Humanity should move beyond religion?

Porkopolis makes some overly broad generalizations about religion in general:

Considering that

  • Religion is a man-made institution [Before arguing this point, first take on in your mind a belief in a ‘God’ you currently don’t believe in – like Amun, Akua, Centeotl, Zeus or The Flying Spaghetti Monster and make your best argument against that entity. Then use that same argument against any belief in ‘God’ you may have];
  • Logic leads us to the Golden Rule without having to resort to religious doctrine;
  • Religion is used to justify acts of inhumanity;

Humanity should move beyond religion.

Let’s not be so quick to sing the praises of cold-eyed, godless evolutionary worldviews.
Some religious zealots have killed lots of people, and Islamic fascists certainly max out the crapulence meter in that department. However, religious murderers are mere pikers compared to the paragons of atheistic society: the communists and secular socialists. Militant atheists Mao Tse-Tung, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Adolf Hitler all hated believers (especially Christians). In the Twentieth Century alone, they and their governments racked up a body count somewhere in the range of 100 million to 120 million people.
And what about the claim that morality can be explained as an evolutionary survival strategy? Sorry, that doesn’t explain morality at all, as Greg Koukl illustrates:

There is one question that can never be answered by any evolutionary assessment of ethics. The question is this: Why ought I be moral tomorrow?

The evolutionary answer might be that when we’re selfish, we hurt the group. That answer, though, presumes another moral value: We ought to be concerned about the welfare of the group. Why should that concern us? Answer: If the group doesn’t survive, then the species doesn’t survive. But why should I care about the survival of the species?
Here’s the problem. All of these responses meant to explain morality ultimately depend on some prior moral notion to hold them together. It’s going to be hard to explain, on an evolutionary view of things why I should not be selfish, or steal, or rape, or even kill tomorrow without smuggling morality into the answer.

Evolution may be an explanation for the existence of conduct we choose to call moral, but it gives no explanation why I should obey any moral rules in the future. If one countered that we have a moral obligation to evolve, then the game would be up, because if we have moral obligations prior to evolution, then evolution itself can’t be their source.

There’s no way anybody can tell me “you ought to _________” … that is, if there’s no such thing as objective moral standards imposed by a transcendent moral Lawgiver.
P.S. — Before my pork-busting colleague cries “foul!” at the mention of God, I would encourage him to consider the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

4 comments

  1. Porkopolis

    ‘Racking up a body count’ by definition goes against the Golden Rule. The historic facts of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man are indeed facts, but not an argument for an transcendent Lawgiver.
    With regards to: “There is one question that can never be answered by any evolutionary assessment of ethics. The question is this: Why ought I be moral tomorrow?”
    We ought to be ‘moral’ (treat others as we want to be treated) because it maximizes the outcomes (ala Game Theory) for all individuals involved as noted in the study referred to at: Generous players: game theory explores the Golden Rule’s place in biology.
    As to the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA)…for arguments sake let’s accept that it is a ‘logical’ argument which concludes that the Universe must have a ‘creator’.
    The ‘argument’ itself then falls apart when its very methodology is then applied to the ‘creator’ KCA comes concludes with in its argument. Or put more simply, what process created the ‘creator’?
    If you’re in for a dime with the KCA argument you have to be in for a dollar as well; i.e., applying the KCA ‘search algorithm’ to the question of the ‘creator’ itself.

  2. TNP

    The big-time body count of the godless dictators and monarchs of world history is explained by the sinful nature of humanity. And the old argument of “infinite regression” (if God made us, who made God) can be dealt with this way: we are accountable to our Creator. If He has a Creator, He’s accountable to Him and that’s His problem, not ours.
    Questions: 1) Why is there something rather than nothing? 2) How do you account for the basic rationality of all that exists from the sub-atomic level to the furthest reaches of the known universe, rationality expressed as the weak force, the strong force, electromagnetism, gravity, length, width, height, time, light, energy, matter and radiation of various kinds? 3) Who determines what’s “fair.” Who decides why murder is always wrong (not killing; murder)?
    4) What is life? 5) And that old standby, what’s the purpose or meaning of life? Science measures things and can often tell us answers to who, what, when, where and how–but never why. I want “why” answers to questions like those above. No man-made “philosophy” can give them.

  3. TNP

    I’ll try one more time. Server error kicked me out this afternoon.
    The big-time body count of godless dictators and monarchs is explained by the sinful nature of humanity. And the old argument of “infinite regression” (if God made us, who made God) can be dealt with this way: we are accountable to our Creator. If He has a Creator, He’s accountable to Him, and that’s His problem, not ours.
    Questions: 1) Why is there something rather than nothing? 2) How do you account for the basic rationality of all that exists from the sub-atomic level to the furthest reaches of the known uiverse, rationality expressed as the weak force, the strong force, electromagnetism, gravity, length, width, height, time, light, energy, matter and radiation of various kinds? 3) Who determines what’s “fair”? Who decides why murder is always wrong (not killing, just murder)? 4) What is life? 5) And that old standby, what is the purpose or meaning of life?
    Science measures things and can often tell us answers to who, what, when, where and how–but not why. I want answers to “why” questions and the materialist can not provide them. Indeed, no man-made “philosophy” can provide them. I have found the answers to the “why” questions in the Old and New Testaments of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. And I praise God for it!

  4. William

    Check out wg4humanity@blogspot.com
    I agree that humanity needs a direct connection to God without religion dictating the only venues to receive the love of God. i enjoyed the issues you have addressed and I think we should chat and maybe figure out a way to make our dreams a reality. Humanity accepting responsibilty for it’s position in life is one of them and the evolution of thought is another.
    Humanity is the one tie that binds us all