Can you follow an Abrahamic religion and be moral?

When I’ve addressed morality and ethics in the past, I’m usually arguing in defence of atheism, and that you don’t need a god to have morality, but today I’m going to go on the offensive, as I’m frankly tired of Abrahamic theists claiming you have moral superiority, when I’m not convinced that the majority even understand what being moral entails. I’ve discussed Kant’s idea of good will previously, and he suggests that being moral is a person’s duty, and not for personal reward, or fear of their god. People are moral as it’s the right thing to do, and everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equal. Fairly and equal is exactly where Abrahamic religions stumble, as they follow a guideline in a collection of books, that put simply, are barbaric, and disgusting stories where people are butchered, drowned, crucified, stoned to death etc.

Oxford dictionary defines morality as examining the nature of ethics and the foundations of good and bad character and conduct; and holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct. The claim by theists that without religion there’s no morality is ludicrous, and I’d say that for many, religion is about self-glorification, and the feeling of being superior to heathens in every way, but this simply isn’t true, as there should be no religion without morality. I will focus on Abrahamic religions as they are the most vocal, have the most followers, and are monotheistic in their beliefs. There are a number of practises and beliefs that are unnatural and extremely immoral that are recognised by billions of people around the world, I shall address a number of them.

Violence

The Bible encourages the striking of children as a punishment for disobedience, and there have been cases where children have died from not memorising Biblical passages. The Qur’an says that if your child doesn’t study the Qur’an, you’re entitled to beat him. I was disciplined as a child, and I resented my father for it as he sometimes took it too far, but he never beat me with a rod.

“The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” – Proverbs 20:30

“Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” – Proverbs 23:13

The Qur’an suggests that the man is in control of the woman, and if she’s not obedient after warnings, then he’s perfectly within his right to strike her. I’ve read about women who have been beaten in public for literally just standing too close to a man that’s not her husband, and because of this aggressive chauvinism, upon marriage the men often forcefully engage sex with their new wives as they are their property.

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.” – Qur’an 4:34

Owning boys in some Muslim states is a sign of status, and rich men buy them to be sexual slaves, and despite the punishment for homosexuality being extremely severe, it’s not considering homosexual to sodomise boys, which is known as homosexual pederasty, and is happening right now in Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In some Muslim countries, like Yemen, most girls are married by the time they’re 15 and stories of death during intercourse because of internal bleeding, or death during birth are common. Despite the prophet Muhammed condemning sodomy, it still happens, and more often than you’d think

“A person who commits sodomy with a boy will acquire such a Janabat (impurity) that even all the water of this world cannot remove it. Allah will be wrathful at him and curse him.” – Muhammed

Concubinage are female slaves that are used for sex purposes, and in the Qur’an it’s not forbidden, but in modern times it’s more frequently frowned upon. In the Qur’an it says ‘Mā malakat aymānukum (“what your right hands possess”, and is reference to having sex with a slave, as it was permissible. Obviously four wives isn’t enough.

“Who abstain from sex, – except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame” – Quran 23:5-6

Execution

The Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an all endorse capital punishment from offences ranging from heresy, blasphemy, homosexuality, rape and murder. The Torah lists different ways that executions should be carried out and they range from strangling, sword, burning, hanging or if you’re lucky, you’ll just get lashed with a whip. In some Muslim states public stoning and beheading is still happening to this day, or firing squad and hanging, and the crimes can literally be as simple as adulterous, apostasy or homosexuality. The Bible and the Torah have quite an extensive list of crimes that are punishable by death, and include: striking or cursing your parents, worshipping other gods, male homosexuality, lying about being a virgin, incest, bestiality, adultery and blasphemy. Can you imagine being cold and deciding to gather some wood to start a fire, and the punishment by god is being stoned to death as it’s sabbath?

‪And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.” – Numbers 15 32-36‬

Female Genital mutilation

This is another example of inequality of women, and it’s easily the most barbaric, and is a violation of human rights. Genital mutilation is usually carried out on minors, and is extremely cruel and degrading. Many religious communities believe that it discourages a female’s libido, as the clitoris and lesbian are often removed, but in extreme cases this can lead to death, or at the least urinary infections. Hundreds of millions of women are living their lives in aAfrica, and Asia, after undergoing the painful procedure, and is common place in a Islamic states where they consider the begins unclean, but it’s also common practice amongst Catholics and Christians in regions of Africa.

Religious intolerance

Many religions are extremely critical of other religions, and sometimes other sects of their own religion, and it denies people the rights to practise freely, and can often lead to conflict and terrorism. It doesn’t stop with religion either, as it can cause racial tension, and non believers are targeted for being heathens. Many Christians and Muslim sects have much prejudice towards many groups which oppose, or go against their holy scriptures. Both can be extremely hostile towards LBGTQ people, and people who value liberal views, as they don’t wish to live in a democracy, as they enjoy being oppressed and wish to live in strict theocratic societies that are dominated by the laws of their gods, so they have little patience or consideration for sinners.

Does religion affect intelligence?

I have seen this claim floating around social media for some time now, so I thought I’d address it. There have been a number of studies done by psychiatrists to suggest that as a whole, religious people score lower on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, but with that said, there are some extremely intelligent religious people. The problem that religious people have regarding IQ tests is their lack of logic and reason, as they accept dogma and rely on intuition, and blindly believe everything is God’s plan so there’s no need to question it. But does performing poorly on an IQ test accurately ascertain intelligence levels, or are religious people wired up differently? If that person was to break free of the shackles of their faith, would they think differently and apply critical thinking more often?

In an article published in the Frontiers of psychology the results of an online survey was published where a 30 minute test was issued to atheists, agnostics and theists, and theists scored the lowest, and the scientists running the study suggested that religious people lacked cognitive skills. Below is an excerpt briefly explaining the concept of general intelligence, but I highly suggest that you visit the article it comes from, and it can be found here.

“General intelligence refers to the ability to reason, deductively or inductively, think abstractly, use analogies, synthesize information, and apply it to new domains.”

Religious people rely on instinct, and often instead of seeking the truth, they wear blinkers and focus on their Biblical, Torah, or Qur’an narratives, and if anything conflicts with their religious texts then the majority dismiss it, and a perfect example of this is creationism, especially young Earth. There are religious people that have the ability to rise above instinct and apply cognitive skills, but they are usually in relation to some form of science ie: ‘Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, Emmanuel Kant and Georges Lemaître‘. Whilst they were all highly religious, they were able to separate their personal religious beliefs from their scientific studies, but they are exceptions.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

It’s naturally human to be curious and to question, and intellectually curious, and not relying purely on instinct. Some may argue that religion has no effect on intelligence, but I’m afraid it does, and I apologise to anyone religious that’s reading this. People who are considered smart, aren’t gullible, they use reason, logic and apply rationality to a problem, and use critical thinking skills and scepticism and require evidence before reaching a conclusion. Many religious people don’t apply these methods and instead adopt faith and belief. And whilst this may be comforting to be at one with their god, they are missing out on a world of possibilities. Take evolution as an example. There are many areas where evidence is in abundance, natural selection can be easily proven with bacteria and antibiotics, there have been early human remains found that suggest we have changed to adapt to our surroundings, but religious people think their god made everything, and some are so blindly adamant that there’s no room to question the possibility that they may be wrong. This is partly through brainwashing and their family and society are to blame, but being so susceptible to supernatural stories instead of understanding the reality we are in is sheer lunacy and incredibly ignorant.

“In classical Greece and Rome, it was widely remarked that “fools” tended to be religious, while the “wise” were often skeptics.” – Live Science

Is religion a sign of lower intelligence or is it the inability to open your mind to possibilities? Why build a church where people can pray to heal the sick, when hospitals are needed where professional doctors are trained to repair what praying can’t affect. Does a sailor pray for the wind to change, or does he learn to sail? Imagine being at a sporting event and the two teams both have religious people praying for victory. One team wins comfortably and their supporters are confident that god heard their prayers and helped their team win, but does that mean that he favoured their team over the other?

Take religious belief in morality. Their god’s words on what’s moral and what isn’t just so happens to conveniently match what they think, so instead of thinking for themselves and using empathy, reason and compassion they are just copying what their god allegedly thinks. If their holy book said that it was morally sound to kill kittens on Monday at 3pm, they would happily slaughter kittens as it’s their god’s will. But that’s going too far I hear you cry, but read the Torah, there’s plenty of reference to sacrifice. Oh, and god wants your money, kids!

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.” – Sigmund Freud