… and, it would continue: “Good and evil in human morality describes the effects suffered or enjoyed from the intentional results of our interactions with others, according to how all others were affected.” Values are, of course, about what we regard as important in this matter. Morality is about how we apply those ideas within our social interactions. None of these are things subject to direct observation as an object, as some insist who say they do not exist. They belong with the intangibles that every sensible person recognizes according to their effects. We generate such effects during events within the processes we initiate by acting on the choices we make as we go through life. Some effects are immediate, some will occur after the passing of several years, but the results of most of them can be predicted with increasing accuracy.
Were I a religious person, I would formulate a doctrine on this alone (and, perhaps, I have), as I sense that it could lead to a world populated by honorable people, with all of whom I would want to become close friends. I reserve a right, however, to continue to learn new things, any of which could add to the many mind changes and restructuring of thought I have already undergone …which makes me not religious for the same reasons that science is not a religion.
With that caveat, I still retain belief in certain ideas that have withstood the tests of a lifetime. A few of those ideas are presented in the graphic that accompanies this text. Several more can be found here. Like anyone else, I suffer the effects of my own ignorance and the misguided indoctrination of my youth.
Now closing in on the ninth decade of my lifetime, the important lesson I have gained is about the two sets of values that we use as guides. The guide of highest priority should remain those values shared with the major portion of society, based in and expressed as ethics. Ethics can and should be scripted as law, always subject to review. Academics must always be involved. Of lower priority but of equal concern must be our personal values, those each person finds to best fit his and her own circumstances as experience, elders and peers have taught us. These form a personal knowledge pool that should continuously grow and remain subject to self-modification but never to outside enforcement which causes more harm than good.
- This, by itself, makes reason enough to advocate the taxing of all religious institutions, as a group, according to their calculated total deleterious effects upon society. Would expressing their good/bad ratio in monetary terms put an end to the discussion about the good they do versus the bad they do? Who, without a vested interest, would cast the first stone? Return