Relgion’s morality origin issue
Posted: 30 November 2010 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I have watched a bunch of videos with Sam speaking, but haven’t been able to read any of his books because I’m only 16 and my family is Catholic and I have not told them of my atheism. What I have gathered from the videos is Sam talks mainly about the morality aspect of religion and I think this goes along well with what he talks about, so here it goes.

Most religions, particularly christianity, islam, and judaism, claim their morals come from God and that Man could not have come up with morals by themselves. Those three relgions particularly claim the other relgions are made up by man. Most relgions all have about the same morals, so their claim is false. If those other relgions are made up by man, and have the same morals, then Christians, Jews, and Muslims can’t argue that morals have to come from a divine being. They got themselves backed into a corner. They cannot make both claims.

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Posted: 01 December 2010 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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askeptic - 01 December 2010 12:52 AM

I have watched a bunch of videos with Sam speaking, but haven’t been able to read any of his books because I’m only 16 and my family is Catholic and I have not told them of my atheism. What I have gathered from the videos is Sam talks mainly about the morality aspect of religion and I think this goes along well with what he talks about, so here it goes.

You can read a lot of it on Google Books.

 

askeptic - 01 December 2010 12:52 AM

Most religions, particularly christianity, islam, and judaism, claim their morals come from God and that Man could not have come up with morals by themselves. Those three relgions particularly claim the other relgions are made up by man. Most relgions all have about the same morals, so their claim is false. If those other relgions are made up by man, and have the same morals, then Christians, Jews, and Muslims can’t argue that morals have to come from a divine being. They got themselves backed into a corner. They cannot make both claims.

We’re a social species, and just like any other social species we tend to get a long, more or less (certainly not perfectly, but more or less). We just have a lot more going on because of our huge brain-to-body mass ratio, so we’re not just hanging out in a field grazing. If we were, we’d seem very much like any other social species we can observe, without all the additional complexities. It would be nice to think we’d behave more peacefully and agreeably, like bonobos, but I expect we’d behave a lot more like chimpanzees. At any rate we’ve been a social species for about 100k years, and our proto-ancestors were social species for millions before that, so we’ve had a while to develop this generally cooperative temperament (naturally selective breeding and social/environmental pressure). Industrialization, cultural separation and population density, among many other factors, have significantly changed how we get a long (both in what ways and how well), but those are generally more surface modifications of the basic “values” we’ve developed and tweaked for many, many millennia.

But most importantly, religion is merely an identifiable set of ideas and behaviors—it’s not a Thing Unto Itself (see reification). It exists neither separately nor distinctly from us. To credit religion for our values is just a category selection, since religion is merely part of who and what we are. At most that means apologists for religion are arguing that aspect of our behavior belongs in the Religion category, so it’s not a viable argument that we somehow aren’t the source of our religious ideas and behaviors, but on top of that, when we isolate what makes religion religion rather than some other kind of social group (such as a charity or a club), it doesn’t fare so well overall. Most of what apologists like to credit to religion (like values) is found in many or most other categories. What’s uniquely religion, it’s character—what makes it what it is/how we identify it as religion rather than something else—is what I often refer to as the Dark Side (of human nature). So the whole “religion gives us our values” schtick is not only a mere category selection, it’s an erroneous one. The error is a product of socialization rather than proper analysis, and I’d argue it’s pretty much impossible for any of us to fully appreciate the power and extent of the effects socialization has on us—it defines the vast majority of who we are and how we understand reality, basically. I think of it as our operating system.

So yeah, you’re right. Our values quite clearly do not come from religion, and your test/measure of that claim—considering the similarities and disparities between religious values—is a pretty solid refutation.

Welcome aboard! by the way.

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 05 December 2010 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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askeptic - 01 December 2010 12:52 AM

Most religions, particularly christianity, islam, and judaism, claim their morals come from God and that Man could not have come up with morals by themselves. Those three relgions particularly claim the other relgions are made up by man. Most relgions all have about the same morals, so their claim is false. If those other relgions are made up by man, and have the same morals, then Christians, Jews, and Muslims can’t argue that morals have to come from a divine being. They got themselves backed into a corner. They cannot make both claims.

Refreshing insight from a 16 year old person. Good for you!

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Posted: 05 December 2010 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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“But most importantly, religion is merely an identifiable set of ideas and behaviors—it’s not a Thing Unto Itself (see reification). It exists neither separately nor distinctly from us. To credit religion for our values is just a category selection, since religion is merely part of who and what we are.”

I think you would have to say that all codes of law, ethics, morals, all philosophy, metaphysics, mythology and political systems—as well as religions—are human inventions that serve to keep human society civilized. All of these are memetic and serve as an externalized genetic code. By storing our social programming outside the body in the form of a Bible or The Vedas or Facebook, we become immensely flexible and therefore most fit for evolutionary developments in the making. All memetic codes, including science, begin with an alphabet, a number system, and specific agreed upon sounds and symbols.


I think that all humans need a memetic base program - a world view, a way of seeing the world. They need a way to sort the outside reality into what matters and why.

Religion serves as the common operating system, like “what version of windows are you running on your computer?” But like I posted elsewhere, I swear my son uploaded baseball into his brain module for religion/world view/belief system. I can’t point to where this brain module exists exactly, but it is speculated to be in the amygdala. For sure it is in the limbic system.The key point is most of the stuff that goes into the amygdala’s social program happens in the first few years of life. And this part of the brain is impossible to “reason” with. You can’t really reason a person’s religion out of them.

There isn’t enough good research available on what “taboos” are, but these little suckers are what drives religion. All religions define what is taboo. And its a pretty established fact that the incest taboo nearly singlehandedly created civilized human society. Otherwise we could be very similar to Bonobo’s sexually. Really, without religion,(or mythology) we humans would have no sexual taboos at all.

My bottom line, after 35 years of studying world religions, I have to say that the one function they continue to serve is the instillation of sexual and eating taboos. Without those, we would not have civilized human society.

Man-made laws are proven to be “iffy.” Only something with the strength of a taboo has the power to curb impulsive human behaviors. The laws that are usually obeyed are only those that are backed up by powerful taboos - which were inset into the psyche prior to the age of four or five years old.

Right and wrong cannot be left to “deciding in the moment” because if right and wrong are not deeply ingrained at infancy, they won’t become taboo. As Christian taboos break down, the new generations are not absorbing the sexual taboos of their forefathers, and without those taboos, we are very likely to revert back to our Bonobo-like human sexuality.

Bonobos punctuate everything they do with sex. They are all pedophiles, rapists, compulsive masturbators and many of them engage in what we call prostitution. This is our closet great ape cousin still living today.

If we wake up tomorrow and humanity has no more taboos, will it matter?

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