When certainty becomes uncertain…
And if a master strikes his servant with a rod and he dies under his hand he shall be punished unless the servant survives a day or two. In this case, the master shall not be punished, for the servant is his property.
– Moses (Exodus 21:20-21)
In part II on ethics without God I want to look at reasons why religion and specifically the Judeo-Christian tradition offers a deficient ethic and how brave folk called prophets went against the prevailing religious establishment and spoke up for real justice over against religious baloney. Prophets like Hosea, Isaiah and especially Jesus of Nazareth critiqued not only distortions of their religion but their actual religion per se as well as its holy texts! First, Part IIa, we will look at the deficient morality in the Bible.
Though this may seem strange to us, most early religions and especially cultic practices, are largely unconcerned with what we would call ethics or good behaviour and were focussed instead on obtaining and maintaining the favour of the local deities. The sacrifices offered are designed to appease the gods in order that they send rain, support battles or bless the tribe in other ways. In fact, the actual cultic practices – such as sacrifices – are often pretty darn unethical but the religions were mostly not designed to bring about ethical people but to ensure the survival and success of the group. Right behaviour was whatever it took to please the deity. Read more of this post
Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.
(The best is the enemy of the good.)
The most common critique of humanism by Christians is that it promotes moral relativism whereby everything goes. This is a misrepresentation. As I will show in part II, not only does the Bible promote moral relativism, humanists have provided some of the best moral codes we have today (part III). It is the religious idea that a perfect morality has been objectively revealed that has opposed the best humanism can offer.
What many religious believers fail to see is that moral codes do not proceed from divine command or infallible scripture but are discovered by evaluating actions based on merit. The claim that a violent command does originate divinely can thus exposed for what it is: a power play used to justify human agendas.
But before we look critically at the Bible’s morality, we need to look at the modern fundamentalist idea that knowledge or morals depend absolutely on God and revelation. How do we get to sound morals, given that we are human and bound to err? Read more of this post