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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Am I A Good Person?

Am I a good person? I suppose most of you would look at me and say 'well he doesn't smoke, drink, do drugs, treat people too terribly or have that many visible vices so I guess he's a good person.' I'm pretty sure someone like Jeanille would say I'm a good man. And here's the thing: maybe I am a good person by a general measuring stick, but who is to say that the general measuring stick is any good at all?

Have you ever seen someone do something really terrible in the news or even in person. I notice that often a wife or mother or friend may come to their defence and say that 'they're really a good person - I don't understand it'. Here's the thing that these loved ones were missing about their 'good' man or woman however: you can be externally good but it is impossible to be fully good when it comes to the heart. As Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) states "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

No doubt you're wondering why I bring up this topic of 'being a good person'. What's the point of it all. Well the point comes down to purpose - I obviously believe that my purpose is to glorify God: to worship and serve Him forever and to be in relationship with Him. However those who do not believe in a God often say that their purpose is to be a 'good person' or some might rephrase that and say that their only purpose is to be the best in their area of expertise in this life: to live for the day, rather than an eternity they do not believe in. Some more nihilistic individuals might claim their purpose is to have no purpose, which entirely defeats the purpose of purpose.

I note, however, key logical flaws in stating that your purpose is to be a good person and do good to others and that is what I wish to bring up properly. The first of which is 1) what is the point in being good if there is no God or higher being to provide structure to your morality. In other words, if purpose is about being good: then why? If we live just the one life, for the purpose of being good then why do we need morality? Maybe we just need to be good to do good - like how some argue the universe exists because the universe just needed to exist. But that's a circular argument which doesn't explain why the universe needed to exist or why we need to do good. It all becomes relativistic unless you accept that there is a greater reason to needing morals than just because we need them. Of course that doesn't mean that you need God to be a 'good person' but this ties into my second issue.

The second issue is 2) what is the measuring stick for 'good'. My point being that sure you can be a 'good moral person' without God but your morality will not be an absolute morality. The argument might be made that you don't need an absolute morality, that morality is subjective - that it is innate within people. Of course my question is again: why is it innate to all of us? Did evolution as a 'blind watchmaker' (a flawed analogy because a watchmaker knows exactly what he is creating, blind or not) give us all a need to have a shared sense of morality? I'm just asking questions here out of curiosity because I don't see an answer to the question of why it is important or why we have universal morals if it's just to be good here and now. It doesn't fit in with the purpose of natural selection (survival).

But here's an interesting quote from this site here
"Western morality began with the enlightenment about 500 years ago. The enlightenment was the first time that Europeans started separating religion from morality. Through the last few centuries, Western Civilization has developed a code of morality that is not dependent on any religion, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the United Nations Charter, to the International Court of Justice, The Geneva Convention on War, and much more. These institutions and laws make no reference to gods or religion and are often agreed to by countries whose citizens have radically different religions.
"Here is something to consider. No major religion on earth condemned slavery until the enlightenment came along to condemn it. All the major religions claim that women are inferior to men. None thought that women had a role to play in political life and rarely in religious life. Most churches still believe that only men may lead. Many major religions espoused “Peace on Earth” but were quick to start huge devastating Crusades against one another. Christians who espoused Christian morality in the 1500’s spent decades killing one another across Europe in the 30 years war. Millions died in the name of a god. Not much morality there."
 The point is right: there wasn't much morality in the Crusades. The point is also wrong that the various moral charters are not dependent upon religion - they base their entire premise along codes which are linked back to the absolute morality of the Old Testament Law. But here is the point now that all of this has been leading to: you can be a good person without God, you can be a good person without any religion or so on. The fact that the Crusades, terrorism and humanism exist is proof alone of this (although I debate the point of having morality without God or at least some higher power but that's another topic). But my question is this: how good a person can you be?

Maybe I am a good person. Maybe I'm a better person than some guy who murdered his wife because I haven't done that. Maybe I can feel proud and contented in myself that thankfully I am not like that other guy. Or maybe I should stop for a minute and consider that actually I am just like that other guy - I am a flawed human being.

I might be able to be a good person, maybe one day I'll even be a great one, but by myself I cannot be a perfect person. No one can be perfect by themselves, because the human heart is deceitful and flawed in even the most perfect individual. A design flaw of sin that makes even the best of us essentially as bad as the worst tyrants in history. That's the bad news, but Christianity is about sharing the good news that even though Romans 3:23 points out that "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Romans 3:24 continues to reminds us that "and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

So yes, maybe I am a good person according to your own subjective morality. But according to the absolute morality of God - in my own right I am His enemy. But in Christ I am a perfect and new creation and that's worth talking about!