I am preparing a speech and video to rebut Peter Hitchens’ four reasons why religion is not only good for society, but essential. [yeah that Hitchens, Christopher’s ardently Christian right wing brother] I could use some suggestions and help in preparing my case against the following.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Some things are so obviously stupid that they don't need rebuttal!
Apparently not obvious to some...
1) Religion is, and always has been, the most effective vehicle through which absolutism and dictatorship function. It has been the validation for nearly every absolute monarchical system that is known of (the divinely anointed monarch etc. is well supported historically and can still be seen). Secular power and oppression can be broken down and opposed with relative ease, whereas absolutist power over a religious population can only be challenged if people are willing to evoke the "wrath of God" and eternal punishment in Hell. Furthermore, in a religious country the moral code can, and usually will, be hijacked and monopolised by religious institutions, which will erode the will of the people to rebel against that which is instinctively unappealing, since such action will defy moral edicts. Essentially, religion has the ability to provide power more effectively than any secular institution. This can easily be seized by the wilful and unscrupulous and used for interest of a minority.
2) The rule of law will always be in the interest of the majority of people, since a lawful society promotes long term commerce and growth, and provides security. The law of religion is highly undesirable as it offers no scope for revision as times and opinions change. This will, of course, be the case, since once "God has dictated laws", these then cannot be challenged by humans without challenging God's authority. Peter Hitchen's point is blind to the historical record, which clearly reveals that long before the establishment of religion as we now know it (that is, religions which monopolise the moral codes of nations) law was effectively upheld, and indeed was very much like conventional law (no killing, theft, etc.) Classical Greece and Rome (which did not have godly moral dictates) are good examples of this.
3) Religion may restrain the hand to some extent; however, there is no guarantee that the hand is being guided by sensible moral parameters. Indeed, if the claims of many ‘original’ religious texts are followed, they would dictate actions that would be condemned by today’s standards. If, as many claim, these are now viewed as redundant, then there is no set of rules by which to determine how one should and shouldn’t act. Religion is barren in this respect. There are more points on this, but ultimately it is in the interest of the powerful to consider the people, else they are unlikely to remain in power for long. Religion is actually likely to make it easier for rulers to act cruelly, but with impunity, since it will provide godly justification for their actions.
4) Once again, he presents a dangerous conception of religion. In assuming that religions should have the power to dictate moral absolutes, he leaves no room for revision of doctrine as times advance and understanding develops. If for example society had adhered to the set of laws “given unto Moses”, we would not have been able to alter our moral code since. Hence it would still be punishable by death to commit many “atrocities” that are now part of everyday life. The question should be put to Peter Hitchens of where we can find these moral absolutes. Should we take them from the Bible, the Koran, or some random preacher? And if we select the wrong set, what then? If we try to change that set of rules, and create a new religious code (as has been done many times), we undermine the idea that there is any such thing as a moral absolute. The truth is that the “moral absolutes” of religion are so flimsy and have been altered so many times that the very notion has lost all credibility. I’m not sure of his beliefs, but unless he really thinks that moral laws are given to humans by God/s (which he probably doesn’t), he must believe that they are created by humans in the first place. This being the case, he is essentially suggesting that we vest a tiny minority with the power to cement morality forever more. This is a strange and dangerous wish.
Sorry this is so ridiculously long, but I thought the topic justified extensive (but by no means exhaustive) coverage.
Wonderful dissertation that I totally agree with--with one caveat---Atheists, like Richard Dawkins who demean those who believe, forget that those who believe provide a lot of good things and help many people, believing Jesus' voice of tolerance and the notion that "he who has not sinned shall cast the first stone" values. Atheistic values also have the human infection for allowing shit to happen without response, along with being infamously in-humane. Stalin was an Atheist as was Oppenheimer. Two more completely opposite human beings--one could not create.
Thank you again---and be tolerant to those who are kind--BUT religious.
I think Christopher Hitchens provided many of the answers to those questions himself.. Though I will leave you with a few quotes I feel are are appropriate to those points..
1) Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by rulers as useful. -- - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - 65 A.D.)
2) Here's a link which refutes that concept. In fact it's written by a Reverend.. http://www.frontiersman.com/faith/rule-of-law-not-religion-is-at-th...
3)"There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those impostors and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood."
-- Thomas Paine
4)"A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
Thanks for the reply and the link, I will put them to good use.
I would have to ask which religion is used as the basis for being a reliable force. The differences among the world religions are substantial. How is judaism or christianity more valid than islam or other religions?
If religion is the only way to determine what is morally right and wrong then why is it considered necessary to subjugate men over women? Their is no equality of the sexes.
The use of morality in primitive group settings predates religion by many tens of thousands of years.
Jim Jones had a religion that fit this formula perfectly.
1. He protected the strong from the weak by killing babies.
2. He broke the law by kidnapping, torturing, and murdering people.
3. He used religion to take full unrestrained power over others.
4.And he did a bunch of shit that was emphatically wrong.
Redirect him to his brother's body of work.
In Response to the four seizures
Who said "God Said"? Man is God--Man invented God.
1. God "allowed" the weak to be slaughtered throughout history
2. Man made the rule of law---way before any mono-theistic culture arrived
3. Stalin and Hitler restrained????
4. I do not believe in God---where did I get my moral code from?---the Catholic priests?