Posts Tagged ‘behavioral chaos’

Why Spiritually Based Moral Codes Work Better Than Secular Ones, Revisited

January 24, 2012

Why Spiritually Based Moral Codes Work Better Than Secular Ones: Revisited

The painful and damaging outcomes for both non-believing individuals and non-believing sociocultures that engage in immoral behavior (and enjoy the more powerful immediate environmental reinforcers) are often so delayed that the individuals and socioculures are unaware of them. This makes the exercise of what we commonly call “self-control” impossible. Over time the accruing delayed negative results can become calamitous. Sadly, for individuals and cultures, the accruing tragic delayed consequences are undetected until it is too late to avoid or escape them.

If you watch the behaviors of individuals and our government in America, you should be able to see many examples of what I am discussing.

Without the God (the“Eye In The Sky”) and His whopping spiritual consequences for individuals, it will be very difficult to teach them, or the governments and sociocultures they comprise, to give-up personal pleasures so that the world will remain unpolluted, animal creatures will survive, or that future children will inherit healthy environmental and economic conditions.   Without God and His Moral Code, it will be very difficult (perhaps impossible) to teach masses of humans to sacrifice their own immediate conveniences and pleasures so their contemporaries, and future generations, can have better lives.

This is not to say that science, if it will only do its work in the field of moral behavior, cannot identify important principles to support or supplement historically successful religiously based values for human morality.  But for the present, there appears to be no way out of this moral dilemma:

Either a socioculture is to some extent built upon commonly accepted, religiously based precepts, or is likely to fail under the weight of its own behavioral chaos; much as America and the West doing is now.


V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   1/24/12

Religion Accomplishes What Reason Cannot

January 2, 2011

Religion Accomplishes What Reason Cannot

Having again emersed myself in the philosophy of morality and ethics, I again endure the fog of semantical moras, the negation of all negations—the immorality of all moralities. My years as an academician have equipped me with a perverse enjoyment of a few battles of ideas that cannot be won. With regard to the philosophy of morality and ethics, I return again and again to find “the winner”, but the unquestioned victor never emerges.

What does emerge for me is the imperative of some practical guidelines that, under normal corcomstances, should not be questioned.

The following is taken from Robert H. Bork’s extraordinary book (p.278), Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.

For me, Robert Bork has untied the Gordian Knot. In more colloquial terms: he has “cut the crap”. Please see what you think.

The following are Robert Bork’s words.

Today’s Religious conservatives take Christianity and Judaism seriously, but that does not place them outside a very long moral tradition. C. S. Lewis: ‘The number of actions about whose ethical quality a Stoic, an Aristotelian, a Thomist, a Kantian, and a Utilitarian would agree is , after all very large.  And again: ‘A Christian who understands his own religion laughs when unbelievers expect to trouble him by the assertion that Jesus uttered no command which had not been anticipated by the Rabbis—few, indeed, which cannot be paralleled in classical, ancient Egyptian, Ninevite, Babylonian, or Chinese texts. We have long recognized that truth with rejoicing. Our faith is not pinned on a crank.’

Bork goes on to say:

Only religion can accomplish for a modern society what tradition, reason, and empirical observation cannot. Christianity and Judaism provide the major premises of moral reasoning by revelation and by the stories in the Bible. There is not need to attempt the impossible task of reasoning your way to first principles. Those principles are accepted as given by God.

For most people, only revealed religion can supply the premises from which the prescriptions of morality can be deduced. Religion tells us what the end of man should be and that information supplies the premises for moral reasoning and hence a basis for moral conduct. Philosophers cannot agree on the proper end of man and hence cannot supply the necessary premises. Religion is by its nature authoritative and final as to first principles. It must be so or it would be valueless. Those principles are given on a stone tablet, either literally or figuratively, and so long as you believe the religion, there is simply no possibility to arguing with what is on the tablet.

 End of quotes.

In my view, there is no way out but this: Either a socioculture is built upon commonly accepted, religiously based precepts, or it will fall under the weight of its own behavioral chaos—much as America and the West is now.

Happy New Year.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.    1/2/11

Defining Good Vs. Bad Behavior

December 3, 2009

Defining Good  vs. Bad  Behavior

I am a psychologist and therefore I have deep respect for its most robust laws and principles: The Law of Effect is one such law.

I like to think of it this way: The Law of Effect is one of  God’s Truths discovered by science, but known by perceptive humans through all time.

The Law of Effect states that: Consequences Control Behavior.

The facts are that individuals, groups and sociocultures that do not abide by this law will suffer the consequences of increasingly chaotic behavior patterns. Much of this behavior will be bad because bad behavior normally requires less organization and planning, less patience, less effort, and leads to fast, or even instant,  gratification (rewards).  My general definitions for bad behavior is dumb, short-sighted, self-defeating, maladaptive, self-and-other destructive, damaging, irresponsible, mentally disturbed, criminal, selfish, addicted, murderous, or suicidal behavior, etc..

Defining and differentiating bad behavior and good behavior is not always a simple matter. Attempting to do so invites criticism, even social censure in this day and age. But we all do it. Its just that many of us have been intimidated, by modern political correctness and the prevailing philosophy of moral relativism, into keeping these judgements of good/bad or right/wrong to ourselves. By giving-in to these social pressures, we become incompetent at encouraging good behavior, in ourselves, our loved ones and others. This form of ethical incompetence is self-destructive for individuals, groups and sociocultures, which is the point of this discussion.

The growth of ethical ignorance and incompetence, and its predictable consequences, is exactly what is happening to America.

I have struggled with the problem of defining good behavior and bad behavior for many years. The best that I have been able to do is to blend several criteria as an aid to making such evaluations. Though this method is admittedly imperfect, in my judgement, it is far better than declaring that there are no rights/wrongs, or goods/bads, and embracing the behavioral chaos which naturally results from this perverted anti-ethical philosophy.

I define bad or undesirable behaviors as all behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as extreme anger, fear, and anxiety) that:

 A). Are prohibited by law. These criteria can change over time, but they are generally a helpful guide.

 B). Are represented as a Psychological Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV 4(DSM-IV). This is the diagnostic manual used by physicians and mental health professionals to determine who is suffering from significant mental problems.

 C).  Are listed in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10). This diagnostic manual is used world round to diagnose both physical diseases and mental disorders.

 D).  Are behaviors competitive or incompatible with the main features of a healthy human personality as identified by psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow

E).  Are proscribed by the benevolent religions of the world.

I define Good or desirable behaviors as those behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as good feelings, happiness and affection) that compete with, or are incompatible with, definitions A.  B. and C., and those that are consistent with D).,Roger’s and Maslow’s definitions of a healthy personality and E)., the behavior patterns recommended by the benevolent religions of the world.

Again, the general criteria stated above are only a general guide. You may wish to research each of the references mentioned in order form your own opinions.

I believe it is essential to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior in our private lives and as citizens of our American Republic.  There are many ways to do this through teaching, showing desirable role models, rewarding good behavior, and withholding rewards from bad behaviors. Much less frequently, in exceptional cases, it will be necessary to appropriately punish bad behaviors.

My study of the sciences of psychology/sociology/anthropology/economics, my experiences as a therapist, and my readings of the history of evolving and declining cultures, have taught me that:

Those who do not do recognize and use the law of effect , and other valuable psychological and social science principles, for the benefit of all, inevitably suffer the disastrous consequences of behavioral chaos.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

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