Sunday, May 26, 2013

J.P. Moreland on Tolerance, Religion, and Morality

"Tolerance has come to mean that no one is right and no one is wrong and, indeed, the very act of stating that someone else’s views are immoral or incorrect is now taken to be intolerant (of course, from this same point of view, it is all right to be intolerant of those who hold to objectively true moral or religious positions). Once the existence of knowable truth in religion and ethics is denied, authority (the right to be believed and obeyed) gives way to power (the ability to force compliance), reason gives way to rhetoric, the speech writer is replaced by the makeup man, and spirited but civil debate in the culture wars is replaced by politically correct special-interest groups who have nothing left but political coercion to enforce their views on others."

—J. P. Moreland

Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (p. 37). Kindle Edition. [HT: JM]


MaryLou said...

Great quotation about the post-modern worldview.

Charlie Summers said...

Very succinct summation of the current situation in the political-social-cultural arena

Mark Walsh said...

Whilst I agree with J.P.’s statement, there is perhaps a danger that we could interpret part of it as a justification for action that I personally think can backfire.

The comment that “from this same point of view, it is all right to be intolerant of those who hold to objectively true moral or religious positions” could be interpreted so as to imply that we should perhaps point out to those guilty of such postmodern “tolerance” that they are in fact equally intolerant as the believers they criticise.

I’ve heard this argument countless times and whilst there is some basis for it it’s not a very strong argument and can make Christians come across as smart alecs. A simple analogy would be Racism – a Nazi could accuse someone who opposed and criticised their views as being “prejudiced” against their viewpoint. Clearly there are viewpoints that should be opposed and perhaps “intolerance” is called for at times . The real question is whether claims to objective moral or religious truth fall into this category? And why? J.P. is right to imply that they don’t but rather than pointing out “the intolerance of tolerance” perhaps it would be wiser to query why someone would think that claims to objective moral or religious truth should not be tolerated? A comparison with mathematics might be useful – we don’t consider it intolerant to insist that 1 + 1= 2 nor to point out the error of someone who disagrees. Questioning why someone believes that religious belief is not deserving to be treated as real (and true) knowledge can often lead to a dismantling of their misguided logic.

By the way – I’m not implying the J.P. is recommending any smart comments – just that we can often interpret things that way ourselves.


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