My responses in bold.
On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 3:03 PM, PS
Questions I Believe Need Answers
1. Does man need someone or something greater than self to revere?
"Need" in what capacity? For happiness or fulfillment? To drive towards greater good? I don't know whether or not some manner of reverence is absolutely necessary to achieve these ideals -- there are a number of people I know and love who seem to have found contentment and happiness and who derive their primary satisfaction from making their own little corners of the world a gentler, kinder, more understanding and all-inclusive place to live without adhering to a particular ideology or claiming a relationship with something/someone greater. Perhaps theirs is a reverence of humankind rather than self, but I don't believe they would describe it as such.
2. Are there moral truths (i.e. right / wrong) that transcend the ideas of man?
Certainly. Unfortunately, being human and only having access to the ideas of man, I can only take my best stab at what these moral truths are and even then, my best stab is heavily colored by my own experiences. So -- here comes the relativism you were waiting for -- I don't feel comfortable suggesting that what I view as moral truths to be THE moral truths. Certainly, I try to live my life within the boundaries of what I perceive to be right and wrong, but I know through personal experience that those boundaries may shift given enough evidence to the contrary. I believe that it is right to be kind to those around me, to practice patience and tolerance and to try to find common ground. I believe it is wrong to dismiss perspectives that differ from mine, especially if I haven't had the chance to walk the proverbial mile in the shoes of those I disagree with. Beyond that, I believe that life is much too short to get caught up in a game of who's right and who's wrong. I believe that individuals will find their peace individually, that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all truth.
3. Is there any circumstance under which it is morally acceptable to
take a human life?
I believe that we should always "use our words" first. I believe that we need to "put on our listening ears" when we use our words. I believe that we have "two ears and one mouth" so that we can listen twice as hard as we talk. I believe that when we have exhausted all non-violent options, it is morally acceptable to take a human life in defense of ourselves or in defense of those who are unable to defend themselves. However, I also believe that we must think at least twice before declaring ourselves defenders of those who do not wish to be defended. Suggesting that our views/perspectives/moral truths are enough so that others will "thank me in the end" is dangerously close to arrogance.
4. Is human life different in any respect from animal life?
If yes, what makes it different?
If not, why is it ok to slaughter animals for food? Isn’t that akin
I don't view this as a universal truth. I think that each person has the right to his/her own perception based on his/her own experiences. I also don't view cannibalism as an absolute evil. See # 3 re: relativism.
5. Are plants ‘alive’ in the same sense as animals?
If not, what makes it different?
If so, why is it ok to eat vegetables?
See # 4. Also # 2 re: life is much too short... If , at the end of each day, I can look back and say that I have done the best that I could with what I was given that day, I can sleep contentedly. If I wake up the next day and have come to the blinding conclusion that eating turnips is murder, well, then I hope I will change my eating habits accordingly.
I’d really value your ruminations on these questions, not to engage in
dispute or argument, but to promote thought, and to enhance my own
understanding. I’m sure there are other questions that need answers,
and I welcome yours. I promise to give thoughtful answers, but
reserve the right to engage in puns when appropriate. I will also
give my best shot at the above, if you want, but I wouldn’t need to
ask, if I knew THE answers.
And I would love to hear what YOU have to say...