Friday, April 13, 2012

The Fountainhead of Moral Laws

We know, from a study of the Problem of Evil argument, that whether or not God exists, there is no evil on the earth until man appears. Man defines evil according to the manner in which he treats his fellow man. At the core of every evil act is a betrayal of trust. This is true in any universe where thinkers are free-willed and autonomous. This is true if God does or does not exist.

When we are born, we have no choice but to trust. Our only hope for survival is that there is somebody, worthy of our trust, who will keep us safe from harm until such time as we have grown to the wisdom and maturity to stand on our own.

We learn to betray each other when we are very young. We learn that we can lie. This starts in the crib, when we discover that we can draw our mother near if we feign a cry of distress. We do not have the conscious vocabulary to verbalize the concepts, but our subconscious is hard at work, storing information in symbols we can no longer consciously understand. Now that we are older, our minds do the work of bubbling up concepts, from our subconscious,  and transforming them to courses of action that sometimes escape as impulsive reactions. If you hit your thumb with a hammer in your own garage a colorful curse might escape with abandon. If you are in the company of small children you might catch this impulse and exclaim something more carefully thought out, causing laughter from the children themselves to escape with the same abandon.

At some point in time, still while we are very young and not capable of practical language, we develop our own internal language and we babble all day long about anything that is on our minds. Sometimes, to attract attention, we will make up a story and speak it, unaware that nobody can understand what we are saying. And, if our story has the intended effect of gaining attention, we begin to understand, in our own internal language, the power of the lie.

We learn at the age of 2 or 3 that we can cause another being to veer off of a natural course if we can get him or her to believe a lie. We understand that we must temper this power because we have developed relationships of concern for those close to us. We do not want to lead them down the wrong path. We want them to have good sources of trust in a world where all can lie. We understand that we can be somebody that they can trust. We understand all of this, in our own language while we are still very young.

 In the struggle for life, a well-executed lie can be the difference between life and death. This is true throughout the animal kingdom and it is no less true in the mind of man. Therefore it is important that we learn early on about the power of the lie. Evolution, or our creator herself, has brought us to this state, empowering us with the capacity to lie.

The fountainhead of moral laws is in your consciousness. You always, without exception, within your own internal court of reason, condemn yourself for each instance in which you have judged that you betrayed another’s trust. You cannot escape from this; the testimony of your memory is unimpeachable and your internal moral code is clear. You could have behaved as a repository of trust.  Instead you behaved as something less than that.

You have within yourself  a perfect system of justice with respect to the things you know.  You can choose. You are not a robot. You are a physical law of the universe. You are the fountainhead of moral laws.

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