Sorry that this has to come as a post: but, it would appear that due to WordPress’s most excellent latest updates, my response to POD’s comment is too long to post as a comment.
I guess I am just a little bit too verbose…but I hate being misunderstood, so I had to reply in some length.
My reply is below:
Thank you, Peter, for the long and well thought out reply.
Let me take things in order:
It seems to me that Christianity stopped committing atrocities whenever it became separated from actual real, hands-on political power. I suspect that this will be true of all religions, secular (non-theistic) as well as theistic: it is the real-world power combined with a firm and unshakable belief that one is not just correct, but ‘absolutely right’ that produces tyranny.
Since this piece focuses on Christians forming what they hope will be a religious terrorist organization, I naturally focused on Christianity. That, plus Christianity martyred more of my family than any other doctrine – so it’s personal. Of course Communism and Islam are greater threats now than Christianity has been in the 20th century, but my point was that regardless of which religion it is, it can and will be used by some to usurp power over others. If we let them.
As for Jesus whispering similar things to people – I understand your belief in this, but there have been many wars between Christian sects all of whom truly and honestly believed to have Jesus’s true message while the other guys were idiots who were wrong. Just consider the difference between Catholics and Evangelicals on the topic of evolution: Catholics assert it is the means through which the various species were created by God while Evangelicals claim it is Devil’s teachings…
Solzhenitsyn: good book, the Gulag Archipelago. However, Solzhenitsyn himself longed for a totalitarian state himself – he just wanted the tyrant to be the Russian Orthodox Church instead of the Bolsheviks…which is really much the same thing.
As for Buddha: he was not so much enlightened as cowardly. He was in the perfect position to alleviate the suffering of the common folk, being a crown prince and all that. Instead he went and sulked in a cave….and had the nerve to accept food from the poorest of the poor, who thought it was their duty to feed him even if it meant their own children starved. Yeah, great spiritual enlightening there!
And before you go on about the accomplishments of monks who meditate: please consider their diet and that their ‘enlightened meditation’ perfectly fits the symptoms of brain damage due to malnutrition.
I would not go looking for spiritual advice there!
As for God being the foundation of morality. I did not intend to say that since God does not exist, it cannot be the foundation of morality.
I do not know whether god(s) exist or not or how we would define them. I suppose I am very much an ignostic. As such, I would need a clear definition, because different people mean different things when they say ‘God’ – and without knowing what they mean, I cannot possibly hold an opinion, much less knowledge, regarding their existence. (Having said this, I find little to no evidence that supports the existence of Bible-definined deity, and consider monotheism to be the least credible of all the theological positions – but that is not the point here.)
What I was referring to is the continued assertion by Christian apologists that morality is whatever their God defines it to be. So, if God commands genocide, then genocide is the moral thing to do. If selling your daughter to her rapist for 40 silver pieces is what God says is the moral thing to do, then that is indeed the ‘moral’ thing to do.
In other words, many Christians argue that without God, there can be no morality.
Because ‘morality’ is obeying anything and everything that God commands.
I hold the diametrically opposite view: ‘obedience’ to morality dictated from the outside (be it from a parent or God or teapot or whatever else) is exactly that. Obedience.
And obedience, in my never-humble-opinion, precludes morality.
Morality is making decisions about what is right and wrong, what is good, bad or evil. Weighing the consequences of one’s actions – then choosing what to do and living with it. Morality is reasoning from the first principle of self-ownership and deriving the least incorrect course of action therefrom.
Morality is choosing one’s actions and accepting the responsibilities thereof.
Without this decision making process, without internal locust of decision-making, there is no ‘morality’ – only obedience.
After all, how can you be held responsible for following someone else’s rules?
So, to my way of thinking, ‘obeying the word of God’ is abdicating ‘morality’ in favour of ‘obedience’.
Because doing the right thing for the wrong reason does not make you ‘moral’….it makes you, at best, ‘accidentally right’. Because you did not make the choice as to what the moral course of action would be – you simply obeyed the what somebody else decided is the moral course of action.
Sorry to go into this in so much detail, but as I did not make my position clear in the original post, I want to make sure to be more clear in my reply.
To recap: I am not saying that morality cannot come from God since God does not exist: I am saying that obeying somebody else’s rules about what is or is not moral is not morality itself, it is simply obedience because the locust of decision-making about what is or is not moral is external to one-self. And I am perfectly aware that many religious people consider ‘morality’ to be ‘obeying God’s commands’ because they believe they are owned by God (in one manner or another). I acknowledge their belief, but disagree with them. Obedience is not ‘morality’ – or every puppy would be the most ‘moral’ creature in the world!
Which brings me to Mother effing Theresa.
Just this past weekend, I had a huge fight with a self-defined Christian apologist about Mother effing Theresa!
He had driven her around Montreal for a week and thought the sun shone from her behind!
Of course, being a fact-focused person, I know better than to buy in to the hollow propaganda about this profoundly evil person, who fetishized the suffering of others and maximized it in order to bring about her own salvation. Her clinics did not differentiate between curable and incurable patients and used unsterilized needles for all…as well as denying even child-patients life-saving medical care and all painkillers….’cause, suffering would bring them closer to Jesus!
If the evil bitch Agnes (self-called Mother Theresa, which in itself should be a hint as she was NOT a mother and it is deeply immoral of her to usurp that noble title) is your example of the good things Jesus whispers to people, then you confirm my suspicion that all religions are, at their core, evil incarnate. And that to get good people to commit evil deeds, all you need is religion….
Jesus himself: perhaps we can leave discussion of the Nazarene and his teachings for another day…
As for giving God a chance: I rather like Thor…and Tyr…and Hospodin and Baba Maja. Have you given them a chance?