Skip to comments.The Revenge of Conscience (Very good article on moral relativism)
Posted on 12/23/2018 6:17:07 AM PST by RoosterRedux
Things are getting worse very quickly now. The list of what we are required to approve is growing ever longer. Consider just the domain of sexual practice. First we were to approve sex before marriage, then without marriage, now against marriage. First with one, then with a series, now with a crowd. First with the other sex, then with the same. First between adults, then between children, then between adults and children. The last item has not been added yet, but will be soon: you can tell from the change in language, just as you can tell the approach of winter from the change in the color of leaves. As any sin passes through its stages from temptation, to toleration, to approval, its name is first euphemized, then avoided, then forgotten. A colleague tells me that some of his fellow legal scholars call child molestation intergenerational intimacy: thats euphemism. A good-hearted editor tried to talk me out of using the term sodomy: thats avoidance. My students dont know the word fornication at all: thats forgetfulness.
The pattern is repeated in the house of death. First we were to approve of killing unborn babies, then babies in process of birth; next came newborns with physical defects, now newborns in perfect health. Nobel-prize laureate James Watson proposes that parents of newborns be granted a grace period during which they may have their babies killed, and in 1994 a committee of the American Medical Association proposed harvesting organs from some sick babies even before they die. First we were to approve of suicide, then to approve of assisting it. Now we are to approve of a requirement to assist it, for, as Ernest van den Haag has argued, it is unwarranted for doctors not to kill patients who seek death. First we were to approve of killing the sick and unconscious, then of killing the conscious and consenting. Now we are to approve of killing the conscious and protesting, for in the United States, doctors starved and dehydrated stroke patient Marjorie Nighbert to death despite her pleading Im hungry, Im thirsty, Please feed me, and I want food. Such cases are only to be expected when food and water are now often classified as optional treatments rather than humane care; we have not long to go before joining the Netherlands, where involuntary euthanasia is common. Dutch physician and author Bert Keizer has described his response when a nursing home resident choked on her food: he shot her full of morphine and waited for her to die. Such a deed by a doctor in the land that resisted the Nazis.
Why do things get worse so fast? Of course we have names for the process, like collapse, decay, and slippery slope. By conjuring imagesa stricken house, a gangrenous limb, a sliding talusthey make us feel we understand. Now, I am no enemy to word-pictures, but a civilization is not really a house, a limb, or a heap of rocks; it cannot literally fall in, rot, or skid out from underfoot. Images can only illustrate an explanation; they cannot substitute for one. So why do things get worse so fast? It would be well to know, in case the process can be arrested.
The usual explanation is that conscience is weakened by neglect. Once a wrong is done, the next wrong comes more easily. On this view conscience is mainly a restraint, a resistance, a passive barrier. It doesnt so much drive us on as hold us back, and when persistently attacked, the restraining wall gets thinner and thinner and finally disappears. Often this explanation is combined with another: that conscience comes from culture, that it is built up in us from outside. In this view the heart is malleable. We dont clearly know what is right and wrong, and when our teachers change the lessons, our consciences change their contents. What once we deemed wrong, we deem right; what once we deemed right, we deem wrong.
There is something to these explanations, but neither can account for the sheer dynamism of wickednessfor the fact that we arent gently wafted into the abyss but violently propel ourselves into it. Nor, as I will show, can either one account for the peculiar quality of our present moral confusion.
I suggest a different explanation. Conscience is not a passive barrier but an active force; though it can hold us back, it can also drive us on. Moreover, conscience comes not from without but from within: though culture can trim the fringes, the core cannot be changed. The reason things get worse so fast must somehow lie not in the weakness of conscience but in its strength, not in its shapelessness but in its shape.
(Excerpt) Read more at firstthings.com ...
Note that this item is from twenty years ago.
Atheists claim they don’t need God because they are guided by their inner sense of right and wrong. But there is no inner sense apart from God. They’re fooled into thinking that right and wrong depends on what feels good and what doesn’t. That’s the same set of morality guiding every evil person in history.
tolerate is different than approve
skepticism = truth is unknowable
nihilism = there is no truth
skepticism + nihilism = subjectivism + relativism = anything goes
America was a Christian nation. But pseudo Christians abandon matters of faith when it interferes with their fun.
Thus torn asunder, none shall see thy strife;
Thy spotted hand; thy bloody, dripping knife.
It is the same Natural Law about which he writes, which informed our moral sense, the English Common Law and our Constitution ,which is almost lost
We could use a repentance and return to it in this country to MAGoodA.
‘But there is no inner sense apart from God.’
sorry, that’s simply not true...
A desire to return to a time “when every man did what was right IN HIS OWN EYES.” a return to BARBARISM.
‘America was a Christian nation.’
actually, America was an Enlightenment nation...the Age of Reason, and all that, acknowledging the abstract deist notion of the Creator, rather than the specific Judeo-Christian God...
Nice. Who wrote that, please?
There is no inner sense “of right and wrong” is what I said if you read it in context. You’re not born with a sense of morality. That, like many other things, is a learned behavior. How you feel doesn’t provide you with a moral compass.
I wrote a short novel on the same theme, a Christmas story called A Fantasía for Two Lutes, which allegorizes the guilt of Western society. Coincidentally, in honor of the Christmas season, it's available for the next few days as a free on Amazon.
Kipling put it in more concise and poetic form in his “Gods of the Copybook Headings”
I love the ominous prophetic ending...
“And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! “
I wonder if the author is familiar with this poem.
Where is that from?
See my post #15.
I'd be willing to bet he is. Kipling's was a great talent.
Thanks for posting. Exceptional essay.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.