Friday, March 9, 2007

Further Notes on Moral Relativism

Here is a selection from some notes I made up for a talk I gave to some College Lifers three years ago (members of FBC's College Group, that is):

The Bad Things: Arrogance, ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, intolerance, forcing your own views/practices on others, imperialism, religious persecution, discrimination, etc.

Causes of Tolerance and Relativism:
*Avoid the Bad Things! Bad Things come from Objectivism – history.
*Respect others – don’t offend or say anyone is wrong. It is okay to be different. (plus no positive moral instruction)
*Different cultures do things differently. So moral practice purely cultural.
*Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, especially about what is right.
*Self-centered individualism. I have complete authority over my own life and no one else has a right to impose themselves on it. “Who are you to tell me what is right?” I want to do whatever I want – not told I am wrong. If others are wrong, then there’s a standard. If a standard, then I could be wrong. But I want to do whatever I want – I have a right to do it and no one can tell me what to do.

Why are each of these bad reasons to believe in relativism?
*Objectivism does not have to go with the Bad Things.
*Respecting others does not mean never offending anyone, nor does it mean that all differences are okay.
*If different cultures have different beliefs, that does not mean both are right – just because some differences between cultures are purely a matter of opinion does not mean all are.
*Having a right to a belief does not make the belief true.
*That something justifies what you do is not a good reason to believe in it.

Most people accept relativism without much thought – it sounds nice.
But their beliefs are confused. “Don’t do any of the Bad Things!” is a moral absolute. So is “Be tolerant”. Case of Hitler.

Distinguish absolute morals from their cultural manifestations.
Stand up for objective morality while avoiding the Bad Things.
Some will confuse this with the Bad Things (since some do the opposite) and accuse you of them. Learn to separate Bad Things from standing up for the truth so that any offense will be from the gospel and not your timing or way of presenting its truth.
Real tolerance – respecting and not persecuting those you disagree with. This doesn’t mean not expressing your opinion or disagreement – it means doing so in love.

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