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Absolutism

“What can possibly be coming on this page?”

Don't worry, I'm not a postmodern nut who thinks everything is so relative there are no established standards and norms that matter. I believe that morals are relative in the way that the production of oil is non-static. It takes a very long time to convert carbon into hydrocarbon, and it takes a very long time for the basic morals of a civilization to shift. Forcing that shift is wrong, because it is inherently tyrannical. Forcing people to be something they're not, in order to conform to an arbitrary worldview that demands exclusive domain over the entire planet's populations, is tyrannical, because peoples - actual nations of people - are too innately different to be unified under any sort of absolute.

The other serious flaw with absolutism is that it is, ultimately, the black-and-white thinking that is the cornerstone target of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The world isn't black-and-white, no matter how badly we would like it to be. If it were, we could create a computer that could replicate the entire universe virtually, because everything would come down to a series of binary questions. That's not actually how reality works.

I like homicide as an example here, because it's so obvious. The Christian bible says that hating someone is morally equivalent to murdering them.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. - 1 John 3:11-15, NIV

In the United States, all homicide is not morally equivalent. All fifty states differentiate between premeditated murder - that is, someone who provably plans and carries out the murder of another person - and manslaughter or negligent homicide - that is, the death of someone else caused in the heat of passion or in a situation that was not intended to result in death.

Premeditated murder is also known as capital murder, and it's a serious offense. Many states still have and carry out the death penalty for capital murder. Other forms of homicide are generally viewed differently in the eyes of the law, with different sentencing guidelines and different legal definitions.

Why does that matter? Should it matter? Is it a deceptive manipulation of our laws to create such a distinction? I would argue that no, this is not sophistry. There is a meaningful difference between the preplanned murder of someone and the accidental murder of someone, even in the heat of passion. It doesn't mean the latter case should go unpunished, but it does mean that homicide is not all morally equivalent.

So does it really make sense to say that hating someone is morally equivalent to murdering them? I suppose one could argue that the author of this letter, whomever he actually was, was merely trying to instill a sense of grave intensity on his words, like a parent telling their child about Hansel and Gretel and the witch that tried to eat them, to teach them not to talk to strangers. But if that's the case, it calls into question the intent of the biblical text itself, which in turn does considerable damage to the absolute authority of the same.

Absolutism just doesn't work in the real world. Human free will is the wild card that makes absolutism impossible. We aren't predestined automatons, carrying out the script as it's already “known” by an all-powerful deity who transcends the space-time continuum. There's a reason it takes consistent reinforcement to ensure a binary worldview is maintained - it's not realistic, and the only way to ensure an unrealistic worldview becomes the prevailing one is to continually reinforce it in the minds of a population.

Modern progressive leftism is no different in this way. There is a strict orthodoxy that must be obeyed, and it's been very obvious what obedience failures look like - “cancel culture” and the international social media mob have ensured vigilante justice is carried out swiftly, frequently, and brutally. It's all toxic, because it all forces the human psyche into a binary position that requires taking sides on literally everything. Over time, everything becomes a question of morality, because existence is reduced to a black-and-white, evil-versus-good dichotomy.

This is part of why I take the position I do on Christianity and other forms of Abrahamism.