When truth is blurry…REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~ Two of my favorite coffee house friends were hanging out at the café yesterday morning, Evangelical Eddie and Atheist Adam (if you don’t think those are their real names you might be right).

Always arguing, usually in a non-contentious mood, yesterday’s disagreement was on the topic of whether or not you could believe in morality if you don’t believe in God,

If I didn’t believe in God I would do whatever I want to do!” said Eddie, “I would sleep with whoever I want, I would rape whoever I want, and I would steal whatever I want” said this 30-something quasi-Christian evangelist

I guess Eddie has some pretty extreme inner desire; ‘rape whoever I want’….REALLY??? He would rape whoever he wants if he didn’t believe in God? Hopefully he doesn’t represent the majority of Christians, I would hope that my fellow believers are a massive group of people who are obsessed with wanting to rape and pillage….that is a scary thought to say the least.

What is morality? Where does it come from? How do we know what is right and wrong?

Many people believe that morality is universal. Yet if you travel through the world you’ll see that people on one side of the globe have a different view of morals than yourself. Hell, if you travel from the East Coast of the United States to the Deep South (the Bible-Belt) you’ll notice a massive difference in beliefs regarding right and wrong within our own borders.

C.S. Lewis believed that morality is objective. He taught that right and wrong are not something that you and I decide for ourselves; rather, they are engrained on our hearts by an infinite creator. He suggested that morality actually IS universal. His argument hinged upon observations that every culture which has ever existed always look down on cowardice; being a coward is looked upon as being a bad thing; ‘there has never been a people group throughout the annals of human history which celebrated cowardice’ he said.

Of course, some people would say that cowardice is nothing more than an evolutionary byproduct of our need to survive. Some people also suggest that Brittney Spears is a great singer, so of course we must realize that certain issues in life are rather speculative.

In Dante’s Inferno, the idea is that each person has a governor at the threshold of their ascent which guides them to making moral choices. That little voice in the back of your head, is according to Dante an innate guiding principle that lives within your inner being. Is that voice of reason something that God put there or something that has nothing to do with a God whatsoever?

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at coffee for a quick break and I couldn’t help but overhear two parents of a teenage daughter talking, the mother was complaining to the father that their 15 year old was wearing too skimpy of clothes lately, “You need to talk to her!” said the mother, “My father would have beat my ass if I dressed like that at her age!” she said

Some people might question a father ‘beating the ass’ of a fifteen year old (like yours truly), but getting beyond the subject of ass beating, it’s rather obvious that the mother is appealing to a standard of dress; a standard from her own era many years before when she was a teenager.

Are standards of dress universal? Do they overarch time itself? How do we determine what is “right” to wear and what is “wrong” to wear?

In Europe last week, a man was released from prison after serving a sentence for walking around naked. It was his goal to walk all over Europe never wearing clothes. Apparently people don’t want to see this guy naked because he keeps being arrested by authorities. His simple claim is that he should have the “right” to walk around naked. Does he?

A ton of questions this morning……and all I can think about is finishing my coffee,

Kenneth

Hopefully you voted yesterday, I did. Although I don’t think a single one of my third party candidates won……oh well.



Categories: Culture & Society

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31 replies

  1. Oh well at least we tried! 🙂 Happy coffee time! 😀

  2. I like reading CS Lewis. Screwtape Letters was another really good one. He does pose a lot of interesting ideas.

    Without universal morality, where would we be as a society? I’m not sure I agree with cowardice being simply a product of our need to survive. There are quite a few more moral compass issues that cannot be explained – a right to personal property for one. However, I do believe that more often than not “morality” is culture based and therefore not morality at all. Look at appropriate dress globally. It does get quite blurry. But what is it that causes a human to sacrifice themselves when no other creature does? Is that a moral thing? Am I even using the correct language in the correct context?

  3. Morality led many European to murder. Morality is my body standars I live in everyday. Treat others as you want to be treated.
    As I sip my coffee this morning all I want is for my father to get well. 🙂

  4. Couple thoughts….I think Eddie has some serious internal conflict going on there. And I agree with C.S. Lewis, there’s a general sense of right and wrong is hard-wired in everyone. If you believe that God is the source of everything good (I personally do), then there is latent ability and innate desire for doing good in everyone. I have found it fascinating how even the most hardened soul will respond positively if you treat them with value and respect.
    And there are a lot of people I would not care to see naked, mostly because it’s not a pretty sight. 🙂

  5. I would hope that my fellow believers are a massive group of people who are obsessed with wanting to rape and pillage… Are you trying for a New Crusade Kenneth? Morality a we know it is generally set by the time and place in which we live and cannot be Universal because of that. But, there should be an inbuilt moral code which dictates we do no harm to another because that is the right way to live and that morality should override all others.
    Instead we seem to have Governments that subscribe to the theory of Do unto others, before they can do it to you which gives far to many excuses for them to behave in an uncivilised fashion.

    • Yeah, that was a bad place for him to leave off the word “not” that I think he meant to have in there… 😉

      I agree with you that there are variations on morality based on time and place, but the “do no harm to another” notion is basically universal, and thus inbuilt (at least from my perspective).

  6. I wonder if Eddie’s choice is a real one. Probably more of an artifact of argument than truly held beliefs. Ironically, I’m inclined to have more “faith” in him than he gives himself credit for.

    A supernatural source for morality is speculation and provides little more than fodder for the “my beliefs are right and yours are wrong” hamster wheel.

    We can absolutely talk about hard wiring, but then we have to acknowledge the most viable theory candidate – evolution. Which by the way has a great explanation on why we like to see some people naked, and others not so much;-)

    • I’ve heard Eddie’s argument before but it’s usually from an anonymous third-person perspective: “A person who doesn’t believe in God would feel free to do whatever he wants.” Rarely have I encountered someone who admits to having the desire to do horrible things and only being blocked because of his faith in a higher power who would be displeased. I think a fair number of atheists use their own sense of morality as evidence that belief in God is not what actually drives believers’ moral sense.

  7. I suppose how much skin one can expose without raising an eyebrow is somewhat a cultural thing. Tribes in the Amazon rainforest wear nothing without causing any great stir, while women in Saudi Arabia remain wrapped from head to toe under penalty of death. Local laws are written by people who think that they are protecting the citizenry from all kinds of immoral behavior that might erupt if too much of the human body is exposed. So maybe the gentleman in Europe may feel that he has a ‘right’ to stroll the streets sans-clothes, but he is also subject to the local laws of the land that might cause his naked rear to land in the local hoosegow.

  8. Regarding dress, it is important for the ladies to ask themselves some questions. Is it safe to dress this way? Will the dress invite stalkers?

    >

  9. Here’s an interesting argument on the topic of Christians, Atheists, and morality. This might be what Eddie was trying to get at… https://answersingenesis.org/morality/morality-and-the-irrationality-of-an-evolutionary-worldview/

  10. Eh… Eddie is just expressing his disdain for atheism in what is called “hyperbole”. His statements where merely that, hyperbole, so I think out of the need for integrity it would be best to illuminate it. No reason to slander him, even if unintentional, because one disagrees with him on the subject. I of course know you’re doing a bit of the same, but it may appear that some of your readers shown by their comments may not understand the concept.

    • Eddie’s hyperbole does not help his argument in the least, as the atheist sitting across from him, who has no interest in raping and pillaging, then views Eddie as either a sicko or someone incapable of making a reasoned argument. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to treat Eddie’s remarks as literal since doing so perhaps gives Eddie the opportunity to see that if he wouldn’t really do those things, perhaps a lack of faith in God doesn’t drive atheists to either.

      BTW, did you mean “eliminate” instead of “illuminate”? I’m not being a grammar snob – the remark genuinely confused me. You appear to be saying we should not focus on Eddie’s remark (i.e. “eliminate” it from the discussion), not pay more attention to it (i.e. “illuminate” it).

    • It appears from every single comment you had to reply on that you’re just simply a restive wisenheimer that can’t possibly understand concepts because of your myopic behavior of just being a dick. Yes, you can disagree on the purpose of using the hyperbole, but when you have make a statement like ” I’m not being a grammar snob” ; you are being just that… a snob. Most likely you act in this fashion because you’ve convinced yourself to be a genius in your own obstinate world filled with nothing more than a devout faith of solipsism.

      This author has great integrity in most everything he writes, so yes in that sentence I did mean illuminate, I actually almost put the word, “highlight” there, because I wanted him to acknowledge the fact that the gentlemen was using hyperbole, not that he really had the need to rape people.

      People make grammar mistake; especially in comments they don’t have the time or interest to proofread or revise. Stop being a stain on society.

  11. I appreciate you being the devil’s advocate and stirring up debate on this and other issues, Kenneth. As comes up often in these kinds of questions, your worldview determines what you believe about absolutes and morality. 1. If you believe in the God of the Bible, there are absolute standards that flow out of his sovereign rule. 2. If you believe that man makes up all these rules according to the tussle of politics and society, then it seems that power determines what is right and wrong. 3. Every man lives to please himself, doing what is wrong or right in his own eyes. My question is, are people true to their worldview or do they try to have it both ways?

  12. I am suspicious of morals as they are more often twisted in every which way to be used as levers nowadays to obtain an objective. But I do revere ethics.

  13. After much turmoil, I learned I am a moral creature. It’s part of being human. Did I learn my morality from the culture? Yes. Was I influenced by God? Yes. But I have choices, and those I make based on who I choose to become. But what I don’t want to become is someone who doubts there is such a thing as morality, because that is a very dark place. But, it’s a choice.

  14. Of course you can believe in morality without believing in God. It may or may not be logical, but people do it all the time. Bertrand Russell was an absolute atheist, and yet he found that he was compelled to believe in certain activities as being wrong on an absolute scale – war and the use of nuclear weapons are the two that come to mind. I don’t know how he justified his belief in absolute morality or if he even tried to.
    Not believing in God – at least any God worth believing in – does get you off the hook of there be possible consequences for bad behavior. Other than dealing with guilt-feelings, an atheist who gets away with something he thinks is bad, can relax, whereas a believer will have more complicated questions to deal with before he can be at peace. Therefore, a Christian who understands grace has more in common with an atheist than he does with a religious person who doesn’t understand grace. Or so it appears to me.

  15. I do not think that morality and believing in God have a common ground. When I believed in God I knew quit a few people who said to believe in God who had no morality whatsoever, great church-leaders they were before they were exposed as being immoral. I like to believe I have certain moral standards, even now when I’m a non believer. But who sets the standard for morality? I think one does that for oneself, although society likes to believe they set the standard. But their will always be the judgement by the other person or even the crowd.

  16. Interesting post that generated a lot of thoughtful comments. I also think Eddie’s comments were hyperbole, and having said many outrageous things myself, I hope I have the grace to listen. Atheist Adam must have been struck dumb. Perhaps that was Eddie’s strategy all along.

  17. Hahaha Kenneth. Ok, for me, I believe that are some things that definitely YES are universal and absolute. But there are also many things that are subjective, or determined by culture. When my hubby and I were in Germany passing through a park, there was a man, butt-naked suntanning. My hubby is pretty dry, and he says to me (without looking at the guy), “Is that guy seriously naked. (glances) Yup, he’s naked.” It was so funny his Brazilian reaction to this.
    There’s an indigenous tribe here in Brazil that go butt naked. They believe that if you have clothes on you are hiding something. So then, you can’t be trusted. Supposedly they recognize each other by their bums, and not by face. Imagine trying to get away with that in USA. Hahahahaha. Just imagine.
    🙂

  18. Reblogged this on georgialeesays and commented:
    Is morality possible without belief in God? What is morality? I love the South but the evangelical vibe is maddening. Morals are relative.

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