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 showed that the last two sources of religious truth, moral sentiments and right reason, are not sufficiently sturdy to support moral behavior in society.
Today he shows that Religion cannot deliver on its claims of absolute morality and that Religion is not at the root of every society question.
The account is after the double orange bubble-and-squeak.
Mr. George begins by pointing out that, though Religion continually claims to possess absolute moral principles, it always produces only relative moral principles:
Religion does not have a great track record regarding absolutes. Different religions preach different absolutes, and even the same religion may preach different absolutes at different times. Such “absolutes” look suspiciously like “relatives,” since they seem to change depending on place and time.To compensate for not actually being able to deliver the promised absolutes, Religion simply insists that it has:
Most religions make up for this lack of certainty about their putative absolutes by mere insistence. Someone authoritative—let’s say God—laid down their absolutes. So who are you to question them? This attitude is fine for believers within the particular religion, but it has no force for anyone else.He concludes that religion can't support its claim to deliver moral absolutes.
He then goes on to note that many religionists, probably under the delusion that they actually possess moral absolutes, believe that their personal religion has to enter into every aspect of their lives, and especially into every question of politics. In this Mr. George says, they are simply mistaken:
Here they fail to see the difference between their lives as individuals and their lives as members of, and contributors to, the society in which they live. Since many members of society may not share their particular religious beliefs, religious people ought not to expect everyone to subscribe to their particular notions of right and wrong.Mr. George then points out that the demand for everyone else to live according to one's own principles, and to try to punish them for failing to do so—
all this is a form of self-interest. The insistence that everyone act in accordance with your beliefs is a demand clearly centered in the self.Hence it is not true that political questions need to be controlled by religious beliefs. On the contrary, because of their uncooperative tendencies, religious people are almost uniquely unsuited to handle society's problems.
Religious people try shift this selfishness off onto God. They maintain that it is not they who make the demand, but God. Unfortunately, different religions and different sects tell us that God is making contradictory demands—which cannot be the case. Faced with this impossibility, every religion simply asserts that they have the real secret . . . .
All this selfishness runs contrary to the first principle of society, which, as we saw when we discussed the Myth of Competition, is cooperation. When viewed as having a monopoly on truth, religion can do nothing to reduce self-interest, to limit self-centered opinions, or to curb self-serving demands. . . .
The vast majority of believers, therefore, cannot bring their religion to bear on the problems of society, all of which involve discovering ways to increase cooperation. Under these conditions, political questions must not have anything whatsoever to do with religious questions: self-centered religion can do nothing to remove the selfishness that destroys the cooperative principle of society.
It is simply not true that every political question is ultimately a religious one. In fact, the selfishness of religion at the present time makes it especially unsuited to deal with any of the problems of society.
You can read the whole post here.
Tomorrow Mr. George wiil show that politics and society are not, and ought not be, subservient to Religion.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.