Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Moral Instinct

Steven Pinker wrote an article for the New York Times today that is really interesting.

Here's a brief excerpt: Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings. We seek it in our friends and mates, nurture it in our children, advance it in our politics and justify it with our religions. A disrespect for morality is blamed for everyday sins and history’s worst atrocities. To carry this weight, the concept of morality would have to be bigger than any of us and outside all of us.

Pinker goes on to argue that because Morality is so key to the way we value humanity certain issues become difficult to discuss or change. People often place moral values onto issues that are not particularly moral (veganism, smoking, ect) and demoralize issues that used to have moral consequences (ex. homosexuality, marijuana use, ect). This is really evident to me during an election year. Suddenly issues that normally are ones of practicality suddenly become really big deals. I think this also has major implications for the church. We solve our moral dilemmas by placing God in charge or our morals. The fact that we can moralize and demoralize issues in order to fit our lifestyle becomes problematic for 2 main reasons:
1.This reason is pretty obvious but, moral wrongs can be overlooked to suit your lifestyle. There are times it seems when we all can talk ourselves into moral wrongs when they are more convenient for us. For example white lies, gossip, cheating, stealing ect...
2. Some issues regardless of the actual morality of them become morally right or wrong in the eyes of the church and it is near impossible to start a conversation about them. Ex. Homosexuality. Because Christians have written this practice off to be immoral it is very difficult to have an open minded conversation about the practice. For example, not every case of homosexuality is the same- Some may be promiscuous others monogamous others still choosing celibacy and even others still choosing celibacy falling into temptation. It is clear to me that these are not all the same and yet most Christians place them all into the same category.

Anyway its a good article.

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