I came across a piece of information today that struck my philosophical side. It’s a Wikipedia entry on “Moral Objectivism.” And it started me thinking.
I follow a religion that is filled with absolutes. I consider myself a Christian–at least, that is the way I was raised. In the Christian Bible, there are ten simple rules which are ABSOLUTE. These, of course, are the “Ten Commandments.” Now, it’s interesting to point out that these laws were given to the Jews as Absolute Commandments … rules which were to be obeyed at all times and in every way throughout a human being’s lifetime. If any one of these rules is broken–EVER–from the time a person’s born until that person dies, his or her eternal spirit is condemned to spend eternity suffering in a place of horrible torment. These laws are absolutely given, absolutely enforced … and absolutely impossible to obey every day for the entirety of a human life! In other words, for the believer in Jesus Christ, “Moral Objectivism” literally means “If you’re born, you are damned to eternity in hellfire” and there’s just no way out of it–at least, not unless you become a Christian and get “Saved” from the flames, etc…. This was my original exposure to “Moral Objectivism.”
Which is part of the reason so many people choose to REJECT Moral Objectivism entirely. The bottom line seems to be, that if, in fact, there are truly any absolutes in Moral reasoning, then the practitioners of some one religion is going to go to some form of Paradise, and everyone else is going to burn. Now, this could be Christianity; or it could be Hinduism, or Paganism, or Buddhism, or Zen, or Mormonism, of the Moonies, or Opus Dei, or even the “First Preslyterian Church of Elvis the Divine” for all we know! And, in fact, this line of reasoning has lead to quite a few wars; even today, there are nut cases who strap on bombs and grenades in order to break my aforementioned Commandments in subservience to a twisted form of somebody else’s Moral Absolutism.
BULLSHIT! There CANNOT be more than one “ABSOLUTE” Right-and-Wrong. If, in fact, there are any absolutes at all, say the Moral Relativists, then there can only be ONE set of “Right-and-Wrong” for EVERYBODY–EVERYWHERE. And there obviously isn’t. (They say.)
What a pickle.
On one hand, we seem to know “just by instinct” that some things are Wrong. And yet, the next thing we know, there’s some [insert your own demeaning slang here] person doing Exactly what we instinctively Know is wrong. How can They know right from wrong, when they don’t even know that [insert your own taboo here] is wrong! (Add lots of exclamations for emphasis….)
Well, I’ll try to explain it all. The truth just got a whole lot more complicated. Point of fact, none of us truly know right from wrong to begin with. And if we did, we’d probably find out to our horror that every damn one of us is WRONG!!! If you happen to follow the Christian doctrine, like I do, you’ll quickly find out that no matter what you think, you’ve already done it wrong, and it’s a serious enough mistake that no other consideration matters. Absolute truth means absolute damnation, and it makes no difference whether I try to be morally wright or turn to the foulest of evil. Damned is damned, end of argument.
Christanity is not alone in this “Bang! You’re damned” approach to winning converts, either. I think most other religions have some similar set of “Absolute” truths that can only be relieved by serving the tenants of the faith obediently until salvation, release, or some sort of “Nirvana” is achieved.
So as human beings, we find ourselves left in a world in which there are indeed “Absolute” right and moral actions; we just can’t achieve them. That forces those who wish to embrace the ideals of all people to reject absolute truths by the very principle of it. Because unless group “A” believes in the same standards of right and wrong as group “B”, we cannot entertain Moral Objectivism without condemning the other group. I disagree. I say you CAN embrace the other group if you are willing to accept that it is your own beliefs that fall outside the “absolute right.” As a Christian, I am well aware how hard it is not to do or say anything that my God told me not to do or say. I CAN’T. But, I CAN try to love my fellow person. I can do that. And I won’t try to reject the idea that some things are just “Right” whether I think they should ought to be or not. We are still responsible for the consequences of our actions, objective, relative or otherwise.
I not only throw out the baby with the bathwater in this case, I throw out the entire concept of this acid wash reasoning. “Morals” can, are, and must be the domain of individual and personal responsibility. Because we are a race of “Sinners” as it were, we have no foundation to hold others accountable for what we ourselves deem to be “Moral”. Collectively, and individually, we are immoral beings, that’s just all there is to it. “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” reads a passage in the Christan Bible. Each and every one has sinned, will sin, and our perceptions and morals are twisted by sin for as long as we continue to be human. “Morals” must never be used as a criteria to judge a Human being. The Christian God has already done that … and every last one of us born of human fathers has failed that test forever.
The conflict is absolute. Morals cannot be objectively judged by human beings. What’s more, the idea of morals must never be fully rejected by a human being! We NEED our morals to help guide us to do what is (mostly) right to one another! But for objective, multi-cultural and cross-class relationships, we must use other means to judge the goodness or badness of individual actions. Absolute wrong is absolutely useless. My morals can never be yours or anyone else’s to judge.
And with that, I wash my hands of “Moral Objectivism” versus “Moral Relativism.” These ethics cannot function in a polytheistic or multinational environment. We have reached a threshold in which we must choose an alternative means for building the standards of our society. Moral anything will no longer cut it.
SASS has spoken.