Good and Bad

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

We’ve been watching Falcon and the Winter Soldier. No spoilers, I promise. My daughter is having a really hard time following it, which is interesting on its own, considering she had no issues with WandaVision.

Her biggest problem, besides the sheer quantity of military, political, and racism language; is figuring out who the bad characters are.

Television, books, and movies normally have very well defined good and bad characters. She understands the twist baddie, but this show’s characters are all so ambiguously bad that it’s hard to tell.

Even the main characters do some bad and dumb things.

I’ve been trying to explain to her that in real life, bad or good isn’t what you are, but what you do. We’ll get to how it can be hard to tell the difference later, but right now she needs to understand that its not an innate state of being. No one is Good and no one is Bad. We are defined by our actions.

It’s important to me that my kids understand the difference both for themselves and for others. Because once you decide people are one way or another you put them in a box and start to paint their actions based off of your preconceptions. It leads to hero worship and accepting bad things because someone is good.

It’s a hard concept, but we have a lifetime to discuss it.

Stay safe, and be kind,

Éric

Morality Without God

I came across an argument on the internet the other day that stated that Morals could not exist without a God.

The idea being that Morality is intrinsically tied to Religion because of the authority of God.

I’m not going to argue the benefits of religion, atheism, or anything in between. Let’s stick to morals.

Merriam-Webster defines Morality as, “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior” and defines ethics as, “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”

There is also the philosophical discipline of Ethics witch, “deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior: a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong”

It’s extremely easy to get lost in a doctorate level of research into Ethics and Moral Reasoning. Let’s stick to a derivative definition that says Morality is the beliefs about what is right and wrong and Ethics are the rules around right and wrong.

Where do morals come from?

  • If morality is the purview of God than it should be unchanging and perfect.
  • If it’s the purview of man, morality is in constant flux.

One of the statements above is false.

Yep. Good job, it’s the first one. I don’t care what your stance on God is, humanity is flawed and it’s humanity that interprets God’s theoretical Morality.

It could even be argued that the changes in what we see as Right and Wrong are due to our own faults and not God’s.

If we take God out of the equation we have to assume that either Morals have a evolutionary survival benefit, or a societal benefit.

So that means that Morals come from one of two places:

  • Humanities interpretation of God’s morals, or
  • Humanities ideals on what is best for ourselves and each other

Either way Morality is the domain of humanity. Either we decide for ourselves or interpret God, the end is the same; Humanity chooses.

Aren’t Morals set in Stone?

No, and consider yourself lucky. The morals of the past included all kinds of crazy things. At several points in history it was considered Right to own people. It was proper to cut off genitals to protect royalty. In the days of the Witch Hunts you could be killed for being single and attractive.

Morals vary from society to society. What is considered Right for some is considered disgusting by others. We don’t eat Cats, Dogs, or Horses but in some societies that is considered ok. Stop to think logically and figure out why a Cat or Dog is morally superior to a chicken, pig, or cow.

But everyone in my society has the same morals

Nope! Ask a friend who’s a proud vegetarian and then go talk to someone who’s a proud carnivore and tell me everyone in your society has the same morals.

Conclusion

Morals can exist without God. It’s up to us to think about what is Right and Wrong and not just accept what someone else says.

Doubt and critical thinking are the best friends of Morals. Always think how your actions affect others and how they affect the world.

If we all do this we’ll live on a much better planet.

What are your thoughts of Morality?

Éric