C.S. Lewis wrote, in The Problem of Pain, “On the one hand, if God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not the least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil. On the other hand, if God’s moral judgment differs from ours so that our ‘black’ may be His ‘white’, we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say ‘God is good’, while asserting that his goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say ‘God is we know not what.”
In their reviews of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, several conservative bloggers, many of whom I admire as good moral examples, suggested that people might go to see the movie while purchasing a ticket for a different movie. That struck me as highly unethical. Some seem to rationalize that since, in their view, Moore is a liar or worse, depriving him of his earnings is acceptable.
That got me to thinking on the question of just how close to knowledge of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, we can get. At what point does something have to be clearly either acceptable or unacceptable as opposed to merely a matter of personal judgment?
I also had to think through how much my liberal political views might influence my opinion that such theater switching is wrong. If I wanted to see a film produced by Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, would I still object to such a ruse? Now, I’m not really a big fan of Michael Moore, as I think he is too sloppy with his facts and too shrill in some of his presentations. But I can’t kid myself. He wants to see John Kerry elected president. That’s what I want, too. So, my understanding of right and wrong might be more subtly or even unconsciously influenced than I could acknowledge at first glance.
Granted, we aren’t talking murder or bank robbery here. But that’s the point, isn’t it? That on an everyday basis humans must constantly juggle various moral decisions.
So, how close do we get to understanding good vs. evil? Could we say that a generally moral and righteous person gets it right 90% of the time? Or 80%? Do we get it right mostly on the principle, but more often fall short in the application?