I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday Alfred George discussed why society does not need Religion to police morality, and why Religion cannot provide morality in society.
Today, he tells us that there are three religious sources of truth (revelation, moral sentiment, and right reason), and he shows that revelation is not reliable enough to form a base for morality in society.
An account of today’s post follows the subsequent orange whirligig.
Mr. George begins by pointing out that there are three sources of truth that are claimed by traditional religion. First is revelation, the putative Word of God; second is moral sentiments, that is, conscience in all its manifestations; and the third is right reason, or the rational faculty operating without obstruction.
He then tells us that each of these three sources of truth has difficulties associated with it, and he starts his consideration of all three sources with a treatment of the weaknesses of revelation.
To begin with, revelation seems to be different for different religions.
There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement among the world’s religions about what precisely God has revealed to us—not to mention about such questions as whether a God exists who can reveal anything.Since a number of these disagreements revolve around contradictory claims, it seems impossible to decide who is right.
It is difficult to know how to evaluate such claims, since each [religious] group seems to think that God himself vouches for their own particular story. . . . [I]t is impossible to make a rational assessment of where the truth may lie, because contradictory statements cannot both be true, although they may both be false.The result of this inability to decide the issues means that religious revelations are only valid for the groups that believe them. Or, in other words, they are highly relative.
Without a way to judge among the different claims, the only way religions maintain their particular versions of God’s Word is by assertion. And when two conflicting assertions meet head to head, their adherents often come to blows. The history of religion unfortunately shows that God’s Word does not seem to restrain large numbers of believers from trying to destroy those who have a different interpretation of that Word.
Revelation, therefore, because of its narrow and targeted messaging, cannot provide reliable access to truth at all times and places. And a truth that is merely relative is not much more than a preference.You can read the whole post here.
And a mere preference is not the sort of foundation society can build on.
On Monday, Mr. George will show that moral sentiments and right reason are no better foundations for moral behavior in society than revelation.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.