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.