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View Diary: Is there a God? (With Poll) (279 comments)

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  •  No, not snark. (2+ / 0-)
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    AaronInSanDiego, ZedMont

    While I am fully in agreement with the points that Istillhope raises, I still say that organized religion, as a historical fact and concept, has not been wholly detrimental to human society.

    In fact I would even go so far as to say that organized religion has been essential to it. I would say that morality itself, of the kind we practice here on DKos, is an offshoot of organized religion.

    Morality did not appear to human society out of thin air, ala Rouseau, as if it were a natural part of our given nature. Our given nature as human beings encompasses everything from bestiality and worse, to divinity.

    The various religions we have devised are attempts, however faulty and incomplete, to explain and to channel the multifariousness of our essential nature, so that we can at least get along with one another.

    •  I agree that organized religion has not been (3+ / 0-)

      wholly detrimental to human society, but I don't agree that organized religion is essential to morality itself.

      In fact there are religious practices that I would consider immoral.  I don't consider human sacrifice moral.  I don't consider incest moral.  I don't consider bigotry moral.  I don't consider genocide moral.  I don't consider execution by stoning for religious transgressions moral.  I don't consider slavery moral.

      Morality is a social construct growing out of the experience of individuals learning to live cooperatively.  There is evidence that altruistic principles were practiced by prehistoric people, and in fact exist to some degree in non-human species such as dolphins, whales, elephants and the great apes.

      In Michael Shermer's "The Science of Good and Evil" he points out that man and social animals - particularly the great apes - share certain observable precursors to morality, including attachment and bonding, cooperation and mutual aid, sympathy and empathy, direct and indirect reciprocity, altruism and reciprocal altruism, conflict resolution and peacemaking, deception and deception detection, community concern and caring about what others think about you, and awareness of and response to the social rules of the group.

      Thus, much of morality does in fact grow, not out of thin air, but out of instinct and shared experience.  Instinct is not "thin air;" it is an evolutionary mechanism passed on in the genes.  

      Religious "morality" on the other hand, seems obsessed with sexual mores and belief in the supernatural, and in its Christian fundamentalist version, often works at cross purposes with the social traits of cooperative animals as described above.  

      Secular philosophers have, in my opinion, contributed more to the development of human morality than have priests and televangelists, who all too often violate the very moral codes they expect others to obey.

      Religions did not "invent" morality.  They have "adopted" what moral codes contribute to their agenda, and have ignored if not worked against those that don't.

      On the other hand there are a lot of religious people here who are also moral.  And there are a lot of atheists here who are also moral.  There is no difference in their morality.

      Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

      by ZedMont on Sat May 18, 2013 at 11:19:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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