Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

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ArlissWhiteside
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Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by ArlissWhiteside »

I think the Christian ultimate moral belief can be stated as:

We should actively love God, all persons, and all parts of God’s creation, where the verb love means acting only to promote the well-being of the thing loved.

I think this Christian ultimate moral belief clearly supports the Rational Ethical Ultimate Ethical Principle (REUEP) of Humanianity. Except for addition of the concept of God, I think this belief means essentially the same things as the REUEP. This belief also adds loving all the universe, not just all persons. Restating the Christian ultimate moral belief without mentioning God and the universe, I get:

We should actively love all persons, where the verb love means acting only to promote the well-being of the person loved.

Commentary
I think most Christians believe that God is embodied in all parts of God’s creation, including in all persons. Therefore, the primary way to love God is to love all persons and all parts of God’s creation. Loving all persons includes accepting all persons and promoting equal treatment of all persons, now and future. Loving all persons includes loving oneself, partly to support one’s loving other persons.

As a Christian, I believe in a God of love based on God’s revelation to people through Jesus Christ, as recorded in the (Protestant) Bible. I believe that the Bible as a whole reveals this God of unlimited love, who wants believers to actively love God and all persons. More specifically, I believe that Jesus and the Bible clearly promote actively accepting all persons and equally treating all persons, now and future.
I believe in this God of love primarily because I choose to do so, finding this belief to be helpful to me and others, and be logically the best I have encountered. I do NOT believe primarily because God, Jesus, or the Bible tell me that I should believe this.

I think many Christians would accept this statement of the Christian ultimate moral belief. Of course, many Christians would use somewhat different words. However, I think most corresponding Christian statements would mean essentially the same things, and also mean essentially the same things as the REUEP.

The Bible and Jesus also state that the most of our ability and motivation for following this Christian ultimate moral belief come from a transformation or change within a person. This transformation is from being centered on the self, to being centered on God and love. The Bible and Jesus go so far as to say that this love cannot be accomplished using only the human mind and will, without transformation.

Definition of ultimate moral belief
By moral belief, I mean a belief that states something which I should (or should not) do, that I think is very likely true. I use the word moral because it is not limited to actions that affect persons. By ultimate moral belief, I mean the most general moral belief that I have thought of, which cannot be logically supported by a more general belief. This ultimate moral belief can and should be used to derive and justify more specific beliefs (such as Do Not Kill.)

Related definitions from Wiktionary:
belief: (noun) Mental acceptance of a claim as likely true.
ethical: (adjective) Morally approvable, when referring to an action that affects others; good.
moral: (adjective) Conforming to a standard of right behavior; sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment.
motivation: (noun) An incentive or reason for doing something.
rational: (adjective) Logically sound; not contradictory or otherwise absurd.
should: (verb) Be obliged to; have an obligation to; ought to.
ultimate: (adjective) Being the greatest possible; maximum; most extreme.

Other definitions of love
I use the word “love” because it is almost universally used in Christianity. However, since love has multiple meanings, I include a definition that is more specific and active than typical dictionary definitions, such as:

Definition from Wiktionary:
love: (verb) To care deeply about, to be dedicated to (someone or something).

Definition from Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, by Donald K. McKim
love: (Greek: agape) Strong feeling of personal affection, care, and desire for the well-being of others.

Somewhere I read a definition of “love” as:
love: (verb) To will the best for another (person)
• I assume the word “best” is here referring to the best available alternative known to the loving person.
• I assume the word “will” is here referring to (some degree of) free will by which a person can choose an action that can affect the other person, or to prefer the best in the absence of the ability to affect the other person.

I also read the 20 page articles on “love” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary 1992. These articles indicate that “love” is best seen in the human love between parent and child, or between husband and wife (as equals). Some of the qualities of love mentioned are kindness, mercy, devotion, and loyalty.

wvanfleet
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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by wvanfleet »

Yes, I believe Jesus was advocating in a Humanian direction.

The current problem with the relationship between the Christian ultimate ethical principle and the Humanian one ((REUEP) is that there would be some differences of opinion about what the Christian UEP means or includes. We cannot assume that every Christian would say that the Christian UEP is identical to the REUEP.

Also, many Christians consider the necessity to adopt the Christian UEP as an act of obedience (to God), thus making it an example of authoritarian ethics. Humanian ethics is not authoritarian ethics. It is arrived at through growing consensus among all of us humans

The length of your explanation of what the Christian ultimate ethical principle is and means (to many Christians) is an indication of some degree of ambiguity with regard to the meaning of it. The REUEP is meant to be as unambiguous as possible.

There may be a better way of stating the REUEP, but no one has proposed such a change, and consideration of changing it, unless there is a very good reason, would only serve to postpone commitment by many to it and thus cause lost lives and tragedy in the future (i.e., the lost lives and tragedy that will be prevented by an earlier shift to Humanianity).

So I recommend that we acknowledge that Christianity (more specifically, our impressions as to what Jesus was advocating) is indeed movement in a Humanian direction. We do know that some interpretations of Christianity have actually led to much PSDED, and you and I probably agree that Christianity is moving away from such tendencies, toward Humanianity (as are many or most of the religions of the world).

ArlissWhiteside
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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by ArlissWhiteside »

Bill wrote: "there would be some differences of opinion about what the Christian UEP means or includes."

Of course, different persons (Christian and not) will have differences of opinion about what my stated simplified Christian Ultimate Moral Belief means or includes, just as different persons will have differences of opinion about what the stated REUEP means or includes. The stated REUEP is augmented by several stated definitions, and the stated simplified Christian Ultimate Moral Belief could be similarly augmented. What terms in the stated simplified Christian Ultimate Moral Belief do you think need definitions?

Bill wrote: "We cannot assume that every Christian would say that the Christian UEP is identical to the REUEP."

I claimed only that the stated simplified Christian Ultimate Moral Belief "means essentially the same things as the REUEP." Both are intended to be as unambiguous as possible. I wonder where you see different meanings.

wvanfleet
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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by wvanfleet »

We should actively love God, all persons, and all parts of God’s creation, where the verb love means acting only to promote the well-being of the thing loved.
There are a number of ambiguities that would interfere with feeling a strong commitment to the Christian UEP as you have stated it. (I don't think the REUEP has as much ambiguity.)

"Actively love" is somewhat unclear, but I guess you mean behave in a way consistent with the meaning of "love." "Love" has many definitions, as you point out, but you have defined it, so that should take care of that problem. However, there are problems with the definition (later).

"God" is not defined, and there are widespread differences of opinion as to the existence and nature of such.

"All parts of God's creation" makes the assumption that there is a God and that something was created, there being substantial disagreement about that. What is not included in that phrase. Did God create everything, or only certain things? If God created everything, does that mean that I (in order to actively love) should act toward the Ebola virus only in such a way as to preserve the well-being of it? If we should try to get rid of the Ebola virus in order to promote the well-being of humans, should we try to get rid of humans in order to promote the well-being of all the species that we are killing off on this planet?

I think we are a lot clearer about what we mean by pain, suffering, disability, early death, joy, contentment, appreciation, our species, survival, everyone, now, future. There is of course some difficulty with "everyone," considered by me to be all humans that have the capability of suffering or might regain that capability.

At any rate, I believe the REUEP can be better understood and agreed upon than your statement of and explanation of the Christian ultimate ethical principle. But if the two do mean the same thing to a specific person, then for that specific person there should be no problem in using either as an ultimate ethical principle.

ArlissWhiteside
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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by ArlissWhiteside »

My simplified Christian Ultimate Moral Belief is stated as:
"We should actively love all persons, where the verb love means acting only to promote the well-being of the person loved.
I have suggested that I think this belief supports the REUEP, not that this statement should replace the REUEP.

wvanfleet
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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by wvanfleet »

Your statement raises an interesting issue. You state that "this belief supports the REUEP." So the question arises as to what that means. By this I mean that we could ask, "Does the CUEP support the REUEP, or does the REUEP support the CUEP?" The key to the answer lies in the meaning of "support." This term could mean "logically is deducible from," "logically leads to," "overlaps considerably," or maybe even "is not significantly in conflict with."

The concept of "legitimization" is important in understanding my presentation of the REUEP. "Legitimization" is used in philosophy to refer to the answer to the question, "Why do you believe that?" Legitimization of a proposition means the reasons given for believing it and for believing that others should believe it also.

So one could say that you should believe the CUEP because it follows logically from the REUEP, or one could say that you should believe the REUEP because it follows logically from the CUEP. But whatever the UEP (ultimate ethical principle) is, it cannot itself be legitimized. (Otherwise, it would not be ultimate.) It is simply accepted because one likes it.

We humans are still primarily chimp-like, and obedience is a part of our dominance/submission natural behavior. And we humans all were once babies and small children. So we have gotten used to doing what we are told. And we therefore come to think that any ethical system that we adopt must be one that we have been told to adopt. We are afraid of being out from under some powerful entity that is telling us what we should do. So we think that any ultimate ethical principle must be one that we are told to obey. Of course that means that that ultimate ethical principle is not really ultimate, because it is being legitimated in turn by the ethical principle that we should do whatever the entity that we take orders from tells us to do.

But I think that you mean by "support" something like "does not differ from the REUEP in the (lower level) ethical principles that seem to follow from it and are therefore legitimized by it." And if that is true, then I would suppose that it meant the same thing, just being stated in different words. I am gathering that is closest to what you are meaning.

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Re: Christian Ultimate Moral Belief

Post by ArlissWhiteside »

By "support" I am thinking that most persons willing to accept the SCUMB would also be willing to accept the REUEP. The persons willing to accept the SCUMB will include many who do so for obedience reasons, some who do so as a logical personal choice, and many who do so for some parts of each. I think the persons willing to accept the SCUMB will include many Christians, and also many persons of other religious faiths or none.

By "support" I also mean something like "does not differ from the REUEP in the (lower level) ethical principles that seem to follow from it and are therefore legitimized by it."

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