Pt.5 – Six Answers For Everyone [Anyone] … You Pick

To re-cap from part 1:

I’ve been meaning to do one of these questions ‘things’ for some time. Having just posted the What Now part 2 post, I think it might be time for one of these.

It’s just six questions from Dive In Scripture so don’t get too excited, right. I don’ t have a plan here. I’m just going to answer them as they show up on the page.

Gah!! That took some effort to answer just “question #1” so it looks like this is  going to be a ‘six’ part series. All this pretending that there were only six questions is making me feel math challenged.

So lets see what is on the menu for the part 5 question(s). This is another long winded question…. they always are.

5.    If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people, so whose opinion matters most?  Whose voice will be heard?  Whose tastes or preferences will be honored?  In the long run, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway?  Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong?  Where do those standards come from?  Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy.  Human taste, opinion law and culture are hardly dependable arbiters of Truth.

The first sentence starts out badly.  <– I can reuse that sentence in all 6 parts, I think. Ha!

Apparently the questioner is doing the critiquing wrong. You do not use god to critique religions and religious people. You can use the fact that god is imaginary to do so but then that is like there is no god. Perhaps they mean that we must use their god’s morality to judge religions and religious people because then then ask whose opinion matters most. Truly, this is simple. To me, my opinion about religions and religious people matters most. There is no objective morality so my opinion will always matter most to me. Always. Even if I have to change it. Because it matters most to me, when I find new information I change my opinion to match what I learn which is better.

The voice that will be heard? It is always our own voice that we hear. Our own tastes and preferences. If there were objective morality there would be only one religion. If we did not listen to our own voices, tastes and preferences there would not be 30,000+ sects of Christianity. We pick and choose what we find moral and not. Ask any monotheist who works on the Sabbath or chooses to not own slaves because they think it immoral.

We pick our own objective morality because that is how evolution has left us. There is a very long list of things which we make judgments on each day. We all judge everything around us as to whether it is dangerous or not, good for us or not, pleasant to be around or not and so on. We do this because no one else can do it for us. No matter that we might adopt a value system from other than ourselves, we use it and make the judgement calls ourselves. Final veto say is ours in all things we do.

Through evolution humans have come from a group of social species. These animals were cooperative animals with  complex social constructs. Over time we have decided what works well and what does not. In this process we arrived at a set of normative values for the society/group. Our empathy allows us to understand what another is experiencing or may be thinking and also gives us the ability to sense in some way the pain and suffering of others. From this it is nearly universal that killing the weak, sick, feeble, defenseless, or young is wrong because it is bad for society on the whole and not something we would want done to ourselves. When exactly the law of reciprocity was invented or ‘codified’ is unknown but it is nearly universal throughout human history regardless of society. On this one precept all morality is based, and all morality is subjective.

Finally, our questioner equivocates morality and truth. These two are not the same thing no matter how often they are seen together. I can almost hear them saying that if a thing is true it is moral but this falls apart when I say that it is true that rocks are dense. Morality does not apply to that truth.

The most irritating thing about this question and others of its ilk is that it presupposes that humans are by nature cruel, murderous, uncaring, and sociopaths. In general, we are not. There are those of us who are, but in general, not so. Believers pick up guns and start killing people too. (Newton anyone?) Monotheists have a long  history of killing anyone that did not agree with them. I can’t think of an example where people were killed for not being atheist. Even other mammals demonstrate empathy and social values. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that they don’t get that in church.

Morality is subjective… always… for everyone.  We have and will always use our own tastes and preferences to judge the world around us. This is what we do, even when we pretend we are using some god’s version of values.

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