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.
For UCB 3 minute talk