Saying that society can exclude God and simply do to others as we wish them to do unto us completely excludes the fact that history and daily interactions have shown that many will not do unto others as they want to be done to them. Infact many will do much good to themselves at the expense of others lives and property, as much as their desires dictates. It is a very noble idea but it fails to treat the question of motives and why exactly we should be good to anybody.
Human beings are not buildings with fixtures for us to say “build society” . We are flesh and blood. Civilizations come and go but habits and general human problems have remained. We have become glossier on the exterior but our problems have remained old and ancient. Love and hate, laughter and tears have still come in the same old versions we had from the face of the first man and woman. In humans, there exist conflicting thoughts and desires. We find in us good and evil. We find that somethings need to be curbed in us and that like horses we need to rein in our excesses. Why is it that the humanist/agnostic/atheist does not question why at all we even have these conflicting parts in us?
To regulate the admistering of the golden rule, the human society brings its laws and metes out its punishments. Fine. You steal, you get punished and so on.The golden rule on its own at this point still remains a nice idea. The enforcement is external. External laws, rules, punishments and so on. But what do you do with a punished offender who is let out only to repeat his first offence? What do you do with those who are punished and come out hating having been so rightly punished? How do you deal with the desire itself at its very root? You can make laws that will make it illegal and punishable by death to commit adultery, but how do you deal with the adulterer whose adultery you cannot see? How do you make him or her a better person not from the fear of punishment and being caught, but just because it is wrong?
The golden rule is a nice idea if everyone understood it. It is supposed to be an inherent desire in us. We feel that something in us stir when we hurt another , but that will never be everyone and am afraid the majority will not be in this class of people. Science has not found and I doubt if it will find a way to treat dead consciences. That exists. Indifference. That exists too. Then what? Again, laws, punishment and everything external.
So what am I saying? Well, I agree with enforcements but I don’t agree that to create a perfect world, going about it the external way is of any lasting value. You cannot bring true self restraint unless you start from within. Getting your hand cut if you put your hand in a pot will restrain you, but if the die hard thief at heart remain, the next hand will be used when it finds the opportunity. Men are not naturally good. Naturally bad men can pretend to be good in public. People can do good from wrong motives and no one will ever suspect. We can all be great people for the cameras, for the sake of decency and just being good neighbors because we are ashamed to do otherwise. But that will mean living in a plastic world with plastic smiles and forced kindness just to keep up with the idea of having good manners even if you would rather punch him in the face.
As much as we would like to do good to others, we will not be able on our own. We are naturally selfish people who think of whats in it for us. The golden rule does not say lay down your life even if they are underserving. It doesn’t teach us love those who mistreat us. Most importantly, it does not breathe on us the motivation we need to do all these things. It shouldn’t always be because we are afraid of karma because basically the golden rule secretly states that we should do unto others what we want them to do to us , because we are afraid if we don’t , one day some strange person go do am back. It is good to have that detereent but the best reason to follow the golden rulewould be because it is right even when we do not see the benefit to ourselves.
As much as we would want to pride ourselves to have such ability to do good to others, we can’t . We need help . That is why the Christian way of going about it is much diferent from any other worldview that says it in inherent in man so man therefore of himself must have the power by himself to follow it. The Christians on the other hand realize that it is in man to want to do this, but that he finds he does what he does not want and does what he should not do.
So, the golden rule is good, but it cannot be put in motion by itself. We have to be humble to realize that we need help to not be selfish and self centred even in seemingly little things. Society can be built on this law, if it will be built, but it cannot because we are not good people. We need a savior who will work on our insides and not on our outer vessel, deterring it with blows and fire. We need the breaking from within. We sadly find we cannot do good to people if no one gave us consequences when we did not or if we were not expecting further benefits. We will do even less when we see that our interests will fare badly. That is why in my opinion, and I believe I have the backing of God, we need to do something first , which is love God first and then your neighbor as yourself. Only then can you love a neigbor you naturally hate because of a higher authority whom you can neither repay nor bribe(God Himself) .Fine, He is an external deterent but He works inwardly as well to create a desire to do good not from fear of punishment, but from genuine desire .
In conclusion the golden rule will not work on its own because it claims that just because man finds that he has right desires, that he will want to follow them. Also , it allows for external punishment when not followed which only stops the wrong action and fails to deal with the inward desires and motives. So, for the golden rule to truely work as it should it must include God and the Holy spirit which is able to help us always choose to do good no matter if we care or like it,if it hurts us or brings no visible improvement in our lives. God’s spirit is the force that makes the golden rule possible.