Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity.
(Ivan) Hold your tongue, or I'll kill you!(The devil) You'll kill me? No, excuse me, I will speak. I came to treat myself to that pleasure. Oh, I love the dreams of my ardent young friends, quivering with eagerness for life! 'There are new men,' you decided last spring, when you were meaning to come here, 'they propose to destroy everything and begin with cannibalism. Stupid fellows! they didn't ask my advice! I maintain that nothing need be destroyed, that we only need to destroy the idea of God in man, that's how we have to set to work. It's that, that we must begin with. Oh, blind race of men who have no understanding! As soon as men have all of them denied God -- and I believe that period, analogous with geological periods, will come to pass -- the old conception of the universe will fall of itself without cannibalism, and, what's more, the old morality, and everything will begin anew. Men will unite to take from life all it can give, but only for joy and happiness in the present world. Man will be lifted up with a spirit of divine Titanic pride and the man-god will appear. From hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, man will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven. Everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god. His pride will teach him that it's useless for him to repine at life's being a moment, and he will love his brother without need of reward. Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very consciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire, which now is dissipated in dreams of eternal love beyond the grave'... and so on and so on in the same style. Charming!Ivan sat with his eyes on the floor, and his hands pressed to his ears, but he began trembling all over. The voice continued.(The devil) The question now is, my young thinker reflected, is it possible that such a period will ever come? If it does, everything is determined and humanity is settled for ever. But as, owing to man's inveterate stupidity, this cannot come about for at least a thousand years, everyone who recognises the truth even now may legitimately order his life as he pleases, on the new principles. In that sense, 'all things are lawful' for him. What's more, even if this period never comes to pass, since there is anyway no God and no immortality, the new man may well become the man-god, even if he is the only one in the whole world, and promoted to his new position, he may lightheartedly overstep all the barriers of the old morality of the old slaveman, if necessary. There is no law for God. Where God stands, the place is holy. Where I stand will be at once the foremost place... 'all things are lawful' and that's the end of it! That's all very charming; but if you want to swindle why do you want a moral sanction for doing it? But that's our modern Russian all over. He can't bring himself to swindle without a moral sanction. He is so in love with truth-.
It's God that's worrying me. That's the only thing that's worrying me. What if He doesn't exist? What if Rakitin's right -that it's an idea made up by men? Then, if He doesn't exist, man is the king of the earth, of the universe. Magnificent! Only how is he going to be good without God? That's the question. I always come back to that. Who is man going to love then? To whom will he be thankful? To whom will he sing the hymn? Rakitin laughs. Rakitin says that one can love humanity instead of God. Well, only an idiot can maintain that. I can't understand it. Life's easy for Rakitin. 'You'd better think about the extension of civic rights, or of keeping down the price of meat. You will show your love for humanity more simply and directly by that, than by philosophy.' I answered him: 'Well, but you, without a God, are more likely to raise the price of meat if it suits you, and make a rouble on every penny.' He lost his temper. But after all, what is goodness? Answer that, Alyosha. Goodness is one thing with me and another with a Chinaman, so it's relative. Or isn't it? Is it not relative? A treacherous question! You won't laugh if I tell you it's kept me awake for two nights. I only wonder now how people can live and think nothing about it. Vanity!
If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe -no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside us as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that's just what we do find inside us.
The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount…If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.
These are illusions of popular history which successful religion must promote: Evil men never prosper, only the brave deserve the fair, honesty is the best policy, actions speak louder than words, virtue always triumpths, a good deed is its own rewards, any bad human can be reformed, religious talismans protect one from demon possession, only females understand the ancient mysteries, the rich are doomed to unhappiness
It is hard enough to face the moral law even with the revelation that the divine justice and divine mercy are conjoined. It offends our pride to be forgiven, terrifies it to surrender control.
Think about goodness like you think about gravity. Whether or not you believe in gravity, it is still there. Every day you are affected by gravity regardless of how well you understand the physics of it. In this chapter I am asking whether objective morality is something like gravity operating in accordance with the laws of the universe. Are there some things that are always right and some things that are always wrong? Put another way, has there ever been a time in history where it would have been acceptable for Hitler to kill over five million Jews? Or is mass murder always wrong no matter when or where you are? If mass murder is always wrong, then it turns out that objective moral values and duties do exist.
Yet our common moral knowledge is as real as arithmetic, and probably just as plain. Paradoxically, maddeningly, we appeal to it even to justify wrongdoing; rationalization is the homage paid by sin to guilty knowledge.
If you notice, the moral law in the other legal codes separates people (the Laws of Manu, the caste system, the Code of Hammurabi with the slave/owner distinction). In Islam, the violator is inferior to the obedient one. By contrast, in the Hebrew-Christian tradition, the law unifies people. No one is made righteous before God by keeping the law. It is only following redemption that we can truly understand the moral law for what it is---a mirror that indicts and calls the heart to seek God's help. This makes moral reasoning the fruit of spiritual understanding and not the cause of it.
Not one idiot in a thousand has been entirely refractory to treatment, not one in a hundred has not been made more happy and healthy; more than thirty per cent have been taught to conform to social and moral law, and rendered capable of order, of good feeling, and of working like the third of a man; more than forty per cent have become capable of the ordinary transactions of life under friendly control, of understanding moral and social abstractions, of working like two-thirds of a man.
The notion that we've made vast moral progress and are now a less violent species is belied by our awesome powers of destruction, our military might, police forces as well-armed as soldiers. Without the threat of such violent force behind it, all law would be meaningless. I prefer stories that remind us of that. At its core, history is a story of violence at work. It all comes down to the old saw that, however much you can gain with a kind word, you can gain more with a kind word and a gun.
1951. Law is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, Creator and Redeemer of all.