Welcome to my series of articles on the topic of morality and religion. This box will appear at the top of each article as a table of contents for the series. They are intended to be read in the following order:
2. Objective Morals
3. From Human Nature
4. The Problems With Faith
5. Doing It Right
It is important to understand how religious concepts of morality arose and keep this information in mind. Religious morals were largely arbitrary or designed to be systems of totalitarian control. This is due to being derived from specific cult leaders, kings, various ancient cultures’ superstitions, prejudices, ignorance, and desperate human guesses of a supreme being’s will often chosen to justify their own personal feelings or the personal feelings of their religious authorities who control their fates.
1) Misperception of reality
The less a person or group’s beliefs are based in evidence and reason, the more dangerous their ideas become because their responses will be further out of sync with the actual nature of each situation. This means their actions will be more useless, counter-productive, and misdirected; and therefore their ideas and reactions will be more and more fruitless or dig society’s problems deeper.
To use a clear Biblical example, if people believe that a recent disaster was sent by God because they have been tolerating people who worship the sun and moon, then they may ban those beliefs or murder the adherents to satisfy their god’s alleged will. This accomplishes nothing productive, and merely causes horrible suffering to innocent people, and leads the population as a whole into being manipulated by dangerous leaders. In fact this delusional totalitarianism is represented in the very first of the Ten Commandments and throughout the Bible as a whole throughout its abundant descriptions of executions and genocide.
This type of damage occurs in all degrees, and often in ways that result in millions of people not even seeing when religious faith is the central problem. For example, people will be much more likely to oppose same-sex marriage, enact so-called anti-blasphemy laws which suppress valid free speech, oppose safe sex education, want to teach magic and nonsense in public schools and hinder children’s ability to think critically and discern science from religious dogmas, support faith healing resulting in the deaths of children, blame natural disasters on crucial laws like separation of church and state thus leading to a more authoritarian state; and the list goes on.
2) Faith REPLACES morality
It means that ultimately, suffering must and will be ignored whenever faith demands something else. This is because we retain faith in that specific moral code and methodology no matter what, and therefore it always takes precedence. This undermines the whole point of morality which is to reduce suffering. Faith therefore, is antithesis to morality.
So “faith-based morality” actually means prioritizing faith over morality. If you’re using reason, faith plays no part. If you’re using faith, reason takes second place and the focus is actually taken off human well-being whether you realize it or not. You’re placing something else first and human well-being becomes ultimately irrelevant in the moral system.
3) Faith means moral beliefs are highly arbitrary
As humans we have two options to determine what our moral beliefs will be:
Either we follow some allegedly God-given rules, or determine moral beliefs ourselves using our own reason.
If we choose the first option – to follow some alleged God-given rules instead of using our own reason – then we have some problems. All moral beliefs become inherently arbitrary because we have no basis to determine which god or gods to follow or what their commands are. This means that human beings are still deciding what morality is, whether gods exist or not.
And not only that, but morality is rendered even more subjective and volatile than they would normally be. Because without objective reason, we must rely on authorities, claimed revelation, and all manner of things which are highly likely to be manipulations and personal bias or based in misperceptions.
Faith sacrifices objective logic, observation, and consensus to emotion, authority, and bias. Morality is whatever you want because your standard is God and God is in your mind.
4) Comparing the results of rational and religious morality
Theists like famed apologist William Lane Craig make the claim that without belief in God, no act, however heinous, can be condemned by an atheist. But that claim dies with this one question: What makes bad things bad?
If an act has no qualities that make it bad other than the fact that God forbids it, then what is actually bad about those actions? Objectively, one can’t say anything is bad about them, and therefore it shouldn’t be condemned by God either! And conversely, if an act does have other qualities that make it bad, then God is irrelevant because the act is still bad due to those factors.
To explain my point, consider these examples of potential actions:
– Collecting sticks on the Sabbath
– Sacrifice your child to God
If God is the only basis for what is moral…
- Murder is morally bad because it is against God’s command.
- Collecting sticks on the Sabbath is morally bad because it is against God’s command. Anyone caught collecting sticks on a certain day of the week should be executed.
- Sacrificing your child to God is morally good because God approved it. God’s word alone is what defines an act as good or bad, therefore it does not qualify as murder.
If human well-being is the only basis for what is moral…
- Murder is still morally bad because it harms another person who has not attacked you, and it violates the fairness of the state of tolerance between you both. Thus it is condemned by the social group as undesirable whether gods exist or not.
- Collecting sticks on the Sabbath is fine. It cannot be condemned because it has no qualities that cause suffering.
- Sacrificing your child to God is bad because it shares the same traits as murder.
So Theists must admit that either human experience is what defines morality and therefore we don’t need God; or that God defines defines morality and humanity is inherently worthless in their world view.
5) Faith makes everyone right and no one wrong
If blind faith is the standard for truth, then anything and everything is true and anything and everything is moral. This is because anyone who has faith has met the requirements to declare what is true or moral, and no one has any basis to deny the validity of their belief.
With faith in God as the basis for morality, if someone believes is moral then it is moral no matter how it affects anyone, because the standard for right and wrong is personal belief.
This is true between all individuals and all religions. No person or religion can condemn another’s doctrines or actions because according to their own belief, nothing but faith determines what is moral.
And furthermore, you cannot even argue that they are wrong about what God has commanded because your whole basis for knowledge of God is also
So with faith as the basis for morality, the reasoning must inevitably proceed like this every time:
Did they have faith that God commanded it?
Then it is moral.
With faith, anything and everything is morally justified.