Choice –Part 9: Choice and the Moral Standard
Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit
The only thing in this humongous universe that has a will and independent thought are living creatures. Living creatures have the unique ability to make choices. In contrast, the rest of the universe has no ability to make choices. It moves exactly as God programmed it. It has no independent thought and cannot alter its course. It has no consciousness. The contrast between the two systems is undeniably obvious.
Although the universe’s beauty and magnitude brings God glory, it does not bring Him love and friendship. The universe can provide as much friendship as a pet rock. Love and affection can come only from a heart that is truly free to choose. God understood this when He created Adam and Eve. He made them different from the rest of the universe. These people had a free will that gave them the ability to make choices.
God has created a large variety of living creatures here on Earth. The minds of some of these creatures are very sophisticated while the minds of others are quite limited. All of these creatures were created with three governing qualities: Instinctive behavior, independent thought, and the ability to choose.
Instinctive behavior is the internal instinct that causes creatures to act certain ways. Pigs, for example, instinctively act differently from cats. Salmon instinctively swim hundreds of miles to spawn in their birth place. The remarkable engineering of the honeycomb is another example of instinctive behavior.
Independent thought, on the other hand, is the ability of a creature to evaluate his surroundings. For example, when a deer hears a sound and sees some movement, he evaluates the degree of threat he is facing. This independent thought we take for granted is unique compared to the vast majority of the universe.
Ability to choose: Once the evaluation has been made, the creature chooses to implement a response. Since this choice is made from a free will, it is not always predictable. This choice is not always logical or the most appropriate response to a situation. The creature’s emotions can influence its decisions. Biological imbalances (such as low blood sugars) can also influence the creature’s decisions.
Obviously, these governing qualities vary from species to species. Some have more independent thought than others. Some have stronger wills than others. As a result, some creatures are more "self-controlling" than others.
When God created mankind "in His image," He added three more qualities: An eternal soul, self-realization, and a moral conscience. Our eternal soul is the part of us that lives on after the death of our physical body. It is our true identity. This is the reason why the fuss over racial superiority is so ridiculous.
Self-realization is our ability to be aware of our existence. It’s the part of us that makes us wonder, "Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?" It causes us to search for answers. Just because a creature has independent thought does not mean he has a consciousness of his own existence. Obviously, no one can emphatically say, "Animal life does not have self-realization?" There is no way to substantially prove it one way or another. I once asked my dog if he had self-realization, but he was too busy watching Seinfeld to give me an answer.
Our moral conscience is the part of us that makes us aware of moral issues It lets us know if something is morally right or wrong. Animals don’t have a moral conscience. When animals evaluate a situation, they make decisions based on efficiency, safety, etc. They don’t make their decisions based on whether an action is morally right or wrong. This is the reason animals don’t "sin." This is the reason animals don’t "go to Hell."
Humans, on the other hand, have a moral conscience. We understand there are certain absolute truths. We understand there is a moral standard that sets certain boundaries. We inherently know there are repercussions for violating this moral standard. Humans know when they have sinned and understand they will be held accountable for these transgressions. This is the reason you’ll find religion in the remotest corners of the world.
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