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July 31, 2014


D. Whitfield

If people are fine just as they are, why do they need to work on their vices? Furthermore, in the absence of a god, what do you take to be the metaphysical basis for 'good'? Thanks for a very interesting post.

Greg Horton

I said fine in the soteriological sense, not ethical. They don't need saving; they do need work. That is apparent to anyone who looks at humanity. The perversity of Christianity's modern metanarrative is that they need Jesus, not to be better people. We're left with asshats believing they're going to heaven, and Christianity seems to lack any coherent narrative about why they ought to be good now, at least any narrative that encourages actual growth in ethics. I don't need a metaphysical basis for "good." It works far better being defined by how it affects people in this world, not about how competing deities define it, all of whom are unavailable to attest to or demonstrate the truth of their system of "goodness" over against that of the other members of the universal pantheon.

D. Whitfield

Thanks for the response. I'm still troubled that you're using the concept of goodness in the most vacuous way possible. If you have a conception of morality that is better than religion, you haven't clearly stated it. Certainly, you accept that there is some foundation for ethics and human value. What is it? You say that religion doesn't provide a genuine grounding for ethics (which may indeed be true), but your remarks don't seem to be any clearer or more compelling than the religious conception. Why should we be good? How much claim does morality have on my life? Why is being moral any more important than, for instance, being funny or being a great athlete? Instead of telling us what morality isn't, it would be better to explain exactly what you take it to be, rather than the vague, "...defined by how it affects other people in this world..." bit.

Greg Horton

It's likely because I've written about this extensively on this blog for the past ten years, and I find most of the "religion = source of morality" tired and pointless. It's not vacuous to say that you can't tell me which god to pay attention to, nor can you offer a shred of credible evidence that one list of divine commands is better than another. You assume epistemological superiority for theism only because you practice it, not because it's actually superior. Why be good? Because it's easier to get along that way. Most people want to live around other people and get along with them. To do so requires being good according to some definition of the word. Is there a foundation for ethics? Sure. Reciprocity and value of human life. I want all people to share the same rights and privileges I enjoy--a truth most theists struggle with, quite frankly. I've explained a hundred times in this forum what I think morality is. You'll forgive me for not doing it again. I apologize that you don't have the writings here as a background, but I can't answer all the questions by starting at the beginning. What I've said here should provide a pretty good idea of what I mean. Show me a list of the rules I ought to believe, and tell me why one god is better than another, and then offer evidence that any of that is true, and we can have a solid discussion of why I ought to be a theist. Please avoid the tired old defense of "what do you base your morals on if not a transcendent reality?" defense if you have no intention of producing that transcendent reality. I'm not a relativist, but I also recognize that no system has a really good answer for this dilemma, so offering an invisible deity that sort of agrees with you isn't really compelling evidence for your case.

Proctor S. Burress

Speaking of 'mystery...and manners'...why has no one commented as yet? For this observer's part I am astounded as to how far men and women of the Great Reformation traditions...who should know better...have stooped to confer sainthood and wisdom on a very disturbed writer.

Ms O'Connor specialized in psychopathology. She loved none of her characters and showed them no compassion. Her source for these sordid stories was the depth of her own soul as mediated by the terrible lupus...the wolf within!

O'Connor's work is like a giant Rorschach ink blot to which members of the cult (Ted Spivey's term of art) endlessly gesticulate. Save us oh lord.

If one would understand why the world is so mixed up...and violent...start by reading the fawning praise of Flannery O'Connor. May she rest in peace.
As to the rest of us, the fires and smoke of eternal confusion awaits!

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