Daily Archives: March 24, 2009
Daniel Florien of Unreasonable Faith denies a charge I leveled at him: that his morals come from the Bible, same as mine. Where do his morals come from?
I get my morals from myself and my society. I treat others like I want to be treated, because that’s how I want others to treat me. I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from. I don’t murder because I don’t particularly want to be murdered. And so on. (emphasis added)
In his book He is There and He is not Silent, Francis Schaeffer spends a chapter on this sort of mentality. The Greek philosophers tried to discover where morals come from, and one of their hypotheses was the polis, or city. For the Greek philosopher, the polis represented more than the physical city; it represented the entire social structure as well. The philosophers eventually rejected that notion, but it seems that modern thinkers are much more enlightened than the ancient Greeks, because the idea of morals stemming from the polis is back among atheists.
Rather than morality ruling society, society rules morality. It reduces morality to a majority vote. But morality is not, nor ever will be, a majority vote. The Greeks knew that, which is why they rejected the idea that the polis is the source of morality. Why don’t modern atheists see the same thing?
So is the self the source of morals? The Bible seems to support the notion that morality is the heart of people (Jer 31:33). The problem that we encounter when we make self the source of morals can be summed up by taking Florien’s expercise a step further.
He doesn’t steal or murder because he doesn’t want someone to steal from him or murder him. Fair enough. But what if he doesn’t mind it when his girlfriend cheats on him? Is it then acceptable for him to cheat on his girlfriend because it’s okay with him if she does the same? Well, I doubt that Mr. Florien’s girlfriend would agree (if he has one).
We can agree that the self may contain some morals. But it isn’t a perfect source for morality, as I’ve demonstrated above. There has to be some other source, some factor that guides our morality, a source that is perfect. We instinctively know that this source exists, somewhere. It isn’t the self, because the self is not perfect. It isn’t the polis, because that would reduce morality to a majority vote of various imperfect selves.
So what is that elusive source of morality that we all know exists? It must exist outside of self and outside of the polis, since it guides the actions of both rather than the other way around. I submit that that source is God, and that Mr. Florien (along with his atheist friends kind enough to visit my humble blog) draws his morality from God whether he knows it or not.