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Monday, July 19, 2004

Religion as Spiritual Welfare

This one was in response to a comment by someone attempting to argue the validity of Pascal's Wager on slashdot:


The Misanthropic Principle in action:

If it [an afterlife] doesn't exist, then the believer and the non-believer net out the same, with cessation of existence.

That's only true for those who have concluded that what they do while they are here can only be meaningless unless it serves to placate God.

If there is no "afterlife", then what you do while you are here is all that has any meaning. To simply say "why should I care, I'll be dead" is completely sociopathic, and it is that characteristic of religion (the claim that without God, one can only be that sort of sociopath) that I primarily object to. The implication is that if it weren't for the rewards or punishments meted out by God, one would have no reason to behave oneself at all and would see no reason not to murder and pillage.

Such a corrupt attitude towards existance and society is a common legacy of fear/reward based "worship", and in my opinion is actually anti-spiritual. Spirituality cannot justifiably be derived from the baser instincts.

Personally, I have no interest in placating a God. If one exists, it must be as bound to external moral principles as we are, or it can only be considered amoral and therefore without any moral authority. While a Supreme Being may be powerful enough to dole out rewards or mete out punishments, Might Makes Right IMHO does not confer the moral authority to forgive nor the morality for us to accept such spiritual welfare. The Nuremberg Defense is not automatically more valid simply because you believe God is your superior. It is still up to you to determine what is right and what is wrong. One must accept that which apparently is so feared: responsibility. To say, "I'm not responsible for what happens if I follow the rules that I live by, as I didn't make up the rules," is not in my opinion, a morally justifiable system of ethics at all.

As Shakespeare put it: "Thou shalt be both the plaintiff and the judge of thine own cause."

Certainly, if God exists, he's nothing if not unbelievable. For if God is not so utterly fantastic as to be unbelievable, then what is?