Is there really no such thing as “right” and “wrong”?
(Editor’s note: This series of articles has moved from the top of page headline position to this space, providing this important dialogue its own unique location as the headline position is used for topical stories in the news.)
Has humanity lost True North on its moral compass?
The whole idea of “wrong doing” is part of humanity’s cosmology of life. We really do think that there is such a thing as Right and Wrong. After all, God has told us so. Our religions have told us so. Our parents have told us so. Our culture has told us so. Our societies around the world have made it clear that some things are Right and some things are Wrong.
Yet now here comes a new theology arising out of the Conversations with God series of books which tells us, in one of its most provocative statements, that “there is no such thing as Right and Wrong.” And the Mind begs to know, how can this be true? Are we to simply abandon all of the understandings that all of humanity holds all of the time?
No, my own Mind said, when I first heard this: Surely Right and Wrong must exist at some level. Surely there must be some guidepost, some yardstick, some standard or criterion with which we can measure or determine whether particular choices and behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate, are good or bad, are best taken or best ignored.
A remarkable post here a while ago from a reader named Carol Bass has ignited this series of articles about the state of humanity’s spirituality today.
In this series, I am attempting to respond directly to what Carol had to say in a striking entry that, to me, seemed to perfectly frame the way so many people are holding their reality today. I believe that Carol’s comments deserve serious and complete responses. So Carol, here we go again…as we continue to look deeply at the observations you offered.
In my last entry here in reply to you, I quoted your comment that…
“It seems that so many have turned their back on what is right and what is wrong. The ten commandments according to the bible have become just another thing to cast off as just someone’s religious beliefs but not necessarily truth.”
The human race seems to agree, Carol. People have stuck to their guns about this—and I mean that quite literally—for many, many years. We are absolutely certain that there is such a thing as Right and Wrong, and we are absolutely sure that we are right about that.
The difficulty and the problem has been that our ideas of Right and Wrong change from time to time, from place to place, and from culture to culture. The result: what one person or culture says is Right, another person or culture says is Wrong. And this is the source of more than a small or trivial amount of the conflict and violence, killing and war that we have seen on the planet—much of it, ironically, in God’s name.
This article is Part V of an ongoing series:
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR TOMORROW
Not only can we not seem to be able to agree on what is Right and Wrong, we can’t even agree to disagree about this. We don’t seem capable of observing our differences and calling them simply that. We apparently feel the need to make each other wrong for holding views different from ours.
We can’t even agree to openly explore the topics on which our beliefs diverge, with all possibilities on the table, with compromises at least considered. No, there can be no compromises when we are right. One does not compromise one’s principles, one does not bargain with the devil—and we have already demonized each other, not just each other’s views, so there you have it. We are left with our disagreements and our absolute inability to overcome them.
Worse yet, we are left with our righteousness about them. We imagine we are so right about what is Right and Wrong that we are willing to belittle others, to criticize others, to persecute others, to judge and punish others, to attack others and even to kill others—all of which we would consider Wrong if others did it to us. The interesting thing about Right is that it is always on our side.
The problem here, of course, is with the model of the world. CWG famously made the statement that “no one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.” It is this model that tells us that things are morally right and morally wrong—and, billions believe, that it is God who has said so. If God says that something is Right or Wrong, who are we to contradict that, or even to question it?
So our model of the world leaves no room for discussion, no room for debate, no room for exploration of any possibility other than what we have been told and commanded by the God of our understanding.
There would be no problem with this if we could be certain that our understanding of what God has said is Right and Wrong is “right.” But what if it’s “wrong”? Or, at least, incomplete?
Even casual observation informs us, Carol, that,with regard to What God Said about what’s Right and what’s Wrong, we can’t get things straight on this planet from one culture to the next, or even from one moment in history to the next. What, then, to do? How to resolve this problem?
The answer is to build a new model of the world, based on a new understanding, brought to us by Tomorrow’s God. And that new understanding is that there is no such thing as Right and Wrong, there is only What Works and What Does Not Work, given what it is we are trying to do.
Dare we? Dare we use this New Model as a universal device for determining our actions, for making our choices, for taking particular decisions?
I want to explore more of what Carol Bass had to say in her post, and will do so in our next entry here, as The Carol Bass Dialogue continues…
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Much of the commentary in the column above comes from What God Said, the latest book from Neale Donald Walsch, to be published by Penguin Putnam in October.)