6 comments on “Life Without Religion Part 1 – Good and Evil

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Rockyroad, and I would go a step further and say that the existence of a set of divine, handed down rules by which to live as a ‘good’ person, unfortunately has a significant OPPOSITE effect. If a human being has the backup of knowing that they’re already an acknowledged sinner, and can simply apologise next Sunday at church, there’s an obvious tendency for some people to be ‘not-so-nice’ at other times. This leads to all manner of excuses for maleficence. A much more powerful set of morals is attained by internal psychological development, though this does open the question of an individual’s ability to learn, and the potential for sociopathy to become internally justified. Parental guidance at a very early age is implied, but I wonder if as you say, we’re born with the ability to discern helpful and unhelpful paths for not just ourselves, but our community (herd). 🙂

    • That’s a very good point. I’ve seen the whole ‘Sunday Catholic’ syndrome with my own eyes (in-laws, what can you do with them?) and it can be damned ugly.

      In terms of children growing up – I think that’s also where the community comes in. We’re herd animals, biologically speaking, evolving via tribes for whom bringing up children was a community task, not just two parents. Schooling children against sociopathic behaviour would be part of that.

  2. What gets my goat, is the incredible arrogance of theists. *If* there *is* a god, what mechanism allows them the luxury of assuming *they* know the nature of this god? This goes to scripture – religion is based on a historical human (or humans), egocentrically deciding for the rest of us, that *they* know what god is like, and proceed to foist on others, *their* set of morals! Thence develops groups who differ in their *opinion* about the details of their respective gods, based on earthly evidence, and proceed to shoot each other (or worse). Societal evil in the (disgustingly disguised) name of good.

  3. Exactly – when you press them, they say that you can’t know the mind of god. But when left to their own devices, they say they know exactly what god wants. Theists are the epitome of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

    I’ve always thought that really, if god had wanted us all to worship him, he’d have found a better way to communicate what the hell he wants, instead of leaving us with this confusion of mess. Seriously – is this the best he can do?

  4. Our ‘morality’ evolved. The reason we don’t need the bible to be moral is because morality came first. An excellent book that discusses how our shared moral machinary evolved and functions is called ‘moral minds’ by Marc Hauser. The book inlcudes the classic moral dilemma, the trolley problem, presented in a clear and thoughtful way using a number of scenarios. What becomes most obvious is how unhelpful the bible is in trying to work our way through these difficult thought experiments. I invite everyone to go to his web page and click on the link ‘moral sense test’ and give it a go yourself…

    Also, whenever a religious person tells you how moral the bible/religion is, I’ve found it an excellent tactic to memorise the reference for some of the nasty quotes from the bible. It stops the fundamentalists from pressing thoutlessly on and every now and again it makes the intelligent religious people think…

    • Thanks for the tip – I hadn’t heard of that book but I’d love to read it. And yes, I’m doing the same as you in memorising those less savoury bits from the bible. There’s plenty to choose from.

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