I am taking a Computer Ethics class at my university, and we’ve been talking a lot about varying philosophies. It’s actually pretty fascinating to read the philosophies. I see ethics as the gospel without prophets or Christ. It may sound like, “How in the world could there be the gospel without these central figures?”, but I’ve been learning that most people attempt/want to be good people. Sure, there are exceptions, but the laws are theoretically in place to deal with nefarious exceptions that are against the overall moral good.
Aristotle taught a lot of things that are extremely similar to our Church’s fundamentals, excepting that he was a bit of an elitist in addition to not including prophets or apostles or Christ. It may sound strange, but growing up with the concept of modern prophets, I didn’t know any different. I could easily see people outside the Church seeing prophets as a wacky concept, but that goes back to humility, faith in God and in His answers, and prayer.
The more I read and study regarding ethics, the happier that I am that there is a prophet, and that Christ lived and is God. That He is a Resurrected Being. Reading the philosophic arguments, it’s not exactly that they all don’t understand morality or goodness. There’s just no director. The scriptures are awesome, but they by themselves do not give authority for a person to enfranchise themselves as a pastor or teacher. Authority to act in God’s name can only be given from God to do so. Otherwise, there are a lot of well-meaning people who worship God the best that they know how, or live moral lives the best that they can do, but there is definitely something missing.
Something that I love about Joseph Smith, Jr. is that he was not looking to become a prophet. He didn’t ask for it, was not seeking for it, and he fulfilled his calling because of a love of God and love of fellow men. Imagining all of the complainers, all of the people who could easily try to micromanage his time, and similar things- apostasy is super easy when you think that you understand it all and don’t need further counsel and/or guidance (or direction.)
One of my heroes is Hyrum Smith. He was an older brother to Joseph, and yet he was humble and loyal. He was the Sam to Joseph’s Frodo.
The more that I read the philosophers, the more I see the holes. The arguments have blatant holes that need filling from the fullness of the gospel. When I was a missionary I taught the basis of prophets and apostles; it was simply normal stuff to me and I never really understood the “other side” from the point of view of the logic behind it.
Now that I’m learning it, I don’t see it all as bad or wrong. More like, they are doing their best, but they’re functioning in great degree without God, attempting to move in a very dim room without guidance. Kant was awesome until he met his Korihor (David H). Until someone showed Kant a path without relying on God, he had God in his sights. My other consideration was that Kant lived at a time when the gospel in greater fullness wasn’t yet on earth: 1724-1804. There was no one or nothing to authoritatively tell Kant, “Guess what? This is right. This part of what you believe is accurate. This part is confusion.” There was no guidance (prophets based on the true gospel of Jesus Christ) and obviously no missionaries.
For years I struggled with the concept of the Apostasy and why there needed to be a Restoration. The Restoration includes a lot of the best parts of the philosophic principles- agency, good will, the light of (they call it truth with a little “t”, we say Truth with a capital “T” denoting Christ), and from what I’ve been able to read in, Kant had more light and was about to learn further principles when his version of the devil stepped in. However, Kant didn’t have the guidance to know truth from error. I love that the gospel begs us to plead with God, whatever format that pleading is- though the simplest format is prayer (basics of prayer being in Preach My Gospel) in search of knowledge. We assume properly that God wants to speak to us.
Because I grew up with prayer, it is such a foreign concept that anyone would not want to pray to God, or that someone would think that they aren’t allowed to pray whenever they want to. It’s just bizarre that God would stop talking to people at the end of the book of Revelations (especially considering that the book of Revelations wasn’t chronologically the last book of the Bible- the translators compiled them largest to smallest, and the phrase about adding to or taking away from the Revelations ONLY refers to that particular book of section.) SO MANY THINGS that awe me because they are so plainly obvious but aren’t obvious to others.
Culture and gospel aren’t the same thing, but the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness really is novel. I kind of want to tell my teacher, “Guess what? There IS an answer for what happens after you die. There IS an answer for ultimate truth. There IS an answer for anything that you’re looking for in the scriptures and through prayer, church attendance, temple attendance, Priesthood blessings, or similar methods and modes.” Sometimes the gospel and receiving answers take more work than not. Occasionally things are as clear as broth or as easy to chew through as baby food. But, often, it takes a little more work and a little more patience to get answers. It’s the witness of the Holy Ghost that binds with the soul.
My ethics class is fun, perhaps entertaining. However, I see it like drinking 30% fruit juice when I grew up drinking 100%. The taste is different, and 100% tastes better. I prefer 100% over sugar water substitutes any day.
Best to all,