Modern Morality: What Is Best? Essay, Research Paper
What is Best?
To say that modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age is to say that human morality changes with the passing of time. This statement is unacceptable. Morality is not something of a fad. Morality should not go through trends like the clothes we wear or popular music, morality is the foundation in which our society is embedded in, a foundation from which human values and standards are derived. If we agree that these values and standards are flexible within the boundaries of time, and that they contain within them no ground rooted substructure in society, then there is no way in distinguishing the difference between right and wrong. Morality is what identifies the principles in which man exists, separates good from bad, and right from wrong, and every society should strive to discover and achieve these principles. Morality should not change over time even though cultures and social stratifications do, what was morally right three thousand years ago is morally right today and should be morally right three thousand years from now. Only with universal principles can we, as collective society, discover what is right, what is wrong, and what is best, therefore there exists not modern morality but simply morality.
An empirical philosopher, W.T. Stace, argues that if we believe all morals are culturally relative, it is impossible for us to judge what is best. Although admitting he does not know what is best, he concludes that it is the responsibility of man to discover what is. He does not dispute that moral customs and moral ideas differ from country to country and from age to age, but that the fact that one culture thinks something is right does not necessarily make it right just as much as what we believe is wrong in our culture does not necessarily mean it is wrong. Stace quotes, “What pleases one man, people of culture displeases another. Therefore morals are wholly relative” (544). The clash in cultures between the difference of morality does not mean that morals are relative; all that it means is that unidentified cultures and their beliefs remain ignorant to the truth. However at the same time we recognize this, we must be careful not to commit to our own moral code as the acceptable one. The only truth that we can be certain of is that there is one universal and moral code, and although we may not have found it, we must trust that it is amongst us and that, through our experience and continual growing knowledge, that we will come to it. This is not saying that there is one culture within society today that defines the true moral code, for what we know no culture contains this. However as time passes, we build upon our knowledge of truth in search for other truths that strengthen and further establish our already growing understanding of what is right and wrong and by doing this we can discover certain values and beliefs from cultures that are indeed just and right.
Of course by suggesting that there is the one universal moral code, one would have to defend this by also implying that there is a superior power that imposes this code amongst us. To take the position of ethical absolutism would be quite difficult to achieve without the reference of God. According to Stace, “Men, we are told, in their disgust and disillusionment at the emptiness of their lives, are turning once more to religion, or are searching for a new message” (546). Our civilization today is deeply rooted in Christianity. The belief in God is very popular within our society. As much as we may try to escape Christianity, it still remains with us. “No civilization can live without ideals, or to put it in another way, without a firm faith in moral ideas. Our ideals and moral ideas have in the past been rooted in religion” (547). To believe or to accept the idea of one moral code, one must believe that there is a God or a group of elite God’s who imposed this code upon us. So there is, for most Christians, one single God that rules over the entire universe and his wishes are inked in the bible. Unfortunately, God’s wishes are consistent around the globe, and time and age is of no significance. If some cultural group lives in disbelief of God then they simply live in ignorance of him, and it is to their consequence that they are deprived. However then, since it is quite evident that popular modern civilization believes in God, it is therefore reasonable to assume that with this belief we accept God as the one superior ruler of the universe, like any other authoritarian ruler.
If we are faithful to God we can assume that as our leader, he has given us rules and regulations to follow, and obey. God has not left us without direction; he has delivered to us a preexisting order that applies to all ages. An order in which he lays the foundation in which man is to follow, an order that if followed will deliver to every culture on earth direction and a goal. To change this preexisting moral code of mankind as time passes leaves the human race with no order. It would simply be impossible to say what is right and what is wrong. What would be the grounds to indicate it? How could anyone justify his or her actions without the evidence that it was the best action? God, the adjudicator of all our fates, decides what is good and what is bad. Killing in almost all parts of the world is considered an immoral action. If God determines that killing is unacceptable, then regardless of what a certain cultures beliefs are, their morals and those beliefs are wrong, and impermissible. However if it so happens that we have misinterpreted the preaching of God, and killing is acceptable, then the popular opinion on this matter is wrong. The point is that one of these morals is right and one is wrong. It is unacceptable to say that because one society is inferior to another, or differs in ways of another, than it is then acceptable for all cultures to act in accordance with their ignorance and partake in unjust action.
To say modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age is to suggest that man cannot find the truth. If we are to accept the diversity in morals and ethics in the world as a standard to society we then accept that there is no right and wrong, in turn there is no action that is best, and no action that can be justified. We must realize certain values and beliefs that are ignorant to those commands of God. Part of our mission is discovering the preexisting and universal code that God intends for us to discover. A preexisting, universal moral code that will serve as a foundation for man to build upon, a foundation where all men and women, while still being able to maintain their culture and identity, will be able to live by the same principles, and morals as everyone else, a foundation where everyone knows what is right, what is wrong, and what is best.