Why Should I be Moral?

August 10, 2010

Have you ever heard someone ask, "Why should I be moral?" That's a conversation-stopper. You can't wait to hear what this person is thinking. Probably this person has gotten themselves into some sticky situation, and now wonders how to avoid a moral duty. We take the benefits of social relationships, and then get tempted to cheat out of paying the dues.

But sometimes this question is asked just out of curiosity.

Non-believers are often asked this question by religious believers, and it is thrown as a challenge. Can a non-believer give a good reason for being moral? The religious person already thinks that only a God could serve as a sufficient reason. Why does a non-believer bother being moral?

Non-believers have morality without God. They aren't ‘perfectly' moral - generally they are at least as moral as any typical body of religious believers, and frequently more moral. A religious person wonders how non-believers are holding themselves back from utterly immoral conduct and committing terrible crimes. But religious people should think harder about that question, themselves.

Perhaps the religious haven't heard: If God exists, then all is permitted. Just look at what the faithful, of so many religions, can do for their God. Moral atrocities of all kinds have had divine approval in some religion or another. The history of religions is full of divinely-directed evils. Plenty of gods, such as Yahweh, lead the way in slaughter. You never can predict what God might want next. The torture or sacrifice of lives? A religious army against infidels? An Armageddon of nuclear proportions?

"My God would never demand something like that!" a typical believer is heard to say. Religious believers suppose that they are moral, because they follow only a moral God. However, if you think you are dealing with a God, you must admit that morality really isn't so simple. In fact, to answer the question of "why am I moral," a religious person is forced into an unavoidable trap of either committing a blasphemy, a sin, or a moral atrocity. There is no fourth option.

"My God is always perfectly moral," the religious believer instinctively says. Right, the seemingly easy and safe path is to try to say that you know that your God would never violate what you happen to presently consider moral. But this is blasphemy! Are you saying that you know morality just as well as God? That you know God's mind so perfectly, and you know that it is impossible for God to modify morality? That you know that there could never be any fresh revelation, any additional commandments? That your church could never make any mistake about interpreting divine decrees? You would be saying that people can really know God's mind, and really comprehend the divine knowledge of morality, without any possibility of error. That just sounds like holding your God down to a human sense of right and wrong. Christians and Jews should recall God's reply to Job in the Bible: who are you to judge the Creator? Muhammad didn't question Allah's authority to set the right example for Muslims. That is blasphemy, according to your own religion, to set yourself up as the judge of God and of God's knowledge and will.

How can religious believers avoid such presumptuous blasphemy? Well, they could instead confess that they would obey a surprising command from God, even if it initially struck them as immoral. But isn't this a confession that even a religious person would be capable of doing anything? On this option, a religious person is, potentially, capable of any horrible atrocity. Now, by picking this option, the religious person must confess that a fear of what a non-believer might do is well-matched by the non-believer's fear of what a religious person might do. No valid claim to any religious superiority, here.

Is there a way to avoid either a blasphemy or an atrocity? There is one last option: disobedience. Suppose a religious believer thinks that God is trying to change what is moral, with a surprising demand for some atrocity. That believer could still decide to disobey, and sinfully refuse to follow God. This option remains available to any religious believer: sinning against God in order to follow what you believe to be moral.

There is no escape for religious believers from this trap of three bad options. Either set yourself up as an equal judge of morality alongside God, admit that you would be prepared to commit a moral atrocity upon God's command, or be prepared to defy an immoral decree from God. Here is a quick conversational way to expose this trilemma for a believer. For any suggested atrocity you bring up, the believer will first instinctively say that their God would never ever want that to happen. Now point out that no one could know this with certainty (and bring up divinely-led atrocities from the scriptures). But do praise them for holding their God to their own sense of morality. If the believer instead admits that they would defy what seems to be a genuine command if it was immoral, quickly praise them for being able to follow their own morality in defiance of God. Or, if a believer actually does confess that they would commit any atrocity that God wants, if convinced that God is really commanding it, then quickly shame them for such moral depravity. How could good become evil? Who really understands the objective difference between good and evil, now?

Non-believers are much better off on this whole question. Without God, no terrible trilemma looms for a non-believer. Non-believers have convictions about good and evil, and form moral judgments using reason rather than authority. It is not non-believers who must wonder what they are truly capable of doing.

So, religious believer, go ahead and ask any non-believer the question, "Why should I be moral?" You will hear our humanist reasons. But then we throw our challenge back at you - how could you be so moral by following your God? What blasphemy, atrocity, or sin you are prepared to commit? You really can't be as righteous as you think.

Comments:

#1 Daniel Schealler on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at 2:33pm

A related question that I enjoy asking:

What is morality for? What does it do?

#2 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at 2:54pm

Just look at what the faithful, of so many religions, can do for their God.

You mean people like Dorothy Day or John Woolman? I didn’t think so.

Just look at what scientists do with their science, sometimes using science as an excuse. 

Would you find it acceptable for someone to ask what the Jacobins or Stalin did for “reason”? 

Do you really think that people who do really, really awful things are a reliable source for to determine their motives?  Do you think Henry VIII was really motivated by religion when he killed all those people?  How could you when he obviously allowed himself to do all kinds of things that were against his stated religious beliefs.  Do you think Thomas Cramner first declared Anne Boleyn to have never been married to him and to then vote to convict her of adultery against him on the basis of religious belief?

#3 Daniel Schealler on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at 3:07pm

@Anthony

...

Did you read the whole article?

The single line you’re getting all hot and bothered about was an example used to illustrate a larger point. It was not a point in itself.

You’ve missed the point, in fact.

Let’s put the actual question to you. What would you do if God appeared to you, and commanded you to commit some atrocity? Lets say: “Go to a crowded public area and blow yourself up, taking as many victims with you.”

What would you do?

As John tells it, there are three possible answers you could give to this question.

1) Straight out denial: God would never ask me to do that!

2) I would obey God’s command.

3) I would defy God’s command.

In the case of 1), you’re considering yourself God’s equal - you’re declaring knowledge of God, interpreting God as subservient to your own moral judgements. Which is a good thing! You’re also ignoring the scriptural examples of this happening. Ignoring scripture is also a good thing!

In the case of 2), you’re committing to any possible atrocity. Some (not all, not most) religious believers do commit atrocities under the belief that God commanded them to do so. It’s a viable (and vile) answer to the question.

In the case of 3), you’re defying God. Good for you! Much like 1), you’re asserting your own moral understanding, and not accepting any moral decree passed down from on high as if it was holy scripture.

If there’s another option, I’m not aware of it.

Care to answer the question, Anthony?

#4 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at 5:11pm

What would you do if God appeared to you, and commanded you to commit some atrocity? Lets say: “Go to a crowded public area and blow yourself up, taking as many victims with you.”

How do I know what I’d do?  Though I’d doubt it was God if God said to do that, God having the means to do it God’s-self if so desired.  I’d suspect it was not God.

What would you do if God came to you and said it?

You do know that a considerable number of the scientists working on the Manhattan project and its successors, after the effects of the atomic bomb were known,  were atheists, don’t you?  What’s their excuse for what they did?  What’s Chris Hitchens’ rationale for his various instances of blood dripping advocacy of violence?  Or Leon Trotsky, his former hero?  Or any number of anti-religious or at least non-religious perpetrators of exactly that kind of violence?

These questions aren’t to elicit information or to further enlightened discussion, they are about as useful as the old “Do you still beat your wife” question. 

How about a question I’ve asked other atheists?  Wouldn’t it be more moral and humane, instead of contemplating nuclear first strikes against Moslem countries which might obtain the bomb, to require them to hand over all of their scientists for liquidation?  If the first country wouldn’t do it, I’d guess the second one would.  Since they would be the source of those nuclear weapons, wouldn’t it be a more moral act to destroy that capacity than it would be to kill hundreds of thousands or millions of people who don’t have that capacity,  many of whom would be opposed to the regimes that were employing those scientists? 

That’s a real question, by the way.

#5 Daniel Schealler on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at 7:29pm

@Anthony

Though I’d doubt it was God if God said to do that, God having the means to do it God’s-self if so desired.  I’d suspect it was not God.

Should I chalk that up as a 1), then?

Also: The hypothetical was that it was God doing it. So: hypothetically if actual God actually did come down and command you to commit some atrocity, you would deny that it was truly Him?

This implies you think you know God better than God does. Or to put it another way, you insist that God is constrained to fit your personal ideas about what constitutes of moral behavior. If so - good! We should all assert our personal morality against the alleged moral edict of authority.

The point of the exercise is to undermine the belief that morals must come from God. Even if God exists, there must still be some other standard for appealing moral discourse. If there isn’t, then you have to choose 2).

What would you do if God came to you and said it?

Firstly, I’d blush a bit about being so wrong about the atheism thing.

Secondly, I’d tell him to get stuffed. Option 3) for me, without equivocation.

You do know that a considerable number of the scientists working on the Manhattan project and its successors…

Red herring. You’re missing the point. Again.

The point of the exercise isn’t to assert that religious people have no morals. The point is to undermine the belief that morality must descend from down from God (or your authority figure of choice) on a silver platter.

Wouldn’t it be more moral and humane, instead of contemplating nuclear first strikes against Moslem countries which might obtain the bomb, to require them to hand over all of their scientists for liquidation?  ...  Since they would be the source of those nuclear weapons, wouldn’t it be a more moral act to destroy that capacity than it would be to kill hundreds of thousands or millions of people who don’t have that capacity,  many of whom would be opposed to the regimes that were employing those scientists?

That’s a real question, by the way.

Firstly, this is wildly off-topic, and I’d be justified in dismissing it as such.

That said - you claim it’s a real question. So here’s a real answer:

Consider two options:
a) First strike on countries with the bomb
b) Murder professionals that could contribute to the bomb

Now, obviously a) is more violent then b). That said, they’re both pretty horrific options. They’re both morally repugnant - splitting the hair isn’t that meaningful.

However, we have to ask an additional question: Would a) or b) work?

I think it’s pretty obviously clear that b) wouldn’t work. Let’s say we wipe out all the scientists in Iran. Fine. So they get scientists to work on components in other countries, and have those components shipped in with numbered parts and a set of assembly instructions. Whoop-de-fucking-do! We just killed an entire class of people in a foreign country for no reason! Go team morality!

On the other hand, and as repugnant as a) is, at least it has one simple virtue. After being hit with a bomb, it would be very hard for a small country to get back up again any time soon.

All that aside, I’m not a fan of trying to justify the whole ‘first strike’ thing. If pre-emption is the aim of the game, I can’t see why conventional warfare falls short of the mark.

Most importantly, I’m not prepared to give up hope of diplomatic solutions just yet. In particular because I agree with A. C. Grayling that the recent increase in volume from the religious isn’t because theocratic religion is resurgent. The lion isn’t rampant. To the contrary - I believe what we are seeing is one of the violent last shudders of an ideology in its death throes.

#6 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 4:47am

This implies you think you know God better than God does. Or to put it another way, you insist that God is constrained to fit your personal ideas about what constitutes of moral behavior.

Well, to start with I didn’t claim to know what I’d do in that situation because I’ve never encountered it before.  Being a human being, I’d have to address that experience in human terms, one of those is the ability to be deceived, as in one of the oldest stories in many religious traditions, by some being claiming to be divine. 

“Red herring”

And the hypothetical stuff in the post and your comments aren’t.  I’m always interested in the way that materialist fundamentalism mirrors religious fundamentalism, don’t like a point or question and you dismiss it.  I am beginning to suspect that there is a fundamentalist mindset that is you don’t have to be religious to practice. 

—-The point of the exercise isn’t to assert that religious people have no morals. The point is to undermine the belief that morality must descend from down from God (or your authority figure of choice) on a silver platter.

You have an extremely shallow knowledge of the range of thinking among religious people but also among non-religious people. The origins of morality are varied, that much we can assume fairly safely, where they come from, we don’t know.  I have never asserted that atheists aren’t able to be moral people, though there are some, as there are some who profess religion, in who I don’t see any evidence of morality. But I don’t think that atheists are uninfluenced by religious morality, most of the people they have ever known being religious.  As has been pointed out by H. Allen Orr, the moral assertions of Richard Dawkins are obviously derived from the Christian culture in which he has lived all his life.  I’ve always thought that Marx was obviously motivated by a moral sense that comes from the religious culture he experienced in a similar way.

Your two-step around the moral puzzle I put to you is more complex and I might get around to it.  I don’t see any way to avoid the conclusion that my modest proposal is far less immoral than murdering huge numbers of entirely innocent and innocuous civilians.  Since in the idea, derived from Harris, is that it might be necessary to kill millions in order to prevent a nuclear attack on the West, the most effective means to do that would be to kill the relatively few scientists who are the source of the capability.  If there was a room full of people and one of them had a gun you were afraid they were going to shoot you with, there wouldn’t be any justification for you to kill everyone in the room.

I’d imagine that if the United States and its nuclear allies decided to kill off all of the scientists in Iran who were able to staff a nuclear weapons program, or in North Korea or any number of other countries, they’d find recruiting replacements rather more difficult than you might imagine.  Maybe if the nuclear states liquidated their own weaponeers in a confidence building gesture it would convince the others to do so as well. 

You see, I don’t start with the unstated assumption that a nuclear weapons producing scientist is worth x number of innocent civilians but I’d say they’re, ultimately, the source of the danger by choice.

#7 Kritikos on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 8:25am

Anthony McCarthy’s replies to Daniel Schealler remind us that it is impossible to refute someone who is too obtuse to see the point of an argument when it goes against him.

#8 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 9:19am

Kritikos, I don’t think Daniel is obtuse, just overly ideological.

Needless to say, I’m not overly concerned with that kind of non-specific response. It’s sort of name calling by proxy.

#9 Daniel Schealler on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 2:01pm

Heh.

Hehehe.


Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe!!!!!

Hahahhhhahahhhhahahahahha!!!!!!!!!!!!!


*deep sigh*

*wipes tears from eyes*

.,.

..

Okay. Okay. That was great. Wow. ^_^

Anthony, be serious: Are you Poe-ing me?

#10 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 4:08pm

Poeing. 

Nevermore?

or
The Conqueror Worm?

#11 Daniel Schealler on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 4:20pm

Okay, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

It’s easy to forget how opaque internet culture can be. I was referring to Poe’s Law.

I’m going to try to justify to you why I’ve dismissed large sections of your comments as red herrings - and why that’s a reasonable and legitimate thing to do. But first, I need to know where to start in my explanation.

Did you read up on what a [url=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring_(idiom
“]Red Herring[/url] is? Are you at all familiar with the term?

#12 Daniel Schealler on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 4:21pm

Wow, formatting fail.

I’ll try that again: <a href=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring_(idiom)”>Red Herring</em>.

#13 Daniel Schealler on Wednesday August 11, 2010 at 4:22pm

Red Herring

#14 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Thursday August 12, 2010 at 4:31am

Unless you are one of the seemingly few people who are younger than I am, I’ve probably known what a red herring was since before you were born.  I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if I used it during arguments at school in the early to mid 1960s.  If I wanted to be really long winded I might go through the entire post and argue that the points could mostly be seen as red herrings, passing over their being crude stereotypes based in materialist fundamentalist tendentiousness.

This “poe” stuff must come in very handy when you want to avoid dealing with a serious critique of your ideology, which has much more in common with creationism than you might want to hear me explain.  The secure belief that you know the essential nature of existence, high among those.  But don’t be surprised if people who don’t share your faith aren’t impressed with it as a rhetorical device. 

Given that this blog, and its parent organization, seems to be mostly in the business of promoting those kinds of stereotypes and the crudest of characterization of the large majority of the human population which has some form of religious belief, I don’t really expect to have what I say here considered impartially.  I don’t think anything I’ve ever said here could be mistake for parody except within that context.

#15 Ratiocination on Friday August 13, 2010 at 1:45pm

And Anthony confirms Poe’s law yet again. QED

#16 Daniel Schealler on Friday August 13, 2010 at 9:38pm

@Anthony

Right - so what you do is, you take the egg and put a little hole in the top and a big one on the bottom…

^_^

Okay, so you know what a red herring is. Good. I can skip that part.

The topic of the original post is to do with a common perception about the foundations of morality. Many religious believers - and many prominent religious evangelists - put through two points of view on a regular basis.

a) That the only way to live a moral life is through religion.
b) That God is the ultimate source of the moral impulse. Even if a person is an atheist, that person has still received their moral impulse from God. Because morality can only come from God.

Note: You may not think either of these points are particularly valid. But others people do, and keep in mind that John’s article isn’t addressed to you personally.

John has suggested a method for raising the consciousness of believers who accept either a) or b) as to the flaws in those views. The method recommended is to asking a specific question, and then analyzing the answers.

The whole thing is a re-branding of the Euthyphro Dilemma.

So the subject at hand consists of the following:

1) Commonly held views about the relationship between God and morality that are considered to be incorrect by the author - see a) and b) above.
2) A suggested method of how people that accept a) or b) may be engaged in such a way as to bring the flaws and inconsistencies in a) and b) to their attention - perhaps persuading them to change their minds, but at the very least giving them cause to think and reflect.

Note that one of the answers a believer could give is that they would commit any atrocity, no matter what, if they were commanded to do so by God. John pointed out that there are in fact a significant number of people who not only assert this very thing - there are a significant number of people who do commit moral atrocities because they believe that God has commanded them to do so. John highlighted the point with the following comment: “Just look at what the faithful, of so many religions, can do for their God.”

Then you’ve come along, and immediately started talking about how not all religious people are bad, and how scientists and atom bombs and the Mahnattan project can all lead to harm. You segued into a bizzarely unrelated moral dilemma, and I indulged you - only to have you ignore my point that not only would murdering all the scientists in a foreign power would not stop them from acquiring nuclear potential, but that there are other options available to consider before being bound by a false dichotomy.

However - you’ll notice if you read the actual article that John considers that believers may give two responses that would not lead to moral atrocity. Either denial that God could ever command a moral atrocity, or admitting that they would defy any such command even if it did come from God.

So built into the article itself is the acknowledgement that not all believers are prepared to commit moral atrocities for their God.

I’m going to say this again, so that it’s very clear:

<strong>The article is not arguing that all believers are the mindless immoral slaves of their God.</em>

To the contrary. The article specifically allows for believers that don’t fall into that category.

So first of all, your protests that John hadn’t meant “people like Dorothy Day or John Woolman” was entirely irrelevant.

Secondly, all your attempts to show that scientists and nonbelievers can recommend, endorse, or engage in immoral behavior too have entirely missed the point (also:  I call tu quoque; that nonbelievers can be immoral doesn’t mean that religious people shouldn’t be criticized or held accountable when they are being immoral, and vice versa).

So the overwhelming majority of what you’ve been writing here is entirely besides the point. You’ve been talking in a way that is entirely orthogonal to the subject at hand. You’ve been distracting attention from the topic being questioned and discussed.

In a nutshell: You’ve been throwing out red herrings.

You’ve been throwing out red herrings, and I’ve been dismissing them as such. Just so you’re aware, other people lurking here have been dismissing you too - however, I’ve indulged you a bit in the hope of drawing out some kind of understanding from you. But you continue to miss the point.

Consider: Kritikos was implying that you<em> were being too obtuse to see the point of an argument that was turning against you. However, <em>because you have entirely missed the point, you’ve been continuing along under the belief that you’re holding true to a valid argument. So in turn, you missed Kritikos’s point entirely. After all - you’re right. No-one could ever think that you were being obtuse, surely? Nono, this Daniel guy has been making an ass of himself as I conjure up unfair and unjustified excuses to dismiss your arguments. Right?

No, Anthony. Your arguments are red herrings, and chock full of logical fallacies to boot. That’s why I asked you if you where Poe-ing me. I couldn’t - and still can’t - work out if you’ve genuinely managed to miss the point so badly, or if you’re someone who knows better and you’re just yanking my chain for a laugh.

I’ve been giving you the benefit of the doubt so far that it’s the former… But I can’t shake the feeling that it’s the latter, that you’re just pulling my leg. I mean - seriously? Could anyone manage to miss the point and shoot themselves in the foot this badly? And this repeatedly?

So on the assumption that you’ve sincerely missed the point this entire time, I don’t suppose that anything I have said here will convince you that this is the case.

That said, whatever your response, please do consider the Dunning-Krueger effect. Listen to the video in that link, and please consider the implications seriously. I’m sure you think you’re right. But ask yourself this: If you’ve been wrong about this the entire time but have been unaware of this due to some kind of illusion of superiority - how would you know?

#17 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 5:26am

a) That the only way to live a moral life is through religion.
b) That God is the ultimate source of the moral impulse. Even if a person is an atheist, that person has still received their moral impulse from God. Because morality can only come from God.  DS

I specifically said that no one knows where morality arises and that I knew atheists who were moral people. I’m not responsible for what people who disagree with me on those two points believe.  Are you responsible for atheists who psychotically rant the crudest of stereotypes of all religious believers?  As you repeat JS’s implied assignment of vicarious guilt on the basis of the crimes and sins of religious believers who do awful things “for their God”,  I’d guess you’d be willing to have the same rule apply to you and your side.  Though, I’ll confess, that’s not true, I don’t really guess that you would.

Your “tu quoque” statement is rather bizarre, since I, in no place, have endorsed the idea that individuals, believers or not, be assigned the guilt that others allegedly within the same alleged group have earned for themselves.  I’m not especially impressed with people who use formal terms of debate when they don’t apply.

So the overwhelming majority of what you’ve been writing here is entirely besides the point. DS

Neither am I by the assertion that I’m bound to stay within the narrow ground rules taken as a given by people practicing a rigid polemic which rigs those rules in favor of their ideological position.  I’ve noticed that’s a common habit in the CFI tradition,  it’s one they share with the worst of scholastic theology of the past. That practice is more likely to lead to an inbred cult than a grasp of reality.  Yet you’re surprised when someone who isn’t in your tradition points that out.

“Ratiocination”. Yeah, right.  I’m really impressed by that kind of frat boy stuff.

#18 Kritikos on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 7:12am

Anthony, you are impossible. This is what Daniel wrote (bold type added):

The topic of the original post is to do with a common perception about the foundations of morality. Many religious believers - and many prominent religious evangelists - put through two points of view on a regular basis.

a) That the only way to live a moral life is through religion.
b) That God is the ultimate source of the moral impulse. Even if a person is an atheist, that person has still received their moral impulse from God. Because morality can only come from God.

Note: You may not think either of these points are particularly valid. But others people do, and keep in mind that John’s article isn’t addressed to you personally.

Daniel went out of his way to distinguish between the position under consideration in the article and your position. He even adds an explicit note to emphasize the distinction. So how do you reply?

I’m not responsible for what people who disagree with me on those two points believe.  Are you responsible for atheists who psychotically rant the crudest of stereotypes of all religious believers?  As you repeat JS’s implied assignment of vicarious guilt on the basis of the crimes and sins of religious believers who do awful things “for their God”,  I’d guess you’d be willing to have the same rule apply to you and your side.

You berate him for attributing to you a position that he went out of his way NOT to attribute to you. He was about as explicit on the point as he could possibly have been.

I can hardly comprehend how it is possible for someone to misread a comment so flagrantly. This is just what Daniel has been talking about under the term “missing the point” and what I meant by “obtuseness.”

#19 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 7:38am

Kritikos, the post, as most of those on this blog, is blanket anti-religious propaganda masked as philosophical argument.  I’m not going to pretend that it’s anything else so that pose can be maintained.

#20 Ratiocination on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 10:50am

Anthony: “Ratiocination”. Yeah, right.  I’m really impressed by that kind of frat boy stuff.

You must be easily impressed. I use that moniker because it’s dangerous here in the bible belt to prefer rationality to religion. Since I don’t espouse religion and actively encourage critical thinking I have been deprived of a job by “moral” christians. That was painful and something I’d prefer not to repeat. So I go incognito online.

The only fraternity into which I was inducted many years ago is an honorary academic one. Just sayin’.....

#21 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 11:04am

Personal testimony.  I remember a time when that was supposed to be unacceptable as evidence among the “rationalists” only, they always have exempted themselves from that rule.  I might be sorry for your pain but I don’t sympathize with the reaction and won’t pretend it’s an example of rationality.

If you want to resort to personal testimony,  being gay, having been subject to religious bigots and the threat of violence (though hardly ever motivated by religion) my entire life but also to people who are supportive of gay rights on the basis of their religious faith, I could have taken the same route but decided for the more rational response of not placing vicarious blame on people who were my natural allies.  I’ve heard numerous anti-gay bigots claim some similar motive, usually in the form of most likely imagined come ons, as an excuse for gay bashing.

#22 Daniel Schealler on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 5:09pm

It was a good run, guys - but I think we have to just give up at this point. Poe or not, there’s no way forward here.

We’re feeding. Leave him be.

#23 Kritikos on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 7:01pm

Motion seconded. I considered comment no. 19 to be sufficient occasion to end the discussion.

#24 DUG853 (Guest) on Friday August 20, 2010 at 5:28pm

I was always under the impression that religious people could do whatever they wanted, then just ask forgiveness, and everything’s OK-!

That’s certainly how it seems to work in practise. IMO

#25 Ratiocination on Sunday August 22, 2010 at 8:12pm

Reminds me of this jewel:

When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realised, the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me. —Emo Phillips

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