What Is Behind Morality? -- By: Kenneth D. Boa

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 133:530 (Apr 1976)
Article: What Is Behind Morality?
Author: Kenneth D. Boa

What Is Behind Morality?

Kenneth D. Boa

[Kenneth D. Boa, Director of Publications, New Life, Inc., Emerson, New Jersey.]

Throughout recorded history, mankind has wrestled with a number of fundamental questions. A great variety of social, religious, and philosophical approaches have been used over the centuries in different parts of the world to arrive at meaningful and workable solutions, but most seem to introduce more difficulties than they solve. Three of the most crucial problems that confront man are the metaphysical problem (How do I account for the complexity of the universe and the personality of man?), the epistemological problem (How do I know that I know and how do I distinguish between fact and fantasy?), and the moral problem (What is the basis for morality, and why do all people have moral values?).

This article is restricted to a treatment of the moral problem, but it is well to keep in mind that all of these problems relate together. The way a person approaches one will substantially determine his approach to the others. In addition to this, it should be noted at the outset that philosophy and theology both deal with the same basic questions. They use different terms and often give different answers, but the problems are the same. This is not surprising since philosophers as well as theologians concern themselves with matters of ultimate reality.

Morality Is Universal

Whether a man is a philosopher or a theologian, a poet or a scientist, the experiences that he has during his lifetime are qualitatively similar to those of other men. In all cultures, people have value

or moral experiences, aesthetic experiences, and religious experiences. The idea of right versus wrong and good versus bad is firmly entrenched in the human mind, and it is consistently displayed in the human experience. People respond to their experiences of personality, love, and forgiveness, and almost all regard these qualities as superior to impersonality, hatred, and cruelty. Regardless of culture or period, all men have moral inclinations. The norms of morality may vary, but the important thing is that all people believe that some things are right and some things are wrong. A few may object to this, claiming that there is really no such thing as right or wrong, but their objection is hollow. It is hollow because their actions and words betray them every day of their lives. Every time they criticize, complain, or accuse, they are implicitly appealing to some fixed standard of right and wrong. And conversely, every time they approve, applaud, or praise, there is a covert reference to a set of values.

Man’s moral experience is so universal that ...

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