Not a gift from heaven

Sure didn't come from upon high...

Question. Say you wake up one fine morning and you switch on the news and Lo! the woman with the plastic smile informs you that all religions have been abolished and that all the devotees of this good earth have gone back to doing more sensible things like (please insert sensible human activity of your choice / or what you would rather see the devotees doing if they were not bogged down by ritual – mine involves flamingos – don’t ask!)

What would you miss the most? which aspect of organized religion would you look back on with innocent nostalgia? say whenever you see a picture of Santa in the local museum and mutter to yourself  “man those were the days..”

Personally I’d miss that oh so delightful feeling of feeling morally superior to the pious. Its what puts a smile on my face whenever I hear a fatwa declared in my name.


Why We Don’t Believe – Morality : The Immoral Minority

The phrase “The Moral Majority” is a self confirmation of most religious groups. They claim to have the moral high-ground, but do they? A lot of moral things that they do include punishment of the “immoral.” Stoning and beheading are commonplace in Saudi Arabia. This happens in a watered down version of lynching in some western countries. Sri Lanka accommodates these idiocies by changing laws to suit these religions(eg. banning selling of alcohol and meat on Poya Days).

Lets look at some of the so called morals. Well, there’s the 10 commandments, five precepts, the 5 pillars, seven deadly sins and you can go on and on listing all the thousands of religious moral codes in the world. Which one is the right one? Obviously, any religious person answering that will say, “Mine is.” If that is the case, we can instantly assume there isn’t an ultimate moral code. If we look at the commandments as an example(I will go into the others further detail in another series), we can see that most morals are about obeying and believing in God(s). The few good morals listed are not that important to believers as it shows in the current state of the world. George Carlin had a better set of Two Commandments: 1. Don’t kill, 2. Don’t be dishonest. There is a better version that I have heard, which is “Don’t be bad.” and bad defined as whatever is considered bad at the time.

There are some who say atheists have no morals .I have heard amoral people being called atheists, in Sri Lanka. If that is the case, the jails of the world should be filled with atheists and no religious person should(or is it the case that we are so ingenious to evade the law). And even if religious people are moral because of their belief in their religion, will they start killing and stealing if their belief is shattered.

Religions have in the past(and even in the present) been used to justify genocide, misogyny, homophobia, slavery and torture. Are these the morals that are superior to the secular sense of morality that we all share? There is even a correlation of the opposite. The terrorists that planned and carried out the attacks on the New York Twin Towers were devout fanatics; Catholics and Protestants killing themselves in Northern Ireland; and what about those priests molesting little children.

Current understanding of evolution states that most of these morals are not necessary to be in the “holy” books. There is a huge evolutionary advantage of being “nice” since this attitude is likely to be reciprocated(will go into detail in a later post). Furthermore, even the “Golden Rule” that is in both Christianity and Buddhism(in a abstract sense) were pre-dated by the philosopher Confucius. Moral philosophers are doing a far better job than any religious text, but these do not have the rigidity of religious text and can change with the moral zeitgeist. So, who are the moral ones, the ones who do good deeds because of their fear of a God and their afterlife, or the ones who are moral just because it is a good thing to do?