CraigĖTaylor Debate:
Is the Basis for Morality Natural or Supernatural?

Closing Statement
Richard Taylor

I will be surprised if this will take five minutes. I wrote a book in which I deliberately tried to be provocative. The reason I did is: My method of teaching is Socratic. When Iím before a class, I goad them. I try to say things which I can defend, but which are somewhat outrageous in order to stir them to think. This is what I did in my book, Virtue Ethics. I did not do this with insincerity. I believe everything thatís in that book, but I nevertheless made it provocative. What the Reverend Mr. Craig has done is to go through and pick out in isolation the most provocative things and throw them at you and say, "Isnít this dreadful?" That was not the purpose of the book, to be simply a source of quotations that can be used to whatever purpose or hustle a reader may wish to use them. The last thing he said just now, the fundamental worth of a person lies in his love for Christ, or words to itóthat is not true. I have a fundamental worth, my children have a fundamental worth, my wife is precious [tape unintelligible]. That is not mentioned [tape unintelligible].

Iím going to change the subject now because we can just go around in circles. I can sit here and hear myself castigated by quotations taken out of context with no effort taken whatsoever to see what the philosophical basis of those things is. The arguments that lead up to these conclusions totally ignored, the statement plucked out of context and thrown at you, with the implication, "Isnít this a dreadful thing to say?" See what went before, and see whether there might be something in favor of saying that, then reject it if you reject what went before.

In the couple of minutes I have left, I want to say something about a man I greatly admired and loved who died a couple of years ago, and this was Joseph Fletcher, the author of Situation Ethics, a man who was much abused, as warm and good a man as I ever knew, an Episcopal clergyman. Situation Ethics drew immediate attention because people read the title and said, "Ah, situation ethics, that means values are not objective. Good and evil are not objective. Thatís all we need to know." Yes, he did say that. What was he saying? He got this expression from his work in hospitals, and whenever a problem arose in hospitalsóand this is where severe moral dilemmas ariseóthe people led to consider it would always ask this question. They say, "What is the patientís situation?" So it seemed clear to him that the rule of life is to love, to love your fellow human beings, and this love for your human beings can be expressed in different ways, depending on their situation. Weíre not always to be treated in the same way. The dead and the dying are not necessarily to be treated in the same way the healthy are to be treated. Their wishes are to be taken into account. In every single situation, ask, "What is the situation?" Then you can ask, "What would be an act of love in this situation?"

Now I say that because, as I stood here, I thought, "What more can I say? Weíre just going back and forth. Iím being quoted as saying things in a [tape unintelligible] because I donít think it fits me." So what shall I say? Well, Iíve taken this defense of Joseph Fletcherís point of view. The love of your human beings is, indeedóyou donít have to be told by God, you donít have to be told, "Love your God and love your neighbor." You know that it is desirable, right, moral, and good to love your neighbor, to love anybody who needs your love without anyone telling you so.

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