Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On the complications of moral absolutes (Why can't we just get along?)

The Idea of moral absolutes is one that is inherently dangerous and complicated. It would seem that in order to believe in some sort of moral code would be beneficial on the surface and would suggest some sort of higher order, or meaning. Moral absolutes do not take into account circumstances that generally accompany a situation. Even Christians, while claiming to follow the “absolute and inerrant” doctrines of the bible, tend to bend the rules that it puts forth in order to allow it to have an application to modern day life.
Christians feel that they have the only platform for the ability to be wrong or right. This belief makes their position difficult to argue. Fortunately for me, I am not seeking an argument, so my work here today should be quite easy.

The bible says “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) This is a plain and simple rule. Not much room for interpretation here. Put simply, those four words mean, don’t kill. It doesn’t specify who, or what. It simply says don’t kill. As a Christian and as a believer in the bible you should follow this rule to the letter. Unfortunately without some tweaking this rule will make survival difficult for you in the real world. Not being able to kill immediately diminishes your food source. All meats are immediately out of the question, as are eggs. Eggs after all are unborn chickens, the equivalent of an unborn baby to humans. That insect or rodent infestation you have in your home is now unsolvable, unless you are willing to capture every single one of the vermin and transport them to another location. Then there is the topic of self defense. If I am lying in bed and hear someone break into my house do I have the right to protect myself and my wife from the perpetrator. What if he wants to rape my wife? Am I supposed to passively watch, or can I kill him? Well you can better believe that I would kill him. Christians though should not.

Of course Christians don’t live this law to the letter. I would have to believe that even with the most intense belief in the inerrancy of the bible that a Christian would kill someone who was raping his wife without even thinking twice about it. The Christian argument to the argument that I just presented would be one of context. Christians love to put arguments into a matter of context because this allows them to make different interpretations of the more vague scriptures in order for ideals to be presented that the original passage may not have necessarily intended. They would say something like “well what God meant was not to kill people unprovoked” or “God gave us dominion over the animals so animals do not apply to the killing rule.” (Genesis 1:26) The first argument here is an argument from interpretation. It means that the person interpreting what the passage is saying is assuming the position of someone who is holy or has a direct pipeline to speak to God about his intentions. The passage clearly says not to kill. There is no room for interpretation. The second argument uses another scripture in order to change the meaning of the first. This is a style that is used by Christians repeatedly. Although it may make a point, the contradiction does much more damage than the point it is defending since it proves that the bible is not inerrant. If the bible is the inerrant word of God then there can be no contradictions, yet it seems to be full of them. (See blog “intelligent design, not so intelligent.”) This is the reason why Christians have to always be on the defensive in arguments.

The real problem though comes through in the mentality of those who try to refute Christianity. These are typically atheist and agnostics that take it upon themselves to attack those who possess religious views concerning the world and the way things are. In many ways these people are doing more harm than the Christians. Yes it is true that faith tends to slow or halt scientific progress but it also subdues some of the scarier elements of human nature. Atheist love to attack the doctrines that led wars and mass genocides to be carried out in the name of Jesus. To my understanding of the life of Jesus though, this is not something that he would have condoned. Atheist love to attack the fallen Christian leaders such as Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, and most recently Ted Haggard. Why wouldn’t they do this? Even an atheist of the most mediocre intelligence can appear to be an intellectual giant when challenging the majority of Christians in philosophical debate. The problem arises when trying to tie these evils together with a particular religious belief structure. Just as many atrocities have been carried out in the name of Islam, Buddha, Allah and even non-theistic types as have been in the name of Jesus. These atrocities are not directly a result of a religious condition, but rather of the human condition. Human leaders will use whatever popular belief system its population is currently the most influenced by in order to further their agenda. Thus the atrocities get tied to the religion at hand.

The point here is that living in a free country means it will have its advantages as well as its disadvantages. While you will be allowed to follow any belief structure you want, you will not be able to infringe on the belief structure of anyone else. You can be Christian and you can try to get you value system placed in the government, but you need to remember that all other religions and anti religious people have the same right. This nation was not founded on religion; mind you this nation was founded by people. (All men are created equal….to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…..Declaration of independence) Our forefathers, coming from England, knew the dangers of having the church and the state working together, this is the very reason why they entered the following into the Constitution of the United States of America “Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This not only protects Non-believers from the potential life threatening beliefs of believers but it also protects the church from becoming corrupted by the government. So you can fight for the church to be more involved in the political process and you can fight for religious ideals to be taught in the public school system, you have that right. Just remember you are fighting a lost cause because in this country, if it is a part of the government, then it is not a part of the religious institution.

Please I am begging you please stop fighting about religious beliefs. Christians, you should be content enough in your beliefs that you don’t have to go around pressuring everyone to join you. If you genuinely believe in Jesus then that should be enough. Offer to share if you would like but when someone says that they are not interested; make that the end of it. Secularists, we all know that you think the Christians are stupid for following their belief systems, but put your egos down and let them have their belief systems. Fight to keep those beliefs out of the political process, but other than that, leave them alone. Don’t accuse them of having mental disorders; don’t say that they need to be locked up. The great thing about his country is that we can all live in unity regardless of race, sex or religion. I don’t have to agree with you to be your friend. Furthermore my beliefs do not require that you believe in them too.

1 comment:

10Matt39 said...

Hi,

Just a clarification. Exodus 20:13 is and should be translated as "Thou shalt not murder (assassinate/slay)". It is applied to people, not animals and implies a premeditation.

Our nation was actually founded on the presumption of a Creator. As you quote Jefferson, "All men are created... Endowed by their Creator..."

Another Jefferson quote I like. "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?".

peace,
Matt