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Religion Isn't Morality

Entry 970, on 2009-03-20 at 20:16:28 (Rating 4, Religion)

Yesterday I listened to a podcast where a scientist was interviewed about global warming. There's nothing unusual about that, but in this case he was also a Christian. I don't just mean someone who identifies themselves that way because its just a habit, I mean someone who really believes the Christian doctrine about Jesus being sent to save us, etc.

I find these people really annoying because they keep saying that faith and science are fully compatible when they clearly aren't. Its all the more obvious that they aren't compatible when you hear these people talk. Their science demands the highest standards of objectivity and proof but their faith is just nothing more than wishful thinking.

There were several occasions when the interviewer tripped the person up on inconsistencies in his beliefs but he just blindly continued and probably didn't even see that he was acting like an idiot.

Yes, that's bad enough but there's something even worse. That's the way Christians seem to think they have some sort of monopoly on morality. This person was saying that Christianity needed to be applied to the question of global warming because it was partly a moral question. He said, sure science shows us global warming is going to be bad for many people, but morality is needed to decide whether we should care.

That's partly true, but the really insulting thing is the implication that without religion (specifically his religion, Christianity) there can be no morality. This is nonsense. I could make an argument to show that its only the absence of religion which can lead to true morality.

The interviewee said his religious knowledge, including his morality, was derived from the Bible. In other words he just accepts what is written there (or at least part of it) without having to really think about what is right and wrong. Who says that accepting the opinions of a bunch of desert nomads recorded in an old book is any better than looking at all the factors affecting modern life and deriving a morality from that? Personally I think taking your morality from a book is lazy, cowardly and ignorant.

I said above that this person just picked the parts of the Bible he wanted to believe and more or less ignored the rest by labelling them as "poetry" or "metaphorical". The problem with this, of course, is that its not clear which is which. Most people think the creation myth is not to be taken literally but some people (creationists) do. If that myth is a metaphor then maybe the story of Jesus is too. Maybe the whole Bible is. There's absolutely no way of knowing which makes the whole Bible no better than a work of fiction with certain philosophical discussion inserted here and there.

If that's all the Bible is then why be a Christian? Its just totally illogical. The big problem with the whole issue is that the Bible is really just a pile of myths written by primitive tribes but people are looking for a higher level of information there which doesn't really exist. Because they are looking for something which isn't there they can see whatever they want. So people see a reflection of their own wants and needs but they still use the Bible as justification for those beliefs.

If that's the source of Christian morality then I say count me out. I would rather have a system of ethics and behaviour that I am individually responsible for, that takes accounts of modern issues, and is based on reality instead of fantasy.

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Comment 1 (1900) by Anonymous on 2009-03-24 at 15:02:43:

You overlook the fact that our modern laws, and what could be called the "morality" of the modern world, comes directly from Christianity. If we didn't have that we would be like other countries around the world which don't have the benefit of Biblical morality. Look at the countries (I don't need to name them) where violence and war is the norm. Are you saying that the would be no better off if those were Christian countries?

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Comment 2 (1902) by OJB on 2009-03-25 at 09:30:51:

I don't accept the idea that our laws are based on Christianity. There is certainly an influence from Christianity there, but there is also an influence from many other philosophies, societies, and religions. The ancient Greeks are the most obvious example. Is that not where the idea of democracy originated?

All of the basic concepts behind common laws: don't harm other people, don't steal, don't murder, etc, are common to almost every reasonable society. The stuff which is specific to Christianity: only worship the Christian god, etc, is conspicuously missing.

So, do you still think our laws are based on Christianity?

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