C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Creationist, Atheist, and Morality

Morality – “conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.”
Moral – “of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong”

It has been noted in some atheist’s circles that they feel Christians promote themselves as “morally superior (maybe not perfect, but certainly better) to atheists” simply because they are a Christians.

For the moment I would like to discuss the idea of morality. Let it be noted that this particular argument will not be for/against any, but basically my thoughts of what I perceive of the issue. Feel free to share your thoughts, in good taste, and show where you agree or disagree with my view.

Two stipulations are that we are discussing morality in America and the Christian God in this context and not the other gods of cults, etc.

First, I would like to remove names and place people into three basic groups.
Group 1 = those that do not believe in God.
Group 2 = those that believe in a God, but do not serve him.
Group 3 = those that believe in a God, and do strive to serve him.

Second, please ask yourself into which group you fall so that we may proceed. There is no need to lie to yourself, for no one else will know, if you have a hard time choosing between Group 2 and Group 3. Either you do or you don’t strive to serve God. This is not a call to perfection. If you go through life doing what you like but not really wanting to hurt anyone else choose Group 2, if you go through life reading, studying, and trying to follow what is laid out in scripture choose Group 3. Group 1 is obvious.

Thirdly, please ask yourself most likely where did your thoughts of morality most likely arrive from. Did it come from your own reading or did it come from your friends, parents, family (grandparents, etc.), teachers (school or church), church (pastors, etc.), society programs (YMCA, etc.), etc.?

Most likely we have all been given the same (or mighty close) general rules when it comes to morality: don’t lie, cheat, or steal; don’t hurt or kill someone; don’t abuse children; don’t have sex with other people’s spouses. Sure there are some varied states such as sex before marriage, but more is in common than not.

The “golden rule” known as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” seems to appear in all three Groups above, which in most cases is how one judges morality, and how they perceive themselves as a “good person”. In the groups above we find that people compare themselves to other people to distinguish how they find themselves more or less moral than another; therefore the idea of morality becomes an individual one.

By this I mean one group cannot conclude that all in another group is totally immoral or that they personally are more moral than an entire group. Such blanket statements are not made by wisdom, but by pride.

Morality in a person can and does occur with or without a conversion to salvation. For one, God (although some deny) has said that he has given us all a conscience [John 1:9], which can be seared [1 Timothy 4:2]. When one does something against morality, they feel guilty, but over time the more one does against their conscience the less they feel guilty. This is not the same as being convicted by the Holy Spirit. This is a built in process we are born with. If not, mankind would have long ago killed each other off along with creation itself. [Genesis 6:5]

[Case 1] In the mindset of all groups, it seems obvious that Group 3 should be the MOST moral. By this I mean they claim there is a God, they claim they have trusted in Christ and that he has changed them. They claim they have the Book which gives instructions on how to live right and be moral. For this reason they are easy targets for Group 1 and 2, for it is almost as if they wait in the gap for every moment to yell, “Hypocrite” when one from Group 3 falls short of morality. It is sad, but the failures of Group 3 lead to Group 1 and 2 not wanting to come over to Group 3.

[Case 2] In like manner, Group 3 proudly explains how moral they are since they follow the Book and are saved, and claim that Group 2 is only partial moral and Group 1 is immoral to the core.

Is either case real?

In reality, yes Group 3 should be acting morally superior to Group 1 and 2. Not simply because they claim to be a Christian, but because they do have a God they love and should have a desire to follow what is in his Book. Contained in the Book is the understanding that morality lies within the individual concerning obedience to the law (God’s law which covers more and may vary from man’s law) both physically and mentally. One in Group 3 realizes that God judges both the act and the motive. Group 3 should also realize that others are not the standard, but Christ is. Group 3 should not be parading around as if they have obtained for they believe it is not them but Christ which is doing the good through them and that they are very capable of immoral acts for their flesh is still corrupt and in it dwells no good thing [Romans 7:18]. Group 3 should expect Group 1 and 2 to be less biblically moral, because Group 2, although believe there is a God, they do not take time to study the Book nor live over the morality set by society, and Group 1 denies such a God and therefore denies the authority of the rules in the Book. Group 3 should have a more moral lifestyle than Group 1 and 2 for the simply fact they are to obey the laws of society and the laws of God laid out in his Book.

In reality, Group 1 and 2 will most likely be less moral than Group 3 for the mere fact that although they may follow the laws of society, the concepts and teachings of Christ found in the Book are most likely not considered or looked at. An example is sex before marriage. All of Group 3, if honest, will have to say this is immoral according to God and the Book. Whereas individuals within Group 1 and 2 may say it is bad or it is okay based on individual preference or teaching and Group 2 may site the Book, but Group 1 would not.

I apologize. At the start I did not realize that this would linger on so long.

I will close with this thought.

Although we can look at Groups and say what we believe should be the norm, the issue of morality lies in the actions of each individual person. Evidence shows that individuals in Group 1, 2, and 3 can lie, cheat, still, adultery, abuse kids, etc., etc. etc. As I stated before, it should be that Group 3 is more moral than Group 1 and 2, and Group 1 and 2 should be able to see such without crying “Hypocrite”, but Group 3 should remember that it is Christ working in them and reframe from saying “all are immoral but me.” Let it be noted that there are those in Group 1 which are more moral than some which profess Group 2 and 3 at times.

One difference should be noted and it was taught well in a movie called Time Changers. Morality is a great thing and without it mankind could not survive. Where morality comes from is what separates one from another. If morality is simply of man, then it is based on what man sees as right and wrong and can vary from person to person. If morality is based on God and his Book then it is fixed upon what he has said regardless of whether man agrees or disagrees with it.

Group 1 – I ask you to remain as moral as you can for the sake of yourself and others. I would also ask that you consider acknowledging God and trusting in Christ, his son.

Group 2 – I ask you to live that which you profess. If you believe in God then obey his Book, trust in Christ if you have not, and live a life pleasing to God.

Group 3 – I ask you to live a life that Group 1 and 2 would see Christ in you and desire to know him. Don’t let your testimony be as one that pushes them away from God.

Morality: What is the standard and where do you see yourself?

8 comments:

The Alpha said...

I agree that neither group you mentioned is immune from committing acts such as stealing, lieing, cheating, etc. I think morality is a reflection of strength of character rather than who or what someone believes in. Even some people that believe in God, the Bible, etc fall short of their own beliefs and expectations. Atheists are not immune to immune to falling short of their own beliefs either.

I do, however, disagree with the assertion that morality or conscience is a God given property because I see no evidence to support this. Chimpanzees will drown trying to save other chimps and rhesus monkeys will literally starve themselves for days rather than cause pain to another monkey to receive food. Empathy, recognizing the pain in other conscious animals, is not something limited to humans.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Thanks again for visiting the alpha.

I agree that character does play a role in morality of people. But consider if one thinks morality is only made by man, then it is not necessarliy an absolute right or wrong. What is moral or immoral to one may be different than another, as in the example of sex before marriage, it then becomes only personal preference. To one it is wrong, to the other it is not, and neither can say to the other, "you are wrong", for it is based only on peronsal thought.

Take the belief in God and believe that he indeed has laid out absolute right and wrong in a book that we can read, then it is no more by personal perference, nor simply based on man's idea of what is right or wrong. The athority then is God and not man. There then lies no variance in what one believes to be right and wrong, but either obedience or disobedience to God himself and what he has said. Any (honest) one that claims to follow God would find it difficult to claim, "God is wrong."

As for the Chimpanzees and monkeys you mentioned, to me, there is no wonder in why they would do as such. For the same Creator that has created man has also created the animals.

Yet God goes much futher in morality with man than that of empathy.

Christian morality is far higher than society morality, meaning the standard placed on it by God himself. As mentioned God's morality no person can follow perfectly, but one, which was Christ Jesus, the son of God. This is why God loved mankind enough to send his son to die for us to be forgiven and cleansed of our failures in morality (sin).

Whereas society's morality would see a person giving lost of money to a charity as good, God's morality would only see it as good if the conscience of the man was completely void of any personal gain in any respect, including pride, and that total faith is placed in God.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that, where Chrisitian's moraliy involves first in that it is obedience to God, whereas an atheist, since one does not believe in God, must concern self, in that they do not want something done to themselves so they do not do it to someone else. Almost like karma (the idea that one receives good or bad by doing good or bad to others).

Where Christians and atheist differ with "falling short" is that a Christian claims Christ, whom lived perfect and died in our sted, to ask forgiveness and keeps us in fellowship with God, where an atheist feels they have no need of a Savior, for they deny a God to have fellowship with does not exist.

The Alpha said...

I think that while society may agree on some general moral questions, morality is subjective and changing to meet the ever changing societal needs. Does this mean that there will be variances in opinion over time? Yes. I see this as a strength rather than a weakness. Rather than unquestioningly maintaining that our direction is right in the midst of driving off a cliff, we should constantly subject our concepts of morality to critical examination and perhaps examine different routes.

I mentioned chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys only to illustrate that humans are not special or superior with regards to qualities we deem to be moral. Moral guidelines don't appear to be something implanted in the hearts of man by a supernatural deity, but rather something that naturally occurs in one form or another throughout the rest of the animal kingdom.

I think the belief that Christian morality is higher than societal morality is subjective. I personally believe the Christian view of homosexuality isn't moral and causes real-world harm. It's also arguable whether or not Christian morality supports the idea of self-less giving. Heaven appears to be the reward in the Christian doctrine. Heaven is a personal gain for the believer's actions.

Lastly, I think lacking a belief in an after-life ensures a realization that our actions in this world have consequences. Forgiveness for my actions is not assured so I shouldn't rely on a blanket forgiveness for my actions. I should conduct myself in a manner that ensures I take responsibility for my actions the first time around rather than relying on a forgiveness I'm not assured of.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

the alpha,

I would like to key in on a few comments that you left:

[1] As we disagree, the argument stems from the same thought. You deny a Creator by saying, "Moral guidelines don't appear to be something implanted in the hearts of man by a supernatural deity, but rather something that naturally occurs in one form or another throughout the rest of the animal kingdom.", whereas I hold it to show that indeed a Creator has created all his creation with such.

[2] "I personally believe the Christian view of homosexuality isn't moral and causes real-world harm."

Doesn't even science and nature go against homosexuality? Nature itself teaches that two men or two woman cannot reproduce therefore mankind would cease to be. So wouldn't it be homosexuality that would evidentually cause the most harm to mankind?


[3] "Heaven appears to be the reward in the Christian doctrine. Heaven is a personal gain for the believer's actions."

This is not an entirely true. Yes God has prepared a place for believers to go to be with him for ever. This is not because of the believer's actions, but because of God's actions. Man was born a sinner and unable to please God. Christ (God in the flesh) came to live a sinless life, death for man's sin, rise again for man's justification. God calls man to salvation. Without the working of the Holy Spirit, man would never come. Any good that a Christian does is by God working through us, therefore all rewards belong to God's work and not ours.

[4] "Lastly, I think lacking a belief in an after-life ensures a realization that our actions in this world have consequences. Forgiveness for my actions is not assured so I shouldn't rely on a blanket forgiveness for my actions. I should conduct myself in a manner that ensures I take responsibility for my actions the first time around rather than relying on a forgiveness I'm not assured of."

I could disagree and note that a lack of believing in an after-life gives one the idea that it doesn't matter what they do now for if they are not caught, they will never have to pay for the crimes. No after-life means no punishment for sin, so who cares about forgiveness or doing right at all in this life?

In Christ forgiveness is assured. But one must acknowledge God, his Book, and trust in his Son to receive it. Faith is a must, without it, you are right, there is no "blanket forgiveness for my actions".

We both agree that we all should "conduct myself in a manner that ensures I take responsibility for my actions the first time around", and such is what the scriptures teach. Although it adds that when we fall short (sin), as we all do, we have an advocate with the Father for forgiveness and cleansings in Jesus Christ.

The Alpha said...

1) Doesn't even science and nature go against homosexuality? Nature itself teaches that two men or two woman cannot reproduce therefore mankind would cease to be. So wouldn't it be homosexuality that would evidentually cause the most harm to mankind?

Nature itself has homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual creatures throughout the animal kingdom. Population control is important. Humans have enough resources to feed everyone and we already have difficulties allocating those resources. For a species with no real natural predator it's important that we have methods to control our population. Portions of our population that either can't or wont produce naturally are an important aspect of any scheme that acts to control our population growth.

2) God calls man to salvation. Without the working of the Holy Spirit, man would never come. Any good that a Christian does is by God working through us, therefore all rewards belong to God's work and not ours.

This brings up other questions regarding free will. If God is working through Christians, doesn't this comprimise their free will to do good or bad by their own choosing? Does this somehow change the fact that in the believer's mind the consequences of his or her actions may result in rewards or punishments for his or her soul? I still fail to see how this is not a benefit of some sort.

3) I could disagree and note that a lack of believing in an after-life gives one the idea that it doesn't matter what they do now for if they are not caught, they will never have to pay for the crimes. No after-life means no punishment for sin, so who cares about forgiveness or doing right at all in this life?

Well, it comes back to the following: 1) characteristics of empathy found in the animal kingdom 2) strength of character and 3) our ability to find and chastize people that break the rules society has put in place. Society has put in place consequences for peoples actions. But even if people behave in a manner in which they do harm without being caught it in no way supports the notion that people should be punished eternally for those crimes. There is nothing so heinous that man in his finite capabilities could do to possibly deserve an infinite punishment. Such a thing is not justice; its simply vengence.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

[1] "Population control is important."

I would therefore assume that this justifies abortion, euthanasia, and the like. Would it also justify the killing of the physically and/or menatlly handicapped people?


[2] What exactly is "free will"? Would a true meaning of "free will" be that of no external factors? Is there really any "free will" action by man which is absent of outside influence? Therefore does man actually have "free will" in the mindsight inwhich it is spoken?


[3] "There is nothing so heinous that man in his finite capabilities could do to possibly deserve an infinite punishment."

God is holy and pure and cannot have fellowship with sin. People reject God and his free gift of salvation, they also continue to reject him in punishment. Continued rejection and cursings received continued punishment. As today, you keep killing you keep being punished, as eternally, you continue to come short of the law of God you keep being punished.

This is why faith in the Savior is so important. He has done which we as man cannot.

The Alpha said...

1) I would therefore assume that this justifies abortion, euthanasia, and the like. Would it also justify the killing of the physically and/or menatlly handicapped people?

As an independent agent, people have a right to make a cognizant and informed decision with regards to what happens to their body so long as it doesn't harmfully affect another. Along those same lines, I'm pro-choice (a fetus is not a person), I believe in a person's right to die, and I believe that homosexuals should be free to live their lives without persecution from the masses. Killing the physically and mentally ill deals with another person's autonomy regarding their body.

[2] What exactly is "free will"? Would a true meaning of "free will" be that of no external factors? Is there really any "free will" action by man which is absent of outside influence? Therefore does man actually have "free will" in the mindsight inwhich it is spoken?

Free will refers to the ability of a rational agent to choose amongst various alternatives. While external factors may play a role in producing the alternatives, the ability to choose between the alternatives must still be present for it to constitute an act of free will. If people are doing things because the Holy Spirit is using the individual as a tool to do God's work, they are not acting as agents with the ability to choose amongst various alternatives. God is making the decisions for them.

God is holy and pure and cannot have fellowship with sin.

I was under the impression that people believed God could do anything.

People reject God and his free gift of salvation, they also continue to reject him in punishment. Continued rejection and cursings received continued punishment.

It's not a rejection. I simply lack a belief in God due to insufficient evidence in the same way I lack a belief in faeries. When presented with credible evidence, I, as well as many others, would believe in God and or faeries. Hell would constitute credible evidence of the existence of God. By your reasoning, however, withholding my belief until credible evidence is presented is a continued rejection. I fail to see how I could continue a rejection in Hell.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

See pro-choice falls into the difference of morality, whereas you and others are pro-choice, the Bible clearly teaches a baby is human at conception, therefore a Christian must be pro-life to morally follow the Bible.

God does not force man. Man rejects and disobeys God because they want to and come to God because they want to. The problem is man does not want to come until the Spirit moves in man to desire such.

God chooses to abhore evil, which means He hates sin. Sure He could allow evil in heaven, but it wouldn't be a pure holy place like He promised the new heaven and earth to be.

To simply believe God is, is not enough. Scripture declares the devils believe and tremble, yet are evil and reject God.

We have scripture that declares man will one day see God, but they do not accept Him, but try to hid from Him.

Revelation 6:16
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Man will curse God for the torment in hell and the time to accept Christ as Savior will be gone, for life will be over.

Now is the day of salvation.

Honestly I pray the Spirit gives you what you need to trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am not just saying this alpha, I honestly hope it.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.