Yesterday, a friend and I had a disagreement and over the course of the conversation she made the following statement: “just because people’s views are different from yours does not make them evil or wrong.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this since then, and she’s right. Just because people’s views are different than mine doesn’t make those beliefs evil or wrong.
Because I can’t define either one.
Without God, we’d all get to pick and choose what defines right and wrong, good and evil. And in so doing, we could justify rape, racism, pedophilia, greed, the killing of lions in Africa… and the slaughter of unborn babies.
But the truth of it is, we don’t really believe that we can all pick and choose our own morality. If we really believed that, a couple in Oregon would still be baking cakes, a guy named Walter would still be working on teeth and a whole bunch of people in Alabama would still be sitting in the back of the bus.
We’re all okay with imposing our own moral standards on other individuals. In fact, civilized society exists by imposing moral standards on the public at large. We don’t believe that rape is fine, as long as it’s morally acceptable to the rapist. We don’t believe that theft is fine, as long as it’s morally acceptable to the thief. We don’t believe that pedophilia is okay, even if both parties give consent. Because, see, we really do believe that there is some sort of standard we should all live by. We really do acknowledge some all-encompassing definition of right and wrong, good and evil. I’m just crazy enough to believe that the one who should responsible for doing the defining is God.
“Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining “it’s not fair” before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong – in otherwords, if there is no Law of Nature – what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?
It seems, then, that we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may sometimes be mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”
– CS Lewis, Mere Christianity