Something that was originally advanced by heavily religious 17th century philosophers as a method to get a closer relationship with God. (It’s true, look it up).
The intent was to manifest in individual prayer (be personally closer to god) and achieve an autonomous interpretation of the Biblical passages.
This change in habits (from collective worship to individualized) was the first spark that ignited the torch down to the individualist degeneration we are on now. Specifically, the rise of secularism.
Granted, it was not all a bad thing. Hell, maybe it still isn’t a bad thing. Especially considering the allegations and cases of pedophilia within traditional churches.
But without hesitation, we could say that the development of the modern self and ideals were directly castrated from the same blade that took the skin of collective worship.
In an interesting academic paper titled “After God: Morality and Bioethics in a Secular Age” author H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. explains:
Bioethics confronts a major intellectual and cultural failure of core expectations. It is now clear that there is no bioethics or morality that philosophy can establish as canonical.
There is no final secular view regarding the nature of the right, the good, and the virtuous.
And there never will be, due to the individualist nature of secularism. I think killing is okay in some cases; you don’t. There is no way to philosophically reconcile these differing opinions because they are just that: opinions. There is no foundation.
The Western moral-philosophical project begun in ancient Greece and re-embraced in the Western Middle Ages is now being acknowledged as a failure. As Judd Owen summarizes, “Today, belief in the comprehensive philosophic teaching of the Enlightenment appears to lie in ruins, and few hope that any other comprehensive philosophy could successfully replace it.
It has become a failure because of the rise of secularism.
This despair is, to a considerable extent, due to a radical critique of reason as such” (p. 1) 5 . The very sense and meaning of bioethics must be rethought. As G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) appreciated, and as Richard Rorty (1931-2007) emphasized, it is impossible for secular moral reflection to establish a canonical content for morality, because “there is no way to step outside the various vocabularies we have employed and find a metavocabulary which somehow takes account of all possible vocabularies, all possible ways of judging and feeling” (p. xvi) 6.
Or in easier terms: everyone is different, and under individualism everyone is right if they feel right.
Ethical means: “pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct”.
Moral means: “concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character”.
If everyone has a different ‘feeling’ that they get based on an event, nothing can ever be truly right or wrong.
Take immigration as a prime example. I find it morally wrong that people can come here illegally. Leftists find it morally wrong that people can’t come here illegally. We can use logic to debate this, but not secularism. Because MY feelings are different from theirs. And we’re both right. So we’re both yelling check-mate on neither of our turns.
As the interminable debates regarding the moral status of homosexual acts, reproduction outside of marriage, abortion, healthcare allocation, and euthanasia demonstrate, we do not agree when it is licit, forbidden, or obligatory to have sex, reproduce, transfer property, or take human life
It is even impossible to secure a neutral philosophical standpoint that through sound rational argument can show that one should always act from the moral point of view.
A very good point here as well. In a secular mindset, even if you consider something immoral (abortion as an example) why not still get an abortion? What does it matter? If it just upsets your ‘feelings’, it doesn’t really matter at all. Change your mindset so it doesn’t hurt your feelings.
Under secularism, there is no reason to be moral or ethical. It’s a catch-22.
Among other things, there is no neutral moral point of view. The confrontation with such disappointments is the force of post-modernity.
It is not the force of post-modernity; it is the reality of such.
The West entered modernity and the Enlightenment with the expectation that its new, fully secularized reason would establish a canonical morality. Bioethics did the same in the 1970s. The intellectual supports sought for this hope have turned out to be non-existent.
Of course it did. Because secular morality does not make sense.
In the secular age, who determines morality?
No one does. If some fancy philosopher decides to tell me what is right and wrong, I can debunk it simply by saying it doesn’t make me feel that way.
But the truth is not so easy. True morality is not subjective. But secularism treats it as such. Individualized moral behaviors are fallacious.
Morality must be objective, the same as ethics, or it simply doesn’t exist. Those are the only two options.
There must be intrinsic truths in this conscious. If we don’t have a universal code to follow them, well then, who determines them?
Some rich, virtue signalling actor? Some coddled douchebag PhD that doesn’t know how to change a car tire?
We are humans. None of us are infallible. We make mistakes; we do not know everything. And thus, we cannot create a system of morality that is actually correct ourselves using rationalism. It would always be politicized, or just plain wrong by stupid people’s interference.
But this dilemma begs the question: Without god, who determines what is moral?