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The Golden Rule.

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on April 12, 2001 19:13:38 UTC


You wrote:

> I'm not aware that science has confirmed the
> truth of the "golden rule".

Right. What I mean is that if modern ethical philosophers, without using theological arguments, grant the value of a thing like the golden rule may be adequate reason to retain it. This is an old idea that has stood the test of time. Whether it passes the test of religious orthodoxy is irrelevant to me. Other religious ideas should be doubted if there is no modern religiously-independent justification, that require a religious defense, such as animal sacrifices, tithing, or prayer to win God's favor.

By the way, philosophical musings about the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) helped to convince me that my reasoning skills were more important to determining truth than someone else's statements about reality. Based on other people's statements and my own early musings, I concluded that the Golden Rule was universally applicable. When I rethought this, I realized that they and I were wrong. The Golden Rule seems to apply only to equals.

The mother loves the child hoping the child will love her back? True, but most mothers are satisfied most of the time to just see the child benefit from her care. What she gives her child is not what she would want the child to give her. She doesn't want to be nursed or picked up by the baby.

Consider one of the examples I thought of when discovering the limits of the Golden Rule. I sometimes teach ballroom dancing. At a dance I attended I noticed a couple trying to dance. She was having trouble following his lead. His rhythm and hers were very different. I could see they were not having as much fun as they could. Later, when they were standing, perhaps tired of fighting each other's rhythm, I offered to teach her to dance. She was willing and he allowed it. During the next song, I taught her the rhythm I saw him doing. With that brief lesson she was able to go back and follow him much easier. I thought they had a lot more fun.

The Golden Rule suggests that I should do what I would want them to do for me. Did I want them to teach me dance? If they knew something, that would be nice, but I didn't expect it. If they improved and had fun, I was amply rewarded. I did NOT want them to do for me what I had done for them.

Realizing the Golden Rule was not the universal principle I had been led to believe caused me to wonder if other ideas I had been taught were wrong. Another thing I looked at because of a recent article in the newspaper about it had to do with the Mormon Church's attitude about gays. I came to conclude that the Church was wrong there. Where else might they be wrong?

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