“Who Sez?” The Place of God in Moral Philosophy

On Tuesday, Dennis Prager made a comment on his radio program that without dogma (specifically religious dogma) there can be no rational argument against selfishness and cruelty.

A young man called into the program, describing himself as a Libertarian and an agnostic, to say that you don’t need dogma to be moral.  “I never said that”, responded Prager.  He then asked the young man a simple question, “What would you say to a rich slave owner?”  The young man answered that it causes him intense discomfort to see other human beings suffering.  Prager responded that it doesn’t cause the slaver owner any discomfort.  Continue reading “Who Sez?” The Place of God in Moral Philosophy

Cause and Effect

A while ago, a good friend of mine who was struggling with agnosticism and came to me with a question about Christianity. Some people, he said, claimed that Christianity’s “morality” wasn’t truly moral because God used heaven and hell as a system of punishment and reward. True morality, the argument goes, requires nothing more than itself to serve as motivation. You do something because it is right, or you don’t do something because it is wrong. But God goes farther than that: sin, and go to hell; don’t sin, and go to heaven. Continue reading Cause and Effect

Blood Diamonds

Diamonds are forever. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds also fuel a $9 billion industry annually. These precious stones are used as symbols of status, affection, or unending love. However, I recently saw diamonds in a new light: as frivolous pieces of rock that are not worth all of the trouble that sometimes surrounds them. Beautiful yes, but in the end just a piece of earth.
What precipitated this change of perspective was the fact that I had just watched Blood Diamond. The 2006 film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, centers around the 1999 civil war in Sierra Leone and the issue of conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds, essentially, are diamonds that are mined in war zones in Africa and sold to finance the conflicts and line the pockets of the warlords. DiCaprio’s character is a smuggler, and in one of the early scenes in the movie, he is attempting to sneak across a border without the diamonds in his possession being detected. The border guards stop him and search his little party, which includes a small flock of sheep. One of the guards proceeds to search the sheep and slices into the back of one of the sheep’s neck, revealing dozens of small, bloody diamonds. There is a camera shot of the guard holding the discolored stones, all of which fit into the palm of his hand, and it was then that my perspective changed. Why do we place so much value on those stones? In that scene, they more resembled discolored pieces of kitty litter than precious gems. Granted, they were uncut and covered in blood, but it was a stark reminder that diamonds were really just rocks.

Continue reading Blood Diamonds

Markets, Morality, and the Problem of Fractured Thinking

In two recent posts, Julia Kiewit and Robin Dembroff remarked on the free market. At a glance, it may not seem like the two were remarking on the same thing, but they were. Julia engaged the free market in the abstract through her brief essay. Robin, on the other hand, addressed a problem that has occurred related to free markets, namely the problem of drug related warfare in Mexico. Each of these posts prompted a number of responses worth remarking on because I think that they demonstrate the problem of fractured thinking by disregarding important thoughts on morality and limiting possible solutions to Mexico’s problem.

Continue reading Markets, Morality, and the Problem of Fractured Thinking