When they get home, Dan tells Noah to come have a quick talk. He wants to teach his son a lesson. He asks him if he believes what he is taught that a loving God or a good church would tell good people they can’t be together in the next life. He asks if Noah feels it was wrong or right to make Tobi sit with the children because she didn’t believe the same things. Noah’s answers are full of conflict.
So instead, they talk about right and wrong, and they both agree on some things. Stealing is wrong. Lying is wrong. Cheating is wrong. Hurting people is wrong. It is also good to help people, and love people, and not ever think you’re better than other people. Alcohol is okay if it is drunken responsibly as an adult. Smoking doesn’t make a person bad. It’s a personal choice. One by one they talk together, and Noah decides for himself what is right or wrong. For anything he is concerned about, his father tells him he doesn’t have to know or make a decision yet. He can wait to see how he feels when he is older.
And, Noah learns why it should not only be his want, but his desire, to question everything, exclude no one, and never take anything he is taught as truth until he has truly examined it. He learns what morality is from his father.
Yes, this is the great moving target called morality.
So what is the truth about morality?
Who gets to claim that their morality is the correct morality?
I grew up Mormon. They have a very specific set of rules for morality. “Morality is universal and even God is bound to these rules,” my brother tells me.
Other people of other religions believe the same about their gods and their religions.
Other people outside of religion believe the same.
In fact, if there’s one truth about morality at all, it’s only that everyone thinks that they have the right answer for what morality is. And everyone’s versions are different.
We don’t have the right answer.
None of us do.
Sure, the population as a whole can agree (fairly whole-heartedly) on some moral rights and wrongs. Killing another person is wrong. Yes. Almost all of us agree with that. Stealing from others is wrong. Yes. Almost all of us can agree with that. Touching children sexually. Definitely wrong. The list could go on.
But even then, no matter how blatantly right and wrong something is, there is nothing in the world that everyone in the world believes is finitely moral or immoral. There is nothing that someone else won’t, in their hearts of hearts, believe is the opposite of what you and I believe.
Some of the greatest tyrants of all time actually did believe they were good men. They really did believe they were doing a greater work. They believed they were called to do the hard things that others wouldn’t do. They believed they were moral.
And while tyrannical murderers are extreme, the every day moral demands that you and I make on each other are no different at all.
We believe we are right in what we believe. We believe we are tools for greater causes. We believe that others should fall into our ways of thinking. And, most dangerously perhaps, some of us (in any faith or part of the world) actually believe that God has called us to be His moral enforcers.
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