Morality by intelligence

Yesterday an interesting conversation started that however was interrupted abruptly. We were talking about food (as you do), which these days is a more challenging subject than one might imagine, with people avoiding food for all sorts of alleged moral reasons.

This was one of those cases. This person said to like octopus (which I had mentioned), but they wouldn’t eat it because they are, I quote, “quite intelligent creatures”. To which I reacted with a “meh”. Not because I did not care, but because that’s my standard reaction when someone that adopts subjective moral reasoning starts pontificating about morality.

Unfortunately, the discussion was interrupted right at the moment when I said something that would’ve sounded like this had I managed to finish the sentence: “Well, that’s just your subjective position, it’s not a moral absolute, it’s arbitrary”. In reality, I only got as far as “subjective position”.

But one thing I want to leave you with from this discussion: imagine for a moment we followed their criterion to its logical conclusion. If the intelligence of a creature is what we use to determine what to eat and what not, are we ok eating human beings born with deficiencies such to make them unintelligent? Or is it perhaps the potential intelligence that the species is capable of that one should use as a parameter? And if so, are we saying that evil is evil only if the recipient can actually comprehend it? Who decides what level of intelligence is required to understand evil? Certainly the octopus doesn’t understand evil; it might react in fear to someone threatening its life, but it does not have a concept of evil, because no creature has abstract thought patterns of that kind like we do.

But above all, this person’s worldview does not have a transcended absolute standard of anything. In their worldview, not even intelligence can be defined. In fact, there is no way for them to know for certain that they posses sound reasoning abilities. Because in order for anyone to autonomously know their reasoning is unsound it would mean they’d need to have sound reasoning to begin with. If it sounds like a paradox, it’s because it is.

Yahweh created the world and everything in it. In the original creation, man and all other animals were vegetarians. However, with the Fall, and especially after the Flood, things changed. Post-diluvian man was given express permission by God to eat animals (Genesis 9:3). We do not know exactly what changed so drastically after the Flood that caused God to officially decree the change of diet. But we know that God never revoked that permission.

Since Yahweh is the only being with the required characteristics that warrant an absolute moral standard, what He says is fine, it’s fine.

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