Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Morality of God

I was going to write a blog entry about what I think of the morality of the God of the bible (inspired by my previous post), but came across this gem, courtesy of The Atheist Experience. Matt Dillahunty, the co-host, sums things up better than I probably could. The first video pretty much sums up my feelings but the second one definitely continues down the line of reasoning very well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Objective Morality, Revisited

Because there was some confusion over one of my previous posts, I'd like to clarify what my views are on morality. I do think that morality is definitely objective if we agree on what the definition is. Religions have tried to squeeze their god(s) into the picture, but at its core, we pretty much all agree that "wrong" is something that increases suffering or needlessly decreases happiness while "right" is something that increases happiness or decreases suffering. If anyone doesn't agree that this definition encompasses at least 90% of their moral system, they have a poor concept of right and wrong.

The part that religions seem to add would be something like "wrong is doing whatever my god doesn't like" or "right is doing what my god commands." However, these are terrible methods by which to determine right and wrong. Like I've pointed out, if we base our standard on some being that "decides" morality, it could say that torture and genocide are good and commendable acts or that feeding your children is a despicable act of evil. Obviously, this would be absurd. However, as is evident in books like the bible, gods are often fond of commanding evil acts when it benefits them (or, more accurately, the ones speaking for them) in some way. Some examples in Christianity/Judaism would be Yahweh commanding the Israelites to wipe out entire towns and people groups because they occupied the "promised land." Before I hear any objections voice, realize there's a difference between wars fought between soldiers and an army killing all men, women, children, and babies in an area. There's just no excuse for that. Obviously, if any nation today told their military to kill every living person in a certain country, we would condemn them without question. And we wouldn't care if they said their god told them to do it. I think it's pretty obvious that "god told me to do X" is not a sufficient reason for any action. We don't give women who drown their children in bathtubs passes because Jesus told them to do it, and I wouldn't give the Israelites passes because Moses said that it was Yahweh's will. (Not that I'm implying that the Israelites actually did these things historically, but rather that the actions themselves would have been immoral.)

I'm not saying that all moral issues are black and white - obviously they're not, or we would have so many disagreements about things like socialized healthcare. Both sides of the issue, I think, want the best for the general public - they just disagree how best to implement it. Is it immoral to take money from citizens to pay for the care of others? Is it immoral to let people suffer because some people are unwilling to give money to support others' needs? I'm not sure, but do know that it is moral to attempt to lessen the suffering no matter the means by which it is achieved.

A relevant example of how "religious morality" is harming our nation is the vehement anti-gay marriage attitude espoused by many Christians, especially in the south. Analyzing this by my "objective morality" definition, I realize it is a good thing to allow homosexual marriage because it increases the happiness of the couples without increasing suffering of the protesters. I really wish everyone could see this issue as clearly as I believe I do, but some people would rather appeal to an archaic book than use their brain to analyze a position. I think it's a much more honorable thing to do to give gay couples what they should have had many years ago than to try to please a homophobic god whose existence hasn't been demonstrated to any legitimate extent.