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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ethics No More: Why Moral Absolutes Matter

The title of this blog seems to have an apparent contradiction but it does not. Let me explain. The first part is what I believe is our current condition as a society in the United States, whether you are religious or not. Ethics, what is right and wrong has become obfuscated in the vast sea of moral relativism. Expediency has become the norm and not the moral absolute. In colloquial terms, it is what “makes me happy” that matters ultimately and not what I “ought” to do. Everything I do is not guided by any moral compass, except that which is relative to my circumstances. There is no hierarchy of values that guide my life just a selection of choices all at equal level. Only those that benefit me the most are valuable for a period of time. But nothing is absolute. This is where I think we are now. I don’t really have to prove this, just watch the news, observe people and see how they make their choices.
The second part of the title is what I think we need. We need to understand the basics of moral absolutes. Moral absolutes derive from a source. That source is a Being that is transcendent and who has literally put a moral compass inside each one of us (I think C. S. Lewis has a more thorough examination of this concept in Mere Christianity ; audio here (in parts)). Whenever, we make a wrong or right choice, our conscience convicts us or confirms that we have done what is right or what is wrong. I also believe that our choices have a hierarchy. In other words, there are some absolutes that are above others. In the hierarchy of ethics, life is at the top. Life is God’s basic gift to all of us no matter what our part is in the creation of it. Thus, I believe that killing another life whether it is through abortion and/or euthanasia is morally wrong and should be at the top of the list of the things that are wrong. Any justification to end life in such cases, I believe, is morally reprehensible. Our duty as ethical beings is to protect life no matter what the cost may be or how much it may cause us to be uncomfortable. Anything that conflicts with protecting a life should be relegated to a secondary position for the option of protecting it. Out of this basic principle everything emanates.
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