Simon Williams On Morality

On Morality

Introduction

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I will be presenting Morality from the position of an Evangelical Christian. In this post, I will simply assume that the Bible is as the authoritative word of God and the existence of the Christian God, as described in the Bible and the first six ecumenical councils. My goal is to present an understanding of Morality that is true to human experience and is faithful to the Bible.

Definition of Terms

You can skip this section if you want, but I wanted to explain some of my terms. Morality is a complicated topic and it can be very easy to misunderstand me if I don’t make clear what I mean when I use certain words. Please refer to the following list as needed for clarification:

  • Attribute – A quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
  • Bad – That which doesn’t measure up with the attributes of God. Also, called Evil.
  • Duty – A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility; a task or action that someone is required to perform.
  • Good – That which coincides with the attributes of God.
  • Moral Duties – This is concerned with whether something is right or wrong. This is always a moral consideration.
  • Moral Values – This is concerned with whether something is morally good or bad. Good and bad may not have a moral dimension.
  • Right – This is concerned with moral obligation. This is what we ought to do. This produces godliness.
  • Wrong – This is concerned with moral obligation. This is what we ought not to do.

Moral Objectivity

What is the Good?

I want to affirm the existence of the good as an objective feature of reality. That is to say, the good exists and is discoverable; just like the scientific method, the laws and constants of the natural world or the laws of logic. On this view, the good is not a physical or abstract object, but is the sum of the attributes of God. This means that the good is not tied to human opinion, happiness or flourishing. In short, God is the good.

Good and Evil

On the view that I’m affirming, the attributes should be understood as being on a scale with the foundation of the scale based on God. All attributes are in comparison to God as the perfect standard and rule.

LOVING
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

For example, on the above scale of “Loving,” there is no such thing as “hatred.” It doesn’t exist as an objective feature of reality. Hatred is only a statement of a person being less loving, whether in comparison to God or other humans or even his/herself. On this view, it could be said that someone loves his/her mother but hates his/her father (by self-comparison) if the mother were loved at a 9 ranking, even if the father were loved at an 8.5 ranking. The father is still loved, but is given less love than the mother. This is the same with all “evils.” The scale is used to provide a qualitative sense not quantitative.

God’s Strictly Greatness-Building attributes:

Not all of God’s attributes are related to morality. Some of them are “good” in the sense that they are strictly “greatness-building” attributes. These are attributes that improve beings that possess them, making them greater. God, as a maximally great being, would have the most (10 on the above scale) of all greatness-building attributes. The loss of these attributes would be considered a bad thing, or an evil, but it wouldn’t make a person evil. I will try to illustrate this by giving some examples.

  • Strength
    • Jer 32:17
    • To have power is greater than weakness. And is, therefore, a good. But what is weakness? It is to “lack power.” I have a neurological condition that causes muscle weakness via atrophy. So, I know first-hand how evil it can be to have strength and then lose it. Any being that is less than all-powerful would be weaker than an all-powerful being. Therefore, God, being omnipotent, is the ultimate standard for power.
  • Presence
    • Psa 139:7-12
    • Omnipresence may be God’s most underrated attribute. It has so much going for it but is rarely addressed. For example, to be “present” in a spatiotemporal sense, a being must exist. Therefore, existence is part of being present. Existence is a good even in the face of accompanying evils, such as pain or suffering/depression, because those evils are not necessary for a being to exist and they can be removed. Even the existence of a flesh-eating bacteria is a good for the bacteria if not for us.
      To be “present” in a cognitive or personal sense, a being must be sentient and, therefore, living. This is popularly referred to as “mindfulness.” To be conscience or aware of something is greater than being oblivious or ignorant. It can be said that it is not greater to be conscience of evils such as pain and suffering. But why would that be? Is it truly greater to be ignorant of pain and suffering? Is a person who is oblivious of their own pain or someone else’s pain greater? Wouldn’t that lack empathy or cloud judgement?
      It is, also, greater to be present throughout reality than to be isolated to a single spot. Therefore, God, being omnipresent, is the standard for existence and presence.
  • Knowledge
    • Dan 2:21
    • The more knowledge you have the better, making it a good. To have all knowledge is to know all possible propositions and to believe all true propositions and not to believe any false proposition. Any being that has less than this is less knowledgeable than a being that does. Therefore, God, being Omniscient, is the ultimate standard for knowledge.

Moral Values

Alright, let’s move on to God’s moral attributes. In addition to building greatness, the moral attributes also serve to promote proper behavior and conduct.

God’s Moral Attributes

These are the attributes of God that causes one to be morally upright. I won’t bother describing each one because I think you get the idea from above. Only a few of them will be listed, but there are a ton.

  • Loving
    • Rom 8:35, 37-39
  • Truthful
    • Jhn 8:31, 32
  • Righteous
    • Eph 4:22-24
  • Just
    • 2Co 5:10
  • Merciful
    • 1Jhn 1:9
  • Faithful
    • 1Co 10:13

 

If this understanding of morality is true then it helps to explain God’s use of and compatibility with evil. In scripture, God is shown to be compatible with evil (Please see Isaiah 45:7, or whenever He is punishing, like the 10 plagues of Egypt). Because any action that doesn’t measure up with God’s perfect attributes could be considered evil. But, when God calls something evil it may or may not be in accordance with our tolerance of evil. When God provides punishment, the act is not just evil to His standard, but must be considered evil by the standard of the person’s or culture’s being punished. Or else it wouldn’t be a proper punishment. The question then is, when does something become evil to us? As fallen humans, with different tolerance levels of evil, it could be very low on the scale. Something could start to be evil at 5 or even lower. And anything above that could be considered love by that person. But these opinions always move along the scale provided by the standard of God.

If God is compatible with evil then what is He incompatible with? This is to move us to Moral Duties.

Moral Duties

Moral duties only exist in relation to beings with the authority to give commands. For example, a boss has authority to command tasks related to the job he/she supervises. Bosses are in charge of directing an employee’s efforts and when they do it becomes morally right for the employee to carry out the command (to obey). Obviously, when dealing with other humans, there are a lot of other factors that impact moral duties which are related to moral values. But, to disobey a lawful command is morally wrong. God, as a maximally great being who is moral perfection, has the most authority and is in the best position to give lawful commands. Our disagreement with the commands of God are always from a position of situational ignorance and moral imperfection. Therefore, disobedience of God is always morally wrong (Objectively Wrong) and is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is the only thing that is incompatible with God.

Conclusion

This is just a basic overview of one understanding of morality, and it’s definitely not fully fleshed out here. I also wanted to address relative morality and subjective morality. Maybe I will do that in other posts. Please let me know what you think! There are a ton of nuances in this topic and hopefully I can address those with any questions that are made. Thanks for reading!

 

Simon Williams is a certified Chapter Director for Reasonable Faith. He works at Millstone Power Station as a Leading Nuclear Chemistry Technician. Prior to Millstone, Simon served six years in the United States Navy where he apostatized to atheism. He renewed his faith in Christ shortly before being Honorably Discharged. He has been a member at Norwich Assembly of God since 2012 and is happily married to Saschia Johnson.

 

Would you like to add your opinion? Instead of commenting on this post please write/create something to be shared with the community.

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection Redivivus by Geoff Blanchette.

 

 

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To Do’s

Here’s some poetry only a writer could love. An example of my love hate relationship with editing. But it must be done!

To Do’senglish-2787010_1280

Can you backspace

Center space

Use less commas

But add one here,

Double space and

Don’t forget

1 inch Indent and margins

And of course

Know your genre

Characters and places

This way that way

By the way

Great story!  

 

-Saschia Johnson

 

“To write is human but to edit is divine.”
-Stephen King

 

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James Abbott McNeill Whistler

 

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Whistlers early and consistent use of musical titles ‘nocturnes’, ‘symphonies’ and ‘arrangements’, helped to confirm the impression that the visual arts ought to aspire towards the condition of music; and his decorative ideas- such as the use of a peacock- feather pattern in the room which he painted for his patron F.R. Leyland- were extensively plagiarized.

According to Edward Lucie-Smith in his book titled Symbolist Art, “There is some current disposition to underrate Whistler and write him off as an essentially isolated artist. To do this is to distort the history of the art of his time, in which he was, and remained an influential, even central, figure.” I think very often we as artists forget how much effort it takes to stay in solitude to complete a piece. Outside of the art world they may never understand the amount of copious hours we spend hacking away at our projects. If you’re all in, it’s a constant battle to stay focused and build your piece into something you can be proud of. Even here with Whistler people are ready to write him off as an isolated artist, but how we work on our art is how we inspire others and help other creators of our time. This is being part of something. So those of you who are struggling to focus because people say you’re spending too much isolated time on your masterpiece, you’re part of the crowd and you are not alone.

 

 

You can check out where I got the pics from here:

Wikimedia Commons

File:Whistler James Symphony in White no 2 (The Little White Girl) 1864.jpg

and here”

Encyclopedia Britannica

https://www.britannica.com/biography/James-McNeill-Whistler

 

Frayed Ends

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And what,
dear children,
is the end of the world?

Is it when
a hydrogen bomb is triggered,
and flesh and concrete
and body and soul
are brought to nothingness by the fury
of a stillborn sun?

Is it when
the rich finally get tired
of carrying the poor on their backs
(or, conversely,
when the poor
feel likewise
about the rich)
and drag them bodily
against the nearest convenient wall
(you can see it now, can’t you,
aglow in an aura
of weathered newsreel)
and shove a Luger
straight between their eyes
and blow their brains out,

plink

splat,

like wooden ducks at a carnival shooting gallery?

Is it when
the march of progress
tears apart the land

and poisons the water
and fills the air
with smoke and mercury
and electromagnetic waves
that carry only noise
and boundless ignorance,

aided & abetted
by the zombie hordes
who don’t really have a clear idea
about much of anything
(except, you know,
that they were promised
a new season
of that hot new show
and they really hope they get it
because, like,
that shit is pretty awesome)?

Is it when
a good friend
writes you a letter –

oh let’s be real,
the friend writes you an email
or a text
or a tweet
because who the hell has time anymore –

but for the sake of argument,
a good friend
writes
you
a letter,

itemizing in detail
the exact reason why
he or she
will never speak to you again,
delineating the lines
that you
so carelessly
crossed,
and wishing you
a long and happy life
without the burden of their
continued presence?

Is it when

your car breaks down,
or your phone falls in the toilet,
or the dog poops on your new carpet,
or the other guy at the office
got that big account that you wanted,
or the cute piece at the bar
seems a lot more interested
in that hot blond than in
your particular charms,
or your significant whoever is
mad at you again
because you forgot to mow the lawn or
wash the dishes or
suck them off
like you promised to?

Or:

Is it when you see
your newborn child
for the first time,
when you hear him propose,
when you hear her say Yes,
when you earn that last diploma,
when you meet a new friend,
when you forgive an old friend
for the sin of being human,
when you laugh with a good joke,
when others laugh with your jokes,
when you move into your own space
for the first time,
when you get your first real paycheck,
when you learn something
you never imagined before,
when you help someone understand something
that you know,
when you build,
when you love,
when you live?

And what,
dear children,
is the difference
between an end
and a beginning?

Written by: Geoff Blanchette (use link to see his wordpress) a writer and actor based in Westerly, RI

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The ways to fight

The many ways women fight oppression

 

 

Not shaving

Breaking men’s hearts

Ridding themselves of all things beauty

Working their asses off to prove they can do what men can

Staying home and doing what they love

Embracing all things beauty

being confident in their body

Learning self defense

Creating a workplace the supports women’s needs

Picking up male mannerisms

Letting men help around the house

Being the breadwinner

Being a mom

Eating healthy and going to gym

Flirting

Voicing their opinions

Yelling and screaming

Crying

The arts

Protesting

Hiring more women in the workplace

Teaching more women

Supporting more women emotionally spiritually and financially

Shake Shakin what they mama gave em…

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The list infinite… And I’m open to hearing more

African Influence on Modern Art

For today’s post I wanted to talk about African influence on modern art. I was wondering at first why there isn’t more diversity in Symbolic art. I found that there is diversity and I wanted to make sure to share it. I planned this post last week and I’ve been eager to share it all week. According to The Met, “During the early 1900s, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture became a powerful influence among European artists who formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art.”  Painters including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, blended the post-impressionist works of Cezanne and Ganguin with the “highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures.” The combination of the two resulted in pictorial flatness, vivid color palette, and fragmented Cubist shapes which helped define early modernism. What I find most fascinating is that “the artists knew nothing of the original meaning and function of the West and Central African sculptures they encountered, [but] they instantly recognized the spiritual aspect of the composition and adapted these qualities to their own efforts to move beyond the naturalism that had defined Western art since the Renaissance.”

There may be some out there that say these artists stole ideas from African sculptures. I think it’s important to keep in mind that in the art world it’s a complement to influence other artists. I borrow many things from other writers when creating new stories and poems, but most of my work is influenced by creators that have the biggest impact on me. When you are an innovator or creator that is what moves things forward in ways that are needed in order for an artist or even a society to grow. Henry James says ” Art lives in curiosity, exchange of views, variety of attempt, experiment, and comparison of standpoints.” Without the strong influence of these African sculptures, early modern art would not be the same or could not have happened at all.

Brooklyn_Museum_2002.31.3_Fragment_of_a_Female_Figure
Fragment of a female figure from Wikipedia

 

 

Where I found the info:

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm

6 reasons why you should write today.

Six reasons why you should stop doing what you’re doing and write right now. people-2587055_1280

  1. You’ll have something to look back on. Not only to see your own growth but to have those memories you hold so dear.
  2. To learn from your experiences. It’s much easier to learn from your experiences when they are written down. Sometimes our brain remembers things wrong. It likes to play tricks on us. Smh, the brain is such an unreliable thing.
  3. It can be healing in so many ways. It could help you figure out what’s holding you back, or why you developed some quirky ritual or habit years ago. It can make ideas and concepts more clear and concrete. Writing can heal in so many ways.
  4. You’ll have something to leave behind. Everyone has so many different experiences and for me it’s nice to read and observe how others deal with experiences similar to my own. It can help other humans feel less alone. It can be eye opening and relieving. It could talk someone off the ledge. Seriously.
  5. You’ll have done something. Even if not one person reads your stuff you’ll have made a difference in yourself for yourself and that’s what’s most important. As they say you can’t truly help someone else until you help yourself.
  6. It can be cathartic. (Thank you Nory for that one.) I was telling her I wanted to set my screen play on fire cuz I’m so over it. She said that would be cathartic and that I should do it. Then I had to google the word cathartic. lol Writing can give you a release you don’t get in other places. Once in a great while things just come together and realization happens. Which can help you progress mentally or spiritually.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this post has inspired you to write!

 

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Correction On Shrouded

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Yesterday I posted a poem, but as an over thinker I already want to make one thing clear.

Here’s the poem.

“The air is thin here

among the musk and dirt

my body veiled in cloth.

I’d prefer not to be.

There’s a nakedness I crave

that isn’t available to all.

This nakedness, this madness is divinity

hoarded with chocolates and tea.

There’s incessant knocking knocking

pounding and glass shattering

I open my hands and teeter this way and that

until the urge is gone

leaving my nakedness unveiled

and the air normal”

 

The nakedness the character in the poem speaks of IS available to all but only few venture that path. I think I will rewrite it to clarify that little tidbit.

maybe

“The air is thin here

among the musk and dirt

my body veiled in cloth.

I’d prefer not to be.

There’s a nakedness I crave

it’s available to all

but only few venture it

This nakedness, this madness is divinity

hoarded with chocolates and tea.

There’s incessant knocking knocking

pounding and glass shattering

I open my hands and teeter this way and that

until the urge is gone

leaving my nakedness unveiled

and the air normal”

 

But as they say, a writers work is never truly finished.

 

Here’s another poem from last week that I enjoyed writing.

MacDonald Sisters

 

According to Claire E. Jones with InquiriesJournal.com, “Margaret and Frances Macdonald embodied this ‘new woman’ with their status and  as professional artists and the visual motifs that they accordingly employed. They managed to combine feminine and masculine characteristics into one figure in their works, effectively establishing an androgynous figure. In the process they managed to establish an equality, if not superiority, of women and men.

The director, Francis H. Newbery, was committed to an excellence in art that combined functionalism with beauty while encouraging individuality and experimentation among his students. Here the instructors trained the Macdonald girls as professional artists. This is also where they met their future husbands, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and James Herbert McNair. These four youths came to be known as the “Glasgow Four” during their time at the school.”

I think these ladies seem pretty awesome and I love the way their work seems to sway. AND they are the first female painters I’ve blogged about. Their styles are similar, but still unique to each of them. So inspiring! I can’t wait to learn about more artists.

 

Click here for last week’s artist from history

 

Site used to gather this information:
www.inquiriesjournal.com
All pictures including feature photo from:
www.greenmanpress.com Feature photo by Frances Macdonald I’m unsure of the title

Dear Writer,

Your words give me something to live for. I have plenty to live for, but your words get me out of bed when the world is weighing so heavy nothing else matters. I truly wish the best for you and when the best finds you (if it hasn’t yet) I hope you don’t lose yourself in it. And that we can continue to learn and grow together. 🙂

Sincerely,
Sasch

P.S.
I hope to memorize your stuff over time