Lately, there has been an increased level of discussion in the social networks and blogs on the topic of morality. The lines that are typically drawn regarding the necessity of religious belief as a pre-requisite to morality have not changed, but the level to which the religious apologists have had to take their arguments have. The mental gymnastics that the faithful have to navigate in order to reconcile their immoral doctrines, dogmas and beliefs with the reality of what morality is has become epic. One of the main reasons for this surrounds the increased role science is playing in the understanding of non-religious altruism, ethics and secular societal values.
According to the theist, their particular deity is the sole source of morality. Consequently, their doctrines do not allow for the existence of morality apart from belief. The sectarians believe that at one moment or another, their god effects a supernatural change within them, and at that moment they achieve the ability to be moral agents, free or otherwise. This can get convoluted, particularly when you take into account the belief amongst some Christians that morality is taught in the bible, and the bible cannot possibly be properly understood unless one has been given the ability to understand it, and that ability can only come from their god, be it directly or through a savior or prophet. Somewhere in there must lie a connection to Kevin Bacon…
In a nutshell, before god, you are serving evil (Satan, the Jinns, whatever) because you do not have the capability to act from a moral perspective and no matter how altruistic, philanthropic or otherwise generous and good-natured you are, your motives are impure you will still end up being eternally punished. After god, you are no longer serving evil, just as long as you follow the correct and approved commands as interpreted by whichever cult you happen to belong to. Make no mistake, every religion, no matter how big, modern or seemingly relevent to the wants, needs and desires of a post modern world is a cult, and they are all a variation of the same lie.
Morality can be defined as an act or action that is the result of the decision-making process that reflects the point of view of the individual actor. However, the decision-making process of the believer stems from their indoctrination and their faith that their decision is in line, or acceptable, or commanded by the deity they follow. While making decisions based on religious faith, blind or otherwise, is viewed by the believer as the height of morality, it is actually highly immoral. This is quite obvious given the large numbers of people who hold bigoted and discriminatory points of view toward a variety of groups and individuals that do not conform to their beliefs or acknowledge the validity or existence of said particular deity. Good examples would be the LGBT community and in many cases, the misogynist behavior toward women.
The willful ignorance toward the collective intelligence and empirical evidence that makes up the scientific community plays a large role in the divide between secular morality and the religionists concept of morality. True morality is secular and non-sectarian. This results in behavior that is modified by decisions that have a positive effect on society as a whole, that embrace humanity and are accepting of different lifestyles. Religious morality does not allow for behavior modification toward humanity, but rather utilizes the fear of punishment and hope for reward as the motivating factors in the decision-making process. While the fear of punishment often has results that only affect the individual believer, the hope for reward has far more outreaching effects.
Religious morality has spawned one of the most detrimental and destructive behaviors that have ever effected the human race, and continues to have adverse consequences on our species. While Christianity has been responsible for the murder of countless millions, it’s kissing cousin, Islam, is catching up fast. But the murder of almost a billion people in recorded history that can be directly or indirectly attributed to religion is not the behavior I am referring to. It is evangelism, and it is not limited to the Christian faith.
Evangelism has been and continues to be the biggest contributor to the destruction of indigenous cultures, which makes it one of the most immoral and reprehensible behaviors ever to eliminate from humanity. Allow me to digress by using a word inspired by the faithful when I state that missionaries are pure evil. Even though the two main world religions go about evangelism in different ways, the result is always the same. The simple fact is that evangelism has little to do with saving souls. It is nothing more than pure self-preservation. It is the venue that allows the memetic mind virus of religious belief to self-propagate at alarming rates.
So we can now see where evangelism is that catalyst for one of the oldest pyramid schemes in the known universe. Threaten the believer with punishment from god if they do not go out into the world and bring god to the godless, which they are to accomplish by threatening the godless with the punishment of god for not believing, and when they become a believer, threaten them with the punishment of god if they don’t go out and get more converts. The reason why so many people who get “saved” end up reverting back to their pre-conversion selves has nothing at all to do with blaspheming the holy spirit or any other nonsense. The fact is there was no supernatural change. The evangelists have not changed the person, but scared them into changing their behavior. Where is the morality in that, I ask you?
The fact is that we are social animals and our morality, when separated from religion, is the product of evolution. Communities of gorillas and chimpanzees have no religion or belief in god, but yet they behave in ways that show they honor their mothers and refrain from killing their brothers and sisters. And although anti-social behavior exists in all primate societies, so do ethics, morals and altruism, everywhere and at all times. Humans are sensitive to the emotions of other humans, and emotion is contagious. Mentally healthy individuals are happy when in joyful situations and sad when in miserable ones. We are even happier when we are around other happy people, and thus, it is in our nature to make others people around us happy.
Morality and ethics revolve around how we solve problems. When we use dogma and doctrine to solve problems it retards the evolution of our species. True morality is goodness that is independent of theology, thus an imaginary god cannot be the source of morality. The task of moral education is not to spew forth a list of commandments from an ancient holy book, but to help people to predict the consequences of actions they are considering. The basis for morality and ethics is making educated decisions based on the perceived rewards or shortcomings that will be inflicted upon society. Religious morality is, in fact, immoral because it is chock full of unnatural degradations, bigotries and intolerance and serves to accommodate human needs by basing behavior on the perceived commands and desires of ancient mythical deities that were invented by ignorant men.
Al Stefanelli is the founder of the United Atheist Front, an international coalition formed to promote an Atheist Worldview and science as the primary venue for enlightenment and discovery. Visit the United Atheist Front on the web, Facebook and Twitter.