Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moral Order

Looking back, then, on the thought of the ancients, we see that the sages of various lands, in far-past ages, unite in the emphatic assertion of a Moral Order as the thing of supreme moment for the faith and life of man. This message, handed on from antiquity, the wisest of our own time earnestly re-affirm, saying to their contemporaries in effect: ‘Believe this and thou shalt live.’ The consensus gentium firmly supports this cardinal article in the religious creed of mankind.

The consensus in favour of a moral order is the more remarkable that it is associated with the most discrepant theological positions, having for their respective watchwords: no god (in the true sense of the word) as in Buddhism, two gods as in Zoroastrianism, many gods as in the religion of the Greeks, one God as in the religion of the Hebrews. In view of this theological diversity, the common faith in an eternal august moral order may be regarded as the fundamental certainty, the vital element in the religion of humanity.

The root of this basal faith is an intense moral consciousness. Men believe in a moral order in the cosmos, because they have found a commanding moral order in their own souls.

Alexander Bruce, The Moral Order of the World, Lecture XII. As with any comparative analysis of this sort, one has to remember that the points made are at a very high level of abstraction; but Bruce's two works make for very interesting reading.

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