Here is a video that expands on the questions I asked in the previous post.
The argument about following the law is the most interesting to me in this video. Heather Mac Donald seems to think that people follow the law largely out of fear of the consequences, while Ross Douthat thinks that the fear of God is another explanation for law following, and when we take God out of the equation, there is really no predicting the way things will change.
I think there are some laws where Mac Donald would be right. Speeding is an example. Do I think it is morally wrong to drive 80 on the freeway? Of course not, but I surely don’t want to pay the speeding ticket I will get if I get pulled over going 80 in a 60. So I stay a conservative 5 mph over the speed limit generally when driving. I just don’t want to get caught going faster.
There are other areas of the law where that thinking doesn’t really apply, such as theft. I think stealing is wrong. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you and claiming it as your own is a bad thing to do. Yes, people generally agree on the morality of stealing, and so I would think most people don’t steal because of that, not because they are afraid they will get caught if they do.
Now there are those who deviate from the law. People speed and people steal. People do much worse than that. Do they think they won’t get caught, or do they have no morality? I think it would have to be a mixture of the two. Someone steals because they feel entitled to others things and think that no one will find out about it. I do believe in most cases they fear getting caught more than they fear the moral consequences.
Is religion supposed to be the moral compass of a society? I don’t believe so. Maybe the church acting in this respect is what has made it seem to have worn out its usefulness across much of the west. People think we don’t need God anymore because we don’t need anyone us to tell us what to do, we think we pretty much have that figured out now.
What if God doesn’t want to tell us what to do? What if God is trying to show us the most enjoyable way to live? What if we have a misplaced view of morality? Instead of focusing on what not to do we should be focusing on why doing it differently is better, or why God, according to the Bible, wants us to do certain things and not to do others.
I, for one, don’t want my actions to be motivated by fear, but by seeking out the joy in life. What if that was the way we talked about morality?