Thoughts on moral practise

Morality is concerned with what promotes human well-being and what prevents suffering. – Stephen Darwall

 

This week has been all out morality, where we get our moral values from and how this affects our behaviour. 

Firstly, morality is quite a touchy subject, for me too, and I’ve been challenged to really dig deep into where my morality comes from and how it affects how I act or ‘should act’. This week I’ve been listening/watching many videos which challenge the existence of a God who who developed a moral code for us. It’s been interesting to hear what atheists believe about morality and I can understand that viewpoint but I disagree with it. I’m not going to try argue my case and prove other viewpoints wrong, I’m simply going to write my thoughts about morality. I believe morality and God go hand in hand, so I’ve had to write this post on primarily that. 

1. What I believe about morality:

I come from an interesting background, which has given me a real challenge when dealing with morality. I grew up in a broken home, with a mother trying to work as much as she could to bring up 3 girls. I did not get enough quality time with my mom because she was too busy working, so I spent a lot of my time with my grandparents. My gran has a very skew view on morality and she tried to instil racism, unforgiveness, hate, jealousy, and such things. I grew up a very confused child, and all the negative peer pressure didn’t help either. My mom is a strong Christian, and she has always tried to bring us up in a Christian environment, but I never understood it, until I moved away from home to study in Cape Town. 

That is where I became a Christian and I challenged myself to redefine my morality a few years ago, and I’m still on that journey. I found out that I believe in something which is called the divine command theory– that morality comes from God. If God doesn’t exist then everything is permitted. There cannot be a ‘wrong’ if there is no ‘right’ to compare it to. That is why I believe that God exists, and it is morally wrong to violate God’s commands. I also think that God’s commands were put in place to promote our well being and prevent us from suffering. Saint Augustine argued that to achieve happiness, humans must love objects that are worthy of human love in the correct manner; this requires humans to love God, which then allows them to correctly love everything else. Augustine’s ethics proposed that the act of loving God enables humans to properly orient their loves, leading to human happiness and fulfilment.

2. How it affects my behaviour:

I believe that human behaviour is determined by our beliefs, and if our behaviour wavers from our belief, we need to redefine it. I know full well that we all do wrong things, and therefore we are not in the position to judge others as we do not have that authority. So, my behaviour or thinking towards a patient is this: “I will not judge you and I have a moral obligation to you because God loves each person the same, and I would like to promote well being and prevent human suffering” with that said, this allows me to treat patients that have done or do things that I do not believe are right. I have a moral obligation to treat each patient to the best of my ability. This is no easy task as I am sometimes challenged by my conflicted judgements. It is a life long journey to be a moral person, so far I have enjoyed the journey, I have been challenged immensely and learned many great things because of it. But, I still have so much to learn.   

In conclusion, my desire is to live in a way that promotes positive societal change and the well-being of all and prevents human suffering. I believe I can do this, however small the change,  by the everyday choices I make. 🙂 

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts on moral practise

  1. Hello Kristin,
    I enjoyed reading your very thoughtful post.
    You argue very eloquently for faith in God as a basis for moral decisions, and I totally agree with your view that developing morality should be an ongoing journey, not a final destination we arrive at aged 18 and never examine or question thereafter!
    You also raise a very good point: without God, how can we have any morality?
    I’d like, if I may, to offer my personal answer to that very important question.
    I suppose that as an agnostic (I don’t have enough conviction to call myself an atheist) I believe that the basis of my morality is to enable all people to live in freedom, and I am firmly of the opinion that morality is an essential part of being human, not a part of some supernatural realm.
    I read that Albert Einstein once said: “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
    I wonder if perhaps we could both agree that provided an individual continues to ponder matters of morality, and tries to act in accordance with some guiding principles, then both agnostic and religious believer are on the same human journey?

  2. Hi Kristin. Thanks for a great post. It’s clear that you’ve given this a lot of thought and really do try to live your life by a certain moral code. I also believe that personal human development is a journey and not a destination. As soon as you think that “you’ve arrived” at whatever point in your life you’re trying to get to, you should probably take a step back and look for what you’re missing. It’s a bit like being happy…you can’t say “Oh, I’ll be happy when…”. Happiness is a frame of mind that exists within you and not a place you’re going. I think morality is the same.

    I would challenge your point about God being the source of what is right. You say that without God everything is permissable. To test that, ask yourself what you would do if you knew no-one would ever find out. I know that for myself, if we somehow found conclusive evidence that God doesn’t exist, I wouldn’t change my life in any way. I wouldn’t overnight become a murderer and a thief. I would still believe that living my life in a way that improves the lives of others has value and is a moral necessity.

    I don’t think we can say that belief in God equates with a moral compass because there are many people who don’t believe in God (or who believe in a different God) who are good people. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence for people doing horrific things to each other in God’s name (think about the Middle East, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, 9/11). I could probably make a good argument that belief in a personal God actually predisposes one to acts of inhumanity (Think about it, if your life on earth is simply a minor stage in a progression towards heaven, then human life is actually devalued). I know that this is a difficult conversation to have in a blog post, and I don’t want to try and change your outlook. I just want to use this as an opportunity to challenge you. I hope that’s OK.

    Feel free to delete this comment if it’s a bit too much.

    1. Hi Michael, I was really challenged by your comment, but, I was really interested in challenging myself and my faith to actually have an answer you. When I read your comment, I honestly did not have an answer, but one reason is because I haven’t ever thought about that way, even though this is something I have struggled with myself. After really thinking and reading up on some things, I would love to reply to your comments. I will try write a new post explaining a few things.

      Thanks for the challenge!

    2. Interesting points you touch on there Mr Rowe however I do think that your comment underestimates the natural intelligence and human reasoning of people who believe in God, it fails to explain the link of natural intelligence coupled with believing in God(or gods). People who believe in God have their own reasoning, which I think God encourages them to use otherwise we would have been pre-programmed to believe in HIM without out any choice.

      I do not think that believers in God rely solely on God`s commandments to determine their behavour, some of it is purely choice influenced by their reaasoning. They supplement their moral code with the commandments of God gained through faith. Think of it as God being the reason why they should do good, even when no one is watching.becase as people we need a reason for not doing bad thing, and what better reason to have, than an omnipotent God

      A lot of human behavior has been influenced by the values that we got from religion which is why I am tempted to believe that our moral code has been fundamental crafted by our belief in God.

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