[When] most people say [that] you shouldn’t judge, they mean that you shouldn’t judge things negatively. In other words, if you say “Fred did great in class,” [you won’t hear people say] “don’t judge!”
Whenever somebody commits a crime, it was their bad upbringing; but if someone is rewarded, nobody says: “he doesn’t deserve it, he was brought up well.”
I’m suspicious of the “don’t be judgmental” [response] because I think it’s a kind of “don’t say things I find unpleasant” [comment]—which is really not a moral argument.
— Francis Beckwith, from Can We be Good Without God? at 1:38:20
In order to remain consistent the ethical relativist cannot criticize intolerable moral practices (such as genocide in Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa), believe in real moral progress (such as the abolition of slavery), or acknowledge the existence of real moral reformers (such as Martin Luther King, Jr.).
— Francis Beckwith, from Politically Correct Death, p. 24
Many people see relativism as necessary for promoting tolerance, nonjudgmentalism, and inclusiveness, for they think if one believes one’s moral position is correct and others’ incorrect, one is close-minded and intolerant. I will argue … that not only do the arguments for relativism fail, but that relativism itself cannot live up to its own reputation, for it is promoted by its proponents as the only correct view on morality. This is why relativists typically do not tolerate nonrelativist views, judge views as mistaken, and maintain that relativism is exclusively right.
— Francis Beckwith, from Defending Life, p. 3
Moral relativism is the view that when it comes to questions of morality, there are no absolutes and no objective right or wrong; moral rules are merely personal preferences and/or the result of one’s cultural, sexual, or ethnic orientation. The fact that one believes there are exceptions or, to be more precise, exemptions to moral rules does not make one a moral relativist. For example, many people who believe lying is wrong nonetheless believe it is not wrong to lie in order to protect someone’s life. These people are not moral relativists, for to permit certain exemptions to a rule one must first acknowledge the general validity of the rule. The moral relativist rejects the idea that any such moral rules exist at all.
— Francis Beckwith, from Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, Norman Geisler and Paul Hoffman, eds., chapter 1
Consider this dialogue (based loosely on a real-life exchange) between a high-school teacher and her student Elizabeth:
Teacher: Welcome, students. This is the first day of class, and so I want to lay down some ground rules. First, since no one has the truth, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students. Second … Elizabeth, do you have a question?
Elizabeth: Yes, I do. If nobody has the truth, isn’t that a good reason for me not to listen to my fellow students? After all, if nobody has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What’s the point? Only if somebody has the truth does it make sense to be open-minded. Don’t you agree?
Teacher: No, I don’t. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn’t that a bit arrogant and domatic?
Elizabeth: Not at all. Rather I think it’s dogmatic, as well as arrogant, to assert that no single person on earth knows the truth. After all, have you met every person in the world and quizzed them exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? Also, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will alter my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. And if I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know the truth and would like to share it with you, why wouldn’t you listen to me? Why would you automatically discredit my opinion before it is even uttered? I thought we were supposed to listen to everyone’s opinion.
Teacher: This should prove to be an interesting semester.
Another Student: (blurts out) Ain’t that the truth. (the students laugh)
— Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith, from Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-air, kindle location 600
The main thrust of the intelligent design movement is that intelligent agency as an aspect of scientific theory making has more explanatory power in accounting for natural phenomenon than chance or scientific law. What that means is that when there is a phenomenon of some sort, saying that an intelligent agent is the cause of it makes more sense than saying it just happened by chance or it happened because of a natural or scientific law.
— Francis Beckwith, from the Evolution In The Schools and In The Law lecture, disk 1 at 6:56
If abortion is made illegal because the law comes to recognize the unborn as intrinsically valuable human persons, legislatures, while crafting laws and penalties, and courts, while making judgments as to sentencing, will have to take into consideration the following facts. Continue reading
[Abraham] Lincoln provided another example of principled moral reasoning in assessing the sorts of arguments that his contemporaries put forth to defend the enslavement of black people by white people:
You say A. is white and B. is black. It is color, then: the lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. Continue reading