Godless Moral Imperatives

I am opening this thread give prior threads, grown overlong, a bit of  breathing room. Please feel free to answer any questions asked there now here.

I also want to throw open a certain question to one and all, and any willing to venture an answer.

Without God, is it possible to have any law higher than human law?

And here, by law, I speak of an imperative that imposes a given duty, regardless of one’s sentiments, or inclinations: the thing is right or wrong, ought to be done or ought not, independently of our willingness to do so, independent of utility, convenience, or expediency.

By the phrase “law above human law” I mean natural or innate rights or duties, common to all men, but issuing from no particular man or group of men. I speak of rights that men can protect or invade, recognize or ignore, but cannot abolish.

I apply the question both to law and custom, that is, to imperatives imposed on the individual by pain of formal legal sanction as well as those imposed by informal social pressure.

I submit that, without such a right, no rebellion against a lawful authority is morally permissible, regardless of any extreme of tyranny.

Likewise, no non-conformity to matters of custom and common practice is morally permissible.

In the first case, the tyrannous law is rooted in nothing but the will of the stronger.

In the second case, an unfair or irksome custom is rooted in the greater number of the consensus, or the greater count of years which hardens a habit into tradition.

While their may be any number of pragmatic questions as to whether one can rebel against such laws or defy such customs and get away with it, the question remains: is there any rational and moral argument to persuade others,  including those sharing no common interest or sentiments with the rebel or the nonconformist, in the absence of a Supreme Being, or at least some supernatural power, with greater moral authority than human will?

I submit that few, if any, atheists who attempt to answer in the affirmative, and propose that universal moral imperatives can exist, laws without a lawmaker, based in natural reason alone.

As I have said elsewhere, atheist share one proposition, that there is no God, but have different motives based on different spirits.

I submit there are three kinds of atheists: men of the mind, men of the heart, men of the groin.

The first have intellectual justifications for disbelief, such as an alleged lack of empirical evidence, or an alleged logical lapse in the theology of the faithful.

The second have emotional justifications, such as scandals among churchmen, or anger at one’s father.

The third are offended at the concept that a judge has authority to judge their behavior, and they want to indulge in spiritual pride, worldly pelf, or the lusts of the flesh, or something of the like.

Atheists of the first kind could indeed give such an answer. Would it be a satisfactory answer? That depends on the case being made.

I would have done so, had I been asked in my atheist days,

I have reason to believe that the brilliant Stefan Molyneux would give a similar answer, if perhaps couched in terms of self interest rightly understood.

Jordan Peterson — and here I am speculating about a man who is my mental superior — might give an answer in terms of the ability of the human psyche to live a healthy and wholesome life, with the proper combination of order and adventure.

If he were to give this answer, ironically, whether he knew it or not, would be the answer that persuaded one G.K. Chesterton to convert, which he called the Ethics of Elfland.

I submit that the arguments based on self interest or psychological wellbeing are not universal nor compelling, since they fall prey to the naturalist fallacy, of assuming an imperative, an ought, can be derived from a declarative, an is.

The skeptic can grant that certain behaviors may be in his long-term best interest or psychological health, but if there are particulars he craves more, there is no logical reason for any universal imperative to apply to that case.

In a Godless universe, with no Supreme Being, or even in a godless universe with no superior beings, where neither resurrection nor reincarnation is an option, death mocks all arguments based on long-term self interest or psychological health.

Moreover such arguments lead to the result that a soldier is under no duty to risk life and limb for his squadmates, nor a bride to risk childbirth for her child, nor a maiden to be chaste, nor a mother to be devoted to years of childrearing.