AN EXAMINATION OF MORALITY WHEN IT IS BASED ON AUTHORITY

Authority is a myth. It is not an inherent intrinsic thing. Nothing has intrinsic authority. Authority is what you have to settle for. It is about settling for and not about recognising the authority for being an authority. If there is authority a, then it depends on the authority of b.  B depends on the authority of c and c on d and on and on it goes until you stop and realise there is no ultimate authority.

We end up with "K is the ultimate authority for we cannot think of any more and we have to stop somewhere”. An authority that is found that way is not an authority at all but an expedience. It has no direct force. You affirm it because it is all that is there not because it deserves respect. Is it any wonder that society has such negativity and fear and disrespect for authority?  Is it any wonder we feel that people who talk about the will of God are in fact talking about their own will? It explains why everybody thinks God agrees with them when it should be the other way around! It is the smoking gun – it is the answer to how a religion can look peaceful and still motivate war.

 

The notion that there is no duty or sense of duty unless the authority making the duty is superior is nonsense.  Sometimes a child can be wiser than the parent and bind him or her to do something. The Church tells you that you need God the supreme moral authority to command you.  That is a trick.  It is not even logical.

 

Should people be allowed to make moral choices for themselves or should such choices be turned over to higher authorities? Actually, that's a false dilemma: some choices are always restricted and others allowed. Thus, the real question is where we draw the line.  With religion, and God, it is felt that God alone is the source of moral good and thus even if you make your own choice it is not that you are making a moral choice but you are trying to take your moral impulse and how to live it from God alone.

 

A dodgy or faulty morality that is practical and reaches many to change their way of living for the better is better than a good one that turns people off or is impractical.  Religion habitually presents moral systems as good and revealed by God.  Once God gives it you cannot debate him for he does not debate and has his own reasons.  So bad religious moral systems will have the same destructive effect as a good one that turns people off.

 

Morality has a sense of law and authority about it. You feel its an obligation to help a dying baby. You believe it.

 

An ought or an ought not is an authority claim.

 

For many, this facilitates the sense that moral obligation comes from God and God is the supreme moral authority.

 

But what is wrong with just helping the baby without a sense of duty? If you have the sense then bypass it.  Spontaneous goodness is the best - period.

 

Does sensing that moral obligation is binding really require us to say that the reason it is binding is God? Why insist on God when many sense and feel it is binding without knowing or caring why? To insist on any particular explanation or "explanation" would defeat morality for it is irrational to be dogmatic on the subject.

 

If you think there is no morality without God, then you are not choosing God as the explanation. You have no choice and he is the outcome of a process of elimination. You don't want to think people make morality for themselves and it is their decision about what is moral and that makes it moral. So you think if you say morality comes from God you avoid that. A God who is based on compulsion is a God best dropped and abandoned. It would be crazy to take joy in him.

 

STEPS

 

When a person is developing into a person who recognises morality and the need for it. The starting point is said to be, “What authority do I need to believe in in order to know or believe in morality?” In fact that is not the starting point at all! The starting point is, “If morality is needed and exists, one thing is for sure that it needs to be an authority in itself. But only I can see why or how it is an authority. Therefore I must take the authority to judge what the authority is. So my authority is the foundation.”


If you get the moral theory right or wrong, that does not matter at the start for that is for a later stage.

Steps

1
Decide on your own authority that morality exists

2
Only then can you decide why and how morality has authority. That is another authority.

3

Summary: You decide ENTIRELY on your own authority that you need a moral authority. If you have a choice between your authority and moral authority and cannot have both then it has to be the first that matters. Moral authority does not come from an outside authority at all but is really just your own authority at work. To accept another authority is really just you giving them authority so in that way the authority is all yours.

DOES MORALITY NEED TO BE COMMANDED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY?

 

Why should I uphold and accept the reality of morality? The starting point for religion is that an authority is supposedly needed in order to believe in or know morality. But if you obey a moral authority that does not make you moral. You could be just obeying because you can and not because you care if it is moral or not. A moral authority then should only tell you what is moral but has no right to command it. There is a difference between doing good and being good. The authority thing does nothing to help. It hinders for it seeks to control and command in the name of morality but that is in fact an abuse of morality.

 

Religion has rules telling you to be moral. Religion states that only a person can issue commands to be moral. It says this person is God alone. But this assumes that morality has to be commanded or enforced. Many thinkers argue that it is better to do good because you spontaneously want to and not because you are told to. Doing what you are told because you are told is not good at all. Also, it tends to fool people into caring only about the good results. They should care about real good and the good results.

 

God wants us to do good because he commanded it for he says as he is the perfectly good person and creator he is to be loved above all things and he is the boss. That means then that the good is not good at all. If you are doing it because you were told and not because you see it as good even if you do see it as good then the good is evil. It is artificial good. It demeans yourself for it is not very adult.
 
If you do something because it is good you are not doing it just because the rules say it is good but because it is good. Some say that doing something good because it is good means you care more about good than others. But this overlooks the fact that good means caring for others. But it is possible to adore the concept of good and not the reality of good. Even if good is about helping others the fact remains that you can do good for the concept and not for them.

If you return a lost purse to its owner you may care more about the rule not to keep the purse than the person’s rights. But if you do that you are doing good not because it is good but because you were commanded by a rule.

 

CONTROL

 

Atheists and most believers in God struggle with ethics. Both try to calculate what the best outcome will be and do what seems to bring it about. They weigh benefits and problems against each other.

 

God being objective morality or not being objective morality makes no difference.

 

Why would you emphasise God then? It looks like an addiction of some sort. And many try to stop their ideas from being debated by saying they are God's ideas. Whatever is wrong, God is a hindrance and a threat.

 

We must remember too, that there is no essential difference between a believer who says, "This is the way God wants it done and there is to be no debate" and one who says, "We have found the answer and God has given it to us through the debate." Both agree the final word is God's or rather what we think is God's. They only differ on whether God uses debate or not to teach us. It follows then that if you stifle debate in the name of God and you are wrong to it is not a huge error for the main thing is basing yourself on what God says. But if there is no God it is horrendous and distasteful.

 

COMMANDING YOU TO HAVE MORAL VALUES IS IMPOSSIBLE

 

Values and commands are not the same thing. Kindness and fairness are values. Commandments that you should feed the poor and pay the labourer a proper wage are derived from the values. The law of the land values justice but each country has different ways of expressing this. For some countries, it is fair to allow abortion. Others see it as unfair.

 

God commanding you to have values is ridiculous. You have to discover values and be drawn to them. You cannot command anybody to value anything. It shows a lack of understanding as to what a value is.

 

The notion of obeying because you are commanded implies that it does not matter if you are good to people because you want to be happy and enjoy healthy relationships with them. You must not care about that. Only the command matters. But what if the command says you are to do good for that very reason? A command is an implied threat. It says, "I have the authority. Obey!" It tries to force by saying this. It also tries to force by threatening punishment. "If you disobey you are bad and you cannot get away with it for it would not be right for both bad and good people to be treated as if their actions didn't matter". Commanding people to have relationships is impossible. You have to make relationships attractive to them instead.
 
Suppose we need to be commanded to have any regard for good at all. Suppose we would have less regard for good if we were not commanded. Suppose we would have none or hardly any. Commanding is not going to help if your appreciation and love of good is poor or dead. Commanding is only going to make you less attracted to good. Now if you need to be commanded the reason is that your respect for goodness is weak. So commanding is not going to help. No religion of commands is a good thing in principle.
 
If we need to be commanded in order to increase our love of good, then that is an argument for forced conversion and religious persecution of atheists and others who do not agree with a religion's morals. If we have to force ourselves we will soon move on to forcing others.