Jump to content
Goodbye Jesus

The Subjectivity Of Morals

Guest ikant

Recommended Posts

Guest ikant

Morality is often said to be "objective",i.e., to have a source outside of the subject, i.e., us. We are told that we are to reject some things and embrace others, not because they are bad necessarily, but because some "external source", tells us so. Jesus said that "the pagans search after all of these things" food, drink, etc... but "seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these will be added unto you." So the idea is not that they are bad in themselves, but that one must first worship God in order to be found worthy of receiving whatever it is we want. Since our desires must be submitted to God in order for us to be able to receive them, the obvious question to be asked is, why? Why must we go through God in order to receive things that he evidently wants us to have in the first place? Is it innately evil to want things? Can we discover this through deduction? It does not seem to be evil to want to eat or drink, but apparently it is if we want them without God's permission. This is only one example of morality in the bible, but it is clear that when asked which came first, the moral or the moral giver, the bible teaches it was the moral giver. Since morality is based on what God wants, instead of what is simply what is best (although many will say that God does want what is best for us) we must conclude that morality is subject to the will of God. Now, that is one form of moral subjectivity, unless one will argue that God himself is subject to a morality that is independent of himself. Most will not as that would make morality a more powerful force than God. Ttherefore, we can focus on the relative location of morality vis a vis God. This of course makes morality relative to the will of God, i.e., morality is subjective and God is the object, subject to nothing.

Considering God's will is the determinate foundation of morals, we are faced with another task, i.e., to figure out what it is that God wants us to do, or simply put, what is it that he believes to be moral. It is clear in the passage that seeking food or drink is contextually moral or immoral, but God's will is always moral. How then can one know God's will? If you are a christian, you can read the bible and get somewhat of an indication, such as do not lie, steal, commit adultery, etc.... But what happens when you are faced with an ambiguous problem, such as having to move your family to another city so you can get a better job, or trying to decide how you should discipline your child? Sure the bible has clues to those types of situations, but there are no clear answers.

Many believe in the "sin of omission." The sin of omission is referred to in the bible when it states that "he who knows the good he should do and does not do it, for him this is sin." This type of saying leaves one in a desperate state if one is desiring to do all the good that they can. The bible says that "all have sinned", if all are imperfect, then none of us can do good all of the time. There is an infinite number of good deeds we can do, since we cannot do them all, how do we pick which ones we should do? e.g., giving our money to various charities, etc.... Many say that God guides them, that they pray and he gives them direction, but on areas such as these, it is obvious that there is no objective moral basis for their decisions, it simply comes down to how they feel God is leading them.

Another more important and obvious problem with the idea of objective morality is that of interpreting the bible (or whichever holy book is believed to be objective) . The bible says in Exodus 21:20 that a man can own a slave and beat that slave and should not be punished because the slave is "his property." Christians today believe that slavery is wrong and should not be practiced. How is it that they came to this conclusion as the apostle Paul stated, "slaves obey your masters?" He never told slave owners to release their slaves, nor did Jesus, yet Christians think it is an evil practice. I have heard that the clear interpretation of the bible would lead one to not own slaves. Even if that were true, people would have to rely on subjective interpretive reasoning in order to come to that conclusion (which many did not, as christians have owned slaves for two thousand years after the new testament was written).

There are numerous other passages in the bible, such as women not being allowed to wear jewelry, or men not being allowed to have long hair, or women not being allowed to speak in church, but must "ask their husbands at home" if they have a question. These prohibitions are largely ignored or dismissed as being cultural. Again, this is an interpretation that is not condoned by the bible but is conceived of existentially.

What is it then that bothers some people about the idea that morals are based on how we as people determine them? I think it has to do with people feeling the need to be told how they should live their lives to some degree. It is a reaction to a world that some are not comfortable with. It is based in a need to control our surroundings, and often times other people. The idea that there is an absolute moral code, or code giver empowers us, it gives us preeminence over those who seem more successful or powerful than us. It validates our lives. It makes us feel ok with mediocrity, or simply a lack of recognition.

Of course these are not all of the reasons people believe in moral objectivity, maybe they just do, maybe it just makes sense to them. That's fine too, but I think a closer look into this belief renders it impossible and contradictory. We all have limited faculties and as such are in a position in which we are required to try and understand the world we live in. We all choose to believe what we believe based on our own reasoning abilities. These abilities being limited, the best we can do is make an interpretation of what we are experiencing. So even if there is a god, and there is some sort of objective morality, at best we can guess at what it might be, based on how we feel about life and the world according to the observations we have made.

I do not believe that either adds to or limits morality in any way. If religion is not true, then morality is what it is because people came to their conclusions on right and wrong on their own. Either way, morality has its root in us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.