« A Note to the Unmarried and Childless | Main | Challenge: The Bible Doesn’t Teach Scientific Insights »

March 21, 2016

Comments

This is the first time I ever saw someone liken moral intuitions to be objective in the same way that sense perception of external reality can be objectively true.

The big issue I would like to bring up though is the fact that some of our deepest moral intuitions send off alarm bells when we read parts of the Bible, especially several disturbing passages in the Old Testament.

One that always gave me problems was slavery in the law of Moses:

Leviticus 25:44-46 (NKJV)

And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have—from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.


How does the above verse square with "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."?

The concept that a tribe is allowed to own other people as property is morally abhorrent and my own moral intuitions react violently to this kind of passage.

Does that make the law of Moses immoral? Thus the consequence would be that the law of Moses wasn't given or ordained by God, who being the ultimate moral being would never issue an immoral law.

Of course, there are many other examples, and of course not all of them are negative. Indeed many Bible passages are welcomed and confirmed by my moral intuition.

If my moral intuitions are objective, then doesn't that mean I should use them to weed out "incorrect" passages in the Bible and accept the "correct" ones?

Alan,

That is perfectly reasonable as far as it goes. One must take the entire package further though in that God, in the Law, regulates actual divorces rather than banning them (etc.) while simultaneously informing us that He (God) hates divorce (He condemns it). On such grounds we find that the Law is not what your premise makes it out to be.

One will have to get a handle on the Start/Stop points of Scripture's "singular" metanarrative to rightly (properly) unpack what Law is and what Law is not.

That The Good is objectively true is not a premise which requires Man's perception to be infallible. Rather, it requires that The Good is that which is discoverable along the way as opposed to invented along the way. It also requires something very different than an infinite regress of mutable and contingent Perception / Meaning-Maker interfaces. Rather, it requires an interface with something that is immutable, timeless, ceaseless, and necessary.

Reason, logic, and conveyed meaning all begin to converge here within a world soaked through with Good and Good-Minus-Some-Thing (Good and Evil) in the discovery of love's ceaseless reciprocity amid Self/Other within the immutable contours of Trinity (the triune God).

That is why Scripture's claim that God is love is not a reference to feeling but, rather, such is Scripture's claim that Ultimate Reality (which is not Man) is love which is Scripture's claim that Man's true good, Man's final felicity, is love -- is the Triune God.

Therefore:

We find, now, that we are at a juncture where one must tackle the entire anthology of Theistic / Non-Theistic truth-claims as we avoid any and all final (Cosmic) reductio ad absurdums in our search for for final (Cosmic) coherence and final (Cosmic) lucidity "through and through".

The mistake which we must avoid is the move to bisect "objective truth" into a soft-empiricism (on the one hand) and a soft every-thing-else (on the other hand) as that move fallaciously bisects "Perception Period" into artificial and ultimately untenable compartments.

@ Alan,

God used Israel as an instrument of judgment on the wicked nations of Canaan. This would only occur whenever Israel became slightly better than the wicked nations through obedience to the Law.

Whenever they became as bad or worse than those around them, God used the wicked nations to kill them, take their possessions, and make slaves out of them.

All in all it was God judging wicked people using wicked people just as today.

But God always had a believing remnant before and after the Old Testament Law period, with the Law written in their hearts.

Alan Watts fan,

Brett suggests that what we call "moral intuition" is really a faculty like sense perception. We could call it moral perception, I suppose. But just as we would not say that our sense perception is infallible, we would not say that our moral perception is infallible.

Our eyesight may deteriorate over time. Or our eyesight might be malformed because of some genetic factor. Likewise, our moral perception can be damaged or degraded. Thus, Hebrews talks about having "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (5:14).

In saying this my point is not that when you find slavery to be repulsive you are wrong. My point is only that you cannot appeal to your moral intuitions as the end of the discussion. Just as you have to be open to the fact that maybe what you saw was not a cow on the hill, you have to be open to the fact that maybe what you think is right is actually not.

As for the particular issue of the slavery you mentioned, scbrownlhrm appropriately distinguishes between a law which is permissive and a thing being good. Scbrownlhrm points out that the O.T. law permitted divorce, but clearly our moral intuition is not supposed to embrace divorce as a good.

There is a lot that could be said here. For instance, our modern moral intuitions about slavery have been formed in the context of the racism of the 18th through early 20th century. But throughout the biblical time period slavery was a common reality that wasn't tied to modern racist attitudes.

The comments to this entry are closed.