Answering ancient questions: what is goodness?

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People’ve been asking this question for a long, long, long time. 

About 2,300 years ago, in ancient Greece, a very wise man named Plato recorded many of the words of his master, Socrates. Once, Socrates had a conversation with a priest of the gods, whose name was Euthyphro. Socrates loved to ask people questions about all sorts of things. In this case, he questions Euthyphro on the nature of “piety” or “piousness:” that is, following what the gods command.

The fundamental question becomes: is the pious pious because the gods ordain it, or is the pious some higher standard that the gods adhere to?

This question has come down through history to us like this: is goodness good because God commands it, or is God held by some higher standard of good? Both answers have problems. (more…)

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Respect, tolerance, love, and other doubtful things

A lot of words are being tossed around by my generation. Love. Tolerance. Respect. As in, respect others’ beliefs, tolerate everyone, and love everyone. We say these things easily enough. They’re looked up to as noble ideals—but what do they actually mean? How do most people understand them? If I disagree with someone else’s beliefs, is that disrespectful? Is it intolerant to try to change others’ beliefs? If I believe someone else’s actions are morally wrong, is that hateful?

I sense a deep divide between what these words mean to the popular culture and what they mean to Christians. (more…)

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