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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letting Go Of God Part Three

"But you need a God to be moral."

  This is one of the more loaded fallacies that theists use when they discover someone they know doesn't believe in an old man in the sky. Folks truly believe that Biblical/Koranic laws are the basis for all that is good in the world. After all, how does an atheist know right from wrong?

  To begin with, I'll offer a scientific basis for morality. Humans are social beings, and our tribal nature requires that we must get along with one another in order for species survival. We are extremely emotional creatures, exhibiting great empathy that manifests as care for our species. Morality and a sense of justice is part of the human condition and only psychopaths lack moral definition. Because our ingrained sense of right and wrong may seem to lack a cause, we blame a creator for its presence.

Yet we are not the only moral beings. Even though theists claim humans are the only creatures with souls, that is a defined sense of right and wrong, it should be noted that elephants, cats, dogs, and even fish exhibit a large array of emotions. Elephants hold funerals for their dead and wolves assign special tasks to wounded members. A family pet will often risk his life to protect a child. Behaviours like grooming and play solidify tribal bonds that lead to long-term survival. A group is a more formidable opponent than an individual and those that create disorder are shunned in both human and animal community alike. 

  But, let's get back to modern-day man for a minute. How does it feel when you see suffering? If you're someone like myself, it is justifiably upsetting. We wish the things for others that we wish for ourselves- lives of happiness and fulfillment, health and prosperity. We do not wish to torture people or take their liberties because we would not like it if someone did such things to us. Whether or not one believes in a God should have no bearing on whether or not he or she decides to do good things for others. If a person's only reason for being kind to another is because of fear of some supernatural punishment, the person is a sociopath. 

  And on the subject of sociopathy, it should be noted that there certainly are God warrior psychopaths. Marcello Palma believed he was doing the work of God when he murdered 3 of my friends in 1996. The man who shot George Tiller thought he was acting under divine command. Mein Kampf is littered with references to God and the belts the SS wore bore the term "God with us.". And if you read the Bible or Qu'ran you will discover massacre after massacre in the name of this mighty God. The Prophet Muhammed married a 6 year old and Moses' armies killed infants and pregnant women and kidnapped virgins to serve as sex slaves. Jesus himself admonished Jews for not killing their disobedient children and Lot impregnated two of his daughters whilst drunk. We warn our kids about theocracies like Uganda and Iran because there is absolutely nothing moral about their Abrahamic laws. 

  It is very easy to have solid morality without holding a personal God. All one has to do is look at the world and ask whether someone is happy or sad, sick or well, and see what can be done to change the situation. The well-being of other people depends on such things as keeping criminals away from the public and promoting the education of children. If the joy and suffering of others are not good enough reasons to do good works, you may have a far larger problem than God. 

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