'But it's not always that simple is it? ... Sometimes things suck for others but not for me. Sometimes the disadvantage of others works to my advantage. Sometimes I can do wrong things which others aren't even aware of. It can then be reasoned that without their knowing it can't really harm them. So unless there's an ethic which tells me that certain actions are wrong regardless of percieved benefit, the golden rule doesn't really have a base.
I understand it (the golden rule) can be followed because it appears self evident ... and without much questioning at all. But I think it's prevalence in moral thought is evidence that we have a standard of morality over and above us. Something we can obey or violate in priciple every day.'
Good point. And I haven't ruled that out as a possibility. in fact, I said:
'I don't have trouble believing that. And the simple fact that God would allow him/herself to work through poeple who not only don't believe in Christ as the one true savior, but even through people who don't even believe God exists, says to me that there is more than just the one way to God, and more than just the one way to salvation.'
I guess, to me, I feel a guiding force, a moral system. When I think something is wrong to do, I feel it in my gut... like an instinct, or a reflex.
I'll be honest here... I dinged someone's car a couple weeks ago, without leaving them a note with my insurance information. Just drove right on off, because I knew there was no way I could afford to fix the car, or pay the ticket the necessary police report would ineitably lead to. So I left it.... selfishly, and wrongly, and I felt pretty bad at the time, and I feel ashamed to admit it here. And I guess you could say that it sucked for the other person and not for me-- at least, my actions would make it seem so-- but I still feel bad about it. And I know that feeling bad won't fix the ding...
So you're right, Stephen, it's not always that simple, and it can be beneficial to be 'bad.' But I don't think most people really just think "I'm going to do something bad!" Stuff happens, and we rationalize, and we may or may not be guilty about it later... but I didn't hit the car on purpose.
'You should probably stop short of saying "wrong" and settle for something like "disagreeable". Because I wonder if you consider certain actions as really "wrong" or merely as things you happen to think are wrong? Is it a violation of an overarching moral principle, or just a violation of your subjective sensibilities? This might contribute to your hesitation at calling anything sin.'
When I say something is wrong, I mean that it is a violation of a universal principle. I damaged someone's property, and then I flew the coop. That wasn't just disagreeable... any way you cut it, I don't think you can look at that situation and say, "You know, Amy really did the right thing!" It is clear what the correct course of action would have been... I just didn't take it.
If I think something is merely disagreeable, however, I simply say I don't agree with it. For example, I don't necessarily agree with your religious faith, values, and practice (at least in the sense that I don't also believe in Christ as my savior, et al.) however, I in no way think it's wrong, or even foolish of you to believe what you believe. I have a friend who thinks that any logically-minded person will come to the conclusion that there is no God, religion is a fairy tell, and so on. I diagree with him strongly (as an agnostic, I find myself in the unique position of having the ability to argue religion with anyone, including atheists ) and tell him so... but if believing that everyone who doesn't believe as he does is foolish gets him through the night... well... more power to him.
I'd have been smarter to use an example of action rather than belief, but, well, I'm tired, and I'm sure you'll get the gist.