Thursday, March 29, 2007

2(morality) - [1(ality) +e]

11:29 AM Posted by: M., 3 comments

This is a continuation of my last post...

I am trying to think about what the implication of christians being "moral" is...if christians are moral, it doesnt say anything about the existence of God--just that the christians believe God is good and moral, so they emulate Him...but nowhere in that, can I come to believe that God exists just because his followers are good. Does their morality come from God being inside them and teaching them to be good? Or does the good come from Christians already knowing they should be good, and then they are good? Atheists who believe in secular moral philosophy are good too--but they dont have God.


I am really stuck on this concept of disjointed belief--my real faith lies in others' devotion and faith, not on an actual God. For instance, if I have faith that the Bible is true, I really just have faith that its authors knew what they were talking about and believed it is true...otherwise, how would I even know the story of the gospel? So in that to really have faith, we need to have faith in God, separate from the Bible--but then how can we even know about God and Jesus without the text? oral tradition? meditation? looking at nature? Looking at the ocean might make one think there is a creator--but then how can one deduce that that Creator sent his son to die and he rose on the third day, and there was a fallen angel who created Hell, and we are not supposed to lie and cheat and steal, and homosexuality is wrong, and we are to have a personal relationship and pray for everything and wait for the answers, and "give it all to God" and on and on? And most importantly, if we dont deduce that from creation, we are sent to a place of eternal burning and suffering?

I am just confused. Maybe my heart is hardened, maybe there is a block on my brain, maybe I am favoring "living in the dark instead of the Light" or something, but nonetheless, I am confused.


3 comments:

Ed Lynam said...

To whom much is given, much is expected. To whom little is given, little is expected. I think the bottom line in morality is how we respond to moral dilemmas based on our ability. There is a theory of moral development used in psychology by Lawrence Kohlberg. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg%27s_theory_of_moral_development . In this theory, there are stages of increasing sophistication in the ability to make moral choices. It seems that many religious or philosophical teachings that are successful incorporate some means to move people up through them into their beliefs. However, it may be that some do so better than others. I brought this up on philalethia a while back, if you want to see the discussion there: http://philaletheia.thetruthtree.com/2006/12/18/the-ethics-of-pleasure/#comments . I do think that morality is a big consideration in the decision about not just whether to have a faith, but what kind of faith it is, and in whom or what.

JumpingFromConclusions said...

**For instance, if I have faith that the Bible is true, I really just have faith that its authors knew what they were talking about and believed it is true...otherwise, how would I even know the story of the gospel? So in that to really have faith, we need to have faith in God, separate from the Bible--but then how can we even know about God and Jesus without the text? oral tradition? meditation? looking at nature?**

Not to sound corny, but those words really speak to me. I had never thought of it like that until a similar comment you made about having faith in miracles on my blog. That made me think of things just like what you wrote there. I had never thought of it like that before reading from you, and that really does make me think. A lot. You make an excellent point- I can't quite emphasize enough in this comment how much that makes me think. Thanks Marie!

agnosis said...

Ed,
Actually, I think it's "To whom much is given much is required, and to whom little is given even what they have will be taken away and given to those who have much." I could be wrong though on that one.

Marie,
Much of Christian ethics is merely a form of consequentialism. Do such and such because you'll be rewarded (crown in heaven). Don't do/be such and such because you won't enter the kingdom of heaven (you'll toast in hell). I think you're absolutely right to question the nature of the connection between theistic belief and moral action. As regards your example about the bible and faith, and also natural theology, I think you should check out Neo-Orthodox thought (Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, R Neibuhr, etc.). They had some interesting ideas that will give you food for thought in the theological realm.