Monthly Archives: December 2005

Kantian Ethics: “Good vs. Evil”

Don Alexander asked:

Kantian ethics, or “It’s Your Duty,” as Wilkens states, is centered on one’s duty for the good of the cause and utilizing reason as a means to an end. I liked the example of the courtroom in Wilkens text, where he talks about a juror who has to make the choice to vote “not-guilty” in a trial, because there is not enough evidence to support the verdict. Kantian ethics supports looking at “the best choice” instead of one’s own choice or personal opinion as the highest tally mark.

Wilken’s goes on to state that many people who are into Kantian ethics make a comparison that it is similar to Christianity. Although this is true to some extent, here’s how it differs: Kantian ethics do not have to, nor do they support, belief in God. The just of this theory is based upon If I make a correct choice, I am good. Where the theory gets kind of crazy though, happens when you take out God. Good choices cannot be the reason for living, and what about, as the author states, those choices like: “do I lie when a murderer comes in the room and asks where my brother is?” Of course, in my head, I’m thinking-“Don’t tell him the truth, make up a story or something!” Pure Kantian ethics may state: “tell the truth at any cost.” That, in the murderer scenario, would result in death and disaster.

Wilkens states that: “the concepts of duty, moral law, reason, justice, and the dignity of all people play central roles” in Kantian ethics. His concept of choosing “good” over a quick decision or one that is self-centered is awesome. However, he bases his entire theory on reason alone. I remember scripture stating: “Lean not on your own understanding, but Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) This would contradict Kantian theory big time. Choosing to lean on God would not be leaning on the intellect, which Kant would probably say is not logical.

Divine command theory is based upon the “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” notion. Wilkens points out that this is not enough when defending your faith, and/or justifying your point of view to nonbelievers. Most importantly too, he poses questions like: “What does a couple do when they want to determine the gender of their baby, is there a scripture for that? The answer of course to the divine theorists, would be a resounding: Yes there is!” and then they would quote it and believe it without doubting. Wilkens says that just quoting the verse is not enough- it must be backed up by human reason and logic.

I agree with Wilkens and I disagree. Yes, it would be important to explain and justify one’s faith, especially to someone who is not saved, without a doubt. However, if you look at the Catholic Church, for example, you might see an example of a faith that has put too much “reason” in their doctrines. For example, a simple heartfelt prayer, to a devout Catholic, may not be as faithful as the recited prayers that are re-stated every week during mass. Also, you don’t see too many altar calls in the Catholic Church, yet we are not to judge. I’m simply looking at the many traditions. same-said prayers, and the few in the priesthood, who sometimes justify gambling, drinking, and some immorality.

To a Devine theorist, scripture is a means to an end. I agree with that thought all the way. I believe that scripture is black and white, but I also believe that if you meditate upon scripture(by meditate I mean really think about it)-you may find more meaning within it. What does the Bible say about scripture though? It says that it is not open for man’s interpretation, and in II Timothy it says “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit-says the Lord. Therefore, I believe that a Christian who listens to the spirit of God within them would be a Devine theorist and someone who is after God’s heart. I am a Devine theorist. I believe if it is written in scripture, it is to be followed, and it will never steer you in the wrong direction. Will there be unanswered questions in life? Yes!

Personally though, I believe if you search the scriptures well, you will find a verse that matches the need. And…I don’t believe that my reason needs to come into play at all times. I stand on the Word of God as it is written. I am a Divine theorist and I am not ashamed to stand on the Scriptures for Forever.