Ethics and Morality

Brian Worley  


 This writer dislikes the terms “secular morality” & “religious ethics” and feels that these terms are frequently divisive. The imagery of a skunk (black & white absolutes with a dividing stripe down the middle) comes to mind. Pick a side (religious or secular), but be careful lest you upset the skunk and unleash the stinking fury! Pardon the imagery, but society needs to mature and those responsible for the division need to be held accountable! 

Skewed thinking equates a matter to be right or wrong solely on the basis of it being secular or religious. Isn’t it apparent that the terms secular or religious are partisan positions/filters used as either crutches or a defense mechanism to shield or silence critical inquiry?  Think of these terms as retreat terminology. 

This duality of religious ethics and secular morality are straw men arrangements that need abolition. The subject matter isn’t a competitive sport that should conceivably crown a champion either. 

It appears that some positions become intentionally cranky, standoffish and divisive in order to avoid conversing or interacting with the party they have made to be their nemesis. When you can’t talk, reason or converse you fight. They fancy themselves as being strong, bold or assertive when in reality they are the troubled kid that sets in the corner because they don’t want to fit in with the rest of society. Love has usually evaded the unlovable. 

Unfortunately, the atmosphere between people of faith and secular minded folks isn’t conducive for dialogue. There is a giant elephant in the living room that isn’t being properly discussed. Clearly, the number one issue between us is the secular clash with religion and the struggle for the basis of morality and ethics. 

There is an alternative to the coming chaos…it is called dialogue! The realization that sacred and secular positions are in this thing TOGETHER needs reinforcement! 

Who would blame people of faith for not wanting to talk with secular interests when represented by EZ atheists that ridicule and disrespect their position? In essence, EZ atheists have chosen revolution with the intent of overthrowing societal order that has religious underpinnings. 

Atheistic and religious fundamentalist positions stirring the anxiety must not be ignored any longer! This explains the secular humanist clash with atheism and religion’s ongoing inner struggle with fundamentalism. Intellectually, the fundamentalists have been whipped but have regained prominence through funding and mass media campaigns. 

The pivotal question swings upon the effectiveness of divisive mass media campaigns over intellectualism. Soft heads and hardened hearts are fertile ground for chaos in a dummed down society. Ex-Minister is of the persuasion that common good secularist and people of faith can avert the carnage and reach common ground once the fundamentalists are quieted and we are free to discuss and repair matters breached through fundamentalist agitation. 

Recognition of where the Secular-Religious Starting Point begins 

Inevitably, whenever this writer’s path meets with religious folks discovering that I no longer base my decisions solely upon the Holy Book a moment of consternation and inquisitiveness follows. They scratch their heads as their minds think about a passage from the book of Judges: 

Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” 

In order to establish a proper secular understanding of the Christian mindset, I need to borrow and acknowledge that which The Open Bible, Expanded Edition Copyright 1985 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. states in the introductory notes about the book of Judges. 

The Book of Judges stands in stark contrast to Joshua. In Joshua an obedient people conquered the land through trust in the power of God. In Judges, however, a disobedient and idolatrous people are defeated time and time again because of their rebellion against God. 

In seven distinct cycles of sin to salvation, Judges shows how Israel had set aside God’s law and in its place substituted “that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25) The recurring result of abandonment from God’s law is corruption from within and oppression from without. 

With this “historical” understanding entrenched in the Christian mind, they cannot understand how anyone could miss the “lesson of history” so easily.  Mankind doing what they think is right leads to corruption and oppression while Biblical obedience leads to bliss is simplistic thinking. The idea is that an authority (King of Israel & later God’s revelation) that determines what is right and proper. There is an implied fatalism that mankind lacks sufficient organizational ability (such as a democracy, logic and reason) and the wisdom to authoritatively determine rights and wrongs. 

As kindly and gently as I can say this to people of faith…moral and ethical decisions are of necessity judgments that must & can only be made by man! It is irresponsible and lazy to assign the responsibility of decision making to your God or his Ghost that ceased writing to mankind nearly 2,000 years ago!  With such a lapse of time and an absence of scriptural relevant instruction on matters of the day…how can anyone be adversarial to a secular route of decision-making? This realization should be a standard and accepted default position by people of faith.  

The Shell Game 

There is a shell game that people play to avoid or shirk responsibility. For example, some non-religious folks will tell you that abortion is a mere religious issue. By doing so they hope to unplug from the moral responsibility of stopping a natural process (pregnancy) when rape, incest or the life of the mother was not a factor in the decision. 

Science gets yanked into this shell game. Science is neither moral nor immoral, but rather it is amoral. This writer knows for a fact that women have post abortion problems and yet, I’m supposed to believe scientific literature that equates post-abortion syndrome to be a figment of human imagination? I’m not buying; somebody is lying! When scientists find empirical data inconvenient due to political agendas…I find this shell game to be unethical!   

Look, I’ve just upset some secular folks with these last two common sense paragraphs. If secular positions cannot concede their weak points, would you expect religion to relinquish theirs? 

Closing thoughts 

Religion and secularism should be able to co-exist together in harmony. Sort of like a checks and balance system that benefits each due to the other’s presence. Problem is that losing propositions cannot be surrendered and become politicized for survival. Weak politicized positions break the survival of the fittest rules, which causes tension! Damn politics! Politics complicates and sours both secularism and religion. 

Let’s cut to the chase. Religion deals with influence; politics deals with power. You can short-circuit it all by getting to the conscious. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Secularism needs to drop the sword and religion needs to beat their swords into plowshares. Come let us reason together!

Brian Worley     March 30, 2011   All rights reserved.

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