The Benefits Factor Argument in Secular Ethics

This essay was submitted to for their 2016 Writing Contest.

The Benefits Factor Argument in Secular Ethics

by Lyane Lopez (yep that is my name!)

A moral argument based on benefits is becoming a popular ethics theory among atheists. The claim is simple: If a particular moral is beneficial to us, then it would be logical to consider it good. Similar in essence to situational ethics, a moral argument from benefits is true only if moral goods are wholly beneficial. If the moral good brings benefit, not harm or loss, then it must be good for the person, persons or society. Although convincing on the surface, there are serious flaws with this deduction of morality.


Firstly, this theory isolates all kinds of goodness that is moral. Not every good comes from a moral that is a benefit. For instance, a soldier who dies to save the life of another; the soldier lost everything, his life, but he saved the life of his comrade. This is a moral that I call selfless. The atheist may argue if it was worth while for the soldier to die, then determine if his sacrifice was morally good from there. However, the soldier’s sacrifice alone is morally good, because it was done to save the life of his friend. It was selfless and it was done to preserve life, which are properties we understand to be good.


Second, this interpretation of morality restricts us from understanding goodness that comes from morals which are not beneficial. There is the trouble of isolating selfless morals then there is the error of misunderstanding them. Let’s refer back to my soldier illustration. The atheist can argue the soldier’s sacrifice to be immoral, if his sacrifice leads to nothing good. At this point, the atheist is restricted to view the soldier’s sacrifice as good, because of the possibility that it didn’t bring anything good. Let us view a less dramatic example: motherhood and fatherhood. A mother and father may sacrifice extra leisure time to care for their children. Yet it is a selfless act, which may lead to a mutual relationship with them.


For argument’s sake, lets say the atheist is right about judging morals based on their benefits. However, a dilemma arises when deciding who benefits from these morals. The legalization of same-sex marriage may have granted homosexuals the right to marry, but at what cost to those who yield to religious beliefs against homosexuality? As of now, many pastors have been incarcerated and sued simply for not marrying same-sex couples. Homosexuals gained from the Supreme Court’s decision, yet many pastors today have lost their right to exercise their religion. And to their dismay, these pastors are also severed unfairly. Under media and legal bias, their chances for defense are degraded, all for the sake of gay rights. If the atheist were to argue that the legalization of same-sex marriage was moral because it brought a great good, he would be wrong, since the decision also brought great loss for its opponents. One may argue their loss as an incarnation of justice, but does justice come from coercive means? What I mean to say is, if this decision was moral and the results brought justice, why violate pastors’ right to not marry gays, by forcing their hand in court? Why harass their conscience, label them as bigots and homophobes, and place a horrible guilt trip on them? A moral argument based on benefits simply cannot encompass moral complexity of this caliber. It is a complicated moral situation that needs a moral standard much more absolute and generous to solve it. Ultimately, a moral standard based on benefits will never profit everyone, because no matter the decision, someone or some people will be undermined.


In regard to standards, the atheist only has the natural world to judge the value of his morality. Using benefits as an indicator of good morals is a natural instinct for him, and is not entirely wrong. However, to say that it and other self-fulfilling factors are all we need to determine good morals, has him err from truth. Morality is a complicated science. There is a lot to consider when making a moral decision. There is the matter of believing and doing what is right. Arguments based on benefits focus on an arbitrary property, personal gain, since such gain is relative to each person. If the atheist is to establish a sound moral principle without the existence of God or a higher power, he must begin with standards that are timeless. Afterwards, he should find a source to substantiate why we must follow those standards, then trust them.


I conclude my statements with the following. To know, determine and measure goodness is an endeavoring task on its own. It is part of the adventure all humans partake in: discovering the meaning of their lives and all within it. To measure goodness by its beneficial value alone is a hindrance to understanding it, and it will ultimately lead to senseless hedonism. Curiously speaking, all humans follow some moral standard despite what they believe. I think it’s because there is a comprehension of morality written in all of us by our Creator. It exists to help us solve problems and learn the meaning of good and evil. It can be easy to justify absolute moral standards because God gave us knowledge of them, because he is the author of them, and because he is the ultimate good. He calls those morals good, because they are good for us, no matter what time they exist in. An atheist can be moral without believing in God, but it is because of God, that he is able to be moral.






Dear Jennifer Fulwiler and Catholics

Jennifer Fulwiler

As a Christian, I love you and I care for your soul. As a former atheist, I sympathize with your struggle. While the existence of love was the driving force to your conversion to Christ, mine was the existence of morality. However Jennifer, I can not stand idly by without telling you this: The Catholic Church is not the way to Jesus Christ. I am not here to condemn you, Jennifer. I truly believe your love for Jesus Christ is real. I speak these words with a lot of love and care. But the Roman Catholic Church is not a church of God. I say this not out of ignorance, but of knowledge, and I can show you in several points where Catholicism deviates from Biblical Christianity. If you are a Roman Catholic, please read this message with prayer, and with the knowledge that no hatred is being perpetrated against you.

Catholicism teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also the Mother of God. The reasoning is that since Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, then Mary is also the Mother of God

Luke 1:46-47 records Mary rejoicing in God her Saviour: “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” So God to Mary, was not her son, but her Saviour, her Lord. Before Mary came to existence, God was already there. The same for Jesus. Him being God also existed before Mary. She sees Jesus as a son because she gave birth to him. But she did not nor is the mother of his divinity.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was sinless.  Luke 2:22 tells us that she was a sinner: “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;”. If Mary was sinless, why did she need purification?

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Jesus. However, Matthew 13:53-56 indicates Mary had other children: ”

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then this man all these things?”

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary is a co-redeemer. However, the Bible says:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Timothy 2:5

Mary can not be a co-redeemer because Jesus “himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3), and redeemed us through his precious blood (Ephesians 1:7)

Lastly, The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you must eat the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ, at the Eucharist. Jesus tells us in John 6:55-57:

“For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Jesus tells us in verse 63 what this means, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” So when you go to the Eucharist and eat the “literal” flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, it does you no good, because the flesh profiteth nothing. Jesus told us to break bread, which was his body, and to drink wine in remembrance of him (Luke 22:19). And when Jesus broke the bread, he said in Matthew 26:26, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26:27-28: “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

How could his flesh and blood profiteth nothing, unless he mean’t those things in spirit? The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the destruction of his body and shedding of his blood were essential to our salvation. And Jesus symbolized the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood, and the critical importance of his sacrifice, with the last supper. Without breaking his body with our sins, and shedding his sinless blood, we would never be born-again. His fleshly sacrifice means nothing, if it does not redeem us of our sins. So, the Eucharist is a ritual made in vain, and it always has been, because when Jesus was dying on the cross, he yelled, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His sacrifice for our sins is complete and does not need to be redone.

I praise God that Jesus DOES save from hell and that his sacrifice DOES REDEEM US FROM OUR SINS. To Jennifer and my Catholic friend, this gift which God prepared for you is eternal life, and it is free (Romans 6:23). You can receive this free gift by believing in Jesus Christ. Titus 3:4-7 tells us:

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Romans 3:10, “as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one:”

Romans 3:20-28, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Jennifer and Catholics, you do not need the Eucharist, holy water, the priest, the pope, nor any other ritual of the Catholic church, in order to go to heaven. you only need to place all your trust and believe in your heart in Jesus Christ and what he did for you on the cross.

Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

To all the Catholics and Jennifer reading this, please think about it.

God bless you!

~The Christian Warrior