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Religious people do have a clearer moral code than secularists - Comments

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 1 by Cook@Tahiti

Cherie's husband, as well as George W (Jesus is my favourite philosopher) Bush and a number of other Christian leaders had no qualms about launching a foreign invasion that killed thousands of innocents.

Alarm bells should ring when anyone, religious or not, profess to have clear moral codes.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:14:00 UTC | #438893

xsjadolateralus's Avatar Comment 2 by xsjadolateralus

More retarded white noise.

Can't find the bottom of religious idiocy. I'm starting to think, that just like their god, it doesn't exist, either.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:16:00 UTC | #438896

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 3 by Jos Gibbons

These arguments are so stupid that, not only do both seem to be examples of Poe's law, but they actually seem beneath my usual debunking post format. These people are basically saying, "I can't understand how that's wrong, therefore it isn't. But how dare you talk about morality when you don't read about it from one book!"

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:20:00 UTC | #438900

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 4 by robotaholic

It all comes down to the worn out chestnut that atheists have nothing on which to base their morality, but the religous do- God. Of course Dawkins demoslishes that in TGD because they pick and choose which passage to take literally and which to take metaphorically. It's like arguing with a wall.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:26:00 UTC | #438904

DeusExNihilum's Avatar Comment 5 by DeusExNihilum

A judge, who is meant to be impartial, showed leniency to a criminal because they professed to be religious. How do these idiots manage to use a computer if they're not smart enough to understand why this is wrong?

I suppose they'd be defending a secular judge with the same ferocity if they'd given someone who professed "To have no religious beliefs at all" a more lenient sentence.

Utter bullshit from hypocrites and morons.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:30:00 UTC | #438907

quantum_flux's Avatar Comment 6 by quantum_flux

Here is morality as I see it, perhaps you disagree with the points being made, that's fine since each individual has unique beliefs about what morality is:

Secular Morality

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:30:00 UTC | #438908

R. A. B.'s Avatar Comment 7 by R. A. B.

Where to begin?

From the first article:

Do adherents to a major faith have demonstrable, objective and tangible standards of behaviour towards others enshrined in their religious traditions, to which they can and should be expected to aspire because they are accountable to their divine authority, that are not so prescribed by secular authorities?

Yes. Get used to it, BHA and NSS. Now stop worrying and enjoy your lives.

Sometimes those "demonstrable, objective and tangible standards of behaviour towards others" are horrible. I think one of the reasons people were so upset was because of the assumption that if a standard of behavior is a part of religion, it must be a good standard of behavior by default.

Secular people have belief about right and wrong, too. Get use to it. Now stop complaining and enjoy the freedom that secular values have given you. (I couldn't resist.)

From the second article:

Judge Cherie, the story goes, suspended his sentence, on the basis that he was a religious man, and already beating himself up about it.

If she gave him a more lenient sentence because he showed remorse, then that should apply to anyone who shows remorse, regardless of their religious faith. She could have just said that she was giving a lighter sentence because he was sorry for what he did, without the religious part, and maybe there wouldn't have been so much controversy about it.

-R. A. B.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:48:00 UTC | #438919

Bluff_King_Hal's Avatar Comment 8 by Bluff_King_Hal

The fatuous miscomparisons regarding bears crapping etc are unworthy of comment, save to note the stupidity of the writer in thinking they are appropriate

"She's saying that, as a religious man, he should know better." Well that sounds if anything aggravating, rather than mitigating, to me - the man is not only a thug but a hypocrite as well. What Booth and her supporters obviously fail to grasp (particularly shocking in a judge) is that what matters is not what one *thinks* about a law but whether one complies with it. Leniency in sentencing should be determined by factors such as the severity of the offence, expressions of remorse, and evidence of intent to reform (such as attending anger managements courses). Even if one accepted that religious observence actually did make individuals more law-abiding in general (the reality being if anything the opposite) then since this man was *already* a Muslim at the time of the offence then this has been demonstrated to have been ineffective as acting as a source of restraint.

We see repeatedly how religion, rather than promoting law-abiding, actually works against it. The reason is that believer thinks that their religious laws trump that of mere mortal secular authorities, the latter only complied with is happening to coincide or at least not contradict their religious ones. Frequently religious believe motivates people to defy law, often violently, such as in the case of terrorism or attacks on abortion doctors, or discrimination against gay people.

It is true of course that an atheist may not uphold the law for reasons of their own, but since being an athest does not require signing up to any value system at all per se, then an atheist is actually person for whomn we have no a priori reason for thinking that they may have a strongly entrenched value system which they will follow even if defiance of the rule of law or community standards. As Dennett recentlty observed, crime when motivated by religious belief should actually be viewed more severely, not less. This crime was not religiously motivated (it may well have been Muslim on Muslim, going by the victim's name) but that still does not mean the perpetrator's religion should be mitigating. One wonders if Booth enquired after the victim's religion and previous character - would she perhaps not have thought that there should have been a more severe penalty for assaulting a both religious and *law-abiding* man - or just a law-abiding man, period!?

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:51:00 UTC | #438920

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 9 by Roger Stanyard

Just a reminder of who pays the piper. The Times is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and the biggest selling book that he publishes is the Purpose Driven Life by US fundamentalst Rick Warren.

Surpsingly I accept that many Christians are moral people and there's a case that they are more moral than the population at large.

I would not say the same though about the religious right in the USA. The movement is an abrogation of all morality (creationism itself is a fine example of total abrogation of morality).

I've just been re-reading some of the work by Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists (by which he means the US religious right - Hedges is a Christian, btw).

Here's a few lines from what he has to say, and a warning:

I can't help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini's “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute's library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:53:00 UTC | #438923

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 10 by BanJoIvie

She was saying that, as a religious man, he should know better.

This is demonstrably NOT what whe was saying. If this was her intended statement she would have had to hand down a HARSHER sentence, not show leniencey. His sharia-loving fellows would certainly not have gone easier on him just for being a muslim. Lucky he didn't pull this in one of their lovely, despotic, theocratic states!

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:56:00 UTC | #438926

flying goose's Avatar Comment 11 by flying goose

It wont do try harder, gamma minus i suppose as well?

Where does morality come from? us, if you are an atheist where else can it come from?

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:57:00 UTC | #438929

Bluff_King_Hal's Avatar Comment 12 by Bluff_King_Hal

Rifkind's video is just pure waffle.

As for his text - what philosophy degree did he take? One at a Catholic seminary?

The claim that only Booth's position makes sense is total bullshit, and he doesnt seem to have read TGD or anything by atheist philosophers who have written reams on a non-theistic basis to morality. Why cant atheists use the concepts of good and evil, and must restrict themselves to the watered-down ones Rifkind suggests? Total horseshit.

He also appears to conflate atheism with secularism. One might define a secularist as someone who thinks religious people sholdnt get lighter sentences than atheists, irrespective of whether they are an atheist themselves. If you do not object to Booth's favoritism, then you are not a secularist, period.

Rifkind reads and sounds like those guys who claim to be atheists who support "Intelligent Design". Closet theists almost certainly, and Rifkind sounds like a not very well hidden closet theocrat, not a secularist.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:07:00 UTC | #438932

Imroy's Avatar Comment 13 by Imroy

Judge Cherie, the story goes, suspended his sentence, on the basis that he was a religious man, and already beating himself up about it. Albeit not literally. Presumably.

What?!? I thought the whole "morality from god" argument implied that being religious raised the bar for morals. If that's the case, then bad behaviour is closer to the bar, or even under it.

We should be expecting better behaviour from religious people, not being more lenient on them!

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:12:00 UTC | #438935

root2squared's Avatar Comment 14 by root2squared

No! No! No!

Picking morals from religion is like picking out food from the trash. Sure, you’ll find something edible, and maybe even tasty, but it’ll be tainted with the horrid smell of the rest of the junk. Why not just get your food fresh from nature where it came from in the first place.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:13:00 UTC | #438936

Lapithes's Avatar Comment 15 by Lapithes

This is, or at least should be, about legal egalitarianism, not about morality.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:19:00 UTC | #438937

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 16 by PrimeNumbers

Morality is demonstrated by how you act. This criminal broke someone's jaw for no good reason, so they are lacking in morals and self control. If the scary lady is saying that religion gave him morals, she's been proven wrong, and she knows it, through his actions. Actions speak louder than beliefs. Lock him (and her) up now before they do something worse.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:24:00 UTC | #438940

root2squared's Avatar Comment 17 by root2squared

Well, this disgusting man is unfortunately correct. The religious do have a clearer moral code.

For example -

Adulterers should be stoned to death.

Yes, that is certainly very clear. It's just that it doesn't fit into my vague fuzzy moral code which has to take into account various factors.

Now if you could show that the world would end tomorrow unless you stone adulterers to death, then I won't stand in your way. I might even help you collect the stones. But otherwise I'm a little bit concerned that this just might not be exactly moral.

My instincts are with it. Annoyingly, though, and as my philosophy degree taught me in week one, it’s only Cherie’s lot that make conceptual sense. There’s no such thing as abstract morality. It doesn’t even make any sense. If God isn’t the ultimate answer, what is?

How does he not fall down while walking. Or did he get brain damage because he did?

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:39:00 UTC | #438945

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 18 by Cartomancer

Do adherents to a major faith have demonstrable, objective and tangible standards of behaviour towards others enshrined in their religious traditions, to which they can and should be expected to aspire because they are accountable to their divine authority, that are not so prescribed by secular authorities?
No. No they do not. For one very important reason. Their "divine authority" is entirely made up. Each one of them makes it up according to his or her own preferences. Yes, they use similar books and similar cultural inheritances to come up with their moral codes, but ultimately each makes up his own moral code to taste. As do secularists. This is what Richard has been saying for years, and his predecessors like Bertrand Russell have been saying for centuries.

Besides which, the secular authorities kind of do prescribe an unambiguous moral code, which certainly does condemn the violent breaking of other people's jaws in a bank queue. And it has a much more powerful authority by which people are held to account - the judiciary - which is much more powerful because it actually exists.

One might almost think that Cherie Blair was supposed to BE that secular authority in this case...

And as for Hugo Rifkind's first week of his philosophy degree, one might have hoped he'd stuck it out for a bit longer. Because he's been snared hook, line and sinker by the silly religious definition of what is moral, and does not even think to question whether that definition is correct. Only the religious pretend that morality is about ultimate good and evil with some objective metaphysical presence, rather than the social conventions and evolved cooperation strategies of groups of human beings.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:40:00 UTC | #438946

flying goose's Avatar Comment 19 by flying goose


your quote has shades of Martin Niemöller at the end.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:43:00 UTC | #438948

jel's Avatar Comment 20 by jel

The article by george pitcher is one of the most pathetic and insulting that I have had the misfortune to read.
He firstly is saying that because someone is religious that they automatically have a higher moral standard than someone who is non religious. This is highly insulting and totally wrong. As someone who is non religious I am not being bribed by false promises to keep to a high moral standard, nor am I being threatened to keep to that standard. If the only way that you can be relied upon to stay moral is to threaten/bribe you, then your morals aren't worth shit.
He then goes on to say that as a religious person, this criminal should have known better. Not only do I dispute the ridiculous idea that religious people should somehow "know better" than non religious people, but, were it to be true, that would be an argument for a harsher, not more lenient sentence.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:54:00 UTC | #438950

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 21 by The Truth, the light

I really like this comment on the Tele blog

Let’s hope that if they ever catch Osama Bin Laden, he won’t be facing Cherie-a law.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 19:56:00 UTC | #438952

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 22 by the great teapot

He was already beating himself up about it because he got caught. Everyone, well nearly everyone, would do that. If nobody had charged him I bet he would have forgotten about it already. If she gave his religion, which can be faked, as a reason she should be removed from her position. Although she is religous and would be contrite about it, so perhaps not.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:00:00 UTC | #438954

LittleFluffyClouds's Avatar Comment 23 by LittleFluffyClouds

What a fucking moron.

I have renewed hope in my prospects for publication.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:04:00 UTC | #438956

Harvatos's Avatar Comment 24 by Harvatos

Religious people do have a clearer moral code than secularists

Sorry, but my moral code is pretty clear. Remember the Golden Rule? "Do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you". That why I do not punch people.

Religious moral codes can be interpreted in quantity of ways. Remember the crusades, remember the Inquisition, remember the witch hunts. Remember 9/11. Those are an example of religious "moral".

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:17:00 UTC | #438959

Dark Matter's Avatar Comment 25 by Dark Matter

I have been commentating on the rather shallow Time's article all day (in between work).

The Telegraph article is so unbelievably fatuous, it doesn't deserve comment.

@Roger Stanyard

Thanks for the extract, very interesting reading. Yet another book I have to add to my ever growing reading list.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:24:00 UTC | #438962

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 26 by mordacious1

This could have been a tempest in a teapot. The secularists could have complained, the scary woman could have mumbled a half-hearted apology and it would have been over.

But...the defenders of religion had to jump to her rescue with their inane commentaries. What a thunderstorm it has become.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:33:00 UTC | #438964

Koreman's Avatar Comment 27 by Koreman

This is disgusting. It reminds me of our (Dutch) prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende who was a guest in the religious TV program 'hour of power' and made the statement 'without faith/religion you cannot function'.

These people are in charge, you heretics. Their forefathers used to prosecute, torture and burn people alive. So far for religion and ethics.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 21:07:00 UTC | #438972

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 28 by Roger Stanyard

flying goose comments


your quote has shades of Martin Niemöller at the end.

Thanks for adding that, flying goose. It's my position as well.

I must admit I am taking an increasingly political position on fundamentalism - Some 5 years back I helped set up and run the British Centre for Science Education which addresses one political issue arising from fundamentalism.

It worries me deeply that the mainstream in this forum don't organise on political lines. The RDF seems to me to basically be a movement of ideas rather than one with clear objectives, strategy and tactics.

Consequently it's a mess.

I put it to everyone in here that the religious right in the USA is a dangerous, well organised, rich and powerful movement which is a serious threat to the ideals of reason, rationality, liberty and democracy world-wide.

If I sound anti-American it's because I have become very disillusioned over the last seven years with the country. Americans, by and large, I like and respect but that's besides the point. The USA has, so to speak, lost the plot.

Has anyone in here any ideas about setting up an organisation to research on and fight the US religious right and its attempts to export its ideology to the rest of the world£

I chose my words carefully because such an organisation will be political and has to take a stand on religion which is not atheistic. If your playing politics you need to get everyone you can find onside.

It put it that the starting point is that everyone is (or should be) free to hold whatever religious opinions they feel comfotable with and that any such movement has to back that up to the hilt.

One of the reasons why I don't attack religion in general in this forum (just fundamentalists) is because I don't see the point from a political standpoint.


Fri, 05 Feb 2010 21:20:00 UTC | #438978

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 29 by Mitch Kahle

"Religious people do have a clearer moral code than secularists"

They have a code, but is it moral?

I believe religion clouds ones ability to discern right from wrong; religious moral codes often condone unethical behavior.

Secular ethics are based on the well-reasoned assessment of consequences, which leads to civil behavior and thus social harmony and peace.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 21:25:00 UTC | #438979

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 30 by the great teapot


The "dutch harry potter" sounds like your typical politician (or newly transferred footballer). What would he have said when interviewed by Humanist weekly, something equally as sycophantic if he thought there was enough votes out there.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 21:32:00 UTC | #438980