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?

Patrick H
Gormley


Right and Wrong - is there more to it than mere choice?

A choice is an action. The will acts even if only internally. It is an action you do a further action with.

 

Choice for philosophers and for Catholics, among other religions, needs to go somewhere. People say choice and purpose are inseparable. Choice is for purpose.  It needs to be for something, for a purpose.  It needs to be about what you do be it good or bad. Too often we hear about choice but no moral link is mentioned. Its just choice for the sake of choice.  People say that something which is the least evil may be done if there is no other way to avoid doing something worse. You are forced to act so you are not willingly evil. But if you are glad you have to do it then you are as bad as if you did it freely.  You could be evil for choosing the worst evil. If you do so you are saying you are choosing it for not other reason than that you decide to.

 

Back to choice being about purpose.  Whose purpose? For religion it is God's purpose that matters.  You make his purpose your own by consent.  To make it about you then is abusing choice. To make a choice as a choice means that missing the mark fails to count as a proper choice.  It is a motion and an error not a choice. 

 

God then gave us free will so we could make choices for him.  It is not like he just gave us freedom and it is us who makes the purpose of it to be about God.  If God is to be God then he has to ensure we can be all about him and unite to him completely in love.  In reality that does not happen.  It cannot.  We are condemned as sinful for the way we are, for what we cannot do.

 

Morally speaking ought implies can. Ought implies ownership - if you own your choice and its your choice then you are responsible. A person ought to make others happy if that is his or her goal. Bacteria cannot be said to ought to make you healthy - they do not know what they are doing.
 
Action is the most important part of ought. An ought is no good if nobody can act on it. You need two actions - the choice action and the choice you make with that power to choose.   The first one as in how choice is action is the most important.  The second is the less important one for it is the action you do with the choice action.  It cannot be as important for it cannot happen without it.
 
Action and ought go together inseparably.
 
Paradoxically action or can is not about ought.
 
If we have free will do we just have it? If so it has no purpose in itself. Giving it a purpose is only confirming that you have to give it a purpose for it has no purpose. Free will despite having no purpose can take one. A stick lying on the road can take a purpose by being treated as a walking stick.
 
Wanting choice and asserting your right to choose can mean, ďI know what I will do so I donít need to hear you or listen to you.Ē
 
It seems obvious that an act is not made morally right just by choosing it. Choosing to do x has nothing to do with making x right.
 
Many act as if it does.
 
There was a controversy in 2017 about a baby boy who was circumcised on religious grounds without the clear consent of his parents. One would think that if circumcision were not a huge violation or a huge matter then the lack of consent would not be a big thing either. The fact that it was so important is because circumcision for religious reasons amounts to an assault on the child whether parents consent or not.
 
Disapproval means that you regard somebody's action as intolerable. You do not respect their freedom to commit the act. You seek to remove their freedom by disapproving of it and using this disapproval to pressure them to stop it.
 
If an evil act deserves no respect as an act, it follows that God who can prevent the act or take away free will has no right to allow it.
 
If we really have received the power to choose from God, then he is giving us the power to fend for ourselves. But though we can do that with the power, it does not follow that we are given it for that reason. God by definition deserves devotion and if our power to choose is about us then he cannot give it to us. It is about him.
 
The reason belief in God is so popular is because people imagine there is a moral force or God who will help you be moral. That presupposes you are not able to be without faith in God (even if there is no God). That is a dangerous view for it involves becoming unable to see that you can do it without faith. The idea that God helps is not the same for that cannot be proven. So it is back to faith.
 
Is the meaningless of pleasure or the realisation that it is losing meaning the problem not the meaninglessness of suffering? If so then the person who has the mansion, the money, the sex partners, the glory, the health, the doctors all the good things is the one to watch out for. That is the person you would most expect to commit suicide. That is the person who will be bored of you and value nobody. What about the person who has spiritual pleasure?

There is no need to bring God into it. Why not just start with the fact that we can choose if we indeed can choose?
 
Choice by definition is your own power. It is atheistic in the sense that it is not about God but about me doing what I choose. If free will exists then it refutes God. The power to choose is just about choosing and respecting the power to choose is about respecting you as you do what you want with the power.
 
Free will is about power if it exists. It is not about love or unlove or hate. It is not about choosing right or wrong. It is not about love and not about God. Electricity just exists. It is not about lighting up your bulbs or supplying your PC though it can be used for these purposes.
 
People mostly believe that love is a choice. Surely then if that is true, the choice matters most. It matters more than love or God. There would be no love or devotion to God unless choice existed. God then cannot be that important. It would be evil to say he is. No wonder Christianity and God-based religion are such failures and simmer with passive-aggression. They give God all the importance.
 
Religion says that God gave us free will to choose him or reject him. He wants us to love him and love is voluntary. This doctrine of the divine motivation for giving us free will contradicts the fact that the power to choose matters more than what we do with it.
 
Is free will really that great?
 
Choice is about control first and foremost. The person who opens the floodgate is taking power over the flood. In a real sense that person makes herself/himself stronger than the flood. To choose God is to become the real God. To choose to be moral is to make morality your servant. Free will is useless for you always choose a situation to control that is not as controllable to you as you think. And itís a leap into what you think will happen not what you know will happen. So even if we have free will it is not very useful. Thus it is undeserving of the high pedestal religion puts it on. It is a core principle for religion for it uses it as an excuse for saying God cannot be to blame for evil and suffering. The idea is that man causes evil not God. And it is deployed to ground the idea of moral responsibility. If we donít have free will or much of it we cannot be accused of being to blame for what we do. The power of choice leads to fear and is part of the reason we won't choose good every time.
 
Is choice automatically right?

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.
 
Religion and some philosophers feel that if you choose something that is enough to make it right. Other 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 surely 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.
 
Suppose you have free will. If 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 has to permit you to do this. In fact they should not permit it as if they have the right to. They should not tell you you should not do it and that you are bad if you don't. They should not, if possible, lay out suitable punishment. 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.
 
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."
 
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, 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.
 
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 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.  If I choose to eat the last slice of bread others who want it must get another way to get bread.
 
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 chose it then in certain circumstances you can presume they would choose.
 
Finally
 
When see what choice is really about and what morality is really about we see that the argument: "Choosing x has nothing to do with making it right" is simplistic. Choice has a lot to do with it or everything to do with it.

 

It is really character that matters to us not choice.   We don't think about what a person chooses so much as what they are like as a person. What about the indeterminist (free will) notion that your character is your choice for you make it from nothing? Creating from nothing does not mean its random style once-offs all the time. It can be creating choice over time or creating a character framework. Choice means doing one-offs or something more structured.  In other words a choice can be instant or prolonged.  A choice made slowly over time is still a choice.  We fear the idea that somebody can change just like that.  We like the idea of character being formed by an extended choice.  It is really about what we want to think not what we should think or what is true.  In reality if character could exist without any input from free will we would be ecstatic.