Does Morality Depend on Religion? EMP Chapter 4 pp. 52-67 1 Religion-Morality In the popular mind, there is a connection. Note the Moore example in the text. People commonly believe that morality can only be understood in the context of religion. Clergy are deemed to have authority on this basis. Most philosophers find this view to be baseless. Some see the universe as a cold, meaningless place,
devoid of value and purpose, as described in Bertrand Russells A Free Mans Worship (50). Others believe that behind the scene is a loving and an all-powerful God whose plans and purposes are realized. The conception of God as a lawgiver who created free agents who can choose to accept or reject his commandments is proposed. DCT (Divine Command Theory) and Natural Law Ethicswant to connect religion and morality 2 Divine Command Theory According to DCT morally right means commanded by God; morally wrong means forbidden by God. Solves two ethical issues: ethics objectivity is not just
feeling or custom but a matter of Gods commands and behind the question of why be moral there is ultimate accountability. However, difficulties in the interpretation and application of DCT abound, even for believers. Can right be defined as what God commands? (see below) Does God give one command or many? Does God command everyone or just specific individuals (who are chosen how?). Does God command types of acts (i.e. the Decalogue) or specific acts (commanding the slaying of Isaac in Genesis 22)? 3 DCT on the Horns of a Dilemma Rachels suggests that we consider a dilemma from Socrates' question in Euthyphro. If divine command theory is true then either: P: Right conduct is right because God commands it.
God commands or requires us to be truthful. God makes moral truths true. OR Q: God commands or wills what is right (morally good) because it is right (morally good). God recognizes truth. 4 The Dilemma for DCT If DCT is true then the acceptance of either P (God commands) or Q (God recognizes) followssince these choices exhaust the possibilities. However, for theists, accepting the truth of either view has negative ramifications. Therein lies the dilemma.
Form of the Dilemma: Given P v Q, PR, QS R v S Accepting P makes morality mysterious, arbitrary and implies that if God doesnt exist, then all is permitted. PR Accepting Q makes moral standards independent of Gods will and since God merely recognizes right and wrong, a theological conception is unnecessary. Hence the theory is impious and untenable. QS 5 DCT's Dilemma-1st Horn If what is right (morally good) is right (morally good) because God commands or wills it, then there is no reason to either care about Gods moral goodness or to worship him (R).
If morally good acts are good because they are willed by God, an omnipotent God could will child abuse (53), rape, murder, lying, and genocide. But a God who could command abhorrent acts, would not be worthy of worship since if God were to command rape, murder, and genocide, then those acts would necessarily be morally praiseworthy. (See Bible) Moreover, if Gods will is constrained, then he is not omnipotent. However, in a theological view there are reasons to care about Gods goodness ,to worship him, and to see him as omnipotent. Therefore: It is not the case that what is right (morally good) is right (morally good) because God commands or wills it. DCT is false. 6 DCT's Dilemma-2nd Horn God commands what is right (morally good) because it is right (morally good). Standards of rightness or moral goodness are independent of God. If moral laws hold independently of God they would thus be binding on Him. Thus, God is limited, not
omnipotent. Moreover, morally good acts would be independent of Gods will. Hence, it is possible for acts to be morally good without their being willed by God. DCT must be false. Consequently, DCT is rejected by most theists as untenable and impious. 7 DCTs Appeal/Problem There are theological reasons why the theist might be attracted to the divine command theory and want to defend it. God is claimed to be the creator of all things, and, therefore, the creator of our moral obligations. God is claimed to be sovereign, to have the authority to tell us how to live our lives. However, DCTs dilemma shows that we must either regard Gods commands as mysterious, arbitrary, and give up the doctrine of the goodness of God, OR admit that there is a standard of right and wrong that is independent
of his will, and give up the theological conception of ethics. (See page 54) Theology and ethics must be connected in a different way says Aquinas. 8 The Theory of Natural Law Natural law theorists see morality & purpose in naturethe world is an orderly rational system where each thing has its own proper place and is serving a particular purpose. Christian scholars borrowed extensively from Aristotle. The laws of nature tell not just how things are but how they ought to be as well. (55) Animals obey natural laws out of instinct, but man has the capacity of choice and is able to obey or disobey the laws of nature. In ethics, believers in natural law hold (a) that there is a natural order to the human world with values and purposes built into its very nature (b) that this natural order is good and laws of nature describe how things ought to be, and (c) that people
therefore ought not to violate that order that is shown by the dictates of reason. 9 The Theory of Natural Law Representative quotations from people who see purpose in nature: The root of evil is not being in accord with nature Augustine. Confessions of St. Augustine The likenesses to the divine nature are imprinted upon every creature according to the creatures receptive capacities, greater or less in each case thus every creature carries, more or less, the sign of its Maker. Raymond Lully: "Doctor Illuminatus", theologian, b. at
Palma in Majorca, between 1232 and 1236; d. stoned to death by Saracens (i.e. Muslims) at Tunis, 29 June, 1315. Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly. Aristotle : The philosopher The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno. 10 The Theory of Natural Law Question: Can we determine what is right and wrong by understanding nature properly? The difficulty concerns how we are to select those
aspects of natural behavior which can legitimately serve as guides to moral behavior. Are we to model ourselves upon the peaceful habits of sheep or upon the internecine [mutually destructive] conflicts of ants? Is the egalitarianism of the beaver or the hierarchical life of the bee the proper exemplar of human society? Should we imitate the widespread polygamy and numerous instances of homosexuality in the animal kingdom, or are there some higher regularities of which these are no more than misleading instances? Again, if the purpose of sex is procreation, then any activity not conducive to making babies is unnatural. (homosexuality, masturbation, oral sex, etc.) 11 The Theory of Natural Law
Rachels suggests that natural law theory is generally rejected for three reasons: Whats natural is not necessarily good: peoples selfcenteredness, disease, and disasters. TNL seems to confuse is and ought. Facts and values are logically distinct. Sex produces babies, but it does not follow that sex ought or ought not to be engaged in only for that purpose. (57) TNL conflicts with modern science and the conception of natural laws working blindly without purpose. Moreover, Religion provides no special access to dictates of reason since man has the capacity to act morally based on his rationality whether he is a believer or not. If moral judgments are dictates of reason, then morality is independent of religion. 12 Holy Books Evidence of these books (Bible-Christian, Koran-Muslim, Bhagavad-GitaHindu, etc) containing the word of God? Holy books disagree about Gods character,
intentions, actions, and existence. People believe what they are taughtdespite weak grounds for belief. People determine to believe without reason. Religions unverifiability, which is an essential feature of religious belief, can cause frustration because there are no means to adjudicate disputes. 13 Church & Scriptures For many, the teachings of the church and the Scriptures are what counts. Can't find specific guidance but you can generate it by making much ado about little. Can find much contradictory guidance. Text example. Scriptures and church tradition are ambiguouspeople
look in a religious text for confirmation of what they already believe. The text exampleThe power of positive prayer: cash and Christianitytrust in the Bible to make you rich. The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Lifein the popular tradition of much greed is good guidance. The prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. (KJV) 14 Scripture Selection: Abortion debate
Abortiontake passage out of context and twist it to your purposes. Compare Jeremiah 1: See text page 59. The meaning in context relates to the assertion of Jeremiahs authority as a prophet and Gods intending him to be one even before he was born. vs. Exodus 21 on the sanctity of the fetus [in context of the law of ancient Israelites. 22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. [a fine for killing a fetus] 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. [Here the fetus seems to be regarded as something less than a person]. 15 Church Tradition
Church opposes activities that thwart natural processes (61) Fetuss status is determined by the souls entering the bodywhen this is has changed. Church tradition, like Scripture, is reinterpreted by every generation to support its favored moral views... Right and wrong are not to be understood in terms of God's will; morality is a matter of reason and conscience, not religious faith: and in any case, religious considerations do not provide definitive solutions to most of the moral problems that we face (62-63). Morality (rational, revisable) and Religion (irrational, un-revisable): two completely different subjects. 16 Scriptures and Contradictions: one case
Is divorce ever permissible? Divorce is never permissible. Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery. -- Mark 10:11 Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery. -- Luke 16:18 Only when the wife is unfaithful Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery. -- Matthew 5:32 Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery. -- Matthew 19:9 When the 'unbelieving' partner chooses to leave
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. -- 1 Corinthinians 7:15 When the husband is displeased with his wife When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. -- Deuteronomy 24:1-2 17 Religion as a Form of Life Reject consideration of the statement God exists is true if and only if God exists. Non-realist approach focuses on religious practices and how we live. Prayer to God over a childs illness understood as an expression of anguish rather than an attempt to influence Gods will or a belief in or expectation of the possibility of prayers efficacy.
However, this undermines the very intelligibility of religious practice. Why would such a perspective be considered? Perhaps, to save the appearances? 18 An overview of what follows In recent times, the masters of suspicion raise doubts about religion. After considering the writings of Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, it is hard to still have the traditional view of religion along with an appreciation of these masters. They all arouse suspicion about the purposes and motivations of religious thinking and religious practices. This characterization of these thinkers is made by a Catholic philosopher Paul Ricoeur, which is
discussed in the Self Under Siege by Rick Roderick. 19 The Three Masters of Suspicion Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Marx sees religions enablers as an intrinsic part of the ruling class who provide the means to keep the masses enslaved religion both soothes and deludes the exploited masses. Nietzsche casts doubt on the purity of the motivation of religious peoplereligion has it basis in resentment and is a throwback to a slave morality. Freud suggests religion is a by-product of unconscious desires and wishesillusions that are insusceptible of proof. 20
Masters of Suspicion-Marx For Marx, while religion appears to have a concern for transcendence and personal salvation, its true function is to distract people from the inhumanity of working conditions, provide support for the capitalist elite, and make the misery of life more endurable for the masses by serving as the opium of the people. 21 Marxs Criticisms The basis of irreligious criticism is this: man makes religion; religion does not make man. Religion is indeed mans self-consciousness and self-awareness so long as he has not found himself or has lost himself again. But man is not an abstract being, squatting outside the world. Man is the human world, the state, the society [Religion] is the fantastic realization of the human
being inasmuch as the human being possess no reality. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. From Critique of Hegel. Today opium (and a myriad of other drugs both the legal and illegal) is also the opium of the people. 22 Masters of SuspicionNietzsche For Nietzsche, the purpose of religion is to make the weakness and resentment of the masses as expressed in slave morality more respectable by promoting the virtues of pity, industry, humility, and friendliness. Master morality promotes wealth, healthfulness, cheerfulness and the following of ones natural instincts as a human being. Religion is the refuge of the weak. See RTDChapter 9(70-73).
23 Substantive Criticisms of Religion Criticisms by Nietzsche: Christianity has taken the part of all the weak, the low, the botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism to all the self-preservative instincts of sound life; it has corrupted even the faculties of those natures that are intellectually most vigorous, by representing the highest intellectual values as sinful, as misleading, as full of temptation. The most lamentable example: the corruption of Pascal, who believed that his intellect had been destroyed by original sin, whereas it was actually destroyed by Christianity!... When the centre of gravity of life is placed, not in life itself, but in "the beyond"--in nothingness--then one has taken away its centre of gravity altogether. The vast lie of personal immortality destroys all reason, all natural instinct-henceforth, everything in the instincts that is beneficial, that fosters life and that safeguards the future is a cause of suspicion. from The AntiChrist 24
Nietzsche-2 Whoever has theological blood in his veins is shifty and dishonourable [sic] in all things. The pathetic thing that grows out of this condition is called faith: in other words, closing one's eyes upon one's self once for all, to avoid suffering the sight of incurable falsehood. People erect a concept of morality, of virtue, of holiness upon this false view of all things; they ground good conscience upon faulty vision; they argue that no other sort of vision has value any more, once they have made theirs sacrosanct with the names of "God," "salvation" and "eternity." I unearth this theological instinct in all directions: it is the most widespread and the most subterranean form of falsehood to be found on earth. From The Antichrist 25 Masters of SuspicionFreud-1 For Freud, religion is not a source of hope or comfort in the face of lifes difficulties but an illusion that merely expresses ones wish for
a father-God. We must ask where the inner force of those [religious] doctrines lies and to what it is that they owe their efficacy, independent as it is of recognition by reason. I think we have prepared the way sufficiently for an answer to both these questions. It will be found if we turn our attention to the psychical origin of religious ideas. 26 Masters of Suspicion-Freud-2 These, which are given out as teachings, are not precipitates of experience or end results of thinking: they are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in the strength of those wishesthe terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection through love which was provided by the father; and the recognition that this helplessness lasts throughout life
made it necessary to cling to the existence of a father, but this time a more powerful one. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the dangers of life; the establishment of a moral world-order ensures the fulfillment of the demands of justice, the prolongation of earthly existence in a future life provides the local and temporal framework in which these wish-fulfillments shall take place. From The Future of an Illusion (page 38) 1961. 27 Freuds Criticisms For Freud, religion is an exercise in mass delusion and serves mainly to keep people in a state of psychological infantilism. Religion as wish fulfillment offers up the figure of an enormously exalted father to assure us that that there is meaning and purpose in life and all will be well. Religion intimidates intelligence with its demands for unconditional submission to inscrutable laws and keeps us from distinguishing between fact and wishful thinking. Ramifications of these
suspicions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPPewt rF9q4&feature=player_embedded 28 More Criticisms Is this religious ideal the only ideal for people to follow? Many philosophers think not. From Jose Ortega y Gasset Revolt of the Masses: When one speaks of "select minorities" it is usual for the evil-minded to twist the sense of this expression, pretending to be unaware that the select man is not the petulant person who thinks himself superior to the rest, but the man who demands more of himself than the rest, even though he may not fulfill in his person those higher exigencies. For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures:
those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves. 29 Religion Questions Religion is the experience of the Holy. Rudolph Otto. The Idea of the Holy. This experience is extraordinarily diverse. Is religion in any sense objective? Christians versus Muslims heaven? What about the Buddhists nirvana? How does religious experience relate to religious movements? Whats the status of numinous (divine or supernatural) and mystical apprehensions? Personal relationship with God?
30 Philosophers Questions about Religion Religions & violence: Most philosophers insist all ethical judgments are human judgments. Appeals to an unverifiable God (an imaginary friend, no matter how exalted) are irrelevant as a source of morality. Since religions are based on a persons relationship with unverifiable supernatural forces, killing for religious reasons is always immoral. Justifications based on nonexistent threats or resource scarcities such as salvation, sacred space, divine revelation, and group privileging are always immoral. 1 Samuel 15:3Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox,
and sheep, camel, and donkey. Isnt this what we call genocide! 31 HarrisReligion as a Style of Irrationality This world is simply ablaze with bad ideas...The contest between our religions is zero-sum. Religious violence is still with us because our religions are intrinsically hostile to one another. Where they appear otherwise, it is because secular knowledge and secular interests are restraining the most lethal improprieties of faith....It is time we acknowledged that no real foundation exists within the canons of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any of our other faiths for religious tolerance and religious diversity...our religious beliefs can no longer be sheltered from the tides of genuine inquiry....to presume knowledge where one has only pious hope is a species of evil... Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. The universe is shot through with mysteryNo myths need be embraced for us to commune with the profundity of our circumstance. No personal God need be worshipped for us to live in awe of the beauty and immensity of creation.
From The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris [p.225-227] 32 Harris2 While religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction, it is still sheltered from criticism in every corner of our culture [Books that offer us the most dilute wisdom regarding the present are still dogmatically thrust upon us and are a continuous source of human violence.] We are the final judges of what is good, just as we are the final judges of what is logical. There need be no scheme of rewards and punishments transcending this life to justify our moral intuitions or to render them effective in guiding our behavior in the world. The only angels we need evoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance,
hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devils masterpiece. From The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of 33 Reason Gods Funeral by Thomas Hardy I saw a slowly-stepping train Lined on the brows, scoop-eyed and bent and hoar Following in files across a twilit plain A strange and mystic form the foremost bore. II And by contagious throbs of thought Or latent knowledge that within me lay And had already stirred me, I was wrought To consciousness of sorrow even as they.
I III The fore-borne shape, to my blurred eyes, At first seemed man-like, and anon to change To an amorphous cloud of marvellous size, At times endowed with wings of glorious range. 34 IV And this phantasmal variousness Ever possessed it as they drew along: Yet throughout all it symboled none the less Potency vast and loving-kindness strong.
V Almost before I knew I bent Towards the moving columns without a word; They, growing in bulk and numbers as they went, Struck out sick thoughts that could be overheard: VI "O man-projected Figure, of late Imaged as we, thy knell who shall survive? Whence came it we were tempted to create One whom we can no longer keep alive? 35
"Framing him jealous, fierce, at first, We gave him justice as the ages rolled, Will to bless those by circumstance accurst, And longsuffering, and mercies manifold. VIII "And, tricked by our own early dream And need of solace, we grew self-deceived, Our making soon our maker did we deem, And what we had imagined we believed. IX "Till, in Time's stayless stealthy swing, Uncompromising rude reality
Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning, Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be. VII X "So, toward our myth's oblivion, Darkling, and languid-lipped, we creep and grope Sadlier than those who wept in Babylon, Whose Zion was a still abiding hope. 36 XI "How sweet it was in years far hied
To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer, To lie down liegely at the eventide And feel a blest assurance he was there! XII "And who or what shall fill his place? Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes For some fixed star to stimulate their pace Towards the goal of their enterprise?" . . . XIII Some in the background then I saw, Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous, Who chimed as one: "This figure is of straw, This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!"
37 XIV I could not prop their faith: and yet Many I had known: with all I sympathized; And though struck speechless, I did not forget That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized. XV Still, how to bear such loss I deemed The insistent question for each animate mind, And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed A pale yet positive gleam low down behind, XVI Whereof to lift the general night, A certain few who stood aloof had said, "See you upon the horizon that small light Swelling somewhat?" Each mourner shook his head. XVII And they composed a crowd of whom Some were right good, and many nigh the best....
Thus dazed and puzzled 'twixt the gleam and gloom Mechanically I followed with the rest. 38 Religious observations: philosophers & others I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our owna God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of the body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms (NY Times, April 9, 1955). More recently discovered, [from a 1954 letter] the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. NY Times, May 17, 2008 Albert Einstein Thomas NagelThe Last Word I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the
most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isnt just that I dont believe in God and, naturally, hope that I am right in my belief. Its that I hope there is no God! I dont want there to be a God; I dont want the universe to be like that (130). 39 Observations on Religion 2 The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams (1823). Belief, thus, in the supernatural, great as are the
services which it is rendered in the early stages of human development, cannot be considered to be any longer required, either for enabling us to know what is right and wrong in social morality, or for supplying us with motives to do right and abstain from wrong. John Stuart Mill in Utility of Religion. 40 Observations on Religion 3 Brief and powerless is mans life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for man condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow fall, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the
wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power. From A Free Mans Worship in Bertrand Russells Why I Am Not a Christian. 41 Observations on Religion 4 If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong. A knowledge of the true age of the Earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the bible in the way that fundamentalist do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it
be accepted automatically.Francis Crick in his autobiography What Mad Pursuit. Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.Isaac Asimov in On Religiosity Free Inquiry. 42 Mill: Utility of Religion (w1850s ,p1874) I say nothing of the moral difficulties and perversions involved in revelation itself; though even in the Christianity of the Gospels, at least in its ordinary interpretation, there are some of so flagrant a character as almost to outweigh all the beauty and benignity and moral greatness which so eminently distinguish the sayings and character of Christ. The recognition, for example, of the object of highest worship, in a being who could make a Hell; and who could create countless
generations of human beings with the certain foreknowledge that he was creating them for this fate. Is there any moral enormity which might not be justified by imitation of such a Deity? And is it possible to adore such a one without a frightful distortion of the standard of right and wrong? Any other of the outrages to the most ordinary justice and humanity involved in the common Christian conception of the moral character of God, sinks into insignificance beside this dreadful idealization of wickedness. 43 Fideism The view that truth in religion is ultimately based on faith rather than on reasoning or evidence. However, faith in what? (a concept of God is still needed) Christianity cannot be believed without a belief in miraclesreligion as contrary to reason, custom, and experience. (Hume) A leap into faith in opposition to reason
a self-contradiction. No knowledge can have for its object the absurdity that the eternal is the historical. Kierkegaard Philosophical Fragments (p. 50) (belief in the Incarnation of ChristGod taking human form as Jesus) 44 Bartley A retreat to commitmenta willingness to regard what is true as irrelevant. Bartley sees a need for a metacontext or an ecology for rationality: How can our intellectual life and institutions be arranged so as to expose our beliefs, conjectures, policies, positions, source of ideas, traditions, and the likewhether or not they are justifiableto maximum criticism, in order to counteract and eliminate as much intellectual error as possible? (182) An Econiche for Rationalitythe availability of the Gnostic Gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi The
kind of controversy mentioned earlier the one in which the Gnostics were defeated by the forces of orthodoxyis one of thousands of possible illustrations of a simple truth: that it is much harder to institutionalize and create a viable econiche for a program of unrelenting growth, development, and criticism than it is to create institutions and viable conditions for a self-perpetuating system of beliefs. (181) [The Retreat to Commitment, W.W. Bartley III] 45 Philosophers and Christian ethics Richard Robinson contends; Jesus says nothing on any social questions except divorce, and all ascriptions of political doctrine to him are false. He does not pronounce about war, capital punishment, gambling, justice, the administration of law, the distribution of goods, socialism, equality of income, equality of sex, equality of color, equality of opportunity, tyranny, freedom, slavery,
self-determination or contraception. There is nothing Christian about being for any of these things nor about being against them if what we mean by Christian is what Jesus taught according to the synoptic gospels [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] An Atheists Values (1964) p. 149. 46 Philosophers and Christian ethics Christian ethics is intolerant and breeds intolerance. Error has no rights doctrine (only abandoned between 1962-65 to encourage religious pluralism) and anti-Semitism have been major diseases of Christendom. Christian ethics is immoral because it works on a system of rewards (heaven) for good behavior and threats (hell) for bad and not on doing what is right simply because it is right and for no other reason. Instead of leading to self-fulfillment Christian ethics is repressive. Most modern psychological analyses of human growth and development advocate as an ethical norm an altruistic, autonomous character. Christian ethics keeps people at an immature level, because it leads to stock moral reactions regardless of circumstances. See Christian Ethics by Robert Preston in A Companion to Ethics (91105).
47 Philosophers: Religion & Respect After a discussion of an evening strained by his refusal to participate in a religious ritual, Simon Blackburn observes: But, I argued to myself, why should I respect belief systems that I do not share? I would not be expected to respect the beliefs of flat-Earthers or those of the people who believed that the Hale-Bopp comet was a recycling facility for dead Californians and killed themselves in order to join it. Had my host stood up and asked me to toast the Hale-Bopp hopefuls, or to break bread or some such in token of fellowship with them, I would have been just as embarrassed and indeed angry. I lament and regret the holding of such beliefs, and I deplore the features of humanity that make them so common. I wish people were different. From Philosophers Without Gods, ed., by Louise Anthony (2007), pp.179-180. 48 Next
Ethical Egoism (EMPCHAPTER 5 pp. 64-81) Distinguish psychological egoism from ethical egoism. Assess arguments for and against ethical egoism. What is the Tragedy of the Commons? How does it relate to egoism? 49