Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Religion Does Not Inspire Morality

Morality: A system of conduct relating to principles of right and wrong.

Far too often we hear preachers or other religious believers ask:
 "If you don't believe in god, then where do you get your morality from?"
They don't ask us if we are moral or examine our lives to see if we are moral, instead they focus on the source of our morality.  Why? Some may ask for legitimate reasons and actually be curious to understand, but I would suspect most do it to divert the subject away from the truth - the truth that you do not need a god or a holy book to be moral.

If religious believe is the superior method of obtaining morality, then we should see believers acting in a moral fashion, but do we?

Let's compare two groups at opposite ends of the spectrum - Catholic Priests and the American Academy of Science. The former is a highly devout religious group that has devoted their lives to practicing their religious beliefs and instructing others.  The other group has a very high percentage of atheists (~90%).  Which group do we see molesting children with a higher frequency?  The priests.  I realize that this is just a small segment of the population, but if the religious method is so much more superior to the secular method, these two groups should not even be close let alone reversed.

We see scandals among high profile religious leaders (e.g., Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, Jesse Jackson).  We continually hear about scandals with politicians and we all know that an atheist doesn't have a prayer of being elected.  The prisons are full of Christians and "born-again" Christians.

Oh, there will be the excuses that we are still dealing with humans and therefore believers still occasionally act immoral.  But one would think that the stronger their believe the more moral they would be. Their believe in god would sustain them through the temptation to commit 'sin'. But as we can see from the groups and individuals mentioned above that even the most devout still commit horribly immoral acts.

As an atheist, I have never committed the immoral acts that these individual have.  Maybe they should consider atheism.

While this data is not representative of an exhaustive quantitative analysis, it does illustrate that even people that are devoutly religious can be immoral. It's no wonder.  Just look at the morality of their god.

Examples of "Biblical Morality"
- Old Testament -

God murders or commands others to commit murder several times in the Bible - usually to take land for his 'Chosen' people.
God kills everything on the planet during the flood.
God kills the innocent firstborn children and animals of Egypt.
God relentlessly demands animal sacrifices throughout the Bible.
God commands people to stone a man to death simply for picking up sticks on the sabbath.
God commands parents to stone their unruly children.
Women that cannot prove virginity at marriage are to be stoned.  - No such rule exits for men.
God never condemns slavery.

Examples of "Biblical Morality"
- New Testament -

Jesus introduces the idea that nonbelievers will be tortured forever for finite sins.
Jesus supports the Old Testament Law - every 'jot and tittle' - which includes the violence noted above.
Jesus states that he is not here to bring peace, but a sword. He intends to set family members against each other.  So much for the 'family values' we hear about from the Conservative Christian Fundamentalists.
Jesus speaks in parables so that people will not be able understand his message and so, go to hell.
Jesus casts out demons and sends them into innocent pigs which then hurl over a cliff.
In Revelation, the Bible describes grisly scenes of murder and mayhem. Why not just vaporize us all?
Jesus never condemns slavery.

While this list is clearly does not cite all of the examples in the Bible, it does give a little flavor of the Bible's idea of what is moral.

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