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.
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.
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.