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Reflection 22 (p9 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

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The careful and impartial student of nature will discover that therein continuous law is to be found, but no accidents or contingencies. And what we call the moral state is one wherein man is enabled to recognize the wisdom of compliance with this law. It is quite true that men may refuse to obey the moral law, but, if they do, they must suffer in consequence. This is one reason why men should be good, inasmuch as the fact of being so brings its own reward. It not only secures immunity from suffering, and adds to the healthfulness of society, but it exalts those who obey the moral law in the estimation of the real noblemen of nature. A man of honor -- one whose word is his bond, who practices virtue in his daily life -- wins the respect and confidence of all who know him, and he thereby sets an example that will be useful to emulate; and he at the same time acquires for himself a tranquility of mind known only to the consistent devotee of human goodness. What is called Christian morality has no sanction in merely natural sentiments and associations. Nobility of action is supposed by orthodox believers to be the result of a "fire kindled in the soul by the Holy Ghost." St. Paul is reported to have entertained the grovelling notion that, if this life is "the be-all and end-all," then "we are of all men the most miserable"; "therefore," says he, "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Here the problematical happiness in a problematical future is put forth as a higher incentive to goodness than the wish to so regulate our conduct that it will produce certain beneficial results in our present existence. Persons who share the views of St. Paul, as set forth in I Cor. xv., will derive but little pleasure from the virtue of this world. The satisfaction which should be felt in benefiting mankind independently of theology falls unheeded on orthodox believers. They fail to experience happiness simply by the performance of good works. Virtue, to them, has no charms if not prompted by the "love of God." Nobility, heroism generosity, devotion, are all ignored unless stimulated by the hope of future bliss. Christians deny the possibility of virtue receiving its full reward on earth. If they think their faith will conduct them safely to the "next world," they appear to have no trouble about its effects in this. A man who is good only because he is commanded to be so, or through fear of punishment after death, is not in touch with the philosophy of modern ethics. The true moral person is one who does his duty, regardless of personal reward or punishment in any other world. The Secular motive for being good is that this world shall be the better for the lives we have led, and for the deeds we have performed.

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