Category Archives: Character Morality

What Freedom of the Will is Worth Wanting

I have often read and heard that true freedom, the highest freedom, the freedom most worth wanting* is freedom to obey the moral law. It is called a positive freedom because it is a freedom to do something as opposed to negative freedoms from restrictions on choosing and doing. There is a strong suggestion that you will feel truly free only when obeying the moral law by choice. The suggestion carries a hint of cajolery.

Do what morality says you have to do and after a while you will realize that you are most free when choosing what you are morally bound to do.

Characterized as above, this positive freedom to choose to will as the moral authority, viz., as God, wills is not especially attractive. However, after years of dismissing praise of this positive freedom as moral or religious cant, unraveling the notion of moral harm has shown me that the freedom to will only as God wills is indeed the freedom of will most worth wanting. Let us call it the freedom of virtue. For. Amongst other things, freedom of virtue gives a deep sense of security of being on God’s side.

However, I did not appreciate the freedom of virtue until I contrasted it with a lesser positive freedom. This lesser positive freedom of will is freedom to choose right or wrong. On one hand, it is worth wanting because it gives us the status of moral agents. On the other hand, I cannot say that I find the status of moral agent as truly worth wanting. It makes us vulnerable to being morally evil. Still, I would not have it any other way since being moral agents is a necessary condition for gaining the freedom of virtue.

How can freedom to be a moral a moral agent be perfected by freedom of virtue?

There are temptation situations for which there is a moral law specifying what act ought to be done. However, the moral authority has left open a gap in actuality as to whether or not what ought to be done is done On these situations the agent has some inclination not to obey the moral law. Temptation situations in which to choose to obey a moral law or reject obeying the moral law are occasions to exercise our freedom to be moral agents. We have an opportunity to share in the legislative status of the moral authority.

In these gaps in the moral order, the moral authority leaves open to us the execution of its laws on what ought to be. When we choose to obey the law we are creators of norms by virtue of making the moral law active for this situation. This choosing in harmony with the moral law is moral good. We participate in the moral legislation of god. When we choose to disobey the moral law, we create new norms to the effect that some harm ought to occur. Production of these norms prescribing harm is moral evil.

I think that I differ from many because they think that we can morally legislate only for the good. But with my notion of moral harm, moral legislation can be for harm. Most importantly, though, I think that some failures to obey the moral law in temptation situations is not due to weakness of the will – weakness in our positive freedom to obey. In many temptation situations, the agent has an inclination to disobey and chooses to satisfy the inclination by rejecting God’ norm and creating and following his or her own norm. As moral agents we can do worse than fail to choose what is right; we can willfully choose what is wrong. We commit mortal sins. We choose what is gravely wrong after sufficient reflection and with full consent of the will
The freedom of virtue is supremely worth wanting because it is the perfection of the freedom to be moral agents. Moral agency is perfected by eliminating the freedom to choose evil from our moral agency.

Here I can only sketch a few thoughts on attaining the freedom of virtue.

I think that freedom of virtue is both a gift from God as well as a condition for which we must work. The freedom to be moral agents is a gift from God in the sense that it is part of the standard human condition. Building moral character is what we do to attain virtue.

As we approach virtue temptations become negligible. However, temptations never completely vanish. So complete virtue is never attained. This is so true in sexual matters that I do not think sexual virtue is attainable for men

* I borrow “Free will worth wanting” from Daniel Dennet’s 1984 Elbow Room: The varieties of free will worth wanting. It is an important book on free will.

The Virtue of Obedience in Authoritarian Morality

Assume for this post that authoritarian morality is correct. What kind of person ought we be? It is clear what we ought to do. We ought to act in the ways the authority commands.

Always acting in accordance with the moral law is neither necessary nor sufficient for being the right kind of person. It is not sufficient because the perfect conformity could be simply caused by the agent’s inclinations. Some non-behavioral specifications, such as the agent’s motives or intentions for choosing, are required. Perfect conformity to the moral laws is also not necessary for being the right kind of moral agent. We want to recognize normal human beings who occasionally succumb to temptation as still being the right kind of moral person.

When I continue trying to specify the mental or non-behavioral conditions for being the right kind of moral agent, I assume that the agent almost always acts in accordance with the moral law. I cannot specify a number. But a person who quite often succumbs to temptation is lacking the strength of character needed for being the right kind of moral agent. The concept of “proper moral agent” is a so-called vague concept with borderline cases.

What about fear of the sanctions for violating moral laws? In authoritarian morality, moral laws have sanctions. If they are violated some harm ought to occur. Fear of the law is neither sufficient nor necessary for being the right kind of moral agent. A person acting in accord with the moral law because of fear may resent or even despise the moral law. A person who thinks the moral law is always right may obey it without any concern for consequences of disobedience.

From the suggestion that a person who thinks the moral law is always right, we have a clue to what makes a moral agent the proper kind of agent. It seems that the agent must obey the law because of some morally significant feature of the law such as being right or aimed at human flourishing if generally obeyed.

Let’s specify recognizing the law as right is recognizing that it is reasonable along with recognizing that it aims at human flourishing if generally followed. There is no suggestion of some type of consequentialist moral theory. There is no claim that a moral law is valid because it is productive of human flourishing. The law specifies what constitutes human flourishing.

But the focus of this post is not what makes moral laws valid. The focus is what attitude towards moral laws makes a law abiding agent a proper moral agent.

Certainly a person whose policy, attitude or maxim is to act in accordance with the moral law because it is right and directed at the good has respect for the moral law and should definitely be classed as a highly moral person; as a person with a strong moral character.

Perhaps, though, having a strong moral character is not quite enough to be a proper moral agent.

A man of strong moral character acts for the law. He does not act for the good of those for whom the law is promulgated. His stance towards the law places the law between people for who’s good the moral authority enacts the laws. He acts for the sake of obeying the law rather than acting for the sake of the human goods at which the law aims. His primary intention is to make himself a person who obeys the law. Would it not be better if he willed as the moral authority wills? The moral authority wills for human good of people subject to the law.

“Willing as” is an asymmetrical relation. If I will as the moral authority wills, it does not imply that the moral authority wills as I will. The authority will is in place for me to agree with. My will is not a choice in place for the authority to agree with.

This asymmetry leaves place for a type of autonomy. Autonomy is thought of as a condition to be defended at all costs. A suggestion of this post is that to be the best kind of person this highest type of autonomy in which you hold yourself to be an agent apart from the law who can choose to obey or disobey is to be let go in order to become a person who really is no longer free to choose not to obey.

A person with a strong moral character maintains a type of autonomy. As I pointed out in the post Autonomous obedience vs. autonomous legislation one can admit that the content of the moral law is from another (heteronomous) while maintaining that as an agent one has the autonomy to obey or disobey the law.

Choosing to obey laws aimed at producing human good is not itself within the scope of human goods at which the laws aim. It stands outside the law. However, as we will see, obedience can be transformed into a human good.

It would be better for him and everyone else if he acted in accordance with the law as if he willed the law. If instead of a strong moral character or in addition to a strong moral character, he obeyed because acting in accordance with the law was a part of his living a good life aimed at having others live a good life. He had been enjoying the goods of acting in accord with the various laws. And now an additional good to those various goods, he was enjoying the good of obeying the law. He now has the virtue of obedience.

To be the best type of moral agent, strong moral character has to be elevated to a virtue of moral obedience. His obedience to the law has to become a habit in which he finds obedience usually easy and satisfying because his obedience is for the good at which the law aims.

Let me try to illustrate obeying the law virtuously from a case from my work in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. A woman, Tina B., to whom I have brought food, clothing and furniture on various occasions calls, during the coronavirus shutdown, to ask me to help her get a TV set. She is partially crippled and lives in wretched conditions with her twenty two year old autistic son. Without a TV they live 24/7 in a squalid basement apartment which is usually dark. In her call she pleaded that she was desperate after 36 hours with emptiness. In truth, I was annoyed by her call. I had other things to do besides solve Tina’s problems.

I decided to get he a TV. What would be the virtuous way of getting her a TV? I did feel compassion for her wretched condition being exacerbated by lack of TV. But acting out of compassion to ease the discomfort of feeling compassion would only be acting as a sentimental person who is focusing on dealing with his feeling. In doing charitable work, one has to be careful about responding to one’s feelings.( You’re open to being a “sucker” at the expense of others who truly need help if you are out to feel good about yourself.) I needed to consider whether I ought to help her. After some deliberation, I concluded that moral laws applied to this situation obligated me to get Tina a TV. The deliberation should bring out that some genuine human good would be realized by her getting a TV.
As a man with strong moral character recognizing my duty would suffice for giving up my afternoon to get and deliver a TV to her. I would act, and as duty also required act, pleasantly for this abstraction of my duty. There is something demeaning to Tina about acting for her to fulfil my duty. She becomes a means to my end of duty fulfilment. The better way would be to get the TV for the good of Tina. A virtuous person would serve her as morality required the sake of her good.

Why Justify a Moral Principle?

I wrote a book* trying to justify a well know, even if not widely accepted, moral principle for male sexuality. In the course of several previous posts, I have been exploring moral theory, from the perspective of the consequences of mere violation of a moral principle. I reached the stage where I realized that a principle needs to be justified from a stance – some basic assumptions about sexuality. Then the argument from the stance must show that the principle follows from the stance and obedience to the principle is for human good. The purpose of this post is to ask myself again why I want to justify the principle along with noting that before presenting a justification I need to consider work of John Henry Newman. I have read that my approach to justification might well be similar to Newman’s way of justify assent to principles.

The principle commands men:

Thou shall not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom you are committed for life to care for her and any child resulting from the coitus.

Perhaps my Catholic religion led me to take the principle seriously. However, once I learned basic biology the principle seemed sensible to me. Orgasms are for sperm dispersal. The purpose of the inward drive and pleasure are to get men to disperse sperm. Coitus is primarily for “baby making.”
Mothers and babies need care and protection.

Of course, I realize that the principle is hard to follow and is contradicted by many other suggestions. I hesitate to call them principles; let alone moral principles.

I am ashamed to confess that I have not always lived up to the principle. But I have never really doubted it. After violations in my teens as a young soldier and in early courting, I have obeyed the principle for over sixty years of married life. For a time, that involved living in accord with the so-called “rhythm method.” It has required discipline of mind and body. For instance, I love long distance running. I also appreciated how marathon training made obedience easier. There was a thirty five year period in my life during which I kept myself in condition so that I could run a full twenty six point 2 mile marathon on any weekend. Even in my eighties I discipline my eyes and thoughts.

I am not trying to justify the principle because I want to show myself that I have been living correctly most all of my life with respect to sexuality. I am confident that with respect to sexuality, I have.

So, when I consider only myself: Why I am still trying to justify the principle? There is something intellectual with which I am not satisfied. I am searching for a line of thought leading to a conclusion of which I can say “It has to be this way.” I am still searching for an intellectual compulsion.

When I consider others, I hope that my thoughts in these posts and my book are read by others. But what do I want to show others? I want to show that independently of religious considerations, a man who follows, or struggles to follow, the principle has a character trait which makes him a better human being – a man closer to being as he ought to be than if he followed any other principle for sexuality.

In a recent New York Review of books, Gary Wills had remarked that the Catholic Church in promoting the principle was promoting some type of “goofiness” about sex. Wills’ outlook is widely held. I hope to show that that widespread outlook on sex is foolishness.

* My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Duty vs. Love

The point of this post is to sketch out how duty and love ought to be interrelated in moral thinking. We began by considering duty and love in resolving the basic contradiction in moral thinking.

The basic contradiction in moral thinking runs:

Some harm ought to be
&
No harm ought to be.

DUTY

The claim “Some harm ought to be” comes from focusing on rules. Focusing on rules is based on thinking that morality is primarily for restricting conduct to avoid bad consequences. Rules specify a sanction in case they are violated. A sanction will specify that some harm ought to occur upon violation of the rule.

People who believe that rule following is primary in morality believe that the indication that they are acting in accordance with morality is that their intention is to obey the rule. The moral intention is to do one’s duty.

People who believe that rule following is primary in morality believe that the only basic human good is having the character trait of always choosing to follow moral rules. This trait can be called having a morally good will.

In practice, those who hold that the sole basic human good is having a good will, may not be vigilant about promoting and protecting conditions which many believe approach human flourishing
——————————————
LOVE
The claim “No harm ought to be” comes from focusing on basic human goods* to be attained. Focusing on attaining basic human goods comes from believing that morality is for human flourishing.

People who believe that promoting human good is primary in morality believe that the indication that they are acting in accordance with morality is that their intention is to promote human good or at least not impede any human good. Since one definition of “love” is “to will the good of a person” we can say that for those who believe that morality is for promotion of human flourishing the moral intention is to express love.

People who believe that the moral intention is to express love by promoting and protecting conditions approaching human flourishing believe that the character trait of a moral person is compassion. They will be vigilant about promoting and protecting conditions which many believe approach human flourishing.
——————————————————————-
DUTY vs. LOVE

When we consider practice, it may seem that we should prefer resolving the contradiction by taking promotion of good as primary in moral thinking. However, when we consider that promotion of good relies on rules to promote the food and not inhibit it, we see that rules are primary in moral thinking. But rules require sanctions which call for inhibition of the good. Hence, in moral thinking duty is more fundamental than love. Resolution of the contradiction, then, requires alteration of the tendency in moral thinking that takes promotion of human flourishing as primary. The alteration is that some harm, up to including intentionally taking a human life, is morally permissible for violation of a moral law.

However, moral laws apart from how they promote and protect conditions which constitute human flourishing seem pointless. A moral outlook which took the primacy of rules in morality as saying that human goods are morally irrelevant comes close to moral nihilism. Moral nihilism holds that every is permitted – nothing matters morally. The stance I am talking about here holds that what we do matters with respect to morality. However, with respect to human goods our being or not being moral does not matter. So we ought not separate identifying, promoting and protecting basic human goods from our moral thinking.

(I use “ought” because I believe that we ought not let ourselves think and speak about morality which makes it seem stupid, insensitive, irrelevant etc.,.)

We ought to combine duty and love in serious moral thinking. Here is a sketch of how to combine love and duty. Love will seek out the conditions which make for human good, discover what promotes and protects them. This provides content for rules. Duty transforms guidelines from love into moral rules. Once we have rules, love develops guidelines for mellowing the destruction of some human goods required by moral rule sanctions. These will be guidelines for forgiveness and mercy. Of course, love’s guidelines for forgiveness and mercy should not be transformed into moral rules because that would require more sanctions and more harm.

These reflections on combining duty and love in moral thinking have significantly altered my beliefs on how to conduct the aspect of moral thinking which is justifying to my self and persuading others that a moral rule is correct.

*The New Natural Law view holds that practical reason, that is, is reason oriented towards action, grasps as self-evidently desirable a number of basic goods. These goods, which are described as constitutive aspects of genuine human flourishing, include life and health; knowledge and aesthetic experience; skilled work and play; friendship; marriage; harmony with God, and harmony among a person’s judgments, choices, feelings, and behavior. From an essay by Christopher Tollefsen on The New Natural Law Theory .

Masturbation & Sexual Nihilism

“Sexual nihilism” is a philosophic term labeling a theory that sexuality has no deep significance. For ordinary conversation the term describes a grim human condition. In the November 14, 2018 New York Times op-ed section Ross Douthat writes of empty lives reflexing empty sexual morality. See: The Huxley Trap: How technology and masturbation tamed the sexual revolution.

Sexual nihilists teach that sexuality itself sets no moral limits on how we seek sexual satisfaction. For sexual nihilists the only restriction on attaining sexual satisfaction is that no one is forced to participate. If there is consent anything goes! Masturbation could easily be a preferred sexual practice. There is no problem of getting consent. Lack of imagination might reduce the satisfactions available. In these times, technology fills this lack with internet pornography.

The so-called sexual revolution of the sixties was the teaching of sexual nihilism by culture forming elites and popular acceptance of the teaching. Douthat reminds us that conservatives predicted widespread sexual licentiousness. There has been some of that. But there is nothing like the wild on-going orgies that worried some conservatives. The reality is duller and more depressing. Ross Douthat reports on studies showing many – under forties- are not dating let alone marrying and having children. Without being gay, they associate mostly with members of their own sex. Their sexual inclinations are exacerbated by pornography and satisfied by masturbation.

In passing, remember that pornography loses its erotic power as users become familiar with it. There is a temptation to seek out sexual images with ever more power to excite. This leads to downloading child-porn and sadistic porn with terrible legal consequences. So, the flight from seeking consenting partners is not safe from disastrous social consequences.

However, the disastrous consequences with respect to the significance of one’s life – a sense of life having a purpose – are even worse. Call these existential consequences. By nature homo sapiens, the human animal has thoughts about right, wrong, good, evil, life having a point or purpose. It is not just theory that says we have the purpose of having children. We feel that command of nature. That’s why I linked to Douthat’s column. A good writer makes us aware of the bleakness of a way of life in which sexuality is morally and existentially pointless. We cannot make sense of our lives if we trivialize our constant sexual inclinations as having no significance other than opportunities for brief episodes of intense pleasure.

Reflect on how dreadful our sexuality seems when we look at it as a means simply for trivial pleasures. We set our sexuality apart from ourselves. It is too trivial to have any important goal keeping us alive. We need to eat. We do not need sexual climaxes. Still we cannot ignore it. It constantly makes demands on us. It is almost like a “demon” driving us to seek trivial satisfactions which are not lasting satisfactions.

In my book, I call this grim condition “sexual alienation.” On one hand, sexuality is too trivial to be an important feature of who we are. On the other hand, sexuality is an external force driving us to act in ways which have bad consequences unless we exercise constant vigilance.

My book on sexual morality cites the existential need for setting aside sexual alienation as the solution for the selection problem. The selection problem was justifying a moral claim that the natural functions of sexuality are not to be intentionally inhibited when, in general, there are no moral restrictions on inhibiting the natural functions of natural processes.

Consider a bit more evidence that upholders of traditional sexual morality were not over emphasizing the crucial moral and existential place of sex. The #metoo movement is in part a rebellion against the insinuation that sexuality, and thereby women, is mostly insignificant fun. Recall also the harrowing recurrent recollections of people who were inflicted with “sexual play” by adults .

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Jesus Has Saved Us From Nihilism Being a True Account of the Human Condition

In this post I begin my case that we need not understand the torture and death of Jesus as a human sacrifice God demands in retribution for humanity having original sin so that He will forgive us for having original sin. Instead I will be arguing that our morality, to which God in his mercy allows us to be bound while having original sin, demanded the execution of Jesus in retribution for our having original sin so that we can be forgiven for having original sin.

Here, I give the broad outline of my argument and elaborate on details in subsequent posts. *s refer to notes at the end of this post linking to earlier posts on the topics marked.

A crucial question answered in this post is “From what does Jesus’ suffering and execution free us?” I am struggling to express clearly an insight that Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection brought it about in “the fullness of time” that the human condition is not as nihilists describe it.

Despite our having the original sin of repudiating God and morality, God still gives us morality as the means for attaining our good.* Our good is being as we ought to be. But we have morality while still repudiating it. Our reasoning is in conflict.** Satan exploits this conflict

Satan, who has the power of adding thoughts to human thinking*** adds thoughts which push human moral thinking to an extreme which would destroy the very moral thinking it exploits.

Moral thought goes to the extreme by leading us to think that there ought to be elimination of humanity for having original sin and acting on the original sin we have. Put another way: The original sin we have is a choice to be amoral animals. Moral thinking rightly requires that there be unpleasant consequences of wrong acts which are somehow in proportion to the wrong done.**** The extreme moral thinking alleges that our repudiation of morality requires that we suffer the consequences of choosing to be amoral beings. A consequence of choosing to be amoral beings is exactly that, viz., being amoral beings. In addition the horror story dimension of human history is brought up to make a case that humans are such a vile species that we should be eliminated. “Killer Angels,” the title of Michael Shaara’s 1974 novel of the Battle of Gettysburg seems an apt description of human beings.

But what would it be to eliminate the human species whose members are animals with a moral destiny, a morality to attain that moral destiny but yet are animals who repudiate that morality?

Simply having the human species be eliminated by a catastrophe or becoming slowly extinct would not be the elimination of humanity as moral beings. Such an extinction is likely to happen well before the end of the ages. But the human species with a moral end would not be actually eliminated The physically extinct species would still be a species which had the moral destiny God set for it. And some members may be enjoying this moral destiny after the extinction of all human beings in the natural universe.

The way to eliminate the human species, as we know it now, would have been to reduce the human animal to an amoral animal with no moral destiny. If so reduced the human condition would be accurately described by nihilism. Nihilism holds that everything is permitted for humans if they can get away with it. There is no way, according to nihilism, that humans collectively or individually ought to be. With no goal of the way we ought to be there is no purpose for which we should live. We are simply an animal which has evolved with an extremely clever intelligence but there is nothing which this intelligence ought to accomplish since evolution alone has no purpose or purposes. Nihilism describes the human species as one amongst millions of species which come into existence and pass into extinction for no purpose whatsoever.

How can humanity be annihilated as it ought to be but yet undergo this annihilation so that it still has the good God originally set for humanity?

A solution is that one human being pass through the pain and annihilation required by morality. What would such a human be like? I have argued that the logic of moral thinking does not preclude the permissibility of a person, or persons, who have not done the wrong undergoing punishment to atone for the wrong.****

A human who was truly human and truly divine could pass through pain and annihilation required by morality and still have the end set by God if that being reincarnated Itself entitled to have the end God sets for humanity. Jesus of Nazareth who I accept as true God and true man is such a person.

In his death on the cross the man Jesus underwent for all humanity the annihilation of humanity. He vanished as nothing as nihilists posit as the fate for all of us. Non-being is total evil. So vanishing is a “descent into hell.” Jesus’ dual nature allows for the radical discontinuity of vanishing but yet continuing. As a human he vanished as God he remained so that at the resurrection the risen Jesus was the same dual nature being but with the human nature which justifiably has a moral destiny.

This resurrected human is a human as humans ought to be. By the action of this resurrected human the thought that we are justified in holding that we have a goal set by God is in our common reasoning. The Paschal Mystery justifies us in believing that we are justified – have a right to salvation, viz. attaining what we ought to be..

This is more than enough for a single post. As promised subsequent posts will elaborate on this conceptual mode of the Paschal Mystery which I am trying to construct.

But one last question. What about human sacrifice in the Paschal Mystery?

God sacrifices Himself by incarnating Himself so that He can be the representative human executed in accordance with the demands of human morality.

In my book on sexual morality I show how if it is true that all sexual acts are in principle permissible then nihilism is a correct philosophy of the human condition.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

* Can God Love Humanity After Original Sin?
**Human Reasoning is Inconsistent: Thank God
***There is a Satan in Opposition to God
Retributive Punishment is Consistent with the Logic of Moral Thinking
For those who might like a biblical passage suggesting my thought of Satan using morality to condemn us consider.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10 New American Standard

We Cannot Know Whether We Respect the Moral Law or Love God.

The previous post in this seriesThe Impossibility of Being Moral by Normal Human Reasoning and Choosing argued that after original sin normal human methods and motivations for choosing were insufficient for us to become the kind of person who chooses what is right because it is right, viz., a person with a good will. So for us to still have the good God wills for us even after original sin, God has to give us special thoughts and feelings to choose to be people who do what is right because it is right.

The phrase “God has to give” must not be misunderstood. There is no suggestion that God has to give us these special thoughts and feelings because we have done, or can do, anything to deserve them. Logic requires us to say “God has to give.” By assuming that God still wills the good for us after original sin, logic requires that we assume God also wills the means of attaining that good. Part of the means is that we be given the non-normal thoughts and feelings of choosing as our dominant moral stance choosing what is right because it is right.

Let us call these special thoughts and feelings “respect for the moral law.”

Previous posts have brought out that nothing we do entitles us to this gift. God gives it to us because God still loves us after original sin.

In this post, I shall try to give some indication of what respect for the moral law is like. I offer only indications because I am not certain that I have accepted this gift or am alert enough to recognize it if I ever accept it. Indeed the main point of this post is that no one can recognize that they have respect for the moral law. Use of normal human reasoning is not likely to bring us to trustworthy recognition that we are using properly something which is beyond reason. The theory being developed in these posts teaches that God provides the gift of respect for the moral law. But reflections of this post bring out that we cannot recognize whether or not we ever accept the gift.

Is it not preposterous that anyone could seriously think that they had reached a stage of moral perfection? Resolving to break off a bad habit or immoral practice is analogous to respecting the moral law. Consider a man who needs to stop drinking alcohol completely. First he has to conclude that alcohol is unconditionally bad for him. It is not enough simply to think that drinking has bad consequences for him. Things change with time. So bad consequences may not result from drinking in the future. Such thinking about the future undercuts the resolve needed to stop drinking completely. Secondly, he has to have confidence that he will not abandon his resolution. People realize that they need on going support to stick with a resolution to avoid a single vice. So certainly no realistic person would be confident that they could keep to a resolution of avoiding all vices.

Consider a personal example. I know that suicide is wrong without exception. Nonetheless as I age and physician assisted suicide is becoming legal in more and more communities, I can think of several situations in which suicide is highly desirable. All the way to death, I will have that temptation. I am resolved not to succumb to the temptation. However, by the time I can never succumb to the temptation, I cannot know of my success by natural means.

Denying the existence of morality by developing some theory that the thoughts of universal binding rules is an illusion and there are no rules that are more binding than the local rules of law and custom might be an indication of not responding to the gift of respect for the moral law. The theoretical position of denying the reality of moral laws is called “amoralism.” However, a better indication than amoralism of not having respect for the moral law is leading an immoral life.

Respect for the moral law differs from a fear of disobeying a moral rule. Leading a very moral life and frequently rejecting temptations with the thought that the action to which we are tempted is a violation of the moral law is not sufficient to show that we have respect for the moral law. In our efforts to lead a moral life we can become conditioned to feeling very uncomfortable by violating a moral rule. So we develop inclinations, which can be very strong, to obey moral rules. Such people, and I class myself among them, must admit we obey the moral rules because we are strongly disinclined to break them; not necessarily because they are the right rules.

Discussion of problems of free will would lead us away into long discussions not directly relevant to building a conceptual model of the Paschal Mystery. However, problems of free will are extremely relevant to explaining why we cannot be certain that we have freely committed ourselves to being moral or loving God. To be sure we are not here considering choices to perform particular acts such as a choice to spread a rumor. We are considering choices to have a policy such as never breaking a moral rule again or to obey God unconditionally. However, if natural factors could explain our having thoughts such as “I’ll never violate a moral law,” then we can doubt whether it is we ourselves who have accepted the gift of God to form such resolutions.

The devil plays a part in darkening our minds so that we think becoming morally good is an illusion. One of my motivations for writing this series of posts on Satan, original sin, build a conceptual model for there being a warfare of God with powers of darkness over whether or not humans can attain the good God wills for us. See Why Does Satan Want Us to Go to Hell?. Satan who was originally created to convey God’s messages to humanity conveys messages to humans by introducing thoughts into that interpersonal body of thoughts and sentiments we call human reason. After Lucifer’s choice to convey his own thoughts to human reason rather than God’s, Lucifer, who is now Satan, introduces thoughts which undercut human ability to receive God’s gift of respect for law. One such thought is a theory that it is irrational to ever commit ourselves to a policy of avoiding a certain type of act regardless of the consequences. Such a theory is in direct contradiction to respect for the moral law. This theory rejecting moral categorical imperatives is pervasive in human thought. It is promoted in classes in moral theory which use counterexamples to weakened commitment to principles which categorically prohibit actions, such as intentionally taking innocent human life. This principle of rejecting all moral categorical imperatives is, I submit, an example of a temptation from the devil.

People who pass on thoughts originally introduced into human thinking by Satan are not acting as agents of Satan. In inconsistent human thinking almost all of us who reach maturity pass on such thoughts. Consider that people who teach Newtonian physics are not agents of Newton.

Fortunately, the fact that we cannot use our normal reasoning to recognize that we are at least on the way to moral perfection, does not mean that we must abandon hope that we can have the gift of respecting the moral law or growing in respect for the moral law. The hope however is grounded in a faith that God, or the moral order, provides us the undeserved gift of respecting the moral law.

I want to close this post by shifting to a religious instead of moral perspective. I can make the shift readily because I am identifying moral laws as God’s commands.* Respect for the moral law can be interpreted as willing what God wills simply because God wills it. For humans to will what God wills is to love God. Why? Generally to love is to will the good of the other. Of course, there is no alternative to God having what is good. So to will the good of God is to will what is truly good and that is what God commands. So for humans to love God is to will what God commands simply because God commands it. Just as it is uncertain whether we have respect for the moral law, so it is undertain whether or not we accept the gift of loving God.

* In my book on sexual morality I show how one can identify moral laws as commands of God and avoid those problems brought out long ago by Plato in his Euthyphro dialogue by a naïve identification of moral laws with divine commands.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214

The Impossibility of Being Moral by Normal Human Reasoning and Choosing

The previous post in this series Human Reason is Inconsistent: Thanks be to God! argued that for humans to still have the destiny God willed for us before our original sin after our original sin, God had to allow us to have morality while rejecting it. At the deepest level where we focus on the purpose of human life, God’s allowing us to live with this inconsistency is a great gift from God. At the level of daily life, human history is a bloody tragedy of moral depravity tempered by moral nobility. This is how it is with humanity as a whole and each individual.

Much can be written about the agony of human life due to our rejection of morality while also acknowledging it. I will not write much about the actual human condition except in some subsequent posts bring out how this tension between morality and its rejection makes human sexuality a book of horror stories with a few chapters telling the most inspiring romances of love, fidelity and the nurturing of children. My emphasis is on the “logical” issues in building a conceptual model of the core Christian teaching that the incarnation of God as Jesus, Jesus’ suffering death and resurrection made it possible that human beings could attain the condition of being the way they ought to be even after original sin.

The conceptual question for this post asks: How is it possible for human beings to have the principle of being moral as the dominant principle while we hold a principle permitting us to override the demands of morality on occasion. Let me use the Kantian term “Good will” as standing for having the principle of choosing to do what is right because it is right regardless of any inclination to do otherwise. In religious terms a person has a good will if that person chooses to do what God wills simply because God wills. In other words, how is a good will possible.

A principle I assume holds: You cannot remove an inconsistency in thinking with inconsistent thinking.

To become a person with a good will we would have to eliminate the policy of setting aside morality to satisfy inclinations. We cannot set aside a policy of satisfying inclination over morality while still having such a policy. So, individually we cannot become consistently moral because the universal human reason we use is inherently inconsistent. Now we have to ask: If we cannot with our efforts become consistently moral which principle dominates: The principle of setting aside morality for inclinations or the principle of setting aside inclination satisfaction for the sake of morality. Given that we cannot eliminate the principle of setting aside morality to satisfy inclinations that means that in principle, in the principles of our thinking, there is a price , measured in terms of inclination satisfaction. If there is a price at which we will set aside any requirement of morality, the principle of setting aside morality is dominant in us.

Very, very good strong willed people can train themselves to place duty over inclination in almost every case we can think. Yet, despite all of their effort they still have a principle in the “back of their minds” that morality can be set aside. By our own efforts we cannot eliminate the fact that we have a price on our morality or fidelity to God. By our own reason and will power we cannot become people of good will and thereby the kind of people we ought to be.

For those interested, note that we have avoided the heresy of Pelagianism

Now we confront the following question. If humans cannot become beings who can choose with normal human reasoning their moral good, how can humans still have this moral good God wills for us? We have argued in the previous post that God still wills that we ought to become as we ought to be. “Ought” implies “can.” The answer has to be that in addition to allowing us to have morality after original sin, God also grants individuals power to choose to be morally good using more than normal human reasoning and willing. This capacity to choose what is right simply because it is right or in religious terms: To obey God simply because God wills it, is a gift from God which we do not earn or acquire by our moral efforts.

For those interested, I am proposing that what Kant calls respect for the moral law is a gift of God which takes us beyond normal moral thinking and choosing.

In the next post, I will illustrate how we use this gift, or grace, of being motivated to choose what is right because it is right in daily life. Then in other posts we will address questions about how God can give us the gifts of a moral destiny and a supernatural capacity of attaining it.

Readers my be interested in my book on sexual morality. My book illustrates how humans are unable to make their sexuality as it ought to be with normal human reasoning and willing.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Human Reason is Inconsistent; Thanks be to God!

In the previous post in this series on building a conceptual model of the temptations of Satan and the original sin of humanity, we concluded that the hard problem connected with understanding how God could love human beings after original sin was understand how humans could have morality while rejecting morality. The argument went that for God to love humanity, God had to will the good for humanity. The good for humanity was to be as a human being ought to be. But a necessary condition for God to will this good for humanity is that human beings have morality which is the means to being how we ought to be. Unfortunately, by having original sin in our universal ways of thinking we reject morality and the end God wills for us.

The question for this post is whether or not God can consistently will that we have morality while rejecting morality.

If God cannot consistently will that we have morality while rejecting it, then God cannot will that we have it because God cannot will what is logically inconsistent. If God cannot consistently will that we have morality while rejecting it, the God cannot love use when he have original sin. If God cannot love us when we have original sin, then God cannot redeem us because God would not love us with original sin.

To get a sense of the logical contradiction think of other ways of formulating a rejection of morality as a fundamental principle coupled with having morality. Man is the measure of all things yet there is a objective standard by which we can evaluate the correctness of all human opinions. All moral judgments are relative yet there are absolute moral rules.

Now God cannot think that any of these contradictions are correct. God’s reason in so far as we can even talk of God’s reasoning is consistent. However, it is not inconsistent to allow there to be rational or thinking beings who think and reason inconsistently. (I am here using “reason” and “rational” in their descriptive sense; not there evaluative sense as good thinking and reasoning.)

So, we have answered the question of this post by noting that God can consistently will that we have morality while rejecting it by allowing humans, both collectively and individually, to have a logically inconsistent way of thinking about morality.

God’s allowing us to have inconsistent moral thinking is a blessing of God because it allows us still to have the moral good God wills for us. If we had only consistent thinking about moral issues, we would, in effect, have no morality. With no moral end our fate would be that of any other being who comes into existence and passes away to non-being – nothingness.

So, thank God that we can have moral standards even if we inconsistently reject them.

However, there are costs to having inconsistent moral thinking. Subsequent posts will explore these costs and how we can attain the moral good God wills for us with our inconsistent moral thinking.

Readers my be interested in my book on sexual morality. My book illustrates how humans suffer from having and yet rejecting sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Can God Love Humanity After Original Sin?

The gist of the post on the inheritance of original sin was that it is a part of the universal human culture. It is a thought in the human conceptual scheme that on occasion one may choose contrary to the moral law or God’s will. In the human conceptual scheme, there is a fundamental option to put human will over God’s will.

There are several ways to formulate the principle setting human judgment over morality or God. A profound way of expressing this corrupting principle in our universal human thinking is with Protagoras’s “Man is the measure of all things.” If we set human reasoning as the judge of all we assume the right for ourselves to be judges of whether or not we are bound by morality. If we allow ourselves to be judges of whether or not we are bound by morality, we set aside morality. So, because I am using terminology of moral thinking to build my conceptual model for Satan, original sin and later the core conceptions of Christian salvation theory -the Paschal Mystery-, I write of the original sin we have as rejecting morality. I do not want to go on-and-on trying to express maxim of original sin “just right.”

HOW BAD IS ORIGINAL SIN?
Humans willed not to have morality.
Morality is the means God gave humans to reach the good of being as they ought to be.
So humans have rejected the means for the good God has willed for them.
To reject the means is to reject the end.
Hence, humans have rejected the good God has willed for them.
Beings who have a way they ought to be choose not to be by choosing not to be as they ought to be.
(See Moral Harm and Non-Being)
Hence, by rejecting the good God willed for them, humans willed not to be.
By willing not to be, humans willed that they be a biological life form which comes into being and passes away. (We willed to be creatures with no normative end – no way we ought to be as we assume it to be with mosquitoes et al.)

Did God have to let the human condition stay as our fundamental principle for choosing entails?

DID GOD HAVE TO STOP LOVING HUMANS AFTER ORIGINAL SIN?
If God can still love humanity after original sin, then God has to will that humans have the possibility of being as they ought to be after original sin.
If humans have the possibility of being as they ought to be after original sin, then humans have to have morality after original sin.
But after original sin, humans have rejected morality.
So, God cannot love humans after original sin unless God wills that humans have morality after original sin.

Now we have a big issue with two problems: How can God will that humans have morality after humans have rejected morality? There is an easy problem about God’s end in so willing and a hard problem about God’s means in His choice.
Now God can will whatever God chooses within the constraints of logical consistency.
Can God consistently will that humans have morality after rejecting morality?

The easy problem is Can God have a reason for willing that humans have morality after rejecting morality? Willing that humans have morality and hence the great good of having a way they ought to be, is to will a great good. No reason beyond this being a good is needed for God to have a reason to will that humans have morality after rejecting morality. (Similarly, God can will that Satan have his good after Satan’s rebellion.)

The hard problem concerns what God must do to bring it about that humans have morality after rejecting morality.

The barrier, logical barrier, comes from human morality. Humans have rejected it but it is still there with its demands. The demands of human morality have to be satisfied before humans can have it after having rejected it. For God to will the good of humanity God has to will that humans who have rejected morality still have it. The thesis is that humans both accept and reject morality.
The human empirical condition in human history supports a thesis that humans have morality and reject it at all times throughout history.

There is a warfare in humanity between our having morality and rejecting it. The on-going warfare on battlefields is only a manifestation of this more fundamental warfare which rages within each individual and community.

Subsequent posts in this series will confront the had problem of how God can consistently will that humans have morality while rejecting morality?

Readers my be interested in my book on sexual morality. My book illustrates how humans suffer from having and yet rejecting sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214