Are morality and god interdependent?
In other words, can morals exist outside of the spectrum of theism?
Or, in other other words, is god the originator and defining substance behind morality?
Recently myself and the Rev. Russ Troester had another long chat, this time we touched on the subject of belief in god essentially being the basis for morality (forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth Russ, this is the understanding I have). Since we often talk during the end of my work day I had to cut the conversation off kind of abruptly (always when it starts getting good eh?) in order to drive home.
One of the contentions I tried to make that perhaps I did not convey very well with Russ was that Morality changes with society. I see this as inexorably true, simply look at American Politics for an insight into this; 125 years ago a non-segregationist candidate for nearly any office would have been shot in the back of the skull- 50 years later they were slightly more tolerated and could win seats in the Northern States- 25 years after that they were becoming the mainstream- now 50 years later we have a Black president and a segregationist candidate for any office would have to fear for his life! In circumstances like this morality has made a progression. Did you notice how god wasn’t even involved in this one? Perhaps understanding of the Bible has changed/advanced through this progression–but that is because you can read nearly anything into or out of the book so that seems a bit moot.
Things like this happen almost in generational ebbs and flows, as one traditionalist old geezer generation starts to die off their moral precepts slowly die off with them, their children, whom received the same precepts from their parents but rebelled (as always happens) against SOME of those precepts then pass on their slightly more liberated precepts to the next generation. Eventually this transforms from one extreme to another, In the days of Aristotle the sciences was one of the most important aspects of society-after religious fundamentalists were able to eliminate that mindset religious fervency became prevalent and scientific minds like Galileo were oppressed or killed, one extreme for another, with a medium somewhere in there while the extremist struggle against one another.
This is how morality has worked since history has been recorded, what one considers extreme today may be the norm tomorrow, or vice versa. You don’t see Orthodox Jews plucking out eyeballs too often in the US do you?
Despite the obvious regional and religious segments of our world that can retard or accelerate these changes, the results end the same, extremism begets moderation begets extremism. As in so many things, god doesn’t even need to speak a word on this subject, it just happens as a part of human nature (I didn’t say Sin nature).
Now because we don’t have time to go on eternally about this subject we won’t get into the reasons why humanity desires to proliferate its ideas and ideals (morals) to other people, but I would be willing to bet that it has a lot to do with survival of the fittest turning into a survival of the purveyors of the status quo…but anthropological psychologist I am not.
So where does god even fit here? Does god decide the murder or slavery is wrong? Did god change his mind a lot throughout the aeons? I say no, he need not apply here-I suspect that god is merely an excuse for either Apathy (non political involvement, IE: Jehovah’s Witnesses), directed Hate (Aryan Brotherhood/Nazi’s), or progressive fervency (Richard Dawkins? future scientific radicals? those whom hate the thought of god?). God is either the excuse for morality, the catalyst for changing morality, or the subject of immorality.
As a person whom often takes extreme views, even going so far as to call myself an infinite zealot, my experience being on both extreme sides of so many things and ideas has given me the insight that extremism is dangerous from any side of a polarizing situation. Maybe that is the moral of the story?