Can People Do the Right Things Out of Compassion and Not Because of a Moral Law?

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I have a question about moral law. Everyone knows what pain feels like and everyone knows what sorrow feels like, etc., so isn’t it possible for humans to not want to cause others to feel these things because they know how it feels to themselves and not necessarily because of a moral law?

Thanks for your note. You asked a good question.

I think your reasoning would work with someone who has a tender conscience and doesn’t want others to hurt. But we all know there are people who don’t care whether others hurt. So while the motivation to not want to hurt others could prevent you and like-minded people from doing others harm, others who don’t have that motivation will have no constraints. And, I have to add, if the typically tender-hearted person has a day when he or she doesn’t care, what will be his/her motivation to do good? If someone responds that it doesn’t matter what a person feels like, that it’s good to not make others suffer, then we’re back with a moral law again.

A fixed moral law, grounded in the nature and will of God, taught in Scripture, and reflected in His universe, provides an objective standard against which we can measure our actions, regardless of our personal motivations.

Thanks again for writing. Write again with other questions, if you like. Or if you think my answer isn’t correct, write back and we’ll talk about it!

Rick Wade

© 2007 Probe Ministries

Rick Wade

Rick Wade served as a Probe research associate for 17 years. He holds a B.A. in communications (radio broadcasting) from Moody Bible Institute, an M.A. in Christian Thought (theology/philosophy of religion) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Master of Humanities (emphasis in philosophy) from the University of Dallas. Rick's interests focus on apologetics, Christianity and culture, and the changing currents in Western thought. Before joining Probe Ministries, Rick worked in the ship repair industry in Norfolk, VA. He can be reached at rwade@pobox.com.

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