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It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Religious Moral/Ethical Decision Making

Remember discussing moral/ethical decision making? I tried to fit George's moral/ethical decision making process into my 3 step process:
  1. Assert the definitions of "good" and "bad".
  2. Have a methodology for deciding on how to act.
  3. The result(s) by definition are what is "right" and/or "wrong".
So, I asked if this was a fair fit of his beliefs:
  1. What is “good” and/or “bad” is declared to be what God say via the Bible; AND
  2. Given God is the ultimate authority doing what he says one ought to do, acting to bring about “good” as defined by him, and/or acting to reduce the “bad” as defined by him; AND
  3. Determines a “right” or “wrong” act.
( I have left in my poor grammar! Wink! )
He said yes.

Here are some important points in this for me:
  • The Bible is completely true.
  • The Bible is prescriptive, ie. it has rules one ought to follow.
  • God is the ultimate authority and therefore ought to be followed.
George pointed out (my interpretation and inference in a follow up discussion) that because God is good, perfect, and infinite in ability, that makes him the ultimate authority and makes sense to follow his rules. He also pointed out that God's rules are given in the Bible. Therefore, the Bible must be the word of God and also perfect.

Of course there is also one (other) vital point:
  • One ought to follow any/all of God's rules.
This implies that George -- if sufficiently convinced -- would follow any commandment given to him by God, even ones that would seem to me to be immoral/unethical. Of course, given he believes God is good, I think he believes that such a thing -- such as killing a baby -- would not really happen. But theoretically he would do so if commanded. This is unconfirmed and I have requested if this is so. Stay tuned!

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