Monday, January 3, 2022

Creating Moral Philosophy Ex Nihilo


I’ve got my own moral compass to steer by

A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky

Faithless, Rush

Posts like my recent one that describe the ethics found in a lived Christian culture and natural law, and what is lost (e.g., liberty) when those ethics are lost, bring some really aggressive comments – so aggressive that I do not post these.  They often include a sentiment such as in the lyrics above – I have created my own ethics, and they are good; I don’t need your God to tell me how to live.  This follows with blasphemies that will never see the light of day at this blog.

If you give up Christian faith, you pull the right to Christian morality out from under your feet. This morality is simply not self-evident: one has to bring this point home again and again, despite the English dimwits.

-          Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (PDF)

I really have to wonder how much Western history such people understand.  I also wonder how they might understand evolutionary realities.  I believe that they are ignorant of both.

But I still cling to hope

And I believe in love

And that’s faith enough for me

Faith, hope and love.  This sounds familiar, but not for any reason an evolutionary biologist could explain.  If our ethics developed according to the demands of evolution, there would be no room for love.

1 Corinthians 13: 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Oh, yeah.  That’s where I read it.  But the world until then followed what one could consider a path consistent with evolutionary biology: the strong conquer the weak.  There is no love in this.  The pre-Christian Roman world had a set of ethics, but nothing that would seem ethical to the lyricist of Rush or to the commenters that tell me about how they have created their own “guiding star.”

The point of this first project is to come up with a precise statement of the principle or principles on which all of our ordinary moral judgments are based. The judgments in question are supposed to be those that any normal, sane, adult human being would accept on due rational reflection.

-          Kant’s Moral Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Let’s see what every “normal, sane, adult human being would accept on due rational reflection” prior to Christianity:

Babies left at the side of the road or dumped in the sewers; any bodily orifice – male or female (and under Nero, even slave or free) fair game to the male citizen, at any place, public or private, and at any time, day or night; no meaningful concept of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness – in fact, such “virtues” were considered disgraceful; women were, in every way, inferior to men – even subjects; slavery was defended; a virtuous Roman could look at the suffering of others without wincing.

This all accords with what one might consider an ethical standard derived via evolution.  And it was all considered quite ethical in Rome.  One’s “own moral compass,” if living in pre-Christian Europe, would have concluded that such behavior was perfectly ethical.

It was only via Christianity that such practices were changed – sure, not all at once, and not in a linear manner.  Such cultural changes aren’t instantaneous.  But the philosophy offered via all men and women created in God’s image, the teaching and life of Christ, and the letters of the Apostle Paul, did their work.

So, I am left to wonder about those who believe that they have actually created a moral philosophy ex nihilo: why does it look so much like Christian ethics and natural law, and not something more recognizable to an ethical system that would better conform to evolutionary biology – i.e., Rome?


I’ve got my own spirit level for balance

To tell if my choice is leading up or down

Not according to Friedrich Nietzsche.  From “The Parable of the Madman,”:

"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling?”

Yes, we are.

“Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left?”

No, there is not. 

“Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time?”

Yes, it is.  We return to pre-Christian Rome.


  1. My very rudimentary understanding of Girard would indicate that Rome couldn't last as a Darwinian society, as the mimetic nature would undermine it. It appears to me that Christianity is buried deep in reality and our human nature. Christ fulfilled it and expressed it in the open.

    It is interesting how Progressivism perverts Christianity, takes the redemption of the repentant thief on the cross and apples it to the unrepentant thief, casting him as the truly virtuous, and accusing God as the malefactor.

  2. Excellent. I put an article on a Facebook group explaining the link between the Bible and stable money ethics. Most comments were positive but a few were really angry. I made the mistake of replying that Western culture and Austrian economics are based on principles found in the Bible. That set a couple of people over the edge, insulting God and proclaiming the evil of Western culture. I was a bit baffled. But I think your article sheds some light. These people have their own guiding star and it is drifting farther and farther away from the light.

  3. LOL, sure... Except that evolution does not stop at biology. Love is CLEARLY explainable via culture-biological co-evolution, including group selection. Check it out, there are plenty of books on the subject. The Euthyphro argument stands. Regardless, all this pining about love makes you look extremely anti-intellectual and very prone to emotional thinking, just so you know. It's not a good look.

    1. "...including group selection."

      Yes, that's the rub, isn't it.

    2. Not sure what you mean. What "rub"?

    3. By the way, you really ught to read this: It might help correct some of your misconceptions about the roots of our contemporary problems with Natural Law.

    4. Christian love is a multifaceted, nuanced, brainy and not at all hormonal topic. If your understanding of love is something between "being nice" and "attachment", as seems to be the case, I'm sorry to say that your grasp on the subject is feeble. Bionic has written on the proper meaning of "love" in a Christian context; I would encourage you to look it up.

      By the way, arrogantly telling others that they're embarrassing themselves, especially when your own understanding own of the topic is so deficient that you miss the mark by a mile, is about as anti-intellectual and embarrassing as it gets. Just so you know.

  4. "slavery was defended" - Quiz - can you think of any Christian nations that have practiced slavery? No? How about Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the US and all of Latin America?

    Hmm, homosexuality - surely not approved of by almost every Xtian church today, eagerly currying favor with the media owners. Whereas homosexuality was completely forbidden in Pagan Europe, aside from Rome.

    As for women being the prey of men, Roman historians wrote about how chaste women in Germanic lands were, and protected by the men.

    No "mercy, compassion or forgiveness" - Nonsense, but you need it, I guess. You just have to ignore writings from ancient Greece and forward.

    "a virtuous Roman could look at the suffering of others without wincing" - You mean like when Christians burned alive their fellow Christians who had surrendered in Languedoc? Where a Christian bishop said, "kill them, God will know his own". (Today, "Kill them all, God will sort them out.")

    Or when cardinals hired bandits to raid the French countryside for money to build cathedrals. Or when the Inquisition burned villages in Spanish-occupied Portugal. Or when the bishops had the French state massacre their fellow Christians in the Knights Templar.

    Or long before that, when the Christians who Constantin unleashed in Rome, the foreign servants and slaves who hated Rome, murdered tens of thousands, and then proceeded to kill tens of thousands of fellow Christians. They set back the science and economy they didn't understand, laying the base for later Arab invasion of the Mediterranean. And Byzantine invaded Roman Italy and killed hundreds of thousands, emptied the cities, burned the fields, forever ending the Roman tradition. When the Arabs invaded the Levant, Byzantine had killed so many there, and weakened the Persian Empire, that no one could stop them and many joined them. And when the Arabs invaded Africa, Byzantine went ahead of them to attack the Vandals to weaken them, paving way for the Muslims.

    But nowadays churches focus on advocating mass immigration to Western nations. Meeting the illegal aliens by the US and European borders, and giving them free rides farther north. Because Xtian ideology says "we are all Yahweh's children," and what happens on Earth doesn't matter anyway - just follow this globalist belief and you'll get your reward in heaven. Bob Mathews noted that when he reached out to the farmers in Washington State, the preachers were always the ones who opposed the nationalists the most. Same in Europe.

    1. Humans are fallen. You are not charting new territory here.

    2. Yes, crimes were committed in the name of Christianity. Nevertheless, I see rehash of Black Legends here. Paleo Lodge may want to check out Rodney Stark's *Bearing False Witness* if he's interested in exploring alternative accounts.

  5. I fail to see why Christianity is required to understand "Do not steal." The Roman examples offered here are all examples of stealing, yet in other contexts, Romans definitely honored "property rights". They were simply authoritarian hypocrites who did not see rights as universal - a still-common error.

    Property rights are at the root of both morality and civilization and are easily understood even by children, if not by well=educated adults.

    There is nothing "ex nihilo" about the obviously objective observation that property (ownership) is a fundamental requirement of life.

    And there is nothing about that physical observation that requires Christianity to make it observable.

    1. "The Roman examples offered here are all examples of stealing..."

      Yes, like dumping babies in sewers.

    2. According to children all property is theirs to control. They don't recognize the rights of others.

    3. Stealing = taking what belongs to others
      Taking the lives of others is a clear example of stealing

    4. RMB, Your generalization about children is insulting to them and false. Further, I wrote that property rights are easily understood by children, not that they are agreeable to absolutely all children.

    5. I agree with John Howard on this. Children learn at a very early age what belongs to them and they are not shy about voicing their "property rights" if need be. Mine!

      I grew up in a large family and cannot recall any time when my parents forced any of us to 'share' with another child. Instead they respected our property rights and, as a consequence, we did not develop tendencies toward socialism, which is nothing more than a mandatory sharing of personal property with someone else who does not deserve it. To my way of thinking, forcing children to share does far more harm than allowing them to be selfish with what is rightfully theirs.

    6. Nothing is absolute. But all of my observations of children are that they are not very good at recognizing the property rights of others. They are very good at recognizing and verbalizing about their own. That isn't an insult. Children have to be taught not to be selfish. This is merely one aspect of that. That doesn't mean they never share things ever. But I have seen too many real life examples than to believe anything else.

      Roger, I am not sure how your two paragraphs align. On one hand you state that children clearly think they own things. Hence, "Mine!". That occurs even with children older than toddlers. Then you seem to imply that you freely and willfully shared all your things with your siblings. I have no doubt you did share your things with friends and family. But I also don't doubt that you fought over food, toys, clothes, the TV with your siblings and friends too. That's just normal humanity.

    7. RMB,

      Children may not be very good at consciously recognizing the property rights of others (an intellectual and moral exercise), but they doggone well know that what is theirs is theirs.

      Children do not have to be taught NOT to be selfish. I have seen too many examples in life where children share things freely and voluntarily among themselves and even with complete strangers to believe otherwise. It is my belief that children, especially young children, if left alone by well-meaning adults, will gladly and happily play with each other without too much ruckus. They naturally act out the principle of giving and receiving, and will generally sort out their own interpersonal disputes, if left to their own devices.

      Now, as to your second paragraph. I never said that children clearly THINK they own things. I did say that they KNOW from a very young age what belongs to them, hence, "Mine!", when someone tries to take a prized toy away from them. Whether they actively think about it or instinctively know it, defending one's property is a natural reaction. When they say "Mine!", they are affirming and declaring property rights even though there is no understanding of the concept.

      I have no idea how you construed my statement to mean that I "freely and willfully shared all your things with your siblings." I said nothing of the sort. I did not say that I shared ALL of my things, ANY of my things, or NONE of my things. What I did say is that our parents did not FORCE us to share what was ours, but left that decision up to us and I am grateful that they had the wisdom to know when to interfere and when to stay out of the situation.

      There is no wrong in telling some other kid to keep his hands off one's property. The selfishness shown is not on the part of the rightful owner, but on that of the would-be aggressor, who wants only to take what is not his. Forcing a young child to 'share' does not teach him to be unselfish with greedy people, it teaches him that it is right and proper to demand things from others...and it follows him all the rest of his life unless he learns otherwise.

      BTW, I did not have to fight over clothes when I was young, because with the exception of underwear and socks, virtually all were hand-me-downs. We did not fight over the TV because there was none. We got along with the toys we had and, if we fought over the food, it was not with each other but with Mom who put something on the table we did not want. However, we ate or went hungry, which did not last long.

      Looking back, I would not change a thing about it. Except the hand-me-downs. I would change those.

    8. We agree on about 90%. But I have had to teach my children to be unselfish. I had to be taught to be unselfish. Maybe the problem is just me and my kin.

      When I say that I don't mean FORCED sharing or teaching that children don't have property rights to their own things.

      I didn't think my experience was so unique but I guess I am a very bad person.

    9. We are all born with a "sin" nature and part of that is a tendency toward selfishness which has to be unlearned if we are going to have loving relationships with others. At 63 years, I am still being trained in certain aspects of my education, so with respect to that, you and I are no different.

      That being said, when the topic is private property, many people equate selfishness with a deliberate refusal on the part of property owners to "share". They are "selfish" because they try to keep what is theirs. Generally, "correcting" this requires superior force (redistributive policies, etc.) and very often springs from a spirit of envy. It is certain that a large majority of people believe that one of the proper roles of government is to force "selfish" people to be good. It is also certain that this is one of the primary reasons we are in the mess we are today.

      I will repeat what I said above. There is no wrong in telling some other [person] to keep his hands off one's property. The selfishness shown is not on the part of the rightful owner, but on that of the would-be aggressor, who wants only to take what is not his.

      If anyone needs to be taught to be unselfish concerning property, it is the thief who has no qualms about taking what is not his, not the kid who refuses to let others play with his toys.

    10. No one should be taught to be 'unselfish' unless 'selfish' is defined as stealing (which it is not). If 'selfish' is defined as jealously guarding one's own property and refusing to share, then selfishness is not wrong. 'Sharing' is neither a virtue nor a sin - it is merely a choice. Trading is a productive voluntary activity.

    11. I believe the same things you do about property. But I hadn't associated those ideas to child raising specifically. You raise some good points, of which I try to teach my children as well.

  6. I can argue for Christianity and natural law based on the nihilists' own terms, to wit:

    "I have created my own ethics, and they are good; they so happen to correspond with the metaphysics and moral precepts of historical Christianity. I don’t need your anti-God subjectivity to tell me how to live."

    What then? Do the nihilists demand I renounce my "superstition"? Do they force me to be free?

    1. Tony, yes the Nihilists will/do demand you be 'free'. That is because it is impossible to have a Christian ethic unless there is the Incarnation and the Cross, the Grave and the glorious third day Ressurection.