Survey on Ethical Climates and Religion

By: Stephen Marsh
December 28, 2012

One growing area of study in experimental ethics is the effect of what are often called climates. It started with noticing that beggers outside of a bakery are more likely to receive charity than those near a sewer.

Is it better to give charity, or better to ignore in hope that he learns the lesson that he should quit begging and God helps those who help themselves?

But it has expanded into realizing that many cultures have an ethical environment. To read scripture, moralizing and philosophy it helps to appreciate that there are huge differences in different times and places as to what is important ethically and what is not.

Is a person always the same person or is transformation a real force (e.g. is the model of Nephi or Mormon more significant to you than the model of Alma and Alma the Younger)?

Often conflicts between groups in the Church consist of vast differences in what we consider important. Does the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God mean that you should obey God? Does it mean that you should “do your duty”?

Or is it a means to self knowledge and enlightenment?

Those differences can often be observed as spectrums of competing virtues. It also helps to look at yourself.

What is more important to you?

  • Social Good (68%, 21 Votes)
  • Rights (32%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

Loading ... Loading ...

Which personal state of justice or harmony do you feel is core to spirituality?

  • Self-Knowledge (41%, 12 Votes)
  • Knowledge (34%, 10 Votes)
  • Detachment (14%, 4 Votes)
  • Obedience (10%, 3 Votes)
  • Resignation (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Renunciation (1%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 29

Loading ... Loading ...

How important is duty?

  • It is essential. (86%, 24 Votes)
  • It is meaningless. (14%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

Loading ... Loading ...

What do you think? How does your answer to these questions affect how you interact at Church?

Tags: , , ,

6 Responses to Survey on Ethical Climates and Religion

  1. Stephen R. Marsh on December 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    My thanks to the editor for really putting this together better than I did.

    I got to thinking on this topic when someone objected to a conference talk that asserted that God valued obedience (e.g. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” etc.).

    They saw no value whatsoever in obedience.

    At the same time, I have been watching how we project our values and era onto others. Duty was much more important to some cultures than it seems to be to ours. To read our values into other cultures some times gives results that belong more with The Onion than they do anywhere else.

    Then I read an essay on ethical environments and it really clicked for me.

    How significant are private vices? Total or none whatsoever? That just came up with Crapo in the news.

    Is a person always the same person or is transformation a real force (e.g. is the model of Nephi or Mormon more significant to you than the model of Alma and Alma the Younger)? Both Nephi and Mormon were heroic from their youth (being large in stature …), both Alma and Alma the younger transformed from reprobates to men of God.

    Often conflicts between groups in the Church consist of vast differences in what we consider important. Does the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God mean that you should obey God? Does it mean that you should “do your duty.”

    Or is it a means to self knowledge and enlightenment?

    Is obedience to every jot and tittle of the law more important than charity? Or should we encompass both?

    How does your answer to these questions affect how you interact at Church?

    You can tell I have lots of questions, not enough answers.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  2. dba.brotherp on December 28, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    I like this topic!
    Sometimes groups in the church think they can switch equations around and the result will stay the same.

    For example; “Love Jesus” = “Keep His commandments”, but “Keep His commandments” does not necessarily = “Love Jesus.”

    I see this equation switch in the emphasis on obedience (i.e keep commandments) instead of using persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, and meekness, and love unfeigned (i.e. love Jesus).

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  3. Hedgehog on December 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    I found the questions to be somewhat polarised: both rights and social good are important to me, and whilst duty isn’t meaningless, is it absolutely essential? Nor am I sure I could pick out any one state core to spirituality, they may all play a part (though I’m not very sure what all of them mean in this particular context ..). Perhaps I simply like balance.

    I was talking to a friend who asserted that as obedience was the first law of heaven, learning to obey your priesthood leader was essential, because that was what we’d have to be doing in the celestial kingdom. What? Never has the CK sounded so unappealing. I hope we’re here to learn more than that we know nothing and obedience is the only way to go. Apparently I lack humility… But really, it seemed an extreme view.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  4. dba.brotherp on December 29, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    I hope that this is not a thread jack but where did “Obedience is the first law of heaven” come from?

    I realize this is anecdotal but I seem to be hearing the word “Obedience” a lot.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 29, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I think that is a great question.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  6. Hedgehog on December 29, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I’m very glad you asked that. A quick internet search brings up the following:
    A discussion here which cites Joseph F. Smith as the earliest known source: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2011/07/08/obedience-is-the-first-law-of-heaven/

    It comes up several times as a lesson title in manuals.

    However what I have spotted briefly from the longer segment of the quote I have found is that it seems to be referring more to obedience to natural law of planetary systems, structure of the universe stuff, so applying it to people (which Joseph F. Smith does) seems to be taking it wildly out of context in my view…
    JofD link here for the Joseph F. Smith discourse (go to p.193 of the pdf): http://www.jhuston.com/Documents/jd16.pdf

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

Archives

%d bloggers like this: