REL. III- MORALITY Foundations- Part 1 MORALITY: WHY DOES IT MATTER? • MORALITY- principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. • Being able to understand and define morality (whether for oneself or for a society) is one of the most essential duties of any human being. • Morality does not have only legal implications, but social implications at the most basic level; it goes to the heart of what human beings are, what human life means, and how we can interact. • Many moral systems will disagree on how to organize truths in relation to one another, even when they agree on what truths are most important! Without further dialogue, it is impossible to long sustain a stable society (whether as an individual or as a society) without basic agreement on morality. 1) If you believe that there is true GOOD and/or EVIL, then there has to be a ‘MORAL LAW’ in the universe. 2) If there IS a moral law, you have to ask yourself-- WHAT is the ‘lawgiver’? 3) If there is NO lawgiver, then there can be no moral law; if there is no moral law, then there is no true good and evil. 4) If there is no good or evil except what we believe, then there is no way for human civilization to eradicate our species’ selfdirected ‘problems’ (poverty, racism, war, sexism, slavery, etc.) other than for the strong to compel the weak. Racism is BAD!!! Killing is BAD!!! Love is GOOD!!! • The Christian understanding of good and evil is that it is NOT the product of human projection or religious invention, but rather that it is tied to the created universe as an actual ‘law of nature’. • Like the law of gravity, it can’t be visibly seen, but its effects can. • This concept– known to theology as ‘natural law’– is the foundation for much of western civilization, going back centuries (or even millennia). “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” –Declaration of Independence WHAT DOES GOD HAVE TO DO WITH IT? • The question of God is therefore very pressing upon the question of defining morality, for this reason: if we are here through natural processes alone (no God, no higher intelligence, etc. creating us), then there IS no valid moral basis to expect others to adhere to a moral standard. • The question of God goes right to the heart of whether or not morality is real or merely an illusion; it seeks to answer the question of whether or not human ‘moral law’ is OBJECTIVE (true for everyone) or SUBJECTIVE (true only for some). “The ‘God question’ is part of our public life, and we simply can’t avoid it. Does God exist or not? Each [American] citizen answers that in his or her own way. But the issue is not theoretical. It goes to first premises. It has very practical implications, just as it did at our country’s founding...” -Archbishop Chaput, Render Unto Caesar • ‘Natural law’ also implies the involvement of human reason and thought, not the blind submission to an irrational faith. • Because it is held to be the law of ‘nature’, morality must at least be, in a clear sense and in very clear manifestations, able to be discerned and explained through the use of logic and reason. • For Christianity, it is a logical impossibility for God to be the ‘moral lawgiver’ who establishes natural law to contradict Himself through commandments which would violate human reason OR the natural law itself.