Morality Dilemma

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They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.

One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?’”

With the death of Judeo-Christian-God-based standards, people have simply substituted feelings for those standards. Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with “How do you feel about it?” as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide.

And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.

Forty years ago, I began writing and lecturing about this problem. It was then that I began asking students if they would save their dog or a stranger first if both were drowning. The majority always voted against the stranger — because, they explained, they loved their dog and they didn’t love the stranger.

They followed their feelings.

Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?

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  • Larry

    And yet we let them vote, and their is a push to lower the voting age even further.

    Young people tend to make all their decisions based on how the action is going to make them feel. Unless they are given an externally set framework on how to make decisions they will continue to do so. 30 years ago they were achieving decisional maturity at about 24-26, now with the increasing infantilisation of their education and home environments that is pushing out to 30.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    If William Kristol and Stephen Colbert made a baby and let it bore people to tears on NewsHour, it would be, in fact, it is David Brooks. What a useless political commentator. Now he’s toeing the John Silber line in morality? What a welterweight blowhard.

  • Paul B.

    Would like to know why my comment here was deleted. I can't imagine anything offensive about it.

  • JoC

    This is one of many reasons I am proud to send my daughter to a Catholic school. At least I know she will learn about God & our faith and pray everyday.

  • 13Sisters76

    How sad for those for whom man is the highest standard- this leads to nothing but disappointment.
    And how sorry the rest of us are who allow adolescents to make their own decisions based on their "feelings".The quality of those decisions, made by a still developing brain, will always be in question.

  • Guest

    This dumbing down of society both moraly and intellectual will continue. It is much easier to lead a stupid group with simply "feel good" slogans than to actually try to address real life hard to deal with problems. We are bringing ourselves down to the lowest common denominator.

  • StephenD

    It all comes down to what C.S. Lewis talked about. He summed it up in stating that "people need to be reminded rather than instructed…." He spoke of everyone knowing deep down the golden rule; do unto others as we'd have done to us. There are what he called “Cardinal Virtues” which everyone knows of to be moral must include; Prudence (Common Sense), Temperance (Moderation), Justice (Fair play, Keeping Promises, honesty, etc.) and Courage (in danger and sticking to it when it's tough).
    The problem comes he says in ACTING “just” or “temperate” rather than BEING a Just and Temperate person. Big difference and this is why we need to be reminded of the Moral Rules from time to time.

  • nodoz99

    One thing that Dennis Prager left out is a history of how "feelings" and listening to one's heart have really developed out of the Protestantism of Calvin and Luther. Both advocated for a very individual and personal relationship with God. By doing so each contributed to the devolution of the discipline of moral reasoning. Moral reasoning can exist without God. That is not the problem. I suggest that it is the lack of ability and lack of training in addressing moral reasoning (e.g., coming up with foundational principles–as did Kant) that is the problem, not the lack of Christianity–esp. that of the evangelical sort, which trully focuses on a personal (in your own heart) relationship with God. I am by no means ruling out some of the real benefits of religion in general, but the emphasis should really be on training in moral reasoning not just belief.