OLM / Theology / Morality Discussing moral relativism* Moral Relativism - What's It All About? Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what's right for you, and I'll decide what's right for me. Moral relativism says, "It's true for me, if I believe it." Moral Relativism - Is It Really Neutral? Moral relativism has steadily been accepted as the primary moral philosophy of modern society, a culture that was previously governed by a "Judeo-Christian" view of morality. While these "Judeo-Christian" standards continue to be the foundation for civil law, most people hold to the concept that right or wrong are not absolutes, but can be determined by each individual. Morals and ethics can be altered from one situation, person, or circumstance to the next. Essentially, moral relativism says that anything goes, because life is ultimately without meaning. Words like "ought" and "should" are rendered meaningless. In this way, moral relativism makes the claim that it is morally neutral. In describing her view on morality, the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America once stated, "…teaching morality doesn't mean imposing my moral values on others. It means sharing wisdom, giving reasons for believing as I do and then trusting others to think and judge for themselves." She claims to be morally neutral, yet her message is clearly intended to influence the thinking of others… an intention that is not, in fact, neutral. Evidence that moral relativism is seen as more "fair" or "neutral" than a "hardline" stance on morality is seen in a 2002 column from Fox News analyst Bill O'Reilly, who asked "Why is it wrong to be right?" In his article, O'Reilly cites recent Zogby poll findings regarding what is being taught in American universities. Studies indicate 75% of American college professors currently teach that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Rather, they treat the questions of good and evil as relative to "individual values and cultural diversity." The problem with this, according to O'Reilly, is that "they see the world not as it is, but as they want it to be. And annoying questions about moral absolutes and unacceptable behavior are usually left unanswered." Moral Relativism - Where Do You Stand? … Evolution and moral relativism go hand-in-hand, for evolution teaches that life is accidental, without meaning or purpose. Therefore, anything you do is OK, because it ultimately doesn't matter. If you believe we are created, however, moral relativism cannot work. Creation implies a Creator. All things created are subject to a set of laws, whether natural or divine. Moral relativism says anything goes …but does it? Is it better to torture a child, or to hug that child? C.S. Lewis points to the nature of most quarrels as a clue to what we truly believe. Inherent in those quarrels is a concept of fairness, as in "how would you like it if someone did that to you?" When we make that statement, we are appealing "to some kind of standard of behavior [we] expect" the other person to know about. Where do you think that standard originates? …William McGuffey, author of the McGuffey's Readers, which were the mainstay of America's public school system from 1836 till the 1920's, wrote: "Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man." Where do you think the world is heading today? * From AllAboutGOD.com: ‘We are a collection of people who are passionate about sparking authentic life journeys and sharing compelling content with skeptics, seekers, believers, and a hurting world. OLM / Theology / Morality Discussing moral relativism Study questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. For moral relativism, what’s ultimate authority sets the truth-value of what’s right and wrong? What differentiates Judeo-Christian and modern morality? What view of life does modern morality imply? What’s the catch in thinking that modern morality is neutral and fair? What morality do most U.S. scholars teach today? What is and what does an evolutionist view of our world imply? Why can’t a ‘created world’ be ruled by a relativist morality? Why does the ‘Golden Rule’ contradict moral relativism? What happen to a society like ours ruled by a relativist morality?