Religion and Morality

My Monday blog on The Constitution and the 10-Commandments received an overwhelming response from my multitude of readers (well, I got 2 responses).  One, in particular I felt could be the subject of a new blog.  The person asked the question of how one could have morality if they did not have religion.

In my world view I would say that was pretty easy.  Our gods are man-made.  We humans created God in our image.  What they espoused in morality is whatever we wanted them to say.  They were our puppets, after all.  Up until the time that Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press in the 15th century the bible was in a state of flux.  Bibles were reproduced one at a time by monks.  Changes were made – sometimes they were simple mistakes and sometimes very intentional.

I’ll give one example, one of the most famous stories out of the New Testament was when some rabbis came to Jesus with a prostitute.  The rabbis asked Jesus what should be done.  He asked what was usually done.  They replied that she should be stoned to death.  So Jesus said, well then, stone her to death and he who is sinless should cast the first stone.

That was a beautiful story illustrating a very benevolent god.  Biblical scholars tell us that this story first appeared in New Testament in the 10th century.  Hmmm, it took 1000 years before someone “remembered” to put it in?????  My mind is boggled!  I do boggle easily.

In 1787 Dutch and German Quakers officially expressed their disapproval of the slave trade.  At first they encouraged their fellow citizens to improve conditions for slaves, educate them in Christianity and, gradually, free them.  To make a long story short, as we all know, starting with the agitation of the Quakers, slavery in the western world was finally abolished.  Owning a human is now immoral even though it really doesn’t say anything about that in the bible.  In fact slavery is justified in both the Old and New Testament.

So, who said that slavery was OK?  Let’s look at the at the pre-civil war Texas constitution:

…in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations (my emphasis) …

So, abundantly authorized… justified by God … revealed will …????  Good grief!  I wonder how many ministers today would agree with that.  Our morality changed.  Did God change?   Of course he did, we are the ventriloquists.  We put the words in his mouth.  We changed him!  We modified him to suit our current definitions of right and wrong.

We humans will continue to do so.  We know how to become more civilized as a people.  We don’t need the crutch of religion.

It will just take time.  Lots and lots and lots of time — and, unfortunately, probably a few wars, too.


4 comments on “Religion and Morality

  1. Whether or not one believes in God, it seems that one individual’s concept of
    God evolves as one is exposed to more and more opinion. In “A History of
    God” Karen Anderson asserts that mankind creates concepts of God that
    are needed. Perhaps she is saying that those concepts which serve mankind best are the ones that survive. That would imply that the general
    belief evolves as mankind’s needs evolve.

    In the same way, human behaviour—acceptable behaviour—evolves as society’s needs change. We have gone from hunter-gatherer to farmer to
    city dweller to passenger on a Japanese bullet train. On an instantaneous,
    individual level one can stand pressed body to body with a complete
    stranger in apathetic boredom while in a crush to get into some sale, or sporting event. What’s moral in these circumstances doesn’t seem to have much to do with the Bible.

  2. Starting with a basic assumption (i.e., God is man’s creation) does not make that assumption a fact. This is similar to not being able to physically locate our own ancestors 20 generations back and then say that they did not exist. Of course they existed. otherwise we would not be here. So we go back to the original question, Is God real? or Is God man’s own creation? Or is God a matter of human interpretation?

  3. Another way of looking at this: Why should anyone prove anything? For example, for most of us it is impossible to prove that we had ancestors going back 20 generations? Most of us could not find a single piece of physical evidence that these ancestors ever existed, much less a piece of bone or a strand of DNA. Does that mean that we did not have ancestors that far back? …So if we cannot do something as simple as to prove our own ancestry, proving that there is a God would be far more difficult, but that does not necessarily mean that God does not exist.

    This is possibly why the issue of God is a mostly a matter of faith, not proof or facts. As with our ancestry we have faith or believe that we came from people 20 or more generations back even though there is not a single strand of DNA evidence directly connecting us to anyone in particular.

  4. Well., if the basic question is, Is man moral? With or without religion the answer would be a resounding No even though Confucianism (a philosophy, not a religion) claims that man is inherently good. Unfortunately history proves that man left to his own devices behaves no better than a predator. This leads to religions like Christianity that claim than man is God’s perfect creation, and if that is the case one could easily argue than God screwed up.

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