Friday, 15 December 2017

Morals and Values 3. Do We Have Them?

Morals and Values 3. 
Morals and Conscience
 Do we have them?

This is the third time I have talked about this subject from which you will gather that I think it’s important, especially in the light of some the recent events in the UK, such as  riots.  However I believe they are only a symptom of something deeper.

Politicians, of all shades, including the prime ministers are discussing this subject and it is playing central stage on many TV and Radio Programmes.  Perhaps, then, it really is important. There is also deep concern about our schools and our young people – how, the politicians and TV pundits ask, can we install morals into young people so that they do not smash up our streets and destroy our society?

Many responses to my talks and that can be summed up as follows, ‘Morals don’t need to come from the Bible, The Koran, or from a god, they surely can come from within ourselves?’ to which I answer, ‘yes of course they can but what sort of moral guide would that be?’

We need to go one step back and ask, why we need to have morals at all, and what is it that propels us to even ask these questions.  My answer encompasses the whole issue of conscience.

What is conscience? What is our conscience?  My argument would be that conscience is a part of us that we are all born with.  Some people disagree with this concept and say that we don’t have a conscience, but I strongly believe that we do. We each have our own individual conscience, unique to us personally. That means that it only works for us, it doesn’t work for anyone else.  What it instils in us is the general sense of right and wrong.

In a nutshell, right and wrong for you might be different to the right and wrong for me, but there will, most definitely, be a personal right and wrong. This concept is far beyond the idea that we do things because they are convenient or inconvenient or because we know we can ‘get away with it’.

How does conscience work, well for the individual, and I do stress the individual in any given situation it will say to the person, ‘yes that is right do it,’ or, ‘No, that is wrong! You should not do it.’  You conscience does not impel you, it does not force you in any direction, it will only hint at the decision you should make, the final decision that decides the action is the result of your decision making process, which I would call the will. 

When you have carried out an act, you know if it is wrong without anyone telling you, you will feel uncomfortable and disturbed; the pendulum of your conscience has swung into the negative zone.  For many people when they obey their consciences and do what they feel is right they often say they feel good, when they disobey their conscience they feel bad, or despondent, but the feeling does not prevent them from disobeying.

Interestingly the Bible does have some comments on this.  John 1:9 is obviously talking about Jesus the Christ, but also the implication is that there is a ‘light’, or the word I use, conscience that is there in every person, and Romans 2:14 says this, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves.”  In other words we all have it, and we use it, our conscience, personally.
 
This means that we will have different views of right or wrong according first of all to us, and then as we grow and develop, according to what we learn from our family and surrounding culture and education.

The problem is that we all break our own rules, and go against our own conscience.

Conscience can of course be educated and that is where the moral discussion enters the stage.  Who will define that moral code, will it be just me, will it be my culture, or will it be God?

It is possible for our conscience to be developed and refined by all sorts of external things, including education.

But who should define the moral code, which one will we adopt?

We need to understand that the moral code that Jesus defines is quite amazing in that it is contrary to all other moral codes that I know anything about, but please tell me if you know something different. 

Think about some of those moral imperatives and how counter-culture they are; ‘love your enemies, do good to those who do bad to you,’ for starters. What sort of Moral code do you want people to follow?  

What moral code is required for our culture to follow and for you personally?







Adrian Hawkes
W. 824
3 Minute talk for UCB



Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Morality and Values 2 - CONSCIENCE

 Morality and Values
2. Where does Morality come from?
I ended last time by talking about the Atheist Richard Dawkins and what he said to me. Let me continue with that.
Richard Dawkins often says, that being an atheist is not indicative of one with a depressing philosophy. Actually, he says it makes one appreciate life more and love life.  Again I say, “Bully for you!” The problem is, that one doesn’t have to travel very far to find people who are starving, people who have been enslaved, and people who have every reason not to love life. If you now want them to believe that atheism is the truth, and not be depressed by such a philosophy, all I can say is “HELP!”” It’s the most depressing view of life that I can imagine. Thank God it isn’t the truth!
So where does Morality come from? I note that even some of the comments on what I think - listed in Wikipedia – observe that I am saying that we live in a moral universe, and that there is a base line for morality, and that this base line comes from somewhere else. That somewhere else, I would say, is God.  Yes! That is what I am saying. Morality without a moral law giver is craziness. It is not morality. As Charles Grandison Finney would have put it:
Opposed to this is willing self-gratification; a practical treating of self as if the gratification of our own desires, appetites, etc., were of supreme importance. Now in this ultimate choice of the good of universal being, or of self-gratification as an ultimate end, moral character must reside. Primarily, surely, it can reside nowhere else. It is this ultimate choice that gives direction and character to all the subordinate actions of the will; that gives direction to the volitions, the actions, and the omissions of all our voluntary lives. This ultimate choice is the root or fountain from which all volition and all moral action spring.
I guess even Richard would agree with some of that, as the basic premise is, as far as he is concerned, that morality only comes from our own selfishness to survive or not be killed. That, according to him, is why we don’t have mayhem on the streets.  I live in an area where we have postcode crime, knife and gun crime. So; the morality is: You don’t live in my postcode area?  You are there - so you need killing. That seems a Great morality. Not!
Going back to Dawkins’ statement I quoted earlier where I responded with “Bully for you”  Richard seems to take no note of the Hitler’s, the Pol Pots, and the Stalin’s of this world; which again makes me think - if morality is only up to our moving to a value system that selfishly benefits ourselves alone - we can get around it. If it is to my benefit - why not circumvent the law of the land, or the moral law, if there is no ultimate sanction or moral law giver?
It has always interested me that the Bible talks about God giving “light” to every person who comes into the world. What is that light?
Personally, I have always seen that light as being the conscience that dwells in each and every person.  We can obey conscience or disobey it. It is as if one has embedded within themselves a little bit of God. If we obey it, we feel good, if we disobey it we feel bad. However, it does not force us either way. We have freewill. We have choice.  Again, to quote Finney on the subject of conscience, he talks about “moral insanity”:
Moral insanity, on the other hand, is will-madness. The man retains his intellectual powers unimpaired, but he sets his heart fully to evil. He refuses to yield to the demands of his conscience. He practically discards the obligations of moral responsibility. He has the powers of free moral agency, but persistently abuses them. He has a reason which affirms obligation, but he refuses obedience to its affirmations.
So; where do I think Morality comes from?
It comes from the Law Giver – that is God. And he has created and designed a moral universe. A universe that ultimately works towards the best good for all the created order. That means us and God too.  We can pretend it is not there. We can work against it. We can listen to our conscience – and we can ignore it. But none of those things make it not there.

Adrian Hawkes
For UCB 3 minute talk
W. 774


Monday, 9 October 2017

Morality and Values 1 - ETHOS

Ethos

Morality and Values  1.

This subject of “Morality and Values,” I observe presents such problems.

I was part of a government think tank in looking at OFSTED inspections of schools. One of the things they looked at is the moral dimension of the ethos of the state schools.  My problem was – and is: How does one get hold of and understand morals and morality?  In this small group, on the discussion  of “Moral teaching in Schools”, were Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Humanists.

All of us - apart from the humanist - agreed that morals has to come from some kind of law giver. And actually, in all of our thinking, we concluded that the law giver must be God – that is, apart from the humanist - who said “There isn’t a God! So morals must come from somewhere else”.
I went on to argue that in terms of generosity, in such things as tsunamis, famines, natural and man made disasters and the like, the UK Is actually quite generous in its giving. I put this down to the Judeo Christian influence in the historical background of the nation. The humanist said, “Now don’t be silly! It is due to the fact that we were once great colonists”.   Hmm! I thought that was all about greed, trade, and getting lots of power and things for ourselves?

Anyway! Having been one of those interviewed by Richard Dawkins for his, “Religion is the root of all evil” programmes, I find the stuff all over the internet, usually with many of “the learned” atheists - so called - poking fun at my opinions.  Funnily enough, I have read Richard’s book, “The God delusion”. One of the things that struck me from the volume is how often the base of “who we are” and “where we are”, comes down to “luck” and simple good fortune - at least according to Mr Dawkins’ book. 

God seems a better thesis to me.

And of course, both in the programme and on the net, as well as – defiantly - in Wikipedia, comes the discussion of morality.  I am sort of “amused” that in at least one article or comment, the fact that we live in a moral universe  - and one “without God” according to the “atheists” - is actually argued from the fact that some fish have a symbiotic relationship with cleaner fish and actually protect them. This, so they claim, is the logical grounds as to why we don’t go around on our streets killing each other. 

The fish story is used to suggest that violence and killing is – sort of - wiser not too.

One of the things that Richard Dawkins said to me in the interview for his programme, (which I have not seen on the TV repeats or YouTube, so I guess it’s on the cutting room floor), was; “I am more righteous than you”. I, of course, said “Oh! And how is that?” To which he replied, “I don’t go around pillaging and raping, and I don’t need a God to stop me. You, Adrian, need God to stop you.” 

To which I answered “Bully for you! You maybe ought to watch the international news every day!”

One Swallow does not a summer make.








Adrian Hawkes
For UCB
300417
W. 550
 Edited KL

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

How to Create Gender Equality

How to Create Gender Equality

I think this desperate need within society is not easy at all to bring into being – to put it mildly. However, as it’s been in the news again just lately, I would like to have a go at how I believe it can be done.  We have particularly noted the wages problem in the BBC. And, make no mistake, we are told it’s much worse throughout the rest of the country.  If one happens to have been born female, then those persons will receive around 17% less than their male counterpart, even though they may be doing exactly the same job in the same office.

Why is it not so easy to change this and bring in a satisfactory sense of equality? Because we have to change a deep set culture, or even lots of different sub-cultures, and much of the thinking that has formed that culture goes back a long way, ingraining itself into people’s thinking over many generations?

What is that ingrained thinking? At a basic level it really is a fact that Males are in charge. Because they are more intelligent? Stronger? Could it be that they are better?  Females are, of course, lesser because they are not so clever or as strong, and therefore men need to be in charge. (That is a comment of sarcasm – please don’t write in to complain.)

What we tend to do is address symptoms of this disease. This means that we are wanting to increase women’s wages and make it, “equal jobs for equal pay” right across the board.  The trouble is that such an action, once taken, still will not have addressed the thinking, just the symptoms that came into being because of that thinking.

Legislation would change things, though that would be somewhat of a blunt instrument. We know that laws can change wrong to right (and sometimes even change right to wrong), so we must not underestimate the power of a passed law by government.

However, I do think we need to address the issue of equality at its base. The foundational  base is how people think. The way that people think has been formed by their family, the government, the educational system, the community that they mix with, the business pressures that they have been exposed to, the history that brought the issue into being, and even the language. 

So it’s about changing people’s thinking. Changing the thinking that says men are superior, woman are inferior.   That means influencing, educating, legislating and seeking to change the cultural mind-set that makes the acceptance of the statement above acceptable.

I listened recently to young lads, of non UK origin being interviewed on TV about what they thought about the so called “honour killings”. Their answers were horrific. They said things like, “If my sister had dishonoured my family, then, yes, I think she should be killed”.   The whole idea that women are lesser, builds the strong presupposition that their freedoms of expression, their friends, their choice of dress, and all of their relationships must of necessity be controlled by men.

Sumptuary legislation, where ever it comes from, is always about power and domination.  I hear comments like, “… but that woman chose to dress like this!”  My question is one step further back. “Who pressurises them to choose, or to exercise their supposed freedom in that way?”  The probable answer is their religion, the law, their culture, and all those facets of life that are their personally accepted conventions.  Then we need to ask, “Why is it so?” The answer will be, “Because men dictate it”. (http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/sumptuary-legislation-2/)

We can achieve equality, but we need to deal with the symptoms, i.e. equal pay and opportunities and the like, but we also need to address the underlying cultural perception. We will need to do that by education, legislation and a strong argument against our historical position. In other words; a full scale attack on the current cultural position and underlying thinking.









Adrian Hawkes
Adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk
Edited KL
w. 551


Monday, 7 August 2017

Maybe I need some Helpful Understanding?

Maybe I need some Helpful Understanding?
It seems to me that after deciding on becoming a follower of Jesus, one then enters a relationship with God Himself.  This effectively changes the way that we are. This, I understand, is done by changing our minds by changing the way we think, which will in turn change our actions.

So; we should become the kind of people who love our enemies, do good to those who would seek to harm us, treat others as more important than ourselves, recognise that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore need to be respected and highly regarded.  I would then expect us (that is-all Jesus followers) to be generous, to see neither male nor female, bond nor free, this nationality or that - in fact caring for one another however possible

So; I am not sure how to express my disappointment, and lack of understanding on several fronts. Recently, reading an American article, (and I don’t think what I am about to say only reflects only on the USA- it just happened to be an American writer whose article I was reading) the writer noted that in the restaurant industry in the USA it was difficult to get staff to do the Sunday shift. They surveyed widely to try and understand why this was so.  Waiting staff are apparently not that well paid in America, and therefore tips become a very important part of staff income. 

It appeared, after the results of the survey had been assessed, that staff did not like the Sunday shift as they said, that, “Sunday is the day that all the church people come in to eat -  and they are the meanest and least generous of our customers”.  Why is it like that?

Friends of mine, both in the journalistic as well as the political world, tell me that the most vitriolic letters and communications, the ones that are “the most condemning” and, in their words, “the most unkind” of all the correspondence they receive (and this is both in the USA and in the UK) comes from people who express in their letters, that they are Christians.  Again why is this so?

I know it has always been a “secret evil” in society, but again; why is it that we keep seeing the misuse of children and the abuse of people of the opposite sex from selfish desires, so often by Christians who express themselves as leaders in the church or in church organisations.  Why?
I wonder!

Have these people really met God? Do they really understand what it is to have been changed by their relationship with God?  Or are they just “label” people? Are they hiding under the epithet “Christian” as a word that may seem to be a useful label to stick on their activities to cloak their dark activities?

Recently, I have stopped responding when people ask me, “Are you a Christian?”I wonder what that means. Usually my response is, “I am a follower of Jesus, and I want that to be more than just a label. I want it to be demonstrated in living lifestyle and action.”

Jesus said to his early followers; “This is how people will know that you are my disciples, in that you have love one for another”. 

I reckon that is not just love for other disciples. I think it should be possible to demonstrate that in the wider world with all races, colours and creeds.  To people who are created in the image of “the God who is there.”

What is it that I have not understood?






A.h
E. KL
w. 610.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Theory and Practice

Theory and Practice

My college years were in the late 60’s. I noted that during the years of training we were exposed to a great deal of theory. My complaint to the “powers that were” was; “This is all very fine, but we need practical knowledge and know how to go alongside all this theory.”

We live in a world, and in a culture where a piece of paper, stamped with some college or university’s backing and approval is very acceptable and the desired thing.  For some that certificate and status symbol gives great confidence. The recipients of these pieces of paper are inclined to become overnight “experts”, and lords of their discipline, demonstrating great academic knowledge and putting everybody else right, particularly those who do not have their own piece of paper.

The problem for me and my own personal perspective is that I am old enough to see that often the status information given by the piece of paper holders is not always correct. More than that, I see that more often than not the practitioners who do not hold the pieces of paper are often far more knowledgeable that those who do. Usually, after inquiry, I discover that deep and practical knowledge of almost any discipline and/or profession usually comes from years of experience in that discipline, learned at the coal face.  It’s a bit like learning to swim on dry land. Theory is great – but practice is somewhat different.

Now I am not decrying theory. Actually, I think it is very important, and will enhance practice.   I know that what we think will eventually come out in how we act. This means that if our thinking is wrong then our practice will probably be wrong also.  I am all in favour of people understanding the theory. Put good things in your head, right things.  However we still need those hands on the job, or, seeing it another way, getting one’s hands dirty, or a real water experience.  

On that issue - the water one that is - I am somewhat of an expert.  You see, I come from a family where everybody could swim and swim well.  My Mother was thinking of doing it professionally and challenging the channel.  So swimming was sort of talked about and considered a lot in our house.

One day I went swimming. Swimming with a load of big boys who went bathing all the time. They asked me if I could swim. Well!  I had never done it in water before, but boy, did I know the theory.  I listened to their feats. Then, at the pool, they asked me again, can you swim? What could I say? Of course, I responded with “I can”.  I think they were suspicious of this smaller boy’s great theoretical confidence.  So, in the pool they congregated at the deep end.  “Are you sure you can swim?” they asked again.  “Of course I can,” I confidently replied. Thinking to myself, “I did it across a chair, and on the bed, and on the floor at home. What’s the difference?”

“Right!” they said, “What we want you to do is to jump in here at the deep end.”  It was a depth of 6 foot 6 plus. What could I do? I decided that face saving was the most important thing on this occasion. So, plucking up courage, I jumped. Yes! Into the deep end.

I have to say that I learnt to swim very, very quickly, but it was not a pretty sight. Not only was it not a pretty sight, it was not a pretty sound.  All that practice across a chair seemed to count for nothing. Water did not quite have the same feel as the carpet at home.

I believe in theory, but I also believe in experience and practice. It is not “either – or”. It is both. And if you have just got the bit of paper and not much practice, may I suggest that a little bit of humility goes a long way.









A .H.
adrianhawke.blogspot.com
Edited  K. L.
w.689


Thursday, 8 June 2017

I can do it!

I can do it!

Recently my good friend Jeff Lucas wrote some stuff about people saying, “With God all things are possible.” “So with God you can do anything?” He went on to say that he/you everybody who reads that scripture, couldn’t do somethings. “Yes - we can’t do anything, (like fly without tickets or speak Chinese unless we learn it) but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens - in other words, what he has called us to.

Peter got out of the boat. The others didn’t.” He also noted he couldn’t fly without an aeroplane. He cannot breathe underwater. He went on to list other things that he was not good at all. It was all very true and, as usual, Jeff expressed it in a very readable and funny way.  You will know that if you have read any of his many books how he writes things.

 He was, of course, unpacking that verse of scripture in the Bible that says “I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me”.  You can find that passage in Philippians Chapter 4 verse 13.
I often hear those “well meaning” “spiritual” people say things like, “You can do it with God! We can do all things!”

It’s obvious that when Paul was talking to the Philippians Christians, he was explaining that he had had bad times and good times, and that God was able to take him through any kind of time.
So, “Yes!” Jeff is right. However, I do get a bit bored with those “I live in a box people.” You know the type. I am referring to those who are always telling others, “It can’t be done”, or worse, “This is the way it is done and there is no other method or alternative”.

This breed of “wisdom” often surfaces in some people when they hear somebody thinking out of the box they exist in.

It has seemed to me for a long time, that if one knows – that is, if one, really knows God, then they have, (or, “should have”, because often those claiming to know Him don’t seem to) a very broad view of life. Meaning; where is it all going? What’s the plan?

 With those who are knowing God in a intimate way, it is a bit like looking from the top of a mountain and seeing further than those who are down in the valley. This releases them so that they are seeing the alternatives, conceiving the possibilities, perceiving the new – and even the impossible.

It also seems to me that that we can actually do a lot of things because God is with us that we would never be able to do if He wasn’t.

I know that my atheist friends struggle with that idea. They struggle with the idea of answered prayer. They struggle with the idea of God intervening on behalf of someone else. They struggle with the whole idea of miracles - boy do they struggle with that one! “It’s all just one big accidental coincidence”, I hear so often.  I have had a lot to say about coincidences. Look up:


Their negative rationale goes on. And whilst others struggle with answered prayer, God’s interventions, Miracles and the like, I struggle with an answer that would satisfy my life experience of knowing God. I am talking of an answer that would properly explain my own answered prayer. I am thinking of such as moments when I find £10.00 at my feet via the natural wind after a brief one line prayer immediately answered.

 I am remembering witnessing one woman’s blind eyes opening and acknowledging colour after laying hands on her and being amused at her sudden knowledge of the colour of her slippers.

Coming out of court recently, after a case where our own lawyer told us, “This is what has to happen - and it will happen just like this”, and then listening to the Judge say something totally different.  That lawyer, who I don’t think shared my expectations of prayer being answered, as he walked out of the court, leaned over to me and said, “I have worked in this court for many years as a lawyer. Today I have witnessed a miracle”.  

Of course, I know those who live in their mind set boxes where these sort of things do not happen, will work hard at a good explanation, and end up smiling sympathetically at my uneducated naivety.

For me, and I know many like me, we are happy that God is with us, that He does answer prayer, and that Miracles do happen. Maybe it is that boxed mindset that says, “This is how it works”, that keeps some from experiencing a more exciting way to live.

No! I can’t fly, or breathe under water, or do lots of things even though God is with me. But boy oh boy, there are things that can be done that take my breath away - metaphorically speaking of course.  

So there are lots of times when people say, “You cannot do that!” “It can’t be!” “We don’t do it!”  

Excuse me, but I did!






Edited by KL

W. 869