The Falsidical Paradox Of Religious Morality

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. – Steven Weinberg

A Falsidical Paradox is where an absurd conclusion appears to be supported by a good argument, but further scrutiny reveals a hidden fallacy lurking in the argument, after all. This is blatantly apparent where religion-based morality is concerned. Our society has been conditioned to believe that morality goes hand-in-hand with religion and that “God is good, all the time.

The paradox within this conception is the belief that anything that God commands could be considered good. The foolishness of this belief should be obvious to any thinking person, as would be the very nature of the diverse interpretations of holy books and the resultant actions that are perpetrated on our society. This paradox allows no way to predict what God might desire next. Ergo, bashing babies on rocks, annihilating entire populations and eating human feces would just as likely be as “good” as loving your enemy, giving to the poor and taking care of widows/orphans only by virtue that they are all commands (desires) of God.

On the other hand, if god given commandments are based on the inherent goodness of an act, then we have a standard of goodness that is independent of God. Thus, God cannot be the source of morality and we must seek it though the world in which we have evolved through the concept of  “enlightened self-interest,” which is behavior that maximizes the intensity and duration of personal gratification while cooperating with others in a selfless, altruistic manner.

Moral Education…

The task of moral education is to help people predict the consequences of any actions they are considering. What will be the long-term, short-term and immediate rewards? What will be the drawbacks and how will my actions affect my fellow human beings? This is the basis for morality, not the fear of punishment or hope for a reward by a mythical and non-existent deity.  The religious version of morality and its accompanying degradation, bigotry and intolerance is the result of vain attempts by ignorant men of long ago to accommodate human needs by basing moral and ethical behavior on the perceived commands and desires of mythical deities.  We know better now, or at least we should.

When mystical elements are introduced into morality, the whole system ends up being corrupted. A supernaturally based morality is removed from the natural human realm, where it is needed, and placed in an imaginary one. This removes human responsibility and allows horrific acts of violence to be passed off as morally acceptable if only for the sole reason that someone believes a god told them to do it.

If you do not agree, then consider how religion can justify as morally acceptable actions such as genital mutilation, honor killings and flying airplanes into buildings. These are only a minuscule example of what happens when non-empirical and competing ideologies are flooded into a multi-cultural society. Serious doctrinal disputes often result in war and terrorism.

Human Need…

The basis of a secular moral code is human need.  Goodness is not a gift from God, but an entirely human emotion that supports basic human rights, needs, wants and desires and stands in opposition to what denies those principles. We do not need a supernatural deity or an ancient holy book to determine this. If we stay the course of what religion interprets as morality then mysticism will completely prevail over logic and reason and we will retrogress into complete barbarism.

When a society believes that knowledge must be acquired the divine, it loses its ability for the rational conceptualization of values. This is because these values are stripped from the reality of this life and placed in an imaginary next life. This is a recipe for disaster. Rejecting reason as the foundation for morality results in the well-documented and anti-intellectual attitude that resides at the core of most religions and makes it easy to accept the falsidical paradox that comprise acts of immorality being accepted as the “higher ways of God” that mere humans can have no hope of understanding.

It’s Not Rocket Science…

There is nothing mysterious about morality. What benefits us is moral, what is treacherous to us is not.  The immorality of Christianity promotes the belief that humanity is born into the world already immoral, depraved and unable to do anything good apart from God. The bible even compares us to “filthy rags” in the sight of God’s eyes. Reason or logic do not even enter into the picture. Believers cling to the tenet that only the bible, with its primitive system of rewards and punishments, can hold society together. What they fail to understand is the level of decay within modern society that is due to the unquestioning acceptance of religious dogma and doctrine.

Religious morality may appear to be a rock-solid concept that would have us believe “moral” and “godly” go hand-in-hand. But, in truth, it is harmful and benefits no one, is detrimental to the health of the individual and has negative ramifications to society when a literal acceptance of any “holy” book is adopted. It results in a false view of reality, destroys self-esteem and causes division on many different levels.  If our species is to survive, we must remove ourselves from the self-induced mental torture chamber that is religion.

 

  10 comments for “The Falsidical Paradox Of Religious Morality

  1. jj7212
    November 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    For some reason I’ve been very interested in your essays lately, Mr. Stefanelli. Not only are they well written, but your points are very clear and focused. I appreciate your efforts to kick these subjects out in the open for discussion. The things you say seem to mirror my own thoughts more than most other atheist writers. It’s nice to really connect with another persons ideas, I guess… I’m glad to have discovered your blog!

  2. Herman
    November 17, 2011 at 3:43 am

    “If our species is to survive, we must remove ourselves from the self-induced mental torture chamber that is religion.”

    What kind of sad upbringing did you have?

    The other question I’d ask, if we all just die in the end and there’s no meaning to life other than what makes us feel good or selfishness, does it really matter if our species survives?

    Bombs away asshole. I just hope you know how to survive in the Thunder Dome.

    • Al Stefanelli
      November 17, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I had a wonderful, secular and happy upbringing, free from spankings and lies from my parents about invisible men in the sky, hellfire and damnation.

      Yes, it matters if our species survives, if only to evolve from people like you.

      • Paddy
        November 18, 2011 at 1:48 am

        Typical, Al.

        Hermann the theist (I’m making an assumption that he is one, based on what he’s saying) who purportedly follows the ways of a “peaceful” sky-fairy (another assumption), IMMEDIATELY resorts to calling you an asshole and threatens you with a lame metaphor for hell.

        I can only guess that we are indeed making inroads in eradicating this mental illness, based on the instant escalation to hostile language from civil discourse. It’s clear they feel threatened, and one must never underestimate the power of fear.

        I don’t even know what he means by “bombs away”.

        What I AM sure of is that I evolved off a different branch than he did.

        Great post.

    • bkhawkeye
      November 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      And yet, Herman, we have the Middle East, a region that is ready to tear itself apart due to religion, whether it be Judaism v. Islam, or Sunni v Shia. We have a sizable portion of US citizens and members of Congress who view Israel not as a country, but rather as the manifestation of biblical prophecy. We have the US, who will have to interject themselves in any future conflict between Israel and Iran, which arrives closer with each little tidbit of news that Iran is advancing its nuclear program. And the US will have to commit themselves to a war that will be due in no small part to different, but equally irrational religious beliefs. If there is ever a WWIII, that’s where its starting, and a significant portion of our country will be all too ready to wipe those brown people off the earth.

  3. Sandman
    November 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

    The real world applications of “religious moralty” are manifest in both history and modern society, and go much further, in much more insidious ways, than the grand guignol acts of turning airplanes into missiles.

    For example

    How many rich cultures have been destroyed by Christian missionaries? From the Maya to the Australian Aborignies this went on, and still continues to this day in places like Papua New Guinea and S America.

    In the US how many kids die each year because a parent decides majic oil and praying are a substitute for medical attention?

    How many more are brutalised and beaten because some evangelical parent views them as chattel because “God says so” and that shiny faced lunatic pastor told them so? After all, that book they bought off Amazon written by a pair of pig ignorant shitkickers told them how to thrash thier kids and scare them to hell in a Biblical manner.

    What sort of morality is it that allows a church to cover up the crimes of a child molester because church and faith come before the law and protecting kids from paedophiles?

    What sort of morality allows the homophobic pastors to condemn the LGBT community and encourage their flock to victmise them whilst at the same time snorting meth off the back of some rent boy behind motel doors? The same morality that allows them to make teary false apologies and wash away the sins?

    Or allows a so called good christian politcian to serve divorce papers on a wife recovering from surgery in a hospital bed in a cancer ward because whle shes been sick he has been podging his secretary? The same morality that allows voters to ignore that monstrous act?

    What sort of morality is it that allows a hate flled bigoted pastor to preach on a nationally syndicated TV show that an earthquake that killed thousands was the result of some imagined pact with an imaginary cloven hoofed boogyman, or a massive flood was caused because that city allowed gay citizens a few basic rights?

    The morality of a pack of pig ignorant iron age goat herders from a back of beyond dustbowl ….. THAT morality.

    The same morality that someday may just justify some madman setting off explosions brighter than a thousand suns, or releasing some chemical or biological agent that brings on their much dreamed of sado-masochistic apocalypse fantasy.

    • carolw
      November 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      **Applause**

  4. Hazuki
    November 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Well, let’s be fair and tackle this philosophically. You just know the Craig-heads are going to come in here bleating about their supposed resolution to the Euthyphro Dilemma so let’s get that out of the way right the fuck now.

    The ED, in an applicable form, is this: “Does God command what is good because it is good [of itself], or is what God commands good because God commands it?”

    Obviously, if the left horn of the dilemma is taken, we don’t need God to point out what is good. And, much more damningly (hah) for the believer, we immediately see that Yahweh has done things which are not good. If the right horn is true, “God commands are good” reduces to the tautological “God’s commands are God’s commands.”

    Apologists like Bill Craig attempt to circumvent this by claiming that “God has a moral standard but it is part of his nature and is good by nature.” This, however, merely pushes the dilemma back a step: is God’s nature good of itself, or is it good because it is God’s nature? If the first, where is this external standard of goodness? If the second, “God’s nature is good” again trivially reduces to “God’s nature is God’s nature.”

    It’s at about this time, when someone like Shelley Kagan has taken a few bites out of him, that Craig retreats to statements such as “my internal witness speaks of the truth.” Irony of ironies, the man worships his own mind!

    • UseAsDirected
      November 20, 2011 at 4:08 am

      Thanks for expressing so succinctly the major reason why I hate Craig and his faux intellectualism.

      • Hazuki
        November 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        ‘Welcome 🙂

        I am not ashamed to admit that at first presuppositionalist apologetics scared seven shades of shit out of me, because I simply did not know how to deal with it.

        The whole house of cards came tumbling down once I figured out that “presupposition” is a fancy word for “axiom.” Craig et. al can twist around and bleat all they want that “inner witness of the Holy Spirit” isn’t question-begging but the reality of how our minds work gives the lie to it.

        They do not understand that they subscribe to the “Cartesian theater” delusion, the idea that there is a cool, quiet, unflappable unified “self” sitting somewhere in the midbrain. Modern neuroscience has shown that our consciousness is fragmentary. Ignorance of this fact leads to self-worship and fallacious reasoning of the sort that is exemplified by Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism.

        Would that I had known all this in 2009! I might not have lost a lover…

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