Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Paul Manata Misses Point of My Post; Embraces Racism

Paul Manata has indicated in no uncertain terms here and here that he will not take back the racial slurs he threw at me. He doesn't think that he did anything bad, in fact he thinks what he did was funny (funny for a proud Aryan Klansman maybe?), and considers my request for him to take back what he said "childish." I honestly don't know if I can call racism "childish," but it certainly scores lower than any other "childish" remark in terms of quality of conduct.

Anyway, I have decided to respond to the meat of Manata's post, despite the fact that he stands proudly beside his racial slur. I have cooled down and I think I can reply to him without resorting to his level of poo flinging. In responding to the meat of his post, I will dispel his incorrect belief that I was using a racism charge to evade the real content of his post.

The first thing to note is that Manata completely missed the point of my post, and nowhere in his reply does he address my actual point of posting. To refresh everyone's memory, the title of my post was "Morality Cannot be Based on God's Rules." In my post, I explained objective morality, and then explained how Christianity steals from it, and I also demonstrated that the Christian, in his/her denial of self-interest as the foundation of morality, cannot account for their moral system. In other words, a Christian cannot provide an objective reason for following God's rules or caring about where they end up when they die: Heaven or Hell. I explained how the Christian can only get moral justification for following God's rules by stealing from the objective self-interested morality. I even wrote a sample dialogue between an atheist who subscribes to objective morality, and a Christian. I think it's safe to say that the point of my post was indeed what the title claimed it to be, that morality cannot be based on God's rules.

Strangely, Manata's entire response does not address or even acknowledge this point. All Manata does is attack the objective moral system with strawmen, misinterpretations, and attempts to assert the primacy of subject over object.

In reference to my explaining of objective morality, Manata quotes a source of objectivism from geocities and states (for clarification, "Aynisphat" is Manata's racial/ethnic slur for me, Aaron Kinney):

We note here, then, that the term "existence" in the "axiom of existence" is a "a collective noun denoting the sum of existents." So, Aynisphat is not all that exists but rather he's one particular existent. "An 'existent' is 'something that exists be it a thing, an attribute or an action.'" So, it looks as if Aynisphat is saying that another way of saying the "axiom of existence" is to say the "axiom of existent.

Manata is failing to see something important. Sure, "existence" is a collective noun, but it is also an adjective. It is an adjective because I (noun) have the property of existence (adjective). So when I say "axiom of existence," I am not saying "axiom of existent," at all. What I am saying is exactly what I mean, "axiom of existence," where existence is an adjective or a descriptor or a property. Existence is a property of an existent. Here is an example to demonstrate my point: My Mustang is an existent (noun). It exists (adjective), or has the property of existence (adjective).

Manata wants us to think that "axiom of existence" is a statement with two nouns and no adjectives. This simply isn't true, as the statement "axiom of existence" clearly contains a noun (axiom) and an adjective (existence). Manata is trying to strawman me by making it look as if I'm saying something that I'm not, and he is attempting to remove a significant portion of my message by changing an adjective to a noun.

So Paul Manata tried to erase the descriptive properties of the word "existence." It is important for Manata to attempt to jumble up and confuse what I said by reassigning adjectives to nouns, for only by attacking these fundamental concepts and jumbling them up can Manata hope to destroy objective morality. Fortunately, I only need to point out his trickery and his attack falls apart.

Once Manata feels that he has established the confusion of noun and adjective, he uses it to make a few assertions:

So, Aynisphat doesn't really begin with the axiom of existence but rather with the axiom of existent. Basically, Aynisphat is not really telling us something new but is just spouting off Descartes' axiom, "I exist."

See? He is literally trying to remove the entire descriptive property of the adjective "exist" like an illusionist making a quarter disappear. But it doesn't really disappear. In fact, the adjective/descriptive properties of the word "exist" can be seen within his own quotation of Descartes! Manata quotes him as saying "I exist." Look at that statement. It has a noun and an adjective. "I" is the noun, and "exist" is the adjective or descriptor.

Manata continues:

As such he is not using any universally accepted axiom that no men can deny but yet he tries to offer a universal system of objective morality.

Since Manata failed to remove the adjective from the equation, his argument here is totally empty. It is in fact an axiom that no man can deny. I challenge Manata to successfully deny it. I assert that in his act of denying it, Manata will be forced to implicitly concede it's axiomatic truth.

Manata then goes on to accidentally reveal that he has no understanding of what universality is:

More devastating, is that Aynisphat has a gigantic jump in his reasoning. How does he get from the axiom of his particular existence to the value of all other existents, or the value of all other life? This is nothing but a very hasty generalization. So it looks as though Aynisphat has a lot of work to do if he is going to prove how we get from the axiom of his existence to the value of life as considered universally.

Emphasis mine. The more proper question is, how can Manata assert that the value of existence is not universal? In other words, what makes Manata different from me? We are both human. We both exist (have the property of existence). We both require the same things to continue our existence.

I think a good thing to do right now in response to Manata's silly question begging is to quote myself from two posts ago. I said this: "It also says that what is good for one human is good for all humans, since all humans exist in the same reality and all the rules apply universally. In fact, if a rule cannot be applied universally, then it is not really a rule. So the only moral "rules" that exist are the rules that apply universally."

For Manata to say "How does he get from the axiom of his particular existence to the value of all other existents, or the value of all other life?" is the same as if Manata said "How does a scientist get from gravity existing on Earth to gravity existing all throughout the universe?" If gravity didn't exist everywhere, it wouldn't be a law. And if the value of existence was not applicable to all conscious existents, then it wouldn't be a law.

I would like to give a serious answer to Manata's question that I bolded thusly: Is there any objective difference between my existence and the existence of anyone else that would justify Manata's assertion that the rules or laws of existence don't apply equally to all of us? Or to use the gravity metaphor, I could say: Is there any objective difference between the existence of this planet and the existence of any other planet that would make the law of gravity not apply to all planets equally?

Later in the post, in reference to my statement about how the value of one's existence is presupposed, Manata says:

All Aynisphat is saying is that if one didn't exist he would not be able to conclude that it would be good if they didn't exist. But the reason for this is not because it is indeed objectively good that they exist, but merely because they would not exist to conclude it. So, Aynisphat offers another logical leap. He confuses the inability to say one is good with the objective fact that they are good, or have value.

Wrong. It is indeed objectively good that they exist because in the mere act of using one's consciousness, making decisions, making evaluations, etc... the value of one's existence is implicitly stated. If one's existence did not have value, then one would not exercise their existence. To use another metaphor, if I spend money, I am implicitly agreeing with its value in my act of spending it! If the money has no value to me, then I cannot logically spend it. And if I claim that the money has no value to me but I continue to spend it, then I am contradicting myself and indeed proving that the money has value because I am utilizing it in the act of spending it. This is about implicit agreement through the act of utilizing the "thing" in question. Whether it’s about money or conscious existence, when you utilize it, you endorse it and agree that it has value. Actions speak louder than words, and if you use money while condemning it, you are trumping your condemnations by endorsing the money through your act of spending.

Manata continues to embarrass himself by showing a total ignorance of universality:

Aynisphat concludes by saying that, "Human morality cannot be used to conclude that humans should not exist, for without humans, there would be no human morality to use to reach that conclusion." Despite the many numerous problems with this claim, all one has to do is claim that they do not think that all humans should not exist but only some! This satisfies Aynisphat's criteria that there be humans to reach the conclusion that some humans have value.

Ridiculous. Only some humans, huh? Again, the universality principle comes into play. And no, this does not satisfy my criteria whatsoever. It violates my criteria in fact: the criteria that these rules be universally and symmetrically applied. These kinds of rules must be universal and symmetrical. For more details on this, check out the excellent essay by Francois Tremblay entitled The Moral Razor.

Manata also seems to violate one of the principles of his own Presuppositionalist worldview (I'll tell you which one in a moment):

Also, again, we must press the point that it does not follow that humans have value because no one could say or conclude that they do not have value if they didn't exist.

Manata's Presuppostionalism states that it can only prove the existence of God by proving the impossibility of the contrary. In the instance of evaluating the value or non-value of one's existence, I have proved the impossibility of the contrary (proved that one cannot logically conclude that one has inherent non-value), and therefore proved my position that value of existence is foundational and presupposed in the mere act of existing. So I wonder what Manata will do about this particular issue: will he concede my point about proving the value of existence, or will he concede that his Presuppostionalism can not prove God's existence merely by proving the impossibility of the contrary? Manata has to concede on one or the other.

Manata then throws around a scenario:

Also, what if a mad-man said that no life has value and so he wants to kill everyone. Would Aynisphat tell him that he can't conclude that because then there would be no humans to say that all life should die? To this the mad-man would respond, "And that is exactly what I want to happen!"

If a mad-man said that no life has value, he would be objectively wrong, and he would be wrong because he would implicitly endorse the value of life in his mere act of living, evaluating, thinking, condemning, etc... And as far as what I would tell the mad-man, I would say "Go ahead and try it!" and I would then proceed to defend myself from him, because he is a mad-man that can't be reasoned with. However, we can note that logically the mad-man cannot come to the conclusion that his existence is inherently without value for the reasons I have already stated.

Manata later confuses the object-subject relationship and says:

Making sure we're "with" Aynisphat he then goes on to say that, "Now an objective, atheistic morality says that what is moral is what is good for you." This is helpful. Notice how Aynisphat basically tells us that what is moral is what is moral for you. And, what does he mean here. A pedophile will tell us that molesting children is "good" for him. So, is that moral? Hitler thought it was "good" for him to rid the world of Jews, so is that moral?

What I mean is that what is good for you is moral (self-interest), and yes, it is very helpful. A pedophile may tell us that molesting children is good for him, but he would be objectively wrong. Notice that Manata implies that what someone "thinks" is good for them, objectively is good for them. This is simply not true. I can "think" that gravity doesn't affect me but that doesn't make it objectively true. On the same vein, a child molester may think that acts of sexual coercion are good for him, but that doesn't make it objectively true. Manata fails to understand that existence (object) has primacy over consciousness (subject), and confuses the object-subject relationship. Morality is objective, which means that no human can "choose" that, for example, coercion is moral or good. Because morality is objective, we can only perceive or recognize it, not define or decide it. The same thing goes for gravity: we can only perceive or recognize gravity; we cannot choose or decide if and how gravity applies to us. That is what the word "objective" means and its pretty clear that Manata doesn't grasp this.

Manata then makes an ass of himself with a blatant and obvious strawman:

The PLO also tells us that objective, atheistic morality "also says that what is good for one human is good for all humans, since all humans exist in the same reality and all the rules apply universally." And so molesting a child is good for all children

So at first Manata refused to recognize universality. But when child molestation comes into play, then Manata recognizes it. He's picking and choosing parts of my moral code, depending on the scenario, to make a strawman then knock it down.

Manata then simply confuses what I said and further exposes his ignorance of universality:

But, Aynisphat now tells us that, " In fact, if a rule cannot be applied universally, then it is not really a rule." But above he said that what is good for one is good for all. Therefore, it appears that whatever is good for one can be applied universally! Is it "good" to give a cancer patient chemotherapy? If so, then should this rule be applied universally? But I don't need it; it would not be good to give me chemo. Therefore, since it cannot be applied universally then we should not give chemo to anyone, but since it is good for one person then it is supposed to be good for me also.

Notice that Manata thinks my statement about universality and rules is backwards? I was arguing in favor of applying rules universally, not against it. I actually am not sure if Manata made this error on purpose or accident, but I think it's on accident. Manata asks if it's good to give a cancer patient chemotherapy. I would reply that it is good to provide a good or service to someone who desires it if a mutually beneficial exchange can be agreed upon. Manata wants to confuse specific objects and/or services with moral principles. You see, morality is about principles, not about giving chemo to people per se. Morality refers to the principles of interaction between people, not about the specific chemotherapy you may be able to provide to someone. So while Manata tries to strawman me by claiming that my moral code says chemo should be given to everyone, the truth is that my moral code deals with principles of consent and trade and such. So, I can deconstruct Manata's strawman by saying, no, my moral code does not say you should give everyone chemotherapy regardless if they want or need it. My moral code says only that if two or more people wish to exchange goods and/or services, and they can agree to the terms, then it is good for them to do so. To "give" chemo to everyone implies that consent of the recipients is not sought, and the chemo is forced on everyone. Furthermore, there is no trade or symmetry of value exchange. So in reality, Manata's strawman example violates the principle of universality/symmetry in that his forcing of chemo on everyone does not seek consent for the recipients, nor an exchange of value. It is a total strawman and a misapplication of the principle of universality.

Manata throws a few more examples around:

Is lying good? What if we want to save someone from a murderer? Can we lie to protect them (ala, Anne Frank)? So, since it is good for one person to lie then it is good to lie universally. But, what if a doctor lies about a patient’s situation? Is that good? if not, then it is not a rule and no one should lie. But now what about poor Anne Frank?

Lying is not good because it is (usually) coercion. The foundational statement is that initiation of coercion is not good because it hurts people, including you. Lying usually falls into the category of coercion. Lying to save a friend from a murderer is good because you did not initiate the coercive act, but are instead using the coercive act of lying in defense against someone else's initiation of coercion. Pretty simple, really. If a doctor lies about a patient's situation, it depends on if the patient asked for the truth or asked to not be told bad news. In other words, if the patient asked to not be told the truth, then the doctor didn't coerce the patient when he lied to him, because the patient gave consent.

Manata then makes a claim:

I'm afraid Aynisphat is all confused... as am I.

Not Manata, I am not confused. My position is wholly consistent. You are the one that is confused, because you cannot understand universality, you cannot understand consent vs. coercion, you cannot understand the object-subject relationship, you can only prop up strawmen, and you failed to address the topic of my post: that morality cannot be based on God's rules.

Manata brings more tired and similar scenarios:

Now, what if someone does not say that it is wrong to kill and or molest him?

Manata presumes that by his silence he is endorsing immoral acts. But I can at least say that "kill" is not contextual and the word should be "murder," and sexual assault is only assault if one does not consent to it. So if this person doesn't have a problem with being "molested," then he isn't really being molested. In other words, it is logically impossible to rape someone who gives willing consent to the sexual act.

Can he then say that he can kill and molest others?

No, of course not. For nobody has the right to murder or sexually assault him. Again, these rules are objective. They are not decided on or chosen. They are concrete, like gravity. You cannot escape these rules.

I mean, what if it is in his self-interest to do so?

It isn't. It cannot possibly be proven that it is in one's self-interest to initiate coercive acts upon another. Destruction is never in anyone's self-interest. I challenge Manata to support the claim that initiation of coercion can be in one's self interest. I stand ready to offer refutations to any support Manata can provide for that claim.

Manata then tries to claim that self-defense is not possible in my moral system:

What if someone is attacking my wife and family? Can I kill him? But I don't want to be killed and so if I killed him "I am implicitly stating that it is ok for me to be killed."

If someone initiates coercion on you, then they implicitly state that it is ok for you to respond to them with coercion. Self-defense is justifiable because self-defense, or the rejection of coercive acts being executed upon you, is within one's self-interest.

Manata then says:

Lastly, maybe I don't want to be coerced but why does that mean I should not coerce others?

Universality, or symmetry. Again, see the essay that Francois Tremblay wrote called "The Moral Razor."

How do I "implicitly" state that it is okay for me to be coerced?

By initiating coercion against another. It's similar to the way that you implicitly agree that money has value every time you spend it.

I hope this post wasn't too tiring for all my readers. It’s a long one and after reading it, I think it's a bit boring and repetitive. But I wanted to reply to Manata's post adequately, and drive my points home. I think I did a decent job of showing Manata's strawmen, his confusion over concepts, and how he missed the true point of my post.

Manata, you didn't even address the real claims in my post: that Christianity cannot account for a reason to follow God's rules without conceding the self-interested objective morality and inherent value of existence as a foundation. You didn't address my example dialogue between an objective-morality atheist and a Christian. Your attacks on my moral system have failed, as I have refuted each of them. And you have done nothing to refute my claim that morality cannot be based on God's rules. Since you didn't address the topic of my post, I will consider it unchallenged.

I might even go so far as to say that you "implicitly" endorsed my post topic as valid by remaining silent on it LOL ;)


Paul Manata said...


Zachary Moore said...


Is this the "New Tone" that Paul has claimed for himself?

Aaron Kinney said...


Second verse, same as the first.

Paul Manata said...

ah, so I cannot joke anymore.

I have not called you a moron, idiot, dummy, etc., and will not.

My "new tone" needs to be dry and humorless. Or, if I make jokes, they must be of the sort that *you* approve of.

Oh, and Kinney, you said that you also would change your tune, but yet you call me an ass, among other things. So, just like how you "apologized" for mocking my God, and then turn around *after the fact* and do so again, it looks like you can "turn a new leaf" but continue to do the same thing.

Aaron Kinney said...

ah, so I cannot joke anymore.

I never said that. And I also admitted to chuckling at some of your jokes in the past, even if they were at my expense. Some of them were pretty funny. Honestly Paul, how can you be that suprised that I took offense though to the arabic thing?

I have not called you a moron, idiot, dummy, etc., and will not.

Okay, you havent necessarily used those specific words. However, you have very demeaning tones that you use when writing about me and you imply quite a few things that obviously both Christian and atheist readers easily pick up.

My "new tone" needs to be dry and humorless. Or, if I make jokes, they must be of the sort that *you* approve of.

No it doesnt. Its just that you need to realize that it is very hard to reply to the serious portions of your posts when they are wrapped up in so much insulting-sounding language. It really is alot of negativity, Paul, and Ive never had another Chrisian heap on nearly the amounts of disrespectful tone on me that you do in your writing.

Oh, and Kinney, you said that you also would change your tune, but yet you call me an ass, among other things.

Yup. Once in awhile you inspire me to write in your style for a sentence or two. I try not to insult you Paul, but sometimes a few things slip out because I honestly feel like you deserve a little taste of your own medicine. Since my "ass" comment and my mocking of your God obviously displease you, maybe you can identify a bit now with what I feel too?

So, just like how you "apologized" for mocking my God, and then turn around *after the fact* and do so again, it looks like you can "turn a new leaf" but continue to do the same thing.

Well, I was sincere in my apology when I posted it in your comments. I dont throw around apologies that I dont mean, as you dont appear to either. But it was AFTER I apologized to you, and you only refused to acknowledge the validity of me being offended, that I referred to your Lord as an "invisible sky fairy".

And honestly I dont think "invisible sky fairy" is as mean sounding as the tone you have taken recently when writing about me.

I at least try to refrain from insults, and succeed in doing so most of the time, when writing about you or in response to you. You, for the most part, dont even try to refrain from doing the same to me.

When you protest about my insults to you or your God, I apologize to you, because it is conductive to these conversations to remain respectful of each others "feelings" and to acknowledge when someone is legitimately offended. It is within both of our self interests for us to do so.

However, you do not recognize this. You have essentially stated that you dont care at all about how you treat ME or how you offend ME per se; all you care about is if your conduct toward me pisses off your God (is a sin), and if you dont think you are sinning to your God, then its all fair game. You clearly dont even consider any of your peers when you evaluate your conduct, only your God.

It doesnt look good for the Christian position you are supporting when you demonstrate that you dont care at all about me or how you treat me, but only about your God and how you treat Him. Like I said before, you need to work on your people skills.

However, another ironic thing about this situation, is that you seem to write disrespectfully towards me and other atheists because you think its funny. In other words, it pleases you to do so; it makes you happy. You do not write about me disrespectfully because of some Godly command or to please your Lord. You only do so to please yourself, and your Christian readers (which also pleases yourself). So it looks to me like you are actually basing these actions not on God or His word, but on your own perceived self interest. Its like its axiomatic to you to do things that please yourself. Spooky! :-O

So Paul, I have some questions for you. Would you like me to apologize to you for calling you an ass? Did I sin when I called you an ass? If I didnt sin when I called you an ass, then would you agree that I dont owe you an apology? And if I did sin when I called you an ass, would I owe the apology to you or to your Lord?

Paul Manata said...

"And honestly I dont think "invisible sky fairy" is as mean sounding as the tone you have taken recently when writing about me."

And that settles it. It's your subjective opinion that my stuff was mean, nasty, demeaning, insulting, etc. I don't think it was in the slightest.

So, I did it out of pure fun and now I guess I'm more aware of your sensitivities. Some atheists (not reformed) can handle it and think it's funny, others can't. I now know that I cannot joke *at all* with you because I never know when you're going to flip, fine.

You bring up my mentioning of your comments. Notice that I have only done so *after* you guys bring it up. I *never* initiate it. I bring it up, frankly, because I'm shocked that people who are so rude and arrogant to my fellow Christians would moan about lighthearted jokes. So, when you do, I simply mention that you guys do it and so why would you complain about me? (Opinion: I think it's because you cannot handle my arguments and you must resort to smear tactics).

So, I do care about your feelings, and out of Christian charity, I apologize that you took offense at an unintended offense (something not intended to offend but rather to get *you* (and others) to laugh and have fun reading). I still do not think it is objectively wrong.

So, in the future, if we ever do converse, it's nothing but dry, boring, humorless, stale, arid, drab and stodgy responses you'll get.

This whining and complaining has been a waste of my time. If you ever did what I did, I would just come back with something funnier, not write a post about how big and mean you were. I guess that's another difference between us.

Anyway, my post still stands and, along with it, some pretty hard refutations against you.

DUB said...

Um, Aaron. You're my boy and all, and I'm right with you. I agree with you the majority of the time (still not feeling the whole Libertarian thing -- you and/or Francois should direct me to some material).

But "existence" is only a noun. "Exist" is a verb. "Existent" is both a noun and an adjective. "I exist" = noun, verb. "Axiom of existence" = noun, preposition, object (noun) of preposition.

That said, I fully understand (and support) the point you were making, but the presentation had that flaw. The message is still valid though.

I do not wish to take anything away from your argument by drawing attention to this.

Aaron Kinney said...

No prob Dub. Thanx for pointing that out.

breakerslion said...

Since (as far as we know) humans are the only animals capable of defining morality, or having their actions interpreted through a moral lens, I am still struggling with the concept in its entirety. I will go so far as to say that I am not sure that "morality" exists in more than a convenient fictional sense, and that what you are defining as axioms of universal morality are not in actuality axioms of self-interest.

I am currently exploring the postulate that all human action and motivation can be expressed in terms of perceived self interest. The "rub", as Shakespeare would put it, is that the various experiences of our lives (gratification, trauma, stressors, etc.) distort in myriad ways our perception of self-interest. Perception, as I am using it here is not necessarily conscious perception or full-blown ideation.

Just something I'm poking to see if I can put a hole in it. Your thoughts?

Without segue, I have a small problem with one thing you posted.

"...sexual assault is only assault if one does not consent to it. So if this person doesn't have a problem with being "molested," then he isn't really being molested. In other words, it is logically impossible to rape someone who gives willing consent to the sexual act."

Our lives are not discrete events, but a continuous whole. You make the point of the wrongness of coercion when discussing the child molester. A child in puberty with raging hormones can be coerced without either: a) feeling empowered to defend against that coercion, or b) understanding the true nature of the relationship being offered by the child molester. Because of this, a child (or young adult in a date rape scenario) can give consent and then see the act in a different way later in life. Sadly, many people in this situation blame themselves for "weakness" of character.

aman said...

designer thoughts

Aethlos said...

Hey, aaron, just wanted to let you know that my blog, Weltanschauung, moved into a subdirectory. New address is: aethlos.com/welt
sorry for the inconvenience!