Who gets to make the rules? Searching for the basis of morality.

Photo copyright 2011 by J Ronald Lee
Photo copyright 2011 by J Ronald Lee 

During college I was introduced to the game shown in the picture above.  Some of the guys that lived on my dorm floor would have regular Axis and Allies game nights.  Each game would take about thirty minutes to set up and playing the game took a minimum of four or five hours. I  now play this game from time to time with my sons, and when we do we have a great time because we all understand how the game works and we each follow the rules.

But what if I had this game and didn’t know the rules and didn’t have a rule book or an internet connection to find the rules online?  Imagine trying to set up a game with hundreds of pieces of five different colors, a stack of little plastic chips and a dozen dice.  Now imagine trying to play this game four other people who don’t know the rules either.   How do you decide what the rules are and how the game will be played?  What happens when there is a disagreement on what the dice rolls mean or how each of the pieces moves?  Who gets to decide what the rules are?

When you understand the rules and everyone agrees to play by the rules, games can be great fun.  When there are no rules, the game becomes void of all meaning.

In my last post I asked if people were basically good or basically evil.  When having this conversation with someone, there will come a point where the next question must be asked.

Who defines what is morally right and morally wrong? 

The answer to this question will let you know who the rule-maker is for the person giving the answer.

I think the range of possible answers can be grouped into the following categories:

  1. Morality is an illusion.  There is no such thing as morally right and wrong.
  2. The culture (or evolution) has developed what is morally acceptable for society.
  3. I decide what is morally right and wrong for myself.
  4. God, by his nature, defines what is morally right and wrong.

In terms of the game analogy, those answers are:

  1. Rules are an illusion.  There are no rules to this game or any other game.
  2. The people playing the game get to decide on the rules.
  3. I get to decide what the rules are for me.  And everyone else gets to decide what the rules are for them.
  4. The maker of the game makes the rules.  And to play the game, one must follow those rules.

In future posts I will analyze each of these positions, one at a time.  Through the series I hope to demonstrate  weaknesses of each of the first three positions.  By end of the series I hope to demonstrate that the fourth position is the one that corresponds to reality.  And once that is done, I will move to the next question, which is “Who is the rules maker?”


Who makes the rules for your life?  Is there an answer that doesn’t fit into the four categories I have listed? 

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