Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Two influential philosophers are making a point that must be expressed. It shouldn't matter who is what religion, when, or how...when it comes to the election. Their names are Nielsen and Nietzsche.

Nielson and Nietzsche both believe that a belief in God affects morality. If it were at all possible for the two of them to discuss each other’s arguments, they would agree on the argument that the nonreligious human is capable of great morality. Although Nielson and Nietzsche believe in secular morality, they will disagree on the argument of who are more morally correct, seculars or non-seculars. They would not be enjoying each other’s company for too long.

Nielson believes that it doesn’t matter whether there is a belief in God or not, both the secular and non-secular are capable of being moral. He states: “if a believer loses his God but can keep his nerve, think the matter over, and thoroughly take it to heart, life can still be meaningful and morality yet have an objective rationale”. Basically what he is saying is that a believer and nonbeliever alike are capable of morality. This is a good Libertarian philosophy that I believe in.

An example of Nielson’s logic is the Seinfeld episode when Elaine Benes discovers that her boyfriend, David Putty, is religious. “Putty” believes that he is morally right and refuses to steal the newspaper in front of his neighbor’s apartment door even though he wants it really bad. However, he asks Elaine, the secular one, to steal it for him. Elaine refuses because she retains her moral values. The newspaper remained in front of the apartment door. No crime is committed. This demonstrates Nielson’s point that both secular and religious are capable of moral values.

On the contrast, Nietzsche believes that a completely secular outlook on life actually enhances morality. Case in point, Nietzsche states: “Indeed at hearing the news that ‘the old God is dead’, we philosophers and ‘free spirits’ feel illuminated by a new dawn; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, forebodings, expectation—finally the horizon seems clear again…the sea, our sea, lies open again; maybe there has not been such an ‘open sea’. In other words, Nietzsche believes that once God is taken out of our lives it seems as if we are actually more capable of morality than ever before. Atheism is not a requisite for Libertarianism, as a Libertarian will usually disagree with this philosophy. I believe that those who belong to a church ARE capable of great morality.

Using the same Seinfeld scenario as before, Elaine asks Putty why he won’t steal the paper and insists that Elaine steal it. Putty says: “Thou shalt not steal”. Putty goes on to explain that it is okay for Elaine to steal because she is going to hell anyway for not believing in God.

Nietzsche would see this scenario and argue that Elaine is the one with the morality because she believes in not stealing, for society’s sake, regardless of her status of going to hell or not. Putty is the one lacking in morality because his mind is clouded and has no purpose for not stealing other than the fear of God, Nietzsche would argue.

In conclusion, both philosophers make an excellent argument about the belief in God affecting moral choices. However, these philosopher’s arguments do not completely agree with one another. Religious and non-religious alike would benefit from reading both Nielson and Nietzsche, as I know David Putty and Elaine Benes would have benefited too. So in this election, don't discriminate because someone is a member or is not a member of any church or religion. I know for me personally...I'd rather just not know. Amen.

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