On the Moral Objection to Catholicism

Alan Fox:

Both Feser and Torley are both staunch Catholics, a religion that I find pretty objectionable (above all for it’s interference in private life and thought, the readiness of its leaders to tell others how to behave, oppression of women and minorities…).

Q1: Are these objections not all moral?

Q2: Are there other unlisted objections, and are they not also moral objections?

Q3: Is there any religion Alan Fox does not find objectionable?

Q4: Is there an objective basis for Alan’s objections?

33 thoughts on “On the Moral Objection to Catholicism

  1. Let’s at least try to nip this flood of attempted justifications of Alan’s objections to Catholicism in the bud.

    What is the basis of Alan Fox’s stated objections to Catholicism? Is it scientific? Is it objective?

  2. Does UD have a “talking points memo”? Does the Church of Barry offer classes in “What makes your subjective opinion worth anything?”

  3. They do and have harbour kiddy fiddlers, of course. This is a statement of fact. Itsis up to the individual to run that against whatever moral system he or she CHOSE to see how congruent that is with ‘acceptable’ behavior.

  4. Welcome back, mung. Didn’t you say that you would never darken our door again? By your moral compass, don’t you have to call yourself a liar, now? You ask:

    Q1: Are these objections not all moral?

    You, being the preterist Catholic, would probably have an opinion on this. I don’t think there is such a thing as absolute morality. I do think one can achieve an objective ethical framework.

    Q2: Are there other unlisted objections, and are they not also moral objections?

    I have many objections to the malign influence the Catholic church as a political organisation has had and continues to have over people’s lives. I was thinking of writing an OP on it when I have time.

    Q3: Is there any religion Alan Fox does not find objectionable?

    I object to any organisation that claims inappropriate authority in insisting on how other people should live their lives. I have no problem with anyone believing what they want.

    Q4: Is there an objective basis for Alan’s objections?

    Depends what you mean by “objective”. There is no absolute morality. We’re cast adrift on planet Earth and we’re on our own. I think we should make the best of it as there’s no second chance. But feel free to think otherwise.

  5. Richardthughes:
    They do and have harbour kiddy fiddlers, of course. This is a statement of fact. Itsis up to the individual to run that against whatever moral system he or she CHOSE to see how congruent that is with ‘acceptable’ behavior.

    I only recently heard about the Tuam “Mother and Baby” home run by the sisters de Bons Secours. Here

  6. Oh, Alan, you silly, silly man. It’s self-evident that only theists are rationally entitled to affirm an objective basis to morality. Why, it’s so self-evident that I don’t even need an argument for that claim!

  7. I have a much more pressing question that has been bothering me for a while now. In what way does morality become “objective” simply through the desires of an immortal and supernatural mind?

    Religionists keep asking about this objective morality crap as if they have any more of an objective basis to rest moral propositions on.

    It doesn’t matter how intelligent, wise, knowledgeable or old the subject is, the whims of the subject are still just subjective opinion.

    Mung, please introduce me to an objective morality. You know, one that is actually objectively true, not just opinion by some one you highly respect.

  8. Rumraket,

    That’s a problem for divine command theory; it’s not a problem for natural law theory. This distinction might be invisible to non-theists but to some theists it’s extremely important. As a first pass:

    DCT: Augustine, Descartes, some conservative Protestants (William Lane Craig)
    NLT: Aquinas, almost all Catholics (e.g. Feser, Torley).

    Correctly identifying the target is important for effective criticism. 🙂

  9. My favorite “analyst” of Euthyphro’s Dilemma is C.S. Lewis, who has managed to (literally!) take all these positions:

    1. Supporter of Divine Command side
    2. Supporter of Objectivist side
    3. Opponent of both sides (on behalf of the “God simply IS goodness” theory)

    Impressive, no?

  10. Kantian Naturalist:
    Rumraket,

    That’s a problem for divine command theory; it’s not a problem for natural law theory.This distinction might be invisible to non-theists but to some theists it’s extremely important.As a first pass:

    DCT: Augustine, Descartes, some conservative Protestants (William Lane Craig)
    NLT: Aquinas, almost all Catholics (e.g. Feser, Torley).

    Correctly identifying the target is important for effective criticism.

    What is the difference between the two? In what way is morality objectively true on NLT ?

  11. Rumraket: What is the difference between the two? In what way is morality objectively true on NLT ?

    It’s the difference between something being good BECAUSE God commands it, and God commanding something BECAUSE it is good. Socrates explained to Euthyphro, we don’t think that being hard to carry makes something heavy–we think that its being heavy makes it hard to carry. Socrates takes the same view of goodness, that it’s not actually being commanded by God that makes something good. God, being all that, will only command good things. Thus there’s already good and evil with no need for God to make them.

  12. KN,

    I second Rumraket’s question. Could you explain why you think natural law theory solves the problem of objective morality?

  13. keiths: Could you explain why you think natural law theory solves the problem of objective morality?

    Whoa — how I think it solves the problem?

    That way of putting it suggests that I endorse or accept the NLT solution — which I most certainly do not! I was only pointing out that NLT is a different response than DCT, that’s all!

    Now, if you want me to explain what I think NLT is, or how I understand it, that’s one thing — but natural law theory is but one of the many, many philosophical doctrines that I understand well enough to teach and yet do not accept myself.

  14. KN,

    In response to Rumraket’s comment about the problem of God’s subjectivity, you wrote:

    That’s a problem for divine command theory; it’s not a problem for natural law theory.

    I’m asking why you think it is not a problem for natural law theory.

  15. Now that I’m looking back at Rumraket’s question, I might have jumped the gun a bit. He says,

    In what way does morality become “objective” simply through the desires of an immortal and supernatural mind?

    and I’d initially thought, “that’s no objection to natural law theory!” But maybe it is. Let’s see.

    NLT is based on Aquinas’s adoption from Aristotle, but here’s the basic idea: when God creates something, he creates the essence of the thing, which then functions as the “law” for that thing. It is the nature of fire to be hot, the nature of rain to fall, etc. (The proliferation of essences, kinds, etc. is one of the reasons why the simplification of them all into “Nature” was a big intellectual move at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.)

    The essence of a human being is to be a rational animal, so anything that hinders with the fullest expression of our animality or our rationality is thereby morally problematic. Both our rationality and animality are construed teleologically — the purpose of human beings qua animals is to reproduce (as with all animals), and the purpose of human beings qua rational beings is to understand or to know. (And presumably, in the explicitly theistic version that we get with Thomism, to know and understand God as the creator and sustainer of all things.)

    One big difference is that, because God is Love, Love is how all things are drawn to God — or put a bit differently, insofar as I understand, agape is the final cause of all things.

    So the role of God is a bit different here than in DCT. In DCT, the moral commandments are direct results of the divine will. Whatever He says, goes. In NLT, what is moral is what contributes to the actualization of our nature, and what is immoral is what hinders it. And “because that’s how God made us” is invoked as the explanation for why we have the nature or essence that we have.

    (It’s also important for Aristotle and Thomas that the created world is an interlocking set of creatures that all working together for the perfection of all. In Thomism, God couldn’t have made us different from how He did without making all of Creation different from how it is, and He would have made it different only if it would have been better that other way. But God, being good, would not have made this world as it is if some other world would have been better. However, Aquinas does not insist that our place in the interlocking order of reality is something that we can fully know. From our point of view, there are mysteries.)

    I’ll reserve till later my criticisms of NLT. It’s only the differences between DCT and NLT I’m trying to get across here. For one thing, the Euthyprho Dilemma does not work against the NLT (so far as I can tell).

  16. Essentialism is worthless crap, regardless of its pedigree.

    Regarding the Catholic Church: by its fruits…

    pun intended

  17. KN,

    In NLT, what is moral is what contributes to the actualization of our nature, and what is immoral is what hinders it. And “because that’s how God made us” is invoked as the explanation for why we have the nature or essence that we have…

    But God, being good, would not have made this world as it is if some other world would have been better…

    In other words, God’s nature is good. But then that runs smack into something that looks a lot like the Euthyphro:

    Is God’s nature good because it is God’s, or is it God’s because it is good?

  18. A long time and at the same point in TSZ. Is not the differences between DCT and NLT the point to start. You have to define what is good or (Good if you think it exist) then you can start to talk about morality.

  19. Blas: You have to define what is good or (Good if you think it exist) then you can start to talk about morality.

    Agreed! I think “good” is a very subjective concept. Good for me does not necessarily equate with good for you too! 🙂

  20. Alan Fox,

    Alan Fox: Agreed! I think “good” is a very subjective concept. Good for me does not necessarily equate with good for you too!

    Ok if manitain that idea always. One question How do you know if you are making the best of it?

  21. Alan Fox:

    Welcome back, mung. Didn’t you say that you would never darken our door again? By your moral compass, don’t you have to call yourself a liar, now?

    If I did in fact state that I would never again post here at TSZ then I cannot but say that I lied.

  22. Alan Fox:

    Welcome back, mung. Didn’t you say that you would never darken our door again? By your moral compass, don’t you have to call yourself a liar, now?

    So?

    Given that you have no moral compass, don’t you even sense the hypocrisy in attempting to judge me by my moral compass?

    Those who have a moral compass ought to be judged by that moral compass, but those who have no moral compass ought not be judged?

  23. Mung: Those who have a moral compass ought to be judged by that moral compass

    Why, I’d bet you are wearing mixed fibers right now!

  24. Mung:
    Those who have a moral compass ought to be judged by that moral compass, but those who have no moral compass ought not be judged?

    No moral compass? Why the opposite to “absolute morality” is “no moral compass”?

    I am sure Alan Fox has a moral compass, as much as anybody else. Some of us are simply aware that much of our morality is based on our understanding that hurting others is not a fair thing.

  25. Hi Mung. I guess that I will have to come here to be insulted by you since Barry (the liar) has banned me from UD.

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