Conversations: Moderates and Morality

Even if a belief in God had a reliable, positive effect upon human behaviour, this would not offer a reason to believe in God. One can believe in God only if one thinks that God actually exists.

Good point. Even if atheism led straight to moral chaos, this would not suggest that the doctrine of Christianity is true. Islam might be true, in that case. Or all religions might function like placebos. As descriptions of the universe, they could be utterly false but, nevertheless, useful. The evidence suggests, however, that they are not only false but dangerous.

Slow down! Most Christians, Jews, Muslims, et cetera, cannot be categorized as fundamentalists. In fact, when talking about the good consequences that religious beliefs have on human morality, most people of faith follow the example of religious liberals and religious moderates. Consider Christians the world over, rather than say that they believe in God because certain biblical prophecies have come true, or because the miracles recounted in the Gospels are convincing, liberals and moderates tend to talk in terms of the good consequences of believing as they do. Such believers often say that they believe in God because this “gives their lives meaning.” Continue reading

Refusing to Suffer

‘He had learned that one could refuse to suffer, […].’

Nooteboom. C. 1980. Rituelen [Rituals] Amsterdam, The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij (2009) p .126

The Wisdom of the Bible

‘You believe that Christianity is an unrivaled source of human goodness. You believe that Jesus taught the virtues of love, compassion, and selflessness better than any teacher who has ever lived. You believe that the Bible is the most profound book ever written and that its contents have stood the test of time so well that it must have been divinely inspired. All of these beliefs are false.

Questions of morality are questions about happiness and suffering. This is why you and I do not have moral obligations toward rocks. To the degree that our actions can affect the experience of other creatures positively or negatively, questions of morality apply. The idea that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality is simply astounding, given the contents of the book.

Admittedly, God’s counsel to parents is straightforward: whenever children get out of line, we should beat them with a rod (Proverbs 13:24,20:30, and 23:13-14). If they are shameless enough to talk back to us, we should kill them (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Mark 7:9-13, and Matthew 15:4-7). We must also stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshipping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 5