The Medieval philosopher Maimonides said that the Jewish Bible (what Christians call the “Old Testament”) is really a philosophy book. For Maimonides, the first five books ( , and )

The Medieval philosopher Maimonides said that the Jewish Bible (what Christians call the “Old Testament”) is really a philosophy book. For Maimonides, the first five books ( , and ) were all Moses’s prophecy. In those books, we meet Abraham. For Maimonides, Abraham was a theorist of monotheism. He tried to convince others that one and only one God existed and that that God was ultimate in nature (all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, etc.) Abraham tried to use reason to show God existed per Maimonides. We need not reference the Christian or Jewish Bible as the ideas we are exploring deal with logic and reason and raise issues all religions have to face at some point. Why should we think God exists? Divine command theory requires that God exists. One argument given is the cosmological proofs. It tries to show God must exist. All things in this world are caused. For instance, parents are the cause of a child. But, the chain of causes and effects cannot stretch infinitely backwards since if it did, then this present moment which exists would not exist (as it would have taken an infinite time to get to this point and infinity never lapses). Therefore, there must be a first cause. But, this first cause cannot be caused by anything before it as that would reproduce the problem of stretching back. There must then be a first cause. That first cause must therefore be self-caused. Only something eternal can be self-caused since to be by oneself requires to always be there to be one’s own cause. Only God satisfies this definition of first cause. Therefore, God exists. This proof shows us that God is eternal, and is self-caused. But, does it show us that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-Good? Medieval Christian Philosopher St. Anselm of Canterbury offers an ontological proof. Anselm is not arguing God only exists in the mind, but that the very idea of God in the mind shows God cannot only exist as an idea. Rather than referring to sources, philosophers say one must use logic here. Anselm’s proof deals with being conscious of a specific idea of God. Anselm begins by saying the idea of God is that of which nothing greater can be. Nothing greater means all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. Due to this idea being as it is, God must not just exist as this idea, but also in reality outside of the mind since if God did not exist in reality outside of the mind God would not be that which nothing greater can be (something that exists only as an idea in the mind is less than what exists outside the mind). To review Anselm in general: He argued that God means that which nothing can be greater than can be conceived of. But, if God is greater than anything that can be conceived, then God must not just be an idea in the mind but something beyond the mind. We think that we now have good reason for saying God is. We think we know God is an omni-God (all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, etc.). If God did not know all, God would not be ultimate. If something was more powerful than God, it would be ultimate. There can only be one such omni-God since nothing is greater than God per Anselm’s ideas above. But then comes the inevitable question: how can a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good permit so much pain and suffering (evil) in the world? The argument from evil answers it by saying that such a definition of God is incompatible with how the world is (thus, showing no such God exists). In other words, this view says that the evil and suffering in the world is so excessive that no omni-God would allow it. Those who would agree with Anselm would argue that even evil and suffering is part of a divine plan. In a story found in the Jewish Bible as well as that of Christianity (a very similar version is also found in the ) the prophet Abraham hears a voice in his head calling him to journey to a mountain. Abraham interprets this voice to mean that he should take his son, Isaac, to Mount Moriah (where Jerusalem is today) to sacrifice his son (kill him on an altar) to God. Apparently, Mount Moriah at the time of Abraham was known as the key mountain and a place of religious rituals. Therefore, Abraham interprets it as God’s divine command to end his son’s life to God. Is Abraham’s decision to kill his son moral? Is it the right thing to do? A very ancient ethical concept that reaches all the way back to Socrates is that moral and ethical living consists simply of obeying divine commands. Variations of this theory occur in the world’s historic religions. The idea is that whatever is commanded by the gods or God is right by virtue of the source of the command. God commands is right; what God forbids is wrong. Conceiving God as a lawgiver means that he has given laws to obey; yet with human free will we can accept or reject them and face the resulting benefits or penalties attached to freely made choices. This theory is accompanied with a secondary concept of being held accountable for the free choices at a future time. There will be objections to every ethical theory we meet, and there is a lot to be learned by thinking through the objections. By cloning, we mean the recreation of a human being using that human being’s genetic means producing a twin of yourself. Many people’s first reaction to cloning is that it is wrong because it is “playing God”. But, what do we mean by “playing God”? Do we mean that God forbids it? Or, do we mean that we are all-powerful when we are not supposed to be? The first idea returns us to divine command ethics. If God forbids cloning, we need to be able to show that there is really such a prohibition against it. The ten commandments prohibit lying, but do they say anything about copying oneself? As for not playing God, that ethical objection makes it seem like we are usurping a power that is not rightfully ours. We clearly have been given the ability to reproduce ourselves (via mating). We have been given the power to use science (via our knowledge). When we have sexual relations, we also can make twins; we do not call that “playing God”. Thus, the idea of playing God seems to return us to divine command ethics. When we object to cloning as “playing God,” we seem again to be saying that God forbids it (and if God forbids it, then it is wrong). If we just meant that we are overestimating our powers, then we would need to show why it is immoral to do that. Watch this video to learn more: IVF stands for In-Vitro-Fertilization. In this procedure, an egg is taken from an ovulating woman and joined with human sperm in a laboratory. Some people might object to this procedure as unnatural. They would say that the natural way of producing a child is via sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.This appeal to what is natural is often called the appeal to nature fallacy. By fallacy, we mean improper or poor reasoning. Saying something is right only if it is done as it is done in nature isn’t sound reasoning as to the ‘rightness’ of something. Afterall, we find poisons and other harmful things in nature. This is a problem often confronted by those who reject things produced by machines. They do not want foods that involve chemicals. However, many “natural” foods can be bad for our health (i.e. tobacco is natural and yet not good for our health). Emotivism is a moral theory that says moral judgments are just expressions of subjective states. In other words, when we say that something (x) is unethical, we are really just saying that the idea of x makes me feel bad. I do not like the idea of x. We can relate this to IVF. Someone might say that IFV is unethical. They are saying in this regard that the idea of IVF disturbs me when I contemplate it. I am only expressing an attitude and reaction to the idea. Emotivism says the same about judgements that something is ethical. When we say that something is ethical, we are only stating that the idea of that thing is pleasant to us when we contemplate it being done. If we unpack this more, we are basically saying that moral judgments are just expressions of feeling and/or preference, which then is like saying we do or do not like a specific food. We do not think it is proper to impel someone to eat ice cream just because we happen to like its taste. If emotivism is right, then we lose a basis for saying that morality has an obligatory force. It no longer appears binding. It no longer compels us to agree. We need reasons and logic to be able to convince another that something is ethical or not. Modern America appears to accept that there are different forms of sexual desire. It also accepts those differing forms of desire as normal. We can see this in our legal system. Couples of the same sex are now able to legally marry. That legally couples have that ability does not mean everyone in America agrees that what is in this case legal is also moral. For example, some religious individuals say that marriage is only meant to be between a man and woman since the purpose of marriage is having children. Since two same sex people on their own cannot have children, they should not marry according to religious dogma. However, even if using this religious objector to argue against same sex relationships, one would have to also then show that violating the purpose of a thing is immoral. It is natural law ethics that says that violating the purpose of something is immoral. It does this largely due to the idea that things have a divinely created purpose. Natural law ethics rests on a set of three related ideas about what the world is like: We see here that natural law ethics takes us back to divine command ethics. We are ultimately saying that it is wrong to violate the purpose of things because God commanded them to be that way. By doing something against its purpose, we are then violating what God said is the right reason for doing something. Even though we are talking about things like the goal of marriage, we are thus leading back to God and what God says must be done. We see here how issues such as marriage, sexuality, religion, and ethics are interlinked.

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