Matthew 10:32-36 and how religion poisons loving families.

Matthew 10
32 'So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven.
33 But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
34 'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law;
36 a person's enemies will be the members of his own household.


The above verse was pasted on facebook today by my mother, she's taking our debate very personally, even though I stopped it before things went too far. I thought anyways. She called me today to ask a favor of me and about three minutes in she was in tears. It makes me sad.

I love my mom. When I was religious she was an inspiration to me, she guided me down her path of faith with what I am sure was sincere belief that it was the right path. I don't blame her for my religious indoctrination, she was raised with the stuff by my grandmother, a strong and amazing woman who was also raised with religion as a part of life. It is just how it goes. Being Catholic was almost as matter of fact as being Hispanic.

But I do not have that faith anymore, and I respect my family too much to lie to them about it. I didn't leave my faith out of petty vengeance, I left because I do not believe. I left because I cannot maintain that faith, and I find no comfort in it. With no peace and no faith, what reason is left to adhere to religion? Tradition? 

Unfortunately once the blinders were removed I could not unsee the atrocities religion has gotten away with. This sanctimonious bullshit shoved down our throats has the potential to make us do horrible, unforgivable things, like disowning your children or stoning them to death, or... come on, you know the stories.

AND YET...

I hear, even on this site, that I haven't given religion a fair shake. Oh, I'm shaking it alright, and all the fruit that falls from that tree is rotten.

Charity done in the name of ministry work, a X-tian group may build a school in the middle of Africa, but they'll make sure to spoon feed them this religious garbage. Hell they do it here in America, good colleges with religious institutions woven in so tightly that Nietzsche cannot realistically be discussed in philosophy without turning him into some easily thwarted cartoonish villain.

What other good is there? Peace? What is inner peace when it comes at the expense of the emotional distress of others? It certainly will never bring world peace as long as the three major Abrahamic traditions are all competing for the grandest asshole trophy. Bloodshed across the globe can trace its path back to those religions time and time again.

Does it create answers? No, it creates a false question of "What happens after life?" With religion you spend so much time concerned with your life of eternity that you don't realize your adherence to this bullshit is precisely why death seems like a better choice than the life you are currently living. Everyone is suspect, everyone is a sinner, EVERYONE IS HELLBOUND.

Well I've had enough. I am not going to pander to the religious and act as though religion offers some unique good to the world. Let me leave you with this little nugget about the good religion does in the world.

My grandfather fondled me, my cousin and several of our friends when we were young and blossoming girls. When I told my mother, and when others came forward my grandfather went to see a priest, who forgave him. He has never once apologized or spoke of it again to any of us. We were all very young then. I was urged to forgive him. I was told not to tell my brothers because it would only upset them.

So I did.

I forgave him.

And the day of my beautiful grandmother's funeral he did it again.

Good thing the confessional was open that weekend.

Views: 710

Comment by John Kelly on January 25, 2012 at 2:20am

Ron, I see nothing unreasonable about objecting to religion and opposing it on rational grounds but to a point and within some boundaries.  Religion can not be cleanly removed, and really what the argument is concerns how we get rid of religion.  The link you posted would be a great argument if it could be, but it can't.  It won't even be removed in our lifetime.

I contend that sharing atheism in a manner that portrays atheism as a glorious and harmonious way to think, rather than as a counter-culture at emnity with society will actually get the moderates on our side quicker and help atheism gain more acceptance and respect within the culture.

Religion isn't something you try to rip away from people.  The level of preciousness it has to people is so great it ought to be considered a posession.  Doing it causes the same level of reaction as grabbing at someones purse or wallet.  You become a villain.

We need an atheist culture of noble philosophers rather than cultural warriors.  An atheism that is a love of truth rather than a hatred of religion.  An atheism that shows that if there was a god he would want us to be atheist because it is the right way to think.

Comment by Carol Foley on January 25, 2012 at 2:22am

John, stating that morality has no basis outside of the supernatural is a blatant falsehood. The involvement of godly babysitters on high does not make one behave better then someone who simply decides to do what is good because they simply choose too. As a matter of fact neurologists have discovered that people access the same area of the brain when asked what they think the right thing to do is as when they are asked what god thinks they should do.

As for why we should be moral, that is evolution, not religion. I've said before, we are apes who are terrible at doing ape things. We are slow and tender with a long vulnerable childhood and bad eyesight and smell to boot. We had to evolve societal cooperation to ensure our survival.

Also, you mentioned that my allies have suggested killing the religious. I have never allied myself with anyone that moronic. People have qualities both good and bad, but I have hope that new goodness can be learned everyday. I don't want to oppress my religious family, I want them to love me, the real me, and not worry that in loving me they are denying their god. I do not ask for oppression Mr. Kelly, I seek freedom. I want freedom to be who I am, and yes I do hope for freedom from the illogical oppressions of religion for those I love. It is emotional and psychological bondage, and it constantly urges it's most devoted adherents to alienate themselves from people they love.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on January 25, 2012 at 2:58am

Let's examine the key problem with basing one's morality on the supernatural; that being that it does not exist.  This leaves liars (the one's claiming to represent that which does not exist) leading the intellectually compromised (the idiots who'll believe anything they are told).

If you feel that morality by benefit cannot extend outside of direct consequences of one's actions then you are either small-minded, willfully ignorant, or just desperate to burn a straw man.  Just like Dawkin's selfish gene, morality has rock solid foundations in the personal benefit of ensuring the survival of one's offspring.

From a purely selfish perspective, I would like to write two laws -> don't kill Heather, and don't steal Heather's shit.  I don't get to write the law, however; no single person does.  For this, one needs a civilization to function as an organism.  In a rational system, the leaders need to write laws that will provide the widest coverage for protecting individual security in order for the civilization to flourish (a lesson that American politicians might want to revisit).  If we, as individuals, want to experience a sense of security against murder, then we need to live in a society that prohibits murder.

Read an introductory psychology textbook on the development of morality.  It starts with consequences (big booming voice says "NO") and, after some intermediate stages, ends up with an appreciation of the order provided by rules -> therefore an appreciation of rules.

Supernatural systems disregard the needs of the individual for security and enforce arbitrary laws/morality by creating outgroups to persecute, threaten, assault, and/or murder.  You might be the most worthless drunken wife-beater in your church, but at least you're not one of them 'gay perverts'.  Wow, supernatural morality really makes a lot of sense once you say it that way.

Comment by Bethany Moore on January 25, 2012 at 10:14am

I've always been frustrated with the 'loophole' created by Christianity, the Get out of Jail Free Card. People can commit horrible offenses, and acts of violence (my own family members included), only to 'pray' for forgiveness and still be 'allowed into heaven'. And then the entitlement they exude afterwards is nauseating. I love your statement, and I would love to be able to use it again.

"I do not believe that a good moral system can be built upon fairy tales, ghost stories and death threats from the sublime."

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 25, 2012 at 12:49pm

@ John - I'm with you, in that I think we need to work WITH religious people to try and stamp out evil behaviour.  They're not aliens, they're human beings just like us, and believe it or not they're trying to live good lives.  But they screw up because people are stupid, weak and evil, and their systems have some serious flaws.  The more we hate on them and try and smash religion, the more we're not doing anything about the problems.  If we can be generous and humane with them, we stand a chance of being able to work with them.  Otherwise why should they listen to us?  This is not the same as saying "I love pedophiles".  Obviously, I don't. 

I don't care what people believe - whatever they like.  All that matters is ACTIONS and RESULTS.  Despite what the haters say, religious people do a lot of good things.  Some of my favourite people in the world are Christians. 

I agree, if we got rid of religion then things would be even worse than they are now.  It's true, they can be very good at providing a moral compass.  I don't see anyone else doing it. 

I totally disagree that we can't have a proper morality without religion.  That's plain false.  I've got a very robust, tight, secure morality which can be traced all the way back to DNA and is just a refined version of the standard atheist model which is doing the rounds.  I'm in the process of writing it all down and it's coming out *soon* (check your inbox if you haven't already). 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 25, 2012 at 12:55pm

I agree, educate by example, they'd probably thank us for that, instead of calling them stupid and evil all the time, which doesn't get us anywhere. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 25, 2012 at 1:23pm

PS, it's no secret.  If anyone wants to see the "morality" work in progress, it's here.

Comment by John Kelly on January 25, 2012 at 4:08pm

Simon, the issue is not that I don't believe it is possible.  I already have made a system myself.  The problem is that there isn't one that is accepted, so even if it is possible it isn't in place at the moment.  Furthermore, up until one has, religion has provided this which has enabled society to break past the tribal level of the inferior morality heather espouses which is purely benefit based and social-immediate.  The point is, that the antitheists are blind to the benefits that religion has and continues to provide in their eagerness to get to the next system.  It justifies a greater higher morality that enabled the development of things such as human rights.

For instance, most Iranians don't give a crap about the plight of the palestinians.   It isn't their problem.  The government pushes it, and they don't care.  More people will revert to this in the absence of a higher form of morality beyond the social level as many still live at this anyway.

As for the DNA argument, I already refuted it with one stroke when I pointed out that it is there, but it is weak.  It has failed against almost every historical challenge it faced and likewise capitulated to philosophy nearly every time creating the worst of scenarios.  Big deal.  Yeah there is an innate level or morality that exists to enable humans to exist on the tribal level and nothing more.  Even within tribes there is conflict and even disregard of morality.  Even within family units there are.  But yeah, thats the one that is going to get us through things.  Don't hold your breath on that one.

As for Heather, Either or, lol.  Have you ever considered that more possiblities than you can necessarily notice are out there in many many dilemmas?  No more either or's.  They are rarely anything other than false dilemma fallacies. 

your system is all fine and dandy for preserving whatever we have now.  However things change.  Systems get overthrown.  It might be able to preserve a system for a short while, but it doesn't stop the dilemma I gave you when the majority feels that it would best serve them to eliminate a disliked minority. 

As I have said before, I know your system.  Your system is weak against the force of philosophy which will constantly present new and dangerous ideas Heather.  It works on a small scale.  A tribe.  Anything bigger than that, and problems arise, due to philosophy and ideological sectarianism.

Of course children develop adaptively to the social construct of morality.  And of course morality has innate properties.  It just has weak innate properties.  Lust is something strong and innate.  Morality is easy to resist and is weak, and the weakness of morality is what makes you hate religion, because religion uses philosophy to cause people to be immoral.  Morality is weak without being associated with a higher philosophy.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on January 25, 2012 at 11:21pm

You know, John, you can say my morality is weak, and I can say yours is weak -> but that is how theists argue.  I know you haven't been free of the god-psychosis for long, so let me try to give you an example of how rational people forward their point; looking at facts.

Whether or not the founding fathers intended the U.S.A to be 'Christian', Christianity has always been the predominant religion of America.  Did it direct them to abolish slavery?  Oh, I forgot, it actually told them how much to charge and how to beat their slaves.  Did it help establish women's equality?  Oh, I forgot, it instructs that women are to keep their opinion to themselves and that men should not take any instruction from women?  Did it help strengthen rape laws?  Oh, I forgot, it actually says that it's not rape if the man says 'I do'.

Perhaps then it has been religion that has given us tough laws against pedophilia - oh, no, actually the bible has no prohibition against pedophilia.  Has it then helped to establish equal rights for either blacks or gays?  Nope - the bible clearly establishes a moral basis for racism and is still being used to oppress gays.

So how, then, has the United States made so much progress? Abolishing slavery, prosecuting child-raping priests, handing down harsh sentences for rape and pedophilia, establishing a basis for the equality of blacks, women, and finally gays........well, it seems that all of this has been done IN DIRECT OPPOSITION to theistic morality, dragging the fundamentalists, kicking and screaming, all the way along.

So, John, you said rationally based morality was weak -> would you care to actually offer some supporting arguments for that?  Or would you prefer to stick to the theological model of simply dictating truth - because I gotta tell ya, it doesn't fly far with people who don't believe in your invisible evidence/authority.

Comment by Albert Bakker on January 26, 2012 at 1:38am

[Edit again: Lets qualify this - I think, not declare] Morality can't be derived from first principles. Morality evolves. Ultimately meta ethics is a futile exercise, there is no 'real' morality behind morality as we actually practice it.

In the philosophy of ethics you can roughly make a distinction between meta-ethics and normative ethics and normative ethics then would fall into teleological (goal) and deontological (command) types of systems.

The normative religious foundation of morality is deontological: [do X] The duty or obligation or prohibition is commanded and the command must find it's justification in the authority of the rule-giver. Leading directly to the Eutyphro objection (Plato.) A major problem arises when the rule-giver doesn't exist and the whole thing just hangs in mid-air. It's very problematic and frankly, troubling. Since the rule or the law is the basis, the consequence is of no importance in the moral calculus. (Deontological systems are anti-consequentialist.) That is of course in conflict with human practice, how we actually evaluate (after the fact) whether we acted morally or not. In the case of religion it is also in conflict with the evolving nature of morality and the undeniable dependency on culture, in which Darwinian mechanisms are also active.

Other systems are teleological. There an overarching universalized goal is the basis for morality: [In order to achieve Y do X.] Utilitarianism is an example. Here you have to justify that this goal is actually universally valid. This is also problematic. In the case of utilitarianism it often leads to the naturalistic fallacy.

Kant's categorical imperative is somewhat of a special case, but considered deontological. In that case the moral calculus is set up so that in order for an act to be morally just the maxim of an act must be universalizable without it leading to contradictions. It's a pretty useless system when you try to apply it to the real world.

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