Something that I have varied my beliefs in is ethics or how we view right and wrong. Are things good and right whether God exists or not, or are they only good because 'God' says so?
I am not a moral relativist, I lean towards things being good and evil all the time, and yet I realize most of what I think of as good is culturally influenced.
I have heard it said, "If I did not believe in God, then I would do whatever the hell I wanted."
I think that is the moral equivalent of being a child. It's as if I only do something because my parents say so, but have not considered the reason or thought behind the action. It is also the sort of thinking that leads people to commit horrible acts because their religion tells them to, and I reject that.
It's a topic I feel the need to think about more, and this is a short post, but that's what I am pondering at the moment.


  1. "It is also the sort of thinking that leads people to commit horrible acts because their religion tells them to, and I reject that."

    For the record, I reject horrible acts done in the name of religion as well. Something to add to your pondering: by what moral standard do you justify the use of the word 'horrible'? If there isn't one absolute, how can you call something horrible that someone else calls normal? I think Starbucks is horrible, and Tim Horton's is wonderful, but there are many, many people who would strongly disagree with me. I don't have an absolute standard to prove them wrong, as my personal opinion of overpriced coffee is not absolute.
    Interesting pondering,

  2. Goforth, I have a couple of questions for you.
    Are your moral absolutes?
    I would suggest they are not. I could be wrong, but I think you read much of the Bible literally. That leaves you with some serious moral problems, that I don't think you have considered, when talking about moral absolutes.
    I go back to the question, is something right or wrong intrinsically or just right or wrong if god says so? If you read the Bible literally, you logically can't say something is a moral absolute. God literally ordered genocide and such. You can argue he had his reasons, but then right and wrong is not always right and wrong. If you were absolutely convinced god told you, would you kill your son? If your answer is no, then I have misinterpreted your belief in the Bible, and you don't believe the Bible in a literal sense. This is why religious beliefs can, emphasize the word can, be dangerous. If someone truly believes god is talking to them, then they have no moral absolutes and, according to their own beliefs, have to follow the instructions.
    To conclude, logically, you DON'T reject horrible acts, and are actually a very very immoral person. That's if you read the Bible literally, if you don't, then much of these problems you can get out of.
    Oh, and the example you gave is like talking about ice cream, it's opinion. If you could make a case that different coffee could be a moral issue, then I might considerate it relevant.

  3. Well, if things are right only because "God says so", then that has a couple of problems. The first is that we can imagine a universe in which God commands us to kill our first born child, or commit genocide. If these actions are now *good*, this seems to make a mockery of the entire discussion of what good and evil is. Secondly, hooking your ethics to good doesn't necessarily remove the 'relativist' label. It just means your ethics are dependent on your God...and people change their religion. Religious ethics are just a brand of cultural relativism.

    It is easily apparent, however, that cultural relativism is also incorrect. There are number of ethical principles that support a universal ethical sense and decision-making process. A couple of these have been expressed as "respect for persons", and "greatest good for greatest number". Our greatest moral dilemma's, across cultures, seems to occur when these principle's conflict.

    So there is an objective ethical standard of right and wrong, in the same sense as there is an objective mathematical standard of right and wrong. Humans have existed in social packs. Our objective moral sense needs no more explaining than our mathematical sense. We evolved it.

    Feb 12 - Darwin's birthday!