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Friday, June 18. 2010
I like the idea of "truth without value." How come it took me this long to find that concept? AVI's final paragraph of The Morality of Nonbelievers:
I agree with everything AVI says, and I feel motivated to think harder about things which affect me which have truth but little value.
Lux et Veritas, as they say in Rome. They used to say it in New Haven, too.
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This is the core of C.S. Lewis's "The Abolition of Man."
OK, now I see AVI was already there. Here's what I posted:
AVI has hit on the brilliance of "The Abolition of Man." If there's no standard, then there's no standard. If it's not meaningful to say one action is right and another wrong, then it's also not meaningful to say one idea is meaningful and another not. When we deny meaning we saw off the limb we're sitting on.
One theory is more consistent than another? Who says consistency is admirable? One produces more human happiness? Who says happiness is an important goal? It's not as though moral relativists had to replace an outmoded moral scheme with a shiny new one. If they're to make any sense at all, they've got to replace it with a howling emptiness. Once they do that, why would they command anyone's attention for the accidental thoughts they happened to be experiencing in a meaningless world?
As Parker Posey said to Steven Spielberg, "Thanks! Give me a job!"
So when Christian morality was used in the past to condone slavery, or misogyny, or persecution of Jews, or persecution of "witches", etc...., those were just minor flaws in the moral code of the Christians of the time?
What changed the interpretation of the scripture?
The biblical text remains the same, what forced the change to the moral code?
How did you evolve to your present moral standard?
Mitchel44: All systems of morality have been used by imperfect people at all times to condone horrors, and always will be. That's a reflection on imperfect people rather than on the source of morality. I don't think people (including myself) have "evolved" to a moral standard from a past in which they were less moral. I do think there's a moral standard to which they should be held, and against which they always have been found wanting and always will be. From your comment, it seems you do, too. You also, I'm guessing, believe that the weird distortion that passes for Christianity among most imperfect people at most times falls short of a moral standard. There again, your approach suggests that you think there's a higher moral standard against which a flawed or primitive religion can be judged. But where does it come from?
Perspectives are bound to shift in Christian thinking, and this constitutes a problem only if you have a monolithic, unbending perspective on Scripture itself. My thinking is the Bible was written to withstand the trials of history and culture, as well as to endure repeated translation and interpretation, none of which can be done successfully without the intervention of the Holy Spirit. It's not a conventional manual. It is, by design, intended to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to diverse and divergent peoples across history. It functions within a multiplicity of denominations as well, for 'if all parts of the body were an eye, where would the sense of smell be?'. An eye doesn't need the same care as an ass...the Bible meets the needs of the each perspective, that of an eye and that of an ass. People think it's a club you swing around your head...it's God's Word.
No Truth. No God. Everything under the sun is meaningless.
God, the Author of Truth, bestows meaning.
One of me wives use ta often go side ways with moral relativity when seeking some certainty, whether to make off with a bloke's woman or just steal his stuff.
She'd often settle her inner conflict by restating one her surest truisms; "We must give him the benefit of the doubt."
(Always with that chicklette it were we when action involved giveaway.)
Me finally replied after several oratories involving benefit of her doubts that, "There is no benefit in doubt, Darling. Yall can have the stuff and i'll take his old hide."
Then doubt left her and she were certain that, "Yall certainly will not!"
Ist das nicht lügnerin paradoxie in der Bewertung von Gütern?
I guess this is where my comprehension breaks down.
Most acknowledge that the biblical interpretation and moral code espoused by Christians changes over time, yet most profess certainty in the concept and cleave to the current understanding and values in use at this time. I can't make that connection.
Does it mean that previous generations of Christians, who honestly held what are now considered to be immoral beliefs and lived by those beliefs were therefore wrong and will be denied the kingdom of heaven? Or is there a sliding scale of morally acceptable behaviour to gain entry? Based on what era you lived in? As in, free Roman Christians slave-owners who encouraged their Christian slave brethren to accept their lot in life get a pass, because they were not morally aware that slavery was wrong.
I don't know about the existence of a "higher moral standard", suffice to say that I think man has become more moral over time. Perhaps a "swarm" effect, in the same way that much of modern progress was powered by the increased exchange of ideas and knowledge.
I'd say men were more moral in very many ways in the past, and more moral in many other ways in the present. Each age has its special achievements and weaknesses. There is behavior that's commonplace today that would have resulted in general revilement in the ancient world, and vice versa. In both cases, we're measuring an age's behavior against a standard that's not inherent entirely in either age. Otherwise all we really could do is "root for the home team," i.e., pat ourselves on the back because whatever happens to be in fashion today is better than all that old stuff. But the standard by which we prefer today's moral achievements over that of the ancients is what? Ditto for die-hard nostalgic types: by what standard do they assert that the oldtimers were more moral than "these kids today"? Once you drop the idea of a standard that transcends any particular generation or fashion, all you have left is people who happen to prefer one thing or another. When they shout at each other about which is best, it's empty noise.
Nothing about that is an excuse for any age to conclude that it has the 100% correct take on Christianity. Each age probably gets a different part of it more right than other ages do. It's a good idea to look back to see what errors already have been made, so as to avoid making them again, and which achievements made have been lost, so as to bring them back.
That one man sees a ceiling and another sees a floor does not negate the fact of the structure that exists between them.
Men push ideas into the Bible and men pull ideas from the Bible, the proper goal though is to fully divine God's intent in the Word, but while man is imperfect so is his ability to faithfully reason through to God's intent. We will be perfected as God ordains.
Would a primitive tribe from Papua, New Guinea receive the story of the prodigal son in the same way as someone from Hartford, Connecticut? The Truth of God's Revelation is one Truth, but our attempts to apprehend that Truth are limited by our perspective. With Christ as the Cornerstone, we will come to a proper understanding in God's time. Until then we are saved by faith alone.
Christ died on the cross and paid the price for our sins by His sacrifice. To be redeemed by Christ is to be given access to a loving Father, and we are blameless in His sight. That is worth more than gold. He is risen!
mitchel44, I can make it much simpler. All those immoral things you accuse Christians of engaging in - with considerable justice, BTW - what is your basis for thinking them immoral? My contention is that it's can't be turtles all the way down - without something beyond mankind as a measuring stick, your accusation cannot rise to the level of accurate or inaccurate. It has no meaning. A developing, flexible morality is certainly a blow to theistic moralities - but it is a death knell to all others.