29th February 2012

“It is better to leave God out of the moral debate and find good human reasons for supporting the system or approach we advocate, without having recourse to divinely clinching arguments.”

Richard Holloway

7 Responses to “29th February 2012”

  1. Edmond Says:

    Clinching? Grasping.

    This is a great quote. “Systems” and “approaches” will ALWAYS be better when we rely on humans rather than gods. For example, I’ve always been amused at how superior the human-made justice/penal system is to the biblical one.

    We punish only the person who committed the crime, while the Christian god punished an innocent man to absolve the guilt of others, and descendants are punished for the crimes of their ancestors.

    We have processes in place to ensure that someone is not punished twice for the same crime, while god may chasten you with diseases or natural disasters for your sins in this life, but that’s not enough as he then compounds the punishment again in the next life.

    Our system assigns punishments that fit the crime, while theirs handles all infractions with the same sentence: eternity.

    We recognize freedom of belief as one of the most important guaranteed by our government, while incorrect belief is the single most heinous crime imaginable by the Christian system.

    Why should mere humans be able to develop a criminal justice system that is so superior to one created by a being alleged to have attributes like omniscience and omnipotence?

  2. Xhim Says:

    It may be odd, but I agree fully with this quote. It is only sensible to appeal to an authority recognized by all parties. If I’m talking to other believers, then it makes sense to bring in God/Bible, because they ostensibly accept those authorities. If I’m talking to a Buddhist, it’s less than convincing to appeal to an authority he patently rejects. If I’m talking to the general public, of various persuasions, I MIGHT refer to God has having played a role in my own thinking, but would emphasize that other, non-God arguments lead to the same conclusion. It is counter-productive to do otherwise.
    BTW, Edmond, at least among the Christians I hang out with, the most heinous crime is not incorrect belief, but lovelessness. Granted, a whole lot of people who call themselves Christian are quite guilty.

  3. archaeopteryx Says:

    Like Edmond, I too have been struck by the superiority of modern, non-theocratic justice systems. Their demand to produce convincing evidence for conviction is far more stringent — and the system tends not to devastate entire districts (biblical floods etc).

    Unfortunately, people in the justice system can be infected by religion, which can lead to unusual decisions such as some judges’ tendency to be over-lenient with criminals who claim to have religion. I find it particularly odd as the judiciary is supposed to be trained to evaluate evidence dispassionately, yet they don’t seem to be able to do it when examining faith claims.

    It’s interesting that Richard Holloway was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

  4. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    If we take the bible as a record of the all being’s sense of morality and justice we find “thee source of evil in the modern world”. Nowhere in history can we find a human who’s evil has ever approached that of god. We can name those who have tried, made an attempt to be more evil than god, but when you start to count the bodies god makes evil tyrants like Hitler, Genghis Kahn, Caesar, Pol Pot, et cetera, seem like simple michief makers in comparison.

    It of course isn’t god, god is the catch-all for evil. God is this concept of shadowy dark monster that will come get you in the night if you don’t do as some guy says.

    Shadowy dark monster guy, you begin to break away the words to the core of what we are really talking about. Shadowy dark men, evil men.

    At the very core of what we are talking about when we talk about men of god are evil men.

  5. Jeff Says:

    Arch, I’m not surprised that a clergyman in the UK would come to the conclusion that arguing morality from scripture is untenable. In an increasingly secular society, in order to have any moral suasion at all, one must reason from secular sources, and Bishop Holloway is simply recognizing the facts before his eyes.

    Sinjin, once more I’m forced to point out that the vast majority of clergymen, in fact, most humans, are not evil. In the overwhelming majority of cases the evil that men do comes not of the evil in their hearts, which rarely exists in reality, but from their failures of reason. Either the failure to reason from correct premises (such as taking god as the starting point of moral reasoning), or from the failure to reason correctly to a valid conclusion. Remember, sir, that Heidi, Hitler’s dog, thought that he was a good man. (Chuckle). Such failures of reason are correctable – pure evil is not.

  6. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Jeff if I’ve failed to convey the truest sense of what I’m attempting “men of god are evil men”, then maybe I should defer to examples that motivate me: Christopher Hitchen’s God Is Not Great: How religion Poisons Everything, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michel Onfray, and The God Delusion television documentary written and presented by Richard Dawkins, to name a few.

    I’m willing to accept the great masses of the flock, the insignificant shepherds, and the great body of those not in hierarchy. These I’d call deluded, fools, benign, and perhaps even harmless friendly guys.

    I’m not exactly prepared to accept that these misguided fools don’t deserve some guilt for association though. Maybe not overtly guilty en masse, maybe not always the caught pedophile, maybe not outwardly evil from their hearts, but problematic as enablers.

    Heidi, bless her heart, was only a dog. If you are relegating these kind hearted clergy enablers as dogs just say that. There are no sensibilities here to offend…dogs after all will eat their masters if that is the only food left.

    A reasoning person has a responsibility to report his fellow clergy person to the authorities when they rape a young child. Evidenced by the depth and breadth of the cover-ups (documented from as far back as they 11th century), I think this suggests these loving warm hearted clergy persons chill at the thought of creating a controversy in the church. That protecting the church is all too often far more important than protecting the flock from the clergy. That is friggen evil! Not poor reasoning.

  7. archaeopteryx Says:

    I didn’t need to know that Hitler had a dog called Heidi! That’s what I called one of my cats and she’s not at all evil (unless you are a smaller animal than she is).