Necessity of Secularism, pg 104

Mar 6, 2017

“And what is this point of view we share in common with others? It’s what many ethicists refer to as a common morality. The common morality is composed of those core moral norms that have been accepted across cultures. For humans to live together in peace and prosper, we need to follow norms such as do not kill, do not steal, do not inflict pain gratuitously, tell the truth, keep you commitments, reciprocate acts of kindness, and so forth. The number of core norms is small, but they govern most of the transactions we have with other humans. This is why we see these norms in all functioning human societies, past and present. “[I]njunctions against violence, deceit, and betrayal … are familiar in every society and every legal system. They have been voiced in works as different as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Icelandic Edda, and the Bhagavad-Gita.” Any community in which these norms were lacking could not survive for long. We cannot live together in peace without these core moral norms. This shared core of moral norms represents the common heritage of civilized human society.”

–Ron Lindsay, The Necessity of Secularism, pg 104


Discuss!

5 comments on “Necessity of Secularism, pg 104

  • Morality is a thing preexistent to theology or religion, and has no necessary connection with either. The foundations of the moral sense are formed in earliest childhood, learned from parents and family long before clergymen or religious instructors are introduced, and in children who are well and intelligently brought up decent behavior is second nature and its own reward. It is absorbed from the experiences of daily life and it requires neither whips nor harsh words, if parents are both wise and kind. It is loving fathers and mothers who give us our first impressions of the order and tenor of the world, and who begin helping us to shape our proper and moral responses to it—parents and immediate family who daily set the example not only for behavior but demeanor as well. How to be, how to act in the world, how to comport oneself toward others, the difference between right and wrong, what is good to do and good to avoid are the daily lessons naturally absorbed by children in an orderly household and they are the outcome of loving and caring treatment, the natural instinct in children to want to imitate parents and older siblings, the beneficial effect of open affection and appropriate praise on children, and the way these affect behavior. This is so whether parents are either perfectly orthodox or perfectly indifferent to religion—or even one of each.
    By gently cultivating these traits of temperament in children we predispose them to moral behavior, investing against the day when more complicated moral questions begin inevitably to enter their lives, as inevitably they will. As the world of our childhood enlarges, we learn by gradual exposure that we must make a good and respectful fit with, first, the people next door, then the neighborhood, then our fellow schoolkids, then the increasingly larger communities of the greater world. We gradually come to learn, as we go along and the moral universe grows larger, (and we become able to read the newspaper) what disturbing the peace is, what is disorderly conduct, what are theft, burglary, indecent exposure, sexual misconduct, assault, rape, homicide and murder, war crimes and genocide. The moral order, as it has been crafted by our forbears and adopted by common consent out of the necessities of community life, is gradually revealed to us over the course of our early lives, experiences and exposures. This process does not require clergymen, Bibles or denominational religions.



    Report abuse

  • For humans to live together in peace and prosper, we need to follow
    norms such as do not kill, do not steal, do not inflict pain
    gratuitously, tell the truth, keep you commitments, reciprocate acts
    of kindness, and so forth. The number of core norms is small, but they
    govern most of the transactions we have with other humans.

    Why is so difficult for someone to follow this? 😉 Politicians and capitalists first. Well, perhaps answer is the money (capital). Right 😉 Because of their love for money and capital goods they will kill, steal, lie, be unkind, inflict pain to others and so on. Perhaps I will sound unattractive, but I realy think that those people that are hungry of money and wealth (power) are mentally ill. And as such dangerous to others, because their hunger for wealth(power) destroys anyone who gets in their way. 🙁



    Report abuse

  • “For humans to live together in peace and prosper, we need to follow
    norms such as do not kill, do not steal, do not inflict pain
    gratuitously, tell the truth, keep you commitments, reciprocate acts
    of kindness, and so forth. The number of core norms is small, but they
    govern most of the transactions we have with other humans.”

    One can easily imagine a human society, regardless of size, prior to human historical records in which survival necessitated the incorporation of all of these moral imperatives. A moral imperative, as defined by Immanuel Kant, was a dictate of pure reason, in its practical aspect. Not following the moral law was seen to be self-defeating and thus contrary to reason. Reason would dictate that the group benefits from cooperative actions. Simple observation would be the only reasoning needed to reach that conclusion.

    Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. “Utility” is defined in various ways, usually in terms of the well-being of sentient entities, such as human beings and other animals. The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation. Jeremy Bentham is best known as an advocate of the Utilitarian principle.

    It’s easy to see how the “norms such as do not kill, do not steal, do not inflict pain
    gratuitously, tell the truth, keep your commitments, reciprocate acts
    of kindness,”
    apply, as well as other concepts such as sharing wealth, especially anything related to survival, which would simply be “common sense” related to survival of the individual through survival of the group.

    Religions have a long history of incorporating various “cultural norms” into their dogma in order to gain political power and control over cultures. An obvious tactic for gaining power and authority would be conscripting any and all culturally commonsense survival norms and then ascribing those norms to some mysterious entity to which only certain specific individuals and institutions have privileged access.



    Report abuse

  • 4
    fadeordraw says:

    A common morality was an evolutionary adaptation which allowed sapiens to live together and survive in communities. It most assuredly predates religion. It importantly does not apply in war situations or when the survival of the individual or the family is threatened. In this regard, consideration needs to be given to such institutions of the Magna Carta, policing and the judiciary, etc.



    Report abuse

  • This week’s paragraph perfectly encapsulates the difficulty with promoting secularism amongst the religious. When you are brought up thinking that moral norms only exist because of your religion, and when you see so many good people around you believing the same thing, it is perfectly natural to think that those not ‘blessed’ by your god cannot be as morally good as those who are. I know, I used to think that. The many good priests, nuns and congregation members provide a veil of goodness that holds people to their beliefs and encourages each new generation to do the same.

    People talk about Big Brother and the New World Order as if these are things to fear for the future. What strikes me is how oblivious everyone is to the fact that it is the Old World Order that should be feared: the ultimate mind-police. George Orwell described a world where everybody is being watched by devices in their own homes. How much more powerful the control when everybody is being watched by devices in their own minds? Also, monotheistic religions create a society where everyone is also being watched by everyone else, as their gods like to punish entire communities for the transgressions of one member: it is ingrained in them to want everybody to live by their god’s rules for this reason.

    The irony is that the fear of the New World Order is somehow translated into a fear of technology and by extension, science and reason! The knowledge and tools that would empower people to break free of the mind police are shunned, while they flock to the churches and feed the demons.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.