[continued from here and here]
This is essentially asking if there is a transcendent ethical standard that exists beyond the individual and if so, can we all know it.
Our culture is deeply divided over such a question, though we never really ask it out loud, for to do so would expose our deep relativism and the folly of such thinking.
Relativism supposes that there is no such thing as absolute truth and therefore no such thing as an absolute moral code. Theoretically, every individual’s ethical standards are valid and unassailable as long as they remain personal. From the outside, we view each other’s moral standards as “preferences” for they do not apply beyond the self, nor can they.
Now to the astute, the above description is immediately recognized as logically false for it expresses within itself an absolute ethical code. That is, it declares that it is “absolutely wrong” for you to impose your ethical standard on anyone outside of your own preferential boundary.
Not only is relativism self-refuting from the inside, but it is unworkable on the outside.
“Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Corinthians 13:1
One of the blessings or curses (depending upon your opinion) of living in the woods is that I am unable to get cable or satellite television. I think I’m one of the few Americans left that uses an old TV antennae. On some occasions, especially when it is windy, it is even hard to get the standard broadcast stations. But, I don’t watch much TV anyway. There’s hardly enough hours in a day as it is.
For that reason, I haven’t followed the Casey Anthony trial other than the occasional summations and now, of course, the verdict that was delivered Tuesday.
I have read the many outbursts of anger over the acquittal and thought I might offer another view.
First, it should be obvious that this trial revealed again the nature of truth and lie. Truth is simple; lies are complex. Truth is reality and if we were omniscient to know what really happened, the tragic story of little Caylee’s death could be told in a few words.
I’m headed for a 7-day float trip down the Grand Canyon.
The purpose is to create a teaching series on what the Canyon is telling us. Does the evidence support the standard geological story or is there evidence that the Canyon was formed from catastrophic forces that point us back to the Noahic Flood.
I have been looking forward to this for months now and can’t wait to not only film this, but the opportunity to interact with about 20 people who will be on the trip as well.
I return for one day and then head to Idaho for my dear nieces wedding, so will be absent from this blog for about two weeks.
Soli Deo Gloria!
I suppose we ought to first of all ask the question “Are we in an ethical mess?” For some, the answer may be a quick “yes” and for others it may be a quick “no”. For many, there may be contrary arguments as to what constitutes the “mess”. After all, if one’s trash can be another’s treasure, then certainly one’s ethical mess can be another’s ethical mellifluousness (if you have a better “m” word, I’m open to it!)
For example, some argue that the inheritance tax, taking half of a dead man’s property is wrong. Others lamented that due to congressional ineptness, 2010 was a year in which there was no inheritance tax at all. They viewed this as evil hording of wealth.
Not only are there good/evil positions regarding taxation, but these sides exist in almost every area of significant social and cultural issues: abortion, homosexuality, stem cell research, social justice, health care, global warming, free enterprise, government scope and power, immigration, labor unions, government debt, war, terrorist rights, euthanasia, etc. etc. etc.
This shouldn’t surprise us, for we are no longer a nation unified on notions of what is right and what is wrong. Some might even say that we shouldn’t even desire a consensus. For if there are no moral absolutes, then millions of valid, individual ethical positions exist and it would be “intolerant” to seek, or defend, an “American Ethic”…generally or even specifically.
But this is, in the larger sense, new to America.
I’m in Fort Lauderdale to film a preface to Chuck Colson’s new DVD series on Ethics: Doing the Right Thing. The series was filmed recently at Princeton to help people better understand the issues and criticality of ethics in our culture. It was made for a more secular audience, so we are creating a separate overview to provide a more explicit “Christian” worldview basis.
Spending time with Chuck is a delightful experience for me but I especially enjoyed this as we dealt with the following chapter titles: 1. How did we get into this mess? 2. Is there truth and a moral law we can all know? 3. If we know what is right, can we do it? 4. What does it mean to be human? 5. What should ethics in the marketplace look like? 6. What should ethics in public life look like?
His series goes into more detail, but our objective was to lay out a biblical perspective for each. Unfortunately, our discussions will be edited down to short summaries, but I think we covered the major points.
Over the next few days, I would like to briefly look at these questions. They are very, very important. Chuck believes that the source of the problems in our culture can be traced to our ethical and moral decay.
Judges 2:10-15 is a very sad passage.