In the next video in this series, Deconversion—Morality, the idea of morality is discussed. What is morality? Is morality what is good? If so, then we would have to define what good actually is before we could determine what moral behavior actually is. Is that not so? For example, one could argue that getting to the top of the ladder of success would be good, but would it be good at any cost. Would it be good to attain success at the cost of ruining the reputation of another person or ruining that one’s chances of attaining success in his or her own right? One might argue for the ‘survival of the fittest’ rule and say: “Yes, the better of the two won out!” Is what is good for one but ruin for another moral? If good is moral, then what is good must be something different than merely pleasant circumstance.
Do morals ever conflict? Actually, they do—at least the morals of one nation may conflict with those of another nation. For example, I learned of a murder escaping the United States to England. When informed, the authorities in England were happy enough to capture the criminal for the American authorities, but they refused to extradite him unless the United States formally took an oath in their court that the criminal would not be executed, if found guilty of murder in our court system. The promise was made and the extradition proceedings took place without further incident. Similarly, morals differ from religion to religion. Christianity is different from the Hindu faith, and Jews and Islam disagree on many issues, including who has a moral right to what is now Israel.
We sometimes think that whatever is moral is an absolute of and by itself, but this couldn’t be if morals differ from nation to nation and religion to religion. An online dictionary defines morality as: “the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct, or a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct.” It also says that morality is “conformity or degree of conformity to conventional standards of moral conduct.” While most everyone agrees that stealing and murder are immoral, not all people agree that the Golden Rule is moral. For example, nations lie to one another, as do religious authorities. Saving face is put before many issues and could even mask such things as murder and theft. The Hindu culture is made up of a cast system, and what is moral for a higher cast member may be immoral for that of a lower cast. Even in the United States the rich are often treated differently in our court system than someone on the streets. Women and Blacks weren’t always treated fairly, if, indeed, they are treated as the moral equals of white males today. What is morality really? Do we know?
Who really gets to say what is moral? Is God the source of morality? Did he will the good into existence or did the good already exist with and apart from God? Chris, our young atheist, took a required college class: professional ethics, when he was about 19 or 20 years old. Chris was really impressed with his professor’s seemingly objective stance on ethical issues. The professor told the class from the beginning that it was not about teaching people to be good, but rather “was about helping good people make good decisions when the best decision isn’t always clear.” It seemed apparent the professor was a moral person, but it wasn’t apparent if he believed in God. When the subject came up, he simply stated that it was impossible to prove the existence of God, but assuming God’s existence the professor brought up the Euthyphro Dilemma: “Is what is moral commanded by God, because it is moral, or is it moral, because it is commanded by God?”
Chris’s teacher argued “the second possibility was absurd, because God could command anything, and it would become moral, but isn’t this what we do as humans? We decide what is and is not moral. On nation decides it is moral to execute a person for what it call heinous crimes, while another says execution is any form is immoral. We believe there is such a thing as a moral war and believe that defeating such a person as Hitler was moral. Yet, it is argued that God could then command: rape, murder and child molestation and that would be moral. This is true, but we could do the same and who could tell us we can’t? The point is: we don’t.
The problem with this reasoning is such things as rape, murder and child molestation are not what God requires, according to the Bible. Clearly, the Bible teaches that what God commands is moral. I argue that men do the same, but we don’t like to admit it. In a society without God, don’t men get to say what is moral? Is morality self-evident, or are moral issues determined by men of different national, racial and religious origins? It seems clear, at least to me, that, since there are so many nations and religions who cannot agree upon what is moral, mankind wants to determine what is moral for himself, but he doesn’t want to afford the same right to God.