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No Morals, No values, No Ethics? No Problems!
What exactly are morals, values and ethics? How can something so vast be bundled and restricted into one small definition? For example the dictionary defines ethics as: “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics”. Morals are defined as: of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. Then finally Values are defined as:The ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.
By theses definitions it is easy to see how controversial and easily construed, or stretched theses 3 simple words can be. Morals or morality some people have them, some people don’t believe in them, and some do not know what they are. Part of the definition of morals have to deal with know the difference between right and wrong. To me this sounds like common sense! no lying, steeling, or cheating. But I also turned to the bible for some more insight. Galatians 5:19-23 says “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning YOU, the same way as I did forewarn YOU, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom. On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Those are morally incorrect, theses also fit into the dictionary’s definition of morals, meaning pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. But yet on the other hand Robert G. Ingersoll disagrees with me in the fact that the bible should be used as a basis of morals he writes
“The Bible is not a moral guide. Any man who follows faithfully all its teachings is an enemy of society and will probably end his days in a prison or an asylum… Happiness, including its highest forms, is after all the only good, and everything, the result of which is to produce or secure happiness, is good, that is to say, moral... Everything that destroys or diminishes well-being is bad, that is to say, immoral. In other words, all that is good is moral, and all that is bad is immoral… What then is, or can be called, a moral guide? The shortest possible answer is one word: Intelligence. We want the experience of mankind, the true history of the race. We want the history of intellectual development, of the growth of the ethical, of the idea of justice, of conscience, of charity, of self-denial. We want to know the paths and roads that have been traveled by the human mind. These facts in general, these histories in outline, the results reached, the conclusions formed, the principles evolved, taken together, would form the best conceivable moral guide. We cannot depend on what are called inspired books, or the religions of the world. These religions are based on the supernatural, and according to them we are under obligation to worship and obey some supernatural being, or beings. All these religions are inconsistent with intellectual liberty. They are the enemies of thought, of investigation, of mental honesty. They destroy the manliness of man. They promise eternal rewards for belief, for credulity, for what they call faith. These religions teach the slave virtues. They make inanimate things holy, and falsehoods sacred. They create artificial crimes. To eat meat on Friday, to enjoy yourself on Sunday, to eat on fast-days, to be happy in Lent, to dispute a priest, to ask for evidence, to deny a creed, to express your sincere thought, all these acts are sins, crimes against some god, To give your honest opinion about Jehovah, Mohammed or Christ, is far worse than to maliciously slander your neighbor. To question or doubt miracles is far worse than to deny known facts. Only the obedient, the credulous, the cringers, the kneelers, the meek, the unquestioning, the true believers, are regarded as moral, as virtuous. It is not enough to be honest, generous and useful; not enough to be governed by evidence, by facts. In addition to this, you must believe. These things are the foes of morality. They subvert all natural conceptions of virtue.”
As I read his paper I was confused as to why he was so adamant towards the end of his paper. When he started going on a tangent about how religious people are slaves to supernatural beings, and are slanderers, and dishonest and things like that. He made me want to ask him how many people in jail for a crime are moderately active in some sort of religious group. I am not including people that only show up for Easter morning church, ash Wednesday, or Passover/ memorials. I am talking about the people that are at church for most of the meetings weather a special event is taking place or not. Now take those people and see how many of them are actually sitting in jail for a crime that they have committed. He and I both know that the majority of those people are the ones that just sling the cross around their neck or tattoo it on their body but never actually go. There for the may believe in a god or have a religion but they never practice it. Meaning that have learning nothing as far as morals from, as Robert says “their own personal intelligence” Making everything that he just ranted about completely null and void. Because like the bible says in James 2:26
“Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Also James 1:12-15 says “Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving him. When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone. But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”
Those two scriptures show the reasons why most of the people in jail, or people that has done bad things aren’t religious in some sort of way. These people where taught morals, which some people aren’t born with knowing or either chooses not to coincide their lives with. James 2:26 says “faith without works is dead.” For example the people in jail that have a religion but never practice it, never do the works to so their faith in it are viewed upon as not even believing. Therefore they do things that are immoral. But if they did the works for their faith the chances of them doing something immoral would have greatly diminished. But understandable people make mistakes. But the fact is that the majority of people that only rely on their intelligence alone for moral understandings are more likely to end up in jail than a person that relies on a religion and intelligence. Some people may also say that god is testing them it’s all gods fault this is meant to happen. But James 1:12-15 clearly shows how your actions are based upon you and what you feed your heart and mind. And you are enticed from your own desires. This may also create a problem or even solve a problem when it comes to your values weather in life or in religion.
What exactly are values? Is value in your material passions or in your emotional passions and relationships? Or is it simply something that it important to you? Dircionary.com and the dictionary said “The ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.”
Most people would start to ramble off all of the things that either have value to themselves, in the world in religion. I asked 2 friends of mine the same question. What are values to you? Margret said “values are what is important to other people all the things that people want but cannot have, so pretty much anything that is envied is value to me. So that would be my fancy car, Big house, lots of money, my family, my friends, and pretty much my over all life and life style.” Mario told me “I think it’s all the things that I wouldn’t be able to live without. Meaning the love from my parents and siblings, and laughter with my friends, my pets and my just being generally happy every day.” Portia said “ to me I think it’s the relationship that I have with other people, weather that is spiritually, friendly or romantically, all of the daily necessities that I have on a daily basis are taken for granted are things that I value.” And personally life as a whole is what I value.
I also looked into the bible to get some incite about value and what it may mean to different people and I came across 3 interesting scriptures. Matthew 13:46 states “Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” So to this man one pearl of high value had more value and worth than somewhere to eat and sleep. Next is 1 Peter 1:7 and it says “in order that the tested quality of YOUR faith, of much greater value than gold that perishes despite its being proved by fire, may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This scripture is relating that fact that our faith in God needs to be and should be more important and higher value to us than gold. Then also 1 Peter 3:4 says “but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible [apparel] of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” This scripture is explaining what God views as something of high value that would be to know you as a person, the person deep in your heart. Then I read an article written by a man named Alex Blackwell his lengthy definition of Values is as follows.
“For me, my values guide me and shape my priorities and reactions. They serve as my markers to tell me if my life is heading in the right direction and if it is out turning out the way I want it to. This uncomfortable feeling tells us that not all is good with the world right now. We feel out-of-whack; out-of-touch and generally out-of-sorts. These feelings can be a source of anxiety and unhappiness. Making a deliberate and conscious attempt to identity which values are the most important is needed to keep your anxiety low and your happiness and sense of personal worth and self-awareness high. Regardless if we recognize them or not, values do naturally exist. Our lives can become less stressful, and more productive, when we acknowledge our personal values – and then make the attempt to live by and honor these values regardless of the circumstances we encounter. The following values are the ones that resonate with me. Appreciation, Belief in Others, Caring, Commitment, and Compassion. We are all part of this thing called the human condition. No doubt we have different skin colors, religious preferences and political points-of-view, but at the end of the day, we still need to take care of one another. Cooperation, Courtesy, Dedication, and Devotion. Some days are just naturally better than others. It’s the same way in our interpersonal relationships and in our faith. Things can get unstable at times, but staying devoted to a cause or to a person through the uncertain times is our rock to grasp when our faith and our foundation is shaky. Effort and Forgiveness. To be clear, the purpose of forgiveness is not to absolve someone of the sin(s) committed against you; but to free yourself from the pain and the anger that is keeping you stuck. When you forgive, you are better able to let go of the past and keep moving forward with your life. Friendship, Gratitude, Honesty, Hope, Integrity, Listening, and Love. The presence of love in our life, the love we have for our families, our friends, our faithand for ourselves, is the single most important source of light and energy we can tap into when we have the need to be filled-up; or when we see the need to fill someone else up with grace, hope and our love. Optimism,Patience, Respect, and the Right Choices. It’s not that we always have to get it right; in fact it’s not reasonable to think every choice we make will be the right choice. But when we have completed our research, performed our discernment, and have listened to our inner wisdom the hope is we are guided to the right choice. Acting on this choice is where the true value exists.Sacrifice, Tolerance, Unity, and Vision.”
All in all I agree with Alex most of the things that he listed or said were a lot of things that people take for granted or just for get to do. It has been proven that if you are more polite and friendly and think happier thoughts then your overall day will be better and people will also treat you better. When you think about these things you’re really beginning to appreciate and understand what value actually is. It is not all about your material possessions but about your emotional passions because those are things that cannot be replaced. Understandably your values and my values may be completely different factors that can play a role in that is where we are from, possibly our religious or ethnic backgrounds?
But don’t get values confused with ethics. Because their definitions and qualifications do overlap but one word that separates them and its conduct. Depending on your ethics it affects how you act, and what you say. Ethics are defined in the dictionary as: “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics”. When I turned to the bible for scriptural based answers I found that ethics was under the subheading of honesty and morals. Meaning that Ethics are the things that you do because of who or where you are associated with. Possibly to someone they do not care about wasting food because they were always taught that they can buy more. And perhaps their neighbor was taught to eat everything on the plate because there may or may not be food on the table tomorrow. Ethics affect the reasons as to why or why not we would or wouldn’t do something. Yes this plays affect into our morals and values but our ethics is why we believe and act upon our morals and values. Eric Morgenson explanation of ethics is
Ethics are not born in a vacuum. Ethics are more like a jigsaw puzzle that is thrown together over time, that when complete makes up who you are and what you believe. From our earliest days of life, we start to learn from those around us. These learned behaviors add to the traits that we are already born with and help to shape us into the person we will become. As part of this learning process, we develop what will become our norms. Norms are our everyday way of looking at how the world around us works and helps us to understand our place in the world. Norms also govern how we react to different situations and problems that arise around us. These are our ethics; the things we learn as we grow that govern the rest of our lives… ethics are important because they act as our mediator when dealing or coming into contact with other people. If we have the wrong sense of ethics we will react to people in a negative manner. But if our ethics are built on the truth, as found in the Word of God, we will see people for who they are as children of God and we will learn to love them just as God loves them…. ethics are important because we pass them onto others. We have the ability to show others the correct way to act and behave by remaining ethical in the way we live, regardless of whether it involves our personal or business life…. over the years that ethics help us to remain on stable ground in an ever-changing world and that a person’s ethics can be changed… At the heart of ethics are the integrity and values of the individual. If you can change the values and increase the integrity of the individual, you will change their ethics.
I agree with Eric word for word we are clearly on the same page of understanding ethics. We both think that ethics are things that you have to form and grow your own opinion, and take on life forming and shaping your ethics. Or your ethical beliefs. For example if there was a person who is a professional muralist. But due to religious beliefs he doesn’t celebrate Christmas and has ask to paint a mural of a Christmas inspired scene. The dilemma is, morally he knows that it would be wrong for him to paint the Christmas scene and he refuses to disobey his religious belief. Even though he has the free will to do so he values his beliefs. Thus he was ethically inclined to come upon the decision, to suggest that one of his other coworkers paints this mural for the client. Therefore no body was offended, and nobody’s conscious is feeling guilty. Because morals, values and ethics are so closely intertwined and partly overlapping it is easy to see how they are commonly misconstrued.
Ethics: “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics”. Meaning things that should and should not be done, depending on a particular group or society that you are affiliated with. Morals are defined as: pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.” These are based and affected by your ethics, and the things that we believe to be right and wrong are decided by our upbringing and thing that we learn as we grow in age and wisdom. Values are defined as:The ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy. Having values also means as to what exactly you find to be of high importance in your life. Whether that is religion, love, money, power, or trust those are the things that you cannot live without.
Ken P on January 06, 2018:
I believe what Mr. Ingersoll was trying to relay, was that the Bible isn't always the best way to get your morals. It's a crutch. If I pray right and do everything it tells me, I'll be a moral citizen and get to go to heaven. This is a fallacy, because even though there may not be a bunch of real "Christians" in jail, doesn't mean that there aren't plenty that have horrible morals. How many times have we seen pastors that steal from the church or commit adultery against their spouse? Just because you have religion doesn't mean you have the proper morals and just because you don't have religion, doesn't mean you are without morals.
geetika on June 23, 2014:
“Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” So to this man one pearl of high value had more value and worth than somewhere to eat and sleep.
Raabs60 (author) from USA on October 08, 2011:
wow thank you glad you liked it :)
ma45frost from USA on October 07, 2011:
There are many interesting points in this hub. I enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
Raabs60 (author) from USA on September 29, 2011:
Im glad you liked my hub Suzettenaples! i was scard people would take my various points of views the wrong way. But yes as a Christian I as well Believe that some bible and common sense will help people make the right decisions no matter what type of bible they have. I just feel like it make a difference in their life and everyone around them. And I used secular sources to get a different take on my point of view. I just thought my hub wouldn't be fair if i only used my side of the argument.
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on September 29, 2011:
Very interesting hub! I think you need common sense and the Bible to have morals, values and ethics. Even, if all you do is use the Bible as a reference guide. I do believe if you live a Christian life, you lead a moral life of good values and ethics. I don't agree with all the definitions, especially the secular ones, about morals, values, and ethics. I think that is why the world is so bereft of them. I like this hub and think it is useful and interesting.