I tend to avoid writing about or discussing the topic of religion. In general, my unconventional views on the subject get me into a heated discussion with a zealous, but well meaning believer concerned with my eternal destiny or a mentally draining screaming match with a pretentious asshat who believes I worship Darwin and who seems convinced that atheism is just another religion (which is like saying that not playing sports is a sport). Despite this, I usually try to remain civil. After all, we are all entitled to believe whatever we want, right?
There are a few annoying arguments Christians use that quite frankly make about as much sense as a gay republican. Were I to go into all of them, I would be typing here for hours and hours. So, I will focus on one for now: Moral Relativity
Moral relativity essentially states that analysis into whether an action is right or wrong should come from several facets of study, culture, context, usefulness, etc. This ideas lies in stark contrast to the beliefs of some religionists who claim that moral values are absolute and handed down from a deity to humanity in some form of sacred text.
SOME Christians (I say some because not all Christians are stone cold fucking retarded; many are actually quite intelligent) believe that any and all moral truths are expressed in the Bible, that the Bible expresses absolute morality, and that to remove that from a person’s life is to lose ones reason for doing good. Well, I say that that is total and utter bullshit. Admittedly I do not know where mans’ sense of morality came from. This ignorance on my part, however, doesn't suddenly give me the urge to go out and kill people. It doesn't make me want to rape or steal, or eat children.
Doesn't supposedly knowing the ultimate nature of morality (absolute, handed down from a deity) take away from the idea of morality a little? Life is complicated. When you try to reduce all of life to an ugly montage of black/white, right/wrong, heaven/hell, you inevitably ruin the nuanced beauty of everyday life. With an absolutist mindset, the subtle voice of compassion in your head that tells you to stand up and question the ugly practices and extremes of religion becomes the voice of Satan trying to tempt you. The pangs of sadness you feel whenever a gay person is beat up for their sexuality becomes possible warning signs of your own homosexuality, a tremendous cause for concern.
But WORST of all…
The bleating voice of the minister from the pulpit becomes gospel truth; the televangelist starts to be a messenger from god himself. Wars begin to be god-ordained!
Here is a simple example of why I reject the argument for moral absolutism
1. Open your Bible to a verse that condemns homosexuality.
Find it? Good.
NOW, open your bible to a verse that condemns pedophilia. Find it?
That’s because there is no verse in the Bible that directly condemns pedophilia. Christians are all moral relativists with regards to pedophilia, because there is no absolute prohibition in the Bible against it. All that’s left for anyone is to be a moral relativist on this topic. And, somehow, even without a mention of it in the Bible, nearly everyone agrees that the practice is morally reprehensible.
2. Open your Bible to a verse that says that women should remain silent in church (I believe its in one of the Timothy’s, and I don't want to go grab my Bible)
NOW open your Bible to a verse that condemns domestic violence. Not some indirect verses that could be applied to nearly anything, as in "X was mean to X women and God expressed disdain at this action.” NO, I mean quote a verse that says point blank that "IT IS WRONG TO PHYSICALLY HARM YOUR WIFE."
There really is none, so everyone is a moral relativist in regards to this as well. Either that, or you have to decide that domestic violence isn't important to God.
3. Open your Bible to a verse that condemns adultery (this should be easy).
NOW! Open your Bible to a verse that condemns animal abuse.
There is none!
In fact god seems more than willing to have hundreds of thousands of animals killed just to appease his ego. If you believe in animal rights, you are a moral relativist in regards to this as well.
I could go into this for pages and pages, with many more examples then I have given, but I think my point is abundantly clear.
Please note that my disdain only applies to that rare breed of Christian that somehow sees the Bible as explaining every detail of reality to a "T" – fundies. I realize that this is becoming increasingly less common among Christians (hey, its a good start). The sooner we get off our moral high horses and take a critical look at the world around us, the sooner we can start learning to cooperate with one another on this big, beautiful planet earth
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)