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We Do Not Get Our Morals From the Bible

May 23, 2012

People often argue, “If you do not incorporate the Bible into your life, believe in God, go to church, etc. then where do you get your morals from?  You become your own God”  Besides the cyclical nature of the argument always assuming their must be a God, one can answer that major breakthroughs in evolution (Richard Dawkins) and the science of morality (Sam Harris) – and I am sure many anthropologists and scientists of whom I am not aware – are answering this question with astounding clarity and precision.  Since I cannot answer the question of the origin of morality with scientific authority, I recommend you read some Harris (The Moral Landscape) and Dawkins (a very good chapter in The God Delusion).  I can comment on an observation that seems like it should be common sense – people choose their theology based on their own morals, not the other way around.

For example, why is it that Christians are not murdering brides who are not virgins?  Why are they not going into a store on Sunday and murdering employees for working on the Sabbath?  Why are they not murdering every active homosexual they know?  Why are they not killing me for blasphemy or tempting them to abandon God?  These are laws in the Old Testament, and I have picked some very provocative ones.  Maybe more “tame” laws, such as the submission of women, fair treatment of slaves, irrational dietary regulations, impure thoughts, etc. can also be an example.  No one (except the Taliban) believes this stuff and they explain it away as allegorical or a way for God to make a point.  But, there is no good answer for why they should follow the nicey-nicey parts of God’s law and not the messy ones.

Moderate Christians cherry-pick the Bible to fit what they think a moral person, family, and society should look like.  This is painfully obvious, and yet so many people believe that they would otherwise turn into criminals if they weren’t Christians.  This would be an interesting question for a Christian, “Would your morals change if you suddenly became an atheist?”  Or, “Would you immediately rob or rape someone if you didn’t believe in God?”  I don’t think they would.

Needless to say, Harris and Dawkins do a staggeringly better job at making these points than I do – I thought I would just throw it out there for thought and hopefully point someone in the direction of reading these two authors.

From → Arguments

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