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Theological Musing on God and Morality

March 31, 2014

I was responding to a theological question on another blog about the nature of morality, be it absolute or relativistic with regard to God.  The link is here: <http://thevirtualpolitician.wordpress.com/>  I responded, but the thought got me thinking about more than my answer required.  My ramble goes on here.

I really liked one statement made in the comments: “My intuition tells me that the Laws of Logic are what support morality.” Let’s analyze that.

The point made seems to be basic- it doesn’t make sense for God to exist if not considered in regard to absolute morality, which is not the same as “ethics.” (That means legal right and wrong are not being discussed here, so tangible rules like the Ten Commandments do not come into play. I say that to simplify the discussion because religiosity can muddle the clarity if this is not addressed early.) This entire line of thought implies God can only be contemplated if He is regarded in relation to absolute morality. This is biased already.  God has no need of morals, we do.  They likely were a later creation to help us in our physical existence.  Regardless, for the purposes of debate, I’ll continue.  In a case where God can only exist alongside morality , God could be inherently “good” and does not, Himself, provide the definition for what is qualitatively good; or, what God does or feels determines what is “good” and we mortals are presumably directed to adhere to this regardless of whether or not God is consistent (meaning God chooses anything he wants and it is always good, without repercussions for the possible self-contradiction).  The latter lends itself better to the probable creation of the universe and mortals therein.

This makes for an inevitable conclusion. If absolute morality exists and God exists only in tandem with it, to say nothing of the fact He is not omnipotent if He is subject to this absolute, this still means if we want to comply with what is “good,” we must do so notwithstanding God’s ability to make a different choice, or God’s ability to determine what is good. To be moral creatures ourselves, then, it is immaterial if God chooses good, indifference, or evil. It is immaterial if God Himself chooses what is good or evil. We mortals, if we choose to be good, must adhere to whatever good is without this ever being certain.

And how can we know what is good or bad? We can guess. That is all. This should rarely, if ever, be enough to treat others in ways our morals cry out against. The vast majority feels it’s wrong to kill, for instance. Clearly our morals find it reprehensible, even if logic does not, like when one is guilty about it even if it was killing in self-defense. Unless God Himself appears and directs a person to hate another for believing something else, I refuse to do it if I can control it. I’m as prone to hating people who wrong me, but that’s a different topic. The point is no one alive has moral standing reliable enough to say what is or is not God’s will without requisite approval from the Highest of authorities, therefore being intolerant makes no sense, either. I’d be naturally cautious of obeying any such Godly directive anyway, as it could be from a different metaphysical source, too.  (Remember, an active God might mean an active entity in rebellion to God.  Resistance to God’s will was Lucifer’s sin; it didn’t matter what the fallen angel did, it only mattered it contravened God.  That’s why I think God’s will is the qualitative “good,” and I think it is absolute.)

That said, I must declare the human flaw of pride interferes with our interpretation of righteous action versus unrighteous ones. No mortal can be completely certain what God deems right and wrong, through action or inaction, without a direct indication. Even then, the scope of this certainty would be quite limited. I can’t say any one religion, or even the holiest of religious figures short of the Christ Himself, have ever been capable of interpreting God’s will in regard to right and wrong without error or room for adjustment in different situations. Even Jesus Christ spoke to a set group in a particular time. Generalities can be garnered, if carefully done, and must be for Christianity to be in keeping with the best indications we have of what is right and wrong. But even if passages are taken verbatim from Christ (which is not possible, as the gospels were not written straight from verbal recordings), we cannot selectively take passages attributed to the Messiah or prophets and presume they apply with any precision as we see fit to modern, alien, and often unrelated moral debates.

The short version is, then, it doesn’t matter if God decides what is good or if God can act in opposition to it. If there is morality, absolute or not, the best we can do is take the tolerant stance Christ did, as the most reliable indications say He did, and live the best we can. Jesus is the only tangible figure fit to model our behavior after because He was the incarnate of God; this is my belief. This uncertainty makes no one person better or worse than any other person alive.

—–

I recommend reading C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity if anyone has further interest in this topic. He addresses the issue of an extant God and His moral integrity better than I can. Briefly, that should hash out well enough why God is (logically) a moral creature, and if not bound to being “good,” certainly displays interest in qualitative good being observed rather than evil. We must admit, our own free will uses evil for the ends of good, so God should not be judged negatively for letting us use our free will to do this.  On the other hand, free will cannot fairly be granted some and not others with the capacity to utilize it.  We cause the issues allowing God to use or engage in evil for good ends, and it doesn’t fit with omnipotence to say God cannot do so.

 

** And another link gone…  This is ridiculous… **

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