Daily Archives: June 14, 2008

Objective Morality

This post from Odder Stories defines “religious morality” this way:

  • That morality is divinely inspired or divinely ‘given’ to us by God. Occasionally this is implied to be directly instilled in every human via the conscience, but more often it involves morality being codified in something like the Bible.
  • That their particular brand of morality is absolute, objectively true and applies everywhere, in every circumstance.
  • That morality exists independently of human thought or action.
  • That morality is not bound in any way to utility. In other words, it’s enough that God or the Bible says that something is wrong; there doesn’t have to be any clear reason as to why.

This is almost accurate. Consider the first point. The Bible doesn’t codify morality for us that, as in the second point, “applies everywhere, in every circumstance.” Paul Copan, in “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster,” from the latest volume of Philosophia Christi (vol. 10, #1), argues that the morality codified for us in the Bible only applies to the ancient Israelites. The Mosaic law points to a higher standard of morality, but is not that standard.

Jesus was the end of the Law (Rom 10:4). That which was written the Law is for instruction (Rom 15:4; cf. 1 Cor 10:11 and Gal 3:23-24). By the prophet Jeremiah, God predicted a better day, which has now come:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:33)

So the Bible isn’t our source of morality–God has written it on our hearts. That is not to say that we are done with the Mosaic law altogether, for it still exists for instruction. This way, we have an objective, absolutely true sourcebook for when our feelings fail us.

It follows naturally that the morality exists independently of human thought and action.

Finally, the way that Vitaminbook phrases the fourth point makes us sound like cultists. In fact, it isn’t as bad as that, provided that one accepts two points. First, that God is Creator and therefore Lawgiver. Second, that as Creator, he would know better than us what is and is not harmful to us.

I’m sure that VB is primarily referring to something that is near and dear to his own heart, Leviticus 18:22. The reasoning behind that goes back to Genesis 2:18-24, an account which is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:1-12. Marriage is between one man and one woman, according to Genesis and Christ. Therefore, it is an abomination to the Lord for two men or two women to lie together.

That rule doesn’t seem arbitrary to me; it seems as though there is a clear reason why this rule is in place. The only problem is whether someone accepts the authority of God or not.