Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Religion as a basis for morality

In his book The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky writes the following “if god does not exist, everything is permitted.” According to Dostoevsky, and theists in general, once you remove God from the equation, there is no reasoning for morality.

The fear of the lack for a secular moral basis, is a big reason for the religious appeal to otherwise rational people.

After observing the behavior of both groups, the theist and the atheist, I’ve noticed that it’s simply not the case, and often it’s even the opposite, morality for religious people, tend to extend mostly to people sharing the same believes, and even then it doesn’t necessarily include business practices, or when it contradicts the individual’s self interest.

I recently came across the United Nations human development report, while going over the list, it was apparent that the atheistic societies, are ranked on top for gender equality, charity, and the least homicides, and the bottom is populated by the most religious societies.

The dileama of morality, why be moral, or why are we moral, is an ongoing debate within the philosophical community, almost every philosopher struggled with this question.
There are a range of different theories for morality; they include, morality being entirely influenced by exterior reasons, to it being an innate quality.

One of many, is the social contract theory by John Lock, according to this, it’s a choice society has made, for its survival, and comfort, (Lock used it first as an explanation for morality, Socrates and then Plato used it as the foundation for social law) and the Richard Dawkins theory, caring/sharing being innate due to evolutionary sexual selection.

I hope that at some point humanity will discover a conclusive reasoning for morality, in the mean time, I’ll focus on the phenomena of theists being less moral then their contemporaries.

First let’s take a look at the text that is supposed to be the moral grounds for religious morality, they include the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Quran, in there the danger of using god as a moral authority is apparent, there you get reasoning to kill in the name of God when the underlying reason is nationalism and ignorance; it’s the cradle of racism and bigotry.

The above is a testament to what happens when God is used in a subjective manner, to serve the needs of the day, God did not create the golden rule, and so didn't he order genocide, but only in the name of the organized ideal, the good and the bad has enough merit, to make its believers act in his name and only in his name, since otherwise this same individuals, wouldn't be able to morally justify, such immoral behavior.

It’s the same when it comes to personal moral reasoning, if you use God as a moral source, you are left with a subjective outcome, when the reasoning for being righteous in personal or business dealings, is because of the word of God, you will have the backing of God when ones subjective consciousness leads him to a biased outcome, even if it’s not morally right, and once you have god on your side, there is no need for second guessing you are not even allowed to.

On the other hand the theist who is moral let’s assume because of the social contract theory, there will be a constant measure for morality, does the outcome fit into the contract, and even if personal bias would lead to the wrong conclusion, at least there is no religious conviction, therefore he/she would constantly second guess themselves.

Monday, August 3, 2009

21st century contradictions

We live in a fast paced society, events, issues, and innovations [technological and scientific] diminish, vanish, and are rendered obsolete.

They are rapidly replaced by new circumstances, knowledge, and discoveries; it’s what we call progress.

I didn’t write for a couple of months due to personal challenges, and my last post seems to have been written decades ago.

Luckily there is evidence that these events and people existed and were in the limelight in the not so distant past, just Google the names Sara Pailin or Dick Cheney.

Sadly enough progress on the issues of Religion, Racial divide, or for that matter most issues that are results of ignorance, progresses in a much slower, or even at a backwards pace.

You could have a discussion today with a stranger on the street, and if you would close your eyes, you might experience a fast paced ride to the past, right into the middle ages.

The other day I was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness missionary, a nice young gentleman, who took upon himself to spread the word of God, to the unfortunate sinners out there.

At first I was repulsed and said no, but he was polite and persistent, an interesting combination.

Then curiosity crept in, why does he seem so confident? A want to make him question arose in me.
I decided to go for it, (I started out by asking him, what makes you so sure that there is a god, and your religion presents his word. Most of his explanations and proclamations, where prototypical religious dogmas and believes. Perhaps the whole debate should be dedicated for another post.)

In the middle of conversation I was shocked by his proclamation “did you know that the whole evolution theory was recently debunked, it was in the papers,” and quote “they found a fossil [presumably they are the scientists] that debunks it all.”

I opened my eyes looked around, I realized there are cars buses passing by, looked at him again, he was well dressed, perfectly groomed in short everything looked so 21st century, forward moving and yet his words, beliefs.

I realized that there are millions of people, who cannot and will not recognize, and accept all the scientific discoveries and revelations, progress that has been made especially since Charles Darwin introduced his book On The Origins Of Species in 1859, on understanding our origins, all the proof that our universe is billions of years old and that its constantly evolving and expanding through the force of nature, due to ancient believes and myths despite of clear proof to the contrary.

The two realities science, knowledge, and proof on one side, and darkness, ignorance, and superstition on the other, one progressing forward and the other backwards, the contradiction was very blatant.

I’m happy to report though, that when our conversation was over, that confidence was shattered.

Another recent event I was astonished by is the Professor Henry Gates arrest controversy.

Here we have our first African American president Barak Obama, and professor Gates who teaches at Harvard, Yale and other universities for over 20 years.

If the only conclusion individuals that are leaders of our society, to an arrest for something that has been reported as a burglary, is that it must have been an act of racial profiling, since the individual making the arrest is from a different racial denomination by, then how could it be that the same racial group entrusted them with the task they currently perform Obama as president and Gates as educator.

They wouldn’t have been able to be where they are at, should their understanding, on the state of our progress as a society been true.

Yet again a stark contradiction exists, some move forward and others by backwards.