Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sam Harris on the Feasibility and Superiority of Secular Morality

I think it is one of the weakest arguments that Religious people make when they claim that people need religion as a necessary condition to have a moral compass.  Especially when you actually read the crap that passes off as "moral guidance" in the bible.

The worst outcome of the religious-based morality is that they do not follow a system that intends to minimize suffering and increase love.  There are such divisive aspects of religious-based morality that result in the exact opposite (e.g. "God Hates Fags", anti-birth-control policies that result in teen pregnancy that ruins lives, etc.).  And then there are the passive fundamentalists who believe that all they need to do is believe in Jesus as their personal saviour and they will go to heaven without having to account for _anything_ moral in this life.  These folks offer up some of the most vile, divisive policies such as the late Jerry Falwell did during his life.

This is my favorite section of the article that nicely summarizes some very damning criticism of the bible as a moral compass: - The Official Richard Dawkins Website
If a book like the Bible were the only reliable blueprint for human decency that we had, it would be impossible (both practically and logically) to criticize it in moral terms. But it is extraordinarily easy to criticize the morality one finds in the Bible, as most of it is simply odious and incompatible with a civil society.

The notion that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality is really quite amazing, given the contents of the book. Human sacrifice, genocide, slaveholding, and misogyny are consistently celebrated. Of course, God's counsel to parents is refreshingly straightforward: whenever children get out of line, we should beat them with a rod (Proverbs 13:24, 20:30, and 23:13–14). If they are shameless enough to talk back to us, we should kill them (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18–21, Mark 7:9–13, and Matthew 15:4–7). We must also stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes.

Most Christians imagine that Jesus did away with all this barbarism and
delivered a doctrine of pure love and toleration. He didn't.

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