The Moral Bankruptcy of Faith
A Modern Socratic Dialogue

by Max Maxwell

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Socrates: And when the doctor behaves in such a way as to bring much needed healing to another human being through the secular science of medicine, would you consider this act of healing to be a moral or immoral act?

 

Preacher: There is nothing immoral about it.

 

Socrates: But does the doctor learn how to treat sickness from believing in God or from medical school?

 

Preacher: Medical school.

 

Socrates: Did you not say that moral knowledge comes only from the knowledge of God and that people who do not know or have faith in God cannot be moral?

 

Preacher: Yes.

 

Socrates: Then to the extent that beneficial behavior leads to healing through the knowledge of the secular science of medicine and not through faith in God, can it be moral?

 

Preacher: Based on what I said, I guess I would have to say no. However, this does not seem to be a proper outcome to my statements.

 

Socrates: First you said that morality was the knowledge of right and wrong, which comes from believing in God. But we found that this moral knowledge of God does not cover all right and wrong. Then you said that morality is right behavior that benefits people. Now we find that not all right and beneficial behavior needs a faith in God in order to be either right or beneficial to people. It seems that we have failed to properly define this faith based morality in that we still have not correctly described the scope of its application to human life.

 

Preacher: That seems to be true.

 

Socrates: Perhaps, if you give me one example where morality is fulfilled to the benefit of another person through knowledge gained from religious faith, then I will be able to understand your concept of morality.

 

Preacher: Ok. Jesus said that the most important laws were to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus taught that on this love all of the law and prophets depended. This means that love is the fulfillment of all law and morality. Any time a Christian, who has faith in Jesus and desires to fulfill his teachings, loves or helps her neighbor as Jesus taught then she is being moral.

 

Socrates: Even if that Christian is a doctor and helps her neighbor through her secular knowledge of the science of medicine? Perhaps you should give me a specific example of how morality is fulfilled in a way that comes from belief in God.

 

Preacher: A Christian who has faith in Jesus’ teachings about loving his neighbor as himself and expresses that faith by helping his neighbor fix his car is a good example.

 

Socrates: Do you see a difference between just wanting to be moral and, through action, being moral?

 

Preacher: Absolutely.

 

Socrates: And who is actually moral? Is it the person who wants to help his neighbor because he believes it is right and yet does not help, or is it the one who wants to help his neighbor and actually does it?

 

Preacher: It is the one who loves his neighbor with real deeds that is the moral person.

 

Socrates: Now, can a Christian help his neighbor by fixing his car if he does not know anything about cars?

 

Preacher: No.

 

Socrates: Does a person learn about cars from believing in God or by studying auto mechanics?

 

Preacher: By studying auto mechanics.

 

Socrates: Is auto mechanics a religious knowledge that is gained through the belief in God or is it a secular knowledge that is available to any human being?

 

Preacher: Auto mechanics is a secular knowledge.

 

Socrates: If, as you said, being moral is in the deed then is it true that the Christian can only fulfill morality through actual deeds in this example by having secular knowledge about cars?

 

Preacher: That appears to be true.

 

 

 

 


 

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Copyright 2009 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.