Notes on Morality

Originally posted November 27, 2013.

“Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…” ~ C.S. Lewis.

Does atheism deny morality and the meaning of life? What is it about a god that instills meaning into the universe? Perhaps life has a meaning that no one has yet discovered. If that is true, then Christians and Muslims will not discover it, because they already know the meaning of life. you can’t learn what you already know, or think you know.

The existence of a supernatural heaven is as likely as the physical existence of Narnia. One can live as a Narnian, even if there is no Narnia, but is that a good way to live? A useful fiction is good, if it is indeed useful. Our problem is that we have gotten so invested into our fictions that we refuse to compare them to reality, to see whether they are good, whether they might be improved, whether they should even be replaced.

How do you know right from wrong?

How do we come to understand morality? How do we know anything? Why, we learn, of course. We study, we observe, we experiment. Can we know anything with absolute certainty? Of course not. That’s why we have to keep learning, keep correcting our mistakes. In that way we may approach truth. Knowledge is not the end result, it’s a process.

You can’t be redeemed unless you’re lost, and no one is born lost. “Original sin” is a perverted idea. In fact, the way “sin” is usually defined is perverted. Sin is not a matter of breaking rules or falling short of perfection. Sin is living in ways that separate us from our divine nature. So the trick is to define “divine nature” and figure out how to become aware of it and live in it.

“God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” ~ C.S. Lewis.

What is it, apart from which there is no peace and happiness? That would be our divine nature, the part of us that demonstrates confidence, courage, compassion, curiosity, and creativity. What makes us divine is that which makes us most human. So “right living” or morality is not a matter of ascertaining exactly which of our actions are sins to be avoided, but rather focusing on how to be more in tune with our own divinity. All the rest of genuine religion consists of learning how to do that.

Credit for title image: Mimi and Eunice.
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3 thoughts on “Notes on Morality

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  1. Tyler posted on 2013/11/28, 12:39 am
    So I started with my usual adversarial oh this is wrong that is wrong thing, and then about halfway through you totally blew me away. Couldn’t have hit the nail on the head more accurately.
    Except for that part about knowing things with absolute certainty. You most definitely can know things, the only argument to be had is in what you can know.

    Chiefy:
    Thanks, Tyler. I’m feeling the love. I’m not absolutely certain that we can’t know things with certainty. If I were, it would blow my credibility. So you’re probably right; at least you deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    1. I suppose I should have said we can’t know any particular thing with absolute certainty. That is, we know stuff; we just can’t say for sure what that stuff is. I try not to think about it too much.

  2. Tyler posted on 2013/12/01, 12:35 am
    Well we can know geometric relationships with certainty. Thus we can know things. Again, the only real argument is about what we can know.

    Chiefy:
    How do you know that? I would say that what we can know is a philosophical problem that we may never definitively answer. But we can add to what we know, it’s called learning. I presume you would include another form of learning to what I mentioned above. If so, go ahead and share how that is done.

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