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Author Topic:   Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
mick
Member (Idle past 3150 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 1 of 20 (403688)
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


I often hear religious people (on this board and off it) claiming that religion provides them with a solid foundation for morality and ethics. This situation is contrasted with that of nonreligious people, for whom morality and ethics is supposedly "relativistic".

The implication is always that absolutist morality (i.e. killing another is always wrong) is in some way better than relativistic morality (i.e. killing another is sometimes wrong and sometimes right, depending on the situation).

I never been convinced of the idea that relativistic morality is in any way inferior to absolutist morality. I can appreciate that relativistic morality may have a problem in asserting its legitimacy, but then the absolutist Taliban morality was also seen by many as illegitimate, as is the fundamentalist Christian morality in the US which states the homosexuality is a sin.

But what I really want to challenge is the very notion that religion provides a firm foundation for one's moral or ethical standpoint. Here are some moral pronouncements of people who use the Bible as the solid foundation of their position.

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity supports slavery:

quote:
The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.

Source: quotation from Rev. R. Furman, D.D., a Baptist pastor from South Carolina, 19th century

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity rejects slavery:

quote:
It is important that apologies are expressed for the involvement, and indeed leadership, of our country in that trade and of the institutions of our country, including the Church of England, in perpetuating slavery 200 years ago... I also apologise for the ways in which, 200 years ago, Christians misused Scripture so tragically in defence of the slave trade. That may have something to teach us Christians or members of other religious traditions within our country and our society today.

Source: press report on speech by Bishop Packer, CofE, 21st Century

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity rejects homosexuality:

quote:
Seventh-day Adventists believe that sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman. This was the design established by God at creation. The Scriptures declare: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24, NIV). Throughout Scripture this heterosexual pattern is affirmed. The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships. Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden (Lev. 20:7-21; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus Christ reaffirmed the divine creation intent: "'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?" So they are no longer two, but one'" (Matt. 19:4-6, NIV). For these reasons Adventists are opposed to homosexual practices and relationships.

Source: Seventh Day Adventist church manual

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity celebrates homosexuality:

quote:
Let me share an experience from my own ministry. A priest of mine was approached by two men who wanted to make a declaration of their love and commitment to each other in front of friends and family. They did not know how to do so. I am profoundly happy that the ministry they received through seeing the vicar going on rounds around the shops and in the parish led them to ask what they should do. They did not want a gay wedding in church, they wanted a party, an occasion on which to exchange meaningful and deep-rooted hopes and dreams for their future together. The work done by my parish priest was extremely skilful and she enabled them to achieve what they wanted. I understand that the occasion went extremely well. It was not a marriage. It was not pension rights or any piece of paper that they wanted, it was ministry and dignity that they were seeking. The Church sought to offer them the former. All society should join with the Church—and in some quarters the Church must join with society—in ensuring the latter.

Source: reported statement of John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity is split on homosexuality:

quote:
In a vote at the annual state convention of the church in Minneapolis yesterday, members approved a resolution supporting equal access to the faith for all sexualities and the removal of a prohibition on ‘homosexual unions.’

The vote was 496-223 in favour of equality in the denomination "regardless of sexual orientation" and 394-320 supporting a removal of the “prohibition of United Methodist clergy from celebrating homosexual unions."



Source: press report on Methodist convention

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity rejects abortion:

quote:
For us abortion is of overriding concern because it negates two of our most fundamental moral imperatives: respect for innocent life, and preferential concern for the weak and defenseless. As we said three years ago in reaffirming our Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: "Because victims of abortion are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family, it is imperative that we, as Christians called to serve the least among us, give urgent attention and priority to this issue. Our concern is intensified by the realization that a policy and practice allowing over one and a half million abortions annually cannot but diminish respect for life in other areas." No Catholic can responsibly take a "pro-choice" stand when the "choice" in question involves the taking of innocent human life.

Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Morality based on the firm foundation of Christianity accepts legal abortion:

quote:
Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures.

Methodist website

It looks very much like the moral and ethical foundation of religion permits one to believe whatever one chooses! Indeed Christians must collectively have the most relativistic morality around - they simply adopts the prevailing ethic of their time and place and make the bible agree with it.

I would like to know where there is any evidence that religion provides a firm moral foundation for human beings? Why is that even a good thing? And why shouldn't I consider that claim to be the self-serving poppycock that it appears to be?

Edited by AdminAsgara, : fixed link tags


Replies to this message:
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AdminCoragyps
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 20 (403702)
06-04-2007 9:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


Faith and Belief? Or somewhere else?

And you have a hanging tag there that I'm unsure how to fix.


This message is a reply to:
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mick
Member (Idle past 3150 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 3 of 20 (403722)
06-04-2007 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminCoragyps
06-04-2007 9:19 PM


Hi Coragyps,

Please post where you see fit, Faith & Belief sounds good to me.

Mick


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AdminCoragyps
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 20 (403724)
06-04-2007 10:27 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
ICANT
Member
Posts: 6187
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 5 of 20 (403737)
06-04-2007 11:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


Re-Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
mick,
You start off with title, Religion does not give a solid basis to morality.

Then though out your op you refer to only Christianity. Maybe you should change the title to Christianity does not give a solid basis to morality.

With some 34,000 different denominations in the world 1200 in the US you can find anything you want to find.

But being a pastor of a small church I will say that most of the people in churches today are professors not possessors.

With all the ungodly things done in the name of christianity I will have to agree with you that its a mess, and going to get worse.

I remember a motto back in the 60's, "If it feels good do it". It seems that has been modified to, "If I want to do it, it is morally right", and if I can't find a Bible that tells me its OK I will translate my own, or just get a revelation and write my own.

Christianity may not give a good basis to morality but God does.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself".

I don't know about you but I sure love me.


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
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Taz
Member (Idle past 1455 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 6 of 20 (403764)
06-05-2007 12:36 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by ICANT
06-04-2007 11:20 PM


Re: Re-Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
*Chuckles*

ICANT writes:

"Love thy neighbor as thyself".

I don't know about you but I sure love me.


What about masochists?



We are BOG. Resistance is voltage over current.

Disclaimer:

Occasionally, owing to the deficiency of the English language, I have used he/him/his meaning he or she/him or her/his or her in order to avoid awkwardness of style.

He, him, and his are not intended as exclusively masculine pronouns. They may refer to either sex or to both sexes!


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mick
Member (Idle past 3150 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 7 of 20 (403775)
06-05-2007 4:36 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by ICANT
06-04-2007 11:20 PM


Re: Re-Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
ICANT writes:

You start off with title, Religion does not give a solid basis to morality.

Then though out your op you refer to only Christianity. Maybe you should change the title to Christianity does not give a solid basis to morality.

The same argument likely applies to any religion, but I was brought up in a Christian environment and most religious people on this forum are Christians so I hope you understand my choice of examples.

ICANT writes:

With some 34,000 different denominations in the world 1200 in the US you can find anything you want to find.

Which is exactly my point. If the Bible can be used to justify any moral or ethical position ranging from being nice to one's neighbor to conducting genocide against that neighbor, then it doesn't seem a very firm foundation for our ethics does it?

ICANT writes:

But being a pastor of a small church I will say that most of the people in churches today are professors not possessors.

Please could you elaborate? I don't understand what you mean.

ICANT writes:

I remember a motto back in the 60's, "If it feels good do it". It seems that has been modified to, "If I want to do it, it is morally right", and if I can't find a Bible that tells me its OK I will translate my own, or just get a revelation and write my own.

My feelings too. My main beef is with those who challenge the moral standing of atheists with the kind of argument, "if you don't have a solid foundations for your morality then anything becomes permissible". It seems quite clear to me that the kind of people who make this argument are exactly the kind of people whose repugnant view of the world gets shoe-horned into a religious viewpoint so that the permissible becomes moral.

I do understand that not all religious people do this, I guess the extremely nutty ones are a minority.

ICANT writes:

Christianity may not give a good basis to morality but God does.

I don't see the difference. If you want to be a sexist you can just believe in a God who thinks women are scum, can't you?

Cheers

Mick


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ikabod
Member (Idle past 2656 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 8 of 20 (403796)
06-05-2007 7:40 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


religion can give a solid basis to morality , but only when the religion is treated as a abstract concept and not asked to work in the real world with real human beings .... no religion seems to survive first contact with people and how the world works .

firstly any religion is admimistered by human beings , .. now when that number is very small , all can agree and work to a comman goal and by the same moral code . Let the number of people rise and you will get different understandings and different weightings of the moral code .. this applys to any organisation not just religion .

Thus it seems as long as we can keep people out of religions then the moral codes of those religions can be fixed and used as a solid basis for a global morality .

the next problem is how to operate the moral code in the real world ....

take the basic.. thou shall not kill ...now look at it in the real world and think of how many exception you can add to it .


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ICANT
Member
Posts: 6187
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 9 of 20 (403815)
06-05-2007 9:26 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by mick
06-05-2007 4:36 AM


Re: Re-Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
Please could you elaborate? I don't understand what you mean.

The majority of so called christians today are professors, That is to say that they are christian in word only, some doing good works.
But they are as the Pharisees who Jesus said,

quote:
John 8:44 (KJS) Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The majority of so called christians today are not possessors. They have never come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The devil has so corrupted the churches, evangelist, and preachers that the truth is not taught. It is sad to say but most are in it for the money.

I do understand that not all religious people do this, I guess the extremely nutty ones are a minority.

I am afraid that the majority fit into that crowd. You have the extremist on one end called fundies and there is a lot of them. Then you have the larger bunch on the other end anything goes. Then you have a few in the middle that are trying to do things as Jesus taught.

I have atheist friends that will not believe in my God because of those 2 extremes. They say the churches are filled with a bunch of hypocrites and if that is Christianity I don't want any part of it.

ICANT writes:
Christianity may not give a good basis to morality but God does.

mick writes:
I don't see the difference. If you want to be a sexist you can just believe in a God who thinks women are scum, can't you?

My reference was not to any God. My reference was to Jesus and the commandment He gave to His followers. "Love thy neighbor as thyself". If you are going to be Christ like you must do this, and that is what being a Christian is.


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 20 (403825)
06-05-2007 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


I often hear religious people (on this board and off it) claiming that religion provides them with a solid foundation for morality and ethics. This situation is contrasted with that of nonreligious people, for whom morality and ethics is supposedly "relativistic".

If it really is your intent to prove that the religious base their morality on something other than what they claim, then you really are bound to lose, primarily because it is extremely difficult to argue that you know someone else's reasons for believing/doing something better than they do. Moreover, you've written quite a lot here and still have a long ways to go, since the majority of your post does not discuss what you have here set your post up to be about.

But what I really want to challenge is the very notion that religion provides a firm foundation for one's moral or ethical standpoint.

How is it you plan to challenge this notion? I find it quite conceivable, myself, that one might base one's entire moral code on one's religious indoctrination. In this sense, it would seem, religion can provide a very solid basis to a particular individual's morality.

Christians must collectively have the most relativistic morality around - they simply adopts the prevailing ethic of their time and place and make the bible agree with it.

Christianity is not necessarily restricted to the words of the Bible. It is a system of belief, and much as the rules of a language are subject to the whims of its speakers so to are the beliefs of a belief system subject to the whims of its believers. The religion of Christianity can, theoretically, exist independently of the Bible—after all, there was a time when Christianity existed while parts of the modern Bible did not.

So, the way I see it, you've got a couple things to clear up:

1) Why does Christianity have to be based on the Bible?
2) Why is it not possible that someone might base their morality on their religion?

Also, as a side-note, may I ask; on what is it that you base your morality?

Jon


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miosim
Member (Idle past 3841 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 11 of 20 (403828)
06-05-2007 10:19 AM


Hijacking of morality by religion
I already posted the following comparison of Religion (Christian) moral values vs. Human moral values, on the Bible Study/"The God of the Bible is Evil" thread on this forum. I just repeat it here because this thread is better fit to my comments.

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be hijacking of morality by religion.”
Arthur C Clarke

The main thesis of the old testaments is that the relationship between Cod and Human is as follow: Human must fears and loves mighty God, but God has no obligation to his creation. In this God-centric universe desire to please God is a main goal of human. It overrules all other considerations, like relationship with family, friend or with the rest of people.
The collection of God commands and wishes (interpreted or misinterpreted) - form the RELIGIONS VALUES.

In contrast, over the time, the human-centric views were developed. In these views the human relationship with other humans is the primary goal and everything else is secondary. The collections of human-centric values form the HUMAN MORAL VALUES.

In some cases the religion and moral values are overlapped but often are contradict to each others. The difference could be illustrated by the following examples.

1. Gen: Ch22 God tests Abraham
God wanted to test Abraham's loyalty and order Abraham to kill his son. Abraham was ready to do it, but an angel stop him.

According to Religion Value you should have no second thought in following God’s command, even God will demand to kill your son or daughter or any innocent people.
According to Human Moral Value only criminals test loyalty this way.

2. Due: CH 20:16, 17 Special rules for war
“You will take cities in the country that God is giving you. Then you must kill everything that is alive, people and animals. You must kill completely all the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perrizites, Hivites and Jebusites. The Lord your God has told you to do this.”

I see in this example the similarity with the previous one where God test Abraham loyalty. The only difference is that an Angel didn’t stop the hand of the Israelis and mass murder was committed.

According to Human Moral Value there was not known war criminals that comes even close to what was described in this chapter.

4. Jos: CH:2 Rahab helps two men of Israel
This prostitute saved her life and life of her family by betraying people of her nation.
She was rewarded for that, but all men and women, young and old people of her country were killed.

So, According to Religion Value doesn’t matter how low you failed as a human, doesn’t matter that you lied and betrayed your people that lead to their mass murder, as long you please mighty God.
Human Moral disgusts this behavior.

5. The book of Job

God want to proof to Satan that there is none like Job in the earth a perfect and an upright man. And of sake of argument, he destroyed Job’s life and killed his children and God with Satan had observed a result of this experiment.

Job was subjected by God to severe suffering, just to demonstrate to the Satan the loyalty of the true believers. Job pass the test, and for that God fully reworded Job’s suffering by giving him more wealth and more children. God didn’t return to Job his children, but according to Bible, wealth and good relationship with a God meant more than human lives. Job’s story is one of the fundamental of the Religion Value.
According to Human Moral, this type of experiment allowed only on microbes.

Edited by miosim, : No reason given.


    
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 4090
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 12 of 20 (403844)
06-05-2007 1:02 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Jon
06-05-2007 10:10 AM


Moral Waffles with Syrup
I’m going to jump in with Jon on this one.

Christian morality (which ever version one may chose) can indeed form the basis of a community’s moral code. The same can be said of any religion and any secular moral code.

I think moisim’s objection is when these christians insist that their moral code is the only true universal moral code and must be accepted and practiced as such by all the rest of humanity, or else.

I see in the OP an objection to this special status on the part of the insistant christian and pointing out the relative nature and cultural bias through which these christian’s one true moral code has evolved.

But what I really want to challenge is the very notion that religion provides a firm foundation for one's moral or ethical standpoint.

Let me put words in your mouth, moisim, and feel free to spit them back out at me if they don’t taste right.

What you really want to challenge is the religionists’ notion that religion provides the only foundation for humanity’s moral or ethical standpoint. Specifically, you want to challenge the christian insistence that they have a special lock on human morality.


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Equinox
Member (Idle past 3305 days)
Posts: 329
From: Michigan
Joined: 08-18-2006


Message 13 of 20 (403845)
06-05-2007 1:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


Good topic, though we need to be clear on our topic while discussing it.

First, as others have pointed out, “religion” is probably not the term you want here, it’s too vague. Let’s say either “Christianity” or “revealed Scripture” – referring to any dogmatic adherence to a text that is thought to have come directly from God to a writer (examples – the Torah, The Qu’ran, the Bible, etc.)

OK, it seems clear to me that revealed scripture doesn’t give a solid base for morality for several reasons. First, as you pointed out, it is twisted around to mean a wide range of things. Thus, people can “base” their morality on revealed scripture, but that really doesn’t mean much since they just chose the parts they like, and ignore or creatively interpret the rest. That can be discussed more if anyone likes, but it looks like a dead horse to me.

There are some who do seem to stick more to what the words actually say, and in the case of the Bible, that’s even worse, since the morality presented by the Bible is very different from our modern morality. In other words, it seems to me that the closer someone gets to actually keeping the morality of the Bible, the scarier they are to me. The Bible clearly blesses all kinds of atrocities, not to mention the terrible moral consequences of logically thinking about morality based on a Biblical worldview. For one example of that, here is a copy of a post from another thread:

Are you saying that butchering your wife and kids is not an immoral act?

Um, yes, since that obviously and clear violates our evolved morality in many ways, such as hurting our family, violating expectations and promises, etc.

On the other hand, if I were Christian, wouldn’t killing them now be the ultimate good I could do? I’d guarantee that they’d go to heaven, especially the children who are too young to have lost their faith. If I don’t kill them now, they could eventually lose their faith in Jesus and go to hell and be tortured forever, so I better do it tonight. Of course I’d go to Hell for it, so doing it would be the ultimate selfless, loving act a father could do. Christians have realized this and killed their families from time to time. Andrea Yates is the most recent, but by no means the first, there are others if anyone cares. Now let’s see, I’ll need to stop by the hardware store……..

Next, if we look at another word choice, we ask if “Christianity” is a solid basis for morality. Again, the answer seems to be no, since we see much of the same – people start with a morality, and then work to put it on the lips of Jesus by ignoring or creatively interpreting the words of Jesus found in the “revealed” scripture of the NT. For instance, Jesus says to hate one’s family (and gives the example of himself denying his own family), makes racist comments, bans divorce in all cases other than adultery, and so on. Sure, one can find contradictory statements by Jesus, but that only shows that the Bible is contradictory.

A good morality could be based on the simple golden rule:

ICANT wrote:


My reference was to Jesus and the commandment He gave to His followers. "Love thy neighbor as thyself". If you are going to be Christ like you must do this, and that is what being a Christian is.

The Golden Rule isn’t some invention of Jesus. If you know your Bible, you know that Jesus is quoting Leviticus, the same book that advocates killing a teenage son who tells you about a neighboring religious festival, and has many other immoral laws. More than that, this simply idea (of treating others as you wish to be treated) isn’t some exclusively Jewish thing either - it is found in all major religions.

For examples, look here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/reciproc.htm

Saying that the golden rule is Christian is like saying that drinking water is Christian – sure all Christians do it, but so does everybody else. In other words, the Golden rule is a common factor in all religions – it doesn’t make one a “Christian” any more than it makes one a Hindu.

Have a fun day-

Edited by Equinox, : added Yates.


-Equinox

_ _ _ ___ _ _ _
You know, it's probably already answered at http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/...
(Equinox is a Naturalistic Pagan - www.naturalpagan.org)


This message is a reply to:
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miosim
Member (Idle past 3841 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 14 of 20 (404270)
06-07-2007 5:30 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by AZPaul3
06-05-2007 1:02 PM


Religion based Old Testament HAVE NO MORAL RIGHT TO TEACH MORALITY
What you really want to challenge is the religionists’ notion that religion provides the only foundation for humanity’s moral or ethical standpoint.

My main point is that any religion based on Old Testament HAVE NO MORAL RIGHT TO TEACH MORALITY. The words are cheap and "Love thy neighbor as thyself" don’t compensate for the atrocities committed by their God. Moral is taught by examples not by words. Hitler and Stalin said a lot of good words too.


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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4116 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 15 of 20 (408595)
07-03-2007 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by mick
06-05-2007 4:36 AM


Re: Re-Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
mick writes:

Which is exactly my point. If the Bible can be used to justify any moral or ethical position ranging from being nice to one's neighbor to conducting genocide against that neighbor, then it doesn't seem a very firm foundation for our ethics does it?

I seems that you are pre-supposing the Bible as the 'firm foundation' which Christians speak of.

I also suspect that you posted a list of opinions, without specific recourse to what the Bible actually says. For instance, even if some Christians celebrate homosexuality, there is no occasion in the Bible itself where it is celebrated.

On other topics, where there is discrepency in the Bible, it is reason which must be the judge of actions, in the same relativistic way that they are always judged. You are mistaken in the belief that Christians are absolutist concerning individual actions. No thing is always good, but good is always good. In other words, it is a 'real' thing which has meaning outside of the temporary question of 'what' is good.

What is implied is that Christians have a reason to do good, whereas the reasons for others in doing good, are contingent upon what the 'good' is.

It is either goodness as an absolute state attainable by man, regardless of how he gets there, or goodness as a temporary phenomenon associated with the passable result of an action in realtion to its goal.

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by mick, posted 06-05-2007 4:36 AM mick has not yet responded

    
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