Monday, August 9, 2010

L 2.3

"The foundations of Christian morality are not superior ones to atheistic morality, based upon Christian presumptions". (p. 40) Loftus appeals to the "common sense of morality" which has also been expressed as common standards of social decency as a superior alternative to morals based on Christian beliefs.

Loftus begins to outline his case by comparing the two ethics. Basically, he is comparing Christian ethics to nothing. There are no such things as “atheistic morality”, “common sense of morality” or common standards of social decency. No atheists are going to be able to consistently define mores into a ubiquitous ethic. It’s more accurate to say there are “atheistic moralities” which necessitates that he single out which one he is using as a comparison. That would end up being a pointless exercise anyway because no atheist ethic has any sway over any others. Since humanism is grounded in human needs and all people have different needs, this is a wellspring for conflict as opposed to conflict resolution. Confirmation of this phenomenon is in the history of political socialism. There are quite a few different varieties and each has been described as an outworking of secular ethics. Socialists have disagreed with each other on how to implement socialism based on their ethical preference.

In Christianity, Enlightenment liberalism, and the Quest for Freedom, Kenneth Grasso makes the accurate observation that what Enlightenment liberalism took from Christianity was the centuries-old foundational ideology of freedom based on the worth of the individual. What the secular philosophers did not retain from Christianity was the source of that value; man’s relationship with the sovereign creator. Affirming Spinoza’s quote “nature abhors a vacuum”, after man excommunicated and banished God from authority, man filled the void with himself. It is from this zeitgeist that we see the outworking of each man inventing his own path. Consequently, it should be neither surprising nor controversial that there would be little to no consensus on what path to take. Thus, any appeal to a secular standard of human conduct amounts to little more than aether.

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