I often hear it said that without religion there is no basis for morality.
As a proponent of the Secular Constitutional Representative Republic we live in, I have to protest. We are a country with a multitude of people with varying belief systems and backgrounds. To base our society’s moral code on a revelation granted to only one culture is ineffective. It raises the question then, from where should morality and law come?
The Classical thinkers, such as Socrates, labored their minds with, as Plato put it in “The Republic,“ the development of the “more perfect society” or union. That might sound a bit familiar. Socrates argued that justice is more beneficial to society than injustice.
One such example is the rationale that a just man will not wrong another just man, a just man will seek an advantage over an unjust man, and an unjust man will do wrong unto all. A successful society cannot form or be composed of only unjust men. Unjust men may ally so that they might do wrong unto others, but they will also harm one another. Morality must be inherent in us for society to exist. Without morality, the community would never have formed, the division of labor would not have kicked in, and the human species would be destitute if not extinct.
Most estimates put the modern human species at about 250,000 years old, but few scientists say less than a 100,000. I do not even need a 100,000 years to make this point, but let’s run with it.
Are we to believe that man was created or came into existence, and for 98,000 years humans had no moral sense? Under this premise, we murdered one another, we fought bloody turf wars, we fought over women, we raped, we stole, and God looked on indifferently. When finally, 2,000 years ago God said, “Well, that’s enough of that. I should teach them how to behave.”
This doesn’t make any sense.
Morality is necessary for human survival. Mankind could not have survived the wait for someone to teach us morality. Socrates put forth the idea that justice is to do “…what is a man’s, own and belongs to him.” He concluded that a man, “…may neither take what is another’s, nor be deprived of what is his own.” This passage from “The Republic” is particularly interesting.
“Will a just man ever be guilty of sacrilege or theft, or treachery either to his friends or to his country?
Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths or agreement?
No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonor his father and mother, or to fail in his religious duties?
And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own business, whether in ruling or being ruled.”
Morality was defined by the Classics as minding your own business. A man’s personal business that does not affect you physically or fiscally is none of your concern. Further, Socrates said something I find incredibly profound.
“What I mean may be put into the form of a question. Are dogs divided into he’s and she’s, or do they share the work equally in hunting, keeping watch, and in the other duties of dogs? Or do we entrust to males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under the idea that the bearing and suckling of their puppies is labor enough for them?
No. They share alike; the only difference between them is that the male is stronger and the female weaker.
But you can use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bred and fed in the same way?
Then if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the same nurture and education.”
Later in the dialogue…
“And if the male and female sexes appear to differ in their fitness for any pursuit, we should see that such a pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men begetting children, this does not constitute proof that a woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians [armed forces and politicians] and their wives ought to have the same pursuits.”
This is a man 2,500 years ago calling for women to have equal education, labor participation, military service alongside men, and political involvement. This was reasoning that brought a man to the conclusions that have taken those 2,500 years for us to figure out, and we STILL do not do some of them thanks to prejudice. This is prejudice that horrible men will protect unjustly with religion.
Contrary to the assertion I mentioned earlier, morality can be judged using reason and science.
Our reason and knowledge pertaining to economics, biology, psychology, sociology, etc., is essential in defining morality that can apply to all irrespective of religion.
Take the example of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a per capita GDP of $575. That is lower than the global average in the year 1820. I think all of my readers have the sense to know that the most moral response to this problem is not to throw battery acid in the faces of little girls for the unspeakable crime of learning to read. It is completely rational to claim on the basis of science and secular reasoning that this is immoral. As a matter of fact, we have to say this if we claim to know anything about human wellbeing. An action that deviates from promoting human wellbeing and instead promotes suffering is evil, and this kind of act is unjust. Which, by the Classical definition, is to concern yourself with the business of others, and to attempt to make them conform to your will.
Religion addresses matters about which there are many discrepancies. Matters like who you worship and when, what days you celebrate, when you fast and why, what clothes you can wear, what foods are inedible, what ceremonies you should perform, whom you can have sex with and in what position, what contraceptives if any can be used, societal roles for men and women, and a plethora of other matters. Those who claim their religion is total, are making a rather large claim. I believe it is important to point out the the word “total” is the root word in “totalitarian”.
To base your own morals upon religion is fine, obviously. That is, so long as you do not violate the rights of others. However, the morals or laws of a free society must be based upon what can be deduced by reason alone. Laws set up by religion are bound to be inconsistent. Ask one Christian what God thinks about abortion, and another will disagree. Ask a Muslim what Allah thinks about drugs, and another will disagree. Some will claim that women are subservient, others will claim they are equal. All kinds of discord can be found here. As soon you make the admission that law must be based upon religion, you have to select a religion upon which to base said laws. Naturally, you will select your own, and this is to force your revelation and interpretation on others. That is Theo-fascism, and none of us should stand for it. Freedom of religion can only exist when law does not involve religion. There must be a wall of separation between the church and state. On this matter, I have found a slogan I really like, “Mr. Jefferson, build up that wall.”
In light of what Cliven Bundy has said about “Negros” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/us/politics/rancher-proudly-breaks-the-law-becoming-a-hero-in-the-west.html?_r=0, I feel the need to separate myself from him as best I can. I made a post last week about the rationality of his resistance against federal intervention. I stated how it should to be left to the State of Nevada to determine how this situation should be handled. There are the issues such as the preservation of the dessert tortoise, crop rotation, over grazing, etc. These matters need to be handled by the state of Nevada not 200 armed federal agents. I also mentioned how non-violent resistance may best be conducted when you are not susceptible to abuse by being armed yourself.
However, while I believe this to be true, Cliven Bundy has shown himself to be a man with deplorable views concerning blacks (I refuse to use hyphenated-American phrases), and I will not condone the actions of some of his supporters who call for violence. These opinions are despicable, and all enlightened people should separate themselves from them immediately.
In reference to Cliven Bundy’s resistance in Nevada, Senator Harry Reid whined, “Well, it’s not over. We can’t have American people that violate the law, and then just walk away from it. So, it’s not over.” Cliven Bundy and his ancestors had been grazing their cattle on what is Nevada state land for generations, but he has been told he must pay fees, his herd was confiscated, and many were concerned at the potential outbreak of violence.
For many, it may be difficult to understand their position. So, I shall attempt to elaborate. The U. S. has three branches of government that possess executive, legislative, and judiciary authority. Naturally, this power has an origin. When we the people formed our Constitution, our representatives acted as lawyers on our behalf. They signed a social contract, the Constitution, stating we the people would hand over our powers to determine our own laws, judge one another, and to execute our will to the government under agreed upon limitations. When the federal government surpasses these predetermined limitations, they trespass into our authority. We have given them authority to write law, judge law, and execute law within specified parameters. I do not recall any time we the people agreed the government could own anything.
Our present government has been operating as if the money it spends, the people it governs, and the land it controls belongs to it. However, government only has the power and authority we permit. I frequently hear the concept of “government interest” brought up in my Constitutional Development class. There is no such thing as government interest; it’s not allowed! Government is not an independent entity. It is a tool of the people. When the government decides it is going to assert its own prerogative, it must be thwarted. The government cannot be permitted to take action outside the will of the people. We do not wish for government to control the land. As a dependent entity, how can it rightly possess land? The state of Nevada has pronounced the grazing area Bundy utilizes as public land, a public utility. As the Bill of Rights codifies, all authorities not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. It is legal for Nevada to define it as public land, but it is completely outside federal authority.
It is feared if this trespass of the people’s authority goes unchallenged it will only lead to further usurpations. This is absolutely true historically. Any power gained by the government is lost by the people, and it is rarely recovered. Fascist crackpots like Harry Reid are bound and determined to stamp this out before it sets a trend of defiance. To assert defiance and to further assert your will over that of government’s makes the fascist crackpots shake in their boots. They truly are fearful that their Progressive religion will be challenged, that enlightenment ideas will spread, and that they will not recover their power.
I do fear, however, that violence could become the tool of reversing government usurpations and reasserting natural law. I find it difficult to fathom the repercussions of a break-out of violence on U. S. soil. American versus American. I cannot express how greatly this outcome ought to be avoided. Glenn Beck often speaks of Jesus, Gandhi, and M. L. K. when giving examples of peaceful resistors and societal reformists. I would like to point out they were all murdered. A slight modification of tactics might be necessary. Carry arms so that you may not be abused, but reserve not to use them.
Humanity has a long history of minority abuse or abuse of those whom we can overpower. It has happened time and again. We always find excuses to hate one another. Excuses like religion, culture, skin color, etc, are used as tools to declare someone else less than human or inferior. Instead of forming solidarity in humanity as a whole, we find it with those who look like us, talk like us, believe like us, and those who are different are shrouded in some kind of “otherness”. This is an “otherness” that those with agendas can abuse. After all, if a 19th century man who had not been indoctrinated to despise blacks had been asked, “What is inherently wrong with black skin,” he would lack an answer. All the hatred that had been amassed by those who were indoctrinated to the idea that blacks were inferior could not stand to reason. Those who preferred free labor and were arrogant enough to claim superiority could not claim that white skin is better and black worse; they had to prescribed negative attributes to blacks that had nothing to do with skin color. To further this point, what could be considered inherently wrong with the French, Germans, Indians, Native Americans, Africans, Arabs, Persians, Russians, Brits, and all the rest? The answer is absolutely nothing. None of these people hold a characteristic that makes them by nature evil or inferior.
Generalizations, dividing ourselves into groups of races, creeds, ect, is horribly detrimental to society. The concept of race is idiotic. The last “races” that could be considered human but not homosapien that possessed intelligence, tool making, perhaps religion, etc died tens of thousands of years ago. There is only one human “race”; only one human species. Our DNA is so similar that if we were dogs, we would all be the same breed. We have these minor differences and we structure our lives about them. All people of one color live in one part of the city, and all the people of another color likewise. We put our identity in our “race”. We maintain the idea of “otherness” about those who are different, and we hinder proper development. The world is full of diverse individuals, and it is a real waste to spend all your time only associating with those similar to you. Ever tried Shawarma? It’s from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and it’s fantastic. There is Western Classical architecture, Eastern Islamic architecture, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Secularism, Indian spices, French and Californian wine, Cuban cigars, hookahs, Southern United States’ cooking, Western philosophy, Eastern meditation, British parliamentary politics, American Republicanism, Peruvian, Bolivian, and Ethiopian coffee, Kung Fu, Pankration, and a great many more differences, cultures, and arts. There is all this diversity in the world, and so many of us blow it off by assuming negative characteristics of our fellow humans.
It is the height of ignorance to hold racism against someone. There are things in our world that are inherently wrong, bad, or evil. Totalitarianism, Fascism, Nazism, racism, slavery, rape, murder, religious radicalism, ect are all terrible things, but it is ridiculous to blame someone’s culture, color, religion, or otherwise. It has more to do with the fact that we are all imperfect creatures, and we are known to use those things as tools to support and agenda.
Not to long ago someone said, “…this was put in place to help African-Americans achieve their goals,” when we were discussing law. I responded out loud, “How are ‘African-American’ interests any different from anyone else’s interests, and when did they have a meeting to decide what their collective interests were?” I think the fastest way for me to address this issue is to say that there is no such thing as “minority rights”. There are human rights that apply to all of us. To claim minority rights is to claim privileges that only you as a member of a minority can possess. It’s ridiculous. All human beings have a right to do any thing physically and fiscally harmless (whether the government recognizes it or not). No one has any special rights or detriments simply because they are a member of a minority. For humanity to progress we have to learn to live with one another. We have to cease to divide ourselves by trivial differences. We have to learn to communicate with one another, to civilly debate our ideas, and to experience one another’s culture. When we learn not to hate one another for our differences and to co-operate, humanity could make incredible progress.
Once again, there has been a Fort Hood shooting. Let’s take a step away from the sheer idiocy in not permitting soldiers to carry their weapons in the base and focus on gun control in general. I think what needs to be asked first is who do you trust? Do you trust your government, or do you trust your neighbor? Or perhaps, of the two whom do you trust more? We live in a Constitutional Republic where we the people, through contract or constitution, consent to be governed. The argument over guns isn’t about guns at all. It’s about control. Who should have it?
We all ought to understand that we have innumerable rights. That includes rights not codified in the Bill of Rights. I’m sure we can agree that people have a right to life, a right to make a sandwich, a right to watch television, a right to say curse words, a right to choose your profession, etc. As a matter of fact, you have a right to do any physically and fiscally harmless thing. Obviously, not all of these things can be codified in the Constitution. It ought to be evident that my prior statement stands to reason. So, why did the framers decide to include a Bill of Rights at all? If certain very important rights were not codified and protected, then the ambitions man would cause them to trample upon their fellow man.
Weapons are power. Who should have it? We always talk about the 3 branches of government, but it seems that there are 4. The executive, legislative, judiciary branches, and the people. The executive branch is the force, the legislative branch is the author of law, and the judiciary is the judge of the law. But what of the people? We are the source of the government’s power. We hold the ability to judge one another, to enforce our decisions, and to ponder and construct law. However, we delegate this authority to the government, but only that authority. Why would we want the government to trespass into our authority? I have the right to determine who I want to marry, where I want to work, what I want to eat, where I want to live, what I want to watch, how I want to raise my children, what products I want to purchase, etc. All these things and more are within my authority not the government’s. Weapons are absolutely essential to liberty. Just as it is within my rights to determine these other matters, it is within my rights to determine whether or not I will possess arms, and the weapons ensure I’m not forced to wear the “supreme leader’s” hair-cut as in North Korea. If the people do not have a force of their own, then whoever holds the executive power controls the country.
I believe the philosophical and government aspects of this question have been well addressed, so perhaps I should address the social issues such as crime, the “militia”, limitations on certain types of weapons, etc, but I will save that for a later time. Please comment bellow.