In the comments to my previous post, I was challenged by Hookflash, who will be quoted from this point on, and annotated as “H“.

H: Even if there are “objective” moral facts, your apprehension of them is subjective (and, thus, prone to error).

The proper response is:

Despite the fact that objective moral facts exist, your apprehension of them is subject to error, and prone to be misinterpreted subjectively, despite their objective status.

From such misapprehensions arise sin – aka “violations of the objective moral standards”.

H: This is why, if you were to ask 10 moral realists to outline their supposedly “objective” moral standards, you’d probably wind up with 10 different standards. 😉

First, that claim lacks specificity. The subject is not “moral realism” – it is “moral objectivism”. What is “real” is another way of saying “what is true”. However, it is not a common conception to all “objective” moral standards, nor are all “objective” moral standards similar, let alone identical.

Thus, by using a non-universal as your universal, you are committing a fallacy of composition. Someone who considers Objectivism to be true, despite the term “Objectivism”, is not akin to a Christian objective moralist, who holds that all truth, all morality, is derived from the person of God. An Objectivist believes that all truth is derived from human reason, and that the primary goal of human morality is to advance self-interest, and self-happiness.

Thus, your statement is no longer universally applicable, as the two are incompatible. By stating something already known as if it is something that is not, you are committing a Fallacy of Exclusion.

We *know* moral realists are not all alike. However, as this is a Christian apologetics blog, assume, always, that I am talking about Christian Objectivism – especially due to my argument above. In Christian Objectivism, the only correct morality is the morality given from God. Misapplications, subjective, or otherwise, are by default, inherently wrong. Truth claims contrary to those given by God are also inherently wrong, and thus, subjective. You are also committing a Broad Definition fallacy, because you are stating what is already said to be excluded from valid truth, as if it is legitimate truth within the system criticized.

Christianity, within it’s basic, necessary premises, says that anything contrary to God’s statements is untrue, regardless of ‘alternate” subjective interpretations. There is one truth, and one truth only. If we are wrong – we are only that – wrong. Only God’s statement on the issue is right.

Whether a hypothetical 10 “moral realists” contradict each other is inconclusive, at best, and irrelevant, at worst. In a logical winnowing of the truth/morality claims, only one is legitimately correct. Plurality has no basis in logical argument.

True/False, not Both.

H: Furthermore, the source one chooses as the basis of their “objective” morality (e.g., the Bible, or the Koran) is chosen subjectively — i.e., you make a decision which is, like all decisions, subjective.

This comes down to your conception of reality, and of the efficacy of logical thought. If things are knowable, and truth can be distinguished from untruth, then the choice is anything but subjective. It is once again, objective. Only one religion can be true, or no religion is true at all. Those are your choices.

Jesus cannot be both God and not-God. This is a logical violation. Christianity, by that simple logical proof, excludes all inclusion in pluralistic thought. Jesus’ claim to deity defies logical inclusion with any religion which denies His deity.

A cannot be both A, and Not-A.

So, we now have Christianity, and every other religion. Islam, for example, thinks Him to be a prophet, but decidedly not God. it cannot be true, while Christianity is also true. The converse is also logically necessary.

Atheism is also incompatible, as a truth claim, with Christianity. A philosophy which states “there is no god” cannot co-exist, pluralistically, with a religion which claims that there is not only a God – but that a specific historical, verifiable person in history was, in fact, God.

It also cannot co-exist with weak atheism, or agnosticism, which says “I have not enough evidence to believe in a God.”

It runs directly into Christianity’s Romans 1:20, which states:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Once again, incompatible.

The choice is made logically, whether you consciously realize it, or not. things are subject to others things until you run out of subjects, yes. To a point. However, Reason is derived from objective principles governing it (logic) – or Reason ceases to be trustworthy. Truth claims are winnowed by logic, and logic by the actual veracity (truth) of logic’s premises.

If you choose which Truth is “correct” the same way you choose which breakfast cereal to buy – you take the process of arriving at, and coming to an understanding of, Truth far too lightly. You don’t “choose” what is true. You arrive at the doorstep of truth via reason, and logic. Reason takes you only so far. Truth is truth, no matter what you choose to consider as true. There is no “Atheism is True for you, but Christianity is True for me”. If A =/= C, (they are by definition antithetical) then A = T and C = T is, by definition, and by logical proof – false. Thus, there can be only one “T” – and only one thing can be correct.

The same thing applies for every claim to truth which differs. There is NO “this truth is correct, and so is this truth – despite the fact that the two “truths” contradict each other. Either one is true, or neither are true. Those are your only options.

Let’s put it another way. If nothing is objectively true – all of the logical proofs above would be meaningless. I could say “A =/= C – yet A = T and C = T are both correct – and this is true for me.” I would be absolutely correct – because there is no objective, absolute, outside-of-myself truth. Unless there is an objective standard to say “No, inequal statements BOTH equaling a third statement is absolutely impossible.” This is not paradox, but impossibility, unless we have an explanation which negates A =/= C. There is no such negation, and there is such a standard (the laws of logic) which says that the above is, indeed, the truth. Contradictory statements just can’t. This is immutable. Absolute. Objective.

Objective Morality holds to the same principle. Morality is a standard defined outside of the person whose behavior being measured against the standard. Morality is NOT a standard defined by the person whose behavior is being measured against the standard. This is subjective morality.

Subjective morality denies “standards” altogether. A standard is a measurement by which the measured are measured BY. The measured do not maintain the standard – or they could move it whenever they wished, willy-nilly. it ceases, at that point, to be a standard. It is then a “personal goal” – which can be adjusted whenever the person in question sees fit.

He is now the only person judged by that standard – and a judge cannot judge himself. In law, a judge would have to recuse himself for a case involving his own personal interests. Do you honestly think moral law is any different? Or do you think a judge should judge himself?

H: You can then stamp your feet and declare vehemently that your source is the objective one, and everyone else is wrong, but the fact remains that you’re using moral standards which are, at bottom, subjectively chosen.

The choice of which objective moral standard which I believe to be logically (and actually) true is not the issue. The issue is whether the standard chosen is itself objective or subjective. That is the question, not whether the choice of which objective standard to choose is subjective. Of course it’s subjective. However, the principles by which we arrive at that choice are objective – unless we are wrong. In which case we’re wrong. However, we are objectively wrong, not subjectively so. Only one objective truth claim is objectively true. If all objective truth claims are compared, only one will be actually true. Several may be logically true – as in, logically valid – but only one will be actually true. The principles of logic are objectively true. Therefore, by objective principles, we choose which objective truth claim has the best claim to be, in fact, true.

The fact that we make a choice may be subjective – but, the process of making it will be objectively valid, or objectively invalid. True, or false. This is objective. With two antithetical truth claims there is either one true claim, or none. Both cannot be true.

H: In short, “objective” morality solves nothing, especially when its supposed objectivity is based entirely on a subjectively-motivated assertion (whether made by a group or an individual).

Does Objective Truth exist? If not, why should I believe you when you say it doesn’t? In that case, my claim that it does is just as valid as yours, since I subjectively defined it myself.

If so, then there is such a thing as a truth undefined by man, and true regardless of what any man thinks, as to it’s truthfulness. Truth may be Atheism, Christianity, or neither. but what we think about it doesn’t have any affect on whether it is, in fact, true.

Thus, either you, or I, or neither are correct. There is no highway option.

The standard is objective. Whether I choose to believe it to be true or not does not affect it’s actual truth one iota. It is either true, or it is not, regardless of my choice to believe it is.

You are mistaking a subjective action for a standard. You are changing subjects, and proclaiming that the Scarecrow hereby defeats the Tinman – when the fight was between the Lion and the Tinman to start with. I could quibble with you about whether the choice actually IS subjective or not – but it’s still irrelevant. it isn’t about the choice. It’s about whether the standard by which morality is defined is mutable, or immutable. Subjective, or Objective.

When and how we choose to believe which is correct has nothing to do with the properties of the standard itself. Unless you deny Objective Truth. In which case I no longer recognize the validity of your claim, state my claim to be lord and master of humankind, and decree that all my subjects shall henceforth be referred to as “Elvis”. Oh, and I’m right. Because I say so.

And there ARE beezelflobbits on Jupiter – and their name is Sam. Just Sam. I’m right then, too.

Subjective morality, just like subjective truth, is self-contradicting. It’s still fun to be 2 years old again sometimes, though.

“That isn’t your toy!”


“No, it isn’t.”


2 year olds are inveterate subjectivists. Everything, regardless of the *objective* truth of their claim – is subjectively theirs. They say so, after all.

A logical form modeled by a two-year old doesn’t hold much appeal to me, however.

UPDATE: Joe posted on the same basic subject today.