A Humanist Bible

Dostoyevsky says, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” This follows logically but will not follow into human action, for most humans cannot disconnect their reason from the moral law of human nature. Now, Anthony Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, has written The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. This is one more piece of evidence that we have a God-given law of human nature that we just can’t eliminate.

Dear Moral Atheist,

I wonder if your morality is the better morality. Morality for the atheist is undefined much like atheism has no real definition. Each atheist goes about living the way he sees fit. There is no atheistic code of ethics. Your morality starts from a sort of “ground up” scenario. All presupposed morality is dismissed as fabrication, and the morality that emerges is chosen by you to either benefit you or society. If it so happens to wrong someone in any way, then you consider dropping that particular moral standard or altering it so as to avoid contention. But, you can also reason that particular standard to be fair no matter what the consequences to the other person if it benefits society. Let us examine one such moral standard.

Society today decides when a proper amount of value for a human life is given to that life. The fetus has less value at a certain point than later when it has developed well enough to have obtained some human value. However, isn’t it more advantageous for the fetus to have the attribute of human worth at the moment of conception so it is less likely to be aborted? Don’t misunderstand me here. This conversation is not about abortion. It’s about morality.

Generally speaking, a higher moral standard is better than a lower moral standard. If we say there is no higher or lower standard, just a particular set of standards that I choose, then there was no real reason for World War II. Surely Hitler and the ethnic cleansing he was doing was considered wrong during that time period. And surely the way the Jews were treated could only have happened if a different set of morals were adopted by the Germans. By the same token, the married man who sleeps around with other women is considered to have lower moral standards. Be that as it may, even though we set moral standards for ourselves, we don’t keep them 100% of the time. No matter how low or high one’s morals may be, they aren’t always kept. However, keeping a higher standard is a preventative measure so that our margin of error won’t destroy us.

But, what are we really doing when we evaluate someone else’s moral standing? Is there not some imagined morality that is the best we could adopt? Are we not heading somewhere toward a better and better morality till we eventually get it right? If no perfect morality exists, then the whole idea of the evolutionary process is has lost its ground, for by it we should be continually improving and maturing. If not, what’s the point? And, what about the evolutionary imperative? It’s supposed to cause us to keep the traits that are good for reproduction and societal living. It seems, though, that we are not following the evolutionary imperative or the natural selection process when we continue the act of abortion. We don’t let the “natural” take its course. If you justify the act by saying that we are controlling overpopulation or honoring the rights of the woman, are we not overstepping our bounds here? Are we not taking on the role of evolution itself, and in a sense become impatient with it? It seems humans aren’t just content to be their own gods, but they want to control the evolutionary process as well.

The Christian’s morality is built with a “top down” scenario. We examine the morality found in the Bible, and perceive these standards are high. We may choose not to follow them, or even alter them in some way (indeed, some Christians support abortion), but the standards are always there. They are unchanging and unrelenting in their call for us to follow them. In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane. It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process. In fact, I challenge you to find a morality better than ones found in Biblical principles. (I’m not talking about the actions of individuals or groups recorded in the Bible, or orders from God confined to one point in time.) If, however, you can’t then you must logically conclude that the evolutionary process will eventually lead your morality to the become the same as the Christian standard. And should you not jump the evolutionary ship to join a more advanced one?

Have a look at atheistic morality in this video:

I Didn’t Do It!

I watched the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation today. Other than being a trip down nostalgia lane, it was thought provoking. The villain in the story, “Q”, lost no time in putting humanity on trial. He demanded that the crew of the Enterprise answer for the actions of humanity committed throughout history. Picard’s reply was, “Test us. We are not the same as them.”

Although we all want to be part of a group and have friends, in the end we don’t want to be lumped together and judged. Do you feel that you need to answer for everyone else’s actions?

The actions of humanity haven’t always been commendable throughout history: War, genocide, rape, murder, terrorism, creating the TV show Family Matters. However, humanity on trial isn’t feasible. None of us are the same. Each of us react different and have distinct moral standards. There are many folks that murder and many folks who render first aid. Movies like Surrogates and Gamer suggest that man will devolve into his basest instincts and drives if there are no consequences for his actions. An example of this is porn. Porn is a kind of surrogacy. You can’t have sex at that moment so someone else is doing it for you. The porn industry does bring in billions of dollars so it is safe to say many people are filling a void with digital pixels of sexual images. Does this mean that people will always choose basic instincts if no consequences are involved?

I won’t deny that giving in to those drives are appealing. However, if you give yourself over to them you may find that you become a slave. (In the voice of Yoda) Nothing more than a beast you may become.

Being human is more than giving in to an inner drive. We have an ability that other creatures do not have. The ability to choose. We have the ability to do good and evil, but that doesn’t mean we automatically choose evil. So, although Nero may have done terrible things, I didn’t. I chose a different path.

Let us all be judged on our own merits. (That is, if we’re ever judged by “Q”.)