Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Atheists and Progressives- Theirs is not a Christian Morality!

The Social Imagination of the Christian knows what he/she ought to do.
Firstly, let us understand the differences between different groups and their ideas about morality or justice. We can start with the Greeks, and this means starting with Homer. The first thing to say is that the gods and goddesses of the Homeric poems behave remarkably like the noble humans described in the same poems, even though the humans are mortal and the gods and goddesses immortal. Both groups are motivated by the desire for honor and glory, and are accordingly jealous when they receive less than they think they should while others receive more, and work ceaselessly to rectify this. The two groups are not however symmetrical, because the noble humans have the same kind of client relation to the divinities as subordinate humans do to them. There is a complex pattern that we might call ‘an honor-loop’ (see Mikalson, Honor Thy Gods). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-morality/ According to Cicero, Socrates (469–399 BCE) was the first to bring philosophy down from heaven, locating it in cities and even in homes (Tusc.V.10) Greeks and Romans had religion. In as much as atheists like to think that ideas of morality and virtue and ethics are innately human logic, evolved overtime, they are misinformed. Western thought on morality, virtue and ethics largely arose from Greek/ Roman philosophy/ political thought. Where did they get their ideas from? Socrates said that such thought was brought down from heaven. In that way, in each and everyone is the knowing of what we 'ought to do'. We know the difference between selfish desires and unselfish. When faced with a choice, we know what we ought to do and often avoid that 'ought to' in our selfish desire to run away from responsibilities.
Of course, some think that this 'ought to do' exists in the human naturally.  I suppose Plato discussed this Socrates as the question appeared "if one is just by choosing justice, then what is one by not choosing justice if by not choosing justice, the one gains more by not choosing justice. And, then justice for who? Justice for the group, another individual or the one. Which would be more important? If one was wealthy, well connected, then wouldn't his value alone in society be more just than a mere peasant's.  After all, his money helped to build the city, his money helped to provide jobs, his money helped to bring about civilization: the arts, science, and the idea of civics.  We see here a kind of honor loop. Yet, morality is this honor loop is defined as that which is virtuous behavior on part of the one, again if the one is making life better by building up the city, then he/she is a moral and just person, right? No of which has anything to do with what one ought to do. Because what one ought to do is not the desire for honor and glory of the self; but, the desire for the glory and honor of God's creation which includes all men. I suppose that even this can be argued in that the wealthy man does this as he/she spends his/her money to build up all of society. Isn't that Bill Gates?
How then is ancient Greek/Roman philosophy any different from the Christian perspective? As C.S. Lewis writes, the difference lies in the Golden Rule of the New testament "Do as you would be done by", in this every Christian has always known what is the right thing to do.  Is that so much different though from what we have been talking about? Building the grand arena which all could come to as a Roman citizen seems moral and virtuous, yet how did it get built? Senators living in splendid homes while others live in shacks; but because they gave their money to build such things and they represent the civic quality of life, they have a right in their virtuous position, right?. Who is moral and who is virtuous? I suppose that the ancients would argue that both are - the Senator and the peasant or average "Joe". The Senators are moral and virtuous because they represent the law- the Republic and the peasant is because they accept it. This is the honor loop. Yet, considering both groups, is this still doing what ought to be done, doing as you would have others do to you? Yes, if we accept the honor loop. No, if we break that loop. No, if we accept that every human person has always known what is right and what ought to be done, then we could not accept that just because some have more others should accept less, is this what the one would have done to them.
Yet, progressives are of the mind set that the means justify the end. If some are higher and others lower, this is justified in the end...then justice for all is done. Christ came to say that justice belongs to the one, and justice is served to him/her in honor of the justified one because he/she is moral and virtuous and knows what they ought to do as it would be done to them. Progressives want social justice at the expense of the individual. Christ came for all. You cannot sacrifice individual justice for collective justice.

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