Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Regaining Our Virtues

What Is Moral Relativism?
Virtues (morality) are not like ice cream flavors (“Yucks!”), but like insulin to diabetics.

The modern Enlightenment worldview considers what is empirically testable as ‘public facts’ that are objectively knowable, tradition-free and observer-neutral. What is not scientifically provable (i.e. ethical value, theology) is considered ‘private values’ best kept in the closet. It created the separation of religious truth in upper story (faith) and scientific facts in the lower story (reason). In the public squares, boardroom or lecture hall, religious conviction is ruled out of court in decision-making. Result: Faith became privately engaging but publicly irrelevant. (Os Guinness)

After WW2, there is a shift in people getting disillusioned with absolute claims as masks for power. In the postmodern mood, there is a complete loss of hope for truth. Truth is not discovered; truth is created (social construct).

Three types of moral relativism:
- “Society Does” Relativism: Observe that people in India think it is wrong to eat cows while beef steaks are popular in U.S. See “The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis.

- “Society Says” Relativism (Normative ethical relativism): If ethics are relative to each culture, then anyone outside the culture loses the right to critique it. Essentially that was the argument of the Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg Trials. A moral reformer like a Martin Luther King, Jr. would be immoral by definition because he's violating the rules of society. There is a moral Law above the law of the land that even governments are beholden to.

- “I Say” Relavitism: Who are you to say how I ought to live? Everything is a private judgment call, a personal preference or mere opinion. “Every man did what was right in his own eyes”.

Relativism's Fatal Flaws
1. Relativists can't accuse others of wrongdoing. (oppose racism, exploitation, genocide)
2. Relativists can't complain about the problem of evil.
3. Relativists can't demand justice and fairness.
4. Relativists can't promote the obligation of tolerance.

"You shouldn't force your morality on me." Always ask, "Why not?" Usually the response is going to be an example of his/her forcing his/her morality on you. Why is relativism a self-defeating position? If I said that my brother is an only child, you would say that my statement is self-refuting. An only child would not have a brother.

1. There are objective moral rules. Each of us is privately aware there is something wrong with us. Maybe we feel guilty because we are guilty.
2. 'We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.’-CS Lewis. Christians have a consistent foundation to speak out against social evils based upon God’s revelation. Moral relativists do not.
3. Each of us has violated those laws many times and is guilty of moral crimes against our sovereign, the moral law-giver, the Judge. We ought to be punished.
4. The Christian message makes sense in this world. Love: Amnesty and mercy are offered to anyone who abandons the rebellion and seeks forgiveness on God's term. On Christ the solid rock we stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Materials shared at DNous Academy 2007 Camp are based on Greg Koukl's “Ambassador For Christ” resources in www.str.org and Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith's book Relativism - Feet Firmly Planted In Thin Air

1 comment:

HY said...

Thanks for the STR link. Great resources there.