Happy Thor’s Day
Humanists as a general rule, dismiss the need for religion to be moral. Humanists for the most part simply see that anyone can act ethically and morality if they simply tap into their humanity. That is act on their better nature as human beings. I concur with this.
There is some thoughts that to be a humanist you have to be atheist, but I reject that as well. I think in large part those we call founding fathers were also humanists of a deist variety and I am as well. I don’t dismiss the idea of creator or creators, I just don’t think that, whomever they may be, has any vested interest in policing our morals. That’s up to us to define as the creators, if they exist, have left questions of morality and ethics to us.
Time to Look Through the Eye:
Faith never cured me of being a dick. Not once did my faith in Christ lead to a better morality. That choice was always my own. I would say also that I have seen the concept of ‘faith’ used for great evil as old ladies send parts of their social security checks to preachers on television who promise prosperity through giving. All the while the prosperity comes to them at the old ladies’ expense. Greed justified through ‘faith’ is an old story, and one of the great proofs that religion is no guarantee of morality. Far from it. You can also add people wracked with guilt because they were sick and that was because they didn’t have enough ‘faith’.
I have watched in my own ministry as religion has been used to justify unethical and immoral things:
- Because of the Christian notion of submission of wives to husbands, I saw sexual, physical, emotional and mental abuse perpetrated by men toward their wives.
- Because of the notion of ‘seed faith’ I saw greed justified as people would plant their seed but the preacher would harvest.
- I saw harsh religious judgment as people would literally throw off good friends and even family members simply because they did not believe as they did or left the faith. This one I have recently personally experienced. I used to have 370 or so Facebook friends. I cut myself off from a mere 80 or so but now I have 205. That’s 85 people who simply dropped me after I announced I wasn’t a Christian anymore. Nice.
- I have watched people who, believing the end of the world was coming, ran up their credit cards and quit good jobs to be come reclusive only to find themselves in serious trouble afterwards. This is the best example I can come up with of stupid behavior caused by religion, but I could list so many I might have the content for a book in and of itself.
That’s just my experience, historically speaking Christianity has the one problem every religion has, a creation of an ‘us’ verses ‘them’ mentality that leads to taking actions against them to justify exaltation of us. It gets worse when you consider some theologies.
Historically speaking Christianity has not had a good moral track record.
- The Catholics killed, raped, tortured, etc. people who left the faith. They branded anyone different who did not hold their faith and punished them accordingly. The repressed any genuine scientific and philosophical pursuit if it contradicted the teachings of the church. The Spanish Inquisition wasn’t an anomaly, it was normal operating procedure for the Catholic church.
- The Protestant Church was no better. I would say that the Western expansion into Native American territory and the genocide of indigenous population in the United States was largely due to the Calvinist religious belief held highly at the time of manifest destiny encouraged by the notion of Predestination. You don’t have to treat people as equals or human, if you view them as predestined for hell.
- Regardless of stripe, the moral codes of Christianity are probably responsible for more emotional, mental and other forms of abuse. Shame and guilt due to imaginary problems that force human beings to act against their nature lead to depression and low self-esteem which preachers exploit. In some cases, people have committed suicide rather than face the fact they can’t live up to the code placed upon them.
- Cultist behavior is present in Christianity and all religions. I love it when Christians try to differentiate themselves from what they perceive to be cults. Mostly they will say they don’t try to control people’s sexuality or money. So what then of this sins of sexuality list and the doctrine of tithing? Religions all have cult behavior. All of them.
For me I think I live by two notions: 1) I don’t need religion to be spiritual and 2) I don’t need religion to be moral. Spirituality and ethics are found in ourselves, in our humanity. Religions tap into that, but they twist it to their own purpose. They find ways to interpret the rules to slide through a side door into greed, lust and all the other seven deadly ‘sins’. It’s a game of moral “I am better than you.” – not spirituality.
“Do no harm” and “Treat others as you would want to be treated” in some form appear in every religion. The problem is I can say both of these and not be religious. It is the strongest indicator that Christopher Hitchens was right, that morality comes from simply being human, but religions steal that notion and then add their own so that certain groups of people gain and others lose. There is nothing moral about that and to pretend there is, well, that is just indoctrination talking. Sorry, spent too much time as a religious person to not know that is true.
Continuing to Walk the Path,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.