainly the person who can give some explanation for why he does or does not think God exists is in better shape than the person who answers by blind faith.

But even if we can't see God or the absence of God with our own eyes, he either exists or does not exist.

And please, nobody bring up Godel's incompleteness theorem.
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Old 12-12-2002, 11:23 AM   #27
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Originally posted by melon


You make an a priori assumption here:

"Subjective truth is wrong."
Actually, I think that is the logical conclusion.

Relativism makes for easier conversation at any given moment, but forces us to accept atrocities - you cannot condemn Hitler because it (the millions he slaughter for starters) was only evil in your eyes, not his.

Rather, I think we must undertake the difficult, unpopular task of discovering and teaching absolute truth.
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Old 12-12-2002, 12:04 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Relativism makes for easier conversation at any given moment, but forces us to accept atrocities - you cannot condemn Hitler because it (the millions he slaughter for starters) was only evil in your eyes, not his.

Rather, I think we must undertake the difficult, unpopular task of discovering and teaching absolute truth.
No, you assume that relativism means acceptance of everything, when, in fact, I've already mentioned that subjective condemnation is a natural and logical thing! Condemnations of Hitler, for all purposes, is subjective. It is certainly popular subjective, but subjective nonetheless. As we have seen, we have prominent figures (Pat Buchanan, anyone?) and the neo-fascist movements who do not outright condemn him.

And who defines "absolute truth" if we are to teach it? By that alone, "absolute truth" is a contradiction in terms, as a subjective individual or organization will have to define what is "absolute." And what would you do if the gatekeepers to what is "absolute truth" condemn you in the process? Now that their ideas have taken on proportions of "mythic speech," only someone "deviant" (e.g., "terrorist sympathizer") will challenge it.

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Old 12-12-2002, 12:39 PM   #29
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Originally posted by melon
No, you assume that relativism means acceptance of everything, when, in fact, I've already mentioned that subjective condemnation is a natural and logical thing! Condemnations of Hitler, for all purposes, is subjective. It is certainly popular subjective, but subjective nonetheless. As we have seen, we have prominent figures (Pat Buchanan, anyone?) and the neo-fascist movements who do not outright condemn him.
Instead of saying, "accepting", I should have said, "we must remain silent". I apologize for the confusion.

If all truth is subjective, then you cannot say Hitler or Pat Buchanan are wrong, for that is only your (and many others) subjective viewpoint.

From my prior example, torturing babies for fun is wrong at all times in all places for all people. It is an absolute.
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Old 12-12-2002, 12:58 PM   #30
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
If all truth is subjective, then you cannot say Hitler or Pat Buchanan are wrong, for that is only your (and many others) subjective viewpoint.
On the contrary, I say that they are wrong, but I admit that it is from a subjective viewpoint. Just as Pat Buchanan can state that the Holocaust was a fraud, and that is from a subjective viewpoint.

Quote:
From my prior example, torturing babies for fun is wrong at all times in all places for all people. It is an absolute.
While I agree with the fact that torturing babies is wrong, on who's viewpoint do you decide that it is an absolute? Your own? The dominant hegemonic view? Both are subjective viewpoints.

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