How do you make moral decisions if you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion? The tale of Silk Road, part 2.
While developing Silk Road, Mr. Ulbricht had a girlfriend, whom I won’t name. She knew he was raising and selling dope on the website and broke up when he would not end his involvement with the site.
(This is part 2 of a discussion of a book on Silk Road, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Part 1 here.)
His girlfriend came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior later in the book, well after they broke up. (Based on a few ways that the description of her conversion and faith are described, I will make a wild guess the author of the book is not a believer).
At one point when they got back together for a while, his girlfriend persuaded him to attend worship at what appears to be a charismatic congregation that operated without a formal pastoral leadership structure.
After the worship she asked him what he thought about the morals that were discussed during the worship service.
They talked about this for a while. In response to her question about how he can tell the difference between right and wrong, he said that he thinks it through by himself.
I will quote the key sentences under fair use so you can see the subtlety of how the discussion developed:
“She looked back at Ross and tried to press the question again. ‘But how do you know what’s good and what’s evil without a reference point? Jesus is my relationship that helps me decide if I’m doing good in my life.’
“ ‘I think a man is his own God and can decide for himself what’s right and wrong,’ Ross said. ‘As a man, I decide for myself.’ “
“I decide for myself.” Wow. Each “man is his own God.” Double wow.
Lacking any framework for morality outside his own mind, he obviously made decisions based his own internal framework, which the book makes clear he made up as decisions presented themselves.
Ultimately there were thousands of different drugs available on the website along with the equipment and supplies needed to cook any kind of dope you wanted to manufacture. Later on (see page 168) Dread Pirate Roberts allow the sale of poison, including cyanide.
According to the book, human body parts, such as livers or kidneys or bone marrow, were allowed for sale with no questions as to the source. Kidneys from China were heavily discounted from prices charged by vendors elsewhere on the planet (page 167). If you want to explore how far this be-your-own-god thing can go, ponder that, and then ponder the mindset that would allow such sales, no questions asked or explanations needed.
This is not even the end of him making up a moral framework for himself. He went even further in playing God.
Ponder the bible verse Jeremiah 17:9 from the New International Version in relation to the idea of deciding for yourself the difference between right and wrong, between good and evil:
The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Continued in part 3.