Why I Will Become a Christian
“It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced. It is comparatively easy when he is only partially convinced. He is partially convinced because he has found this or that proof of the thing, and he can expound it. But a man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 87).
It now seems to me that everything proves the truth of Christianity, but I will not expound on everything here because that would be very hard and because, despite his caveat, Chesterton expounds on quite a few powerful proofs in his book that I recommend everyone read. In this essay I will merely present the largest factor in my conversion, and while not a unique justification, I believe I can put at least some of it uniquely.
For a few years now I have held the belief that there is such a thing as objective morality. This belief was my first step toward Christianity, for once I accepted it I realized it has two famous and related names: “the Good” and “God.” But though I had accepted this legal aspect of the Good — and graciously decided to grant religion its utility in explaining this cosmic legal system to the masses — I resisted the mysticism and personality and thus the religion of God.
But I get ahead of myself. One of my justifications for objective morality was the human necessity for the concepts of right and wrong. We are free beings,¹ and to be free is to choose, and choice is the rejection of some paths in favor of others. What guides our choice of paths is the understanding that one path is right and the others are wrong in reference to some value.² Value, and the morality that serves it, are thus more fundamental than choice.
According to the proponents of subjective morality, choice precedes morality. And while it is certainly true that different people choose different paths and may alter their own guide by choice, those choices were themselves guided, as were all choices, including the first choice ever made. One can not choose between the right or left path if one does not believe one right and the other wrong, and one can not know what is right or wrong without valuing the end of one path and not the other; one could not even take a single step without morality.
Let me put it another way. The choices we make are chosen for their value. What values we choose are determined by more fundamental values still, so on and so forth until we reach an indivisible value, the ultimate guide of our choices, our morality. So what is the original value? The origin of morality? This argument is similar to Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover;” the recognition that causality must have a cause.³ Value, too, must have a cause: The Good, God.
Subjectivists could object, however, that different people could have different original values. My responses to this claim are thus:
1. Where would these different original values come from? They could not be from our natural or pragmatic desires, instincts, or impulses because these are often in conflict: “Supposing you hear a cry for help from a man in danger. You will probably feel two desires — one a desire to give help (due to your herd instinct), the other a desire to keep out of danger (due to the instinct for self-preservation). But you will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either of them” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 9–10). Maybe they simply come from biological happenstance, but then again, genetic diseases and deformities originate the same way, and we don’t assume that they are the default or proper or ideal way to be. In fact, we assume just the opposite and try to correct the problem, appealing to an objective standard of health. Perhaps society then. But that just begs the question, where did society get its values from?
2. Why does everyone, even the Subjectivists, act as though they already believe in objective morality? “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining “It’s not fair” before you can say Jack Robinson” (Mere Christianity, 6); and “if no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilised morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality. In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others… Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something — some Real Morality — for them to be true about” (13).
Another objection that could be made is to point out that the Nazis thought their morality was true. If there is an original value that guides our choices, what happened there? How do we explain evil? Again, I believe there are two answers:
1. Evildoers do not choose evil, rather they give up their free choice to their desires.
2. Evildoers mistakenly believe they are following the Good/God.
Subjectivists would be skeptical of these postulates, believing that everyone follows their desires and thinks them good, but we can not be said to be free if we are mere slaves to our desires, and we must be said to be free in order to say anything at all.
I believe an examination of the human condition is in order. Perhaps the most self-evident truth about ourselves is that we have natural desires. We didn’t choose them,⁴ they just are, and they clearly motivate us to act. Take hunger, for example. Many people would not choose to hunger if such a choice was within our power, but because it isn’t, much of human activity has been directed toward satisfying this desire.
If natural desires are unchosen motivations though, how then can we have free will? Well, it is also self-evident that we can resist these desires. We can hold off eating, even to the point of death, if we think we have good reason to do so. Or we can train our desires, as in the case of dieting. Say we have a strong desire for sweets. If we know that too many sweets are bad for our health, we can use that good reason to resist our desire with such force and consistency that the desire itself diminishes. This is freedom; the freedom to use reason to organize ourselves to aim at what is good, or Good, or God.
Allow me to address some obvious questions:
1. Why does giving up our free choice make us evil?
Because our desires are not capable of orienting themselves toward what is right. They are ignorant and selfish; they don’t know of anything beyond themselves and all they care for is their own satisfaction. When placed into a complex world with many paths and obstacles, they fight with each other for dominance, making leadership — and thus direction — fickle or dictatorial. They always choose the quickest and easiest route. And they always want more. Is this not the face of evil?⁵
2. Is it not possible to freely choose evil?
As argued above, our choices are guided by original value. They must be, because we must believe we can choose, and that is how choice works. We are free to resist the guide (or seek to know it better), but if we do resist it we resist the thing that gives us free choice. Without a guide to order our desires, our motivation for acting, our desires will assert themselves so that we may keep acting, and in doing so bring about the evil that results from disorder.
What would it mean to say that we could choose evil? That evil is valuable, which is a contradiction in terms. Instead, we must conclude that evil is not a thing that can be chosen, but rather is a state of absence, a lack of organization by and toward goodness.
That being said, we do tend to say that people “choose” evil because we tend to believe that people are responsible for the evil they commit, and responsibility results from choice. But we can preserve responsibility, our common parlance, and the truth, just by recognizing that the choice we are responsible for is keeping our desires in check. We can think of desires as children, for children are irrational and governed largely by desire. Parents, as those expected to choose reason, are responsible for governing and training their children. Children are not responsible because they are ignorant; they do not know what reason is or how to use it. But there comes a time when we become responsible for our ignorance as well as our irrationality.
Returning to our examination of the human condition, I also mentioned above that right reason orders our desires, as does the original value that guides our choices. I can explain this quickly by saying that we use reason to understand the original value and apply it in a complex world. But there is in fact a pre-rational way of knowing original value: conscience. Our conscience advises us through pathos what we can deduce through logos or reason.⁶ It is better to have reasons for our choices, but trusting in conscience without understanding its reasons is still better than slavery to our desires. Moreover, we do not say that children are completely blameless for their choices up until the moment we decide they become responsible. We recognize that as they learn more, they gradually take on more responsibility. But because conscience is pre-rational, children are partially responsible even earlier than their rational capabilities imply and can feel bad about doing wrong though they have no understanding of why the thing they did was wrong.
The introduction of conscience, however, raises the question: If we don’t need reason to order our passions, how does anyone go wrong? Simply put, ignorance and error. The world is too complicated, and our desires too strong, for our conscience to govern us alone. Two examples illustrate this:
1. The conscience of a Nazi, working, say, in a concentration camp, must have been screaming endlessly in horror. If conscience alone were strong enough, how could this man ignore its screams, and the screams of his victims?
2. Whenever we are told to do a thing, we wish to know why we are being told to do it. If the thing is difficult and unpleasant, and we are given no explanation, or an unsatisfactory one, we feel very reluctant to do it. If, however, we are given an explanation, and a good one at that, that shows us how this difficult and unpleasant task will be good for us in the long run — that it will be worth our trouble — then we will be much more likely to perform the task, and even feel a sense of purpose and joy in doing it. This explanation is what reason gives us.
While the rule of the desires is anarchy leading to tyranny, and vice versa, and the rule of conscience is like a frail old sage in charge of too many rebellious children, the rule of reason is one of a strong but just monarch. It tells its subjects what to do, but explains to them why it gives such commands, and they in turn rejoice to follow them.⁷
But how do ignorance and error cause one to follow the wrong ruler? Say you are a programmer and there is a particular task you would value your computer performing. Your choices of action will be guided by this value, and if you are a knowledgeable enough programmer you will likely succeed in your goal. If, however, you are ignorant of key information about computers and programming, it is unlikely you will succeed, and it is possible that you will end up making a mess of things or accomplishing something you did not wish to. What to do then? If we choose to use our rational capacity to reflect on the problem and learn how to fix it, we can get back on track. But if we remain unreflective, we will keep digging ourselves a deeper hole, and if we don’t choose to seek the knowledge we need, we won’t know what to do, so in order to keep acting our desires will take over, which will likely result in us abandoning the original valuable goal. We may come up with excuses for why we couldn’t complete the task, for ourselves and others, to try and alleviate the guilt or shame we feel.
Guilt is an unpleasant feeling our conscience generates to try and motivate us to get back on track, but if we give in to our simple-minded desires, they will choose what seems to be the easier path, which is just to suppress the unpleasant feeling. Thus, as ignorance continues, errors compound, and without using the rational ability to know errors as errors, we will assume that the voice in our head telling us we’re going wrong is the real problem, training ourselves to ignore it with such force and consistency that we will no longer be able to hear it in the first place.
Another analogy could be thinking of conscience as a simple map of original value, and reason as our ability to fill in the details and apply the map properly. If we come across a complicated crossroads, and by ignorance we err and take the wrong path, and by irrationality we don’t try to perfect the map and correct our path, there will come a point where we are so lost that the simple map won’t be of much use. The map will be replaced with one drawn by our desires, something like the satisfaction of hunger will become our ultimate value, and, to the extent that we will be capable of belief, we will mistakenly believe this state of things to be right.
All that being said, let us consider the alternative theories for where value comes from, for as Pascal’s⁸ and Morawek’s⁹ Wagers illustrate, it is reasonable to have faith in a position that is more “valuable” than all alternatives. The alternative to religious mysticism is materialism, which has two answers to the question of value: Nihilism, the materialist’s dystopia, and Objectivism, the materialist’s utopia. Essentially, if God does not exist outside of myself, then either He is dead, or I am god. Nihilism is by definition less valuable than any alternative, so we by logical necessity must reject it. Now, if I am god — that is, I am the source of my own value — that is, my life grants me the choice between living or not, which is a choice between choosing or not, thus making my life necessarily valuable as the basis for all evaluation — — then we run into two issues:
1. I am a very selfish god, which, as Lewis points out, is something all of humanity (save for Ayn Rand) has judged as bad. “Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to — whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired” (6).
2. Just because my own life may be a necessary value, does not mean that it is the ultimate value.¹⁰
I say Objectivism is the materialist’s utopia in part mockery and part sincerity (as the term should always be used); mockery, because, on the one hand, Objectivism leads to horrors such as this: “If the person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him only when the danger to one’s own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it: only a lack of self-esteem could permit one to value one’s life no higher than that of any random stranger” (Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, The Virtue of Selfishness, 52), and miseries such as this: “consider the quieter kind of “pleasures” that fill many people’s lives: family picnics, ladies’ parties or “coffee klatches,” charity bazaars, vegetative kinds of vacation — all of them occasions of quiet boredom for all concerned, in which the boredom is the value” (75); sincerity, because, on the other hand, Objectivism is the most coherent of all materialist ideologies.
Nihilism has no values; Subjectivism/Relativism lets everyone choose their own values, which results in Nihilism;¹¹ but Objectivism gives materialists a value that is concrete and extraordinarily easy to aim at. Never before has so respectable a belief claimed that humanity is so close to perfection. Christianity has it all wrong; pride isn’t the cardinal sin, it is the ultimate virtue; humanity isn’t fighting a losing battle against its ego, it is, in fact, but one small act of selfishness away from utopia.
So how do we judge between these alternatives? I have two ideas:
1. Objectivism begins with the recognition that alternatives are necessary for values to exist, and the fundamental alternative is my existence or nonexistence, therefore I must value my existence, my capacity to value. But why should I value the capacity to value if there is nothing else to use that capacity on? The Christians say we are faced with a path of life that leads to heaven, or a path of death that leads to hell. But the Objectivists say we are faced with a path of life that will end in death eventually or a path of suicide that ends in death now. The only difference between choices is the time until the end, but what good is time if there is nothing worth doing with it? Nihilism strikes again.
2. Intuition — or conscience — tells us that Objectivism is wrong. Rand tries to incorporate traditional ways of being into her assessment of what is in people’s “rational self-interest” (x), but based on her original value of one’s own life, what is rational to her need not match what we intuitively value. I see no barrier, for example, to justifying the enslavement of the whole world for my sustainment other than practicality. Objectivists do believe that man has rights that others ought not to violate, but because rights stem from values (if they didn’t, we wouldn’t care if we lost them), and because the only value the Objectivist recognizes is himself, the belief in rights only goes one way. If I don’t recognize others as equally valuable to myself, then neither can I recognize their rights as equally valuable, and inalienable, as my own.
Consistent Objectivists, I think, would allow this scenario’s morality, but insist that there are more practical ways to sustain one’s life, which is true. But what if there were a theory that did not ever allow the enslavement of the world to be moral, yet still valued my individual life? What if there were a theory that said all men are created equal, thus I need not worry about my self-esteem when attempting to save a stranger’s life? Would this not be a better theory? What would prevent us from accepting it? That it is not materialistic? But that is a dogmatic rationale.
“If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism — the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence — it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed” (Orthodoxy, 163).
Materialism vs Mysticism
What is behind the religification of materialism seems to be the deification of science. Science is a specific system we invented to explore the natural world, but as a system with a specific purpose, it is limited in other domains. As science depends on our observing reality, or in other words, on the internal observation of the external, it can say little about the internal itself. Take free will for example. Scientists, when they are being honest, treat it as a mystery, unexplainable by the determinism of matter.¹² But when they are being dishonest, scientists claim it doesn’t exist; they tell us (and in doing so contradict themselves) to deny the self-evidence of our minds and believe that we are nothing more than automatons. A process of thought has been deified as a truth of its own, as “The Whole Truth,” and is being used to prevent all further thought.
“There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped. That is the ultimate evil against which all religious authority was aimed” (Orthodoxy, 31).
Science can’t explain value, no matter how much we value science. That isn’t to say science is useless, it is extremely useful at explaining matter, but it must be kept in its proper place; when science is made into a god, and materialism into a religion, The Whole Truth suffers as though forced into foot bindings.
“You can explain a man’s detention at Hanwell by an indifferent public by saying that it is the crucifixion of a god of whom the world is not worthy. The explanation does explain. Similarly you may explain the order in the universe by saying that all things, even the souls of men, are leaves inevitably unfolding on an utterly unconscious tree — the blind destiny of matter. The explanation does explain, though not, of course, so completely as the madman’s. But the point here is that the normal human mind not only objects to both, but feels to both the same objection. Its approximate statement is that if the man in Hanwell is the real God, he is not much of a god. And, similarly, if the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. The thing has shrunk. The deity is less divine than many men; and (according to Haeckel) the whole of life is something much more grey, narrow, and trivial than many separate aspects of it. The parts seem greater than the whole” (Orthodoxy, 19–20).
Objective Morality: Conclusion
I will address the Subjectivists’ challenge one last time and in summary. Perhaps some would continue to insist that this whole explanation of how people go astray from objective morality is bogus and that, applying Occam’s Razor, the simpler explanation is that everyone just follows their desires and thinks them good. But consider the world as described by the Subjectivists. This is a world of children or automatons. See, the child’s actions are explainable by the chain of causality. A child steals sweets because he is hungry, and he is hungry because his body consumes energy, etc. But how would a Subjectivist explain Gandhi’s fasts? What desire overcame his desire for food? The Subjectivist could say “justice,” but what is justice to a Subjectivist? Just another desire; no different, ontologically, from hunger. Gandhi then would be no more correct or free than a child stealing sweets. The Subjectivist can not judge his actions, and Gandhi himself cannot have acted otherwise. But if Subjectivism doesn’t recognize morality or freedom, why should we accept it, and how even could we?
Objectivism is another unsatisfactory answer. It at least recognizes morality and freedom, but sets ourselves as their source, which doesn’t give us much reason to use either, save for what we know to be horrific and miserable.
While Objectivism is utopian, Christianity is heavenly. Who would you rather interact with? People who worship themselves above all else, including you? Or people who worship God above all else, including you? What would you rather the people around you strive for? Their own personal utopia, at your expense? Or the holistic Good, to your mutual benefit? If we would like to be around a certain sort of people, I suppose that they would like the same of us, and if we can still hear our consciences, then we know we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.¹³
The Good vs God
But again I get ahead of myself. Objective morality and external value are explained by the Good, so why bother with God at all? Because, as I now see it, there are two essential questions that only He can answer:
1. Where does conscience come from and why is it authoritative?
2. Can we achieve what morality requires of us, and what happens if we can’t?
Leah Labrisco writes in the introduction to her book, Arriving at Amen, that, as an Atheist, she disagreed with her friends about objective morality: “To me, dismissing our consciences as compasses because we are as yet unable to dissect them satisfactorily and because they are sometimes biased seemed as ridiculous as pooh-poohing the existence and accuracy of sight in the years before we had dissected the eye” (xxv). But finding herself stuck on, in essence, this (1.) question, she decided to lay out her basic beliefs to locate and discard the one that was causing a contradiction.
a. “There probably isn’t a God.
b. Some things are right and some things are wrong, even if everyone on Earth is mistaken about which is which.
c. I (and everyone else) have some level of access to these moral truths, even if I don’t directly know the rules on which they depend.
d. Starting just from reason and the physical world, I can’t naturally learn the laws of ethics the way I can the laws of the universe.
I summarized my reasoning to my interlocutor, and he pushed again: “Well, then what?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Somehow we get across the gap of abstraction, but not by a process I currently understand. I just know a solution exists, since I do in fact have access (however imperfect) to moral reasoning.”
“Right, but how?”
“I don’t know, I guess morality just loves me or something.”
We both fell silent. I asked my friend to stay quiet while I figured out whether I actually believed what I’d just said. I’d always thought of morality as a set of static operating instructions for ethical actions, but if I had just conceded that moral reasoning and I were on opposite sides of a chasm that I couldn’t bridge on my own, then I must believe that contact was made from the other side. Morality wasn’t just a rulebook but some kind of agent.
But when I’d blurted my best guess, I hadn’t said that morality merely reached me, as I might have if I were just picturing something like a giant, ambulatory grimoire. I had said “loves.” I had spent too long thinking of moral law as analogous to mathematics — perfect, complete, independent — to imagine that it could need me. If morality reached out to me, it had to be offering itself as a gift: it wanted good for me, not from me.
What’s more, it was hard to imagine imbuing the literal definition of Goodness with an active spirit and not finding that spirit to be good itself. Anything else would be as illogical as having the Spirit of Mathematics (if it existed) be innumerate.
I’d backed myself into a corner. There wasn’t anyone else in the world who talked about “the Platonic ideal of the Good as an active agent with a special care for humankind” without shortening that whole cumbersome phrase to simply God” (xxviii-xxix).
Perhaps Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith” isn’t over as daunting a gap as it first seemed. Perhaps the gap is bridged, and that is what we need faith to see.¹⁴ Moreover, the Good as an agent capable of caring explains the authority of its (His) laws. “An illustration is helpful here. One evening in the middle of a Scrabble game, you notice the phrase “do not go” formed in the random spray of letter tiles on the table. Is this a command that ought to be obeyed? Of course not. It’s not a command at all, just a random collection of letters. Commands are communications between two minds… If morality is not an illusion and not the product of chance, then morals must be the result of an intelligent Mind. Universal moral laws that have genuine incumbency require an author whose proper domain is the universe, who has the moral authority to enforce his laws, and the power to ultimately mete out perfect justice” (Greg Koukl, “Evil as Evidence for God”).
And another point. If by rejecting morality we become like automatons, or animals, determined by the causality of nature, and by accepting morality we become human, greater than the animals, self-conscious and rational, then why would morality itself not be like us, self-conscious and rational? More accurately, because morality is greater than us, as a thing prior to us and a thing that we strive for, we are like it, made in its image. But then of course we can’t describe “it” as “it,” and should at least use personal pronouns.
As for the second question, I only realized its importance when I read this passage from Mere Christianity: “Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger — according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way” (31).
So objective morality exists, but what of it? Its existence means we should act a certain way, but we don’t. Only the most insane people think they are perfect; everybody sins. What does morality do about that? If it does nothing, then why follow it? There can only be a right path to take if there is some consequence for taking the wrong path. What sort of consequence would a chance mathematical formula of the universe have in store for us? If any (see Question 1.), then pure judgment and punishment for our crimes against it, I suppose. “Perfect justice” (“Evil as Evidence for God”).
So is there no hope? Are we all doomed to hell? Let us consider the consequence of taking the right path, for though we do not often walk it, I believe it illuminates the truth of our situation. The only consequence for doing good that would itself be good is joining with Goodness itself. Feeling happy or getting an advantage in life are inconsequential side effects of coming close to the Good; becoming one with the Good, with ultimate value, is the prize for doing what is required of us. But as flawed beings, we simply cannot unite with the Good. Heat cannot unite with cold without changing both, and the Good cannot change.
If all this is true, the only solution to our problem is mercy, or forgiveness, or grace. If we are faced with a law we can not hope to follow, the only answer that isn’t nihilistic is that the law forgives us, and then helps us follow it, so that we may join with it. But a law can’t do all that, only a personality can. The Good can’t do all that, only God can.
“When you have realised that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about. They offer an explanation of how we got into our present state of both hating goodness and loving it. They offer an explanation of how God can be this impersonal mind at the back of the Moral Law and yet also a Person. They tell you how the demands of this law, which you and I cannot meet, have been met on our behalf, how God Himself becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God” (Mere Christianity, 31–32).
“The law was therefore given, in order that grace might be sought; grace was given, in order that the law might be fulfilled.” (St. Augustine, On The Spirit And The Letter, Chap. 34).
“Pray to the God who exists
In my heart always,
In my head often,
And in my thoughts,
When a tree falls on a still day” (Maya Mehta, Poems, 33).¹⁵
My final thoughts will be about religion as an institution, for it is possible to believe God exists but not follow any religion. I was reminded of an adage Jordan Peterson likes to use in his defense of religion against disparaging critics such as Sam Harris: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”¹⁶ I now believe this metaphor also disparages religion.
While meant in good faith to warn against eliminating institutions wholesale when there is value yet contained in them — a sentiment often expressed by agnostics (including myself once) to justify learning ethics from religion without bothering about the rites and rituals — it becomes clear upon closer inspection that it is a false analogy and thus we are using the adage incorrectly. If the baby represents the ethics of religion, and the bathwater the rites and rituals, then we must also recognize that we are only throwing out the bathwater because it has cleansed the baby. There would be nothing to throw out if the baby was left unbathed, and thus no worry about losing it through the window, but if we left it unbathed, surely we don’t worry about it that much in the first place. We only bathe the baby because we worry about its health, and by throwing out the bathwater we do not also discard the necessity of baths. The bath, an action — one could say a rite or ritual — is what cleanses our ethical baby. Without that part of religion, the baby would grow sick and die.
Analogies do not themselves prove anything, but they do often make sense of what we already know. This matter is too complicated to delve into in this essay, but for now, I will say this: If we already accept morality’s (God’s) commands that we act in certain ways and not others, why should we balk when commanded to follow specific rites and rituals and not simply serve Him however we please? We may say acts of worship seem antiquated, odd, or pointless, “but there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source” (Mere Christianity, 48).
In summary, I will become a Christian because objective morality exists, we can know what it requires of us, we sin against it anyway, we need its forgiveness to be saved, only a personality can give commands and then forgive those who don’t follow them, religious actions cleanse us for forgiveness, and they are a part of God’s law that we’ve already agreed to follow.
“Religion erupts among a storm
Of thought and truth, gleaning” (Poems, 8).
- “It is irrational to claim the truth of determinism because there is no way to justify the pursuit of truth if one’s beliefs are determined” (Benjamin Morawek, “An Argument for the Existence of Non-Physical Souls,” November 4, 2021) (Unpublished).
- “Meaning=Morality. How Suzan Wolf Doesn’t Take Her Theory of Meaning and Morality Far Enough” by Tyler Piteo-Tarpy
- A belief in infinite regression requires just as much faith as a belief in a source of progression, if not more.
- We do choose to develop some of our desires (ideally because we want to want what is best), but these too we must be careful with and keep under control. Pride in one’s own goodness is perhaps the most dangerous consequence of the domination of these desires.
- This is not to say that desires themselves are evil. Rather, evil results from letting desires rule themselves. “For when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil — not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked” (St. Augustine, City of God, Book 12, Chap. 6); and “there is none of our impulses which the Moral Law may not sometimes tell us to suppress, and none which it may not sometimes tell us to encourage” (Mere Christianity, 11).
- The Bible, the word of original value Himself, would represent ethos.
- Inspired by Self Constitution by Christine Korsgaard.
- Essentially, we have infinite happiness to gain if we bet that God exists and are correct, and only finite inconvenience if we are incorrect.
- “Faith & Reason” by Benjamin Morawek (Unpublished).
- Furthermore, if, as Christianity claims, we are in fact immortal souls, then the mere fact of our mortal lives should be of little value to us compared to what we will take into the afterlife.
- And Utilitarianism is Relativism: “Why Utilitarianism is Useless. The Moral System Without Morals” by Tyler Piteo-Tarpy
- Though quantum physics is challenging even this determinism.
- This maxim is not evidence for the Social Contract Theory of mortality. “If I am a rationally self-interested person and the only goods accessible to me are this-worldly goods, I should exploit the social contract in a manner that places demands on others and also seek ways to violate the social contract; that is, to satisfy my own desires insofar as I can avoid getting caught and punished” (Kelly James Clark, “Why Be Moral? Social Contract Theory Versus Kantian-Christian Morality,” Journal of Markets & Morality, Volume 6, Number 1 (Spring 2003): 87).
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade by Steven Spielberg
- Sam Harris & Jordan Peterson in Vancouver — Part 1 — Presented by Pangburn (CC: Arabic & Spanish), Sam Harris & Jordan Peterson in Vancouver — Part 2 — Presented by Pangburn (CC: Arabic & Spanish), Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson & Douglas Murray in Dublin — Part 3 — Presented by Pangburn (CC: Arabic), Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson & Douglas Murray in London — Part 4 — Presented by Pangburn (CC: Arabic)
- Chesterton, G. K. Orthodoxy. Canon Press, 2020.
- Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. HarperOne, 2015.
- Rand, Ayn, and Nathaniel Branden. The Virtue of Selfishness. Signet, 2014.
- Libresco, Leah. Arriving at Amen. Ave Maria Press, 2015.