Are we teaching our children that only “proven” facts can be called right? Indeed, such is the proposition Justin P. McBrayer makes in a NY Times Op-Ed:
In summary, our public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths.
This is, I think, a result of modernity. The philosopher (one who teaches religion) rails against this. I was apprehensive about suggesting that he is right — until I consulted an ethicist who basically agreed. I mean, I “feel” this way, but since that is not “proven…”
In my opinion, we are factually discrediting science when we create these categories as well as leading us into some serious moral problems in the future. If moral facts are nothing but opinions, with no one able to make a choice about them, then what is to stop the most heinous crimes from being executed without repercussions?
Everyone repeats the same line: Sunday is the most segregated day of the week, and remains so. Why does some Christians fight so hard for racial justice, and others do not? This is a question that has been going through my mind a lot recently. God made all human beings in God’s image, the Imago Dei. Every person is of invaluable worth. This is an enduring truth of Christian tradition passed on for centuries. Racism is a denial of not only the Imago Dei in every human being, but also, a denial of Christ’s resurrection. In order for racism to be a persistent force in U.S. American politics, systems of death targeting specific populations (primarily People of Color) must take root as the norm. When they go unchallenged by the Church, that is a denial of the Gospel, the Good News of Christ’s victory of sin, Satan, and death, and God’s work of reconciling us to each other.
One of the many sins that Christians refuse to repent of is that of the genocide of First Nations persons. These wars and injustices are relegated to the past, as professor Andrea Smith points out, rather than instances of the present as well. Smith puts it this way, “One possible reason that the “exception” of Native genocide is not fully explored is that it is relegated to the past. That is, Omi and Winant argue that the United States has shifted from a racial dictatorship characterised by “the mass murder and expulsion of indigenous peoples” to a racial democracy in which “the balance of coercion began to change”.9 Essentially, the problem of Native genocide and settler colonialism today disappears.” for more see : Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy. The laws in which our First Nations sisters and brothers live under were made under the presumption that, #1, Native Americans were not Christian, and therefore not American, and #2, that First Nations people were not competent enough to rule themselves. Unfortunately, Christians in the past as well as today are far more invested in the nation-state than they were/are in the Gospel. What we as the Church need is a commitment to the Gospel of the Unsettling God who calls us to oppose the White Supremacist nation-state for the cause of justice, and to work towards a more just and loving community.
At a men’s discussion group I get to participate in every now and then, we have started to hammer out some interestings aspects of the free will v. determinism debate. Anyone who knows the debate, knows that it is not as clean cut as the “v” may represent.
But, the question came up about determinism and moral responsibility. Unlike moral influences and free will which suggest the person is still ultimately responsible, I am unsure if it is either logical or moral to place upon a pre-determined individual responsibility for his or her actions. If the person is born a predetermined immoral agent, then his or her actions are simply the result of the processes of the machine.
But, I wanted to argue the other side.
In determinism, the moral responsibility may not lay with the immoral agent, but I believe it does lay with the society as both a moral and legal entity. Therefore, if an immoral agent does what he or she is predisposed to do, it is not their fault; however, the moral society has a responsibility to correct the damage as well as to prevent such actions from occurring again in whatever means they find necessary. For the moral society, they act under the protection of the legal system — therefore, their actions or neither unjust or brutal, but necessary. They alone, after all, have the moral agency.
Thus, it becomes the moral responsibility of the legal society to remove from their midst the immoral agents if they act immorally.
I know I’ve missed something along the way…
Thoughts? As a determinist, are people morally responsible for their actions when they are pre-determined to be immoral?
Recently, I’ve been involved in several discussions related to Free Will and the such. I do not hold to Free Will or Determinism, but lean to a mixture of both. I do not believe in ultimate determinism (yet), as I believe we do have a few options when presented with a decision.
But Free Will is philosophically, logically, scientifically, and theologically impossible. One of the things that fascinates me is the transference of memory via DNA. This corporate and hereditary memory influences our actions.
Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.
The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.
The notion of a pre-existing influence is what drives me away from Free Will. Whether or not we ultimately assign to this influence “God,” we are influenced by something predating us. For those of us who believe in the (so-called) Big Bang, I would offer a speculation that the emerging of those atoms and energy, etc…, created a nice path to where we are now.
Anyway, I wanted to include the article for future reference and maybe some discussion.