I read this article a couple of days ago and to be honest it irritated me a tad. Its basic argument is that Christianity provides a satisfactory conclusion as to why we ‘should’ be ethical unlike any other rationale for ethical behavior. To quote:
“Christianity provides a grand narrative in which the chain of “whys” does reach a satisfactory end”.
I may be missing something but the only end in Christianity I can see is because god said so and you’ll burn if ya don’t obey. Maybe that’s why ethics and religions don’t match…why child abuse, torture, war etc are done in the name of religions.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I am not specifically knocking Christianity but I am saying that for me at least, intimidation has never been a convincing argument.
The final line though made me put fingers to keyboard:
“Those who disagree with Christian ethics, then, can present their arguments but only after they have a firm reason why we ought to be ethical at all.”
See that line really gets me. It’s as if Christians themselves are saying if we chuck out theology we may as well chuck out ethics too. Scary stuff!
Well personally I have a different view so how about this:
When I was a child I was hit very hard.
Hurt felt bad.
I didn’t like feeling bad.
When I looked into the eyes of my fellow being I saw my own emotions reflected there.
So I knew that if I hit you, you too would feel bad.
Feeling bad sucked.
It would suck for you too.
So I wouldn’t do that.
What I put out I’ll get back. This is the very essence of all life; human and non-human, in the very planet herself. Sow discord, violence, destruction get discord, violence and destruction.
If I behave ethically and you behave ethically we will both flourish. For me that is a “satisfactory end”.
Of course someone might say this saying itself comes from Christianity and its there too isn’t it. What we sow we reap. It is in most theologies and existed pretty much before them all. Socrates had a beautiful way of reasoning through ethics
I’ve raised my son with strong ethics, no specific religious dogma but with a strong base in the understanding of human psychology. And I am a humanist. I suppose this conflict’s with Christianity because it starts on the perspective that the human is inherently good rather than born in sin. Even those Christians who seem to have dumped the ‘born in sin’ notion still hold to the sinfulness of man. I do not.
So for example, when my son at four was mean to his cousin I showed him a cup of water. I explained this cup represented his cousin at birth, filled with the goodness and excitement of being alive. And each time he said something mean…whoops…a little water, a little of that good feeling would spill from the cup and next time a little more and next time…
And I asked him how would she feel, how would she cope when there was not much water left? He was only four but he got it and he gets it still.
Do people truly need any religious dogma to be convinced of moral; of ethical behavior? I don’t think so. Not the ethics that count anyway…the same ones that Jesus himself talked of like many before and many after him in many different cultures.
We were all children once. We know that when we act unethically it harms as much inwards as it does outwards.
It seems to me that people over the whole of history are drawn to ethical behavior because we inherently strive toward that which creates growth. We aim, like a new seedling to the light.
Indeed I will go further and say that unethical behavior is the direct result of conditioning by others and the twists this can create in the human psyche (bar of course that tiny percentage). Religion can be a healing tool but it is one of many and certainly not the solution to unethical behaviour.
Nope, I don’t reckon we need Christianity to justify ethical behaviour. If there is one thing the majority of the human race have in common its the desire for love and the avoidance of pain neither of which are conducive to unethical behaviour.
Curious what ya think…cheers…Leesa