[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]. . . people who are generally treated well, treat others well. When someone does really awful stuff we call them ‘sick’. So we can shift morals right out of religion into the mental health field. . . .
Beach, using the above as one example, we’re in the process of removing morality-as-we-know it from our world. We have no need for religions and their ancient guesses about how the world and the people within it function.
Yes, certain churches take on charity causes. So what? Will social work just come to an end when religion finally dies out? Of course not. Superstitious worrying about heavenly entities has no place in today’s world.
Religious morals, or for that matter secular moral philosophy, seems to me to be only a mirror of Human Morality that has developed through evolution. (Dawkins explained this very well)
Therefore, it will continue to exist without religion, but without religion, the morality will be more rational. That is: not accepting horrors in the name of God, or turning the blind eye everytime you read something awful in the bible. And also that we measure morality logically. I.e. that homosexuality becomes a matter of taste while murder is still wrong.
This is not to say that we can trust every Tom, Dick and Harry to be moral without guidance. But the strength of any moral philosophy is not so much that it tells us what’s right and wrong but that it makes us think about it. I think that being mindless about it will get us into big problems.
Anyway, if you take a look at the far east, you see that they have religions that are not religions in our sense of the word with gods and spirits, but still works to spread moral philosophy. I think the same stability can be achieved with Western, secular human rigths, as long as they seem rational and useful to us. And if you ask me, we’re there already. If religion ever was needed, it’s not needed anymore when our modern secular moral far surpasses the Christian moral.
I like your view. I tend to agree with most everything you have said. However, I would disagree with the usefulness of religions of the east, or at least how I understand your words.
I believe religions have to go period. It should not matter that Buddhism and such do not necessarily worship god. They still have the opportunity to be taken to extremes. I would argue that any religion is beautiful and useful if not taken into the realm of fundamentalism. Only a human philosophy can eliminate the potential of a non-rational exploitation. Or possibly, it may be worth floating the idea of teaching a true religion class where students are exposed to all the religions deemed useful or coherent on equal footing. Religion taught as philosophy on equal footing with Plato, Einstein, and the like could possibly be a solution.
I guess I’m asking how you would propose to solve this problem. So, what do you think?
[quote author=“MDBeach”]However, I would disagree with the usefulness of religions of the east, or at least how I understand your words.
That was only meant as an example of a non-spiritual moral philosophy that works (in the sense that it creates stability and predictability). I’m not in favour of the Eastern variety, but most important it’s not something I know much about.
Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound like I was being a jerk. I was only trying to get someone to explain how fundamentally the religions on the west are different than those from the east. I am not following why Sam and others seem to be preaching that this type of religion would be better. To my uneducated eyes, the east religions have the same problems as those here. If I am wrong, someone tell me.
[quote author=“MDBeach”]Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound like I was being a jerk. I was only trying to get someone to explain how fundamentally the religions on the west are different than those from the east. I am not following why Sam and others seem to be preaching that this type of religion would be better. To my uneducated eyes, the east religions have the same problems as those here. If I am wrong, someone tell me.
Don’t worry, I didn’t interpret you as a jerk. :D
I haven’t interpreted him the way that he wants an Eastern style non-spiritual religion, but that he compares it favourably to Christianity/Islam/Judaism. And he also believes that we need some sort of common moral as opposed to moral relativism. In that sense, I certainly agree with him. The complete moral relativism is impractical and dangerous as well as an utter abhorrence for the religious people that we want to “convert”.
When these bigots have problems understanding how an Atheist can be moral, then the last thing we should do is to say that there is no right or wrong. Moral absolutism is wrong, because it is a god of clay, but that does not mean that common sense and the rule of law is not a good thing.
[quote author=“MDBeach”]I agree with your general arguments, however, isn’t a foregone conclusion that Christianity needs to be removed from society? Or at least from power? How can we remove religion without having some philosophy to replace it?
No. Yes. Probably not pertinent.
Religious faith needs to be kept from having any significant influence on politics, but I don’t think it needs to be removed from society. It might be nice, but I strongly suspect that which is religion would simply manifest itself in some other way, and it probably wouldn’t be functionally distinct at all from religion. Religion is an ugly aspect of human nature manifest as an institution that validates and justifies the ugliness. It’s accompanied by a lot of good aspects of human nature, just as all of the best, most convincing lies are wrapped in truth. I’m all for trying to weaken the influence of religion and, by all means, testing my hypothesis, but I’m doubtful of the likelihood of success to a very significant degree (which is why I say the question of what to replace it with is probably impertinent).
[quote author=“MDBeach”]I am not attempting to find a philosophy for myself, I am worried about the people with less than perfect IQ scores that simply can’t reason the way we do.
I don’t think reason is a function of IQ. IQ may make one’s ability to reason more effective, but highly intellegent people can be pretty sorry critical thinkers, and fairly humble intellects can reason pretty effectively. It’s the difference between intelligence and wisdom (intelligence being how effectively one acquires knowledge, wisdom the skill with which one applies knowledge).
[quote author=“MDBeach”]Discussions about individual morality are great and all, but what do we do with the people that lack the capacity to even understand what morality and ethics even are?
The question is really just from which community do such people get their guidance. People don’t really derive their ethics directly from religion, they learn them from the people around them, whether those people use religion to justify those ethics or empathy or social science. The idea that people somehow get their sense of ethics from religion assumes it’s something separate from us, but religions are just constructs of the human mind.
Alright, I have reached a stumbling block in my new way of thinking.
hope we can help!
What philosophy to guide morals and ethics does Sam or anyone recommend for general use?
In general, that we base moral decisions on their impact on human potential, suffering, happiness, health, security, freedom- or more generally, to use critical thought about the outcomes of our choices, as opposed to unthinking adherance to dogma.
I am of the opinion that Sam’s books blanketly dispose of all known or possible theories for a philosophy to replace Christianity in mainstream American culture. I do not see how religion can even possibly begin to loose its grip without a relatively useful philosophy to fill that void. How can we take away what is perceived as the Christians and Muslims and every other religion as a holy mandate of ethics and morals, without offering a guide to replace it? Do we honestly think we can rely on every Tom Dick and Harry to set their own guidelines? Our systems are already completely out of wack. How can we fix this?
Well, you observe that in America “our systems are already completely out of wack” though it is predominanty Christian (otherwise, there would be no Christianity to remove from mainstream America!) So the Christianity we have has not ensured an enviable society.
One could argue that America has a “twisted” version of Christianity, and that a “better” interpretation or implementation would fix things. I would point out that less religous nations, eg most of Western Europe, exhibit less social ills. This suggests that a solution to social ills would be to reduce the influnce of religion, not to “correct” the dominant one.
I also think the premise of the question is faulty. American morality doesn’t have much to do with the Christian Bible’s: we gave up slavery a hundred years ago, while the Bible commands us to make slaves of non-believers. We generally look down on spousal abuse, yet the Bible commands a husband to murder (by stoning) his wife in public on their wedding night, if he discovers that she is not a virgin. Even though those standards are un-American, Jesus agreed to these Biblical laws. So while there is some standard of morality in mainstream America, it isn’t strictly Christian. I suspect your question confuses Christian dogma with morality in general- Letter to a Christian Nation advocates removing the influence of religous dogma, while enhancing morality by bringing it into accordance with the human experience.
So we all seem to agree that religion needs to be removed from politics. I could not agree more.
How would you percieve the idea to take it one step at a time and remove religion from politics first, and then rehash our issues with religion? Strategically, that would seem more likely. The Christians are already starting to see (in small numbers) the ignorance of voting for a candidate due to religious affiliation. However, these politicians have created their own form of religion with the buzzwords democracy, terrorist, freedom, and resolve. How could we eliminate empty rhetoric? If you openly challenge the presidents words or explanation, you are already labeled a conspiracy theorist, which is the equivalent of being labeled a heretic by the Christians. So how do we address this?