Good Intentions the Source of Morality?
I had a young friend tell me that humanity is mature enough that they no longer need religion for they have good intentions. My reply was, where do you think good intentions and a sense of morality comes from? Don’t they come at one level from our beliefs? Do not beliefs need to be passed down from one generation to another and is not the mechanism that does that best is what we call religion? Who do you think will have the best intentions towards their fellow human beings? Those that believe that humans are just animals and no different from a bug, or those who believe that we were created in the image of God and therefore have ultimate worth? I will take my chances with the latter. I believe that the younger generation is living from borrowed values of a Christian culture which is quickly evaporating. If I am correct there will be fewer and fewer good intentions coming from a good morality.
From a philosophical point of view, you cannot get an ‘ought or value’, from an ‘is or a fact’. For example, explaining a high idea such as altruism does not make it a morality it simply explains the behavior. There is a big difference between saying that giving food to the poor is kindness and that you ought to (morality) give food to the poor. The latter carries a moral imperative and judgment. The question is by what authority can you say ‘you ought to give to the poor’? When you say ‘you ought to give food to the poor’ you are making ‘giving to the poor’ a moral or ethical imperative which is what morality and ethics is made up of. However, you cannot get an ‘ought’ from a good fact. You can only get a preference. I may like giving to the poor but my liking of giving to the poor does not make it into a morality, only a preference. You can say I prefer to give to the poor, rather than ignore them. You are attempting to turn your preference into morality or an ethic when you say that you ought to give to the poor. However, by what authority do you do this? The only way to have morality, which is truly a morality, is a religion with a God, that has ultimate authority that can pronounce the thing as an “ought to”.
The above demonstrates why trying to make a morality will always end in authoritarianism with one man or one group imposing their so-called morality on others. The reason is that they have no authority other than the state which itself is made up of mere men. Only a morality formed by religion and the authority of an absolute deity has any ground in reason. A personal morality grounded in preference is fictional and delusional. It is the individual claiming to be deity. More often than not it is for the purpose of covering up their own wickedness or lack of morality.
Liberalism And Christianity
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer 6:16
Before talking about some of the contrast between liberalism and Christianity we need to note some of the basic characteristics of liberalism. The first carnal doctrine of liberalism is the autonomy of the individual. It’s therefore, humanistic and not theistic because it begins with man and not God. Its roots go deep in the soil of the atheistic enlightenment and surprisingly the Christian religion. It makes the individual and Reason the ultimate authority and not God. It is a convoluted belief system that contains many religious and secular ideas that cannot possibly be reconciled In the real world if taken to their logical conclusions. In the end liberalism because of its lack of authority always leads to making the state God. One of the fathers of the enlightenment Charles Hobbs said, “the state is God walking on the earth”. Ultimately, his remarks reflect the liberal view in general. If there is no God, raw power becomes the only authority.
Of course, like all ideologies and religions, there are various degrees in which people embrace this belief system of liberalism. First, there is the advanced liberals which are the furthest left and often embrace socialism or communism and are often hostile towards religion and traditional culture. They represent the liberalism of the French revolution. Whose mantra was “No king, no God”. In other words no authority. The other most common form or degree of liberalism is the classic view which is less hostile towards religion and may embraces capitalism to varying degrees. I think it would be fair to say that liberalism is the secular religion of western culture. A religion that has influenced all of us to some degree. However, like all false religions, its problems begin to surface at the extremes. Two of these extremes are radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. Both of which will lead to the total collapse of all authority except for an authority forced on the populace by the state.
What about the failures of Christianity? The failures of Christianity were and are that it was not truly practiced. The failure of liberalism is and was that it is practiced too much. The madness going on in our culture is the result of the fruit of advanced liberalism and the chaos will only worsen until the state comes in and takes control. Liberalism dogma of unlimited human freedom and its propensity to want to fix the world at any cost will always lead to an authoritative and ill-liberal State.
Three other myths that have been created by liberalism is its faith in the goodness of humanity and its unfounded belief in continuous progress and the ultimate perfecting of the world in some future utopia, a belief it has inherited from a misunderstanding of Christian eschatology. The Christia message nowhere teaches that the world can or should be fixed by humanity. The best we can do is attempt to fix ourselves. And even that is near impossible. We need the help of God. If we have not learned that, it’s probably because we have not attempted to fix much of yourself.
I’m old and I have seen a lot of world fixers in my lifetime. Most of them have screwed up the world more than fixing it. It seems that all the world fixers that have ever existed all imagine themselves to be more intelligent and reasonable than everybody else. If true, you would think the world would be paradise. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of Christians that believe that the purpose of Jesus coming into the world was somehow to fix and perfect the world. when this happens Jesus is usually reduced to nothing more than a moral teacher.
However, the world does have a system baked into it that is self-correcting to some degree. It is called death. Moreover, sometimes God intervenes and fixes things. Sometimes, He uses men to fixes a few things. Sometimes; he leaves things broken to remind us to look up.
 The greatest problem with liberalism is it’s a failure to deal with the rights of the individual and the rights of sociality to protect itself against the individual. Mills’s book on liberty fails to resolve the question and actually adds to the problem. Like all atheistic systems, Mills’s had a hard time answering the question “By who’s authority”. Ultimately, he has nothing but the state and the deification of human reason.
I have run across a number of people that feel that the division in Christianity weakens its argument for the existence of its God. However, the opposite might be true. To begin with, division over many subjects should be expected, considering that we are talking about an infinite God that is beyond human understanding. In view of this, the difference of opinion in many areas would be normal and should even be expected.
Yes, Christians are divided on a number of issues however most agree on the faith set forth in the Apostles Creed. Even the majority of the so-called cults could confess their faith in the doctrines proclaimed in the ancient Creed, for the Creed simply set forth the basic facts[i] of what the Bible teaches. Christians for the most part (except for some far-left liberals) agree on the basic points of the creed. However, they are not in agreement as to their interpretation of some of those points. This is where the division begins to creep in as it does in any discipline which is based on facts. Facts must be interpreted, and it is in the interpretation where the division comes in, not in the facts.
Facts are claims or ideals corresponding objectively with something that has existence in reality, independent from one’s interpretation or a point of view. For example, I point to a stone on the ground and say that is a stone. Of course, if it were a banana it would not be a stone. Facts also must be identifiable by the right word or label to be understood. However, a fact can be qualified and interpreted by one’s world view or ideology, e.g. the resurrection is a fact of history for the Christian, but not for the atheist. Now, the atheist might believe that Jesus lived and died, but deny that he was resurrected because he does not believe in the supernatural. This would lead us to say that some aspects of a fact can be questioned while accepting others. This rejection or acceptance can be based on one’s point of view. For example, the presuppositions of the atheist will not allow him to accept the resurrection because they do not believe in the supernatural.
A good example of the power of point of view is the illustration of a person walking into an empty room without any furniture and saying that the room is empty. Yes, from a pragmatic point of view it is empty however from a scientific point of view it is filled with air and atoms. The reason that the person said it was empty was because he is totally dependent on his sense of sight. If he were asked the question, if there was air in the room, he would take a deep breath and reply yes. If the individual was blind, he would have to depend on his sense of touch to determine whether there was anything in the room and it would take an extreme amount of time to make a judgment. However even after the judgment was made, he would have to admit that he did not know for sure because, during the time it took him to touch and feel everything in the room, someone or something could’ve entered the room e.g. an insect.
The question arises then, which point of view could be called the truth? The one based on sight, the one based on science or mathematical probability, the one based on personal experience (inhaling the air in the room) or touch? It would be an interesting exercise to figure out which of the forms of knowledge would best reflect the human condition and best serve that condition.
[i] The Apostles Creed is based on twelve statements that Christians believe are facts. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”.