Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

I have often noted how the religious are the masters of the self-fulfilling prophecy.  They repeatedly create the very conditions that they claim to be seeking to avoid.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of morality.  They claim that everyone needs god to be moral, then proceed to make sure this is true, as much as possible, by teaching their children that there is no other basis for morality.

Thus, they create entire generations whose moral philosophy consists of no more than "god said so".

As I have pointed out before, this is the philosophy of a small child or a psychopath.  Anyone with a modicum of intelligence should be able to see that there is more to moral philosophy than this--anyone who hasn't been programmed from early childhood not to think about the subject in depth, that is.

One of the calumnies the religious heap upon non-believers is that we have "rejected" god because we want to ignore his moral laws.  The thinking goes that we have a desire to do things that are immoral and simply reject the "source" of morality (in their minds, at least) in order to do those things and not feel guilty.

If one spends much time around non-believers (especially those who have only recently embraced non-belief) you will find evidence that could be interpreted to support this theory.  Rather than being proof of the theory, however, it is proof that religion is the enemy of true morality.

New non-believers must decide how they should view the world and the issues it presents to them once they realize that the worldview they were raised with is false.  This process can take years--both to figure out the truth and to expunge the vestiges of their false indoctrination.

They are particularly perplexed by questions of morality.  Having been brought up as believers--by believers--they have always been taught that God is the only possible source of morality.  Deeper thinking about the rules and sources of morality is completely outside the scope of their usual thought patterns.

Consequently, when one hears an atheist claiming that some basic rule of morality is solely based on religion, you can rest assured that the atheist is probably quite new to atheism--and often quite young.  There may be times when this assertion is true, such as notions that the clergy deserve more respect than ordinary folk.  But, there are other times when it is manifestly false, such as rules governing sexual behavior or the use of violence.

Those types of behaviors necessarily have long term and potentially harmful consequences and thus every society must have rules about them in order to be able to function.  And, every individual, who is not mentally ill or misled by the mentally ill, implicitly understands this and has the capacity to see that such rules would be necessary regardless of whether not obtained from a god.

The modern methods of birth control have added a layer of ambiguity to what was once a clear cut set of considerations regarding sexual behavior and this has caused some young atheists to come to the erroneous conclusion that sexual behavior is harmless or nearly so.  What they often don't yet understand is that their sexuality and feelings about sex evolved during a very long period when birth control was almost non-existent and that history has left its mark.

Sex is a very important biological function; so important that evolution has hard wired us to care a great deal about the sex lives of our partners.  For the, hopefully, obvious reason that not caring could effectively rob us of our chance to successfully reproduce.  I discuss this in my post on the twisted attitudes of religion toward sex.

All morals worth having exist because of our nature and the nature of our world.  Religion claims them because it claims to speak for the source of everything.  As usual, however, religion is simply coming along behind developments and taking credit for things it didn't do.

So, if you hear a believer making the false statement that non-believers simply don't want to believe because they want to be bad, point out that this is just bigoted nonsense borne of the believer's ignorance of moral philosophy.  If he points to non-believers who raise questions about whether morals really exist, explain to him the process these non-believers have to go through as a result of centuries of  poison being dumped into the well of public discourse on the topic by religion and religious indoctrination.  If you are a new non-believer, think twice before making such assertions, because you are only feeding the stereotypes in the minds of religious bigots.  

In addition, many non-believers have come to their non-belief as a result of being "different".  This "difference" causes the person to be able to see the religious beliefs of his group objectively because his ego doesn't identify with the identity of the group.  This is one of the reasons that gay people often reject religion and one of the reasons that the religious insist that homosexuality is a choice in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

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