One day a young angel, only three and a half billion years old, very naive, with limited experience of the wide universe and eager for more, was called over by one of her elder brothers. “I have a special mission for you,” he said. “It is said that Life has appeared somewhere in the universe, in accordance with the purpose and timing of the Almighty. It is your task to seek out this Life, and when you find it, tell us so that we may visit the planet to nurture and guide it.”

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Christianity, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics

A word of explanation. I teach a course at SMU|Guildhall on Ethics and Video Games. It is by no means a Christian course and has no explicitly Christian content. But some of the students tell me that they’re Christian. Since Christian ethics is an interest of mine, I’m keen to interact with these individuals at a deeper level about their efforts to integrate biblical ideas with a holistic view of ethics. I’m keen to interact with any student of whatever persuasion to help them more fully integrate their own ideas, beliefs, and intuitions. But since I actually have some training in Christian theology, I can see further down that path than I can see down the philosophical path that other students are on.

A Christian student recently told me that they saw both deontological (duty-based ethics) and virtue ethical elements in Christianity. I wanted to respond to that intuition with a little closer analysis of Christianity’s relationship to ethical systems. Here’s what I said.

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