Saturday, December 16, 2006

Q & A: Why Are People Moral?

Why are people moral? If it wasn't for religion everyone would go out and murder people, but they don't, therefore God must exist!
-- Anonymous


In my experience, this is the most popular myth that theists use to try and explain why religion "must" exist. The most amazing thing about this myth is, in fact, the exact opposite is true. But before we get into that let me just cut to the chase and answer this question.

People are moral because, on a whole, being moral benefits us. People who are generally moral, have been the fittest. What we call "morality" is simply a set of behaviors that we believe, on a whole, will either benefit our prosperity or impede it. It is very important to understand that most people don't conscientiously think about it in this way. We don't have to conscientiously contemplate whether or not it is going to benefit us, on a whole, to go out and murder everyone we don't like, because our genes have done this for us. Our genes express this knowledge to us using emotion.

You see, people who were born that went on to murder everyone that they didn't like, or even committed lesser offenses, such as becoming thieves, simply did not prosper as well as those who participated in a 'give and take' relationship with those around them. That is not to say that there aren't exceptions. Certainly there are thieves who have prospered very well, murderers who got away with it and prospered, etc... However, on a whole, us 'give and take' folk outdid them.

Generally speaking, if you were a thief who went out and murdered everyone you didn't like, you would have a harder time finding people to help you hunt and get food, you would have a harder time getting laid, you would have a harder time receiving help in a time of need, and a whole host of other problems.

Your 'give and take' counterpart, however, would find it much easier to find a hunting partner, would find it much easier to get laid, would find it much easier finding people willing to help in a time of need, and so on and so forth.

What's to stop me, from coming to your house [and] killing you [and] killing your kids...[and] reproducing with your wife so my genes can get passed on. That's all part of survival [of the fittest].
-- http://youtube.com/watch?v=P7xcL0rezTc


The problem with that plan is the fact that on a whole, a group or community of individuals who participate in a 'give and take' relationship with one another are going to prosper better than your renegade family. If you've done that to one family, then other families would have a good reason to fear you might try to go after their family in the same way. Your renegade family would become outcast and more importantly you would become isolated. In the end a plan like that is very short sighted. Historically, people who behaved in such a way did not prosper -- at least not as well as their 'give and take' counterparts.

Now most people's genetics are programmed with the knowledge that such antics would be harmful to the prosperity of you and your offspring. So if most people where to seriously contemplate such a thing your brain would be flooded with a series of chemicals making you feel uncomfortable and unhappy in an effort to dissuade you from embarking on a spree like that.

See next Saturday's follow up article: Why are there people that are immoral?

Aside from the other points I've brought up, I find it to be a very self-defeating statement to say, "But for religion, people would not be moral." Are you saying to me that but for your belief in whatever religion you happen to subscribe to at the time, you would go out and murder people and steal stuff? Even taking into consideration a hypothetical world where there aren't laws and jail time for such offenses, you would seriously go out and murder someone you don't like?

Now getting to my earlier statement regarding religion actually causing people to actually be less moral; There are people who would answer "no" to the paragraph above, however, when they believe that a text such as The Bible is the infallible word of God, and God himself instructs readers to kill those who try to convince you of other beliefs (Deuteronomy 13:7–11), you end up with someone whom might have otherwise lived a moral life, but is being told murdering people who try to convince you of other beliefs is moral.

Naturally, the next question is usually, "Well then why isn't everyone moral?" I will be answering that next Saturday's article.

Updated Every Saturday: Question & Answer

I want to introduce this new section which will be updated every Saturday. Based on the questions I receive, the comments that are made on this very website, and even questions I've heard on TV interviews I've come to realize that the reasons that people believe in religion are really the simplest to explain.

I will be answering those questions here, every Saturday. Now I realize that most of my commentary contains some pretty profane language. With regards to these questions I will promise to simply be as cordial in my answer, as you are with your question.

With that said,

Send all questions to: articlesofreason@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Evangelicals Manipulating U.S. Military into "No Better Than Al-Qaeda"

Former Air Force officer Mikey Weinstein says evangelicals are trying to turn his beloved military into a "frickin' faith-based initiative."

I know the religious right would love to vilify me as a tree-hugging Northern California Sierra Club membership chardonnay-sipping liberal -- not that there'd be anything wrong with that, to wax Seinfeldian -- but I'm not. I'm a Republican. And my family has a very, very long and distinguished military history. We have three consecutive generations of military academy graduates, and my youngest son, who's at the Air Force Academy now, he's a senior, what's called a first classman, is the sixth member of my family to attend the academy.

Look, let's make sure your readers understand something, OK, put it in perspective: The U.S. military, which I consider a noble and honorable institution, is technologically the most lethal organization ever created by Homo sapiens. When you have the leadership believing that to be a good soldier, good Marine, good airman or sailor you have to be not just a Christian but the right type of Christian, we're no better than al-Qaida. And it's hideous, beyond belief. My kids were called "fucking Jews" and accused of total complicity, they and their people, in the execution of Jesus Christ, by superiors up and down the chain of command at the Air Force Academy.

Look, Sinclair Lewis said it best, in [the 1930s]. He came back from Germany, he was observing it for a number of months ... and he [said] that he had now seen fascism up close and personal, and he knew that when it came to America it would be wrapped in the American flag, carrying a cross. And you know what? He's right.


It doesn't end there. In an apparent display of Christian values:

We've had our tires slashed, we've had feces and beer bottles thrown at the house, we've had dead animals placed on the front door of the house.

I was in Topeka, on a book tour, and the local Episcopal priest came out to support me and five hours later his church was burned down. And the local synagogue in Topeka, where I was to speak that night, was desecrated with spray paint saying, "Fuck you, Jews"


His response -- and what, in my opinion, should serve and inspiration to us all?

So if this is a nice, Christian response, my response is take a number, pack a picnic lunch and stand in line, because we're not going to stop, we're not going to ever stop, we're going to lay down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds on these people that are trying to destroy our Constitution. This is not a Christian-Jewish issue, and it's also not a political spectrum, left or right issue, it's a Constitutional right and wrong issue. These officers, and what's happening in that video, simply by appearing in a video that is blatantly and vociferously sectarian, by simply doing three things in that video, they should be court-martialed.


Read More...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christian Game Publisher: "There is no 'killing' in the name of God."

In an almost unbelievable statement, Troy Lydon, CEO of a Christian video game company argued the semantics of murder. I guess Christian values aren't just about hating people who are born a certain way or suppressing medical treatment, apparently it also involves supporting murdering cleansing those who don't accept your doctrine.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces is a teen-rated PC strategy game based on the wildly popular Left Behind Christian book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

The critics describe it as "a violent video game in which born-again Christians aim to convert or kill those who don't adhere to their extreme ideology."

"After you kill somebody you need to recharge your soul points and to do that you need to bend down in prayer...I think the message is extremely clear," said Clark Stevens, co-director of Campaign to Defend the Constitution.

"The reality is that our game perpetuates prayer and worship and that there is no 'killing' in the name of God," said Troy Lyndon, CEO of Left Behind Games.


Does "killing" yourself count? Because in that case, please remove yourself from our species' gene pool at your earliest convenience. Thanks.


Read More...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Militant Religious Extremists Continue to Control Military

No, I'm not referring to the middle east. I'm not referring to the Taliban or Iraqi insurgents. I'm referring to the United States military. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-military. However, I am against any sort of military force, forcing religious views upon people -- regardless of whether they are in the middle east, or our own country.

A watchdog group that promotes religious freedom in the U.S. military accused senior officers on Monday using their rank and influence to coerce soldiers and airmen into adopting evangelical Christianity.

Such proselytizing, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has created a core of "radical" Christians within the U.S. armed forces and
Pentagon who punish those who do not accept evangelical beliefs by stalling their careers.

Weinstein compared what he said was radical proselytizing within the military with the Islamist militants U.S. troops are confronting in wars overseas.

"When we're facing a global war on terror against what we call Islamic extremists, it certainly doesn't help when we have apparently a viewpoint from the cognoscenti and glitterati, the leadership of the Pentagon, pushing a particular virulent worldview down the throats of people who are helpless to argue against it," Weinstein said.


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Christian Cruelty Destroys Another Life

In a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, the senior pastor of a thriving evangelical megachurch in south metro Denver confessed to sexual relations with other men and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.

"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. "... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."

In their only talk about sex, Barnes said his father took him on a drive and talked about what he would do if a "fag" approached him.

Barnes thought, "'Is that how you'd feel about me?' It was like a knife in my heart, and it made me feel even more closed."


In what is becoming a catch phrase around here, this article also begs the question: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Let me guess, since your old book doesn't talk about genetics, you can came to the conclusion that nobody is born gay. People make conscience decisions about who they are or are not attracted to. Including, but not limited to, a 5-year-old boy who would cry himself to sleep begging for god to take away his homosexuality.

Why? Because of hatred and cruelty Christians practice. Don't think any other religion is off the hook here either. Islam fairs no better when it comes to its treatment of people who are gay. In a previous article a Jewish group was threatening to chuck razor blade barbed apples at gay rights marchers.

That's not to say every religion practices this horrifically immoral cruelty against its fellow people -- but the major three certainly do.


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Evangelical Christians Too Pathetic to Debate With Adults, Go After Children Instead



Irregardless of your feelings on abortion, this is an absolutely sick manipulation of children. One of the many examples of the abusive measures Christians are willing to go to in order to forcefully indoctrinate children.

For the record I feel that abortion is a philosophical and moral issue -- not a religious one. I do feel it is an issue worth debating, but on logical grounds, not on the bases of whose old book says what.

However, if you're so much of a fucking twat that you can't debate with another grown adult, indoctrinating a child is a pretty pathetic alternative. Good job buddy, you convinced a kid of your idea. You can convince a kid of any fucking thing, tooth faeries, the "boogy man", .... If you're such a pathetic douche that a little kid is the only one you can convince of your idea, do us all a favor, and stab yourself in the face.

And for the record, the guy in that video has got to be one of the creepiest guys I've ever seen.

More Articles of Reason (now with Videos)

Taxpayer Money Used For Religious Indoctrination

...the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program — which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time...

The Iowa prison program is not unique. Since 2000, courts have cited more than a dozen programs for having unconstitutionally used taxpayer money to pay for religious activities or evangelism aimed at prisoners, recovering addicts, job seekers, teenagers and children.

Nevertheless, the programs are proliferating. For example, the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison management company, with 65 facilities and 71,000 inmates under its control, is substantially expanding its religion-based curriculum and now has 22 institutions offering residential programs similar to the one in Iowa. And the federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs at least five multifaith programs at its facilities, is preparing to seek bids for a single-faith prison program as well.


Whatever happened to the government spending our hard earned money on more useful things, like $436 hammers?


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