Friday, July 13, 2012

Ethics and religion (by anon)

I was directed to a "youtube" video when I searched the name Lawrence Krauss on the internet at the recommendation of a philosophy professor. I watched this video with great interest as it explains a possible scientific reason that "there is something instead of nothing." By this I refer to the existence of existence itself. Life, the Universe, and everything as some would like to say it. There were links to related videos, of which I selected a debate involving Christopher Hitchens. I immediately fell in love. This man could command his wits in a rational and entertaining way that I envy. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, I urge you to seek out any of the debates which he took part in regarding religion in order to remedy this. ) The point of his arguments was this: religion is not only wrong, it is immoral.

Struck by the fact that I tend to agree with what he said (in many, but not all cases) I re-examined my own status in society. I am a single parent. My daughter is now the tender age of five years. I recently gave up drinking, and in my search for alternative behaviors I began to attend church as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. I found people who were supportive and who did not spend much time drinking there. The church served a purpose for me and at times I found myself embracing the spiritual side of the proposition. Since beginning my philosophical studies I have found it a good resource of people who are willing to entertain obscure and improbable propositions about the nature of reality. In light of Christopher's words I have found myself increasingly apprehensive of the possible manipulations that I may have been exposing my daughter to. Upon reading some of Mr. Hitchens' personal history I am put a little at ease in that he himself was the subject of religious indoctrination, but I also am yet on my guard as he seemed to be an exceptional intellectual and not of any garden variety. This intellect may have offered some natural protection from bigotry, and intolerance. 

So, am I visiting an injury upon my daughter? Is it better to cut my ties with this organization and flee to some other place? The answer is not clear to me. Hitchens makes a very convincing case, to which I would have something to add. If the atrocities that have occurred and do occur in the name of advancing religious beliefs are real, then how can I or anyone in good conscience build anything moral upon the back of such a development? What I mean is that the current position of the Christian church has been made possible by cruelty, fascism, racism, sexism, murder, rape, you name it, and yet the members of that church work to support the product of those horrible facts. This is tantamount to condoning the obove mentioned actions.  Can I then in good conscience participate in this? It is hard to justify. The only justification I can think of is that terrible things have been done by many other types of groups, but the problematic idea Hitchens has successfully argued here is that religions grant justification to these actions through the proposition of supernatural directives. It's like saying that the end justifies the means. The end being the comfort the current proponents of a religion receive, and the means being the entire history of attrocious behavior that led up to the current manifestation.


  1. Hitch is no more!

  2. Well, we can't take back what has happened in the past. We can regret it and say it should not happen again, yet bad things still happen today in the name of religion. So it is best to get rid of the absolutist religious nonsense that warrants extreme violence, and if we need to, we can keep some of the ideology behind religious texts, the ideology that comforts us and gives us the feeling of purpose and meaning in life. We can view texts such as the Bible as inspriational literary works, yet we needn't condone or accept everything from those texts and everything else that goes along with certain religious belief systems. We can form completely new perspectives on issues such as the one you are addressing and have satisfying results without feeling guilty or foolish... through a constant cycling and recycling of ideas and perspectives..