Moral relativism

Moral relativism

Fr Bernard McGrath

The moral relativism of the majority in our society today is a dangerous foundation on which to base our government and laws.

Without leaders who exercise reason's grasp of the natural law, on which human rights and justice absolutely depend, the state easily becomes nothing more than an expression of arbitrary power.

Majority relativism has displaced natural law by the spread of positivism, an ideology based on a narrow concept of reason, which regards it as impossible to have any certain knowledge of right and wrong.

Positivists regard nature as only the totality of objective data linked by cause and effect and having no implications in ethics or law. They say an "ought" can never be derived from an "is" in nature. It is purely functional, and anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable does not belong to the realm of reason.

So to them, ethics and religion are only subjective feelings and opinions, and the classic sources of such knowledge (the unseen) are excluded from consideration.

This is a serious matter and requires urgent debate since such ideas have dire consequences for true freedom.

It is strange that while this positivist culture has an enthusiasm for ecology - that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and we must follow its directives - there is not a similar ecology of man.

Man himself is not merely a self-creating freedom. He is intellect and will - and a nature to which his own will must be rightly ordered by his acceptance of its laws (conscience).

True freedom is not to do whatever we feel like, but to do as we ought (nature), otherwise we become slaves to passion, feelings or ideology, not to the true freedom of right reason and happiness. We prayed for these at Christmas time, as we recalled how our Creator took on our human nature to save us from our fallen selves.

Bendigo, Vic

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