Monday, December 28, 2015
Seeking True Ethics in the New Year
Besides such a wonder-working miracle--finding true ethics--I will also explain the future of the multitverse in the billion-year'd future and what stone age men thought about women;-)
Seriously, seeking true ethics is one of the most difficult tasks any of us can choose. Given that so many non-religious leaders in 2015 (and before) have stated that ethics are only "subjective," "relative," "personal preferences," and not "real," is it any wonder that many humans are confused when it comes
to the questions of "ought"?
Or consider the strange anomaly of so many religious leaders in 2015 claiming that various immoral or unjust actions are only wrong because such actions contradict what God has commanded, Divine Command Theory. If God changes his commands (as the Deity often did in the past), then true ethics change.
And even worse, so many church leaders claim God will call you to commit immoral actions.
Worst of all many Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders, again, claimed God--before the universe began--pre-planned every murder, every rape, every molestation, every natural evil disaster for God's-self! And if you question such a gargantuan horror, they ask who do you think God is?!
God can do whatever he wills because God is God!
To Hell/Abyss/Sheol with all such terrible claims.
Eliminating those majority views at least narrows the multi-pronged choices staring at us at every moment when we need to choose.
Now for the New Year:-) Let's seek the Light, seek the Life, seek the Good, seek the Just.
But how does one do so? The difficulty is in the details.
On Christmas Eve one online commentator challenged me to provide a better method than the Christian religion has provided in the last 2,000 years.
First, it would appear to most people who study history that religion hasn't provided a good code of ethics. On the contrary it has done a horrific job supporting everything from slavery and slaughter to discrimination and persecution. No, Christianity hasn't provided a reliable ethical guide. Check out books such as Jesus Wars by Phillip Jenkins or some of the recent critical commentaries on Islam.
that doesn't mean anyone else has come up with a sure method of finding what is "oughtfully" true.
The human conscience (except in sociopaths) declares we are to do right, to do the good, but doesn't usually clarify what or how. In fact in history, the most evil actions were committed not by immoral choosers, but by conscientious, dutiful humans!
Let's get an eagle's overview of the mountainous region of ethics:
#1 Probably, the spiritual side of the Enlightenment has achieved the most ethically.
Most humans have come to at least give lip service to the ideals of human rights, equality, justice and to condemn the slaughter of innocent humans, poverty, prejudice, torture, slavery, and so forth. Reason has shown to be more true, more effective, more real than any religious dogma ever was.
However, even in reason and transcendent claims there are doubts and problems and dilemmas. Fortunately, most humans seldom have to deal with the extremes such as the trolley car dilemma and other difficult choices.
Indeed, I wonder why so many ethicists immediately jump to the most extreme difficult examples when the subject of morality is brought up.
In general, for instance, it would seem that honesty and justice are reliable goals, even if in a few severe situations, one might choose dishonesty and injustice in order to save human lives.
After all, if I moved back to the Middle East and soon was faced with a dire threat by HAMAS or Hezbollah, and chose to lie to protect innocent Jewish civilians,
my lie still wouldn't be true.
Later after human rights organizations got the innocent safely out of the clutches of "Godly" religious organizations, I ought to then print an acknowledgment of my dishonest statement.
Too often humans quickly jump to the immoral choice--declaring it good--when encountering a difficult trial. For example Americans constantly condemn Muslims in the Middle East for using torture and terrorism, but quickly defend the U.S. government when it tortures and slaughters.
Let's take non-religious leaders' most extreme example: Ought a good human--if there are no other possible options--murder or rape to defend innocent people?
When making ethical choices, the means is part of the end. When you pick up the immoral ethical stick on one end you get the other, too, even if your intentions are good.
Just for the sake of illustration, what if a U.S. Seal coulc only save a young Iraqi girl in Ramadi from being tortured and murdered by raping her?
Such an undercover individual might choose to rape the girl because he thinks raping her isn't as evil as letting the Islamic State thugs behead or stone her.
HOWEVER, his act of rape--even though done with good intentions--still will harm the girl and is therefore wrong.
Cliche warning: One evil in response to another evil doesn't make a good. Never.
#2 Keep in mind that many ethical truisms from the ancient past don't need to be jettisoned, probably not even questioned.
Contrary to what various thinkers such as Michael Shermer and Valire Tarico state, the 10 Commandments of Jews, Christians, and Muslims are a very good start toward seeking true ethics, especially when updated with the new ethical insights of the Enlightenment.
10. Don't covet. Don't inordinately desire what belongs to another person.
Sounds like a good start toward community and well-balanced mental/emotional health for each individual.
9. Don't lie. Honesty is the basis of so many other ethical truths. Heck, Enlightenment actions such as scientific method and reason can't even work if adherents practice lying.
8. Don't steal. Think how many wars and conflicts would never occur if humans didn't steal. The tragic events in Palestine/Israel would never have happened if in the past (and at present) Jews, Muslims, and Christians hadn't stolen.
7. Don't commit adultery. In Shermer's new book, The Moral Arc, advocating good ethics based on reason, he writes that this commandment "doesn't take into account the wide variety of circumstances in which people find themselves."
What sort of weak reasoning is that?!
Ethical codes are meant to guide us, not to excuse us, and aren't to be controlled by circumstances in which we "find ourselves" but to CHANGE those circumstances and change us!
On the contrary, circumstances often lead humans to "lose themselves." Think of how many famous leaders in the last 30 years have "lost themselves" and caused all manner of harm to others because they committed adultery.
Consider how many families have been broken apart because one spouse was disloyal/betrayed the other.
To be continued--
In the Light,