Monday, August 4, 2014



Hi ya’ll! We have been having wonderful rain here. I love to see the woods come alive with all the moisture. It’s such a blessing. It is peaceful and very calm to walk in the forest and smell the wet undergrowth and see so many plants and flowers appearing. 
Speaking of peace I realized I forgot to write about the moral skeptic. Moral skepticism appears to promote peace and brotherly love. Perhaps you have seen the universal bumper sticker coexist with each letter a symbol for a different religion. Moral skepticism deals with relativism and the real message behind this sticker is not that all religions should just get along, but that they are all equally true. This is an impossibility. How can Allah and Jesus both be

What relativism does is allow a person to avoid moral judgements. Often these people appear thoughtful, nonjudgmental, and neutral because they say right and wrong are things people should decide for themselves. This is the root idea behind moral skepticism. So from their point of view, someone who holds to absolute truths--Jesus is the only way; a “choice” is really a baby; marriage is between one man and one woman--is an enemy of peace even though Jesus brought peace between God and man and between mankind….but not at the expense of truth. Truth often involves making hard decisions and choosing a side--something relativists do not want, like, and avoid. Relativism is quite seductive because it hides in plain sight. It seems tolerant, inclusive, and plays to the public’s emotions and sense of morality, so its inherent self-defeating nature slips by unnoticed. The probing question to confront these people with is “What is your standard for right and wrong?” With a simple followup question of why?”. The point is to make the skeptic aware that he/she is not really neutral. 
For example the skeptic might say in answer to your viewpoint that abortion is wrong, “I think people should respect each other’s opinions.” You can answer “Why, is it wrong not to do that?” Most likely they will will be shocked an say, “Of course it is.” Then you can ask, “What’s your standard for right and wrong.” You will probably hear an answer similar to, “Myself; my heart; I do what I feel is right; etc.” That’s the catch….you see they are imposing on you what they feel is right, but if they actually did respect your opinion, you would be free to do what you feel is right with out criticism. Here the skeptic attempts to be morally neutral by saying that all opinions should be equally respected, yet he/she goes on to say that your opinion is wrong. Similarly, if they say God is not good or kind or He wouldn’t send any one to hell, you can ask the probing question. They will probably answer something like, “I know in my heart it’s true.” You can then inform them of their not so neutral opinion by asking, “So, you think God should do what you feel is right? What if other people feel differently? Who should God follow?” In this case, the skeptic objects to God’s standards but then he/she plays God by judging God by his/her own standard. 
In both cases, you have made the skeptic aware that they are not as neutral as they believe. Because exposing the flaws of moral objections relies greatly on turning the skeptic’s words against them, be careful not to be confrontational. A way to avoid that is to say, “What I hear you saying is…”
It is good with all skeptics to clarify red flag words. Truth is the biggest for the moral skeptic. What they mean is what ever is true for me goes. This is subjective truth. Moral skeptics attempt to use internal (subjective) preferences as the standard for deciding truth in the external world. For example, the skeptic may believe gummy worms are the best candy ever. To the skeptic it is true as far as  taste (internal) goes, but everything else about gummy worms, their shape, size, color, texture, etc., is external. Beliefs can contradict each other but not physical, external evidence. We need to look for the reality (outside evidence) to shed light on moral decisions. Objective truth on the other hand, does not take into consideration anyones feelings or beliefs. Objective truths are proven true when external reality backs them up no matter what our opinion of them is. Whatever is real is true.
Here are a few red flag words to watch out for:
Should(n’t): the skeptic means conforming to his or her idea of right or wrong. Example; Christians shouldn’t talk about absolute truths. The skeptic’s personal goal is to escape the word should or ought so he/she can avoid moral absolutes and behave any way they choose. What they really believe is that “should” should apply to everyone but him/herself.
Love: the skeptic means affection toward another that makes both parties feel good. The highest form of love is agape and isn’t based on feelings. Instead it desires the greatest good for another person regardless of how it makes them feel. Tough love is unpopular because it initiates growth, which can be uncomfortable.
Judging: they mean being judgmental; unable to accept an idea or person who is different from the one doing the judging. But the moral relativist’s charge that others are “judging” him or her for merely opposing his ideas is in itself a judgement!
Intolerant: their meaning is disagreeing with their point of view. When these people labels  someone as being “intolerant”, they miss the fact that disagreement is the basis of true tolerance. You are expressing true tolerance when a person disagrees with your point of view, yet respects that person’s right to express it. You can always ask them, “why are you being intolerant of of my alleged intolerance?” They get intolerance and disagreement mixed up.
Hate: the skeptic means speaking against a person’s right to do what they want to do. Mere disagreement doesn’t rise to the level of hate. As with intolerance, the skeptic who declares that you are preaching “hate” or “hate speech” mischaracterizes your opposition to an idea as being opposition to the person expressing the idea. 
Dogma: they mean unbending, narrow thoughts about the world that “fundamentalists” believe because their sacred book says so. Today dogma is associated with someone who is certain about their beliefs. Skeptics often complain that Christians “force their beliefs down other people’s throats,” but sometimes even when a gentle manner is used to deliver truth, it can be hard to swallow. 
Fundamentalist: the skeptic means someone who gives easy answers to difficult questions; someone who is certain about their beliefs. Today fundamentalist denotes someone who is too closed-minded to consider other views. To be certain about one’s view is to be uneducated and dangerous. Often a fundamentalist is judged according to the certainty with which they hold their beliefs, not according to the substance of those beliefs. Point out the irony that if he or she is so certain about you being a fundamentalist, then according to his own criteria, he too is a fundamentalist.
There are other red flag words too but these are the most common. A relativist’s (moral skeptic) argument stands or falls on his or her ability to reshape words. So our ability to clarify words is the key to defusing relativism.
The moral skeptic preaches against absolutes and judgments but they must use absolutes and judgments to determine that not using them is better. What they don’t see is that relativism is enslaving, not liberating. If everyone decides for themselves what is right or wrong, standards will eventually conflict and chaos will follow. If all standards are equal, then who decides what is right? The only alternative is that  those with the most power will decide. A relativistic world is ultimately governed by one absolute principle--might determines right. And that’s what Hitler believed

This week in the night skies:For the northern hemisphere"Look northeast as the stars come out for W-shaped Cassiopeia. It's still not as high as the Big Dipper is in the northwest, but the two are on their way to their dusk balance point week by week.1
For the southern lats"on the evening of Monday 4 August Saturn is occulted by the Moon as seen from the most of Australia. This is the third and best of these rare occultations, it is under reasonable dark skies, with Saturn slipping behind the dark limb of the Last Quarter Moon. Saturn reappears while the Moon is still reasonably high.2 

Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 57-82.

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