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← Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Rob W.

Dear Aguazul,

You are reminding me of some interesting things I saw on www.youtube.com featuring Sam Harris. In one video he was talking with Richard Dawkins, and in another he was debating William Lane Craig. As smart as Professor Harris is, some of his arguments didn't quite make sense to me. Maybe I misunderstood him, but it seemed to me that he was arguing that science can teach us morality -- as if the more science you know and understand, the more moral you will be. He was talking about how primitive someone like Abraham was -- as if Abraham couldn't possibly have had as well-developed a moral sense as do modern men who know so much more science than was known back in the days of Abraham. All I could think was, "Wait a second. Dr. Joseph Mengele must have understood many scientific things which Abraham wouldn't have known. Would we assume that Mengele was more moral than Abraham?" Some folks might not think of Abraham as all that moral anyway, but he was no Mengele.

I've listened to a lot of debate and discussion about the relationship (or lack thereof) between religion and morality. The late Christopher Hitchens (whom I affectionately nick-named "Atheistopher Hitchens") argued that we don't get our morality from religion, but that religion gets its morality from us. I can only agree half-way since he made it sound like a one-way street. It's clearly a 2-way street. Culture informs individuals, and individuals inform culture.

For some reason(s), some people are just sociopaths and / or psychopaths. I've long argued that without empathy, there can be no true morality. No matter how many rules and regulations you write down, they can't be remotely reliably executed in real life without a gut sense of right and wrong which intuitively takes into account that others are as capable of pleasure and pain as you are, and that it matters that this is so. Harris understands that; that much is clear to me. Mengele, on the other hand, was a sociopath.

I was listening to The Atheist Experience out of Austin, Texas. One of the co-hosts (whose name escapes me at the moment) was asked from where he derives his morality. He said, "Empathy and Reason." I said, "Amen, brother!"

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 08:15:01 UTC | #950858