Your Own Moral Code
Inspired by Nature, Based on Reason. The Journey, Not
In a sense, we all formulate our own system of ethics
whether or not we belong to a church that has a prescribed moral code. No
matter what other people dictate to us in the name of God, we ultimately
decide right and wrong for ourselves whenever we act. We make the final decisions about what
rules to follow, and which we disobey. The Church
of Nature's God suggests that we should each be our own individual moral
authority. A church must serve its members' higher needs; therefore, the Church
offers recommendations and suggestions for its members to fashion a system
of moral and ethical conduct that works for them. The Church does not insist, require or demand. The Church recommends.
The Church of Nature's God
suggests that we look to nature and to reason. Each of us must decide on our own moral code.
The Church offers ethical concepts from old and new philosophy, but the Church suggests;
it does not impose restrictive codes on its members. The Church encourages each person to
adopt or develop a personal moral code based on reason. Members should use their God-given reason to decide what is good behavior and what is behavior to be avoided. What kind of moral code or reason-based ethical code might a Deist
or a freethinker have?
The church suggests early and natural philosophies. The Golden Rule and its inverse, found in one form or another in a great number of the world's religions
and philosophies offers a good start. The Golden Rule is a logical candidate for inclusion into a Deist's moral code. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. The Wiccan Rede is
also quite consistent with Freethinking: An it harm none, do what ye will.
This is a very positive and independent way of looking at behavior. Humans are meant to be free.
My own code is two words: Be Considerate.
These moral principles are clear and logical. There are countless other reasonable and logically consistent guidelines that may be incorporated into a Deist's moral code.
There are concepts from Stoicism that will be introduced here along with other
ideas from Greek philosophy. We will also look at Eastern guides and practices for living a
good life. God has not handed down a moral code, but rather has given us the gifts of reason
and natural law so that we have been able to live together as social animals. We
have formed societies and have developed codes and
positive societal laws that allow us to live together in peace to the best of
our human ability.
Deists and all reasoning
already follow some type of guiding principles in our lives. People
interested in what is written here already follow some personal moral code that is highly
likely to be based on reason. Early Greeks and later Deists developed their
concepts of ethics based on nature and reason. For those with a Western
philosophical inclination, these paths can form a very good foundation for a
Deist's or Freethinker's personal moral code. For those
with an Eastern inclination and a tendency to look within, Taoism seems to be a
path that many choose. Shinto is an excellent choice. Your own nature should guide you towards the better
path for you.
Deism, having no dogma, cannot support an
inflexible moral code. Rules in which we find reasonable value, that we
accept and adopt personally, become our own, they are not dogma dictated by
other people. Freethinkers should not dictate to one another how they should live
their lives in order to please any deity. Deists and freethinking people do, however, place high
value on reason, and should find value in ethics based on reason and common sense. The
Deist Principles found at the
Modern Deism site, for instance, certainly suggest the beginnings of an
excellent moral code we could build on. What is reasonable, is reasonable.
One is free to disagree as one chooses. That will not change nature.
The Church believes that the universe was
designed with governing laws that we are only beginning to understand. Our
knowledge of the workings of the universe is still in its infancy. Every day
we find there are new wonders to discover in nature and in the nature of
humankind. One does not need an advanced science degree to understand that
there are natural patterns and predictable events. We see that living things
have natures and live according to their natures. Humans are subject to the
physical laws of the universe. Some find it convenient to believe that there
are natural laws that should guide our behavior.
The Church suggests that our ability to reason
is our greatest gift. We should govern ourselves in a manner as close to
nature as possible. We will never be perfect, so all of life should be about
the journey, not the destination. We do not have a solid understanding of
our Creator, now will we ever know all there is to know about the
unknowable, but the Church suggests that we are acting morally when we live
as we were designed to live. We are animals of the highest order, very intelligent and reasoning
animals, but animals nonetheless. We are social animals who choose to live
together for our mutual benefit and protection. Most of us naturally develop
a sense of right and wrong, but most of us will give in to temptation and
commit some wrong acts from time to time. Some of us, by nature, are more
aggressive than others. And some have very poorly developed senses of
right and wrong.
Some of the oldest and best advice about life in Western culture comes from ancient
Greek philosophy. Most modern concepts have their roots in old wisdom. The
Serenity Prayer could have been written by the Stoics: "Grant me the
serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the
things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Stoics disciplined
themselves to live their lives that way and didn't ask God to grant them
these things. Deists and other freethinkers would not expect God to intercede on their behalf
and grant them anything. We
believe that God helps those who help themselves. Nature operates according
to laws and principles that will not be altered on any single individual's
behalf. But a prayer of affirmation like the Serenity Prayer can be a part
of every Deist when we understand that we are saying that these are
affirmative and worthwhile things that I must strive for in my life.
It is reasonable to believe that we must distinguish apparent good from actual good, and we must
use our reason to think beyond immediate need or gratification and take the
long view most of the time. The better we become at seeing the long view,
the more we can say we have achieved wisdom and are likely to do good.
Memorizing long lists of rules seems like the least appealing way for a
Freethinker to distinguish right from wrong.
Rather than memorize rules, it seems better to learn how be
virtuous so we can think ahead to consider the consequences of our
actions. We must not only seize the moment and act when action is called
for, we should also become wise enough to accept what we cannot change. Trying to change things beyond our control
brings great frustration. It is a waste of energy to expend our strength, our time
and precious other resources to no avail.
Discovering what you will adopt as part of your own is a
matter of critically examining several ethical theories and deciding through reasoning which
ideas and principles you will adopt as your own. For example, by applying reason to principles that are postulated as
laws of nature, we can form our own individual priorities for moral behavior and make
our own decisions on how we want to live our lives. Although they
would never be the same, the personal codes of two
reasonable people would likely resemble one another in most of the important
respects. And a discussion of ethical differences would provide a lively
discussion for two Freethinkers to have.
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