I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday Alfred George showed that by pointing out that “Religion is not a good basis for morality, and that using it to enforce morality generates weak and servile characters.”
Today he considers the reason why society does not need Religion to will see why society does not need Religion to compel morality, and why Religion does not produce virtue in society.
Follow me across the orangey thingamajig for an account of today’s post.
Mr. George begins by noting that Immanual Kant discovered a different source of morality:
As Immanuel Kant pointed out long ago, there is another source of ethics and morals besides religion—a source that is even more reliable than religion. It is clear-sighted reason. A person attains the level of integrity mentioned yesterday by coming to understand that you should always do the right thing just because it is the right thing. Once a person truly sees that, all other internal forces and desires fall into line. Why would you do anything but the right thing if you really understood that it was the right thing?He then points out that we need some training in order to see what is right, and that even once we have that training, we will still not always be able to tell what is right, simply because we are not omniscient. Under such conditions, we can only go with our best guess, and deal with the consequences later. If we follow this rule, “we can be sure that we will always be acting out of good will, which is perhaps the highest rule of all.”
The Myth of Religion is not nearly as good as clear-sighted reason:
The Myth of Religion, however, does not provide us with any way of mitigating the roots of bad behavior. By relying on the force of punishment, it keeps bad people divided in soul, and gives them no training in trying to see what is right and act on it.Mr. George then goes on to show that Religion cannot establish virtue in society because
Hence Religion is a weak substitute for integrity. To try to use it to restrain bad behavior in society is an insult to one’s fellow citizens, and a debasement of Religion itself—the purpose of which is to reconnect each individual to their spiritual source.
using fear of divine retribution to control behavior does nothing to improve understanding of what is right. It only imposes rules and regulations, leaving people in ignorance about whether the rule and regulations actually are correct. If their fear is sufficiently great, some people will abide by those rules and regulations. But to the extent that their fear makes them susceptible, their character is submissive, and their personality is not integral. As a consequence, they will always be susceptible to a force that threatens a more terrible fear. Such people are not reliable actors in society.You can read the whole post here.
Religion, therefore, is no guarantor of good behavior. The persistence of the Myth of Religion is a persistent bit of wish-fulfillment on the part of the human species. Despite more than enough historical evidence that Religion does not make a society moral, a great many people cling to the Myth that it does—probably because they don’t have the integrity themselves to see any other power but fear that can keep them in line. . . .
Religion, when used to frighten people into compliance with supposed divine retribution, simply cannot make a society moral or virtuous.
Tomorrow Mr. George will show that Religion claims to have three sources of truth: revelation, moral sentiment, and right reason. The he will take up the first of these sources and show that it is not reliable enough for the needs of society.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.