My moral epiphany - aka, how to beat my Dad at his own game

So, I've made a few posts & comments about my beloved father. He's a biology teacher, and not a dumb guy. But the mental back-flips he does to accommodate his religious beliefs astound me.

He is utterly convinced that one cannot be moral unless one has a mandate from a higher power to tell you what's right, and what's wrong. So, he doesn't like the thought that his grandson is being raised by atheists. He knows we're moral people, so to resolve the cognitive dissonance, he likes to come up with things I do that are evidence that I'm not really an atheist.

My favorites:
  • Believing my depression WILL get better someday is faith (yeah, Pop, but not faith in God)
  • My atheist husband & I can't really be atheist, since we celebrate Christmas (yeah, Pop... let's not talk about the pagan origins of the holiday, or the secular nature of how it's celebrated today)

ANNNNYway... I remember a moral teaching he gave me when I was little. It was something to do with the motivation behind doing what's right. He said it's one thing to stop at a stop sign because a car is coming and you don't want to get hurt. Another to stop because you see a cop and don't want to get a ticket. And yet another (morally superior) to stop because it's the right thing to do....

Doesn't that mean that I'm morally superior to him because I do the right thing without worrying about the Invisible Judge In The Sky telling me what to do?

ShaBAM, daddy-o. Whatchu got to say about DAT???

(Of course, I also like to point out to him that he doesn't really get his morals from the bible, since he's not down with raping his enemies, giving up all his possessions to follow Jebus, or beating me to death for speaking against him - that he chooses what parts of the bible he finds to be moral based on his own, intrinsic moral compass)

Thoughts? Discuss... Tawk amungst yoselves... ;)

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Does he think the Bible is the infallible word of God?

If he says No -> Then don't let him use the Bible as an authority for morality. He already knows that some of the "morality" in the Bible is completely immoral. Clearly it's not really a reliable authority on morality. And if the Bible is not reliable, how DOES your Dad actually determine what's right? He is going to have to admit that he figures it out for himself (unless he wants to say he can hear God whispering to him - in this case: GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!). Or if he can't admit this, and thinks God is still the source of morality, then why did God stick us with that immoral piece of trash called the Bible?

If he says Yes -> Why does he not rape enemies, abhor shellfish & mixed fiber garments (I'm guessing), own slaves, stone unruly kids to death, or stone women to death if they aren't virgins at marriage? He is going to have to admit (if he's being honest with himself) that he uses his own moral compass to determine what in the Bible is right and wrong.

Because our morals have evolved in the past 2000 years and are no longer stuck with the philosopies of a bunch of iron-age barbarians and their "God". Just like we are not stuck with iron-age technology or medicine. We throw out what doesn't work, keep what does, and even then we keep refining and improving it.

Really, it's only to be expected that our technology, medicine, and even morality would have improved in 2000 years.
There is a great book called Moral Minds that talks about how some of our moral code was evolved while the rest is likely cultural. Might be a good one to suggest to your Dad.
Why is it Lions don't kill each other for food? Why is it that they only kill for the same reasons we do, power struggles (or the cubs of a previous male)? Animals in the wild act as we do because it's about societal preservation and not morality.
Hi Wendy.
I like what you wrote. :o)
( and how you wrote it "ShaBAM, daddy-o"!)
The morality argument is one that makes me nutz. ( Why does that always make me think of the fish symbol in car repair ads in the phone book ? )


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