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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.3.3, “Sharon Street”

 summary by David Baggett In 2006 Sharon Street published an article, “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value,” which has been the subject of a considerable literature in reply. Her argument relies on the primary claim that our normative dispositions—that is, our dispositions to form certain normative beliefs rather than others—are (largely) selected because they have some natural property. For example, perhaps they contribute to reproductive success by promoting certain kinds of coop...

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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.3.2, “Michael Ruse”

summary by David Baggett Michael Ruse is an anti-realist, in some ways like Mackie, but in other ways different. He thinks ethics is an illusion put in place by natural selection to make us good cooperators. Ruse is a moral skeptic. He does not think the sense of right and wrong has a justification at all. It’s an illusion foisted on us by our genes, like a mirage in the desert. Yet Ruse is quite optimistic that our moral lives will not be affected by the kind of skepticism he endorses. Hare is ...

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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.3.4, “Paul Bloom”

summary by David Baggett This subsection is about a different kind of anti-realism, namely, anti-realism about God. It examines the question whether evolutionary psychology gives us any reason to doubt the existence of God. Since the claim that it’s irrational to believe in God is a presupposition of much of the literature Hare’s been considering, he thinks it’s worth discussing. Bloom says that religion emerges as a by-product of certain highly structured systems that have evolved for understan...

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United or Untied?

  By Tom Thomas The second largest denomination after the Southern Baptists, The United Methodist Church (UMC), is schismatized.  For almost a decade some bishops and pastors have been defying church law and electing, ordaining and solemnizing the marriages of homosexuals. The issue finally came to a tipping point in 2016 when the church’s ruling body, General Conference, formed a commission to provide a plan to the bishops to resolve the matter in 2019. Last November 2017, President Bishop...

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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.3.1, “Evolution and Anti-Realism”

summary by David Baggett This section explores whether evolutionary psychology gives us a reason to be anti-realists, either about value or about God. The first of these forms of anti-realism rejects the view described earlier as “prescriptive realism.” According to prescriptive realism, when we make moral judgments we are both expressing some attitude of the will or desire and claiming that evaluative reality is a certain way independently of our judgment, so that our judgment is appropriate to...

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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.2, “Evolution and Reducing the Moral Demand”

summary by David Baggett The first way of thinking about the relation between evolution and morality is that evolution shows the idea of impartial benevolence to be utopian. 8.2.1 covers the views of Herbert Spencer and Larry Arnhart. 8.2.1 “Herbert Spencer and Larry Arnhart” Here Hare looks at two attempts to oppose a Kantian or universal morality on the basis that it is unrealistic for our present condition, given our evolutionary endowment. Herbert Spencer is now deeply unpopular because of t...

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Goodness

By David Baggett and Jonathan Pruitt  Goodness is a broader category than moral goodness. One way to show the conceptual distinction, even if organic connections or family resemblances obtain between them, is that something is good to the extent it fulfills its intended function. A good car, to use a contemporary example, is good in virtue of and to the extent it provides reliable transportation. In that case, the goodness in question is not moral goodness, of course; but the same general princi...

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John Hare’s God’s Command, 8.1, “The Story”

 summary by David Baggett [This first section tells a story about the origins of our morality. The story is just a story, not history or science. The story is not, however, merely fiction. The aim is to embed elements of the essential structure of the story at the beginning of Genesis about the Garden of Eden in an account whose details are mostly drawn from contemporary (non-theological) anthropology. It is still a story or myth, telescoping what a scientific account would spread over hundreds ...

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Top 10 Posts for 2017

Thank you for supporting Moral Apologetics in 2017! We have had an exciting year and it has been a privilege to host some exciting content in 2017. As a way of looking back, we wanted to share with you the list of the most read posts for the year. 1. “On Psychopathy and Moral Apologetics”  By David Baggett 2.  “Seven Reasons Why Moral Apologetics Points to Christianity”  By David Baggett 3.  “God’s Goodness and Difficult Old Testament Passages”  By Michael Aus...

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Twilight Musings – “Incarnation: The Intersection of Two Universes”

By Elton Higgs  The word “incarnation” gets a lot of use this time of year, and like most frequently-used terms, its full meaning tends to get lost in its commonness. Literally, it means “being manifest in bodily form,” and it can refer to any disembodied entity assuming physical shape. However, when Christians say “The Incarnation,” they are of course talking about the Son of God being born and living out an earthly life as a human being. That bare fact would be astounding even if God had taken...

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Social Media, Immanuel Kant, and the Church

  By David Baggett What on earth do these three things have to do with one another? Well, I recently found myself looking at the work of Immanuel Kant, particularly his Religion within the Bounds of Reason, and a few thoughts occurred to me to pass along. In the third section of the book, Kant extends the discussion beyond the need for individual forgiveness and moral transformation to a more communal matter: participation in a community and its role, among others, to furnish eminently teac...

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Podcast: Emily Heady on the Christian Worldview, Ethics, and A Christmas Carol

Podcast with Emily Heady In this special Christmas edition of the podcast, we sit down with Dr. Emily Heady to discuss Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Dr. Heady holds a Ph.D. in English Literature with a concentration in Victorian Studies. She also has a special interest in the work of Charles Dickens and has published articles and books exploring his novels. In this episode, Dr. Heady explains how A Christmas Carol relates to ethics and the Christian worldview.   Photo:  “...

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Quote of the Month

In humility, I think, we reach the most distinctive ingredient in the Christian character. Christian humility cannot be reduced to natural modesty (even when this is interpreted in terms of a reluctance to claim much for one’s moral achievements). It cannot even be equated with the theist’s natural self-abasement before God as the mysterium tremendum. It stems from the realization, so poignantly described by Augustine, that we are saved by the humility of God in living a human life and dying a human death for our sakes.

H. P. Owen