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morality (6)

The belief among the religious is that morality is derived from religion; that the religious are the light of the world while the nonreligious lack any basis for ethics or morality. Human morality is a revelation from God who dictates how we should live. Our task is to obey God and establish His divine world order, which concludes with our salvation.

Nonbelievers fall behind
The righteous superiority of the believers supports the view that if they were to be swept away to heaven as in the Rapture, those left behind would descend into an orgy of sex, violence and anarchy without the enlightened ones to lead us. Only the religious and spiritual believers can hold back the modern worlds slide into the darkness of lying, cheating, and stealing anything the nonbelievers can get their hands on. It is the belief that humanity is “utterly depraved” without spiritual guidance.

Spiritual traditionalists fall behind
The morality of the religious and Eastern spiritualists has its origin from another time and culture dating back several millennium. The long past ideas are kept alive through the study of ancient texts and the practice of outdated rituals and meditations. These moral laws were at one time relevant, but have become entrenched in traditions and handed down for centuries, with few even knowing the origin of most modern day morality.

As culture continues to evolve and moral consciousness deepens it is the moral traditionalists that are the ones who fall behind, morally stunted by ancient beliefs and practices. Over time scriptural views become more out of touch. Young people, who are motivated by an honest search for truth and compassion, find the spiritual paths of the past less and less appealing.

“While it is true that the ethical ideas of an individual have grown out of the past, it is also true that the individual is morally barren, unless he has moral ideas of his own.” Philosophy Of Freedom (POF) 12.7

Individual moral ideas
Individuals are turning to their own imagination to create inspiring moral ideals suited for their life situation. We are motivated to be ethical. Human beings strive toward sublimely great ideals because they want to. The realization of ones own ideals is the highest pleasure. POF 13.11

reference: Valerie Tarico

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Common survival instincts
We all have survival instincts in common. We stay alive by obeying our needs for food, shelter and water. This promotes competition of the “survival of the fittest” where the weak are left behind.

Common social instincts
Gathering in families, tribes, clans, and nations increases everyone’s chance of survival. We get along by obeying social laws and constructing common social instincts.

Common moral code
As the size of the group increases it becomes more difficult to find common things they all share. This divisiveness is resolved with a common moral code from an Absolute power that no one can dispute.

The common moral code assigns value, worth, and legitimacy to our life. The truth is humans create moral codes, emphasize them, and eventually fight or oppress each other over them. The commands of duty cause the members to turn their backs on the “others” who do not obey the same moral code as themselves.

Obeying physical instincts and external moral codes will always lead to systems of oppression and war. Is there anything we have in common that will not end up causing conflict?

Common world of ideas
We share a common world of ideas. Philosophy Of Freedom 5.8“The concept of a triangle which my mind grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbor's mind grasps.” Without a common world of ideas there could be no philosophy, science or even language.

Within the world of ideas are universal ethical ideals. The “Golden Rule” that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself can be found historically in some form in almost every ethical tradition.

If we live by ideals individually selected from the common world of ideas and are not ruled by survival instincts or duty to external moral codes, a harmony of intentions is possible. By understanding the ideal intentions of others we realize we are all striving for the “good” in our own way.

“The world of ideas which inspires me is no other than the one that inspires my fellow human beings. I differ from my neighbor, not at all because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we receive different intuitions. He desires to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both draw our intuitions really from the world of ideas, and do not obey mere external impulses (physical or moral), then we can not but meet one another in striving for the same aims, in having the same intentions. A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between human beings who are free.” Philosophy Of Freedom 9.10

reference: Peter Kaufman

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Time To Shelve The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Earlier this month, with the support of many others, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced her intention to defy her state Supreme Court's decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds.

Have you read the ten commandments?
In the fervor to impose their religious beliefs on others, it's as if they forgot what the Ten Commandments actually say. They may want to re-read it. Four demand love and respect for a jealous God of a single religion, if you do not comply, that God will harm you. Three more deal with coveting other people's stuff (the wife is included among your stuff after the house and before the servants/slaves and ox), and the others are obvious like forbidding murder and theft.

Few, if any, of the Ten Commandments would make it on any modern person's own top ten list of rules for living. I'm sure most people can do a better job writing such a list than the biblical version. It wouldn't be hard to pick ten better, more universal, more relevant principles to live by.

Your top 10?
What would your top 10 life principles be? For example, one might include useful recommendations like being a critical thinker, caring for the environment, acting on our concern for others, or seeking peace and social justice.

I decided to look for some principles that are relevant for today and worth striving for in my favorite part of The Philosophy Of Freedom, the original preface. Here is what I came up with for my list.

  My Top 10

  1. Shake off every kind of authority.
  2. Accept nothing as valid, unless it springs from within yourself.
  3. The saying that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” no longer holds for you.
  4. Probe deep into the heart of your being, where dwells something noble and worthy of development. 
  5. Allow no ideals to be forced upon you.
  6. No longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which you must all strive to conform. 
  7. Assert your right to express what is unique in you.
  8. No longer be satisfied merely to believe; instead want to know.
  9. Find in the separate sciences those principles that lead to a wholistic science.
 10. Value science only when it shows its results are important for human development.
  POF preface

Source of morality is human beings
Just as Monism has no use for supernatural creative ideas in explaining living organisms, so it is equally impossible for it to derive the moral world-order from causes which do not lie within the world. Monism cannot admit any continuous supernatural influence upon moral life (divine government of the world from the outside), or to a particular revelation at a moment in history (giving of the ten commandments), or to the appearance of God on the earth (divinity of Christ). For monism moral processes are products of the world like everything else that exists, and their causes must be sought in the world—that is to say, in human beings, because humans are the bearers of morality.
 POF 12.8

Adaptation of a Roy Speckhardt article

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© Tom Last 2017