Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thinking for Yourself

Many religious people actually think that it is immoral for anyone to think for themselves.  That alone is enough for me to think that religion itself must necessarily be immoral.

I would hope that the reason for this would be obvious, but I know it is not.  I know this because if it were obvious, then no one would ever spout the nonsense about the danger of thinking for yourself.  Yet, one hears it all the time.

The reason this phenomenon tells me that religion itself must be immoral is the following:  I think that it is not only possible but probable that most individuals will come up with moral rules superior to those promulgated by religion.  In fact, this is what has happened repeatedly throughout history.

An example of this type of moral progress exists in the history of slavery in the U.S. and the support and opposition to it.  As one of my favorite historical and literary figures, Mark Twain, noted about the Church's "evolution" on the question of slavery:

"There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one-- the pulpit. It yielded last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession-- at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery texts -in the Bible remained; the practice changed; that was all."

On the question of slavery, the churches did not lead the way toward greater morality.  They fought against it mightily.  And, one of their most oft employed weapons in that fight, as in most others where religion is fighting to retain or gain power (regardless of morality), is the admonition to its followers to lean not on their own understanding of morality, but to follow the church's ancient immoral teachings.