Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Morality Week: Explaining to a True Believer Why He Shouldn't Kill Grandpa
Apologist: What is the source or determinate of morality in a purely naturalistic reality? I understand that murder can be bad for society as a whole, and therefore a naturalistically adopted rule. But if benefit to the whole is the goal, shouldn’t we euthanize the elderly, physically disabled, etc? Society would benefit and thrive greatly without the burden of those who can not sexually reproduce or contribute labor or mental innovations. By what moral code do you defend the life of a person who is unable to contribute to society sexually, mentally or physically?
Grundy: The majority of civilized people defend the life of the elderly, myself included, because humanity is sympathetic to the Golden Rule. We love our grandparents and we know we will one day become old, so we want old people in general protected. I would never want the elderly euthanized because I know and care about old people and I wouldn’t want them euthanized. I know I will one day become old and don’t want to set the example that would let me be euthanized. I’ve met a bunch of people in my life and the vast majority of them are decent so it is reasonable to assume that a random stranger who is old or disabled is likewise someone decent and should not be put down. Why wouldn’t you euthanize the elderly?
Apologist: The reason I wouldn’t pull the plug is because God teaches us that all human life is intrinsically valuable. It has no relationship to what I think about the persons worth to me or others. And I would defend these by stating that I believe God is the standard of morality in the universe. So you would not rid society of the noncontributor, but under what standard could you argue to someone else who wanted to, that they shouldn’t?
Grundy: I already provided some perfectly acceptable reasons for why we shouldn’t euthanize the elderly that could easily be explained to anyone. Your single reason would never work on someone who is an atheist. So my reasons are more likely to convince the most people...assuming you find many people who don’t already have similar reasons.
I have a reason for every moral choice I make. To say that God gave you your morality is to say that there is no reason behind it. You are saying morality is completely arbitrary. I know that isn’t true for me and I doubt it is true for anyone.
Apologist: To say that God gave us morality is the only reason to embrace it. If you have to have reasons to be moral then it isn't morality. You simply weigh the pros and cons. So you would never be able to tell someone that anything is wrong, and that is reason enough not to do it. Morality is a standard of truth about what is right or wrong, not beneficial or diminutive.
Grundy: Morality is adherence to a moral code, not God. Individuals or societies can have moral codes--The Golden Rule is an example of a moral code that pops up organically in many societies and was part of my reasoning to not shut down nursing homes. This action would be wrong according to my moral code. Is it wrong to the universe’s moral code? Or God’s? I don’t believe it can be because the universe has no moral code and God may or may not if he even exists--which I think is very unlikely.
It is better to have reasons for what we do when the alternative is following arbitrary values of right and wrong. I can explain why rape and murder is wrong on a deeper level than “God made it so.” Telling someone to not do something is one thing. But when they ask why, your plan is to say "because God says so." That reasoning works for children, but not for me.Why didn’t God make rape and murder right? Did God have a reason for what is right and what is wrong? If so, then we can discover the same reason and cut out the middle deity. If not, then it is arbitrary.