In the Mind of God...
GIVEN: I believe that somewhere in the Mind of God, or among the Platonic Ideal Forms, or in the Pure Land that some Buddhists believe in, there resides the Perfect Good for Humans. This Good is unachievable by real, physical humans; even if they lived only as disembodied souls, they still could not hold on to and pursue this Good w/o interruption or diminution.
Q1: Then why believe in it at all?
A1: Because even the most depraved of people seem to retain some sense of decency and some ability to distinguish right from wrong. No one is devoid of all Good, so it seems to exist, if only as an Ideal.
Q2: All right, suppose it does exist, so what?
A2: This Perfect Good has been expressed in many pieces of human literature, philosophy, and religious texts, with varying degrees of imperfection.
Q3: Okay, again, so what? How would we detect it?
A3: Well, if even the most depraved retain some sense of The Perfect Good, then "normal" people should be able to detect even more of this Perfect Good, through discussion and debate with one another, often using the human texts that contain It as a touchstone.
Q4: Well, if you're just going to reach a consensus on The Good through dialectic, why even use these old texts at all?
A4: Because I find when I or other people reason completely in the abstract, w/o any text or tradition to anchor us, we usually don't get too far. Also, it is a way of showing continuity with our past and respect for who and what's gone before, even as we build on it or change it. We are not giants - we are pygmies standing on each other's shoulders. It is text + tradition + ongoing interpretation that imperfectly intuits and presents The Perfect Good to each new generation.
Pretty tame stuff, I know. So much more bland than saying "Every word of the Bible is TRUE DAMMIT!" or "The Bible is just WRONG DAMMIT!"