Religions and Others

Religions and others.

In general, all religions have their own doctrine about who we are, where do we come from and where are we going. This "where are we going" would be the transcendent objective or Ultimate Purpose of men, of each man. And they also tend to be creators of ethics, norms and commandments, which say what to do and omit to achieve the Ultimate End or Supreme Good.

But it happens that all or almost all the norms of all or almost all religions are, at the same time, norms that favor the attainment of natural partial objectives. And that they coincide with the norms and commandments of the ethics of non-believers. Moreover, religions have generally been the creators or reinforcers of the moral norms that have ruled, and still govern, the individual and group "material" behaviors.

According to its believers, these ethics or moral norms of the different religions may have been dictated, revealed or inspired, by God, the gods, or their equivalents, of the different religions and "wisdoms". But in any case, they reflect attempts by different human groups to specify goals and methods that serve as objectives and norms for individual life and group coexistence. And religions have been one of the most important elements, or the most important, to facilitate the governability of human groups and their cohesion, both inter-group, and in the coexistence and relationship between different groups and groups. And they have also been the cause or pretext of doctrinal and physical struggles and disagreements.

They are very important for our ideas, the antecedents existing on them in the different religions. Obviously I know better those of the Book than the most oriental ones or those of primitive tribes.

The Genesis and the Gospels

I have said somewhere that if my ideas are true as I believe, the Bible is the first science book to published them. Although nobody, as far as I know, has made them explicit in operational language. And they are very clear. I copy because it is very short:

Gen.I.22: God created fish and birds. And he blessed them saying: "Grow and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea and multiply the birds on the earth "

Gen. I, 27-28: "God created man in his image: male and female he created them. And they God blessed them and said to them, "Grow and multiply and fill the earth."

The vital imperative to animals can not be clearer, according to its species, and to Man. He gave them all a single and priority mandate: May they live and reproduce until they fill the earth. That they survive in time: May they survive.

With the incidents of original sin, the instructions to Adam and Eve to survive are not very clear, but it does seem to charge them to take care of the created. And he creates the family and with that the Man will be a social being. A being that to coexist should get along. Noah and family repeat the mandate to grow and multiply (Gen. IX, 1). As for how to behave, it seems that throughout the period of the Old Testament Yahweh-God has to be very aware. And directly, with commandments and recommendations, or through angels, sages and prophets, educate men about the sins to be avoided and the virtues to exercise.

Until Jesus, keeping "the Law and the prophets", recasts all the virtues for coexistence in the priority commandment of love. Which is also the best and most effective method to survive individually and in groups. And Jesus reminds them that the important thing is the neighbors, the others. That all men are brothers, and that each one of us has the obligation to love all the others. He converts Plato's Ideal State into real Humanity. Of equal men. Saint Paul points out that, for Jesus, there are no longer Jews or Greeks. And that the slaves, even if they are slaves and servants, are also brothers. And St. Augustine says: Love and do what you want. This is our second idea: the broad altruism.

From the above, the universal ethical principle is deduced: It's good / better what, done with love, is good for humanity to grow and multiply and fill the earth". It is left to the care of Man (with a capital letter) to decide when the Earth is full and how to treat it and its creatures. So that all, or the most possible, grow and multiply too. And for that, the happier they all live, the better. Says biologists, the ethologists and Darwin. And men of good will.

After this, the only justification that occurs to me so that the theologians, and the believers in general, have not seen the basic ideas, is that both are thinking only of the heavenly life. However, both Yahweh-God and Jesus have made clear the priority mandate for this material life: it's about surviving by loving. And what is done, and how it is done, is valid for the two lives.

Marbella, 2.9.2018. Revised on 5.10.18

Document of the International Theological Commission

2008

In December 2008, the International Theological Commission approved the document: "In search of a universal ethics: a new way of seeing the natural law"(Trigo, 2010). This work had been commissioned in 2004, with the consent of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger then president of the Commission.

This important document collects almost everything that exists about a universal ethics: the convergences of wisdom and world religions, moral values, the theoretical foundations of natural law and their possible applications. And according to the introduction Monsignor Ladaria, then Secretary and now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:"...at a time when it seems that relativism is law, that is illusory to speak of universally valid truths, the question arises of whether men can not come to formulate norms for the right to work that can be recognized by all". 

The Document concludes that this base is the natural law or moral law inscribed in the hearts of men. It says in point 69 that: "The concept of natural law assumes the idea that Nature is, for man, the bearer of an ethical message, and constitutes an implicit moral norm that human reason establishes in act. "

In summary, the document makes clear the existence of a natural law common to all men. He says that he is not ecstatic in his expression and that Christianity does not have a monopoly on its interpretation. And he offers his contribution to the search for a universal ethics.

But despite the urgency and the importance given to this work, the document did not have the expected impact. Possibly one of the causes of this low impact is that the Commission did not find or propose a universal ethics. I think he did not even look for it. They were looking for a base to talk about common virtues. Not about the natural aim or objective of Man. However, they had the basic idea in their hand and even almost made it explicit without realizing it. Then we see it.

For my part, since 2000 when I wrote the initial note, until 2013, I had not dared to spread the basic idea. One of the causes of this fear was the doubts about whether my hypotheses would contain serious errors in relation to the scientific theories in force and with the doctrines of the Church. And about the convenience of spreading them even if they were true. The reading of the Document, and of the Introduction of Mons. Ladaria, decided me to publish my first book.

As I say, the Document almost contains the basic idea explicitly. It is in the section dedicated to "The discovery of precepts of natural law. "  And it is supported by St. Thomas (Summa, q.94, a.2). Copy point 46 of the document:

 "Three traditional groups of dynamisms that act on the human person are traditionally distinguished. The first, is shared with all beings, essentially comprises the inclination to preserve and develop one's existence. The second, common to all living beings, includes the inclination to reproduce to perpetuate the species. The third, which is his own as a rational being, involves the inclination to know the truth about God and to live in society "

 And the Commission dedicates the following section 2.4. titled "The precepts of the natural law" To develop the above. Summary:

  1. "We have identified in the human person, a first inclination, which he shares with all beings: the inclination to preserve and develop one's existence" And from here he develops the activity of men to preserve their own life.

Note. He says to finish an interesting idea: "... to the duty to preserve one's own life corresponds the correlative right to demand what is necessary for its conservation in a favorable environment". I comment on this idea later. 

49.- "The second inclination that is common to all living beings, refers to the survival of the species" This is the basic idea 

The Commission does not see the singularity of this "inclination" and dilutes it among the other inclinations. Although on the other hand it justifies and magnifies it in two ways:

"If the perpetuity of biological existence is impossible for the individual, it is possible for the species, and in this way, to some extent, the limit inherent in each physical being is exceeded." And he continues:

"The good of the species appears as one of the fundamental aspirations present in people". And adds:

"We have become aware of this in a particular way in our time, when certain perspectives such as global warming rekindle our sense of responsibility towards the planet as such and against the human species in particular." 

As for the third set of inclinations (to know the truth about God and to live in society) says in point 50 that. "...it is specific to the human being as a spiritual being-endowed with reason. "   And he says in 51 that: "To these specific tendencies of man corresponds the demand, warned by reason, to concretely realize this life of relationship, and to build society's life on just foundations that correspond to natural law ".

And he dedicates the rest of the epigraph to the dignity of men, to the ethic of reciprocity: " Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you"And the moral values that facilitate coexistence in society. And that are immutable and universal and, therefore, can serve to: "... base a dialogue in view of a universal ethics " 

I believe that what the Document of the International Theological Commission says is true, useful and well intentioned. I summarize it in two paragraphs, if I understood it:

  1. Exists in every man a natural law - genetic programming, epigenetics or whatever - with the rules of behavior to be followed as a living being and member of a social species.
  2. These implicit natural norms, more or less known and explicitly knowable, move or impel him to have the best possible behavior for survival and well-being, both his own and his neighbors. And they are the origin of social virtues.

Additional note. Each man follows and can follow these rules in an automatic, instinctive and reasoned way according to the objectives to be achieved, the different vital tasks to be carried out and the different degrees of freedom that he has for each one of them.

In summary, it seems clear that our ideas, both basic and broad altruism, are explicit but not highlighted in the Commission Document. And in what was said by St. Thomas on the natural law and by St. Augustine on love.

I think that if the Commission did not "see" the basic idea, it is because it was not looking for it. Perhaps because of its obviousness and because of the Aristotelian bias of seeing man as an individual-person, rather than as a member of the species Homo sapiens species. And to see it in addition in its spiritual and moral level more than in the material or physical one.

One of the possible causes of not seeing the basic idea is that in number 45 it says: "In its search of the moral good, the human person ... ". That is to say that the dynamisms of number 46 are for moral or spiritual good, which is true, but it seems that, for the Commission, they contribute little to the physical or material survival. Or if they contribute something is not to take it into account. It is the usual in philosophers and theologians.

As I expand later, I am convinced that the Catholic Church will be happy to assume and preach the basic ideas when she knows them: the universal ethical principle coincides with her recommendations. And it serves as a basis for dialogue with believers and non-believers about common ethical standards. Moral norms that according to the document following Santo Tomás (53), must agree "with the contingent realities that develop over time" And with the basic idea as a foundation, can be agreed and made common without anyone having to renounce their beliefs: transcendent or otherwise.

Marbella, 4.9.2018. Reviewed on 8.10.2018

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