Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How do we know right from wrong?

We all judge what we believe to be right from what we believe to be wrong. It makes no difference whether we believe in a God or not. In the end no one applies an absolute standard to moral judgements. Many religious people feel that God has established absolute moral standards that all must follow. These are often found in their gods holy book. However take any faith you choose and a number of devout followers of that faith and they will usually not agree on the morality of any particular situation.

If we take the Christian religion as an example. In the past Christians have believed it was moral to own slaves. In fact the New Testament condones slave ownership to the extent of telling slaves to serve their masters with diligence. Yet the vast majority of Christians today view slavery as an evil and immoral act. What happened??? If the source of morality is the unchanging will of God as revealed in the bible Christians clearly are judging God and finding him wanting.

Morality is not relative. Morality is absolute and what is right does not change with changing times. What does change is our understanding of what is right. The religious person just like the non believer changes their judgement as they learn more and become more confident in their ability to judge a situation. What this means is that on many points we could easily be mistaken and a position we think is right today, we may not feel is right tomorrow. I guess that means a little humility and tolerance is a very good idea.

We don't have any need for a God to be the foundation of morality, and when we examine the process that societies and individuals use to make moral judgements we see no real difference between those who have faith and those who do not. Both groups base their decisions on understanding and human reasoning.

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