Chapter

Heaven, Morality, and the Meaning of Life

Jerry L. Walls

in Heaven

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780195113020
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834815 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195113020.003.0008
 Heaven, Morality, and the Meaning of Life

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It is argued that naturalistic views of reality undermine both morality and meaning – naturalism has difficulty not only in making sense of altruism but also in providing us with deeply persuasive moral motivation, motivation that is not only sustained in the face of reflective awareness but is even strengthened by it. Reflective awareness in this sense requires an understanding of morality in relation to basic ontological commitments, ranging from cosmology to what one believes about the ultimate origin and nature of moral feelings. To sustain deeply persuasive motivation in the light of reflective awareness requires a rationally convincing account of obligation, and without this sort of moral motivation, life loses much of its depth of meaning; conversely, without depth of meaning, moral motivation suffers. By contrast with naturalism, it is shown how orthodox Christian faith, particularly in its doctrine of heaven, both underwrites morality and charges our lives with depth of meaning. It provides resources that allow us to be fully, rationally reflective in our commitment to the moral life, and explains why we are genuinely obligated to do what is right, and why any rational person should be moral.

Keywords: altruism; awareness; Christianity; heaven; meaning of life; moral motivation; moral obligation; morality; naturalism; reflective awareness

Chapter.  20899 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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