In rereading what I’ve written, it seems that I need to give a disclaimer at the beginning. I think it’s wrong to kill people or steal or commit any other heinous criminal acts. I am simply asking questions that no one seems to consider, probably because they are difficult questions and most people don’t see much value in them. The problem is, I think they are very valuable questions to ask because they will ultimately help us understand what we believe, but more importantly why we believe those things.

“Is there a such thing as absolute right and absolute wrong?”

This seems to be the most important question we should be considering.

This simple question seems to not be considered near as often as it should. It seems we are all simply not thinking on the level as to consider such a question or we are simply afraid of the implications of the answers so we avoid asking it. Alternatively, we could all be so self absorbed with our own pursuits that the question never even occurs to us (I think this is really the bucket most people fall into, which is OK with me).  It is also likely that we don’t find many people willing or prepared to discuss such a question so we just sit on it and smolder internally. That’s what I’ve been doing, until now.

From my own internal debate I’ve concluded there can be only 2 answers to this question. Yes or No. What results from those answers?

No – If there is no such thing as an absolute right or wrong that leads to “Might makes right.” If you are able to do something who’s to stop you? On what authority? This would lead you to assume that both ISIS and Kim Jong Un are acting completely within their own framework of morality and that is fine. Of course, since under this assumption each person is entitled to their own morality, you could certainly choose to oppose them and if you can convince enough other people they are wrong then that makes you de facto right but it’s still an arbitrary right as it’s only right since you are the mightier group.

Yes – If there is a such thing as absolute right and wrong that would lead me to believe that there is some ultimate authority in the universe. This most people would call God. To avoid any assumptions that come with the word “God” I’ll use “ultimate authority” for this post. Determining if there is right and wrong doesn’t necessarily tell you (or me) what is right and wrong, just that there is some right and wrong. Of course determining what is right and wrong is the next logical step after determining that it exists.

How does one go about determining that there is or is not absolute right and wrong? I have no idea. Most people will default to the Bible telling them what is right or wrong. That is fine, but we can see that that has yielded thousands of groups with dissenting opinions. Same with other religions, Islam, Mormons, Hindus etc.

This is generally where atheists feel they shine. They point out that each person seems to make up their own personal morality anyway but then attributes it to their chosen religion. I agree that it seems that is what most religious people do. At the atheists, pointing out a flaw to someone else’s conclusions is generally much easier than drawing your own conclusions.

Most philosophers, atheists and religious eventually come to some conclusion that we should “Do unto others what we want done to us.” While that sounds fine in theory my question is why? You can find this claim in the bible. You will also find similar claims from Immanuel Kant as well as atheist Stephen Molyneux (Universally Preferable Behavior, which I don’t recommend you waste your time reading, even though I have).  

Back to my question, why do they think that for something to be right, even without an ultimate authority, you should apply it to everyone? The question I always come back to is murder, as that’s usually something everyone is averse to. My scenario goes like this “If you could kill someone (who is not threatening you) for personal gain and you were able to hide any evidence of your involvement, why shouldn’t you do that?”  Now all the above people appeal to “You wouldn’t want someone to kill you would you?” I don’t really see the point of asking that question. If there is no absolute morality that question has no basis on your decision to kill someone. You could insert any number of other actions considered crimes in here, theft being an obvious case. If you could steal something with no repercussions, why not? Again, “You wouldn’t want someone to steal from you would you?” Makes no sense to ask.

I personally cannot think of a good argument against those flawed actions if there was no absolute morality. It’s a bit terrifying to think about but that is one idea that inclines me towards there being an ultimate authority (in/outside the universe).

What do you think?

Do you believe in right and wrong independent of religion? (Note that while most people will jump to the assumption that I’m trying to make a case for a Christian God I have purposely not made that claim. I am just thinking out loud (on the internet.)

On what basis do you base authority if not on some ultimate authority?

Do you agree with “might makes right”?

I want it to be clear that I am completely ok with people admitting they agree with “might makes right”. If you don’t believe in an ultimate authority outside of the world, I think that’s your only option. Is there another?

The Most Important Thing

In the intro to “Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth” Buckminster Fuller’s granddaughter recalls a car ride that he asked her “What is the most important thing we can be thinking about right now?”

Here is the list of things that I thought of off the top of my head that are I am trying to determine if they are important. I think most of them are but how to decide “the most important”? I’ve probably started writing about half of these but often I find there is something else I thought was more important to write about at that time or I reached a point where I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.

How to help Syrian Refugees?
Can I “adopt” a refugee?
How to stop abortions?
How to stop senseless violence?
How to stop people from shooting each other in Waterloo, IA (where I live)?
How to effectively guide the charity I just became vice president of?
How what is my 5 year plan?
What are my life goals?
Will I ever get married?
Do I want to get married?
Why do I want to get married?
Can I more effectively “fix the world” if I’m single?
How much should I save in my 401k and how much should I invest in people?
Should I buy an electric car?
Should I sell all my “toys” and donate that money to some charity?
Should I buy a house?
What book do I want to write?
Why do I want to write a book?
Why do I spend so much time writing this blog stuff?
What is my purpose in life?
How do I be a better older brother?
Do I want to start my own company?
What would that company even do?
How do I help those less fortunate than myself?
How do I start a company that I enjoy working at, helps the world and makes money (self sustains).
What am I really passionate about?
Should I go back to college for more school or should I just learn by doing in life?
Is there a God?
If there is why is everyone telling me about their own different god’s and acting like some of them are the same god when it’s pretty obvious to me they are different?
How do I politely ask people about beliefs of theirs that I think are ridiculous?
Is it ok to be selfish sometimes?
Is it better to try to be a politician to change the world or do it outside politics?
Is it selfish to have your own kids?
Why are most Christians so obsessed with the bible but they don’t seem to remember that Paul said it is better to be single like he was?
Why do Jews have so many laws but try so hard to get around them?
Why do so many Christians leaders (pastors etc) preach “following the Bible” but forget that Paul had a full time job outside of preaching about Jesus?
How do I love more and judge less?
Should I listen when people are negative or tell them to just change their attitude and that will change their circumstances?
Instead of converting people to Christianity in places where that belief could get them killed why don’t Christians work to change the laws of that country or work to get people out of that country?
How do you motivate people to improve their situation?
What is the situation in other countries for labor? I hear about factories in China, Afghanistan, where people are paid very little and there are still effectively “company stores”. Are those true? If so how do we stop those practices?
How does my purchase of cheap stuff from other countries affect the above?
How do we expose people to the “very poor” and get them motivated to help those people?
Would religions be more effective helping people if they were less worried about pushing their doctrine on others?
What makes me happy?
What makes others happy?
What does it mean to be happy?
Is there an afterlife?
How do we store energy so we can use renewable but not consistent power sources like wind and solar?
When will the Chinese people become sick of restrictive laws like the 1 child policy and the conditions of the factories I mentioned above and have a large revolution?
How do we stop child sex trafficking, both in the USA and in the rest of the world?
Is it selfish to lift weights and eat a lot of protein and generally “be huge” while some people starve? I am not trying to be critical of people who lift weights. I am just generally interested in why we don’t help others more. This is also asked above in the 401K vs Charity question. I think about “Is this action selfish” a lot.
Why is promiscuous sexuality so stigmatized as a sin in Christian churches while obesity (gluttony) is not?
“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! – Nix (Tomorrowland – movie)

What do you think is the most important thing you could be thinking about today?