Ethics – Determining Right And Wrong
by Terry Broome
While I was a student at Oklahoma Christian College, Dean Howard Horton taught a Freshmen seminar class which helped me get a perspective that college was going to be different than anything I had experienced. In my first month of school, he walked into class and asked the penetrating question: “What or Who are you?” He quoted Plato as saying that man is animate, vegetative, and rational.
I know that sometimes we act like animals, and that we have certain animate instincts such as hunger, thirst, sexual drives, but animals have no morals. I’ve always resented being classified among the animal kingdom for that reason. If one insists on calling us animals, then be it known that man has a value system which certainly puts him at the top of the animal kingdom. Man is a thinking, rational animal. I’m still not sure why Plato thought of man as being vegetative other than I do know a lot of people who plant themselves and never grow, while others do grow and become something greater, and benefit those around them with fruit, etc.
The interesting thing is that Plato never mentioned man’s fourth dimension. He had no concept of man possessing the Spiritual quality because he knew no living God. This spiritual dimension doesn’t deny the others, but takes into account that we are made for purposes beyond the physical. Man is made after the image of God.
Constantine wrote: “You have made us for yourself. Our restless hearts can find no rest til they rest in thee.” The Psalmist David declared: (Psa 42:1) “As the hart (deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”
There is indeed a part of man’s nature that will not be denied. It must be taken into consideration when studying his value system. It is crucial that this dimension be heard when defining for man what is right or wrong behavior. A study of ethics must take into account all of the nature of man, both physical and spiritual. Much of the controversy comes from the denial of the latter.
Evolution maintains that man is a product of a purposeless system that did not have him in mind at the beginning. The Bible is seen as a humanly produced work of man’s attempt to create God. God is seen as a creation of man’s mind instead of man’s mind, body and spirit being creations of a divine act. The Bible claims for God that He is Eternal Spirit; the Moral Governor of the Universe who sets the boundaries and determines the rightness and wrongness of a behavior.
There are two kinds of wisdom– two opposing schools of thought. In short, they are spiritual thoughts versus carnal thoughts, and are illustrated in these passages: James 3:13-18 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489.