Morality apart from God

Hardline secularists tell me that without religion, morality can still flourish. Morality is independent of religion, morality is achievable without God. Is it true?

It is an interesting concept, this morality. What is right, what is wrong? It doesn't seem natural or part of a strategy for survival; we don't see animals pondering whether killing other members of its kind is morally acceptable. Since it is an almost abiological idea, quite unique -- at least in the same degree -- to humans, it is no wonder, then, that science has almost nothing to say about morality, since there is little or no empirical evidence that morality exists in the natural world. It almost stands as evidence of a creator: the very fact that we have the knowledge of right and wrong, unnatural as it may be, seperating us further from other animals.

What is even more interesting is that people who rely on a completely naturalistic understanding of the universe -- no God, biogenesis, goo-to-you Darwinism -- will insist that morality, which we understand to be a non-naturalistic phenomenon, can be achieved through natural means.

Real Right And Wrongs?

Often this subject is never pondered on enough to come to any real conclusion. Are there absolute right and wrongs? If so, who has the authority & insight to define the absolute moral system? Or, is everything relative? For example, in a relativistic moral system, one man's wrong is another man's right. Theft may be wrong for you, but for a starving man who needs food for survival, theft may be morally acceptable because of his circumstances. Or perhaps a family stranded in the recent hurricanes may be justified in stealing food from an abandoned supermarket. Such cases are not so black-and-white, morally speaking.

Let's consider a very widely accepted action that most humanity, both religious and secular, consider immoral: murder of an innocent human being without justification.

For both secular and religious, there are exceptions to the no murder rule. For example, some religious may say some murders are warranted due to the evil nature of the individual. Some secularists may say the murder of a human fetus is an exception because the human fetus is unwanted. Some people, both religious and secular, say that the death penalty is an exception because the individual being murdered is not innocent. Likewise, members of both groups may claim that murdering an individual in times of war may be warranted because there is no other choice but to kill or be killed, ala self-defense.

Morals As Act-based & Situation-based

This demonstrates one attribute about morality: morality is not solely act-based, but is act-based and situation-based. In other words, laws abolishing acts without situational exceptions would not work: imagine if the killing of humans altogether were outlawed. While it's a wonderful and utopian idea, in such a situation, if a man attacked you with a knife in an alley, you could not defend yourself, lest you kill the man -- even accidentally -- with his own knife. A law with no situational exceptions is draconian.

This point is critical to understanding morality: as demonstrated in the paragraph above, morality is not solely act-based. No, morality is situationally-based, as well as act based. This applies to both the religious and secular ideas of morality, as demonstrated above.

I make this point because I've occassionally encountered people who hate God and hate followers of God; they have made mocking attacks on the faith in God using these fallacious arguments:

"How can your god be a good god? God killed people in the Bible: he destroyed Job's family, ordered the killing of whole ethnic groups, killed every first born of in Egyptian, I could go on.... Yet, you claim your god is the standard for good -- ha!"

When one looks at this on the surface, it appears the secularist is right! Oh, how evil God is, killing all these people, ordering the killings of Job's family, slaughtering the Canaanite people, killing Egyptian firstborn children, how evil!

What's more, this kind of argument particularly appeals to us in the modern day of terrorism, where we hear of killings carried out in the name of God (e.g. America's 9/11, Spain's bombings, Britain's subway attacks, Iraq's beheadings, Israel's almost weekly terror attacks, etc.) We see these killings, condemn them as evil, and then associate killing in the God with Islamic terror, which we believe to be morally wrong. Thus, if Islamic terror is wrong, then all killings of human beings in the name of God is wrong, thus this argument is a bullet that splits the forehead and influences the reader that God is evil, or at very least, any killings that God performed in the Bible were evil acts. If such acts are evil, then Scripture is not a righteous book since it condones killing in certain situations. And if Scripture is not a righteous book, then it certainly is not the Word of God, certainly not inspired by God. If it's not inspired by God, then it is useless as anything but a museum piece.

So what is the answer to this argument? The answer is now clear: the argument conveniently ignores situational morality, and focuses on only act-based morality. It focuses solely on the act of killing, but ignores the purpose of the killing. Let me pose a parallel argument which can easily be seen as folly:

"How can your country be a good country? Don't you know that during the 1940s, your country carried out the killings of millions of Germans, Japanese, and Italians. No, your country is an evil country that has killed millions -- millions! -- of people over the last 50 years, what a tragic history of evil and immoral behavior your country has! Yet, your country claims to be a standard for freedom - ha!"
Any idiot can see that this argument is flawed: it conveniently ignores the situational facts. The situation, of course, is the second World War. Yes, it's true, the United States and the United Kingdom has killed millions of people, even civilians. However, these killings stand justified in the face of a Nazi regime that was, morally speaking, evil. Adolf Hitler was an evil person, I think we can all agree.

Likewise, the secularist's argument that God is evil because he killed and ordered the killings of certain groups of people or individuals is flawed because it ignores situational morality, focusing only on the acts of killing. Yes, it's true that God killed certain individuals, as well as ordered the killing of certain groups of people. However, these killings stand justified in the face of evil individuals, evil people groups, or for the purpose of bringing a better good (as was the case in Job). If God really does exist, one can only assume that He has plenty of reason for his actions, and these reasons would be on par or greater than our human reasons for the justifications of killing certain individuals or people groups.

Religious Morality Is Not Righteousness

One thing I don't want to incite in you, the reader, is a feeling of superiority coming from the religious side of the fence. Don't get me wrong, religious people have carried out some definitely evil acts in the world: the Crusades, modern Islamic terror, modern abortion clinic bombings: these things were all the result of men, being filled with a zeal for God, carrying out acts of violence against people they see as immoral. The recipient side of these attacks, of course, see the attackers as immoral. I won't address each instance here, but I will say that at least someone is in the wrong here, if not all of them. I will say that we can't look at God using a reflection of the actions of supposedly Godly men; that is, if one man claims to be a godly person and does something immoral, that does not make him a reflection of God, does it? No. Like all humans, religious people are flawed and don't always take the right path, despite the right path being clearly defined in Scripture.

Problems With Secular Morality

We now know that morality defines acts as wrong, with certain situational exceptions. Both the secular and religious camps can find common ground there. So what's the problem, then, with morality seperate from God?

One arising issue is that there can be no standard of morality. There cannot be any absolutes, because for an absolute right and wrong to exist, there would need to be someone to create these absolutes, and who is to say which person should get the honor of creating absolute right and wrongs? I had a conversation sometime ago with someone who visits this blog on occassion, discussing the right and wrongs of homosexuality. For her, she could not say that homosexuality was right or wrong, because who was to say that it is? No person can say for sure, because that would be nothing more than human opinion and bias.

Problems With Legal-based
Secular Morality

Or maybe you're a relative moralist that believes morality is defined by written law. This argument has been prevalent in the people group that oppose the US & UK war on Iraq. They will say,

"The war/George Bush/Tony Blaire is evil because the UN did not issue a resolution of approval. It is illegal by international standards, and therefore is an immoral war!"

Ignoring the question of the morality of the Iraq war, I will answer the group of relative moralist that define morality as written law. I answer by firstly asking, whose laws do you follow? The United States' law? The United Kingdom's laws? The United Nation's laws? Don't be so foolish: one can be despicable, even evil, while still following written law perfectly. For example, there is no law that says we should stop the ethnic cleansings in various African nations, and we saw the United Nations do nothing in several instances. In such cases, how dispicable, how evil that body is for its inaction! Likewise, one cannot say that by following only legal writ you can be perfectly moral. What's more, let's not forget that morality can include often overlooked acts such as feeding the needy, giving to the poor, giving to charity, helping elderly, respecting one's parents, loving one's neighbor. If no one did these things, we would live in a world quite cold, one could say even evil. Yet as far as I am aware, the laws of the United States, United Kingdom, and United Nations require none of these moral acts. Relative morality with a legal foundation doesn't work for these reasons.

Shooting Holes in Secular Morality

Regardless of whether a relative moralist believes legal law defines morality, without absolute morality, you get into this fuzzy world of relative morality. Homosexuality is wrong for you maybe, but not for me, I say. Don't push your morality on me! Those are your morals, not mine! Or so goes the arguments ubiquitous in the morally relative world we live in today. Any fool can see relative morality doesn't work: imagine you believe cursing is wrong. Well, I don't, so I'm going to curse at you in front of your children. Or maybe you believe slicing the throat of random bypassers is probably immoral. Well, I don't, so that makes it OK for me to slice your throat. Natural law may compel you to defend yourself; you may return with retribution; and with that, we get into vigalante eye-for-an-eye justice, which doesn't make for a very peaceful or moral world.

Of course, those are extreme examples, so here's one that might hit a little closer to home for some of you. The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will say it is unethical -- immoral -- for one to kill & eat an animal. Some of the omnivores among us will counter, saying, "Nonsense. Eating the flesh of animals is quite natural and is an important part of our survival." Which is it, is it moral or not? You would never know for sure in the secular world, because there is no absolute standard of what is right and wrong. Yet there are secularists saying that such an act is immoral.

On a related but rather laughable note, just the other day a Linux zealot (that is, someone who strongly believes the Linux-based operating systems are God's gifts to mankind) was trying to convince me that any software that doesn't use the GPL software license is (ahem) immoral, because it restricts the rights of the end users. In fact, the leader of the open source software movement, an devout atheist by the name of Richard Stallman, espouses this very idea of the immorality of commercial software (or at least, non-GPL software, which virtually all commercial software is). With this comes yet another example of secular, relative morality.

We see then that morality is not being pushed only by the religious who espouse a morality based on what we believe to be the inspired words of God, but is also pushed by the secular crowd, based on...whatever happens to be the majority's in vogue morality at the moment.

Therein lies a problem of relative morality: times change, people change, and thus, any arguments of morality coming from the secular camp are moot! After all, your morality is not mine, and your view of what's right and wrong are only based on the moving target of what's moral in the world today; heck, what we consider unethical or immoral today in the secular world, will no doubt become totally acceptable and ethical in tomorrow's secular world. The need for an absolute moral system becomes apparent.

We all have our own personal morals, whether relative or absolute. We all have taken a leap of faith in saying one thing is wrong: for secular morality, this leap of faith is based on crumbling sand, the words of contemporary men. For the fortunate people who've found God, this leap of faith is based on the solid rock of Christ and the words of Creator of the universe.


  1. Very good article, especially the last part.

  2. I guess with this topic, there's not much you can do but accept that we all have our own morals, and try to follow yours as best as you can, whatever the motivation behind them.
    Something I thought of just a second ago - how about when parents teach their kids about right and wrong? Can they permanantly effect what they grow up to accept as right and wrong? i guess this is getting closer to a nature/nurture argument, but still, how much of people's morals can be put down to their parents?
    Oh, and as for pure evil? Skeletor. If you don't know who that is, I don't know if you should be glad or not.

  3. your article is both funny and stupid. i find it odd that you place all secularists into one group which (apparently) must be accounted for.

    the weakest point of your argument is that you fail to mention the arbitrary nature of any moral system. your system of religion is arbitrary: someone decided to write some stuff down in a book, and people follow that and thereby claim those to be their moral belief. simply because more people follow that book does not mean the morals contained therein are any better than the arbitrary morals *I* write in a book and claim to be moral.

    your religion is just as arbitrary as anything else. your morals are just as arbitrary as anything else. there is no "solid rock of Christ" -- there's just a book you've accepted as being true, and maybe other people have too. it's not better than my morals.

    it's sad that you've fallen into the standard "art holier than thou" trap of forgetting that your religion is arbitrary.

    any sort of morals are based on a belief -- something that science obviously does not touch -- an assertion one holds to be true without proof. secular morals are beliefs just like your religion is a belief. neither is better.

    and as far as "whatever happens to be the majority's in vogue morality at the moment" -- the same is true for your religions. your religions persecuted innocent people, held the Crusades, the spanish inquisiton ... your priests rape young boys. your religion is not moral. it's the vogue morality of the moment. how about churches accepting money to absolve one's sin?

    it's pathetic that you have such a slanted, unfairly positive view towards your own religion. you see consistency that is not there. i feel sorry for you, and especially for your son who will grow up in an environment without perspective.

  4. Hi, thanks for visiting.

    You said, "it's sad that you've fallen into the standard "art holier than thou" trap of forgetting that your religion is arbitrary."

    I plainly agree that religious people have committed evil acts. In fact, I said that in the blog post (see "Religious Morality is Not Righteousness" section, where I stated "One thing I don't want to incite in you, the reader, is a feeling of superiority coming from the religious side of the fence. Don't get me wrong, religious people have carried out some definitely evil acts in the world."

    Does that make God evil or religion evil? No, the acts of religious people do not always reflect the goodness of God, unfortunately. In fact, this is more often the case than not, sadly.

    So, I want to reiterate that religious morality is not superior to secular morality. Scriptural morality, however, is superior, and one reason is because it is absolute in nature. Unfortunately, we who believe in God don't always follow Scriptural morality and we often reflect poorly on the goodness of God. Even you will agree that if God does exist, he certainly wouldn't condone the evil evil acts carried out by religious people (Crusades, abortion clinic bombings, Islamic terror, Catholic priest sexual abuse, etc.) All these things are immoral whether you are religious or secular. And certainly if God does exist, he would not condone these acts. This is the superior moral system I'm talking about. If a religious person commits an evil act, that makes that person -- not God -- immoral.

    You said, "and as far as "whatever happens to be the majority's in vogue morality at the moment" -- the same is true for your religions." And you go on to cite examples of poor morality on the religious side.

    Yes! You're right. Like everyone else, we who believe in God aren't good at being moral & ethical people. It's hard. Especially in today's world where it's really easy to do immoral things. But that doesn't change that Scriptural morality is absolute, and if it is inspired by God -- which we believe -- then it is superior to anything you or I could write. Contrast this with secular morality which is always changing (never any true, absolute right and wrongs) and has no authority (who's to say what is right and wrong?).

    You are right that morality is based on belief. You have to take a leap of faith to believe something is right or wrong. My belief is firmly planted in the author of the universe, and yours in the contemporary, ever-changing world system. And with that, I'm glad my son will grow up with the knowledge of Christ and not the easy-out view of "do whatever feels right" that the world pushes to its own demise.

  5. How do you propose that scriptural morality is absolute? Absolute morality of scripture demands that the crusades would not have occurred. This is clearly not the case. If it were the case then both Urban II and yourself would arrive at the same conclusion regarding the moral interpretation of scripture. Obviously this has not occurred. Thus possibly your interpretation of scripture is incorrect, or in the past the interpretation was incorrect. Hence, you do not arrive at an absolute. Do you understand the concept of "absolute"?

    Furthermore, by what metric are you judging morality such that you can declare scriptural morality superior? Do you gauge it by your moral superiority?

  6. I am someone who knows alot about nothing and nothing about a lot of things. Unlike you, it seems.

    That does not make me morally, or "scripturally" superior to you, nor superior in any sense of the word, but it does mean that I have lived a bit longer than yourself and, consequently, have learned a few more life lessons than you.

    While your belief in Christianity, in itself, is harmless, you do not do yourself or others a service by touting it as the highest and most superior way and manner by which to live your life.

    Your Saviour did not have this in mind during his short period of existence on Earth. It is clear from your writings that you put yourself upon a high and defensible position, unfortunately above others. Even if not intentional on your part, your thoughts are not humble nor moderate. For this, I pity you, but you are young, like I was once. My hope is that you will change over time and become more tolerant of others, realizing that you, as an individual, do not have all the answers to all questions as you so earnestly try to convey via your blog.

    Maybe you realize this or maybe you do not; but what you write here, your thoughts, are accessible to the public at large and we too are free to express our own thoughts on what you write here. Do not take this as a personal assault, but rather as something on which you should ponder.

    Best wishes.

  7. "lamb of god" you say that Judah is putting himself on a high and arrogant position, above others.
    All Judah did was explain that morality based on his God is one that doesn not waver and change according to many factors, like secular morality does.

    Is Judah saying his morality is more consistent? Yes.
    You can't deny that secular morality does not change all the time, and you can't say that morality based on the Judeo-Christian God changes, because it is written in stone - litterally (the Ten Commandments).

    All Judah is saying is that his chosen morality is more dependable than that of secualar, hellenistic/hedonsitic thought of today, which freely allows all forms of sinful (sinful based on the Law of God) pleasure, as anyone wishes to indulge in.

  8. Wow, looks like this struck a little nerve in the secular camp! I'm glad to hear what you all have to say, so thanks, guys, for posting.

    "Absolute morality of scripture demands that the crusades would not have occurred."

    No it doesn't. The Crusades, and other assumedly immoral acts by religious people, simply means that religious people are not always moral or righteous people, and do not always reflect the goodness of God. I put myself in this same group; it's really hard to be a moral person in the modern world. It is, because the world puts out a lot of immoral things, and our human mind tends towards evil, we enjoy doing evil things.

    I know Scriptural morality to be superior to the world's relative morality, from a natural standpoint at least, because I believe that if an act in some circumstance is considered right or wrong at one instance in time, then that same act under the same circumstances is still judged the same, right or wrong. Secular morality doesn't give me that. Secular morality tells me to do what feels good. Secular morality tells me to follow the whim of the majority. Secular morality tells me there is no absolute and no authority. In essence, secular morality is akin to a lawless, anarchists' morality: to each his own; what we may consider immoral today, secular morality may say otherwise tomorrow. That doesn't make any sense; provided the same circumstances, why would time change whether an act be considered immoral? But we've already seen the world sway on this, with everything from prostitution to homosexuality to pornography. What's next, Beastiality? Pedophilia? Here I'm touching on only the sexual practices of the world, yet this same relative, hedonistic views apply to all aspects of morality.

    From a faith standpoint, we who believe in God also believe Scriptural morality superior because we believe both that God exists and that Scripture is inspired by God. If by chance we are right, then there is little question remaining for us (I am speaking to believers in God here).

    That isn't to say people who try to follow God always succeed in being moral and ethical. On the contrary, we have no claim to be holier-than-you. This absolute right-and-wrong set of moral rules we know as Scripture only points out how immoral and evil we really are. It also points out that we need someone from God to pardon our immorality, in order to make us clean again and free from immorality. That person is Jesus Christ.

    To the 'lamb of god' poster, let me reply by saying one thing I did not want to convey in my post is one of superiority coming from the religious side. In fact, I said this very thing in the post: that religious people have done very evil things throughout history, and that religious morality is not righteousness. I knew secularists would try to paint any moral talk as "holier-than-thou" nonsense, as people on your side of the fence have done in the past, so I outlined a good part of the post on the wretched state of religious morality that falls from God. I hope I made that clear enough in the post. Likewise, I do not claim higher moral ground than you, because I do lots immoral things. My flesh wants to do immoral things. It's our nature. My morals are no better than yours, despite having an absolute moral system defined. The only thing that absolute moral system has done is make me realize how evil and immoral I am. It also makes me realize that if God does exist, as I believe, and point me to the need for someone to save me from my immorality.

    That is the only thing I can boast about, I think: I have pardoning and forgiveness of my immorality through Jesus Christ. To me, that's a lot better than wishing and hoping there's no god there, putting the secret, immoral things I do in hiding, pretending they aren't immoral, hoping no one finds out.

    I don't have all the answers. I do have beliefs, and those are the things I convey on this blog and share with people like you.

    Thanks for posting all, good conversation.

  9. Lumping every non-Christian into a "secular morality" pile is a bit callous. The entire basis of your argument is a small set of personal beliefs, a fact which you have already admitted above. Therefore, you have effectively proven that the morality for which you stand is equivalent to the "secular morality" you decry.

    For the record, I have a disdain for the labels of "sacred" and "secular." One gives implicit superiority over the other without argument.

    Not everyone in the "secular" world shares the sheep mentality you refer to in the blog post, changing their beliefs like clothing. Critical thought and a measure of introspection do wonders for the soul of man; it just happens that these skills are lacking in many. Finding out what you truly believe in is a good portion of the journey of life, and there are no absolutes.

    Generalizations, stereotypes, and flawed assumptions were the root causes of the Crusades, slavery, and the Holocaust, just to name a few. And before this world's last breath, these true evils of man will accomplish far more despicable.

    I would implore you to become part of the solution, rather than siding with the problem. Embrace your sacred and secular bretheren both, without trying to persuade everyone that your beliefs reign supreme.

    Who are you trying to convince?

  10. Not every non-believer in Christ is in the secular camp. By secular camp, I meant the folks who reject God outright, opting for a purely natural view of the world.

    I also wouldn't call religious morality sacred. Sacred morality ("holy") implies a morality that is set apart for God. There is nothing sacred about religious morality, as mentioned already. I happen to believe the Scriptural morality is superior than both religious and secular morality because of its absolute and authoritative law, which is not only unparalleled in secular morality, but also something I personally believe to be inspired by God Himself.

    My beliefs, as pointed out both in the blog post and in the comments following, fall short of Scriptural morality. I'm on no higher ground than you, because by nature, people enjoy doing evil things, myself included unfortunately. It's really by nature that people are generally evil. We like to cheat, take the easy way out, lie, curse people, lust after things not ours, do violence, hate other people. That's the easy way. That's the "do whatever comes to you" way. That's the way of no moral guidline, you're kind of just doing whatever the situation lead you to, without any regard to God or God's standard of what is right and wrong. Contrast this with the life of Jesus Christ, who taught the greatest of all the Scriptural laws were to love God, and love one another, and that all other Scriptural laws hang on these 2 laws. (see this bit)

    Rather than take the easy path of doing whatever feels right (which secular morality really is all about, underneath it all), I say go for what is right and follow God. I think if God really does exist, then any simple person can see that for sure God's values of what is right and what is wrong are far superior to anything humanity has cooked up so far.

  11. "Doing whatever feels right," as you put it, is really a better description of hedonism, which I hesitate to dub "secular morality."

    Whatever you may call it, I do agree that there's far too much of it in today's world, with our own society being a -- for lack of a better term -- shining example.

    I agree, rejecting God in favor of the natural world is foolish. But in my own beliefs, there is no way to separate God from his Creation, either, as I believe he permeates everything. I don't believe there is a space alongside ours, outside of all that we know, where God exists separately. In the same breath, I hesitate to claim the Scriptures were inspired by God, having been written and revised by man.

    Revised? It didn't translate itself into English, and somehow it still reads like prose. And how many variations on the Bible are out there?

    I don't want to get into a large discussion about the history of functional literacy and the misuse of the power of the church, but suffice it to say, you probably aren't reading the Scriptures as they were originally inked.

    Do I believe that the Bible contains many, many guidelines for a good and happy life? Of course. Do I believe that it contains many proverbs and fables illustrating good morality? Definitely! But that's far from making it Godly, in and of itself. Having a solid base and the ability to think for one's self is extremely important.

    Likewise, I believe that we should worship Jesus less and aspire to him more; to make his teachings the first things that pop into our head when given a choice in which path to choose, and to treat all with the compassion and love that he showed.

    I also believe that kindness does exist in nature, despite its uselessness in the scheme of survival; it's simply the minority, as it is in the realm of man most of the time. An example might be when a mother of one species adopts an infant of another. Is she chemically confused by the scent of the orphan? I really don't think so.

    We are all (and indeed, everything is) God's creation. I'm not about to claim that animals are equal to humans, but the similarities can be striking; all are creatures of survival first, then pleasure (when survival needs have been fulfilled), and almost always impulse.

    The best we can do is attempt to ascend away from our gutteral instincts. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus are guidelines to help us along the way.

    And I believe, in that respect, our differences in opinion are largely more terminology than substance.

    I've been tempted before on many occasions to become another of the evil men of the world, as kindness does not always reward in physicalities. But, even being of secular mind, I've rejected those temptations. There is a deeper moral fabric that is independent of all religions and faiths. I didn't ask myself if God would be pleased or angry with my decision, I asked myself how I would feel about myself afterwards.

    I'm not a Christian, but I feel like one. I guess the one importance I failed to underline was conscience. If you feel bad for doing something that hurts yourself or someone else, you're likely not choosing the right thing. If you never feel one way or the other, I'm not so sure you can be helped... regardless of faith.

  12. When I was 3 or 4 (my parents aren't sure) we traveled from Colorado to Arkansas to visit my grandparents. I have a particular very vivid memory from the trip. I was driving on a back road with my grandfather (step actually) and aunt, when grandpa hit the breaks, pulled his shotgun off the rack, and killed a bird.

    I was a little shocked, but more by the noise than the dead bird. I asked him why he killed the bird, and he said it was because that bird ate quail eggs, and he hunted quail.

    I have no memory of being taught any morals about killing things, one way or the other. But I felt very strongly that while killing a quail to eat yourself was fine, killing the competition was not. It was deep in my gut. I don't know if it was god, or genetics, but there was no question for me that it was wrong.

    I don't know from whence the nature comes (I'm agnostic, leaning towards atheist) but I do 'know' (as much as I can know anything) that there was no nurture involved in my gut that day.