Friday, July 6, 2012

From the Archives: Rational Basis for Morality

Another Installment of "Blast From The Past". This paper comes from April, 2008.

Eliyahu N. Kassorla
Human Nature and the Social Order II
Dr. Orme
Rational Basis for Morality
            וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר
“And God spoke all these words, saying…”[1] That is how we all remember reading about how the Ten Commandments were given. The divine revelation, with all of the Israelites circled around Mount Sinai, and the basis for Judeo-Christian morality, spoken by God himself as a rule of law, an idealistic vision of how we should behave. Then the Israelites made a golden calf to worship, and smiting ensued. The central question is whether our morality comes from divine law or whether humans do these anyways.
“Thou shalt not commit homicide,” reads the sixth commandment. It is a very specific statement against intentional, premeditated, cold-blooded, savage killing. Is it the reason that we do not kill and murder? Frankly, early civilizations with complex religious structures had similar judicial codes forbidding the same practices that many of the Ten Commandments also prohibit. So the Judeo-Christian view that morality comes from the revelation is untenable. Further, considering that the Old Testament contains a total of six hundred and thirteen laws, and people are not overly concerned with Jubilee years or the prohibition against harvesting the corners of their fields, the fact that a law comes from on high is coincidental at best.