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Daniel Florien Denies His Morals Come From the Bible (Surprised?)

Daniel Florien of Unreasonable Faith denies a charge I leveled at him: that his morals come from the Bible, same as mine. Where do his morals come from?

I get my morals from myself and my society. I treat others like I want to be treated, because that’s how I want others to treat me. I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from. I don’t murder because I don’t particularly want to be murdered. And so on. (emphasis added)

In his book He is There and He is not Silent, Francis Schaeffer spends a chapter on this sort of mentality. The Greek philosophers tried to discover where morals come from, and one of their hypotheses was the polis, or city. For the Greek philosopher, the polis represented more than the physical city; it represented the entire social structure as well. The philosophers eventually rejected that notion, but it seems that modern thinkers are much more enlightened than the ancient Greeks, because the idea of morals stemming from the polis is back among atheists.

Rather than morality ruling society, society rules morality. It reduces morality to a majority vote. But morality is not, nor ever will be, a majority vote. The Greeks knew that, which is why they rejected the idea that the polis is the source of morality. Why don’t modern atheists see the same thing?

So is the self the source of morals? The Bible seems to support the notion that morality is the heart of people (Jer 31:33). The problem that we encounter when we make self the source of morals can be summed up by taking Florien’s expercise a step further.

He doesn’t steal or murder because he doesn’t want someone to steal from him or murder him. Fair enough. But what if he doesn’t mind it when his girlfriend cheats on him? Is it then acceptable for him to cheat on his girlfriend because it’s okay with him if she does the same? Well, I doubt that Mr. Florien’s girlfriend would agree (if he has one).

We can agree that the self may contain some morals. But it isn’t a perfect source for morality, as I’ve demonstrated above. There has to be some other source, some factor that guides our morality, a source that is perfect. We instinctively know that this source exists, somewhere. It isn’t the self, because the self is not perfect. It isn’t the polis, because that would reduce morality to a majority vote of various imperfect selves.

So what is that elusive source of morality that we all know exists? It must exist outside of self and outside of the polis, since it guides the actions of both rather than the other way around. I submit that that source is God, and that Mr. Florien (along with his atheist friends kind enough to visit my humble blog) draws his morality from God whether he knows it or not.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on March 24, 2009, in Apologetics, Morality, Theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. So where do you think all the people in Japan and China who aren’t Christian get their morals from?

    What about all the great ancient civillizations which came before Christianity? What did they do?

    What about Confucius? What about Buddha?

    Aren’t those equally good or even better moral guides than Christianity?

    • The best part of this argument is that I don’t have to respond to it. I’m saying that Daniel Florien gets his morals from the Bible. I don’t have to answer to other ancient cultures. This isn’t a point, this is misdirection.

  2. Seriously, take a history course. Better yet, take a history of philosophy course. You’ll learn that there were plenty of moral people BEFORE Judeo-Christianity. Case in point: the Greeks were NOT proto-christians (I don’t care what Augustin says)!

  3. Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    It is now recognized that the many animals have rudimentary morals. I don’t think any of them are Christians.

  4. But what if he doesn’t mind it when his girlfriend cheats on him? Is it then acceptable for him to cheat on his girlfriend because it’s okay with him if she does the same? Well, I doubt that Mr. Florien’s girlfriend would agree (if he has one)

    That’s a good question. I wouldn’t cheat on my wife because she wouldn’t want me to. For me to do it would be wrong because it would hurt her, and I care about her.

    Again, God has nothing to do with it. If God thru the Bible said, “it’s okay to commit adultery,” that wouldn’t make it right for me to do so if it would emotionally harm my wife and cause me to break my promises to her. I don’t consult God about this matter — I consult my wife.

    So where do I consult God about my morals?

    Nowhere.

    • Actually, Daniel,

      The bible says it’s ok for you to have a second wife (or a third or a fourth) so as long as you MARRIED the other person you want to sleep with. And your wife would have no recourse to be jealous… unless she wanted to be like the god of the OT (who as a JEALOUS god)!

      🙂 I’m just sayin’…

  5. Cory,

    Morality, as we know it is a fallacy. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. Morality itself implies a choice, an either/or, good & evil. God is spirit (John 4:4). In the spirit there is no duality, no potential for good & evil, only good. The Lord is…One, not a plurality in nature. This is why Paul implores us to “walk in the spirit” and then we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (our lower, faulty, inherited adamic nature). When man(kind) chose to eat (live from) the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, the tree of Self within as opposed to the tree of life (Christ), our innocence was lost and the result is…morality. Morality is man’s desparate attempt at “knowing right & wrong”, being his own God. The problem is, since that it is now a divided mind we have so many different views of right & wrong. So conflicts and war’s break out, we are divided and a house divided against itself can not stand.

    Think of morality as the left over fragments of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, the pieces are everywhere. Religion, external rule keeping as opposed to a new nature, His within is also a product of this rotten, death bearing fruit. The admonition to “be renewed in the spirit of our minds” is an offer to return to the original paradiasical condition prior to the fall where there was no striation, no “apart” from.

    We dont want morality, because someone else’s will always be different from ours, we want the wholeness, the oneness that Christ offers. We want to abide in the vine, the one divine (spiritual) eternal, mind of Christ.

    All the best…

  6. Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @John C:

    We dont want morality, because someone else’s will always be different from ours, we want the wholeness, the oneness that Christ offers.,/blockquote>

    The problem with this argument is that there is no “oneness” of interpretation of what morals the Bible is actually teaching. Take divorce,for instance. It was treated as a serious sin by all the churches less than fifty years ago. Jesus clearly condemns it.

    Are we to see the reintroduction of Biblically based stoning for divorcees at Pastor Cory’s church next Sunday? All the freshly saved people ought to be sufficiently “without sin” to cast the first stones. Then the rest of the congregation can join in. It should be good clean Biblical fun. Of course, the difficulty will be that there may not be too many adults left at the end of day and there will probably be far too many homeless kids. There is also the problem of how the secular authorities will view this sacred rite. Without a sense of god they will probably condemn it as immoral. I rather doubt that they will be persuaded of its morality by having the Biblical basis of the act shoved in their faces. They may argue that immorality is immorality regardless of whether it the act is supported or condoned in someone’s holy book.

    • He is of too pure beauty to behold iniquity…Hab 2:20. He is beautiful, perfect, holy, pristine, unpolluted, He is love. This is the problem, we dont know what we are missing out on by insisting on our own way, our own mind.

      Its not so much about the external print (bible) but rather the internal blue…print, His nature within.

      Religion is an external behavior modification program that fails to address the real problem. Christ offers an entirely new life and new nature, His within. This is the remedy, the true restoration.

    • Haven’t I responded to this crap before? We’re not bound to the Mosaic Law anymore, which means that penalty enforcement is out of the question. For someone with theological training, your theology is embarrassing.

      • Your in the flesh friend. There is no such thing as any kind of morality, you dont understand the original paradaisical innocence. Go deeper.

  7. Er, you’re not saying quite the same thing, here. You are saying here that morality comes from a God who predates humanity. That’s a different argument to what you originally said, which is that morality comes from the Bible (despite the fact that humans were around and acting morally before it was written). So which is it that you believe?

    • I believe that morality comes from God. I believe that God inspired the Bible. It is his Word. You’re right, I made two different points and should have clarified them.

      • Surely it is then legitimate for someone to say that their morals don’t come from the Bible specifically?

      • But you can’t deny that morals originate with God. At least not convincingly.

      • I just did. See above. Morals are not the arbitrary decrees of a madman. They are absolute. So the madman god of genocide is not the creator of morals, but merely the first sinner against morals.

      • It has been denied, quite convincingly. In fact so many are convinced of it that your position is considered poor and uninformed by many christian apologists. Your lack of knowledge does you no credit. Please do some research before you make these kinds of statements.

  8. I think you missed Daniel’s point (which he made quite explicitly), which is that the Old Testament has such a low morality nobody could possibly be getting their morality from it and not be in prison, and the New Testament has such a high morality (more a sense of communist social justice actually) that nobody could possibly follow it without living as a homeless man with nothing but the shirt on his back.

  9. For every moral you can possible derive from the Bible a counter moral can be derived from the same Bible. As a Christian you “pick” those morals which suit your cause in the world you live in today. You cannot possible practice every moral taught in the Bible, because to do so, would land you jail. Arguably those same set of morals derived from the Bible can be dervied through other methods as well. As previously stated moral standards exsisted before the times of the Bible and will continue after it has gone the way of Apollo.

    Universal morals (don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat on your wife etc….) are found in every culture on the planet irregarless of that cultures exposure to or belief in your bible or your God.

    How would explain this phenomenon if morals are only to be derived through the narrow lens you call christianity….there must be another explanation, it appears Daniel has found that explantion.

  10. Cory, of course we can. We’ve denied it multiple times. You have yet to show morality has ANYTHING to do with God.

    • Morality has everything to do with God, and I believe that I have shown it. Morals guide the self and the polis, not the other way around. Therefore, morals must be transcendent–outside of both the self and the polis. Morals can’t be inherent in nature, because they seem to guide animal behavior as well (thanks Rosemary). That leaves a source completely outside of the self, the polis, and nature as the source for morals. You are the one who can’t convincingly deny this.

      • Morals transcend even god. That is the basis of the belief-system of the real Marcion. Jesus talks about a good tree bearing good fruit and an evil tree bearing evil fruit. Marcion interprets it not only of men, but of gods. So, he says, there is an evil god (the god of the OT) and a good god (the god of his Marcionite New Testament canon, 1 gospel and 10 of Paul’s epistles…not in their present form of course). Ok, so how can Marcion call any god evil? Don’t gods get to claim that they can do whatever they want because they’re god? Especially the CREATOR is generally granted this privileged by his worshipers. But based on what Jesus says about trees being good or evil, Marcion interprets that there is an absolute standard of morality that transcends all and can judge both gods and men. Morality therefore does not derive from god, but judges him if he transgresses it, as it judges us also.

  11. “So what is that elusive source of morality that we all know exists? It must exist outside of self and”

    Wrong again!

    Bad ASSumption with which to start, and go wronger!

    I’m cutting you off right there.

    • I’d love to hear you argue that morality comes from self, since I know I covered pretty well why it can’t. Knowing that the self is not perfect, as even atheists would agree, we know that it cannot be the source of perfect morality.

      Care to actually argue otherwise instead of the sound bite?

  1. Pingback: Atheism, Morality and Biblical Influence - They Mesh « The Angry Philistine

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