Statesboro, GA, USA
LR: "On one hand you want to present an 'inborn' morality.††While this might make a pretty good case for naturalism I have to wonder if there are little bird prophets that have to go around telling the other birds to fly south for winter.††You've created a contradiction that you'll have to expound on or be trapped in."
I see no contradiction here, because I believe humans and animals to be vastly different. The fact that animals have instincts that cannot be contravened, while humanity has a moral sense which can be transgressed, only tells me that we have a much higher capacity ... for good or evil. Giants can stand the tallest, yet fall the hardest.
It's a whole different kind of sense which is inbred. There's no law which says universals must function in one direction. Morality is an example of a universal sense ... I didn't say that all men are moral, but that they have a moral capacity. Which means they can disobey their own moral insights.
Let me also ask you ... Why do we feel abhorrence and moral indignation when "immoral" deeds are done to ourselves or those we love, if such actions are merely aberrations from instinct which couldn't be helped? Why do we feel such anger at times, and that based upon deep seated thoughts that they, as well as we, know these actions are wrong? Wouldn't these be irrational thoughts, if immorality were merely a natural glitch? Why do we feel so keenly that there can be actions which were done from evil intent? Yet "evil intent" is meaningless if our immorality is a just a genetic bug in the computer.
Ron: "You can choose to fly off a three-story building, too. And you will face the consequences. Surely, you're not saying that morality is simply something God suggested we should do? If there are no consequences to an act, in this life or the next, then there is nothing immoral in the act."
No, I'm not saying that morality is simply something God suggested we should do, but neither is it something forced upon us by sheer power. Immorality does have consequences. But how interesting it is, that many of it's consequences lack the immediate obviousness that something like disobeying gravity would have. Some practices DO have consequences only in the life to come. But that lack of obvious unprofitableness doesn't make them any more moral than the ones which instantly show ill-results. Some crops take longer to come in. I think it had to be that way, because the moral question far transcends the question of our personal gain. If morality were so obviously profitable and immorality so obviously futile, then it would perhaps fool us into thinking moral questions were all about how we fared in the matter. I think I remember that Satan asked God of Job "Does he fear you for nothing? Only because you've hedged him with your blessing". This lack of obviousness which you bring up doesn't show that certain things aren't immoral, but rather confirms the need for moral teachers and preachers in society. It's too easy to be decieved when God "rains on the just and the unjust", and things are apparantly prospering right along with immorality in place. We're not the only ones who have ever marvelled at this discrepancy. But there is a purpose in it.
"There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: Righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve." (Ecclesiastes 8:14)
& through a poetic caricature ...
"... I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man.
They are not plauged by human ills ...
This is what the wicked are like-
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure.
In vain have I washed my hands in innocence ...
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me,
till I entered the sanctuary of God
then I understood their final destiny ..." (exerpts from Psalm 73)
"Uh? A lot of things tend to spread, from Christmas cheer to athletic enthusiasm, but that hardly defines them as hurtful. Before you can prove that pornography is harmful, you first have to tell us what it is"
pornography n. Written, graphic, or other forms of communication intended to excite lascivious feelings. [from Greek pornographos, writing about prostitutes: porne- harlot prostitute.
Obscuring things Ron, does not take away the truth that there is a common understanding of what this is. I'm not saying that all nudity is pornographic. Intent is implied. I have no doubt everyone in this forum knew exactly what I meant when I said "pornography". Would you agree?
" A husband and wife who have been separated for four or five years are unlikely to be hurt by adultery. Those who don't care can't be hurt. Look more closely and I think you would agree that betrayal, whether as adultery or some other form, causes unthinkable pain. "
You can't use the immorality of a broader concept to disprove the immorality of a narrower one that falls under the same category. So adultery is a form a betrayal which also comes from deeper betrayal. I am in total agreement with you here. But what does that prove? That adultery is okay? I also disagree that those who don't care can't be hurt. Because "not caring" is usually a facade anyway. "Not caring for" is not the same thing as "not caring". I come from a family with much divorce in our history ... I've seen the weight of care.
"I don't consider any of those laws to be a reflection of morality. Those are examples of the government doing the ONLY thing the government should ever do: Protect its citizens from harm at the hands of others."
Ron, I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree here. But the evidence is overwhelming to me that laws have always (in addition to pragmatism) had a measure of morality involved. Study the history of laws and moral codes of all the ancient civilizations up till now. You will find them rife with references to things like "Justice" and "equity" and "rightness". Your point of view involves a tacit assumption that the makers of laws are not using their moral sense in legislating. I find that just as incredible to believe, as to believe that you are able to go a week without using your moral sense in making decisions at home. Of course there are laws and governments who make immoral and amoral laws. But lawmakers can disregard morals as easily as individuals can. I'm not saying that ALL law involves moral questions. But you have little ground to say that NO law involves them. It's at least highly likely that there are laws against people being harmed because everyone knows the pain in being unjustly harmed. You are also at odds with the testimonies of many lawmakers themselves who have explicitly stated they strove to create just laws for the masses.
And Ron, my point in this thread is not to say "let's legislate my morality". I don't want to be the King, not even for a day. You keep saying that I must mean that. But it's a bit of a slur. I don't realistically think that all morality will be legislated, or even that it should be. I agree that would be absurd. I also agree that we would never agree on what laws are right (heck we don't now!) ... for the best of us see "through a glass darkly". Our sense of morality does not perfectly reflect that which comes from Heaven. But still, law always has and always will have it's moral aspect. God also gave the Ten Commandments as Laws. Likewise, are you going to tell him that he was wrong there? There must be a balance between Freedom and Law. I'm not touting the next theocracy. We're always coming from opposite ends Ron in these philosophical discussions, but I'm not so sure that we don't agree more than we think. We're just a bit wary of each other's extremities aren't we?
From a Christian standpoint, since you brought it up ... Can we bring people to the truth that they are "not under the Law" without having affirmed that without Christ they are indeed under it? God's good news is that the "handwriting of ordinances that was against us" has been taken away. But to tell people there is no handwriting of ordinances written by the finger of God within their very consciences which they are absolutely accountable to, is to incite rebellion, not repentance. Remember that the law was supposed to be a "schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." But those who never had grade-school can't graduate highschool can they?
Many are under the statutes of God which say "Do it or else" ... just to let them discover through earnestly trying that they can't do it anyway. Those humbled and crying out to God for mercy usually see him come in and change their hearts in ways they never could ... then they love him and actions flow no longer from sheer legality. But this never can happen until they see that God is requiring something of them, that they never can give. Until we see this spiritual / moral dilemma we will hardly seek him for the answer.
And this has much more to do with preaching / teaching than it does with the laws of the land.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (08-11-2003 02:24 PM).]