Monday, January 28, 2019
Meticulous Honesty: Why Dishonesty Is ALWAYS wrong
Very popular, again, is the view that there are no inherent moral truths. Various thinkers state that moral realism isn’t true, that sometimes lying is good, etc. Often this outlook on ethics emphasizes that the end justifies the means and that “love” is the only rule.
Unfortunately, words such as “love” are empty-bucket terms meaning contradictory acts and are almost meaningless. For instance, the famous Roman Catholic leader, Augustine, in the 4th century wrote, “Love and do what you will. (on the First Epistle of John, Homily 7 on 1 John 4:4-12)
But Augustine was the same Christian leader who brought hard determinism into the Christian religion, condemning all human infants as being guilty of Original Sin, claiming that only a limited number of humans were predestined to be rescued, billions of others left to damnation.
Augustine also used the power of the Roman state to persecute others. And he abandoned his common law wife/concubine of 10 years, and planned, instead, to move to Rome and marry a high-class lady. At least he didn’t abandon his son from his common-law wife.
Other Christian leaders have gone even further. Christian theologian, Episcopal priest Joseph Fletcher, in the late 1960’s wrote the book called Situation Ethics which claimed that loving could mean to lie, to commit adultery, to blackmail, even to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians!
According to Fletcher, “nothing is inherently right or wrong” (page 134). Allegedly, later, Fletcher promoted abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc. in the name of “love.” (according to Wikipedia)
Paul Tillich, the famous Lutheran philosopher and theologian, wrote that “love is the ultimate law” (Systematic Theology, Volume 1, page 152) then repeatedly committed adultery, etc. The long scholarly biography of Tillich shows how dishearteningly wrong Tillich behaved, like so many others, by holding to the semantically vague idea of "love" as the only guide.
Even many Christians who claim to believe in objective ethics (not situation ethics) argue for very strange moral views such as the American Christian leader who declared that the atom bomb is “God’s gift to America”!
Or the millions of Christians (over 78% of American Evangelical Christians) who defend President Trump’s forcefully taking little children under 4 from their refugee mothers and sending the crying toddlers off thousands of miles away from their mothers to U.S. government facilities!
And ALL of those ethically wrong actions happened because the American Christians lied about the nature of the refugees, claiming they were criminals, drug dealers, enslavers, etc.
Even if--let's hypothesize--no bad results came from lying (or what ever other violation of moral truths), that lying would still be contrary to what is good and right.
Tragically, humans who think that morality, justice, human rights, etc. are inherently real and true, not subject to situations seem, often, to be in the minority.
DISHONESTY/LYING is ALWAYS wrong.
Theft, adultery, infanticide, killing, and so forth are ALWAYS WRONG…
Meticulous honesty, sharing, generosity, infant care, compassion, justice and so forth are ALWAYS RIGHT.
1. Without meticulous honesty, fields and professions such as science, technology, architecture and construction, medicine, criminal justice, education, and so forth can’t function well or successfully.
Human history and current events are strewn with the millions of cases of scientists, law enforcement officers, politicians, architects, doctors, teachers, etc. who in the name of what ever ethics they followed, lied, deceived, or shaved the truth.
When a doctor lies, it might mean only deeply harming a patient. But when a scientist lies, it could wreak havoc on an entire society causing the suffering and death of millions of humans.
2. Unfortunately, the vast majority of humans have a penchant toward viewing the world from their own advantage point. We tend to justify what looks good for our group or our nation. Consider cases such as how the leading intellectuals and brilliant scholars of the various opposing nations of 1914 led us into the completely wrong Great War, which caused the slaughter of at least 15 million humans.
See Manifesto of the Ninety-Three German Intellectuals
See Preachers Present Arms by Ray h. Abrams
As various writers have emphasized the first fatality of war is truth. Lies are the immoral “body-guards” (to twist a phrase of Winston Churchill who infamously claimed that lies are bodyguards who protect truth!)
Another lesser case is the official lies—especially the Gulf of Tonkin lies-- told by the American government which led to over 2 million humans slaughtered in Vietnam including over 50,000 Americans.
Of course, most of these humans lied, deceived, were dishonest from the best of motives (though their motives you notice were based in the group egotism of their particular nation and society).
3. ALL lying, all deception, all dishonesty is to state contrary to reality. For instance, the construction boss needs to get the building finished by October 1st for many good reasons. Yet the inspector has been slow in coming out to certify, so the contractor hedges the truth. After all, in other situations, the minor deception hasn’t resulted in anything bad.
But regardless of whether or not his dishonesty catches up with the construction contractor (even though he meant it for good), the lie is contrary to what is true and real.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE EXTREME CASES?
Extreme cases are, admittedly, difficult. And so various thinkers have stated that honesty must be relative to end results.
People say, wouldn’t it be good to lie to a Nazi, to lie to a murderer?
However, as I’ve already pointed out, these extreme situations don’t normally happen. Yet they are often pulled up to justify more common situations in which many people think a lie is also “good” in their particular difficulties.
Second, lying is always wrong even in desperate situations.
But what if an abused child hides at your house?
Will you lie to protect the innocent child from the abusive father?
What if you can discover no other option?
In that case since no alternative seems available, you can't find a good way to deal with the crisis, then you may choose to do what is wrong, the least wrong action.
Notice, the lying, is still WRONG, BUT COMPARED TO A CHILD BEING FURTHER ABUSED, LYING IS THE LESSER EVIL.
And after the crisis passes, you well-meaning liar, will still need to admit your wrong-doing, and emphasize that you will make whatever amends you need to for your deception.
No where is any well-meant lie—itself--justified.
If only all humans would choose such moral realism, the vast majority of evil actions in the world would be lessened and eventually stopped.
Meticulous honesty, compassion, generosity, defense of human rights, etc. are ALWAYS RIGHT.
In the LIGHT of TRUTH,