Morality as per Sylvester & Tweety

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #3 – Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.

Sylvester the cat wants to eat Tweety Bird. Just as he is about to put the little yellow morsel into his mouth, up pops two miniatures of Sylvester himself. One is angelic and the other a demonic image of himself. Each sits on the opposite shoulder and whispers their counsel into Sylvester’s ears.

Is this just a cartoon feature? How about neo-Platonic morality developed by Augustine and encouraged later by later thinkers known as absolutists!

You may be surprised to learn preaching what is moral has not been limited to the church pulpit. There are several systems of principles that have been developed over time. These systems are the practical application to particular beliefs. Your university education will expose you to diverse beliefs.

Man Angel on Shoulder

The science of moral philosophy is known as ethics. The terms ethics and morality are synonymous. They both are derived from words which mean customs and indicate how people are to behave within a given Society.

Ethics is derived from the Greek term, ethika, a derivative itself from ethos, emphasizing character with customs.

Morals is the equable derivative of the Latin term, mores. Mores has been transported into English to mean rules related to the conduct, manners and behavior of people to others.

Sylvester and Tweety as Food

As a branch of philosophy, ethics belongs to the normative sciences. Normative has to do with what is the norm of human conduct. This type of science differs from the formal sciences like mathematics and the empirical sciences such as social sciences. Normative science takes place when psychology scrutinizes the social conditions involved in developing moral principles.

Ethics as a disciple is a collection of “doctrines” which govern social manners. The use of the term “doctrine” is very familiar to you as a Christian. It is the same term used by non-Christians in philosophical discussions. In Western Civilization, these doctrines have been debated since the 6th century BC. Philosophers still strive to articulate what is good and right.

When you begin your university training, you will find yourself inside the chambers where morals are still under debate. That is why it is important you understand ethical principles and how they relate to your Christian values.

Posts in this series:

Morality Is A Behavior Code

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

aristotle.jpg

Note #1 – Morality has become associated as a code of behavior. The philosophers believed a certain conduct would lead to happiness.

The early church taught, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The pursuit of happiness is not the deportment of Christianity; but rather the pursuit of godly living—living in a way that is God-like. It is not the arrogant pursuit of being gods as Adam and Eve erred (Genesis 3:5) but a contentment to live as God directs in accordance to His word.

From the very beginning, God has been interested in His creation doing what He says to bring them the greater benefit (Genesis 3:11). Philosophy can rob you of God’s blessings if you are not careful (Colossians 2:8). Nonetheless, there is an agreed precept between philosophy and Biblical Christianity: your contentment in life can be found when following a code of behavior.

The Bible assumes you are capable of moral actions. There are certain actions which you are bound to perform. The obligations performed as a social duty are, definition, acts of morality. Each Society adjust the rules, but one fact remains: morality is associated with you keeping accepted rules.

Waiter

For instance, most people do not tip in a restaurant here in New Zealand. It is considered immoral for an employer to not provide servers with full wages. With the provision, tipping is not a necessary part of the server’s wages. However, in the United States, it is customary to tip a server regardless of any wages being received. The respective customs reflect differing moral standards for its Society.

At university, you will be given guide-lines and expectations for your behavior. Jump up and down all you want about your individual rights! It won’t make a difference. Whenever individuals join together, there must be agreement on a set of rules. Otherwise, chaos results and there will be no order for your educational environment.

“Thou Shalt Not Lie” is a Lie!

Adults who struggle to believe scripture “dumb down” the text only to be out-smarted by children.

Last Sunday, my wife was teaching Sunday School. The local church we attend provided the curriculum. Assuming children are incapable of handling “technical” words of scripture, they altered the ninth commandment.

The argument children are somehow unable to comprehend bible words has always amazed me. The argument is given by persons incapable of matching a toddler’s skill with I-Pads and small children’s understanding of Digital TV remote controls.

children ipads

As a child growing up in church, I capitalized on this mindset, playing dumb to many things I was more than aware. Adults seemed scared of telling children the truth.

The curriculum on Sunday taught the ninth commandment as: “Do not lie”. The children began to explain how that cannot be.

“If a girl comes to me and asks if she is beautiful, I’m not going to lie and say she is ugly even if I think she is because that would hurt her.”

You got to love child logic!

10 Commandments

The truth of the matter: the commandment is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:19). The key word is “witness”.

The 10 Commandments are legal precepts given to the founding of a nation. They are to undergird the legal system of a newly created country. The context is a court of law. Today, we call that perjury: not telling the truth when you are under oath. You swore to tell the truth yet you are providing a false witness.

I truly believe a child can understand that explanation when couched with illustrations from Hollywood.

  • Look at the complexity of children’s TV shows!
  • Consider the moral lessons ingrained within Disney movies.

Children are able to articulate the technical words learned from Harry Potter books and movies. They are able to explain them with passion and enthusiasm. No one seems to argue learning new terms are harmful for children.

If Hollywood can believe in children’s ability to absorb technical words, why cannot the Church?