Mr. James Corbett did take time to read and visit, and I believe he reiterated and restated or possibly just copied the transcription or ground from his debate with Sean McDowell at Saddleback College last Friday evening, February 26, 2009. Again, the debate topic was to answer this question: "Is God the Best Explanation for Moral Values?"
So, this is Mr. Corbett's specific ground, in support of his claim that "God is NOT the Best Explanation for Moral Values."
1) Is there another explanation for morality? I’m sure there are many, but I’m not an expert in ethics or religion.
This was a serious debate attended by hundreds of students and highly-advertised, turning out to be very popular, and instead of snarfing my coffee, I say, "If this is so, with respect, Mr. Corbett, why did you agree to debate this specific topic?"
2) Still, I doubt that If there were no belief in God, the relationship between parent and child would become savage?
Many might debate the "morality" of the parent-child relationship. Nearly everyone is aware of the biological components of human child-rearing and the relationship between the big-brained baby's lengthy dependency on mother and the adult human capacity for many forms of communication, thought, perception and creation. Parent and child relationships have a very strong biological component, on a physical, emotional (hormonal) and survival basis (of one's individual genes, and for humanity as a species). So - parent-child relationships definitely exist, definitely can be very positive, and parents may eagerly sacrifice their own lives so that their children will survive - it is a selfless and unselfish decision, but possibly, not moral at all - and thus, would not change if there were no belief in God (also, Sean did make one clear point that's hard to disprove - there is a difference between "belief in God" and God. Just saying. If God is real, He exists even if not one person believes in him.)
3) Animals tenderly care for their young, without understanding God, why must mankind invoke God to explain what animals do by instinct?
See above. Also, how does Mr. Corbett know that animals have no awareness of the Divine? Yes, some nuns have told children that their puppy or kitty who just died is either in Hell, Purgatory or nowhere because as an animal, they "had no soul." Bzzzt! If Alex the Parrot can communicate by speaking and obviously had a personality and feelings, and Chimpanzees clearly have ideas of right, wrong, self-recognition and affection and loyalty, then these animals may well sense their part in God's creation and know that God is present. There is quite a Christian tradition of acknowledging animals' relationship to God's creation (St. Francis).
4) Would mankind never have learned to care for the aged, injured or sick, the value of honesty or truth without God? Of course, we would, not because God wills it, but because it is in our rational self interest.
Funny movies like "The Truth About Lying" point up the humor in this type of commentary and thought. Imagine if there were a world where lying really hadn't occurred to people. As with my comments above about the parent-child relationship, caring for the aged, injured and sick, and being honest, are not exactly the most stringent, highest moral values and concerns. But granted, doing these things is common sense, and above all, decency.
5) Humans know what animals do not, that, sooner or later, survival for the individual or the tribe depends on the caring of another.
Bzzt! Wait - was it not asserted earlier that animals did show caring behaviors? (It's been shown by a number of researchers that a variety of species show behavior that seems to indicate altruism). Again, is ALTRUISM a "moral value" or is enlightened self-interest . . . just that?
6) Morality grows out of self and tribe preservation, not faith.
This is a very common a-religious misunderstanding about Christian belief, as well as beliefs of some other religions. Faith and a concept like morality (the concern over one's individual behavior and right and wrong actions as the individual relates to society) are two different things. Faith refers to one's belief in religious teachings. It is separate from beliefs and actions about one's own attitudes and behaviors. If one has faith in Christ, YES this does influence behavior and moral attitudes. But faith doesn't create the behavior. One chooses to do or not do, of one's own free will. However, Sean McDowell's statement was very simple and pure. He said God had created or set forth morals - i.e. morals were literally created by God. Like "God created the heaven and earth" - and morals are a part of it.
7) Humans learned to care for each other because, as a weak defenseless animal, cooperation and caring means survival.
Again, there is a confusion between cooperation and caring and survival.
- Stealing as in "Les Miserables" for survival - immoral or moral?
- Shoplifting like Winona Ryder for the "thrill of it" and not the need - immoral or moral - and anything to do with survival? Like, those who somehow resist the temptation to steal large amounts of expensive clothing, sunglasses and jewelry are contributing to "survival"? How about just plain common sense, some decency, and dignity?
- Bernie Madoff - most would say immoral, but how many would trade with him hoping to "get away with it" - for their own survival? Actually, "Darwinian" approaches to society include - be just like Madoff, as long as you can get away with it.
- The man who stood on the back of the train and used a Gatling gun to shoot thousands of American Bison down to the last herd of 100 - moral, immoral, and "survival?" Or maddog bloodthirsty killer anybody would stop out of decency - that is a brutal, indecent behavior.
- Prostitution is widely regarded as immoral, yet it is also the "world's oldest profession," it is featured in the Bible and portrayed as something to not be judgmental about or to bar participation as a Christian, and what does it have to do with "cooperation and caring" although, it does have to do with survival - for the prostitute (see "Les Miserables").
8) Humans see a universality in morality only when they embrace the universality of the human condition----when they begin to see the stranger as not so different from themselves.
Now, I do not believe that it is terribly valid to connect "the universality of the human condition" with morality. That's kind of like the children's book I'm linking to here. However, let's see what Christ did have to say about "the universality of the human condition" and "seeing the stranger as not so different from themselves."
Luke 10:30 - the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This also contains "love thy neighbor as thyself." A good discussion here, including scripture explication.
Actually, this guy's got a lot of the good ones - Romans 12:10 - brotherly love (and he doesn't mean those who are literally related, it is meant "all are brothers"). Ephesians 4:25 and 26: speak the truth, all are neighbors, do not be angry - "let not the sun go down on thy wrath" - i.e. forgive others readily. Ephesians 4:31 and 32 - go and read.
And, at the ballgame and on the truck, hat and T-shirts, we see one of these verses, but seldom, the three together - John 3:16-18. I will use the KJV because that is what I have always read, and having studied the Renaissance, I recognize that it was written by a committee using the highest level of English elegance yet achieved; Shakespeare's contemporaries and peers. Brethren refers to all people, and brother to one's brother in Christ, which is any living person and I accept the universal "he".
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
9) There are barriers to understanding the universality the human condition and Sean’s view that morality is based on one particular view of the nature of God and on one holy book does little to tear down those barriers, and much to create fear and mistrust.
People do a lot to hurt others all the time, Mr. Corbett. It is in the news every day. Some of them probably attend church. Some of them might even be in charge of an individual church or congregation or maybe even a large ministry. These scandals come out all the time.
But what I just reprinted from the one Holy Book? It seems very clear to me, in fact, almost impossible to misunderstand.
Here is the NIV version - more clear and simple:
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
What you were stumbling toward, it was clearly stated there, was it not?
And Christ did not invent charity, nor love toward one's fellow man, nor these simple guidelines. He stated them, here in these verses. It is what he DID that was unique, but which has been repeated many times since and will continue to be repeated. What we Christians believe, and commit to if we believe on this word (this is what being a "Bible Believing Christian" is, Mr. Corbett, you believe these exact words and their meaning as I wrote above - John 3:16 is this.) We believe that we should do as Christ did for us. We believe that if it comes to it, we should copy His example - not just the first, the only such example from any religion. We believe On Him because we believe that he died for us. Here, he tells us to give up our lives for others - any other person who needs it, not randomly, but on their behalf, just as Christ did for us.
Now, is this morality? Or is this something different? I think it is different. I believe that the deed, and deeds that Christians are charged with doing, represent these three things:
1 Corinthians 13:13
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
And for every example you gave, such as John Calvin persecuting Catholics -
I give you this example: June 9, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. walked onto his hotel balcony in full knowledge his life was at immediate risk, with many death threats and warnings building up day after day after day. Why would he have done that? Or why would another who inspired Dr. King, and who incorporated Christian thought with his other religious thoughts and traditions, did as he did here, in 1948? By their deaths, by the deaths of everyone who has died to advance the cause of loving intelligence in this world, all of us have a better chance to live - better lives. John 3:16-18, the full thing. And - in the long run? Yes - survival. And this isn't just about "life," it is about something greater than our small, little individual lives. It is about the life and spirituality that we all share.
To me, that is a little bit more than a mom taking care of her baby or people getting up the gumption to refrain from stealing.
And I am the least of the little ones and it was not at all difficult for me to do this.