I recently encountered a question on Quora where someone wanted me to defend various aspects of Leviticus from a moral perspective. Of course, this is not the question which I set out to answer, it was originally a question about God's existence and quickly transitioned to a debate about morality. In my experience thus far, this seems to be the usual. Conversations that start out as a debate about God's existence move away from proving God and into a position where we are expected to defend God. Fortunately for me, God does not need me to defend Him. The situation, however, caused me to step back and evaluate the real question at hand. Can we find objective reasons to disagree with God's moral actions or decisions?
If God is able to use our actions to produce a desired outcome, do we really have free will? If mankind is unable to resist sin, do we have free will? Does the existence of an all-knowing God imply that we have no free will? This group of questions came to me after finishing the story of Joseph at the end of the book of Genesis and I think they are an appropriate set of questions given Joseph's statement to his brothers at the end of the story.
As we reach the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, we will most likely find ourselves questioning the morality of God. We have already had a flood, and now we have two cities that will be destroyed by sulfur raining from the sky. So let’s take a moment to highlight some important elements of the Sodom and Gomorrah story.
What if we could create living beings that are programmable, self-healing, and organic? Would we do it? What would we program them to do? Perform medical procedures and deliver medications? Examine and sterilize food sources? We may just find the answer to that sooner than we think. A team of scientists at the University of Vermont have already created these creatures using stem cells from frogs. What I would like to explore today is whether or not this technology, despite its potential positive applications, is ethical. To put it more plainly, is it ethical to create living beings and deny them free will?
As American citizens, and in many other countries, we are told that we are free. In fact, we have laws that guarantee our freedoms. At the very same time, we are told what we can and cannot do. We are told what we can and cannot eat or drink. We are told what we are allowed to buy or sell. Are we truly free? Please consider the following thought experiment from Robert Nozick.
You are the accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All that awaits you is death. Anything that exists does so merely by chance and exists purely without reason, meaning, or cause. This is based on the idea that a perfectly balanced universe has existed in perpetuity for all eternity without cause. This is not far from a religious belief that a perfectly balanced being (God) has existed in perpetuity for all eternity without cause.