I’ve been thinking a bit about what I wrote last time, and how emotions can’t be trusted.
The chief spark for that post was when someone in a film says
I’ve never felt this way before, and how I might argue that this is not necessarily a good thing!
However as I’ve reflected upon it, I realise that there are occasions when emotions do trump logic and reason. Love is (also) an emotion, and I would never have married my wife if I hadn’t felt that I was in love with her (as well as choosing to love her). When it comes to conscience and ethics, these are largely emotional rather than logical issues – although I would contend that there is a reason ‘underneath’ every ethical issue, it might just be too deep to understand.
Consider death. We all die, sooner or later – what therefore is the logic objection, say, murder? Or perhaps more ambiguously, why would we feel bad killing one person in order to save the lives of tens or hundreds?
Or faithfulness. Why shouldn’t we sleep with someone else just because we’re already in a relationship with someone else? Along the same lines, what’s the big deal with fibbing?
To be clear, I’m not supporting these activities – I believe they are all wrong – but fundamentally that belief is based on emotion rather than reason. We can try and dig a bit deeper. If we cheat, then it destroys trust. Without trust you cannot have a healthy relationship. As a race, we have only been able to achieve what we have achieved through trust. The Apollo 11 crew trusted mission control with their lives. I trust that the other road users aren’t going to run me over on my bike everyday.
Perhaps more contentiously, I think that whenever Christian values are set aside the inevitable result is the breakdown of society. In other words, that God kind of knew what he was doing when he set up the 10 commandments. Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting for a minute that ethics and moral values are restricted to Christians or Christianity (or Judaism). What I am saying is that they are a pre-requsite of Christianity, and that we discard them at our peril. Obviously the Bible was written down, copied, and translated by fallable humans, and we must tread carefully – especially with the Torah. That said, there are clear overarching themes about caring for one another, selflessness and honesty, and stewardship of the Earth we do well to heed.
I guess it’s a trust thing. Some of the ‘rules’ we can understand, some are harder. But all are good.