Man and Arbiter
| Thomas M. Doran | CWR
Human beings are notoriously fallible. Making even the wisest among us an arbiter of moral questions is risky business.
An arbiter, derived from the Latin for judge, is defined as “one chosen to judge or decide a disputed issue”; also, “one who has the power to judge at will”.
Many insist that an arbiter for morality and behavior is irrelevant today, that enlightened societies have progressed beyond judging morality and behavior, unless behavior breaks a law. Nonetheless, it is evident that human beings, though many will not admit it, need an arbiter. The fundamental question is who or what will this arbiter be?
Belief systems are at the heart of this question. Scientific materialists deny a Deity and anything transcendent, including objective Truth. Many believe in a “disengaged Supreme Being, or force”, including Deists, New Agers, and Buddhists; Star Wars is a modern depiction of such a “force”. There are those who believe in an “engaged Supreme Being”, including many traditional Jews and Muslims. Most Christians believe in a “Trinitarian Supreme Being in solidarity with man, even as man.”
Pantheists and dualists accept numerous deities, some opposing others. Syncretists adopt bits and pieces of more than one of these belief systems. Agnostics profess to be ambivalent on the matter of a Supreme Being, with most eventually drifting into the camp of the scientific materialists or the syncretists.
Many scientific materialists who are critical of “Deity as arbiter” fail to acknowledge, or recognize, that they themselves have need of an arbiter. To those who assert that they are post-morality, offer a view contrary to the avant-garde positions on homosexual activity and reproductive “rights” and see what happens.
Consider. Whether one makes this choice explicitly or implicitly, all rely on an arbiter for essential questions of justice, truth and falsehood, good and evil.