Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


RELIGION AND MORALITY
THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY THE RIGHTEOUS MIND WHY GOOD PEOPLE ARE DIVIDED BY POLITICS AND RELIGION - JONATHAN HAIDT


This book examines the deep social questions about the authenticity of our social and religious and political moral sense. There is nobody better to write such a book than Haidt who is a moral psychologist. He is regarded as one of the world's most original thinkers with regard to society and its moralistic ways. Not all agree as he thinks evolution has made us religious for our own good! This is a virtual admission that religion can only benefit some (and by implication invite the destruction of the rest) for evolution implies the Darwinist view of dog system eating dog system.

Haidt (born 1963) is Professor of Ethical Leadership at Stern School of Business, New York University.

Quote: When an artist submerges a crucifix in a jar of his own urine, or smears elephant dung on an image of the Virgin Mary, do these works belong in art museums? Can the artist simply tell religious Christians, “If you don’t want to see it, don’t go to the museum”? Or does the mere existence of such works make the world dirtier, more profane, and more degraded?

Analysis: This shows the problem with religion and religious faith and their idea of the sacred. They imply that such things demean all that exists. If you submerge a marble in your urine that has no chance of being seen as profanation of all things but as art. Religion then goes with judgementalism and extremism. He writes, "If we had no sense of disgust, I believe we would also have no sense of the sacred." Religion then we can be sure is full of disgust for others though it has to hide it or it will end up too unpopular to thrive and it must think of the collection plate.

Quote: We believe that moral monism—the attempt to ground all of morality on a single principle—leads to societies that are unsatisfying to most people and at high risk of becoming inhumane because they ignore so many other moral principles.

Analysis: Tell that to Christians who say the only law is love. A moral principle need not be a straight rule. The rule love is love is as much a rule as is, "Obey the Koran only."

Quote: The Koran commands Muslims to kill apostates, and Allah himself promises that he “shall certainly roast them at a Fire; as often as their skins are wholly burned, We shall give them in exchange other skins, that they may taste the chastisement. Surely God is All-mighty, All-wise.”

Analysis: It shows that not all religion is good. It shows that God is active in torturing you in Hell. God is praised as all wise for giving you a new skin to replace the one burned off. God according to the Bible threatened Israel to obey all his commands including the ones demanding that certain sinners be stoned to death. When he does that on earth what is he doing in the afterlife?

Quote: Some religions are better than others at hijacking the human mind, burrowing in deeply, and then getting themselves transmitted to the next generation of host minds.

Analysis: Surely he has to be thinking of Islam here! It does the best job at getting and keeping devotees.

Quote: Dennett proposes that religions survive because, like those parasites, they make their hosts do things that are bad for themselves (e.g., suicide bombing) but good for the parasite (e.g., Islam).

Analysis: Good!

Quote: Creating gods who can see everything, and who hate cheaters and oath breakers, turns out to be a good way to reduce cheating and oath breaking.

Analysis: The police and the politicians may be happy with that for it protects social order. But is feeling hated by the divine or fearing the divine a good thing? Never. And you are a cheater and oath-breaker in your heart if all that is stopping you from doing these bad things is fear. You would do it but dare not. You cannot ask people to think you or your religion are really good if you are under threat from a god. Do not forget it: the police and the politicians only want religion as a means of control. If all that is stopping you from being bad is fear then one morning you will have had enough and you will rebel and all the badness will be unleashed. To think God is full of hate or the gods is to define life and the universe by hate and that can only lead to you being as despicable as them.


Quote from the book about how setting up shrines got people to work together better for the community: The ingenious religious solution to this problem of social engineering was to place a small temple at every fork in the irrigation system. The god in each such temple united all the subaks that were downstream from it into a community that worshipped that god, thereby helping the subaks to resolve their disputes more amicably. This arrangement minimized the cheating and deception that would otherwise flourish in a zero-sum division of water. The system made it possible for thousands of farmers, spread over hundreds of square kilometers, to cooperate without the need for central government, inspectors, and courts. The system worked so efficiently that the Dutch—who were expert hydrologists themselves—could find little to improve.

Analysis: The shrines were a meeting point and a relaxation point. People got a break and a chance to gel better and talk and it was that not the sacredness that got the results.

Quote: On surveys, religious people routinely claimed to give more money to charity, and they expressed more altruistic values. But when social psychologists brought people into the lab and gave them the chance to actually help strangers, religious believers rarely acted any better than did nonbelievers.

Analysis: And why then do we have this book that tries to make out that religion is sometimes essential as a force for good?

Quote: Deuteronomy 22:9–11. Mary Douglas (1966) argues that the need to keep categories pure is the most important principle behind the kosher laws. I disagree, and think that disgust plays a much more powerful role; see Rozin, Haidt, and McCauley 2008.

Analysis: The kosher rules come from God's rules about purity in the Bible. You cannot worry about purity without being driven by disgust. The laws hate menstruating women.

Quote (based on how a train is coming and how if you push somebody off a bridge in front of it to save the lives of a number of people you will be assessed as immoral. But if you use a switch so that the train is diverted and kills one person when it would kill many if not diverted you will be considered moral.): Some philosophers note the difference that in the bridge story you are using the victim as a means to an end, whereas in the switch story the victim is not a means to an end; his death is just an unfortunate side effect.Greene and others have therefore tested alternative versions, such as the case where the switch only saves lives because it diverts the trolley onto a side loop where one man is standing. In that case the victim is still being used as a means to an end; if he were to step off the track, the trolley would continue on the loop, back onto the main track, and would kill the five people. In these cases, subjects tend to give responses in between the original switch and footbridge versions.

Analysis: This is the person making it all about being seen as immoral or moral. It is about a moral standard. That is selfish for it is not about standards but about a dead body. Either way there is still a dead body and all we worry about is the moral assessment. Morality is really just egoism pretending to be selfless and caring. You need cases like this to prove it.

Quote: Racism, genocide, and suicide bombing are all manifestations of groupishness. They are not things that people do in order to outcompete their local peers; they are things people do to help their groups outcompete other groups.

Analysis: Good. That is why we should never say suicide bombings have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Islam. That is why we should never say that the IRA killings of Protestants are unrelated to Catholicism.

Quote: Blackmore is a meme theorist who originally shared Dawkins’s view that religions were memes that spread like viruses. But after seeing the evidence that religious people are happier, more generous, and more fertile, she recanted. See Blackmore 2010.
What has happiness got to do with proving religion is not a virus? A virus in your computer that makes you laugh is still a virus.Religious faith especially fundamentalist forms is like a parasite that does not kill its host but affects it in a way that protects its infestation and gives it growing power. It works like a biological computer program. The mind is like a collection of programs that direct the brain. The brain is not in command of them (or therefore the mind) but they (the mind) are in charge of the brain. To be freed from this it is essential that you get out of your comfort zone and let people challenge you intelligently and with evidence. You need their tough love.It is possible to be narrow in an open way. Anything be it liberal or restricted that is based on a refusal to open your mind and check it is fundamentalist.Critics of religion will repeat the teaching of the religion. This amounts to doing the evangelization for the religion. Theology and life both show that the message can have an uncanny ability to grip some people. It is usually put down to the influence of the Holy Spirit. People open to the idea of the supernatural and paranormal will agree that there is something odd about the influence never mind if it is from the Holy Spirit or not. The power of preaching the so-called gospel and "bewitching" people especially the vulnerable is real and atheists must be careful. It is unexplained. It stands to reason that this message, "You will sense that something is guiding you to accept the gospel and take its word for it. This is the Holy Spirit at work" will capture people in a way that, "This is the teaching for a good life as far as we can work it out" cannot. Testimony even an imagined one from God has power over what other humans think for there is nothing that special about what anybody thinks anyway.

Quote re Sam Harris who wrote a book arguing that morality is real and objective for harm is real and objective: I agree with Harris 2010 in his choice of utilitarianism, but with two big differences:(1) I endorse it only for public policy, as I do not think individuals are obligated to produce the greatest total benefit, and(2) Harris claims to be a monist. He says that what is right is whatever maximizes the happiness of conscious creatures, and he believes that happiness can be measured with objective techniques, such as an fMRI scanner.I disagree. I am a pluralist, not a monist. I follow Shweder (1991; Shweder and Haidt 1993) and Berlin 2001 in believing that there are multiple and sometimes conflicting goods and values, and there is no simple arithmetical way of ranking societies along a single dimension. There is no way to eliminate the need for philosophical reflection about what makes a good society. I am endorsing here a version of utilitarianism known as “rule utilitarianism,” which says that we should aim to create the system and rules that will, in the long run, produce the greatest total good. This is in contrast to “act utilitarianism,” which says that we should aim to maximize utility in each case, with each act.

Analysis: This amounts to a refutation of religion. Religion is a public policy of its own. Catholicism fundamentally rejects utilitarianism as immoral and Jesus treated morality in a non-utilitarian way. Rule utilitarianism is clear that God and religion and Jesus need to go if they are not helpful on the road to the greatest total good. So it is fundamentally non-Christian. The Jews reasoned according to the John gospel that it was better to have Jesus murdered than risk his ministry aggravating the Romans and coming in and destroying the people. The gospel condemns that utilitarian reasoning. All forms of utilitarianism allow somebody, even innocent, to be sacrificed for the people.

Quote: People do not cooperate well in large groups when they perceive that many others are free riding.
Analysis: True!