UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Reflection 22 (p13 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.

Why should we be good? The answer, from a Secular standpoint, is: Because goodness, in itself, is the basis of all true happiness; it is the progenitor of peace, order, and progress. To be good is a duty we owe to society as well as to ourselves. In virtue alone are to be found those elements that ennoble character and exalt a nation. The unselfish love of goodness, and the desire to acquire a practical knowledge of the obligations of life, have hitherto been too much confined to the few, while the many have neglected to strive to realize the highest advantages of existence. The cause of this misfortune is not difficult to discover. It is apparent in the radical evil underlying the whole of the theological creeds of Christendom -- namely, an objection to concentrate attention on the present life, apart from considerations of any existence "hereafter." The mistake in the theological world is that its members regulate their conduct and control their actions almost exclusively by the records of the past or the conjectures of a future. Their rules of morality, their systems of theology, and their modes of thought are too much a reflex of an imperfect antiquity. Those who cannot derive sufficient inspiration from this source fly into the fancied boundaries of another world -- a world which is enveloped in obscurity, and upon which experience can throw no light. History has been subverted by this theological error from its proper purpose. Instead of being the interpreter of ages, it has become the dictator of nations; instead of being a guide to the future, it is really the master of the present. The proceedings of bygone times are thus made the standard of appeal in these. The wisdom of the first century is regarded as the infallible rule of the nineteenth. The watchword of the Church is "As you were," rather than "As you are." Christian theology hesitates to recognize active progressive principles, but holds that faith was stereotyped eighteen hundred years ago and that all subsequent actions and duties must be shaped in its mold. Secularism prefers the healthy and progressive sentiments thus expressed by J.R. Lowell: --

New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.

(Next page)