Throwing off the Shackles of Morality

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 “I learned that all moral judgments are ‘value judgments,’ that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I even read somewhere that the Chief justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself: that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any “reason” to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring — the strength of character — to throw off its shackles.”1 Sound familiar?

You may not know who said the above quote, and if you are under the age of 30 you might not have ever heard of him.

If all moral judgments were simply value judgments which are subjective, (subjective meaning the subject determines the value of the judgment), then no one would have to behave in a way that steers clear of social faux pas. Not only would political correctness be a thing of the past you could drive right into a crowd of people as George Weller did in 2003 killing ten people and injuring over 60 without fear of repercussions. Technically ruled as an accident, Weller showed little remorse to the carnage. Yet, if Weller felt it was the right thing to do, then no one could argue otherwise if he was just bold and daring because of his personal value judgments.

If this was true “all moral judgments are ‘value judgments,’ that all value judgments are subjective,” then we could not find any objective truths. Objective truths are truths that hold to everyone, regardless of where in the world you live, what culture you are part of, and what family raised you.

For example, we all know intuitively that torturing babies for fun is wicked and evil. Most everyone everywhere knows this is immoral. If someone is unable to recognize this, then something is disturbingly wrong with that individual. Just as we all know without conscious reasoning, you can’t fit a round peg in a square hole. And someone who could not recognize this unreasoned fact we again would know instinctively, something was wrong with them. Taking pleasure in harming helpless and innocent individuals is evil, and this is inherently obvious to anyone whose moral consciousness is functioning.

We have to have a standard in which to measure all moral truths, just like we do time. For instance, if we were to argue about what time it was because our watches were off by a couple of minutes we might debate who has the more expensive or accurate timepiece. But to settle the matter, we would measure the time with Greenwich England where all time is measured.

It is God’s nature that we measure against what is wrong, what is evil, what is corrupt. If we were to rely on measures within individuals then everyone would have their own tape measure, but the problem is everyone’s tape measure would have different dimensions. Someone’s inch might be an inch and a half, another might be 3 inches, yet another might be 2/3 of an inch. Who would be able to measure an accurate distance between two studs? We could not even hang a picture let alone build a house.

If morality is subjective, we lose our ability to complain about what goes on in the world. What would be wrong with North Korea’s missile tests? How could we agree to issue U.N. sanctions against Kim Jong Un if he is just using his own tape measure just like the rest of us? What would it matter if he launched nuclear weapons against South Korea or Japan? How could the death of one matter any more than the death of millions?

Josh and Sean McDowell talk address what this kind of thinking will bring us and where it comes from. “Historically, the brutality of war has included horrific torture of every kind, wholesale rape, and mass starvation…We say these terrible acts are inhumane and inhuman. But the reality is that they are thoroughly human – the result of peoples’ depraved nature. The human race has an unimaginable capacity for evil. In each of our hearts are the seeds of cruelty and corruption.”2

No matter how we phrase the words that make truth private property we lose the meaning of truth. Truth is authentic to everyone everywhere. It does not discern race, color, sex, or religion and the same can be said for inherent morals that are embedded in our very nature. Peter recognized this in Acts when he refused to be silent about the Good News and the teaching of Christ. Acts 5:29

If moral judgments are individual value judgments, they are nothing more than a fashion statement. We simply pick and choose what is attractive to us, useful to us as it walks down the runway like models displaying the latest gowns created by fashion designers. One social analyst put it this way, “However lofty and vaguely poetic such words may seem, the cold fact is that truth cannot become private property without losing its whole meaning.3 Isaiah 5:20

There are absolute truths and if someone ever says to you that there is no such thing as absolute truth, you can ask them if that statement is an absolute truth. Professor Theophilus recognized this and in his book, Ask Me Anything he wrote, “Frankly, absolutes are easy to find…’Do not commit adultery, Do not fornicate, Honor your parents, Love God, Love your neighbor.’ None of these have exceptions. If they will satisfy your friends is another matter. That depends on whether they are just looking for truth or excuses!”4

The individual who threw off the shackles in the initial quote up above was Ted Bundy. He was a serial killer in the 1970’s who had raped and murdered over 30 women. He justified his actions by claiming morality is subjective and not bound by any rules or laws, be it from God or man. 

God created us, and we are bound to His standards. His standards are based on His unchanging character. He is not swayed by popular opinion, cultural shifts, or the latest fashion designers. 1 Samuel 16:7, Matthew 9:4. He pierces to the heart and looks at our inner character and motives.

 

Sources:
1. Mulnix, Jennifer. “The Happy Life and Moral Life.” Happy Lives, Good Lives: A Philosophical Examination[i], Broadview Press, 2015, pp 52.
2. McDowell, Josh. McDowell, Sean. “What Causes People to Sin Today?” 77 FAQs About God And The Bible[i], Harvest House, pp 54.
3. Groothuis, Douglas. “Race, Gender & Postmodernism.” Truth Decay[i], InterVarsity Press, pp 213
4. Budziszewski, J. “Faith On Campus Letters” Ask Me Anything[i], NavPress, 2004, pp 113

 

 

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Throwing off the Shackles of Morality by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sex or Shelter

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Part of the beauty and wonder of being alive is the opportunity to make your own choices and create your own meaning. Instead of having a predetermined “destiny” or some powerful guiding hand calling the shots in your life, you are free to seek your own meaning and value by making your own choices and discovering your own unique path.1

There is no outside force imposing meaning on the events of your life. There is not evidence whatsoever that people’s life events conform to some sort of divine plan or predestination. Life is, objectively meaningless; given the size and scope of the universe and our tiny role within it, it’s absurd to think that we might have any sort of cosmically vital role.2

We have the ability to create meaning for our lives by setting worthwhile goals, working to improve the lives of those around us, enjoying our time on earth, making connections to other humans and loving our families. All of these activities are worthwhile, and none of them require the existence of God.3

These above statements are an unabashed post-modern world view made by Armin Navabi in his book, Why There Is No God, a view that each and everyone of us has the ability to make our own life meaningful, in our own way. There is no set meaning or purpose that guides or directs our behavior.

Since there is no objective meaning in life, it is simply subjective. What does that mean? Subjective meaning is substance of life based on feelings, tastes, opinions, and emotions. If I ask you what your favorite flavor of ice cream is, you opinion will be ‘subjective’. It will be based on your taste of ice cream. Your favorite flavor may be Chocolate Chip Mint, while mine may be Pralines and Cream. No right or wrong answer is possible since it is a subjective opinion.

We may have a most popular flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream, but popularity does not make it right. In fact, the top five most popular flavors are: Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pralines and Cream and Chocolate Chip. Howard Hughes’ favorite flavor for a time was Banana Nut, but after ordering 350 gallons, he only wanted French Vanilla.4 That is the nice feature about subjective meaning, you can change it any time you want, any time it suits your purpose or meaning in life. It is up to you and your feelings only.

So when Navabi says we can create meaning for our lives with worthwhile goals and making efforts to improve the lives of those around us, it is based on subjective meaning. That is, it may be meaningful to him, but maybe not to me because it is a subjective opinion. Just like the flavor of ice cream.

When he stated, “Life is, objectively meaningless;” he removed any possibility of significant meaning beyond the flavor of ice cream. One man may set his worthwhile goal as to have sex with a different woman every week for the next year. Another man may set his worthwhile goal as providing shelter to a different homeless person every week for a year. When you remove an objective standard for good, then you are only left with a subjective standard. Sex or shelter, vanilla or banana nut. You pick, it is your own opinion, your own feelings that matter, not anyone else.

While exploring the idea of an objective moral law that applies to our very nature, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Consequently, this Rule of right and wrong, or law of human nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing – a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves…It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior, and yet quite definitely real – a real law, which none of use made, but which we find pressing on us.”5

Navabi mistakenly claims that there is no objective meaning to life, but in his next breath tells us we can set worthwhile goals such as, “…working to improve the lives of those around us, enjoying our time on earth, making connections to other humans and loving our families.” How can they be worthwhile if they are simply an opinion, like a favorite flavor of ice cream?

Sadists enjoy hurting others. They find satisfaction, pleasure, in worsening people’s lives, not improving them. They enjoy their time on earth by connecting with others and making them suffer. Not only that, they actually will make the extra effort, extra work, to ruin the lives of those around them. Two studies at the University of British of Columbia by Erin Buckels found, “People who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.”6

Making people suffer is a worthwhile goal for sadists. It give them meaning to live, even a desire. Without an objective moral standard, a banner we can all rally to, then the meaning of life is nothing more than an opinion on what is meaningful to the individual. Everyone can say, ‘That is just your opinion’, and what you, I, or anyone else, thinks of their opinion, does not matter.

Atheist Sam Harris wrote in his book, Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, “Sometime around her third birthday, my daughter asked, ‘Where does gravity come from?’ After talking about objects that attract each other – and wisely ignoring the curvature of space-time – my wife and I arrived at our deepest and most honest answer: ‘We don’t know. Gravity is a mystery. People are still trying to figure it out.’”7

Harris is correct, science is still trying to figure out gravity, but there is something else about gravity that is significant in this post I will share. Gravity is true for you and true for me. You may stand on the edge of Shanghai Tower, (2nd tallest building in the world, most use the 1st) and say that gravity is a subjective reality, but the truth is, gravity is true for me and true for you, because if you jump off without a chute, you will find out how wrong you are. Gravity is an objective truth, not a flavor of ice cream. It is true for everyone no matter what they say, no matter what they believe.

Claiming that you can make your own meaning in life is like claiming that you can make your own gravity, or even dispense yourself of it. This view of truth is a Post-modern view of truth. David Noebel wrote in his book, Understanding The Times, “For Postmodernists, since there is no universal Truth (capital ‘T’), there are only ‘truths’ (small ‘t’) that are particular to a society or group of people and limited to individual perception. Written or verbal statements can reflect only a particular localized culture or individual point of view. A well-worn catchphrase we hear in this regard is, ‘That may be true for you, but not for me.’”8

Small t’s or small ‘truths’ have not only invaded our culture, but the church.

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on issues such as abortion because it has become a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. A personal small ‘t’ truth choice. Yet, when you see a friend who is pregnant, do you ever ask her, “How is your body?” No, we all ask, “How is the baby?”

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on the issue of homosexuality because sexual orientation is a personal, small t ‘truth’. Yet it is obvious to everyone that as a rule, as a group, and by nature, heterosexual’s produce the next generation. It should come as no surprise that governments, until recent years, provided incentives toward heterosexual couples, and not same sex couples.

Christians everywhere are unwilling to engage on the issue of tolerance toward other religions because religion is a small t ‘truth’. Christianity may be true for you, but not for me. All roads lead to Rome. All path’s lead to God. There is no one ‘correct’ religion. Yet, with only a moment’s consideration, we realize that Jesus either was the Son of God or He was not. There is no middle option. Christianity is true or false, just like every other religious view the world has seen.

Christians have been unwilling or unable to address post-modern views, but with a little effort in the area of apologetics, (defending the faith), they can give thoughtful comments to some of the most pressing issues in our culture today.

 

Sources:

1. Navabi, Armin. Why There Is No God. Atheist Republic, 2014. Print.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. “Fun Facts.” Baskin Robbins. Baskinrobbins.com, n.d. Web. 30 August 2015
5. Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 1952. Print.
6. “Everyday Sadists Take Pleasure In Others’ Pain.” Association For Psychological Science. Psychologicalscience.org, 12 September 2013. Web. 2 September 2015.
7. Harris, Sam. Waking Up A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.
8. Noebel, David A. Understanding The Times. Manitou Springs: Summit Press, 2006. Print.

 

 

Creative Commons License
Sex or Shelter by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

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