Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mysterious Ways, My Shiny Metal Arse

Marco has said: Believing in "evoloution" over "creation" will not make you a more moral person, and would therefore not particularly help society.

To which I replied: Yes, believing in 'evolution' over 'creation' will help make you a more moral person, because you will not have to believe in a God who is a malevolent scumbag! See my earlier post, 'Does God suck?'

Why is it morally reprehensible and bad for society to believe in special creation? I will explain. If you believe in special creation, you have to believe that God created all of these poor animals ex nihilo perfectly adapted for carnivory, parasitism, and other icky things involving lots of pain and fear. There are two ways of explaining this away:

(1) Moral Laws do not apply to non-humans. This is not exactly cutting-edge morality, since prophets were railing against it 3000 years ago, and it won’t wash very well when the Grog Voidships materialise over Canberra, but it could still be rationally argued. This is why the letters page of the Devil Bunny City Morning Herald has recently been full of letters from angry clergymen defending the right of bored teenagers to torture kittens. But, it hasn’t actually, because creationists have taken the cop-put position:

(2) God is, like, mysterious. He seems to do evil stuff, but he isn’t really evil, no, he’s good. This is the intellectual equivalent of castrating yourself with a spoon. Nobody who doesn’t share your wacky assumptions is going to take your morality seriously. Any morality with such a big and unnecessary ‘mystery’ at the centre of it can never form a logical system, just a hodge-podge of propositions laid down by authority. Those who follow such a morality will behave as automata, not as rational moral agents. Such a morality can elicit heroism, and even holiness, in its devotees- I do not dispute that- but it will not be taken seriously in a pluralistic society, and it will be totally inept at coping with any situation not covered by its hodge-podge of propositions, which is sure to be thrown up by the advance of science. For instance, no one who believes that a human being is mystically ‘ensouled’ at a particular age, making them worthy of moral consideration where they were unworthy before, has any right to be taken seriously in the stem cell argument. Thus believing in spoecial creation damages the ability of religions to influence the moral direction of society in a whole.

Marco has said: I certainly believe the Universe is mysterious and I can call God the universe just as surely as anybody else. I think it nonsensical to "believe" in something so mysterious.

To which I reply in the words of Charles Sanders Peirce, the greatest intellect of the 19th century: “One singular deception of this sort, which often occurs, is to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a characteristic of the object we are thinking about. Instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially mysterious ... so long as this deception lasts, it obviously puts an impassable barrier in the way of perspicuous thinking; so that it equally interests the opponents of rational thought to perpetuate it, and its adherents to guard against it.”


Marco said...

I'm not sure if you're confusing me now or if I'm confusing you. I perceive what you're trying to say is that religions that push special creation will be "weaker" both as religions and as a moral force because science is contradicting it too forcefully. I also connect a belief in the God of Christians and Muslims with the belief in creation that goes with their texts. Plenty of modern denominations have seemed to either ignore the creationist vs evolution argument or incorporated evolution into their thinking rather than continuing to counter evolutionary "theology". From where I stand, they don't seem any more moral. Also the people I know who do believe in creation ex nihilo seem to have it easier to concentrate on moral matters as they just refer to the text, and the text specifically states creation. Only if they start to doubt the truth of the text, do they worry about whether God sucks. I see this as a problem of separating faith from science. Here, the implications of evolutionary science are interfering with well established faiths. Possibly, faiths should adapt to the new information. Equally possibly, I'm suggesting faiths may find just as much success fighting evolution.

Marco said...

I also thought that the main religions had a tradition of believing moral laws to not apply for non-humans. Here again, modern scientific thought has given the established faiths a dillemma of whether to adapt or to ignore animal rights as an issue. I don't think that any faiths in a pluralistic society influence morally any "non-members". A much greater percentage of US citizens believe in special creation than in Europe. How do you explain the obvious moral superiority of the US?

Marco said...

I don't know but I seem to have got out some semblance of what I believe and it seems that both Dr. Clam and I seem to want to be rational moral agents in the sense that we don't have blind faith in any denomination's mantra and desire a logically complete view of the universe. However, I think it unreasonable for the general population (dolts) to tell the difference between a logical argument, and a merely convincing (evangelistic) one. Almost all the less intellectual types that I know that are religious, are essentially acting like the automata that you suggested. I'm just glad they didn't get evangelised by "active" satanic worshippers. Most agnostics that I know don't actually believe there is any such thing. However, though I can't reveal my sources as most satan-worship rituals are illegal, I have reason to believe it is alive and well, though a very small and stable following.

Now back to abortion, somehow : The life experiences I have had with this phenomenon range from the kind of mercy-kill that anyone could relate to, to pure, unadulterated infanticide. How can one make a general moral judgement across the board without some sense of a personally important example that you could look at in a real sense and say; yes, the world would be a better place if such and such a person I knew was prevented to have an abortion. On the table in Australia are minor changes in the law that may or may not have changed that event. I'm not saying that because you haven't "experienced" the process of the decision making that happens in abortion cases you should butt out, but that any marginal situations that you know about should influence your thinking. My personal situations that I've experienced have made me rail against abortion somewhat - However, experiences and knowledge of societies where abortion was prohibited effectively would make me have a backlash against my general feeling against abortion due to the other personal examples I know about. You don't seem to think personal experiences are relevant to the abortion debate, but if I was to change my vote based on abortion policy, I would certainly look to the personal examples and not on the overall "moral clarity" of the policy initiative as you would.

Marco said...
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