Your god is a moral adolescent

cry-baby-girl-face I recently had a discussion with someone regarding freewill, consciousness and determinism. This in turn led to morality and the social orders that influence said morality. Consciousness and determinism I’ll save for another time, as that is a long discussion in and of itself.

After the discussion, I had gone back to catch up on some reading on the study of morality and its evolution. This inevitably leads to more discussions with my theist friends and their concepts of their gods.

Several points to make here…

1. Throughout the history of man there have been more than two hundred and fifty recorded gods. Each and every one of them has some variation on a set of standard moral objectives.

2. Moral edicts provided by these gods seem to tie in very closely to the current moral maturity of the person / people collecting the information.

3. Religious text or tenants are usually non-evolutionary and may never be updated or changed, as the particular god is seen as all knowing or omnipotent.

Concerning moral evolution

Per Lawrence Kohlberg, there are six commonly accepted stages of moral evolution. Kohlberg’s work is an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived of by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget and is as follows:

Stage 1 – Blind Egoism

Stage 2 – Instrumental Egoism

Stage 3 – Social Relationship Perspective

Stage 4 – Social System Perspective

Stage 5 – Contractual Perspective

Stage 6 – Mutual Respect as a Universal Principle

Now it should be pointed out that some sociologists argue that individuals define their “personal” moral judgments while disregarding the interest of others. This is achieved by ignoring social laws, the human rights of others or any ethical value outlined by a standard social order or those of their gods.

For the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on the social order and perspectives. We all know, based on personal experience, we can manipulate any personal moral or ethic to justify any action we have either engaged in or wish to engage in. See “cognitive dissonance.”

Setting the stage

Now that we have the established base, we can draw conclusions on the moral maturity of our society and the moral maturity of religious doctrine.

My current position is that the religious doctrines I am familiar with, and study, all originate sometime prior to or during the Bronze Age.

Argument

My argument is – having your moral values dictated to you from information that is known to be derived from a social order that is, at best a stage 3 maturity level, is not only counterproductive, it is illogical.

1. Religious doctrine was constructed during a time when the moral maturity was less than the social maturity of our current social order. This is assuming that the goal of a socially conscious group is to advance to the highest moral stage.

Religious doctrine = less than desirable moral maturity goal.

2. Religious doctrine, according to theists, is not allowed to be modified or changed.

Religious doctrine = infallible and reliable

3. Current social order, while not perfect, is at a higher level of maturity than religious doctrine. Assuming that this is a true statement, it provides evidence that the previous variable (No. 2) is no longer valid.

Current social order = higher moral maturity than religious doctrine

4. To achieve a goal of a higher moral maturity level, a society must modify or discard lesser level moral directives.

Religious morals being less than desirable = should be discarded or modified

Conclusion

Current social moral maturity is more advanced than any religious doctrine currently known to man. Therefore, any moral construct based on religious doctrine should be discarded in favor of a higher level of moral maturity.

Based on a simple matrix, it can be demonstrated that the moral maturity of each religion currently in practice may be compared to all other religions and the current social order / maturity level of our society. This leads one to identify “the best” moral guidelines.

I, then, conclude that the current social maturity of our social order is at a higher level to that of any current religious doctrine and, thus, religious morals outlined by said doctrine should be discarded.

Please feel free to poke holes in the argument. I am always interested in creating fallacy-free arguments and positions. I look forward to your feedback.

2 comments:

jayMAVERICK said...

How does an atheist justify his appeals to moral absolutes or an absolute and universal system or standard for measuring the "goodness" of one particular moral system over another? And if you're not appealing to something absolute and universal, how does your article make any sense other than just random arbitrary pontification?

The Dragon said...

Jay,
Thank you for your comment. I believe you are referring to moral universalism. This meta-ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act. Thus killing, for instance might be considered to be always immoral, even if done to promote some other good; like saving a dozen lives.

This of course runs into issues with Deonological ethics which of course looks at the act itself as opposed to the consequences. And then of course there is the issue of the person involved in the act itself and their intentions which drags you into virtue ethics.

The best evidence that I am aware of would be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But of course this only focuses on the human animal and does not take into consideration all the other activities in which humans may engage in that many would also consider being immoral. (taking the life of another creature that threatens you in no way.)

So to answer your question directly, there is no need for a deity to “define” morality. Humans are perfectly capable of doing this on our own.

Peace
Chad

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Houston, TX, United States
I live in Houston Texas, married to my best friend with two wonderful kids (both teenagers). I enjoy philosophy, psychology, theism – atheism, quantum computing. I work in the technology industry with focus on energy and computer theory. I love to engage in discussions of rationality, logic, and reasonability.

Introduction

Growing Up…
I had a great childhood. I had loving parents and a very easy life. I never wanted for anything. So I was never “mad at god”. I did have a lot of physical problems as a child but I never “blamed” them on anyone or anything. I was just born that way. I believe my parents were “religious” because of my physical birth defects. Because of these defects I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child. Several times I was close to death. I believe this had a lot of influence on my parent’s belief system.

I have lost friends and family, I have experienced hardships. But that is just life as it happens. I did not have a great first marriage, but I did have two great kids come out of it. I am now married to the most wonderful woman on the planet and am very happy. For the most part life is good. Some have even told me that I have never “found god” because I have never truly suffered in life. That argument doesn’t hold water, but is interesting.

I begin questioning my Christian upbringing about age 10. I was asking questions and wasn’t getting satisfactory answers. I was raised in a small town in east Texas; this does not provide a whole lot of exposure to other religions. As I aged and begin to learn more I found it interesting that there were and had been so many religions and gods throughout the history of man. I begin to question why some believed in one god while others believed in theirs. I wondered how anyone could prove, or at the very least have some level of confidence they were worshiping the “right” god.

I can’t say I ever lost my faith. I never really had any. When I was young of course I didn’t know I was an Atheist. I just didn’t believe what everyone else was telling me. With my friends it never really came up that “I’m an Atheist”. When I told my mother I didn’t believe in god she just dismissed it as something I was going through. My father was indifferent to my proclamation. My closest friend is Jewish. I try my best to honor his belief system and he reciprocates.

Focusing Thoughts…
Once I realized that there were so many different religions it just seemed clear to me that none of them were real. Then I learned that there was a name for what I believed and it is called Atheism. Once I found others who believed as I did I begin to learn more about the religions and how they controlled so much of our lives. I wanted to know as much as I could about all of them. I even wrote an anthology paper in collage on how everyone could be worshiping the same god, just using different names.

I find it extremely easy and comforting to be an Atheist. Life is very simple, and so much less complicated. I follow simple rules for living; be nice to all living creatures, and the earth. Don’t think that you are better than anything or anyone else. I don’t think this is an original way of thinking or living but I don’t subscribe to it because it is part of some other philosophy, it simply feels like the “right” way to live.

I do tend to “pick on” Christianity more than other religions simply because it is the one that is most prevalent and intrusive in my life. While I think extremist or radicals in any religion are responsible for a large majority of the damage done to humanity, I also believe anyone who follows that religious teaching is responsible. You are responsible because you do not get to pick and chose which part of a religion you want to follow. Saying that you are against gay marriage while you are eating a bacon sandwich just doesn’t cut it with me. (If you don’t understand that last sentence look up the Christian bible and refer to the book of Leviticus.) If you only pick out the parts of a religion you want to follow you have just created a new religion.

I do make it evident in my life that I am an Atheist. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle, I have sayings and quotes around my desk at work or around my house. I do this to let others know who they are approaching if they want to engage me in conversation or wish to ask questions. Just as others put “fish” on their vehicle or place religions symbols around their house.

Why am I an atheist? Because I ask questions and ask for the answers to be empirically evident. I consider my self to be a rationalist. I do not believe in faith, nor do I believe in statements like “we can not comprehend.” Do I have all the answers to life’s questions? Well of course not. It just means that we don’t have all the answers. I also believe that when we die, we just die. We are no different that any other living organism in the universe Wow is it really that simple? Yes it really is that simple. We just keep investigating the world around us as we have done throughout history. I have enough answers to get me through this thing called life. I will enjoy it while I am here and try to help those I care to help along the way. I will do so based on a moral compass in my heart, not one dictated by a religion.


Have a great day
TK
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