Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


Is choice automatically right? The question is that if a choice is wrong, that may not not mean it is wrong for you.

It is not clear that we really think choice is about being able to choose the right thing. Choice is largely or sometimes totally an end in itself. And it is partly true that if you have to put yourself first in a dog eat dog universe there is part of it where you have no choice. You cannot serve yourself or another equally. To give is to risk yourself being hurt for you are helping a being that is in competition with you on some level even a passive one.

It is common for many today to feel that if you choose something that is enough to make it right. Many complain about how prevalent that position is for they see it as destructive to society.

They say that it overlooks the following:

# We make choices we have good reason to think are bad.

# We make big choices for stupid or flimsy reasons.

# Asking for indiscriminate approval of our choices is just an indication that we are spoiled brats.

# We know deep down that freedom of choice is not everything. If you get your own way all the time you will miss out on the fun of dealing with challenges to your self-determination.

And if right and wrong is merely choice, then what is wrong? Wrong will then be seen as doing what you don't want to do or what is against your will. It follows that there is no such thing as a wrong choice if you do it freely. This is seen as a highly dangerous view.

The view is thought to be behind the campaign for late-term abortions, declaring punishment immoral, allowing a person born male to have female put on the birth certificate, same-sex marriage, the right to suicide etc.

But what if you suggest choice is good even if we do bring about bad consequences? Choice is just choice. It is neither good or evil as choice. It is not good or evil in itself. But a choice will bring about a mixture of bad and good results to one degree or another.

The person cannot be assessed as bad or good based on what they choose. It is the consequences not the person that must be praised or condemned.

It would be objectively wrong to deny a person their choice and that is a bigger wrong than the objective evil of adultery or murder. Religion says that if choice comes first then there is no moral basis for condemning adultery or murder as objectively wrong. There is no basis to judge these actions. But even if there is, preventing a person from committing evil is worse than the evil they do. It is worse in principle if not in the pain it causes.

The Church says that complete freedom is paradoxically not freedom at all. This is nonsense. If complete freedom means less freedom it certainly does not mean having no freedom. This lie is a core doctrine of the faith. Religion by definition denies that there is true self-respect or respect for others in unbridled freedom and bases this on the notion that such freedom is not really freedom.

People say, "There is a way in which your choice or decision is not yours to make. This time we are talking about justice. I may be a policeman and duty bound to stop a murder that is about to take place before my eyes. I know the killer has the power to choose, but I can still tell him it is not his decision to make. Thus I can force my will on him and stop the murder and use force if necessary. If you want to commit the sin of having sex before marriage, if you want to commit the sin of masturbation or heresy or unbelief, the sin is not your decision to make. The person who fails to tell you that loud and clear is enabling disobedience to God. They have no right to be silent and no right to use the excuse that it is your choice."

Suppose you have free will. Suppose God gave you free will to obey him or to disobey him. It follows that you can obey him or disobey him but nobody else must permit you to do this. In fact they should not permit it. They should tell you you should not do it and that you are bad if you don't. They should, if possible, lay out suitable punishment.

But the trouble is that if it is your choice to obey God or not, this refers to the choice being your faculty. It is your power to obey or not. Thus it is no man's business for man did not give you free will.

If there is a God, then you have no right to disobey him. If he says you must obey the policeman then in reality you are obeying God not the policeman.

The atheist perception, even if it is often poorly articulated, is that belief in God logically implies that religion is to be given supreme power provided it is the religion authorised by God to represent him and teach his revelations properly is accurate. This teaching or implication is a worry. It has done untold damage in history.

To have the freedom to obey man or disobey is one thing. We are happy enough with it. It feels natural. But to suppress this and obey God instead is oppressive. God and the removal of freedom go together.

Belief

If good does not matter, then we are made in such a way that something has to matter. If we have free will, then the only thing that can matter is the power to choose. Choice matters and morality doesn't for morality is nonsense. We cannot prove to ourselves 100% that we are acting morally. At best we can believe it. We cannot know it. Sometimes your motives for doing something can be hidden from even yourself. So part of us is open to the notion that morality is nonsense. We partly but largely then regard the power to choose as being what matters and not morality. When you believe something you get on a scale. The scale runs in degrees of belief to degrees of unbelief. In that sense to believe is also to not believe.


Some say we choose at least some of our beliefs. What matters most in a person? Their beliefs or their power to choose? Both cannot be equally important because they are separate faculties. The power to act is a fact. We may not be sure if it is really free or not or programmed but acting is still a fact. Beliefs are not facts though they can be and often are right.

Choice good for its own sake?

If taste is good it is good for its own sake. You can and should taste something for the sake of it. You can't say that taste is only good if it is testing to see if food is good for you or somebody. Nobody praises an action just because it was a choice but asks if the choice was about promoting happiness and goodness. So this condemns choosing for its own sake or for the sake of choosing. It condemns you for doing that. So there is something evil in choosing to go to the left just because you can or for touching your nose just because you can. This shows people do not respect free will and free agents as much as they let on. Do not be fooled by those who say that free will gives dignity to human beings.


To say choice alone matters implies the chooser matters not the decision. This seems to say in principle that you should praise the person who tidies your lawn up for you out of kindness as much as you should praise the person who rips it up. The assumption is that choice is choice and should not be limited. Is that a problem for we do limit our own and others choices? But that is not a choice to limit. Choices limit themselves. I choose to eat the last slice of bread. I limit myself for I have eaten the bread and canít eat it again.

Lazy?

You need to be sovereign over yourself and your choices. Unless you have autonomy, you cannot be accountable for anything and especially not in the moral sense. You need your conscience to be respected by God and others and you need to respect it yourself in order to be truly free and autonomous. This shows that to make a moral decision without thinking it through carefully and as thoroughly as possible is always bad. It is better to make the well-meaning but wrong choice than to make a lazy one. And even more so if it is regarding a very serious matter such as somebody's life.

Presumed consent

Presumed consent is a big discussion point in medical ethics. This issue comes up when somebody dies in a car crash and unless they have said otherwise in life you can use the organs to save lives.

Presumed consent is only possible if you know the person has been correctly informed and made fully aware of what they could choose. So if they fail to actually choose it then in certain circumstances you can presume they would choose.

We see that choice is not everything and yet it is everything. Choice is not about being moral and just and fair. It is not about God if God is a moral being. It belongs to me. Only me. If others judge me that may seem necessary but it does not take the away the fact that the only judge that matters is me.