I’ve been told that atheists like me, are free to do anything we want — without a moral care in the world. I can secretly rape, kill, dismember a baby and eat it, and fear no consequence whatsoever — as long as my cultural conscience permits it.
This is labelled Moral Relativism.
There would be no objective morals for me, and all moral concerns are subjective — since not seeing any evidence of the Abrahamic God makes me an atheist.
Now, with what spices shall I cook that baby…
I will attempt to dismantle this odd idea that without God, the Biblical God that is, there is no reason to be moral.
Before I continue, let me say that I believe there are objective moral values that are universally accepted as such, and which I abide to. I also trust that there is every reason in the world to believe our moral fiber has evolved like the rest of our physical and conscious human condition. Our “conscience” is the product of this.
However, I also believe there are subjective moral values, called Moral Relativism.
And get this, I believe that some objective moral values can become subjective in certain situations, without them being immoral at all. I will expound later in the second part of this mini-series.
So let’s start with some simple logic, shall we?
Here’s a proposed syllogism:
• If God is indeed the creator of Objective Moral Values, it follows that those moral values are Universally Perfect.
• If God is Perfect, he must then be the embodiment of those moral values to the ultimate Perfection.
• Therefore, if God does not conform to his perfect Objective Moral Values, it follows that he is not Perfect — or — if God IS Perfect and does not conform to his own Objective Moral Values, then these values are not objectively Universally Perfect.
This is where we need to use our “God-given” brains…
If the Bible is God’s Word, then clearly, the Creator has little trust in his own Objective Morals.
Even if not to be taken literally, the stories in the Bible do have a point in teaching lessons.
So what do we see in these “inspired” pages (2 Tim. 16:3)?
It doesn’t take long to realize that God has no problem using deception and lies to further his personal goals.
Case in point, the example of Jacob’s trickery against his aged and blind father Isaac, in order to receive Esau’s birthright blessing. Read it and tell me this is not God looking the other way knowing full well in advance the immoral lying and stealing committed there (read Genesis 27).
I’m pretty sure God could have simply made Jacob the first born without meddling with free will; as He knew everything in advance.
No less than three objective Moral laws were abused here:
— The Commandment to respect parents.
One may argue that it wasn’t God who lied and cheated. Yes, and ordering a contract on someone is not murder per se either. Fact is, God used Jacob’s objectively immoral scheme to further His Divine Will (or subjective personal preference). He could have done otherwise as he is all-powerful.
As per Biblical account, the Nation of Israel was born from a fraud and a lie to fit God’s promise to Abraham and become God’s Nation.
That is a simple fact.
There are a plethora of examples of God “using” immoral ways to further his Holy Want.
I could expound, and will when I need to in the comments.
But in the meantime, Jacob’s cheat is a good example of God not following his own Objective Morals.
All we need is one example to make this point.
The Ten Commandments
If one thing should be obvious, it’s the objective morality of the Ten Commandments.
Alas, nothing is less obvious (read along in Exodus 20).
• #1-4 addresses God’s preferences; his “wants” (moral relativism).
• #5 seems a platitude rather than an objective moral law. First, not all parents deserve respect, as some are criminally abusive. Nor should a person that has accepted Jesus is Biblically expected to respect his parent’s when it comes to choosing between family and him.
• #6-9 finally some objective moral values we all can relate to.
• #10 Thought crime. Impossible to obey to. Any hungry person looking into a restaurant knows that. This an egregious expectation imposed on imperfect humans. It’s a ruling of sure death, calling for humiliating begging of mercy. It’s the Plan. Jesus added condemnation to almost all humans in equating “looking at another” woman (or man) with lust akin to fornication already consumed.
(If anyone is interested, I sell premium eye-gouging tools).
We are allegedly born imperfect sinners, so it follows that we cannot perfectly respect most of these moral precepts, as much as we would wish to. Just like being born with a defect will hinder our good will for certain actions.
I can continue with the over 600 laws of the Mosaic Law — it boggles the mind of rational moral understanding; like forcing a raped girl to marry her rapist. Or over-punishment like stoning to death a rebellious teen. Yep. You read well.
Read the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy, then dare look at me in the eyes and tell me this is the pinnacle of moral justice.
So, Where do Objective and subjective Moral Values Come From?
As I hinted above, like many I contend that our moral values, even the objective ones, are the fruit of our social evolution. For example, slavery — the fact of “owning” another human — has only recently been promoted to an objective immoral value. On the other hand, the Bible not only condones slavery, but God legislated it!
Even more recently for example — today, we would be appalled to see a parent smoke in the face of her/his child. Why? Because we are still evolving. We learn things as we go.
We adapt our thoughts to question what is wrong for our species. Science is a main factor in discovering what is toxic and beneficial to us. It’s still about survival, but with an evolved right supramarginal gyrus in our brain’s parietal lobe, that has sharpened our capacity for empathy in time.
New Testament Morals
There are many arguments to be made against God being the author of Objective Moral values.
Jesus himself replaced the 10 commandments with 2 more powerful ones in Matthew 22:37-40:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
#1 is a subjective moral value.
#2 is an objective moral value.
For those who think the NT presents a much nicer God, it is noteworthy that in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus lauds his Father’s Mosaic Law as most righteous. Although he came to accomplish the Law, he still boasted its values.
Granted, the second Commandment is the essence of the Golden Rule, which Jesus did remind us of, although already offered before him by others, like Confucius about 600 years before him. Indeed, this is the fiber of Objective Moral Values.
Here is my claim, and I’m far from being the one that figured this out:
Every Moral Value, whether Objective or Relative/subjective, is based in rational behaviour and the expectation of social consequences.
It is rational to be objectively moral. It obeys a natural need for survival now powered with empathy.
I will expound on this aspect in the 2nd part of this blog. (I need time for these.)
So — I will stop Part One here. Thank you for reading.
* Please watch this video that offers solid food for thought. Thank you Scott Clifton for this.