I Peter 2:18

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

See other: Often Ignored Bible Verses

On Creating Gods

“Man cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.”

– Michel de Montaigne

On Transparent Walls

“Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.”

– Michael Pollan

On Humility

“I have always thought it curious how poorly humility is reconciled with the egocentric belief that the Universe has been created with you in mind and that its creator takes a constant interest in your sordid personal affairs.”

– Willem Etsenmaker

Conversations: Morality and Reality

There are people who believe the only standard of morality is found in their religious texts. They often believe that unless their holy texts are accepted as “the word of God”, so to speak, there can be no universal standard of morality.

That is curious, since we can easily think of objective sources of moral order that do not require, say, the existence of a lawgiving deity.

Indeed, for there to be objective moral truths worth knowing, there need only be better and worse ways to seek happiness in this world. That is to say, if there are psychological laws that govern human well-being, knowledge of these laws would provide an enduring basis for an objective morality.

Surprisingly, this escapes a lot of people. And subsequently, one of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not.

You mean, when concerns have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation?

Indeed, I would argue that religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are in fact highly immoral.

That is, when pressing these concerns people inflict unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings?

Yes, this explains why Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, et cetera, expend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why people are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. And it explains why people can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year.

To be fair though, those are some pretty controversial topics.

Look, we are the first to admit that issues such as abortion and stem-cell research are topics that require our closest attention; so that we may, in time, come up with solutions that realise the lowest amount of human suffering, in order that the greatest amount of human happiness and welfare may be achieved. But do not worry, we will discuss these issues in more detail soon.

I wish to add that among the religious denominations that you mentioned earlier there is a substantial number of people who believe that their concerns about sex, in all their tiresome immensity, have something to do with morality. And yet, their efforts to constrain the sexual behaviour of consenting adults—and even to discourage their own sons and daughters from having premarital sex—are almost never geared toward the relief of human suffering.

Good point, in fact I do not think it cynical to say that relieving suffering does not seem to rank high on their list of priorities. Their principal concern appears to be that the creator of the universe will take offence at something people do while naked. And this prudery contributes daily to the surplus of human misery.

(Based on: Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 9-10)

See other: Philosophical Conversations

Cocksure [Adj.]

Overconfident; confident in an excessive or arrogant way.

“Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.” – Henry Kissinger