Paganism at One with Science
For Deiwists, the descriptive ethics of the world is a pragmatic ethics, a kind of ethical evolution characterized by Theodore Parker and Martin Luther King Jr. as the arc of the moral universe — long, but it bends toward justice. Through such ethics, humanity has been struggling since the advent of civilization several thousand years ago to advance and rediscover the moral wisdom of our earlier, persistent, natural state. The meta-ethics of Deiwism, an exploration of how its ethical judgments can be supported and defended, in turn may be described as democratic ethics (or popular ethics), wherein the morality of a particular course of action (or inaction) is ultimately determined and justified by the collective judgment of those affected by that action (or inaction). Notice that the emphasis is on behavior rather than on belief. No one should ever be judged for that which she or he believes or does not believe, but rather for that which she or he does or does not do. Democratic ethics is superficially relative and yet fundamentally universal. In this way, it recognizes the existence of innate natural law, even as it acknowledges the potential legitimacy of local, human-made, positive law. Within any human domain (whether ethics, language, culture in general, psychology, or even physiology or anatomy), superficial differences exist among individual humans who are nevertheless fundamentally the same in their humanity. In terms of prescriptive ethics and natural law, our common humanity allows Deiwism to justify adopting the fundamental moral principle of universality, more commonly known as the Golden Rule.
The central imperative of every major spiritual tradition in the world is love — love not as a mere feeling, but as divine action. Within the Christian tradition, the prophet Jesus sacrificed his life for disobediently preaching radical love:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful....”
The teachings of Jesus and those of other mystics reflect the profound realization that our apparent separateness is illusory, that I and the other are one. If the prophet seems here to advocate treating ourselves with less consideration than we treat others, perhaps he is allowing for selection bias. Or, as Linus Pauling once put it, “‘Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.’... The twenty-five percent is for error.”
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