In response to Says Who, byblacksheep had some thoughtful comments that, while missing the point of the original post, I thought they were worth addressing.
Byblacksheep (BBS from here out) said,
“…if we have morals from a perfect God (we know what is good because god said so) we would expect perfect morals from the beginning.”
As a Christian, I would affirm that we have morals from a perfect God. As I argued in part uno, God himself is the ground of goodness. However, I would not say “we know that is good because God said so.” What I mean here is that I know of no Christian theologian who would say God has revealed his moral will exhaustively. He has revealed some things, and from those we can infer other things. We obviously can be mistaken about those inferences, but we do not claim they have the same weight of authority as clear revelation. For example, Exodus 20:15 says, “Do not steal.” We can infer from this that there is such a thing as private property of some kind, and that certain rights follow from this. As such while I think what God has revealed of his moral will is perfect, it is not entirely spelled out, which brings me to the second half of the statement above. We would expect this IF we were claiming that the purpose of divine revelation is to give us an exhaustive book or rules by which we must live, and anything that was happening that was wrong was to be called out and condemned. However, that is not the purpose of Scripture. Its overarching narrative is where we came from, what our problem is, what the solution is, and how it will all be resolved.
BBS goes on to say,
“But our knowledge and our understanding grows…And because of that you would expect the moral codes of earlier civilizations would be just totally wrong and gradually change and be refined over time, which is what we see, globally we have moved in a direction that increases human dignity for all people. Can I definitively say we’ve moved in a direction that is “better?” No I can’t, I will leave that to the philosophers, but what i can do however is look back at the holocaust and say “they got it wrong” I can look back at slavery in the U.S., and slavery across the globe and say “they got it wrong.”
I can agree with BBS that “they got it wrong” but I do so from a worldview that can make sense of that claim. If all we are is molecules in motion, all we can mean when we say “they got it wrong” is that the “molecules in me feel icky about that.” To say they were wrong is to say that they had an obligation to not do that. That implies authority of some kind. Where does that come from? I would argue that the best explanation is a transcendent source in whose image we are made, which is why there is such widespread agreement on big issues like this such that large groups only achieve things like the holocaust by armed force. We have an intuitive sense that such things are wrong. We are also quite capable of ignoring that intuition and/or rationalizing violating it.
BBS also says,
“…consensus really isn’t how we decide what is moral or not moral. Sure it is how we collectively agree what codes, rules, and norms we are going to follow, but that isn’t necessarily WHY we follow them.”
Again, I would agree. In fact, the why is yet another question. Many people follow moral laws against murder and adultery for no reason other than fear of consequences. While that may make their behavior seem moral on the surface, Jesus doubled down on the commandments when he said,
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:21)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (verses 27-28)
I will end here for the sake of brevity. Keep an eye out for part drei coming up. (Yes I am using a different language for each sequel number just to be annoying.)