Thursday, June 01, 2006

Josh Brisby and the Master-Slave Morality of Christianity

Josh Brisby and I had a little dialogue a while back in the comments section of this thread at his blog, The Reformed Oasis.

Josh asked me this:

Why is it sad for you, as an atheist, when someone dies? Why do you grieve? Is it bad that they died? What is "bad"? What is "good"? I haven't heard an answer yet, and I don't see how your worldview even begins to account for such things. The problem of evil is a problem for the atheist.

My response to him was, "Argument from ignorance."

Josh responded to this in the comments of my thread entitled Christians Don't Know What Reality They Exist In. He had this to say:

You said that I gave an argument from ignorance. But when I asked you to account for morality in your worldview, I never said "Christian theism is true because atheism is not true." I of course believe that Christian theism CAN account for these things, but I was merely asking you to account for them. I have been waiting for a very long time to hear how you can begin to account for morality, and I'm still waiting.

Josh's argument was indeed an argument from ignorance, because he said, "I haven't heard an answer yet, and I don't see how your worldview even begins to account for such things. The problem of evil is a problem for the atheist." Because he hasn't seen an answer, he implies that it isn't possible with his "...I don't see how..." statement.

Josh then brings up my objectivist days of the past and claims that Hell is superfluous:

Apparently you do not hold as strongly as you once did to the philosophy of Ayn Rand (which most philosopher's consider a philosopher in diapers). But now you want to hold to "axiomatic self-interest" and say it is the ultimate presupposition, so to speak. But you fail to realize that Christians don't become Christians merely to avoid hell. By God's grace, He opens our eyes to realize that Christ has crown rights, and we have been violating them.

Josh is right in that I don't follow Ayn Rand's Objectivism like I used to. What I believe in is a fact-based morality. In fact, I am a soldier in the War on Relativism, and if Josh wants to know more about my morality, he should check out the posts found over there, including the one that I wrote.

Now let's get to Josh's claim that "Christians don't become Christians merely to avoid hell." Does Josh mean that Christians don't care about Hell at all (a dubious claim)? Or that Christians become Christian for other reasons in addition to avoiding Hell? If it is the former, then I would have to firmly disagree with Josh. If it is the latter, then I would say that he has given us no new information, and still, he does acknowledge that Christians wish to avoid Hell.

But Josh seems to miss my point. Why do Christians wish to avoid hell? I'll get back to this in a moment.

Josh then exposes the master-slave morality of Christianity:

In fact, the Christian theistic worldview is *diametrically opposed* to the notion of axiomatic self-interest. I need Christ for my sin-sick soul, because I am a selfish person, and I am selfish to the core. But how dare I violate God's Law, and how dare I live contrary to His standard. In salvation, God opens our eyes to see that His ways are right and just, and we owe Him our allegiance as our Creator.

Read that paragraph carefully, folks. The morality exposed in it is in fact rather sickening. Being interested in one's own self is evil and we all must serve a master who is obviously selfish to the core, states Josh. Josh says what I've heard a thousand times before: that Christians are diametrically opposed to self-interest! I've heard similar sentiments from Matt Slick, who recently told me that we don't even own our own selves, but that God owns them!

That, my friends, is a classic master-slave scenario. God is the master, humans are the slaves, and the only entity who's interest is valid is God's interest. Disgusting.

Self-interest, on the other hand, is diametrically opposed to master-slave relationships. The only person you own is yourself, and everyone has a right to pursue his or her own interests, and therefore not be forced to pursue anyone else's.

And just as the Christian snake-oil sales manual commands, Josh begins trying to convince me that I have a problem so that he can sell me the "cure":

You see Aaron, I would be just like you if it weren't for God's saving grace. I call you today to repent of your sins. Stop living selfishly for yourself and live for Christ. He reigns over you and you live in His borders, under His sovereignty. But if you want to live in His Kingdom and not submit to His rules then you are an illegal immigrant. You will be dealt with.

I can't tell for sure, but it seems that Josh is implying that God writes the immigration laws of America. I don't want to debate political issues like illegal immigration on this blog, but I will at least say that it is rather funny to equate the laws of the United States of America with the laws of God.

And as far as repenting, first Josh is going to have to convince me that God exists. Maybe Josh can explain to me why the matter/energy that comprises the Universe is timeless and eternal; it was never created, and can never be destroyed. And maybe Josh can explain to me why I should submit to a master-slave moral system such as that found within his Christianity.

Josh then exposes how the master-slave moral system of Christianity allows for God to operate along different moral rules than his slaves... uh, I mean, worshippers:

The ways of Christ are right and just.

In other words, God always operates along the just and right moral system.

We owe God our obedience and love, and He deserves the highest honor.

So God demands that we worship him and serve his interests. Of course this means that God is also fulfilling his own self-interest. So according to Josh, it is right and just for God to follow his own interest. So couldn't it be right for us humans to follow our own interests as well? Josh doesn't think so:

It is wrong and evil for us to live selfishly. Repent of your wickedness.

Holy crap! So it's right and just for God to follow his own interests, but not for us to do so? God must receive all the praise and love and glory, and to be #1 on everyone's lists, but we cannot put ourselves on the top of our own lists? God gets to have all the good rules, and we get all the crap rules. God operates on a different set of moral rules than humans do!

God is the master, humans are the slaves. To top it off, the humans must be punished for actions that they didn't even commit (original sin)! When laid bare, this moral system sure doesn't make Christianity look any more appealing.

Josh finishes off by giving me one of the threats found within the Bible:

Be warned:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:5-8)
(See also Luke 19:11-27)

On a moral note, this is just plain evil. Josh explains his master-slave moral system, then threatens me with ultimate punishment if I don't accept his master-slave moral system and believe in his invisible friend. It matters not what good deeds I commit in my life, for the betterment of my peers or myself. All that matters is whose flag I'm waving and whose ass I'm kissing. All belongs to God.

A more absolute, far-reaching, and all-encompassing master-slave moral system than this could not possibly be conceived. Seriously! It is totally comprehensive! "God owns your ass and everything you do and the only thing that matters is how much you agree with this statement."

But on a technical note, why does that passage mention eternal life in such a context? Technically, eternal life is guaranteed to everyone in the Bible, the only question is where you will spend it. Darn that Bible and its confusing terminology. If I had a choice after death between Heaven, Hell, or simply not existing (not having eternal life), I would choose to not exist.

And now for the real issue I raised earlier, that Josh has so far failed to address. What reason does Josh have for following God's rules? So God demands all the glory and he owns us all. So what? Why should anyone care what God wants us to do? Why should a human want to follow God's rules and please Him? How does Josh get from an is to an ought?

As I have stated before, Morality cannot be based on God's rules.


Anonymous said...

It seems like a pretty obvious concept, but its amazing how often I have to explain it. If there was a divine being who created everything, I'd definatly give Him/Her/It props, but that wouldn't justify worshiping it or doing whatever it asks. I love my parents, but I'm not going to be their slave.

Why is obedience "good?" Just because the person demanding it says so?

Anonymous said...

As I have mentioned before, the master/slave morality is Nietzschean, especially as it concerns xtianity, and Nietzsche was a moral relativist. For a summary to start with, look up Nietzsche at wikipedia and go on from there.

BlackSun said...

You know, Aaron, I'm starting to have a sense of deja vu. This josh character seems as unreasonable as my recent troll. These guys have so many unsupported assertions in their arguments, it's insane. That really speaks to the weakness of their position, and it's kind of a metaphor for their relationship with their imaginary god(s):

They've accepted someone else's word (bible, preachers, etc.) as fact and law. So they think we should now accept their word as fact and law. Objectivity lies bleeding in the corner on both counts.

But these people are so confused, they don't even know how to mount a logical argument. I've grown tired of trying, because they might as well be speaking Klingon. And their ears seem to be stopped up as well.

From now on, I'm going to try my best not to address these arguments from authority, ignorance, popularity, result, etc. Like you and Franc and many others, I've already done so:

If its clear someone is taking that tack, I've got better things to do with my time. I'd rather spend it developing my own ethical system, and studying the only subjects that can shed light on it: Ev Psych and genetic/brain research (Kurzweil, Pinker, Dawkins, et al).

The bout with Mr. Showers has left me with no desire to waste any more time on crackpots.

Posting comments on a christian apologist site: Aaron, you're a braver man than I.


The Nietzschean Master-Slave morality differentiation doesn't seem to apply to what Aaron is talking about here. Josh is firmly rooted in the Nietzshean slave morality. What Aaron is referring to I think is the hierarchical concept of god as the master and everyone else as the slave. You are mixing your metaphors.

BTW, Nietzsche might have been a relativist, but he expressed clear preferences for what he thought was true and correct--thus negating his own stance. He was a really smart guy and had a lot of other valuable things to say. But his relativism flies in the face of objective facts. It has a very narrow range of relevance in terms of socially constructed opinions.

Outside of the (relatively) unimportant realm of ever-changing pet notions and zeitgeist, relativism falls completely flat. Really, it is the silliest philosophical notion that has ever been propounded.

Aaron Kinney said...

Great response BlackSun, thank you! I feel the same way.


You have pointed me in the direction of Nietzche before and I have also told you before that I have read some of his work. I read Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist, plus some random letters (all from the Walter Kaufmann translations in The Portable Nietzche).

Nietzche had some good things to say about morality even though he was a relativist. And like BlackSun, I dont think Nietzchean ideas apply here. This is my own critique of Christianity from the perspective of my own self-ownership moral system.

Having said that, I do agree with many of Nietzche's points about Christianity in The Antichrist.

Francois Tremblay said...

The idea that atheists have no way to get morality is ridiculous. It's called "reality", people.


Anonymous said...


Good points, as usual. Josh seems like quite the piece of work. I often think it's funny that Xtians, many more times than not, think they have the corner on the "morality market". In my opinion, Xtianity as a normative ethical system is as morally bankrupt as a methadone clinic (that is, however, not to say the individual followers must be as well).

The big reason to either a)keep believers from running out and doing evil deeds or b)scaring people into the church is hell - pure and simple. Now, riddle me this: does following the rules of a J/C ethical system make one moral? Not a chance in hell - if you think motivational ethics holds any weight.

Let's go to a real world example. Let me propose the following: You find a wallet in the gutter. Inside the wallet are several credit cards, $400.00 in cash, and a driver's license. You, being the upright individual you are, decide to return the wallet. Do you decide to return it because a)it's just the right thing to do or because b)you might get a small monetary reward for your behavior? Option B is the motivation for Xtian normative ethical theories.

The motivation for doing good or avoiding evil is in virtue of attaining reward (heaven) and avoiding punishment (hell). Simply put, actions that use that as a motivation can never be "moral".

And what's more, I agree with you on your choice between heaven, hell or non-existence as eternity is absurd. I would choose non-existence over eternal bliss any day of the week. Just imagine it: you could think every thought possible, do everything possible, speak to everyone possible, etc etc, and still have eternity to look forward to. You could do all that, over and over and over, on into infinity, and still have eternity to look forward to. Methinks I would go insane from the boredom alone.


Moltisanti said...

excellent site.....very happy i found it, i will be reading every post from now on.

BJ said...

I also dealt with your "Christians that fear hell thesis as well."

Aaron Kinney said...


Thanx! I hope not to dissapoint!


See my June 5th post in response to your tripe.

Josh Brisby said...


My response to you is now posted on my blog. I hope you enjoy as well.


LegionofEternalDarkness said...
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LegionofEternalDarkness said...
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Anonymous said...

The second coming of God is at hand. Take heed and make note. "God has returned". The great Schism continues to separate his children. He has returned to put the pieces of the fallen Church back together. A number of you have been deceived by the Romans. God is going to tell you where you have deceived you.

Anonymous said...

Correction: God is going to tell you where they have deceived you.

In 2006 God sent a message. The message is about the meaning of First is Last and Last is First. What do you think this message means?

Anonymous said...

In the Spring of 2006 God sent a message. It is about the meaning of First is Last and Last is First. The message is this:

In the morning I go to Heaven. In the afternoon I live my life. In the evening I die, death.
What does this mean? It means that Birth is Last and Birth is First.

Anonymous said...

God also gives and example so that you can understand this better. Example: Mike Douglas died on his birthday, August 11. (note: Mike Douglas and Michael Douglas are two different people.)

In 2007 God had this to say:
We each die in succession, then we are born on the same day.

Anonymous said...

Correction: To the meaning of First is Last and Last is First. It means that Birth is Last and Birth is First. Sorry for the error. God talks in symbols and opposites at times so it takes time to figure out what he is saying. Some of his messages are clearer than others, plus they have multiple meanings.