Sunday, August 15, 2010

L 2.9

Loftus quotes Louis P. Pojman in saying that "To have the benefits of the moral life-friendship, mutual love, inner peace, moral pride or satisfaction...Character counts". (p. 43)

First, there is no reason why those alleged benefits are inextricably tied to conducting a moral life. Sometimes, acting in a moral manner could result in the exact opposite of those outcomes, even to the detriment of the self. Second, the so called benefits listed are merely coincidental outcomes. The main reason for acting in a moral manner is not to receive those benefits but, because acting morally is right in and of itself regardless of any consequent gains. Otherwise, it’s not even morality. It’s a behavior based on reciprocation. It could even be a sort of ultimatum which would not fall under the definition of morality.

This kind of thinking underscores the problems of attempting to invent an ethic without a true foundation. Whose character counts? People face adversity in differing ways. People will invariably have different opinions on the degree to which character counts when faced with conflicting perspectives. If morality is benefit based, who gets to decide which benefits take precedent? These are the kinds of moral questions facing a non-theist.

These problems aren’t even the worst of the situation for the non-theist. Ravi Zacharias notes that "Indeed, when atheism has worked its way into violence and sensuality, it was the logical outworking of many tenets of the atheistic worldview, which offer no foundation for human dignity or human rights." (p. 24) So, not only is non-theist ethic unable to guarantee consistent morally good results, it can even be used to sanction human rights violations. The despot’s violence against the few is justified for what he sees as the greater good that so many secularists clamor for.

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