25th January 2011

“Religion attacks us in our deepest integrity by saying we wouldn't be able to make a moral decision without it, and that a supernatural dictatorship is our only hope. That makes us all into serfs.”

Christopher Hitchens

9 Responses to “25th January 2011”

  1. Wat Duino Says:

    ” If the only reason we behave well is to be rewarded, and the only reason we refrain from behaving badly is fear of punishment, then we are a sorry lot indeed”

  2. Kaptain Says:

    Only if you believe.

  3. Jezebel Says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Wat Duino.

  4. CaptainZero Says:

    Wat Duino – But are these motivations really so bad? I’m no expert on social evolution but from what I’ve read, we’re good to each other because those that weren’t died out. Acting cooperatively had survival benefits and with that come group norms that the group enforces and reinforces. Altruism enhances group survival and so we’ve evolved with pleasure receptors that respond to unselfish actions. Darwin suggested this himself.

    But to Hitchen’s point, giving religion credit for this feature (that we happen to share with a few other species) is silly and, well, wrong.

  5. reetBob Says:

    I agree, Captain.

    Perhaps we even over-emphasise our choice in being good or altruistic, many of us would struggle to be any other way.

    Maybe that’s why we despise people unfettered by a conscience; and have historically described our qualities as God-given.

  6. Doubting Thomas Says:

    Chris H is THE MAN.

  7. j sutton Says:

    Unlike little blue people who are all Smurfs.

  8. Wat Duino Says:

    Thank you, Jezebel.

    However, I should have made the attribution for the quote to Albert Einstein. He made that statement (or something close to it) in reference to worshipping an almighty that would reward or punish us according to our deeds.


    You are correct. In “The Evolution of God” Robert Wright suggests that social order was the positive effect of early religion. All successful religions promoted social order which in turn benefited the survival of the group. The irony is that the three Abrahamic religions that influenced the advancement of the human race now threaten to destroy it.

  9. CaptainZero Says:

    I guess I’ll have to read Wright’s arguments but it makes some sense that religion would have fostered societal cohesiveness because it provides a ready framework for in-group/out-group dynamics and provides justification for attacking the neighbors to steal their resources.